Friday, June 30, 2006

The Failure of Rotisserie Baseball Logic

Andrew -

I recently completed reading two books that before I started reading either of them I had no idea how profoundly related they were. The first book was The Logic of Failure. It has been on my reading list for quite a while, recommended by Rob, a former colleague and now friend. The second book, Fantasyland (about Fantasy Baseball), I picked up on a whim at the recommendation of a friend (Michael) while riding home with him on the train. (You’re smart enough to already see the connection between these two books, aren’t you…)

The Logic of Failure is a clinical study into the psychology of why people make bad decisions that ultimately lead to catastrophic failures. The disaster at Chernobyl is one example that he uses in the book.

To study people’s decision making processes the author created a computer simulation game of two complex adaptive systems (a village in West Africa and a small town in Germany) and asked the study participants to try to improve the lives of the people in the simulation through decision making. More often than not, the simulation ended up with the people in worse shape than before the participants ‘started meddling’. Poor goal setting, focusing on incidentals, not addressing problems soon enough, lack of experience in the domain and cynicism are among the reasons for failure identified and discussed at length for the bad decisions people were making.

The Logic of Failure was a hard book for me to read for a couple of reasons, the first being that it is a very clinical study of why people were making bad decisions that ultimately lead to failure. But it was also difficult to read as I clearly saw several patterns in my own decision making processes that have not served me well.

Well, after beating myself over my poor decisions making skills I decided that I wanted to pick up something to read that would be just for fun - try to lighten my mood a little. I needed something to read that was not work related, not a self-improvement book, not technical - just something for pure entertainment. Well, I hit the jackpot with Fantasyland.

Fantasyland is the story of a sportswriter’s first attempt at playing Rotisserie Baseball during the 2004 Baseball season. Sam Wallace from the Wall Street Journal joined Tout Wars, the premier Rotisserie Baseball league, for his inaugural season of Fantasy Baseball. With his in depth knowledge of baseball, ready access to players and coaches for their insights (using his press pass to get into each team’s club house) and two full time advisors he put on his personal payroll (and an occasional consult from an Astrologer) he was convinced that he could outdo the others in the league. It’s compelling reading as he takes you through the months of his decision making process in preparation for selecting his team during draft day and then toiling over managing the team through trades during the season. (And, it is a very funny book. My favorite line from the book is how he described feeling after being taken advantage of by a seasoned Tout Wars competitor in a lopsided trade: “He worked me over like a drunken chiropractor.”)

Well, with me associating The Logic of Failure with Fantasyland in this blog posting you probably have already concluded that Sam Wallace didn’t do well in his first season in Rotisserie Baseball and you would be correct: eighth place out of 12 teams. The same patterns in decision making documented in The Logic of Failure that led to failure were being made by Sam Wallace in Fantasyland. But the real brilliance of Fantasyland is the epilogue, on the last page and last paragraph of the book:

"Sam Wallace returned to Tout Wars in 2005 to draft a second incarnation of the Streetwalkers Baseball Club. With only two nights to spare on the evaluation of American League ballplayers, he arrived at the draft in New Your fully expecting to be thumped like a traffic cone. Six months later, he won..."

Andrew - once you get some experience in a domain, whether it be Baseball or Project Management, don't over-analyze the problems within the domain. Apply the sound fundamentals that you have learned and trust them work for you. Always be passionate about your domain and never become cynical over the effects of your decisions. Love what you do and success will follow.


Blogger Michael said...

Sydney Ponson! Oh why Sydney Ponson.

July 5, 2006 at 7:51:00 AM PDT  
Blogger cylon said...

When we are born our brains are like empty computers waiting to be fed information. As we grow our peers act as our programmers, they supply us with the knowledge which we channel through the conscious mind into the subconscious (our hard drive). The subconscious mind is the biggest hard drive ever developed - it stores everything we come in contact with and by no means is all of this information of a positive nature.
All that we have heard, touched, smelt, tasted and seen are stored in the recesses of our minds. The subconscious mind holds on to this information until we need to recall it. For example when you were young your curiosity lead you to investigate your surroundings. When you approached a substance that was dangerous, such as fire, your parents or guardians would most likely have rebuked or scolded you if you ventured too near the flame. Perhaps you may even recall an incident when you were physically burned. Your subconscious mind then began to relate scolding (or pain) with the intense heat of the fire and would therefore feed the feelings of the scolding incident back to you whenever you got too close to fire again, thus acting as an early warning system.
This is the mechanism used by our brains to learn. It is also the same method employed by the mind in every situation. The subconscious mind has a tendency to emulate what it sees - it tends to replicate its environment. This is why so many people find themselves in similar relationships and situations that they saw their parents in while they were growing up. Most people also hold very strongly or similar views of their parents.
Think of a time when you gave yourself praise. What words did you use? Do you use the same words that your parents or peers used when they were praising you? The same is applicable when you scold yourself.

Watch your internal dialogue. Look at it closely. It takes diligence to change the way you think. When you notice yourself thinking a negative chose to think the opposite. This way you neutralise the negative thought. Now the think the positive thought again! You have just reversed the negative thinking in that moment and remember you only have this moment. No other time exists!
Daydream about what might be. Imagine things they way you wish them to be. If you catch yourself thinking "this is just a daydream - a fantasy" then stop! Think the opposite. It is not a daydream it is your reality. Now think it again.

