Tagged: Cardinals

More thoughts on the Yankees trying to “buy” a World Series title

I mentioned here that I’m already hearing comments about the Yankees “buying” (or, at least, trying to “buy”) a World Series title. And if you look at it objectively, just from the point of view of total payroll and revenues, then you should be able to understand why some people feel that way. Of course, understanding is not the same thing as agreeing. The reality is that it takes more than just money to win the World Series. Yes, a high payroll team like the Yankees can afford to sign the Sabathias and the Teixeiras. But that doesn’t mean that those expensive players will be the right pieces to the puzzle. Randy Johnson had a much lower postseason ERA when he signed with the Yankees than CC Sabathia did when he came to New York, but so far this postseason, CC has performed far better than the Big Unit did in his postseason starts in pinstripes. An expensive puzzle is just junk if the pieces don’t fit together, but
an inexpensive puzzle can be a work of art when all of the pieces fit
just right.

I’ve been thinking about this a bit more, and I’ve done a bit of research. Take a look at the World Series winners since the Yankees last won, and their total payrolls for those years*:

2001 Diamondbacks – 8th highest payroll
2002 Angels – 15th highest payroll
2003 Marlins – 6th lowest payroll (only the Indians, Padres, Brewers, Royals, and Rays had a lower payroll)**
2005 White Sox – 13th highest payroll
2006 Cardinals – 11th highest payroll
2008 Phillies – 12th highest payroll

Look at that list…only one of those teams was in the top ten for highest payrolls in the year that they won the World Series. By contrast, the 2004 and 2007 Red Sox had the 2nd highest payrolls behind the Yankees.

The Yankees have had MLB’s highest payroll every season except one since their mid-90’s “dynasty” began in 1996. The only season they didn’t have the highest payroll was, ironically, in 1998 when they had one of their best seasons ever. (The Baltimore Orioles had MLB’s highest payroll in 1998…and finished 4th in the AL East, 35 games out of first place.)

What does this prove? Money (i.e., one of the top payrolls in MLB) can help a team to sign the players it may need to be successful, but it doesn’t necessarily help to “buy” a World Series title. Winning takes more than money…that’s a fact that the Yankees have certainly proven for the last 8 years. It takes:

  • good players (some of whom do make the most money, and some of whom do not)
  • team chemistry (some people roll their eyes at that…I think those people are fools)
  • teamwork
  • and often, a little bit of luck

By the way, it should be noted that the 1997 Florida Marlins — whom many people (including me) have used as an example of a team that “bought” its World Series title — had the 7th highest total payroll in 1997. The Marlins did bring in a lot of players from outside the organization (free agency, trades, whatever) for the sole purpose of winning a World Series, and then gutted the team over the next two seasons because they could no longer afford to keep their best players. But even they did not have the highest payroll in baseball that season…nor were they even ranked in the top 5 as far as total team payrolls were concerned in 1997.

Does having lots of revenue and a high payroll help a team to be successful? It can. Does it guarantee that a team will win this:

ws_trophy.jpegNope. There are no guarantees. Even a commanding lead in a LCS doesn’t guarantee that a team will get to the World Series, much less win it. Just ask the 2004 Yankees.

* Source: USA Today Baseball Salaries Database

** Note: one other source — baseballchronolgy.com — ranked the 2003 Marlins as having the 5th lowest payroll; the Indians were ranked higher.

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Rain, rain, go away!

rain.gifThe Nationals/Cardinals game at Nationals Park was rained out today. I had tickets for that game, and, despite the fact that the rain started falling steadily around mid-morning, I headed out to Nationals Park anyway, hoping that the game could be played anyway. Nope…the rain let up to a drizzle a few times but never really stopped. As the rain delay was approaching two hours and the rain began to fall harder, my friends and I gave up and left. Not pleased about what I assumed would surely be a rainout, I stopped off at the mall in Union Station on the way home and bought some new shoes. (IMO, shoe shopping is a wonderful way to soothe the soul!) Not only did I get my shoes on sale, but because the cash register malfunctioned and I had to wait while it was fixed, I got an additional 15% off for my patience. So the day wasn’t a total waste!

The Yankees/Angels game at Yankee Stadium was also rained out. (Ditto for the Mets/Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park.) New York, Philly, DC…it was just a wet, messy, nasty day on the East Coast today.

Martis pitches complete game as Nats top Cards

Yep, baseball’s worst team beat baseball’s best team. (I know…I can’t belive it either!)

One way to keep the Nationals dreadful bullpen from giving away a lead and a game is for the starter to pitch a complete game. That’s exactly what Shairon Martis did on Saturday, and the Nationals defeated the Cardinals, 6-1. In fact, Martis took a no-hitter into the 5 inning, until Yadier Molina singled. Until this game, the 22 year old Martis had never pitched more than 6 1/3 innings. He struck out 6 and did not allow a walk in his 110-pitch effort. This game was the first complete-game win for a Nationals pitcher since 8/15/2006, when Pedro Astacio beat the Braves.

