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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cardinals edge Rangers to open World Series

Nelson Cruz sprinted over to the foul line, desperately trying to run down Allen Craig’s tailing liner. The right fielder came up just short, and so did the Texas Rangers.

Craig’s pinch-hit drive landed an inch or two in front of Cruz’s outstretched glove for a go-ahead single off reliever Alexi Ogando in the sixth inning that carried the St. Louis Cardinals over the Rangers 3-2 Wednesday in a chilly World Series opener.

On a night when all the runs were driven in with opposite-field hits to right, Lance Berkman put St. Louis ahead with a two-run single in the fourth against C.J. Wilson.

Rangers catcher Mike Napoli watched in dejection as Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday scored, but a few minutes later celebrated in the top of the fifth when he tied it 2-all with a two-run homer off Chris Carpenter.

...Game 1 has been an indicator of success in recent decades: The winner has captured seven of the last eight titles, 12 of the last 14 and 19 of the last 23. In addition, the team hosting Game 1 has won 20 of the last 25 World Series.

Repoz Posted: October 20, 2011 at 03:40 AM | 105 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cardinals, game recaps, rangers

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   1. Tripon Posted: October 20, 2011 at 03:53 AM (#3969047)
I think I will hate everything if the Cardinals win the world series.
   2. Guts Posted: October 20, 2011 at 03:55 AM (#3969048)
Gotta win all of Carp's starts. Garcia's start tomorrow is like 90% must win too.
   3. Dan Posted: October 20, 2011 at 03:55 AM (#3969049)
CJ Wilson became the first pitcher to lose an All-Star game, an AL division series game, an AL championship series game and a World Series game in the same year.
   4. phredbird Posted: October 20, 2011 at 03:57 AM (#3969050)
aw come on, tripon. no matter what happens, i'll try to pass you some tix next year. i'm in a good mood, as you can tell.
   5. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: October 20, 2011 at 03:58 AM (#3969051)
Yay meaningless regular season! Let's have a 16 team playoff next year! You're the best Bud!
   6. Don Malcolm Posted: October 20, 2011 at 04:00 AM (#3969052)
CJ Wilson became the first pitcher to lose an All-Star game, an AL division series game, an AL championship series game and a World Series game in the same year.

It's a safe bet that C.J. doesn't want an extra round of playoffs, even if it might mean more revenue for the PU.
   7. Hugh Jorgan Posted: October 20, 2011 at 04:46 AM (#3969070)
I know they have a method for determining it, and I know all about unbalanced schedules and such, but it just doesn't seem right that a wild card team has the home field advantage over a division winner.

If there was already post for this, sorry I missed it.
   8. Dr. Vaux Posted: October 20, 2011 at 04:57 AM (#3969072)
In 2013, a team that won 87 games but beat a team that won 95 games in one playoff game might wind up with home field advantage in the World Series.

Will anyone really take the post-season seriously anymore if that happens? Will they decide that the 87-win team just had more heart and guts?
   9. shock Posted: October 20, 2011 at 05:01 AM (#3969073)
They wanted it more.
   10. cardsfanboy Posted: October 20, 2011 at 05:46 AM (#3969075)
I have the Cardinals winning in six...first game, third gasme, fourth game and sixth game..... this doesn't change a thing
   11. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: October 20, 2011 at 05:49 AM (#3969077)
In 2013, a team that won 87 games but beat a team that won 95 games in one playoff game might wind up with home field advantage in the World Series.

Will anyone really take the post-season seriously anymore if that happens?


In 1987, a team that won 85 games had home field advantage in the Fall Classic beat a 95-win team in the World Series by winning all four games in its home park.

In 1995, a 100-win team (in a 144-game schedule) did not have HFA in any of the three rounds of the playoffs, ultimately succumbing to a 90-win team in the World Series.

Somehow, the postseason survived.
   12. cardsfanboy Posted: October 20, 2011 at 06:03 AM (#3969079)
I know they have a method for determining it, and I know all about unbalanced schedules and such, but it just doesn't seem right that a wild card team has the home field advantage over a division winner.

If there was already post for this, sorry I missed it.


not sure if there was a post on it, but I don't see a problem. personally I consider the team with the 3-4-5- home game to have the advantage, but everyone seems to focusing on the rare seventh game.
   13. Forsch 10 From Navarone (Dayn) Posted: October 20, 2011 at 06:14 AM (#3969082)
The playoff format that now afflicts us has effectively been in place since 1995. Why so much meowing and mewling this season?
   14. Sleepy supports unauthorized rambling Posted: October 20, 2011 at 06:20 AM (#3969083)
#10--I had at least 3 gasmes tonight, alone. I'm not sure I'll make it through the series if they win three more, especially in that order.
   15. Sleepy supports unauthorized rambling Posted: October 20, 2011 at 06:31 AM (#3969085)
Somehow, the postseason survived.


Also, when talking alleged "wild card injustices", let's not forget the 2005 100-win STL team, who lost the NLCS to the 89-win Houston team. Especially since STL was 11-5 against the Astros in the regular season.
   16. Dr. Vaux Posted: October 20, 2011 at 06:56 AM (#3969089)
At least they had a best-of-7 opportunity. That's a small sample, but not nearly as small as one game.
   17. Cooper Nielson Posted: October 20, 2011 at 07:22 AM (#3969094)
In 1995, a 100-win team (in a 144-game schedule) did not have HFA in any of the three rounds of the playoffs, ultimately succumbing to a 90-win team in the World Series.

In the first round, I see the Indians won Games 1 and 2 at home, and Game 3 on the road (Boston), but I guess this was back when the division series were 2-3 instead of 2-2-1, so the Indians would not have technically had "home-field advantage."

I don't remember why this was. How was HFA decided back then? Was it a coin flip, or was it predetermined before the season which divisions would get HFA? And why was Cleveland (100-44) playing Boston (86-58) in the first round instead of New York (79-65, wild card)? The fourth playoff team was Seattle (79-66).
   18. Harold can be a fun sponge Posted: October 20, 2011 at 07:25 AM (#3969095)
At least they had a best-of-7 opportunity. That's a small sample, but not nearly as small as one game.

