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Thread: October in America

  1. #31
    All Worship Ragnarök Loki's Avatar
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    Even the best teams go on 3-4 game losing streaks. They just chose a bad time.

    Not that the Cubs were going to win the whole thing. They are the Cubs.
    Hope is the denial of reality

  2. #32
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  3. #33
    All Worship Ragnarök Loki's Avatar
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    Maybe once we all have hoverboards.

    Got to root for Kansas City or Toronto now. The only thing worse than a Mets win is a Red Sox win.
    Hope is the denial of reality

  4. #34
    I don't want to start a new thread, so all of you are going to have to suffer through the next 6 months as I go from incredibly excited to insufferably superior. Because damn if I'm not excited about our chances for this year. By far, this is the best chance the Cubs have had of winning it all since I was born - possibly since 1945.

    It's a real joy to see this offense roughing up solid teams like the Angels and Diamondbacks - they're coming out with hot bats, clutch hitting, and a ridiculously solid order (I'm currently watching an inning that is at 5 runs and counting). The addition of Heyward and Zobrist was a fantastic crowning of a nearly perfect off season, and they're already showing great offensive production. Fowler has been an incredible leadoff man, and I continue to have high hopes for Schwarber and Bryant to continue their strong slugging from last season.

    On defense, their infield continues to be ridiculously overqualified, though there is some weakness in their outfield that could be shored up with a mid-season trade or some focused coaching. The one-two punch of Arrieta and Lester is definitely enviable, though I always have held reservations about Lester (not least because of his high price tag). Arrieta might not look quite as inhumanly perfect as last season, but this is still Cy Young candidate material so far. I'm hopeful Lackey will fill in a solid third position in the starting rotation; he is effectively replacing Haren, and I hope he performs at least as well. Bullpen looks solid, especially with the pretty savvy matchups we've seen Madden play around with - but he only has that luxury if he gets a solid 6.5-7 innings out of his starters. So I still have some concerns about the back end of the Cubs' rotation, but hopefully strong offense and a solid infield will help. Montero's very respectable pitch framing should help as well.

    On a sabermetric level, I'm pretty happy with things - ridiculously good WAR players and decent RISP performance so far. We'll have to see where things go, though, given health concerns and the inevitable reversion to mean of some of the stellar performances we've seen from last year and in spring training. I'm still overall optimistic.

    The NL is a pretty tight field, though, especially the NL Central - we're looking at another three-way race, though most predictions suggest the division is the Cubs' to lose, with the Cards and Pirates fighting over Wild Card spots (perhaps another Pirates Wild Card game? Poor guys). Mets are loaded up with talent as are the Dodgers and the Nationals. The proliferation of really solid pitching aces is of particular concern given the NLCS embarassment for the offense last year. We'll have to see.

    Regardless - I've got a good feeling about this season.
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  5. #35
    Well. Sweeping the Pirates and the Nationals makes quite the statement, even if Jake Arrieta's night was, by his standards, awful (just proof IMO that he is not, in fact, a robot). I would have liked to see them pitch to Bryce Harper a bit more, but I understand their caution and it certainly seemed to work out - including when loading the bases in both the 10th and 12th innings last night.

    The debate no longer seems to be whether the Cubs are as good as people think, but rather whether we're talking MLB-historic instead of just Cubs historic. Say, 117 wins. When sabermetric projections are creeping up into low 100-win territory, you've got to imagine it's at least possible. They seem a near-lock for the playoffs, and have an excellent chance of taking the division (will the Pirates be stuck in yet another NL Wild Card game?). I don't even want to hazard a guess at their final run differential.

    In the rest of baseball, I guess the only two big surprises are the White Sox and the Orioles. Orioles isn't too crazy but they've had a decent start when I thought they would be mediocre. But the White Sox are definitely hot right now. I don't really think they're all that likely to stay this strong - they are strongly overperforming (which Cubs hitters are actually underperforming, believe it or not), but they are still very exciting to watch.

