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I think the Braves are the team to beat in the NL, still.
How is Clint Hurdle as a manager? This is the second surprise team he's taken to the playoffs. Is he cromulent? Good? Just along for the ride on a really talented team?
The WC survivor will also get in all likelihood to play either the Braves (51-19 at home) or the Dodgers in a short series. There's a lot of upside to that division winner.
I'd suggest (and Loser Scores agrees) that the worst stretch in MLB history was the Phillies from 1918-1948, during which they managed just one winning season, at 78-76 in 1932, and lost at least 100 games on 12 different occasions, including five straight times from 1938-1942.
The best record and home field are not out of reach for the Central champ and avoiding both. Finishing ahead of LA is quite doable.
LA has three at Cincy this week. 14 of 24 on the road (where they have been great, to be sure). 2 games isn't a huge deficit over that span, although the Pirates play a pretty tough schedule.
But if they finish ahead of LA, they get HFA in the first round. I think that's useful enough. Not to mention, given the Braves play this afternoon, there's a very good chance of only being 3 off the pace by midnight. It's far from decided.
They really should shut Cole down soon. The Pirates have a good young team and will be in the postseason mix every year for the next several years.
One notable feature of pre-WWII baseball was how passive it was in letting stuff like this go on. A franchise, one of only eight in the National League, was allowed to be utterly noncompetitive and draw no fans (they were almost always last in attendance, officially reporting an average of 2-3,000 per game) for thirty years. Maybe they just made the other teams happy by showing up for their beatings.
Or I guess you could say 24 years, since Gerald Nugent was financially forced to sell the team in 1942 and they started to perk up after that, and especially postwar.
Good leader of men, good with the media, kind of shaky on tactics.
I can't say I'll ever fully 'get' her Phillies comment, but maybe it's a variation of Stockholm Syndrome.
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