16—21 April 1942
You know what I don’t want to talk about right now? The submarine war in the Pacific.
So let’s take a look at what’s going on back on the home front. Mid-April, 1942. Despite the worldwide conflagration, the ’42 Major League Baseball season is underway, and has just finished up its opening week. The Yankees are off to a hot start at 5-2. DiMaggio went 3-for-4 today in a lopsided victory against the Philadelphia A’s, bringing his season average up to a somewhat mortal .286. The Red Sox are tied atop the standings with the Yanks, despite a blowout loss to the Senators yesterday. Teddy Ballgame took an 0-for-3, but it only brought his average down to .375. Closer to the author’s home, the (significantly less legendary) Reds are 2-4, having just been crushed by Stan Musial’s Cardinals.
On the entertainment front, Glenn Miller has extended his stranglehold on the #1 spot on the Billboard singles chart with “Moonlight Cocktail.” Listen to it (above); perhaps not Miller’s absolute greatest, but perfectly lovely, perfectly evocative. And in context, perfectly heartbreaking.
So I guess that’s about it for the week—oh, wait. Yeah. Silent War. There’s that.
Look, I don’t know how to explain this. I’m not doing anything differently. I’m using the same dice I’ve used since the start of the game, I haven’t changed my approach, I don’t—
Maybe I should back up a little.
We got shut out again.
Eighteen boats on patrol this week generated 15 attacks. Three of them hit: two were duds, one damaged but did not sink the target. In return, one boat was damaged: the woebegone USS Spearfish (SS-190) was very (very) nearly killed by a land-based bomber—for the second time. (Spearfish has embarked upon five war patrols. She has been damaged on four of them.)
Let me try to explain how awful this run has been. As of the end of turn 15 (the last time we killed anything), the Service had logged 227 patrol-weeks. Those efforts yielded 41 targets sunk, for an average of right about 0.18 sinkings per patrol-week. In other words, the early war saw a 82% “failure rate,” where we’re defining “failure” as a week spent on patrol with nothing sunk (for whatever reason).
[It probably should be noted that the quoted percentages represent an empirical description of what actually happened. They are not literally exact predictors of what to expect in the future. On the other hand, unless our performance (i.e., “luck”) through week 15 was wildly aberrational, it is entirely reasonable to assume that they would be at least somewhat useful in that role.]
OK. In the three turns completed since 15, we’ve added 60 more patrol-weeks to the total. Had we maintained that 18% success rate, we would have seen an additional 10 or 11 kills. We have instead seen zero. Zero! Let me say that again: we are on an 0-for-60 run.
Just how unlikely is that? Want to guess the odds of failing 60 times in a row with an 18% chance of success? Much worse than one in a thousand, right? How about one in ten thousand? That bad, you think?
Try this: 1 in 148,000.
This project has become significantly less fun than it was when I started it.