Thursday, September 18, 2008

Baseball Musings

I know most of you don't tune into this blog to read my thoughts on baseball. Most of you tune in to see pictures or videos of Sophie & Nancy, find out the gender of Blob 2, or read plagiarized poems about me losing discs. So, for those of you who fit that description, here is a video of Sophie and Nancy playing. I offer this as a token of peace, because the fact is, the next 6 weeks are going to be baseball heavy in this space. Sorry.

For those of you still with me, I have the following random thoughts tonight:

1. Today's game was the coolest comeback for the Cubs I've seen in a long time. Very exciting. I ended up ditching Nancy & Sophie and eating dinner on the porch so that I could listen to the end of the game on my XM radio. With Nancy's permission, of course... Anyway, that win was huge for the Cubs, but it was even bigger for the Brewers. I don't think that is the kind of loss a team can rebound from at this point in the season, especially with everything going on in their clubhouse. I think you can hand the Wild Card to the east at this point.

2. I have been thinking long and hard about this lately, so please bear with a little rambling. Baseball is the ultimate long form game. The games themselves are long, the season is played in series form, and the seasons are 162 games long. That's a LOT of games. That is why baseball people are such geeks about statistics. Statistics are really only meaningful if the sample size is sufficiently large, and baseball, more than any other sport, certainly provides that. So, what's my point? My point is that the regular season is the truest indicator or how teams stack up with one another. Therefore, the playoffs, while obviously important, are of limited value to determine who the best team is. I mean, how many times during the season do even the very best teams lose 3 out of 5 or 4 out of 7 games? A lot! For example, let's use the 1998 Yankees, a team that won 114 games, a then American League record, and is generally considered the best modern baseball team. There were 21 seven games stretches where they lost 4 of those games. This is possibly the best team ever, but they just as easily could have gone out in the first round of the playoffs based on what they did in the regular season! For comparison, the 1996 Chicago Bulls, considered by many to be the best modern basketball team, did not lose 3 out of 5 OR 4 out of 7 games even one time during their entire season. For another baseball example, see the 2001 Mariners, who won 116 games but got routined in the ALCS by the Yankees.

So how does this matter? It matters because it changes our perspective on what the postseason actually means. To me, the postseason is a celebration of the fact that your team had a great season. We really shouldn't put that much emphasis on the postseason. Yes, we determine the champion that way, but baseball excellence really can't be measured over such a short period of time. So, while the playoffs definitely matter, they kind of don't matter.

With that said, in about two weeks I am going to be absolutely freaking out about the playoffs. The Terms of Service of this blog specifically say that you are not allowed to bring this topic up or throw it in my face at all. To repeat, I am rational now, but will be anything but starting October 1.


Dan Weiss said...

I'm going to have to disagree with you on that last sentence. I think your long explanation of how the postseason doesn't matter proves the fact that you've already thrown rationality out the window. Nobody reading this believes you'd be truly happy with the Cubs' regular season if they lose in the first round of the playoffs.

That said, I really hope they don't blow it this time - for your sake, and so that Cubs fans everywhere can finally have something to be really happy about.

Good luck Cubs (and Dan)!

Dan & Nancy Erickson said...

You're right, I won't be happy. And that's the problem. I really, truly believe that the Cubs are the best team in the National League, and their record proves it. Will a loss in the playoffs change my mind on that? I don't think it will change my mind, although it will break my heart.