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Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Bissinger: The Strange Genius of Tony La Russa

Buzz La Bissinger returns! (checks Sequel-Buzz for further info)

Whether you loved Tony La Russa, as many millions of fans did, or hated him, as far too many millions of fans did, the verdict on him is simple. In the aftermath of Monday’s surprising announcement, three days after his St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series, that he was retiring after a 33-year managerial career, we might as well get the boilerplate of his legacy out of the way so there is no confusion:

Over the past half-century of Major League Baseball, the 67-year-old has been the game’s best manager, best innovator, best thinker, and best strategist. There is no argument, at least to those who appreciate baseball. He also makes the current rage, Billy Beane of Moneyball book and film fame and the general manager of the Oakland Athletics, look like the general manager of a T-ball team in Toledo in terms of accomplishment, as opposed to hype and exaggeration.

...La Russa loved the lore of baseball. He was a romantic at heart, but the best thing about him is that he changed with the game. He still looked for ways to turn baseball on its head with positive results. He still managed every game as if it were the first game he ever managed so he would not get lazy, exhausting to contemplate, given he managed 5,097 games. He also had great respect for the work of the famed sabermetrician Bill James. Just as he also realized that no matter how many numbers you pour into a computer, there will never be a way to quantify the intangibles of heart and chemistry and desire that define the success or failure of all of us.

I for one hope the naysayers do come around. Because in baseball, in any sport, a person like Tony La Russa only comes around once in a lifetime.

Repoz Posted: November 01, 2011 at 09:34 AM | 294 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: books, cardinals, history, sabermetrics

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   201. Nasty Nate Posted: November 03, 2011 at 06:19 PM (#3985912)
I left out that they are mainly for generating revenue.


how is that different than the regular season?
   202. Ray (CTL) Posted: November 03, 2011 at 06:21 PM (#3985915)
how is that different than the regular season?


It's not.
   203. Nasty Nate Posted: November 03, 2011 at 07:09 PM (#3985951)
then why even mention it?
   204. Ray (CTL) Posted: November 03, 2011 at 07:22 PM (#3985964)
Joe Sheehan in his newsletter today (I'll plug it for him) basically makes the point I'm trying to make. In talking about the Red Sox and Theo Epstein, he writes:

Those two wins, though, [in 2004 and 2007] changed everyone. A Red Sox fan base that had just wanted to die in peace now wanted to live high on the hog. Division titles, playoff appearances, series wins were not going to be enough. Winning the World Series was the only acceptable outcome to a season. I lived this, you know. I've seen what Yankee fandom has become over the past 20 years, a sense of entitlement born out of a five-year stone fluke, winning 12 of 13 best-ofs, some of them without having the better team. For too many fans -- for too many media members -- the Yankees haven't won five titles in 16 years, or one just two years ago. No, they've win just once in a decade, and have flamed out in the playoffs two years running. It's an utterly ridiculous standard, the most aggravating thing about the Seligian emphasis on the postseason at the expense of the regular season. You can't succeed in the regular season any longer; you can merely survive it. Teams are measured only by what they do in the tournament. October Madness.

Theo Epstein was a hero in 2004, a legend in 2007…and a scapegoat in 2011.


That.
   205. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: November 03, 2011 at 07:27 PM (#3985967)
It's an utterly ridiculous standard, the most aggravating thing about the Seligian emphasis on the postseason at the expense of the regular season.


I would argue this is societal, not "Seligian." I know he's driving the bus on a lot of these changes but he's making these changes because of a belief that it is what fans want.

Is your entire argument this thread that the devaluation of the regular season is bad? I have to be honest, I don't think many people here would argue that point.

Theo Epstein was a hero in 2004, a legend in 2007…and a scapegoat in 2011.


I would disagree with the last third of this statement. If he was a scapegoat the Sox wouldn't still be waiting for compensation, they'd have kicked him to the curb.
   206. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: November 03, 2011 at 07:31 PM (#3985971)
Ray - How's Sheehan's newsletter? I know a lot of folks here aren't big fans of his but I generally liked his stuff at BP.
   207. . Posted: November 03, 2011 at 07:32 PM (#3985973)
I would argue this is societal, not "Seligian."

That was my one very minor demurrer, also. Selig set out to add more teams and make more money, not to create October Madness at the expense of the regular season and true baseball accomplishment. October Madness was an unanticipated side effect.

I think Selig and the other Lords realize it has now become October Madness, and their ideas (**) and planning going forward will be with that as a template.

(**) They're obviously happy they lucked into a method by which they can overstate "competitive balance" and "negate" the Yankee payroll advantage. The October Madness model gives them an avenue to do that.
   208. WallyBackmanFan Posted: November 03, 2011 at 08:00 PM (#3985990)

I would disagree with the last third of this statement. If he was a scapegoat the Sox wouldn't still be waiting for compensation, they'd have kicked him to the curb.


If Francona could've negotiated with another team, while still under Sox control and with the other team willing to offer compensation, they wouldn't have scapegoated him either.
   209. Ray (CTL) Posted: November 03, 2011 at 08:02 PM (#3985992)
Ray - How's Sheehan's newsletter? I know a lot of folks here aren't big fans of his but I generally liked his stuff at BP.


I recommend it very highly, and without qualification. Quite simply, in my view it's great content that you can't really get in other places, it comes regularly (easily, by email), and there's a lot of it. Of course, if you don't like Sheehan's work, you won't care for it; I can't do anything about that. But I think it's great.

It's also pretty inexpensive, and he donates a portion of the proceeds out of the subscription fees to cancer research. And some of his readers match.

He's also very accessible via email and Twitter. He regularly responds to my "I can't believe Joe Girardi just did that" messages.
   210. Ray (CTL) Posted: November 03, 2011 at 08:17 PM (#3986007)
Is your entire argument this thread that the devaluation of the regular season is bad? I have to be honest, I don't think many people here would argue that point.


They claim not to, but their treatment of the postseason, in attaching extreme significance to it, betrays that. That's my complaint.
   211. Ray (CTL) Posted: November 03, 2011 at 08:25 PM (#3986013)
That was my one very minor demurrer, also. Selig set out to add more teams and make more money, not to create October Madness at the expense of the regular season and true baseball accomplishment. October Madness was an unanticipated side effect.


I think we can trace this back to Selig because the wildcard was his obsession.

And the wildcard is what led to the regular season being devalued. Teams now don't care about winning their division per se, but simply about getting into the playoffs. So whether they qualify for the tournament via a division title or via a wildcard is of no moment to them. Division races get sapped of their excitement and energy and meaning.

We've lost a lot here, and it WAS all anticipated, and for confused people to consider the postseason the sundae instead of the cherry just fuels the nonsense.
   212. Sunday silence: Play Guess How long season lasts Posted: November 03, 2011 at 08:25 PM (#3986015)


The "best team" stuff is just Andy's attempt to distract from the actual point being made. My point is that the regular season does a much better job of providing us with satisfactory "champions" (division champions, ideally in the pre-wildcard format) than the postseason ever could.


Well then who is your "best" team of 2011? And what level of confidence do you have in that choice? You've been arguing for this the whole time and what's the answer?





The playoffs are exhibition games for fun, to cap off a season, not for people to derive deep meaning from.


But this argument cuts as much against your pt. as in favor. No one is drawing any deep meaning from the regular season either, are they? Are you? Because every time someone accuses you of awarding plaques to the Year End Best Team or some such, you back off.

Do you think that with the data we have available today, we could run 10,000 simulated seasons and then conclude which team was the best one this year? Is that more of the standard that you are suggesting when you say "best" team or some such?
   213. Sunday silence: Play Guess How long season lasts Posted: November 03, 2011 at 08:30 PM (#3986021)
And the wildcard is what led to the regular season being devalued.


It's part of it. I stopped watching the regular season after the 94 strike I guess. Part of it was tediousness of regular season in general and part of it is the 3 divisions and part of it is the wild card. The only thing holding my interest now is the drama of the playoffs, the team match ups, and stuff.

Furhermore, I'm not sure I would be drawn in any more if they went back to 2 leagues and one round of playoffs. Most likely some team has it wrapped up with a few weeks to go and there is no drama. Late season pennant chases have proven to be fun, but they dont occur very often. And I'm not sure that watching say the Red Sox battle a cellar dwelling team the last day of the season would still have the same charm as it did back then.
   214. Ray (CTL) Posted: November 03, 2011 at 08:31 PM (#3986023)
Well then who is your "best" team of 2011? And what level of confidence do you have in that choice? You've been arguing for this the whole time and what's the answer?


