“Woah, Cubs, Woah”: A song

(To be sung to the tune of “Go Cubs Go”)

Baseball season’s done today

But you better get woken for a whole new way

Hey, Chicago, how do you say

The Cubs have finally won the day!

They’re singing …

Woah, Cubs, woah

Woah, Cubs, woah

Hey, Chicago, how do you say

The Cubs have finally won the day!

Woah, Cubs, woah

Woah, Cubs, woah

Hey, Chicago, how do you say

The Cubs have finally won the day!

They had the power, they had the speed

They were the best in the National League

Well it was the year and the Cubs were real

Fans came on down to Wrigley Field.

They’re singing now …

Woah, Cubs, woah

Woah, Cubs, woah

Hey, Chicago, how do you say

The Cubs have finally won the day!

Woah, Cubs, woah

Woah, Cubs, woah

Hey, Chicago, how do you say

The Cubs have finally won the day.

Baseball time was here again

Just like the days of old WGN

They stamped their feet and clapped their hands

Chicago Cubs got the greatest fans.

They’re singing now …

Woah, Cubs, woah

Woah, Cubs, woah

Hey, Chicago, how do you say

The Cubs have finally won the day!

Woah, Cubs, woah

Woah, Cubs, woah

Hey, Chicago, how do you say

The Cubs have finally won the day.

Advertisements

Postcards before the Baseball Apocalypse: Thoughts before the 2016 World Series

Well, I guess the Nationals didn’t make the World Series, huh? And now, random unorganized thoughts on the World Series we ARE getting:

Something’s gotta give

As I’m sure you know and will no doubt be reminded 1,908 times, this is a match-up of “cursed” teams. The Cubs, obviously, haven’t won a World Series since 1908 and hadn’t even been to one before this year since 1945, when a goat was infamously refused admission to Wrigley Field, leading to the infamous “Curse of the Billy Goat”. Cleveland, meanwhile, hasn’t won a World Series since 1948, and is said to have been cursed to never do so again because of the trading of popular star Rocky Colavito in 1960. Others, however, say that the curse is actually the “Curse of Wahoo”, which fates the Indians to runner-up status until they remove the unquestionably politically-incorrect red-faced smile from their uniforms entirely (the Indians have made it much less prominent recently, but it’s still there).

Unless you count the three different Washington baseball franchises as one line of tradition (and most don’t), these are the two most snake-bitten teams in basically all of North American sports. One of them has to break a curse here, right? Or are we doomed for an endless series where the extra innings spread on until Baseball Armageddon?

Andrew Miller, Destroyer of Worlds

It’s hard to put into words how great Andrew Miller has been lately, and how well Terry Francona has used him. Ignoring the outdated orthodoxy that caused even the relatively-maverick Buck Showalter to hold Zack Britton for a save opportunity that never came, Francona deploys his best pitcher when he’s most needed.

And for that reason, it is going to be imperative that the Cubs score early and probably often. Because Miller Time probably means another year without a World Series title if they don’t.

Kyle “Kirk Gibson” Schwarber

I’m looking forward to seeing Kyle Schwarber, making his first appearance since getting injured all the way back in April. He’ll only be DHing and perhaps pinch-hitting, but with his bat, that could easily mean we might see a Kirk Gibson moment where a player who has no business being in the game delivers a magical moment.

Or maybe he’ll be a total non-factor who strikes out. Where’s the fun in that, though?

Terry vs. Theo

Amazingly, the fact that Theo Epstein’s team is facing Terry Francona’s team hasn’t gotten as much play as I thought it would. I mean, it’s been brought up a lot, but not as much as I thought it would have. Probably because of the bigger storylines going around.

Blah, Blah, Blah, get to your prediction:

Cubs in 6.

Why?

Depth. I think that the Indians can win match and defeat the Cubs at the top of the rotations and with the bullpen, but the deeper lineup for the Cubs and starting rotation give them the overall edge. To rewrite a song: “Hey Chicago, what do you say, the Cubs have finally won the day!”

 

Should the 1919 “Black Sox” really have been the favorites in the 1919 World Series?

There are some assumptions of baseball history that are almost accepted wisdom. For example, it’s treated as a near-given that Ted Williams, had he not lost so many years to the military, would have finished his career as statistically the greatest hitter who ever lived. It’s almost assumed that the Montreal Expos would have won the World Series in 1994 if not for the strike.

