John Keats, Theo Epstein, and the Number "18"


On this day in 1819 John Keats wrote his famous Ode to Autumn.  It has these oft-quoted  lines "Where are the songs of Spring? Aye where are they?/ Think not of them, thou hast thy music too---"

Unfortunately for the Cubs, autumn's music will be the strains of a dirge.  Their hopes of a .500 season---let alone a pennant---died weeks ago. Now all they have is the humble  goal of not losing 100 games. Can you hear that doleful refrain again wafting from the Northside?  "Wait until next year...wait until next year...wait until next year."

For future success, Cub  fans around the universe are counting on something called sabermetrics. Baseball's version of  number-crunching.  Right now a certified  wizard named Epstein is sifting through reams of statistics.  He is supposed to have preternatural powers in this regard. He will input the BABIP, the OPS, the VORP, the EQA, and BsR, and even the LIPS into his cerebral hard-drive. And hocus-pocus, the Cubs will eventually be beamed into the World Series.

Whatever.  The whole approach reminds me of Biblical numerology.  In Hebrew, each letter is equivalent to a number.  Because the Hebrew word for life adds up to 18, Jewish people consider 18 a lucky number.  I have read that for this reason, Jews will give monetary gifts in multiples of $18.  For example,  instead of contributing $100 to Obama's campaign,  a superstitious  Jewish Democrat might   send $108 ( 6 X 18).

So I have a suggestion for Mr. Epstein and the other mystical  numerologists in the Cubs front office.  Take "13" off the back of the uniform of multi-millionaire superstar Starlin Castro.  Stitch on a jumbo "18".  If the Cubs are  going to go into next year with the wind at their backs, they'll have to cover all the bases. Including one called LUCK.


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