SULLY vs. A FISH



Earlier this month made my picks for the post season series… as did my wife.

When I made MY picks, I compared them to the picks of my kids (who just liked the sounds of certain teams) my sister in law (who was more interested in which players were vegans) a coin flip (always reliable) and my fish, Red.

When Red made his choices, I held up a picture of the logo of each team playing in the series and I saw which direction he swam in.

Well so far each of MY picks have been right.
And so have Red’s picks.

We both picked the Yankees… we both picked the Phillies… we both picked the Giants.

But here’s the rub.

I picked Tampa Bay over the Rangers.
Red picked the Rangers over Tampa Bay.

So tonight is the rubber game.

Oh yeah, it means a lot to the Rays and Rangers… either a chance to have home field advantage in the ALCS or go home.

But think about it from MY point of view.
This is my chance to pick all four series correctly. Something I haven’t done in literally YEARS!

And if I fail, I will have lost to a fish.

It’s one thing to lose to the chance of a coin flip, or the silliness of my kids, or the randomness of my wife or sister in law’s picks.

But to lose to a fish… it is something I can not bear.

So like Santiago or Quint, I am obsessed defeating a fish.
Is it a healthy?
No.

Is it luck?

“No. I am not … lucky. I am not lucky anymore.”

“The hell with luck,” the boy said. “I’ll bring the luck with me.”

(That’s right, Mo Fo’s… I’m quoting Hemmingway.)

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Teams that avoided the big collapse

One of two things are going to happen today at the Trop:

The Rays will complete a remarkable comeback in a series where they were 5 outs from elimination and looked dead from the neck up.

Or

The Rangers will have fought off a gigantic scare and win their first ever post season series.

Both are pretty dramatic.

We hear a lot about the teams that have come back from deep holes to win the final 3 games of a post season series.

Teams down 2-0 in a best of 5 series or down 3-1 in a best of 7 series who storm back and win. (Only one team pulled it off being down 3-0… I don’t remember which one.)

With all the big comebacks, doesn’t it always seem like the team that ties the series has the momentum and winds up winning it?

But what about the near misses?

What about the teams down 2-0 in a best of 5 or down 3-1 in a best of 7 and force a deciding game… only to lose it?

The comebacks that fall just short. Or for the other team, narrowly avoiding a gigantic choke.

If the Rangers win tonight, they will have dodged a massive bullet.

What other teams avoided an epic collapse when they let their opponent off the matt to force a deciding game, only to compose themselves and win the do or die finale?

The 1972 A’s did it in BOTH the ALCS and World Series… not a bad showing.

We here at Sully Baseball don’t just ponder questions like that?
We list them:

THE TEAMS THAT AVOIDED A MASSIVE COLLAPSE

1912 BOSTON RED SOX
Red Sox had a 3-1-1 lead over New York Giants in the World Series. (One tie due to darkness.)
Giants won 2 in a row to force deciding 8th game.

FINAL GAME:
GAME 8: RED SOX win 3-2 in 10 innings.
2 outs away from losing the series, the Red Sox score 2 aided my Fred Snodgrass dropping a fly ball and win the World Series.

1967 ST LOUIS CARDINALS
Cardinals had a 3-1 lead over Boston Red Sox in the World Seres
Red Sox won 2 in a row to force deciding 7th game.

FINAL GAME:
GAME 7: CARDINALS win 7-2.
Bob Gibson is unstoppable and throws a complete game victory and hits a home run for good measure. Jim Lonborg is no match for him on only 2 days rest.

1972 OAKLAND A’S
A’s had a 2-0 lead over Detroit Tigers in the ALCS.
Tigers won 2 in a row to force deciding 5th game.

FINAL GAME:
GAME 5: A’S win 2-1
Reggie Jackson steals home to tie the game in the second but tears his hamstring. Gene Tenace drives home the go ahead run in the 4th. Vida Blue throws 4 innings for the save, getting Tony Taylor, the potential pennant winning run, to fly out.

A’s had a 3-1 lead over Cincinnati Reds in the World Series.
Reds won 2 in a row to force deciding 7th game.

FINAL GAME:
GAME 7: A’S win 3-2
The A’s took the lead in the 6th while the Reds threatened with the bases loaded and 1 out in the 8th. They had the tying run on base and the World Series winning run at the plate in the 9th, but Rollie Fingers got Pete Rose to pop up to win the Series.

