Attention, sports fans: When they’re not winning, NY teams lose

Today’s New York Times laments the woeful situation in New York sports:

¶The Knicks were founding members of the N.B.A. They play in Madison Square Garden — the world’s most famous arena, or so the slogan goes. But their record goes like this: two titles in 64 seasons, the last in 1973. So much for the Knicks as the embodiment of the sport known as the city game.

¶The Mets have won exactly two World Series in half a century, their last a tidy 25 years back.

¶When the Rangers won the Stanley Cup in 1994, it had been an epochal 54 years since their last one. Now, they are 16 years and counting into a new losing streak.

So New York is a failure in the sports world, a veritable No-Titletown. It would pose for its avatar wearing a paper bag, except for:

  • The Yankees, of course, who have won one-fourth of all World Series.
  • And the Giants, who won a Super Bowl in 2008 and a couple others in the ’90s.
  • And the Devils, who have won the Stanley Cup three times in the last 15 years.
  • And the Islanders, who won four Stanley Cups in a row in the late 70s.

The Times article acknowledges these successes, but asks you to look past them. Otherwise, the story isn’t much of a story.

Pricing actuaries should recognize the ploy, though we’re asked to exclude the defeats not the victories.

Underwriters constantly ask us to look past bad experience, as in, “That was a large loss. That could’ve happened to anybody,” or “You’re going to penalize them for ONE BAD YEAR?”

If you look past all the crummy experience, the argument goes, the experience is good.

Of course, if you remove all of the exceptions, nothing is exceptional. That’s what the Times is doing here, and what the desperate underwriter is trying, too.

So now you can be ready the next time you’re told, “Take away those big losses and the program is doing well.”

Respond, “Take away the Yankees, and New York doesn’t win much.”


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