Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
2006-10-19 09:29
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

It's a beautiful thing. Writers from both sides of tonight's Game 7 match-up have typed words today that baseball fans of all stripes (pin and otherwise) would do well to take to heart.

From CardNilly:

The beautiful and the terrible thing about baseball is that good teams will lose a third of the time, and bad teams will win a third of the time. The only thing the players can really control is the amount and intensity of effort they pour into the game. So long as the effort is genuine, we Cardinal fans (and I think most fans everywhere) are willing to accept the result for what it is. Someone has to win, someone has to lose — all we as fans can reasonably ask for is that everyone competes as hard as he can. (Thanks to Viva El Birdos for the link)

From Deadspin's Will Leitch in a New York Times Op-Ed:

The frustrating beauty of baseball is that you can never trust what you're watching. Any hitter can have a 4-for-4 day if everything breaks right; you have to build a team that ignores the daily randomness and simply compiles the raw numbers that lead to bulk wins over the course of the season. 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." 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.

Much is written by statistical analysts about "sample size" in baseball, and the playoffs are the most extreme example. If the Royals, one of the worst teams in baseball, played the American League champion Detroit Tigers in a 10-game postseason series, they'd win at least 3--probably more. A bad team beating a good team is not particularly difficult, or unusual. Yankees fans can take some solace in this. The Yankees were an outstanding team this year. In the playoffs, though, they ran into three Tigers pitchers who pitched dominant games those particular days. The Yankees didn't lose because A-Rod wasn't "clutch" or because Joe Torre forgot how to manage a baseball team or because the Tigers had more "heart." They lost because the Tigers happened to win three games in a row.

It happens all the time during the regular season. We just don't notice. Sportswriters say the Tigers "got hot at the right time," but they weren't saying that one week earlier, when they lost three at home to the Royals to end the season. Did the Royals just have more heart?

And finally from Alex Nelson at Mets Geek:

I know better now. One game is impossible to predict. Trends are just trends, streaks can be broken, and the mighty humbled. It's going to come down to a coin toss.

And because of that, in my own twisted mind, it's going to come down to everything. The umpiring. The winds at Shea. What I eat for breakfast. It may come down to the number of comments we get during the game. It could come down to Eric Simon's Endy shirt. Or my lucky Mets cap that I started wearing on September 28th in an effort to change the team's mojo and have worn ever since, despite ripping it off my head after Game 2 and stomping all over it.

It could come down to karma. Last week, I was sure it would, and I don't even believe in the stuff. Heck, I don't even really know what it is or how it works. There's nothing like an uncontrollable situation to turn a rational being into a superstitious mess.

And here we are at Game 7. Another coin flip. Or maybe one last series of coin flips. I'm hoping for lots of "heads."

2006-10-19 10:24:55
1.   Dimelo
My favorite is Leitch's and I agree 100%. Sometimes we take the large sample from the regular season and try to apply the results from those stats in the post-season and, honestly, it is not an apple-to-apple comparison. Freaky sh|t happens, witness Kenny F'ing Rogers.

I noticed that after I was able to breath and think about the Yankees playoff early exit rationally, then I was able to come to the conclusion that I didn't agree with everyone that Torre should be fired. Initially I thought the team needed a change, but baseball is a funny game and that's what makes Will's piece so well thought out, intelligent and realistic.

2006-10-19 10:44:23
2.   Sliced Bread
I'm envious of Mr. Mets Geek who has a Game 7 to get geeked about tonight.

Let's Go Willie! Let's Go Mets! Let's Go Luck!

"A bad team beating a good team is not particularly difficult, or unusual. Yankees fans can take some solace in this." Wow! This was in the NY Times?
Even if it was in the Op-Ed section, and out of Murray's jurisdiction, somebody must have slipped Chass a mickey to get that in the Old Gray (Red Sox wearin') Lady.

