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Happy Shares
2004-04-19 08:43
by Jon Weisman

Like the wind at your back, like air conditioning on a blazing summer's day, like a sneak-attack kiss from your best girl, winning lightens your step, makes you feel like you're walking on a cushion of air. You glide through space like the puck in an air-hockey game - waiting, of course, to hit the wall or be slapped back in the opposite direction - but glide nonetheless.

If the Dodgers are your team, each win they pile up serves two purposes, lifting your spirit in the present and cushioning any blows in the future. You want them to win every game, but a loss is easier to swallow after a 9-3 start.

You know I'm intrigued by the Bill James-developed concept of Win Shares, which has caught on in many sabermetric circles. Since shortly after the Dodgers completed their three-game sweep over the Giants on Sunday afternoon, I've been thinking of the pasbermetric concept of Happy Shares.

There are two aspects to the feeling you get when your team wins - and for that matter, the sadness you feel when your team loses: the sweetness (or bittersweetness) and the duration.

Take Kirk Gibson's "She is gone" home run in '88. The intensity of the euphoria it produced was near the maximum - tempered only by the fact that the Series wasn't on the line. The duration of the good feeling would probably also have been the maximum had it been a Series-winning blast. Coming in Game 1, the home run still gets duration points, but it's reduced by the fact that the Dodgers still had angst and pressure beginning the next day. On the other hand, the fact that the home run is still celebrated today reinvgorates it on the duration scale.

Reserving the right to adjust them, I'm assigning these values (My instinct is to create a Happy Shares scale from -100 to 100.):

  • Gibson HR: Sweetness 45 + Duration 49, Total: 94

    In contrast, take Bobby Thomson's "shot heard 'round the world" in 1951. I wasn't around to experience it, but I think it's safe to say that for Dodger fans, the blast packaged maximum desolation and that this desolation remained for months, if not years.

  • Thomson HR: Sweetness -50 + Duration -50, Total: -100

    Obviously, I don't need numbers to tell me that Gibson's home run made Dodger fans happy and that Thomson's made them sad. What the Happy Shares system might offer, though, is a way to understand how meaningful the moments in between are - to compare moments between seasons.

    Take Sunday's victory. Pretty good on the Happy Share scale, especially for April. A comeback victory with a barrage of home runs. A sweep over the Giants. A 9-3 start to the season. It's tainted by Jeff Weaver's collapse in the sixth inning and the fact that the game was so nearly lost. The duration of the good feeling will last at least 48 hours, until the next time they play - and it might even last beyond that if it buoys me through a loss.

  • Dodgers sweep Giants; go 9-3 in 2004: Sweetness 10 + Duration 5, Total: 15.
  • Adrian Beltre's opposite field three-run home run in the sixth gives Dodgers the lead: 5 + 3, 8
  • Juan Encarnacion's goes back-to-back: 3 + 1, 4
  • Dave Ross gives Dodgers three HR in a row: 4 + 3, 7

    And then, just to take a few moments from the past to compare:

  • Dodgers win final three games in 1980 to tie Astros: 40 + 20, 60
  • Dodgers lose Game #163 behind Dave Goltz: -30 + -20, -50
  • Wilkin Ruan gets his first two career hits in one inning, 2002: 4 + 2, 6

    That's right - I'm happier about Ruan's two hits than Encarnacion's home run Sunday, but Beltre's home run Sunday is the greater moment for me.

    Don't worry; I'm not going to spend the rest of the season, or even the day, rating every Dodger moment. My desire today is to express the good feeling I have about the team having the best record in baseball, even though it came on the heels of three very narrow victories - the narrowness indicating the thin margin of error the Dodgers have as much or more than any championship mettle.

    I'm feeling 15 about the Dodgers. No, it ain't 94, but it's better than -100.

    Actually, I feel like 15 doesn't adequately express my feeling - and frankly, Kirk Gibson raises something in me more than a 94.

    Let's multiply everything by 5.

    I'm feeling 75 about the Dodgers. No, it ain't 470, but it's better than -500.

    (Beltre HR: 40, Encarnacion HR: 20, Ross HR: 35, Dodgers tie Astros in 1980: 300, Dodgers lose 1980 Game 163: -250, Ruan's two hits: 30)

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