Tuesday, October 28, 2008

MLB Cheated the Phillies Out of a World Series Win

Last night's baseball game was called due to rain in the middle of the sixth inning. The Rays had just scored a run to tie the game. Any regular baseball game would have been called earlier, as the field was unplayable due to the heavy, steady rain. (A rain-soaked field greatly increases the chance that players will make game-changing errors or, worse, injure themselves.)

The umpires clearly waited until the game was tied before suspending it. To see why this is a biased decision, consider a game in which you flip a coin ten times. At the end, you declare "heads" or "tails" the winner, depending on which side came up more. But then you add a new rule that if "heads" and "tails" are tied at any point, you will suspend the game. You will find that you get a lot of tie games with this new rule. The rule biases your flipping in favor of tie games.

The umpires waited until the Rays tied the game before they suspended it. If they had suspended it after, say, five innings, the Phillies would have been declared World Series champions. There is no question that the game should have been called earlier based on field conditions.

It's very reasonable to assume that the umpires were collaborating with the baseball commissioner in their decisions. Why would baseball bias its own World Series? Hard to say, but just speculating, here. It's all about money. An anti-climactic Phillies victory in a rain-shortened game damages the image of the game. Allowing the Rays to tie, and perhaps to play games six and seven, also gives networks much more time to play lucrative advertisements.