Saturday, June 27, 2009

Murray's Not So Magnificent, Either

It's been awhile since we've looked in on our friend Murray Chass...

By Murray Chass

I've said this before, but it kills me that Chass has to add a byline to each story he writes on HIS OWN BLOG.

As the mid-point of the season approaches, the Mets do not seem prepared to attain the position they need to avoid a third consecutive late-season collapse.

This is painful. I mean, this is a mess of a sentence. And technically, it's wrong--the Mets are 1 1/2 games behind the Phillies in the NL East. If the Mets stay that way, they'll avoid a late season collapse by never being ahead.

Before the season began, I boldly proclaimed that the Mets could exorcise the Phillies from their shattered psyches forever more if they built an 18-game lead with 17 games to play.

Oh, so this is about your goofy prediction. Except that what you've written isn't much of a prediction, it's merely an obvious statement. If Chass had written "I boldly proclaimed the Mets would be happy if they won the NL East this season," he'd have said the same thing.

And would the Mets "exorcise the Phillies from their shattered psyches forever more" if they had a 25-game lead over the Phillies with 17 to play, or does it have to be an 18-game lead?

The 17-games-to-go juncture, after all, was the point of the schedule the Mets reached the last two years leading the National League East before they did their Phillies fade. They led Philadelphia by 7 games with 17 to go in 2007 and by 3 ½ games with 17 to go last year, and they finished first neither time.

Note the big 'ol [sic] that belongs with "neither."

I'll give Chass the point that blowing the 7-game lead with 17 to play in 2007 qualifies as a collapse, but losing a 3 1/2-game lead in 2008? I'd say that Chass was just using the 17-games to play mark as an arbitrary number to make 2008 identical to 2007, but the Mets' biggest division lead in 2008 was on September 10, with 17 games remaining.

But I will say that losing a 3 1/2 game lead with 17 left is not much of a collapse. The Mets went 7-10 over those final 17 games. Not exactly great baseball, but not a full-scale chokefest. The Phillies went 13-3 over their last 16 games to take the division. I know that media pundits like to focus on the negative and Chass is New York-focused, but I think the more accurate thing to say about 2008 is that the Phillies took the division, rather than the Mets having collapsed.

It seemed to make sense, then, that the Mets would have to take drastic action to avoid a three-peat; building an 18-game lead seemed to be pretty drastic. Right now it’s impossible, too.

Building an 18-game lead is not doing something "drastic;" it's a goal every team has. I mean, who wouldn't want to go 122-40 and eliminate the rest of your division before Labor Day?

And I know Chass is no slave to accuracy, but the Mets trail the Phillies by 1 1/2 games in the NL East with 89 games remaining. I think it's mathematically possible--i.e., the opposite of impossible, as Chass says--for the Mets to build an 18-game lead at some point.

Bruised, battered and broken, the Mets remain in the division race only through the generosity of the Phillies, who may be repaying past favors.

So Chass is suggesting that the Phillies are intentionally losing games?

For example, after losing two of three games to the Phillies 10 days ago, the Mets lost two of three games each to the Yankees and the Orioles and were in danger of falling so far behind that even with more than half the season to go they would have been hard pressed to catch the Phillies.

But the Phillies lost five of six to the Red Sox and the Blue Jays, enabling the Mets to gain a game on them, and the Mets gained yet another game Friday night, slicing their deficit to two games.

Yeah, those Phillies sure are underachieving! How can a team lose five out of six to teams like the Red Sox and Blue Jays? I mean, the Red Sox only have the best record in the American League. And the Blue Jays are well over .500--they'd be in the lead now in 4 out of the 6 MLB divisions.

Perhaps the Phillies aren't winning because the have their own set of problems. Closer Brad Lidge has been on the disabled list. Jimmy Rollins has been in a season-long slump. Even the Phillie Phanatic has been less phanatical. Yes, the Mets are fortunate, but it's not because the Phillies are waiting on them.

The Mets remain in the race despite encountering a multitude of problems, including a season-long siege of injuries, an offense too impotent to put teams away and a bullpen that is vastly improved over last year’s but still capable of relinquishing late-inning leads.

Almost EVERY bullpen is "capable of relinquishing late-inning leads." That sentence says nothing.

Chass then goes on to detail the Mets' injury woes this season. The beginning of the article sets the tone as if the Mets have underachieved all season; Chass then goes on to undermine the tone HE set and shows the very legitimate reasons the Mets have struggled.

Murray, ever hear of story unity?

In the meantime, while the Mets tread water awaiting the return of their injured starters, they need to figure out how to convert late-inning leads into victories. In the space of nine recent days, leading to the weekend, they lost four games which they led after the fifth inning.

After the fifth inning? That's barely half the game! That's like saying the Los Angeles Lakers can't finish because they've lost four games in which they led with 11 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter.

The Phillies have lost three games in the last 10 days in which they led after the fifth inning. The Dodgers--who have the best record in baseball--lost two such games in the last 10 days. I know that I've only looked at two other teams, but I think it's enough to show that his "statistic" is not very informative. Especially when Murray's next line is this:

The losses resulted from a combination of their relief pitchers giving up runs and their hitters shutting down and not producing late-inning add-on runs.

I suggest that ALL losses for a team result from a combination of its pitchers giving up runs and its hitters not producing. Again, Chass says nothing meaningful in his analysis. This is a recording.

So what did we learn today? That the Phillies are still in first place, but not by much. That the Mets have had a lot of injuries. That the Mets would like to win a division title, which makes them no different than any other team (possible exception: the Washington Nationals). And that Murray Chass doesn't know a lot about baseball.

In other words: absolutely nothing.

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Blogger Zinglebert Bembledack said...

This is why I generally refer to Murray's website as "Murray Chass - An Idiot- On Baseball."

June 29, 2009 at 1:26 PM  
Blogger Zinglebert Bembledack said...

Hey! We just crossed the 200-post threshold! Let keep the momentum rolling folks!

June 29, 2009 at 1:27 PM  
Blogger Slut Bunwalla said...

Technically, we're at 198. But close...

June 29, 2009 at 6:58 PM  

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