Archive for world series

It’s More Than Turning Left

Posted in 1 with tags , , , , , , , on November 10, 2008 by nathanjzacharias

Well, I’m back. (Sighs of relief echo throughout the TwoNateShow faithful). Some of you probably wondered if I was in hiding due to my insightful prediction that the Rays would win the World Series in 7 games.

Oops.

Yes, I’m sure the last two weeks have been filled with sleepless nights as you’ve wondered where the Second Nate was. Well, I’ll tell you.  The last 12 days have seen me visit 4 cities. Both Nates went to North Carolina to visit Joe Gibbs Racing.  More on that in a bit.  Then I was in Baton Rouge to witness my beloved Dawgs defeat the LSU Tigers.  Then I was in Chicago where I took a self guided Dark Knight scenic tour and also watched my previously mentioned Dawgs have just a little bit of a tough game against those freakin’ Gators.  Then I closed out my “tour” with a trip to Colorado Springs where I had the opportunity to see the greatest band ever give an amazing performance. 

A little while ago I wrote a post on how the NHL is a very unappreciated sport. It’s fans are die hard, but those that don’t follow it don’t appreciate the skill that it requires.  I’d like to put NASCAR in that category as well. 

Seriously. 

We know about the drivers, and we give the occasional shout out to the pit crews that can gas a car and change it’s tires in a matter of seconds.  But we very much take for granted the engineering and skill that is displayed behind the scenes. 

When we toured the shop, we hung out with the 400+ employees it takes to give 3 drivers a chance to win.  They make each car part themselves.  They build the cars from scratch.  They test the engines, shocks, and aerodynamics in state of the art simulators.  They have 45 cars for each driver, not including the numerous quarter scale models that they use for additional testing. 

So racing may not be your can of beer….er…cup of tea, but I can say for a fact that it’s way more than fast cars and corporate sponsorship.  It’s a sport of tremendous skill and intellect, and I’ve got a newfound respect for it.

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On To the Classic

Posted in MLB with tags , , , on October 20, 2008 by nathanjzacharias

So I guess that’s why they play the games.  

I liked the Rays chances in game 6, but Josh Beckett bounced back from a rough postseason to pitch the way we all know he can and get the Red Sox even in the series.  Once that happened I thought Boston would probably take gave 7 since the Rays were having to face Lester a second time.  But he was outpitched by Matt Garza, and the Rays are in their first World Series.  

It’s almost like what I think will happen has no bearing on the actual outcome.  Weird. 

Anyways, congratulations to the Tampa Bay Rays.  Apparently it was the word “devil” that was holding them back all this time.  Suddenly they drop that and they’re one of the best teams in baseball. 

That sets up a less than ideal matchup from Fox’s point of view.  But I think it should be a good series.  We’ve got two teams who have a lot of young talent (excluding Jamie Moyer), and they were both in the thick of things all season long.  It’s the first time in a few years where one of the World Series teams didn’t come out of nowhere and make the playoffs via a torrid run at the end of the season.  

Tampa Bay was a surprise because no one was picking them to win in Spring Training, but they’re not in it because they got hot at the right time.  They’re in it because they got clutch performances all year.

Philly battled the Mets all season and came from behind again to take the division.  They’re one of the best offensive teams in baseball, and the rejuvenated Lidge has solidified the back of the bullpen.  Throw a solid starting staff in there and they’re a well-rounded team.  

If I have to pick a winner (which I do as a responsible blogger), I’m going with the Rays.  At first I was going to say the Phillies because they have the experience, but then I remembered that the Rays just made it through a very experienced and talented Red Sox team.  And they did that the entire season.  They didn’t make it this far by a fluke.  They haven’t just gotten lucky and they haven’t looked overmatched.  

So I think the Rays will win, but I don’t think Philly will suffer the same fate that the first LSC victor has experienced the last couple of years.  Colorado and Detroit both had long layoffs after they clinched the LCS, and both teams played like it once the World Series started.  I think this will be a tough series, and I think it will take the Rays 7 games to win it.  

And speaking of 7 games, congrats to the Red Sox for almost completing the improbable comeback.  An exciting series is something we need to start expecting from that team now.  After some quick research, I discovered that since 2003, there have been 7 LCS series to go the full 7 games.  The Boston Red Sox, have been involved in 4 of them.

Good Time to Lose?

