By In Stuff

New York’s Finest

The game has changed. You need a playoff plan. The Mets have one.

From NBC SportsWorld:

Well, Murphy went up there looking for the Rodney changeup, and Rodney instead threw one of his mid-90s heaters. That should have meant game over for Murphy. Instead …

“I just swung,” Murphy said. “And then, when I hit it, I said, ‘Oh my goodness.’”

Yes, he really said: “Oh my goodness.” Then he drank a tall glass of milk, helped an elderly couple across the street, and in a nearby hospital, little Timmy woke from a coma with the news that Daniel Murphy had indeed homered, just like he promised. “I knew he’d do it!” Timmy shouted, and Timmy’s father and mother, who had been going through rocky times, looked into each other’s eyes and realized they still loved each other, and on the celebratory walk back the happy family ran into a stray puppy without a home. “Can we keep her?” Timmy’s adorable sister Lucy asked, and of course they could, thanks to Daniel Murphy.

“What will we name her?” Timmy asked, and everyone looked at each other and laughed for there was obviously only one answer.

New York’s Finest

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28 Responses to New York’s Finest

  1. mark says:

    “The goal is not to build complete teams that win charged pennant races. The goal is to build teams that can win 90 games and reach the postseason and then can ride one or two overpowering strengths through the playoffs.”

    This in a nutshell, more than long games, more than steroids, more than cost, is why my interest in baseball has waned considerably. I can’t pay attention to 6 months of daily games that have become less and less meaningful, only to watch random events crown a champion with barely 90 wins. I’m obviously in the minority. People seem to love watching the mediocre become hot for 2-3 weeks week and pretend that this reveals some hidden reserve of character. Meh.

    • Marc Schneider says:

      I agree 100%. I hate, in all sports, teams that are mediocre for most of the season and get hot for a few weeks later, thereby negating most of the regular season. It happens more in baseball, but it also happens in other sports. For example, the 1983 NC State basketball team, the NY Giants in 2011, who went 9-7 and won the SB. It drives me nuts. And, as you say, in baseball, much of it is random. It makes it hard to get excited about the regular season, knowing that it means so little.

      I like great teams and I want to see those teams playing for the championship. If you had had the current system in place in 1968, say, you might have been watching, instead of Bob Gibson against the 103 win Tigers, the 86-win Red Sox against the 83-win Reds. Wouldn’t that have been fun?

    • invitro says:

      I agree so much that it’s painful.

  2. Wilbur says:

    Mark, I tend to agree with you, FWIW.

  3. Matt says:

    The Mets definitely have a shaky middle-relief corps and an infield with less-than-desirable range. However, they do not have an on-base-deficient lineup. They ranked fifth in the majors (and behind only the Pirates and Cubs in the NL) with a .336 non-pitcher OBP in the second half.

    In this case, split-season is the only way to fairly evaluate the Mets offense. They completely restocked their lineup in July and August by calling up Conforto on July 24, trading for Cespedes, Uribe and Kelly Johnson around the trade deadline and then welcoming back d’Arnaud and Wright from the DL around August time.

    To illustrate how different the Mets’ batting order is before and after, consider that in the first half of 2015, the lineup regularly featured rookie Kevin Plawecki at catcher, Eric Campbell at third base, Michael Cuddyer in left field and Juan Lagares in center.

  4. Marc Schneider says:

    “Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy”

    It was the other way around. John F. Kennedy had a secretary named (Evelyn) Lincoln.

  5. That’s what you get when you let 10 teams in the playoffs. All have a legit chance to win IF they get hot in some way. It’s been the same in the NFL for a long time. Get hot, have fewer injuries and you can win. The NBA is mostly not that way because the best teams that win the most games generally are the same teams that win in the playoffs. You either have a better team, or you don’t. NBA Teams don’t suddenly start shooting better or playing better defense in the playoffs. They are what they are.

    • invitro says:

      It’s a sample size thing. Seven games is enough in the NBA to usually get the better team. It’s not even remotely close to enough in MLB.

  6. agmonaco says:

    “This is a fundamentally different time for baseball general managers and managers and owners.”

    Fundamentally different? Really? Organizing your team to perform well enough to qualify for the postseason and then PEAK in the postseason has been the guiding principle in baseball for 46 years. The Mets did it in 1973 with a whopping 82 regular season wins. This is nothing new.

    And, all the complaining from “purists”, lamenting the worthlessness of the regular season, is nothing new either.