I haven't figured out which team I think was the best of 2011. Perhaps that's because I don't care about that, other than as some academic exercise I have no real interest in unless asked? It's utterly irrelevant to the points I've been making.
   215. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: November 03, 2011 at 08:56 PM (#3986040)
They claim not to, but their treatment of the postseason, in attaching extreme significance to it, betrays that. That's my complaint.


The extreme significance is because winning the World Series is the ultimate on-field goal of virtually everyone associated with the sport. The players, management, fans, media...they all want to win a World Series. I sincerely doubt anyone in the Marlin locker room in 1997 was saying "well, this great, but I wish we had won the division."

You may not like it, but that significance exists and more importantly has ALWAYS existed. I won't dispute that the regular season has been devalued for and by many but the truth is that the goal has always been to win the World Series.
   216. Sunday silence: Play Guess How long season lasts Posted: November 03, 2011 at 09:05 PM (#3986043)

I haven't figured out which team I think was the best of 2011. Perhaps that's because I don't care about that, other than as some academic exercise I have no real interest in unless asked? It's utterly irrelevant to the points I've been making.


I thought it was relevant because the whole time you've been saying that the regular season is the best indicator that we have of the best team. Is it so obvious? I would have thought if it was the best indicator then the answer would be obvious and you could quickly produce it. But then you started to talk about division winners and maybe you think the regular season is only good at telling us who is the best in the division, w/o telling us who is best in the league. Is that it?

I thought "best in the league" was one of your main pts in all this. Gee whiz, I didnt think it would take much work to answer.
   217. FrankM Posted: November 03, 2011 at 09:24 PM (#3986049)
I won't dispute that the regular season has been devalued for and by many but the truth is that the goal has always been to win the World Series.

That's true, but before the split into divisions, winning the league pennant was a huge thing, almost as important as winning the World Series. It's not that way anymore.

I say this as someone who likes the current playoff format, and likes the idea of another wild card with a one game play-in.
   218. Dr. Vaux Posted: November 03, 2011 at 10:00 PM (#3986061)
But it doesn't make sense for winning the World Series to be the main goal when the people for whom it is the main goal have so little control over whether they can do it. More and more playoff teams, and one game coin flips, decrease that control to the point where the chance element too frequently negates the hard work and the planning necessary put in by the best organizations. Why bother being the Red Sox and Yankees when you could just be the Diamondbacks? That conundrum is really making me question my fandom.
   219. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 03, 2011 at 10:14 PM (#3986069)
Why bother being the Red Sox and Yankees when you could just be the Diamondbacks? That conundrum is really making me question my fandom.

Because the Yankees make the playoffs 90% of the time, and the Diamondbacks 20%

Because winning baseball is fun, and generates more revenue?

If you enjoy baseball, why does the chance element bother you?
   220. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: November 03, 2011 at 10:14 PM (#3986071)
Why bother being the Red Sox and Yankees when you could just be the Diamondbacks?


Those are odd examples. The Diamondbacks have five playoff berths, all of them as division champions and all with 90 wins or more. On the other hand, the Red Sox have runner-upped their way into the postseason more than any other club. This September shows they haven't quite perfected the "just get to the postseason and see what happens" process, but no one does it better.
   221. Dr. Vaux Posted: November 03, 2011 at 10:18 PM (#3986074)
Since you regard the postseason as essentially a series of meaningless exhibition games, I can see where you're coming from, but to most fans, the winner of the World Series is "the champion", and anything beyond that is just so much cudda shudda wudda.


And that is evidence that most fans are stupid when it comes to this issue, and, as Ray has said, don't understand what they're seeing.

The fact that most people think something doesn't make it true. At one time most people thought the sun revolved around the earth. Did that make it true?

I don't have any objection to the exercise, only to the often-whining tone that somehow it's "unfair" that an "inferior" team like the Cardinals gets recognition as champions, while fans of "better" teams like the Yankees or the Phillies or the Rangers have to sit there and take it.


It is unfair. How can it not be unfair that the winners of 162-game seasons have to be subjected to short series not against teams from other, completely different 162-game seasons that they played in other leagues, but against teams that they themselves have already defeated?

I come back to the idea that the one game playoff system eliminates the incentive to be a 90-93ish win team. There will be incentive to be a 100-win team, because that guarantees a division win (except in the AL East, where there could be two such teams--it can't be ignored that the Red Sox are the team that's the most screwed by the new system) and a real playoff spot. But the only thing winning in the low 90s will guarantee is a coin flip which could be achieved by winning in the mid to high 80s instead. The new system will increase regular season competitive imbalance, and at the same time--for precisely that reason--make the random character of the post-season even more maddening.
   222. Lassus Posted: November 03, 2011 at 10:24 PM (#3986085)
I won't dispute that the regular season has been devalued for and by many but the truth is that the goal has always been to win the World Series.

Ray answered this in another thread, and if I'm not mistaken, he said that players are not playing for this, they are primarily playing for better numbers to make more money and the World Series is secondary.

I will accept and apologize if my memory is incorrect, but I'm pretty sure that was the size of it.


The fact that most people think something doesn't make it true. At one time most people thought the sun revolved around the earth. Did that make it true?

This does not seem particularly in the same zip code as a fair analogy.
   223. Ray (CTL) Posted: November 03, 2011 at 10:25 PM (#3986086)
If you enjoy baseball, why does the chance element bother you?


But this is like asking why it should bother someone if Shoeless Joe is throwing games.

I want to see a higher level of skill and talent be rewarded. That doesn't happen in the postseason, which rewards luck above all else. And so we should be careful about which teams we let into the postseason. Also-rans have no business being there.
   224. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: November 03, 2011 at 10:25 PM (#3986087)
Since you regard the postseason as essentially a series of meaningless exhibition games, I can see where you're coming from, but to most fans, the winner of the World Series is "the champion", and anything beyond that is just so much cudda shudda wudda.



And that is evidence that most fans are stupid when it comes to this issue, and, as Ray has said, don't understand what they're seeing.

The fact that most people think something doesn't make it true. At one time most people thought the sun revolved around the earth. Did that make it true?


No, the winner of the World Series is most definitely the champion. It may not be just. It certainly doesn't make it the best team. But it is the champion.
   225. Ray (CTL) Posted: November 03, 2011 at 10:32 PM (#3986092)
Ray answered this in another thread, and if I'm not mistaken, he said that players are not playing for this, they are primarily playing for better numbers to make more money.

I will accept that my memory is incorrect, but I'm pretty sure that was the size of it.


Your memory is indeed correct, that was the size of it, and I utterly cannot comprehend why anyone would dispute this.

First the players care about their livelihoods and careers and numbers. Second they care about winning the World Series. This is completely natural, normal, and expected.

At its most basic level, they cannot win the World Series if they are out of the league.

They'd trade a little performance or money or career for a World Series win, but not much.

Do players retire immediately after winning the World Series, their goal having been accomplished? I must have missed that.

When do they retire? When they can no longer play the game up to their standards. When they can no longer make money playing the game. When they can no longer play the game. All of this has nothing to do with winning the World Series. By and large, players have to be dragged kicking and screaming off the field and into the twilight. Whether they have won a World Series or not.
   226. . Posted: November 03, 2011 at 10:32 PM (#3986093)
No, the winner of the World Series is most definitely the champion. It may not be just. It certainly doesn't make it the best team. But it is the champion.

Right, but the fact that there's one champion and only one champion -- and most people think of it in those terms -- is a product of the wild-card, postseason tournament era. Bug, not feature.

And to reiterate, the tournament at 8 teams that include non-divison winners makes no more principled sense than a tournament at 12, 18, or 24 teams that includes non-division winners. It simply doesn't.
   227. Dr. Vaux Posted: November 03, 2011 at 10:32 PM (#3986094)
The Diamondbacks was a poor choice of team to contrast to the Yankees-Red Sox. They were just an example of a team that had success this year not through long-term planning, but in a less predicted, more out of nowhere fashion. To answer snapper's question, thus, I do enjoy baseball less when the random element is greater, and more when the random element is lesser; I like long-term planning and ultimate achievement, not sudden oddities.