A division winner will always have the 5- or 7-game opportunity. I'm not very sympathetic to the injustice of a 2nd-place team getting a poor opportunity, even if it wins 95 gams.

The hypothetical 87-win team in your post #8 would also have to win a 5-game series and a 7-game series in addition to the 1-game playoff. Just like an unimpressive WC team would today.
   19. RollingWave Posted: October 20, 2011 at 07:25 AM (#3969096)
I think I will hate everything if the Cardinals win the world series.


+1, Rangers winning their first title would be quite cool though.
   20. Cooper Nielson Posted: October 20, 2011 at 07:29 AM (#3969097)
OK, I did the Wiki-research myself:

"Originally, the Eastern, Central and Western Division champions rotated home-site priority, with the two of them getting the extra home game and the third one and the wild card not."

So I guess in 1995 the AL East and AL West were given HFA priority for the playoffs. Normally the better of those two teams (the Red Sox) would have played against the wild card team in the first round, but even back then they had the rule that teams from the same division could not play each other in the first round, so the Yankees got dispatched to Seattle.

Seems extremely unfair to the Indians, but then they went and swept Boston anyway.
   21. bumpis hound Posted: October 20, 2011 at 07:33 AM (#3969098)
I'm tired of the haters.

How is it a travesty if a team gets hot late in the season? There's no shame in a team improving itself over the course of a year. In fact, I'd have to say a team that improves itself to the point where it is drastically better by the end of the season is a stronger organization than the one that just pays for the all-star talent and rolls through a flawed division (looking at you, Spankees). I'd say that, just like pitching and hitting, the ability of a team's management to adjust and improve over the course of a season--WHEN EVERY OTHER TEAM IS TRYING TO DO SO--is a very difficult thing to do. It could also indicate a better than usual farm system, in that 1) young talent gets brought up; or 2) young talent gets traded to address current needs.

This sort of team has every right to compete for a World Series berth as any other.

The idea that a WC team is somehow lesser to a division winner is silly. Baseball nowadays is all about adjustments. Many times a WC team starts off flawed but turns itself into a winner because of its ability to identify its flaws, address them, and succeed because of them. To suggest otherwise is just sour grapes.
   22. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: October 20, 2011 at 10:07 AM (#3969107)
I too find the carping a bit much. Its a 90 win team vs a 95 win team.
   23. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: October 20, 2011 at 11:06 AM (#3969112)
I like all the opposite field hitting

The Cards did that nonstop in the NLCS

Meanwhile, the Crew kept trying to pull and grounding out or popping up in big spots
   24. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: October 20, 2011 at 11:08 AM (#3969113)
Meh, the Cardinals just aren't very good, and it's pretty obvious to anyone watching. More power to them for getting hot at the right time, I suppose, but its not exactly compelling TV.
   25. bunyon Posted: October 20, 2011 at 11:14 AM (#3969117)
Will anyone really take the post-season seriously anymore if that happens?

Of course they will. I think MLB is probably right - opening another round or two and getting more extreme cinderellas will be good for the sport in October. I have people I didn't know knew what baseball is asking me all sorts of stuff about the plucky Cardinals. The look on their face when I tell them I hate them* is priceless.

* I don't hate them and remember being outraged on their behalf in 2005. I get the whining about the whining here but the fact is, the World Series is not what it once was. I don't, necessarily, mean it isn't as good as it used to be. For some, it may be better, in fact. It just isn't the same. The game I grew up loving had a regular season that was paramount. That isn't the case today. I will watch just about anyone play baseball and I'll congratulate my friends who are Cardinal fans if they win the Series. But what they will have accomplished, if they do, is not the same as what, say, the 1982 team did.
   26. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: October 20, 2011 at 11:26 AM (#3969121)
The idea that a WC team is somehow lesser to a division winner is silly.


Wherein "silly" means "blantantly obvious to anyone with even a modicum of basic human intelligence and even a third-grader's understanding of the game of baseball." Which isn't what "silly" normally means, but fans will go to great length to justify their second place team's "right" to a "championship" post hoc.
   27. JRVJ Posted: October 20, 2011 at 11:53 AM (#3969130)
If I may make a quickie comment, I think that one unintended consequence of the playoff format since 1995 (which I don't love, but don't hate either, though the team I was rooting for was booted out in round 1: Phils), is that coming in with the best league record is no big deal anymore.

Also, having a "bye" or rest in baseball isn't that good a thing (everybody gets cold or out of rhytm).

I would think that part of the solution to this is to go the European soccer route, and treat the WS as a "Cup" competition (and your more prestigious competition), but treat having the best record in your league as equivalent to "winning your league" with a ton of fanfare and such.

That would be a change in tradition, but not a terrible one, and it would price having the best record in your league.

This idea isn't fully fleshed out, so please feel free to tear it apart.
   28. Lassus Posted: October 20, 2011 at 12:02 PM (#3969133)
EVERYTHING SUCKS
   29. Greg K Posted: October 20, 2011 at 12:06 PM (#3969135)
This idea isn't fully fleshed out, so please feel free to tear it apart.

That is one of the things I like about UK soccer. The idea of having separate competitions is fun and allows for so many more teams to be in one of the many "its" it's possible to be in. For me it's sort of like the NHL system. I like the fact that there's a massive tournament at the end of the season and regular season doesn't mean as much. Because I have baseball where the regular season DOES mean quite a bit.

I guess my point is I like having a wide variety of methods to enjoying my sports.

The main problem I see is that American sports seem to be geared towards ONE thing meaning everything (ie. World Series, Super Bowl etc.). Hence the lack of itnerest in the WBC or the hatred of ties in any form. I think the crux of your proposal is the "more prestigious" aspect of it. What determines prestige isn't really a directive by the league, but what the teams want to win. You can say here are two separate competitions, one a bit more valuable than the other. But I don't think the sports culture in America is going to easily allow teams to divide their attention at all between the two.

