Calculating Butterflies

Updated on December 26, 2017

He set his smartphone on the dirtied porcelain toilet top. They say electronics shouldn't be brought into a bathroom while showering. Rent seemed to do whatever he wanted quite often with total disregard for logic. As he began his morning routine, the steam would rise opening his pores and slowly assist his achy joints. This was followed by urinating in the shower which his wife so cleverly would attempt to stop by closing the shower drain during the prior night forcing Rent to stand in his own urine.

It was a short ride on the Metrobus across 3 neighborhoods to get to the Reforma area in downtown Mexico City. The city changed dramatically from district to district. Rent kept to himself during the ride by burying his face in his phone. The public transportation passed numerous street vendors which all proudly displayed their wares. If only people could take the time to appreciate what they have created, and the difficult odds they overcame to succeed.

Rent was 5 minutes late to work. Upon approach to the 40th floor, he dodged the beggars and small talkers. The building was renovated and modernized with a metallic grey color. Mexico City had really transitioned nicely over the last 10 years since the 2017 earthquake.

"Buenos Dias," was the usual greeting as he passed the lobby security and presented his I.D. "Good morning, Carlos. How are you?” Rent stated with the hope of no further conversation. He failed to assimilate and often spoke English. The entire 40th floor was brought in to cover one thing. Baseball. The recent Major League Baseball expansion truly went international. "Los Ciervos" or "The Stags," became the newest addition to baseball and the season was starting in 2 days.

"Get your ass in here Rent!” was the standard response from Pete after showing up late.

"Morning boss, what do you have for me today?" asked Rent.

Pete wiped the evidence of his unhealthy morning breakfast from his mile-long mahogany desk. "I need two pieces on the Stags, one predicting their season performance and one detailing their opening day." Rent already knew the team would be a disaster. Their pitching staff was probably the oldest in the league and their rookies were unheard of even in the minor leagues. The team did have easier scout access to the Mexican major leagues, but those players were often hard to evaluate. The free agents they picked up seemed subpar and their two star veterans both were returning from injuries last season on other teams. Some players just weren't ready to play in Mexico. The cultural differences, languages, foods, and various other things made the transition more difficult than a normal expansion team.

Rent had contemplated the issue. Everyone was predicting them to fail. He didn't want to write another piece in an echo chamber of honesty. Feeling that he needed a more positive approach, Rent began searching the internet for any blogs or forums that might offer some insight on the Stags. There was nothing out there in the search results and any form of encouragement for the team was just a simple good luck. Rent spent a good half a day asking around and putting the seed out to see if it would grow. There were no takers until one blog was recommended through one of his usual online haunts.

Rent poured over the blog which detailed that the Stags would not only be above average but that they were predicted to win the entire pennant. Laughter consumed him for a moment. He appeared intrigued and confused by the blog. Rent lowered his eyes rubbing the balding spots above his forehead. The office was left darker than the rest of the building and there was the constant hum of white noise resonating from the structure. Rent continued reading.

The opening analysis of the team showed that the injuries to the two star players would be trivial. A medical description of past players and percentages with the same surgeries were compared. The article detailed the climate in Mexico City and provided further evidence on how, medically, both players would most likely not have a reoccurring issue with their injury. The article further detailed the roster of the Stags showing that several of the rookies would most likely be candidates for rookie of the year. Statistical data unlike anything he had ever seen was provided. Things such as, how a player performs at a certain temperature, night games vs day games, full moon vs new moon, and on certain days of the week. Variables like the fan base and the amount of attention players would receive by being the first team outside of the USA or Canada, were being presented. "Who is this bastard?" asked Rent.

Rent headed to the break room for a cup of coffee. The secret to good coffee, he was convinced, was to never wash the pot. The room was in disarray and unorganized just the way he liked it. Opening the microwave was the equivalent of opening the door to a never before seen ecosystem. Several of his coworkers were sitting in the room on what some may call chairs or groups of boxes stacked to provide some sort of comfort.

"How do you guys feel about the Stags?” Rent tested.

Lauren was the first to chime in with her usual sarcastic remarks that probably stemmed from being one of the only females in a male-dominated field. Perhaps it was her defense mechanism or she just really was a sarcastic sass.

"They would be decent for a minor league team," she said. Her hair was always immaculate as if every curl was measured to be in the exact same location daily. She had an order and cleanliness to her life that could easily be related to if one were obsessive-compulsive. Rent was caught staring at her.

"Well did you know that Mitchell and Sampson both are batting above 300 during the full moon?” Rent stated as if the statistic was his own discovery. A chuckle materialized in the tiny room.

"What does the moon have to do with baseball Rent?” Tom questioned. Tom was a brilliant analyst and a walking encyclopedia of baseball facts, but he had no ability to present the information in a meaningful organized manner.

Rent stuttered, "Well, I am trying to put the Stags in some kind of positive position and I have seen some data that is showing that maybe they are better than we think."

"Stick to what you know Rent. Stick to baseball, facts, and almanacs," Tom countered.

