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Articles Tagged 2002 ALDS 

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March 31, 2011 9:00 am

Divide and Conquer, AL West: The Comeback Kids

0

Joey Matschulat

The season has hardly had a chance to kick off, but it's still fun to look back at the best stretch drive comebacks in AL West history.

Have you ever had a particular song lyric or verse stick in your head for not merely days or weeks, but years? I have. Most of us have. Maybe all of us have? Regardless, it has been at least five or six years since I first heard the hip-hop masterpiece that is Mos Def & Talib Kweli are Black Star, but there’s a part on the track “RE:Definition” that has been rattling around within the confines of my consciousness since the very first listen: “We Die Hard like the battery done in the back of me by the mad MC who thinks imitation’s the highest form of flattery/Actually, don’t be mad at me …” Imitation’s the highest form of flattery. I didn’t know where it came from (turns out it was a bastardization of the more famous quote from 19th century author C.C. Colton), but I liked it, and figured the day would eventually arrive when I could constructively apply it.  

Fast forward to this past Monday, when the intrepid Geoff Young opened his fascinating NL West history thusly: “As Yogi Berra might say, we'll have all year to discuss the season.” And as hyped as I may be for the impending season, Geoff’s right. Not long thereafter, I stumbled upon this not-so-prescient scan of the June 1, 2005 Houston Chronicle sports section, and my creative direction was sealed. There is little more emotionally stirring in the sports world than the comeback against tremendous odds, and little that I can believe to be more appropriate for this emotionally stirring week than a look back at the greatest in-season comeback by each AL West ballclub en route to a division title since the Great Realignment of 1994 (with a little help from CoolStandings.com’s historical playoff odds snapshots):

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The longtime Yankees lefty has often found himself charged with following someone else's opening act in October.

For most of his career, Andy Pettitte has been a Game Two kind of guy. The longtime Yankees lefty generally hasn’t distinguished himself as the best pitcher on his teams, though that’s perhaps more a reflection of his past and present teammates than an indictment of his own abilities. In only two of his 16 seasons have the teams for which he’s played failed to qualify for postseason baseball, so it’s no surprise that he’s shared a rotation with a number of Hall-of-Fame-caliber talents—Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina, Roy Oswalt, David Cone, and current rotation-mate CC Sabathia among them. Some of those luminaries have deprived Pettitte of Game One duties, but—as has been the case thus far in this year’s ALDS—the lefty has often managed to outpitch his teams’ nominal aces.

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Two storied franchises, each boasts an especially singular star ballplayer.

Chicago Cubs

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An AL powerhouse against a Rocky Mountain-high Cinderella--who has momentum, and who's got the advantage?

Tonight, the Colorado Rockies will become the fifth franchise in the past 11 years to make its virgin appearance in the World Series, following in the footsteps of the 1997 Marlins, the 2001 Diamondbacks, the 2002 Angels, and the 2005 Astros. The Rockies combine elements from each of those clubs. Like the 1997 Marlins, they are an odd mix of veteran talent and youth, and squeezed into the playoffs as a Wild Card team in a league that featured a great deal of parity. Like the 2001 Diamondbacks, they are an expansion club from the Mountain West that is set to square off at long odds against one of the AL East's superpowers. Like the 2002 Angels, they are a 'small ball' team that has excelled by vacuuming up with their defense when their opponents tried to put the ball into play. And like the 2005 Astros, which at one point were more than 200:1 underdogs to reach the postseason, they saved their best baseball for late in the year.

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July 5, 2006 12:00 am

Lies, Damned Lies: More on Elo

1

Nate Silver

Nate returns to Elo for a look at the 30 best teams since 1960.

I decided not to stray at all from the method that I introduced in last week's article. There are arguments for introducing some sort of league-difficulty adjustment for the era before interleague play, and perhaps changing the bonus for margin of victory to coordinate it with the run-scoring environment of the league. But one of the nice things about Elo is its relative simplicity, and in the interest of both time and simplicity, I decided not to tinker with it.

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Christina previews the Yankees/Angels series, who are perfectly poised to exploit each other's weaknesses.

Lineups (AVG/OBP/SLG/EqA/VORP)

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October 27, 2004 12:00 am

Lies, Damned Lies: Being on the Brink

0

Nate Silver

Like 26 teams before them, the Cardinals find themselves down 3-0 in a best-of-seven series. Just how likely is a comeback?

Scratch that. It was less than a week ago that David Ortiz busted about a 250-pound hole through that particular argument. But to hear the pundits talk, you'd think that the Red Sox had pulled off a one-in-a-million feat.

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June 11, 2003 12:00 am

Littleball

0

Mark Armour

As one might expect, the success of Michael Lewis's great new book, Moneyball, has led to a number criticisms of Oakland Athletics' GM Billy Beane, his staff, and their entire organizational philosophy. These criticisms should not have come as a surprise: Lewis presents Beane as a brilliant visionary operating in an antiquated system peopled, for the most part, with morons. There may be a great deal of truth to this, but the idea that some of Beane's competitors would be defensive is understandable. The most interesting criticism of the Athletics' success is that as impressive as their regular season results have been, their style of play cannot succeed in the playoffs against quality competition. Sure, the Athletics win 100 games every year with one of the lowest payrolls in the game, but if they can't win in the post-season, what good is it? This turns out to be a convenient critique since the A's have lost in the first round of the playoffs for the past three seasons. This criticism is not new, of course. Joe Morgan has been saying similar things for the last year or so: The A's offense, which has relied mainly on reaching base and hitting home runs, is not effective in the post-season facing quality pitching. A team needs to be able to "manufacture runs"--steal bases, bunt, hit behind the runner, etc. The A's do not, or cannot, do these things, so they are doomed to fall short in the playoffs. Or so the argument goes.

The most interesting criticism of the Athletics' success is that as impressive as their regular season results have been, their style of play cannot succeed in the playoffs against quality competition. Sure, the Athletics win 100 games every year with one of the lowest payrolls in the game, but if they can't win in the post-season, what good is it? This turns out to be a convenient critique since the A's have lost in the first round of the playoffs for the past three seasons.

This criticism is not new, of course. Joe Morgan has been saying similar things for the last year or so: The A's offense, which has relied mainly on reaching base and hitting home runs, is not effective in the post-season facing quality pitching. A team needs to be able to "manufacture runs"--steal bases, bunt, hit behind the runner, etc. The A's do not, or cannot, do these things, so they are doomed to fall short in the playoffs. Or so the argument goes.

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This is my favorite playoff series, if only because it's going to finally put the lie to Bud Selig's constant lament that no team in the lower half of payroll has ever advanced beyond the first round of the playoffs. The Twins and the A's were respectively 27th and 28th in ESPN's Opening Day payroll tally. I'm surprised that the right Honorable Commissioner didn't intervene and 'fix' the matchups in what he might see as the best interests of baseball. One of these teams will win three games and advance, only to be immediately heralded as an aberration, no matter what happens when they face the Yankees.

This is my favorite playoff series, if only because it's going to finally put the lie to Bud Selig's constant lament that no team in the lower half of payroll has ever advanced beyond the first round of the playoffs. The Twins and the A's were respectively 27th and 28th in ESPN's Opening Day payroll tally. I'm surprised that the right Honorable Commissioner didn't intervene and 'fix' the matchups in what he might see as the best interests of baseball. One of these teams will win three games and advance, only to be immediately heralded as an aberration, no matter what happens when they face the Yankees.

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