Thursday, January 17, 2008

All-Time Cardinals Simulation Tournament

I'm going to assume most (all) folks who find there way here also read Viva El Birdos on a regular basis.

They're going to try and conduct a tournament in which the best St Louis baseball teams (and I have to say St Louis; the Cardinals came into existence as we know them in 1892, and this tournament includes teams from before that) square off to see who's the best team. An interesting idea.

So I entered some picks. Mine are no doubt correct and I look forward to my many congratulatory emails as a prescient prognosticator.

Just kidding. I know next to nothing about the teams from the 1880s, which makes this interesting - especially since the game was played differently then than it is now.

However, for lack of a better topic, here is who I picked and why:

Game 1: 1887 vs 1996

I've long considered the 1996 Cardinals the greatest over-achieving team of my lifetime, narrowly edging the 1987 club. This is a team that finished 19 games under .500 in 1995 and 16 games under in 1997; they caught lightning in a bottle for one great season. Although I did enjoy the 2 NLDS games I made it to (Game 2 in St L, which is a good post topic for a later time, and Game 3 in SD) that year. The 1887 club on the 3rd of 4 consecutive American Association pennants. No brainer.
Pick: 1887

Game 2: 1888 vs 1987

This was tough because the 1987 team was fun. They won 17 of 18 before the All-Star break that season; and during a memorable September series against the hated Mets, they rallied from 3 down in the ninth to tie and scored 2 in the 10th to win the opener 6-4. In 2 innings they went from being 1/2 game up to being 2 and 1/2 up with 13 to play. When they beat Gooden 8 -1 the next day a dagger had been shoved through the heart of the Mets. That said, it was a patchwork and bailing-wire team that finally quit hitting in the post-season. I don't think they have enough to beat a good 1888 squad.
Pick: 1888

Game 3: 2005 vs 2002

Another tough one. The 2002 squad was galvanized by the death of Darryl Kile; the 2005 squad played tough, alert, aggressive baseball. Both lost a tough LCS. Both teams are very similar (and have some of the same players on them: Rolen, AP, Edmonds, etc), and it may be more of a tip-of-the-cap to the 2001 team (which I believe was better than they generally get credit for being), but I decided to vote against the 2005 team. No clear reason why.
Pick: 2002

Game 4: 1930 vs 2000

The 1930 club lost to the last of Connie Mack's great A's teams, then beat them the following year. The 2000 club avenged the 1996 LCS loss to Atlanta in the Division Series and then rolled over against the Mets. Any club from the Gasehouse Gang Period, even if they weren't technically the Gasehouse Gang yet, gets my vote.
Pick: 1930

Game 5: 1985 vs 1887

My favorite Cardinal team of my lifetime against a team I don't know anything about. Seemed fairly easy.
Pick: 1985

(You'll notice not a lot of scientific thought went into these picks.)

Game 6: 2004 vs 1888

My second-favorite Cardinal team against another team I don't know much about. The only thing that bothered me about this pick is Chris Carpenter isn't available to pitch. However, I think this Cardinals team at the zenith of their powers, and with Walker/Pujols/Rolen/Edmonds in the heart of their lineup is too tough a matchup for the 1888 squad.
Pick: 2004

Game 7: 2002 vs 1943

Aside from the 1885-1888 teams, the 1942-44 teams are the only Cardinals teams to win more than 2 consecutive pennants. The Yankees avenged their 5-game loss in 1942 in the 43 Fall Classic. 2002? Were crushed by Barry Bonds' big giant head in the NLCS. I'll take the Golden Age of Baseball toughness here. Not to mention Stan the Man.
Pick: 1943

Game 8: 1930 vs 1885

Both teams are a year away from winning the World Series. The 1885 squad is at the start of their run; the 1930 squad has won 3 pennants in 5 years, and will win 2 of the next 4, so a solid team. This was the toughest call. In the end, I almost flipped a coin, but decided to go with the wily 19th century team - figuring they'll be a lot more bunting and baserunning from them to keep the 1930 team honest.
Pick: 1885

Game 9: 1968 vs 1928

Let's see: Gibson vs Rajah. Now those would be interesting at bats to watch. But since Gibby was the best pitcher in the solar system that year (no apologies to Denny McLain), I don't see how the 1928 team will get many hits. And Gibby will probably pitch 3 times in the series. I like my chances.
Pick: 1968

Well do this again once these games have been completed and the 16-team field is filled out.

Lastly, this will be my last call for proposed questions to Paul DePodesta. So if you've got something you'd like to have asked, send it to me this weekend.

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