Just as fantasy thought experiments I do enjoy envisioning some elements of European soccer in baseball. Like a total revamping of the minor league system and a promotion/relegation process.
   30. musial6 Posted: October 20, 2011 at 12:07 PM (#3969136)
Meh, the Cardinals just aren't very good, and it's pretty obvious to anyone watching. More power to them for getting hot at the right time, I suppose, but its not exactly compelling TV.


Hell of a saber-metric argument you made there.

They're 31-13 (.705) over the last 44 games.

Their offense led the NL in runs scored over 162 games.

Their bullpen was god awful (26 blown saves) for most of the year, but has been stellar down the stretch and in the postseason thanks to contributions from pitchers acquired at the trade deadline.

Yes, they were fortunate that Atlanta crumbled. Yes, they were a 2nd place regular season team - but there is nothing cheap about their performance. They beat the best teams in the NL and now they're playing the team that beat the best teams in the AL.

The 2000 Yankees (87-74) had the 5th best record in the AL. Same for the 1987 Twins (85-77). Teams have been 'getting hot at the right time' for decades.
   31. bunyon Posted: October 20, 2011 at 12:09 PM (#3969137)
JRVJ (Delta, right?), I think your plan is the only one that can possibly reconcile the original intent of the World Series with the modern day. That is, really, how it started: best record to win your league and then a "cup" competition between the two league champions.

Getting rid of interleague play, having a single league with the best record winning the "pennant" followed by a "cup" compeition involving the top 4 (or 5, etc) in each league would culminate in a World Series.


The idea that a WC team is somehow lesser to a division winner is silly.

But not as silly as the idea that a team losing a best of 7 series is somehow lesser to the team that beat it.
   32. Greg K Posted: October 20, 2011 at 12:11 PM (#3969138)
Meh, the Cardinals just aren't very good, and it's pretty obvious to anyone watching. More power to them for getting hot at the right time, I suppose, but its not exactly compelling TV.

Buh?
It wasn't game 6, 1975 or anything, but that was a pretty nice game of baseball last night. Anyone who didn't find that compelling either isn't much of a baseball fan, or decided beforehand that they weren't going to be interested. I mean, I can understand if you're not much interested in either team (that's about where I am), but what's so objectively uninteresting about the Cardinals? Didn't they have the best offence in the NL, and isn't Carpenter pitching extremely well right now? I say this as someone who's mildly rooting for the Rangers.
   33. AROM Posted: October 20, 2011 at 12:16 PM (#3969142)
"Meh, the Cardinals just aren't very good, and it's pretty obvious to anyone watching. More power to them for getting hot at the right time, I suppose, but its not exactly compelling TV."

Cards have an elite middle of the order, and no real weak spots in the lineup. The starting pitching after Carp is not strong, but they've been able to ride the bullpen to victory. They could not get away playing like this for a full season. But the strategy works pretty well in a playoff series.
   34. bunyon Posted: October 20, 2011 at 12:24 PM (#3969143)
I thought it was a really nice game last night. And, yeah, Pujols may (probably will) end up in the hall's inner circle. Hard not to find that interesting.
   35. phredbird Posted: October 20, 2011 at 12:28 PM (#3969144)
The playoff format that now afflicts us has effectively been in place since 1995. Why so much meowing and mewling this season?


irrational larussa hate.
   36. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: October 20, 2011 at 12:28 PM (#3969145)
I look at the Cardinals and see a great hitting team with a good bullpen and an okay starting rotation. When they get good starting pitching, they're a great team. I have no problem with them winning the World Series, and I'm rooting for them.
   37. musial6 Posted: October 20, 2011 at 12:30 PM (#3969146)

Getting rid of interleague play, having a single league with the best record winning the "pennant" followed by a "cup" compeition involving the top 4 (or 5, etc) in each league would culminate in a World Series.


I've been advocating this for a few years. My most radical implementation cuts the leagues down to 10, with 10 playing in a relegation league. Bottom team from each league drops each year, winner of the relegation league gets to choose which major league to join, 2nd and 3rd place teams play series for promotion.

Everyone plays the every team 18 times. League pennant to the best regular season records. Interleague playoff bracket, meaning you could get Yankees/Red Sox in the WS, etc...

It would really make the first round of the playoffs fascinating in terms of measuring AL vs NL.

Mainly this would create an environment where nearly every team would have something to play for all season long. The only knock would be that the best team in baseball could potentially play in the relegation league and get shut out of the WS tournament.
   38. phredbird Posted: October 20, 2011 at 12:33 PM (#3969147)
Buh?
It wasn't game 6, 1975 or anything, but that was a pretty nice game of baseball last night. Anyone who didn't find that compelling either isn't much of a baseball fan, or decided beforehand that they weren't going to be interested.


agree.
   39. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: October 20, 2011 at 12:35 PM (#3969148)
irrational larussa hate. FTFY.
   40. bunyon Posted: October 20, 2011 at 12:36 PM (#3969149)
But, at the end of the day, what folks here want isn't all that important. MLB has mangled what I grew up loving to the point that I really don't like it (the playoff system, that is, not the game). But I still watch because I love the game itself. Really, whatever playoff structure/schedule they adopt, I'll watch. And I'm not the type to spend piles of money on gear or take a bunch of kids to the park, etc. Basically, I'm going to spend what little amount of money I spend on it no matter what they do. I suspect this is true of almost every poster on this board.

Therefore, what matters to MLB is how to get other people to part with their money. From my casual, and non-scientific, observations, more playoffs do that. For the casual fan, playoff unpredictability seems to be a feature, not a bug.
   41. Tom Nawrocki Posted: October 20, 2011 at 12:36 PM (#3969150)
coming in with the best league record is no big deal anymore.


When was it a big deal? I guess pre-1969 it was, but not since then.

I don't understand all the kvetching about the home-field advantage, since it (1) is much smaller in baseball than in the other major sports, and (2) doesn't usually come into play. Two out of the three teams that had HFA in the first round lost their deciding game anyway. It's just not very important.
   42. just plain joe Posted: October 20, 2011 at 12:37 PM (#3969151)
EVERYTHING SUCKS


and then you die.
   43. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: October 20, 2011 at 12:47 PM (#3969154)
When was it a big deal? I guess pre-1969 it was, but not since then.