An assist, so to speak, should be given to Cardinals first baseman Chris Duncan, who dropped what would have been out #3 of the 5th inning. With the Nats leading 1-0 and Cristian Guzman on first, Ryan Zimmerman popped up into foul territory. Instead of being the final out of the inning, he got one more chance at bat when Duncan dropped the ball. Zimm made the Cardinals pay for that error by hitting a single. Adam Dunn then hit a 3-run home run into the upper deck in right field, above the Nationals bullpen. The Nationals added two more runs in the 8th inning when Elijah Dukes scored on an Austin Kearns triple and Kearns scored on and Anderson Hernandez single.

Speaking of Hernandez, he had the #1 web gem on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight…an incredible diving catch in the first inning. That catch was also #4 of the top plays on ESPN’s Sports Center. (Simeon Varlamov’s save in the Capitals’ win over the Penguins was #1 — see below.)

I was lucky enough to be at this game…it was a great one! What a performance by Martis! And the scattered showers that had been in the forecast for the afternoon did not materialize, which was nice for a change.

Of course, I have tickets for Sunday’s game as well, and there is once again rain in the forecast for the afternoon. The chance of rain is 70% for “later in the day”…so I hope that means the rain will wait until after the game is over.

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Gotta give a shout out to the Washington Capitals, who won defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins, 3-2, in Game 1 of the NHL Eastern Conference Semifinals. GO CAPS!!!!

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One more thing. As a lifelong Washington Redskins fan, I absolutely despise the Dallas Cowchips Cowboys. But I was relieved to hear that no one was critically injured (or worse) when the roof of the Cowboys practice facility collapsed on Saturday afternoon during a storm. Several injuries do sound serious — including the broken vertebrae suffered by special teams coach Joe DeCamillis — but the reports about the incident say that everyone is expected to recover. I wish everyone who was injured in the incident a speedy and complete recovery.

I jinxed Julian Tavarez

Crap…apparently, I jinxed Julian Tavarez.

When responding to Julia’s comment about him HERE, I said that he didn’t suck as much as the rest of the Nats’ relievers. And then he gave up 5 runs (2 earned) in the 9th inning of last night’s loss to the Cardinals. Of course, the damage wouldn’t have been so bad if Adam Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman had been able to catch the balls hit in their direction and if Jesus Flores hadn’t dropped Cristian Guzman’s throw home. *sigh*

And then, to rub salt into the wound, Joel Suckrahan replaced Tavarez and balked a run home and gave up the final run on a sacrifice fly.

After the game, Manny Acta stated the following (per yahoo.com):

“They just walked themselves into trouble. They walked themselves into losing the ballgame. Walks allowed them to tie. Walks allowed them to take a lead. I mean, they didn’t hit the ball hard in the last inning and they ended up scoring five runs. … It’s unacceptable,” Acta said.

Acta, who overhauled his bullpen two weeks ago, isn’t sure how to fix the wildness.

“Walking guys after 0-2 counts, walking guys at the bottom of the order–I don’t know why,” Acta said. “You shouldn’t be afraid. … You’re pitching for a last-place team in a half-empty stadium. What can you be intimidated (by) right now?”

And he’s right. They all seem to be pitching scared now. It’s ridiculous!!

I don’t know whether to scream or cry at this point.

Washington/New York baseball connections

Since my two favorite teams are the Nationals and the Yankees, I did a bit of internet searching to see if there are any baseball-related connections between the two cities, other than the final Senators game in DC in 1971 and the interleague series between the Yankees and Nationals in 2006. I discovered the following:

1924 — The Washington Senators won their first American League pennant, finishing two games ahead of the New York Yankees (and Babe Ruth). The Senators then went on to win the World Series, defeating the New York Giants in seven games.

1933 — The Senators won the American League pennant, finishing seven games ahead of the Yankees, but lost the World Series to the Giants in five games.

1943 — The Senators finished second in the American League, 13.5 games behind the Yankees who would then go on to win the World Series over the St. Louis Cardinals.

1971 — The Senators’ final series in Washington, before moving to Texas to become the Rangers, was against the Yankees. On September 28, the Senators won the first game, 4-2. On September 29, the Yankees won, 6-3. In the final, fateful game on September 30, the Senators were leading the Yankees 7-5 with two outs in the ninth inning. And then hundreds of angry young fans, knowing that the Senators would be moving to Texas the following season, stormed the field and vandalized it. Unable to clear the field, the umpires declared a forfeit to the Yankees.

shortstinks.jpg2006 — The Yankees returned to RFK Stadium for the first time since 1971, to face the Washington Nationals in an interleague matchup on June 16-18. The Yankees won the first game, by the ironic score of 7-5. The Nationals won the second game, 11-9, on a blown save by Mariano Rivera. The third game of that series, played on Father’s Day, featured strong performances by both starting pitchers — Chien-Ming Wang of the Yankees and Mike O’Connor of the Nationals. With one out in the ninth inning and the Yankees leading 2-1, the Nationals’ Marlon Anderson hit a single, which was followed by a walk-off home run by Ryan Zimmerman. The Nationals stunned the Yankees, 3-2. It was one of the highlights of the season for the Nationals, who finished the season at the bottom of NL East with a 71-91 record, while the Yankees finished with a record of 97-65 and won the AL East.

2009 — The Nationals will face the Yankees in interleague play at Yankee Stadium, once again on June 16-18. What will happen this time?!