From USA Today -
Amid a bleak season for New York Yankees fans, science offers some solace — the wrong team, the Florida Marlins, beat them in 2003′s World Series, finds a study.
You may wonder, along with Yankee owner George Steinbrenner, how this injustice could occur?
“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.”
Tournaments and one-game series are particularly likely to produce Cinderella winners, for the same reason. “Of course, lots of people like to see these kinds of winners, that’s why we have March Madness,” Ben-Naim says, referring to the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s championship basketball tournament.
But to ensure that the best Major League Baseball team wins, a longer World Series, say 11 games, would be mathematically appropriate. “The same is true for other competitions in arts, science and politics,” write the study authors.
“In real life, we have to compete all the time, rank people, rank proposals and other things,” Ben-Naim says. The study suggests a more efficient approach in such cases would be to throw out the worst competitors immediately and “spend all your energy evaluating only the few obviously best ones.”
Tough luck for the Marlins in that case. Statistics indicate they were the worst team in 30 years to win a World Series, say the authors.
Well, it’s not like no one helped the Marlins win that World Series. Sometimes you just have to let the other team hand it to you. No one said that you have to be a good team too.