2006-10-19 10:57:56
3.   tommyl
Its for reasons like this that I get upset with labels like one player being amazing in the postseason or not. So many think Jeter is a postseason G-d, but there have been times where his series average has been at or even below .200. In 2001, the Mr. November year, he batted .148/.148/.259 in the World Series. Was he "clutch" then?

Farnsworth is another great example of this phenomenon. On some nights, he looks unhittable. There have been times I've watched him and wondered how his ERA was not 0.01 or something. Then a couple of days later he can't get a ball over the plate. Over the season, he's a so so setup guy with great stuff and lousy command.

Do you really think that Kenny Rogers and Jeff Weaver are really aces now?

And notice, I never mentioned A-Rod ;).

2006-10-19 11:03:01
4.   Shaun P
1 Very well said, Dimelo.

I'm excited about the game tonight. I really hope Willie takes the "all hands on deck" approach. That's why I think the Mets have the best chance - I'd rather have their pen over the Cards', and I bet both pens figure into the game. Ought to be a great one.

Go Mets!

2006-10-19 11:06:28
5.   Chyll Will
3 It's almost like URP, a uniquely Yankee affliction, only stupider considering what they did in the same situation when they were WITH the Yankees...
2006-10-19 11:09:43
6.   vockins
1 Can I assume that you have come around on dumping ARod?
2006-10-19 11:11:59
7.   tommyl
5 URP?
2006-10-19 11:14:52
8.   tommyl
1 Dimelo, I'm speaking for others here, but most of the people on this blogs reasons for getting rid of Torre weren't very kneejerk. They felt that his failure's with A-Rod showed that he longer had the "social genius" to manage the egos and get the most out of superstar players anymore. That, and an overdeveloped connection to "his guys" and the veterans has delayed many a young prospect from being brought along.

Personally, I'm 50/50 on him, depends how I wake up in the morning but I'm no longer completely in his camp.

2006-10-19 11:15:51
9.   Shaun P
Joe Sheehan also has some great some stuff at BP today on these same things. Here's my favorite part:

"Maine is the catalyst for this piece because of how he's pitched in October. The John Maine who was the Mets' best starter for much of the second half was a command pitcher, a guy with a better than 2:1 K/BB who had some trouble with the long ball (a homer every six innings). The John Maine who's saved the Mets' bacon this month, the one who pitched last night, is nothing like that: he's walked 11 men in 13 1/3 innings, while allowing just one home run. Last night, Maine had a good start that was nothing like him, giving up just two hits while issuing four free passes.

The two John Maines are the exact same pitcher, of course, but you wouldn't know that from watching them or from their performance record. And the point about John Maine extends to David Wright, to Billy Wagner, to Scott Rolen and So Taguchi, to Kenny Rogers and Frank Thomas and, yes, to Alex Rodriguez: over the course of a few weeks, baseball players can perform in a manner that varies widely from their established level, and they can do so in either direction. October is no different from May in that regard, although we remember the swings in greater detail, and bestow labels like "clutch" and "choker," "hero" and "goat," based on what we see."

2006-10-19 11:18:59
10.   Count Zero
While I agree that there's a huge random factor involved in the playoffs, I don't think it's a "coin toss." As I said in a thread during the the ALDS, if you ever bet on baseball, what do you bet on? You bet on starting pitchers.

The sample size for one game is clearly too small for any batting statistic to mean a damn thing. Pitching is pretty shaky over one start as well, but it's less shaky. Odds are pretty good a Johan Santana isn't going to get shelled -- he may not pitch to his exact ERA, but he'll almost certainly keep you in the game by giving up three or less. An Oliver Perez, on the other hand, is very likely to lose you the game all by his lonesome.

This is why pitching is more important than hitting in the playoffs and why the old "good pitching beats good hitting" cliche exists. If I was going to bet on tonight's game (sans odds), I would almost certainly bet on Suppan even though he's pretty much of a trash heap item himself. I would say the Cards have a 55% chance of winning with Suppan even on the road. Of course, 55-45 isn't much of an advantage, but it's marginally better than a coin toss.

