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A Baseball Blog - Scientific and Speculative Thoughts from Third Base

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Are the Cardinals Worthy Champions?

The Cardinals surprised everyone (myself included) when they made the playoffs after a late-season run for the Wild Card. Everyone (except for me, this time) continued to pick against them when they faced the number 1 and 2 seeds in the the National League, the 102-win Phillies and the 96-win Brewers, and even when they reached the World Series. And yet, here we are; the 90-win Cardinals have knocked off all of them, and now stand as the 2011 Champions.

But is it really bad that this team won the World Series? I guess if you have a problem with Wild Cards winning the World Series in general, then yes. But I feel like thinking of them as a just-okay team that snuck in on the last day isn’t entirely representative either. For example, Bill at the Platoon Advantage said they would probably be among the eight worst World Series winners back on Tuesday (or, at least, he insinuated that they would be). Are they really?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

World Series, Game 6

The Platoon Advantage has an interesting piece on the worst World Series winners, and speculates that the Cardinals (if they win) could find their way onto the list. Granted, I can see them going on the list, but somewhere towards the bottom; I've been meaning to write an article defending them, and it will come, but I've been very busy lately (yes, still).

Let me just say, though, that I hope the Cardinals win tonight on a walk-off, preferably in extra innings. Not only because I'm a Cardinals fan, but also because 1) I think a Game 7 will cement the 2011 World Series' place among the greatest; and 2) Every one of the first six games will be great in different ways. Game 1 saw a classic back-and-forth game with pinch-hit heroics. Game 2 saw an even better pitchers' duel capped off with an amazing comeback. Game 3 saw a high-offense game with an incredible hitting performance from Albert Pujols. Game 4 saw an amazing pitching performance from Derek Holland. Game 5 saw a close strategic match-up between the managers (granted, that one was lackluster as far as strategic match-ups go, but it still brought a different dimension to the Series).

The only problem is, if Game 6 is in fact a walk-off or extra innings win, what does that leave for Game 7?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Some Observations

I've been very busy as of late, at least partly due to the World Series. I do have several things planned, though.

I would just like to point out that in Game 5, there were five intentional walks. It's been fairly well established that intentional walks are, in general, bad; they put runners on for the other team, which is kind of what they're trying to do.

The team that issued four of them escaped unscathed every time. The other walk was followed by a ground ball that was deflected rather than turning into a double play, and led to two runs scoring, as if the baseball gods realized that the Universal Law of Intentional Walks had been defiled too many times in one game, and they had to make an example of someone before it was too late.

I'm not sure if Tony La Russa saw Ron Washington's moves and mistook them for strategic brilliance or what, but that seems like bad luck.

I have always believed that La Russa over-manages though, and the Cardinals are worse off for it. He also added evidence to that, with poorly called steals and hit-and-runs (maybe he over-values Allen Craig's speed?). On top of that, there were the three sac bunts (and again, one of them was Allen Craig-maybe he doesn't like him?). With all of the Cardinals wasted opportunities and bad moves, this is possibly the first game in the series where it feels like one team lost the game, rather than the other one team won it (so to speak).

All in all, this World Series has been amazing (even if my team is down a game now). If the Cardinals can force a Game 7, though, it may become one for the ages.

(On a side note, at the start of the playoffs, I was planning on writing Retired Number pieces for the pennant winners. Conveniently, though, I've already covered the Rangers and the Cardinals.)

Monday, October 17, 2011

More Trivia!

And, with the stunning conclusion of the NLCS, I now have all the data necessary to publish another quiz. This one is on World Series match-ups throughout history. I'm trying to think of ways to combat the scrolling needed to see all of the answers, but otherwise, it should be playable.

World Series Match Ups

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Also, some notes on the game:

Albert Pujols and David Freese both had an incredible NLCS. I would have given the NLCS MVP to Pujols up until game 6 probably. But Freese definitely ended stronger. Either one would have been a great story; the legend adds to his growing legacy, or the local newcomer makes a name for himself. In the end, I think they made the right choice (.545/.600/1.091 vs .478/.556/.913).