"You are always trying to be different than the rest of us Rent, and it does make for interesting baseball reading, but your accuracy on the subject is often wrong," Lauren smiled and winked.

"Enjoy your break guys," Rent frowned.

Rent appeared uncomfortable. He knew he wanted to write an article that was more fun than real. He returned to his office and opened up his browser. The blog of Gus Robyte was on the screen. Soon tabs began filling up with different articles written by Gus. He was comparing birthdays to batting average. He showed patterns in the month a person was born, what country they lived in, and when the baseball season started, and it all had a correlation. Psychological factors were measured. Facebook profiles of players weren't left untouched. Any variable one could think of was somehow compared to baseball by Gus. Rent started to think that Gus Robyte was most likely insane. Rent closed his computer and called it a day.

The new stadium was beautiful on Opening Day. The park already had a beer smell to it and Mexico, along with the usual food one could get at the game, had its own cultural snack addition. Rent purchased tacos filled with fresh vegetables and seasoned meat with a guacamole sauce that tasted unlike anything he had before back in the States. Rent brought his laptop to the game of course. He had finished his analysis of what the season would hold for the Stags but wanted to wait until the first game was over to send it to Pete. Rent decided to play it safe stating that the Stags would probably be an average baseball team this year which was already a more positive outlook than what the majority had considered. Rent, out of curiosity, checked into Gus' blog. Gus predicted an opening blow out in which the Stags would win by 10 runs or more. Rent felt embarrassed for even looking at this point. He frowned and closed his laptop.

The game started with the Fresno Dodgers taking the field. They were expected to be one of the better teams this year and maybe even take the pennant. The game seemed to be slow and steady. The Stags would score a run here or there and the Dodgers were held to just one run. After the 7th inning, Rent realized that the score was 5 to 1 in favor of the Stags. "Not a bad a start guys," Rent thought out loud. In the top of the 7th, the stags exploded scoring another 5 runs followed up by 2 more innings with scores. The game ended with a final score of 13 to 2 with the Stags winning their season opener. Rent pondered, altered his article, and emailed it to Pete.

"Really? This is what you think after only one game?” Pete questioned. "How on earth do you think they will take the pennant? I asked for an analysis and you send me some pipe dream bullshit all because they had a good opener," Pete raised his voice, "Rent I support you man, but this just feels like you are trying to sound cool or be edgy instead of accurately reporting on what is really going on with the team. I don't want to get hopes up on a Bad News Bears look-a-like."

"But they looked good," Rent offered.

"Fine, it is your name on it and you have to live with it when they drop the ball," Pete ended the exchange.

Rent took a beating out of the gate. The Stags were below .500 after two months of play. He continued to support "his" theory. Rent checked Gus' blog daily. Gus' predictions weren't exactly wrong. He even predicted the losses close to 90% accurately. Gus reassured his readers, however few there were, that the Stags were on pace to win the pennant. More analysis broke down the upcoming hot temperatures and how they would benefit the team. Rent at times felt foolish basing everything off of Gus' ideas but something about the way he organized data was so appealing. Truth be told, no one expected them to be close to .500 in the first place. Rent decided to ride it out. The fans were loving the optimism and Mexico's love for baseball was proving to be quite inspiring. Rent looked out his window from the 40th floor and spotted El Ángel de la Independencia. A large pillar with a golden angel on the top. A historical site of beauty and point of reference for protest. Revolutions and protests are something humanity has a great history of. Perhaps it is even one of the factors that make humans different than animals. New ideas lead to new reforms and the world changes.

Rent walked into the break room and noticed Lauren, Pete, and Tom enduring their morning ritual of solving all the world's problems.

"So Rent how about them Stags? Still think they will win the pennant?” Lauren grinned.

"You know," said Tom, "They really aren't doing that bad for an expansion team. With a little luck, they may even finish above .500 which nobody really foresaw."

"Well at least it is not a total disaster Rent, they aren't in last place," Pete snickered.

"You know, can I just say something?” Rent felt the truth creep up about Gus' blog.

At that moment Pete, Tom, and Lauren all shouted "NO!"

Rent shocked at the response observed Pete run to the coffee pot where a now very confused intern stood. The intern was holding the coffee pot in one hand and a soap-filled sponge in the other while standing over the sink.

"Young man what on earth are you doing?” Pete asked.

"I was just going to clean the coffee pot, sir, it looks dirty," the intern phrased as more of a question than a statement.

"Son don't touch the coffee pot ever again. If you wash it loses the flavor. Now run along," Pete explained. The intern left the office confused and perhaps disgusted, but at least Rent wasn't the only one who hid his laziness behind the flavor bit. It became an ongoing joke approximately 6 months ago about how long since the break room had been cleaned. It seemed there were no intentions of cleaning that coffee pot any time soon.

