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Lucky or Good?

The story of the 2010 World Series is far from finished yet. However, it is pretty clear that the Giants are getting cast as a crew of rejects and misfits that have somehow come together and beat the odds to be within a few games of a world championship. That's stretching the truth a little bit with the homegrown studs on their pitching staff, but not stretching it much.

I have a friend who is a huge Giants fan, and articles like this one have given me chances to poke fun at his team, particularly the offense. Seriously, who wouldn't poke fun at a quote like this?
[Speed] is precisely what the Giants will need from their bench in 2010 as they field one of the slower lineups in the majors. In fact, one of the biggest drawbacks to the way they were built is their inability to run while, at the same time, they must manufacture runs because they lack power.
 Giants baseball! That's how the 2010 NL Champions get the job done!

In fairness to the article, it is from spring training, well before San Francisco added NLCS MVP Cody Ross. Everybody knew the Giants offense would be a juggernaut once they claimed him on waivers.

I can't help but watch this World Series and wonder what kind of trip the Mariners will take to their first World Series.

Reasons To Love The 2010 World Series

After literally thousands of games in the 2010 baseball season, we are down to the final four, five, six, or seven. The Rangers and Giants are set to open up the World Series in San Francisco on Wednesday. Here are some reasons, in no particular order, to love the latest installment of the Fall Classic:

  • The Rangers have never won the World Series in their 50-year history. The Giants haven't won a World Series since moving to San Francisco back in 1959. One of these teams is guaranteed to end a half-century long drought. This is the definition of a series with fresh teams.
  • Bengie Molina might be guaranteed a World Series ring no matter what. He certainly will get one if the Rangers win, but he actually appeared in four more games for the Giants this year than he did for the Rangers! If San Francisco wins the World Series, it is not out of the question that they could vote that Molina gets a ring, given how many games he played as their starting catcher this year, and that he was fixture behind the plate and in the heart of their order for the previous four seasons before this one.
  • There is only one former Mariner on both teams combined, and that is Cliff Lee, who while lovable and amazing, wasn't around long enough for me to forever remember him in a Mariners uniform. There won't be any awkwardly painful moments like when Scott Podsednik hit a walk-off home run for the White Sox back in 2005, or the vicarious emotions that might have come with a Phillies team that had Mike Sweeney and Raul Ibanez on it. Part of the fan in me wants Sweeney and Ibanez to win rings, but a bigger part of the fan in me wants to be able to relax and enjoy the World Series with emotional attachment to baseball, but not to any individuals. This series is about as clean of a chance as a Mariners fan will get.
  • The weather should be pretty good. San Francisco may be a little chilly and foggy, but Arlington will be more than fine. There won't be any threats of snow delays in the World Series for the first time in too long.
  • The Giants, and their black and orange team colors, will play on Halloween (game four is that night). Personally, I hope they really play it up by wearing their obsessively bright orange tops, even though they will be on the road.
  • National Geographic could do a feature on this series, given the panda garb that Giants fans wear, and the antlers that have become popular in Texas.
The baseball games will probably be good too. The Rangers will likely head into the series as the clear-cut favorites, thanks to how good they looked against the Yankees. However, both the Yankees and Phillies looked dominant in their respective division series, and neither made it back to the World Series. Texas probably will not look as good as they looked against New York. Plus, the Giants have a much stronger pitching staff than the Yankees, especially in the starting rotation.

Well, after such a thorough analysis of the series, all that is left is to sit back and enjoy it. Play ball!

Another One Bites The Dust

The Texas Rangers are going to the World Series for the first time ever. It really is an impressive story. It always is when a team goes where they have never been before, but really, the Rangers might take the cake.

Remember the start of the year, when Ron Washington's job was in serious jeopardy after he admitted to using cocaine last season?

Remember a couple months ago, when the franchise was sold off in a dramatic auction?