I don't understand all the kvetching about the home-field advantage, since it (1) is much smaller in baseball than in the other major sports, and (2) doesn't usually come into play. Two out of the three teams that had HFA in the first round lost their deciding game anyway. It's just not very important.


CONCUR.
   44. Crosseyed and Painless Posted: October 20, 2011 at 12:47 PM (#3969155)
I'm sure it's already been said on here by 1,000 people, but I still want to point out that McCarver kept talking about how the Rangers were pitching around Molina when they obviously were not pitching around Molina. It was truly amazing. I wasn't at a computer and was unable to talk about the madness with people on the internet while it was happening.
   45. Greg K Posted: October 20, 2011 at 01:03 PM (#3969166)
He also said Mike Napoli's 3 at-bats agaisnt Carpetner came when he was with the Angels and Carpenter was with the Jays, which isn't even close to being true.
   46. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: October 20, 2011 at 01:04 PM (#3969168)
They're 31-13 (.705) over the last 44 games

...after stumbling around in a daze for five months. Now that's a World Champion!

Can't wait to see the ratings for this train wreck of a series...
   47. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: October 20, 2011 at 01:04 PM (#3969169)
At least everyone can agree that McCarver was even worse than usual last night.

A five letter word: "S-T-R-I-K-E"???
   48. cv2002 Posted: October 20, 2011 at 02:11 PM (#3969207)
They're 31-13 (.705) over the last 44 games

...after stumbling around in a daze for five months. Now that's a World Champion!


Actually, the Cards had the best record in the NL in late May/early June. They're sort of the anti-Red Sox. They started well, had a bad summer, then finished hot.
   49. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: October 20, 2011 at 02:21 PM (#3969213)
The playoff format that now afflicts us has effectively been in place since 1995. Why so much meowing and mewling this season?


I've been ######## about this for 15 years.
   50. cv2002 Posted: October 20, 2011 at 02:21 PM (#3969214)
http://www.baseball-reference.com/games/standings.cgi?date=2011-06-07
   51. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: October 20, 2011 at 02:22 PM (#3969216)
I think almost any neutral observer would have preferred the Brewers to the Cardinals, but, I mean...we've seen so much worse in the Wild Card era..2000 Yankees, 2006 Cardinals, 2005 Astros....calm down
   52. BDC Posted: October 20, 2011 at 02:33 PM (#3969221)
You know, the phenomenon of a team being left for dead and then coming back to win a World Series dates from at least 1914. A key feature of a 162-game season is that you often don't reach the postseason with the same team you had in April. In 1920 the Indians rode Duster Mails into the Series and had had to replace a shortstop who got killed mid-season. The 1951 Giants clearly weren't as "good" as that dynasty Dodger team. Et cetera.

I feel the way several other moderates do in this thread. The Cardinals have some weaknesses, but they have three pretty great hitters in the middle of the lineup, who had two runs and two RBI among them last night off the Rangers' ace. They have an ace of their own who was a bit better than the Rangers' ace last night. If the Rangers are demonstrably way better, they ought to actually win some games, right? Winning games is the main way of proving you're better.

As to HFA, I have a philosopher acquaintance who says it's a myth. (We had a very brief thread on that once.) I don't think it's a myth, but as several here have noted, a series that ends in 4 or 6 games will not have had a HFA, and to win in five you have to at least split the games on the road if you have 3-4-5 at home (or win 2 or 3 if you have the "HFA." The big deal is the seventh game, so we'll have to wait and see if we get one this year.
   53. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: October 20, 2011 at 02:41 PM (#3969230)
The only reason to be opposed to the Cards winning it all is that their fan base gave up on them early and completely

And don't dispute this contention. I know MANY Cards fans and follow the NL Central very closely

The fans BURIED this team and then spit on the grave

Shame on them

Shame on them
   54. esseff Posted: October 20, 2011 at 02:41 PM (#3969231)
In 1981, a third tier of playoffs was added for the first time, and 33% of the NL teams made the postseason, to this date the highest percentage for any baseball league. And yet neither of the top two teams in the league was included.

In 1997, the NL team with the second-best record had to open AT the wild card for two games of a best-of-five and was quickly swept.

Combining these with all the other examples listed above, this season's WS doesn't crack the anomaly top 10.
   55. SoSH U at work Posted: October 20, 2011 at 02:46 PM (#3969234)
As to HFA, I have a philosopher acquaintance who says it's a myth. (We had a very brief thread on that once.) I don't think it's a myth,


Since there are no 36-15 foul discrepancies like you see in the NBA, or crowd noise issues like you have in football, there's not much in the way of on-field conditions (other than park familiarity) that should be causing HFA. And I wonder if the already mild HFA we see in the regular season is muted even further in the postseason.

In the regular season, you usually play homestands of 6-9 games, while visitors have similar length road trips. I wonder how much of the regualar season HFA is the result of that travel advantage (particularly in second and third series of a homestand/trip). Obviously, when you get to the playoffs and opponents are on identical travel schedules, this kind of effect would be eliminated.

Anyone know the historical record for home teams in the postseason?
   56. bunyon Posted: October 20, 2011 at 02:49 PM (#3969237)
The folks criticizing those of us criticizing the current playoff formats seem to think it's new this year. Like Sam H., I'm pretty sure I've ####### about this every time a wild card team makes the World Series, or knocks off the team with the best record in the LDS. It isn't new and it isn't directed at the Cardinals. It's directed at MLB.

Taking it personally suggests to me you're not quite as comfortable with the greatness of your team as you let on.
   57. phredbird Posted: October 20, 2011 at 03:05 PM (#3969250)
The only reason to be opposed to the Cards winning it all is that their fan base gave up on them early and completely

And don't dispute this contention. I know MANY Cards fans and follow the NL Central very closely

The fans BURIED this team and then spit on the grave

Shame on them

Shame on them


*sheepishly hangs head*
   58. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 20, 2011 at 03:13 PM (#3969254)
The wildcard has taken a lot of mystique (and aura) out of the races for me. Mainly the regular season races, but I also don't care who wins the World Series anymore. Or even really who makes the playoffs.

