Back to the Future – Astros vs. Dodgers

The Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers were division rivals from 1969 to 1993.  It wasn’t until 1979 that the rivalry started to take off and mean more to the two teams.  That was the year that the Astros finished ahead of the Dodgers in the standings for the first time.  The Astros were 10 games better than the Dodgers and finished in 2nd place to the Cincinnati Reds.

 

In 1980 the rivalry took shape when the Astros won the NL West for the first time.  Winning the division by 1 game over the Dodgers.  They lost in the National League Championship Series to the Philadelphia Phillies.  The Phillies went on to win the World Series.

 

In the strike season of 1981 the Dodgers won the NL West in the first half of the season while the Astros won the NL West in the second half of the season.  The two teams squared off in the first round of the playoffs.  The division series that year was a best of 5.  The Astros took games 1 and 2 in Houston.  Nolan Ryan won game 1 and the Astros won 3 to 1.  In the second game the Astros won in the bottom of the 11th on a pinch hit single by Denny Walling.  The Astros were up 2 games to 0 and headed to Los Angeles only needing 1 win to move on to the National League Championship Series.

 

But then the bottom dropped out.  The Dodgers won game 3 by a score of 6 to 1.  In game 4 the Dodgers won 2 to 1 with Fernando Valenzuela on the mound.  In the deciding game 5 Nolan Ryan took the mound for the Astros and Jerry Reuss was the starter for the Dodgers.  In the 6th inning the Dodgers broke through with 3 runs.  They scored another 1 in the 7th.  The Astros were held to 5 hits and 0 runs.  The Dodgers took game 5 and headed to the National League Championship Series and eventually the World Series.  The Dodgers won in 6 games.

 

The Astros never recovered from that series.  They were competitive for the rest of the 80s, but didn’t win the division again until 1986.  They then played the New York Mets in the NLCS and lost in 6 games.  The Mets went on to win the World Series.  (Game 6 of the NLCS is the last game where the Houston Astros wore their “rainbow” uniforms.)

 

The Astros main nemesis for those years in the 80s were the Dodgers.

 

Now the 2017 World Series comes down to these two former Division Rivals.  When the Astros first came into Major League Baseball, and the Western Division, it was the Dodgers that they wanted to copy.  The Dodgers never wanted this “little brotherr” to become an upstart.  Now it’s time to see if the little brother has finally grown up and no longer needs it’s big brother.

 

Go ‘Stros!!

The Best Baseball Ever in Chicago?

Is a Red Line Series in the Future?

All eyes of the baseball world have been on Chicago so far.  People expected the Chicago Cubs to have plenty of attention, but not a lot of people thought the guys on the South Side, the White Sox, would be playing as well as they have.

At the end of April the Chicago Cubs had 17 wins and 5 losses.  They were 3 games up on the Pittsburgh Pirates and owned the best record, not only in the National League, but all of Major League Baseball.

Meanwhile, down on West 35th Street, the Chicago White Sox owned a 17-8 record.  They were 3 games up on the Detroit Tigers and owned the best record in the American League.

At the end of April the City of Chicago could boast that they had the best teams in baseball and both teams were in first place.  The teams combined for a 34-13 record.

How often have these two teams been in first place at the end of April and is this the best start, combined, that the two teams have had at the end of April?

If my eyes haven’t deceived me and the stats I’m looking at are correct.  I think you will enjoy these tidbits of information.

The last time both the Cubs and White Sox were in 1st place at the end of April was in 1973.  The Cubs were tied with the Mets with a 12-8 record for first place.  The White Sox were tied with the Royals with a 10-5 record.  A combined record of 22-13 at the end of April.

This is not only the last time they were in first at the same time – at the end of April – but also the only time that it has ever happened.

The year 1973 ended with both teams finishing below .500.  The Cubs went on to finish with a 77-84 record and 5 games out of first place.  The White Sox finished at 77-85 and 17 games out of first place.

1973 is the 10th best combined start that these two teams have had since 1901.  What are the other 9 you ask?  I’m sure many of you are thinking that this year has to be the best combined start.  However, you would be wrong.  This year is the second best combined start – record wise – for the two teams.

The best start for the two teams was in 1907 when they combined for a record of 22-6.  The Cubs were in first place with a 13-2 record and leading the New York Giants by 2 ½ games.  The White Sox were a ½ game back of the Philadelphia Athletics with a 9-4 record.

1907?  1907?  That year seems to ring a bell.  It should for Cubs fans because this is the first time the Cubs won the World Series.  They finished the season with 107 wins and 45 losses.  They finished 17 games ahead of the Pittsburgh Pirates and then beat the Detroit Tigers 4-0-1 in the World Series.

