Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Schoenfield: Why didn’t the Braves win more titles?

This article isn’t meant to be a criticism or detract from the accomplishments of Maddux, Glavine and Cox, but it’s also fair to point out that part of the legacy of those Braves teams is that those 14 playoff appearances led to just one World Series title (1995). Why wasn’t it more? The law of averages—if every playoff team were considered equal—suggests the Braves should have won 2.1 championships in this period, so they really only underperformed by one title by this measure.

But the Braves were often better than the opponent who beat them, at least in the regular season, so maybe it should have been at least three titles. I thought it would be interesting to go back and see what went wrong for them. We’ll list three factors for each postseason series defeat during that period.

...Of course, in the postseason, when the margin for error is smaller and the opponents better, those mistakes become more important. Still, maybe that wasn’t a decisive factor; the Braves reached on an error 58 times in these 14 playoffs years, their opponents 64.

Maybe a key to the Braves’ success—starting pitching depth—just wasn’t as big of a factor in the playoffs, when their opponents could shorten their rotations. Maybe power pitching does win in October; think of some of the pitchers the Braves lost to (Schilling with the Phillies and then the Diamondbacks; Johnson; Wood and Prior; Clemens and Roy Oswalt). The Braves’ best playoff starter was Smoltz, more of a power pitcher than Maddux and Glavine. Maddux went 11-13 with a 2.81 ERA in his Braves postseason career but also allowed 18 unearned runs in 27 starts; he was good but not quite the Maddux of the regular season. Glavine was 12-15 with a 3.44 ERA in his Braves postseason career. (He had a 3.15 ERA in the regular season during this period.)

But Braves fans will always have 1995, Maddux pitching a two-hitter to win the opener and then Glavine clinching it with that masterful Game 6 performance, allowing just one hit in eight innings. It’s hard to believe that was 19 years ago.

Thanks to Chet.

Repoz Posted: July 27, 2014 at 10:55 AM | 87 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: braves, history

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Dan The Mediocre Posted: July 27, 2014 at 11:14 AM (#4758364)
That Maddux and Glavine had a higher ERA than the regular season can be explained by the fact that playoff teams tend to have better hitters than the league as a whole. It'd be much more surprising if their ERA didn't go up.
   2. toratoratora Posted: July 27, 2014 at 11:24 AM (#4758371)
True, but Fangraphs has posted some pretty good stuff about how temperature changes impact scoring. The later in the year the colder and the colder the less runs. That should counter some of the impact from better lineups.
It seems to me that scoring tends to be lower in the postseason, moreso the deeper one goes in. This highlights the importance of every play, leading to affairs like last years series where games often turned on a single error or great play
   3. Sweatpants Posted: July 27, 2014 at 11:24 AM (#4758373)
1995: Won World Series in six games over the Cleveland Indians

What's interesting about the one title is that it probably wasn't the best Braves team of this era. This club went 90-54, a .625 winning percentage... The Braves had a better winning percentage in 1993 (.642), 1998 (.654), 1999 (.636) and 2002 (.631).
I feel like the '95 Braves always get short-changed when people talk about the best Braves team from that era. 90 wins in 144 games is a 100-win pace over 162, and, if you count the playoffs, they won 101 out of 158 games. I'm pretty sure that, if you include postseason performance, the '95 team has the second-best winning percentage of those clubs.
   4. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: July 27, 2014 at 11:34 AM (#4758375)
That Maddux and Glavine had a higher ERA than the regular season can be explained by the fact that playoff teams tend to have better hitters than the league as a whole. It'd be much more surprising if their ERA didn't go up.

Regular season ERA - Postseason ERA

Allie Reynolds (6 World Series: 3.30 - 2.79

Vic Raschi (6 World Series): 3.70 - 2.24

Eddie Lopat (5 World Series): 3.21 - 2.60

Greatest postseason rotation ever. And they weren't facing any wild cards.
   5. Howie Menckel Posted: July 27, 2014 at 11:45 AM (#4758382)

"That Maddux and Glavine had a higher ERA than the regular season can be explained by the fact that playoff teams tend to have better hitters than the league as a whole. It'd be much more surprising if their ERA didn't go up."

And when a hitter has lesser stats in the postseason, it's said not to be surprising because playoff teams tend to have better pitchers than the league as a whole.
   6. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: July 27, 2014 at 11:58 AM (#4758389)
And when a hitter has lesser stats in the postseason, it's said not to be surprising because playoff teams tend to have better pitchers than the league as a whole.


Well sure, they're both true. Hitters aren't facing 5th starters and mop up men, and the dreadful pitching staffs of last place teams. Pitchers aren't facing too many back up catchers, and utility players who tend to fill out the getaway day rosters, nor the dreadful hitting of last place teams.
   7. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: July 27, 2014 at 12:01 PM (#4758393)
That's not contradictory. All good hitters inflate their state against bad pitchers, all good pitchers inflate their stats against bad hitters. If in the postseason there are a lower percentage of bad hitters and bad pitchers, the overall postseason stats may increase or decrease one way or another compared to overall regular season stats, but the individual stats for all players should be worse than the stats for those individual players during the regular season across the board.

