Tag Archives: Chicago Cubs

PARITY BE DAMNED – MLB HAS IT RIGHT

Parity is something discussed incessessantly in professional sports. How can you make things “even” between competing teams. This discussion explains from the quintessential baseball movie “Moneyball”

imageIn 2012, Major League Baseball expanded it’s number of teams making the playoffs from 8 to 10. This resulted in each of the thirty teams having a one in three chance of securing a spot in the postseason.

At the same time, the National Football league allows 12 of its 32 teams in the playoffs. This results in 37.5% of the teams making the cut, or three out of every eight teams. More teams get in than in baseball, but not nearly as many as in the parity driven NBA……

If you play in the National Basketball Assosciation, your team has an astounding one out of two chances to be in the postseason and maybe that explains why they drag on for two months.image

 

Baseball has it about right and any further moves to add more teams into the mix will only serve to water the playoffs down further by creating superficial fan interest in teams that are simply not very good to begin with.

In other words, don’t fix something that ain’t broke………..and besides……this format is thriving……

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HAVING FUN IS BACK IN BASEBALL…….

Managers talk about it all the time. They’ll say things like, “The whole team is pressing right now”.  Or on the flip side, “This team is really loose and the guys are having fun”.image Usually, the former is said about a team in the midst of a losing streak where no one can seem to remember how to hit, pitch, or catch…….and where if anything can go wrong – it will.

These things are usually temporary and just a part of a long baseball season. And they are always wrapped up in this thing we call the mental side of baseball (see previous post). In any event, these are the times when a manager earns his money and a team captain needs to step up. Because yes you’re still getting that big paycheck and yes you’re guaranteed to make even more money next year…….but something is missing.

imageWhat’s missing is that intangible…….having fun. Do you think the Royals who are mired in a month long slump are looking forward to coming to the ballpark to play their next game …..or the disappointing Astros? How about Matt Cain of the Giants (0-6 to begin the season)…..bet he can’t wait for his next start…..not likely.

But it’s not only about the fact that they are currently failing. Instead, maybe it’s tied more to this question…..are they not having fun because they are losing……or are they losing because they are not having fun?

Is that the proverbial  chicken or the egg question? I’m not convinced it is and here’s why……

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LOOKING THROUGH THE CRYSTAL BALL……

It’s always fun to be present at this time of the year as we approach the renewal of a baseball season when all things are bright and Spring Training becomes a memory that is soon lost in the posting of standingsimage      that actually count as the long season begins.

Because at this time of the year, all thirty teams have hope that is not only the breadth of spring in the air, but also the promise that yesterday is no more and this is a brand new season that holds mystery and intrigue that could imagelead to places yet unknown……..

But rather than joining the ever expanding list of “predictors “, I thought it might be a better conversation to ask some questions that are relevant and designed to provoke some thought…….

Answers are free. Correct answers cost five bucks each………

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WHO REMEMBERS…..” LEO “THE LIP” DUROCHER

 

  This is Chapter Twelve in a developing series titled “Who Remembers…..” that aims to highlight the careers of colorful and intriguing personalities who made their mark on the game of baseball, whether on or off the field.

WHO WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE PROFILED NEXT…………..

I’ll go not too far out on a limb and state that no one ever liked Leo Durocher. That would include his teammates imagewhen he played, the players he managed,  all of his opponents, and probably each of his four wives. He did little to cultivate friendships and less to tolerate anyone who didn’t buy into his win at all costs mentality.

Unlike all the other characters in this series, I could not uncover any semblance of “humaneness ” about Durocher in the reading I did for this piece. Unless you want to include his taking the job of managing the Chicago Cubs and escorting them through more years of a fruitless search for a World Championship. 

At the same time however, no one ever taught us as much about the mental side of baseball as Leo Durocher……….. And that’s why he earned a segment in this series……..

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PREDICTIONS……DON’T EVEN BOTHER….

I’m bored already with the endless cascade of so called “predictions ” about the 2016 season even before Spring Training officially begins. Two days ago, for instance, the USA Today crowned the Nationals, Giants, and Boston among others as Division winners. The New York Mets don’t even make the cut for the playoffs.

All of what they predict may turn out to be true, but if we step back and remember that 162 games remain to be played , it does get kind of ridiculous…..no?

