Greatest MLB Tournament Ever - The League Championships

Thursday, January 31, 2019

last group

We started at 256.  The 128 greatest teams from each league.  It's now four.  And about to be two.

1939 Yankees (World Champions-Joe McCarthy)
1929 Philadelphia A's-Connie Mack

Catcher: Dickey (32) v. Cochrane (26) Winner: NYY -Dickey
First Base: Dahlgren (27)  v. Foxx (21)Winner: Phi-Foxx
Second Base: Gordon (24) v. Bishop (29) Winner: NYY-Gordon
Shortstop: Crosetti (28) v. Dykes (32)Winner: NYY-Dykes
Third Base: Rolfe (30) v. Hale (32)Winner: NYY -Rolfe
Left Field: Selkirk (31) v. Simmons (27)Winner: Phi-Simmons
Center Field: DiMaggio (24) v. Haas (25)Winner: NYY -DiMaggio
Right Field: Keller (22) v. Miller (34)  Winner: NYY - Keller
SP1: Ruffing (34) v. Grove (29) Winner: Phi-Grove
SP2: Gomez (30) v. Walberg (32)Winner: Phi-Walberg
SP3: Hadley (34) v. Earnshaw (29) Winner: Phi-Earnshaw
Closer: Murphy (30)  v. Shores (25)  Phi-Shores
Team Offense: NYY 
Team Pitching: A's

NYY 9 Phil 8 - the A's sweep the pitching, forcing the tiebreak - but the Yankee bats are too much.

The 1939 New York Yankees are the Greatest Team in American League History.

1975 Cincinnati Reds-Sparky Anderson
1976 Cincinnati Reds-Sparky Anderson 

Catcher: Bench (27) v. Bench (28)   Winner: Cin 75-Bench
First Base: Perez (33) v. Perez (34) Winner: Cin 75-Perez
Second Base: Morgan (31) v. Morgan (32)   Winner: Cin 75-Morgan
Shortstop: Concepcion (27) v. Concepcion (28)  Winner: Cin 76-Concepcion
Third Base: Rose (34) v. Rose (35)   Winner: Cin 76-Rose
Left Field: Foster (26) v. Foster (27)  Winner: Cin 76-Foster
Center Field: Geronimo (27) v. Geronimo (28) Winner: Cin 75-Geronimo
Right Field: Griffey (25) v. Griffey (26) Winner: Cin 76-Griffey
SP1: Nolan (27) v. Nolan (28)Winner: Cin 75-Nolan
SP2: Billingham (32) v. Zachry (24)  Winner: Cin 76-Zachry
SP3: Norman (32) v. Norman (33) Winner: Cin 76-Norman
Closer: Eastwick (24) v. Eastwick (25)   Winner: Cin 76-Eastwick
Team Offense: 1976
Team Pitching: 1976

1976  11   1975   5 --- tied through the position players (which, since they're all the same, is fitting) but the '76 team took the pitching matchups and then edged by their predecessors to take both totals.

The 1976 Cincinnati Reds Are the Greatest Team in the History of the National League

And there you have it.  One matchup to go.

Tomorrow - for all the chips.  

1939 New York Yankees
1976 Cincinnati Reds

How They Got Here - The Greatest MLB Tournament Ever Reaches the League Championships

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

last group

The 1939 New York Yankees entered as the top overall seed in the American League, that means they had the greatest pythagorean record in AL history.

They opened up with a 10-5 win over Babe Ruth's 1918 Red Sox; they then beat Ty Cobb's 1915 Tigers 9-6; in the Round of 32 they whipped The Bronx Zoo 1977 Yankees 12-3; in the Sweet 16 they took out the great pitching staff of the 1973 Orioles 11-6; they faced a dogfight in the Elite 8, beating Derek Jeter's 1998 Yankees 9-8 - and then they made this round, with a 9-6 Final Four victory over the 2017 Houston Astros -- the '39 Yankees have yet to lose a single total WAR battle - both offense and pitching (they pushed pitching against Houston).

They face the 14th overall seed in the American League - the 1929 Philadelphia A's.

The A's got started with an 11-4 win over Ted Williams and the 1948 Red Sox; Tris Speaker was the next victim, the A's beat the 1921 Indians 12-3. They faced a little more of a test in the next round, beating the 1985 Blue Jays 10-6 - and then they had to fight it out in the Sweet 16, the A's topped Ruth/Gehrig and the 1932 Yankees 8-7; the Yankees won the overall total bats in that contest, the A's first loss in any of the totals.  Another tough matchup in the Elite 8 - the A's beat one of those Earl Weaver Orioles clubs, the 1969 Orioles, 9-7 - again, losing the offensive total.  And then in the final four; they knocked out the second overall seed, their real life rivals, the 1927 Yankees, 8-7, again, despite losing the offense.

So - the 1939 Yankees, who entered as the top AL seed - face the 1929 A's, who knocked off the number two overall seed.

The 1975 Cincinnati Reds were the 15th overall seed in the National League; they were pushed to the brink in round 1, defeating the 1886 St Louis Browns 8-7, Rawly Eastwick earned them a pitching victory that prevented this early upset.  Another tight game in round 2, the Reds beat the '77 Dodgers 9-7, once again, Eastwick got their only pitching point and that prevented a tiebreaker.  In the round of 32 it was Christy Mathewson's 1908 Giants who couldn't match the offensive firepower, the Reds won 9-6 (still, only getting the same pitching point).  Advancing through the Sweet 16 took a tiebreaker; the offense of the Reds beating the pitching of Maddux/Glavine and the 1997 Atlanta Braves.  Again, Eastwick won the closing battle to prevent elimination.  It was another of those Mathewson Giants clubs who went down in the Elite 8, the Reds took out the 1911 Giants 8-7; the Reds lost every single pitching point in this one - but still advanced.  And in the Final Four it was a dominating pitching staff, the 2011 Philadelphia Phillies, taking every pitching point...but still, falling to the Reds 8-7.  Despite that 15th seed, Cincinnati has never had to face a higher seed team in the tournament and will not in this matchup either.  The '75 Reds starting pitchers have been shutout in the tournament, only the closer Eastwick has won even a single matchup.