I suspect that in the current playoff format, the "improved competition" effect would be much lower than when it was 2 teams or 4 teams.
   8. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: July 27, 2014 at 12:04 PM (#4758397)
Why didn't the Braves win more titles?

Because Lonnie Smith got deked, because Mark Wohlers got fancy, because only Eric Gregg saw Invisible Wilt Chamberlain taking all the at-bats...
   9. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: July 27, 2014 at 12:05 PM (#4758399)
I suspect that in the current playoff format, the "improved competition" effect would be much lower than when it was 2 teams or 4 teams.


But that's probably balanced out by the greater number of games being played there.

   10. Chris Fluit Posted: July 27, 2014 at 12:18 PM (#4758407)
Based on the overview in the article, there are a number of culprits:

1. weak bullpens (including excellent regular season bullpens that struggled in the playoffs)
2. weak benches ("from 1991 to 2005, Braves pinch hitters went 39-for-208 (.188) in the postseason with no home runs, 17 walks and just 22 RBIs")
3. untimely errors on defense (and you thought Brooks Conrad only killed Atlanta in 2010)
4. poor tactical decisions (Schoenfield criticizes Cox for calling for too many intentional walks, several of which led to runs against; he also criticizes Cox for not relying on the depth of his rotation by asking his aces to pitch on short rest when they clearly weren't as effective)

The first two help explain why Atlanta was below .500 in extra inning games in the playoffs. The third helps explain why Maddux and Glavine might have had extra difficulty in the playoffs as contact pitchers rather than power pitchers.
   11. Jeltzandini Posted: July 27, 2014 at 01:07 PM (#4758418)
During the 1991-2005 streak, the Braves went:

NLDS: 6-5
NLCS: 5-4
WS: 1-4

They slightly overperformed pre-WS, and slightly underperformed in the WS. Who needs a reason, much less an overarching narrative explanation that encompasses 15 distinct teams?
   12. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: July 27, 2014 at 01:53 PM (#4758443)
It's fun to microanalyze and I do as much of it as anyone, but let's not kid ourselves about the truthful answer to the question: The Braves didn't win more titles because the playoffs are random.
   13. Howie Menckel Posted: July 27, 2014 at 02:13 PM (#4758457)

"All good hitters inflate their state against bad pitchers, all good pitchers inflate their stats against bad hitters. If in the postseason there are a lower percentage of bad hitters and bad pitchers, the overall postseason stats may increase or decrease one way or another compared to overall regular season stats, but the individual stats for all players should be worse than the stats for those individual players during the regular season across the board."

But has anyone ever actually researched this to see if it's, you know, true?
   14. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: July 27, 2014 at 02:24 PM (#4758461)
But has anyone ever actually researched this to see if it's, you know, true?


In the long run, it's pretty much impossible for it not to be the case.

The playoffs feature the best teams. The best teams are composed of the best players, hitters and fielders, players who are above the league average.

What is average then gets recalibrated at the postseason to reflect the teams participating, not the league as a whole. While there will be individual outliers, particularly given the sample size issues, the overall effect will be to pull the above-average performers on both sides of the ball to the middle.
   15. The Yankee Clapper Posted: July 27, 2014 at 02:42 PM (#4758466)
Why didn't the Braves win more titles?

They weren't good enough. BTW, do the Braves hold the record for the longest World Series losing streak at 8 games?
   16. CFBF Is A Golden Spider Duck Posted: July 27, 2014 at 02:50 PM (#4758468)
Schoenfield mentions the 2002 NLDS in this piece. The 9th inning of game five broke my heart in a way that even the more well-known postseason failures didn't. I loved that '02 team to death, and I think that was the last time I ever really gave any credence to "team of destiny" narratives.
   17. sardonic Posted: July 27, 2014 at 03:15 PM (#4758486)
I think the perception is probably highly colored by the Yankees' extremely improbable string of postseason results in the same time period. The Yankees are 1 for 11 since 2000 after winning 4 of the 5 titles immediately after the Braves win in 1995. Since 2001, no team has won back to back, with multiple winners including:

- Boston: 2004, 2007, 2013 -- very spread out
- San Francisco: 2010, 2012
- St. Louis: 2006, 2011 -- also very spread out

Subjectively, since Luis Gonzalez put Aura and Mystique to bed, the playoffs have felt much more unpredictable, and I would posit that if the Braves had put of the results they had in this time period, few non-Brave fans would be talking about why they didn't win more titles.
   18. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: July 27, 2014 at 03:15 PM (#4758487)
BTW, do the Braves hold the record for tBTW, do the Braves hold the record for the longest World Series losing streak at 8 games?


Tied, with the Phillies (won their first WS game in franchise history, lost next eight). Of course, Braves streak is open-ended. Then again, Tigers are currently working on a 7-game skid, so they're position to match or set the record.

   19. Hank G. Posted: July 27, 2014 at 03:54 PM (#4758508)
And when a hitter has lesser stats in the postseason, it's said not to be surprising because playoff teams tend to have better pitchers than the league as a whole.


