December 12, 2013
Get It Now!Hardball Times Annual is now available. It's got 300 pages of articles, commentary and even a crossword puzzle. You can buy the Annual at Amazon, for your Kindle or on our own page (which helps us the most financially). However you buy it, enjoy!
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Monday, October 29, 2012
The 2012 World Series avoids the fate of being judged by WPS as the least exciting World Series ever. As for avoiding the sweep, well, we can't have everything.
Game 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 F Giants 0 1 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 1 4 Tigers 0 0 2 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 3 (Giants win World Series, 4-0) WPS 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Giants 5 29 17 13 7 44 21 24 14 59 Tigers 7 14 31 5 11 32 9 24 20 20 WPS Base: 402.7 Best Plays: 87.5 Last Play: 4.7 Grand Total: 494.9
After a drought of excitement that turned the tail end of this postseason into a debatable and desert land, we finally got a really good game at the last possible moment. Not quite a great game—my cutoff there is at 500—but well worth watching.
The WPS line score shows how this contest built up its numbers. Few 1-2-3 innings to depress scores, meaning a lot of innings that had at least one baserunner and, thus, some scoring threat. The top of the ninth saw the Giants go down in order, but it was late and close enough that this still produced excitement, moreso than a couple earlier innings with someone getting aboard. Despite some interesting rallies late, notably in the seventh through ninth, it was still the scoring innings that produced all the highest WPS numbers.
I won't get much into covering the highlights here—you likely know them by now—but I do still have observations on this final game of the season. One is how Bruce Bochy declined to bring closer Sergio Romo into the game in the ninth inning, needing to keep the Tigers off the board to extend the game. Sabermetricians consider this the fallacy of the save situation: in waiting for the closer's standard situation and sending out inferior pitchers in the last half of the ninth (or later), you make it all the less likely that you'll get to that save situation.
It worked perfectly for Bochy, though. Jeremy Affeldt and Santiago Casilla handled the ninth, and when Marco Scutaro drove Ryan Theriot home in the visitors' 10th, Romo came in to administer death by slider (and sinker to one lefty). The doctrinaire sabermetricians can perhaps comfort themselves that it was Miguel Cabrera caught looking by the final strike. Mike Trout gets a modicum of preemptive revenge.
Bochy also splashed some cold water on the suggestion I made in yesterday's recap, stating categorically after Game Three that Tim Lincecum will be back in the starting rotation for 2013. I guess my suggestion didn't pass his horse-laugh test.
My Tim-ism of the night came as the top of the ninth led off. I cannot swear to the exact quotation, but Tim McCarver said something along the lines of "If [Hunter] Pence can get on base, it would go a long way toward helping the Giants score in this inning." Correct. Tautologies for $400, Alex. This wasn't as egregious as saying the chance of scoring goes up "dramatically," but it's in the same spirit.
I could almost have forgiven McCarver if he had been a little better with a good line earlier. As a replay of one of the myriad broken bats of this series played, McCarver observed, "Kindling for the winter." That line was a clean single, but "Kindling for the hot stove" would have cleared the fence.
One casualty of the San Francisco sweep is that we won't get to see how far Joe Buck was going to carry his torch for The Who, after getting their music into broadcast intros and between-inning outros. I was actually looking forward to the inevitable dugout interview with Pete Townshend in Game Six.
And I am glad to report that our favorite Marlins jersey-wearing fan was at the game! Laurence Leavy sure does get around, and the World Series was that much more interesting because of him. He even broke out his white panda hood in the eighth inning when Pablo Sandoval came up, but the charm did no good, as Panda grounded into a pickle-licious double play. I have to wonder, though, who he apparently was texting during the game. The one time this series served up a hot dish, and his attention was split.
And that is it for WPS Recap this year. Whether I do this again next season depends on how fast the trauma of actually replicating a sliver of the life of a sports reporter fades. One last time, I would like to acknowledge FanGraphs for its steady flow of real-time game data that made these reports possible.
There may be one sequel to these recaps: I might be doing a slightly deeper analysis of two of Detroit's tactical moves in Game Two that could have cost them greatly. (I nearly wrote this up on Saturday, but I figured two THT Live articles in 24 hours would be trying our readers' patience.) The Series is over, after all: the time is perfect now for all those "what ifs."
Ten years ago today, three teams hired new managers. None of the men had ever managed in the big leagues before, but they’ve all hung around. None has had that much success, but they all managed to find work, even after their first team let them go. Combined, they’ve managed 3,840 games in the last decade, nearly eight percent of all the games in the major leagues.
Thus, while there are no big-name skippers that entered the managerial ranks, it turns out Oct. 29, 2012 is the 10th anniversary of a great day in the history of journeymen managers.
