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The Nats' Unluckiest Fan

More unlucky fans. (By Richard A. Lipski - TWP)

Stephen Krupin and his father have had Nats season tickets since the team's inaugural season in 2005. Like most season ticket holders, they don't make it to every game. This year, Stephen--a 27-year old from Arlington--went to 19, or about one in every four. Amazingly, the Nats managed a record of 0-19 in his appearances.

(The Krupins also went to their 30th Major League park this summer, finishing that particular task. "So between being a pretty lucky son and being a pretty unlucky fan, it was one hell of a summer," he noted.)

Anyhow, his e-mail to me about his 0-19 run was fairly remarkable, and I thought it was worth reproducing here. Enjoy.

I figured that even with the worst team in the bigs, this 0-19 record couldn't have been an easy task. So I asked my cousin--a Ph.D. who works as an economist at the Department of Labor and moonlights as a statistics analyst/columnist on and Baseball Prospectus--to crunch some numbers. He and his mathematician friends figured out that the odds of my going 0-19 this year at Nats Park were 1 in 131,204.

His explanation follows:

It took into account that they were 33-48 at home this year, made up of 0-19 when you were there and 33-29 when you were not there. The odds that you would select 19 games out of 81, of which 33 would have been wins, and you picked none, that was the shocker. The other discussion is whether it was just 1 in 20,000, which would be the odds of going to 19 games of a team that wins 33/81 of their games in general, and seeing no wins. But we eventually decided that what was more impressive was that the team actually went 33-29 when you weren't there, and you just picked the wrong games.

The Nats were clearly the team most likely to foil a season ticket holder like that, but I guess so were the Royals, who apparently also went 33-48 at home. My co-workers pointed out that you might have been going mostly to games against particularly good teams; like, you wanted to see the Red Sox orDodgers or something, which obviously would make it more likely, but still really impossible.

[NOTE: I didn't. Outside of seeing the first two Red Sox games in the middle of the week, I almost always picked games based on my schedule].

It's gonna be a long time before you break back to .500. I'm wondering if you were the fan in baseball with the worst record of anybody in games attended. If it's 1 in 130,000, and each team gets a couple million fans on average, you might be the only one who attended at least 19 games and failed to see a win.

His last point is a good one. Of all regular attendees (19 or more games) around the country, fewer were probably frequent customers at terrible teams' games. It's much easier to understand why someone would go to one out of every four games at Fenway than at Nats Park. So I got that going for me, which is nice.

I was going to go last Tuesday to try and make it an even 0-20, but called a late audible for the U2 concert. Good thing, as the Nats beat the Mets that night.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go buy a lottery ticket. Or whatever the opposite of playing the lottery is.

By Dan Steinberg  |  October 8, 2009; 11:27 AM ET
Categories:  Nats  
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I had astonishingly GOOD fortunate at Nats games this year--they went 10-6 when I was in attendance. Wonder what the odds of that are. 0-19 is just soul-crushing.

Posted by: CarlosdelVaca | October 8, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

I think that math's a little off.

The Nat's were 33-48 at home, for a winning percentage of .407 (and a losing percentage of .593).

So the odds of the Nats losing all 19 games that you go to would be on the order of .593 to the 19th power (much like the odds of a coin coming up heads 19 times in a row would be .500 to the 19th power).

That's about 1 in 20510.

(This makes the assumption that you're picking the games you go to at random, which almost certainly isn't true, but it's good enough for back of the envelope stats).

Posted by: burke2 | October 8, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Jeez. Just *read* the whole post. I really need to do that. Now I remember why I'm supposed to make myself wait 10 minutes before hitting submit. What a dope I am.

Posted by: burke2 | October 8, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

FWIW Department: I went to 3 games this year at Nats Park and the Nats won all three. I've been to five Orioles games at Camden Yawns since 2007 and the O've have lost all five.

0-19? Damn, I would have probably stopped going after the 10th loss.