“Good pitching beats good hitting. And vice versa.”

I don’t know who actually said that first. I believe I’ve seen it attributed to both Yogi Berra and Casey Stengel.
   20. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: July 27, 2014 at 05:04 PM (#4758557)
Joe Morgan had the quote "Good pitching beats good hitting, but great hitting beats good pitching."
   21. Howie Menckel Posted: July 27, 2014 at 05:06 PM (#4758560)
"The playoffs feature the best teams. The best teams are composed of the best players, hitters and fielders, players who are above the league average.

What is average then gets recalibrated at the postseason to reflect the teams participating, not the league as a whole. While there will be individual outliers, particularly given the sample size issues, the overall effect will be to pull the above-average performers on both sides of the ball to the middle."

But if an external factor - weather is mentioned in this thread - plays a significant role, that changes everything. If runs really are hard to come by on chilly October nights compared to long shot summers, for instance, it could easily be the case that the bulk of hitters do a bit worse in postseason stats while pitchers would tend to fare better.

I just don't get why we assume stuff that may not be true at all. If pitchers can be expected to do a bit better ERA-wise in the postseason, then the deviation of Glavine and Maddux is more notable than if it's "well, lots of All-Star hitters, so hard to maintain that level."

re Luis Gonzalez and 2001 Dbacks: the managers they beat in that postseason likely are all gathered for dinner in the same upstate NY place: Cox, La Russa, and Torre.
   22. McCoy Posted: July 27, 2014 at 05:15 PM (#4758575)
How about we just call it for what it is, guys? Small sample size.

The most Maddux ever pitched in the playoffs is 38 innings. You really want to judge a player based on 1 to 5 starts?
   23. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: July 27, 2014 at 05:40 PM (#4758593)
1991: a young team burst onto the scene far earlier than anyone expected. The Dodgers or Bucs were supposed to win that year. The Braves lost the WS because Lonnie Smith got deked and the Twins ran the A/C blowing out for their at bats.

1992: Toronto was the better team

1993: Just bad luck, and a Philly clubhouse early to the roids party.

1994: Selig

1995: finally

1996: Wohlers hung a slider. Should have won this series in five.

1997: Umps on the take rob the world of a Braves/Indians rematch

1998: The downward slide is beginning. The Yankees are the team to beat now

1999: a team starting Randall Simon at first base

2000-05: not the best the NL like before. Only 2003 stands out as a letdown.
   24. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: July 27, 2014 at 06:02 PM (#4758618)
Some note should go to Bobby Cox and bad tactical decisions in key games. Bringing in Charlie Liebrandt against Puckett. Walking the bases loaded in Game 3 of 96.
   25. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 27, 2014 at 06:06 PM (#4758623)
1996: Wohlers hung a slider. Should have won this series in five.

(cue Nelson Muntz) Ha, ha!

Pretty bush league to blame that series on one guy. The game was still tied after the Leyritz HR in the 8th (Yanks won in 10). And once the game was over, it was still 2-2.

Also, given the Yankees won the next two games, it seems unlikely they win in 5 anyway. Were Pettitte and Wetteland not going to shut the Braves out because they felt sad?
   26. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: July 27, 2014 at 06:09 PM (#4758630)

But if an external factor - weather is mentioned in this thread - plays a significant role, that changes everything. If runs really are hard to come by on chilly October nights compared to long shot summers, for instance, it could easily be the case that the bulk of hitters do a bit worse in postseason stats while pitchers would tend to fare better.


It can change things in an absolute sense, sure. In a relative one, no.

And, of course, any individual player can (and will) perform worse at the postseason level beyond what better competition factor is in play.

If you're simply arguing with Post 1, I'm not going to disagree. There's more at play than simply tougher competition explaining Maddux and Glavine's postseason numbers (obviously, since Smoltz's postseason numbers are much better than his career ones), smaller sample size chief among them. But the idea that both pitchers and hitter performances, on average, will suffer by facing the stronger competition in the playoffs doesn't need to be studied - it's unavoidable.
   27. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: July 27, 2014 at 06:18 PM (#4758636)
The Braves should have gone back to NY up 3-1 at the worst case. That series was list when Raffy Belliard booted a tailor made DP ball and Wohlers sped up Leyritz bat.
   28. ursus arctos Posted: July 27, 2014 at 06:31 PM (#4758647)
Just in case anyone does not remember just how horrific Eric Gregg was as a home plate ump, I highly recommend the clip of the final out in the Livan Hernandez game that is linked in TFA.
   29. Colin Posted: July 27, 2014 at 06:40 PM (#4758655)
They really did give up a lot of unearned runs in their postseasons. The Braves seemed to choke on defense in October.

I'm glad Schoenfield remembers here the umpire getting in the way of Jermaine Dye. That game was just cursed. (He doesn't mention Bobby intentionally walking the bases loaded to pitch to Wade Boggs. That was painful.)

