In the baseball history of my mind, the MVP of the 1982 World Series
More On Farting Around for 100 Games or More
So it’s August and the elusive 0.500 mark has finally been breached. This is slightly misleading, since we started the season with a four game losing streak. Since then, the Braves are playing above 0.500, so the Braves have actually played over 100 games of over 0.500+ ball… after that first series with the Phillies.
As I pointed out before Memorial Day, no World Series Champion has failed to reach 0.500 before August. The latest crossing date was the 1964 Cardinals, on July 24th, who then went an astonishing 46-21. But in many ways the 2006 Cardinals are more instructive. They had their hot streak in the first month of the season: they finished April 17-8 and proceeded to play sub-.500 ball the rest of the season: 66-70. They then went 11-5 in the playoffs and hoisted the trophy.
Like this year’s Braves, the 2006 Cardinals were in a crappy division: Only one other team in their division was over 0.500, the Astros, and they were 82-80. Do you have to be in a crappy division to make that happen? No. What about 1982? The Braves started 13-0 and played 76-73 the rest of the season after that and went to the Playoff Lost To The Rain Gods. (Yes, the Cardinals again.) They had to beat out an 88 win Dodger team. That team is still a WS Champion in my eyes, and tfloyd’s… they simply lack proof that they won.
We get so fixated on What have you done lately? Are you hot now? that we forget sometimes that it really doesn’t matter when you get hot. Really. There’s another cognitive illusion going on as well: the presence of an early winning streak tells you what the team is capable of doing, while a winning streak that happens late is more surprising. But that is an illusion, at least for teams that aren’t really good (95+ wins) or really bad (95+ losses). The teams in the middle are all capable of good play and bad play for a month or two at a time. Add to that the fact that rosters are in flux (as ours definitely has been) and there is ample chance for a hot streak in August/September. Anything even close to the 1964 Cardinals’ 46-21 would be ample cushion, indeed just one month like the 2006 Cardinals’ 17-8 is probably good enough. We can forget the first 100 games as we sip from the Commissioner’s Trophy.
It’s Like You’re Always Stuck In Second Gear
The Cardinals tonight started a guy who is not only with his ninth major league team, but who also made a boatload of money in Friends. I’m surprised to hear Joey is only 36. As you’d expect of course, he pitched great, giving up a solo homer to Joc (wasn’t he supposed to have a problem with lefties?) and a run-scoring single to Freddie.
The Braves opened with the liberator of Haiti who did everything you could want him to do after a stumble in his last outing: 2 earned runs in 5 1/3. He wasn’t dominating, but he was plenty good enough.
We’ve Got To Talk About Kevan
Well, we should, but I suspect not for long. There have been a number of terrible catchers in Atlanta, but the continued presence of Kevan Smith is more than a little hard to understand. I would say more about his lack of offensive prowess, but a passed ball to give up the lead in the 6th inning is inexcusable. Sorry… I’m just waiting for that moment, coming soon, when I never have to think about Kevan Smith ever again. I am at least comforted that with the bases loaded and two outs in a tie game the manager understood that there was no reason to allow Kevan Smith anywhere near the plate.
Who Ain’t Clutch?
I wrote a little WPA calculator. Austin Riley came to the plate down by two runs with a man on first and two outs. By my calculation, the Braves win probability was about 8% at that point. After Mr. Riley deposited one in the seats, the win probability was about 39%. That’s a WPA of about 1/3rd of a game for Mr. Riley.
We’ve Been There, Bro
As the Braves bullpen begins to solidify, the schadenfreude one gets watching the Cardinals bullpen implode is made all the sweeter. 5 runs on a single, a homer, a double, a HBP and five straight walks is…. GREAT! (I note that had Kevan Smith been allowed to bat in that inning, he would have definitely struck out and this game would still be going.) By the way, those of you who like the seven inning double header should note that if this game were part of a double header, the Braves lose and we keep wondering when we’re going to get over the hump.
This has already gone on too long. I’m in a good mood. Chip is great.