The man hired by the most high-profile team was Ken Macha, as the A’s named him as their new manager. At that time, the A’s were one of the glory franchises in baseball. They were coming off their big Moneyball season during which they won 103 games. Prior to that, they’d won 102 games in 2001. Art Howe managed them in those years, but he didn’t get too much credit. GM Billy Beane got all the accolades and Howe was let go when his contract ran out at the end of the season.
Macha was supposed to have better communications skills than Howe and was much more closely aligned with how Beane approached baseball. That was the word on Oct. 29, 2002.
Macha did have success, too. In his first year, he led the A’s to the AL West crown. Alas, for the fourth consecutive year, Oakland lost the ALDS in five games. In 2004, the A’s just missed the playoff while winning 91 games. They stalled again the next year with 88 wins. In 2006, Oakland finally broke through under Macha. They not only won the division with a 93-69 season, but for the only time in the 21st century they won the ALDS. Then the Tigers promptly swept them in the ALCS.
And that was in for Macha. Strange, isn’t it? Two consecutive managers left Oakland immediately after a playoff season. The A’s wouldn’t have another winning season until 2012.
Macha spent two years not filling out a big league lineup card, but when the call came for him to manage, it was from another seemingly ideal situation. A young Brewers team that had just made the playoffs in 2008 wanted Macha to take charge of its players in 2009. So he took that job&mdas;and Milwaukee promptly fell to 80-82. After a second straight disappointing season, Macha was shown the door. He hasn’t managed in the majors since then. He is the only of the Oct. 29, 2002 trio who didn’t manage in 2012.
The reason Macha could get that Brewers job for 2009 is because in late 2008 Milwaukee fired another man first hired on Oct. 29, 2002: Ned Yost
When Milwaukee named Yost its new skipper on Oct. 29, 2002, it really didn’t seem like a dream gig. Instead of coming off a 103-win season like Macha and the A’s, the Brewers had just concluded a woeful 106-loss season. Yeah, that’s the sort of team you’d expect to be looking for a new manager.
Under Yost, the team gradually improved. They were undergoing a youth movement, and Yost was perfectly willing to give the kids playing top and trust them. They improved, and by 2005 were a respectful .500 team: 81-81.
Things became a bit more frustrating as Yost wore on. It isn’t just the win-loss record, where the Brewers fell backward in 2006 before recovering in 2007 to finish barely over .500 (83-79). Yost’s limitations came to the fore. He had trouble managing his bullpen and seemed to wear out. The Brewers often played worse later in the year as Yost had trouble handling the day-to-day affairs of the club. Making things worse, in 2007 the division was there for the taking, but Milwaukee couldn’t quite grab it.
It looked like a breakthrough year in 2008 with Milwaukee primed for the Wild Card. However, late in the year the team stumbled, and Yost in particular bumbled. In one memorable September week, he was ejected from several games. Instead of firing up the players, they fumbled, making a handful of errors in one game. With the club about to blow the Wild Card, the Brewers fired him with two weeks to go. They claimed the final playoff spot anyway, but that’s why the job was there for Macha in 2009.
Yost missed a year, but then the Royals hired him in May, 2010. Once again, a team with a long series of losing seasons tabbed Yost. To date, things haven’t gone all that great. They have good hitters and a good bullpen but no starting pitching.
Joining Macha and Yost as a new manager debuting on Oct. 29, 2002, was new Indians hire Eric Wedge. He was by far the youngest of the bunch, just 35 years of age when Cleveland introduced him to the media.
As teams went, the 2002-03 Indians were between the A’s and Brewers. Like Milwaukee, Cleveland had a rotten 2002 season, but unlike the Brewers, there was no sustained losing streak for them. In fact, the Cleveland glory run of the 1990s had just ended; 2002 had been their first losing season since 1993. So the young manager Wedge would be overseeing a rebuilding effort.
It quickly looked like the new model Indians were working out under Wedge. In 2005, they were one of baseball’s surprise teams, just missing a playoff slot after a bad last week of the season. Though they fell back in 2006, they went 96-66 in 2007. The Tribe beat the mighty New York Yankees in the ALDS and went up three games to one on the Red Sox in the ALCS.
Then things fell apart. Boston rallied to win the ALCS, but that’s okay because Cleveland was still a great, young, up-and-coming team with many years of success in front of it, right?
Eh, wrong. To date, 2007 is still the Indians' last winning season. They went 81-81 in 2008 and then flopped to 97 losses in 2009. That cost Wedge his job.
Still, many thought Cleveland’s front office was to blame, and despite the team’s underachieving, Wedge still was thought well enough of to get hired again. The Mariners picked him for their 2011 season. To date, the results have been disappointing, with back-to-back losing seasons.
Macha, Yost, and Wedge: none is among the first rank of managers, but it’s an impressive trio of men to join the dugout ranks on the same day. And that day was 10 years ago today.
Aside from that, many other baseball events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something occurring X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d prefer to just skim through things.
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