Friday, October 20, 2006

World Series

Could this be the most improbable World Series ever? Two teams that played the worst baseball down the stretch somehow snuck into the championship, which definitely illustrates that the playoffs, as much as I enjoy drama and out-of-your-mind plays like Endy Chavez's catch last night, are tremendously flawed. A team that lost the division in the last week (Tigers) and slipped into the Wild Card, against a team that very nearly didn't make the playoffs (Cardinals) and ended up with one of the worst records in playoff history. Methinks perhaps the Cards got a breath of new life after the Braves ended the Astros' season.

Since I am now 0-6 in postseason predictions, that means I've picked against both of these teams twice. How in the world am I going to explain my pick now? By no means do I think the Cardinals have a chance in this series--they are the NL rep, they just played an exhausting series against the Mets, the Tigers swept three games from the Cards in the regular season, and the Tigers look unstoppable right now. So therefore, right, the Cardinals are going to win this series. And it will have to take 7 games. Of course, since I reason so ironically, the Tigers will just go ahead and sweep this like the past two AL reps have done.

Hard to pick, and I'd hate to jinx anyone. So I won't. What's the pleasure in getting the World Series right if I didn't believe in these teams in the first place? And it's difficult for me to figure out who I want to root for--yes, the Tigers haven't been here since 1984, but they also won it, and that means they have a shorter drought than the Cards, who last won in 1982. Sure, they've been there three times since (and have had numerous playoff appearances besides), but they lost them all (Of course, thanks to Don Denkinger in 1985; don't mean to pile on Don), including an absolute no-show versus the Red Sox in 2004. So I'll be rooting on the Cards in this series, just for "Southern" alliance, and NL alliance, and that I appreciate the kind of baseball they played in the NLCS. I like the Tigers, too, but I'm going for the true underdog here.


At 10/20/2006 03:27:00 PM, Blogger Mike said...

I'm sticking with my generic NL wins the WS prediction. Largely so that more people will come to realize that the playoffs are flawed.

At 10/20/2006 04:21:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

To say the playoff system is flawed is either redundant or ridiculous depending on how you look at it. If the Cincinatti Reds, Mike's team, got into the post-season, and had a hell of a post-season and ended up winning the World Series, you would say "Well, my team didn't deserve to win, but I'm proud of them." That is crap. The Mets are the best team in the National League going in, fine; the Yankees are the best team in the American League going in, fine. Then why arent' they in the damn World Series, and don't give me this anyone can win in 5 or 7 games bullshit. Who cares? If you're that good, you should be winning, and if the other team figures out how to exploit weaknesses in you and beat you, then good for them.

Let us not forget, the Tigers were the best team in baseball for the first two-thirds of the season, and then hit their slipping point in the last month and a half. So, is anyone really surprised that they finally got back into it now. You can't say they don't deserve to be there. As for the Cardinals, as Mike said earlier, the NL sucks, so one of them had to make it, and why not the Cards. And if the Cards do pull off a miracle here, and play some great baseball and win the damn thing, you can say they don't deserve it?

Are you trying to tell me, Mike, that in your beloved classic baseball days when the Whitesox threw the World Series, no less, that there weren't uninteresting series? Are you trying to say that every World Series before, say, 1991 (Wouldn't want to include 90 since your beloved Reds won) has been absolutely amazing, and the best record in the league won every single time? Don't think so; in the end, it's just a pointless argument. The Cardinals deserve to be there because they did what they had to do to get there; it's not their fault everyone else in their division sucked balls. I hate the Cardinals, and I'm freaking defending them here, because saying the Playoffs are flawed is just a strange thing; a very, very strange thing. If you think about it for a couple of seconds, you'll probably see what I mean.

At 10/20/2006 05:22:00 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Well, Jonny, I don't know if this comment is directed right at Mike or my own post, but here's the thing: I've never hated the playoffs, and the Braves have lost more of them than any team. So I'm pro-playoffs 95% of the way, and I don't think there's a true system that will ever be implemented that will be "fair and just" and all that bullcrap.

That said, the "playoff system is flawed" comment is way more redundant than ridiculous. It is not ridiculous to think that, after 162 games in a year, that 5 or 7 games decide who lives in the postseason, and who the champion is, despite how dramatic and awesome the playoffs can be.

A team with two good starting pitchers can win the postseason. That means that the rest of the time, when those guys weren't on the mound, the team was garbage (the 2001 Diamondbacks are front and center on this example). In a short span, those two pitchers can pitch against a team four times total if it gets that far. The regular season, in effect, is meaningless. This is why I believe Mike doesn't like the playoffs as much as most, and maybe he can enlighten me but I think that's the reason.

To answer a question within your comment, I'm goddamned floored the Tigers are in the World Series. And I'm going to need someone hotter than Scarlett Johansson to resuscitate me that the Cardinals are there.

Yeah, the Tigers were "the best team in baseball for two-thirds of the season" but they couldn't beat any of the teams they beat in the postseason during that span. The White Sox were handing them their ass. They fed on the Royals and teams of that ilk.

And perhaps the argument is meaningless, but it's only discussion. We're not electing the fucking Pope, here.

At 10/20/2006 06:50:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

It was actually all towards Mike, and it's an argument that he and I have had for many years. I came off a litte hateful probably, bad day at work, etc. His main feeling if I'm correct is that the Wild Card has completely screwed up the playoffs in baseball. And my point is, I guess, is that the playoffs, wild-card or not, as always been the same. Have a good enough regular season, and then anything goes, so for him to say that it has been good in the past, but is not good anymore is kind of ludicrous, because it has always been the same. That's all I meant.

At 10/22/2006 12:37:00 AM, Blogger Mike said...

Wow, this got interesting fast...

Chris has laid out my arguments about as well as I could. Primarily I'm saying that there should be debate as to whom the best team is beyond the WS. Just because you win it doesn't mean you're the best team. And the Cards would be a perfect example of that. It may not be their fault that their division sucked balls, but it is their fault that they themselves sucked balls. In fact, since the NL Central sucked, if they were truly the best team in the NL, they should have won 100 games.

Anyone CAN win in a five or seven game series, and there is a great chance that the inferior team will win. Baseball is a game where a bad team can beat a good team much more often than in any other major sport I can think of. Check the winning percentages of the best teams in MLB, and compare them to any other major league. There wasn't a single MLB team that won 60% of their games this year. Could you imagine that happening in the NBA, NFL, or NHL?

There is also a significant difference in play in the post-season to the regular season, as Chris pointed out. Not only do your fourth and fifth starters not count anymore, but they are in the bullpen. Now your pen has eight pitchers instead of six, which changes the game again.

And, have no doubt, if the Reds had made the post-season having won just 80 games, I would have had mixed emotions. And I wouldn't have accepted them as the best team if they'd won the WS. I guess I would have been cheering for them, but I couldn't tell you my emotions unless they got there.


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