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1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
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Cardinals-Mets, NLCS Game 6 Chat: Mind Shift
2006-10-18 17:00
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

I think this season may be putting a permanent dent in the idea, at least in my head, that you build your team for anything but simply making the playoffs. While the Dodgers have not advanced beyond the first round in 18 years, and while the Cardinals might yet be vanquished in the NLCS, plenty of playoff underdogs have survived and conquered.

I'd rather be a favorite. I'd like to have the best team possible. That's simple enough to think about. But I'm not sure the goal from November through September has to be becoming the top team in baseball. I'm not sure you should feel bad if your team looks like a playoff contender but doesn't feel like a World Series contender. It may only need to be to be one of the final eight still playing. And then you roll the dice.

"General manager Billy Beane of the Oakland A's, innovator of the famously subversive 'moneyball' method of building a roster, lamented that his approach 'doesn't work in the playoffs,' " Will Leitch of Deadspin wrote in a New York Times op-ed today. (And good for Leitch!) "He was right, but not in the way most people understood him. It's not that his approach in particular didn't work; it's that nobody's does. It's almost entirely luck." (Link courtesy of Baseball Musings.)

I've been thinking the same thing. The odds still favor the favorites, but in five- and seven-game serieseses, the favorites can stumble in ways they can't recover from. Heck, you don't even need true aces to win. You just need pitchers who choose a given October not to stink.

This is a pretty big change for me. But combined with how much more satisfied I am that the Dodgers made the 2006 playoffs than if they had missed out (even though the Dodgers didn't win a single 2006 playoff game), combined with the success of wild-card teams in the postseason, the fact that the worst of the recent St. Louis division champions is five victories away from a World Series title has got me plum tumbled.

I'm going through a mind shift. Or down a mine shaft. One of those.

* * *

Cardinals at Mets, 5:19 p.m.

Comments
2006-10-18 17:13:00
1.   Linkmeister
"plum tumbled?

I like "hornswoggled" myself, but then my great-uncle was from Missouri.

2006-10-18 17:16:30
2.   Jim Hitchcock
Link, will the next Little League World Series team from Hawaii be named the `Hurricanes'?
2006-10-18 17:21:04
3.   LAT
3. No. The "Quakes."
2006-10-18 17:21:41
4.   Linkmeister
2 You kiddin'? They'd be mistaken for the University of Miami, and who in his right mind would want that?

There's at least one high school team with that nickname, I think. I wonder if I can find out easily.

2006-10-18 17:23:00
5.   Jim Hitchcock
3 Oh, shoot. I meant the `Quakes'.
2006-10-18 17:25:51
6.   LAT
In the end, the playoff run, often, not always, comes down to injuries (which is another word for "luck"). Just ask the Mets. With Pedro and El Douque healthy tonight's game may not even be taking place. One of the major accomplishments of the 2005 White Sox and the 2006 Tigers is they are relativly injury free. The Cards are also near injury free (save Mulder). They just arn't that good.
2006-10-18 17:28:15
7.   Linkmeister
5 Since there were no deaths and only one injury, I suppose it wouldn't be thought in bad taste to call a team that. But I suspect that most leagues have team names already set; imagine the trauma of changing one (New letterhead! New uniforms! New printing costs!).
2006-10-18 17:29:42
8.   caseybarker
The Dodgers will win plenty of playoff serieseseses in the next 5-6 years.
2006-10-18 17:30:25
9.   still bevens
6 Cards injury free? Isringhausen is out, Pujols is battling a strained hamstring right now and Rolen's shoulder is sapping his power. I guess it could be worse?
2006-10-18 17:30:26
10.   dzzrtRatt
6 ...and don't they miss Scott Kazmir! That deal will haunt them forever.
2006-10-18 17:33:06
11.   LAT
The team the Quakes are playing, is it Quisp?
Is that too obscure or am just the oldest cereal lover here.
2006-10-18 17:35:43
12.   dzzrtRatt
I swear to Gawd, I wrote that "It's not just Billy Beane's ----; nobody's ---- works in the playoffs" in an e-mail to my brothers a week ago. I could be living the high life with that New York Times op-ed money right now. Dang!

But it must be something about this season to make the point so clearly. In retrospect, the great achievements in baseball in our era are the Braves' and Yankees' runs of consecutive division championships. That's the true test. The WS victories by teams like the Angels, the Marlins and even, by golly, the Red Sox are just a case of getting hit by a lucky stick. They all faded badly the following season, but the Braves and Yankees came right back.

