Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – March 23, 2013

 Are upsets good for baseball? Or is it better to see some of the great teams of all time have their crowning moment?

 On today’s episode of The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast, I ponder those questions.

Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – March 23, 2013

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BIGGEST POST SEASON SERIES UPSETS OF WILD CARD ERA – Updated to include 2011 Division Series

There are upsets and then there are games like this weekend when the prohibitive favorite gets knocked off.

The Cardinals eliminating the Phillies has to be one of the great upsets in the history of the Wild Card era. In September when St. Louis was languishing 8 games out of a playoff spot and the Phillies were coasting, if I told you the Cardinals would be in the NLCS while Philadelphia sat home, you’d put me in a padded room.

But here we are.

Last year I wrote a blog post about the biggest post season upsets in the Wild Card Era.

This one belongs in the update.
There’s no other colossal mismatch left in the playoffs.

Nobody can top St. Louis over Philadelphia.
Let’s look at the other Wild Card era upsets.

BIGGEST POST SEASON UPSETS OF WILD CARD ERA


1997 ALCS
INDIANS defeat ORIOLES

The Orioles led wire to wire and won 98 games. The Indians won only 86 games and barely squeaked past the Yankees in the Division Series.

IT LOOKED BAD WHEN:
The Orioles shut out the Indians in Game 1 and had a 2 run lead in the 8th inning of Game 2.

THINGS TURNED AROUND WHEN:
Marquis Grissom hit a 3 run shot off of Armando Benitez in Game 2. Then the Indians won in 12 for Game 3 and finished Game 4 with a walk off win.

THE DAGGER
The Indians overcame a brilliant Mike Mussina outing in Game 6 to win in 11 innings and stunned Baltimore.

1997 NLCS
MARLINS defeat BRAVES

The Braves had won 4 of the last 5 pennants. With a 101 win season, a 5th pennant in 6 years looked all but assured. The Marlins won 92 games and the wild card, but they were playing the varsity team and looked over matched.

IT LOOKED BAD WHEN:
The Marlins won a pair early but the Braves tied the series when Denny Neagle threw a complete game shutout in Game 4. With Maddux and Glavine looming in Games 5 and 6, it looked bleak for Florida.

THINGS TURNED AROUND WHEN:
The late Eric Gregg called any pitch that Livan Hernandez threw a strike as long as it didn’t hit the ground. He struck out 15, giving the Marlins the lead.

THE DAGGER
Tom Glavine imploded in the first inning of Game 6, letting the first four batters read base and having them all score before the Braves even came to bat. It would be all Kevin Brown would need to clinch the pennant.

The Yankees were in full dynasty mode. The Angels had never won a post season series and looked like a bunch of inexperienced kids heading into Yankee Stadium. No doubt this would be a forgettable series much like the Yankees manhandling the Rangers all of those years.

IT LOOKED BAD WHEN:
The Yankees rallied to win game 1 in the 8th and took a lead late into Game 2. It was going to be a sweep a la the Yankees/Texas series of the past.

THINGS TURNED AROUND WHEN:
Garret Anderson and Troy Glaus hit back to back 8th inning homers off of El Duque to take the lead in Game 2. Then in Game 3, the Yankees blow an early 6-1 lead and the Angels break the tie with a Tim Salmon home run in the 8th.

THE DAGGER
David Wells melts down in the 5th inning of Game 4 as the Angels score 8 times and go on to win their first ever playoff series.

Thanks to a 20 game winning streak, an MVP season from Miguel Tejada, a Cy Young season from Barry Zito and 103 wins, the A’s looked poised to stampede into the ALCS. The Twins, who were rumored to be contracted just the year before, were just happy to be there.

IT LOOKED BAD WHEN:
A series of Twins blunders gave the A’s a 5-1 lead in Game 1, making it clear that this series was Men versus Boys. Later, the A’s were up 2-1 with Hudson and Mulder ready for games 4 and 5.