    In other news: http://www.theonion.com/article/cubs...-arrieta-52829
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  6. #36
    Senior Member GGT's Avatar
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    No offense, but I really don't understand why people have obsessions with team dominance. If you enjoy watching sports, then why isn't it good enough to watch the best team win?

    Same thing applies to events like the Olympics. I watch because I'll see the best of the best, regardless of who will win. The gold medal count is stupid.

  7. #37
    Local talking head LittleFuzzy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GGT View Post
    No offense, but I really don't understand why people have obsessions with team dominance. If you enjoy watching sports, then why isn't it good enough to watch the best team win?

    Same thing applies to events like the Olympics. I watch because I'll see the best of the best, regardless of who will win. The gold medal count is stupid.
    Evolutionary psych has left us predisposed toward the creation and maintenance of tribal identities. We are neurochemically rewarded for identifying with groups (with a strong correlation for a group somehow being "near" the individual) and participating, even passively, in their endeavors. I absolutely guarantee you engage in the same behaviors somewhere, even if sports aren't an area where you have developed any identity relationships.
    Last night as I lay in bed, looking up at the stars, I thought, “Where the hell is my ceiling?"

  8. #38
    . Being's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleFuzzy View Post
    I absolutely guarantee...
    That is absolutely impossible. You might be able to prove it with statistics but statistics are not absolute.
    .

  9. #39
    All Worship Ragnarök Loki's Avatar
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    You can prove what an individual believes with statistics? Really?
    Hope is the denial of reality

  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loki View Post
    You can prove what an individual believes with statistics? Really?
    Fine, have it your way; he can't prove it at all.
    .

  11. #41
    Wouldn't this board qualify for everyone registered?
    "In a field where an overlooked bug could cost millions, you want people who will speak their minds, even if they’re sometimes obnoxious about it."

  12. #42
    Senior Member Flixy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Being View Post
    That is absolutely impossible. You might be able to prove it with statistics but statistics are not absolute.
    Or you might be able to simply prove it by pointing to previous posts if you can be arsed to do it. You can absolutely show someone did something, pricing someone didn't do something is harder because we can't say what she does outside of this forum.
    Keep on keepin' the beat alive!

  13. #43
    Quote Originally Posted by GGT View Post
    No offense, but I really don't understand why people have obsessions with team dominance. If you enjoy watching sports, then why isn't it good enough to watch the best team win?

    Same thing applies to events like the Olympics. I watch because I'll see the best of the best, regardless of who will win. The gold medal count is stupid.
    Indeed I love baseball as a sport irrespective of whether my preferred team wins - I think it's quintessentially American in its psychology and love the quantitative aspect that is far 'smarter' than many other sports. It's truly a joy to watch baseball games irrespective of the winner - otherwise I would have long ago stopped paying attention to a sport given a 108-year championship drought (so far!). But there's nothing in a little harmless fun in enjoying the game even more when my home team is doing well. Chalk it up to tribalism or whatever, but it's fun to have someone to root for!

    It helps that no one hates a genuine Cubs fan (due to the aforementioned playoff futility) and they have one of the better ballparks in which to watch games.

    A more subtle point is that people don't necessarily watch sports to see the 'best of the best' win. That's not how a lot of sports work - they are often too stochastic in nature for the genuinely best team to have more than a passing chance of winning the playoffs - even the best ranked team this year (the Cubs) is currently projected to only have a ~20% chance of winning the World Series. What makes sports exciting is, yes, seeing the raw athletic talent on display, but also on suspense, sudden reversals, upsets, redemptive stories, etc. Just look at the OKC Thunder right now - they're an excellent team that is doing a historically good job of dismantling one of the most dominating basketball teams to ever play the game. It's a testament to chance, yes, but also to smart coaching and playing decisions that make provide a compelling narrative. It's not just about the underdog, of course - Steph Curry is his own remarkable phenomenon to watch - but the point is that sports is about stories as much as it is about talent. A win in a game is a win, but the clutch shot, or the walk off homer - those are what excite people.