Posted in MLB with tags , , , , , , on October 15, 2008 by nathanjzacharias

The Tamba Bay Rays beat up on the Red Sox last, winning by a score of 13-4.  Both of the LCS series now have the leading teams up 3 games to 1.  So assuming both teams close out the series and move on, what can we expect?

Probably the lowest rated World Series of all time.  

But, as I’ve said here before, while it may not get the ratings (especially from the casual fan), I believe it will certainly still pique the interest of most of them.  They may not watch it on TV, but they’ll follow the headlines and talk about it around the proverbial water cooler at work.  

And I continue to think that it will inject even more energy into the sport.  But I can save that diatribe for a post during the World Series. Of course now that I’ve said it there’s not much more for me to expand on, so I’ve kind of stolen my own thunder.  Dang it!

But for you hurting Red Sox and Dodgers fans out there, I have a question to throw out there: if your team is going to lose in the playoffs, would you rather your team lose in the LCS or the World Series?

In thinking through that, I’m not sure what I would prefer. Having seen the Braves lose in both, I’m trying to think back to how it felt.  

I suppose the argument for the LCS is that your team was still several wins away from a World Series title, so the sting of being knocked out isn’t quite as bad.  You could envision a victory but not quite taste it yet, so the disappointment isn’t as powerful.  

The argument for the WS is that even if you lose, you’re still going home with a League Title.  You made it through all of the teams in your league and came within 4 wins of the Championship.  For those few games, the entire focus is just on you and one other team.  So while the loss is hard, the mere appearance brings a lot of satisfaction. 

My opinion?  Losing kind of just sucks all around.  So while I’m inclined to lean towards the “losing in the World Series is less painful” answer, neither one is particularly pleasant.  And don’t get me started on losing in the Division Series….

What do you all think? Is one better than the other?

Reverse the Curse

Posted in MLB with tags , , , on June 21, 2008 by nathanelwell

Now that we are nearing the end of the first half of the MLB season, I couldn’t help but notice the excitement that is building for Cubs fans.  On Friday, in legendary fashion, Aramis Ramirez hit a walk off home-run in the bottom of the ninth, and the Cubs defeated the Chicago White Sox in the first of a three game series at Wrigley.  What did Ramirez have to say?  “That’s my job.  I’m a clean up hitter, an RBI man.  People expect me to do that.”  Yes, this was only one game.  But not only was it against their crosstown rivals, but they came back from a late deficit to pull off the win.  And they were playing in a day game.  And they didn’t get home until early Friday morning.  And they had lost 3 in a row before Friday’s game.  I think you get the picture.

Within the last twenty something years, I have never been this confident about the Chicago Cubs.  As a team, the Cubbies are batting .281, which is the highest team average since 1937.  They’re averaging 5.4 runs per game, which is the highest since 1935.  The Cub’s .354 On-base percentage is the highest since 1930.  In all of the above listed categories, the Cubbies are fairing better than their last World Series team in 1908.  They also have a 12 game winning streak at home.  I remember in 1994, the Cubbies lost their first 12 games at Wrigley Field.  This was something I was accustomed to.  But now, the Cubs are actually WINNING?  If that won’t make you roll out of bed on the opposite side, I don’t know what will.

It is only a positive thing that the Chicago Cubs are in the historic “Comedy Central” division.  Since the Cubs branched into the Central Division in 1994, they have never ended up with a winning percentage over .600.  Go back to 1945, and that will be the first time that the Cubs had a higher winning percentage (and that was the last time they went to the Fall Classic).  In only 3 of the past 14 years has a team won the Central Division Title with an over .600 winning percentage.  Besides this, unless Albert Pujols can magically heal his injury, unless the ‘Stros bring back the killer B’s, and unless Cincinnati brings Jose Rijo out of retirement, we aren’t going to see an NL Central team come close to the Cubs this year.

I’d like to credit Lou Piniella for their success as well.  If you remember the 2001 Seattle Mariners, Piniella led that team to a 116-46 record.  He didn’t win the World Series that year, but if you go back to 1990, Pinella pulled off an upset by sweeping the Oakland A’s in the World Series as a coach of the Cincinnati Reds.  And he hasn’t even had to throw a base across the field, stick his shoe in the umpires face, or throw his hat on the ground in dispute of a call.  Lou has “managed” to bring a team together.  Lou’s flexibility and his controlled-temper this year have been keys in helping the Cubs succeed.  At the beginning of 2007, it looked as if there would be clubhouse mutiny until Lou Piniella sat down with team leader Derrek Lee.  But it apparently was all over-exaggerated and described as “growing pains”.

