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Tournament of Champions: Round 1, day 1

for today's main discussion (an extension for Yadi?) go to this thread. two games on the tournament sched today, the series openers for 1888 v 1987 and 1930 v 2000. the other two series open tomorrow. follow the tournament at Cardinal70's tracker page.

Game 1

summary by Zubin

I remember back in 1992 the Cardinals celebrated their "100th anniversary." I found this somewhat curious because while St Louis' entry into the National league dates to 1892, from 1883-1891, the franchise was part of the American Association, a rival to NL much in the way the American League would be in the early 1900s. And really, given their place in baseball history, I would think the team would do more to acknowledge their earliest incarnation. While the Cardinals are regarded as one of the more successful major league franchises, they generally are not given credit for ever having a baseball dynasty, though the 1940s comes close. The truth is that the Browns were arguably the first dynasty in major league baseball. They were the first team in MLB history to capture 4 consecutive pennants (1885-1888) and if you consider the 1884 Union Association pennant by the Union Association Maroons, St Louis was the first city to capture a pennant five years in a row. Neither feat would be repeated until 1921-1924. Surprisingly little has been written about the Browns, as the Cardinals were known before 1899. But Bill James, in his historical abstract, gives the Browns credit as the best defensive team in the 1880s. The three man rotation of Caruthers, Foutz and King is also cited as one of the best rotations of the 1800s.

In my opinion, those early Browns set a number of precedents for later Cardinal teams. For example, most of you know that Branch Rickey as the Cardinals GM in the 1920s invented the farm system by buying minor league teams, then developing and transferring talent to the big club. But 40 years before Rickey, "Der poss bresidente" Chris Von der Ahe, was buying minor league clubs in order to transfer talent to the Browns. Most of us have heard that when Gussie Busch bought the Cardinals in 1953, he intended to rename Sportsman's Park to Budweiser Stadium to help sell beer. But how many of us heard how Chris Von der Ahe purchased the Browns and then joined the AA to boost beer sales at his taverns?

While the association of St Louis baseball and beer may be somewhat trivial, other hallmarks of Cardinal baseball are more significant --- great young pitching, for example. This series features a few pitchers with very auspicious starts to careers that ultimately fizzled. The most notable of those is Silver King, the starting pitcher for the 1888 team in Game 1. At the age of 20, he pitched nearly 600 innings in 1888 and posted an era half that of the league. By my calculation, he saved 106 runs above average in 1888; for point of comparison, Gibson saved 61 runs above average in 1968. King's 1888 season is one of the greatest pitching years ever; in terms of 19th-century pitching, it might only stand behind Charley Radbourn's 59-win campaign of 1884.

The 1987 Cardinals had a couple of promising youngsters, southpaws Joe Magrane and Greg Matthews. Magrane went 9-7 with a 3.54 (118 era+) for St Louis; the next year he would lead the league in ERA at 2.18 (but would only have a 5-9 record to show for it). Mathews debuted the year but avoided the sophomore slump in 1987, posting a 3.73 era (118 era+) and an 11-11 record. This pair won both ends of a critical doubleheader against Montreal in September.

There are other similarities between these two teams. The 1888 Browns were second in the league in scoring despite posting a composite 98 OPS+ (i.e., slightly below average); they probably outperformed their OPS+ because they led the league in on-base percentage at .310. Similarly, the 1987 Cardinals posted a 94 ops+ but were still second in the league in scoring due to their league-leading .341 OBP and 248 stolen bases. Both lineups featured one great slugger; 1888's was Tip O'Neill (.335/ .490/ .446), who had a good year but nothing as good as his triple-crown season the previous year. In 1987, that slugger was of course Jack Clark (.286/ .459/ .597). Clark was injured late in the 1987 season and only got one at-bat in the postseason; in this sim he will, of course, be restored to health.

Both the 1888 and 1987 teams faced the Giants in the postseason. The 1888 club lost to the New York Giants four games to two. Ninety-nine years later the 1987 Cardinals would finally avenge the defeat, beating the San Francisco Giants in the NL playoffs four to three.

The pitching matchup favors the 1888 team. While 1987 Cards had a good staff, allowing the fourth-fewest runs in their league, 1888 was a pitching powerhouse with an ERA 50 percent better than league average. The 1888 staff wasn't deep (only five men), but Silver King and "Icebox" Elton Chamberlain were each capable of pitching every other day --- and throwing a shutout.

