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Money Ball–Cubs’ Odds of Winning World Series

By bullpenbrian - March 4, 2013 - 8:00 am Leave a comment.

Money Baseball

One way of judging the offseason of all MLB teams is to look at what the odds makers are saying, such as online sports betting at Top Bet. For World Series odds I’m finding it universal the Astros (200-1) are lest likely to win a ring while Toronto (7-1) is the favorite (Cubs are coming in at 100-1).

Houston is obvious of course, but granted Toronto made hay this winter (namely their blockbuster pillaging of Miami), they’re still in a tough division against New York, Baltimore and Tampa Bay–even the Red Sox should be more competitive than last season.

Meanwhile, the Nationals, Giants, Angels, Tigers and Dodgers are typically rounding out the top picks, while the Marlins, Rockies and Cubs are rounding out the bottom feeders. For wild cards I’d throw in the never-say-die Cardinals and the good but not great Rangers.

I was also looking at the over/under for total regular season wins. The Cubs are listed at 73, which falls in line with my prognostication of a (72-90) win season for Chicago. I say this because my gut feeling is Team Theo will use the July trade deadline much as they they did last year–trading away ageing and more expensive veterans for younger prospects–which ultimately set the Cubs on pace for 101-losses.  

Although this summer appears to be a lesson in enjoying Cubs baseball for what it’s worth–another year closer to completing the rebuild–at least we know the odds of winning should get much, much greater for Chicago in the coming seasons.


Cubs, Bears, Champions In The Same Year?

By bullpenbrian - January 23, 2013 - 2:00 am Leave a comment.

Imagine the bliss in the city of Chicago if the Bears and Cubs won a championship in the same year. It could make a very warm place freeze over.

I was asked the question this week as to which cities had already experienced a Super Bowl and World Series champion in the same year, which made me stop and think…good question, I don’t know?

San Francisco, technically, is out because the 49ers will play the Super Bowl in 2013, although the Giants won the World Series just last fall, but in 2012.

From what I gather, a Super Bowl and World Series championship won by teams in the same city, in the same year, has happened only three times:

  • 1969 – New York Mets defeat Baltimore Orioles 4-1
               New York Jets defeat Baltimore Colts 16-7
  • 1979 – Pittsburgh Pirates defeat Baltimore Orioles 4-3
               Pittsburgh Steelers defeat Dallas 35-31
  • 2004 – Boston Red Sox defeat St. Louis Cardinals 4-0
               New England Patriots defeat Carolina 32-29

If, however, we look at football and baseball teams from the same city winning championships in the same seasons it turns out that’s also happened three times…with the chance for a fourth occurrence if the 49ers defeat the Ravens in the upcoming Super Bowl.

  • 1970-71 – Baltimore Orioles defeat Cincinnati Reds 4-1
                    Baltimore Colts defeat Dallas Cowboys 16-13
  • 1979-80 – Pittsburgh Pirates defeat Baltimore Orioles 4-3
                    Pittsburgh Steelers defeat LA Rams 31-19
  • 1986-87 – New York Mets defeat Boston Red Sox 4-3
                    New York Giants defeat Denver Broncos 39-20
  • 2004-05 – Boston Red Sox defeat St. Louis Cardinals 4-0
                    New England Patriots defeat Philadelphia Eagles 24-21
  • *2012-13 – San Francisco Giants defeat Detroit Tigers 4-0
                     (49ers vs. Baltimore Ravens)

Of course after 100-years and counting since the Cubs last won a World Series (1908), I’ll gladly settle for a baseball only championship as a stand alone accomplishment during a respective season. After all, not a day goes by where the ’85 Bears are not celebrated in the ‘city that works’. And eventually, I hope, the same will hold true for those lovable Cubs.


Would Baseball Benefit From A Shorter Regular Season?

By bullpenbrian - January 22, 2013 - 2:30 am Leave a comment.

The NHL opened its regular season this weekend with a shortened 48-game schedule due to the league’s lengthy lock-out. That’s 58-percent of its normal 82-game campaign, which had me wondering…how would have a shortened MLB season changed the playoffs last year?

Actually, not too much.

Under such circumstances the regular season would have ended after 94-games (which falls in mid July). At that mark only one American League team that eventually made the postseason would’ve been left out–Oakland. And the same in the National League–St. Louis.
(The Cubs were (38-56) after 94-games).

Oakland of course went on to have an incredible second half to win the AL West (they trailed Texas by 6.5 games in mid July) and the Cardinals overcame a 4.5 games deficit to jump Pittsburgh for the wild card. Otherwise, all else remained in tact in the final standings for division winners and wild cards through 162-games.


