Wow...I'm still taken aback about what has transpired today. As soon as I woke up I had to look at the alert on my phone several times. It serves as a harsh reminder that life is fragile and that picking up the gauntlet and carrying on is the most important thing to do. To Mr. Fernandez's wife, future son, family, teammates, fans, and anybody else affected by this tragedy (especially the other people on that boat and their families) I am truly sorry. In a day where Jose Fernandez and a legend like Arnold Palmer die and people like Vin Scully will never be heard announcing a game again it says how the world is going to change. Everything can change within a day and we may never truly recover, but we can move forward and make a great tomorrow. I always thought the problem with people like Bears fans is that they spend way to much focusing on the 1985 Super Bowl title, but they haven't won a championship since. It is all they have to talk about and being a Bears fan makes it hard to follow a team whose fan base is completely happy with looking back on what was. They never seemed to move forward and ownership was perfectly happy with that. That is not what I want to see happen to fans of Jose Fernandez and the Marlins. Win tomorrow's game, win the division, and win a championship for him. That is the best way to honor him. While the absolute worst part of such a young super star like this guy was is the wasted potential, but his legacy will inspire this team to win instead of looking back at what they have lost. R.I.P Jose Fernandez.
It's going to be hard for me to say something that somebody else hasn't already said about Vin Scully in this season alone. He was a difference maker, a voice of a team, and an all around great person. When I heard him announce I would almost exclusively listen to the stories he would tell, then the actual game being played. Instead of listing off his life history I would rather write a couple lines about how I feel Vin Scully changed baseball, but also let it stay the same...
It is really no one in baseball who had such a smooth voice as he did even in his late 80's. As I stated before his stories seemed like he had a connection to every player that was playing, that even the other announcers didn't know. He was a class act from anybody who I have heard talk about him and a great person. It is almost too bad that he would not be announcing post season games. I think it is absolutely fitting that was able to announce the game that the Dodgers clinched their 4th straight NL West title and a great way to send him off. He is still the only reminder of the Dodgers ancient history in Brooklyn which has been almost forgotten. His spirit never wavered and he will always be remembered as the best voice in baseball. Thank You Mr. Scully!
Since the beginning of baseball there have always been teams who can win a lot, while there are others who don't. Some examples may include the New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants, or the Los Angeles Dodgers. Most of these teams are considered big market teams meaning they have a high budget and can pay their players a lot of money. Most of the time being a big market team translates into more success. There are, however, some anomalies to this theory for example the St. Louis Cardinals have been considered a small market, or perhaps a middle of the road, team and still have the second most World Series titles in the MLB (11 titles) as well as being consistent playoff contenders. How is this possible? Well I think the past holds a key to the future for small market teams, so here are a few times small market teams that have surpassed the "small market" image to become big winners.
Let's start with the definition of a small market team. A small market team is generally one who cannot afford to pay incredibly high prices for players regardless of how good they are. Small market teams are generally harder to run because the margin of error in the draft, free agency, or scouting in incredibly small. A General Manager of a small market team must be spot on with decision making because a bad decision tends to follow a team for a long time. Look at a team like the Oakland Athletics, they have a hard time signing players because theoretically the market for said players may be really good and Oakland may not be able to give them as much money as a bigger market team. How does a team get out of something like this? They get creative...
Connie Mack in the dugout for the Philadelphia Athletics
In the early part of the 1900's the Philadelphia Athletics struggled to find money. Under the leadership of Connie Mack the team did well some years, while other years they didn't do very well at all. That is because Connie Mack and the brain trust in the Athletics' early system would find great amateur players and bring them to the majors. After having a start in Philadelphia, these players usually would follow the money elsewhere leaving the Athletics in the dust.
Branch Rickey with St. Louis Cardinal Players
The St. Louis Cardinals suffered from a similar problem. They had to compete with the New York Yankees in the 1930's where they had to try to buy the better players. As has become the norm, the Yankees had much deeper pockets so the General Manager, Branch Rickey, then concocted a crazy scheme to have a farm system of players that are drafted and brought up through a Minor League by the St. Louis Cardinals, instead of paying a bunch of money for free agents. This is what helped the Cardinals keep up with the Yankees for so long. The idea was so revolutionary that every team eventually adopted the idea, even the big market teams, again leaving us with the same theory as before. That big market teams win more because they have more money.
Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson
Branch Rickey decides to change the face of baseball again. After he leaves the Cardinals he becomes the General Manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers. It is here that he signs the first black baseball players and goes on to win the pennant and eventually a World Series (even though he wasn't the GM it was mainly with players he drafted and signed). Again Rickey makes a winner out of a predominately losing organization.
Bill James with the Boston Red Sox
Fast way forward to 2002 in Oakland. Billy Beane and Paul DePodesta try to solve the same problem that has plagued baseball for well over a century. They read some books by Bill James who came up with the idea of looking at players statistics more than trusting the intuition of a scout. This idea turned the sport on its head yet again. Teams will draft players and take out the fact that they may be old or not look the part because that sort of thing doesn't matter in baseball. Statistics have cut straight through the idea of compartmentalizing a player based on shallow flaws or short comings. These principles have been put to the test and have taken the Boston Red Sox out of the woods and made them winners, ending their championship drought. These principles are also being put to use in teams like the Chicago Cubs and the Houston Astros where both are looking very different then they usually do. The problem is big market teams like the Cubs and the San Francisco Giants are running their teams in ways such as this.
With big market teams running their teams on farm systems and using SABERmetrics to evaluate players it is the big question that faces baseball going forward. How will small market teams be able to compete with big budgets? This takes an incredibly creative GM who isn't afraid of failure or risk. With that, I leave you with a quote from Branch Rickey "Luck is the residue of design".