Archive for October, 2010

Baseball Bloggers Alliance End of Season Awards

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance has announced all of its end of season awards.  They are as follows:

Connie Mack Award (Best Manager) 

AL- Ron Washington, Texas     NL- Bud Black, San Diego

Willie Mays Award (Top Rookie)

AL- Neftali Felix, Texas     AL- Buster Posey, San Francisco

Goose Goosage Award (Best Reliever)

AL- Rafael Soriano, Tampa Bay     NL- Brian Wilson, San Francisco

Walter Johnson Award (Best Pitcher)

AL- Felix Hernandez, Seattle     NL- Roy Halladay, Philaedelphia

Stan Musial Award (Best Player)

AL- Josh Hamilton, Texas     NL- Joey Votto, Cincinnati

Source: http://baseballbloggeralliance.com

1950-American League

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

The 1950 American League season resulted in another exciting pennant race that lasted just about to the end of the wire.  Detroit got off to a fast start; and from the 1st day of the season until May 15 they remained in 1st place.  To this point New York, Boston, and Washington were the  Tigers main competitors.  Except for three days when New York was on top, Detroit maintained their lead through  the 4th of July and beyond. On July 4th the standings were as follows:  Detroit 46-24 (—);  NYY 43-29 (4);  CLE 42-30 (5);  BOS 41-32 (6.5).

Things would begin to tighten up, and for the rest of the summer, NewYork and Cleveland would be chasing the Tigers.  Sometimes New York would tie for the lead; and sometimes Cleveland and New York would flip/flop 2nd and 3rd place; but through it all, Detroit did not falter.  On Aug 29 Detroit and New York were in a virtual tie for 1st place with Detroit .002 ahead, .628 to .626.  The Indians and Red Sox were tied for 3rd, each two games back.

Between August 29 and September 16 the lead would change 5 times, swinging back and forth between the Yankees and Tigers.  As late as Sept 21, the two teams were tied with records of 91-53.  Boston was still in the race at 89-55, only 2 games back.  This situation would not last and it was Detroit, who led for most of the season, running out of gas.  Over the next 5 days the Tigers, while playing Cleveland and St. Louis, lost 4 out of 5. 

On the other hand, the Yankees took care of the Red Sox by winning two; and then put the pennant out of reach from Detroit by winning 3 out of 4 against Washington.  The final blow would come on Sept 28.  New York would need to lose its last three games while Detroit win their last two.  Detroit won, but so did New York.  The AL pennant would again fly over Yankee Stadium.

References:  http:// baseballrace.com;  http://Baseball-refernce.com

1949-National League

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

The 1949 National League pennant race started in a frenzy as Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Boston, Brooklyn, and the New York Giants changed leads 10 times through the month of April.  May saw Boston and the Giants share the lead 11 days; and on the 29th of the month, Brooklyn joined the other 2 teams for a 3-way tie at 21-16.  From there, until July 4th, Brooklyn dominated 1st place; but teams like St. Louis, Philadelphia, and Boston were never too far behind.  On the 4th, the standings were: Brooklyn 44-28 (—);  St. Louis  42-30 (2);  Philadelphia 40-35 (5.5);  Boston 40-35 (5.5).

Through the rest of July and into August, St. Louis and Brooklyn were tied 7 days and the lead changed 5 times.  On August 20th St. Louis took the lead and held it until 9/29, with the Dodgers never more than 1.5 games behind. After the next to last Sunday of the season, St. Louis was 95-54, 1.5 games ahead of Brooklyn who were 94-56.  Before the last weekend of the season Brooklyn beat Boston twice and St. Louis lost 3 straight to Pittsburgh and one to Chicago.  Brooklyn had gone back into the lead by one game. 