THINGS TURNED AROUND WHEN:
The Twins came back to win that Game 1 and scored 11 unanswered runs in Game 4.

THE DAGGER
A. J. Pierzynski’s homer and David Ortiz’s double broke open a tense Game 5 in the 9th. The Twins would need every run as Mark Ellis homered to bring the A’s to within 1 but Ray Durham, the potential series winning run, popped up to give the upstart Twins a most unlikely series win.

The Tigers slumped badly down the stretch and went from a lock for the Division title, home field in the Division Series and playing the A’s to claiming the Wild Card and going to New York to face a stacked and eager to wipe away 2004 from their memories Yankee team. They were no match.

IT LOOKED BAD WHEN:
The Yankees torched Nate Robertson for 5 runs in the third and cruised to an 8-4 Game 1 win. Then Johnny Damon hit a three run shot in Game 2 and it looked like the sweep was on.

THINGS TURNED AROUND WHEN:
Carlos Guillen hit a game tying homer off of Mike Mussina but Curtis Granderson drove the Yankees crazy. He got a run scoring sacrifice fly in Game 2 and gave the Tigers the lead with an RBI triple. In Game 3, former Yankee Kenny Rogers out pitched Randy Johnson in what turned out to be the Big Unit’s final game for New York.

THE DAGGER
Joe Torre dropped the slumping Alex Rodriguez to 8th in the fourth game and gave the starting assignment to Jaret Wright. He was bombed and the Tigers finished the Yankees in 4.

CARDINALS defeat METS

With the Yankees eliminated in the Division Series, the Mets looked poised to capture the city’s baseball heart. Neither American League team (the Tigers nor the A’s) looked dominating and all they had to do for the pennant was beat an injured and underachieving Cardinals team who won only 83 games.

IT LOOKED BAD WHEN:
The Mets shut out the Cardinals in Game 1, scored 3 in the first of Game 2 and were tied going into the 9th of Game 2. The Mets were clearly in control.

THINGS TURNED AROUND WHEN:
So Taguchi hit a go ahead 9th inning homer off of Billy Wagner to give the Cardinals a Game 2 win. Then, behind Jeff Suppan and Jeff Weaver, took a 3-2 series lead back to Shea.

THE DAGGER
The Mets forced a Game 7 which was an all time classic. Endy Chavez preserved a tie with a mindboggling catch that turned a go ahead homer into an inning ending double play. Yadier Molina homered in the 9th to give St. Louis the win and rookie Adam Wainwright got Carlos Beltran to strikeout looking with the bases loaded in the 9th to win the pennant. The Mets have never recovered.

2010 NLCS
GIANTS defeat PHILLIES

The 2 time defending National League Champion Phillies had the best record in baseball and steamrolled over the Reds in the Division Series. Roy Halladay threw a no hitter, Cole Hamels pitched a complete game shutout to clinch the series and Roy Oswalt was no slouch. The Giants, saddled with a stagnant offense, barely squeaked by a Braves team that was battered with injuries.

IT LOOKED BAD WHEN:
The Phillies responded from a Game 1 loss with an offensive explosion in the 7th inning of Game 2. The Phillies bats were back and they knew Roy Halladay wasn’t losing twice!

THINGS TURNED AROUND WHEN:
Matt Cain out dueled Cole Hamels in Game 3 and Juan Uribe won Game 4 with a walk off sacrifice fly.

THE DAGGER:
Uribe again was the hero, this time with an 8th inning home run to give the Giants the lead in Game 6. And with the tying and winning runs on base, Brian Wilson struck out Ryan Howard looking to win the pennant.


2011 National League Division Series
CARDINALS defeat PHILLIES

The Phillies won 102 games, more than any in team history. They had assembled the best pitching staff since the Braves of the 1990s. Adding Cliff Lee to Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt almost didn’t seem fair. The Cardinals came back from 8 1/2 back in September to win the Wild Card over Atlanta on the last day of the season.

