The winners of two of the 2021 MillersTime Contests have been decided. Two remain to be chosen.
CONTEST #1: How will the COVID-19 virus affect the 2021 MLB season? Include some Overall Predictions as well as some Specific Ones. Creativity is encouraged. I’ll choose the five best submissions and have MillersTime baseball contestants vote on the winner:
No decision until I hear from you all. Choose which of these you think deserves to win. Put your choice in the Comment section of this post or email me (Samesty@gmail.com) your choice by Nov. 15th.
1. Minimal impact. A game postponed here and there, and those will be early in the season. Every team will complete their schedule in full barring a late season rainout.
2. Very little overall. There will be some hand-wringing about vaccinations, but the season will happen and a champion will be crowned. Attendance will increase throughout the season, and the World Series will have a completely full stadium.
3. As the summer comes along and people get vaccinated, increasing attendance at baseball games will be one of the ways that the country starts to measure the return to normalcy. This will help to restore MLB as a major fixture in American public life.
4. Teams will have full stadiums by July 4th because of herd immunity and availability of the vaccine. The Blue Jays will finish the season in Canada but still have to start the season in the US.
5. All 162 games will be played and there will be over 75 doubleheaders because of COVID cancellations. I think last year was around 44. (2021 Actual Results: It was a full season with only one team playing 161 games. Last year there were 45 doubleheaders; this year there were 59.)
And on the ‘creative; side, this:
6. Pete Rose will contact COVID and pass away and will ultimately get elected to the Hall of Fame posthumously. AND – Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, and Sammy Sosa all get their Covid vaccinations and issue a joint statement, “We got our injections to make ourselves better. How ’bout that Hall of Fame?”
CONTEST #2: Pick your favorite MLB team (or the team you know the best) and outline how they will do in the 2021 season compared to last year. Include both general and specific predictions and the reason for those predictions.
Seven of you basically nailed your teams and showed you knew them well: Ben Senturia on the Cards, David Price on the Yankees, Brandt/Samantha Tilis on the Red Sox, Larry Longenecker on the Rays, Justin Stoyer on the Orioles, Zack Haile on the Reds, Jere Smith on the Red Sox, and Chris Ballard on the Astros.
CHRIS BALLARD is the winner. Here is why:
He predicted the Houston Astros would do the following:
Record 95-67, 1st place in the division, and 4th best record in baseball. (Actual record – 95-67, first in their division, and tied for the fourth best record in baseball.)
Lance McCullers Jr. will break out with an ERA below 3.30 and win over 15 games. (McCullers’s ERA was 3.16, and he won 13 games.)
MVP of the team – Kyle Tucker will hit .290 + and have over 30 home runs. (Tucker hit .294 and hit 30 home runs.)
Altuve, Alvarez, Bregman, Correa, Tucker will all hit over 25 home runs. (Altuve hit -30, Alvarez – 35, Correa – 26, Tucker – 30, Bregman – 12)
Prize: Chris can join me for a Nats game of his choice next year in my seats, 20 rows off the field between home and first, or I’ll get tickets and join him for a regular season game of his choice, wherever he chooses. (Note: Chris still owes Ellen, Brandt, Elizabeth, and me a steak dinner for a bet from two years ago.)
CONTEST #3: Fill in the Blank and True/False Questions:
a. Which team till have the most wins in the AL and NL? Correct Answer – RAYS (100) and GIANTS (107).
b. Which team will be King of NY? Question submitted by Tim M. Correct Answer is the YANKEES whose record was 92-60. Mets were 77-85. (Though the Mets did win three out of four games played between the two teams).
c. Number of hitters who will strike out more than 200 times? Question by Zack H. Correct Answer is TWO (Joey Gallo (213) and Matt Chapman (202)
d. Who will be Manager of the Year in either the AL or NL (name one). Correct Answer: NOT DECIDED YET as we will have to wait for which, if any of the following wins Manager of the Year: Counsell (Brewers), Alex Cora (Red Sox), Kevin Cash (Rays), Dusty Baker (Astros), Brian Snitker (Braves), Gabe Kapler (Giants), Tony LaRussa (White Sox), Carlos Montoyo (Blue Jays), David Ross (Cubs), or Jayce Tingler (Padres).
e. Which AL & NL teams will have the most improved record from 2020. Correct Answer: RED SOX (from .400 to .568) & BREWERS (from .483-.586)
6. Every team below the league average in payroll (currently $118,485,369) will miss the play offs. Question by Zach H. Correct Answer: FALSE as the Brewers and Rays were under and made the playoffs.