And hey, the third baseman won it!
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MLB.com ran a headline about a blown call that cost the Brewers a rally. Several issues with this, really. I'm all for more replay, but don't make a story out of nothing. First, the Brewers were already down by six runs (five after the play); so, they went from being down by five runs with one on and no out to no on and one out. That really isn't that big of a difference, win probability-wise. Also, Prince Fielder kind of grounded out right to the second baseman on the next play.

Even more important though; if you want to yell about the Brewers losing a runner to a blown call (as some of the commenters on MLB.com are already doing), you have to at least mention that a blown call in the first cost the Cardinals a run. (Also, if I recall, one of the TBS announcers mentioned that the umpire made a great call on that second play, even though he conceded that it wasn't right, as if that was just a small technicality).

(Also, I realize that most people wouldn't blame the whole game on this. But, for posterity's sake, I just wanted to point out that the Cardinals actually had a bigger missed call against them in the game-that would have put them up 2-0, and we didn't necessarily know at the time that David Freese would follow it up with a home run. I just have no idea why MLB.com is trying to make this call in particular into a story.)
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Also, while I'm linking to Baseball Nation, I may as well mention that I found this Grant Brisbee game update especially hilarious, for some reason.
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The other two Sporcle games that I created can be found here (ALCS) and here (NLCS).
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Also, I would like to point out that blatant homerism is apparently a great method for picking a World Series winner.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Postseason Trivia and Belated Predictions

I’m something of a trivia fan, and as such, I spend a lot of time on Sporcle.com. I’ve been meaning to make some quizzes about the postseason for a while, and I finally got time. So, for the last few days, I’ve been compiling quizzes on the ALCS and NLCS match-ups throughout history. Feel free to try them out!

ALCS
NLCS

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Quick Thoughts: Hank Aaron Award and NLCS Game 2

A few quick things.

First, remember when I wrote about the Hank Aaron Award a few weeks ago? Well, the preliminary ballot was released the other day. First, a little bit more on the process; as the article says, each team gets a nominee. The winner is chosen through a combination of a fan vote and Hall of Fame player vote. That alone shows that it's substantially different than the MVP.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Re-Run: Okay, Bud Selig, It's Not Funny Anymore: More Instant Replay, Please

I've been busy lately with several things (some of which actually relate to this site!). So, here's a rerun of a piece I wrote during the playoffs last year about baseball's need for instant replay. I still stand by the claim, although it's much more sarcastic than I remembered.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Give A-Rod a Break

As a quick note, a lot of people have apparently been booing Alex Rodriguez with his recent struggles. It's About the Money, Stupid has a good intro to the piece, and covers most of what I would say. I want to throw out some extra thoughts, though.


Baseball Bloggers Alliance Awards: Final Six Ballots

Here is the second and final part of my awards ballot. Part 1 can be found here. Again, I will explain my ballots during the actual awards season; for now, I'm just submitting my vote.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

So Your Team Is Out of the Playoffs; Who Do You Root for? (And other thoughts)

As you may have figured out by now, I am a Cardinals and Orioles fan. So, I began planning this post about a month ago when it looked like both my teams would be done by now. I didn’t start it, but the idea was there.

Things have changed a bit since then. Wednesday night was unquestionably one of the greatest nights in baseball’s history, and it was definitely one of the greatest experiences of my life; sitting around with other baseball fans and my laptop, with four MLB Gameday tabs open and one ESPN3 tab that switched between whatever game was most interesting at the moment (although mostly the Cardinals-Astros game). Although technically, I guess it did keep me from doing actual work that needed to be done, but I feel that’s totally justified.

I could try and gush about how incredible Wednesday was; I’m still on a baseball high, the Cardinals made the playoffs* against incredible odds, and anywhere between two and four games that night might go down as classics. (Yes, I’m counting the Cardinals’ game, too; it capped an incredible run. And, just like in 2004, it will get overshadowed by what the Red Sox did.)

So this is going to be more of a collection of ideas.