1981 MONTREAL EXPOS
Expos had a 2-0 lead over Philadelphia Phillies in the Divisional Playoff.
Phillies won 2 in a row to force deciding 5th game.

FINAL GAME:
GAME 5: EXPOS win 3-0
Steve Rogers out dueled Steve Carlton and the defending World Champion Phillies in Philadelpha with a 6 hit shut out. Rogers drove in 2 runs himself with an RBI single in the 5th.

1981 NEW YORK YANKEES
Yankees had a 2-0 lead over Milwaukee Brewers in the Divisional Playoff.
Tigers won 2 in a row to force deciding 5th game.

FINAL GAME:
GAME 5: YANKEES win 7-3
The Brewers took an early 2-0 lead on Ron Guidry who only lasted 4 innings. But Reggie Jackson and Oscar Gamble hit back to back homers to give the Yankees the lead for good.

1992 ATLANTA BRAVES
Braves had a 3-1 lead over Pittsburgh Pirates in the NLCS.
Pirates won 2 in a row to force deciding 7th game.

FINAL GAME:
GAME 7: BRAVES win 3-2.
Pirates ace Doug Drabek took a shutout into the 9th inning. But a Pendleton double and an error by Jose Lind knocked him out. With two outs, seldom used catcher Francisco Cabrera hit a two run pinch hit single to win the game and the series for Atlanta.



2008 TAMPA BAY RAYS
Rays had a 3-1 lead over Boston Red Sox in the ALCS.
Red Sox won 2 in a row to force deciding 7th game.

FINAL GAME:
GAME 7: RAYS win 3-1.
The Red Sox took an early 1-0 lead and carried that into the 4th. The Rays got to Jon Lester and Matt Garza shut down the potent Red Sox lineup. But when Boston loaded the bases in the 8th, it looked like they were going to pull ahead. Rookie David Price came out of the bullpen and struck out J. D. Drew and pitched the 9th for the save.

So there you have it…
7 teams avoided the ignominious fate of blowing a big post season lead.
Will the Rangers join them? Or will they be the latest team to shake their heads and say “We HAD this!”?

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The Bobby Cox Post Season Home Grown vs. Acquired Roster

I’ve never been a big Bobby Cox fan. In fact other than their World Series trips against the Yankees, I have always rooted against the Atlanta Braves in the playoffs. I can’t explain why.

But I have tons of respect for Bobby Cox for putting so many winners on the field.
Yeah he has had critics… most of them morons.

“He only won one World Series!” That’s as many as Leo Durocher won… that’s as many as Earl Weaver won… nobody has any problems with THEM!

“He couldn’t win without Glavine, Smoltz or Maddux.” First of all he went to TWO World Series before Maddux arrived.

He went to the 2000 playoffs without Smoltz who was injured. When Glavine went to the Mets, Cox took the 2003, 2004 and 2005 squad to the playoffs. And the ’04 and ’05 teams were also without Maddux.

And he ended his career tonight, in the post season without a single player active from the 1995 World Champs (with Chipper Jones on the DL.)

He kept winning despite a massive rotation of talent. Which got me thinking… I bet I could do one of my Home Grown vs. Acquired rosters using only players who played in the post season for the Braves under Bobby Cox.

For my new readers, between the 2008 and 2009 season, I wrote up the best all time 25 man roster for each team using only home grown players… and then compared that to the best all time 25 man roster using only players acquired from other organizations. It was insane but fun to write.

So here are the rules…
Each roster has 8 starting position players… 5 starting pitchers… 5 relievers… 1 top pinch hitter off the bench… 1 reserve catcher… 2 reserve infielders… 2 reserve outfielders… and a 25th man who could be either a pitcher or position player.

And each roster can only be filled with players who played in the post season for the Braves under Bobby Cox and judged only by their merits on the field for the Braves.

Home Grown means their first professional organization was the Atlanta Braves. Home grown players who were reacquired will still be labeled as home grown.

Acquired means having played for another organization (even in the minor leagues) for any length before coming to the Braves. (Smoltz started in the Tigers organization… ergo he is acquired.)

Got it?

Let’s figure out the teams.