7. Dodgers & Padres will combine to win 200 or more games. Question by Dawn W. Correct Answer: FALSE. Dodgers held up their end winning 106, but the Padres only won 79. Their combined wins totaled 185.
8. There will be more HRs in 2021 on a per game basis than in 2019 (1.39) and in 2018 (1.15). Question by Steve K. Correct Answer: FALSE. 1.19 HRS per game in 2021, a few more than 2018 but far behind 2019.
9. No MLB team will play all 162 games. Correct Answer: FALSE. All teams but the Braves played 162 games. Braves played 161.
10. No MLB pitcher will have an ERA below 2.00. Correct Answer: TRUE. The closest weren’t even close – Corbin Burnes (Brewers)- 2.42 and Max Scherzer (Nats/Dodgers) – 2.46.
We have to await before we know who is chosen as Manager of the Year to determine. The following are in the running for this contest: Ed Scholl,Daniel Fischberg, Matt-Wax-Krell, Larry Longenecker, and Jeff Friedman.
CONTEST #4: What two teams will make it to the World Series, which one will win, and in how many games? (And a few other questions in case of a tie).
There was no need to go to a tie breaker. Most of you were wildly off, as were many of the baseball writers and supposed experts. MillersTime contestants didn’t do well either as you overwhelmingly predicted the World Series would be between the Dodgers and the Yankees, though a few of you expected the Astros to get to the WS.
Only three submissions got anywhere close:
Bill Barnwell had the Astros losing to the Dodgers in six games, and Rob Higdon had the Astros losing to the Padres in six.
NICHOLAS LAMANNA is the winner because he predicted the Braves would win the World Series in six games (though he had the White Sox and not the Astros as their opponent).
Prize: Nick gets one ticket to the 2022 World Series or two tickets to the 2022 All Star Game in Los Angeles.
*** *** *** ***
Please remember to vote for your choice for the winner of Contest #1. You can put your choice in the Comment section of this post or send it to me by email – Samesty84@gmail.com.
When I last posted on this topic of baseball – my beloved obsession forever (at least 70+ years), this life giving and taking, romantic, heart-breaking, exhilarating, logical and illogical, and occasionally magical game – I wrote about a dilemma, whether it was better for my grandson’s learning if the Nats won or lost the final game of the 2019 World Series.
I knew, as FH reminded me in an email, that I had no choice in the game’s outcome. But I was leaning towards the benefits to him of a loss.
Wisely, a number of you reminded me that he could learn from a victory as well as a defeat, although the lesson(s) would be different ones. (See these Comments from readers like Charlie, Tim, Janet, Brian, Hugh, etc.).
Even (even?) my son-in-law who hasn’t even reached his mid-30s yet had some wise counsel:
“While exciting, I hope tonight isn’t a pivotal moment in Eli’s life. Win or lose, the lesson he should take is that when a champion is crowned, it is final. If it’s the Astros, it isn’t unfair, it’s unfortunate (for him but not for the Houston version of Eli). If it’s the Nationals, he will probably be happy, and he will go to school tomorrow with a nice memory. Hopefully, he learns to appreciate the ecstasy the champion feels and recognizes the hard work that was put into the accomplishment.”
Plus, I had told Eli the moment the Nats had lost the third straight game in DC that ” it’s not over yet.”
But I knew the Nats were now facing two hurdles, as a loss in either of the final games in Houston would mean the end of this dream. And in my heart and soul I thought the Astros would win. (It’s hard to overcome the ‘schooling’ of being a Sox fan. Tho, I guess I may have forgotten the full lesson of that ‘schooling,’ – that when the win does comes, and it eventually will, it’s an overwhelming joy.)