2006-10-19 11:23:46
11.   Chyll Will
7 U nseen (or U nheralded) R ookie P itcher...
2006-10-19 11:32:14
12.   Yankee Fan In Boston
"the death of derek jeter"

fiction from esquire:

2006-10-19 11:36:02
13.   Xeifrank
10. The odds are actually 55.6% in favor of the Cards tonight. vr, Xei
2006-10-19 11:36:49
14.   Shaun P
13 With each, blase, boring, scripted quote, particularly those about "If we don't win it all, the season is failure," Derek Jeter becomes a little more dead to me every day.
2006-10-19 11:37:52
15.   Dimelo
6 Yeah, Vockins. Your assumption is correct. ARod to me represents a big circus, it's too much ARod and I didn't know what a distraction he was going to be. It's just too much for me to take another season of.....
2006-10-19 11:38:07
16.   Shaun P
13 BP has the odds at 58.6197 for the Mets, 41.3803 for the Cards. For those that care about that sort of thing.
2006-10-19 11:38:39
17.   Shaun P
Oops. 14 ought to reference 12. My bad.
2006-10-19 11:41:07
18.   Xeifrank
16. Out of curiousity any idea on how BP comes up with those numbers? vr, Xei
2006-10-19 11:47:21
19.   Dimelo
8 I think Torre's love fest for the veterans is something that is breed deep in the major leagues. I don't think it's only Torre that has this problem. I notice a lot of major league managers have this problem, at least managers of contending teams. Why did Scioscia stick with Erstad at first so long? Why did Francona stick with Millar (in '05) when he had Youkalis on the bench?

Lastly, dealing with ARod requires a special skill that no manager in the major leagues has ever experienced, and I don't think a lot ever will. How does any manager deal with the constant media attention? Even on days where you'd think Torre might have it easy, it's always about ARod. You think that's an easy job? Even the Red Sox have admitted that all the media attention given to Manny is enough and they want to move him.

The only thing that compares is T.O and Parcells, he doesn't even refer to T.O. by name. I'm sorry, I don't think Torre fractured anything ARod. I think the best solution for the ARod debacle is to trade him, the next best solution was what Alex had posted here from the baseball-analyst from a few days ago.

2006-10-19 12:00:58
20.   Shaun P
16 Sure, here is exactly what the page says:

"One million trials

A Monte Carlo simulation uses random numbers to simulate the playoff series. Each game of the series is given a seperate outcome probability, based on the home team, the team's performance during the regular season, and the expected starting pitcher matchup. Since a different sequence of random numbers is used every day, the results may change slightly from one day to the next, even if there was no game and no change in the pitching matchups."

2006-10-19 12:11:04
21.   Yankee Fan In Boston
surely quotes about losing making him "sick to (his) stomach" keep him firmly planted in the realm of the living.

or the one about learning how to be a yankee from mattingly...

or the one about knocking the gambler's teeth down his throat the next time they cross paths...

2006-10-19 12:15:38
22.   tommyl
8 You misunderstand me. I don't fault Torre for not getting through to A-Rod, its not meant as a knock against him. What I am trying to say is that Torre's greatest strength has always been managing personalities. Its what makes up for his complete lack of in game strategy and bullpen management ability. If he's failing in the personalities realm as well, his value is nowhere near as great.
2006-10-19 12:18:21
23.   Shaun P
21 I'm not sure if you're being sarcastic with those first two or not. Honestly, I don't buy the losing making him "sick to (his) stomach" stuff anymore. We all know that there is more to life than baseball, and Jeter knows it too.

The last one is pretty funny. I can hear him saying it in that blase, matter of fact aw-shucks voice of his right now: "You know Suzyn, Kenny was a great teammate and all, but the next time we cross paths, I'm going to knock his teeth down his throat. Because losing makes me sick to my stomach."