   30. Chris Fluit Posted: July 27, 2014 at 08:09 PM (#4758733)
Just in case anyone does not remember just how horrific Eric Gregg was as a home plate ump, I highly recommend the clip of the final out in the Livan Hernandez game that is linked in TFA.

Wow! that was some truly horrific umpiring. Apparently the strike zone stretches all the way to the other batter's box.
   31. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: July 27, 2014 at 08:20 PM (#4758736)
Yeah. We aren't making #### up about that Gregg game. It was... I may have raised a glass when he left the mortal coil.
   32. cardsfanboy Posted: July 27, 2014 at 08:24 PM (#4758741)
Wow! that was some truly horrific umpiring. Apparently the strike zone stretches all the way to the other batter's box.


Braves fans complaining about a Gregg strikezone is precocious.
   33. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: July 27, 2014 at 08:48 PM (#4758747)
Yeah. We aren't making #### up about that Gregg game. It was... I may have raised a glass when he left the mortal coil.

Yeah, how terrible. Gregg must have been mistaking Hernandez's strike zone for the one they usually gave Maddux and Glavine. Where's a lawyer when you need one?
   34. Sweatpants Posted: July 27, 2014 at 08:49 PM (#4758749)
Braves fans complaining about a Gregg strikezone is precocious.
If you're going to try to be condescending, you should probably check first to make sure that you know the definitions of all the words that you're using.
   35. cardsfanboy Posted: July 27, 2014 at 08:55 PM (#4758752)
If you're going to try to be condescending, you should probably check first to make sure that you know the definitions of all the words that you're using.


I'm pretty sure you are one of those who rant on Alanis Morrisette and ironic, or one of those idiots who dislike impact as a verb or who literally turns into a raging a-hole when someone mis-uses literally.

It's ####### cute, you braves fans are like an eight year old child pretending to be able to have an adult conversation on this matter. You are so sweet, crying about the strike zone.
   36. asinwreck Posted: July 27, 2014 at 09:48 PM (#4758771)
since Luis Gonzalez put Aura and Mystique to bed

Can Atlanta's poor postseason performances be due to distractions from the Gold Club?
   37. McCoy Posted: July 27, 2014 at 09:54 PM (#4758773)
If people have to spend more time figuring out what you meant rather than feel insulted then you have failed as an insulter.
   38. Lassus Posted: July 27, 2014 at 10:07 PM (#4758777)
   39. BDC Posted: July 27, 2014 at 11:28 PM (#4758809)
braves fans are like an eight year old child pretending to be able to have an adult conversation on this matter

IOW precocious.
   40. Howie Menckel Posted: July 27, 2014 at 11:52 PM (#4758814)

all that said, strike zone issues are probably not a complaint that a Braves fan likely can gain traction on the in broader MLB community - fair point or not, and especially not on this day.

:)

   41. Walt Davis Posted: July 28, 2014 at 12:05 AM (#4758815)
Randomness ...

I know their first few trips were pre-WC but let's simplify my life by ignoring that. Let's assume a 1/8 chance of winning the WS. The probabilities are:

0 WS titles 15.4%
1 WS title. 30.8%
2 WS titles 28.6%
3 WS titles 16.4%
4+ WS titles 8.8%

Looking for an explanation of why an event (<2 WS titles) with a p of 46% occurred in a sample size of 14 is a fool's errand. Even if you boost the Braves chances in each year to 20%, there's still a 20% chance of fewer than 2 titles. It's like attributing busting when hitting on 12 to a player's lack of skill.

You'll get a similar conclusion using the numbers from post #11. That shows the Braves played 25 series, they won 12. At a 50% win rate, of course the p(<=12) is 50%. Even if expected to win a series 60% of the time, p(<=12) is still above 15%.

The Cubs not winning the WS for 106+ years, now that's very unlikely to be due to chance. The thing that needs explaining about the Braves is winning the division 14 times (in 14.67 years). That's gotta be a lot tougher than not winning the WS often.
   42. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: July 28, 2014 at 12:05 AM (#4758816)
It's to be expected from less intelligent fans, which would generally include Card and Yanks fans, but comparing Glavine hitting the same spot on the outer black, over and over again, and having every ump in the league call it consistently (much as they did for Bob Tewksberry, Al Leiter and Randy Johnson on similar locations) to that floating Schmoo Gregg trotted out for Hernandez (but not for Maddux) in Game 5 1997...

Well. It's expected from certain kinds of fools, I suppose.
   43. jdennis Posted: July 28, 2014 at 12:45 AM (#4758820)
The guy said the most correct reason in the excerpt. The Braves lost their systematic comparative advantage from the season in the playoffs, which allowed randomness to take over and they got the short end of the luck stick during a small sample size. The back end of your rotation means less in the playoffs.
   44. DFA Posted: July 28, 2014 at 01:56 AM (#4758827)
That strike zone Gregg called for Hernandez really was embarrassing. I understand why people are against robot umpires, but that travesty of a strike zone is why there should be robot.