In baseball the Fourth of July is typically a good indicator of which teams will make the postseason. Chances are, if you’re not battling for the division on Independence Day, you won’t be come late September, either.

For this reason I feel baseball could benefit from a shorter regular season, perhaps one consisting of 154-games, as it did until 1961 when the league increased its season due to expansion.

Shortening the season wouldn’t necessarily eliminate the late-season drama we’ve seen the past two years (it would just happen sooner), the postseason wouldn’t be as overshadowed by the start of the NFL season, and the World Series wouldn’t end in November.

Besides, it’s not as if the league hasn’t already cheapened the regular season with the addition of a one-game wild card play-in game (that’s another story), so if the emphasis is on brightening the lights on the postseason, why not make it more appealing to the masses by playing it sooner?

It’s unlikely baseball’s owners are willing to come off the gate money from losing four home games a year, but it seems an awfully small sacrifice to give the game the attention it deserves, but lacks, in October/November.

What do you think?
Is less more?
If so, how many games should baseball play in its regular season?


How Many Times Have Cubs Reached World Series?

By bullpenbrian - November 18, 2012 - 5:00 am Leave a comment.

Would you ever have guessed the Cubs’ franchise is 492-games above .500 dating back to its inaugural season in 1876?

That seems unfitting of a ‘Lovable Losers’ tag. But the truth is only five of the current 30 franchise have a better all-time record above .500 than the Cubs (Yankees, Giants, Dodgers, Cardinals & Red Sox).

As for the worst mark? Philadelphia earns the dubious honor having fallen 1,055-games below .500. Ouch.

I jotted down this meaningless trivia over the weekend while researching Cubs’ history for another article. I ended up with a notebook page of random tidbits and decided clumping a few together was deserving of its own post.

Anyway, the rest of my diggings: 

  • The Cubs have played the most games of any franchise (20,412). It’s just 35 more games than Atlanta and a whopping 17,985 more than Tampa Bay, who has played the fewest games (2,427).
  • Chicago has the second most wins all-time (10,372), trailing only the Giants’ 10,616 (244 more than the Cubs). The Rays of course have the fewest victories (1,103).
  • The Cubs are 3rd in all-time losses (9,880). Only Philadelphia (10,373) and Atlanta (10,095) have suffered more defeats.
  • As far as winning percentage the Cubs rank 6th all-time (.512); better than Cleveland (.509), Cincinnati (.508), Detroit (.507), White Sox (.506), Pittsburgh (.503) and Atlanta (.501).
  • The Top 5 spots in all-time winning percentage belongs to the Yankees (.568), Giants (.538), Dodgers (.524) Cardinals (.518) and Red Sox (.517).
  • The Cubs have won 16 pennants, one fewer than Atlanta (17) and 24 behind the Yankees’ 40 flags. The Giants, Dodgers and Cardinals are each tied with 22. Only two teams have failed to clinch a pennant at all, the Nationals and Mariners.
  • Before the Cubs were ever ‘cursed’ by Bartman, a black cat and a billy goat, they were remarkable poor in postseason play, in particular, the World Series. In fact, the history of the Cubs’ Fall Classic shortcomings may be richer than some even realize.
  • In 12 World Series appearances the Cubs have won just twice and tied on one other occasion–1885 vs. St. Louis Browns (3-3-1). The Cubs also reached the championship series the following season in 1886. But technically, neither 1885 or 1886 would count as World Series appearances since it didn’t officially begin until 1903. So make it 10 World Series for Chicago with a record of (2-8).
  • Chicago’s appearance in the 1906 World Series (a loss vs. the White Sox) marked the first of three consecutive seasons reaching the Fall Classic. The Cubs won the next two in 1907-1908…and of course the later infamously remains a marker of the Cubs’ championship futility.
  • Since then Chicago has lost its next 7 World Series appearances (SEVEN!), the latest coming in 1945 vs. Detroit. If that’s not the Cubs being ‘the Cubs’ what is?

Obviously there are layers upon layers of interesting historical facts and meaningless minutia within these notes. But it’s just a little something to feed our addiction during what’s been an otherwise quiet weekend for the Cubs this offseason.

At the very least, there ought to be something here worthy of winning yourself a bar bet with a fellow Cubs fan. Poor a little out for me when you do, too.


Giants Don’t Cry Over PEDs Enhanced Milk

By bullpenbrian - October 29, 2012 - 5:30 am 4 comments.