Hell, I even forgot, ignored (?), to some degree, what my then 21-year old daughter had written to me fifteen years ago and I had posted about lessons I had taught her about “never say never” and the importance of believing in miracles (more on that word below).
So as everyone everywhere now knows, the Nats did win that final game, coming from behind in the 7th inning, to complete a simply amazing series of comebacks and five months of truly extraordinary achievements.
I shoulda known.
I shoulda believed.
And for those of you who have a few more minutes to devote to this important topic, even if you’ve read, listened to, and talked about what the Nats achieved, I’m posting below an article that sums up how truly extraordinary what the Nats have done. It’s written by Jason Stark in the The Athletic.
He writes that this was a truly magical event.
If you remove ‘divine intervention’ from the definition of magical and stick to simply supernatural, then I totally agree with Stark.
Actually, maybe there was some divine intervention. See what you think.
HOUSTON – Do you believe in miracles? You should. Here’s all the proof you need that miracles happen in sports: The Washington Nationals just won the World Series. Just don’t try to explain how. That’s the miraculous part.
They just completed a journey unlike any that has been completed before. They just spent their season and their October doing things that no team has ever done. And then, for their final act – in a wild Game 7, on a shocking Wednesday evening in Houston – they won one more game they couldn’t possibly win, which finished off one of the greatest upsets in the history of the World Series. That’s all.
Do you believe in miracles? Well, when it’s the seventh game of the World Series and you’re getting one-hit in the seventh inning by a future Hall of Famer – against a 107-win juggernaut that needs just nine more outs to start comparing itself to the ’27 Yankees – you don’t need to consult the Win Probability charts to understand what a preposterous formula that is for winning that game, let alone that World Series.
But “preposterous” is actually an excellent way to describe the wild and crazy ride of the 2019 Nationals. So of course Anthony Rendon launched one more staggering home run into the Crawford Boxes in left, off Zack Greinke. And of course the apparently ageless Howie Kendrick then sliced a game-changing, Series-changing, life-changing home run off the foul pole in right. And of course the Nationals would perform their latest elimination-game magic trick and turn one more near-certain defeat into one more death-defying victory.
Because this is what they do. A little over four weeks ago, the Nationals were four outs from not even advancing past the wild card game. And now they’re the champions of baseball. Because if ever there was a baseball team you just couldn’t kill, this was it.
“OK, this is now the most 2019 Nats thing to ever happen,” said reliever Sean Doolittle, as the champagne dripped from his championship goggles after one final 6-2 stunner of a win over the mighty Houston Astros.
For two weeks now, Doolittle has been spinning off variations of that quote, all while we’ve been carrying on a running dialogue about whether this team qualifies as miraculous. He instructed us at one point to come up with some sort of metric to determine what constituted a true miracle. Weighted Miracles Created Plus maybe? That sort of thing. That part of this project didn’t go well. But Doolittle continued to weigh this heavy-duty topic.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this,” he said – but he still wasn’t sure, even as the champagne flowed. So we were forced to turn elsewhere. We then asked this team’s hitting coach, Kevin Long, if he thought what this team has just done could be called a miracle.
“Yeah, I do,” Long said instantly, then realized tears were welling in his eyes. “I’m going to get emotional. But the stuff and the things that these guys have overcome, it’s truly amazing.
“I really do think this was a dream team,” he said. “I really think this was one of the most amazing feats that any team has ever accomplished. If somebody had said that we’d beat the (2017) world champions in Houston tonight and they’d crown us world champions, I don’t think anybody would believe that.”
But there’s no choice but to believe it now, because they’ve done what they’ve done. So why do we think it’s safe to call these men the Miracle Nationals? It’s our mission today to make that case to all of you. It’s not as hard as you’d think.
The miracle of the elimination games
When we say that no team has had an October like the October of the 2019 Nationals, that’s not an opinion. That’s a fact. Let’s lay out those facts for you now:
Other teams in baseball history have won five potential elimination games in one postseason. But the Nationals put a slightly different twist on that feat – because they trailed in all five of them at some point. And how many teams in history have ever come from behind to win five elimination games in the same postseason? That would be none, says STATS LLC.
