Cubs to Win World Series, and Other Hopeful Links

--At the Baseball Analysts, Ross Roley explains why the Cubs have a 22% likelihood of winning the World Series. That's the marginally bad news. The good news is, that's the highest probability for any of the competing playoff teams, according to Roley. The Brewers come in second at 16%. The Angels, with the best record in baseball, weigh in at just 13%. Predicting the result of a short series is an inexact science at best. Still, it's nice to see a headline that reads, "Why the Angels Won't Win the World Series (and the Cubs Will Win It All)."

--At ESPN.com, Tim Kurkjian poses Five Questions relevant to the Dodgers/Cubs series and so as not to ruin it for you, I'll just provide the answers here: considerable, yes, very, as much as possible, and a good thing. Kurkjian likes the Cubs in five games.

--Tim Dierkes at The Hardball Times also likes the Cubs in five, pointing to the Cubs' superior hitting and fielding over the Dodgers' miniscule edge in starting pitching.

--There was a lunchtime rally of Cubs fans today in Daley Plaza with Jim Belushi "among the luminaries," according to the Tribune. I must have missed the last luminaries election, but I wouldn't have voted for Jim Belushi.

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Comments

What am I missing if the Cubs and Dodgers are so evenly matched how did the Cubs win 97 games in one of the best divisions in baseball while the Dodgers only won 84 games in maybe the worst division of baseball?

Short series = great evening-it-outer, plus Dodgers are a very different team with Ramirez, who was there for less than a third of the season. That said, I haven't seen anybody actually picking the Dodgers to win.

Ok, but even with Manny the Dodgers didn't start to win until they started playing bad teams.

Aug 13-16
Sept 17-8

In the end I guess it doesn't matter. They will play the games and the Cubs will either win or they wont.

Per Sullivan...
Cubs to work out at Wrigley at 3pm. NLDS roster and possibly Wednesday lineup to be announced subsequently. Plus MLB found additional advertising space at Wrigley to exploit during the post-season (padded walls along left- and right-field foul lines).

 

In the "Huh?" category, from th ESPN/Kurkjian article:

A former teammate of Zambrano was asked recently if Zambrano was up for the pressure of starting a Game 1 of the playoffs. "No,'' the teammate said. "He has a big heart and big stones, but he'll be way too fired up. He can't even calm down for the first game of the season, let alone the first game of the playoffs.''

Did that "former teammate" happen to watch Game 1 of the playoffs last year? Fail.

Maybe he'll be different in Game 3. He's as good a Game 3 pitcher as you'll find.

That would be great, if Z were pitching Game 3.

He meant that Carlos will pitch prior to game 3. But that Harden will pitch the first two innings of game 3, get tired, then Z will finish it out on short rest. Oh nevermind...that's what Sabathia is going to do.

That's definitely a Todd Walker quote.

Wouldn't a Todd Walker quote include praise for how much Carlos loves Jesus?

As soon as I read it I said Michael Barrett.

I think that may just be a free association thing. Every time I hear anything about stones, cajones, or testes, I now think of Michael Barrett. Also when I hear the word hematoma.

Whenever I hear Kaz Matsui's name, I think "anal fissures".

I dunno. Here are some actual Todd Walker quotes about Carlos Zambrano made last September.

Audio file September 2007

http://sports.espn.go.com/espnradio/player?id=3008648

creepy deja vu part: they go on to discuss(1)Z going bad in August (2) D(P) Lee's power outage (3)Howry getting lit up.

todd walker will talk to anyone about almost anything as long as you stick a reporter in front of him.

he was the "clubhouse filter" for years...dustbag loved him for that. not only did he not mind dealing with them...he loved it.

- sigh -

I have been trying to relieve nervous tension by reading comparison stats, probability factors, etc.

This is great "fun", but when it comes down to it, in 11 games the intangibles are huge.

Plain and simple, the Cubs players just have to get the job done on the field. No matter the opponent, venue, weather conditions, etc. The multi-millionaire superstars will just have to BRING IT and be better than the other guy's. Also, it is time for the annual post-season unsung hero to step forward for OUR team for ONE FUCKING TIME! Who is gonna be OUR Geoff Blum or Scotty "Pods" to make a huge play? And - WE are then ones who need - NO, fucking DESERVE, some LUCKY BREAKS, DAMMIT!

The stats hold that the Cubs were the best all-around NL team, and somehow they are all gonna have to step it up to the ultimate level, take no prisoners, and "want it" more than anything.

I believe Jim Edmonds perhaps may have a positive influence on all of this. Time will tell, and

GO CUBS!

What subject do you teach? Debate?