And as an observer, I would just agree with a few others: randomness. Sucks for Braves fans though. But one is a lot more than zero.
   45. odds are meatwad is drunk Posted: July 28, 2014 at 02:57 AM (#4758831)
flag fly's forever
   46. bunyon Posted: July 28, 2014 at 03:23 AM (#4758836)

1996: Wohlers hung a slider. Should have won this series in five.


That pitch and HR still hurts. But, I'm with snapper and anyone else who says it isn't why they lost. A lot of the postseason is luck - far more than Yankee fans would like to admit. But some of it, some of winning anything, is persevering. If losing one game they should have won leads, obviously, to losing two more games they should have won, then they simply didn't deserve to be champions. In my mind, only 96, 97 and 98 hurt. Losing in 91 wasn't all that painful, considering where we started the year. And losing a 1-0 game in game 7 is about as undefinitive as it is possible to lose a World Series. Toronto was better in 92. You can make an argument for 93 being a bad loss - I mean, it was a bad loss but the first so it didn't really resonate. 96 was terrible as were 97 and 98. After that, it's hard for me to see, and was hard for me to see at the time, that the Braves were a team that "should" win a World Series.

Also, after 98 or 99, they were winning divisions they probably shouldn't have been winning simply by being steady as hell. Steady as hell is admirable and in the olden days would have led to a dynasty. But in the six division era, that doesn't win championships. You need streaks and to be on one when the big time rolls around.

Mostly, though, this: "
Looking for an explanation of why an event (<2 WS titles) with a p of 46% occurred in a sample size of 14 is a fool's errand. Even if you boost the Braves chances in each year to 20%, there's still a 20% chance of fewer than 2 titles. It's like attributing busting when hitting on 12 to a player's lack of skill."

Yeah, they should have probably one one or two more. They could easily have not won any. Whatever. I had a decade plus where I thoroughly loved watching that team play and we won a ton. Good enough for me.
   47. Dr. Vaux Posted: July 28, 2014 at 04:36 AM (#4758839)
I'll bet those Braves teams really helped sabermetrics along in their own way. If they'd won more than one World Series, more people would believe in clutch and choking and all that stuff than still do. But the Braves being so good and never winning was the best possible demonstration that playoff series are to short to mean anything.
   48. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: July 28, 2014 at 05:37 AM (#4758841)
'96 they should have won, terribly unlucky. Every other year they were in the mix but didn't get lucky. Not much to say. Unfortunately with the expanded playoffs it's just luck of the draw now, analysis seems like a waste of time.
   49. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: July 28, 2014 at 05:58 AM (#4758843)
I'm pretty sure you are one of those who rant on Alanis Morrisette and ironic, or one of those idiots who dislike impact as a verb or who literally turns into a raging a-hole when someone mis-uses literally.

You mean an intelligent person who knows what words mean and uses them appropriately to avoid looking foolish? Yeah, he does seem like one of those. Good news! You're not going to be lumped in with that group.

I want to know the workplace where the 'how dare you insist I use words correctly' defense is effective.
   50. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: July 28, 2014 at 06:23 AM (#4758847)
It's to be expected from less intelligent fans, which would generally include Card and Yanks fans, but comparing Glavine hitting the same spot on the outer black, over and over again,

For which I'm sure you'll provide Glavine's word as evidence.

to that floating Schmoo Gregg trotted out for Hernandez (but not for Maddux) in Game 5 1997...

You live by the personalized strike zone, you die by the personalized strike zone. Please omit flowers.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

I'll bet those Braves teams really helped sabermetrics along in their own way. If they'd won more than one World Series, more people would believe in clutch and choking and all that stuff than still do. But the Braves being so good and never winning was the best possible demonstration that playoff series are to short to mean anything.

Yes, you might even call them noble savages for sacrificing all those championships for a good cause.
   51. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: July 28, 2014 at 08:11 AM (#4758858)
I'm pretty sure you are one of those who rant on Alanis Morrisette and ironic, or one of those idiots who dislike impact as a verb or who literally turns into a raging a-hole when someone mis-uses literally.


Word Crimes!

I want to know the workplace where the 'how dare you insist I use words correctly' defense is effective.


The other day in a Rose Garden speech, President Obama used the phrase "begs the question: when he meant "raises the question". Now, as someone here brought up, that battle has been lost, and while I tend to agree, I'm still curious as to why professional speechwriters and editors (I'm sure every word in every Pesidential speech is vetted by one or more senior advisors) chose that phrase, and it passed muster, as they most certainly knew it was incorrect. If a professional writer penning a script to be read to the world by the "most powerful man in the world" can't be bothered to use proper grammar, what does that say?
   52. Lassus Posted: July 28, 2014 at 08:17 AM (#4758860)
While I agree "begs the question" should be used correctly, the phrase has always been rather fey and superior and should simply die anyhow.
   53. bunyon Posted: July 28, 2014 at 08:20 AM (#4758861)
Presidents (and all public speakers) often go off the cuff, paraphrasing what their writers write. Soemtimes that's very good. Sometimes bad.
   54. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: July 28, 2014 at 08:25 AM (#4758862)
While I agree "begs the question" should be used correctly, the phrase has always been rather fey and superior and should simply die anyhow.