Lineups are set below. Joe Magrane takes the ball for 1987 and Silver King for 1888. I know the line-up for 1987 by heart; the line-up for 1888 should be pretty accurate, though I couldn't determine a definitive batting order. This was my best guess as how Comiskey actually ordered his guys.

1987 1888
Vince Coleman, lf Arlie Latham, 3b
Ozzie Smith, ss Yank Robinson, 2b
Tom Herr, 2b Tip O'Neill, lf
Jack Clark, 1b Charlie Comiskey, 1b
Willie McGee, cf Tommy McCarthy, cf
Terry Pendleton, 3b Harry Lyons, rf
Jose Oquendo, rf Jocko Milligan, c
Tony Pena, c Bill White, ss
Joe Magrane, p Silver King, p

The first batter of the series reaches base: Coleman leads off with a high hopper to third, and Latham makes a bad throw to Comiskey. Vince then immediately steals second and Ozzie drives him home with a single. Tom Herr uncharacteristically pops out and Jack and Willie go down on strikes. 1987 wastes a great opportunity to score another early run but does go up 1-0.

In the bottom of the same innning Arlie Latham atones for his misplay: He hits one just out of the reach of Ozzie and immediately steals 2d. Neither Yank Robinson nor Tip O'Neill can bring him in, but Comiskey comes through with double down the line to tie it at 1-all.

Another bad throw from Latham allows Magrane to reach leading off the 3d. Coleman reaches on an FC, Ozzie singles him to third, and Herr promptly deposits a Silver King fastball into centerfield for a run-scoring single. Clark follows with a bloop single into left that scores Ozzie, and (after a strikeout by McGee) Pendleton grounds one past Bill White into left, scoring Tommy. That puts 1987 ahead 4-1.

1888 pulls within 2 in the 5th when Magrane walks in a run, but '87 gets the run back in the 7th when Vince and Ozzie hit back-to-back 1-out doubles. One batter latter Jack Clark reaches on another error by Latham, putting runners at the corners for McGee and giving 1987 a chance to bust the game open. Willie grounds to end the inning, but 1987 still has a seemingly safe 5-2 lead with 9 outs to go. . . .

But just a second. In the bottom of the inning, reliever Bill Dawley (working his 2d frame) walks Latham and yields singles to Robinson and O'Neill. Rickey Horton enters the game with nobody out, the tying runs on base, and the heart of the Browns' order up. He yields a sac fly to McCarthy but preserves the lead; it's 5-4 heading to the 8th.

1987 goes in order in the top of the frame, and Horton retires the first two men leading off the bottom half. But Ed Herr (no relation to Tommy) pinch-hits for King and lines a single, and when Latham pops a single between the fielders the arrival of 1987 closer Todd Worrell seems a foregone conclusion. But Sim Herzog, uncharacteristically passive, sticks with Horton. A walk to Robinson loads the bases and brings '88's best hitter, O'Neill, to the plate with the go-ahead run in scoring position. Surely now we'll see Worrell? Inexplicably, no --- he stays with Horton. Ricky induces a ground ball, but it scoots through the right side and plates two runs; the Browns lead, 6-5.


Ford, Coleman, and Ozzie go meekly in order in the top of the 9th, and the 1888 Browns go up 1 game to nothing.


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Game 1

summary by lboros

Heading into the 2000 season, Tony La Russa had a cumulative record of 319-328 in four seasons as the St. Louis manager. GM Walt Jocketty had been aboard for five seasons, with even less success --- a cumulative record of 381-409. The Cardinals had made only 1 playoff appearance in the previous 12 years, and you could even say the funk had lasted longer than that: In the last half of the 20th century, the Cardinals made only 7 playoff appearances. Only one of the 8 NL franchises active throughout that whole 50-year period --- the Cubs --- participated in fewer Octobers. But the 2000 season marked a new century and a new run of postseason activity, one unprecedented in franchise history --- 6 playoff appearances in 7 years. In those 7 years, the Cardinals would win as many October series (8) as they'd won in the 54 preceding years; Jocketty and La Russa were by then enshrined as icons, their early futility long since forgotten.

It was a trajectory the 1930 management team would have recognized. After failing to win jack-squat in their first 9 years at the controls (1917-1925), the owner-GM tandem of Sam Breadon and Branch Rickey won 5 pennants in a 9-year stretch. The 1930 NL champs were the 3d team in that run. That year's roster featured five Hall of Famers (Hafey, Bottomley, Frisch, Grimes, and Haines) and provided a glimpse of a 6th --- Dizzy Dean, who made his big-league debut at age 20 and pitched a complete-game 3-hitter in his only outing. The only group of Cardinals ever to top 1000 runs in a season (they scored 1004), the 1930 Cardinals featured .300 hitters at all 8 positions and batted .314 as a team, the best mark in franchise history. And yet that club was actually powered by its pitching: all 9 of its primary hurlers logged a park-adjusted ERA+ that's better than league average, and the team ERA+ (114) is far more dominant than the team OPS+ (106).