On the last weekend of the season St. Louis continued to play in Chicago while the Dodgers travelled to Philadelphia.  Both teams lost on Saturday and the season came down to the last day.  The Cardinals would have to win while the Dodgers lose to force an end of season playoff.  In Chicago St. Louis’ ace Howie Pollet started against Chicago’s Johnny Schmitz.  St. Louis started the game off quickly scoring 3 runs in the 2nd, then 1 in the 3rd, and 2 in the 4th.  Leading 6-1 after 5, St. Louis never looked back, winning 13-5.  Pollet won his 20th; and Stan Musial was the hitting star going 3 for 5 with 2 HRs and 4 RBIs.

Meanwhile in Philadelphia, Brooklyn was locked in a struggle for their lead. Brooklyn’s starter Don Newcombe and then reliever Rex Barney could not hold 5-0 and 7-4 leads. After 6 innings the score was tied 7-7.  Reliever Jack Banta pitched 4.1 scoreless innings and he got the win when Brooklyn scored 2 runs in the 10th to win 9-7.  Carl Furillo went 4 for 6 and Gil Hodges 2 for 4 and each scored two runs.  Pitcher Newcombe and Roy Campanella each had 2 RBIs for the National League Champion Dodgers.  In the World Series against the New York Yankees, Brooklyn would lose 4 games to 1.

Throughout the long season Brooklyn’s best hitters were Jackie Robinson .342 BA 16 HRs and 124 RBIs; Carl Furillo .322/18/106; and Gil Hodges .285/23/115.  Their best pitchers were Don Newcombe 17-8 3.17 ERA and Precher Roe 15-6 2.79.

References: http://baseballrace.comhttp://baseball-reference.com

1949-American League

Friday, October 15th, 2010

There were pennant races in both leagues in 1949.  The beginning of the  American League season saw 6 different teams (Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, and Washington) take their turn being no more than 5.5 games behind front running New York. By May 8, New York was 15-4 (.789), 4 games ahead of  Cleveland.  On May 31, 2nd place Boston was 20-16, 4.5 games behind the Yankees.   However, the Red Sox erratic play found them on the Fourth of July at 35-36, 12 games back in 5th place.  On that day,  New York was 48-25 (—), Philadelphia was 44-30 (4.5 back), and Cleveland was 40-31 (7). 

The 2nd half of the season would see things tighten up; and it was a steadied Red Sox 9 that would become New York’s main competitor.  Between July 4 and August 15, while the Yankees were barely playing .500 ball the Red Sox played a torrid .786 winning 33 while only losing 9.  Boston was now within 2.5 games of New York.  During this 42 game stretch, Ted Williams raised his battting average to .349 (from .322) while hitting 9 HR and accruing 35 RBIs.  Vern Stephens hit 11 HRs and knocked in 39 teammates.  Mel Parnell and Elllis Kinder were their top pitchers going 8-1 and 7-1 respectively.

Through the rest of August, and for most of September, Boston was in 2nd place no more than 4 game behind New York,  but on September 26 after  beating the Yankees 3 games in a row, the Red Sox stood atop the AL by a game.   In that last win, Boston scored 4 to come back from a  6-3 deficit to win in the 8th.  Jack Kramer was the winner and Joe Page the loser. From there, Boston was either on top or tied for the lead; and were a game ahead entering the last series against New York.  If they could win one of the two games they would win the pennant.

In the first game on Oct 1, the Red Sox pulled away to a 4-0 lead, knocking Allie Reynolds out of the box.  As if to avenge the earlier defeat, reliever Joe Page pitched shutout ball for New York.  This allowed Yankee Johnny Lidell the chance to break a 4-4 tie and win the game in the 8th inning.  With the 2 teams tied for 1st, Boston could still win it all with a victory on Oct 2.  The Red Sox’ Ellis Kinder and the Yankee’s Vic Raschi were locked in a 1-0 pitchers duel through 7.  The Yanks scored 4 in the 8th to make Boston’s 3 in the 9th a loser’s rally.  New York went on to play the National League’s pennant winner in the World Series.