What I meant was what I laid out at the bottom of 221. Notwithstanding what's happened in three of the past four seasons, the Red Sox and Yankees have been able, under the one wildcard system, to come as close as is possible to guaranteeing themselves the right to play in a best-of-five playoff series after the regular season's conclusion. They've been able to do that by spending a lot of money and spending it wisely, but they've had the incentive to bother doing it, because they've known that if they won 95 games they were in. The new playoff system will eliminate that incentive, because now the one that didn't win the division will get put not into a best-of-five series against a division winner, but into a one-game playoff against a team that won fewer games . Thus, there will be no point in winning 95 games when 89 wins would do just as well to get the team into the one-game playoff against the 87-win or 90-win team. I know that they'll both be "trying" to win the division, which theoretically would make them still try to win as many games as possible, but honestly, it seems most likely that
the Yankees will simply ramp their spending up to a level that makes trying to seriously compete against them for the division title all but pointless, which will remove the Red Sox incentive to do anything but win about the same number of games as the Blue Jays or Angels or whoever is the other main wildcard contender in a given season.

I want to see a higher level of skill and talent be rewarded. That doesn't happen in the postseason, which rewards luck above all else.


This is precisely my view as well.
   228. Lassus Posted: November 03, 2011 at 10:33 PM (#3986095)
If you enjoy baseball, why does the chance element bother you?

But this is like asking why it should bother someone if Shoeless Joe is throwing games.


In what way is being bothered by chance like being bothered by cheating? I request clarification.
   229. Mike Emeigh Posted: November 03, 2011 at 10:33 PM (#3986096)
You may not like it, but that significance exists and more importantly has ALWAYS existed.


Not always. Through the first decade of the modern WS, the NL teams tended to treat it as an afterthought. Case in point: in both 1907 and 1908 against the Tigers, Chance hardly used Mordecai Brown at all (two starts, one relief appearance), while Orval Overall started four games of the 10 played. Overall was generally spotted during the regular season against lesser teams; in 1908, for example, he started 27 times, 20 against the second-division teams. It wasn't until the AL started beating the NL teams like a drum in the teens that the NL took it seriously.

-- MWE
   230. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 03, 2011 at 10:40 PM (#3986098)
If you enjoy baseball, why does the chance element bother you?

But this is like asking why it should bother someone if Shoeless Joe is throwing games.

In what way is being bothered by chance like being bothered by cheating? I request clarification.


I'll echo Lassus' question?

I want to see a higher level of skill and talent be rewarded. That doesn't happen in the postseason, which rewards luck above all else. And so we should be careful about which teams we let into the postseason. Also-rans have no business being there.

Skill and talent is still rewarded, it's just a slightly smaller factor.

At the end of the day, it's entertaining baseball, played by the best teams, for the highest stakes.
   231. Lassus Posted: November 03, 2011 at 10:51 PM (#3986105)
Your memory is indeed correct, that was the size of it, and I utterly cannot comprehend why anyone would dispute this. First the players care about their livelihoods and careers and numbers. Second they care about winning the World Series. This is completely natural, normal, and expected. At its most basic level, they cannot win the World Series if they are out of the league. They'd trade a little performance or money or career for a World Series win, but not much. Do players retire immediately after winning the World Series, their goal having been accomplished? I must have missed that.

Setting these two things up as competing, ordinal interests in the answer is not fair or logical. If someone says: "They play to win the World Series" and your answer is: "No, they play for money", it is nonsensical as there is no competition in those two activities, they are not on similar enough levels enough to be pitted against each other.

I also think that the bolded portion is where you are overselling with your armchair psychology of professional athletes.
   232. Ray (CTL) Posted: November 03, 2011 at 10:58 PM (#3986111)
Skill and talent is still rewarded, it's just a slightly smaller factor.


But it's not "just a slightly smaller factor"; it's basically non-existant. Luck swamps everything in the postseason.

At the end of the day, it's entertaining baseball, played by the best teams, for the highest stakes.


And I've acknowledged that, and it's precisely why I enjoy the postseason. But people are confused in thinking that the postseason means something, when it doesn't mean anything except "this team got lucky to win the tournament."
   233. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 03, 2011 at 10:59 PM (#3986112)
They'd trade a little performance or money or career for a World Series win, but not much.

Ray, do you not recall Curt Schilling risking his career (and costing himself a lost season) on an experimental medical procedure and Keith Foulkeshredding his arm, and basically ending his career at age 31, to win a World Series for your team?

That certainly seemed like they cared, a lot.
   234. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 03, 2011 at 11:04 PM (#3986119)
But it's not "just a slightly smaller factor"; it's basically non-existant. Luck swamps everything in the postseason.


If you have incredibly evenly matched teams, sure, it plays a large role.
   235. Lassus Posted: November 03, 2011 at 11:06 PM (#3986121)
That certainly seemed like they cared, a lot.

The Sox were just lucky they had those guys, that's all.
   236. Ray (CTL) Posted: November 03, 2011 at 11:39 PM (#3986133)
(Then again, Girardi didn't use Montero simply because Montero was Born Too Late, so that didn't do them much good.)

Who did the what now?


By the way, above I was referring to how Girardi started Martin over Montero in the playoffs. Now, I don't expect someone who Knows Baseball like Girardi to actually start Montero in playoff games (the horror), but at the least Girardi could have sent Montero up to hit for Martin with the game on the line, and he didn't.
   237. Ray (CTL) Posted: November 03, 2011 at 11:43 PM (#3986135)
Ray, do you not recall Curt Schilling risking his career (and costing himself a lost season) on an experimental medical procedure and Keith Foulkeshredding his arm, and basically ending his career at age 31, to win a World Series for your team?

That certainly seemed like they cared, a lot.


The Schilling thing gets brought up a lot (mostly by SoSH), which basically shows the weakness of using him as your data point. The reason he's the go-to for this is precisely because what he did was so rare.
   238. Lassus Posted: November 03, 2011 at 11:49 PM (#3986141)
The Schilling thing gets brought up a lot (mostly by SoSH), which basically shows the weakness of using him as your data point. The reason he's the go-to for this is precisely because what he did was so rare.

Maybe that's why he mentioned two guys.
   239. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: November 03, 2011 at 11:58 PM (#3986148)
Put Schilling aside. It's not rare at all for injured players to make unusual, and sometimes counterproductive efforts to coordinate their returns with the postseason. We see it every year.
   240. Dr. Vaux Posted: November 04, 2011 at 12:08 AM (#3986158)
That certainly seemed like they cared, a lot.


They were misguided in caring that much.
   241. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: November 04, 2011 at 12:14 AM (#3986163)
The Schilling thing gets brought up a lot (mostly by SoSH), which basically shows the weakness of using him as your data point. The reason he's the go-to for this is precisely because what he did was so rare.


Though I'm not surprised that you failed to notice, these are two different arguments Ray. I bring up Schilling when arguing against your position that postseason stats shouldn't be considered when weighing a player's Hall of Fame resume. My position is that if you completely ignore postseason stats, you're allowing the players to take the risks that come with these additional games (most notably, Schilling's injury that cost him all of 2005) without gaining any of the rewards of their play in those games.

Here, snapper was pointing out that Schilling's willingness to risk his careeer in pursuit of a World Series ring (his second), is evidence that players will put that goal ahead of monetary concerns.
   242. Ebessan Posted: November 04, 2011 at 12:28 AM (#3986170)
Applicable:

Luck is a factor in the success of any athlete. No man is ever truly a self-made man. Sheer chance is the reason any of us were born at all. It could have been some other loser sperm that rammed into your mom's ovum. In order to make the Helmet Catch, Tyree had to be born physically gifted enough to play football, to be noticed by scouts who encouraged the Giants to sign him, and be a member of a team that managed to get to the Super Bowl without a particularly large contribution from him. And I suppose it's good fortune for Tyree that Eli Manning elected to throw HIM the ball at that particular moment. All of that is luck, but to use it to discount what Tyree did once the ball was thrown to him is idiotic. That catch was, in fact, the LEAST lucky part of that particular moment.

I remember Simmons once did a podcast with Mike Lombardi after Pittsburgh won the 2008 Super Bowl, and his question was if the best team in the NFL had won the Super Bowl. I find this kind of question infuriating. It implies that the best team is always set in stone and that the random nature of playoff results are somehow just a cosmic fluke and nothing more meaningful. The Rams beat the Saints last Sunday. Are they really a "better" team than New Orleans? Who ####### cares? The Rams stomped on their nuts, and that's the only result that ends up truly mattering. It's why you stage the games at all. And if the "better" team doesn't win, that doesn't make it unlucky or unfair. Take your loss like a man don't be a ####### gash about it. The Giant Snatch wasn't luck. It was ####### glorious. I wish the Patriots lost that way every ####### week.
   243. Lassus Posted: November 04, 2011 at 12:39 AM (#3986174)
They were misguided in caring that much.