That feat is miraculous enough, but now let’s move along to the three winner-take-all games this team played. The Nationals trailed by two runs in the eighth inning of the wild card game against Milwaukee, with the fearsome Josh Hader on the mound. They trailed by two runs in the eighth inning of NLDS Game 5 in Los Angeles, with the great Clayton Kershaw on the mound. Then on Wednesday, they trailed by two in the seventh inning of this Game 7, with Greinke dialing up the most dominant postseason start of his life. So what happened? Yep. The Nationals roared back to win all three of those games.
So how many other teams have ever won three elimination games — let alone winner-take-all games — in one postseason after trailing by two runs or more in the seventh inning or later? How many do you think? There are no other teams that have done that, according to our friends from STATS. Ever. In fact, just one other team — the 1980 Phillies — has even won two potential elimination games like that.
We were down in the wild card game,” Long said. “I mean, are you kidding me? We were down five times (in elimination games). Really? I can’t say that enough. We were down in all these games late, and just continued to fight and come back and stay together. And the pitchers knew if they just stayed close, we’d find a way to win. And we certainly did.”
The miracle of the World Series
Now let’s think about the team the Nationals just beat in this World Series. The Astros won 107 games this year. That’s the most in baseball. But even that doesn’t adequately capture how good they were.
Teams like that don’t lose the World Series. Teams like that normally dominate the World Series. But that isn’t how this World Series turned out, is it?
Their powerhouse pitching staff had an Adjusted ERA-Plus of 127. Their deep, talented offense had an adjusted OPS-Plus of 119. That’s nuts. Want to know how nuts? Over the last 100 years, there has been only one other team that had both an OPS-Plus and ERA-Plus of 119 or higher. That team was Babe Ruth’s 1927 Yankees.
The Astros won 14 more games this season than the Nationals. And only two other teams in history ever had that large a win differential over the team they played in the World Series and didn’t win it. One was Vic Wertz’s 111-win 1954 Indians, who lost to Willie Mays’ 97-win New York Giants. The other was Three Finger Brown’s 116-win 1906 Cubs, who lost to Jiggs Donahue’s 93-win White Sox.
So just based on the history, this goes down as one of the biggest World Series upsets of all time.
There’s also the Vegas take on how large an upset it was:
Yet from the first inning of Game 1, the Nationals played like a team that never bought either of those narratives. And even after they lost Games 3-4-5 at home without ever leading for a single pitch, they still thought of themselves as 100 percent alive — because they never looked at the Astros as the unbeatable behemoth that Vegas thought they were.
“There was something going on,” Doolittle said. “We totally felt it. We totally fed off it. We kind of thought coming into the series that the pressure was on them. We could tell right away from the questions that they got on Media Day, versus the questions we got on Media Day. There was a totally different vibe to those questions.
“They were getting asked, ‘What are you gonna do after you win the World Series? What are you gonna buy?’ And people were asking us, like: ‘What does it mean to be in the first World Series ever in Nationals history?’ And we were like, ‘I don’t know. It’s cool. We’re happy to be here.’ So we were very aware that they were the team to beat and we were the biggest underdogs, according to Vegas, in the last — what? — 15 years? Something like that? But you know what Han Solo says: ‘Never tell me the odds.’”
The road-field advantage miracle
The 2019 Astros didn’t merely run up the best home record in baseball (60-21) this season. They were one of the most unbeatable teams at home in modern times.
In fact, in the nearly six decades since baseball went to a 162-game schedule, just four teams won more home games in any season than the Astros won this season:
So just winning a World Series in which the Astros had home-field advantage would have been a sensational feat. But as you might have heard, that isn’t all that happened, right? In a very weird World Series, in which the home team won zero games, the Nationals did something unheard of:
They became the first team in the history of any of the four major professional sports to win a championship by winning all four games of a best-of-seven series on the road. How many times did the Astros lose four in a row at home all season? Yessir. That would be never. In fact, they didn’t lose four games at home over the course of the entire season to any team except the A’s — who beat them four times, but needed 10 games in Houston to do it.
