Cheers

Aug 28, 2007

This is an exemplary chart from the NYT Sports page.  It provides a clear, informative and exciting way to visualize how the baseball season has gone for the Mets this and last year.  It's been mostly up and not much down.

We can observe the more subtle differences: last season was a steady rise with only two prolonged down periods; this season's curve is driven by two up periods (including right now), outside of which the record has hovered around two levels (0, +3).

Especially commendable is the judicious use of axis labels.  However, I'm not clear on how some of the labels were chosen.  For example, 14 games ahead seem to me a rather arbitrary one.

All in all, a job well done.

Source: "Not Only Yankee Fans Cheering for Week 22", New York Times, Aug 27, 2007

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I'd prefer a step curve, to bring out the integers more strongly.

14 makes sense in the context of the rest of the labels, which are 4 games apart each: -2, 2, 6, 10, 14

michael: why leave out 0 and 16?

I prefer to think the 14-games-ahead barrier reflects a 1951 hangover. Recall, the '51 Giants were 13.5 games behind the Dodgers before their historic run. 14 games may still remain, in a New-York-sportswriter reptile brain, the apotheosis of the late-season safe lead.

Those who like this chart may well love this collection of MLB divisional race charts, updated daily: http://erikberg.com/mlb/charts.html. A few tweaks here and there would be welcome (consistent scales, for one), but there's a lot of useful data in a pretty small space. Kudos to Mr. Berg.

In regards to the vertical axis labels and corresponding horizontal rules, they appear to have been placed so as to least interfere with the data, i.e. intersect the data lines in relatively few places. This also appears to be the justification for the discrepancy in horizontal rules for 0 and 16 games ahead, which give an odd, log-like feel to the chart. I wonder what the significance is of the odd horizontal axis labels?

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