Well then, what are you going to call it when someone really does beg the question?
   55. Lassus Posted: July 28, 2014 at 08:31 AM (#4758863)
Until they are literally begging the question, I'm not interested.
   56. Random Transaction Generator Posted: July 28, 2014 at 08:37 AM (#4758865)
Just watching those Gregg calls in the L.Hernandez game, that's probably the closest I seen to any sort of evidence that an umpire is on the take and is attempting to influence the outcome of a baseball game for betting purposes. If he had provided the same strike zone to the Braves, then I would have said "shitty umpiring". But that last strike to McGriff is so far off the plate...
   57. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: July 28, 2014 at 08:45 AM (#4758866)
But that last strike to McGriff is so far off the plate...


yeah. That might be the worst called strike I've ever seen. the catcher is set up outside, and he has to move his glove a good 8 inches further outside to make the catch. He didn't even bother to try to frame it because it was so obviously a ball...
   58. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: July 28, 2014 at 08:47 AM (#4758867)
Well then, what are you going to call it when someone really does beg the question?

Since "begs" is a technical philosophical term meaning "assumes", never used by anyone other than philosophers, and "question" is a technical philosophical term meaning "conclusion", never used by anyone other than philosophers, I'll say "assumes the conclusion".

Meanwhile, the word "precocious" doesn't mean "precious". THAT would be an actual mistake.
   59. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: July 28, 2014 at 08:51 AM (#4758868)
Meanwhile, the word "precocious" doesn't mean "precious". THAT would be an actual mistake.


Good grammar for me but none for thee? My particular windmill is those use myself instead of me. "Give it to Joe or myself."
   60. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: July 28, 2014 at 08:55 AM (#4758870)
And as an observer, I would just agree with a few others: randomness. Sucks for Braves fans though. But one is a lot more than zero.


Yep, look at the Indians - 7 playoff appearances between 1995 and 2007, with no titles.
   61. Howie Menckel Posted: July 28, 2014 at 09:01 AM (#4758872)
edit: ah, not going back to relive 1990s
   62. Baldrick Posted: July 28, 2014 at 09:20 AM (#4758877)
Meanwhile, the word "precocious" doesn't mean "precious". THAT would be an actual mistake.

Yeah. I mean, it could theoretically take on that meaning over time if it was regularly mis-used. But it hasn't been. It's just a different word that doesn't mean the same thing. It's not a prescriptive vs. descriptive issue.

As for the strike zone, I am a fervent anti-Braves guy, but the discussion here has been pretty silly. They were 100% absolutely screwed in that game. I have no interest in apologizing for benefits Braves pitchers might have received in other games. But there's a HUGE difference between a wide strike zone and the insanity that took place that day.

Watching the actual Ks, only four of them seem to have been on clear balls. That said, a HUGE number of them are on wild swings at pitches far outside the zone. Which they clearly were forced to take because that pitch kept getting called a strike.

On the final one, my favorite little bit is that the catcher is about to return the ball, and is shocked to hear the strike call to end the game. And then he basically shrugs and starts to celebrate.
   63. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: July 28, 2014 at 09:37 AM (#4758886)
The other day in a Rose Garden speech, President Obama used the phrase "begs the question: when he meant "raises the question". Now, as someone here brought up, that battle has been lost,


Is it as lost as the battle for correct use of "sea change," though? I don't think I've seen that one used correctly in years, as occurred to me when I came across yet another misuse last night while finishing the last few chapters of a recent book on the Tambora volcano. It's probably used incorrectly even more often than "decimate" is, which is saying something.

Not that either sets my teeth on edge or anything. I just notice them, is all.

   64. BDC Posted: July 28, 2014 at 09:45 AM (#4758889)
I mean, it could theoretically take on that meaning over time

If you say it loud enough, you'll always sound precocious.
   65. Jeltzandini Posted: July 28, 2014 at 09:46 AM (#4758890)
It's probably used incorrectly even more often than "decimate" is, which is saying something.


I'm definitely a descriptivist on decimate. It meant one thing, now it means another thing. There's enough of a pedantic remnant to make it inadvisable for use in an academic setting, but a sportswriter describing a team as decimated by injuries is fine.

   66. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: July 28, 2014 at 10:26 AM (#4758913)
IOW precocious.


(Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire.)
   67. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: July 28, 2014 at 10:36 AM (#4758919)
While the Gregg strike zone in the Livan game was pretty bad, the Braves as a franchise have absolutely no room to complain about someone else getting calls off the outside of the plate.

Particularly given that he was providing the same crappy strike zone to both teams in that game. Livan just did a better job of taking advantage of it.
   68. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 28, 2014 at 10:37 AM (#4758920)
I'm definitely a descriptivist on decimate. It meant one thing, now it means another thing. There's enough of a pedantic remnant to make it inadvisable for use in an academic setting, but a sportswriter describing a team as decimated by injuries is fine.

