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The Chairman
Victor Niederhoffer

Pitching in the Pinch, by Victor Niederhoffer

In every game there comes a time when everything hangs on a thread, where the difference between success and failure is a mosquito's eyelash, where the scales are evenly balanced, where what Martie Riesman call "the critical point" occurs, the opponent is at maximal strength, and that little extra, Christy Mathewson's "Pitch in the Pinch," the one you always keep in reserve, carries the day.

That time occurs in the market every day, and the commentators always miss it. I always miss it also because the only news I read is from the National Enquirer and that's a weekly, available at supermarket, that very frankly is not mainly directly concerned with the market. But today, voila, there it was when Elliot Spitzer said a civil resolution of his accounting probe was " achievable." It occurred at 1:30 p.m. with stocks at a year-to-date -- nay, a four-month -- low ----and the S&P rallied a fast 6 points in one half hour and then another 4 shortly thereafter as AIG jumped 6% in 2 minutes on the news.

Christy would have been long and doubtless other greats among us sensed the pinch, knew the knuckleballer was coming, and covered their shorts right at the bottom.

Ajax was in front, but Odysseus was running so close behind that his feet were hitting Ajax's tracks before the dust could settle back into them. All the Achaians were cheering his effort to win, shouting for him to pour it on. When they were in the stretch, Odysseus said a silent prayer to the gray-eyed Athena, "Hear me Goddess; be kind to me, and come with extra strength for my feet." Athena heard him and lightened his limbs, feet and arms. As they were making their final spring for the prize, Ajax slipped and fell. So Odysseus took away the mixing bowl, because he finished first. Ajax stood spitting out dung and said, "That goddess tripped me, that goddess who has always stood by Odysseus and cared for him like a mother." They all roared with laughter at him. And Antilochos came to take the prize for last place and grinned as he spoke to the Argives, "Friends, you all know well the truth of what I say, that still the gods continue to favor the older men. Look here, Ajax is older than I, if only by a little, but Odysseus is out of another age and truly one of the ancients. But his old age, is, as they say, a lusty one." -- Stephen G. Miller, Ancient Greek Athletics (New Haven: Yale University, 2004)

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