And then there is the thought that the 1919 Chicago White Sox would have run roughshod on the Cincinnati Reds in the 1919 World Series if not for the conspiracy to throw the series. Heck, in the Eight Men Out movie, a Reds player compares his team to Custer about to make a final and suicidal last stand.

But were they? Game-throwing or not, was the triumph of the 1919 Reds really that big of an upset?

I’m not so sure. In fact, I’m not sure if it was a upset at all. Here are the facts:

1. The 1919 Reds were 94-66, one of the best records in baseball history.

Obviously, to get to the World Series, especially back in the days before multiple rounds of playoffs, a team’s record needs to be good. But the 1919 Reds had a record that was great. Their .686 winning percentage was the highest for Cincinnati in the 20th century, and only .002 behind the 1882 American Association title-winning Cincinnati Red Stockings. That means that, yes, in winning percentage, the 1919 Reds were better than the 1975 Big Red Machine that went 108-54 (.667 winning percentage). It was the second-best winning percentage of the 1910s (behind only the 1912 Red Sox, who went 105-47 for a .691 winning percentage) and no team would have a winning percentage higher than it again until the 1927 Yankees. It remains the 18th best winning percentage since 1901. Three of baseball’s greatest franchises (Dodgers, Tigers, Browns/Orioles) have never put together a season with that good of a record despite having a combined total of over three centuries to try.

Oh, and by the way, the 1919 White Sox went 88-52 for a .629 winning percentage. Not too shabby, but hardly one for the record books.

2. The Reds finished the season hot as hell.

In the second half of the season, the Reds were an astounding 47-19, a .712 winning percentage. By comparison, the White Sox had their second half of games end with a record of 41-27, a .612 winning percentage. This is all the more remarkable when you consider that for the last month or so of the season the Reds had little to play for, as they blasted away second-place New York by nine games.

3. The White Sox weren’t 100%

The White Sox had three eventual Hall of Famers on their roster, but only two of them (Ray Schalk and Eddie Collins) played in the World Series. Spitballer Red Faber- a rising star at the time- didn’t. Why? Because he’d been fighting the flu all season, leading to one of the worst campaigns of the first part of his career. By World Series time, he was done pitching for the year and instead focused on recovering. The next three seasons would see the recovered Faber have the three best years of his career. Hindsight, of course, is 20/20, but it’s hard to say that having a future Hall of Famer miss your World Series appearance would benefit your team.

Interestingly, there is some belief that had Faber been healthy, there wouldn’t have been an attempt to throw the series in the first place, as it’s unlikely that he would have gone along with it and his playing would reduce the opportunities for “Black Sox” pitchers to affect the course of the series.

4. The Reds had a much better and deeper pitching staff.

Defense, it is said, wins championships. In baseball, that means the pitching. And in almost every category, the Cincinnati Reds had a better pitching staff than the Chicago White Sox did. They had a better ERA, a better hits allowed/9, a better walks allowed/9 and a better WHIP, better Fielding-Independent Pitching. While the White Sox were better in some traditional statistics like strikeouts, when you look at deeper statistics, the Reds clearly had a better staff.

They also had a deeper one. In an era where most pitchers went the entire game or close to it (thus giving the stat more meaning than it does now), the White Sox got 52.09% of their wins from the two pitchers who pitched the most innings for them: Eddie Cicotte and Lefty Williams. By comparison, the top two pitchers in IP for the Reds (Hod Eller and Dutch Reuther) accounted for only 39.58% of the Reds’ wins. The White Sox, without a healthy Faber, were for the most part essentially two aces carrying a staff, but the Reds were strong from top to bottom. Six pitchers on the Reds had at least 10 wins, and all but one of those six had lower ERAs than every single White Sox pitcher save for Cicotte.

5. The Reds had home-field advantage

Obviously, home-field advantage is something that is of debated value, but the fact is… the Reds had it in this best-of-nine series.

Despite this, most people thought the White Sox would win.