    Every year, fans of teams who did not even come close to qualifying for a wildcard pine for the olden days when only legendary Murderer’s Rows and Big Red Machines qualified for the privilege of playing for a championship.

    Meanwhile, the fact remains: The wildcard system ENHANCES the quality of the regular season, because it means more teams are alive later in the season.

    • invitro says:

      The fundamental difference is having a goal of 90 wins instead of 100 wins. This is a true enormous difference. See Moneyball for more details.

    • invitro says:

      There has never been an era when a team needed 108 wins (1975 Reds) to qualify for the playoffs. Never. Thus what you’re saying happened could not have happened.

  7. Evan says:

    I enjoyed the article, but it seems a stretch to call this Mets team “built to win 90 games”. If they had this roster on opening day, they could well be a hundred win team. Teams with deep starting rotations have always fared well in the postseason. If you want to call the Royals new-fangled, sure, but the Mets makeup looks pretty old-fangled to me.

    • shagster says:

      Agree. This squad is a 100 win team.

      • Tom Geraghty says:

        Just to add to the point, the Mets were 37-22 after August 1, for a .627 winning percentage which pro-rates to 101 or 102 wins. They also went from a .234/.298/.363 hitting team before Aug. 1 to .261/.331/.462 after, which would have been one of the great slugging performances of all time if sustained over a full season (they were on a pace to have hit 373 doubles, which would have tied the NL record set in 1930, and 242 homers).

    • invitro says:

      They could well be a 100 win team, and they could well be an 80 win team. They’d probably be a 90 win team.

      • Evan says:

        The Mets did win 90 games… so I’m not sure what your point is. The Mets were sporting guys like Johnny Monell, Eric Campbell and Anthony Recker in their lineup in the first half. Syndergaard and Matz were both mid-season call ups. Wright and d’arnaud were injured. Conforto was a late season call up. Cespedes, Johnson, Clippard and Uribe all came through trades. Are you really saying the Mets’ roster didn’t improve after the All-Star break? Or are you just thumbing your nose at the idea of playing this kind of thought experiment?

  8. Tom says:

    Imagine winning 4 out of 7against [the Mets rotation.] I recall people saying “Imagine winning 4 out of 7 again Hallady, Oswalt, Hamels and Lee” the so-called Greatest Rotation of All Time. Yet somehow the Cardinals did it.

  9. seeznak says:

    The more-than-100-wins average point is interesting as another indication of how the game has changed. Nowadays a 100 win team is rare, so it looks like the wins are being spread around (slightly) more evenly among MLB teams now than in the past. Could be a byproduct of more teams remaining competitive throughout the season, angling harder (see: trade deadline activity) for a postseason spot.

  10. Smallmarket says:

    “People seem to love watching the mediocre become hot for 2-3 weeks week and pretend that this reveals some hidden reserve of character. Meh.”
    I love to watch teams with the biggest payrolls self-destruct because they have no character.

  11. Terry says:

    Great article. Is there some inside joke on spiegelmarsh or what is the scoop

  12. The curse isn’t Murphy, it’s Merkle: 100 years isn’t enough time for the baseball gods to forgive the Cubs for stealing the pennant with a fake “game ball”.

  13. MikeN says:

    Tony La Russa, Cito Gaston, Bobby Cox, Joe Torre, Charlie Manuel, Ron Washington, Ned Yost

    Guys who managed two consecutive world series in the last 35 years.

  14. Kuz says:

    “The goal is to build teams that can win 90 games and reach the postseason and then can ride one or two overpowering strengths through the playoffs.”

    Joe: I respectfully disagree with this premise.

    As you pointed out, it’s not hard to figure out that if you go from two playoff teams to ten playoff teams, the average regular season win total of the World Series champion will go down. There could be no other result over time.

    The the reduction of the average win total of WS champs is not the result of devaluing regular season wins. This would be confusing correlation with cause. The cause is the increased pool of playoff participants, not devaluing regular season wins.

    • Marc Schneider says:

      But the effect is to devalue regular season wins past a certain level because there is no particular benefit to winning 95 rather than 90 as long as you get in the playoffs. So the playoff system devalues being the best team in the regular season. I agree with many of the comments, however, that the Mets are essentially a different and better team than they were earlier. Nevertheless, they were the fifth best team in the league by wins so it sort of makes what the Cardinals and Pirates did rather pointless.

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