I watch (regular season and playoffs) because I like seeing competition at its highest level, and I like watching the players and following their development and analyzing which teams have which strengths and weaknesses and where teams can improve, etc.

Somewhere far down on the list of things I care about now is the World Series winner.
   59. Shredder Posted: October 20, 2011 at 03:32 PM (#3969273)
irrational larussa hate.
There's nothing irrational about hating Tony LaRussa. That said, as long as the Rangers lose, I'll be happy.

The way schedules are imalanced now, even within divisions, I think a Wild Card is almost a necessity. The other route is to just simply get rid the post-season altogether and go to a system where you have a league champion, and maybe an FA Cup style playoff which has absolutely no connection to the regular season.

2002 was the first all wild-card World Series, right? For their part, the Angels won 99 games, and had the best record in baseball following the 6-14 start. They played a more difficult inter-league schedule than Oakland that year, and if you throw out interleague play entirely, had the best record in the division. Based on the body of evidence, limiting the post-season to "division winners" is arguably just as arbitrary as any other criterion.
   60. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: October 20, 2011 at 03:34 PM (#3969277)
The only reason to be opposed to the Cards winning it all is that their fan base gave up on them early and completely

And don't dispute this contention. I know MANY Cards fans and follow the NL Central very closely

The fans BURIED this team and then spit on the grave

Shame on them

Shame on them


Yes, this is such a unique phenomenon.


http://bostondirtdogs.boston.com/Headline_Archives/soxgrave.jpg
   61. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 20, 2011 at 03:42 PM (#3969281)
"Meh, the Cardinals just aren't very good, and it's pretty obvious to anyone watching. More power to them for getting hot at the right time, I suppose, but its not exactly compelling TV."


Wow, really? I found it a tremendously compelling game.

I agree the WC has watered things down to the point where I really barely pay attention to the first round, but the last 2-3 years I've found myself caring about the WS more than I have since I was a kid. I think because the Yankee dominance has been broken quite a bit, but there could be other factors as well like really appealing teams in the WS with legit stars and close matchups.

This series I think has the potential to be a great one. The two teams seem really evenly matched, you have some legit sluggers in Pujols and Hamilton, two hitters who seem absurdly hot at the right time in Freese and Cruz, good starting pitching, solid bullpens, one of the best fanbases, a franchise looking to win their first championship - what's not to like? I don't get the baseball humbugs.

I also don't get the kvetching about how the playoffs don't determine the "true" best team. Hasn't that always been the case since 1906 when a 93 win White Sox club was crowned champion over a 116 win Cubs team?
   62. The Kentucky Gentleman, Mark Edward Posted: October 20, 2011 at 03:42 PM (#3969282)
Last night was Arthur Rhodes' *first* World Series appearance. That seems pretty amazing? I would've assumed he'd been in several WS' by now. Dude's been pitching for 20 seasons.
   63. BDC Posted: October 20, 2011 at 03:55 PM (#3969290)
Weird indeed. Rhodes started the season with the Rangers, so I guess it was destiny one way or the other.
   64. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: October 20, 2011 at 03:58 PM (#3969292)
Last night was Arthur Rhodes' *first* World Series appearance. That seems pretty amazing? I would've assumed he'd been in several WS' by now. Dude's been pitching for 20 seasons.


I also didn't know he had lost a 5 year old son. I know the "Personal interest story" thing gets overdone but that's legitimately touching. I want to see Texas win (first time) but when I heard that I was REALLY pulling for Rhodes to blow Hamilton away.

I don't get baseball fans who don't enjoy the World Series. Like it or not this is the on-field goal of every single one of these players. Last night's game was damned entertaining. That was a fun ball game to watch last night. Some good hitting, good pitching, good defense, a bit of controversy to spice things up, managerial moves to be discussed, I was very entertained.
   65. SoSH U at work Posted: October 20, 2011 at 04:03 PM (#3969294)
I don't get baseball fans who don't enjoy the World Series.


Yes. Like bunyon, I don't like the wildcard system and have said it since the start.

At the same time, that's the system we've got. It's still baseball and this is still the World Series.

Let's Play 7.
   66. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 20, 2011 at 04:08 PM (#3969298)
Last night was Arthur Rhodes' *first* World Series appearance. That seems pretty amazing? I would've assumed he'd been in several WS' by now. Dude's been pitching for 20 seasons.


He also played this year for both WS teams (so he gets a ring either way?). Bengie Molina did that last year. How many others have their been?
   67. salvomania Posted: October 20, 2011 at 04:29 PM (#3969321)
Let's Play 7.


I'm a huge Cardinal fan but I'm rooting for a 7-game series, just because I love 7th games....
   68. Greg K Posted: October 20, 2011 at 04:33 PM (#3969325)
Taking it personally suggests to me you're not quite as comfortable with the greatness of your team as you let on.

For the record I'm cheering for the Rangers and don't like the Cardinals that much
And also given the choice I'd rather go back to the LCS-WS and that's it.

I just don't see why any of that should get in the way of enjoying some baseball.
   69. cardsfanboy Posted: October 20, 2011 at 04:33 PM (#3969326)
Meh, the Cardinals just aren't very good, and it's pretty obvious to anyone watching.


Really? best offense in the NL is a meh? I mean you have a 3-4-5 that features top eight(twelve majors) ops+ hitters in the nl, You have a third baseman when healthy who has a career ops+ of 131, a catcher who was the arguably the best overall catcher in baseball this year, etc... yes it's an offense first team, but it's a damn good offense.

I don't see how it's obvious the Cardinals aren't very good by watching.
   70. cardsfanboy Posted: October 20, 2011 at 04:40 PM (#3969337)
I think almost any neutral observer would have preferred the Brewers to the Cardinals, but, I mean...we've seen so much worse in the Wild Card era..2000 Yankees, 2006 Cardinals2004 Red Sox, 2005 Astros....calm down


fixed it for you.
   71. bunyon Posted: October 20, 2011 at 04:49 PM (#3969348)
You're right, cfb. The 06 Cardinals don't belong on that list of good teams.