Below are headlines and/or excerpts from The Sporting News in the weeks before and during the earliest days of the 1919 World Series:

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 3.50.27 PMScreen Shot 2016-05-19 at 3.55.39 PMScreen Shot 2016-05-19 at 3.58.27 PMScreen Shot 2016-05-19 at 4.01.56 PMScreen Shot 2016-05-19 at 4.03.06 PMScreen Shot 2016-05-19 at 4.06.55 PMScreen Shot 2016-05-19 at 4.08.06 PMThose are just samples. Now, to be sure, plenty of people picked the Reds. But more people seemed sure of the White Sox- both sportswriters of the day and the odds-makers.

But why?

Well, a few reasons.

First off, the National League wasn’t really thought of all that well at the time. They hadn’t won a World Series since 1914, and had lost eight of the last nine. Many of the articles predicting a White Sox triumph more-or-less discounted the great record of the Reds due to the perception that they hadn’t faced as good of competition.

Secondly, the White Sox probably were a better hitting team. They were ahead of the Reds in many categories, and the “eye test” generally favored them as well.

Third, all of those fancy stats we have available now either weren’t available or weren’t embraced by people back in 1919.

And finally, there is the case of big city bias. Chicago was and is a big market with large influence in politics, culture and media, and also had a much bigger population. That also meant more people would have seen the White Sox, and also more people would have been wanting to put some money down on the hometown team. The bookies would have adjusted the lines accordingly to make sure they’d come out ahead in the end.

After all, what’s the use in fixing it if you are going to lose anyway?

Sources:

Baseball-Reference.com

SABR Bioproject of Red Faber, by Brian Cooper

SABR’s “Paper of Record” database

 

 

 

(Blogathon ’16) Jeff Katz: Anniversaries and World Series

This guest-post is part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page. Also, please note that the opinions and statements of the writer are not necessarily those of the Baseball Continuum or it’s webmaster.

Karen and I met on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1985. By May, we were engaged. When Karen started looking for a place to get married near her hometown of Niskayuna, New York, I had one request.

“I just don’t want to get married during the World Series.”

It seemed a simple enough request to me. Sure, I wasn’t destined to play in the World Series, but I always watched it and it was very important to me. What I didn’t understand, the flaw in my plan, was that Karen had no idea when the World Series occurred. We were to be married the same day as Game 2 of what would turn out to be the Red Sox – Mets series.

“Wait,” she said with surprise. “Isn’t it ‘The Boys of September?’” What can you do?

The day before the wedding, my in-laws had a big spread, not a rehearsal dinner per se, but a nice gathering at their house. Everyone huddled around the TV to watch the opener, Bruce Hurst v. Ron Darling at Shea.

“Why are they all watching TV?” my mother-in-law wondered, in disbelief.

They were doing what was the only normal thing to do, watch the World Series. I left before the game was over, heading back to my hotel with my parents. My mother was ticked off at my in-laws because they didn’t have enough food. Why? My mother told them no one would come from New York City to upstate the night before the wedding. My mother-in-law ordered an appropriate amount of food and then, of course, a horde of New Yorkers came. A nice trap was set by my mother. What did I care? I just wanted to get back to watch the rest of the game, which Boston won 1-0 on a Tim Teufel error.

The next day, October 19, was beautiful and sunny, the last pretty day before fall gave way to winter. We had an outdoor wedding, well-attended, and well-remembered. As the afternoon went on, some guests had to leave. They had tickets to Game 2. I couldn’t blame them for the leaving early.

Karen and I didn’t leave the wedding together; we didn’t give it any thought. A worker at the hall said to Karen, “I’ve never seen the bride and groom leave separately.” It was no big deal and I had to get my stuff from the hotel. Our honeymoon wasn’t until December. We reconvened at her parents’ house and went to the Desmond Americana Hotel in Albany for the night.

At the hotel, in a nice two level room, we opened all our gifts on the first floor and ordered lots of appetizers from room service. Then, like all newlywed couples, we went upstairs to bed.

I watched Game 2, a Red Sox blow out.

Our anniversary has always revolved around the World Series, though now, with the extra layer of playoffs, the Series is usually the week later. We watch all the post-season games together, I tell Karen about the players, we snack, we drink and we have a blast. Not even the “Boys of September” have a better time.

