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Bad stats are annoying, but good stats are fun

One of my big sports pet peeves is the overuse of the “since” stat. It’s usually used during broadcasts or by well-meaning sports writers trying to put a stat into context, but it ends up being mindless filler.

For example, Southern Miss baseball player Mason Irby won the Conference USA hitter of the week award this week. In the press release it was noted that it’s the first time a USM player has gotten it since — drum roll, please — May 2016.

Late last season.

Wow.

One time, an announcer mentioned that LSU hadn’t won a football game at Tennessee in almost 20 years. He declined to mention that, because of the way the SEC football schedule cycles, they’d only played there twice in that span.

For a stat to mean anything, it should be a truly rare statistical oddity. Preferably, something that hasn’t happened in at least a decade or something you rarely see. In the first couple of days this week we had a few of those.

Heading into their NIT game against Georgia Tech on Tuesday, Ole Miss’ men’s basketball team had an all-time record of 1,281 wins and 1,281 losses. It marked the first time the program had been .500 or better since 1958.

Now that’s a “since” stat worth mentioning.

On the local level we had a couple of bizarre occurrences more than items that fall into the “since” category.

On Monday, Vicksburg High’s baseball team lost 16-1 and did not put a ball in play. Eleven batters struck out and one was picked off in the four-inning game. The Gators’ run came about because of a hit batter, a walk and a throwing error.

That’s rare at any level.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Vicksburg’s softball team scored 29 runs against Terry on Monday, thanks largely to drawing 27 walks.

Earlier this season, Terry’s pitchers issued 19 walks in an 18-14 VHS win. The two games combined took about seven hours to slog through. If you want a “since” stat there, you could talk about the last time the fans saw their families in relation to the time the game started.

Those Vicksburg games were not a whole lot of fun to sit through, but they did have some fun stats worth mentioning.

And that’s the best thing since sliced bread.

Ernest Bowker is a sports writer for The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at ernest.bowker@vicksburgpost.com

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured sports reporters in the paper's 137-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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