Updated: May 5

Even the greatest baseball play by play announcer of all time, Vin Scully, used to make a claim like that. Say there was one out and Sax tried to steal second. And say he was called out on a controversial play. Then the next guy up would lace a hit and Scully would say that would have scored a run if Sax was still at second.

At Bragr we are all about figuring out the role of chance in sports. But the fallacy of Scully and every other announcer who makes that claim is that once Sax is out everything changes. The pitcher might relax and groove a pitch he’d never make otherwise; or if Sax was still on second maybe he’d throw a fastball to try to get a strikeout instead the sinker to get a grounder.

It’s like golf match play. If your opponent drains a 30 footer then your putt from 5 feet suddenly becomes tougher. Sports don’t happen in a vacuum. Athletes make different pitches and putts based on what just happened. Talking about what might have been ignores that once something happens everything changes.

If you don’t believe us, ask George Bailey.