Tuesday, October 23, 2007

ALCS post-mortem

By Rick Morris

The knee-jerk reaction by Tribe fans is to label the 3-1 ALCS lead and subsequent collapse as a choke. But relinquishing a lead, no matter the circumstances, can never be a choke when it was simply a matter of the law of averages kicking in and the better team winning.

We need not revisit the fact that all available measures to load up this team for the postseason were not taken. But clearly, the Red Sox had the edge in starting pitching (especially big-game starting pitching in the form of Beckett and Schilling) and lineup depth (Pedroia and Youkilis, anybody?). The Indians featured not-ready-for-primetime performances from their dual aces and sub-par lineup production from most players not named Victor Martinez. Additionally, when your second baseman and right fielder are so new to starting in the big leagues that they start to become exposed at the plate at the worst time of the year, you are reaping what you’ve sown in terms of roster assemblage.

As for the crash of “The Raffys” in the Cleveland bullpen – any regular listener to our FANTASYDRAFTHELP.COM INSIDER program on SportsTalkNetwork.com (9-11 PM, Thursdays) has heard us speak repeatedly of the concept of “progression to the mean” and “regression to the mean.” What does this mean? In simple English, it means that everything bounces back, positively or negatively, to within the range of reasonable expectations ahead of time. Frankly, these two were so hot for so long, at a level far beyond what they’d done previously, that they were bound to go the other way eventually. In that sense, they served as an unfortunate microcosm of the team as a whole.

Again, the Indians did not choke -- because they used smoke and mirrors to amass their 3-1 series lead in the first place. When Tom Mastny is retiring the middle of the order effortlessly to help you win an extra-innings game at Fenway Park, the magic is going your way. You live by the magic, you die by the magic when you’ve used your last portion of it.

The Tribe has a very talented core of players, but it needs to be augmented with legitimate help from the outside if the team is to have more than a puncher’s chance at winning a World Series title. Like many other fans of the team, I got caught up in recent weeks in thinking this team had a chance to go all the way, but I never deluded myself about how it would happen. If it was going to go down, it would have been because it was one of those magic seasons, not because the team built to be the best was going to take what it deserved. That team is the Boston Red Sox and they now face another “magic” team in the Colorado Rockies in the World Series. And for the second round in a row, the only team that can possibly choke is the one from Beantown.


Unknown said...

Never before have truer words been written or spoken.

Unknown said...

oh yeah...GO SOX!