IT LOOKED BAD WHEN:

The Phillies took an early 4-0 lead in Game 2 and looked like they were going to cruise to a 2-0 series lead with Cliff Lee on the mound. In Game 3, Cole Hamels won with the help of a pinch hit homer by Ben Francisco making the end inevitable.

THINGS TURNED AROUND WHEN:

The Cardinals rallied off of Cliff Lee who was not sharp in Game 2. Jimmy Rollins getting caught stealing was a key blow against the Phillies.

In Game 4, David Freese doubled and homered, giving the Cardinals a come from behind win.

THE DAGGER:

The Phillies handed the ball to Roy Halladay for the Game 5 finale and he was superb, letting up only a first inning run. But Chris Carpenter made that run stand up as he threw a complete game shutout to clinch the series. The game ended when Ryan Howard ripped his Achillies running out of the box… a fitting end to the collapsing Phillies.

So with no prohibitive favorite left, this entry is done for another year… kind of like the Phillies!

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BIGGEST POST SEASON SERIES UPSETS OF WILD CARD ERA

I admit, it doesn’t look good for the Giants.

I am rooting for them to win the National League Pennant and any team that has Tim Lincecum pitching twice in a series can’t be counted COMPLETELY out.

But it will be a longshot.

There is NOTHING the Phillies can’t do now and their lineup is a little more fearsome than the Braves.

A safe bet would be the Phillies winning in 5 games.

But every once in a while there is a playoff match up that looks like a total mismatch (even worse than this Phillies/Giants NLCS) that turns out to raise a middle finger to all of the predictions.

Obviously there are some great historical upsets… like the 1926 Cardinals, the 1954 Giants, the 1969 Mets and 1988 L. A. Dodgers come to mind.

But let’s look just at the Wild Card era (1995 to present) and see which series looked like no brainers and it turned out the experts had no brain.

BIGGEST POST SEASON UPSETS OF WILD CARD ERA


1997 ALCS
INDIANS defeat ORIOLES

The Orioles led wire to wire and won 98 games. The Indians won only 86 games and barely squeaked past the Yankees in the Division Series.

IT LOOKED BAD WHEN:
The Orioles shut out the Indians in Game 1 and had a 2 run lead in the 8th inning of Game 2.

THINGS TURNED AROUND WHEN:
Marquis Grissom hit a 3 run shot off of Armando Benitez in Game 2. Then the Indians won in 12 for Game 3 and finished Game 4 with a walk off win.

THE DAGGER
The Indians overcame a brilliant Mike Mussina outing in Game 6 to win in 11 innings and stunned Baltimore.

1997 NLCS
MARLINS defeat BRAVES

The Braves had won 4 of the last 5 pennants. With a 101 win season, a 5th pennant in 6 years looked all but assured. The Marlins won 92 games and the wild card, but they were playing the varsity team and looked over matched.

IT LOOKED BAD WHEN:
The Marlins won a pair early but the Braves tied the series when Denny Neagle threw a complete game shutout in Game 4. With Maddux and Glavine looming in Games 5 and 6, it looked bleak for Florida.

THINGS TURNED AROUND WHEN:
The late Eric Gregg called any pitch that Livan Hernandez threw a strike as long as it didn’t hit the ground. He struck out 15, giving the Marlins the lead.

THE DAGGER
Tom Glavine imploded in the first inning of Game 6, letting the first four batters read base and having them all score before the Braves even came to bat. It would be all Kevin Brown would need to clinch the pennant.

The Yankees were in full dynasty mode. The Angels had never won a post season series and looked like a bunch of inexperienced kids heading into Yankee Stadium. No doubt this would be a forgettable series much like the Yankees manhandling the Rangers all of those years.

