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Frisco Del Rosario writes about chess960, women's basketball, minor league baseball, unsupported collectible card games, lettering in comic books, and Golden Age movies

Expert opinions 07/25/2018

Three cases of expert opinion, of unequal value:

The most common piece of very bad chess advice given from good players to bad players is “you have to have an openings repertoire with which you feel comfortable”.

Three things — what the strong player said, what the strong player actually meant, and what the weak player thought it meant.

When a strong player talks about openings leading to a comfortable feeling, he means “playable”. What the weak player thinks is a comfortable opening is “whew, didn’t hang my queen that time”.

Good players feel comfortable in any playable middlegame, otherwise they’re not good players; they can play anything. When a good player says: “have a  comfortable openings repertoire”, it’s another way of saying “the real goal of the opening is to reach a playable middlegame”, though it *sounds like* actual advice.

The weak player thinks “I need a comfortable openings repertoire; I’d better study openings”. Like I’ve said many times before, bad players don’t lose games in the opening because they’re bad at openings, they lose them because they’re bad at tactics. The poor “comfortable repertoire” advice survives because it’s less painful to suggest than “do the endgame and tactics homework”. It’s the grandmaster equivalent of walking away from a dumb joke while laughing, because laughing makes it OK to walk away.

Sports station KNBR talked to an ESPN baseball expert Tuesday, who likes the Astros and Indians for the ALCS because “some teams are built for 162 games, some are built for seven-game series”. The implication is that the Red Sox might win 110 regular season games but not survive a short playoff.

At first glance, this looks ridiculous. The Red Sox win 70 percent of their games, which makes them a pretty good bet to win any one game, or any four games.

I thought I might simulate 1,000,000,000 World Series between teams modeled after: E) The 1971 Orioles, who won 100 games with four 20-win starters, but lost the World Series, and W) The 1995 Braves, with two stud starters in Smoltz and Glavine, and a superstud in Maddux, but besides their stud closer Wohlers, every other Braves pitcher was, relatively speaking, a loser. The Braves won just 90 games, but won the World Series.

These teams fit the ESPN expert’s model. The Orioles were built to win every regular season game behind their deep and excellent starters , while the Braves were designed to win a seven-game set by, say, letting the awesome #1 pitch games 4 and 7 on short rest.

The ’71 Orioles and ’95 Braves also fit that model based on their late-inning guys. The ’71 Orioles had Eddie Watt finish 35 games, of which they lost 18. The ’95 Braves had the modern definition of closer in Mark Wohlers, who appeared in 65 games, of which the Braves won 50.

Let’s say the imaginary Braves ace wins games 1 and 4. Let’s also say the the imaginary Braves and imaginary Orioles split games 2 and 5 (maybe because the Braves #2 guy was bad on short rest). And let’s suppose the imaginary Orioles won games 3 and 6, thanks to their depth.

So it comes down to Game 7, with the Maddux-like guy on very short rest, against their Orioles #4-like guy.  Well, the Orioles’ #4 guy in 1971 was Jim Palmer, who won three Cy Youngs.

The only thing we know about baseball and baseball simulations is that you never know.

However, let’s consider that the imaginary Wohlers-like reliever appears in all seven games sometimes (because we’re running the simulation a zillion times) and the imaginary Watt-like guy also appears more often than the Orioles would’ve preferred.

In the long run, over the course of a zillion Series, having the stronger late-inning guy will turn it in the Braves’ favor. And that’s a precept of modern baseball: If you have studs for innings 7, 8, and 9, you practically shorten a game to six innings. And shorter games in short playoff series means  greater variance, which means the ESPN guy has a point: The 2018 Astros with their super Verlander-Cole-Morton threesome could well be favored over the Red Sox 13 pitchers that won more games in a long season.

Expert opinion #3 was a doctor on KCBS this morning, whom KCBS asked about an increased incidence of salmonella among homes with chicken coops in their backyards.

The doctor said, reasonably, that the higher number of reported cases could be due to improved reporting technology and methods, and it could also be related to the overall decline in common sense. A larger number of people are keeping chickens for eggs and companionship, and a greater number of dumb people fail to wash their hands after playing with the chickens.

The KCBS hosts strained to push this guy toward “AUGH EVERYONE HEAD FOR THE HILLS!”, but he wouldn’t bite, which made the whole segment dull and boring, when dull and boring was really funny.

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