Periodic Table

Chemistry Watch: The Giants and Marlins claim to have it

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Ah, team chemistry. The ultimate example of post hoc ergo propter hoc in baseball. We always credit winning teams with having it after the fact and, in most cases, attribute the actual winning to the chemistry. And if you try to fight against that you get a million people saying, in effect, “scoreboard!”

With that in mind, Brandon Belt had this to say when asked about all the moves the Dodgers made in the offseason:

When Belt was asked about the free-spending Los Angeles Dodgers, he replied, to a thunderous ovation, “All I can say is, you can’t buy chemistry.” That statement will be sure to end up on a few blue bulletin boards.

Hey, if you want to say that the Giants won two of the past three World Series because of team chemistry as opposed to good pitching, timely hitting and a roster full of talented ballplayers that’s your prerogative. I’m eager to see you show me exactly what it was about those teams that evidences good chemistry that was not a product of, as opposed to a cause of, winning. But you can credit chemistry all you want.

But maybe we don’t need that. Maybe we’ll have an actual example of a team with great chemistry that is not attributable to winning: the Miami Marlins, who Joe Capozzi writes are all about character and chemistry and all of that stuff going forward. And character matters! Just ask coach Tino Martinez:

Although the 2013 Marlins are young and inexperienced, new hitting coach Tino Martinez said he sees parallels with the New York Yankees team he played on that won the 1996 World Series.

“We didn’t have a lot of superstars. We had a young Derek Jeter, a young Bernie Williams, a young Andy Pettitte. We had a great group of guys who worked hard every day,” Martinez said.

Sure. That was all about attitude. It had nothing to do with the fact that the team had no less than three first ballot Hall of Famers on it and multiple other players who either will be in the Hall of Fame or who will stay on Hall of Fame ballots for many years.

Anyway: let’s watch the Marlins’ chemistry all year and see if it maintains on a 90+ loss team. And, if for some reason the Giants don’t make the playoffs this year, let’s make a point to see when, exactly, the chemistry left them.

What’s on Tap: Previewing Thursday’s action

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 16: Starting pitcher J.A. Happ #33 of the Toronto Blue Jays delivers a pitch in the seventh inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on June 16, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images
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Did you know J.A. Happ is in the thick of the American League Cy Young Award race? Of all the contenders, he may be the biggest surprise, even ahead of Drew Pomeranz. Happ leads the league with 17 wins and only has three losses to go with it. He’s holding a 3.05 ERA and a 133/44 K/BB ratio in 150 1/3 innings.

It wasn’t all that long ago that Happ was struggling to stay in a starting rotation. In 2011, his first full season with the Astros, he finished with a 5.35 ERA. In 2012, he put up a 4.79 ERA with the ‘stros and Blue Jays. The next year? 4.56 followed by 4.22, both with the Jays. Then, with the Mariners, he continued the mediocrity with a 4.64 ERA before he was traded to the Pirates.

Under the tutelage of Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage, Happ turned his career around. In 11 starts in Pittsburgh, the lefty had a microscopic 1.85 ERA. That came with significant improvements in his strikeout and walk rates. Even the ERA retrodictors like FIP and xFIP, which had so often agreed with his uninspiring ERA’s, agreed that he had thrown like an elite hurler. So that’s how we arrived at J.A. Happ, Cy Young Award contender.

Among AL starters, Happ is fifth-best in ERA behind Cole Hamels, Jose Quintana, Aaron Sanchez, and Steven Wright. However, his 17-3 record is equaled only by Rick Porcello. As there are still a significant number of voters in the Baseball Writers Association of America who consider won-lost record, Happ is sitting in a good position and will be even better if he can cross the coveted 20-win threshold. He’ll get a bit of a boost as well if he can help the Jays return to the postseason for a second consecutive season.

Happ’s Jays will host the hapless — and Happ-less — Angels on Thursday evening. He’ll take on veteran Jered Weaver in a 7:07 PM EDT start.

The rest of Thursday’s action…

Baltimore Orioles (Ubaldo Jimenez) @ Washington Nationals (Max Scherzer), 7:05 PM EDT

Kansas City Royals (Edinson Volquez) @ Miami Marlins (Tom Koehler), 7:10 PM EDT

New York Mets (Seth Lugo) @ St. Louis Cardinals (Adam Wainwright), 7:15 PM EDT

Cleveland Indians (Josh Tomlin) @ Texas Rangers (Cole Hamels), 8:05 PM EDT

Pittsburgh Pirates (Chad Kuhl) @ Milwaukee Brewers (Wily Peralta), 8:10 PM EDT

Seattle Mariners (James Paxton) @ Chicago White Sox (Anthony Ranaudo), 8:10 PM EDT

Atlanta Braves (Matt Wisler) @ Arizona Diamondbacks (Robbie Ray), 9:40 PM EDT

San Francisco Giants (Matt Moore) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (Ross Stripling), 10:10 PM EDT

Let’s play the “how long has it been since the Cubs won the World Series?” game!

1908 Cubs
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It started with a no-good St. Louis Cardinals fan being a troublemaker. That no-good Cardinals fan was Drew Silva, who began things innocently enough, noting that, despite their dominance this season, any team can theoretically beat the Chicago Cubs in a short series because that’s just how baseball goes:

Cubs fans started giving him guff for that, so Drew gave some back:

And with that it was on like Donkey Kong (a super old video game which was not invented for another 73 years after the Cubs last won the World Series). I tweeted this:

And with that, my followers went crazy. Here’s a sampling of some of the best ones:

And, for that matter . . .

Too soon. Unlike the last Cubs World Series title.

Like I said, this was just a sampling. I’ve retweeted a ton more on my timeline and those I didn’t retweet can be seen in the replies here. My favorite one may have been “literally the invention of sliced bread,” which debuted in 1912, but I can’t find that tweet.

Please, Cubs fans, have a sense of humor about this. You have a wonderful ballpark that is not named after a third tier mortgage company, a grand history that is fantastic even if it hasn’t featured any championships and a future that is as bright or brighter than any other team out there. Maybe even come up with some of your own in the comments! History is fun! As is self-deprecation! What I’m saying is don’t be salty about this sort of thing. Salty is a bad look.

In other news, the Morton Salt Company was incorporated in 1910, two years after the Cubs last World Series victory.