Seriously, the Texas Rangers had a manager snorting lines, and an owner in so much debt that the team could not take on payroll due to his financial status. Naturally, this is the season where the Rangers win the first playoff series ever, and go ahead and make it all the way to the World Series. The 2010 Rangers should purchase the "Believe Big" slogan from the Mariners at this point.

Cliff Lee, Truly Intangible

I don't know how other fans feel, but personally I love how amazing Cliff Lee is being in the postseason for the Rangers right now. It feels weird to root for Texas, but I can't help but root for Cliff Lee. He isn't "the one that got away." He was amazing for the Mariners, and the utmost professional, and now the whole world gets to see what we saw for a couple months. They are getting an eyeful, to say the least.

My question right now (and I don't have an answer), is how much has Cliff Lee been worth to the Texas Rangers?

I am not sure a price can be put on Lee's contributions. Certainly, someone could pencil out the WAR numbers, or virtually any metric that they please, and come up with some quantifiable way to say how much he is worth, post-season included.

However, I don't think a price tag can be put on Cliff Lee right now. Seriously, can anyone quantify what he has done for the Texas Rangers in his three playoff starts alone? He won two of the three games in the ALDS, including a complete game effort in the decisive game five. That was the performance that propelled Texas to their first series victory in the playoffs ever.

Then tonight, Cliff Lee goes to Yankee stadium, and delivers one of the greatest starting performances in LCS history. A couple hits, a walk, and 13 Ks against the Yankees? Are you kidding me? This win tonight clinched a return to Arlington, either for the end of the ALCS, or for the World Series.

It really is not that debatable: Cliff Lee, about as alone as you can get in baseball, is pitching the Texas Rangers to heights that the organization has never been before.

Rinse, Lather, Repeat: Wedge The Pick

Eric Wedge
It looks like the Mariners have made Eric Wedge their new manager. He was last seen leading a sinking Indians ship. Actually, he was really last seen when the Indians let the Yankees off the hook in the ALCS a few years back, because nobody sees the Indians until they make the playoffs. They aren't exactly one of the national media darlings in baseball, along with roughly 28 other teams.

But I digress. Eric Wedge is the guy. Many people have great things to say about him, as Shannon Drayer reports. Personally, I think he is a good manager too. He at least did not get in the way of the Indians being a great team. Perhaps even more promising, Wedge took over Cleveland as their core at the time - guys like CC Sabathia, Victor Martinez, Travis Hafner, and others - came of age. The Mariners appear to be on the verge of a similar turnover on their roster, where they will turn the reins over to a young core that needs to come of age.

Counting on Eric Wedge to do what he did in Cleveland, given the young guys the Mariners have right now, is not that bad of a strategy. It makes sense. It isn't hard imaging such a strategy working.

However, Ryan Divish's piece on Eric Wedge paints a darker side to this hire. Wedge has strong selling points, and some selling points that are easy to get behind. However, they also happen to be a bunch of the selling points that Don Wakamatsu had.

Thoughts On Tiny Tim

I finally my first playoff action of the year, and I was welcomed by an incredible outing from Tim Lincecum. Another guy making his first playoff appearance the seemed undeterred, he went the distance, striking out 14 Braves in a 1-0 thriller.

My first thought was that I loved seeing Lincecum go out there for the ninth inning. There was some talk on the broadcast about his pitch count being high, and I'm sure it was, but who cares? In my view, the whole point of limiting innings and pitch counts in the regular season is so that a team does not have to worry about either in the playoffs. Tiny Tim was dealing, and he not only deserved to finish what he started, he was the best choice for San Francisco's chances to win.

Thoughts On Doc

I missed all of the first day of the playoffs at work, which is a shame because it was a great day. In particular, it is amazing that Roy Halladay threw a no-hitter, the first in the postseason since Don Larsen's perfect game in 1956. It also happened to be Halladay's first postseason start, and his second no-hitter of the season.

My first thought was "wow." Doesn't yesterday's start put Roy Halladay in the Hall of Fame? I think his case has been growing, but a perfect game and no-hitter in the same season? A good chance that he will win a second Cy Young this year, and if he does, have Cy Young awards in both leagues?

