The Challenge

In late July I received an e-mail from Bob Schaffer of Riverdale, NY. Bob was interested in critiquing our game. He questioned our scoring method and suggested a new one. Bob's method is actually quite simple and easy to understand. He would apply a 4,3,2,1,0 score for each five team division and 5,4,3,2,1,0 / 3,2,1,0 for the other two divisions. For example, in the AL East, if you picked Tampa Bay first (as four players did), then you get 4 points and if you picked the Rays fourth as most of us did, then you get 1 point. In the AL Central if you picked Detroit first, as many of us did, then you receive 0 points. Bob would simply ignore the "Games Out" part of our scoring and put the entire emphasis of the game on each team's finish and high score wins.

What Bob was suggesting was an entirely different game from what many of us had become accustom to for over half-a-century. For about a week three of us exchanged e-mails with Bob, as we attempted to explain the values of the game as it is currently played and the weaknesses of his suggested method, but Bob remained unconvinced. In the end, I had to simply agree to disagree, shut the exchange down and move on.

Let's not leave it there though. I have created a new spreadsheet that recomputes the 2008 final player standings based on Bob's original suggestion and compares the results to each player's score and final position from the 2008 final player standings. Also, at Nelson Slagle's suggestion, an abridged version of the e-mail exchange (see link below) that was posted at the end of July will become a permanent part of the game's history.

About the spreadsheet: The spreadsheet (3 pages- links below) is sorted by the player ranking for the suggested scoring method. Columns A, B and C represent the ranking, scores and tie-breaker for the suggested scoring while columns D, E and F represent the ranking, scores and tie-breaker based on the current scoring method. Column G represents the number of positions that each player moved, either up or down, from the current method to the suggested method. For example, Jerry Slagle moved up one place from 2nd to a tie for 1st, while Todd Colegrove moved down two places from 1st to 3rd.

At the bottom of the spreadsheet (page 3) is a recap of the comparative scores including minimum, maximum and range of scores as well as a count of the ties within each scoring method as well as the. That data is also recapped here:

Suggested Method
 

Current Method
Pos.
Scores TB   Scores TB Move
Average 84.8 16.1   229.3 36.0
Min 74 5   166 9.5 -114
Max 94 21   317 114.0 115
Range 20 16   151 104.5
ties 159   35

The first thing that we notice about this data is the very narrow range of resulting scores- only 20 points separate the high and low scores with the suggested method. Even the tie-breaker does not serve us well here and we are left with 159 players (80%) still tied. A closer look at the details of the spreadsheet (see links below) will show that it is really worse than that as all scores are even and there are only eleven different scores between 94 and 74 points. Also note the 18 way tie for 41st place. In comparison the actual game scores have a range of 151 points and after the tie-breaker there are 35 players (< 20%) in ties.

Bob made a couple more suggestions that I have not implemented. Toward the end of the discussion, Bob suggested that we could double or quadruple his original scoring method but this only manges to double or quadruple everyone's score while yielding the same results. Earlier in the discussion Bob suggested that we could use our current scoring method to serve as a tie-breaker. That method would merely double my workload- no thank you.

The suggested scoring method clearly represents a much different game and as a result there are much different results in the players ranking with six players moving 90 places or more; ie: David Dial moved up 115 places while Adeev Getzel dropped 114 spots, and only one player remained the same.

In the end Bob's suggestion was rejected as any scoring system that is based on a fixed set of numbers is too rigid and will yield unsatisfactory results. Also any system that ignores the "game behind" or "games out" feature of our current scoring system would result in too radical a change to our current game and that too would be unsatisfactory.

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