Friday, October 20, 2006

The World Series

I was on Sons of Sam Horn reading the World Series preview thread, and a few people are actually trying to convince the general populace that the Cardinals can win this series. As a quick retort, someone posted their respective interleague records (St. Louis was 5-10, and Detroit was 15-3, including 3-0 against the Cardinals). I stopped reading there because I realized that the Cardinals played 3 fewer games than the Tigers.

For the hell of it, I checked the standings to see how many games the Astros played against the American League. Sure enough, they played the full 18, going 7-11 (the Astros were actually the only team in their division that didn't play only 15 interleague games). This is clearly bogus. These teams, that only finished a game and a half apart, played different schedules.

Let's assume that the Cards played those additional 3 interleague games and went 1-2 (a .333 winning percentage, the same as their actual 5-10 interleague record). Their winning percentage for their remaining NL schedule was .534; if we subtracted any random three games off of their schedule to make room for the other three interleague games, chances are we'd be subtracting two wins and one loss. Taking away a 2-1 and adding in a 1-2 is a net loss of one game in the standings, which leaves the Cardinals only a half-game ahead of Houston, which would have required them to play their make-up game against the Giants.

Now, maybe they lose that game and have to play a one-game playoff with Houston for the Central Division title and a playoff spot. Or maybe they win that game and win the division anyway, but as a result of the extra game at the end of the season, their pitching would have been in worse shape going into the first round against the Padres, so maybe they don't end up winning that series. Or maybe they win it in five games and their pitching is worse off for the Mets series and they lose that one.

The point is, the Cardinals, with the 13th best record in the majors this year, are incredibly lucky to be in the World Series. From their interleague schedule, to the general weakness of the NL, to the extreme weakness of their division, to drawing the short-handed Mets in the NLCS, they've caught a break at every turn. The thought that they could hang with the Tigers, or even with a team like the Angels or Blue Jays, for seven games is downright crazy.

Based on the fact that the Tigers' record is much better than that of the Cardinals and that the AL has swept the last two World Series (including the 105-win Cardinal team of two years ago), I was already set to pick a Tigers sweep. Now, the extreme strength of the AL compared to the NL and the fact that the Cardinals really shouldn't be here is enough to hammer the point home. Tigers in four.


Warren said...

Time for a last-minute prediction (I promise I haven't cheated - the game's in the TiVo). I think that this series, like most lopsided ones (like the Tigers-Yankees) has many people saying that the underdog has basically no chance. It's still a short series, and I think the Cardinals have something like a 1-in-3 chance of taking the series.

This is still the same sad Tigers lineup, and the Cardinals do have the best position player and best pitcher in the series. And, best of all, I have Sully's Tigers prediction, so Cards in 7.

Warren said...

Sully, you've outdone yourself this time - a wrong prediction after only one game! You're becoming the Anthony Young of playoff predictions.

Warren said...

One more thing - I thought it was funny that Game 1 was a pitching matchup of my two preseason Rookie of the Year picks, and the one who probably will win the award got beaten by the guy who had a pretty uninspiring regular season.

Vindication, baby. Or something.

Sully said...

I give up...