Monday, July 30, 2007

The Wrong Team Won Baseball's 2003 World Series?

That's the case, according to statistics and physics.

"The world of sports provides an ideal laboratory for modeling competition because game data are accurate, abundant, and accessible," answers the study in the journal Physical Review E. "Even after a long series of competitions, the best team does not always finish first."

Whoa Nellie. I didn't realize that Phys. Rev. E publishes these things.

The problem, say study authors Eli Ben-Naim and Nick Hengartner of the Los Alamos (N.M.) National Laboratory, is that the baseball season, at a mere 162 games, is too short. Instead, the number of games that would keep a lucky-but-lousy team from dethroning a statistically superior team is 265.

Oh no. No, no, no, no, no! As someone who lives barely 2 blocks from Wrigley Field (the Chicago Cubs baseball home field for those who don't know baseball), the last thing I want is for a longer baseball season - even if it means the possibility of the Cubs finally winning the damn thing in a gazillion years. :)

In any case, I really don't see the point of all this. An underdog, or a team/person that isn't the most talented or the best, have won it all in many sports. It simply is a matter of who performed the best on that particular day. So I'm not sure why baseball should be any different.


1 comment:

Kent Leung said...

"So I'm not sure why baseball should be any different."

The problem with baseball is that striking the ball cleanly is very difficult (due to the ball traveling so fast and swerving in the air while the bat has a small diameter and is round) but the reward is large (i.e. home-runs). Thus the deviation in the expected score in an innings or a match is very large indeed.

In cricket, a sport which has lots of similarities with baseball, test matches are played over 5 days (7 hours per days) to ensure a fair contest.

Unfortunately the author's suggestion of increasing the length of a season would introduce lots of other factors such as increases in injury rate, increased mental and physical fatigue, so that the whole situation would need to be reanalyzed.