Beating the odds, the Rockies achieve the near-impossible
According to a specific mathematical law, the probability that an event occurs is defined as the number of outcomes involving its occurrence, divided by the total number of its possible outcomes.
The 2007 Colorado Rockies, the unbeatable, anonymous black jerseys of Major League Baseball, have broken this law. They have shattered it.
The Rockies have amassed an improbable streak of 21 wins out of 22 games, propelling them to 10 straight wins and an undefeated 7-0 postseason record. This is a team that sat fourth in the wild-card race with 14 games remaining in the season, a team that has lost just once since Sept. 16, en route to its first National League Pennant in franchise history.
How improbable is this?
This is the same team that many baseball experts predicted back in spring to finish in the cellar of the National League West. Preseason odds indicated that Rockies manager Clint Hurdle had a better chance of winning the Colorado Lottery than maneuvering his club to the World Series.
After all, this ball club lost 86 games and finished 12 games out just a year ago. They finished the season tied at the bottom of the division, with many fans petitioning through the winter for a change of ownership. At the end of the 2006 season, fans could count all the series sweeps in the Rockies’ favor on one hand.
This year, the team had nine regular season sweeps, including seven straight from the Dodgers and a three-game pounding of the San Diego Padres at the end of the season.
The current streak has thrust Colorado to its first 90-win season in franchise history, and its first second place finish in the NL West since 1995. They hadn’t finished better than fourth place in the division since 1997.
There have been many adjectives used to describe this streak, and all of them are apt. The Rockies have garnered attention from baseball junkies the world over. For lack of a consistent, universal nickname, Jayson Stark of ESPN has provisionally named them “The Team That Never Loses.”
What the Colorado Rockies have been able to achieve during their miraculous stretch run is nearly inconceivable in the baseball paradigm.
They are the fifth team in Major League Baseball history to go 20-1 in any stretch of the season, but the first team to do it at any time during October. They are just the second team in history to sweep its first two postseason series, and the fifth team ever to make it from last place one year to the World Series the next. No team in history that found itself two games out of a playoff spot with two games to play has ever gone to the World Series.
At least not until now.
To baseball heads, these factoids are ridiculous. This team has achieved things in baseball that have been reserved solely for legend. Even the baseball gods are jealous.
The truth is, the only way to measure the probability of something so profoundly improbable is to acknowledge that it cannot be measured. To try and quantify what the Rockies have done is to assess it incorrectly, since there is really nothing in modern professional sports that can reasonably stand in comparison next to the incredible turnaround this ball club has made.
Assess it all you want. Run the numbers, apply the math. You can even try the probability law, but you won’t be able to find it.
This team and this entire region are dancing on its shards.
Contact Campus Press Editor Tim McAvoy at email@example.com.