Sunday, October 29, 2006

Why I'm Glad the Cardinals Won

Taking off on the title of my pre-World Series post, I am happy that the Cardinals won, for the reasons I described last time. Unsurprisingly, after the Series, many people have been dismayed that the "inferior" team won. I just still fail to see why I should throw out the past years in determining this. Sure, the Tigers were probably the better team in 2006. But we all know that the playoffs are largely a crapshoot. If you use a broader historical perspective, the 2006 Cardinals are the declining end of a great run that could have easily produced a world champ in 2000 or 2002 or 2004 or 2005. That they lost to equal or inferior teams in some of those years is balanced by the fact that their inferior team beat some superior teams in 2006.

I have also seen a comment about how boring this postseason was. And I agree, in theory--certainly nothing remarkable that makes it stand out from other years. But one of these comments specifically mentioned how it was worse then previous years, including 2005. Which is funny, because I wrote a post last year complaining about the 05 playoffs. To review, here are the total number of playoff games in each year, a fairly good gauge of how competitive they were:
01--35 games
Same number of games as last year. However, we at least had a great LCS this year, that would be much more fondly remembered had the better (Mets) team won and a truly spectacular play (the Chavez catch) counted for something other then the Cardinals' margin of victory.

One place where 2005 does have the advantage is in extra inning games--while they were only two, they were the longest game in playoff history and the longest game in World Series history. The 2006 playoffs featured NO extra-inning games, as did 2002.

So 2005 and 2006 rank about the same in my eyes on the excitement level. Perhaps I wasn't reading enough, but I don't remember seeing my sentiment echoed a lot elsewhere, but I have seen it in this year, a mirror image. To me at least, 2006 was better because the team I disliked the most out of the playoff field lost the World Series rather then winning it.

Now, on a rare non-baseball foray, the greatest single day in American professional sports will take place on Saturday. Yes, I believe that this event trumps the Super Bowl. The other sports are harder to pin one day on because you never know how long a World Series or Stanley Cup is going to last. I firmly believe that the single greatest day in American professional sport is the Breeder's Cup.

While I know next to nothing about horse racing and am completely unqualified to make predictions, the Breeder's Cup is a great day because you have seven championships essentially decided in one day. Again, with me not being a horse racing expert, some of these, like the Filly & Mare Turf, or the Juvenile Filies, don't do a lot for me. But the Distaff, the Mile, and the Juvenile do picque my interest, the Sprint is a fascinating race to watch, the Turf is an interesting opportunity to see the how the rest of the world likes its racing, and the Classic of course is the piece de resistance.

The only division that I even cursorily is the Classic, and so I am familiar with the horses there. All of the attention is on Bernardini, Lava Man, and Invasor, of course. I am torn on who to pull for (and pick) between Bernardini and Lava Man. I think Lava Man's west coast handicap wins are thoroughly impressive, although I believe the Beyers speak differently. Lava Man also has the great gelding, claimer story. On the other hand, Bernardini dominated two of the big four three-year old races (Preakness and Travers), and I always love to see a three year old who can run with the older horses (none has won the Classic since Tiznow in 2000, and before that it was Bernardini's pop, AP Indy in 1992).

Both are grandsons (horse racing enthusiasts will cringe at my use of a human relationship description I am sure) of the great Seattle Slew, although Bernardini certainly has the more accomplished father in AP Indy (Lava Man through Slew City Slew). I would love to see either of them win, I guess. As to who I pick, I'm going to go with Lava Man. And I may be giving the short shrift to very deserving horses like Invasor, Premium Tap, and Perfect Drift, which may well be true.

Anyway, back to baseball, at least tangentially. It recently occured to me that George Steinbrenner spends his money exactly as I would if I was rich. If I had millions of dollars to spend, what would I spend it on?
1) Supporting a certain university (check: George does this, with the same university)
2) Buy a baseball teams (check)
3) Buy thoroughbreds (check)
I've got to respect a guy like that. And John Galbreath, former owner of the Pirates, who did the exact same thing (and actually won some Triple Crown races).

I should have a post up some time in the next couple of weeks about OBA/SLG combos; a tired subject, but one that should be revisited from time to time. There's been some interesting work on The Book blog on this topic, so there's at least some new ground to cover.

1 comment:

  1. if you want more info on the Breeder's Cup check out It's a great day of racing


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