There's a philosophical paradox called the Surprise Paradox. One version goes like this:
The students are told that there will be a pop quiz at the beginning of a random class the following week. The teacher will give no clues and promises the students will be surprised.
One clever student thinks: "Well, it can't be Friday, because if there's no quiz by Thursday night, I won't be surprised on Friday morning. So we can rule Friday out. But then Thursday is the last possible day, so we can rule it out for the same reason. In fact, we can go all the way back to Monday and there's no possible day I could be surprised. Therefore, the surprise quiz is impossible, and I don't need to study."
The quiz comes on a Wednesday; the clever student is, in fact, surprised, and tanks the quiz. The less clever students, who have studied in advance, are surprised but pass.
Paradoxes are all about rationality, and how that rationality breaks down. In this case the clever student is totally rational, and you can't fault any single point in their logic, but he or she has erred in assuming that the teacher is exactly as rational as they are. Predicting other people is hard; they do crazy stuff sometimes.
There's another paradox, a much simpler and more common one, known to anyone who has watched The Princess Bride or the pilot for BBC's Sherlock:
There are two pills/goblets of wine/Kit Kats. One is poisoned, the other not. The villain places one in front of you and tells you, "I put the poisoned one in front of me." You must choose.
It seems like a fifty-fifty gamble, but of course, the poison isn't assigned at random. If you were to understand the thought process of your enemy, you have a 100% chance of survival. So is he lying? Or is he lying about his lying, because he knows you know he'll lie? Is it a triple-bluff? Did his eyes move up and to the left?
You have all this extra information, but it doesn't really do anything to help you; having established that your opponent has incentive to lie to you, his word alone bears no weight at all. You have to throw it all out, and stick with what you know. Hopefully there are some other clues: a trace of powder on the rim of the glass, some bubbles to denote a recent stirring. These alone are your hints. Words fail.
This is where we are with Mariners management: they have shown a willingness to deceive or obscure their motive when they feel transparency defeats their ultimate goals. Politicians do the same, and we hate it and accept it. We can try to read into every press conference, compare the Wedge quotes to the Zduriencik quotes and look for hints as to what truly happened, what the team really aims to do. But you're better off looking at what they do and not what they say. Based on what they're doing, better spit the poison back into your napkin.
In the meantime, there's a game today. Happily, it's a Seahawks-Mariners doubleheader, with the M's providing the sprig of parsley after the big important sporting meal. It's easy to feel frustrated and sick of baseball at this point, with one last meaningless game to motor through. But remember February: the days later on when you'll miss baseball, even stupid poisonous baseball. Perhaps throw off the analytical yoke for a day and just appreciate the aesthetics of the game, ignoring the names on the back of the jerseys.
Here are the names on the back of the jerseys:
|1||Chris Young||CF||Brad Miller||SS|
|2||Seth Smith||LF||Nick Franklin||2B|
|3||Josh Donaldson||3B||Kyle Seager||3B|
|4||Brandon Moss||DH||Kendrys Morales||DH|
|5||Alberto Callaspo||2B||Raul Ibanez||LF|
|6||Josh Reddick||RF||Justin Smoak||1B|
|7||Derek Norris||C||Michael Saunders||RF|
|8||Daric Barton||1B||Mike Zunino||C|
|9||Eric Sogard!||SS||Dustin Ackley||CF|
|Sonny Gray||SP||Erasmo Ramirez||SP|
A solid game by Erasmo Ramirez would help maintain good feelings about a 2014 rotation that has a lot of interesting options. Minus Ibanez and perhaps Morales, this is exactly the kind of lineup and rotation we can expect to see often next year. The die is cast.