Schadenfreude: (n) enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others.
As they say, what goes around…
The Braves’ epic 2011 collapse, completed a couple of weeks ago, was brought about by many factors. When one takes a reasonable, impartial view of the season, it is plainly evident that Major League Baseball devised an elaborate conspiracy to exponentially increase the entropy of the game. Their motive was obvious: to spite the legions of fantasy players and SABR apologists who thought they finally had the game reduced to a predictable state. Some points to consider:
- In 2010, the Braves were the best team in the National League at getting on base (.339). A year later, with largely the same team, Atlanta was next to last in that same category (.308).
- Boston and Atlanta, which each had ~10 game leads in the wild card with about a month left in the season, each lost their leads on the last game of the season. The Rays came back from 7 runs down to the Yankees to win and complete their comeback.
- The teams with the top two payrolls, the Phillies (with their powerhouse rotation) and Yankees (with their stacked lineup), were both eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.
- And finally, the biggest point of evidence. In 2010 with the Braves, Melky Cabrera batted .255 with 4 homers and 27 doubles. In 2011, he batted .305 with 18 homers and 44 doubles with the Royals.
So how did MLB pull off this seemingly impossible feat? First, they ensured no one was watching by pricing their MLB.tv service unreasonably high, overloading it with advertisements, and still blacking out every other game. The rest was easy with a bit of simple bribery: Fredi Gonzalez and Larry Parrish feigning complete ignorance, Carl Crawford forgetting how to play baseball, and the Phillies incising Ryan Howard’s Achilles tendon. The hardest part was transitioning Melky – who had established a strict daily regimen of vanilla milkshakes – to Ensures.
After the Rangers win the World Series, MLB will reveal their greatest surprise yet: they’ll introduce a “Redemption Island” to the playoffs for 2012, where the first team eliminated waits for subsequently eliminated teams and challenges them, until only one is left. Then that last surviving team plays a one-game playoff against the “winner” of the World Series, the winner of which is declared World Champion.