The 1976 Cincinnati Reds entered as the 33rd overall seed in the National League; they opened up by whipping the 1920 New York Giants 10-3 (Pat Zachry won a starting pitching matchup, already surpassing the results of the '75 club).  The Reds were underdogs as early as round 2, when they beat the 32nd seeded 1986 Mets 10-6 (another Zachry win). The Reds then faced the top overall seed in the National League, Tinker/Evers/Chance and the 1906 Chicago Cubs - Eastwick took the closer's point and the Reds won 9-7; they kept it rolling in the sweet 16, with an upset over Stan Musial's 17th seeded 1943 Cardinals 9-6.  They beat the Giants again, this time the 8th seeded 1905 version, 9-7 in the Elite 8 -- and it took a tiebreaker, but the 4th overall seed in the NL, the 1944 Cardinals fell in the Final Four - Eastwick, as he did the year before, saved this club with a matchup win to force the tiebreaker, and the Reds won 9-8.

We've hit the end.  

1939 Yankees
1929 A's

1975 Reds 
1976 Reds

The winners to meet to determine the greatest Major League Baseball team of all time.  

Super Bowl 53 Prediction

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Who did I pick at the beginning of the season...let's check...Patriots v. Rams.

Who am I picking Sunday?

Rams  +2.5
Rams outright

I've been rooting for the Rams, as I mentioned in my playoff preview.  There will be a point where the Niners will be good enough that this becomes a real rivalry and I'll be steadfastly opposed to them - but right now, like all decent people, who I'm steadfastly opposed to is New England and I'd like them to lose by 4 touchdowns.

They won't lose by four touchdowns, but over the course of the regular season, the Rams were the better team (better by FPI, solidly better by SRS) and that's almost always who I pick.  The best team in the NFL this season was New Orleans - and the Rams just went on the road and beat them. Smart money has sided with the Patriots and that should give one pause, but why pick New England when they come in as the lesser squad? 

Here's my annual Super Bowl posts that I update after every year's game and will do so again after Sunday.

Re-awarded MVP

Top 25 Individual Performances in SB History

Ten Best Super Bowls of all Time

Ten Best Teams Not to Play in the Super Bowl

SB Quarterbacks

Ten Best Teams Who Didn't Win a Super Bowl

Every SB Winner Ranked

Greatest Players in SB History

Greatest MLB Tournament Ever Created - National League Final Four

Monday, January 28, 2019

last group

We started at 128 - we're about to name the 2 greatest teams in National League history.

1944 St Louis Cardinals-Billy Southworth
1976 Cincinnati Reds-Sparky Anderson 

Catcher: Cooper (29) v. Bench (28)  Winner: Cin-Bench
First Base: Sanders (27) v. Perez (34)  Winner: Cards -Sanders
Second Base: Verban (28) v. Morgan (32)   Winner: Cin-Morgan
Shortstop: Marion (27) v. Concepcion (28) Winner: Cin-Concepcion
Third Base: Kurowski (26) v. Rose (35)  Winner:-Cin-Rose
Left Field: Litwhiler (27) v. Foster (27)Winner: Cin-Foster
Center Field: Hopp (27) v. Geronimo (28) Winner: Cards-Hopp
Right Field: Musial (23) v. Griffey (26) Winner: Cards-Musial
SP1: Cooper (31) v. Nolan (28) Winner: Cards-Cooper
SP2: Lanier (28) v. Zachry (24) Winner: Cards-Lanier
SP3: Wilks (28) v. Norman (33)  Winner: Cards-Wilks
Closer: Schmidt (28) v. Eastwick (25) Winner: Cin-Eastwick
Team Offense: Cin
Team Pitching: StL

Reds 9 Cards 8 - it should be a tiebreaker at this stage and it was; the Reds just needed one pitching point, and they got it from Eastwick to force the tie - in the end, it was super close, but the Reds bats just edge the Cards arms to move into the NL Final.

1975 Cincinnati Reds-Sparky Anderson
2011 Philadelphia Phillies-Charlie Manuel

Catcher: Bench (27) v. Ruiz (32)  Winner: Cin-Bench
First Base: Perez (33) v. Howard (31) Winner: Cin-Perez
Second Base: Morgan (31) v. Utley (24)  Winner: Cin-Morgan
Shortstop: Concepcion (27) v. Rollins (32) Winner: Cin-Concepcion
Third Base: Rose (34) v. Polanco (35)  Winner: Cin-Rose
Left Field: Foster (26) v. Ibanez (39)  Winner: Cin-Foster
Center Field: Geronimo (27) v. Victorino (30)Winner: Phi-Victorino
Right Field: Griffey (25) v. Pence (28)Winner: Push
SP1: Nolan (27) v. Halladay (34)Winner: Phi-Halladay
SP2: Billingham (32) v. Lee (32)  Winner: Phi-Lee
SP3: Norman (32) v. Hamels (27) Winner: Phi-Hamels
Closer: Eastwick (24) v. Madson (30)   Winner: Phi-Madson
Team Offense: Cin
Team Pitching: Phi

Reds 8 Phillies 7 - The Reds nearly sweep the bats, the Phils do sweep the arms - if Pence had been able to take RF that would have moved them to the tiebreak -- but they pushed, and the two greatest teams in National League history are, in fact, both Reds World Champions from the mid 70s.

