October 8, 2011

I doubt too many prognosticators (yours truly included) had the Tigers, Rangers, Cardinals, and Brewers in Major League Baseball’s version of the “Final Four”, but that just goes to show you how difficult it is to project team performance over a 162-game season that lasts the better part of eight months of play. If the NFL schedule (no one calls it a “season”) is a sprint, given its concentrated five months of one game per week play, Major League Baseball truly is a marathon considering all the games and the travel that goes along with it.

Most people projected the Red Sox and the Phillies to make it to the World Series based upon their pitching, but that was back in April, and as the Sox found out in September, pitching depth can be an elusive quality indeed; as the Phillies found out in October, anything can happen in a best 3-of-5 series after a long regular season.

Red Sox GM Theo Epstein has made a lot of questionable signings during his tenure, but he was on target when he said the whole goal of the organization was to win 90+ games every year – the thought being, most years 90+ wins would be sufficient to get you into the playoffs. He was roundly criticized and raked over the coals by the Boston media for that statement, but he was right. Think about it, Phillies and Yankees fans: what has finishing in first place done for your teams in MLB’s post-season?

The fact is, the Major League Baseball season is so long that, by the time you get to October, no matter who you are, it’s the hottest team at the time in terms of pitching that determines who will get to the World Series. What a team looks like on paper in April has little, if anything, to do with how that team will look and play come October. While undoubtedly it takes talent to get to the World Series, after a long regular season both momentum and no small amount of good fortune is required as well.

Me, I’m glad to see the Cardinals and the Brewers and the Rangers and the Tigers play for all the marbles. While payroll might make you look good on paper and impress the early-season prognosticators, it can never buy you a World Series championship.

Like the old Smith-Barney commercials went, you still have to earn it.

Me, I’m rooting for a Tigers – Cardinals matchup: talk about a baseball classic. But any combination of these four teams would be good.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 21:16 | Comments (0)
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