FanPost

Props, Giants, and the 30-year cycle


I would have been OK with whoever won.

Because neither team had pulled down a championship in 56 years (Giants) or ever (Rangers), and that brings me to one of my pet theories. Bear with me, I even complicate myself with this one.

Every expansion (as baseball went through in the 1990s) adds to the potential misery of teams at the bottom and, by extension, their fans. Consider: Back when there were 16 major-league teams, if world championships were randomly distributed without regard to things like financial resources or talent, then teams on average could expect to win a world championship every 16 years or so. With championships in 1909, 1925, 1960, 1971 and 1979, the Pirates were right on schedule: 80 years divided by five titles = one every 16 years (for purposes of this exercise, we're ignoring the expansions of the early and late 1960s).

Meanwhile, some teams (Yankees) won more than their share of titles while other teams (Browns) won fewer. And every time the Yankees won an extra title or three or 10 in the same 16-year cycle, they deprived the Browns, the Cubs, the Red Sox of one, to the point where some of these franchises were going 80 or 100 years (and counting) between world championships.

Follow? OK.

Now the Cubs and Red Sox used to be outliers as franchises that would go that long without a championship, even back in the days when there were just 16 teams. A drought like the Pirates endured between 1925 and 1960 was almost unimaginable.

Today, we have 30 teams. If championships were randomly distributed without regard to resources, all things being equal, everyone would get a championship more or less every 30 YEARS. Think about that a second. If you could devise the fairererist system possible in MLB (and, for that matter, the NFL, NBA and NHL), the levelest playing field, it would mean every team's fans would have to wait 30 years between titles, almost as long as the drought the Pirates endured in what was considered to be a really, really long stretch between championships.

Now, consider that even with the levelest possible playing field, it's entirely possible and probable that one team (at least) will win a second championship in the 30-year window, through random luck. That means some other team will not get a championship in the current 30-year window, will be pushed out and will have to wait until the next 30-year window to get lucky. Same goes for every second or third extra championship one team earns -- or if more than one team lucks into more than one championship in that window. Now you're talking five, six, seven teams or more getting shoved back into the next 30-year cycle. And, inevitably, in that next 30-year cycle, through random good luck, one or more franchises will win more than one championship, and as many more teams will get pushed back to the NEXT 30-year cycle. And if that number happens to include one or more of the teams that didn't get a championship in the FIRST 30-year cycle ...

Well, you can see where this is headed. Pretty soon going 80 years (Red Sox) or 100 years and counting (Cubs) between championships will not be unusual. It will be the norm. And, of course, all thing are not equal in baseball. So when you have a team like the Yankees winning something like 26 championships in 100 years, or even the Cardinals copping nine, that means a lot of other teams are going to wait a very very VERY long time to win one.

At least as long as 56 years.

This is why (I believe, and this all kind of comes back to the "fairerer" fanpost of yesterday) we've been given wild cards and six (or eight NFL) divisions, why sports have had to create so many pseudo championships (think of the phrase "winning the wild card" -- it's not really winning anything, it's a consolation prize), because do you think a team that goes 90 or 120 or 150 years without a championship in its sport is going to have many followers left by then? How patient would Pirates fans be if the team didn't win another championship until 2079? Would there even BE a franchise in Pittsburgh under those circumstances?

So we're expected to content ourselves with "winning" wild cards and "winning" divisions which are nice and all but really have little relevance to the effing purpose of the sport, which is to win the WORLD SERIES (Super Bowl, Stanley Cup, what have you). And we buy into it. I mean, I suppose I'd party like it's 2099 if the Pirates won a division. But really, if you tried to wrap your head around how extremely hard it is anymore, how much the odds are stacked against you, to win an actual championship in any sport, logically you'd spend your money someplace else.

So props to the Giants, who cracked through the cycles against enormous odds to win a championship for the first time since they (and the Dodgers) were still in freaking New York. It could easily be another 56 years before they see another one. Tim Lincecum will be 82 and I'll be dead.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of the managing editor (Charlie) or SB Nation. FanPosts are written by Bucs Dugout readers.

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