References: http://baseballrace.comhttp://baseball-reference.comhttp://members.cox.net/bngolden1/fantasticfinishes1.htm

The Division Series or “Killing The Goose”

Friday, October 8th, 2010

I’m sure that just about everyone is familiar with the story of “The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs”, but just in case…

….There was this town that came to the magnificent discovery that they were in possession of a goose that every day would lay one marvelous golden egg.  The town leaders, being generous sorts, decided to share the egg by putting it in the town treasury and using it for civic improvement, to provide aid to town people in emergency circumstances, and the like. All the town’s people were happy, and for a while felt they were blessed to have such a special goose.

        As things will happen in the lives of men and beasts, a few in the town began to grumble.  You could hear some say, “Why do we only get one egg a day.  Surely we can figure out a way to get more eggs than that!”  Little by little, the grumbles developed into a great roar; and the town elders decided to hold a meeting to see if anything could be done to increase egg production.  They came to the conclusion that maybe if they fed the goose more, it would increase the production of eggs.  Sadly, all that the goose produced was more fertilizer.  This made the town people even angrier than before.

         Finally, some one got the bright idea, “Why don’t we chop off the gooses head and get all the eggs at once.”  There was such a large mob, the elders could do nothing but consent to the plan.  They brought the goose to  the center of town and in front of all the people cut off the gooses head.  Lo and behold, when they reached in to get the eggs, they found none.  The goose was dead; and there would be no more golden eggs for the town.

This story came to mind as I finished some research I was doing on MLB’s Division Series and the affect it has on the rest of the postseason, particularly the World Series.  The information I discovered pointed to the fact that the more baseball front loaded the postseason to increase revenues, the more  negatively the World Series was impacted.  By trying to get more golden eggs they are slowly killing the best goose they have.

The reason I say this is because the best World Series possible, ones that go the full seven games, have been declining steadily since the beginning of division play.  It appears that baseball, like no other sport, has only a finite amount of quality product they can expect to tap during the postseason.  If I were to hypothesize why this is the case, I would say this fact is due to the increased use of pitchers during extended playoffs. 

The pitcher is unique in baseball as there is a new pitcher in the starting line-up each day.  This is true of no other position in sport’s playoffs.  After a long season, the competitive balance of the event deteriorates as pitchers are required to pitch more innings during the postseason.  A pitcher who might be good for two or three more starts will not hold up as well over six or seven.

Let me give you the information I have found for Division Series, League Championship Series, and World Series.

Divison Series 1995-2009(series outcomes)

  1. 3-0 = 25  (41.7% of series)
  2. 3-1 = 22  (36.7%)
  3. 3-2 = 13  (21.7%)

League Championship Series 1995-2009

  1. 4-0 =  3  (10%)
  2. 4-1 = 10  (33%)
  3. 4-2 =   9   (30%)  
  4. 4-3 =   8   (27%)

World Series 1995-2009

  1. 4-0 =    5  (33%)
  2. 4-1 =     3  (20%)
  3. 4-2 =     4  (27%)
  4. 4-3 =     3  (20%)

7 Game World Series 1947-2009 (Modern Era)

  1. 1947:     ’47
  2. 1950s:   ’52;  ’55;  ’56;  ’57;  ’58
  3. 1960s:   ’60;  ’62;  ’64;  ’65;  ’67;  ’68
  4. 1970s:   ’71;  ’72;  ’73;  ’75;  ’79
  5. 1980s:    ’82;  ’85;  ’86;  ’87
  6. 1990s:     ’91;  ’97
  7. 2000s:    ’01;  ’02

7 Game World Series By Period

  1. No Divisions  1947-1968:    12  (55%)
  2. 5 Game LCS     1969-1985:      7  (41%)
  3. 7 Game LCS     1986-1993:      3  (38%)
  4. 5 Game DS        1995-2009:     3  (20%)

Notice the steady decline in 7 game World Series as playoff games are added to the postseason.  Couldn’t MLB expect more revenues than they get now if they improved the chances of producing closer World Series?  It is also important to point out that the Division Series is not doing the best it could when only 22% of them end up going 5 games.  Since this one extra week of playoffs determines the rest of what happens in the sport, it is safe to say that it is just not worth it. First you lose real pennant races, then you diminish the World Series.   Keep the goose healthy and take the golden eggs as they come.

