October 10, 2008
A big BLS head nod goes to my colleague Jeff Passan this morning. Instead of just including a lazy throwaway reference to Joe Maddon's motivational 9=8 slogan, Jeff actually tracked down some math geniuses to see if it could actually be proven.
The results of his challenge to a few Michigan State mathmeticians come in his Rays-Red Sox preview article, a morning must-read that includes mathematical"solution" to 9=8:
Yeah, I know — I was also told there would be no math.
But if you're also a few rungs short of Will Hunting — or you "stopped doing math when they started putting letters in there," like Jonny Gomes did — let it be known that the above is a mathematical fallacy. It involves a trick in one of the steps that is impossible to pull off.
From Jeff's article:
Despite Uriarte-Tuero's best effort to prove otherwise, nine does not equal eight. He is using a proof espoused by sneaky mathematicians everywhere, in which Step 4, calling for the simplification of the proof by removing (y-x) from both sides of the equation, is fallacious. It would require dividing by zero (because y equals x), which is impossible.
"This is a game mathematicians will play," said Patti Lamm, the ill-formed problem expert at Michigan State who emailed her colleagues for help in answering the question of how 9 = 8. "It's preying on people's gullibility to go along with math."
Having graduated from another Big Ten school, I can say that I'm not shocked someone from Michigan State would try to pull something like this off. Those Spartans were always trying to convince the other 10 schools that they were smarter than they actually were. Nothing new there.
Still, applause for a nice quest by Jeff and an even better one by the Rays to prove that 9=8 (that's nine players playing for nine innings to becoming one of eight playoff teams) is true on the diamond.
Now let's all return to being confused by the normal SABR crowd.