People say decimate when they mean devastate. I'm not sure why. Devastate even sounds the same.
   69. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: July 28, 2014 at 10:39 AM (#4758922)
People say decimate when they mean devastate. I'm not sure why. Devastate even sounds the same.


Same reason they say orientate instead or orient.
   70. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 28, 2014 at 10:40 AM (#4758923)
Same reason they say orientate instead or orient.

Well, that one's just stupidity.
   71. Howie Menckel Posted: July 28, 2014 at 10:42 AM (#4758926)
yeah, I like reorientate much better

or is is reasiantate now?
   72. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: July 28, 2014 at 10:48 AM (#4758932)
People say decimate when they mean devastate. I'm not sure why. Devastate even sounds the same.


Took the words right out of my mouth, or at least my brain*; I started to type this awhile back before work interfered.




*Give them back, dammit. Please?
   73. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: July 28, 2014 at 10:49 AM (#4758934)
Same reason they say orientate instead or orient.


I haven't been taking notes or anything, but this seems more common in British writing.

Damn those people. They can't even spell "aluminum" right.
   74. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: July 28, 2014 at 10:58 AM (#4758936)
People say decimate when they mean devastate. I'm not sure why. Devastate even sounds the same.


One of the ones that infuriates me is when people write "dominate" instead of "dominant". E.g. "He delivered a dominate [sic] performance..."
   75. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: July 28, 2014 at 11:01 AM (#4758940)
yeah, I like reorientate much better

or is is reasiantate now?


Hey, this isn't a word which built the railroads here.
   76. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: July 28, 2014 at 11:04 AM (#4758944)
One of the ones that infuriates me is when people write "dominate" instead of "dominant". E.g. "He delivered a dominate [sic] performance..."


Road signs which say "Reduced Speed Ahead." "Reduce Speed Ahead" ( a command to be be prepared to slow down), or "Reduced Speed Limit Ahead" (an informative phrase) are both fine, but Reduced Speed is nonsense. Yes, everybody knows what it means, but if you are taking the time to spell something out, and make thousands of signs, why not choose one of 2 correct phrases instead of the incorrect one?
   77. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: July 28, 2014 at 11:05 AM (#4758945)
"He delivered a dominate [sic] performance..."


At least (knock wood) I have yet to see that in any sort of actual publication, as opposed to blog posts or Facebook updates or whatever.

Unlike, say, "grizzly" for "grisly."

   78. Accent Shallow Posted: July 28, 2014 at 11:16 AM (#4758960)
Re-watching that Livan video, there were a lot more swinging Ks than I'd remembered. Of course, some of those were "If I don't swing at this, he's gonna call it a strike anyway" swings.
   79. Moloka'i Three-Finger Brown (Declino DeShields) Posted: July 28, 2014 at 11:56 AM (#4759008)
tBTW


Fangraphs metrics have gotten really out of control.
   80. PreservedFish Posted: July 28, 2014 at 12:07 PM (#4759021)
Road signs which say "Reduced Speed Ahead."


Perhaps it is alerting you to the cars ahead of you which have slowed down?

If we are in ultrapedantic mode, "Reduce Speed Ahead" would actually be bad because the command won't apply to all cars, some of which will already be traveling below the lower speed limit.
   81. Moeball Posted: July 28, 2014 at 03:28 PM (#4759208)
Why Didn't the Braves win more titles?


Is this multiple choice?

A)Sometimes things don't work out in a short October series the same way they do during the regular season
B)Lonnie Smith was a stupid-head and so was Mark Wohlers
C)The other teams scored more runs than the Braves did
D)The other teams cheated or the umpires were paid off
E)It's all Greg Maddux' and Tom Glavine's fault because they didn't have the necessary character to be Clutch when the games really counted. In other words, the opposing teams weren't necessarily better than the Braves, they were just better men.

Aren't you supposed to select the longest answer when doing multiple choice questions? I guess we should probably campaign to have those slackers Maddux and Glavine removed from the HOF, right?
   82. Moeball Posted: July 28, 2014 at 03:42 PM (#4759232)
Actually, since we have so many Red Sox fans on the site, I'll throw these questions out for discussion:

Were the Red Sox championship teams of 2004, 2007 and 2013 better teams than the Sox teams that all lost the WS in 7 games (1946,1967,1975,1986)?

Were the Sox championship teams of 1903, 1912, 1915-1916 and 1918 better teams than the ones that lost in the WS?

Should the 1946, 1967, 1975 or 1986 teams have managed to win at least one of those WS?

Is David Ortiz really the second best hitter in Red Sox history behind Ted Williams? Should he actually be considered the best hitter because he's been so good in so many postseasons?

Talk amongst yourselves.
   83. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: July 28, 2014 at 03:54 PM (#4759240)
Were the Red Sox championship teams of 2004, 2007 and 2013 better teams than the Sox teams that all lost the WS in 7 games (1946,1967,1975,1986)?


I can't really speak for 46 or 67, but the teams of 1975 and 1986 were very good teams that had excellent chances to win, but ultimately lost to superior teams (and they were two exceedingly good teams). The 04 and 07 teams were the best teams in the sport at season's end, and the 13 team was one of the better ones last year, but not decidedly better than about 4-5 others.

