In less statistically obsessive times – the good old days, some might say – one popular barometer for forecasting teams that would finish in first place centered on Memorial Day. The teams in first place on the morning of Memorial Day, the belief held, would end the season in first place.
So are we to believe that the Baltimore Orioles will win the American League East and the Cleveland Indians the A.L. Central? Are the Washington Nationals really going to win the National League East?
Maybe they will, but if they do, they will achieve their status on merit, not on Memorial Day statistics.
Perhaps at one time the Memorial Day guideline made sense, especially in the days of two leagues and no divisions. But narrowing the statistical sample to the current era of six divisions, the Memorial Day barometer barely prevails.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, since 1995, the forecast formula has worked only 58 percent of the time, where 56 of 97 teams in sole possession of first place on Memorial Day morning have ended the season as division winners.
Last season only half of the Memorial Day division leaders were division leaders at the end. Texas, Philadelphia and Arizona made it; Boston, Cleveland and St. Louis did not.
The Cardinals nevertheless crept into the post-season as the National League wild card and won the World Series. ...
TIMES ENDS CONFLICT ...
There is no evidence of cause and effect, but the Boston Red Sox have enjoyed their most successful stretch of the season – 11 wins in 15 games – since The New York Times Company announced it had sold its remaining share in the team.
The announcement, on May 11, was about 10 years too late, as far as I am concerned. That is, in my view, which I have stated previously, the Times never should have bought 17.5 percent of the Red Sox and assorted related properties.
Despite the Times’ contention to the contrary, ownership of any piece of the Red Sox represented a conflict of interest because the Times company owns the Times newspaper and the Boston Globe, the newspaper where most Red Sox fans get their Red Sox fix.