?
   244. Dr. Vaux Posted: November 04, 2011 at 12:46 AM (#3986180)
The second paragraph of that extract is, of course, very wrong. The best team is certainly not "set in stone," but it doesn't follow from that that "the only result that ends up truly mattering" is which team won a certain game. It's well and fine to dislike the Patriots, and thus be pleased about Tyree's catch, but that doesn't mean the catch wasn't a flukeish occurrence. Arguments that boil down to "well, they won, so they won, and that's that, and be a man about it" aren't very attractive. And to be honest, really, stomping on people's nuts? If the underlying ideas behind sports are that ugly and brutish, a discerning person is made to wonder if it makes sense to follow sports.

?


I find it unfortunate that players are so wrapped up in the idea of winning the World Series, over which they have so little control, that they would risk their careers for the chance to do it, with "chance" being very much the operative word. It's tantamount to risking their careers to spin a roulette wheel. It's perfectly good for them to go out and play as hard as they can, but taking risks of that kind exposes their misunderstanding of the relative importance of subsequent regular seasons and the current post-season. It's also unfortunate that players consider themselves to have somehow "failed" if they don't win the World Series. But the fact that they really are thinking thoughts like that, and really do regard the playoffs and winning the World Series as the most important thing, makes it more difficult to watch the sport the more the element of chance in making and winning in the playoffs is increased.
   245. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: November 04, 2011 at 01:13 AM (#3986188)
EDIT: Not worth it
   246. cardsfanboy Posted: November 04, 2011 at 01:21 AM (#3986190)
They claim not to, but their treatment of the postseason, in attaching extreme significance to it, betrays that. That's my complaint.


I think you are imagining things and putting your personal biased perception onto other peoples comments. Not one person on this thread or probably ever in the history of BBTF, has stated that the World Series determines the best team. Heck this weeks issue of Sports Illustrated flatly states that this post season put the nail into the coffin of anyone thinking that the World Series is about the best team.

The post season is a tournament, simple as that, you have eight teams go into this tournament, and the winner takes the trophy. Nobody thinks that it is the best tool for picking out the best team, heck even in the most famous tournament in the U.S., March Madness, nobody really claims the best team is going to win(mind you it does happen sometimes) but nobody thinks a tournament is the best tool for determining the best team, it's just one way to grab an audience, create a sense of urgency/extreme importance to a limited number of games to ramp up the excitement level and buzz.
   247. cardsfanboy Posted: November 04, 2011 at 01:25 AM (#3986194)
And to reiterate, the tournament at 8 teams that include non-divison winners makes no more principled sense than a tournament at 12, 18, or 24 teams that includes non-division winners. It simply doesn't.


You are right, but at the same time there has to be a cutoff, and right now it's eight, and it will probably soon be ten. It's always been a balancing act, between rewarding the regular season, and creating a tournament that people will follow. More rounds mean more teams, more teams mean more teams are competitive longer in the season allowing teams to make more money. At some point too many teams completely devalues the regular season(see NHL) but it's up to each major sport to work on it's balancing act for the best interest of the majority of the fans.
   248. tshipman Posted: November 04, 2011 at 01:27 AM (#3986195)
Robb Nen also ended his career in the World Series. He knowingly pitched on a torn labrum.

Randy Johnson pitched on zero days rest in the WS, which certainly could have risked his future.

It's rare simply because it's rare for pitchers to sustain arm injuries in the World Series. It's difficult to think of comparable examples for position players. Maybe Gibson?

It's not uncommon at all for position players to play while dinged up in the playoffs.
   249. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: November 04, 2011 at 01:32 AM (#3986197)
It's rare simply because it's rare for pitchers to sustain arm injuries in the World Series. It's difficult to think of comparable examples for position players. Maybe Gibson?


It's probably not all that rare that postseason pitching plays a part in arm injuries. It's just difficult for us to identify that as the specific cause, particularly with the lengthy break that follows.
   250. . Posted: November 04, 2011 at 01:35 AM (#3986199)
They were misguided in caring that much.

Yep. I'm not sure what the "caring" proves beyond the fact that guys want to play in the postseason and win in the postseason. Professional athletes want to do well when everyone's watching. The same phenomenon applies to Monday Night Football.

Not news. You put the Royals in the 2011 postseason with 20 odd other teams, and Alex Gordon's rushing back to play and Luke Hochever's taking the ball, "bloody sock" be damned.
   251. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: November 04, 2011 at 03:14 AM (#3986234)
I haven't figured out which team I think was the best of 2011. Perhaps that's because I don't care about that, other than as some academic exercise I have no real interest in unless asked?

Every disparaging comment you've made about the postseason completely belies that claim. You may not care which team is "best", but you sure as hell seem to care an awful lot about making sure it's not necessarily the World Series winner. And for someone who claims to enjoy the postseason as much as you do, you sure have made a lot of negative comments about it---about 4+ years worth, aamof. It's hard to imagine anyone who keeps harping on "meaningless exhibition games" deriving any significant amount of pleasure out of them.

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

Since you regard the postseason as essentially a series of meaningless exhibition games, I can see where you're coming from, but to most fans, the winner of the World Series is "the champion", and anything beyond that is just so much cudda shudda wudda.

And that is evidence that most fans are stupid when it comes to this issue, and, as Ray has said, don't understand what they're seeing.


Yes, vaux, that's it. Everyone who doesn't share your jaundiced view about meaningless exhibition games is just stupid. We should really be concentrating on the glories of May matchups between the Royals and the Orioles instead, paying special attention to the cumulative run differentials while we're at it.

The fact that most people think something doesn't make it true. At one time most people thought the sun revolved around the earth. Did that make it true?

Somehow I don't think that Galileo ever opined much on the relative significance of October baseball to pre-October baseball, but then what do I know?

I don't have any objection to the exercise, only to the often-whining tone that somehow it's "unfair" that an "inferior" team like the Cardinals gets recognition as champions, while fans of "better" teams like the Yankees or the Phillies or the Rangers have to sit there and take it.

It is unfair. How can it not be unfair that the winners of 162-game seasons have to be subjected to short series not against teams from other, completely different 162-game seasons that they played in other leagues, but against teams that they themselves have already defeated?


My only response to that is: Who gives a shit whether it's "fair" or not? Of the approximately 103,765,409,331,955,210 "unfair" events that occur on Earth every day we breathe, that particular "unfairness" doesn't even approach second wild card status. It's funny how so few (if any) people actually connected with the game ever piss and moan about the "unfairness" of the wild card. They simply recognize the fact that you can't rest on your regular season laurels in October, and take it as part of the deal, without any noticeable complaint. It's only a handful of armchair critics pining for a return to the days of Bobby Thomson who seem to want to dwell on such utterly trivial matters.
   252. Ray (CTL) Posted: November 04, 2011 at 04:01 AM (#3986254)
I remember Simmons once did a podcast with Mike Lombardi after Pittsburgh won the 2008 Super Bowl, and his question was if the best team in the NFL had won the Super Bowl. I find this kind of question infuriating. It implies that the best team is always set in stone and that the random nature of playoff results are somehow just a cosmic fluke and nothing more meaningful.


Implies? I'll state my view flat out: at least for major league baseball (I can't speak to the other sports), playoff results are virtually a cosmic fluke and almost nothing more meaningful.

That people here apparently can't live with that obvious truth is not my problem.

The Rams beat the Saints last Sunday. Are they really a "better" team than New Orleans? Who ####### cares? The Rams stomped on their nuts, and that's the only result that ends up truly mattering. It's why you stage the games at all. And if the "better" team doesn't win, that doesn't make it unlucky or unfair. Take your loss like a man don't be a ####### gash about it. The Giant Snatch wasn't luck. It was ####### glorious. I wish the Patriots lost that way every ####### week.


Andy couldn't have said it better himself. He apparently thinks this issue is about being a Man.

But the fact that the Patriots were better than the Giants that year is precisely what makes that Super Bowl so memorable.
   253. Ray (CTL) Posted: November 04, 2011 at 04:01 AM (#3986255)
That certainly seemed like they cared, a lot.

They were misguided in caring that much.


Yes.
   254. Lassus Posted: November 04, 2011 at 04:08 AM (#3986258)
Yep. I'm not sure what the "caring" proves beyond the fact that guys want to play in the postseason and win in the postseason. Professional athletes want to do well when everyone's watching.