Jeff Katz, author, Split Season 1981: Fernandomania, The Bronx Zoo and The Strike That Saved Baseball (Thomas Dunne Books) is also the Mayor of Cooperstown. You can find him at http://Jeff-Katz.com  and @splitseason1981.

This guest-post has been part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page. Also, please note that the opinions and statements of the writer were not necessarily those of the Baseball Continuum or it’s webmaster.

MR. OCTOBERS of 2015 WORLD SERIES GAME 5 and the MR. OCTOBERS of the 2015 POSTSEASON!

The Mr. Octobers of last night were Matt Harvey (even though they lost) and Eric Hosmer.

But who were the MR. OCTOBERS of the whole postseason? Look at the standings below and you’ll see they are Eric Hosmer and a tie between Wade Davis and Noah Syndergaard. I’d give the edge to Wade Davis, though, as a tiebreaker, since his team won it all.

STANDINGS (PP means Position Player, P means Pitcher, * means the team has been eliminated):

PP Eric Hosmer 20

P Noah Syndergaard 18*

P Wade Davis 18

P Johnny Cueto 16

P Matt Harvey 15*

PP David Wright 13*

PP Daniel Murphy 11*

P Marcus Stroman 11*

PP Jose Bautista 11*

P Chris Young 10

PP Ben Zobrist 10

PP Michael Conforto 10*

P Jeurys Familia 9*

P Jacob deGrom 8*

PP Yoenis Cespedes 8*

P Marco Estrada 8*

PP Troy Tulowitzki 8*

PP Jorge Soler 6*

PP Alex Rios 6

P Edinson Volquez 5

PP Alcides Escobar 5

PP Mike Moustakas 5

P Kelvin Herrera 5

PP Travis d’Arnaud 5*

PP Ryan Goins 5*

P Liam Hendriks 5*

PP Lorenzo Cain 5

PP Lucas Duda 5*

P Steven Matz 5*

P Dallas Keuchel 4*

P Jake Diekman 3*

PP Rougned Odor 3*

P Collin McHugh 3*

PP Kendrys Morales 3

P Shawn Tolleson 3*

PP Delino DeShields 3*

PP Salvador Perez 3

P Ryan Madson 3

P John Lackey 3*

PP Stephen Piscotty 3*

P Travis Wood 3*

PP Adrian Gonzalez 3*

PP Chris Carter 3*

PP Carlos Correa 3*

P Roberto Osuna 3*

PP Kevin Pillar 3*

P Pedro Strop 3*

P Justin Grimm 3*

PP Javier Baez 3*

P Clayton Kershaw 3*

PP Justin Turner 3*

PP Colby Rasmus 1*

PP Kyle Schwarber 1*

P Jake Arrieta 1*

Headlines From Around The Continuum (November 2, 2015)

A sampling of baseball-related headlines from the Newseum, elsewhere, and occasionally some websites, with the occasional note from me on what they are talking about:

Headline: Royals win first World Series title since 1985, outlasting Harvey and Mets in Game 5

(Note: So that I don’t have a thousand papers from around the country that just say something along the lines of “Royals win World Series”, I focused on the hometown papers and papers that went a different route in their headlines.)

Kansas City Star: ROYALTY

Daily News (front): THE DARKEST KNIGHT (“Mets Amazin’ season comes crashing down in 9th, Royals take crown in 12”)

Daily News (back): CRUEL HAND LUC (on Lucas Duda’s bad throw)

NY Post (front): AMAZIN’ DISGRACE

NY Post (back): NIGHTY KNIGHT!

Newsday (front): YA GOTTA BEREAVE

Newsday (back): A ROYAL SHAME

El Diario- La Prensa (Brooklyn): Los pecados de Collins (“The sins of Collins”)

News-Leader (Springfield, MO): TOOK THE CROWN

St. Joseph (MO) News-Press: WORLD RENOWNED ROYALTY

Joplin (MO) Globe: WORLD CHAMPIONS

Hutchinson (KS) News: THEY DIDN’T QUIT

Lawrence (KS) Journal-World: NEVER-SAY-DIE ROYALS WIN WORLD SERIES

Salina (KS) Journal: CHAMPIONS!