When the Cubbies do make it to the playoffs, and when they open their first World Series game at Wrigley, my only concern is that they stay away from the following:

 

This Time…It Doesn’t Make Sense

Posted in MLB with tags , , , on June 16, 2008 by nathanjzacharias

The All Star game needs some help. Now, I could be a little biased due to the fact that I’m a National League guy and they haven’t won the Midsummer Classic since 1996. Yikes, even typing that hurts. But I would be writing the same thing even if I were an AL fan.

The problem as I see it is that the game has become a half exhibition half playoff game, which is just kind of a strange combination. It turned into that after the 2002 game which ended in a tie. Fans and critics argued that the players and managers no longer took it seriously. In an effort to respond to the uproar, Bud Selig decided that the All Star game would now decide home field advantage for the World Series.

I haven’t been in favor of many decisions that Bud Selig has made, and this is one of them, however I do appreciate the fact that he was trying to make a difference. The problem is, it’s put the ASG in some sort of sports no man’s land. It’s not just an exhibition game because the players are playing for something that can help their team and their league. But it’s not a regular game because the fans determine who starts the game. And I don’t believe those two dimensions can go together.

Fans stopped voting for the best players years ago. Now the voting is essentially a popularity contest. It’s become about which city can stuff the ballot boxes and get their favorite players in, not voting in the players who  have the best stats.

But if the game now means something; if the players are now playing for more than just fun, then it seems as though each league deserves to have the players who have the best statistics at their position to start the game, not the most popular.

So if the game is to mean something, I think the League needs to change the voting process. We don’t get to determine the starting lineups for our favorite teams during the course of a year. Why should we be allowed to select them for the All Star Game when “This Time, It Counts?”

That, of course, will not happen. I don’t see how MLB could ever do that without facing serious backlash from the fans. And if they won’t do that, then I think they need to get rid of the playing for home field advantage aspect of the All Star Game.

Looking back at what caused this whole thing (the tie in 2002), I’m actually not quite sure what all the fuss was about. The All Star Game is supposed to be fun. It’s about seeing players who do everything to beat each other 162 games a season play on the same team for 9 innings. It’s about getting to see some of the best in the game on the same field at once. It’s about the fans and players having fun and being able to take a break from the standings for one night.

Sure, it was disappointing to the fans to see the game end in a tie that one night (especially the fans who payed big bucks to see that tie). But I think it was blown way out of proportion. Ultimately the Midsummer Classic isn’t about the score at the end. It’s getting to see something unique and historical. The score should really be an afterthought.

What do you all think?

Who Won the 90s?

Posted in MLB with tags , , , , on May 28, 2008 by nathanjzacharias

I don’t care what ESPN says, the Braves were the team of the 90s.  That crown was placed on the collective heads of the Yankees at the end of the decade as they won their third World Series.  Yes, that’s impressive, and as much as it pains me to say it,those Yankee teams were great teams.  Those were the days before George Steinbrenner decide to “make it rain” with huge contracts for big time free agents.  But I digress…..

 

The world series titles are a compelling argument, and it would seem as if the debate comes down to simple math: Yankees won three titles, the Braves won one.  But if you’re going strictly by championships, that means the second most successful team in the 90’s was the…..wait for it….Toronto Blue Jays.   The Blue Jays won back to back championships in ’92 and ’93 and won 90+ games three seasons in a row. But from 1994-1999, they only had a .477 winning percentage.  I’ve never heard anyone argue that the Blue Jays should be considered runner up for bragging rights in the 1990s.  So perhaps the decision should be made with more evidence than just the titles. 

 

With that in mind, let’s look at some stats for both the Yankees and Braves from 1990-1999.   

 

 

Team

Winning %

Playoff Appearances

Division Titles

League Pennants

WS Titles

Braves

.595

8

8

5

1

Yankees

.548

5

3

4

3

 

 

The Braves have better numbers than the Yankees in each of those categories except the World Series Championships.  Critics will also point out that that the Braves lost to the Yankees in both of their postseason matchups, compiling only a 2-8 record in the two series.  But most players will tell you that it’s harder to win over a 162 games season than it is to win a best of 7 series.

 

As I said before, the Yankees had some great teams and there’s no doubt they had historic success in the last half of the decade.  But the Braves won more games, won their division every year, and made it to five of the eight World Series played in the 1990s.  Their success each year became assumed. 

 

That’s dominance. 

 

They may not have the rings, but they have the stats.  They were the team of the 90s.