Friday, October 03, 2008

Math Is Hard

Note to Hal Bodley: You do not understand math.

To use a real example from this year's playoffs, the Tampa Bay Rays were 64% favorites to win their ALDS against the White Sox. That number rockets all the way up to 64.9% if the two teams had to play seven games instead of five.

That's a 0.9% difference. Keep that in mind.

"A five-game series in baseball is like getting all dressed up for the big dance and the music stops before you walk through the ballroom door."

I've never been rejected from a dance before. Apparently Hal Bodley has, possibly because the dance director was a big believer in the current playoff system and was making a statement. Either way, I'd have to imagine that if this happened to me, I would consider that more than a 0.9% loss in my enjoyment of the dance.

"To me, after playing 162 games the Division Series should be a best-of-seven. Period. Most managers and players agree."

How much documentation does he have for this statement? None? Okay.

If you want to get an unbiased opinion of how to improve the system, there's nothing quite like asking the people who will get paid more if the setup changes.

"That happened to the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1977 LCS against the Dodgers. The teams split the first two games, but the Dodgers rallied in a bizarre ninth inning of Game 3 to win, 6-5. The Phillies lost the next night and it was over. "We were lucky," said former Dodgers skipper Tommy Lasorda. "If it had gone seven games, the Phillies had a good chance of beating us." "

Probably about one-in-eight.

By the way, I love how he glosses over the Game 4 loss, as if it meant nothing.

"Joe Torre, now the Dodgers skipper, has won the LCS more times than any other manager.

"I've always thought that if you're good enough to win your division, or even to reach the playoffs, it's not right to have the chance to get blown out in a three-of-five series," said Torre, who was so successful in his years with the Yankees."

I say that when the Dodgers beat the Cubs this weekend, Torre rejects his invitation to the NLCS, demanding that the Dodgers have to win a fourth game to really "earn" it.

" "You've done too much to get there over the course of 162 games. In a best-of-five, a team may have a hot pitcher that you face twice and the chances of a better team getting knocked out are great. Bottom line: Four of seven is much fairer." "

0.9% = much fairer.

" Bobby Cox: "The smartest thing is to sweep as quickly as you can." "

If a Hall of Fame manager says his team should try to win the first three games of the series, rather than stopping at two, then that's good enough for me.

"Or as veteran Braves pitcher John Smoltz puts it: "We compete and struggle and work hard from Spring Training through a grueling season. I never felt a short series was an accurate test of the true strength of the teams playing each other. A Wild Card team can come into a series against a team with the best record and have two hot starting pitchers and win it all."

And the music stops before you know what happened."

I have a novel idea. Why don't we have each team play a large number of games--say, 162--and award the championship to the team with the best record? After all, that would be more fair, and it would remove the problems with the playoffs, like excitement and upsets. I'm sure Kirk Gibson's 1988 homer would have been just as legendary in a meaningless 162nd game with the Dodgers already eliminated.

No comments: