As many of you know, Joe Sheehan is a Baseball Prospectus alumni who now writes for Sports Illustrated. He also has his own e-mail newsletter, which I highly recommend. For $29.95, you get a full year of his smart analysis delivered to your inbox, including more or less daily updates during the entire month of October. (He’s offering, for $6.95, a subscription through the World Series.) He’s also a very entertaining Twitter follow, @joe_sheehan). He wrote this about the postseason before the ALWC game, which I think nicely sums up what we should be watching:
Next post: So I Went to the NL Wild Card GameSo, we’re about to watch a month of baseball that will culminate in the crowning of a champion. Along the way there’ll be game wins and series wins, blowouts and nail-biters, games decided by skill and games decided, yes, by luck. Games will be decided because a bat hit a fraction of an inch, a fraction of a centimeter lower on a baseball than the batter was hoping to hit. They’ll be decided because a great pitcher releases a slider with a spin rate 10% less than his usual. They’ll be decided because a great outfielder will lean the wrong way, for less than a second, on a fly ball into the gap. Some, even, will be decided because a manager makes a game-altering choice, or worse, an umpire makes a game-deciding decision.Two hundred fifty players, probably 260 after roster moves, will be part of the 2015 MLB postseason. Can we stipulate now that every one of them has proven themselves to be clutch, to have heart, to have desire, to be filled with guts and grit and moxie? Can we agree that reaching the major league postseason after starting out as a kid in Tulsa, Oklahoma or Farmington, Missouri or Las Vegas, Nevada or in Itami, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan means you’ve already overcome staggering odds and proven yourself capable of meeting challenges? Can we agree that all 260 of these guys have accomplished something, reaching the top level of their profession, that many of us can only hope to do?Can we agree that the games of the 2015 postseason will be determined by who plays baseball better, who gets that extra inch, that extra spin, that extra step, who avoids that dugout mistake, who sees that call go their way? Can we, for one month, not reduce the extraordinary baseball playing to a test of wills, a test of character, a morality play?Let’s say now, before a pitch has been thrown or a ball has been caught, that every one of these men has proven themselves over and over again just to get to this point, and that what happens over the next four weeks adds nothing to any examination of their desire, their effort, their character. Let’s sit back and watch great baseball being played by great baseball players, without resorting to the trite, the cliché, the narrative.It should be enough to say that the baseball games were won by playing baseball well, without turning a final score into a referendum on anything more than that.
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