Posts Tagged ‘chip caray’

MLB Preview Bonanza: AL Central

This was probably the most exciting division last year, if only because it gave us that thrilling Wild Card Playoff (you may remember it as Game 163, because Chip Caray called it that approximately 162,886 times during the game) that cracked Tim’s top five games of the decade. A lot of that was due to Detroit falling off dramatically as the season went on, and the Tigers are still trending downwards. They lost Placido Polanco and Curtis Granderson in the off-season, and Magglio Ordonez got another year older. The big news out of this division, though, is that the Twins just signed Joe Mauer to an eight-year extension, meaning that, at the very least, they have the MVP front-runner for the next nine years. Continue reading

MLB Postseason Preview: ALCS (Just the Regular Kind of Match)

Los Angeles Angels at New York Yankees

ALCSOVERVIEW

The Yankees and Angels were the two best teams in the AL during the regular season, and both are looking particularly impressive right now. They are each coming off sweeps in the ALDS (in which they each came back once against the other team’s dominant closer down two in the ninth). These teams have met in the playoffs twice already this decade, with Los Angeles bumping New York in the ALDS in 2002 and 2005. In 2009, the two teams split the 10 regular season games they played against each other, but the Yankees, and their fans, certainly remember when the Angels swept them in the last series before the All-Star break, when the Yankees were at their hottest. New York was better in the regular season, but expect the teams to be pretty evenly matched in the ALCS. Continue reading

The Myth of Clutch

A-Rod

If I took 100 pennies and I threw them up in the air, about half of them would land heads and the other half tails, right? Now, if I looked around closely, I’d probably find some heads grouped together in a cluster. What does that mean? Does that mean anything?—A Civil Action

Statistics are great. They help us find the answers to important questions. Need to know if smoking causes lung cancer? Look at the data. Wonder if height is correlated with material success? There’s probably a study you can find. Think Albert Pujols is a better hitter than Mickey Mantle? Look it up. Statistics aren’t the final answer to any of these questions, but they certainly help.

The problem with statistics is that, like most great things—the automobile, plutonium, superpowers—they can be very dangerous in the wrong hands. One need only to look at the myth of baseball’s “clutch players” to see how statistics can be misinterpreted.

One week ago, Alex Rodriguez and Vladimir Guerrero were first-ballot Hall of Famers. CC Sabathia was one of the best pitchers in the game. But all three had reputations as guys who couldn’t come through in the playoffs. They were not “clutch players.” Clutch players are guys like Derek Jeter, David Ortiz, and Cole Hamels.

Except here’s the thing: Rodriguez and Guerrero each had clutch ninth-inning hits in their division series. Sabathia gave up one run in seven innings vs. the Twins. Meanwhile, Ortiz went 1-for-12 with no walks and three strikeouts, and Hamels gave up four runs in five innings at home (Derek Jeter had a great series, but that’s because Derek Jeter is fucking awesome).

So what happened? Did A-Rod, Vlad and CC all suddenly learn how to be clutch players? Did Ortiz and Hamels just forget? Neither. The truth is this: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A CLUTCH PLAYER. Continue reading

Monday Medley

What we read while trying to remember who won the Nobel Peace Prize last year…


  • Putting aside our affection for superlatives, we’d prefer it if Esquire had named Kate Beckinsale just “Among the Sexier Women Alive” instead of going all-out. Nevertheless, she knows how to rise our lycans, if you know what we mean. (And no, we can’t believe that was the THIRD Underworld movie and there’s already a fourth in production, either.)
  • Speaking of sexiest thises and thats, check out Deadspin/Jeff Pearlman’s humorous account of how Chiefs’ quarterback Elvis Grbac was accidentally named People‘s “Sexiest Athlete.”  The last sentence of People entry was “His personality makes him attractive.” Unfortunately (and somewhat surprisingly), Tim did not spot a single Grbac jersey during his adventure at Arrowhead Stadium earlier last weekend.
  • And the final word on that Yanks-Twins series: This is the real reason Minnesota was so upset about Phil Cuzzi’s blown call down the left-field line. Who knows what Jason Kubel could have done with Mauer on second?

The Sports Revolution: Fixing Baseball’s Playoffs

Let me set the scene for you: It’s the Division Series, and a team that’s 15 games better than the team it’s playing has just been eliminated in four days. Some people notice.

Let me reset the scene for you: It’s the Division Series, and a team that’s 15 games better than the team it’s playing has just survived quite the scare in a taut seven-game series that drew national attention.

We must face a simple truth, sports fans: Baseball’s playoff system is broken. In this, the Fifteenth Year of the Wild Card, it is time to finally discuss change.

The main flaw with Major League Baseball’s postseason is its reliance on Chip Caray as its announcer. Pierre kids…maybe.

The main flaw with Major League Baseball’s postseason is that the regular season’s best team rarely if ever wins the World Series anymore. My evidence: The team with the best record in the regular season has won the World Series just twice since the inception of the Wild Card in 1995. Those two teams are the 1998 Yankees, who won 114 games and are the second-best regular-season team in American League history, and the 2007 Red Sox, who won 96 games. I’m tempted to exclude the ’07 Red Sox from this “Best Team” discussion because their 96 wins not only tied them with another team (the politically incorrect Indians) but also marked the fewest wins by a league leader since at least 1978, and that includes the strike-shortened, 144-game 1995 season.*

*But not the strike-shortened 1994 and 1981 seasons, where winning 96 games would have been a remarkable achievement in each case.

Continue reading