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Top Photo: Rookie sensation Corbin Carroll

Peaking at the right time is important for any team wanting to succeed in the postseason. And now, as of press time, two Cinderella Wild Card teams are playing in the World Series!

Things were not looking good as the Arizona Diamondbacks neared the postseason. After the All-Star Break, the D-backs went through a 30-game SLUMP, dropping them further back in the National League West standings. Then they also dropped their final four regular season games.

Fortunately, they squeaked in as a Wild Card, where everything started falling into place for the team. They swept the Milwaukee Brewers, then faced the Los Angeles Dodgers, which had dominated the NL West during the regular season. The D-backs swept the Dodgers in three games for a chance to play the Philadelphia Phillies for the National League Pennant. After falling behind 2 games to 3, Arizona rallied to win the next two games to win the pennant and punch their ticket to the World Series.

The last time the D-backs were in the World Series was 22 years ago. In 2001, they beat the three-time defending world champions, the New York Yankees, 4 games to 3 to win their only World Series.

But this World Series, the D-backs are facing another Cinderella Wild Card team—the Texas Rangers, who just beat last year’s World Series champs, the Houston Astros, to earn their spot in the World Series. Could the D-backs win their second World Series?

coin resting on hand ready to be flipped. Image: shutterstock.comCoin Toss Study Sheds Light On the Famous ‘Flip’!

Before you decide to use a coin toss to decide anything, you better peek at the coin you’re flipping. Researchers have found that the odds of a coin coming up one side versus the other are not exactly 50/50!

A group of researchers from across Europe studied more than 350,000 coin tosses and discovered that you can actually tip the odds slightly in your favor. The team used 48 people to flip coins from 46 different currencies in the experiment. After crunching the numbers, they found that there was a 50.8 percent chance of the coin ending up with the same side facing up as before the coin was tossed.

The recent study built off a 2007 paper from another team of researchers, led by Stanford mathematician Persi Diaconis. The 2007 team wrote that “when people flip an ordinary coin, it tends to land on the same side it started.”

So why are the odds not evenly split when you flip a coin? The research has shown that when you toss a coin, you introduce a tiny amount of wobble into the flip.

“According to the Diaconis model, precession causes the coin to spend more time in the air with the initial side facing up,” according to the research team’s paper. “Consequently, the coin has a higher chance of landing on the same side as it started (i.e., ‘same-side bias’).”

The team also found that there’s a lot of variety between the people tossing the coins because some people showed more same-side bias than others. So what does this mean for coin tosses everywhere? The toss may come down to the person tossing the coin!

While the percentage difference might not seem that big, over time it can definitely add up. So could coin tossers use the same-side bias to their advantage? To avoid this, researchers made a simple suggestion in their paper for how to manage coin toss decisions.

“When coin flips are used for high-stakes decision-making, the starting position of the coin is best concealed.”

November 2023