Tuesday, May 17, 2005

For the first time in its history, we have a winner of Survivor who seemed to objectively be the best player. This leaves the question of why it took so long, and why it's happening now.

Previous winners have exploited irrational behavior that led to inefficiencies in the game. In the original Survivor, most of the players thought it was somehow unsporting or unfair to form voting alliances, so Richard Hatch was able to cobble together an alliance of four people and ride it all the way to victory.

Later winners survived by exploiting other players' loyalty to an alliance, and spiteful voting patterns by the jury.

But now, all bets are off. Voting alliances are good for just that week. Furthermore, the jury seems to understand that. The result is that for once, the best player is winning.

I wonder if something similar is happening in baseball. Billy Beane was able to put together a winning baseball team in a small market by exploiting some inefficiencies in the system. But now, Theo Epstein has taken this same approach, merged it with a more generous payroll, an won a World Series in Boston. Does this mean we're back to having the richest teams win all the time, or are there further inefficiencies that can be teased out?
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