1975 Cincinnati Reds-Sparky Anderson
1976 Cincinnati Reds-Sparky Anderson 

Greatest MLB Tournament Ever Created - American League Final Four

Sunday, January 27, 2019

last group

We started at 128 - and are about to name the two greatest teams in American League history.

1939 Yankees (World Champions-Joe McCarthy)
2017 Houston Astros-AJ Hinch

Catcher: Dickey (32) v. McCann (33) Winner: NYY 39-Dickey
First Base: Dahlgren (27)  v. Gurriel (31) Winner: Hou-Gurriel
Second Base: Gordon (24) v. Altuve (27) Winner: Hou-Altuve
Shortstop: Crosetti (28) v. Correa (22)Winner: Hou-Correa
Third Base: Rolfe (30) v. Bregman (23) Winner: NYY 39-Rolfe
Left Field: Selkirk (31) v. Gonzalez (28) Winner: NYY 39-Selkirk
Center Field: DiMaggio (24) v. Springer (27) Winner: NYY 39-DiMaggio
Right Field: Keller (22) v. Reddick (30)  Winner: NYY - Keller
DH: Henrich (26)  v. Beltran (40)  Winner: NYY 39-Henrich
SP1: Ruffing (34) v. Fiers (27) Winner: NYY 39-Ruffing
SP2: Gomez (30) v. Morton (33)Winner: Hou-Morton
SP3: Hadley (34) v. Keuchel (29) Winner: Hou-Keuchel
Closer: Murphy (30)  v. Giles (26) Hou-Giles
Team Offense: NYY 
Team Pitching: Push

Yankees 9 Astros 6 - Houston's able to get some pitching points, but the Yankee bats are too strong and they move into the AL Final game.

1927 New York Yankees-Miller Huggins
1929 Philadelphia A's-Connie Mack

Catcher: Collins (30) v. Cochrane (26)Winner: Phi-Cochrane
First Base: Gehrig (24) v. Foxx (21)Winner: NYY-Gehrig
Second Base: Lazzeri (23) v. Bishop (29) Winner: NYY-Lazzeri
Shortstop: Koenig (22) v. Dykes (32)Winner: Phi-Dykes
Third Base: Dugan (30) v.  Hale (32)Winner: Push
Left Field: Meusel (30) v.  Simmons (27)Winner: Phi-Simmons
Center Field: Combs (28) v.  Haas (25) Winner: NYY-Combs
Right Field: Ruth (32) v. Miller (34)Winner: NYY-Ruth
SP1: Hoyt (27) v.  Grove (29) Winner: Phi-Grove
SP2: Pennock (30) v. Walberg (32)  Winner: Phi-Walberg
SP3: Shocker (36) v. Earnshaw (29) Winner: Phi-Earnshaw
Closer: Moore (30) v. Shores (25) Winner: NYY-Moore
Team Offense: NYY
Team Pitching: Phi

A's 8 Yankees 7 -- I'll be damned; there wasn't a single second where I thought we were headed for anything but the two top overall seeds meeting for the AL crown - but it didn't happen; these two blood rivals, A's and Yankees from the late 20s, went at it here and it was Philadelphia, riding their pitching, who came out on top.  Had Joe Dugan won the third base matchup to force the tie, the Yankees would have come out on top in the tiebreaker.  

So - that's it.  One American League matchup left.

1939 Yankees (World Champions-Joe McCarthy)
1929 Philadelphia A's-Connie Mack

Greatest MLB Tournament Ever Created - National League Elite 8

Saturday, January 26, 2019

last group

We started with 128 National League teams - after this round - we'll be down to 4.

1905 New York Giants-John McGraw
1976 Cincinnati Reds-Sparky Anderson 

Catcher: Bresnahan (26) v. Bench (28)Winner: Cin-Bench
First Base: McGann (33)v. Perez (34) Winner: NYG-McGann
Second Base: Gilbert (29)v. Morgan (32)  Winner: Cin-Morgan
Shortstop: Dahlen (35)v. Concepcion (28)Winner: NYG-Dahlen
Third Base: Devlin (25) v. Rose (35) Winner: Cin-Rose
Left Field: Mertes (32) v. Foster (27)Winner: Cin-Foster
Center Field: Donlin (27) v. Geronimo (28) Winner: NYG-Donlin
Right Field:  Browne (29) v. Griffey (26)Winner: Cin-Griffey
SP1: Mathewson (24) v. Nolan (28)Winner: NYG-Mathewson
SP2:  McGinnity (34) v. Zachry (24)Winner: Cin-Zachry
SP3: Ames (22) v. Norman (33) Winner: NYG-Ames
Closer:  Elliott (28)v. Eastwick (25)Winner: Cin-Eastwick
Team Offense: Cin
Team Pitching: NYG

Reds 9 Giants 7 - Cincinnati split the pitching matchups, and if they can do that they're impossible to stop - the 1976 Reds move into the Final Four.  

1944 St Louis Cardinals-Billy Southworth
1942 St Louis Cardinals-Billy Southworth

Catcher: Cooper (29) v. Cooper (27)  Winner: Cards 44-Cooper
First Base: Sanders (27) v. Hopp (25)  Winner: Cards 44-Sanders
Second Base: Verban (28) v. Brown (32)  Winner: Cards 42-Brown
Shortstop: Marion (27) v. Marion (25) Winner: Cards 42-Marion
Third Base: Kurowski (26) v. Kurowski (24) Cards 44 - Kurowski
Left Field: Litwhiler (27) v. Musial (21)Winner: Cards 42-Musial
Center Field: Hopp (27) v. Moore (30)  Winner: Cards 44-Hopp
Right Field: Musial (23) v. Slaughter (26) Winner: StL 44-Musial
SP1: Cooper (31) v. Cooper (29)  Winner: StL 42-Cooper
SP2: Lanier (28) v. Beazley (24)  Winner: StL 44-Beazley
SP3: Wilks (28) v. Lanier (26) Winner: Push
Closer: Schmidt (28) v. Gumbert (32) Winner: Cards 42-Gumbert
Team Offense: StL 44
Team Pitching: StL 42

1944  8   1942   7 --- the slightly older Cardinals defeat the slightly younger Cardinals by the slightest possible margin.  The 1944 Cardinals head to the Final Four to take on the '76 Reds.

