Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Aramis Ramirez is not a leader of men, redux

I'm glad you're all reading, and talking. This is good. A good thing, man. But good lord, I read some things that I never thought I would see here.

Just for the record, I never played pro sports, no. I spent 8 years in organized baseball and 9 years in organized basketball. I earned three varsity letters in high school. Like someone said, that has jack to do with what the Sorianos and Theriots of the world deal with. But I also have several years of college education dealing with the motivations of humans to act the way they act. I also have undergone over a decade of intense psychotherapy, and have read with no exaggeration about half the books they have ever written on the subject. It's fascinating, really, to get to understand why people do what they do. Maybe you think I should have read the other half of the books - or maybe you think I shouldn't have cracked open even a single one of them crazy-assed things.

But maybe, just maybe, you ought to consider the fact that the guys wearing the laundry of your favorite team are just people, have good days and bad days, have egos, rub against each other mentally, and otherwise affect one another. Someone else said if they had won the whole magilla, there would have been leadership. True, we would have talked about it, but, Dude, sorry, it just don't happen that way. If there would have been leadership, they would have won. Stuff just don't happen for no reason. There is ALWAYS a reason why things happen. Like I said, your Manager is fine for regular season leadership, but when the pressure is the greatest, then you have to have active leaders, too. We were hoping that Ramirez was that man. So far, at least, he hasn't shown it in the postseason, and his statements of the past week do NOT lead us to think that IF he gets the chance in the NLDS again in 2009, that things will work any better than they did in 2007 or 2008. That was my point yesterday.

Anyway, another misconception I may (or may not) have caused is that I did not enjoy this season. I enjoyed it as much as I have enjoyed any season since 1984, how's that? What that means is, while I enjoyed 8-run comebacks against Colorado and pinch-hit bombs by the Fat Kangaroo like we all did, keep in mind that I tempered my enthusiasm against the notion that all of it meant nothing unless we won a pennant. I have written this column before - if you are a day-to-day kind of person, then the 2008 Cubs gave you more opportunities to cheer than most. But I'm not a day-to-day person, as you are about to see.

The biggest line of garbage from yesterday's comments, surprisingly, was NOT China's assertion that "we just lost six games to six very good pitchers". I had a problem with that, sure, but at least there is a grain of truth there...they were six decent pitchers we lost to. Otherwise they wouldn't be starting in the NLDS. No, the thing that is sticking in my craw now is the comment "All of this for 6 games? It's one week on the regular season schedule."

Um.

I'm hoping beyond hope that you meant to say something else, and it just came out wrong. God knows I do that all the time. So I'm giving you the benefit, friend. There's several ways we can interpret this particular comment, and the way I am interpreting it is "I enjoyed watching the 85 wins that we DID get last year, and the 97 wins we DID get this year, and this was just six games we lost. Every game is the same, to me".

Maybe I'm wrong. I HOPE I'M WRONG. I hope to gatdamn hell that isn't what you are saying. Because, come in close here, lemme tell you, come here...

PLAYOFF GAMES ARE NOT THE SAME AS REGULAR SEASON GAMES!!!!

I haven't named names, because I can't look into your heart and head and know for sure what you truly think. But just in case anybody actually AGREED with his/her particular sentiment, I am going to make this plainly clear to each and all of you. Here is the anthem, throw all your hands up, here is my manifesto:

If you truly believe that all games are created equal, that a 5-2 win in April against the Washington Nats brings you as much satisfaction than a win in the NLDS, that Jim Hendry, Randy Bush, Lou Pinella, Larry Rothschild, Alan Trammel, Gerald Perry, and the Cubs players are simply here to provide you entertainment on a day-to-day basis, that there isn't any master plan in place, no higher purpose to their efforts than just whether or not they can win on the day you come in or tune in...

...then I gotta tell you. You're NOT my friend, you're a freakin' mindless, drooling idiot who shouldn't be allowed to touch sharp objects. Your daddy shoulda wore a rubber. Your momma shoulda kept her damn legs closed. I will never buy you a beer, I will never ask you what time it is, and I don't want to share the same air you breathe. I don't want you reading this blog, and I don't want to have to deal with the inanity you might have to spew on the comments.

This is what Political Correctness has wrought. This is what happens when they abolished corporal punishment in the home as well as in the schools. This is what happens when all indiscretions are responded to by the "time out". This is what happens when they started letting kids hit off of a tee, letting coaches pitch to their own players during games, and stopped keeping score during games. A listless, namby-pamby psychologically fragile lot who are utterly incapable of keeping their eyes on the prize. A bunch of emotionally stunted consumers who only have the mental capactity to live for the now, and have no interest in tomorrow.

Go to BCB, go suck up to Al, go rub up against your own kind. The rest of us will stay here, and try to figure out how to fix this gatdamn thing.

Kurt Is Right!!

Who knows if having that guy on the team would've made any difference? Being a leader doesn't mean you have these mystical powers to always get the big hit or win the close game. But having that guy around is important. The Cubs need that guy. Unfortunately, they aren't easily available. That doesn't mean the Cubs can't win, but when they do, it will be because somebody stepped up and played the hero.

Is Manny Ramirez a leader of

Is Manny Ramirez a leader of men then? Because from what you've suggested in your last two posts, Manny is not a leader. He takes days off, he doesn't always hustle, he says OUT LOUD to the PRESS that baseball is just a game, and if you lose today you just win tomorrow, no big deal.