First off…

THE ALL TIME HOME GROWN
BOBBY COX BRAVES PLAYOFF ROSTER


STARTING CATCHER
JAVY LOPEZ
15 Post Season Series over 9 seasons with the Braves
Member of the 1995 World Champion Braves
Post Season Highlight: MVP of 1996 NLCS


STARTING FIRST BASEMAN
BRIAN HUNTER
7 Post Season Series over 3 seasons with the Braves
Played in the 1991, 1992 and 1999 World Series
Post Season Highlight: Game winning home run in Game 7 of the 1991 NLCS


STARTING SECOND BASEMAN
MARK LEMKE
11 Post Season Series over 5 seasons with the Braves
Member of the 1995 World Champion Braves
Post Season Highlight: Batted .417 with a 1.170 OPS in the 1991 World Series


STARTING SHORTSTOP
RAFAEL FURCAL
6 Post Season Series over 6 seasons with the Braves
Post Season Highlight: Walk off homer in Game 2 of 2004 Division Series.


STARTING THIRD BASEMAN
CHIPPER JONES
20 Post Season Series over 11 seasons with the Braves
Member of the 1995 World Champion Braves
Post Season Highlight: Batted .444 with a 1.694 OPS and a game winning homer as the Braves upset the favored Astros in the 2001 Division Series


STARTING LEFT FIELDER
RYAN KLESKO
13 Post Season Series over 5 seasons with the Braves
Member of the 1995 World Champion Braves
Post Season Highlight: Hit .313 with 3 homers in the 1995 World Series.


STARTING CENTER FIELDER
ANDRUW JONES
17 Post Season Series over 10 seasons with the Braves
Played in the 1996 and 1999 World Series
Post Season Highlight: Homered in his first 2 at bats in the 1996 World Series


STARTING RIGHT FIELDER
DAVID JUSTICE
8 Post Season Series over 4 seasons with the Braves
Member of the 1995 World Champion Braves
Post Season Highlight: Hit the homer that was the only run in the 1-0 World Series clinching Game 6 win in 1995.

ROTATION

https://i1.wp.com/zkonedog.mlblogs.com/T1_0805_oldglavine.jpg
TOM GLAVINE
22 Post Season Series over 12 seasons with the Braves
Member of the 1995 World Champion Braves
Post Season Highlight: MVP of 1995 World Series


KEVIN MILLWOOD
6 Post Season Series over 5 seasons with the Braves
Played in the 1999 World Series
Post Season Highlight: Threw a complete game victory in Game 2 of the 1999 NLDS and then got a save in Game 3.


STEVE AVERY
10 Post Season Series over 5 seasons with the Braves
Member of the 1995 World Champion Braves
Post Season Highlight: MVP of 1991 NLCS

TOMMY HANSON
1 Post Season Series over 1 Season with the Braves
Post Season Highlight: Started Game 2 of the 2010 NLDS.


KENT MERCKER
10 Post Season Series over 5 seasons with the Braves
Member of the 1995 World Champion Braves
Post Season Highlight: Pitched the Braves out of trouble from the bullpen in Game 5 of the 1991 World Series. (Also threw a regular season no hitter.)

BULLPEN

MARK WOHLERS
13 Post Season Series over 6 seasons with the Braves
Member of the 1995 World Champion Braves
Post Season Highlight: Threw the clinching pitch of each playoff round in 1995 including closing out the 1995 World Series.


MIKE STANTON
5 Post Season Series over 3 seasons with the Braves
Played in the 1991 and 1992 World Series
Post Season Highlight: Saved Game 5 of the 1992 World Series.


JOHN ROCKER
7 Post Season Series over 3 seasons with the Braves
Played in the 1999 World Series
Post Season Highlight: Saved 2 games and struck out 9 in 6 2/3 innings against the Mets in the 1999 NLCS.


BRAD CLONTZ
5 Post Season Series over 2 seasons with the Braves
Member of the 1995 World Champion Braves
Post Season Highlight: Pitched the 11th inning in the Braves extra inning road win against the Reds in Game 2 of the 1995 NLCS.

https://i2.wp.com/tomahawktake.com/files/2010/07/Venters1.jpg
JONNY VENTERS
1 Post Season Series over 1 season with the Braves
Post Season Highlight: Pitched a shutout inning before the Braves rallied to tie the Giants in Game 2 of the 2010 NLDS.

THE BENCH


TOP PINCH HITTER OFF OF THE BENCH
EDDIE PEREZ
11 Post Season Series over 5 seasons with the Braves
Played in the 1996 and 1999 World Series
Post Season Highlight: 1999 NLCS MVP.