1975 Cincinnati Reds-Sparky Anderson
1911 New York Giants-John McGraw

Catcher: Bench (27) v. Meyers (30)  Winner: Cin-Bench
First Base: Perez (33) v. Merkle (22) Winner: NYG-Merkle
Second Base: Morgan (31) v. Doyle (24) Winner: Cin-Morgan
Shortstop: Concepcion (27) v. Fletcher (26) Winner: Cin-Concepcion
Third Base: Rose (34) v. Devlin (31) Winner: Cin-Rose
Left Field: Foster (26) v. Devore (23) Winner: Cin-Foster
Center Field: Geronimo (27) v. Snodgrass (23) Winner: Cin-Geronimo
Right Field: Griffey (25) v. Murray (27) Winner: Push
SP1: Nolan (27) v. Mathewson (30)Winner: NYG-Mathewson
SP2: Billingham (32) v. Marquard (24) Winner: NYG-Marquard
SP3: Norman (32) v. Ames (28) Winner: NYG-Ames
Closer: Eastwick (24) v. Crandall (23) Winner: NYG-Crandall
Team Offense: Cin
Team Pitching: NYG

Reds 8 Giants 7 -- this time, the Giants do sweep every pitching point --- and they still lose; both Reds' squads are in the Final Four.  

2016 Chicago Cubs-Joe Maddon
v.2011 Philadelphia Phillies-Charlie Manuel

Catcher: Montero (32) v. Ruiz (32)  Winner: Phil-Ruiz
First Base: Rizzo (26) v. Howard (31)  Winner: Chi-Rizzo
Second Base: Zobrist (35) v. Utley (24)   Winner: Chi-Zobrist
Shortstop: Russell (22) v. Rollins (32) Winner: Chi-Russell
Third Base: Bryant (24) v. Polanco (35) Winner: Chi-Bryant
Left Field: Szczur (26) v. Ibanez (39) Winner: Chi-Szczur
Center Field: Fowler (30) v. Victorino (30) Winner: Phi-Victorino
Right Field: Heyward (26) v. Pence (28)  Winner: Phi-Pence
SP1: Lester (32) v. Halladay (34) Winner: Phi-Halladay
SP2: Arrieta (30) v. Lee (32)  Winner: Phi-Lee
SP3: Hendricks (26) v. Hamels (27) Winner: Phi-Hamels
Closer: Rondon (28) v. Madson (30)   Winner: Phi-Madson
Team Offense: Cubs
Team Pitching: Phi

Phillies 9 Cubs 7 - they didn't win the pennant - but this pitching staff continues to be unmatched and now the 2011 Phillies will face the 1975 Reds in the ultimate bats vs. arms battle.

Greatest MLB Tournament Ever Created - American League Elite 8

Friday, January 25, 2019

last group

We started with 128 American League teams.  It's about to become 4.  

1939 Yankees (World Champions-Joe McCarthy)
1998 Yankees (World Champions-Joe Torre)

Catcher: Dickey (32) v. Posada (26) Winner: NYY 39-Dickey
First Base: Dahlgren (27)  v. Martinez (30) Winner: NYY 98-Martinez
Second Base: Gordon (24) v. Knoblauch (29)Winner: NYY 39-Gordon
Shortstop: Crosetti (28) v. Jeter (24)Winner: NYY 98-Jeter
Third Base: Rolfe (30) v. Brosius (31)Winner: NYY 39-Rolfe
Left Field: Selkirk (31) v. Curtis (29) Winner: NYY 39-Selkirk
Center Field: DiMaggio (24) v. Williams (29)Winner: NYY 39-DiMaggio
Right Field: Keller (22) v. O'Neill (35) Winner: NYY 98- O'Neill
DH: Henrich (26)  v. Strawberry (36) Winner: NYY 39-Henrich
SP1: Ruffing (34) v. Pettitte (26)Winner: NYY 39-Ruffing
SP2: Gomez (30) v. Wells (35)Winner: NYY 98-Wells
SP3: Hadley (34) v. Cone (35) Winner: NYY 98-Cone
Closer: Murphy (30)  v. Rivera (28) NYY 98-Rivera
Team Offense: NYY 39
Team Pitching: NYY 98

1939 9  1998 8  - The bats from 1939 against the arms from 1998 - the modern team needed to sweep the pitching to take it...but Red Ruffing won the battle of the aces and it's the 1939 New York Yankees who move into the Final Four

1934 Detroit Tigers-Mickey Cochrane
2017 Houston Astros-AJ Hinch

Catcher: Cochrane (31) v.  McCann (33) Winner:  Tigers-Cochrane
First Base: Greenberg (23)` v. Gurriel (31) Winner: Tigers-Greenberg
Second Base: Gehringer (31) v. Altuve (27) Winner: Tigers-Gehringer
Shortstop: Rogell (28) v. Correa (22)Winner: Astros-Correa
Third Base: Owen (28)  v. Bregman (23) Winner: Astros-Bregman
Left Field: Goslin (33) v. Gonzalez (28)Winner:  Astros-Gonzalez
Center Field: White (25)  v. Springer (27)  Winner: Astros-Springer
Right Field: Fox (25) v. Reddick (30)  Winner: Astros-Reddick
DH: Walker (26) v. Beltran (40) Winner: Tigers-Walker
SP1: Bridges (27) v. Fiers (27)  Winner: Tigers-Bridges
SP2: Rowe (24)  v. Morton (33) Winner: Tigers-Rowe
SP3: Sorrell (33) v. Keuchel (29) Winner: Astros-Keuchel
Closer: Auker (23) v. Giles (26) Winner: Astros-Giles
Team Offense: Astros
Team Pitching: Push

Astros 9 Tigers 6 - The arms push and Houston wins the bats - the 2017 Astros offense has carried them into the Final Four.  