And I say that as a total non-fan of both teams.

2006-10-18 17:36:22
13.   Gen3Blue
Seems I remember another series when the rookie Maine had men on 1st and second early in the game( the second actually) and could have been chased. But it seems two men were thrown out at the plate in one play. No one has answered for that yet, though I have never worked in an org. where that would have been shrugged off.
2006-10-18 17:36:40
14.   dzzrtRatt
They reintroduced Quisp, briefly, about 10 years ago. I bought a box for my kids, but ended up eating half of it myself.
2006-10-18 17:38:28
15.   das411
From the last thread:

2006-10-18 17:06:2168. das411
Anybody know if the Mets have decided to hold Darren Oliver out of this one just in case they manage to win tonight?

12 - But if you were a fan of those teams, would you rather have one title or many non-titles?

2006-10-18 17:38:44
16.   adraymond
10
Ha! I went to game one of the NLDS at Shea and saw a guy wearing a Mets Kazmir jersey. It was pretty sad but only a tie for the weirdest jersey I saw that night (there was a guy in a Repko jersey).
2006-10-18 17:40:25
17.   caseybarker
That was certainly quick.
2006-10-18 17:43:17
18.   twerp
10 Knowing Tampa Bay had gotten Kazmir in a trade, did that tell Ned anything?

NOOOOO...he just went ahead and dealt with them anyway...

Oh, well.

2006-10-18 18:01:35
19.   franklin
4 Kapolei High School
2006-10-18 18:04:58
20.   das411
Hmm that's an interesting choice...guess it worked though. Somebody tell Jimmy Jedmonds it is not 2000 anymore...
2006-10-18 18:25:30
21.   Gen3Blue
If the Cards can't get to Maine in his part of the game, they may well be cooked.
2006-10-18 18:26:35
22.   KG16
I don't buy the whole "the playoffs is nothing but luck" argument. The games are no different in the post season than they are in the regular season. If the post season is determined by nothing but luck, then so is the regular season.

Better players and better strategy win ball games. And by strategy, I mean in-game adjustments. If that means hitting a couple of three run homeruns, great. If it means putting runners in motion and dropping down a bunt from time to time, fine. The only stat that really matters is the final score.

2006-10-18 18:34:47
23.   adraymond
I think the argument is that over 162 games a team will inevitably show its true face. But over the course of seven games(or four in the case of a sweep) a team can just be hot or cold or catching breaks that over the season would eventually even out.
2006-10-18 18:38:36
24.   Jon Weisman
22 - "I don't buy the whole "the playoffs is nothing but luck" argument."

That's fine, but that's not the argument being put forth.

2006-10-18 18:52:07
25.   Steve
22 -- You're right, but for the wrong reasons.
2006-10-18 19:11:15
26.   dzzrtRatt
The point is, there is no guaranteed playoff-winning formula for building a team. Certain virtues get exaggerated, while certain weaknesses can have a disproportionate impact, too.

This is what Geo. Steinbrenner has forever been frustrated by. A team like this year's with great hitting and lousy pitching, can over a long season wear out the league, fattening up on bad pitching staffs and mere mortal lineups, but that same team can fail against another team that gets great run of pitching -- like Detroit, the Angels in 05 and 02, the Marlins and D-backs.

2006-10-18 19:11:33
27.   Marty
The two Glendale high schools have the weirdest names. One is the Dynamiters, which the local paper shortens to "Nitros". The other is the Tornados. You know, as in the ubiquitous California tornados.
2006-10-18 19:26:38
28.   Gen3Blue
What a pitching performance against the once thought powerful Cards.!
I see no dominant team in the NL and if the D's make no moves, how they will shine!
2006-10-18 19:28:20
29.   still bevens
That assumes other teams make no moves. I'd assume the Mets will come back even stronger next season. How many free agents do they have? I would imagine not a terrible amount, and those who are aren't as important as Wright, Reyes, Beltran, and Delgado.
2006-10-18 19:37:39
30.   KG16
24 - Jon, sorry if I misunderstood your point. The luck debate is something I've been thinking about most of the season, and that's the prism that I saw this post through.

25 - story of my life, my friend. story of my life.