:)
   72. SoSH U at work Posted: October 20, 2011 at 04:51 PM (#3969349)
fixed it for you.


Since he included another division winner on his list (which happens to be his favorite team) of sketchy WS participants, you actually just messed it up. You can (and have, incessantly) argued that the 06 Cards were better than their pedestrian record, but you ain't arguing away the 15-game difference between the teams.
   73. Random Transaction Generator Posted: October 20, 2011 at 04:53 PM (#3969355)

58. RayDiPerna Posted: October 20, 2011 at 11:13 AM (#3969254)
The wildcard has taken a lot of mystique (and aura) out of the races for me. Mainly the regular season races, but I also don't care who wins the World Series anymore. Or even really who makes the playoffs.


Why should you when it's a lock at the start of September?
   74. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: October 20, 2011 at 04:56 PM (#3969359)
Hamilton has been a problem for the Rangers; he still seems hurt. I would drop him to 5th or so, and put him in the middle of that string of righties.
   75. just plain joe Posted: October 20, 2011 at 04:58 PM (#3969362)
Why should you when it's a lock at the start of September?


Now is that a mortal lock or just a regular old everyday, run of the mill lock?
   76. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 20, 2011 at 05:02 PM (#3969368)

Hamilton has been a problem for the Rangers; he still seems hurt. I would drop him to 5th or so, and put him in the middle of that string of righties.


There is so much wrong with the Rangers lineup.
   77. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: October 20, 2011 at 05:22 PM (#3969389)
Last night was Arthur Rhodes' *first* World Series appearance. That seems pretty amazing? I would've assumed he'd been in several WS' by now. Dude's been pitching for 20 seasons.
He might have been if he didn't get stomped on by the Yankees every time he had to face them in October.
   78. Shredder Posted: October 20, 2011 at 05:28 PM (#3969394)
Hamilton has been a problem for the Rangers; he still seems hurt. I would drop him to 5th or so, and put him in the middle of that string of righties.
Hit him seventh. That seems to be the magical spot in the order.
   79. ?Donde esta Dagoberto Campaneris? Posted: October 20, 2011 at 05:46 PM (#3969406)
If I may make a quickie comment, I think that one unintended consequence of the playoff format since 1995 (which I don't love, but don't hate either, though the team I was rooting for was booted out in round 1: Phils), is that coming in with the best league record is no big deal anymore.

I agree with the best record part of this. For that reason I'd like the WC team to only get one home game in their LDS (I'd even let the team with the best record pick the game.) That way the WC is something you really don't want (no more sitting comfortably in second place) and the best record is something you really do want. It would push the teams to play all 162 games (at least until they clinch the best record or their division) and make it a bit tougher for the WC team to make it through- which is fair in my view.

As far as the Series, it's got Albert Pujols. If you can't enjoy a game with him in it- you're a very different baseball fan than I am.
   80. esseff Posted: October 20, 2011 at 05:50 PM (#3969410)
I'd like the WC team to only get one home game in their LDS (I'd even let the team with the best record pick the game.) That way the WC is something you really don't want (no more sitting comfortably in second place) and the best record is something you really do want.


Except that the team with the best record doesn't necessarily play the wild card.
   81. cardsfanboy Posted: October 20, 2011 at 05:52 PM (#3969416)
Since he included another division winner on his list (which happens to be his favorite team) of sketchy WS participants, you actually just messed it up. You can (and have, incessantly) argued that the 06 Cards were better than their pedestrian record, but you ain't arguing away the 15-game difference between the teams.


I was just having fun. I look at the Cardinal three year run as evidence of a good team, I also think that it's arguable that the better team has lost the last 5 world series the Cardinals have been in, so I'm pretty much in the camp that it's a crapshoot. I think the only fan of a team that should be legitimately upset is a Braves fan. The nature of the unbalanced schedule and interleague play probably helped the Cardinals get into the post season.

Once you are in the post season, it's a different league/season for all practical purposes.

edit:although looking at the records in interleague play, it's hard to say the Cardinals were helped out or the Braves were hurt--
   82. SoSH U at work Posted: October 20, 2011 at 05:57 PM (#3969424)
I also think that it's arguable that the better team has lost the last 6 world series the Cardinals have been in


I can't speak with such certainty about the others (OK, I'll sign off on 85 and 87), and I know that Cards team had a nice shiny record in 2004 in the inferior league, but at the time the series was played I have no doubt the Red Sox had the best team on the field. A fluke it was not.
   83. ?Donde esta Dagoberto Campaneris? Posted: October 20, 2011 at 05:59 PM (#3969426)
Except that the team with the best record doesn't necessarily play the wild card.

I'd change that too. I might even (just thinking aloud here) make a second place team play all five games on the road if they end up playing their own division's first place team.

I don't mind a wildcard (or the proposed play-in version) but it's a gift to non-division winners and should come with a penalty. Since "byes" don't really work in baseball, the only way to really "punish" a wildcard team is to make them win on the road. There's also a financial penalty involved (I would think- I'm not totally sure) with losing those home games, so the respective PTB would take it real seriously.
   84. phredbird Posted: October 20, 2011 at 06:06 PM (#3969440)
irrational larussa hate.

There's nothing irrational about hating Tony LaRussa. That said, as long as the Rangers lose, I'll be happy.


one can hate larussa with defensible reasons, but i still think there's alot of irrational larussa hate on this site. ymmv.
   85. Shredder Posted: October 20, 2011 at 06:09 PM (#3969444)
I don't mind a wildcard (or the proposed play-in version) but it's a gift to non-division winners and should come with a penalty.
I don't really buy this line of thinking. In a given year, a WC team may have a significantly better record than, and play in a much tougher division than another division winner. When you penalize one team, you reward another. I'm not sure why a team that plays in a crappy division, and despite that fails to put up an impressive record, deserves to be rewarded, especially when they already benefited from a quirk of geography.
   86. cardsfanboy Posted: October 20, 2011 at 06:17 PM (#3969451)
I can't speak with such certainty about the others (OK, I'll sign off on 85 and 87), and I know that Cards team had a nice shiny record in 2004 in the inferior league, but at the time the series was played I have no doubt the Red Sox had the best team on the field. A fluke it was not.