By doing this simple procedure you will begin to retrain your subconscious mind to think positively and you will ultimately begin to consciously create a life that dreams are made of! subliminal

October 20, 2006 at 8:18:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

fantasy baseball teamAny one using the phrase "easy as taking candy from a baby, has never tried taking candy from a baby before.fantasy baseball team

November 21, 2006 at 5:39:00 AM PST  
Blogger mario said...

We all know the effects (and after-effects) of beer. But lifting a glass of cool liquid to your mouth on a scorching hot day, have you ever stopped to consider the processes and ingredients involved in making it? Well maybe not but here is the answer anyway!

Simply, beer is a fermented combination of water, barley, yeast and hops. The major variation in any beer is the type of yeast used in the fermentation process.

Let's look at the properties of this beverage.
Water is the main ingredient of beer. In the past, the purity of the water influenced the final result and was specific to the region of the earth from which it came. Today, water is filtered of these impurities, although pure water supplies are still ideally preferred by elite brewers.

Barley malt is an extremely important ingredient in beer as it is the main source of fermentable sugar. Many new breweries use barley malt extract, in either syrup or powder form, as this form ferments much quicker. It also contains many minerals and vitamins that help the yeast to grow.

Without yeast, beer would not exist. Yeast is a unique single cell organism that eats sugar and expels alcohol and carbon dioxide, two of the more recognizable ingredients of beer. Yeast comes in several variations, of which there are two major categories that determine the type of beer produced; Ale yeast and Lager yeast. If yeast alone were used the beer would be extremely sweet and therefore another ingredient needs to be added to reach the final product.

Hops are the flowers of the hop plant, a climbing vine plant that grows well in many differing climates. Hops contain acids which add bitterness to beer. Adding bitterness to beer helps to balance the sweetness, as well as acting as a natural preservative. Add more hops to the mixture and you will get a more bitter taste. This kind of beer is extremely popular in Britian and is simply referred to as "Bitter" (the original names are always the best!).

Variations of these ingredients create different tasting beers as well as having an affect on the alcoholic content.
When making your own beer many good resources are available which provide home brewing kits. It is important to read the ingredients of the packets in order to ascertain which has the best mixture according to your needs. One quick tip which many home brewers fail to adhere to is this: "Use fresh still water"!

Many have often sought information on how to make beer and the basic homebrewing equipment is not very expensive you can get what you need, for as little as $100.
In order to start making beer, you will need the following: A brewpot, Primary fermenter, Airlock and stopper, Bottling bucket, Bottles, Bottle brush, Bottle capper, and a thermometer.
In addition you can even use items from your kitchen to aid in the beer making. A breakdown of all the equipment is as follows: Brewpot A brewpot is made of stainless steel or enamel-coated metal which has at least 15 litre capacity, but it's no good if it's made of aluminum or if it's a chipped enamelized pot, (these will make the beer taste funny). The brew pot is used to boil the ingredients thus begins the first stage of beer making.

Primary fermenter

The primary fermenter is where the beer begins to ferment and become that fabulous stuff that makes you so funny and charming. The primary fermenter must have a minimum capacity of 26 litres and an air tight seal it must also accommodate the airlock and rubber stopper. Make sure the one you buy is made of food-grade plastic, as it wont allow the bad stuff in or let the good stuff out.

Airlock and stopper

The airlock is a handy gadget which allows carbon dioxide to escape from your primary fermenter during fermentation, it is this process that keeps it from exploding, but it doesn't allow any of the bad air from outside to enter. It fits into a rubber stopper, and is placed into the top of your primary fermenter. The stoppers are numbered according to size, so make sure you use the correct stopper for the correct hole

Plastic hose

This is a food grade plastic hose which measures approximately 5 feet in length. It is needed to transfer the beer from system to system, and it is imperitive that it is kept clean and free from damage or clogs

Bottling bucket

This is a large, food-grade plastic bucket with a tap for drawing water at the bottom, it needs to be as big as your primary fermenter, because you need the capacity to pour all the liquid from your primary fermenter into a bottling bucket prior to bottling up.


After fermentation, you place the beer in bottles for secondary fermentation and storage. You need enough bottles to hold all the beer you're going to make, the best kind of bottles are solid glass ones with smooth tops (not the twist-off kind) that will accept a cap from a bottle capper. You can use plastic ones with screw-on lids, but they arent as good for fermentation and dont look as well.

Whether you use glass or plastic bottles, make sure they are dark-colored. Light damages beer, i would recommend green or brown bottles.

Bottle brush

This is a thin, curvy brush which is used to clean bottles because of the the shape of the brush it makes it very affective at getting the bottle spotless. We haven't even gotten into how clean everything has to be, but we will, and the bottle brush is a specialized bit of cleaning equipment that you will require in order to maintain your bottle kit.

Bottle capper

If you take buy glass bottles, you will need some sort of bottle capper and caps, of course, and you can buy them from any brewing supplies store. The best sort of bottle capper is one which can be affixed to a surface and worked with one hand while you hold the bottle with the other.


This is a thermometer which can be stuck to the side of your fermenter, they are just thin strips of plastic which are self adhesive, and can be found in any brewing supplies store, or from a pet shop or aquarium. Not everything costs money though even some household equipment can be used.

Household items

In addition to the above specialized equipment, you will need the following household items:
* Small bowl
* Saucepan
* Rubber spatula
* Oven mitts/pot handlers
* Big mixing spoon (stainless steel or plastic)
So there you have the ingredients and the method to make your home brew, all you need now is to get yourself a beer making kit and your on the way to beer heaven.
Bar equipment

March 18, 2007 at 7:58:00 AM PDT  

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