21 August 2007

Wild Card Speculations and Rick Monday Observations

by Joshua Worley

1. The NL wild card will not come out of the central.

It's not that neither the Cubs or the Brewers can't catch the Padres and the Phillies, the current front-runners for the NL wild card. But for a NL central team to win the wild card, two central teams have to surpass the leading wild card team. That's not very likely to happen.

1a. Rick Monday has the strangest way to announcing. He's the master of bizarre segway. ( I spelled segue wrong on purpose, to make it even more bizarre. ) Often when he is forced to interrupt his meandering stories with a description of the action, he'll work in a reference to what he was talking about previously. For instance, a hypothetical scenario in which Monday is talking about belts and Pierre hits a grounder to short: "And that's why Craig Nettles refused to wear a belt --- and speaking of belts, Pierre belts a ball to the shortstop, who scoops up the grounder and throws for the out."

Here is an example Monday just said at the end of the top of the first. A bizarre segway, in which he feels compelled to repeat a word even though doing so doesn't really make any sense. "It may have been a delayed steal, but nothing is delayed as the Dodgers take the lead ..."

2. The order of finish in the NL east will be Mets, Braves, Phillies.

The Mets are five games clear of both the Braves and Phillies, so that part of the prediction is fairly safe. Why the Braves over the Phillies? First, because the Braves seem to be a slightly better team than the Phillies on paper. Both offenses are superb, but the Braves pitching is slightly better. The Braves have a higher third order winning percentage according to Baseball Prospectus. Second, because the Braves seem to have an easier schedule than the Phillies. The Braves out-of-division games are all against the central, while the Phillies get the west for their out-of-division games. I'm thinking the west teams are overall tougher.

2a. Speaking of divisions, Rick Monday used to shift Todd Zeile into a different division, alphabetically speaking. ( That sentence was meant as an homage to Monday's style. ) He called him Todd a-Zeile. He always added an "ah" right before the Z sound. This is nothing compared to what he'll do to a year sometimes. When Monday is moved to say a year in full, but it just won't come smoothly out of his mouth, he'll lubricate it liberally with extra syllables. For instance, 1999 = ah-nineteen and ah-ninety nine. There's nothing wrong with this, really --- I just always thought it was amusing that a professional broadcaster did this.

3. If the Dodgers can catch and pass the Padres, they will win the wild card.

This is the shakiest prediction --- so far. I base it on an assumption that the Padres will NOT collapse down the stretch. I think the Dodgers will have to play very well to pass the Padres, and in so doing they would also by necessity have to pass the Phillies and the Braves. I think the pitching of the Braves and Phillies will fail those teams enough to keep them from breaking out past the Padres.

3a. Rick Monday's full name is Robert James Monday.

4. The Dodgers will win the wild card.

Yes, I'm still delusional.

4a. I'm not sure, but I think Monday just called Cole Hamels "Whole Camels".

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