Friday, October 8, 2010

Cubs Futility

A couple of buffoons trying to insult the great city of Chicago today got into an argument. Which is more amazing, the Cubs not winning a championship since 1908, or the Cubs not winning a pennant since 1945? I felt like the Ghostbusters running into Nearly Headless Nick.
What made the comparison tricky is that the number of MLB teams has changed over time. Sure, 65 > 102/2, but it's not that simple because all the years between 1908 and 1945 there were only 16 teams! How could the Cubs not win then?! Looking at all the changing teams, here are the odds (data on teams from FlipFlopFlyBall a great website for baseball fans).

Chances of not winning since last win:
World Series: .00466 or about 1 in 200
Pennant: .00203 or about 1 in 500

Expected wins since last win:
World Series: 5.22 since 1908
Pennant: 5.89 since 1945

So it turns out that not winning a pennant since 1945 is more amazing, even if only by a little bit. But what I really get out of this is that the Cubs are incredibly unlucky. And that despite basic probability laws, the Cubs are due for at least 5 World Series titles.


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