RESERVE INFIELDER
JEFF BLAUSER
12 Post Season Series over 6 seasons with the Braves
Member of the 1995 World Champion Braves
Post Season Highlight: Homered off of Doug Drabek to help put away Game 1 of the 1992 NLCS.


RESERVE INFIELDER
VINNY CASTILLA
2 Post Season Series over 2 Seasons with the Braves
Post Season Highlight: Batted .389 with an OPS of 1.006 and 4 RBI in the 2002 Division Series.


RESERVE OUTFIELDER
RON GANT
5 Post Season Series over 3 seasons with the Braves
Played in the 1991 and 1992 World Series
Post Season Highlight: Went 3-4 with 3 runs scored in the Braves Game 5 victory in the 1991 World Series.


RESERVE OUTFIELDER
JEFF FRANCOEUR
1 Post Season Series over 1 Season with the Braves
Post Season Highlight: Drove in the final run in the Braves Game 2 victory of the 2005 Division Series

http://padresteve.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/brian-mccann.jpg
RESERVE CATCHER
BRIAN McCANN
2 Post Season Series over 2 Seasons with the Braves
Post Season Highlight: Homered twice in the 2005 Division Series.


25th
MAN
JASON HEYWARD
1 Post Season Series over 1 Season with the Braves
Post Season Highlight: None yet… but he’s the hope for the future.

Not a bad squad… a little thin in the Bullpen. (Wasn’t that the story of Bobby Cox’s life as Braves manager?)

Now let’s check out the to 25 man roster using only players acquired from other organizations.

THE ALL TIME ACQUIRED
BOBBY COX BRAVES PLAYOFF ROSTER


STARTING CATCHER
DAMON BERRYHILL
3 Post Season Series over 2 Seasons with the Braves.
Played in the 1992 World Series.
Post Season Highlight: Hit game winning 3 run homer in Game 1 of the 1992 World Series.


STARTING FIRST BASEMAN
FRED McGRIFF
9 Post Season Series over 4 Seasons with the Braves.
Member of the 1995 World Champion Braves
Post Season Highlight: Homered off of Orel Hershiser in his first World Series at bat as the Braves beat the Indians in Game 1 of the 1995 World Series.


STARTING SECOND BASEMAN
KEITH LOCKHART
11 Post Season Series over 6 Seasons with the Braves.
Played in the 1999 World Series.
Post Season Highlight: Hit .333 with an OPS of 1.050 and a home run in the 2002 Division Series.


STARTING SHORTSTOP
RAFAEL BELLIARD
11 Post Season Series over 5 Seasons with the Braves.
Member of the 1995 World Champion Braves
Post Season Highlight: Made dazzling running catch in the 9th inning of the 1995 World Series clinching Game 6.


STARTING THIRD BASEMAN
TERRY PENDLETON
8 Post Season Series over 4 Seasons with the Braves.
Played in the 1991, 1992 and 1996 World Series.
Post Season Highlight: Hit lead off double to spark the Braves improbable pennant winning rally in Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS.


STARTING LEFT FIELDER
LONNIE SMITH
4 Post Season Series over 2 seasons with the Braves.
Played in the 1991 and 1992 World Series.
Post Season Highlight: Hit a grand slam off of Jack Morris to blow open Game 5 of the 1992 World Series.


STARTING CENTER FIELDER
MARQUIS GRISSOM
6 Post Season Series over 2 Seasons with the Braves.
Member of the 1995 World Champion Braves
Post Season Highlight: Caught the final out of the 1995 World Series.


STARTING RIGHT FIELDER
BRIAN JORDAN
7 Post Season Series over 4 seasons with the Braves.
Played in the 1999 World Series.
Post Season Highlight: Hit 12th inning 2 RBI double to win Game 3 of the 1999 Division Series in Houston.

ROTATION


GREG MADDUX
19 Post Season Series over 10 Seasons with the Braves.
Member of the 1995 World Champion Braves
Post Season Highlight: Threw complete game 2 hit victory in Game 1 of the 1995 World Series.


JOHN SMOLTZ
24 Post Season Series over 13 Seasons with the Braves.
Member of the 1995 World Champion Braves
Post Season Highlight: 1992 NLCS MVP.