What happened to the White Sox?  They finished with an 87-64 record in 3rd place and 5 ½ games behind the Tigers.

Here are the top 10 combined records at the end of April for the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox:

1907       22-6       .786
2016       34-13     .723
1918       11-5       .688
1935       17-8       .680
1902       10-5       .667
2006       29-15     .659
1913       22-12     .647
1980       21-12     .636
1922       19-11     .633
1973       22-13     .629

What about 1906?  I hear you out there.  You all are wondering about the only World Series year to pit the Cubs versus the White Sox.  On April 30, 1906 the Chicago Cubs owned a 10-6 record and were 2 ½ games behind the New York Giants.  The White Sox were 7-6 and 1 game back of the Philadelphia Athletics.

The Cubs would go on to win 106 of the remaining 136 games that year and finish with a record of 116-36.  The nearest team in the National League was the Giants and they were 20 games back.  20 games!!

The White Sox would win 86 of the remaining 138 games and finish at 93-58.  They would finish 3 games ahead of the New York Highlanders.

The only time the two teams have met in the World Series was a win for the White Sox when the “Hitless Wonders” beat the Cubs 4 games to 2 games.

Is this the year of Chicago Baseball?  Do we get a Red Line Series?  There is a lot of baseball left.  As a good friend of mine always tells me, “This isn’t a sprint.  It’s a marathon.”

**********************************************************************
Afterthoughts for those of us that remember 1980 and 2006.  Here is how things turned out for the Cubs and White Sox.

1980 – The Cubs are 9-6 and a ½ game out of first place to the Pittsburgh Pirates at the end of April.  They go 55-92 the rest of the way and finish in last place – 27 games back.

The White Sox are 12-6 with a 1 game lead over the Oakland Athletics at the end of April.  They go 58-84 the rest of the way and finish in 5th place – 26 games back.

2006 – The Cubs are 13-10 and 3 games out of first place to the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals.  They go 53-86 the rest of the way and finish in last place – 17 ½ games back.

The White Sox are 13-8 and 1 ½ games back of the Detroit Tigers.  They go 73-65 the rest of the way finishing in 3rd place and 6 game back.

 

Timo’s Timid MLB Predictions – 2016

My favorite time of the year is here.  It’s been here for almost 2 weeks.  Back when I was recovering from partial knee replacement surgery I did some research, read some scouting reports and looked at other websites for their major league baseball predictions for the year 2016.  Most of them had the Cubs winning the world series for the first time since Teddy Roosevelt was President – 1908.  As I always like to say, “Anyone can have a bad Century.”  As a White Sox fan I know that all too well.

I thought about crowning the Cubs as the World Champions, but I just couldn’t do it.  I decided to go against all the experts and their predictions.  I have the Cubs in the National League Championship, but I have them losing.  I have the White Sox in the American League Championship, but have them losing as well.  There would be nothing that I would like to see more than a Red Line World Series, with the White Sox winning of course, but I didn’t.

Let’s hope I am wrong.  Without further adieu….my 2016 MLB Predictions.

AL East – Boston Red Sox 87-75, Toronto Blue Jays 86-76, New York Yankees 84-78, Tampa Bay Rays 81-81, Baltimore Orioles 77-85.

AL Central – Chicago White Sox 86-76, Cleveland Indians 84-78, Kansas City Royals 81-81, Detroit Tigers 79-83, Minnesota Twins 78-84.

AL West – Houston Astros 90-72, Texas Rangers 85-77, Seattle Mariners 81-81, Los Angeles Angels 80-82, Oakland Athletics 76-86.

NL East – New York Mets 89-73, Washington Nationals 88-74, Miami Marlins 77-85, Philadelphia Phillies 66-96, Atlanta Braves 65-97.

NL Central – Chicago Cubs 94-68, Pittsburgh Pirates 90-72, St. Louis Cardinals 86-76, Milwaukee Brewers 69-93, Cincinnati Reds 66-96.

NL West – Los Angeles Dodgers 90-72, San Francisco Giants 89-73, Arizona Diamondbacks 83-79, San Diego Padres 73-89, Colorado Rockies 70-92.

AL Playoffs

Wild Card Game – Texas Rangers at Toronto Blue Jays

Divisional Playoffs – Toronto Blue Jays vs. Houston Astros, Chicago White Sox vs. Boston Red Sox

Championship Series – Chicago White Sox vs. Houston Astros

NL Playoffs

Wild Card Game – San Francisco Giants at Pittsburgh Pirates

Divisional Playoffs – Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Chicago Cubs, New York Mets vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

Championship Series – Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Chicago Cubs

World Series

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Houston Astros

World Series Champion

Houston Astros

 

 

 

NFL Parity – Is It Here?

