Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Random Musings on Baseball and the 2007 Post-season

The temperature at the start of one the games at Colorado was 50 degrees. Game time temperature in Phoenix was 93 degrees. Probably the largest temperature differential ever.

The Rockies regular season was supported in part by Tony Gwynn, Jr's key hit against Trevor Hoffman of the Padres. Hoffman is the all-time saves leader and the Padres were Gwynn, Jr's Hall of Fame father Tony Gwynn, Sr's old team. Interesting how these things happen.

There are enough side stories in the drama that is taking place in the post-season to make all the Yankees-Torre-ARod coverage excessive. For example, the Rockies ascendance from September til last night, when they won the NL Pennant. My favorite sidebar is the return of Kaz Matsui to a level of play and contribution that begins to reflect the kind of player he was in Japan. He went to the Rockies last year from the Mets. Met fans could not have gotten rid of him sooner. He was embraced by Clint Hurdle and went to the minors. Came back in late August and hit well. He has been a key part of the Rockies’ success this year. He scored 84 runs in 104 games, and also stole 32 bases and played solid defense. As a result, Kaz Matsui will get to the World Series before his more famous namesake Hideki Matsui. I’d like to know more about how his resurgence came about, particularly the role that Clint Hurdle played in reigniting him as well as the rest of the team. Of course, you won’t hear about any of this.

Why haven't the big spending teams made it all the way to the World Series? The Yankees didn't and it looks like neither will the Red Sox. Basically, everything changes in the post season because in essence, the post season consists of a second season of at most 19 games for any one team, assuming the Division, League Championship and World Series each go their limit. This second season consists of three mini-seasons comprised of a potential five, seven and seven games apiece. In a five game season, anything can happen. Teams can go 0 and 5 or 5 and 0 and everything in between. The same applies to a seven game season. But to advance to the next round, each team has to basically play .500 ball, plus win one more game. During the course of any 5 or 7 game stretch, virtually any team can accomplish this, from the lowly Devil Rays to the mighty Yankees. Ultimately, the series lengths are great equalizers. Statistically, one could assume that the shorter the series, the greater the equalization factor. Thus, the 1973 Mets beat the Big Red Machine, but were unable to handle the Oakland A's in seven games. The Yankees have similarly been defeated in the first round each year. And, I suppose, that's part of the beauty of the post-season, where the underdog has a decent chance of overcoming the favorite, simply because you are playing a microcosm of the regular season.

If the Rockies and Indians both go to the World Series, their combined payrolls of $116,097,267 will be significantly less than either the Yankees $189,639,045, or the Red Sox $143,026,214, and only slightly above the Mets $115 million plus payroll.

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