Saturday, November 21, 2015

List Updates 2015

Now that the season is over, some of my lists needed to be updated, so here they are for your viewing pleasure:

Rookie of the Year Facts
The Second Place Award Winners
The Run That Clinched It

Just thought I'd throw that out there.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Angels Franchise Deep Four

I'm back with the first expansion franchise in this series, the multi-locale-named Angels. Due to a history half a century shorter than the classic American League franchises, I decided to limit this to a Deep Four, rather than the traditional six. And funny enough, even then it felt like I was scraping the bottom of the barrel with a few of these guys. Let's take a look:

1stChuck FinleyBob BooneWally JoynerBobby GrichTroy GlausJim FregosiGarret AndersonMike TroutTim Salmon
2ndFrank TananaMike NapoliRod CarewHowie KendrickChone FigginsErick AybarBrian DowningJim EdmondsVladimir Guerrero
3rdNolan RyanLance ParrishAlbert PujolsAdam KennedyDoug DeCincesDavid EcksteinRick ReichardtGary PettisKole Calhoun
4thJered WeaverBengie MolinaDarin ErstadBobby KnoopKen McMullenDick SchofieldLeon WagnerTorii HunterLeroy Stanton

I'm surprised that Frank Tanana ended up ahead of the great Nolan Ryan, but it seemed that he had the slight edge. Chuck Finley was underrated, but he's the ultimate Angels pitcher.

Right field was interesting for two reasons: One, that Tim Salmon ended up ahead of possible Hall of Famer Vlad Guerrero, and two, the large dropoff after the 2nd Team. Kole Calhoun hasn't even been around that long and he's already on the 3rd Team.

Catcher was surprisingly tough. Bob Boone ended up on the 1st Team, but he's not overly impressive a choice. Mike Napoli was tough to put on the 2nd Team only because he was never more than a part-time player, but his numbers spoke loudly. When will the Angels ever have a truly awesome catcher?

Who'd have thought that Wally Joyner would end up ahead of two Hall of Famers at first base? While Pujols and Carew had greater careers, when only their work with the Angels is considered, Wally World edges them out, at least for now. Pujols still has a long contract ahead of him to perhaps take the lead, but he is in the decline phase of his career, so...yeah.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Oligopoly is Dead

After ten years, the Kansas City Royals have finally vanquished the Oligopoly. May it never show its ugly face again. Yes, we'll hear another year of Met fans whining about how much they've had to suffer without a World Series title (30 whole years! Boo-freaking-hoo!), but it's a small price to pay.

The Royals were a joke for most of my baseball fandom. The winning season they had in 2003 was the first I ever saw from them, and at that point, it was a novel occurrence. They immediately followed it with another string of losing seasons, most of which only caught the attention of baseball fans due to Joe Posnanski's blog. They had become emblematic of the small-market franchise struggling to compete with the big dogs.

In the early 2010's, their minor league system was the talk of baseball, and things seemed to be looking up at last. But there was still the question of how or when these guys would mature. And of course, the postseason being as fluky as it is, could they defy the odds and win the World Series?

It looks like the script couldn't have played out any better: K.C. did it with their homegrown guys, overcame deficit after deficit, and made it to the top of the hill. It was the culmination of a long process, and a dream ending for every small-market club that needs to invest heavily in scouting and player development just to contend at all. They've given a glimmer of hope to a lot of fans who've had to watch the big-ticket squads take the trophy in recent years.

Now that the Oligopoly has been squashed, 2016 might be worth looking forward to. Let's hope next year's World Series champion will be another group as likable and interesting as this one.

Congratulations, Royals!

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Oligopoly and the LCS

It looks like my playoff predictions have been busted pretty badly. But no matter. I can't predict when longstanding patterns will finally be broken. In this case, it was the pattern of the Cardinals and Giants alternating NL pennants. That ended this year, which meant that the "100-Win Curse" wasn't destined to fell St. Louis at the hands of the AL's only Oligopoly team.

There are now four teams left, of which I like three; those three are the Cubs, Royals, and Blue Jays. The one fly in the ointment is the Mets, an Oligopoly team that seemingly came out of nowhere this year. It is my sad prediction that that one team I dislike will win the World Series. I may have been wrong about a lot of stuff, but in this I feel fairly confident: The New York Mets are your 2015 World Series Champions.

Why? First of all, the Royals and Blue Jays aren't Oligopoly members, so they're out. Whoever wins the NL wins the World Series. Second of all, the only team standing in the Mets' way is the Cubs. I would love, love, to see the Cubs finally win the World Series so that we could stop talking about 1908, the Billy Goat Curse and all that other malarkey, but the Cubs not making it to the World Series has a much longer history than the decade-long Oligopoly. It breaks my heart to say that despite the patterns that have ended this October, that one might be too big to vanquish, at least right now.

This situation reminds me of 2011, where the Cardinals were the only team in the Final Four that I didn't like, and not only did they win the World Series, they did it in the most spirit-crushing way imaginable. Just for the heck of it, I'll predict that the Royals will find themselves in the same position as the 2011 Rangers; they'll be ready to redeem themselves from the previous year's World Series loss, and on the verge of winning, only to fall to a miracle comeback by an Oligopoly team. Those poor Kansas City fans.

A lot of people probably are surprised to see the Mets where they are, but not me. I have seen the Oligopoly, and I knew even when the Mets weren't good that they would be allowed to win it if they ever became good. I may get some of the particulars wrong, but the closer we get to the end, the easier it is to see who the winner will be, and it is clear to me that when this postseason ends, the fifth-best team in the NL will be hoisting the World Series trophy. The media will gush, because they seem to believe the Mets are a franchise that the entire country is endlessly fascinated by (though I certainly am not, and I don't know anyone else who is), and their fans might tone down the self-pity a little (if we're lucky, which we probably won't be).

Oh baseball. This Oligopoly has made things all too predictable. I hate it.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Playoff Predictions 2015

Would this be a real baseball blog if it didn't make predictions for how the postseason would play out? Like all other fans, I have a duty to make my picks. I'll lay them out here and explain them below.

Stupid Wild Card Game That Nobody Wanted:

Yankees over Astros
Cubs over Pirates


Cardinals over Cubs
Dodgers over Mets
Yankees over Royals
Rangers over Blue Jays


Cardinals over Dodgers
Yankees over Rangers

World Series:

Yankees over Cardinals

OK, so now the big question is how I came to the conclusion that this mediocre Yankee team is destined to take home the hardware yet again.

When making playoff predictions, the first thing to consider (at least for me) is the Oligopoly. Of this year's crop, the AL has one Oligopoly team (the Yankees), and the NL has four of them (all but the Pirates). So we know that only those five have any shot of winning the World Series.

This decade has seen an alternating pattern between the Giants and Cardinals for the NL pennant, so if that pattern continues, it's the Cardinals' turn this year. However, the Cardinals have an outstanding team this year, and if you look at the pattern since the 1980s, the Cardinals' outstanding playoff teams never win the World Series. Their less-impressive teams are always the ones that win the whole shebang. So we know up front that the Cardinals will represent the NL in the World Series and lose.

The Yankees are the only Oligopoly team in the AL playoff picture, so that makes them the only team the Cardinals can lose to. Hence, the Yanks will beat the Cards in the Fall Classic.

What a rotten ending to this season, huh?