In order for the best baseball team to win, the National League would have to extend its season to 256 games say a pair of physicists at the Los Alamos national Laboratory in New Mexico.

Because of randomness, there's always a chance a bad team can win so mathematically a certain outcome for the best team requires a number of games equal to roughly the cube of the number of teams. In the National League, with its 16 teams, that means 4096 regular season games or 256 per season, almost 100 more than the 162 games they play now.

Some fans might prefer things the way they are, with underdogs like the 2003 Florida Marlins having a shot at winning the Word Series. For those who would rather the title only go to the very best team in any given year, a modified schedule could get the job done with many fewer games, according to the physicists.

By adding a preliminary round to the season, and eliminating the weakest teams before regular league play begins, the physicists showed that the best team in the National League would be virtually guaranteed to be among the top two or three teams with the best records, even with a significantly reduced number of games. Although the very best team may not always end up in the lead, a preliminary round or two would at least ensure that the top teams aren't eliminated from the playoffs through simple bad luck.

Although the baseball schedule is far from perfect, according to the new research, author Ben-Naim points out that the relatively large number of games that the teams play each year results in better sorting than occurs in professional football, hockey, and basketball. The National Football League, for example has comparable numbers of teams to Major League Baseball, but plays far fewer games each year, which makes the pro football season outcome much more random.