How teams compare to the rest of the league is vastly more important than how they compare to other teams of different eras.


Were the Sox championship teams of 1903, 1912, 1915-1916 and 1918 better teams than the ones that lost in the WS?


Not if you timeline. Relative to league, then I'm sure they were.

Should the 1946, 1967, 1975 or 1986 teams have managed to win at least one of those WS?


It would have been nice, but I can't say anything should have happened.

Is David Ortiz really the second best hitter in Red Sox history behind Ted Williams?


No, that's Jimmie Foxx or Manny. Claiming that he's better than Yaz is at least arguable (as a hitter, Yaz eats him up as a player).

Should he actually be considered the best hitter because he's been so good in so many postseasons?


Um, I believe that violates the site's TOS regarding blasphemy.
   84. McCoy Posted: July 28, 2014 at 04:03 PM (#4759246)
The 1946 team was a very good team and if it wasn't for an errant pitch right before the Series and Pesky double clutching the Red Sox probably win that series.

By the way there is something like a 26 minute newsreel about the 7 games of that sereis available on Youtube that actually shows the Pesky double-clutch as well as Ted Williams bunting and the shifts the Cardinals put on him.
   85. dr. scott Posted: July 28, 2014 at 04:51 PM (#4759263)
Surprised no one had mentioned Kent Hrbek pulling Ron Gant off of first base in 1991. That was a key inning and out. I was pissed about that for days... well until Liebrant...
   86. Flynn Posted: July 28, 2014 at 05:11 PM (#4759276)
The 1946 team was universally considered the best in baseball that year, and it was a big upset when the Cardinals won. The 1967 team is clearly worse than any of the three Series winners from this millennium.
   87. toratoratora Posted: July 28, 2014 at 06:01 PM (#4759310)
The 75 Sox were loaded. Lots of that was the Rice/Lynn rookie brigade so it wasn't so easy to see coming but with Yaz, Fisk, Tiant, et. al, they were a team expected to be pretty tough. Led by Clemens remarkable start, the 86 Sox came much more out of nowhere. Plus, as mentioned the Mets were seen as a far superior team (Not that the Big Red Machine wasn't. Nobody thought the Sox would beat them simply because they were seen as a team for the ages)which was part of what made losing that year so tough. That Mets team wasn't just better,they were lots better. I they played a season against each other the Mets would have won handily.
The 2004 Team was better than both prior Sox teams. 2007 was better too.
2013, ehhh, I'd likely say the 75 team was superior.
But, in my mind, 86 was likely the worst of the teams.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Sebastian
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogFan Returns Home Run Ball to Ishikawa; Receives World Series tickets
(33 - 11:52pm, Oct 20)
Last: The Yankee Clapper

NewsblogCalcaterra: So, if you’re not a fan of the Royals or Giants, who ya got?
(91 - 11:50pm, Oct 20)
Last: the Hugh Jorgan returns

NewsblogDealing or dueling – what’s a manager to do? | MGL on Baseball
(14 - 11:21pm, Oct 20)
Last: Spahn Insane

NewsblogOT: Politics, October 2014: Sunshine, Baseball, and Etch A Sketch: How Politicians Use Analogies
(2766 - 11:01pm, Oct 20)
Last: Greg K

NewsblogOT: NFL/NHL thread
(8366 - 10:29pm, Oct 20)
Last: steagles

NewsblogBrisbee: The 5 worst commercials of the MLB postseason
(133 - 10:26pm, Oct 20)
Last: zonk

NewsblogHitting coaches blamed for lack of offense - Sports - The Boston Globe
(15 - 10:19pm, Oct 20)
Last: Walt Davis

NewsblogCould the Yankees ever be Royals? Young and athletic K.C. is everything that Bombers are not - NY Daily News
(28 - 10:18pm, Oct 20)
Last: Barry`s_Lazy_Boy

NewsblogSielski: A friend fights for ex-Phillie Dick Allen's Hall of Fame induction
(66 - 9:15pm, Oct 20)
Last: Merton Muffley

NewsblogPitch from Zito helped sell Hudson on Giants | MLB.com
(6 - 9:15pm, Oct 20)
Last: the Hugh Jorgan returns

NewsblogWhy Royals great Frank White no longer associates with the team whose stadium he built - Yahoo Sports
(19 - 9:06pm, Oct 20)
Last: A New Leaf (Black Hawk Reign of Terror)

NewsblogAngell: Gigantic
(38 - 8:22pm, Oct 20)
Last: Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip

NewsblogOT: Monthly NBA Thread - October 2014
(272 - 7:27pm, Oct 20)
Last: andrewberg

NewsblogMorosi: Could Cain’s story make baseball king of sports world again?
(97 - 6:24pm, Oct 20)
Last: BDC

NewsblogESPN: Brian Roberts retires
(22 - 6:19pm, Oct 20)
Last: Captain Supporter

Page rendered in 0.7179 seconds
52 querie(s) executed