Tuesday, October 23, 2012

2012 World Series notes/oddities

By Rick Morris

^ Bruce Bochy played for San Diego in the 1984 World Series.  In a huge coincidence, he manages this year in a final round that is the first of its kind since ’84.  Both he and Jim Leyland come into the Fall Classic with three pennants under their belt.  Dick Williams and Sparky Anderson were the last duo to make it to the World Series with at least three pennants apiece.  Oh, and who did the Padres play that year?  Detroit!  Spooky, kids.
^ This is the 10th time since divisional play started in 1969 that managers with World Series experience are squaring off, with 2011, 2006, 1999, 1984, 1981, 1974, 1973, 1972 and 1971 being the other times.  It is, however, only the seventh time in baseball history (and second in the last half-century) that managers with the aforementioned three-or-more pennants apiece coming into the Fall Classic are doing battle.  The previous instances are, as mentioned, 1984, and 1963 (Walt Alston and Ralph Houk), 1939 (Joe McCarthy and Bill McKechnie), 1936 (McCarthy and Bill Terry), 1923 (Miller Huggins and John McGraw) and 1913 (Connie Mack and McGraw).
^ How do Bochy and Leyland rate with the top skippers of their generation?  Well, we’ll use the last quarter-century to examine this.  The only managers who had tallied more than two pennants before now were Joe Torre (six pennants, four world championships), Tony LaRussa (six pennants, three world championships) and Bobby Cox (five pennants, one world championship).  Those men are likely headed for the Hall of Fame, something that is not yet certain for the many with two pennants in the last quarter-century: Tom Kelly (two world championships), Terry Francona (two world championships), Cito Gaston (two world championships), Charlie Manuel (one world championship), Mike Hargrove (no world championships) and Ron Washington (no world championships).  Both Bochy and Leyland have one world championship already and, while both are looking like pretty good candidates already, one of them is going to take a giant step towards Cooperstown.
^ Leyland has a chance to become only the third manager ever to win the World Series with teams in different leagues.  His close friend Tony LaRussa became the second one when he beat him in 2006 and previous Tiger manager Sparky Anderson became the first in 1984.
^ As if the new free-spending Dodger ownership didn’t have enough motivation, consider this.  Although they lost the 2008 and 2009 NLCS, the franchise still led the National League with 18 pennants as of their second unsuccessful try.  Three years later, they’re tied for second: St. Louis caught them last year with 18 and San Francisco went from 17 to 19 by capturing the 2010 and 2012 pennants.  The Dodger-Giant rivalry is already historically very spicy and neither the St. Louis nor San Francisco organizations are going anywhere in the face of the aggressive LA rebuild-on-the-fly, so the National League’s three most successful franchises will continue a fascinating battle for supremacy.
^ Shockingly, for two squads dating back to the start of the 20th century, the Giants and Tigers never met in the World Series.  We haven’t seen that in recent years, two old-line (pre-1961 expansion) franchises meeting in the World Series for the first time.  The last time was 1991, when Minnesota and Atlanta met (keeping in mind that the Twins are an extension of the original Washington Senators) and prior to that, Minnesota and St. Louis in 1987.
^ There’s actually almost no history between the Detroit and San Francisco markets in big-time sports playoffs.  Although the San Jose Sharks are only marginally considered part of the San Francisco market, their recent playoff rivalry with the Red Wings is probably the closest thing to any kind of clash between the fanbases.
Here are some obsolete notes that were being prepared when either St. Louis or San Francisco was still possible to come out of the NL.
^ The Tigers and Cardinals clash against the backdrop of an increasingly unpopular foreign war, a presidential campaign that sees a front-runner with a rough track record being chased down to the wire by an underdog and with turmoil and protests sweeping the world.  The year is 1968 … and also 2012.
^ The turnover in St. Louis between this era’s initial world championship in 2006 (GM, manager, franchise first baseman) and now has been well-documented.  The organization, arguably the best in baseball, deserves the same kind of acclaim for stability that the Steelers get in the NFL.  But Detroit, although they have kept the same GM and manager, has actually had more turnover since then.  Miguel Cabrera had not yet arrived in Motown in ’06 (although he had won the World Series as a young pup in ’03).  Prince Fielder hadn’t arrived until this year.  Justin Verlander was merely an outstanding rookie in ’06 and the rest of the pitchers of note were a long ways from initially arriving in Detroit.  As a matter of fact, some of the key players in 2006 for Detroit in addition to Verlander were Curtis Granderson, Ivan Rodriguez, Magglio Ordonez, Jeremy Bonderman and Kenny Rogers and Carlos Guillen.
^ Every year, we always take a look at the number of stars that each team in the World Series.  Detroit has four: Verlander, Cabrera, Fielder and Austin Jackson.  St. Louis has seven: Yadier Molina, Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran, Allen Craig, Jason Motte, Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright.  San Francisco has four: Buster Posey, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Ryan Vogelsong.
^ Much like in 2006, the Tigers make the World Series on the heels of a disappointing note in the regular season.  In ’06, the Tigers choked away the division title at the very end of the season and had to qualify as a wild card.  This year, Detroit had a weak and underachieving regular season and only took the title at the end.  As past Lounge guest Tom Verducci notes, they would be on the verge of an unprecedented note: being part of a World Series with St. Louis in which neither team won 90 games over the course of a full season.  Interestingly, St. Louis only won 83 games when they beat Detroit in the ’06 World Series.
^ The Tigers and Cardinals are meeting in the World Series for the 4th time, with 1934, 1968 and 2006 being the other clashes.  Jim Leyland is the only manager to skipper two series against the other teams.
^ St. Louis just moved past the Dodgers and Giants for most National League pennants with 19. However, what’s noteworthy about the Cardinal World Series appearances is that all of them have been within five historical clumps. The first ran from 1926 to 1934, with 1928, 1930 and 1931 pennants in between them. The second ran from 1942 to 1946, with a pennant every year in between except 1945. The third ran from 1964 to 1968, with a pennant also in 1967. The fourth ran from 1982 to 1987, with a pennant also in 1985. And the fifth has run from 2004 to 2012, with a pennant also in 2006. By the way, the Cardinals have the second-most pennants behind the Yankees with 40, but the Cardinals are all alone in second place behind the Yankees for world titles (New York 27, St. Louis 11). Both the Dodgers and Giants are 6-12 in World Series appearances, leaving the Yankees and Cardinals as the only franchises with more than 15 trips who also have a winning record.



Unknown said...

Wonderful article with some fascinating information. I view Leyland to be a Hall of Famer before Bochy. But if SF wins, it might be time to reconsider (although I personally don't think so). Steve K.

Rick Morris said...

Given that Bochy spent so much time with San Diego teams in perpetual rebuild mode, my guess is that his Padre run in the late '90s, combined with what he's done up the coast, is going to give him something of a mulligan for those years. If you have a team even remotely capable of winning, Bochy can get you there. Leyland needs no such mulligan, as his time with no-chance teams has been much shorter.