07 July 2007

the 7/7/07 baseball coincidence

From Monday's New York Times, With a Big Day Ahead, Marketers Are Turning to Numerology:

The winner’s proposal is to be seen on computer-generated signs behind home plate during the three Major League Baseball games that Fox plans to broadcast on Saturday in different parts of the country: Atlanta Braves-San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Angels-New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins-Chicago White Sox.

Wait a minute. “Atlanta,” seven letters. “Angeles,” seven letters. “New York,” seven letters. “Yankees,” likewise. Ditto “Chicago.”

And “Minnesota Twins” and “San Diego Padres” are each 14 letters long, twice 7.


With standards that loose, it's easy to manufacture coincidence. By my count, the following teams have seven letters in either their city or their nickname, or fourteen letters in the combination of the two:

AL East: Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles
AL Central: Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins, Chicago White Sox
AL West: Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim), Seattle Mariners, Oakland Athletics, Texas Rangers
NL East: New York Mets, Atlanta Braves, Florida Marlins
NL Central: Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Houston Astros, Cincinnati Reds
NL West: San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies

It's probably easier to list the teams that aren't includes: the Red Sox, Devil Rays, Royals, Phillies and Nationals. If you pick six teams at random, there are (25 choose 6) = 177100 ways that they'll be among the 25 with at least one seven-letter part in their name, out of 593775 total ways to pick six teams -- thus there's a 30% chance that this would happen, if you're lenient with the definition of "seven-letter team name". (For the truly pedantic among you, the schedule isn't balanced -- so certain teams are more likely to play each other than you'd expect by chance -- and also FOX tends to favor large media markets and winning teams for their Saturday afternoon coverage. This makes me happy because it means lots of Phillies and Red Sox games, which works against the coincidence; but it also means lots of games involving New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago teams, which works for it.)

Over the rest of the season, this same sort of coincidence happens again on July 7, July 28, August 4, August 18 (but there are only two games that day), and September 1, for five out of the eleven weeks that remain. (FOX makes it difficult to find their schedule for the first half of the season -- obviously nobody would care about that because it already happened.)

(Yes, the city of St. Louis is actually called "Saint Louis" -- but when was the last time you saw it written out?)

Oh, and today's games start at 3:55 PM Eastern. Could one of them end at 7:07?

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