Thirst for Battle
Mad Dog, indeed


TJM axs,


On another note: What do we make of the fact that the Atlanta Braves had three Hall of Famers at their peaks in their starting rotation and won only one Series? How exactly do you mess that up? - See more at:


The conventional wisdom is that luck controls the postseason.  Move on.  Nothing to see here.  

And that's why -- say they -- you win 90 every year, and just wave off the postseason with a "Pshaw" and a shake of the head.  The most unspeakably Neanderthal / Gabe Paul thing you could do, is what Billy Beane did last year:  try to improve a team that is already good enough to make the postseason. Why on earth would a saber-literate person do that?!

If that's how you want to look at the 1990's Braves, that they were merely victims of Pascal's Triangle, well, we're all about inclusiveness :- )


Between 1991 and 2005, the postseason Atlanta Braves won 25 games and lost 52.  

Assuming that their probability of winning each individual game was 50%, then their chances of winning 25 games or fewer was ... wait for it ... 0.13 of 1 percent.  

You'd expect the same thing to happen once in 800 trials.  Yes, LrKrBoi29, there has been more than one such trial in baseball history.  There has been, what, 20-30 such trials of 10-year dynasties.  This puts the odds that any dynasty would suffer so much, by pure chance, at roughly 1 in 20 to 1 in 50.  

In any case, the 1990's Atlanta Braves are wild outliers in postseason futility.


In 1996, when the Yankees crushed the Braves like a pop can, Greg Maddux marvelled about it:  "How can you pitch to guys who just take what you give them?"  Had I been a Braves fan, I'd have been very alarmed by that reaction.

I think there was a certain element of bullying to the 1990's Braves, a certain factor of living off consistent profits from weak opposition -- and then being a bit surprised when they ran into stubborn opposition.

The same was true of the 2001 Mariners, who won 116 games -- but who were -25 games worse the year before, and the year after.  They really, really enjoyed their 15-game winning streaks against teams in 80% mode.  Then, in October, they couldn't really understand why the game was so hard.

Put it another way, if you're Tom Glavine and you're used to throwing 88-MPH fastballs a foot outside against the Padres -- and then going and celebrating the victory -- then what do you do when somebody takes you by the throat and forces you to truly fight?


This has been our complaint about the 2005-13 Mariners:  you can't get the "Hard RBI" from them.  Going into 2015, it is turning around completely.  Current Mariners who relish a hot fight against the toughest opposition they can find:

  • Lloyd McClendon
  • Felix Hernandez (he pressed a bit last fall; that's different)
  • WBC-san
  • Kyle Seager, of course
  • Robinson Cano
  • James Paxton, if he stays healthy "Hurry up and get in there, Albert"
  • Nelson Cruz, I'm fairly but not totally confident
  • Chris Taylor, definitely - he's a pleasure to watch out there
  • Fernando Rodney
  • Most of the bullpen

Dustin Ackley and Justin Smoak have been poster boys for the opposite of this.  Jesus Montero is unbearably lazy, but he's not squeamish about pressure.  And you'll remember his joy in coming up to stand in front of the New York lights.

Brad Miller loves to fight, but isn't (wasn't?) ready to do so.  Roenis Elias came up full of macho, but has gotten a bit wide-eyed since then.  

Taijuan Walker, for some weird reason, seems to float completely above the whole concern; you can't get him to acknowledge the fact that he's in an important game.  Mike Zunino is tougher than your average MLB catcher, which is saying a lot, but there is a quizzical aspect to his at-bats.

Lloyd McClendon has been tempering the M's steel from day one.  It echoes the 1993-95 Lou Piniella.  I'm not especially a McClendon fact fan, but what's real is real.  :- )


Dr D



I agree Lloyd is #1--with a bullet. I believe he eventually eclipses Lou in every way (except maybe base-throws).
By the middle of this year, I think we may also all agree that Brad truly belongs.


Time to go do my workout.  Definitely getting bleary.
That was a very enjoyable work day, amigos.  Gracias.

benihana's picture

Stubborn opposition? Stubborn? I think the post 9/11 New York Yankees had the entire nation routing for them to win, including quite a few ballplayers in the opposing dugout.
Personally, I chalk much of the 'faliure' of the 2001 M's to post 9/11 emotion. I think that had much more to do with coming up short than an additional bench bat or more hard-rbi relishers.
- Ben.


Except for these things:
1) The previous (Indians) series was much, much tougher than it should have been (outscored 16-26)
2) Piniella's bitterness about the Yankee rotation (he acknowledged the Yankees had the better team)
3) The M's won 10 of their final 12 after Sept. 11 -- they scored 88 runs in their last 12 games, but then got brutally locked down in 7 of 10 postseason games
4) The scouting factor, such as Soriano's HR off Sasaki on the 2-0 count
Except for that, yeah.  :- )
The 2001 M's aren't the best example of "soft RBI."  More important there, IMHO, was the idea of "25 pretty good players" rampaging through the long schedule and then not being able to focus their postseason innings into 6-8 superstars.
:: shrug ::

tjm's picture

The Braves had what has to be considered an ideal, three-man post-season rotation. Shouldn't they have been better in October, not worse? Or does this indicate - not prove, just call into question - the conventional wisdom about playoff pitching? Maybe hitting is vastly undervalued. Maybe that's why the Yankees kept running out those teams full of offense-first defenders and winning.with that line-up and Big Mo at the end. Most of those teams had one plus defender - Paul O'Neill - and a bunch of guys who were adequate. Or not - Knoblauch.

SeattleNative57's picture

err... Mariners, excuse me. I recognize 9/11 taking the shine off that season considerably. But what caused me to choke-up upon hearing it, was Carlos Guillen contracting tuberculosis. I immediately felt the season/team would be affected. I have since learned that he and the team dealt with the issue much longer than the public was aware. Still, his departure marked a turning point in team chemistry (SABR's fave term, I know) in my view. I maintained the proverbial lump-in-the-throat once he was replaced.

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