2006-10-18 19:45:42
31.   LAT
LoDuca curses Cannon and Bob.
2006-10-18 19:52:52
32.   dzzrtRatt
Hey it's not LoDuca's fault that he was used like a hammer against St. Paul. I'd rather he was having this October moment than Barry Bonds.
2006-10-18 19:58:56
33.   Gen3Blue
I would compare the Mets to the D's this way.
ss-at best the guy combines Furcal and D.
Roberts and thats a stretch.
3rb Wright is great but Andy Laroche
projects almost as well
OK Reyes fields a bit better than Furc.
But this leaves noone to equal Loney,Kemp and Ethier but maybe Milledge.
Catcher-Whats his name is like Martin-but he is old!
Pitching- I don't know a lot about this, except Pedro and El Duque are old and decrepid so they cant be that good.
With half a brain we should be able to equal the other Mercenairies.
2006-10-18 20:03:42
34.   Steve
30 -- Torii Hunter's too.
2006-10-18 20:04:04
35.   Greg Brock
LaRoche is a good one, but saying he projects almost as well as Wright is a bit of a stretch. You can count on one hand the third basemen in history who have started off like Wright has.
2006-10-18 20:10:43
36.   Robert Fiore
In the case of Oakland I think there is little doubt that they'd bring a stronger team to the playoffs if they didn't have to abandon their stars to free agency. To say that Beane's strategy "doesn't work," even if he says so himself, is to act as if letting expensive players go is a conscious part of the strategy rather than a debilitating necessity. Building a championship team requires a combination of veteran stars, low cost front line talent at the start of their careers and moderately priced role players. If you have to forgo the first leg you're at a considerable disadvantage.

I don't think you go any higher than you shoot for, and I would still maintain that you have to build to compete with the elite teams. I think where the philosophy comes to the test is when you're deciding whether to take a risk on a young player who could be excellent or going for a "proven" mediocrity. I suspect that the Braves made it all the way so few times out of so many opportunities because they had a "good enough" philosophy. What they seemed to be doing though was not putting mediocrity ahead of youth, but forgoing veteran stars and trusting in youth to carry them alone. It may have been good business but it didn't win a lot of championships.

2006-10-18 20:11:51
37.   Gen3Blue
35 OK that was a bit of a provocation. Yet tell me Green, Valentin and a few other Mets aren't way past their sell by date. They are a team almost as bought as the Yanks, and no outdoor fan wants that.
2006-10-18 20:14:40
38.   das411
WOW he is sooooooo taguchi!!
2006-10-18 20:15:56
39.   Robert Fiore
This has been some kind of a series, though, hasn't it? The two best teams in the league rolling around in the dirt, as Vin would say, while the wild card and the team that was tied with the wild card stay home and watch.
2006-10-18 20:16:10
40.   Greg Brock
37 Yeah, I don't disagree with you with respect to the Mets at all. I've just seen the LaRoche/Wright thing bandied about before, and I always like to throw a little hot water on it.

But I do agree with you about the Mets.

2006-10-18 20:16:50
41.   LAT
Wagner kept the Met fans there until the very end (and not in a good way either)
2006-10-18 20:22:54
42.   trainwreck
LOL a Cubs fan on another board said forget A-Rod, we got Izturis who was a MVP candidate 2 years ago.
2006-10-18 20:28:25
43.   Rocc
10. God bless you, Dan Duquette! God bless him!

18. I think that sometimes the NDRO(New Devil Rays Organization, which we use to describe the ownership) gets a bum rap. Every still thinks that we're always trying to get one over on teams. However, if you look at the deals with San Diego...we made bad deals as well. Burroughs was lucky that AWOL(Brazelton) got bombed in both MLB and AAA, or else I'd actually want AWOL back. The Branyan team is a push right now, seeing as Thayer is a 25 y.o. AAA reliever and Meek is going to probably start next year in AA. Some people, those who chose to ignore Mitch Talbot's stats in Montgomery, also think Houston got us in the deal because Zobrist looked overmatched.

2006-10-18 20:29:36
44.   Robert Fiore
Chicago's got to be the best place for Cesar, where his hitting stats are most likely to be inflated enough to make you want to keep him for his glove.
2006-10-19 06:44:58
45.   Terry A
43 - Jim, not Dan, IIRC.

Sorry to nitpick. It's a disease.

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