I’m wondering if the Giants present Melky Cabrera with a World Series ring and a share of the championship winning spoils? I know I wouldn’t.

Why reward this bum for pumping his body full of PEDs and subsequently missing the stretch-run of the regular season while serving his 50-game suspension for a positive test? Some help that was in the Giants winning the pennant.

Oh, and that little prank Cabrera pulled with the fake website…that doesn’t earn a free pass, either. In fact, it only made matters worse, making his suspension a bigger distraction for the Giants and an even bigger joke of Melky himself. Seriously Milk Boy, grow up.

It’s no wonder the Giants left Cabrera off the postseason roster. San Fran knew they didn’t need him to win…and they were right.

But the fact remains Melky is still listed on the 40-man roster, and that’s often the players who receive the hardware.

Now, there’s no denying Cabrera was the Giants best player up until his suspension. He also played a key role helping San Francisco gain World Series home field advantage with his MVP performance in the All Star game, albeit as an unknown cheat at the time.

But ultimately it’s up to the Giants players on how the postseasons earnings are divvied up–and left up to the organization on who receives World Series rings. So it’s possible, unfortunately, one side could have a soft spot for the Milk Man. Although personally, I hope neither side does.

If bet if Melky has his fingers crossed for one of the two awards it’s most likely the paycheck over the ring. The Cardinals divided up its World Series earnings last year to a handsome share of $323,170 per player.

Cabrera, meanwhile, lost $1.6M while suspended…and will likely miss out on cashing in on what once appeared a huge contract opportunity for him this offseason.

But hey, that’s the price of cheating…and a pretty lenient one in my eyes.

To baseball’s credit, the league chose to eliminate Cabrera from consideration for the league’s batting title award following his suspension (please spare me on Melky’s publicity stunt to also ask for his removal) and my hope is the Giants will follow suit.

The last thing baseball needs is a known steroids user walking away with postseason earnings or a coveted world championship ring–or both.

So it’s up to the Giants organization and players to send the right message that a drug cheat deserves neither, whether he’s served his suspension or not.

No clean drug test. No rewards. And especially not for the tainted Milk Man.


World Series Tanks In TV Ratings

By bullpenbrian - October 28, 2012 - 1:15 am Leave a comment.

Baseball could’ve used a competitive World Series to put a bow on what’s been a very good postseason.

Instead, the Giants have jumped out a 3-0 series lead and look to close out the championship Sunday night or soon thereafter.

Television ratings for the series became a concern the moment the Tigers and Giants clinched its respected League Championship Series.

With little national interest in either team, the series’ television ratings tanked through the first two-games and only looks to worsen with the Giants headed towards a 4-game sweep.

No team, after all, has ever lost the World Series after winning the first three games, and the Tigers don’t exactly appear poised for a comeback given its struggles offensively.

Pablo Sandoval’s three-homer performance in Game 1 remains the signature moment of this Fall Classic, but Miguel Cabrera’s fifth inning pop out with the bases loaded in Game 3 was the pivotal turning point in the series.

If the Triple Crown winner manages a hit in that situation the Tigers likely tie the score 2-2, if not take a lead, and maybe win the game.

With a Game 3 victory Detroit would’ve been sitting pretty with Matt Scherzer pitching Game 4 and Justin Verlander taking the hill at home in Game 5. It could’ve been a whole different series, both on the field and in the ratings.

“Major League Baseball must privately long for the day when the Chicago Cubs win a National League pennant and participate in a World Series against the likes of the Yankees, Red Sox or Angels.”

-Wayne G. McDonnell, Jr., Clinical Associate Professor od Sports management at New York University

Now that it appears the Giants have the series in-hand and the series bumping up against the NFL on Sunday night, I wouldn’t be surprised if Game 4 is the least watched World Series game in the series’ ratings history.

Obviously, Major League Baseball can’t dictate the outcomes of its postseason to increase World Series viewership. But the league could hold the general fan’s interest longer by taking the necessary steps to increase competitive balance among its teams long before October baseball ensues.

Banking on the Yankees and Red Sox winning in October has made it far too easy on baseball to cash in on the television side and justify it’s gaudy payroll disparity throughout the league.

Give every market a financially competitive shot to win in April and baseball will win the television ratings come October.


World Series Humor!

By bullpenbrian - October 26, 2012 - 1:30 am Leave a comment.


Live Game Blog | World Series | Game 1

By bullpenbrian - October 24, 2012 - 7:35 pm Leave a comment.