“Remember the other night, when I said after Game 5, ‘Hey, we’re just fine. The road team’s winning every game?’” Doolittle said. “I was just joking. But hey, look at us now.”
The “Fall of the Titans” miracle
Before the Nationals wiped out those 107-win Astros, they pulled another monumental upset — by beating the 106-win Dodgers in the NLDS. So who does that — wins a World Series by upending two teams that won at least 106 games in the same postseason? Nobody does that, naturally. Or at least nobody did it until now.
“We believed in ourselves from the beginning,” said catcher Kurt Suzuki. “You know, everyone always says that to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best — and we beat ’em.”
The miracle of 19-and-31
Back on May 23, the Nationals were 50 games into their season — and somehow found themselves 12 games under .500 (at 19-31), just like the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers went on to lose 114 games. The Nationals went on to win the World Series. You don’t see that much.
OK, to be honest, you don’t see that ever. No team in history had ever had that bad a record after 50 games and gone on to win a World Series. But the Nationals did. And only one team had ever been 12 games under (or more) at any point in any season and gone on to win a World Series. That, as you also might have heard, was Possum Whitted’s 1914 Boston Braves – who have been known throughout history as the “Miracle” Braves.
So if there’s only one other team that has followed this path and their nickname is “Miracle,” doesn’t that automatically qualify these Nationals as a miracle unto themselves? We’ll get back to that in a moment.
What’s more important than what we call it is how they did it. And they did it by reminding themselves, as they finally started to get healthy, that they were way too talented to be hanging out with the Marlins and Tigers in the standings.
The road back from 12 games under began with a team meeting, in a conference room off the clubhouse in late May. All the coaches and position players were there. The message from the veterans in the room was firm and clear.
Long’s everlasting memory of that session: “I remember these guys saying, ‘We can do this, and it will be the greatest accomplishment of our lives.’”
Maybe that resuscitation alone — from life after 19-31 to triumph in October — isn’t enough to make you believe we should hang that “miracle” sign on this team. But now add in all of it — the elimination games, the upset of the Astros, the upset of the Dodgers, the four World Series victories in one of baseball’s most intimidating environments — and think about this one more time.
Also remember that this is a franchise that had never won a single postseason series since moving to Washington. And remember that no team from Washington had won a World Series in 95 years.
So now add all that up. Has there ever been any World Series champion — any league, any town, any year — that did all of that on the road to the parade floats? You know that answer. That answer is: No way.
And even if you weren’t sure about these guys before Wednesday, how could you have watched the final chapter in this story and not believed in this miracle?
Their starting pitcher, Max Scherzer, went from having to fall out of bed on Sunday to gutting his way through five innings Wednesday. That’s not a miracle?
One minute on Wednesday, Greinke was making the Nationals’ lineup look so overmatched that Long said that when he saw Gerrit Cole begin to throw lightly in the bullpen midway through the game, his reaction was: “‘Please bring him in,’ because that’s how good Zack Grinke was.”But next thing you knew, Rendon was lofting a Greinke changeup into the left-field seats, for just the Nationals’ second hit of the day. And even that seemed like a miracle at the time.
“You know, momentum’s tough to change,” Long said. “And something like that really, really lifted everyone’s spirits in the dugout. You could see it on the field. It was almost like those (Astros) said, ‘Oh no. Here they come.’”
Yep. Here they came, all right. Juan Soto would walk to end Greinke’s day. Kendrick would welcome Will Harris to the festivities with a what-just-happened two-run homer. And in a span of only eight pitches, the Nationals had gone from nearly dead to somehow leading. You mean that wasn’t a miracle?
“I had a flashback — to the wild card game,” Suzuki said. “I said, ‘This seems kind of familiar.’”
They were eight pitches that changed a game and changed the World Series. But if they seemed miraculous to those on the outside, they seemed like business as usual for the Miracle Nationals.
