The World Series: May the best team win. Well, no. The Cardinals are up 1-0 in the Fall Classic and they won all of 83 games over the long regular season. Ah, may the hottest team win, that team not only good enough over the long season to get to the playoffs, but is also hitting its stride at just the right time. No, that won't work either, as the Tigers stumbled to a 19-31 record in their final 50 games and the Cardinals lost 8 games in the standings in 8 late-September days en route to nearly missing the playoffs entirely.
So what makes a World Series winner from the 8 teams that are still left standing when the regular season ends? Are these things determined by the same bizarre and complex algorithm that allows Taylor Hicks somehow to be named the country's best musical talent when he is surrounded by finalists who, combined, are better at every single aspect that is being judged? Is it some "A really isn't the best anything, but he can beat B, and C can beat D--which is good for A because A just can't beat D but he can sure beat C like a drum..." kind of phenomenon, where you weren't the best at anything but since you weren't the worst at anything either, everyone around you kept dropping until it was only you?
Or is it chance, that "crapshoot" part of a series of short series that encourages upsets and the improbable so much that .500 teams and .600 teams are virtually interchangeable?
Whatever it is, the Cardinals, who are now all of 91-82 this season, have a leg up on winning the World Series, with two matchups of Chris Carpenter vs. Nate Robertson still ahead, and with three home games still ahead. You have to like their chances, and less than a month ago it looked like they might finish in 3rd place in one of the weakest divisions in baseball.
Update [2006-10-22 0:4:5 by Nico]:
In the post that is 2 posts below ("Macha 2006...") is a comment by commuter linking to an interesting story about the Macha situation. (I think it's going to be in Sunday's Chronicle.) Definitely worth a read...