1927 New York Yankees-Miller Huggins
1971 Baltimore Orioles-Earl Weaver

Catcher: Collins (30) v. Hendricks (30)Winner: NYY-Collins
First Base: Gehrig (24) v. Powell (29)Winner: NYY-Gehrig
Second Base: Lazzeri (23) v. Johnson (28)  Winner: NYY-Lazzeri
Shortstop: Koenig (22) v. Belanger (27)Winner: Balt-Belanger
Third Base: Dugan (30) v.  Robinson (34)Winner: Balt-Robinson
Left Field: Meusel (30) v.  Buford (34) Winner: Balt-Buford
Center Field: Combs (28) v.  Blair (27) Winner: NYY-Combs
Right Field: Ruth (32) v. Robinson (35)Winner: NYY-Ruth
DH:  Gazella (31) v. Rettenmund (28) Winner: Balt-Rettenmund
SP1: Hoyt (27) v.  Cuellar (34) Winner: NYY-Hoyt
SP2: Pennock (30) v. Dobson (29) Winner: Balt-Dobson
SP3: Shocker (36) v. Palmer (25) Winner: Balt-Palmer
Closer: Moore (30) v. Watt (30) Winner: NYY-Moore
Team Offense: NYY
Team Pitching: NYY

NYY 11 Balt 6 -- dead tied headed to the closer, the Yankees won that and then took both totals.  Form holds - the 1927 Yankees head to the Final Four.

1929 Philadelphia A's-Connie Mack
1969 Baltimore Orioles-Earl Weaver

Catcher: Cochrane (26) v. Hendricks (28)Winner: Phil-Cochrane
First Base: Foxx (21) v.   Powell (27) Winner: Phil-Foxx
Second Base: Bishop (29) v. Johnson (26)Winner: Balt-Johnson
Shortstop: Dykes (32) v. Belanger (25)Winner: Balt-Belanger
Third Base: Hale (32) v.  Robinson (32) Winner: Balt-Robinson
Left Field: Simmons (27) v.  Buford (32) Winner: Phil-Simmons
Center Field: Haas (25) v. Blair (25)Winner: Balt-Blair
Right Field: Miller (34) v.  Robinson (33)Winner: Balt-Robinson
SP1: Grove (29) v. Cuellar (32) Winner: Phi-Grove
SP2: Walberg (32) v. McNally (26)Winner: Phi-Walberg
SP3: Earnshaw (29) v.  Phoebus (27) Winner: Phi-Earnshaw
Closer: Shores (25) v. Watt (28)Winner: Phi-Shores
Team Offense: Balt
Team Pitching: Phi

Phi 9 Balt 7 - the A's sweep the pitching and that proves too much for the Orioles.  The American League final four is set.

1939 Yankees (World Champions-Joe McCarthy)
2017 Houston Astros-AJ Hinch

-it's the top overall seed against the sole remaining modern team

1927 New York Yankees-Miller Huggins
1929 Philadelphia A's-Connie Mack

-multi-year rivals in the late 20s face off

Previewing the National League Elite 8 - the 8 Greatest Teams in NL History

Thursday, January 24, 2019

last group

Tomorrow, the AL Elite 8 - the day following, the NL Elite 8.  Here are the 8 greatest teams in National League history.

1976 Cincinnati Reds-Sparky Anderson 
1905 New York Giants-John McGraw

1944 St Louis Cardinals-Billy Southworth
1942 St Louis Cardinals-Billy Southworth
1975 Cincinnati Reds-Sparky Anderson
1911 New York Giants-John McGraw

2011 Philadelphia Phillies-Charlie Manuel
2016 Chicago Cubs-Joe Maddon

The 1976 Cincinnati Reds (defending World Champions) went 102-60, won the NL West by 10 games, swept the Phillies in the NLCS and then swept the Yankees to win the World Series.  Their run differential was +224; they led all of MLB in homers, triples, doubles, walks and stolen bases. In games where all 8 starting position players were in the lineup the Reds had a winning percentage over .790.

The 1905 New York Giants went 105-48, won the NL by 9 games and then beat the A's 4-1 to win the World Series.  Christy Mathewson threw three shutouts in 6 days in the Series. 

The 1944 St Louis Cardinals went 105-49, won the NL by 14.5 and then beat the Browns 4-2 to win the World Series. Marty Marion was the first shortstop to win the MVP. The Cards led the NL in runs, fielding percentage, and ERA.  

The 1942 St Louis Cardinals went 106-48, won the NL by two games and then beat the Yankees 4-1. The WWII era Cardinals were less impacted than other franchises and that level of domination is evident here as one of their representatives will be headed to the Final 4. This Cardinal team won 43 of the last 52 games to make up a ten game deficit on the Dodgers and win the pennant.  

The 1975 Cincinnati Reds went 108-54, won the NL West by 20 games, swept the Pirates in the NLCS and then beat the Red Sox in 7 games to win the World Series.  You may have seen Carlton Fisk's game 6 home run.  The Reds lost 17 home games all season and had a run differential over +250.  

