Do you have a few minutes? I have something for you to read.
At The Ringer, Rany Jazayerli tackled one of the trickiest of subjects in all of professional sports (the Cubs quest for a World Series title), in an article aptly named An Irresistible Force Rises in Chicago.
I say it’s the trickiest of subjects, of course, because writing about it is just so darn difficult to do well. Go too far in the anointment of any particular Cubs team, and you’re a delusional click-baiter. Be too harsh or shallow in your analysis, and you’ve gone too far in the other direction and Cubs fans will let you know.
Try to be too funny and you’re a jerk. Try to be too serious and you’ve missed the point of sports. It’s seriously tricky, tricky stuff.
To all of that I am aware, and am still willing to offer freely: you’ll want to check this one out.
What opens with the discussion of the parlor question, physics paradox, and Dark Knight conundrum, “What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object,” quickly turns into a story of the Cubs’ troubled history of losing, a brief recap of the many savvy moves and decisions during the rebuild, and an explanation of the successes found during 2015 and into the current season (in which Jazayerli points out that the Cubs are both on pace to break the single season win record and are an underachieving baseball team (in terms of how many wins they probably should have)).
There is just so much good in there, from stats to humor to graphs and comparisons to the best teams over the years, that I’m sure you’ll enjoy the read. Jazayerli is no fool, though. Although he expects the Cubs to continue being one of the best teams all season long, he’s aware that none of it matters once the postseason begins.
Even still, his back of the napkin mathematical calculations will make you smile:
“If we assume the Cubs’ true talent level is that of a 110-win team, that the wild-card team they’ll face in the first round is a 92-win team, and that the division winner they’d face in the second round is a 97-win team, then using what Bill James called the Log5 method along with simple binomial theory, we can calculate their odds of winning each series as follows:
- Odds of winning the NLDS: 71.1 percent
- Odds of winning the NLCS: 68.3 percent
- Odds of winning both rounds: 48.6 percent
Factor in home-field advantage and the Cubs basically have a 50–50 shot of reaching the World Series for the first time in 71 years.”
So, take some time out of your day, sit down and give this long, thoughtful, funny and insightful take a good old fashioned read. Believe me, it’ll be worth your time.