Thursday, January 30, 2014


Gerard Philipe (with Madeleine Robinson) in UNE SE JOLIE PETITE PLAGE:
getting wet in all the wrong ways. 
Still in the thrall of film noir (the 12th edition of Noir City in San Francisco, where the seven deadly sins have sailed out from America to embrace their inner impulses around the globe), so our denouement--a word, BTW, never uttered by Jean Gabin, Yves Montand, or Gerard Philipe--has been delayed a bit. But a slam-bang finish, set to the sound of whimpering, is something deep in our (non)-Gallic blood--so here goes.

Is there a pattern in the Baseball Reliquary carpet? By that, we aren't referring back to the well-known "adversity/extremity/otherness" rap that we've spun over the years, though that remains a solid thematic analysis of the forces at work in selecting the Shrine of the Eternals. No, we're here to quantify, dammit--so themes be damned.

So, let's quantify already. In earlier installments we referred to the "classes" (the yearly crop of new candidates) that have been featured since the massively successful inaugural ballot, from which 21 Shrine inductees originated. We isolated one statistic associated with these classes--the percentage of the yearly vote that the new candidates received. Here, in the chart at left, we collect that data, along with the percentage of the inductees in any given year who have eventually become inductees.

Is there a pattern in that data? As M. Philipe would say, mais oui. As the chart shows, there is a relatively linear pattern between the percent of the vote garnered by the candidates in their first year on the Reliquary ballot and the percentage of those who become Eternals.

Of course, it only makes sense: the top-notch candidates (whoever they are) will draw more votes at the outset, and will rise to the top of the vote. The voting process (top three, with no set percentage of the vote required) pretty much guarantees that we will have a pattern of the type seen in the chart. That doesn't explain why certain candidates are the anointed ones, of course, but it gives us a cut-off point between success and failure. And, as you can see by the handy color-coding, that cut-off point is right around 12 percent.

In fact, the difference (expressed this way) is astonishingly stark. If a class gets 12% or more of the vote in its first year, nearly one-fourth of the candidates will become members of the Eternals. If a class gets less than 12%, less than 1% of the candidates make it in. (And that singular candidate who bucked the odds is none other than Lester Rodney, the leftist sportswriter who was a tireless--and occasionally tiresome, at least to his detractors--proponent of integration. Perhaps there was some finely tuned sense in the Reliquary voters when they inducted Rodney in 2005 along with Jackie Robinson.)

As you can see, the first-year candidates have a varied success rate. (We're not going to create a "running percentage" chart to track their level of success, because that's not relevant--a situation that occurs more and more often in baseball numberology these days. Such a chart would have no real meaning.) What's clear is that the Reliquary brain trust has not lost its touch over the years--they've had very successful years in recent times, as a look at 2008 and 2010 will demonstrate. There's also a good bit of hope in the last two recent classes--2012 and 2013. They look likely to pay off well over time.

So what about 2014? We're going to leave you with only the names of these new candidates, in order to let you ponder and puzzle over them, to try to examine what their chances of being viable members of the Shrine. As always, Terry and Buddy create an impossible range of possibilities, allowing whim and fate to take hold of their voting population--they strip-mine the history of the game in a way that leaves you slack-jawed with simultaneous wonder and confusion.

Roll the names over in your heads, let 'em roll off your tongues (but for G's sake, don't start speaking in tongues--if that starts happening, you've got the wrong Shrine, baby). Based on the data that was assembled in part two, we think we might be able to pull a Chris Jaffe on our old pals here and actually make some prognostications as to how the class of 2014 will fare in the voting. We will do that after several quite protracted commercial messages, and a series of adventures that will rival those of Gerard Philipe in the rainy, redolent tale of woe we referenced at the top, a film that probably should have been titled Camus at the Beach.

But the only beach involved with the Reliquary is the one where Terry and Buddy go every time they fashion a new list of potential Eternals, where they cavort with those magic balloons that they can let go of with impish impunity, knowing that instead of flying away and being lost forever, they will magically return to the hands who've released them.

That what's being an anti-organization can do for you. Try it sometime!