Never said it was a fluke, and the argument could be made that 2006 the same could be said about the Cardinals. And not so sure that 2004 NL was noticeably inferior to the Al, I thought the evidence really centered on 2006-2009 as the NL being inferior, but even without that information, you are talking about a 7 game difference between the two teams.

Again, the post season is a different animal than the regular season and worrying about which team was better for 162 games vs 7 games isn't going to make a difference. I don't think anyone with knowledge really thinks the world series champ is evidence of who was the best team. Casual fans maybe, but even there I don't think they really believe that.
   87. BDC Posted: October 20, 2011 at 06:22 PM (#3969458)
Count me against "penalizing" teams in the postseason. It seems kind of perverse. A league suddenly decides that having four teams in its playoff is not enough. So they invite a fifth. Somebody's got to finish fifth. They'd be in fifth place anyway, minding their own business and thinking about next year. Now suddenly they're in the playoffs; but the first thing they hear is "we hate you, please play this series blindfolded and in silly hats."

Neither the NBA nor the NHL have much of a first-round "penalty," and baseball so far has emulated that: a one-game HFA seems fair, given that series have odd numbers of games and someone has to get the advantage.

The NFL does put a serious uphill battle in front of its wild cards: an extra game plus the prospect of playing a team that's had a bye if you do win, and on the road, too. But this seems to me not so much a "punitive" idea as the inevitable product of having a sport that's played in one-game "series," and a system that invites a cluster####y odd number of wild cards into the mix. Baseball is certainly going for the cluster#### model, but it shouldn't also import other elements (like a "series" played entirely in one team's park).
   88. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 20, 2011 at 06:26 PM (#3969462)
I don't really buy this line of thinking. In a given year, a WC team may have a significantly better record than, and play in a much tougher division than another division winner. When you penalize one team, you reward another. I'm not sure why a team that plays in a crappy division, and despite that fails to put up an impressive record, deserves to be rewarded, especially when they already benefited from a quirk of geography.


Because that team won something.
   89. shock Posted: October 20, 2011 at 06:29 PM (#3969466)

The playoff format that now afflicts us has effectively been in place since 1995. Why so much meowing and mewling this season?


I don't have a problem with this season or any particular season, just the frequencies. Over the past fifteen years, the Wild Card team has gotten to the World Series too many times. It should be exciting when an underdog team makes it to the World Series; instead it happens every year.
   90. ?Donde esta Dagoberto Campaneris? Posted: October 20, 2011 at 06:39 PM (#3969476)
But this seems to me not so much a "punitive" idea as the inevitable product of having a sport that's played in one-game "series," and a system that invites a cluster####y odd number of wild cards into the mix.

As far as the above, when the WC started in football, (I believe) there were 3 division winners- just like the current baseball scenario. The NFL could have had 1 WC (and thus a nice 4 team playoff) but instead they had 2 WCs play against each other- and then sent the winner on the road to play the team with the best record. Essentially, I'd have baseball copy that approach. Obviously, you have series instead of single games- but the approach is largely the same.

I can appreciate the desire to avoid "penalizing"- I just disagree. I see what Shredder is saying, but to my mind, the WC is a gift. Even if it goes to the second best team in a league because an unequal distribution of good teams, it's still a gift. In short, you didn't win your division- you get what you get- and what you don't get is the same opportunity as a division winner (even if you are a "better" team) because you didn't earn that.
   91. Ebessan Posted: October 20, 2011 at 06:44 PM (#3969483)
Because that team won something.

A cute way to tie into "Wild Card recipient".
   92. SoSH U at work Posted: October 20, 2011 at 06:54 PM (#3969492)
As far as the above, when the WC started in football, (I believe) there were 3 division winners- just like the current baseball scenario. The NFL could have had 1 WC (and thus a nice 4 team playoff) but instead they had 2 WCs play against each other- and then sent the winner on the road to play the team with the best record.


No, that's not what football did. Football started with the same system as baseball has. Four teams, wild card plays the team with the best record, provided its not in the same division (the famed Hail Mary pass was in a wild card vs. division champ game, won by the wild card Cowboys over the 12-2 Vikes in 1975).

I wish there were no wild card. But seeing as I ain't getting that, I don't like the idea of gimmicking up the process (such as 0 or 1 home games in a five-game set). You invited them to the damn table. Let the losers eat.
   93. ?Donde esta Dagoberto Campaneris? Posted: October 20, 2011 at 07:05 PM (#3969506)
No, that's not what football did. Football started with the same system as baseball. Four teams, wild card plays the team with the best record, provided its not in the same division (the famed Hail Mary pass was in a wild card vs. division champ game, won by the wild card Cowboys over the 12-2 Vikes in 1975).

Come on, you can't expect me to know about stuff that happened in prehistoric times. I was working on the "what they did when I started watching is what they always did" principal. Foiled again!

To be sure, I'm not in love with the idea of "penalizing" the WC as much as I want to put a big premium on a team's regular season work (if there's a better way to do that than pulling home games I'd be open to it.) There's an inherent tension between the two concerns and one's preference can reasonably fall anywhere.

I also think a WC team that wins a series with only 1 (or with 0- which was just a thought) home game would be pretty cool. But, I can see why people would see it as gimmicky.