Wichita Eagle: ROYALS RALLY FOR WORLD SERIES TITLE

The Record (Bergen County, NJ): Mets’ magic runs out

Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ): It’s all over

The Hawk Eye (Burlington, Iowa): Royals are champs

Alaska Dispatch News (Anchorage): Royals crowned champions after another late meltdown by Mets

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock): Kings of 2015

Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA): BASEBALL CROWNS ITS ROYALTY

Ventura County Star (CA): ROYAL THRONE

Denver Post: ROYALS REIGN

Idaho Press-Tribune (Nampa): CROWNED ROYALS

Decatur (Ill.) Herald & Review: Royals flush

Evansville (Ind.) Courier & Press: ROYALS GET THEIR CROWN

The Sun (Lowell, Mass.): ROYALS!

St. Paul Pioneer Press: K.C. MASTERPIECE

Lincoln (Nebraska) Journal Star: CROWN ‘EM

Omaha World-Herald: K.C. BRINGS BACK THE CROWN

Morning Call (Allentown, PA): BASEBALL ROYALTY (This headline was also used at the Edmonton Journal in Canada)

Times-Tribune (Scranton, PA): MIGHTY K.C.

Daily Herald (Provo, Utah): ROYAL CORONATION

USA Today: ROYALS RALLY, WIN WORLD SERIES

Winnipeg Free Press: ROYALS ARE WORLD SERIES KINGS

El Heraldo (Baranquilla, Colombia): Reales de Kansas City, campeones de la Serie Mundial (“Kansas City Royals, World Series Champions”)

Novedades de Quintana Roo (Mexico): Reales se corona 30 años después (“Royal crown 30 years later”)

Milenio (Guadalajara, Mexico): REALES, CAMPEÓN (“ROYALS, CHAMPION”)

Reforma (Mexico City): Se coronan Reales (“They are crowned Royals”)

Vanguardia (Saltillo, Mexico): VUELVAN A LA GLORIA LUEGO DE 30 ANOS (“TO GLORY AGAIN AFTER 30 YEARS”)

El Nuevo Diario (Managua, Nicaragua): !REALES CAMPEONES, EN CASA DE LOS METS! (“Royals champions, in the home of the Mets!”)

El Universal (Caracas, Venezuela): Kansas City campeón (“Kansas City champion”)

Virgin Islands Daily News (Charlotte Amalie): WORLD CHAMPIONS- Baseball royalty

MR. OCTOBERS of WORLD SERIES GAME 4, 2015

The MR. OCTOBERS of last night were Michael Conforto (even though the Mets lost) and Wade Davis.
STANDINGS (PP means Position Player, P means Pitcher, * means the team has been eliminated):

P Noah Syndergaard 18

P Wade Davis 18

P Johnny Cueto 16

PP David Wright 13

PP Daniel Murphy 11

P Marcus Stroman 11*

PP Jose Bautista 11*

P Chris Young 10

PP Ben Zobrist 10

PP Eric Hosmer 10

PP Michael Conforto 10

P Jeurys Familia 9

P Jacob deGrom 8

PP Yoenis Cespedes 8

P Marco Estrada 8*

PP Troy Tulowitzki 8*

PP Jorge Soler 6*

PP Alex Rios 6

P Edinson Volquez 5

PP Alcides Escobar 5

PP Mike Moustakas 5

P Kelvin Herrera 5

P Matt Harvey 5

PP Travis d’Arnaud 5

PP Ryan Goins 5*

P Liam Hendriks 5*

PP Lorenzo Cain 5

PP Lucas Duda 5

P Steven Matz 5

P Dallas Keuchel 4*

P Jake Diekman 3*

PP Rougned Odor 3*

P Collin McHugh 3*

PP Kendrys Morales 3

P Shawn Tolleson 3*

PP Delino DeShields 3*

PP Salvador Perez 3

P Ryan Madson 3

P John Lackey 3*

PP Stephen Piscotty 3*

P Travis Wood 3*

PP Adrian Gonzalez 3*

PP Chris Carter 3*

PP Carlos Correa 3*

P Roberto Osuna 3*

PP Kevin Pillar 3*

P Pedro Strop 3*

P Justin Grimm 3*

PP Javier Baez 3*

P Clayton Kershaw 3*

PP Justin Turner 3*

PP Colby Rasmus 1*

PP Kyle Schwarber 1*

P Jake Arrieta 1*