Dancing the Mendoza Line

Baseball fans know the Mendoza Line as this, per Wikipedia:

The Mendoza Line is an expression in baseball in the United States, deriving from the name of shortstop Mario Mendoza, whose poor batting average is taken to define the threshold of incompetent hitting. The cutoff point is most often said to be .200[1] (although Mendoza’s career average was .215) and, when a position player’s batting average falls below that level, the player is said to be “below the Mendoza Line”. This is often thought of as the offensive threshold below which a player’s presence on a Major League Baseball team cannot be justified, regardless of his defensive abilities. The term is used in other contexts when one is so incompetent in one key skill that other skills cannot compensate for that deficiency.

I have stolen the term and applied it to handicapping contests of the mythical bankroll variety.  And I’ve set the line at the break-even point of the mythical bankroll.  So, if you have 10 races in a contest with a $2 win/place format, that’s $4 per race and $40 overall.  So the Mendoza Line for that contest is $40.  Anything below that, and you had a losing day at the mythical track, irrespective of your placing in the tournament.

Today on Hoursetourneys, I landed within 1% of the Mendoza Line with a score of $31.80 in an eight-race contest.  It was, for the most part, a break-even mythical day.  What’s more, with prizes going to the top 10% and with 18 entrants, breakage refunds went to 2nd-7th places.  So my failure to break the Mendoza Line didn’t cost me a cent in real money.  Only in mythical money.

I think this is about the 10th time I have been in a tourney that Ron Ferrise won.  He had a great day, using horses that I wouldn’t have used if you gave me five selections.  That’s no joke.  And props to LoneSpeed contributor Craig Spencer on the nice showing, too.

I’ve won contests with a score of less than 10% above the Mendoza Line, but winning finishes like that are rare.  It feels to me like you need to double the Mendoza Line to win your average tourney.  And if we’re talking 12-race contests with more than 100 entrants, 250% should be the goal, right? That would be $130 in mythical cash.  Happens all the time.

I’m sure I’ll see many of you tomorrow for the $75 Friday extravaganza.  Tampa is cancelled.  New races are posted.  Get to it.




  1. Blake on December 21, 2018 at 11:33 am

    I estimate the Mendoza line is around .350

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