CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

No Previous Article
<< Previous Column
The Daily Prospectus: ... (11/01)
Next Column >>
The Daily Prospectus: ... (11/05)
No Next Article

November 2, 2001

The Daily Prospectus

Game Five

by Joe Sheehan

I know I'm supposed to fill this space with cogent analysis about the World Series, but I really don't know what I can say. I'm not operating as an analyst right now, not at 9:49 on Thursday night, not after having watched the most incredible back-to-back World Series games since 1991. I'm just a fan right now, a fan who has spent a lot of time staring slack-jawed at his television over the past couple of nights.

In the entire history of the World Series, just 11 teams have even tied games in which they trailed by more than one run in the ninth inning. Just four of those teams won the game in which they came back: the 1911 Giants (Game 5), the 1929 A's (Game 5), the 1939 Yankees (Game 4), and the 1985 Cardinals (Game 2).

In the last 22 hours, the Yankees extended that list by half. How do you write about an achievement like that, beyond repeating the word, "Wow," a couple hundred times?

After the Yankees won their third straight World Series last October, I wrote a column about the accomplishment, and how difficult it is to rectify the performance of this team with my beliefs as an analyst. It read, in part:

I don't put a whole lot of stock in chemistry or intangibles. Those terms are usually used after the fact to explain away success or failure that came as a surprise. Certainly, groups of people can have good or bad chemistry, and that chemistry can potentially impact the work they do.

As applied to baseball teams, though, the concepts are of little use as their relationship to success is unclear. After all, we don't usually hear about the good chemistry of 68-94 teams, so the question can be raised: does chemistry follow success or does success follow chemistry?

The 1999 and 2000 Yankees, teams that were not dramatically superior to their opponents--in some cases, inferior to them--are about as close to an acceptable argument for positive chemistry as I've ever seen. No, I'm not turning in my analyst card; I'm just saying that when a team wins nine consecutive best-ofs, and 12 of 13, that's impressive in a way that makes you question your beliefs.

The team that has won three straight World Series has been remarkably stable, and the players you associate with the success have been there for the entire 1998-2000 period. In that time, they've experienced a tremendous amount of "real-life" strife, from the health problems of Joe Torre, his brother Frank, and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre to the in-season deaths of the fathers of Scott Brosius, Paul O'Neill, and Luis Sojo.

This team has gone through a lot the past three years, both positive and negative. They have also, in that time, experienced success on a level unheard of in the last quarter-century. Whether there's a connection there...well, I'm reluctant, at least tonight, anyway, to dismiss it as readily as I normally would.

That's where I am tonight. I don't know what to say about this team, because their performance in the postseason--at the most critical moments in the postseason--is simply incredible.

Kinda cool, isn't it?

  • After a night when he did nothing right, I think Bob Brenly did a good job given the handicaps he'd created for himself. He had to get innings from Miguel Batista, and he did, riding Batista through some difficult situations and removing him when he had some leverage (getting Greg Swindell into the game against Tino Martinez). I agree with the decision to use Byung-Hyun Kim to try and get three outs. The options were Kim and Mike Morgan, and with the four righties scheduled to bat after Jorge Posada, even a tired Kim was the best choice.

    The only thing I didn't understand was lifting Morgan at the start of the 11th inning. Morgan had retired seven Yankees in a row, and thrown just 29 pitches in doing so. It's possible that Morgan could not pitch further, though, so I don't want to make too much of this. Having to use Albie Lopez, though...that was pretty much the nightmare scenario for Brenly.

    The D'backs manager even stopped with the freaky bunting fetish, and was rewarded with a runner-on-third, no-out situation in the ninth. The D'backs didn't score, but maybe the positive reinforcement of using the hit-and-run will hold.

  • Speaking of that rally, it died in part because Luis Gonzalez struck out with the runner on third and one out. Gonzalez had a pretty brutal trip to New York. He went 2-for-10 with a walk in the D'backs losses, and failed to get a runner home from third with less than two outs twice.

    I can't help but think that if it were a different National League West left fielder who hit a lot of home runs in 2001 having a series like this, it would be a bigger story.

    I guess it pays to not have a Barcalounger.

  • I've gotten a lot of e-mail from people asking about Randy Johnson, and why he didn't pitch at some point in Games 4 or 5.

    Truth to tell, I don't know what to say about that. I can understand why you would use Johnson, given the importance of the game. That said, using a starter out of the bullpen strikes me as an elimination-game strategy, not something you do in a situation where you're guaranteed at least one more game.

    With the exception of 1999--the year Bobby Cox decided that he could treat his best pitchers like Strat cards--starters in the playoff rotation only generally come out of the pen in dire circumstances. Given that Johnson is supposed to start in Game 6 in Arizona, I think not using him Thursday night was the best course of action.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. You can contact him by clicking here.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Joe's other articles. You can contact Joe by clicking here

Related Content:  Chemistry

0 comments have been left for this article.

No Previous Article
<< Previous Column
The Daily Prospectus: ... (11/01)
Next Column >>
The Daily Prospectus: ... (11/05)
No Next Article

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Premium Article Pitching Backward: The Guy Who Makes Scherze...
Fantasy Article Fantasy Team Preview: Los Angeles Angels of ...
Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Upton and Ubaldo in One Ugly ...
Premium Article Pebble Hunting: Hank Aaron's Hypothetical Fo...
Premium Article Raising Aces: Free Agent Pitchers: The Top T...
Premium Article Moonshot: A New View of Plate Discipline, Pa...
Premium Article 2015 Prospects: Cincinnati Reds Top 10 Prosp...


MORE BY JOE SHEEHAN
2001-11-13 - The Daily Prospectus: Big Red
2001-11-07 - The Daily Prospectus: Bastard
2001-11-05 - The Daily Prospectus: Game Seven
2001-11-02 - The Daily Prospectus: Game Five
2001-11-01 - The Daily Prospectus: Game Four
2001-10-31 - The Daily Prospectus: Game Three
2001-10-30 - The Daily Prospectus: Off-Day Musings
More...

MORE THE DAILY PROSPECTUS
2001-11-13 - The Daily Prospectus: Big Red
2001-11-07 - The Daily Prospectus: Bastard
2001-11-05 - The Daily Prospectus: Game Seven
2001-11-02 - The Daily Prospectus: Game Five
2001-11-01 - The Daily Prospectus: Game Four
2001-10-31 - The Daily Prospectus: Game Three
2001-10-30 - The Daily Prospectus: Off-Day Musings
More...