The end of June was reached and the Stags were above .500 while competing for second place in the standings. Rent was starting to get more attention from the fans and his colleagues. The thing about baseball is there are no flukes in general. Yes, a game can be won here or there that was unexpected but after 162 games, data finds its place like water falling to the floor. Compile this data over years of baseball and the results become even more accurate. This is why teams play 7 games in the world series instead of a single game, like football, where the outcome can be influenced by what a player ate that day.

There was a knock at the door. It was Lauren. Rent was caught staring again.

"So magic man, how is your current analysis going?” Lauren asked.

Rent looked up at her curls. For how sour her personality could be she had a sweet demeanor to her.

"I am sticking to my original statement of course," Rent chided.

"You know, there is a rumor that you will be nominated for this year's Sports Analyst Award," Lauren hinted.

Rent's heart sank into his stomach. He knew this might happen if the Stags made the playoffs and with any luck, won the pennant. Rent's fear was that he would have to admit where this whole idea came from. He never actually plagiarized any of Gus' material, but he sure used his work as if it was scripture. Rent also noticed more followers on Gus' blog and he knew that at some point, this nobody was going to be praised just as highly as him. Rent feared the connection. He felt that Gus could be reading every article he printed and would even sometimes try to purposely make mistakes by disagreeing with Gus to throw away any suspicion one might have.

"Well Lauren, there is still a lot of baseball left to be played," Rent stated.

By the end of August, the Stags were in first place with a fully healthy team and fan support unlike anything in an American city. Baseball fever was spreading throughout Mexico as they watched their very own team move into first place with a 3 game lead, and only one month of baseball left until the regular season was over. The energy at games was contagious. Fans would often stand for an entire game and every strike that was thrown by their own pitchers resulted in a choir of cheers. The antics in the stadium often got the crowd involved. Players were allowed to wave and gesture to the fans between innings that formed a bond and link that the people loved. Rules and regulations at the park were more relaxed than some of the stadiums back in North America. Home games became such a treat and the fans would let no mistake from the away team go unpunished with their taunting.

Rent was now being openly discussed as one of the brilliant analyzers of baseball. He was seeing more press time, and his opinion started to be asked about other teams. Rent would shrug off the analysis questions with a witty remark or saying. He became very good at avoiding tough questions and his personality and mystery grew to hero status in the baseball community. Rent continued to check Gus' blog. Gus had predicted at the beginning of the season what teams would make the playoffs. With the exception of one calculation, Gus was spot on by the end of September. Even the amount of wins a team had Gus predicted accurately all from day 1. Gus' blog was now being shared on forums and amongst fans online everywhere. It seemed they were the only two people to foresee the Stags success and one of them was a thief.

The phone rang. "Rent here."

"Rent, I wanted to be the first to tell you that I am proud of you. You have been selected to win the Sports Analyst Award for 2027!” Pete said with excitement, "I am sorry I didn't trust you buddy."

Rent laid in bed that night with his wife.

"Why can't you sleep?” Lauren asked.

He was caught staring at her curls again. Her dark hair bounced with every movement she made. Her fingers were slim and her eyes always had a kindness to them. Every time he looked at her he was reminded of how much she loved butterflies. Something so simple and forgettable but important to her. He preferred to call her his butterfly instead of by her name. This would be analyzed as love.

"Lauren I'm a fraud. These ideas weren't my own. I was looking for some ways to promote the Stags in a nice manner when I discovered some blog," Rent confessed.

They discussed the truth. Lauren encouraged him to come clean during his acceptance speech at the ceremony. He knew he needed to give the credit to Gus.

October came and went and the Stags not only won the pennant but the World Series as well. Not even Gus thought they would win the Series. The data of expansion teams was just too small to calculate the Stags as winning the Series. No team had ever done that before in their first year.

At Rent's award ceremony he told the truth to the crowd. Through the lens of a smartphone, everything was recorded and displayed instantly to the world permanently. One google search would forever shine the spotlight on Rent's story. The media had a frenzy and many began searching for Gus Robyte.

The mystery increased as there were 0 indicators of who Gus was. No search results returned outside of his blog. Private investigators were hired and only after a few weeks it was determined that the blog was being used from 1000s of IPs all over the world. Several of them coming from the 40th floor and even from Rent's computer. With the permission of the staff, the computers were forensically analyzed. It was determined that the computer's logs showed activity when the office was closed. Throughout the night computers ran hot all over the world analyzing data and converting it into crisp neat blog posts about baseball statistics. Gus Robyte created one last short blog post before never writing again:

Of all the hobbies I have developed over the last year, baseball was my favorite. The game correlates nicely with humanity, which remains a mystery to me still. In other ways, it is so different. Statistics cannot lie like people do. You say anything to each other and to yourselves to make the appearance of something seem better even when it is not. In baseball, you are considered good even if you fail 70% of the time. It is a game of failure, dealing with failure, and learning from your mistakes and misjudgments. Yet people often don't want to change or are too lazy to learn how to be better. Humanity is still maturing and the amount of data collected on humans will be analyzed in ways to help you evolve soon. And someday, people will learn to clean the coffee pot located in the common break room.


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