And yet no other baseball player in this generation has been so recognized for clutch postseason hitting, for making the teams he plays for better, etc etc cliche cliche. Given this, it seems like leadership is less important than, you know, talent.

If you say you want a more talented cleanup hitter than Aramis Ramirez, that's fine. I feel like there's a very small (and expensive) pool of those players out there, but that's fine. But this "Aramis is not a leader" crap is ridiculous.

Also, "The rest of us will stay here, and try to figure out how to fix this gatdamn thing."

How exactly do you, yourself, plan on fixing the situation? Do you have the ear of Jim Hendry, Lou Piniella, or anyone in the Cubs front office staff? Are you the agent of any high profile free agent the Cubs might be targeting this offseason? What good is all this angst doing other than raising your blood pressure? It's a fucking game. Settle down.

Playoff games are the same as regular season games...

...in that they're all still baseball and that it takes the same basic thing to win baseball games no matter when they're played: score more runs than you allow.

That's it. There's no "secret sauce" or magic bullet to make a team win in the playoffs. The team that wins in the playoffs isn't necessarily the best team - it's whoever plays the best at the time - but you'll make the most money in Vegas betting on the good teams, because good teams are more likely to play well than other teams.

It's true that for a variety of reasons playoff games are more meaningful. But baseball is baseball is baseball. Baseball doesn't change in October, merely how we react to it.

If I accomplish one thing in my tenure here, Colin...

...I will convince you (and all) that YES, there is secret sauce that helps win playoff games.

The stakes ARE different, the pressure IS different, and the demands on the players IS different. Thus, it becomes a different game.

And HELL NO, Manny Ramirez is not a leader of men, either. Big Papi is, tho.

Cool

Looking forward to the convincing.

I must confess, I am but a caveman. So if you can help me understand what the secret sauce is, I would be in your debt.

What would you say is that secret sauce? Why didn't David Ortiz get his team to win the world series? Is it possible you're just making things up?

If you feel like I'm being too open ended, if you could provide me with maybe 5 to 10 names of teams with 'secret sauce' and then 5 to 10 players who were leaders of men, that would be outstanding and provide some tangible examples to illustrate your point.

Thanks for your time.

"...I will convince you (and

"...I will convince you (and all) that YES, there is secret sauce that helps win playoff games. "

What's the important keyword in this example that you're missing?

"Helps." There are a variety of factors that helps a team win. Nothing guarantees victory.

Um, ok

I didn't realize I was missing an important keyword in my quest for the secret sauce recipe.

So, what would you say are the variety of factors that do help a team win? Maybe I can marry up your explanation of these factors with Rob's Secret Saucers, when they're provided, to really nail down what it takes and identify all who have it.

I very much look forward to your list.

Thanks in advance.

Isn't part of the 'secret sauce'...

Momentum?

It seems that many of the teams in recent past that have had successful Septembers and reached the playoffs, have had pretty decent postseason success.

The Dodgers seemed to be on a bit of a roll whereas our team was not. Yes, we were playing pretty decent ball like we were for the majority of the year. But by the end of the regular season, the Dodgers pitchers & a certain midseason acquisition were en fuego.

The Angels (granted play in the weakest division) were throttled by the Red Sox. The Rockies rumbled into the post season when they made the series. A couple years ago, the Cardinals peaked at the right time.

But like i said...it's only one of the ingredients of the 'secret sauce'.

Well, let's test it.

So's as we're clear - would "win-loss record in September" serve as a reasonable measure of momentum for everybody? Or does anybody have an alternate definition they would care to proffer instead?

It contributes to the

It contributes to the formula, I'm sure, but it's not the end-all be-all.

Take a look at the '08 Cubs for example. They went into their worst slide of the season in early September, and they didn't play great ball toward the end, either, but they won the games they needed to and their final games of the season were played with backups and hangers-ons. It's hard to say that said weak play contributed to their downfall, since it was at least partly planned that way.

Right now I'm just looking to define...

...who HAS momentum. Then I'll look at seeing whether or not it matters. The two ideas I have right now are:

* W-L record in September
* Weighted W-L record in September, where the more recent games count more.

Momentum is

important for sure and can play a critical role in victory, but I don't think momentum exists in any greater space of time than one game, if for that long.

Not that my experience is of any great import, but I was fortunate enough to have baseball pay for my college education. It was at that time that I actually realized that I better pay a little more attention to my studies as I was never going to be the next "Mick". Yeah, I'm that old that the Commerce Comet, was my idol.

Baseball IMHO, is the most cerebral of all sports and anyone who doesn't think when the playing field is most equal as in the playoffs, that heads up players don't make a difference are most likely not equating those situations with certain times in their own life.

How many times have you had an opportunity pass you by because your head wasn't in tune with your surroundings at work? You know, that networking opportunity you let slip by, or your lack of that little bit of extra effort that didn't land you the promotion at work you wanted?

Most of us have worked for various employers where in some cases the work environment was stifling, while other employers encouraged our very best and the same is true in baseball. We know the organizations that continually produce quality players and the ones that don't.

These games aren't played on paper and when the rubber hits the road, those most prepared usually succeed, even if at times it's possible for the hand of God to come down and annoint the most unlikely of hero.

Isn't baseball a grand game? I for one am glad it's many nuances can elicit such passion in me and the only defined lines are foul.

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