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Some Reassurance

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A 1-6 start to the season isn't fun for anyone. But, we have to remember that it's not the end of the season. 7 games is just over 4% of the season. A 1-6 stretch in the middle of July would be bad, but it wouldn't have the same magnified effect as a 1-6 start.

As usual, Joe Sheehan over at Baseball Prospectus wrote a great keep-your-perspective article yesterday (it's pay-only, so the link won't work if you don't subscribe, which you should). For all of us unhappy Phillies fans, here are a couple of paragraphs excerpted for our sanity:

Six games are completely meaningless in the course of the baseball season, both in the sense of "impact on the standings" and "something you can glean information from." Two years ago, the Tigers themselves were 5-1 on almost this very date, on their way to a 72-90 season. Brewers fans should never, ever be overly excited about a hot start, because the 1987 Brewers may hold the record for worst use of a season-opening winning streak. They started the season 13-0, a stretch that included a Juan Nieves no-hitter. Less than a month later, they lost 12 games in a row, and they slipped under .500 before the All-Star break, eventually finishing as the third team in a great two-team race in the AL East.

Just look at last season for examples of how little we know after three or even six weeks. The Yankees were 11-19 in early May, choking on the Orioles' (22-11!) dust. They only managed to finish 21 games clear of the Birds. The Indians were one of the worst teams in the AL last April; they may have been the best in the five months that followed. The Astros were 15-30 on May 24, and they didn't clear .500 for good until after the All-Star break. You may recall watching them fairly deep into last October.

Sheehan goes on to attribute part of the focus on the opening games to an NFL mentality that has permeated all of sports-fandom. In the NFL, every game is important; there is no small sample size. But, in major league baseball, things are different. Each game is just one spot in a 162 game constellation. Any 7 games are certainly important, but far from important enough to get any sense of what the larger 162 game picture is going to look like.

These are just the words of reassurance we phans need right now.