The Brewers' stretch-drive decision to have their skipper walk the plank has a successful precedent of sorts.
Though I had promised part two of our look at static teams, I felt it important to pause here and take a look for precedents for yesterday's big news story, the termination of Brewers manager Ned Yost. That was almost a futile quest. As Joe Sheehanwrote yesterday, the move was nearly unprecedented. But it has happened before.
Tweaking last week's evaluation underscores that a watchword shouldn't become a stat to watch.
What's the difference between a mantra and a metric? By definition, a mantra refers to a repeated word or phrase. In baseball this is none the more evident then in the pitching coach's timeless advice to his charges, such as "throw strikes" or "get ahead." A metric refers to a measurement facilitating the quantification of a given characteristic. As we discussed last week, when mantras and metrics are combined, or when a mantra attempts to replicate itself in metric form, the result will likely be convoluted. The major factor is that the contents of the mantra are not necessarily automatic functions of the players to whom they relate. Additionally, while some may sound legitimate, they often lack a uniform definition and can clash with actual in-game strategy.
"Throw strikes," for instance, could mean several different things. It could refer to getting swings and misses, or perhaps called strikes, or it could even refer to pitches thrown in the zone regardless of the outcome. I would tend to think the latter is the most likely intended definition of this mantra, which would counteract sensible strategy; if you constantly throw pitches in the zone, hitters will gain confidence that they will not necessarily see anything outside of it. Knowing they are not too likely to see pitches out of the zone increases their ability to hone in on those thrown in the zone.
The ACC gives us a tremendous trio of matchups, and can Tulane rise to the occasion and earn a tourney berth?
At the end of this weekend, just five teams in the 12-school ACC will have conference records above .500. It's an astounding development for a loaded conference that, while usually containing a few bottom feeders, has been known for its parity. However, when Georgia Tech held Clemson to just two runs over the first two games in last weekend's series, the Yellow Jackets assured the ACC just six spots in the post-season tournament. Six spots, and it's not as if Virginia has the strongest resume in the world. I last wrote about the Cavaliers in March, when Virginia had the nation's most impressive numbers and a perfect 10-0 record. The ACC looked like it could be theirs for the taking, though it also seemed like Virginia really wasn't that good. Now, let's trace Virginia's weekends since the ACC slate opened:
A tremendous slate of conference clashes helped resolve who's headed in the right direction.
We return to format this week, though last week was a useful way to provide a wider view of the national picture. It also highlighted numerous matchups this weekend that will prove paramount to the decision-makers in May. For example, USC traveled to UCLA-a long bus ride, I'm sure-and came away with two wins to open the series. However, because last week was highlighted by so many battles, that clash isn't even one of the six I'm highlighting today. In fact, you'll notice some cramming in a few places, because halfway through the season, no other weekend had as many notable developments as this weekend's action did.
Horace Greeley's got nothing on Bryan when it comes to going west.
As we noted on Monday, ACC play began last weekend, and with it, we learned some truths about the best teams on the East Coast. Maybe Virginia and Clemson aren't quite what we thought they were, maybe NC State and Wake Forest are better. Georgia Tech is definitely a lot better, with their best pitching staff in years. Most of all, we learned that while non-conference play can bring some fun matchups, it can also bring a lot of easy wins. Thus, maybe we can say that until conference play begins, we don't really know anything.
The Indians wandered off the beaten warpath for many years after their heyday in the postwar period.
Today the Indians and Red Sox will tilt at Jacobs Field in Cleveland in the third game of the American League Championship Series. On the line for the Indians will be a shot at returning to the World Series for the first time in ten years and the third time since 1954. The Indians have not won a championship since 1948, which isn't a patch on the Cubs' 99-year run, but is still a long time to go between champagne showers.