    Would the baseball world care as much about Jake Arrieta if he had been pitching sub-2.00 ERAs from the beginning of his career? People are impressed by Clayton Kershaw, but Arrieta is the big story today, precisely because he took middling-to-bad major league pitching and, through the dint of excellent coaching and hard work, completely overhauled his pitching mechanics and is turning in one of the most commanding pitching performances the world has ever seen. People are excited about the Cubs not just because of the historical nature of breaking a century-long championship drought, but also because their team is beautifully constructed (from a sabermetrics standpoint) and involves a whole crop of young, exciting, dynamic players. Their whole attitude and narrative is just as exciting as their talent.

    The point is that narratives matter and a good narrative can make a raw exhibition of talent into something more, something that speaks to us. And as someone who grew up with this crushing legacy of futility for my hometown team, it's reasonable to find excitement not just in athletic prowess, but in an unfolding story of redemption and broken curses.
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  14. #44
    Now that the dust from the trade deadline has settled, we have an idea how the next couple of months are shaping up ahead of the playoffs. Big winners were the Rangers of course, and I think they are clearly looking to go deep in the offseason. The Cubs shored up their relief, especially with the acquisition of Aroldis to supplement a reasonably good closer in Rondon with a lights-out closer in Chapman. Even though they gave up some pretty solid prospects for it, if he helps out in tough playoff games down the stretch, it will pay off. And, to be honest, Addison Russell is doing a fine job at shortstop as it is. The Yankees are probably the other big winners - obviously they are in sell mode right now, but they have, hands down, the best farm system in the league right now, with a lot of talented prospects that can make them contenders in a year or two. We all thought the Yanks might need more time to rebuild, but they finessed trade deadline deals beautifully to restock. We all hate the Yankees of course, but it was nicely done.

    NL is looking relatively sewn up in the East and Central - the Mets are plagued with issues making the Nationals the likely winners, and the Cubs are running away with the Central now that they're back in top form following a slump and injuries prior to the All Star Break. The West is a bit closer, but honestly I don't see the Dodgers pulling ahead of the Giants given their issues with Kershaw et al. Wild Cards are up in the air now, but I'm thinking a Cubs-SF NLCS is most likely. We'll have to see.

    The AL is on the one hand full of less impressive teams, but also more interesting. The Rangers are the standouts in the West, but the AL Central has been screwy - first the White Sox, then the Indians, now maybe Detroit? And the AL East is a pure crapshoot. A friend of mine argued that it's fun to watch because the O's, Red Sox, and Jays are all great at some things and disastrously bad at other things, so their games are quite entertaining/exciting. I haven't a clue who will make it to the postseason. So, ALCS is looking like a matchup between the Rangers and God knows who else.

    If the Rangers face the Cubs in the World Series, my wife and I are going to have a problem.

    Excitement!
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  15. #45
    All Worship Ragnarök Loki's Avatar
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    I'm tuning in in 2018 when the Yankees are next competitive.
    Hope is the denial of reality

  16. #46
    Oh, come on you wouldn't even watch Game 7 of a Cubs World Series?
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  17. #47
    All Worship Ragnarök Loki's Avatar
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    I'd feel bad on your behalf.
    Hope is the denial of reality

  18. #48
    Senior Member GGT's Avatar
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    Well, I still don't understand the obsession with sports. Especially since sports has moved from collegiate comradery to cut-throat Olympic competition.

    If watching and rooting for your hometown team means getting a sports arena from a bank (or some other rich entity) without giving fans proper transportation to events......it's like holding an Olympic venue every day, in Greece.

  19. #49
    Stingy DM Veldan Rath's Avatar
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    I'm not a sports fan, my obsessions lie elsewhere, but good lord GGT, shall we just rename you Killjoy?
    Brevior saltare cum deformibus viris est vita

  20. #50
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  21. #51
    All Worship Ragnarök Loki's Avatar
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    And worst pitching stats since 2013.
    Hope is the denial of reality

  22. #52
    Quote Originally Posted by Loki View Post
    And worst pitching stats since 2013.
    16 wins, an ERA of 2.62 and WHIP of 1.04 is hardly anything to sneer at. That's good enough for 4th best in baseball, three behind Hendricks and one ahead of Lester. I think the Cubs' starting pitching staff is doing all right. We'll have to see how they do on prospects/trades as their big-name talent runs out their contracts, but for the next couple years I'm pretty happy. The bullpen has been substantially improved as well though there are still spots to fix - and it will be nice when they're all healthy and Chapman settles in.