The 1911 New York Giants went 99-54 (the only team in either Elite 8 not to win a hundred games) they won the NL by 7.5 games and then lost the World Series 4-2 to the A's. The Giants stole 347 bases - still the MLB record.  

The 2011 Philadelphia Phillies are the only team in either Elite 8 not to win the pennant, they went 102-60, won the NL East by 13 games and then got bounced by the Cards 3-2 in the NLDS. The Phillies had the best record in MLB for the second straight year. 

The 2016 Chicago Cubs went 103-58, won the NL Central by 17.5, beat my Giants 3-1 in the NLDS, beat the Dodgers 4-2 in the NLCS, and then, as maybe you heard, won their first World Series in over a century by beating Cleveland in 7 games.  They were the first team to win games 6 and 7 on the road since the '79 Pirates.  

2019 Royal Rumble Preview - Every Royal Rumble Match Ranked

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Royal Rumble is Sunday; as I do for each of the big 4 WWE supercards every year, here's a preview.

Universal Title: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Finn Bálor
WWE Title: Daniel Bryan (c) vs. AJ Styles
Smackdown Women's Title: Asuka (c) vs. Becky Lynch
RAW Women's Title: Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Sasha Banks
Smackdown Tag Titles: The Bar (Cesaro and Sheamus) (c) vs. The Miz and Shane McMahon

1. So, Brock's got the RAW strap; it's his second run, he squashed Strowman in that Saudi Arabia debacle in November after Reigns had to vacate the belt with his leukemia returning.  They were building to a Strowman rematch - but just a couple weeks ago backed out of it and moved Balor into this spot.  That's a dramatic upgrade for potential match quality; Brock/Bryan had a very good match at Survivor Series that could be the model here.  Brock will keep this belt and I'm optimistic we'll get a good match out of this.

-that's what happened, 3 1/2 stars, Brock keeps in a sub 10 minute sprint.

2. Danielson's the lineal WWF Champion; he turned heel on AJ last November and took the belt.  Danielson's doing a eco-lefty gimmick working, I that people aren't cheering for him and he's selling it as hard as he can.  I'm not the target audience to boo a man who says rapacious billionaires like Vince McMahon are destroying the planet.  But he's an all time great performer and is interesting despite taking Juice Robinson's old NXT shtick.  He and AJ have had a strong in-ring program and I'm hugely optimistic about this one.  I don't know that I have a strong sense of how they book this one; I don't think they can carry this program to Mania - I'll say Danielson keeps the belt and we'll see who gets elevated to take him on next (Mustafa Ali?  Is that a Wrestlemania match?  Lot of heels on Smackdown - Orton/Joe/Nakamura/Danielson)

-methodical, screwjob finish, Danielson keeps, 3 1/4 stars

3. Asuka took Becky's title in a three way in December; this should be good, both are good workers; I think we're building to a Becky/Charlotte/Rhonda WM main event; so that would probably mean a Becky loss here (maybe Charlotte interference) and then they do the Bret/Lex Rumble finish.

-best match on the show proper (I gave the same rating to the Junior pre-show match but preferred it) Asuka taps her out, 3 3/4 stars

4. Rousey's a big star and, while green, is pretty good in the ring. She took the RAW belt at Summer Slam over Alexa and will keep it here over Sasha- and this should also be a good match.

-as expected, Ronda keeps in a 3 1/2 star match

5. The Smackdown tag belts have only been around since 2016, as I say during each of these previews -- there are no lineal WWF tag champs, which would be infuriating if WWF programming facilitated any interest in that kind of thing.  Sheamus and Cesaro have held the titles since taking them from the New Day in October - they're good (Cesaro's better than that) but, like most of the main roster, are pretty stale (if All Elite is able to start a legitimate wrestling war it's the best thing that could happen for main roster WWE programming). I have virtually no time for the Miz and absolutely no time for Shane - they've hot shotted them into a tag team and I assume they win the belts here in an okay match.

-as expected, a 2 ish star title switch

So - that's pretty good - and when you add the two Rumble matches (does Reigns return and win? Is it a lay-up for Strowman?) which are good even when they aren't -- and when you add the two pre-show matches (Nakamura v. Rusev for the US Title and a 4 way for the junior title which includes Kenta) that should range from good to very, very good - I mean, it's a show to look forward to.

-Becky won the women's Rumble; all Rumble matches are good...this was the lowest end of good

-Rollins won the men's Rumble, it was fine

-Murphy kept the in the best match of the night, the 4 way on the pre-show
-Nakamura regained the US Title, screwjob finish, it was just a match
-they threw together a tag match you can avoid

Here's every match in Royal Rumble history ranked.  Ratings are mine, times are approximate, it's possible I've missed something. If AJ/Bryan doesn't crack the all time top 10, that's a disappointment.

