Brian Bahr - Getty Images
Is it the postseason? Probably not, given the performance of the Giants, but I still want to talk a bit of Baseball with my Football today.
If you have seen the movie Moneyball, then you probably know a little something about Bill James. He was the man who developed much of the statistical analysis that Brad Pitt would come to rely on for his exploitation of market inefficiencies. One thing that Bill James argued is that, in Baseball, good teams don't necessarily win all the close games - they win the blowouts.
Now Baseball is vastly different from Football. When there are only 16 games in the season, teams really need to win the close games and the blowouts if they want to be elite. Moreover, there can be a lot of luck driving the winner of a close game in Baseball. The groundball that gets past the shortstop? That can win a team the game, even if that's a double play nine out of ten times. I don't think there is a corollary in Football to that play - except maybe the fumble that happens to bounce into your hands. That can be pretty lucky.
But, let's stick with the premise Bill James proposed for a moment.
I wrote a couple of weeks ago that the Jets game could be a potential "spring board" game for the rest of the season, and I think we might be seeing that play out to an even greater degree than any of us ever anticipated. The fact is that the Jets and the Bills are worse teams than us. By far. We should blow them out, because that's what good teams. In Baseball, Football, Basketball, in whatever, good teams should destroy bad teams. In general. Of course there will be fluke games (though the Vikings game is starting to look less and less like a fluke game), but in general good teams need to expect that they will be bad teams.
This allows a team to develop an identity, and I think we have seen this develop over the last couple of games. The offensive play calls have been some of the most creative I have ever seen. I mean, a few years of my adult life have been dominated by Jimmy Raye, but still. This has been impressive. If it takes playing and blowing out a couple of crappy teams to open up the playbook and experiment a bit, then these two games have learned their Bill James' Baseball lessons well. And that makes me a happy fan.
Bill James' theory had to do with run differentials, as I understand it. Well if you look at the 49ers' point differentials the last couple of games, it's pretty amazing. Is that the product of opening up the playbook? I would like to hope so. I also hope it continues.