Archive for October 20th, 2006

When the Yankees dropped out of the playoffs, I crowed. The implication was, the Yanks stopped signing players with character, and started buying the “best talent.” And you need more than talent to win the post-season.

Really, that’s nonsensical sentimental clap-trap. Jerks play good ball in the postseason. Chemistry is overrated. Maybe. Whatever. What makes me say this is perhaps the smartest one-paragraph summation of what makes winning baseball in October, and why the 2006 Yanks didn’t have it. It’s from a Bill Simmons email column:

In 1996-2000, it wasn’t just that they had great chemistry (which they did), they didn’t have nearly as much offensive talent so they were forced to play true October baseball. The current Yankee lineup isn’t built for the postseason. You just can’t rely on three-run homers with the great pitching in the playoffs, while you can in much of the regular season (especially playing Tampa and Baltimore 38 times). With a great set of contact hitters and speed guys –Damon, Jeter, Abreu, Melky, Cano — this team should be hit-and-running, stealing at every opportunity, taking extra bases, bunting, etc. However, with power hitters like Sheffield and A-Rod clogging up the end of the lineup (such as Game 4, when A-Rod hit eighth), they can’t. There is actually TOO MUCH talent. Are you honestly going to bunt with runners on first and second and no one out with the 25-million-dollar man up? Of course not. But if former eighth-place-hitter Scott Brosius is up, it’s a no-brainer. So it’s not just their lack of chemistry but the fact that playoff teams thrive off role players. Even if you take a loaded team like the Mets, they still have guys like Endy Chavez, Jose Valentin and Paul Lo Duca. Baseball front offices, regardless of the payroll, should build their teams like baseball teams, not fantasy baseball teams.

Sheer brilliances. It also explains the inability of the Billy Beane ballclubs to win playoff series. Beane-ball prohibits stolen bases and sacrifices, which, according to theory, consume valuable outs. Over the course of a season – when you play the Rangers, Orioles, Royals, and Mariners a bunch of times – you need these outs, because it’s less likely that in any given game the opposing manager will pull out all the stops to beat you. He’s not going to drop in his best starting pitcher, say, in the third-inning of a two-run game on two days’ rest. So you need to save up the outs, wear down the opposing starters, exploit weak middle pitching, and win a bunch of midseason 12-10 games.

In the playoffs, however, runs are more valuable than saving outs. It’s better to sacrifice your guy to second and play for the one-run inning. Because the other guy isn’t going to let you pile up a bunch of runs.

Incidentally, wasn’t the Cardinals – Mets series the most uneventful and least exciting 7-game series you’ve ever seen? I mean, I channel surfed during last night’s game seven. I channel surfed during a 1 – 1 NLCS game seven! Face it, if you’re not a Mets or Cardinals fan, the series was a snoozer. The most exciting thing about the games was Endy Chavez’ miracle double-play in the sixth inning of last night’s game, maybe one of the best postseason defensive plays of all times. (By the way, I love Mets’ pitcher Oliver Perez’ fist pump, like he’s saying “I’m the man!”) Check out the catch if you haven’t seen it yet.

Who thinks the Cardinals have a chance in the World Series? Not me. At 83-78, this is the weakest of the Albert Pujols/Tony LaRussa teams (since 2001, 563 – 508, 5 of 6 years in the playoffs). They don’t have the pitching to hold off Detroit. They don’t have much hitting outside of Pujols.

Here’s my bold prediction: Detroit in five.

Links…

Ed Kemmick weighs in on Walter Schweitzer.

Speaking of Schweitzer, the Cato Institute gives him an “F” — after having given Judy Martz an “A.” The lesson? Steer away from Cato-backed candidates.

Matt on the latest Rasmussen Senate poll numbers.

Jaime sums up Not in Montana’s argument against CI-97 in the Montana Supreme Court.

Nicole reflects on the 2006 political landscape…and feels hope, d*mn it to h*ll!

On the outing of Idaho Republican Senator, Larry Craig.

Glenn Greenwald posts on McCain’s plan for victory in Iraq, which relies on 100,000 spontaneous volunteers to beef up the military.

Former Army Ranger Kevin Tillman speaks out against the Iraq war.

The San Diego Union-Tribune has a story on the bread lines for military families. Had enough?

Steve Benen thinks the latest GOP scare tactics won’t work.

More news on the shady dealings of corrupt Republicans.

More news on the Republican sex scandals: this time, sexual assault. Good news for the GOP is that the victim wasn’t a child.

New York Times on the rats turning on themselves.

Is Karl Rove a genius or a fraud?

Here’s the free market in action: big corporations patenting their tax-evasion techniques. Classy.

Check out Der Spiegel’s “War for Wealth” special series for a look into debates on globalization, capitalism, etc & co.

Christianity Today: “Islam in American Protestant Thought.” Not much of a surprise that there’s great misunderstanding and hostility.

Colbert interviews NY 19 Democratic candidate and former lead singer of Orleans, John Hall. Must see! Watch his Republican opponent run…away from television cameras. Somehow an apt metaphor for the GOP…

Colbert on Santorum’s analogy comparing Iraq to the Lord of the Rings: “…in this analogy, the United States is Mordor, and Mount Doom, the midterm elections…”




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