What is the use, for example, of predicting anything when injuries play as much a role in a team’s success as home runs and batting averages? And yet, we can expect a continuing barrage of these procrastinations from media who need to fill print and talk radio space…

But here are the questions they should  be asking…… And not answering…..

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THE METS GO ALL IN (FOR THEM)

I supposeimage it’s all relative, but considering the spending curve the New York Mets have been on over the past five or six years, the signing of Yoenis Cespedes marks a decisive turn in their spending habits. The salary of Cespedes for 2016 ($27.5 million) pushes the Mets to about $115 million as a team. Even at that, they’ll only be at the halfway mark among the other 29 teams. The remaining $60 or so million depends on whether or not he opts out at the end of this season, but it doesn’t really matter because that can has been kicked down the road.

What does matter though is that Fred Wilpon imageleft) answered the call of Met fans to make this signing. Because although it’s been widely hushed up, the Mets ownership had some kind of tie to Bernie Madoff that spun their finances out of control  –  and Met fans not only guessed what was going on, they also did not appreciate running a franchise in the Big Apple on a shoestring. At least for a while now, the fan base is appeased and we’ll know shortly if we see a rise in ticket sales and the all important television ratings. In the end though, it all comes down to what happens on the field when the season begins………and that’s where the trouble lies………

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MY NEW YEAR’S (BASEBALL) WISHES…..

 download (24)Play along with me here in assembling a list of things we’d like to see happen during the 2016 Season……here’s a few of mine….what would be some of yours (see the comments section)……..

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TEAMS WITH A TARGET ON THEIR BACK…..

It seems that every year there are a hand full of teams that use the off season to engage in team building. Whether through trades or by signing images (1)high profile free agents- or a combination of both – they seem intent on making a big splash in the pond believing that if the baseball pundits say you’re good……then you (simply) have to be good.  And more importantly, your fans will believe that you are and begin to buy up tickets so you can (hopefully) “pay to play” once the season begins. This Hot Stove season has been no different and there are several teams with a target on their back resulting from their activities…….

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NL CENTRAL – A DECIDED SHIFT IN THE BALANCE OF POWER

If you are a fan of baseball, you have to be interested and enamored with the download (17)moves the Chicago Cubs have made to strengthen their team this winter. And if you are a Cubs FAN, you have to be simply ecstatic. With the Impending signing of Jason Heyward, who was coveted and designated as a “must sign” by the St. Louis Cardinals, a dramatic shift in the balance of power in the NL Central is now taking hold. But actually, we need to look backward before we move forward as the revitalization of the Cubs began long before this though….Continue reading

WINNER TAKES ALL? – I DON’T THINK SO

I often think that “winning  it all” is overrated in professional sportsimages-1 today. Like many of you perhaps, I am aware of the Vince Lombardi and Leo Durocher’s of the sports world, but really – is Winning (with a capital W)  all that necessary? 

When, for example, we gather our kids together to start Little League baseball…..what do we say to them?  We (hopefully) say – “Go out there and have a good time and just try your best”. Simple. We cheer their victories and console their losses by often pointing out what they did right during the game.

Why does this all of a sudden get lost when things turn to professional sports? Do we say – Hey, they’re getting paid all this money and they’d better win! No, that is missing the point. These players are being paid to entertain us in the same way that Paul McCartney or Taylor Swift is paid for delivering a concert for our enjoyment.

Would you say, for example, that the Pittsburgh Pirates images-3were not “winners” this past season – when they finished with the second highest win total in the Majors? How about the Cubs……are they Losers too? images-2Not to mention the poor Mets who ran headlong into a perfectly synced team in the Royals. And the list goes on……the Yankees exceeded all expectations. The Rangers, the Astros…….what can be said of them? Did their season mean nothing?

I kind of get it in football because they have such a short season and virtually every game played is do or die. But even there, it’s entertainment pure and simple. Well maybe not so pure given the propensity for NFL  players to be arrested for everything from murder to wife beating……but still if the Jets could beat the Patriots just once…..that alone should give every Jet fan a thrill and a moment to enjoy – in the same way every Met fan should tip their hat to “their” team and say “Thank you, job well done”.