Yorik is, of course, the economist who headed a statistical inquiry into LOOFA, for Lead Off/Outstanding Fielding Alignment (a.k.a. LIRPA, for Leadoff of Inning After Remarkable Putout or Assist), which produced a startling revelation, first reported in SI (As So Often Happens? April 5). Before 1990, according to the study, a player making a great play in the field would come up to bat first in the next half inning—causing traditional observers to remark "as so often happens"—around 41% of the time. But since 1990, the study concluded, the frequency had dropped precipitously, to .041%, That which had "so often happened" was not happening anywhere near as often.
Then on April 29 the Yankees' Jeter brought visiting Oakland's first inning to a close with a leaping catch of a line drive off the bat of Scott Hatteberg. Less than five minutes later, he led off for the Yankees—and hit Barry Zito's first pitch into the left centerfield seats, thereby ending a widely publicized 0-for-32 slump, the longest barren stretch of Jeter's career. It couldn't just be a coincidence, could it?
"Our study group got back together," says Yorik, "and took another look at our figures. And...."
"And, frankly, they were a little off. It turns out that "as so often happens," as best we can tell, has probably happened consistently throughout history. We made a couple of simple arithmetical errors. Hey, it happens."
—Roy Blount Jr.