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Tuesday, October 8
 
Useless information dept.

By Jayson Stark
ESPN.com

Useless competitive-balance information
Welcome to a postseason that obviously forgot to read the Blue Ribbon Panel report. Consider how that first round went:

  • Every series was won by the team with the lower payroll.

    Triviality
    Jason Giambi just became the third active player (and fifth in history) to hit a home run for and against the Yankees in the postseason. Can you name the other active player to do it. And for extra credit, try the other two who aren't active. (Answers below).

  • Every series was won by the team with fewer regular-season wins.

  • So none of the teams with the nine highest payrolls entering the season are still playing. (The Giants, at No. 10, are atop the payroll charts.)

  • And both of the AL finalists (Twins and Angels) have a payroll less than half the Yankees'. In fact, the Twins' payroll entering the season ($40.2 million) wasn't even one-third as high as the Yankees' ($125.9 million).

  • By the way, if this trend holds, we'd see a Cardinals-Twins World Series, with the Twins winning it. But we went back through 1977, and there were no postseasons in the last quarter-century in which the team with the lowest payroll won every series.

    Useless October oddity information
    It always amazes us the things that happen in October, that almost never happen during the season. Such as:

  • Over the last two regular seasons, Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling started back-to-back games 39 times. And the East Valley Tribune's Ed Price reports that only once did the Diamondbacks lose both games (this Aug. 30 and 31, to the Giants). But the Cardinals won Games 1 and 2 last week with those two starting back-to-back.

    Barry Zito
    Zito
    Mark Mulder
    Mulder
    Tim Hudson
    Hudson

  • Meanwhile, Oakland went through almost the entire regular season without losing back-to-back games to any team in games started by any combination of its Big Three (Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, Barry Zito). The Mariners finally ended that streak in Games 157 and 158. But then, with a 2-1 lead in the Division Series, the Twins beat Hudson and Mulder back-to-back.

    Back in the regular season, though, both of those Seattle games were lost by the bullpen after the starters departed with the lead. So no team had actually handed losses to any of those starters themselves in two straight games in Oakland's last 300 regular-season games. Last time it happened: the Yankees beat all three of them in a series in New York, April 27-29, 2001. Then it happened in the biggest postseason games of their careers. Amazing.

  • The Twins allowed the A's to score in the first inning in Games 1, 2 and 3 of their series. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Twins never were scored on in the first inning of any three consecutive games during the entire regular season.

  • Randy Johnson had no regular-season games in which he gave up double figures in hits. But he gave up 10 in six innings in Game 1 of the Cardinals series.

    Randy Johnson
    Starting Pitcher
    Arizona Diamondbacks
    Profile
    2002 SEASON STATISTICS
    GM W L IP K ERA
    35 24 5 260 334 2.32

  • The Unit had made 67 straight regular-season starts without ever racking up six more hits allowed than strikeouts in a start. But he had a 10-hit, four-whiff game against St. Louis. Last team the Unit had a start against like that in the regular season: (surprise) the Cardinals (11 hits, 4 Ks on April 8, 2001).

  • Schilling, meanwhile, gave up only one run in seven innings in his playoff start but still didn't win it. In the regular season, on the other hand, he has made 24 starts with the Diamondbacks in which he allowed one run or none in seven or more innings. He came out of all 24 of those starts with a win. Last regular-season start like that in which he didn't win: April 27, 1999, as a Phillie, when he dueled Denny Neagle and the Reds through nine 0-0 innings before the Phillies won in the 10th, 1-0. (Jeff Brantley, sitting in the ESPN studios analyzing last week's start, got the win in the previous start.)

  • Twins starter Rick Reed went into the postseason riding a streak in which he hadn't given up a home run to a right-handed hitter since July 17. But in his Game 3 start against Oakland, he allowed one to Jermaine Dye -- that put the A's ahead, 4-3, and turned out to be the winning run.

  • You have to go back six years (to June 8-13, 1996) and 228 starts to find the last time Tom Glavine gave up six or more runs in back-to-back regular-season starts. And one of those two was in Denver. But he allowed six and seven, respectively, in his two starts against the Giants.

  • Jarrod Washburn never gave up three home runs in any of his starts in the entire regular season. But he gave up three in Game 1 against the Yankees.

  • Troy Glaus had hit three regular-season home runs in Yankee Stadium in his career (83 at-bats). Then he hit three in two days in Games 1 and 2 in the playoffs.

