There may be no bigger fan of Larry Dierker anywhere than the one writing this blog entry, but can't say that I didn't have issues with some of the things he wrote in his latest blog entry for The Chronicle.
While he is able to discuss his pitching career with perfect candor, Dierker can be somewhat defensive at times about his managerial record, and it appears he may be engaging in some of this activity here.
What most jumps out at you is his statement that
Even if the Astros win the central division this year, they cannot consider it to be a good yearHard to agree with that one. I'm not sure how we will consider the season if the Astros MISS the playoffs, but I guarantee you: make the playoffs, and 2006 will, when considered in retrospect, be marked a success. The struggles will be forgotten, the inspiring run will be magnified, and pundits across the globe will talk about the huge advantage a club brings if it has a Big Three at the head of their rotation.
Hell, I can hear 'em now.
Dierker goes on:
And the team made it to the World Series last year with less talent than several teams of recent vintatge including 1986, 1998, 1999 and 2001. In fact, the talent level on some of the recent teams that did not win the division was probably higher than that of last year's National League ChampionsHis point is probably valid, or at least partially so. Do any of you think that the '98 squad is the most talented they've ever seen wear the Astros colors? But the passage, more than anything else, appears self-serving to me, Dierker looks to be fighting to save some sort of legacy for the teams he piloted.
What's ironic as you read Dirk's piece is that none of it is necessary. Dierker in his five years, did an unqualified fantastic job as manager, turning a team that had become comfortable as quality also-rans into a winner.
He still has more playoff teams than any manager in Houston history. A team he skippered holds the franchise record for wins. Other than the immortal Salty Parker, who managed the club to a perfect 1.000 winning percentage in his one game as interim manager, Dierker has the highest career winning percentage of any manager in team history. And finally, Dirk's replacement was absolutely and inequivocally inferior to him in almost every respect you might take into account, which had fans reconsidering their harsh 2001 opinions of Dieker by as early as midseason 2003.
Larry Dierker has nothing to feel defensive about, in my most considered and humble opinion.
Speaking of quotes, I hate to say it, almost, but I was impressed by what Tony La Russa said when asked about the likelihood of Jason Marquis pitching at any time during whatever remains of the Cardinals season:
This is not a good time to ask because that was a disappointing performance. But I know he's disappointed, so I don't want to pile on him. There's a lot of piling on when somebody struggles or a team struggles.
I generally don't think a lot of La Russa' ingame decision making, but his dignified answer here scores points with me. Taking a step back as he does here rather than focussing on and dissecting the failure is the only way the Cardinals have any kind of chance to reverse their current slide.
Not that I think that it will do LaRussa any good; because that's right folks, I now think it's more likely that the Astros win the division than not.
Davenport's little robots have us at 28%, but that is much too low, I think. Not exactly sure what Davenport's methodology is, but seems to me, that it's absurd to pretend that the Cardinals and the Astros both go into their remaining games with a 50% chance of winning. Human nature being what it is, I think you have to recognize that it is going to be much more difficult for the Cards to win a game from here on out than the 'Stros.
Call me irrational or a pagan, but I honestly believe that. If you use .55 as the Astros' daily chance of winning, and .45 as the Cardinals--which I think are conservative values that may even understate the true situation--the Astros have basically one chance in six to run the table for their three games, and the Cardinals have 1 chance in 25 to run their four.
Right now, I think the game against San Fran for the Cards will absolutely go down, and I'm also inclined to believe that in it, the Cards will be playing to keep themselves alive, rather than to eliminate the Astros.
I also think they're likely to win that Giants game and fly into Houston for the division playoff on Tuesday, but let's cross that bridge when we get to it, no?
For now, let's keep that winning streak going:
|Year||Start Date||End Date|
|12||2004||August 27||September 8|
|1999||September 3||September 14|
|10||1989||May 26||June 4|
|1980||August 14||August 24|
|1969||June 18||June 27|
|1969||May 17||May 28|
|1965||April 21||May 1|
|9||2006||September 20||September 28|
|1998||July 18||July 27|
|1991||July 28||August 6|
|1985||September 11||September 19|
|1984||August 10||August 19|
|1981||August 28||September 4|
|1973||April 26||May 7|
|1972||April 17||April 26|