The history section of "1945-2007 Chicago Cubs Failures: A Revisionist's History"

I'd take that class. Not really interested in going back to college though.

My candidates in the unsung hero department are Fonty, Reed Johnson and Fukudome.

I also expect a big series or two from Soriano. Soriano has been in a slump that I consider almost tactical. His last HR was September 16. One double since then. 5 for 34 (.147). He can't keep it bottled up much longer. He's going to detonate.

So, I just got done reading every Cubs-Dodgers post-season preview, analysis, review and prognostication that Googled up out of the news this morning.

General consensus: Even though the Dodgers pitching is better, the Cubs are given the edge because their pitching is comparable, their hitting is better, and their defense is better.

But most of what the authors had to say is pretty worthless because the Dodgers team we're going to face is so much improved over the one that was 54-55 on August 1. They sure have a formidable veteran bench now.

So here are a couple of POSITIVE personal observations. Things I didn't read elsewhere.

Conventional Wisdom --- We're facing a dangerous team. The Dodgers are red HOT since getting Manny. Truth: Since Aug 1 the Dodgers played .566 baseball against a pretty
weak schedule. Over the same period the Cubs
played much better---.627 ball---- even though Lou's crew coasted in with a 5-5 record after clinching early. We were the better team before the Dodgers got Manny Ramirez and Derek Lowe got hot AND, AMAZINGLY, we were still better after.

Conventional Wisdom --- LF Manny Ramirez far overmatches Cubs LF Alfonso Soriano. Generally true, but consider this: Manny Ramirez is career .282 .404. .436 .840 vs the Cubs. Alfonso Soriano is .341 .393 .634 1.027 vs the Dodgers. Advantage Alfonso!

Here's hoping Fonzie produces. We're gonna need it.
-----------------------------------------------
BUMMER stat gleaned from the news this AM: The hotter team in September wins the playoff series 64% of the time.

That's the thing the Dodgers play in the worst division in NL. (Hello Angels)

They got fat off alot of bad teams, and one that was spiraling downward.

Ernie Banks - "Let's win eleven..."

AGREED!

And, where would all of the NL Playoff teams be without the Pirates?

They should get a token monetary amount from all four teams...

22% sounds about right, actually. There is so much luck involved in baseball that you can't say with any kind of certainty that a better team will beat the lesser team in a series. If these 8 playoff teams played 100 postseasons, I'd expect the Cubs to win their share, maybe 20-25 times.

The secret to winning a World Series isn't to have a great team for a year or two. No, the secret is to have a very good team for several years in a row, make the playoffs repeatedly and hope your ping pong ball gets picked once or twice.

Once a team wins the World Series (or any tournament), we assign all kinds of winning attributes to them (they persevere! they hit in the clutch! they believed in themselves!) and losing ones to those who didn't (they choked! no timely hitting! no character!). In reality, the tournament is structured so that somebody has to win. It doesn't mean they are special; it just means they survived, maybe it was their turn, and maybe they got lucky.

Take 8 quarters and have a coin flip tournament. Four will make it past the first round, two will make the finals, one will win. And it doesn't mean that one quarter is more special than the others.

Now this isn't to say that talent and momentum have nothing to do with winning the World Series -- they do, and that's why the Cubs have the best shot to win it. But the best shot is about a one in five chance.

My point isn't that the WS winner shouldn't be celebrated. It's just that the "specialness" of the winner is often not only overrated, but actually manufactured to tell a nice story.

So I guess the Yankees have just been unlucky for the past 7 years after having 5 years of incredible luck?

BULLSHIT!

Kinda, yeah, except that (in my opinion) they put themselves in a much more favorable position to win in the late 90's than they have the last few years based on personnel decisions. But once the postseason rolls around, it's a lot of luck that determines the fates.

Or maybe they just didn't "step it up" over the past 7 years! Because if only they had tried harder, of course, they could have won more World Series.

No. They weren't good enough. The best team doesn't always win. But the team that does "step up" and come to play does.

It's not luck. It's execution.

The team that executes wins. You can increase you odds of execution by getting better players. But that is no guarantee.

I look at it the other way around. A team wins the World Series, and we then say (after the fact) that the team "stepped up" and "came to play" and "executed." It's circular.

People don't like to admit that in the game of baseball, in a game or a short series, execution is based in large part on luck. A bases loaded line drive lands three inches inside the right field line; a ground ball takes a bad hop; a popup lands just outside the second baseman's grasp -- these are "execution"-based things that can deterimine whether an individual game is won or lost, but luck is a big factor. Over a long season, the best team will generally have the most wins because there is time for the luck to be equalized, but not over a game or a short series.