2006-10-19 12:24:28
24.   Shaun P
Random WTH stat, somewhat off topic:

"Don Larsen started two Game 7s for the Yankees, which was two more than Whitey Ford started."

-From Rob Neyer's column at, which concludes that yes, Oliver Perez is probably the worst pitcher to ever start a Game 7.

2006-10-19 12:26:19
25.   Count Zero
13 16 Well it's good to know I was in the neighborhood with my patented "Gut Feeling" Simulator Ver. 1.1

Put another way...same teams, same venue...replace Jeff Suppan with Johan Santana or maybe Curt Schilling against Oliver Perez. Would you still say it's a coin toss?

2006-10-19 12:27:59
26.   tommyl
24 I'll take Perez over Brown any night.
2006-10-19 12:37:02
27.   Yankee Fan In Boston
23 all three of those were completely accurate.*

* = but not the last one. (but can you prove that he DIDN'T say it?... yeah... think about it...)

while he may be exaggerating at times and at others using patterns of phrasing that are familiar, i don't think he's being deceitful or insincere. the guy wants to win when he suits up, which he should for the money he's making.

which isn't to say that i don't see where you're coming from.

bringing it back around, i hope tonight's game is close. i want drama from a game seven.

2006-10-19 13:02:30
28.   choirboyzgirl
15 & 19- I think the biggest difference between Alex and T.O is that T.O creates his circus and A-Rod didn't. Other than signing a mega million dollar contract and making one wrong statement about Jeter 5 years ago, he hasn't done anything wrong. You never see him on TV putting down Jeter, demanding to bat second in the line up, working out in his front yard (lol). The fans (by constantly booing) started the circus and the media ran away with it.

There have been other baseball stars with that kind of attention around them Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi to name a few... the big difference is they received support from their fans and team and everything quieted down. That isn't happening with Alex and Torre/Yankee Management need to do something about it (if they want it to go away).

2006-10-19 13:24:30
29.   pistolpete
28 I'll counter that by saying a lot of people have stood up for T.O. and declared him an 'excellent teammate', while I've never heard that about A-Rod.

No one can deny he's a great player, however. But there is a difference.

2006-10-19 14:40:55
30.   Bama Yankee
28 I agree 100%.

Reggie Jackson (and even Babe Ruth back in the day) caused a circus in the Bronx but since he delivered in the postseason I guess people were able to overlook it.

So I guess if the circus that is A-Rod is caused by the fans booing him when he is in a slump and people want to "dump" A-Rod due to this circus, it is a shame that we let those so-called fans boo a HOFer out of the Bronx.

2006-10-19 14:51:35
31.   Dimelo
29 WasWatching had this on ARod, too. It doesn't sound like he has too many people that have ever thought highly of him.

I think ARod has negative aura about him, whether real or perceived, the general public, his teammates, media, et al, have picked up on it and it causes people to respond negatively to him. There aren't too many people coming to his defense.....oh yeah one person has so far, Scott Boras. Nuff said!!!

Just saw this other piece @ WW too:

In my lifetime, I have never seen an athlete draw so much attention that he didn't bring unto himself. He seems to suck the energy out of the room wherever he goes.

2006-10-19 14:56:26
32.   C2Coke
We make plans and predictions but it's because of the unpredictable events that make baseball attractive and addictive.

I realized today that I will come to this dilemma if the Mets get into the Serious tonight (and I have a good hunch that they will),

The Yankee fan in me would actually want the Tigers to win it, and the New Yorker in me would want the Mets to do it.

And then, I came to a conclusion, that was just plain stupidity.

2006-10-19 14:57:31
33.   C2Coke
31 Maybe in the end, it's just his bad luck?
2006-10-19 15:03:00
34.   Dimelo
33 That's a lot of bad luck for one person in a lifetime, however, sandwiched in between all that bad luck is a $252 million monster that 99% of would interpret as having all the fortune in the world. No pun intended. Money can't buy him respect.