What a value judgment. Search your mind for another reason why a competitor on a team might want to do well, maybe it will come to you.


Yes.

Not good enough. How much should they be caring, in your opinion?
   255. Ray (CTL) Posted: November 04, 2011 at 04:10 AM (#3986259)
It's probably not all that rare that postseason pitching plays a part in arm injuries. It's just difficult for us to identify that as the specific cause, particularly with the lengthy break that follows.


But that won't stop you from pretending that the postseason probably hurts pitchers arms more than the regular season does.

We know very little about what specicfically causes arm injuries to pitchers, even after all this time. Nearly the sum total of what we know is "If he tries to throw this baseball at 100 miles an hour, he might hurt his arm at some point between now and 20 years from now." We know almost nothing else.
   256. Ray (CTL) Posted: November 04, 2011 at 04:15 AM (#3986262)
I think you are imagining things and putting your personal biased perception onto other peoples comments. Not one person on this thread or probably ever in the history of BBTF, has stated that the World Series determines the best team.


Again, it's not necessarily about "best team" but what people think the World Series, to use Andy's word, "proves."

And I can assure you Andy et al think the postseason "proves" more than just "this team mostly got lucky and won." But I'll let Andy explain just what he thinks the postseason "proves." Others are welcome to explain as well.
   257. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: November 04, 2011 at 04:31 AM (#3986270)
Oh good grief! You're still on about this? I keep checking in to see if anything interesting breaks out. So far, no.
   258. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: November 04, 2011 at 04:32 AM (#3986273)
But that won't stop you from pretending that the postseason probably hurts pitchers arms more than the regular season does.


Were you dropped on your head at some point?

I've never claimed that postseason pitching hurts pitchers more than regular season pitching. I've never implied that. I've never thought it but was afraid to write it.

I believe pitching is a dangerous task. I think the shoulder and elbow can't discern the difference between the important innings of the regular season and the more exhibitiony ones of the postseason, and thus injury can befall a pitcher at any time. The added innings of the postseason opens the pitchers up to risk of injury that their stay-at-home compadres aren't facing. Thus, I think that disregarding those equally dangerous innings thrown in the postseason when we're evaluating them for HoF purposes is quite unfair.

The question I have to ask myself is why am I writing this? Because I know that somehow you'll read what I've written as:

I've never claimed that postseason pitching hurts pitchers more than regular season pitching. I've never implied that. I've never thought it but was afraid to write it.


I believe pitching is a dangerous task. I think the shoulder and elbow can't discern the difference between the important innings of the regular season and the more exhibitiony ones of the postseason, and thus injury can befall a pitcher at any time. The added innings of the postseason opens the pitchers up to a risk of injury that their stay-at-home compadres aren't facing. Thus, I think that disregarding those equally dangerous innings thrown in the postseason when we're evaluating them for HoF purposes is quite unfair.
   259. tshipman Posted: November 04, 2011 at 04:51 AM (#3986281)
But that won't stop you from pretending that the postseason probably hurts pitchers arms more than the regular season does.

We know very little about what specicfically causes arm injuries to pitchers, even after all this time. Nearly the sum total of what we know is "If he tries to throw this baseball at 100 miles an hour, he might hurt his arm at some point between now and 20 years from now." We know almost nothing else.


Sticking to a specific case, because it's easy for me to say with certaintude:

In 2002, Robb Nen had an MRI and discovered he had a torn labrum. Obviously, this is a bad thing, but he kept pitching because the Giants were in the World Series. He tore his labrum further. While it was always somewhat dicey that he would recover, pitching in the World Series made his recovery go from dicey to non-existent. I don't believe, and he stated, that he would not have done it in the regular season.
   260. cardsfanboy Posted: November 04, 2011 at 05:02 AM (#3986287)
not to be too ignorant or even to pretend for one second that I support Ray's position, but pointing to relatively recent examples of people trashing their potential careers, could be taken as a point in Rays argument about people over valuing the post season.

mind you, I don't completly agree with ray, in that I do think that in todays game and in the past even, that the goal was always two fold(post 1904) win the regular season and win in the post season. The post season has a bigger aspect because of the buzz and of course the small group of competitors....
   261. Ray (CTL) Posted: November 04, 2011 at 11:06 AM (#3986328)
Sticking to a specific case, because it's easy for me to say with certaintude:

In 2002, Robb Nen had an MRI and discovered he had a torn labrum. Obviously, this is a bad thing, but he kept pitching because the Giants were in the World Series. He tore his labrum further. While it was always somewhat dicey that he would recover, pitching in the World Series made his recovery go from dicey to non-existent. I don't believe, and he stated, that he would not have done it in the regular season.


There are a few cases where players were in effect brainwashed to put their careers at serious risk in an effort to win the luck tournament.

It's never a good thing.
   262. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: November 04, 2011 at 11:10 AM (#3986329)
I'll state my view flat out: at least for major league baseball (I can't speak to the other sports), playoff results are virtually a cosmic fluke and almost nothing more meaningful....

But the fact that the Patriots were better than the Giants that year is precisely what makes that Super Bowl so memorable.


So what really gets you off about the postseason isn't the drama, and it isn't the sight of players exceeding or failing to live up to their preassigned "talent level" in the heat of competition, in order to win the highest team award that the sport bestows. None of that sissy stuff. That's for suckers who don't understand what they're watching.

No, the true enjoyment of the postseason is that it gives us the chance of seeing the Washington Generals beat the Globetrotters, and other meaningless comic flukes.

Got it. And you want to be baseball's latex salesman.

And I can assure you Andy et al think the postseason "proves" more than just "this team mostly got lucky and won." But I'll let Andy explain just what he thinks the postseason "proves." Others are welcome to explain as well.

The postseason doesn't "prove" a damn thing other than one team can call itself the "World Champion". And the regular season doesn't prove a damn thing other than six teams can call themselves "regular season division champion"**, and two more teams can say that they qualified for the first round of the postseason. And to the extent that 100% of Major League ballplayers and 99.99% of their fans would rather walk around with the first honor rather than the latter, the postseason has more "meaning" than the regular season. But I'm sure that Cardinals fans who "understood what they were watching" found 2004 infinitely more "meaningful" than 2011.

**No matter how many or how few games they actually won, and no matter what division they might have been "lucky" enough to be placed in. Funny how that enormous factor of divisional assignment almost never enters into all this talk about "luck", or the fact that for the past decade, the "luckiest" team in baseball has been the Twins, who four times in eight years qualified for the postseason by winning the ALC, in spite of the fact that they won fewer games than a wild card team that was playing in a stronger division. You can talk about the "luck" involved in winning the World Series, and in many years you'd be right. But no "luck" can compare with the luck of being placed in the American League Central every year by sheer accident of geography.
   263. . Posted: November 04, 2011 at 11:24 AM (#3986334)
But I'm sure that Cardinals fans who "understood what they were watching" found 2004 infinitely more "meaningful" than 2011.

The Cardinals' accomplishments in 2004 were more meaningful than 2011. Their 2004 team was an elite team; their 2011 wasn't, but happened to luck out in the silly tournament baseball has put together. In the same vein, the 2011 Phillies accomplishments were more meaningful than the 2011 Cardinals'. They never should have been paired together in a best-of-5 postseason series.

I remain perplexed at your deference to mass opinion. All you're saying is that the masses prefer an ersatz award based on luck in a random tournament that doesn't take a lot of effort and attention to follow, over actual accomplishment earned over time, without a lot of identifiable moments of fanfare.

Of course they do. They have neither the attention span nor the discernment to prefer true baseball accomplishments. I fail to see why that sort of thing should be encouraged, though.
   264. Nasty Nate Posted: November 04, 2011 at 12:54 PM (#3986356)
The Cardinals' accomplishments in 2004 were more meaningful than 2011.


Baseball accomplishments are not inherently meaningful... people assign them meaning by caring about them, discussing them, and using certain things as their goal (for those actually in baseball). Given this, their championship in 2011 is certainly more 'meaningful' than their NL pennant in 2004.

There are a few cases where players were in effect brainwashed to put their careers at serious risk in an effort to win the luck tournament.


Ha ha, oh man. I think this insane post once and for all proves who actually "doesn't understand what they are watching."
   265. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: November 04, 2011 at 01:36 PM (#3986374)
But I'm sure that Cardinals fans who "understood what they were watching" found 2004 infinitely more "meaningful" than 2011.