Posted by: bbride1 | October 8, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

I went 0-12 and stopped there.

Posted by: fushezzi | October 8, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

My daughter went to 3 Wizards games last year (she only went when her friend had an extra ticket and she could go) and they won all 3 games!!

Posted by: Dougmacintyre | October 8, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

I went to 13 games this year, and the Nats did fairly well at 7-6. Here's MY crazy story, though: the Nats had six walk-off wins this year, and I attended five of them. May 5 over Houston; June 20 over Toronto; Sept. 6 over Florida; Sept. 23 over the Dodgers; and Sept. 30 over the Mets. The only one I missed was July 26 over San Diego. I'm a rabbit's foot!

Posted by: johnbdugan | October 8, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Well, I haven't been to nearly as many games as the Krupins, but the Nats have won every game I've attended since they came to DC. Maybe the Nats need to identify some lucky charms, and ban those with poor records? :D

Posted by: slitterst | October 8, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

I'm a long-time Cardinals' fan in St. Louis and have something almost as unusual. During Mark McGwire's perhaps enhanced slugging days with the Redbirds I saw him personally in at least 20 home games. He never hit a home run while I was there. I missed one in an extra-inning game when I had to leave early, but that's as close as I came to personally witnessing a McGwire homer. Conversely, I saw two So Taguchi home runs during his brief, virtually powerless, career with the Cardinals.

Posted by: RobertKelly1950 | October 8, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

So where do they get the 1 in 130,000 from?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | October 8, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I guess I'll take a crack at explaining the stats as I understand them.

The 1 in 130,000 number comes from the idea that you are picking the 19 losses out of the 81 total games the Nats played at home this year. Imagine that there are 81 cards face down on a table in front of you, 33 of them are wins, and 48 of them are losses. After you pick a card you can't pick it again, so as you pick each loss, picking a loss becomes harder. After 1 game there are 33 wins and 47 losses available. After 2 games there are 33 wins and 46 losses. And this continues until the odds are actually against you picking a loss, since after 16 games the available choices are 33 wins and 33 losses. So the chance of picking 19 losers isn't .593 to the 19th, instead you have to calculate the odds of getting each loss individually.

I wonder if that explanation helped anyone...

Posted by: Hobes | October 8, 2009 4:25 PM | Report abuse

I was 0-48....I started betting on the other team at about game 25...

I just bought a house cash...

Posted by: SA-Town | October 8, 2009 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Hobes.

So if I understand this, the 1 in 20,000 is more like the odds of 19 DIFFERENT PEOPLE all going to one loss -- that is, allowing them to go to the same game, but picking their game independently of one another.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | October 8, 2009 7:43 PM | Report abuse

In other words, using the .407 win percentage assumes the games are already played -- as in your example, where the cards are already wins and losses when they are on the table.
So before I actually do the arithmetic, are they calculating the W/L percentage as they go, then, and basing the odds of the next game on the outcomes of the previous ones? That would seem to make sense.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | October 8, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

The 1 in 20,000 is the probability of picking 19 people at random that went to a Nats home game and having all those games be a loss.

The actual probability is expressed like so:

Which can be expressed as:

Posted by: mldickens | October 9, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Holy crap! I'm 27, I went to about 25 Nats games this year, and I think I saw four or five wins. I could totally be that dude, except for the fact I won't live in the suburbs.

Posted by: MACCHAMPS04 | October 9, 2009 5:42 PM | Report abuse

I am from the UK, When in the US I have been to 6 major and 4 minor league games and I have yet to see the home team win.

Posted by: BaronVG | October 9, 2009 7:42 PM | Report abuse

That makes me feel better about being 0-8.

Posted by: FlyersSuck | October 9, 2009 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Sorry I missed this entry last week. I feel for Krupin, but since Nats were 13-8 in my 21 games, am I the luckiest fan?

Posted by: JamesWebster | October 14, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

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