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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Do we prefer close games at the expense of action?

If I notice pageviews of old posts, I sometimes re-post them on Google+ and twitter.  Recently I did that with:

Pitching duel or slugfest?  Sunday, July 28, 2013

In order to show their baseball knowledge many baseball fans will say: pitching duel, pretending that a game with little action is preferable to a game with lots of action.  Let's consider game seven of two World Series each of which was decided by one run in the bottom of the ninth: 1960 and 2001.
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It is now my most viewed post of the month.  I just got a comment that inspired this post:

"fans prefer close games... fewer runs mean a better chance of a close game"

At first I thought it made sense but it still begged the original question.  In basketball fans can barely stand a 55-50 game much less 2-1.  Same in football where points can be scored six at a time.  Who wants to watch a 10-7 NFL game?

Do we really prefer low scoring games?  The examples I used in the "Pitching duel or slugfest?" post were both one run games, so the slugfest included both elements: action and closeness.

Let's try another pair of examples: 2-1 and 10-5.  Which of those seems more appealing?  Lack of action in a pitching duel often features aggravation: many base runners stranded.  Or lots of strike outs.  Or worst of all: weak grounders and popups.

Sure you want that 1-1 game going into the 9th inning?

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