The Cardinals' accomplishments in 2004 were more meaningful than 2011. Their 2004 team was an elite team; their 2011 wasn't, but happened to luck out in the silly tournament baseball has put together. In the same vein, the 2011 Phillies accomplishments were more meaningful than the 2011 Cardinals'. They never should have been paired together in a best-of-5 postseason series.
.

Yeah, they should have been paired in a 10,000,000 game computer sim instead. That's where the real wars are fought.

I remain perplexed at your deference to mass opinion.

I'm not perplexed at all by your ignoring the opinion of everyone who plays the game, and 99.9% of the game's fans, since you seem to inhabit a world of your own. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

All you're saying is that the masses prefer an ersatz award based on luck in a random tournament that doesn't take a lot of effort and attention to follow, over actual accomplishment earned over time, without a lot of identifiable moments of fanfare.

You mean "actual accomplishments" like skillfully placing your city at a point on the map where the weakest teams in the league are strategically located, as opposed to winning three straight series against three of the best teams in the game?

Of course they do. They have neither the attention span nor the discernment to prefer true baseball accomplishments. I fail to see why that sort of thing should be encouraged, though.

Obviously the only way to resolve your oh-so-pressing "problem" of inappropriate celebration and underappreciated accomplishment would to eliminate the postseason altogether, and reconstruct MLB into one 30 team league with an evenly balanced 174 game roundrobin schedule, with each team playing every other team 3 times at home and 3 times on the road. You could fit the whole thing into this.

Then you and Ray could synergize your world class insights, plug every pitch of the season into your little computers, and determine which team "should have" won the most games, and declare them the "true World Champions." The winner would be awarded a complete set of legally purchased Hawaiian Five O DVDs.

Of course at some point the Japanese or the Dominicans might want to to get in on the act. But that's for another thread.
   266. . Posted: November 04, 2011 at 01:47 PM (#3986378)
Ha ha, oh man. I think this insane post once and for all proves who actually "doesn't understand what they are watching."

I wouldn't say "brainwashed" necessarily, because that -- like the rest of the thread -- ignores the money the playoff winners take home. Tastes have changed to the point where the media and the masses persist in the cliche that "they just want to win" and similar hoohoo (*), but the reality is that, in 2009, a World Series winners' share was $365,000, and the losers' share was $265,000. Not only is the $90,000 difference a helluva lot of money, but the shares themselves are a helluva lot of money.

A miniumum salary guy basically doubles his pay if his team wins the World Series. And three hundred sixty-five large is a lot of coin even if you're making 10 million.(**)

(*) Unlike more honest, less corporatized, more mature times when WS winners admitted how much they wanted the money they'd get if their team won.

(**) And as practically every married guy out there knows, a World Series share -- like every one-off bonus -- is perceived much more by their spouse as "the guy's own money," rendering it even sweeter to the guy that earns it.
   267. . Posted: November 04, 2011 at 01:58 PM (#3986381)
Yeah, they should have been paired in a 10,000,000 game computer sim instead. That's where the real wars are fought.

No need for that, either; the regular season of actual games made it clear that the Phillies were an unambiguously better team and one that earned its entitlement to compete in the postseason.
   268. Lassus Posted: November 04, 2011 at 02:01 PM (#3986382)
And as practically every married guy out there knows, a World Series share -- like every one-off bonus -- is perceived much more by their spouse as "the guy's own money," rendering it even sweeter to the guy that earns it.

More brilliant psychological psychic insight.
   269. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: November 04, 2011 at 02:30 PM (#3986399)
No need for that, either; the regular season of actual games made it clear that the Phillies were an unambiguously better team and one that earned its entitlement to compete in the postseason.


You keep saying stuff like this but the Cardinals absolutely and unquestionably "earned" the right to be in the playoffs. You know how I know?

BECAUSE THE RULES SAY SO!!!

It's not like the Cardinals cheated or the rules were changed mid-stream to help the Cards. They entered the season with two very clear paths to the post-season;

1. Win the division
2. Have the best record among teams that do not win the division

You can ##### about it all you want but to say the Cardinals didn't "earn" their post-season berth is simply wrong. You and Ray don't like the post-season set up. We at least be intellectually honest enough to admit that the World Series is much more desired than a division or pennant by MLB players and that with the rules that currently exist the Cardinals were quite entitled to a spot in the post-season.

EDIT: I think Lassus may have messed up the strikethrough feature though it could just be a creative statement on his opinion on my post.
   270. Ray (CTL) Posted: November 04, 2011 at 02:36 PM (#3986404)
There are a few cases where players were in effect brainwashed to put their careers at serious risk in an effort to win the luck tournament.

Ha ha, oh man. I think this insane post once and for all proves who actually "doesn't understand what they are watching."


No. Go back and read post 259. It's very disturbing.
   271. Ray (CTL) Posted: November 04, 2011 at 02:37 PM (#3986406)
The postseason doesn't "prove" a damn thing other than one team can call itself the "World Champion".


My point exactly, Andy. If only people behaved as if they understood that.
   272. Nasty Nate Posted: November 04, 2011 at 02:40 PM (#3986407)
No. Go back and read post 259. It's very disturbing.


Disturbing to you or not, it is insane to say that Nenn was brainwashed in any way, shape, or form.

Would a player in the 50's risking injury in the final days of a pennant race be just as disturbing to you?
   273. Lassus Posted: November 04, 2011 at 02:48 PM (#3986410)
Whooops.

Sorry, guys. I'll email Dan to see if he can fix these.
   274. . Posted: November 04, 2011 at 02:50 PM (#3986413)
Robb Nen had a cranky motion and a chronically creaky shoulder. He pitched in the 2002 regular season with a sore shoulder, first complaining of pain on Septmeber 1. After the season, he had two arthrosopic surgeries that didn't work, and serious surgery in May 2003 that he never came back from.

The first surgery was in November 2002 and was termed "diagnostic," and thought to be just cleaning out "wear and tear." He did not pitch in the 2002 World Series with a labrum he knew was torn.
   275. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: November 04, 2011 at 03:42 PM (#3986444)
I wouldn't say "brainwashed" necessarily, because that -- like the rest of the thread -- ignores the money the playoff winners take home. Tastes have changed to the point where the media and the masses persist in the cliche that "they just want to win" and similar hoohoo (*),

(*) Unlike more honest, less corporatized, more mature times when WS winners admitted how much they wanted the money they'd get if their team won.


When those "more honest" players were roaming the playing fields of October, the minimum salary was $6,000, and a World Series winning share could be nearly double that, as it was in 1959. With today's minimum salary of $514,000, even a $365,000 winner's share is going to be far less important to a player's family budget than that much lower winner's share was BIT"MH"D of yesteryear. Inflation aside, you can live a hell of a lot better on 514,000 2011 dollars than you could on 6,000 1959 dollars.

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

The postseason doesn't "prove" a damn thing other than one team can call itself the "World Champion".

My point exactly, Andy. If only people behaved as if they understood that.


But who here has been arguing otherwise? Has anyone here conflated a World Series title with proof about which team is the "best" in any sort of sabermetric sense?

Of course more attention is paid to the World Series winner than to the team with the best regular season record, but that's because the World Series has a 108 year tradition behind it as the culmination of the baseball season; because to win the World Series requires beating three of the best teams in baseball in consecutive series; because every team sets winning the World Series as its ultimate goal; and of course because the World Series is shown in prime time over the course of up to night evenings. Given all that, what would you expect? Complaining about that is like complaining that the Grand Slam winners in golf are accorded more publicity than the winner of the year-end lowest score average. You'd be making a valid technical point, but at the same time you'd be completely missing the overall picture.
   276. . Posted: November 04, 2011 at 04:05 PM (#3986468)
When those "more honest" players were roaming the playing fields of October, the minimum salary was $6,000, and a World Series winning share could be nearly double that, as it was in 1959. With today's minimum salary of $514,000, even a $365,000 winner's share is going to be far less important to a player's family budget than that much lower winner's share was BIT"MH"D of yesteryear. Inflation aside, you can live a hell of a lot better on 514,000 2011 dollars than you could on 6,000 1959 dollars.

Just so no one's confused, the ratio between minimum salary and winners' share has been essentially the same since at least 1970. I wasn't really talking about 1959 in my remarks, more like the 1970s. I wasn't alive in 1959.

The minimum salary in 2009, the year I used, was $400,000.

The bottom line is that a World Series winners' share is a helluva lot of money -- enough by itself to put the recipient into the now-famous "one percent" of the American economy. Pretending it's simply pocket change is beyond ridiculous.

