Pure fiction (cont.)
Posted: Tuesday September 25, 2007 11:27AM; Updated: Tuesday September 25, 2007 2:29PM
3. The team that won the season series has the edge over its opponent.
Not so. The next time somebody wants to bring up how playoff teams did against one another during the season, tell them to save their breath. It's irrelevant.
Over the past two seasons, the team that won the season series over its opponent is 3-9 when those same teams meet in league postseason play. Did I hear someone say "small sample"?
OK, let's look at the entire Division Series and League Championship Series history during the wild-card era. The team that won the season series is 33-36 in postseason rematches, including 12-21 since 2001 (excludes three matchups of teams that tied their regular-season series). So fear not the Yankees, Indians fans. October really is a whole new season.
4. It's important to earn home field advantage.
No, it's not. Home teams in postseason games in the wild-card era are 208-182, a .533 winning percentage -- not too different than if you flipped a coin 390 times. It works out to roughly one extra win per year for all postseason teams combined.
But, hey, you say you really want that last game in your park if the series goes the distance, right? Doesn't matter. First of all, 79 percent of Division and League Championship Series never go the maximum number of games (57 of 72). And in those 15 series that did go the distance, the home teams went 5-10.
Now, having World Series Game 7 in your home park might mean something: Home teams are 8-0 in those ultimate games since 1979. But the site of that game is determined by the outcome of the All-Star Game, not by how many games a team wins during the season.
Bottom line: Playoff-certain teams should forget putting the pedal to the metal. Rest your players, especially your pitchers. The postseason -- no matter what myths you want to believe -- as Billy Beane so well put it, really is a crapshoot.
Mitchell investigation has the goods
The sweeping busts by the DEA of performance-enhancing drug dealers last weekend will soon echo across the sports world when even a fraction of the thousands of customer names inevitably becomes public. Even the protectionism of the baseball union only goes so far. Doping in baseball was so widespread the fraternity's code of silence is being overwhelmed by the sheer number of people who know. And now a source familiar with the investigation being run by former Sen. George Mitchell says that Mitchell's team has the names of steroid users -- active and retired players -- who have yet to be so identified publicly.
"Small names, big names, legends," the source said. "You're talking about changing the history of the game."
That puts the heat squarely on Mitchell. Does he follow the edict of commissioner Bud Selig and make every bit of his information public? Or does he play it safe and not bring every name public? "If he does that," the source said, "his reputation will be ruined, because we all know these names are eventually going to come out. And he'll be accused of being Selig's lackey."
Breaking the rules
The Joba Rules have expired. The Yankees will use reliever Joba Chamberlain in back-to-back games this week as a dry run for how he'll be used in October. The Yankees will now limit his work based on pitch counts, not innings or appearances. And with all the off days in the new postseason schedule, Chamberlain should be available almost anytime Torre needs him.
Says one AL coach: "With Chamberlain and [Mariano] Rivera, and the way they're hitting right now, the Yankees should win the World Series. As long as they get any kind of pitching from their starters, with those two guys at the end of the game, nobody's going to beat them."
GM Brian Cashman, after initially being too rigid with the rules, has done a good job grooming Chamberlain, and he is smart to return him to the rotation next year. Have you seen Chamberlain's curveball? It's awesome. Chamberlain is much more than a two-pitch pitcher. He's basically a younger version of Justin Verlander, and nobody is screaming to turn Verlander into a setup man. Chamberlain is most valuable throwing 200 innings and getting the chance to control 32 games as a starter with front-of-the-rotation stuff.
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