by Keith Glab, BaseballEvolution.com
October 29, 2007
Everyone saw this coming. The Rockies get handled in the World Series,
and everybody goes on about how rusty they are. Just like how if the
Rockies had beaten up on Boston during the series, everyone would have talked
about how well-rested they were.
I had hoped that Game 4 would have debunked this theory of rust, but
apparently that's not the case.
Never mind that Aaron Cook performed better than any of the Rockies' other three
starters despite having a much, much longer layoff than any of them. Never
mind that Jon Lester outperformed any of the Red Sox' other starters, also
coming on far more rest than any of those three did. No, no.
Clearly, the Rockies were just rusty, and those two pitchers got lucky somehow.
Or maybe it's that Aaron Cook pitched three simulated games against the
Rockies lineup after pitching a rehab start in the Instructional League.
Hey, wait a minute. If the Rockies hitters were batting in simulated games
against a quality pitcher like Cook, then why would they be rusty but not Aaron
"I'm not sure right now there's anything different we can do," Rockies
manager Clint Hurdle declared before Game 4 when asked about how the team could
have prepared differently during their extended layoff. "I don't know how
you recreate a World Series environment. I don't know how you recreate a playoff
environment in practice."
So according to Hurdle, the problem wasn't the lack of swings against live
pitching that hurt the Rockies, it was the lack of a pressure-packed
environment. In which case, we might have expected the Rockies' rust to
have peeled off as soon as Game 1 finished.
Granted, no team had ever swept both the Division Series and the League
Championship Series before these Rockies did. In fact, the only other
instance of an LCS being swept in the current playoff format occurred the very
first year of this expanded playoff bracket, 1995. The Braves won their
only World Series out of 14 chances under Bobby Cox that year. It seems to
me that sweeping the LCS was more of a boon than a benefit for those Braves.
There have been three other instances of a team going 7-1 in the playoffs
entering World Series play: the 2000 Mets, the 2001 Diamondbacks, and the 2005
White Sox. The White Sox and Diamondbacks won their series, while the Mets
lost theirs. If a lack of a competitive atmosphere puts teams at such a
disadvantage in the World Series, then maybe those Braves, White Sox, and
Diamondbacks squads are simply among the best of all time.
But more likely, this is just a case of sportswriters trying to make a story
out of nothing, of casual fans trying to appear knowledgeable about the game,
and about National League fans reluctant to admit that the junior circuit is the
far superior league at this point in time.
So unless your last name is Staub, Greer, or Meacham, please don't tell me
that you're rusty. Or if you do, please don't use it as an excuse for
failure. If rustiness does exist in baseball, enough other teams have
overcome it to render such an excuse quite lame.
Disagree with something? Got something to add? Wanna bring up something totally new? Keith resides in Chicago, Illinois and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.