Hey maybe you, me and the rest of the tcr league could get a team together. Then we could play the Cubs and win 3 out of 5. You know we could if we got really lucky.

not

luck is just a small part of the game. execution is how it's won and lost. Will your pitcher leave a fat pitch over the heart of the plate? That's not luck. Will your start left fielder hit it over the fence. not luck. It's skill on skill. The series is not won by a by bleeder down the line. It may look that way but its not.

you cant really "execute" anything with certainty in this game unless you're in the field or being asked to put a ball in a specific part of the field reguardless of an out.

one who "executes" at the bat is working with a 30-40% success rate at their best.

batters make mistakes...pitchers make mistakes...you can do all the right things and still hang a pitch or swing through something.

hell, look at some of these short-series MVPs...

Luck is a small part of baseball--but it can be the difference maker in a game played between two squads of 25 professionals where the difference between the teams seems to be very small. These two teams are well matched, so that small factor of luck could be the biggest difference.

You've got Soriano at the plate. He rips a line drive in the whole between short and third for a single.

You've got Manny Ramirez at the plate. He rips a line drive that just about takes Rammy's head off, but does go right at him and he manages to put the glove on it because of that.

Luck or execution? I for one don't think even the best major league hitters can aim that line drive so precisely (off of a low 90s sinker) that they can hit it 6 more feet to the right just because they want to.

Were the Cubs unlucky last year or were the Diamondback luckier?

Neither.

The Cubs got out played.

Is that what's being argued? Because I thought there was an argument going on about what role luck CAN play in baseball, not about whether luck is the only deciding factor in all games, series, and seasons.

I prefer to believe that the team that had no guts or heart lost.

What if both teams execute?

whom ever does it better.

Execution is about throwing strikes that are hard to hit. not walking guys. not swinging at bad pitches. making solid contact. hitting a fly ball with a man on 3rd and 1 out. hitting the ball to the right side with guy on second base and less than 2 outs. getting a bunt down. not making errors or mental mistakes.

All those things are controlled by the player. the team that does those things better will probably win.

here's the problem. there is no mathematical way to predict who will do that. so you guys call it luck.

might as well call it magic.

Guys don't be getting down on Chad about luck, execution and all that. You should know by now that this is how games are played according to Chadball and nothing any of you say can change the universe. kapiche?

What if both teams are executed before the series? Then maybe they would determine the winner based on a coin flip, and it would be 100% about luck.

I don't know what the current stats are regarding the game one winners of a short series, but I'd imagine it's a considerable advantage if you take the first one - so let's hope Dempster's got another winner up his sleeve.

2007 LDS Game 1 Winners: 4-0

2006: 3-1

2005: 3-1

2004: 2-2

2003: 1-3

2002: 3-1

2001: 2-2

2000: 2-2

1999: 2-2

1998: 3-1

1997: 3-1

1996: 3-1

1995: 3-1

Total: 34 - 18

Fun Fact: Out of 52 5-game series since the wildcard, 21 have been three game sweeps, 12 have gone all five and 19 have gone four games.

Cubs can win. Cubs should win. Cubs are the best team in the National League. But in a 3 game series, that doesn't mean much. One bad pitch, one unlucky break...and suddenly we need to win 3 of 4 to stay alive.

I'm having trouble getting too excited for this until we get to the NLCS. Chances are just too high that things won't break their way in a short series.

I'm pretty excited about the playoffs, but that might be largely due to national coverage, so I'll actually get to watch most of the games on TV.

I know what you mean about the 5-game series, but I think the "one bad pitch" idea is overstatement. I mean, one bad pitch at most puts you down a run. You gotta have runners on. But there is less room for error in a series than in a season. Of course, a hot streak can also carry you all the way through the World Series, whereas in a season you have to be good for a long stretch.

I'm excited. Not counting any chickens though.

I guess I should say that I'm nervous...and nerves will turn into excitement once we get out of the first round.

Basically, with expectations so high (Including my own)...nothing really good can come out of the first round. IF the win, it's what we all expected...if they lose, it will be a desetating end of a season that will leave me feeling empty. You win the NLCS on the otherhand, and it's shear joy and celebration. That's when things get exciting.

as for one bad pitch...I'm really saying one bad pitch at the wrong time. Think of Marmol's pitch in game 1 last year. Think of how that 1 pitch impacted the series.

Went to the rally today at Daley Plaza & it was pretty cool. The crowd roared when Lee, Marshall, and Hoffpauir were introduced, but interestingly, seemed to roar even louder at every mention of Soto.

There was also a WGN-assembled, completely boss highlight film that got me all geeked even as I realized that I'd been lucky enough to see almost all of the clips as they happened.

