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Beside The Points For Thursday, May 3, 2018

Things That Caught My Eye

Tanks for playing

According to FiveThirtyEight’s Elo projections, there are eight teams in the MLB on track to lose 90 games, four of whom are on track to lose in the range of about 100 games. That is the most potential 90-game losers at this point in the season since at least 1969. This is exactly what Major League Baseball needs to win the next generation of baseball fans: a season where more than a quarter of the league is not even trying to succeed. [FiveThirtyEight]

Is there a better way?

This uniquely dismal state of baseball has prompted some serious introspection, and ESPN’s here with some wild ideas to fix the mess. One idea: what if every team made the playoffs? By restructuring the MLB postseason the league can make every game count for every team. This is important, because literally 14 out of 30 teams entered the 2018 season with a 10 percent or less chance of making the playoffs. When roughly half the fans of the sport have absolutely no reason to tune in, maybe the MLB needs to be worried. [ESPN]

Maria Konnikova finds true calling

Maria Konnikova is a New Yorker writer who is writing a book about the world of professional poker. In reporting out the book, it turns out Maria Konnikova is outstanding at poker, winning $57,519 in an Asia Pacific Poker Tour Macau event where she finished second. The book writing is reportedly on hold, and is planned for summer or fall of 2019. [Deadspin]

Try out our interactive, Which World Cup Team Should You Root For?

Derby day!

The Kentucky Derby is this Saturday, in case any readers were reaching for a valid excuse to get drunk in the middle of the afternoon. The favorite is “Justify,” a horse with 3-1 odds of winning the Derby. Is horse racing a sport? Tonight I will find out based on your emails in response to this item. [The New York Times]

Fountain of youth

Seventeen of the 32 players selected in round one of the NFL draft will be aged 21 or younger come the start of the season, the highest number in this century. It’s just the latest in a trend where the average age of a first round pick has fallen from 22.6 in 2000 to 21.7 today. [FiveThirtyEight]

England did fine I guess despite their enormous advantages

Liverpool made the UEFA Champions League finals after kind of sort of dispatching Roma. An English team hasn’t made the final in six seasons, which is crazy, because the English Premiere League has 14 of the 30 richest clubs in the sport and is the richest football league on the planet. [FiveThirtyEight]

Big Number(s)

3 reporters

The New Orleans Pelicans have an extremely small professional press corps, with generally just Scott Kushner of The Advocate, Will Guillory of NOLA.com and the Times-Picayune, and Jim Eichenhofer of the Pelicans’ own website showing up to cover home games. With their success in the playoffs, New Orleans has seen some national reporters parachute in, but three professional conventional press reporters is quite low for any professional sports league. [The Ringer]

Leaks from Slack:

walt:

Shaq Appears To Have An Insane Method For Saving Money On Gasoline

andrea:

hahaha
reminds me of a cartoon I read a million years ago where a waiter asks a customer whether she’d like the pizza she just ordered cut into 4 or 6 pieces and she says “Four! I could never eat six slices of pizza.” If I were better at google I would just find the thing.

neil:

Shaq is like, this close, to stumbling across the Banach–Tarski paradox and having his mind truly blown

Predictions

Oh, and don’t forget
Disgusting, Washington

Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.

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