IT LOOKED BAD WHEN:
The Yankees rallied to win game 1 in the 8th and took a lead late into Game 2. It was going to be a sweep a la the Yankees/Texas series of the past.

THINGS TURNED AROUND WHEN:
Garret Anderson and Troy Glaus hit back to back 8th inning homers off of El Duque to take the lead in Game 2. Then in Game 3, the Yankees blow an early 6-1 lead and the Angels break the tie with a Tim Salmon home run in the 8th.

THE DAGGER
David Wells melts down in the 5th inning of Game 4 as the Angels score 8 times and go on to win their first ever playoff series.

Thanks to a 20 game winning streak, an MVP season from Miguel Tejada, a Cy Young season from Barry Zito and 103 wins, the A’s looked poised to stampede into the ALCS. The Twins, who were rumored to be contracted just the year before, were just happy to be there.

IT LOOKED BAD WHEN:
A series of Twins blunders gave the A’s a 5-1 lead in Game 1, making it clear that this series was Men versus Boys. Later, the A’s were up 2-1 with Hudson and Mulder ready for games 4 and 5.

THINGS TURNED AROUND WHEN:
The Twins came back to win that Game 1 and scored 11 unanswered runs in Game 4.

THE DAGGER
A. J. Pierzynski’s homer and David Ortiz’s double broke open a tense Game 5 in the 9th. The Twins would need every run as Mark Ellis homered to bring the A’s to within 1 but Ray Durham, the potential series winning run, popped up to give the upstart Twins a most unlikely series win.

The Tigers slumped badly down the stretch and went from a lock for the Division title, home field in the Division Series and playing the A’s to claiming the Wild Card and going to New York to face a stacked and eager to wipe away 2004 from their memories Yankee team. They were no match.

IT LOOKED BAD WHEN:
The Yankees torched Nate Robertson for 5 runs in the third and cruised to an 8-4 Game 1 win. Then Johnny Damon hit a three run shot in Game 2 and it looked like the sweep was on.

THINGS TURNED AROUND WHEN:
Carlos Guillen hit a game tying homer off of Mike Mussina but Curtis Granderson drove the Yankees crazy. He got a run scoring sacrifice fly in Game 2 and gave the Tigers the lead with an RBI triple. In Game 3, former Yankee Kenny Rogers out pitched Randy Johnson in what turned out to be the Big Unit’s final game for New York.

THE DAGGER
Joe Torre dropped the slumping Alex Rodriguez to 8th in the fourth game and gave the starting assignment to Jaret Wright. He was bombed and the Tigers finished the Yankees in 4.

CARDINALS defeat METS

With the Yankees eliminated in the Division Series, the Mets looked poised to capture the city’s baseball heart. Neither American League team (the Tigers nor the A’s) looked dominating and all they had to do for the pennant was beat an injured and underachieving Cardinals team who won only 83 games.

IT LOOKED BAD WHEN:
The Mets shut out the Cardinals in Game 1, scored 3 in the first of Game 2 and were tied going into the 9th of Game 2. The Mets were clearly in control.

THINGS TURNED AROUND WHEN:
So Taguchi hit a go ahead 9th inning homer off of Billy Wagner to give the Cardinals a Game 2 win. Then, behind Jeff Suppan and Jeff Weaver, took a 3-2 series lead back to Shea.

THE DAGGER
The Mets forced a Game 7 which was an all time classic. Endy Chavez preserved a tie with a mindboggling catch that turned a go ahead homer into an inning ending double play. Yadier Molina homered in the 9th to give St. Louis the win and rookie Adam Wainwright got Carlos Beltran to strikeout looking with the bases loaded in the 9th to win the pennant. The Mets have never recovered.

Interestingly, there are 6 upsets but only 3 different years. They’ve come in pairs.

Are the Giants as unlikely to win as the 2006 Cardinals or Tigers?
Probably not.

So there is hope.

Maybe one of the Giants pitchers will get Ryan Howard looking to end the series!
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