DENNY NEAGLE
4 Post Season Series over 3 seasons with the Braves.
Played in the 1996 World Series.
Post Season Highlight: Threw complete game shutout in Game 4 of the 1997 NLCS.

https://i1.wp.com/theghostofmoonlightgraham.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/tim-hudson.jpg
TIM HUDSON
2 Post Season Series over 2 Seasons with the Braves
Post Season Highlight: Pitched a solid Game 3 of the 2010 Division Series, pitching 7 innings with no earned runs and broke up Jonathan Sanchez’s no hit bit himself.


RUSS ORTIZ
2 Post Season Series over 2 seasons with the Braves.
Post Season Highlight: With the Braves facing elimination, beat the Cubs at Wrigley in Game 4 of the 2003 Division Series.

BULLPEN

ALEJANDRO PENA
5 Post Season Series over 2 Seasons with the Braves.
Member of the 1995 World Champion Braves
Post Season Highlight: Striking out Andy Van Slyke with the tying run on to preserve a 1-0 victory in Game 6 of the 1991 NLCS, forcing a deciding Game 7.


PEDRO BORBON, JR
2 Post Season Series over 1 Season with the Braves.
Member of the 1995 World Champion Braves
Post Season Highlight: Earning the Save for Game 4 of the 1995 World Series.


GREG McMICHAEL
7 Post Season Series over 3 Seasons with the Braves
Member of the 1995 World Champion Braves
Post Season Highlight: Earning a Save in the 11th inning of Game 1 of the 1995 NLCS.


KERRY LIGTENBERG
6 Post Season Series over 5 seasons with the Braves.
Post Season Highlight: Clinching the 1998 Division Series.


DENNIS MARTINEZ
1 Post Season Series over 1 Season with the Braves
Post Season Highlight: Facing elimination, came out of the bullpen to win Game 4 of the 1998 NLCS.

THE BENCH


TOP PINCH HITTER OFF OF THE BENCH
ANDRES GALARRAGA
3 Post Season Series over 2 Seasons with the Braves
Post Season Highlight: Hit a grand slam to put away Game 4 of the 1998 NLCS.


RESERVE INFIELDER
WALT WEISS
6 Post Season Series over 3 seasons with the Braves.
Played in the 1999 World Series.
Post Season Highlight: Hit an RBI double and scored a key run in Game 1 of the 1999 NLCS.

https://i2.wp.com/blogs.ajc.com/mark-bradley-blog/files/2010/07/slideshow_1001585616_braves.0618_CC20.JPG
RESERVE INFIELDER
TROY GLAUS
1 Post Season Series over 1 Season with the Braves
Post Season Highlight: Started game saving double play in the 10th inning in Game 2 of the 2010 Division Series.


RESERVE OUTFIELDER
OTIS NIXON
6 Post Season Series over 3 seasons with the Braves.
Played in the 1992 and 1999 World Series.
Post Season Highlight: One strike from elimination, hit an RBI single to tie Game 6 of 1992 World Series.


RESERVE OUTFIELDER
MIKE DEVEREAUX
3 Post Season Series over 1 season with the Braves.
Member of the 1995 World Champion Braves
Post Season Highlight: MVP of the 1995 NLCS.

https://i1.wp.com/www.baseball-reference.com/bpv/images/d/d9/Cabrerafrancisco.jpg
RESERVE CATCHER
FRANCISCO CABRERA
4 Post Season Series over 3 seasons with the Braves.
Played in the 1991 and 1992 World Series.
Post Season Highlight: His 2 out, 2 run pinch hit single in the 9th inning of Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS is one of the most dramatic moments in baseball history.


25TH MAN
SID BREAM
6 Post Season Series over 3 seasons with the Braves.
Played in the 1991 and 1992 World Series.
Post Season Highlight: Scored the pennant winning run on Francisco Cabrera’s single, the single most famous moment of Bobby Cox’s managerial tenure.

So there you have it… I am sure I missed out on a few, but keep in mind I am putting more weight on players who performed big in the post season.

Save your stats, Mike Deveraux stays. When you win a Post Season MVP, I don’t care what someone else’s OPS was.

Don’t bother breaking down other catchers. Francisco Cabrera’s hit was the defining moment of the Bobby Cox Braves and destroyed the Pirates franchise. What other catcher can claim that?

So the Bobby Cox era is now over.
And his legacy will stretch over a generation. Remember, Jason Heyward was 2 years old when the Braves won the 1991 Pennant.

Big shoes to fill.
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