“It was just fitting for our season,” Suzuki said. “We’ve been playing elimination games since the middle of May. At least it feels like it. We had to fight for everything. So what a fitting way to end this season.”
We understand that your definition of a miracle may be different from ours, or Sean Doolittle’s, or Kevin Long’s. So when we ask, one more time, if you believe in miracles, the answer doesn’t really matter. What matters is that this somehow happened. In real life.
And so, on this one last crazy evening at the ballpark, it was the Washington Nationals standing on a makeshift podium in Houston, kissing their trophy and wiping away tears. It was all so powerful an experience that even they don’t completely understand how everything it took to hoist that trophy was even possible.
“You know, I was just talking to a friend of mine,” said right fielder Adam Eaton. “He was talking about all the things (that happened to us). He just went through, like, six or seven or eight different things. And when you hear them, it’s like yeah, it’s remarkable. If I was not here, I’d be home watching it. That’s for darned sure.”
“And if you weren’t here, if you hadn’t seen it and you hadn’t lived it, would you believe it?” we asked.
“No,” said Adam Eaton. “And that’s why I’d be watching.”
Good idea — because how can you believe in miracles unless you watch them with your very own eyes?
I awoke two days ago to the brief email below following the third World Series loss in a row by the Washington National’s to the Houston Astros in DC:
“I think I was happier when I didn’t care. It’s terrible to want something you have no control over. How about that, Dr. Miller!” – FH
The author is a long time friend who use to look askance at my interest in baseball. After listening to her for years, I invited her to attend Nats’ game with Ellen and me (she had never been to a MLB game in her seven plus decades!). Under my ‘light tutoring,’ and despite her skepticism, she found herself intrigued and interested, and surprisingly, to her and to me, she began to follow the Nats. Sometimes, intensely, it seems.
And that, FH’s quote, contains two of the many life’s lessons that baseball teaches.
First, some comments about last night. When facing elimination from the World Series, the Nats found a way to win game six (it often seems game six is a big deal (Buckner, etc.).
So now we go to the one game World Series, in Houston, that will determine who takes over from the Boston Red Sox as the new World Champions. (Yes. as of this writing, the Sox are still the World Champions!)
But it doesn’t matter who wins tonight.
Well, I guess it matters to the players for the two teams and for their fans and their two cities, including my 10 year old grandson who went to the fifth (disastrous) game with Ellen and me and stayed up until midnight – on a school night! – only to see his favorite team lose. (I did tell him after the final out to remember, “It’s not over yet.” But in my mind and soul, I felt the Astros would probably win the WS. After all, I was ‘schooled’ by my seven decades of following the Sox.)
But if the Nats lose tonight, at least there’s some solace. They didn’t give up. Even when they were behind and when that horrific umpire call seemed to change the direction of the Nats’ comeback chances. As they’ve done for much of the season, they found a way to win.
In fact, for all those of you who were sure the Nats didn’t deserve to be in the World Series, perhaps some rethinking is in order. After all, they had the best record in ALL OF BASEBALL since their horrendous 19-31 start to this season in May and that includes being better than the Yankees, the Dodgers, the Astros, etc. Plus, they did win the Wild Card suicide game and went on to defeat the Dodgers and the Cards, coming from behind in almost all of the games they won.
So if they lose do lose tonight in what hopefully will be a memorable game with Scherzer against Greinke in this winner take all game, the solace for Nats’ fans will be enough to take them into 2020.
Now, back to FH’s wise words and my dilemma with my grandson.
First, baseball’s life lessons, starting with the importance of caring and the wanting of something so badly yet you have no control over the outcome, two realities that baseball has taught me, and also my younger daughter. (If you’ve never read what she wrote when the Sox won the World Series in 2004 for the first time in 86 years and in my lifetime, read The Email on the Kitchen Table, written for / to me by my then 21 year old, daughter which said, in part:
“Being a Sox fan prepared me for disappointment; it taught me that there are some things that no matter how badly you want something, sometimes you just can’t make it happen. I think my perspective on life has truly been shaped by the virtue of my fanaticism for baseball. It’s taught me that life isn’t fair, you don’t get what you want, and other people can just be downright heartless.”
