Numbers-loving journalist finds solace in fantasy baseball

Sometimes certain pairings just don’t seem to fit at first glance. When given the chance, dubious duos like ham sandwiches with preserves  and Mary Tyler Moore in a dramatic film can actually work out quite well.

Alex "Q" Bieler, assistant sports editor

Hello, my name is Q, and I’m a journalism communications major witha numbers fixation.

The typical comm student has developed a certain figure-fearing reputation. Unfortunately, it’s not horribly off base, as some of my counterparts would go into hysterics if faced with an entry level Sudoku.

Don’t get me wrong, I love words. But numbers are an integral part of everyday life, so why not embrace them? For one, think of how annoying it would be to order six cupcakes without being able to use the number six. The phrase “I would like to buy cupcake cupcake cupcake cupcake cupcake cupcake, please,” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.

Even after studying engineering my freshman year, I still enjoyed working with numbers. Fractions became puzzles, percentages looked fun and simple math seemed like a nice little game.

Sports statistics particularly intrigue me. For example, while waiting to interview one of the Gannon University softball players, I decided to look up her season statistics for fun. By the time she joined me, I had figured out her strikeouts per walk, strikeouts per seven innings, walks and hits per innings pitched, along with a variety of others, just because I was bored.

Luckily, instead of having to find random formulas to please me, the new baseball season provided exciting outlets for my left-brained leanings.

For more than half a year, fantasy baseball allows me to run through the deluge of digits and decimals to try and find something out of the ordinary. Sabermetrics, which you can read about in Zack McDermott’s page 15 article, fascinates me. When Merriam-Webster added acronyms like LOL and OMG, I was pushing for the inclusion of WHIP, OPS and BABIP.

My obsession with following these stats, while really helping me do well in my fantasy baseball leagues, has impacted how I watch baseball. Other than my beloved Cleveland Indians, I root for box scores, not teams.

I cheered when Neil Walker’s grand slam put the Pittsburgh Pirates ahead on Opening Day, but mainly because he was my starting second baseman. When Carlos Marmol blew a save against those same Pirates, I wasn’t sure what made me angrier – that he took the loss for my squad or that he couldn’t strike out a single stinking Bucco despite averaging 1.78 strikeouts per inning last year.

Some of my comm counterparts may look at me funny for my number obsession, but at least I can count on stats to brighten my day.


[email protected]