When Bill James wrote in 2005 that the statistical community was in danger of "underestimating the fog" of its results, he meant it as a call to rigor in analysis. What this series presumes is that The Wu-Tang Manual (RZA Productions, 2005), by The RZA, may be as good a tool as any to cut through the haze of our biases, if not an ideal one.
Below you will find seven more or less random selections from the book, and the wisdom it contains for the Red Sox. The wisdom is real.
On statistics (p. 96)
I look at chess in a metaphysical way. There are sixty-four squares on a board. Throughout Mathematics and throughout history, sixty-four is a deep number. The sixty-four squares are in eight columns, which relates to the eight points of the sun. And 1964 was the year when the Father first came and brought the lessons. Plus, sixty-four squares is similar to the I Ching, which has sixty-four hexagrams total, and the I Ching is how to calculate the universe.
Red Sox wisdom: Team analysts would be best served using the I Ching to evaluate baseball statistics.
On management (p. 97)
Chess also teaches you not to respect all your men, all your soldiers by the same criteria, especially the ones that aren't such obvious players. Power comes from surprising places. The knight, for example, isn't the most obvious power piece, but it the most Mathematical. It moves in a right angle of steps up and one left. It's also close to God because its course traces a number seven on the board. You have to be super careful around the knight.
Red Sox wisdom: Stephen Drew, No. 7, is a relatively light-hitting shortstop, but he's still got power, as if we needed to be reminded after the final game of the World Series. He's also an order of the Knights of Mathematics, close to God, and someone around whom you must keep your head.
On injuries (p. 119)
I study chi gong, which teaches you how to move and balance chi inside you. Part of that is teaching about herbs and medicines the Chinese have been using for centuries to help balance that chi. Herbologists or acupuncturists will prescribe certain herbs based on your chi balance. Once you study that, you realize you can't judge substances so quickly. You have to look at it in a context.
Red Sox wisdom: A good medical staff is crucial to modern success.
On general management (p. 76)
The deals we made are famous now. Not one other group had our kind of strategy. My idea was to keep the family together, sign the Wu-Tang as a crew to one label, but have the contract allow the individual members to sign solo deals on whatever labels they chose. You bargain for less money up front, more freedom in the longer run, and higher earnings total.
Red Sox wisdom: It is wise to sign players for one year on make-good deals at below market value.
On branding (p. 81)
I never got too hung up on what exact kinds of products Wu-Wear sold-that was more Power's department. To me, the W can go on anything. But when they came with all the different Wu colognes, with flavors for different members, that stopped me for a minute. I walked into the store one day and I was like "Yo, who the fuck said this was my flavor?" I think they took Blue Nile and Egyptian Musk and mixed them together and that was the RZA scent. Then again, that's what I used to wear as a teenager-Egyptian Musk, Blue Nile, and Opium, so I guess it made sense.
And the thing is, it all worked. Every little gadget they put that W on, it sold.
Red Sox wisdom: Don't make fun of the "pink hats." They sell.
Bonus secondary wisdom: Fenway Sports Group should acquire the Wu-Tang brand, or start a competing act to capitalize on a robust licensed products sector.
On ‘The Supreme Numbers' (p. 45)
5 = Power. Power is truth. The only power the devil has is power as yet unclaimed by Man.
Red Sox wisdom: Jonny Gomes, No. 5, hits for power Man has claimed from Satan.
On family (p. 105)
We've all got serious history together, we've been around each other for years and we've got a code of honor. And that's what following the mafia instilled in us. Were family, and we're not gonna let each other destroy that. Before I destroy Wu-Tang, I'm going to go live on a mountain. If I realize that I'm the problem, then I need to handle it.
Red Sox wisdom/warning: Alfredo Aceves is living on a mountain and, when he is ready, will return to destroy the Red Sox.