EDITs
   94. Shredder Posted: October 20, 2011 at 07:24 PM (#3969529)
Because that team won something.
I guess "tallest midget" is something.
To be sure, I'm not in love with the idea of "penalizing" the WC as much as I want to put a big premium on a team's regular season work
It seems like you'd rather put a premium on a team's position on a map and how good or crappy other similarly located teams are at any given time. Wild Card teams typically also have to have pretty good regular seasons. They aren't drawn out of a hat.
   95. andrewberg Posted: October 20, 2011 at 07:57 PM (#3969546)
Did anyone else find it odd that last night was the first time they had the weird infrared camera (at least that I have seen), and the only meaningful time that it could come in handy (whether or not a ball hit a batter, either on HBP or foul ball call) actually occurred? That can't be useful more than once every 20 or 30 games (how often is whether a guy was hit in dispute?), and the technology serves no other meaningful purpose, beside scaring Tim "5 letter" McCarver, and that struck me as bizarre.
   96. ?Donde esta Dagoberto Campaneris? Posted: October 20, 2011 at 08:06 PM (#3969552)
It seems like you'd rather put a premium on a team's position on a map and how good or crappy other similarly located teams are at any given time.

Sure, but we get that problem already with the AL/NL divide. And we always have. Baseball divides teams into groups and you have to succeed within your group. I can see not liking that and just taking the "best teams" irrespective of leagues and divisions but (1) no one is really proposing that, and (2) it won't happen anyway.

I'm not the baseball historian that many here are, but I feel pretty sure there were many pre-69 years where the best 2 or 3 (or even more) teams were in the same league- and only the fluke of league membership kept the second best team in all of baseball out of the Series and replaced them with an inferior squad becasue of geographic or traditional "flukiness." That's always been part of the game. As long as the teams know what they have to do when the season starts- the playoff participants are chosen as fairly as is practicable.

I get that a WC team may be the second best team in a league, or in all of baseball, but they are still a WC team. In order to keep teams from comfortably settling for that status (thereby coasting down the stretch- which we definitely have seen) I'd make it hurt a bit if they did so. Again, I also like that it would keep the better teams focused on piling up wins becasue there is definite value in doing so. By making the regular season a little more valuable (the team with the best record really puts itself in a strong position) you get more games played at a high level. At least, that's the idea.
   97. Shredder Posted: October 20, 2011 at 09:10 PM (#3969622)
I'm not the baseball historian that many here are, but I feel pretty sure there were many pre-69 years where the best 2 or 3 (or even more) teams were in the same league- and only the fluke of league membership kept the second best team in all of baseball out of the Series and replaced them with an inferior squad becasue of geographic or traditional "flukiness."
That's all well and good if you want to go back to no playoffs, and just a World Series. Get rid of divisions, take the best from the AL and the NL, no division or league championship series. Over 162 games and a balanced schedule, I'm comfortable that the team who finishes the season with the best record in its league has a credible argument for being the league's best team. You're comparing apples and oranges. As long as we're going to have a post-season that is more participatory than one team from each league, we should at least try to get the best teams from each league into the playoffs, and there's no real reason to put additional barriers (other than what already exist) in front of a wild card team. Divisional play plus a wild card provides a system that balances rivalries and hopefully a few playoff races with the notion that a really good team will still get a shot even they were unlucky enough to be the second best team in their very strong division.

Now, if you want to keep eight teams in the playoffs AND make it more like pre-1969, then get rid of inter-divisional play altogether. Add a couple teams, go to four divisions, and don't play any games outside of those divisions. Now you've got a system more like pre-1969. The Rangers play 54 games each against the Mariners, Angels, and A's. Best record goes to the playoffs. It would be a lot harder to determine if and which inferior teams made the playoffs, since they never played against each other all year, just like pre-1969. But as it stands now, a team left out of the playoffs can prove on the field over the course of a season that they're significantly better than other teams that qualified for the playoffs, for no other reason than a quirk of geography. I'm less comfortable with that.

Do people think the NCAA tournament has become diluted since the inclusion of at-large teams? In 1970-1971, USC finished the season 24-2 and didn't make the NCAA tournament, since their two losses were to UCLA. I'm not exactly sure how that made the tournament better or more fair that year, since it excluded a team that may have been better than 24 of the 25 teams that it included.
   98. bunyon Posted: October 20, 2011 at 09:20 PM (#3969636)
In 1970-1971, USC finished the season 24-2 and didn't make the NCAA tournament, since their two losses were to UCLA. I'm not exactly sure how that made the tournament better or more fair that year, since it excluded a team that may have been better than 24 of the 25 teams that it included.

I think it is exactly analogous. The NCAA tournament is not designed to find the best team. It is designed to entertain. In 1970, teams played most their league and smaller teams in their region they could crush. Maybe one or two non-conference games. The point of the tournament was to distill down which league was better, even if it isn't very good at doing that. In 1968 there were two separate baseball leagues that played a long schedule with just each other. The "best" team was then decided by a series of the respective league champions.

Today, in both NCAA basketball and MLB, there is a lot of schedule cross over and the tournament doesn't so much decide who is best as it does entertain.

The reason to keep that USC team out is that they were not as good as UCLA, thus you don't need to put them in the mix. It wasn't as clear, based solely on results, that, say, UNC wasn't as good. Or Kentucky, etc.
   99. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 20, 2011 at 09:23 PM (#3969640)

Except that the team with the best record doesn't necessarily play the wild card.


I still think this is the dumbest thing about the post-95 divisional alignment. There is no competitive reason a division winner shouldn't play a wild card in its division in the first round. Its clearly just a "we want the Red Sox to play the Yankees in the LCS" rule.
   100. Greg K Posted: October 20, 2011 at 10:18 PM (#3969683)
I still think this is the dumbest thing about the post-95 divisional alignment. There is no competitive reason a division winner shouldn't play a wild card in its division in the first round. Its clearly just a "we want the Red Sox to play the Yankees in the LCS" rule.

I don't know the exact history of the structure, but assuming the no in-division LDS matchups thing dated from 95...it's not like Boston and New York were perennial contenders at that time. The Yankees hadn't sniffed the post-season in more than a decade, and Boston did well 86-91, but didn't exactly look like a powerhouse going into 1995.

The more whining about this "best team" business the more I think the obvious solution is just a league and concurrently running tournament all year. Or all 30 teams play a balanced schedule with each other to determine a suitable best team, followed by a tournament of some kind that people are free to ignore if they so choose.
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