Wednesday, July 11, 2012


We must confess to loving it when "superior" teams and/or "superior" leagues not only lose but take it on the chin...if we have to play an All-Star Game in the same old stultifying way as always, then at least let's have a result that is confounding, n'est-ce pas? The sight of two less-than-svelte Latin players (Pablo Sandoval and Melky Cabrera) wreaking havoc is, plainly put, licentiously liberating as well as tossing up a well drink to the face of those lubricious enough to make premature pronouncements about comparative league quality.

So towel off your faces, kiddies, and gird up for the second half of is the current status of the eleven-game chart, where we keep track of the fluctuating fortunes of the teams over our favorite encroaching increments of time.

Special emphasis in this chart must be focused on Ye Olde Evil Empire (aka the New York Yankees), who lost Mariano Rivera and learned to embrace winning by loving the bomb (more on that below).

The bolded figures in the chart represent the teams who managed to score 60 or more runs in an eleven game stretch...while the endpoints are a bit arbitrary, we do get a sense of how often this feat is happening in the current offensive environment (one which is not nearly as astringent as was intimated in the early going).

AL teams have achieved this 16 times over the first seven instances of eleven-game units; the NL has done it 13 times. AL teams who do it have an aggregate .643 winning percentage, while the NL WPCT in such high-scoring stretches is only .586.

Teams with the best 22-game stretches: Yankees 18-4, Rangers 16-6 (twice), Marlins 16-6, Dodgers 16-6, Angels 16-6.

Teams with the worst 22-game stretches: Royals 6-16, Twins 6-16 (twice), Cubs 6-16, Astros 6-16, Rockies 6-16 (twice)

Teams with the best 33-game stretches: Yankees 24-9, Angels 24-9, Dodgers 22-11, Rangers 22-11, Pirates 22-11.

Metrecal™, introduced in 1961, the year the
Yanks set a record for team HRs (since eclipsed),
kinda tasted like the leather in that belt...
Teams with the worst 33-game stretches: Twins 9-24, Padres 11-22, Mariners 12-21, Tigers 12-21. (Note: the Phillies will crack this list, as they are currently 9-23 with one game to go in the G78-88 stretch.)

So how about those carpet-bombing Yankees, anyway? A team designed to hit homers, draw walks--you know, all those sabermetric things that sorta got shoved under the rug in the emperor's-new-pantaloon race to "advanced defensive metrics" (which is little more than an excuse to be flogged by the loosened belt accompanying America's first "scientific diary supplement," Metrecal).

It turns out that these Yankees have a cluster of sluggers who can take up the slack for the flagging efforts of the team's iconic hitters (Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez). This is a team that's hit 200+ HRs in twelve of the past fourteen seasons, a feat not matched by any other major league club during this offensive boom time, and they will definitely make it 13 out of 15 in 2012 (current pace for the year: 255 HRs).

You can see the steady influx of long balls from folks such as Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson. But the real shock of the Yankees 18-4 run last month (technically, from May 25-June 18) was the performance of its pitching staff.

Not only did the Yankee bullpen find a way to overcome the loss of Rivera (truth told, not nearly as difficult to do as what many folks would like you to believe...), but also the loss of phenomenal setup man David Robertson. Folks that no one west of the Jersey Shore had ever heard of (Boone Logan, Clay Rapada, Cody Eppley) stepped in to fill the void. Rafael Soriano did a passable Rivera impression during this time frame, racking up 10 saves in 11 appearances.

In short, the same old results with a cast of characters whose perceived value outside of the Apple was, shall we say, less than crisp.

In fact, it's enough to make many a Yankee hater (and, to slightly amend Joe Pos' formulation, if you can't root against the Yankees, the world simply might not be worth living in) take his applesauce and hurl it against the wall.

Not even an NL win in the All-Star Game is as confounding to natural law as the miraculously timed ascension of Ivan (Super) Nova to a 5-0 record as the Bombers laid carpet all across the baseball landscape during those three weeks.

Ivan Nova (26-7 in 2011-12): divine intervention is looking
like the only plausible explanation...
Not only Yankee hating, of course, but that pure, Metrecal™-enfused neo-sabe loathing of the won-loss record, that taunting spectre of the "everything you know is wrong" self-righteousness that lives to pout another day.

Good grief, the Yankees suddenly have two Andy Pettitte types on their squad, guys who win well beyond the actual level of their achievement, and how can that not make the angst in your pants so infestational that you have to drop propaganda leaflets into Itchycoo Park?

It's enough to make a nut go flaky, in fact. Steel yourselves up for the second half, folks--we can only hope that the carpet-bombers have somehow shot their wad.