If this were a movie, Jeter would be Michael Corleone, ARod would be Fredo Corleone.

2006-10-19 15:06:31
35.   Simone
19 Parcells does refer to T.O. by name. Just because ESPN says something, it doesn't make it so. I actually watch the whole of those press conferences while ESPN only shows convenient clips.

28 I actually think Alex Rodriguez's situation would improve if he just stopped interacting so liberally with the media. He told ESPN off and we cheered, then he turned around and talked about injuries. Alex works his way out of his slump and starts to do well on the field, he proceeds to cooperate with Verducci for the controversial article. For all that is holy, STOP talking so much!!!!!

It is interesting that Alex, A.I, and T.O., some of the most controversial athletes in their sports, have conflicted relationships with their fan base that is stirred primarily by the national media. A.I. and T.O. are too honest. They say things that every athlete thinks or says behind closed doors, but don't say. Alex tries hard to say the right thing, but always accidentally says things that reveal the extent of his insecurities which simply increases the media frenzy.

2006-10-19 15:11:26
36.   Simone
Also, I don't doubt that his Yankee teammates have issues with Alex Rodriguez. Apparently there were problems in Seattle and definitely lots of problems in Texas. However, this doesn't mean that the only option open to the Yankees is trading Alex. If Alex is just a tad more careful with the media and continues to produce on the field, I think that all will be well.
2006-10-19 15:21:48
37.   randym77
35 "Alex tries hard to say the right thing, but always accidentally says things that reveal the extent of his insecurities which simply increases the media frenzy."

I agree. But I suspect he also says similar things to his teammates, even when the media's not around, which probably contributes to the personality issues.

2006-10-19 15:32:35
38.   Chyll Will
34 But Jeter is Keyser Soze! Which would make A-Rod... Finster?
2006-10-19 15:40:53
39.   Dimelo
36 Wait till Alex leaves and we'll know more about the problems certain Yankees had with him in the clubhouse.
2006-10-19 15:42:30
40.   Chyll Will
36 How do you teach a grown man to be careful when he's spent his career saying the wrong things? If you're hoping he'll change now, that'll be a long wait. If the Yanks want to keep him, they have to adjust as much as he has to. I'd wait until you see him after the off-season before deciding whether it's worth it or not.
2006-10-19 16:24:33
41.   Xeifrank
20. Each game of the series is given a seperate outcome probability, based on the home team, the team's performance during the regular season, and the expected starting pitcher matchup.
Thanks. That seems like a mediocre way of determine odds to win a game. The home team? Ok, I can see that. Maybe 1-2% points based on historical win% of home teams. The team's performance during the regular season? That's where is starts to get shakey. Teams change, personnel changes, injuries etc... ie - today's team is not the same as the team 3 months ago. The expected pitcher matchup. Ok, I agree this is a large factor but pretty subjective unless the method is provided for. vr, Xei
2006-10-19 16:33:46
42.   choirboyzgirl
I have to agree that sometimes Alex says too much when he should just walk away. (This from an avid A-Rod)

40- They taught him how to play 3B surely they can give some 'helpful' hints on when to just be quiet :)

Oh to be a fly on the Yankee clubhouse wall for a day LOL!

2006-10-19 16:49:24
43.   RIYank
41 According to the advantage of the home team is about 54% to 46%.
2006-10-19 17:49:44
44.   Chyll Will
42 >;) Apparently that's all they cared to do. Maybe if they taught him that as well as they taught him third base, it would happen.
2006-10-19 17:50:55
45.   OldYanksFan
Trade ARod?
It seems there have been other unpopular (with owners or brass, not necessarily fans)great players who were traded. How did it turn out?
2006-10-19 18:57:48
46.   randym77
45 But it worked out for Seattle and Texas.

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