1.  1       '03 WWF Title: Kurt Angle d. Chris Benoit 20 min 5
   2     '15 WWF Title: Brock Lesnar d. Seth Rollins/John Cena 23 min 4 1/2
   3.       ’00 WWF Title HHH d. Cactus Jack 27 min 4 ¼
   4  ’01 IC Ladder: Chris Jericho d. Chris Benoit 19 min 4 ¼
   5. '17 WWF Title: John Cena d. AJ Styles 24 min 4 1/4
   6. '16 IC Falls Count Anywhere: Dean Ambrose d. Kevin Owens 21:30 4 1/4 
   7  ’04 Rumble Match: (Chris Benoit) 61:30 4
   8 ’92 WWF Title: Rumble Match (Ric Flair) 62 min 4
   9. '18 Rumble Match (Shinsuke Nakamura) 65:30 4 min
   10 '14 Bray Wyatt d. Daniel Bryan 22 min 4
   11. '17 RAW Title: Kevin Owens d. Roman Reigns 23 min 4
   12 ’91 Rockers d. Orient Express 19 min 4
   13 ’95 WWF Title: Diesel draw Bret Hart 27 min 4
 ’ 14. '10 Rumble Match (Edge) 49:30 3 ¾
      15.      '00 Tables Hardys d. Dudleys 10:30 3 ¾
   16.  ’94 Tags: Quebecers d. Bret/Owen 16:30 3 ¾
   17. ’04 WWF Title: HHH draw HBK 22:30 3 ¾
   18   '11 World: Edge d. Dolph Ziggler 20:30 3 ½  
   19  ’02 WWF Title: Chris Jericho d. Rock 19 min 3 1/2 
   20 ’98 WWF Title: Casket Match: Shawn Michaels d. Undertaker 22 min 3 ½
   21 ’07 WWF Title: Last Man Standing: John Cena d. Umaga 22:30 3 ½
   22 ’99 WWF Title: I Quit Match: Rock d. Mankind 22 min 3 ½
   23 ’93 WWF Title: Bret Hart d. Razor Ramon 18 min 3 ½
   24 ’11 Rumble Match (Alberto del Rio) 69 min 3 1/2 
   25 ’90 Rumble Match (Hulk Hogan) 59 min 3 ½
   26 ’97 Rumble Match(Steve Austin) 50:30 3 ½
   27 '18 Women's Rumble (Asuka) 59 min 3 1/2
   28. '17 Cruiser Title: Neville d. Rich Swann 13 min 3 1/2
   29. '18 WWF Title: AJ Styles d. Owens/Zayn 16 min 3 1/2

   30 ’01 WWF Title: Kurt Angle d. HHH 24:30 3 ¼

   31 ’13 WWF Title: Rock d. CM Punk 23:30 3 ¼  
   32 ’93 IC Shawn Michaels d. Marty Jannetty 14:30 3 ¼
   33 ’05 Edge d. Shawn Michaels 18:30 3 ¼
   34. '18 Smackdown Tags: Usos d. Gable/Benjamin 14 min 3 1/4
   35 ’09 WWF Title: Edge d. Jeff Hardy 19:30 3 ¼
   36  '16 WWF Title Rumble Match (HHH) 61:30 3 1/4
   37 ’12 Rumble Match (Sheamus) 55 min 3 ¼
   38 ’05 Rumble Match (Batista) 51:30 3 ¼
   39 ’03 Rumble Match(Brock Lesnar) 53:30 3 ¼
   40 ’00 Rumble Match(Rock) 52 min 3 ¼
   41 ’01 Rumble Match(Steve Austin) 62 min 3 ¼
   42 ’06 Rumble Match (Rey Mysterio) 62 min 3 ¼
   43 ’07 Rumble Match (Undertaker) 56:30 3 ¼     
   44 ’89 Rumble Match(John Studd) 64 min 3 ¼
   45 ’98 Rumble Match (Steve Austin) 55:30 3 ¼
   46 ’08 Rumble Match (John Cena) 51:30 3 ¼
   47 '14 WWF Title: Randy Orton d. John Cena 21 min 3 1/4 
   48 ’10 World: Undertaker d. Rey Mysterio 11 min 3 ¼
   49 ’11 WWF: Miz d. Randy Orton 20 min 3 ¼  
   50 ’05 World: HHH d. Randy Orton 21:30 3 ¼
   51 ’07 Hardys d. MNM 15:30 3 ¼

