A sport like baseball goes through many transitions as the years of the sport continue to pass. These changes vary in content, but you cannot argue that it has transformed. For example, there are new rules implemented to cater to the high quality of play, all the way to the adding of the Designated Hitter. Some people would argue that, starting in the 1980’s, a transition of ball player type hit and carried all the way through the 1990’s.
Now we are in the 2000’s and are watching some of the greatest athletes of all time for the game of baseball (set aside the steroid argument for just a second) and some of the greatest teams of all time. In order to win, you must have a certain style of team nowadays. You can’t just ride the play of one stud to the playoffs; you need a team consisting of certain types of players.
With that being said, there seems to be a certain recipe that gets you to the World Series and even win it at times. Certain “must-haves” seem to be constants on World Series caliber teams. Those must-haves are good hitters and pitchers (think of those as the necessities when cooking, like the oven and the pans).
I started noticing this when Lou Piniella’s Mariners was by far the best team in baseball, posting an astonishing 116 wins in 2001, but ran into a determined and well-marinated Yankee team in the ALCS and fell short of their goal. Now don’t get me wrong, that was a good Yankee team, but in today’s game, best record does not mean ANYTHING; just ask the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals.
That St. Louis Cardinal team was 10½ games back with 32 games left! Are you kidding me?! Tony La Russa could have cooked that team at any temperature and nobody would have questioned if they had not made the playoffs looking at that roster, but he put that team on a low temperature and let them simmer until they were ready. All they needed was to get into the playoffs.
Joe Torre also started cooking up a managerial soufflé early on in his career and seemed to have mastered it with that 2001 Yankee team (even though they were ousted by that random Arizona Diamondback team that rode Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling to that championship).
Check back tomorrow to find out what Tony La Russa and Joe Torre threw into a pot and simmered to success. Do our Chicago Cubs or Chicago White Sox have what it takes? What ingredients do they need? Or do they need to go back to their garden and wait for their ingredients to grow? Or should they go to the store and see what they have there? These are all questions that our cities organizations need to think about, but in a more serious manor of course…
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