Indeed, by that measure the 2000 Cardinals were a better offensive team (relative to league) than the 1930 club, with an OPS+ of 109. They set a new team record for homers (235), and Jim Edmonds became just the 4th player in franchise history to top 40 homers in a season (following Hornsby, Mize, and McGwire). Like most teams on the cusp of a dominant run, they had a bunch of good young players --- Drew, Renteria, Polanco, Tatis, Matt Morris, and Ankiel were all 25 or younger. Toss in two 30ish vets having career years (Edmonds and Vina) and a rotation that missed only 7 starts all season, and you've got yourself a championship team.

The 1930 Cardinals' superior pitching makes them a nominal favorite in the series, but these are pretty evenly matched teams with similar winning percentages and similar strengths. As a pennant winner, the 1930 club gets home-field advantage. Here are the lineups for Game 1:

2000 1930
Fernando Vina, 2b Taylor Douthit, cf
Edgar Renteria, ss Sparky Adams, 3b
Mark McGwire, 1b Frank Frisch, 2b
Jim Edmonds, cf Jim Bottomley, 1b
Ray Lankford, lf Chick Hafey, lf
Fernando Tatis, 3b George Watkins, rf
Eric Davis, rf Gus Mancuso, c
Mike Matheney, c Charlie Gelbert, ss
Darryl Kile, p Bill Hallahan, p

And here's the play by play:

After a quiet first inning, the series takes a jolt in the top of the 2d: Tatis draws a 1-out walk and then gets waved around 3d on the ensuing double by Eric Davis into the left-field corner. Hafey digs it out and hits the relay man, Gelbert; he turns and fires a bullet to Mancuso, who withstands a full-body collision w/ Tatis and hangs onto the ball; we're still scoreless. Kile sails through the powerful 1930 lineup, yielding only 1 hit (a harmless single to Sparky Adams) versus 7 groundball outs in the first three innings; in the 4th he gets nicked for a run, but he quashes a two-out rally in the 6th to keep the score 1-0.

And now the game gets interesting.

The slugging 2000 Cardinals haven't done much with Hallahan through 6 innings --- only 2 hits --- but they've made him work, drawing 5 walks. Will Clark, pinch-hitting for Kile, draws walk number 6 with one out in the 7th, pushing the tying run (Davis, aboard via a single) into scoring position. With two outs and ace reliever Hi Bell warm, he stays in to face Edgar Renteria, who batted just .182 in 2000 with two outs and men in scoring position. Edgar smokes a base hit to tie it up. Bell enters the game a batter too late to face McGwire, who muscles a Texas Leaguer into right-center to put the '00s in the lead.

Sim La Russa bypasses setup men Mike Timlin and Matt Morris to call on Mike James, who yields singles to two of the four men he faces. With the lead run at the plate he gives way to . . . . Heathcliff Slocumb??? He of the 5.44 ERA? Whatever; the WhatIf algorithm apparently factors in La Russa's penchant for the counterintuitive move. Slocumb promptly blows the lead on a double to Bottomley and a 2-run dinger to Hafey; it's 5-3 for the 1930s, and angry callers are already lining up for the call-in shows to rip Sim TLR a new one.

His opposite number, Sim Gabby Street, plays it by the book, bringing in Jim Lindsey (2d on the club in saves, with 5) to close out the win. Matheney greets him with a single; Drew sizzles a line drive into Gelbert's glove for the first out; and Vina doubles into the gap, putting the tying runs in scoring position for Renteria and McGwire. Street goes to Hal Haid, a late-season callup with a good ERA (4.09, 2d best among the relievers) in 33 innings; he winds and fires, and Renteria launches one deep to center. Might be, could be . . . . . it is. The 3-run bomb puts '00 back out in front and saves Sim Tony's bacon. Haid departs, Al Grabowski (no relation to Hrabosky) comes on, and the rally continues --- McGwire singles, Edmonds and Lankford walk, and Davis rips another double down the left-field line, clearing the bases and putting the game away. Matt Morris comes on with a 4-run cushion and puts 'em down in order, and that's your final: 2000 Cards 9, 1930 Cards 5.