Even casual observers are aware of the Chicago Cubs’ failure over the last one hundred plus years to win a championship, a level of accomplishment that has built up an aura of inevitability that welcomes suckers, gamblers, statisticians and romantics in equal measure. Writers far more tortured and elegant than I have written about the agony of cheering for the Chicago Cubs.
This legacy of ineptitude is somewhat misleading. The club was actually pretty good, all things considered, from 1903-1945. Since WWII? Only 5 seasons of 90 or more wins. Tampa Bay alone has equaled that mark, and not just from the franchise’s inception in 1998, which would be cringe inducing enough, but since the name change in 2008 from Devil Rays to Rays. Yeesh.
I understand people who are resistant to placing their faith in numbers. It must be especially threatening to those who have built a professional identity through a lifetime of success either without the use of, or more likely, in direct opposition to analytics. To be told your entire life you are great, knowledgeable, or both, and to then have those core values, really your entire sense of self, challenged must be difficult. To value what you see, what you have done, everything you have been taught, well, this is a difficult thing to toss away, even in the face of overwhelming evidence.
I was taught this was a rock. It’s still a rock, right? It sure looks like a rock. I’ll bat it leadoff just in case.
So when I write that Don Mattingly is an idiot, please understand it’s done with affection, understanding and compassion. He was a great, great player. He’s from Indiana. But idiot he is. Continue reading →
Pitchers and catchers are reporting for duty, and the marathon that is the major league baseball season will soon commence with the cactus and grapefruit leagues splitting squads and testing arms on the way to telling us almost nothing of value in terms of accurately predicting the events of the upcoming season. In the vein of pointlessly speculating, and in lieu of more productive activity in the real world, let’s examine the prospects for the 2014 Kansas City Royals. Continue reading →
The Yankees were arguably the best team in baseball this year. The future, however, does not look promising. If you sense a measure of glee in my writing, it’s only because you’re very intuitive and/or you read this sentence. Continue reading →
The Yankees are getting obliterated by the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS. Why is a team that was demonstrably better in the regular season about to get swept? First, Joe Girardi has done a terrible job as manager. Second, bad luck. Third, the playoffs are inherently a roll of the dice.
To Girardi. He has always been a bit obsessive and controlling. Remember, this is the guy who chose to walk a career .225 BA/.301 OBP/.356 SLG hitter to load the bases in order to get a better matchup in the first inning of the first game of the 2012 season. As absurd as that move was, it paled in comparison to the move he didn’t make in the 9th inning of game 3 of the ALCS. Continue reading →