The Sunday Funnies & Factoids: The ‘Why is it November in September?’ Edition
by Keith Lennox, All-len-All, 09/14/14 –
Good day, friends. Hope your week went swimmingly and the weekend is being kind to you. I awoke this morning to temps hovering just above the freezing mark and a high today rocketing all the way up to the low 50s….. jeeebus, not much of a tail end to ‘summer’.
1) Chad and Barbie Soper of Rockford, Michigan, have three kids. They were born on 08/08/08, 09/09/09, and 10/10/10….. probably by C-section…. in which case, big whoop
3) The first man to appear on the cover of Playboy was the actor Peter Sellers.
4) Cenosillicaphobia is the fear of an empty glass….. welcome to my fucking world….
5) In Argentina, you can get your caffeine fix with yerba maté. Made from dried holly leaves, the beverage stimulant is so popular that the average Argentine drinks 11 pounds of the stuff a year.
7) Why Are Baseball Seasons 162 Games Long?
This week, Major League Baseball released the schedule for the 2015 season. You may have noticed that it starts later and ends later than previous seasons–but each team still plays 162 games, just as they have for decades. But how did MLB arrive at such a seemingly arbitrary number?
Let’s start in 1920. There was baseball before then, but that’s when both the National and American Leagues settled on a season length that would hold for over 40 years. At the time, it was simple math: two leagues of eight teams each–there were no divisions yet–meant each team had seven rivals. For a few years, teams had played each of their rivals 20 times for an 140-game season. In 1920, this was expanded to 22 games against each of seven rivals, 11 at home and 11 away, resulting in an 154-game season.
Then, leagues started expanding. In 1961, the American League added the Los Angeles Angels and the Washington Senators. The following year, the National League welcomed the New York Mets and the Houston Colt .45’s. “After the first expansion, each team had nine rivals rather than seven, and the 154-game season made for bad math,” MLB’s official historian, John Thorn, explains. To play 22 games against each rival would require an 198-game season, so MLB settled on 18 games per rival for nine rivals, for a total of 162 games.
(Thorn clarifies that yes, in 1961, after the AL had expanded but the NL had not, the leagues played seasons of different lengths. “Both World Series contestants opened their regular seasons on April 11 and concluded on October 1,” he says. “NL had more days off.”)
The season has been 162 games ever since, but it’s taken some work to keep it there. “Even with further expansions, 162 became the de facto standard, and you had to get more and more complicated arithmetically to make it work,” Thorn says. “So when we went to two 6-team divisions [per league] in 1969 the–I think brilliant–solution was to have more games against the teams in your division, thus enabling you to preserve the 162-game season.”
The addition of a third division in each league in 1994, introduction of interleague-play in 1997, a final expansion to 30 teams total in 1998 and, most recently, the realignment of the leagues that necessitated perpetual interleague games last season has made for increasingly complicated scheduling and yet the season holds at 162 games.
These days, teams play 76 contests against division rivals, 66 against non-division league teams, and 20 interleague games–or 162 games. It works, but it feels a little random. The reason the schedule has stayed at 162 games is largely because to change it would be so difficult.
“No one wants to give up home dates,” Thorn says. “So if we went to 158 games, each team would have to give up two home dates and that’s revenue.” Meanwhile, a longer season would mean ending even later in the year than the late October/early November World Series of late. And unless the teams agreed to play at a warmer, neutral location (unlikely given, again, the potential hit to ticket sales) this could result in some seriously cold weather at the championship games.
It’s not just the bureaucratic intricacies that have kept the season length consistent (although trying to imagine the MLB Players Association and the team owners reaching an agreement to ever add or subtract a single game is probably explanation enough). Baseball is, after all, a sentimentalist’s game. “Baseball is a religion,” Thorn says. “It becomes the 11th commandment: 162 games.
8) Jellyfish are 94 to 98% water!
9) In writing his own tombstone, Thomas Jefferson penned a lengthy memorial listing many of his great accomplishments, from “author of the Declaration of Independence” to “founder of the University of Virginia.” However, he did forget one small achievement: the tombstone fails to mention that Jefferson was once president of the United States.
10) Despite his many name changes, musician Prince did have a real first name once: Prince.
11) The “french” in french fries actually describes the way the spuds are sliced, not their country of origin….. so changing the name to ‘freedom fries’ after 9/11 was an even more stupid idea than I originally thought.
12) Christmas classic “Do You Hear What I Hear?” was written as a plea for peace during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
13) It is most improper to refer to a servicemember as having “won” the Medal of Honor or similar military commendation. It is not a contest or competition; there is no winner. One should refer to the servicemember as being awarded, or simply receiving, the commendation.
14) O’Hare Airport is named after Al Capone’s laywer’s son, Lt. Cmdr. Butch O’Hare.
15) The 2 billion-year-old Star of India, which at 563.35 carats is the largest star sapphire in the world, is actually from Sri Lanka.
16) Theodore Roosevelt was once shot at during a campaign rally in Wisconsin. The bullet penetrated his glasses case and a manuscript, just missing his right lung. Being an expert hunter he decided to stay and give his speech since he wasn’t coughing up blood. His speech lasted nearly an hour.
17) In 2004, researchers at King’s College in London spent weeks examining dozens of horror movies before determining that Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining was “the perfect scary film.”
Well, that’s all folks… hope you learned something new today. Stay safe and healthy next week… I expect to see you all back here next Sunday for the next installment of the SF&Fs. Pay it forward this week if the opportunity presents itself….. you’ll be glad you did.