   52 ’12 WWF Title: CM Punk d. Dolph Ziggler 14 min 3
   53 ’01 Tags: Dudleys d. Edge/Christian 10 min 3
   54 ’08 WWF Title: Randy Orton d. Jeff Hardy 14 min 3
   55 ’92 Owen/Anvil d. Orient Express 17 min 3
   56 ’95 Tags: Bob Holly/123 Kid d. Tatanka/Bam Bam Bigelow 15:30 3
   57 ’02 Rumble Match(HHH) 69:30 3
   58 ’94 Rumble Match: (Bret/Lex) 55 min 3
   59 ’93 Rumble Match: (Yokozuna) 66:30 3
   60 ’91 Rumble Match (Hulk Hogan) 65 min 3
   61 ’96 Rumble Match(Shawn Michaels) 59 min 3
   62 ’99 Rumble Match (Vince McMahon) 56:30 3
   63 ’95 Rumble Match (Shawn Michaels) 39 min 3
   64 ’09 Rumble Match (Randy Orton) 58:30 3
   65 '14 Rumble Match (Batista) 55 min 3
   66 ’13 Rumble Match (John Cena) 55 min 3
   67 '15 Rumble Match (Reigns) 59 min 3
   68 '17 Rumble Match (Orton) 3
   69 ’88 Rumble Match (Jim Duggan) 33:30 3 
   70 ’02 IC: William Regal d. Edge 10 min 3
   71 ’04 Eddy Guerrero d. Chavo Guerrero 8 min 3
   72 ’13 World: Last Man Standing: Alberto del Rio d. Big Show 17 min 3
   73 ’09 ECW: Jack Swagger d. Matt Hardy 10:30 3
   74 ’96 Tags: Smoking Gunns d. Bodydonnas 11 min 3
   75 ’03 Tags: Dudleys d. Regal/Storm 7:30 3
   76 '16 US: Kalisto d. Del Rio 11:30 3
   77. '17: Women's Title: Charlotte d. Bayley 13 min 3
   78 ’97 WWF Title: Shawn Michaels d. Sid 14 min 3
   79 ’89 Haku d. Harley Race 9 min 3
   80 ’97 IC: HHH d. Goldust 17 min 3
   81 ’06 Jr.: Gregory Helms d. Kash, Funaki, Noble, Nunzio, London 7:30
   82 ’88 Jumping Bomb Angels d. Glamour Girls 14 min
   83 ’89 Hart Foundation/Duggan d. Dino Bravo/Rougeaus 16 min
   84 ’96 WWF Title: Undertaker d. Bret Hart 29 min
   85 ’08 World: Edge d. Rey Mysterio 12:30
   86 ’88 Ricky Steamboat d. Rick Rude 17 min
   87 ’00 Taz d. Kurt Angle 3 min
   88 ’02 Ric Flair d. Vince McMahon 15 min
   89 ’98 IC Rock d. Shamrock 11 min
   90 ’05 WWF Title: JBL d. Big Show/Kurt Angle 12 min
   91 ’06 WWF Title: John Cena d. Edge 14
   92 ’97 Vader d. Undertaker 13 min
   93 ’13 Tags: Hell No d. Rhodes Scholars 9:30 
   94 ’93 Steiners d. Beverlys 10:30 
   95. '18 RAW Tags: Sheamus/Cesaro d. Rollins/Jordan 13 min.
   96 ’07 World: Batista d. Ken Kennedy 10:30
   97 ’90 Ronny Garvin d. Greg Valentine 17 min
   98 '16 Women: Charlotte d. Becky 11:30
   99 ’10 ECW: Christian d. Ezekial Jackson 12 min
   100 ’88 Islanders d. Young Stallions 14 min
   101 ’02 Tags: Taz/Spike Dudley d. Dudleys 5 min
   102  '16 Tags: New Day d. Usos 11 min
   103 ’12 World: Cage: Daniel Bryan d. Big Show/Mark Henry
   104 ’00 IC: Chris Jericho d. Chyna d. Bob Holly 7:30
   105 ’08 JBL d. Chris Jericho 9:30
   106 ’10 US: Miz d. MVP 7:30 
   107 ’97 Garza/Aguayo/Canek d. Estrada/Metal/.Guerrera 11 min
   108 ’04 WWF Title: Brock Lesnar d. Bob Holly 6:30
   109 '18 Universal Title: Lesnar d. Kane/Strowman 11 min
   110 '15 Tags: Usos d. Miz/Mizdow 9:30
   111 ’03 Brock Lesnar d. Big Show 6 min
   112 Euro: '99 Sean Waltman d. Gangrel 6 min
   113 ’98 Vader d. Goldust 8 min
   114 ’95 IC Jeff Jarrett d. Razor Ramon 18 min
   115 ’99 IC: Ken Shamrock d. Billy Gunn 14:30
   116 ’04 Jr. Rey Mysterio d. Jamie Noble 3:30
   117  ’91 Boss Man d. Barbarian 14 min
   118 '14 Brock Lesnar d. Big Show 2 min
   119’92 IC: Roddy Piper d. Mountie 5:30
   120 ’08 Ric Flair d. MVP 8 min
   121 ’98 Mini/Mosaic/Nova d. Battalion/Torito/Tarantula 8 min
   122 ’97 Ahmed Johnson d. Farooq 9 min
   123 ’96 Ahmed Johnson d. Jeff Jarrett 6:30
   124 ’10 WWF: Sheamus d. Randy Orton 12:30
   125 ’07 ECW: Bobby Lashley d. Test 7:30
   126 ’04 Tags: Evolution d. Dudleys 4:30
   127 ’03 World Title: Scott Steiner d. HHH 18:30
   128 ’09 World John Cena d. JBL 15:30
   129 ’99 Boss Man d. Road Dogg 12 min
   130 ’90 Hacksaw Duggan d. Big Boss Man 10:30
   131  ’91 Ted DiBiase/Virgil d. Dusty/Dustin 10 min
   132 ’00 Tags: New Age Outlaws d. Acolytes 2:30
   133 ’94 Tatanka d. Bam Bam Bigelow 8
   134  ’94 IC: Razor Ramon d. IRS 11:30
   135 ’96 IC: Goldust d. Razor 14:30
   136 ’89 Rockin Robin d. Judy Martin 6:30
   137 ’11 Women: Eve d. Natalya/Layla/Michelle McCool 5 min
   138 '15 Bellas d. Page/Natty 8 min
   139 ’12 Bellas/Beth/Natalya d. Kelly/Eve/Alicia/Tamina 5:30
   140 ’02 Women: Trish d. Jazz 4 min
   141 ’09 Women: Melina d. Beth Phoenix 6:30
   142 ’92 Tags: Natural Disasters d. LOD 9:30
   143 ’98 Tags: LOD d. New Age Outlaws 8 min
   144 ’91 Mountie d. Koko 9
   145 ’05 Casket: Undertaker d. Heidenreich 13:30
   146 ’91 WWF Title: Sgt. Slaughter d. Ultimate Warrior 12:30
   147 ’06 World: Kurt Angle d. Mark Henry 9:30
   148  ’93 Bam Bam Bigelow d. Big Boss Man 10 min
   149 ’95 Undertaker d. IRS 12:30
   150 '15 Ascension d. New Age Outlaws 5:30
   151 ’01 Women: Ivory d. Chyna 3:30
   152 ’99 Women: Sable d. Luna 4:30
   153 ’12 Brodus Clay d. Drew McIntyre 1 min
   154  ’06 Boogeyman d. JBL 2 min
   155  ’90 Bushwackers d. Rougeaus 13:30
   156 ’12 John Cena draw Kane 11
   157  ’90 Brutus Beefcake draw Lanny Poffo 11 min
   158  ’92 Beverlys d. Bushwackers 15 min
   159  ’10 Women: Mickie James d. Michelle McCool :30
   160 ’03 Torrie Wilson d. Dawn Marie 3:30
   161 ’06 Women: Mickey James d. Ashley 7:30
      162. '94 WWF Title: Yokozuna d. Undertaker 14:30

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