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Braves’ [stuff] doesn’t work in the playoffs, either

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The Athletics have been something of a punching bag over the years because executive vice president and president of baseball operations Billy Beane was famously quoted in Moneyball saying, “My [stuff] doesn’t work in the playoffs. My job is to get us to the playoffs. What happens after that is […] luck.”

Since 2000, the A’s have reached the playoffs 10 times. They have advanced into the ALCS just once, in 2006, when they were swept out by the Tigers. They’re 1-6 in the Division Series and 0-3 in the AL Wild Card game, accounting for their last three playoff losses (2014, ’18-19). To call their performance in the playoffs disappointing would be an understatement.

The A’s, however, are not the only team whose [stuff] doesn’t work in the playoffs. The Twins, who were just swept out of the ALDS by the Yankees, haven’t reached the ALCS since 2002. They have failed in their last six appearances in the ALDS — mostly against the Yankees — and lost the AL Wild Card game in 2017 as well (to the Yankees).

The Nationals, playing in another NLDS Game 5 tonight, have lost the Division Series four times since 2012, three of which went to a decisive Game 5. Even the Expos hadn’t reached the NLCS since 1981.

The Braves, who fell behind 10-0 after the first inning in Game 5 of the NLDS against the Cardinals tonight, haven’t reached the NLCS since 2001. They will have lost in the NLDS eight consecutive times and memorably lost the 2012 NL Wild Card game.

The failures of these teams, in some cases, span decades. They span different front office regimes, coaches, managers, and players. The Twins aren’t 2-16 against the Yankees in the playoffs since 2002 because the Yankees discovered some magic anti-Twins serum and now the Twins quake in their boots every time they face the Yankees in October. The playoffs, to paraphrase Beane, are based a lot on luck. Sometimes an umpire’s call doesn’t go your way, like when Phil Cuzzi called what would have been a Joe Mauer double a foul ball in the 2009 ALDS. Sometimes a bounce doesn’t go your way, like when Juan Soto‘s single took an unexpected hop for Brewers right fielder Trent Grisham, allowing an additional two runs to score, deciding the 2019 NL Wild Card game.

The regular season schedule calls for 162 games because increasing your sample size helps push aside the fog created by randomness. The Division Series only affords us five games max, and the Championship Series and World Series only seven games max. Having such a small sample size means variance will often reign supreme. This is, somewhat, by design. Winning in the playoffs at all is hard. Doing it consistently is even more difficult. While early exits by the Braves and Twins this year will add to their ignominy, it should also increase our respect for teams like the Cardinals, Giants, Yankees, and Red Sox that have had sustained October success over the years.

Source: Indians’ Plesac sent home after protocol misstep

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
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Indians pitcher Zach Plesac was sent back to Cleveland on Sunday in a rental car after violating team rules and Major League Baseball’s coronavirus protocols, a club official told the Associated Press.

The official said the 25-year-old Plesac went out with friends in Chicago on Saturday night following his win against the White Sox. The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, said the team got Plesac a car so he wouldn’t be around teammates in the event he contracted the virus.

It is not known if Plesac has been tested since breaking the team’s code of conduct. He will be isolated from the team and can not take part in team activities until he twice tests negative for COVID-19.

The Athletic first reported Plesac was sent home.

Indians team president Chris Antonetti is expected to address Plesac’s situation following the team’s game in Chicago on Sunday night.

Major League Baseball has been emphasizing the need for players to be more careful and follow its protocols in the wake of coronavirus outbreaks with the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals. The episode with Plesac, the nephew of former big league reliever Dan Plesac, is the most high-profile evidence of baseball’s increasing concern about its guidelines.

Last month, Plesac, who has become a reliable starter for the Indians, spoke of the importance of players abiding to the “code of conduct” that every team was required to submit to MLB in hopes of the 60-game regular season taking place.

“Definitely any time you can maintain social distancing is going to be what we have to focus on,” Plesac said July 3. “There are common sense situations, where you see things are packed, or going out to the bars and drinking – doing stuff like that isn’t stuff that’s really important to us right now and shouldn’t be important to us right now.

“We’re given this privilege to be able to come back and play and given this short window to even play. It’s a good time now just to really buckle down and focus on what’s important and work toward something greater at the end of the season and for these couple months, lock in and focus on what we have set for us at the end of the year.”

Plesac didn’t allow a run and limited the White Sox to five hits in six innings on Saturday to improve to 1-1.

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