    I actually saw an interesting analysis recently. The Cubs are breaking in a new catcher, rookie Willson Contreras, to replace an aging but excellent David Ross. In general he has impressed with his maturity behind the plate, his chemistry with the pitchers, his hitting, and his pickoffs/caught stealing numbers. One more subtle issue is pitch framing - there's a stat I hadn't heard of before that essentially rates a pitcher (or catcher) on the basis of called strikes, trying to determine how much a pitcher/catcher is getting marginal pitches called as strikes. Arrieta has typically had pretty good numbers on this metric but the last couple games has had a number of pitches that were ostensibly strikes (by Statcast) but were called as balls - games caught by Contreras. Arrieta's success in recent years has been to an extent due to his ability to paint the lines, especially with sliders and sinkers. Pitch framing really matters for this, so one has to wonder if Contreras is going to run into trouble catching for Arrieta going forward. We'll see.

    More broadly, I think this suggests that umpires should be eliminated for strike calling. The technology exists to do it right, and there's little justification for continuing it. They will still be needed for some other calls, but it's a bit ridiculous that this hasn't been shifted to an electronic system yet.
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  23. #53
    October is upon us, people!



    Obviously the big stories are the Cubs and, maybe, the Red Sox. In the NL, the Nats are the biggest threat to the Cubs but are plagued by injuries - Harper in particular, some serious pitching issues, etc. Still not a pushover team but they are in trouble. The Dodgers have also had their injury issues but they might be getting healthy just in time - and they managed to tough out the loss of Kershaw and still hold onto the NL West. So we'll have to see who they are up against in the NLCS but they should be good games. The crazy race for the NL Wild Card means I haven't a clue what will happen there - the Mets have grit but just can't get over injuries enough to go deep into the playoffs, so my money is on a Giants/Cards WC game but it's very questionable. And the Cubs are, well, crazy good. They are sixteen games up over the WC spot, have even their worst pitcher (Hammel) with 15 wins and another Cy Young candidate (Hendricks), their offense is ticking over nicely with welcome recent additions from Heyward and Russell to add to the Fowler/Bryant/Rizzo/Zobrist freight train. And, of course, there's Aroldis Chapman to help shore up the bullpen. They are going to be very hard to beat, especially since they win 70% of their home games.

    In the AL, the AL East is where all of the excitement is. The Red Sox will probably manage to hold onto the division now but the Blue Jays and Orioles both have an excellent shot at a WC spot; I was impressed by the Yankees late surge (given their dearth of talent outside of the farm system) but don't think they will make it. The Astros and Tigers are also possibilities for a WC game but I'm less impressed with their chances. That being said, the top three AL East teams, while certainly allowing for exciting baseball (power hitters galore!) all have deep flaws as a postseason team. My bet is still on an ALCS dominated by the Rangers and Indians, possibly the Red Sox. Though I don't love the Indians as a very strong team, the Rangers' impressive record masks a lot of one run games decided in their favor (rather statistically unlikely), suggesting they are luckier than they are great. I think we're looking at the Indians or Red Sox moving on to the World Series.

