Saturday, October 07, 2006

Don't get fooled by explanations after the fact

The Yankees lost the ALDS to the Tigers. For the next couple of days, we will hear all kinds of reports, opinions, criticism on why the Yankees lost. Someone will undoubtedly point out a specific issue and say that was the reason they lost. But it is not nearly as simple as that. Anyone can look back and say the Yankees didn't hit well or pitch well in the last three games. But the fact of the matter is that there is a lot of randomness to baseball.

Before the series started, the Yankees were only -300 or 75% to win the series. That's as big as the line will ever get in a baseball playoff series, but still, it is only 75%. All the Tigers needed to do was flip the right coin twice in a row, and they win the series (50% x 50% = 25%). A 75% favorite in football is around a 7 point favorite. That's really no big deal when the dog wins the game.

So you will read, hear and see a lot of reasons why the Yankees lost. But those reasons, if they are accurate, should have been reasons before the series too. Focusing on what happened and what the causes are, and neglecting randomness and baseball probabilities is just not being very smart. But that's exactly the angle that the media will take....and they aren't very smart.

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