Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

The application of statistical analysis in professional baseball, known as sabermetrics, has noticeably changed the way the game is played the last decade. Whether or not those changes have been for the better remains a common rift among baseball fans.

It’s a wormhole debate for seamheads (like me), but I have no intention of diving into it for this post. I will say there’s little friction against sabermetrics on my end, only a word of caution to my baseball brethren to recognize statistics don’t tell the whole story–and that goes for entrepreneurship, too. As long as commerce and baseball are run by people there will always be a human element to the game; work ethic, determination and other intangibles that simply can’t be calculated. Thus, to get the whole picture you need light from both sides.

“People commonly use statistics like a drunk uses a lamp post; for support rather than illumination.”– Mark Twain

We already know statistical data provides loads of information to better position a defense on the diamond or a business in the market, but statistics can also be used to twist narratives into misleading directions, as Mike Templeman explains in his article on Entrepreneur.com “When You Focus on Failure Statistics, You May End Up One.”

It’s an article well worth reading, especially if someone’s ever given you the line about your new business having an 80-percent chance of failing.

Heed Margaret Mead

It’s rare for an entrepreneur to begin the journey with more than a handful of people at the ready, and in most cases it’s likely two or three people. Painting your vision for others to see, feel and empathize with your passion isn’t the hard part–it’s getting their commitment to go to work for your cause.

Make no mistake, accomplishing your grand vision–and your vision should be grand–will almost certainly require the help of dozens of people, if not hundreds. But the lion’s share of your work can be achieved with the small group you set out with on Day 1. In the land of entrepreneurship, you don’t need nine players on the diamond to field a team.

On a recent visit to Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo, I saw a quotation (it’s painted on a wall inside the Reptile House) from Margaret Mead , the cultural anthropologist and best-selling author (Coming of Age in Samoa, 1928).

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

And indeed, it’s the only thing that ever will.

Burgers, Beers and a Goat! Come Celebrate ROCKTOBER FEST with Reverse The Curse and Rock Bottom Brewery

Rock Bottom Chicago - Rocktoberfest 2014

You’ve heard of Munich’s Oktoberfest, but how about Chicago’s ROCKTOBER FEST?

It’s a night of eating, drinking, trivia, raffle prizes, music, and a goat – right here in the Windy City… and it’s happening tomorrow night.

Come out to Rock Bottom Brewery (1 W Grand Ave) tomorrow night, September 16th from 6pm – 9pm – as Reverse The Curse teams up with the River North location for a night of food and fun.

A $5 donation gets you:

  • A ticket for the evening’s raffle
  • Tasty seasonal appetizers
  • A pint of Rock Bottom’s 2014 World Beer Cup gold medal-winning Oktoberfest

Plus the Reverse The Curse goat will be on site for high-fives and Polaroid pics, and Rock Bottom’s chef has created a special Reverse The Curse Goat Cheese Burger just for tonight: Bison burger with roasted red pepper and arugula, topped with goat cheese and a Worcestershire reduction.

Baseball Or Bust In The D.R.

Baseball Or Bust In The D.R.

The gorgeous header picture on our web page is a goat farm in the Dominican Republic; however, underneath that beautiful blue sky and green canopy is a country riddled by poverty.

According to RualPovertyPortal.org, low agricultural productivity is a crucial factor in rural D.R.poverty. Although technology is available and is known to some farmers, lack of access to financial resources and outreach systems prevent farmers from adopting the technologies they need to improve their production and their incomes.

This is why Reverse The Curse is working tirelessly to provide locals with goat breeding facilities, vegetable gardens, chicken farms and most importantly, the technical training to start and run their own businesses.

Meanwhile, poverty certainly plays a factor as to why the D.R. has become a baseball factory for Major League baseball talent; with few opportunities in this impoverished land, the game serves as a glimmer of hope for some to sign lucrative major-league contracts, often reaching into the millions of dollars.

There are currently more than 130 Dominican-born players in professional baseball in North America–a list that continues to grow. The capital city of Santo Domingo alone represents nearly 20 current players on major league rosters–the Cubs’ Arismendy Alcantara being one of them (the Cubs have had as many as eight players from the D. R. on the roster in 2014).

It’s not just that Dominican kids enjoy playing baseball, they need to play baseball, and that’s why the Cubs, among other Major League organizations, have built the largest baseball academy to develop players in the Dominican–just outside Santo Domingo, no less.

But the real truth of the matter is despite the growth of major league talent, ballplayers are but a tiny sliver of the 4 million Dominicans mired in poverty. That’s not to say farming ballplayers is insignificant, but what’s to be done about Dominicans who can’t turn-two?

Appreciating The Grind

The Cubs are in the midst of playing 33 games in 34 days. It’s a reminder as to why the Major League schedule is referred to as a marathon season–162 games in roughly 180 days.

Furthermore, it explains why the month of August is known as the Dog Days of summer. Teams have more than 100 games in the books; players’ bodies are battered and beaten; the weather is dry and hot; and there’s still 50-plus games to go. It’s a grind.

But August is a key month in the pennant races, a time for the contenders to separate themselves from the pretenders: Good teams keep poised, remain focused and drive towards postseason baseball while lesser teams loosen their guard and succumb to the temptation to mail in the remainder of the campaign.

We’ve all experienced our own dog days, a time when the mere thought of taking an off-day is pure fantasy: the crush of a holiday sales season, moving into a new home or caring for a sick family member, etc. And it’s during our dog days we can understandably lose focus, make costly mistakes or simply choose to mail in our own season. The excuses are plentiful, if not justifiable.

In the Reverse The Curse office hangs a framed speech by the great Vince Lombardi, who reminds us winning is a habit–whether we’re in the Dog Days or the Golden Days. When we look at that picture hanging on the wall it’s our reminder to keep grinding–especially when it’s the toughest of times and we’re dog tired.

If you don’t already keep a ‘dog days’ reminder in your own workspace, make it a priority to get one; you’ll need it soon enough.

“Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do things right once in a while; you do them right all of the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing … And in truth, I’ve never known a man worth his salt who in the long run, deep down in his heart, didn’t appreciate the grind, the discipline. There is something in good men that really yearns for discipline and the harsh reality of head to head combat.”

-Vince Lombardi