Magic Numbers

Standardization makes life easier, but why these numbers for these things?

88 keys on a piano: why not 90 or 100?

6 strings on a guitar: sure there are 12 string guitars too, but why not 7 or 8 string guitars?

9 players on a baseball team: what’s up with that short stop?

11 players on a soccer team: why not 10, 12, or 15?

4/5 forward gears in a regular car: I’d like 6, and maybe 2 reverse gears too.

2 plug-ins on electrical wall outlets: I always wish there were more. 4 would be nice.

28 days in February: can’t the other months share a few days to even things out?


Scoring in tennis: love, 15, 30, 40, deuce, ad in, ad out.

There are some traditions worth keeping, and then there is confusion and insanity.

2 responses to “Magic Numbers

  1. prometheuscomic

    Taking them in order:
    People only have 88 fingers.

    How about a 1 string guitar?

    Can’t think of anything clever.

    Why not 200 soccer players–180 of which fall down on the pitch in fake spasms of injury.

    Why are gears numbered? We could call them by proper names. “Better downshift to Gerhard for this turn coming up”

    Buy a power outlet strip.

    Can’t think of anything clever.

    You’re right–tennis scoring looks like they picked terms randomly out of the dictionary.

    Nice post, as usual:P

  2. Piano- There’s a manufacturer called Bösendorfer who makes a 97 key “Imperial” model.

    Guitar- On vacation in southern France, I saw two men playing respectively, an 8 string and a 10 string. Bizarre.

    Shortstop- “Where are we gonna put the short guy?”

    Soccer- Got nuthin’

    Gears- That’s why I like driving heavy machinery. You need to know how to double clutch though.

    Plugs- My wife wired our house (she can do that!) and put in double outlets every few feet. No one ever says, “I wish I had fewer places to plug stuff in.”

    Months- That’s why I’m for adopting the Mayan calendar! You have to admit, the holidays would be much more… interesting.

    Tennis- I’m with you here. I remember having this explained to me as a kid by a tennis pro. My immediate reaction was “What? Why? Can’t we just play to four?”. Oddly, he didn’t find my suggestion compelling or even worthy of a response.

    Turkish Prawn

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