I’ll take my lead from Seat Painter and JonathanF, which is always a good idea. You don’t need to read a recap of Saturday’s game. It doesn’t matter! Instead, I’ll take the recapper’s prerogative and share my ruminations on the postseason.
If you insist on a result, IWOTM 3, Braves 0, on a couple of homers–BUT IT DOESN’T MATTER!
–The playoffs are a crapshoot. Momentum doesn’t matter. It makes no difference that the Braves are not playing well right now. So chill, everyone.
–Strong pitching teams don’t necessarily have an advantage over teams whose strength is slugging—or vice versa. Small ball doesn’t necessarily defeat three run homes, or vice versa. On second thought, give me a few three run homers in a postseason series, and I’ll take my chances every time.
–Moreover, the best team over the course of the season doesn’t necessarily win. Some of the best Braves teams ever were 1993, 1997, and 1998. They were certainly better than the 1993 Phillies, the 1997 Marlins, and the 1998 Padres.
–Some guys do really well in October. It’s not just Hall of Famers like Mr. October Reggie Jackson. From Al Weis to the Hatchers, Micky and Billy, to Mark Lemke to Steve Pearce, some guys come up big on the big stage. Most of the time that is luck and the magic of the small sample size. On the other hand, maybe some players handle the spotlight and the pressure better than others. I have no way of knowing that.
The point is, anything can happen. That’s what makes it fun!
–Still, you need to do whatever you can to put yourself in the best position to win. In that regard, I don’t get starting Mike Soroka in game 3. He’s their best pitcher, and he ought to get two starts. Soroka will be able to start game two on Friday even after pitching on Sunday, and then he’d be available on regular rest for a game 5 if necessary. Let’s hope he does. I don’t put much stock in the home/road splits. That’s more small sample size noise.
–One thing that does matter is health. It’s tough that the Braves will be without Culberson, Inciarte, and Camargo. But it could be worse. I know the Brewers have been phenomenal since Yelich went down, but their chances of going deep in the playoffs without one of the best players in the league are not good. Speaking of best players in the league, it will be very tough if either Freddie or Ronald are not healthy. One of my favorite seasons of all time was 2010. Like this year, there were lots of comeback wins and interesting characters. Most importantly, it was Bobby Cox’s last season, and it would have been great to get him a title. Unfortunately, by the time the playoffs came around, the Braves were without two of their best hitters, Chipper Jones and Martin Prado. It was a tight series; I was at both of the 3-2 losses in Atlanta, and it was as raucous as I have ever seen a Braves crowd. Those Giants went on to the first of their three WS championships in the past decade. With Chipper and Prado, it could easily have been the Braves beating the Rangers. Or not. It’s a crapshoot after all.
–Among the many insights that Bill James brought to students of the game in the early 1980’s was the relative unimportance of batting average. That’s seems obvious to you guys, but trust me, 40 years ago baseball people were convinced that batting average was the most important offensive stat. Who is the league’s leading hitter? The guy with the highest batting average. In the Sunday paper when they published stats, how did they rank teams offensively? By team batting average, not, as one might expect, by runs scored. Most baseball fans thought Enos Cabell was a better hitter than Darrell Evans because he hit .290 to Evans .240. Darrell Evans led the league in walks and had excellent power, while Cabell rarely walked and had little pop. Everyone today knows how much better Evans was than Cabell.
— But something in me wants Ozzie to finish with a .300 average. What can I say, I grew up in an era when a .300 average was the mark of an excellent hitter. Prejudices learned early in life are hard to overcome.
–Intentional walks are almost always a bad strategy. But when there are runners on second and third with two outs and Folty on deck, of course you walk the batter—even when the batter is Billy Hamilton. Folty ranks as one of the worst hitting pitchers I have ever seen in my 55 years of following baseball.
–With the Braves having clinched a while back, and knowing that they will have the second best record in the league no matter what, scoreboard watching doesn’t make a lot of sense. But, man, I’d love for the Cards and the Brewers to finish in a tie.
This is my third season as a weekly recapper. But this isn’t my last recap of the season. Although the Braves won’t play on Saturday in the NLDS, I look forward to recapping game two of the NLCS, and then game four of the World Series when the Braves finish the sweep of the Yankees. It’s a crapshoot, of course, but who’s to say we won’t roll a 7?