October 6, 2004
Imagine the Possibilities
How hard is it to predict things? Pretty damn hard, that's how. Consider the playoffs. Let's say you made preseason picks and, of the eight teams you chose to make the playoffs, half in fact do so. That's pretty typical this year. Some years it's a little easier. The failure of the Cubs, Giants, Phillies and A's to make the postseason derailed a lot of picks. Now that the postseason is beginning, your slate gets wiped clean and you get to start all over again. Think you can pick the exact outcome of all seven playoff series? Come on! It's only seven series--that's not a lot to have to get right.
Consider this, though: there are 128 different possible outcomes. How so? There are 16 different scenarios for the first round. Each one of those 16 generates eight possible LCS and World Series variations. That's how you get 128. That means right now--even with the knowledge of what happened in the first game, you've got one chance in 128 of getting all the outcomes correct--without even considering game counts! What's the most obvious variable? The first one that comes to mind is one where the team with the most number of wins takes each series. That would look like this:
One down, 127 to go. Reverse these outcomes and have the team with the lesser record win every series. 126 to go. Now, there are some variables that just won't happen, right? Like the Angels going all the way in 2002 or the Marlins taking it all last year. They never could have happened and didn't. Wait, no, they did. That's why so many of the 128 combos have to be considered. Even if you are convinced beyond the shadow of a shadow of a doubt that one team will most definitely not win it all that only eliminates 16 of the possibilities, leaving 112 other scenarios to consider.
Contemplating this angers the blood. Avoid such deep thoughts and you'll live longer. Avoid them stringently and perhaps you'll end up as one of the new breed of super-centenarians--those who live past the age of 110. According to a recent report on NPR, of the 44 known such people, only four were men. If my gender has any hope of bettering that ratio, we've got to avoid such things as ruminating on how many different playoff outcomes there are.
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How much class does the playoff Class of '04 have? By that I mean, how many wins did they combine for? Here's how this year's teams stack up against the playoff posses in the past.
1. 2002: 98.8
2. 1999: 97.6
3. 1998: 97.4
4. 2001: 96.3
5. 2004: 96.1
6. 2003: 95.3
7. 1995: 94.5 (prorated)
8. 2000: 93.1
9. 1997: 92.1
10. 1996: 91.8
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Now that Major League Baseball has jobbed Montreal out of its major league team of 35 years, what is the future of professional ball in that city? Will the International League ever return there? It's been 44 years since the Royals played their ball in Montreal. Does the Double-A Eastern League make more sense for Montreal at this point, or is all of this moot? Are the people of Quebec so embittered by their treatment at the hands of the Selig machine that they are not currently in the mood to even consider such matters?
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During Tuesday night's Yankees-Twins telecast, Tim McCarver brought up the Baseball Encyclopedia that Twins manager used to carry around during his playing days. Gardenhire had the really cool idea of having everybody he met in his baseball travels sign their entry in the book. McCarver related how Gardenhire didn't know the current whereabouts of the book, which is kind of shocking, considering how much effort he put into it.
I should talk. I have a Gardenhire-related item that I couldn't lay my hands on right now if you paid me. Back when he was with for the Tidewater Tides at the end of his playing career, a couple of my friends went up to Syracuse to see a Chiefs-Tides game. They bought a Chiefs bobble-head doll for me and asked Gardenhire to sign the box. Gardenhire complied, but said rhetorically, "Why do I get the feeling I'm the butt of some kind of joke here?"