Where's Lueke?

The Mariners had a bad enough season to send out an e-mail to all fans on whatever list that gets you regular e-mails (I know at some point I signed up for updates, but can't tell you exactly how or why). Though just one e-mail, there were a couple messages, one from Howard Lincoln, and the other from Jack Zduriencik.

Nothing was all that earth-shattering. At first, I thought the coolest thing in the whole e-mail was Jack Zduriencik's signature. Seriously, look at how neat it is, and how cool it looks (it's the signature on the right).

I also find it really amusing that the signature was sent as an image, so it was easy to save to my desktop.

While I found it thoughtful and nice of the Mariners to send out a couple messages, basically to say "our bad, but stick with us," the messages weren't all that stunning. However, one thing I hold true to my analysis is that sometimes what isn't said is just as telling as what is said. In that spirit, I re-read the messages, and the following paragraph jumped off the page:
We've got a flock of top-rated prospects on their way to the big club. These include position players Dustin Ackley, Justin Smoak, Carlos Peguero, Nick Franklin, Kyle Seager, Johermyn Chavez, Greg Halman and Matt Mangini, along with hard-throwing pitchers like Michael Pineda, Blake Beavan, Dan Cortes, Mauricio Robles, Maikel Cleto and Anthony Varvaro. Many of our best prospects are headed for winter ball and the fall instructional league - they're driven to improve and play at the next level.
What is mentioned is nice, but hardly surprising. The Mariners have good prospects. Hooray! It's good to have good prospects when you promise to build from within, as Jack Zduriencik has.

Somebody is missing from the list though - Josh Lueke.

An Offense For The Ages

Jose Lopez
I will admit, I have been itching to do this post. It has been in the back of my mind for months, and as September unfolded, I knew I had to do it. My curiosity spiked after Joe Posnanski took some time to try to put the 2010 Mariners offense in some sort of historical context, and was appalled at how bad it was. He discovered that no team with a designated hitter has ever scored so few runs, which in itself is pretty darn amazing.

However, I wanted to take Posnanski's research one step further. He looked purely at runs scored. He did not consider the context (though I am sure he is well aware that a run scored now isn't quite the same as a run scored 40 years ago).

In the grand history of baseball, offensive production has fluctuated a surprising amount. For instance, the 1930s had similar offensive numbers to "the steroid era." Presumably, they did not have steroids back then, but reporters really stuck to on-the-field reporting back in those days.

The 1960s were almost as dead as the fabled dead ball era. Things were so bad that the mound was lowered between the 1968 and 1969 seasons, and continued to be so bad that the American League adopted the designated hitter in 1973.

Offensive production has had its ups and downs league-wide, which is part of why I was amazed when Posnanski had to go back to the early 1970s to find a team that straight-up scored fewer times than the 2010 Mariners.

Runs scored were harder to come by back in the early 1970s, for whatever reason. Nobody scored that many runs.

But teams do score runs in 2010.

In fact, even though offenses aren't as prolific as at the height of the steroid era, they still are pretty prolific in the grand scheme of baseball history. In a historically hitter-friendly context, you have to go back to a historically pitcher-friendly context to find another offense that scored as few runs as the 2010 Mariners. As far as I'm concerned, that should count for something.

That's when the light bulb went off in my head. The 2010 Mariners weren't just bad, or even historically bad. There was a chance that this was the worst offense the American League has ever seen.

Finishing In Style

I am whole-heartedly immersed in college football on Saturdays, which is a much healthier thing than pondering the 2010 Mariners. However, I need a break before what promises to be a dramatic primetime slate (Stanford/Oregon and Florida/Alabama going simultaneously, 'nuff said). It is about time I wrote something for the blog too.

What is there to say though? I find myself rooting for failure at this point. It's all this team has got. The only thing it can be good at, especially with Felix finished, is at not being good. And, really, they've taken bad to a whole new level.