With the football season at an end I feel it is about time to finish with these thoughts.  For years the NFL has wanted to “level the playing field” and make the league as even as possible.  Is it finally here?

6 years into the 1970s the Miami Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers each had 2 Super Bowl Titles.  The Steelers would appear in 2 more before the decade was out.  They would win both of them.  The Dolphins wouldn’t appear in another Super Bowl until 1983.

6 years into the 1980s the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders and San Francisco 49ers each had 2 Super Bowl titles.  The 49ers would appear in 2 more and win both.  The Raiders wouldn’t appear in another Super Bowl until 2003.

6 years into the 90s the Dallas Cowboys had won 3 Super Bowls.  Their last appearance was in 1996 when they beat the Pittsburgh Steelers.  They haven’t been to a Super Bowl since.

6 years into the 00s the New England Patriots won 3 Super Bowls.  They appeared in 1 more in the 00s and lost in 2008.  They have appeared in 2 more after that.  Winning 1 and losing 1.

6 years into the 10s and the NFL doesn’t have a franchise with more than 1 Super Bowl Championship.  Since 2009 the NFL has had a different Super Bowl Champion each year.

This is the longest streak of that kind.  Not just in Super Bowl history, but in NFL history.  Consider these pre-Super Bowl Championship decades:

In the 1920s the Canton Bulldogs and then the Cleveland Bulldogs won 3 NFL Championships.

In the 1930s the Green Bay Packers won 4 NFL Championships, the Chicago Bears won 3 NFL Championships and the New York Giants won 2 NFL Championships.

In the 1940s the Chicago Bears won 4 NFL Championships and the Philadelphia Eagles won 2 NFL Championships.

In the 1950s the Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions won 3 NFL Championships.

In the 1960s the Green Bay Packers won 5 NFL Championships.

Now granted between the 1920s and the 1960s the NFL was going through some changes and the number of teams was smaller, but it is interesting to see how some franchises seemed to dominate each decade.  That is until now.

Parity seems to finally exist in the NFL.  Not only have there been 8 different Super Bowl Championship teams, but 11 different teams have played in the Super Bowl in the last 7 years.  The only teams to play in 2 different Super Bowls are the Denver Broncos, New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks.  Each have won 1 and lost 1.

It is quite a run for the league.  A tweak here, a draft pick there and everyone does have a chance come Labor Day.

Now…onto the NCAA Basketball Tournament and Baseball!!

 

Super Bowl – Home Wears White

There are some that say that the Denver Broncos superstition about white uniforms shows that “the game (Super Bowl) is already in their head”, but is this more of a strategic move on the part of the Broncos.

As many already are aware the Denver Broncos are the designated home team for the Super Bowl.  In odd years the NFC representative is the home team and in the even years the AFC is the designated home team.  This dates back to the first Super Bowl when the NFL, the oldest of the leagues, was the “home team” and the AFL, the young league, were the “visitors”.

It wasn’t until after Super Bowl V that the NFL allowed the designated “home team” to decide which jersey they would wear.  Up until that time the home team had to wear their dark jersey and the visiting team had to wear their white jersey.  In that game the Dallas Cowboys, who had been wearing white at home, were the NFC representatives and they had to wear their road blues.  When the Baltimore Colts, wearing white, beat them with a last second field goal the jinx of the blue uniforms was born.

The Denver Broncos choosing white as their uniform might not mean that the game is in their head. Perhaps, they are trying to get in the heads of the Panthers.  Home teams that have chosen to wear white have 3 wins and 1 loss in Super Bowls.  The winners were:  Super Bowl XVII Washington Redskins (Dolphins were favored by 3), Super Bowl XXVII Dallas Cowboys (Cowboys were favored by 6.5) and the Super Bowl XL Pittsburgh Steelers (Steelers were favored by 4).  The only team to lose while wearing white as the home team were the Super Bowl XIII Dallas Cowboys when they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers (Steelers favored by 3.5).

In addition, the team that wears their white jerseys in the Super Bowl have won 31 of the 49 Super Bowls.

The average score of Super Bowls is 31 to 15.  The average score of Super Bowls when the home teams wear their white jerseys is 33 to 19.

The Carolina Panthers are 5 to 6 point favorites.  However, with the Denver Broncos wearing white, and with the “Football Gods” looking down, that point spread could be narrowed.  I have the Panthers winning 26 to 21.  But don’t be surprised if the Broncos win this game in their white jerseys by a score of 27 to 17 or thereabouts.