Of course more attention is paid to the World Series winner than to the team with the best regular season record, but that's because the World Series has a 108 year tradition behind it as the culmination of the baseball season;

Yes ... but you're brushing off the fundamental break in that tradition wrought by the wild-card, which your beloved masses either don't comprehend or don't care about. It's still called the World Series, but it isn't what the World Series has traditionally been.
   277. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: November 04, 2011 at 05:00 PM (#3986493)
Just so no one's confused, the ratio between minimum salary and winners' share has been essentially the same since at least 1970. I wasn't really talking about 1959 in my remarks, more like the 1970s. I wasn't alive in 1959....

Well, if you're talking only about the minimum salary players, how many of those even get into the World Series to begin with? The World Series is nearly always decided only by players who earn well above that amount.

The bottom line is that a World Series winners' share is a helluva lot of money -- enough by itself to put the recipient into the now-famous "one percent" of the American economy. Pretending it's simply pocket change is beyond ridiculous.

The average U.S. salary in 1970, adjusted for inflation, was $43,765.93 in today's dollars.

The minimum ballplayer's salary in 1970, also in today's dollars, was $69,432.99, or 158% of the average U.S. salary.

The average ballplayer's salary in 1970, also inflation-adjusted, was $169,549.57, or 387% of the average U.S. salary for that year.

The median U.S. income for 2010/11 is approximately $46,000.

The minimum ballplayer's salary is $514,000, or 1117% of the median U.S. income.

The average ballplayer's salary in 2010 was $3,014,572, or 6553% of the median U.S. income.

And of course most of the star players are earning far more than the average salary.

The bottom line is that to pretend that the World Series money means even remotely as much to today's ballplayer as it did in 1970 is so far beyond ridiculous as to call into question the sanity of the person advancing the argument.

Of course more attention is paid to the World Series winner than to the team with the best regular season record, but that's because the World Series has a 108 year tradition behind it as the culmination of the baseball season;

Yes ... but you're brushing off the fundamental break in that tradition wrought by the wild-card, which your beloved masses either don't comprehend or don't care about. It's still called the World Series, but it isn't what the World Series has traditionally been.


Right, and music hasn't been the same since the Beatles broke up and Michael Jackson shed his Afro. The world ain't never been as good as it used to be.

And I'm sure that those 1987 Twins were more "worthy" before they entered the postseason than they were after they'd won the World Series. That's the only logical conclusion to be read into your worship of "divisions champions" titles that are derived by the purely arbitrary assignation of teams to divisions of unequal strength, but then I guess that from your POV some forms of luck are less damnable than others.
   278. . Posted: November 04, 2011 at 05:17 PM (#3986505)
And I'm sure that those 1987 Twins were more "worthy" before they entered the postseason than they were after they'd won the World Series. That's the only logical conclusion to be read into your worship of "divisions champions" titles that are derived by the purely arbitrary assignation of teams to divisions of unequal strength, but then I guess that from your POV some forms of luck are less damnable than others.

It wasn't arbitrary, it was based on geography. It was also known ahead of time, and comprised of teams playing the same schedules. Winning more regular season games than the other teams in it was a laudable and rightly-celebrated accomplishment -- one whose significance wasn't entirely squashed by not winning additional championships, as it is today. It's not just that wild cards are let in that's changed for the worse; it's the fact that the accomplisments of the tournament champion vitiate the accomplishments and championships of everybody else. It's not just that the Cardinals' championship is celebrated; it's that no other championships are -- even when those championships are much more substantive.

And yes, the 1987 Twins were a worthy participant in the 1987 postseason involving only champions, since they were a division champion. Since they were worthy of eligibility for the games that determined which champion got to append "World's" to their already-championship resume, they were worthy of doing so once they won two series against the other champions.

I don't know what you mean by "more" worthy.

The bottom line is that to pretend that the World Series money means even remotely as much to today's ballplayer as it did in 1970 is so far beyond ridiculous as to call into question the sanity of the person advancing the argument.

It doesn't mean "as much." It does, however, mean far in excess of nothing.
   279. Nasty Nate Posted: November 04, 2011 at 05:28 PM (#3986514)
one whose significance wasn't entirely squashed by not winning additional championships, as it is today.


It is not entirely squashed today, otherwise everyone would rate the Braves' and Phillies' 2011 as equal failures (or the Sox and Yankees, etc).
   280. . Posted: November 04, 2011 at 05:45 PM (#3986535)
It is not entirely squashed today, otherwise everyone would rate the Braves' and Phillies' 2011 as equal failures (or the Sox and Yankees, etc).

I'm not sure the popular perception holds there to be much, if any, difference between the Braves and Phillies. The primary feature of both is that of "also-ran." And the Phillies are seen by many as "not good enough to do it in the postseason" or possessors of some intangible "flaw."
   281. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: November 04, 2011 at 06:33 PM (#3986581)
And I'm sure that those 1987 Twins were more "worthy" before they entered the postseason than they were after they'd won the World Series. That's the only logical conclusion to be read into your worship of "divisions champions" titles that are derived by the purely arbitrary assignation of teams to divisions of unequal strength, but then I guess that from your POV some forms of luck are less damnable than others.

It wasn't arbitrary, it was based on geography


Which has no more to do with a team's merit than their religion or beer preferences. If that 1987 Twins team had switched cites with Toronto prior to the season, the Blue Jays would have been the champions and the Twins would have been 4th place also-rans.

It was also known ahead of time,

As are the rules determining post-season eligibility today, if you didn't know that.

and comprised of teams playing the same schedules.

And playing those same schedules, the team with the 5th best record in the American League was somehow deigned to be a "champion". Yet to you this seems to be less inequitable than the 102-win Oakland A's being allowed into the postseason.

Winning more regular season games than the other teams in it was a laudable and rightly-celebrated accomplishment -- one whose significance wasn't entirely squashed by not winning additional championships, as it is today. It's not just that wild cards are let in that's changed for the worse; it's the fact that the accomplishments of the tournament champion vitiate the accomplishments and championships of everybody else. It's not just that the Cardinals' championship is celebrated; it's that no other championships are -- even when those championships are much more substantive.

Who's stopping you from celebrating the Phillies or (according to BB-Ref) an even better team, the Yankees? I'm certainly not hanging my head in shame vicariously because the Yankees happened to lose to the Tigers in a hard fought series, and I certainly don't think that they should have merged the three divisions into two and let the Yankees and the Rangers bypass the first round of the postseason. The postseason is what it is, and what it is is the result of trying to balance two competing interests: The interests of traditionalists to see the two teams with the best records in their leagues meet in the World Series, vs. the interests of baseball not to see too many teams out of postseason contention by Labor Day or even earlier.

Look, as a Yankee fan, part of me would love to see baseball revert to the pre-1969 format, which would enhance the chances of the Yankees making it to October, especially since they'd then have even more incentive to go into overdrive in their talent acquisition. I would be perfectly happy to see the Yanks meet the Phillies or the Mets or the Cardinals or the Dodgers or the Giants in a baseball version of King on the Hill about 5 or more times every decade---I LOVED baseball in the Stengel years when I was first following the game, and seeing the Yankees in the World Series almost every year was simply a given. Who cared about the Indians and the clown teams behind them?

But ya know what? The world doesn't necessarily revolve around the interests of 5 teams. There are fans in 25 other cities to consider as well. And although in a my perfect world we'd revert to 8 teams per league, the Dodgers and Giants back where they belong in New York, $1.50 general admission seats behind the plate, and World Series games all played in the afternoon, the people who are trying to make the game a bit more enjoyable outside the palaces of the permanent contenders have those other teams to consider as well.
   282. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: November 04, 2011 at 06:43 PM (#3986594)
It is not entirely squashed today, otherwise everyone would rate the Braves' and Phillies' 2011 as equal failures (or the Sox and Yankees, etc).


I'm not sure the popular perception holds there to be much, if any, difference between the Braves and Phillies. The primary feature of both is that of "also-ran." And the Phillies are seen by many as "not good enough to do it in the postseason" or possessors of some intangible "flaw."

If you don't think that the 2011 Red Sox are subjectively** viewed as one of the all-time failures of baseball for what they did in September, you must have spent September on the Cricket Think Factory of Pakistan. And the only reason that the Braves aren't viewed in the same light as the Red Sox is that the Braves fan base is made up of tomahawk-waving zombies. As Babu would put it: They are not human.