    So next time somebody tells you playoff baseball is practically a whole different sport from regular-season baseball, feel free to whip out this list and prove it.

    More useless playoff information
    What were the odds? In between postseason games, the Angels played 2,527 regular-season games over 16 seasons. And incredibly, when they finally played their next postseason game, they were facing the same starter who pitched against them in their previous postseason game on Oct. 16, 1986 -- Roger Clemens. Almost impossible.

    So what were the odds? We didn't major in math, so we have no idea. But we do know this:

    In 1986, 110 pitchers started at least four games in the American League. This year, exactly two of them were still active -- Clemens and Jose Rijo (who took five years off in the middle of all that). Meaning it was pretty darned bizarre that the only possible starter who would have qualified to make both those starts was the guy they faced.

  • Speaking of Clemens, he was one of four Cy Young Award winners who started a game in this postseason. The others: Randy Johnson, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux. Those four have won a total of 16 Cy Youngs. And here was their record in this postseason, in five starts:

    25.33 IP, 40 H, 25 R, 24 ER, 16 BB, 16 K (for a 1-2 record, 8.53 ERA).

  • OK, let's expand that and look at this group of pitchers, all of whom have had dominant seasons of at least 18 wins within the last two years: Johnson, Glavine, Clemens, Curt Schilling, Tim Hudson, David Wells and Mike Mussina.

    That group combined to make nine starts in this postseason -- and win none of them. They went 0-5, with four no-decisions, 47 runs allowed (41 earned) in 43 2/3 innings and an 8.45 ERA. It's been that kind of October.

  • Have the Yankees ever lost to a more unlikely October opponent than the Angels? Before this meeting, the Yankees had won 41 postseason series, while the Angels had won six postseason games. The Yankees had won more World Series (26) than the Angels had played postseason games (16).

    The Yankees had played 83 postseason games just since the Angels had last played a postseason game. And Joe Torre owned more career postseason wins just while managing the Yankees (56) than the Angels pitchers who collected the three wins in this series (Jarrod Washburn and Francisco Rodriguez, who won twice) owned career regular-season wins (46).

    The Sultan's Corner
    Doug Mientkiewicz set one of the postseason's most sensational home run records Saturday. Those 12 letters he crams into his last name are the most ever by a guy who hit a postseason home run, according to the Sultan of Swat Stats, SABR's David Vincent. Here are all the previous October home run heroes with 10 or more letters in their names:
    11: Steve Lombardozzi, Roger Peckinpaugh, Carl Yastrzemski, Andy Etchebarren, Nomar Garciaparra.

    10: Roy Campanella, Bert Campaneris, Phil Cavarretta, Dave Concepcion, Jim Eisenreich, Ted Kluszewski, John Lowenstein, Mike Pagliarulo, Rico Petrocelli, Merv Rettenmund, Hardy Richardson, Danny Richardson, Bobby Richardson, Billy Southworth, Darryl Strawberry, Pete Incaviglia, Kevin McReynolds, Manny Sanguillen.

    Another first for Barry Bonds
    Bonds' three postseason homers before his Game 5 swat off Kevin Millwood came off Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz. Pretty cool group. Even though those three have pitched in a combined 97 postseason games, Bonds is the only man who has homered off all three of them, according to the Sultan. In fact, only four players have ever homered off any two of them:

  • Jay Bell (Glavine and Smoltz)
  • Vinny Castilla (Maddux and Smoltz)
  • Will Clark (Glavine & Maddux)
  • John Olerud (Maddux and Smoltz)

  • Of course, we cheated a little on that last note. Rodriguez became the first pitcher in history to collect the first two wins of his career in the postseason, according to Elias.

  • Finally, how rare was it for the Yankees to lose a postseason series to a franchise that had never won a postseason series? Here are the four previous times it had ever happened:

    1926: Lost World Series to St. Louis. 1955: Lost World Series to Brooklyn. 1980: Lost ALCS to Kansas City. 1995: Lost ALDS to Seattle.

  • We have no way of confirming this, but we're betting Bobby Cox is the all-time postseason record-holder in at least one department -- most intentional walks issued with first base occupied.

    When he added Barry Bonds to his list in Game 4, it was, incredibly, the ninth time he had intentionally walked a hitter in a postseason game while someone was already standing on first base, according to Elias' Ken Hirdt.