“More than anything, my father taught me to believe. And not just in the Red Sox, but in myself. Because if my team can come back from down 0-3 to the Yankees, and sweep the Cardinals in the World Series, really, there is no such thing as never. “
“I guess in the end, my obsession ultimately taught me that good things do come to those who wait. So I sit back and say to the rest of Major League Baseball, sit down; wait ‘till next year.”
And, finally, my dilemma.
Is it better for my grandson for the Nats to lose tonight so he learns these two lessons than to experience the joy he would have if they win it all? After all, he’s only 10.
I’m not sure I know the answer.
But I know I have no control over what will happen.
I think in the end the ‘right’ team won, as the Astros were able to separate themselves, just barely, from a very good Dodgers’ team.
While it is a cliche to say that “it’s too bad only one team could win,” it’s only right that at the end there is a winner and a second place team (note I didn’t describe them as losers, tho indeed they lost).
Anyway, the end of the WS makes it possible for me to declare a winner in the MillersTime Baseball Contest #6: Who will be the two teams in the World Series in 2017 and which team will win it all? Tie-Breaker: Name the five teams in each league who will make the playoffs.
Three contestants were in the final consideration:
Nicholas Lamanna (referred by Matt Galati) predicted the Dodgers and the Astros would be in the World Series and the Dodgers would win. He did not predict the Tie-Breaker.
Elizabeth Tilis (formerly Elizabeth Miller, daughter of yours truly) predicted the Mets and the Astros would be in the WS with the Astros winning it. She did not predict the Tie-Breaker.
Clare Bolek predicted the Cubs and the Astros would make it to the WS with the Astros winning it all. She did make a prediction for the Tie-Breaker, getting four of the ten teams who made it to the playoffs.
Each of these three got one half of the primary question right and missed one half it. So the Tie-Breaker settles the winner.
Clare Bolek, the only one of the three to answer the Tie-Breaker question, is the winner of Contest #6 and the prize of one ticket to the 2018 World Series.
Nicholas Lamanna, while he didn’t win the big prize, does get to choose any regular season Washington Nationals’ game he would like to see in 2018 and can bring along Matt Galati who clued him into the contest. Assuming I’m in town for the game Nick chooses, I’ll join him and Matt for the game.
Elizabeth Tilis already got to see a WS game in 2007 when I flew her to Denver to join me for the fourth and final game of the Sox sweep over the Rockies.
And finally, I’d like to thank the 19 of you who wrote in to respond to my request for help in making the above decision (see Comments). Your thoughts were very helpful, even the one by David Stang, who wrote,
No winner if Dodgers don’t take the Series. You some kind of a wimp and want to give losers a prize like participation trophies to Little Leaguers who make errors and strike out? In competitions there are winners and losers. If the highest grade is D+ that doesn’t make the slacker a winner.
Or do you, soft-hearted one, think differently?
Now on to figuring out the winners in Contests #1, 2, 3.
(Last night another walk off win in the bottom of the 9th)
Have you noticed what’s going on in baseball on the left coast? I know some of you have long ago given up on following Da Bums since they betrayed their Brooklyn fans and left Ebbets Field for LA. That, plus the fact that their games end after much of the country has gone to bed, makes them sometimes an after thought for some of us.
But check them out. Fifty-one games above .500, playing at a .715 win percentage rate, leading their Division by 18.5 games, and clearly on a path to win well over 100 games (115 if they continue at this rate).
Nats’ fans take note.
And then there’s Houston. Yes. Houston. Winning at a rate of .617 (74-46), 12. 5 game ahead of their closest Division rival, and likely headed for a 100 win season at this rate. Last year Houston ended just a bit over .500 and 11 games out.
On a different note, thanks to an email from MillersTime reader and baseball fan LL, something curious is happening in Kansas City too.
(Could it be because of base running? Photo by Denny Medley, Reuters)
While they are not playing at the level of the Dodgers or the Astros, they nevertheless continue to exceed expectations of virtually every computer projection (last five years). They simply are winning more games than those who love and live by statistics project.
Just what’s going on?