It was also a crowd clearly knowledgeable about the political tribulations of Gov. Blagojevich, but willing to let him ramble on (and on and on) in praise of the Cubs. Not hard for anyone to do, I guess.

completely boss, eh?

well isn't that just k-rad.

have a gnarly day.

Amongst the 8 playoff teams, the disparity between talent and better execution between the best and worst team is much much smaller. That's why little "breaks" (read:luck) will affect who wins much much more than it would games played over a long 162 game season. That's not rocket science is it? Can somebody call in the Sample Size Police now?

So the diamond backs were luckier than the cubs last year?

Normal answer: breaks played a part. how much? more than it would during an entire 162 game season than it did in that short best of 5 series.

Chadball answer: they wore prettier costumes.

Maybe the dbacks took some of Dusty's magic water. That could explain it.

The problem with numbers people is if you can't predict it with numbers it's luck.

You're all a bunch of atheists.

I'm not sure why you keep bringing up the D-backs - Cubs series. No one ever said that luck explains every game or every series. No one ever said that players and excecution never matter. The Cubs got out-played last year. They did not perform well in the 3 games and the D-backs did. Again, no one ever said that luck explained that series.

All I think people are saying is pretty simple: the more games that are played, the more that superior players and execution are accurately reflected in the won-loss record. And of course the inverse, that the less the weather, an umpires call, a lucky bloop hit, etc. will correlate with wins and losses.

This is sort of an obvious point. I mean, if I only looked at May 24 I would think the Pirates were a better team than the Cubs because they won. But when I look at the season series between them and their overall league records it becomes fairly apparent that the Pirates suck balls.

The more games you play, the more that "lucky" shit evens out and the greater the liklihood that the better team comes out on top. If this were a 29 game series against the Dodgers, I would be fully confident that the Cubs can win 15 first. But it's 5 games, and anything can happen. Not only can some players not execute well - which itself could lead to a series loss as happened last year - but also other lucky shit can happen and spoil things too.

I'm asking for trouble by getting in the middle of this, but I'll give it a try anyway...

What some people refer to as luck is the situation where over a "short series," a better team is not as likely to prevail over a worse team, when compared to a "long series." "Short series" can be whatever you want it to be: 3, 5, 7 games, or whatever. A long series might be a team's record against another over the whole season (18 games or so) or even a team's entire season (162 games, or in the Cubs' case this year 161).

Think of it this way: let's say based on talent, depth, managerial decisions, execution, bounces of the ball, hard hit liners in the gap or right at someone, based on all that and everything else that goes into what decides who wins and who loses a baseball game, the Cubs have a 55% chance to win a game against the Dodgers, on average. I know even based on everything I've listed above, this is still over-simplifying things, but bear with me. Based on all that, if these teams played one game, the better team would win 55% of the time. But if they played a 3-game series, the Cubs should win 57.5% of the time: .55*.55 + (.55*.45)*2 = .57475. Drawn out to a 5-game series, the Cubs should win 59.5% of the time. A 7 game series is 60.7%. I don't have time to run the numbers, but as we get out to 20, 50, or 162 games, the better team's advantages become more apparent, and they will be more likely to finish on top.

As you see, the longer the series, the more likely the better team wins, but even out to a 7-game series, it isn't dramatically in the better team's favor. This means that whenever you see a ball land 3 inches foul, or a ball is caught at the warning track, or a weak-hitting middle infielder hits a home run (think Ozzie Smith), the difference in the series can be swayed greatly by that one play. Over the course of the season, those things average out.

This is what most people refer to as "luck" (at least I think that's what they're saying), when maybe a more accurate term would be "small advantages" or "minor differences." Call it fate, call it luck, call it karma, ... I believe everything happens for a reason. Oh wait, never mind. Really, I think we're getting hung up on a term here, when everyone probably agrees on the principle idea that a shorter series is more likely to be won on the details.

This is really well written, Iowa Cub, and adds a lot to the conversation. I'll clarify my perspective about "luck" though.

When I was talking about luck, I was referring to it in more of the traditional sense and not the small advantages/minor differences sense. I certainly agree with you that small advantages and minor differences are what make major league teams better than others over the long run, and that those differences can be overrun by other events in a short series and don't have a chance to dictate that the better team wins.

But what I was saying was that the thing that overruns the small advantages and minor differences is often -- but not always -- dumb luck. When a bases loaded line drive falls three inches foul (or fair), the end result is mostly, if not entirely, luck-driven. There are countless examples like that.

Sometimes the best team wins because it's better, sure. But often the best team wins because it got luckier, just like often the lesser team wins because it was luckier.

And sometimes, like last night, the better team (the Cubs) loses largely because it didn't execute -- e.g., Dempster walked too many people.

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