    Cox did it three times in the 1999 Division Series alone, in fact -- to Jeff Bagwell twice (in Game 1 and Game 3) and to Carl Everett in Game 1.

    Others on this prestigious list: George Brett (Game 4 of the 1985 ALCS), Kirby Puckett and Kent Hrbek (Game 7 of the 1991 World Series), Bernie Williams (Game 4 of the 1996 World Series, before Wade Boggs' game-winning unintentional walk from Steve Avery) and Charles Johnson (Game 6 of the 1997 NLCS).

  • A.J. Pierzynski got four hits in the first postseason game of his career last week. He is far from the first player to do that -- but he was just the third since 1960. The others, according to Elias: Luis Alicea in the 1995 ALDS (for Boston) and Johnny Damon in the 2000 ALDS (for Oakland).

  • Rough October for the Diamondbacks. They became just the sixth defending World Series champ to get swept in the postseason the next year. And the East Valley Tribune's Ed Price reports they were also the first team to win at least 98 games in the regular season and then get swept in either the LDS or LCS since the 1980 Yankees, a 103-win team that lost in three to the Royals.

  • The Yankees scored 25 runs in four games in their series against the Angels -- an average of 6.25 per game. That's more than they averaged in every one of the 13 postseason series they've won under Joe Torre, except for the 1998 World Series (when they scored 26 in four games).

    The problem, obviously, was how many they gave up. And as the New York Post's Joel Sherman observes, the Yankees gave up as many runs just in the Angels series (31) as they allowed in the entire postseason in 1999 (in 12 games).

  • Another gem that says it all from Joel Sherman: In Games 2 and 3 of the Angels series, Yankees pitchers got to 0-and-2 on 16 different hitters -- and gave up eight hits in those at-bats (versus only four strikeouts).

  • The Braves lost their Division Series despite outscoring the Giants, 26-24. Which might seem tough, except that, of the 10 postseason series the Braves have lost since 1991, they've outscored their opponents for the series in six of them. They also did it in the 1991 World Series, '92 World Series, '93 NLCS, '96 World Series and '97 NLCS. Which tells you they won the blowouts but lost the close ones in all those series. Hard to figure.

  • The 17 hits the Angels got in Game 2 are the most the Yankees had ever given up in a postseason game in Yankee Stadium. And while that game marked the only time in history the Yankees had ever lost a postseason game they led after seven innings in Yankee Stadium, it wasn't the only time they'd blown a lead in a game like that.

    Last time they gave up three or more runs in the eighth inning to blow a postseason lead in Yankee Stadium: the epic Game 5 of the 1976 ALCS. George Brett hit a game-tying three-run homer. Then Chris Chambliss hit an unforgettable walkoff home run in the bottom of the ninth.

  • The Braves are often compared to the 1950s Boys of Summer Dodgers, as a team that kept finishing first but won only one World Series. Here's the difference:

    Those Dodgers kept running into the same roadblock (the Yankees). As loyal reader Doug Greenwald points out, the Braves have played almost every team in the National League since their run began in 1991.

    Amazingly, the only two teams they haven't played in an October series since then are the only two franchises that haven't played any postseason series -- the Expos and Brewers. Here are their year-by-year opponents:

    Trivia answer
    Active: Giambi, Tino Martinez (hit one for Seattle in 1995) and David Justice (hit one for Cleveland in 1997 and '98). Inactive: Moose Skowron (hit one as a Dodger) and Enos Slaughter (as a Cardinal).

    1991-92: Pirates 1993: Phillies 1995: Rockies, Reds 1996: Dodgers, Cardinals 1997: Astros, Marlins 1998: Cubs, Padres 1999: Astros, Mets 2000: Cardinals 2001: Astros, Diamondbacks 2002: Giants

  • We still can't believe this one: The last time the Twins made the playoffs, they gave up one home run in the Metrodome in the entire postseason. This time around, they gave up more home runs than that before they got an out. (Ray Durham and Scott Hatteberg led off the game with homers, in case that had slipped your mind.)

  • Finally, reader Justin Petrosek reports that with the ouster of the Braves and Yankees, it means this is baseball's first Final Four in the division-play era that doesn't include at least one team from the fabulous Eastern time zone. Since 14 of the 30 teams play in that time zone, this is obviously harder than it might seem.

    Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com.





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