Check out this good article from the WSJ by Jared Diamond:
We had heard a good deal about the new Nationals/Astros spring training facility — The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Thus, when I saw that the Sox would be playing the Nats there, I of course got tickets and met my cousin and some other friends there Mar. 7th.
We had tickets behind the Sox dugout, and, for some reason, the Sox brought most of their starting players. The weather was perfect, and we got to see both first string Sox & Nats players as well as those trying to make the teams. The Sox won, of course, and even if it doesn’t matter who wins Spring Training games, if you’re a Sox fan, you never want them to lose.
Indeed it’s a good park. I don’t think there’s a bad seat in the place. It has 6,500 seats and another 1500 spectators can sit on a grass berm beyond left and right field. The stadium seats are largely in the shade, thanks to good planning and to some over hanging shade structures. There’s an open air concourse that goes from the left field fence all around to the one in right, and you can walk along it without missing a pitch. The only fault I could find with the park was the small scoreboard in the outfield which made it hard to see the names of the players, etc. (But that could also be a factor of my aging eyesight.)
The facility is on 160 acres of what use to be a landfill, trash dump. There are 12 practice fields, six for each team. The Astros have one which is the exact dimensions of their home field, and the Nats have two that are similar to their park in DC. The facility was built quickly, in 15 months, and cost about $150 million, $50 from the state and $100 million from a new county hotel tax. We had heard horror stories about the traffic getting into the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, but thanks to advance word and advice from my cousin, we approached it from the north (?) and had no trouble parking.
There are now four teams that have their Spring Training facilities in the area – Nats, Astros, Cards, and Marlins – so if you have the time and interest, spending a week or so in the Palm Beach area in the month of March will allow you to see those teams as well as ones that come across the state from the West Coast.
Then it was on to the West Coast to see other friends and three Sox games, one against the USA World Baseball Classic team, one against the Os, and one against the Rays. Of course, the Sox won all three, and even if the games don’t count for much, if you’re a Sox fan, you always want to see them win.
But the real reason to go was to see Fenway South, i.e.,Jet Blue Park, where the stadium is said to be a replica of Fenway Park in Boston. Built five years ago, after much negotiation with the ‘powers’ in Ft. Myers, the Sox got a new $77.9 million stadium outside of the city on 126 acres, including six practice fields (one with the same dimensions as Fenway) and a rehabilitation center. The funding came, in part, I think, because Lee County was afraid the Sox would move away, and involved some kind of public-private partnership, where much of the public outlay came from a “bed tax” on hotel rooms in the area.
While the main ball park itself has the same dimensions as the one in the north, it didn’t feel so much like Fenway in Boston. Yes. It has a Green Monster, with seats and a net in the middle of the wall, a former Fenway scoreboard that has to be manually updated with the use of a ladder (there’s no room behind the scoreboard to change the score between innings, etc.), a Pesky Pole, a triangle in center field, and a lone red seat (longest HR in Fenway).
The 11,000 seat stadium is quite open and shady, but it didn’t feel anything like Boston’s Fenway to me. I couldn’t tell exactly, but the right field configuration didn’t feel like the Fenway I know and sitting on/in the Green Monster (game vs. the Rays) only faintly resembled the one in Boston. In the game vs the USA team, we sat just to the left of home plate and had an enormous amount of room in which to stretch out. Against the Os, we sat beyond first base and by the end of the game our necks were sore from looking to the left.
Still, it’s the spring home of my heroes, and, like most spring training facilities these days (15 in Florida and 15 in Arizona), you feel close to the players, the weather is delightful (away from the cold and snow of the north), and you get the opportunity to see both starting players and those who are trying to be starters, or will be in several years.
I’ll definitely return. Anyone want to plan next year’s trip with me?
You may also know of my two favorite current sports’ writers, Joe Posnanski and Thomas Boswell, from whom I learn something every time I read one of their columns.
And so, check out Posnanski’s latest column, wherein he writes about the best age to get your kids/grandkid involved. While the article does focus on Theo Epstein, I post a link to it primarily for the discussion about getting the next generation involved.