Reference: http://mlb.com/mlbhistory

The History of Pennant Race Baseball

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Before 1969 and the beginning of division play in baseball, real pennant races were a major part of the game.  Every single game during the regular season was played against a rival for the same pennant.  When teams weren’t spread out across two and three divisions there was a greater chance of finding 2 or more teams with enough equal talent to compete for the same pennnant.

During this off-season I will be taking a look back, describing the best pennant races in baseball history.  Since the period of 1947-1962 saw 4 post-season playoffs to determine who won the pennant, we will be looking at these years first.  As has been noted before, there were 3 main reasons that this period was so rich in  close pennant races.  First was the fact that all the games were played against rivals for the same pennant.  Second,  the number of teams per league was at an optimum.  Finally with the breaking of the color line by Jackie Robinson in 1947 and before the thinning of talent started by expansion,  these were the best years for competitive balance in the leagues.

So keep coming back and experience these races unfold before your eyes.

1948-American League

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Anyone who observed the beginnning of the 1948 American League pennant race would have a hard time discerning the fact that it would be Cleveland and Boston battling down till the end.  Boston started the season slowly having an sub-.500 record on 6/1 (15-23), 10 games behind front-running Philadelphia.  When they finally hit the .500  mark at 26-26, on 6/19, they were still 7 games in back of Cleveland.  Putting together a 28-10 run, Boston finally made it to the top tying Philadelphia at 54-36 on 7/25.

Through August four teams were in contention (Philadelphia was in 4th place 4.5 behind on 8/31) and on 9/24 Boston, New York, and Cleveland were all tied for 1st at 91-56.  By the final week-end of the season, Cleveland was 1.5 games ahead of New York and Boston.  Cleveland needed to win one of their last three games to ensure a tie. Cleveland lost the 1st game to Detroit 5-3 and Boston and New York were both 1 game behind.  With  Boston sweeping two games from New York, and  Cleveland splitting with Detroit, after the last game of the regular season, Boston and Cleveland were tied for 1st place at 96-58.  For the 1st time in history the baseball world prepared for a one game playoff between the two teams.

By coin toss,  the game was played in Fenway Park.  In a controversial move, Boston manager chose journeyman Denny Galehouse to start over ace Mel Parnell.  Gene Bearden started for Cleveland.  Scoring 4 runs in the 4th inning, powered by two HRs from Lou Boudreau and one by Ken Keltner, Cleveland won 8-3.  The winning pitcher was Bearden, the loser Galehouse.

Cleveland went on to beat the Boston Braves in the World Series 4 games to 2.

References: http://baseballrace.com ;  “Fastastic Finishes-I” ( http://members.cox.net/bngolden/fantasticfinishes1.htm)

Pennant Race Gazette 10/04/10

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

Yesterday’s Results:

BOS  8  NY  4 (East);  DET  4  BAL  2 (East);  CHI  6  CLE  5 (2nd Tier);  TB  3  KC  2 (12) (East);  LA  6  TEX  2 (West);  OAK  4  SEA  3 (West);  TOR  2  MIN  1 (Not Tier)

WAS  2  NY  1 (14) (East);  FLA  5  PIT  2 (East);  ATL  8  PHI  7 (East);  HOU  4  CHI  0 (2nd T);  STL  6  COL  1 (West);  LA  3  ARI  1  (West);  SF  3  SD  0  (West);  CIN  3  MIL  2 (NT)

FINAL STANDINGS

East                            W      L        GB

  1. *Tampa Bay     70    44      —
  2. New York          63     51         7
  3. Boston                60     50        8
  4. +Toronto          60      54     10
  5. Cleveland          45      51      16
  6. Kansas City       41      48      16.5
  7. Detroit                42      51      17.5
  8. Baltimore          40      72     29

West                              W      L        GB

  1. *Minnesota        46    31       —
  2. Texas                    53    47         4.5
  3. +Oakland             52    47        5
  4. Los Angeles        49    48         7
  5. Chicago                40    40         7.5
  6. Seattle                   38    63       20

