The Numbers Game

Guess I should have listened to my math teacher.

A group of number crunchers at George Tech used two mathematical processes to correctly pick this year’s Final Four….and 30 of the 36 Final Four teams in the past nine years, according to InfoWorld. Those results are more accurate than the tournament seeding system and polls, which have picked 23, and RPI, which ID’d 21 of the Final Four participants.

The Georgia Tech system, uses two mathematical processes — logical regression and Markov chain, aka LRMC — to make selections. This year LRMC not only picked the Final Four — which was four #1 seeds — but had Kansas beating Memphis for the championship.

Don’t ask me to explain how it works. But it does work way better than my system.

Having said that, bet LRMC didn’t pick George Mason a few years back.

A Tale of Munson, Murcer and Uncle Angelo

Thankfully, former Yankee outfielder and current Yankee broadcaster Bobby Murcer received a clean bill of health this week. Last week I blogged about Murcer and his latest brush with brain cancer.

Now I have a story that involves from Yankee catcher and captain Thurman Munson and Murcer…. with a very personal twist.

When Munson was killed in a plane crash in 1979, the entire Yankee team flew to Canton, Ohio, for the funeral on August 6. Two of Munson’s teammates delivered eulogies at the funeral, Lou Piniella and Bobby Murcer.

During his eulogy, Murcer quoted my great uncle, Angelo Patri, the famed progressive educator, writer and philosopher. Murcer sobbed as he read: “The life of a soul on earth lasts longer than his departure. He lives on in your life and the life of all others who knew him.”

The words are from Uncle Angelo’s syndicated column, Our Children, and were written in 1928.

“In one sense there is no death,
The life of the soul on earth lasts beyond his departure.
You will always feel that life touching yours
That voice speaking to you — that spirit looking out of other eyes,
talking to you in the familiar things he touched…
Worked with…loved as familiar friends.
He lives on in your life
And in the lives of all others that knew him.”

Following Munson’s funeral, the Yankees returned to Bronx, where Uncle Angelo had become the first Italian-born American to become a school principal in 1907. That night the Yankees faced the Baltimore Orioles in a nationally televised game. Yankee manager Billy Martin wanted to give the emotionally drained Murcer the night off, but Bobby insisted on playing. Murcer single-handedly brought the Yankees back from a 4-0 deficit with a three-run homer in the seventh and a two-run single to win the game, 5-4, in the bottom of the ninth.

Murcer never used the bat from the game again and gave it to Munson’s widow, Diana.

NOTE: Sadly Bobby Murcer died shortly after this column was written.