    Lots of potential championship droughts might be broken this year, but I think we all know which one is most likely (and most awesome). Hats off to Epstein for his patience and vision in building the team, to the baseball operations office for excellent scouting and careful attention to detail, to Maddon for his unconventional style that seems to work well with this young, dynamic team and to this group of kids who are playing with the weight of history on their shoulders and making it look effortless. And, not to get too excited, but I heard Jose Fernandez might be traded by the Marlins in the off-season, and the Cubs could always use another Cy Young candidate...
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  24. #54
    All Worship Ragnarök Loki's Avatar
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    Hope is the denial of reality

  25. #55
    Yeah, I thought about posting about that here (especially given my last comment above). It's a real shame - such a talented player who seemed like a decent guy to boot. And, not to sound crass, but the already thin off-season market for pitching this year just got a lot thinner.
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  26. #56
    All Worship Ragnarök Loki's Avatar
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    Makes me wonder why this happens so infrequently actually. Young males are the demographic more likely to get killed, whether through violence or accidents. And yet perhaps 1 top athlete gets killed a year.
    Hope is the denial of reality

  27. #57
    Quote Originally Posted by Loki View Post
    Makes me wonder why this happens so infrequently actually. Young males are the demographic more likely to get killed, whether through violence or accidents. And yet perhaps 1 top athlete gets killed a year.
    I don't have numbers to support or contradict your basic premise, but I wonder if the phenomenon (if it exists) is not simply explained by a combination of reporting bias (not very many top athletes, and maybe a bunch of minor league players die at a 'normal' rate) and selection effects (the resources and milieu of top athletes is so different from the average that they are less likely to die).
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  28. #58
    Senior Member Flixy's Avatar
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    I think it's mostly because there simply aren't that many top athletes. I don't know personally many (and didn't know any that I spoke to more than a few times) people my age or younger who died either and I know more people personally than I know top athletes.

    Young males may be more likely to die but they're still not very likely to die.
    Keep on keepin' the beat alive!

  29. #59
    And now, it really is October and we really are in the playoffs! I haven't been this psyched about the Cubs since, well, I've never been this psyched.

    AL WC game was a solid pitching duel with a photo finish in extras; I think the Blue Jays always had a better chance of making it, but the Orioles put up a good fight. I actually think that Toronto has a decent chance to beat the Rangers, too - the Rangers are only the first seed because of some piss-poor competition in the AL West and a statistically unlikely bit of luck in one-run games. I question whether they are as strong as any of the other three AL teams. My guess is Red Sox will make it to the ALCS, but I'm not sure about the Rangers-Blue Jays series.

    In the NL, the Cubs are the prohibitive favorites but we'll have to see what happens with the Dodgers/Nats. I'm betting on the Mets making it through the NLWC tomorrow night - any given Sunday nonwithstanding, I think Syndergaard is a tough nut to crack if he's on his game, and the Giants have only been okay (failing to take control of the NL West when the Dodgers were plagued with injury issues). The Mets are still a weakened team, though, so I don't think they (or the Giants) will have much luck against the Cubs. So my bets are Cubs in the NLCS, probably against the Dodgers (I think a smaller starting rotation will really favor the Dodgers of the Nationals, especially with a healthy and fantastic-looking Kershaw). Looking forward to the series, which should be well-fought.

    I am getting concerned that I might be about to see a Red Sox-Cubs World Series, which would be problematic for two reasons: First, I will be sorely tempted to shell out some truly ridiculous sum of money to see the Cubs at Fenway on, say, Game 6 of the World Series. Second, as I (and my family) will be proudly wearing Cubs gear, I might temporarily be the most reviled person in Boston (I didn't make too many friends with Blackhawks gear back when they beat the Bruins). That being said, it would be awesome - only more awesome if it had happened before the Red Sox broke their own championship drought.

    I cannot wait for some awesome October baseball! This is way better than some crappy football nonsense people keep on yammering on about.
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  30. #60
    Nihilist Nessus's Avatar
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    I have no idea what is going on in this here thread, but anyone who likes Back to the Future is a-okay in my book
    In the future, the Berlin wall will be a mile high, and made of steel. You too will be made to crawl, to lick children's blood from jackboots. There will be no creativity, only productivity. Instead of love there will be fear and distrust, instead of surrender there will be submission. Contact will be replaced with isolation, and joy with shame. Hope will cease to exist as a concept. The Earth will be covered with steel and concrete. There will be an electronic policeman in every head. Your children will be born in chains, live only to serve, and die in anguish and ignorance.
    The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.

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