A World Series Worth Noting

Washington Nationals

The World Series is over and for once I cared. Really! Admittedly, it had nothing to do with baseball. It was all about my love of symmetry. Let me explain.

Early Sunday morning, I was forced to evacuate my home because of the Kincade Fire. And it was a bit scary. When I first left, the fire was 16 miles away. Within 24 hours, it made a bee-line toward me — ending up only 5 miles away.

Having nowhere else to go, I went to stay at my sister’s place down in Millbrae. That meant spending quite a lot of time with her husband, Harold. And that led me to watch game 6 of the World Series.

A Pattern in the Making

At one point, I realized something. I asked Harold, “So if the Nationals win tonight, does that mean that the home team has lost every game in this series?” He seemed vaguely impressed that I noticed that and told me it was so and that it had never happened before.

And sure enough, the Washington National won. So the first two games were at Houston and Washington won them. There was even some speculation that they might sweep the series. But during the next three games in Washington, Houston won each time. In fact, the Nationals looked pathetic. They managed to score only one run each game, while the Astros won with 4, 8, and 7.

The obvious outcome of the next game back at Houston was for Washington to lose badly. But instead, Washington won easily, 7-2. In fact, Houston didn’t score a run after the first inning.

So even though I made it back home today and so did not have to watch the last game of the World Series, I did. You see: life is constantly disappointing. It is unpleasant and chaotic. But here was an opportunity for a little clarity — perfection, in fact. This was seven isolated games during which the team with the home-field advantage lost each time. Six out of seven was no good. It had to be seven.

And it was.

Some Pointless Math

If the outcome of these games were random, then this seven-game streak would happen less than one time out of a hundred. But the home team in MLB wins 54 percent of the time. If we assume that this distribution is random, the number falls to 0.4 percent.

But I don’t think this is simply a statistical fluke. I suspect it is some form of mass psychology. I don’t have any proof, course; but I’ve seen this thing too many times.

Or maybe it is just the normal human tendency to find patterns where none exist. That combined with my own idiosyncratic love of odd patterns. Regardless, this was a very good World Series.

After the fire, it’s nice to have a little clarity in the universe.

Trea Turner by Lorie Shaull. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. Cropped.

4 thoughts on “A World Series Worth Noting

  1. I’ve read that this is the first time in the history of American sports where a road team won every game in a 7-game series. That’s pretty cool, if true — I’m not going to bother to look it up.

    The Astros are an organization full of pure shitheads, I don’t need to bother to look it up, the tales are widespread & probably true. Of course I mean the front office, not the players, only one of the players has a pure shithead reputation.

    It’s quite possible the Nationals also have shitheads in the front office, but I haven’t heard anything about that. Washington scored a run off the shithead Astros pitcher in game 7, I enjoyed that enormously.

    • It was fun watching the games. I really do enjoy baseball. It’s such a subtle game. I can see why America has turned away from it and towards football and basketball, which are not subtle games. That’s not to say that I appreciate them. I’m sure there is a whole lot going on that I don’t notice. In fact, a few years ago, I got a tutorial for an ex-NFL player about strategy of back-field defense. But my experience is that most football fans do not follow all that stuff. They just see the big men hitting each other and that is enough. To enjoy baseball, you have to appreciate its subtler elements. For one thing, it doesn’t have much scoring.

      But it was interesting watching game 7 rooting for an abstract concept.

  2. Supposedly, even though umpires and referees are supposed to ignore the crowd, the crowd still influences them. So close calls go to the home team. This bias may even be unconscious

    I forget where I’d read this, so I can’t offer a source

    • That seems reasonable. We are highly social and it sucks to have people yelling at you. It’s got to affect us even if we don’t want it to.

      But I think home-field advantage is about a lot more than that. For example, I never sleep well when I’m on the road. I’m sure there’s a lot of other stuff. And certainly, the umpires are part of it.

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