Sunday, October 10, 2010

Minnesota has had a lot of success making the baseball postseason in recent years. But once there, the Twins have been unable to come up with wins. Last night, the New York Yankees beat the Twin Cities crew, 6-1, to sweep the teams' opening-round MLB playoff series, 3-0.

As stated in this Minneapolis Star-Tribune article:

The Twins have lost 12 postseason games in a row, the second-longest streak in major league history. The Red Sox had a 13-game postseason losing streak from 1986 to 1995, and the Twins now seem to have their own Curse of the Bambino.

Minnesota's skid started in 2004. That year, the Twins actually took the opener of their series with the Yankees (behind star pitcher Johan Santana, who later moved to the Mets), before dropping three in a row. That was followed by a three-game sweep in 2006 at the hands of the Oakland A's, followed by another sweep last year, by the Yankees. This year's repeat sweep by the Yankees thus brought the Twins' playoff losing streak to an even dozen.

Blogger John Tauer has already weighed in on the mathematical aspect of the Twins' losing ways, noting that the probability of 12 straight losses with an assumed .50 probability of winning each time is 1-in-4,096 (.50 to the 12th power). Tauer argues for the plausibility of .50/.50 prior win probabilities in the baseball playoffs because of the narrow range of ability levels between the participating teams (regular-season winning percentages ranging only narrowly, from .556 to .599).

UPDATE (November 7, 2010): I've just returned from attending an academic conference in downtown Minneapolis. Though the Twins have had a lot of postseason difficulty (as detailed above), one thing that should bring a lot of enjoyment to fans in the Twin Cities is the team's new ballpark, Target Field. I walked around the facility, which just completed its first season of play, but it appeared to be closed (except for the gift shop), so I couldn't get close to the playing surface. Here's a montage of photos I took (you can click on it to enlarge). If the Twins could add an up-and-coming Rod Carew-type hitter, that would certainly help!

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