Cover: Have the World Series Been Fixed?

Have the World Series Been Fixed?

Published 1970

by Robert L. Helmbold

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Illustrates the kind of statistical techniques that could be employed by an agency monitoring sporting events for evidence of tampering with their outcomes. The specific question addressed is: Have the baseball World Series been artificially lengthened, especially during the 1940-1969 period? Most parties concerned — players, owners, advertisers, mass media, gamblers, and fans — would benefit from a longer series. Theoretically, the maximum probability of a series lasting 7 games is less than 0.31, but anyone betting against a 7-game series each year would have lost 15 times since 1940. There is no evidence that the distribution of series lengths is different from decade to decade. Using one example Bayesian probability model, the 1967 and 1968 series would merit investigation, having gone slightly above the theoretical upper bound on series length.

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