East                              W      L        GB

  1. *Philadelphia  68    48       —
  2. Atlanta               62    54          6
  3. Cincinnati          47   40          6.5
  4. +Florida             59    57          9
  5. Houston             41     47        13
  6. Washington       53    64        15.5
  7. New York           52    63        15.5
  8. Pittsburgh          29    62        26.5

West                              W      L        GB

  1. San Francisco   66    50      —
  2. San Diego            67    51      —
  3. St. Louis               47    42        5.5
  4. +Los Angeles     60    56        6
  5. Chicago                 52    49        6.5
  6. Colorado              60    57        6.5
  7. Milwaukee           46     44        7
  8. Arizona                 47    72      20.5

*clinched pennant       +clinched 1st Tier position

What is Pennant Race Baseball

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

Pennant race baseball is baseball played between rivals for the same division or league pennant; and lasts all season until a pennant is won.  Imagine a baseball season with two divisions per league rather than three and NO WILD CARDS. No wild cards will put team and fan  focus, where it belongs, on the regular season.  When this is done, season long pennant races abound.

I’ve heard it said that modern baseball can no longer do without wild cards because there are too many teams competing.  That is why we need to add a “tier system” to the mix.  With !st and 2nd tiers in each division we can reward the teams that finish in the first tier with better schedules for next season.

Next, we look at the pennant race division set-up; and how the teams finished last season.  This should give a clearer picture of what pennant race baseball is all about.

The Pennant Race Baseball Look 2010

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

During the past few seasons, to get the experience of pennant race baseball,   I have been using actual pennant race and tier games to figure out  day-to-day standings.  Let’s take a look at last year’s final standings.

 Since wild card, non-tier, and interleague games don’t count, you will see different game totals for each team.  No problem, the games behind method still works for assigning a team’s place in the standings(Games over and under .500 are what counts). 

Remember, the important thing is to get the feel of how pennant races work during baseball’s tension building long  season.

EAST                               W    L     GB  

  1. Boston              73   41   —
  2. New York        70   40    1
  3. Tampa Bay      61   54    12.5
  4. Detroit              48   42    13
  5. Toronto            50   63    22.5
  6. Cleveland         38   56    25
  7. Kansas City      38   57   25.5
  8. Baltimore          40  72   32

WEST                                 W    L     GB

  1. Texas                   54   43   —
  2. Minnesota         45   36    1 
  3. Los Angeles      53   47    2.5
  4. Seattle                 52   50    4.5
  5. Oakland              47   53     8.5
  6. Chicago               32   43    11

EAST                                   W    L      GB

  1. Philadelphia       69   48   —
  2. Atlanta                 64   54    5.5
  3. Cincinnati            49   44    8
  4. Florida                  60   55    8
  5. Houston                41   47   13.5
  6. Pittsburgh            39   52   17
  7. New York             50   65   18
  8. Washington         40   77   29

WEST                                    W     L     GB

  1. Los Angeles          71   46   —
  2. Colorado                66   49    4
  3. St. Louis                  50  42    8.5
  4. San Francisco       63  55    8.5
  5. Milaukee                 46  47   13
  6. San Diego                57 60   14
  7. Chicago                    42 50   16.5
  8. Arizona                    49 65   20.5 

1st Tier plays 1st; and 2nd Tier plays 2nd Tier.  So this year Boston, New York, Tampa  Bay, and Detroit play only Texas, Minnesota, and Los Angeles from the other division; 

Toronto, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Baltimore play only Seattle, Oakland,and  Chicago;

Philadelphia, Atlanta, Cincinnati, and Florida play only Los Angeles, Colorado, St. Louis, and San Francisco and;

Houston, Pittsburgh, New York, and Washington play only Milwaukee, San Diego, Chicago, and Arizona.

The fact that a team plays most of their games against division pennant rivals increases the possibility of having great season long pennant races.

Next blogs will start to deal with this season’s races.  I look forward to your comment and discussion.