04 June 2007

The Karma Bank

BDR had a throwaway comment that intrigued me in a ridiculous fanboy sort of way: "What's distressing is that United may be burning all it's good luck on mediocrity." Now, I do believe that luck plays a role in games, but I also believe it functions the same way coin flips do: Previous tosses of the coin do not affect subsequent tosses, early scenes of Stoppard plays notwithstanding.

But if there were such a think as karma in soccer, how would it work? Here is a completely unscientific measurement to answer that question. First, if we're in the realm of magical thinking, and I think we are, then we must presume that the Deities Above Monitoring Normal Soccer (henceforth The DAMNS) appreciate stylish, attacking soccer. They despise diving and theatrics. They intervene in affairs through the referee, strange bounces, and minute air currents that direct a ball to one side of the post or another. So based on those principles, how much Karma should DC United have earned with the DAMNS, if we could theoretically assign karma points on a zero to three basis? Here's how I think it would go:

  • At Olimpia: Stylish soccer in difficult circumstances (away, non-US, and first game of the year) earns DC United 1 karma. (+1 overall)
  • Olimpia: Icky game in the rain, but result was reflective of the circumstances. No change. (+1)
  • Chivas Guadalajara: United is mostly outplayed, but gets a late goal to head on the road deadlocked. A bit fortunate, so DC United burns 1 karma. (Even)
  • At Chivas Guadalajara: United plays well, but freak rainstorm leads to Perkins missing the critical save. DC United owed 1 karma. (+1)
  • At Colorado: Uninspired affair sees DC lose, but the result was reflective. No Change (+1)
  • Kansas City: United players slipping on the pitch allow Wizards multiple breaks in on Perkins. Definitely a bit unfortunate, even if DC didn't deserve the win. United owed 1 karma (+2).
  • At Columbus: United loses, but it wasn't luck that played the biggest role. No Change (+2)
  • New England: United played well so earned a bit of karma, but ultimately got the goal through a penalty they normally don't get, burning 2 karma. 1 karma burned overall in the game. (+1)
  • Chivas USA: United earned that win, and the penalty seemed fair to me. No change (+1)
  • At Toronto: Again, United fights back after giving up an early goal. The own goal might have been slightly lucky, but owed more to Gomez's kick. The penalty was earned, but the Emilio's theatrics don't help. Still, overall? No change (+1)
  • Houston: Decent match, and while United gets some help from Ching missing a few shots, they also played well enough to win. No change. (+1)
  • At LA: Tedious, tedious, tedious. Still, United played some good soccer at the start of the second, but was far luckier in not being down at that point. Smoke from the karma burned got in Nate Jaqua's eyes. (Even)
So there it is. We're not owed anything by chance, but we don't owe anyone either. At this point, I'd say the breaks have gone easily. It's just that what we remember is affected by our current mood. If you're cynical, you'd remember all the times we got lucky and think "when that flips, we'll get hammered." If you're optimistic, then you think of all the times we didn't get the right bounce or a player slipped, and say "Well, once things go our way we'll be unstoppable." And if you're me, then you think "Huh, it seems about even so far. Man I hope this team plays good enough that luck isn't as much of a factor."

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9 Comments:

At 04 June, 2007 15:00, Anonymous bdr said...

I was more referring to other teams' strikers missing sitters in particular, United's defense not being punished more for sucking so bad in general.

All in a ridiculous fanboy way, of course (lol).

 
At 04 June, 2007 17:08, Blogger marc said...

hey d, are you part of radiohead's Karma Police?

Karma police, I've given all I can, its not enough
I've given all I can, but we're still on the payroll
This is what you get, this is what you get
This is what you get, when you mess with us
And for a minute there, I lost myself, I lost myself
And for a minute there, I lost myself, I lost myself

 
At 04 June, 2007 17:08, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're missing stuff like, playing tough but fair earns karma, getting away with cheap shots takes away. Bitching and whining excessively takes away, running hard and not complaining for the whole game earns.

When Jaime ran to make that kick save a 3 games ago, because he's not known for that, it earned karma points for him, but there is bleed over to the team.

 
At 04 June, 2007 17:12, Blogger D said...

BDR: Well, I was accusing myself of fanboyness, not you, but we're all welcome to indulge.

Marc: A mild fan. I appreciated Radiohead through most of OK computer, didn't really dig the solo stuff.

Anon: A very valid point, and one that I'll pay closer attention to from now on.

 
At 05 June, 2007 08:16, Anonymous bigkris said...

The Karma Bank is like Shrodinger's box - you don't know what's in there until you open it. Oh, and by the way, the laws of Karma being what they are, checking up on how much you have causes the account to empty.

 
At 05 June, 2007 09:33, Anonymous Bill Urban said...

what is the karmaic effect of the persistent misspelling of a player's name?

:P

 
At 05 June, 2007 09:34, Blogger D said...

Bill: Huge, but I hope to offset it with brilliant insight and wit. That may be a forlorn hope.

Dammit dammit dammit. I really need to stop doing that.

 
At 05 June, 2007 21:15, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want a graph! With lots of colors!

 
At 06 June, 2007 07:23, Blogger D said...

Don't think I didn't think about it for a moment. Somedays I am a parody of myself.

 

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