10/06/2004: Thought for the Day:
Now the big question being debated in this great nation's baseball parlors is: "Are this year's Cardinals the 2001 Mariners redux?"
You might not know the word redux gets tossed around in baseball parlors but you'll surely remember that the '01 Mariners won 116 games -- more than anybody since 1906 -- only to get smoked in the American League Championship Series by the Yankees, at which point everyone in the world pretended they'd known that was going to happen. They'd just forgotten to say anything about it beforehand, you see.
They'd known because the Mariners didn't have any dominant starters, just a bunch of pretty good ones, and you need dominant starters to win in the playoffs, an assertion that is as accepted in baseball as it is unproven. Blogger Brian Gunn, a Cardinals fan, not coincidentally, has done some spiffy research that suggests that while ace starters are always nice to have, they're no more important in the postseason than they are in the regular season.
The Cardinals have to like that idea. They have no ace, but for most of the season they were just about equally likely to win no matter which of their five starters took the ball, which is to say pretty likely. Chris Carpenter, who was their best starter, their most equal, if you will, is out for the Dodgers series with a biceps injury. But the rotation's deep enough that it shouldn't matter much. The Cardinals also have a terrific, deep bullpen. And a great defense. And the most explosive lineup in the league.
I don't think the Cardinals are the 2001 Mariners, though it should be noted I didn't think the 2001 Mariners were going to be the 2001 Mariners either. What I mean is there's no real reason to think the Dodgers, champions of the N.L. West, will beat the Cardinals, except that this is baseball, and it's the postseason, and things like that happen.
--King Kaufman [salon.com]
Len on 10.06.04 @ 06:14 AM CST