Game Over

What did we learn tonight? This is the Panda’s world and we’re just living in it. Meet your newest player you love-to-hate, Detroit.

With tonight’s victory the Giants are (12-7) in World Series openers and (6-4) in Fall Classic Game 1s at home.

It pretty crazy Verlander allowed more earned runs (5) than innings pitched (4). Granted, his game looked better than the numbers and the Giants did get a few lucky bounces in their favor…in particular Angel Pagan’s double off the third base bag.

Barry Zito. Man, for all the heat this guy’s taken over the years for an inflated contract he hasn’t lived up to…well, they sure love him now in San Fran.

Here’s a look at the upcoming pitching matchups. Fister has been outstanding this postseason. Bumgarner, conversely, has not.

Game 2 RHP Doug Fister (0-0, 1.35) vs. LHP Madison Bumgarner (0-2, 11.25)
Game 3 RHP Anibal Sanchez (1-1, 1.35) vs. RHP Ryan Vogelsong (2-0, 1.42)
Game 4 RHP Max Scherzer (1-0, 0.82) vs. RHP Matt Cain (2-2, 3.52)


A World Series Saved

By bullpenbrian - October 24, 2012 - 1:16 am Leave a comment.

Bullpen Brian

As far as I’m concerned the Tigers and Giants saved the Postseason.

A World Series void of St. Louis & New York restores a proper order to the baseball universe, for which I am grateful considering October baseball has been out of whack for far too long.

The two better teams advanced in their respective LCS series sparing us from what would’ve been an unbearable Fall Classic.

-And on the seventh game, God looked down from the heavens and said “For the betterment of all things good on earth, let the ridiculousness of Cardinals’ postseason baseball end.” And so it came to be. The Baseball Bible

Detroit vs. San Fran appears to be a really good matchup–at least on paper as the saying goes. And it may not have great interest from the masses, but if it extends beyond five-games it should be a real treat for any and all baseball fans.

Most importantly, it won’t be the ‘puke-on-my-shoes’ Cardinals or the expletive Yankees winning it all again. If the Fall Classic could’ve been any less desirable, those two would’ve accomplished it by merely showing up for Game1.

We’re saved, I tell ya. Saved! Baseball fans rejoice!


Giants So Right, I Was So Wrong

By bullpenbrian - October 23, 2012 - 3:55 pm Leave a comment.

I couldn’t be more pleased with the Giants’ comeback in the NLCS. And I couldn’t have been more wrong about my prediction the series was over after the Cardinals took a 3-1 series lead.

As one reader (George A Giants) points out “Wrong on all counts, sir.” Well yes, indeed I was. Man guilty.

Perhaps it‘s my distaste for all things Cardinals baseball that clouded my judgment? Or maybe it was the fact the Cardinals seemingly could do no wrong the past two postseasons?

Whatever the case, I didn’t just question the Giants’ ability to win but accused them of lacking a ‘clutch’ gene following its Game 3 loss against St. Louis. Of course, I should have known better.

The Giants, of all teams, were arguably the most clutch of any contender this postseason when they bounced back against Cincinnati after an 0-2 start in the division series.

But once San Francisco set an identical scene in the LCS, forcing its hand to win three-straight games, it only appeared the G-Men were merely following suite with the rest of the National League and doing its part to bow-out against the ‘luck-be-a-lady’ Cardinals.

Not to mention, only twice in NLCS history has a team recovered from down 3-1 to win the series (and yes, sadly the 2003 Marlins’ comeback against the Cubs is one of them). And these were the Cardinals, after all–a team who seemingly poisoned the postseason with its frustratingly uncanny ability to stay alive against greater talent.

Then like a switch–’click’–the Giants turned back on. The many scoring opportunities wasted through the first four-games were no more, they capitalized on Cardinals miscues and most importantly, the Giants’ starting pitching was, in a word–outstanding.

Even when San Fran tied the series 3-3 I still figured the Giants were just setting us up for another Cardinals’ clincher…

Wrong again. Instead, the Giants handed St. Louis an old fashioned butt-whopping in Game 7, a 9-0 drubbing that was never a close match.

And despite all the thrilling games we’ve witnessed this October, I enjoyed not one of them more than last night’s Game 7. Why? Because finally a National League team stood up to the Cardinals and refused to give away the series as so many before the Giants had.

No one likes to be wrong, including me. But luckily, I’m absolutely tickled my NLCS prediction wasn’t accurate. And yes, I’ve learned my lesson, too. Forget not counting those Cardinals out, it’s the never-say-die Giants the Tigers should be worried about.


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