**I say "subjectively" only because if I don't, you or Ray will come back with "I bet the Orioles or Kansas City would have loved to 'fail' like the Red Sox did," posting the standings as proof of their position.
   283. . Posted: November 04, 2011 at 07:12 PM (#3986615)
If you don't think that the 2011 Red Sox are subjectively** viewed as one of the all-time failures of baseball for what they did in September, you must have spent September on the Cricket Think Factory of Pakistan.

I don't think history will treat them in that fashion. All they missed out on was a chance in the playoff crapshoot; it's not as though they choked away a championship. As that becomes clear with the passage of time, the "wild card" race they fell short in will be seen as the bubblegummy thing it really was.

If you want to check what I said in real time about the matter, it was that neither the Red Sox or Rays deserved the opportunity to knock out any of the three division champs in a short series.

Which has no more to do with a team's merit than their religion or beer preferences.

OK, I'll stipulate that teams aren't assigned to divisions on the basis of merit.

And playing those same schedules, the team with the 5th best record in the American League was somehow deigned to be a "champion". Yet to you this seems to be less inequitable than the 102-win Oakland A's being allowed into the postseason.

I've never had a problem with a second place team not making the postseason, and never will. There's nothing "inequitable" about the winner of a preset agglomeration of teams making it to the baseball postseason, even if it happens to have a worse record than a non-winner of another agglomeration. You've happened upon a solution in search of a problem.
   284. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: November 04, 2011 at 09:27 PM (#3986715)
If you don't think that the 2011 Red Sox are subjectively** viewed as one of the all-time failures of baseball for what they did in September, you must have spent September on the Cricket Think Factory of Pakistan.

I don't think history will treat them in that fashion. All they missed out on was a chance in the playoff crapshoot; it's not as though they choked away a championship. As that becomes clear with the passage of time, the "wild card" race they fell short in will be seen as the bubblegummy thing it really was.


Well, all you have to do is convince most Red Sox fans that what they saw was nothing but an optical illusion. The horror wasn't in missing the wild card; the horror was in how they missed it, in all the glorious details---game after game, night after night, inning after inning, pitch after pitch, choke after choke, beer after beer, chicken wing after chicken wing, 4 inning start after 4 inning start, blown lead after blown lead, ulcer after ulcer, sleepless night after sleepless night, nightmare after nightmare, blaming the chemistry, blaming the starters, blaming Girardi's substitutions, blaming Bard, blaming Papelbon, secondguessing Francona, the mocking predictions of coolstandings.com, the zombielike sangfroid of "It's Over. It's Always Been Over" DiPerna, the Curse of John Lackey.

So many days. So many nights. So much fun. And all because of the wild card. How can you not love the wild card?
   285. Ray (CTL) Posted: November 05, 2011 at 03:27 PM (#3986972)
Vaux and others, you may be interested to learn what Andy posted in the CJ Wilson thread, after denying here that people don't place undue emphasis on postseason performance:

Well, his postseason record as it exists sure isn't going to help him. That's not a judgment, just a fact.


His statement speaks for itself.
   286. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: November 05, 2011 at 03:40 PM (#3986974)
That statement merely reflects the fact that it's not going to help Wilson's bargaining position that he's been knocked around in the postseason. It doesn't mean that the Cashmans or the Epsteins are really going to think he's going to repeat those performances for them, and "not going to help" doesn't necessarily mean that it's going to hurt him in the end, but it's hardly something that any half-brained negotiator isn't going to mention when he sits down with Wilson's agent. Perhaps you think otherwise.
   287. Ray (CTL) Posted: November 05, 2011 at 03:45 PM (#3986975)
What I think is that your statement is an admission that people, including yourself (otherwise you wouldn't have made the comment), derive heavy meaning from postseason stats.

The only mystery is why you're denying it.
   288. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: November 05, 2011 at 03:50 PM (#3986978)
All things being equal, I'd rather have a player with a demonstrated record of successful performnace in the postseason, especially if I were the GM of a team that's in the postseason nearly every year. The only mystery I can see is why you apparently wouldn't.
   289. Ray (CTL) Posted: November 05, 2011 at 04:01 PM (#3986980)
You continue to prove my point, with every statement you make.

All things being equal, I'd rather have a player with a demonstrated record of successful performnace in the postseason, especially if I were the GM of a team that's in the postseason nearly every year. The only mystery I can see is why you apparently wouldn't.


"I wouldn't" care about this for the same reason I don't care about shoe size.

Cliff Lee gave up 12 runs in his first 64 postseason innings, for a 1.68 ERA.

He then gave up 15 runs in his next 18 postseason innings, for a 7.64 ERA.
   290. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: November 05, 2011 at 04:13 PM (#3986986)
Vaux and others, you may be interested to learn what Andy posted in the CJ Wilson thread, after denying here that people don't place undue emphasis on postseason performance:

Well, his postseason record as it exists sure isn't going to help him. That's not a judgment, just a fact.


His statement speaks for itself.

Just curious Ray: Forget special meaning, why shouldn't CJ Wilson's postseason stats the last year have any meaning?

You want to thoroughly disregard the postseason because of its small sampleness. But Wilson's postseason record actually covers a nice chunk of his total performance. His postseason starts represent 11.5 percent of his two-season total, and his playoff innings represent 10.9 percent of that total. When you factor in the postseason results, his ERA for the two seasons jumps from 3.13 to 3.32.

If you look at the postseason as more information on CJ Wilson's pitching ability (rather than insights into his character, heart and Morrisness), then you can come to the conclusion that he's a little bit less effective than his two-season sample of regular season starts alone suggests. And that very well could cost him a little money.

It doesn't make the postseason results more than their worth. But it also doesn't pretend they never happened.
   291. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: November 05, 2011 at 04:37 PM (#3986994)
Players who flop in the postseason: The new market inefficiency!
   292. Nasty Nate Posted: November 05, 2011 at 05:19 PM (#3987003)
Yeah the postseason gives us more information, unlike shoe size, which is pretty obvious to anyone except those that don't understand what they are watching.
   293. base ball chick Posted: November 05, 2011 at 06:35 PM (#3987032)
I don't understand the obsession with the pythagorean stuff, I really don't, except for its use in some sort of fantasy games. It would be much more interesting and accurate IF every single team maintained the exact same roster during the entire year and any element of outside luck was removed by having balls and strikes as well as safe/out calls determined by computer.

As it stands, Pythagorean stuff is an approximation and a guess of how thing "should" have gone given other teams' records and a specific team's runs scored and runs allowed.

Why you should consider it the most accurately method of determining a team's excellence, I do not get.

Every one of you knows quite well that each regular season is polluted not only by in season interleague games, but by extremely unbalanced schedules, so that you can't factually compare records or accomplishments. You insist that you do by mathematical computations which supposedly equalize seasons based on calculations. However, these are just as much guesses as the Pythagorean guestimates.

You know only too well that supposedly lousy teams win the 3 round playoffs knows as The World Series.

As for its import, the World Series no longer is a contest between the best teams in 2 leagues, because there haven't been only 2 leagues for a very long time. Once you introduce "divisions", there are in actuality FOUR leagues, not two.

The World Series as currently staged is considered "important" because ballplayers still crave that Ring, because it creates attention and because it generates a great deal of money, which is what ballplayers and owners want. Only a statistically insignificant few people care about who the supposed best Pythagorean team was in any given year. As those few generate significantly less attention and cash than the majority, their opinions will be drowned amidst the roar of the crowds.

And, like it or not, sportswriters, most of the public and many ballplayers themselves judge other ballplayers and teams by their performances "under pressure" in the postseason.
   294. Ray (CTL) Posted: November 05, 2011 at 07:11 PM (#3987051)
Just curious Ray: Forget special meaning, why shouldn't CJ Wilson's postseason stats the last year have any meaning?

You want to thoroughly disregard the postseason because of its small sampleness. But Wilson's postseason record actually covers a nice chunk of his total performance. His postseason starts represent 11.5 percent of his two-season total, and his playoff innings represent 10.9 percent of that total. When you factor in the postseason results, his ERA for the two seasons jumps from 3.13 to 3.32.

If you look at the postseason as more information on CJ Wilson's pitching ability (rather than insights into his character, heart and Morrisness), then you can come to the conclusion that he's a little bit less effective than his two-season sample of regular season starts alone suggests. And that very well could cost him a little money.

It doesn't make the postseason results more than their worth. But it also doesn't pretend they never happened.


I wouldn't object to adding them in as part of his total record, but, then, they came against a different caliber of competition. So just blindly adding them in and weighting them the same seems incorrect to me.

All of this is utterly irrelevant to my point.
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