How the hell did the pro-loaded Japanese "Dream Team" lose to Australia?

Since when is Australia a baseball power?

Australia shocks Japan, advances to gold medal game
Aussies to take on Canada-Cuba winner for top prize

We’re quiet achievers?


No, you are a nation of sporting freaks. I reckon they put something in the water!

We Kiwis ain’t jealous at all. :smiley:

And since when did we ride anywhere?

(Two more gold medals from the velodrome!) :smiley:

Australia’s team is mostly pros as well. Most from the US minor leagues, plus some from Japan.

They are a good team. Got jobbed today, though. One of the worst officiated games I have ever seen.

Well, how did a loser like Don Larsen pitch a perfect game against a powerhouse lineup like the 1956 Brooklyn Dodgers?

Sometimes a pitcher has a great afternoon, and nobody can get good wood on the ball. The Japanese team is probably better, overall, than the Australian team, and would probably beat them in 7 or 8 games out of 10, but that’s irrelevant in any one game. Good pitching stopped good hitting this time.

It’s simply the nature of baseball.

It is entirely possible that the New York Yankees could lose to their own AAA team. I nfact, if the two teams were to play ten games, it’s UNLIKELY the Yankees could sweep all ten. Baseball is a game in which it is much easier for inferior teams to defeat superior teams than in other sports.

What RickJay said. Baseball isn’t a sport of individual games, it’s a sport of series.
Major league champions seldom win as many as 65% of their games over a season. The talk isn’t about “Did you win tonight”, it’s about “Did you take the series”.

Stuff happens, a pitcher has a great night or a batter gets a timely hit, and there ya’ go.

Congrats, Aussies!

Baseball, as one author put it, is a sport in which frequent and often dismal failure is a characteristic of great teams, and great players and teams must accept failure on an astonishingly frequent basis. Even the Yankees are going to lose 60 times this year - almost as many games as an NBA team PLAYS - and some of them are going to be horrific, embarassing ass-kickings at the hands of the league’s worst teams. A great NFL team might lose no more than one or two games a year; a baseball team would be historically great if they lost an average of just two games a WEEK. A single loss is meaningless, because failure is such a common occurrence. In fact, in baseball, it’s impossible to be great unless you become skilled at handling failure. A baseball player who couldn’t deal with failure would never make the majors.

One of the interesting parts about the much-loved-and-vilified book “Moneyball” was the story of Billy Beane’s playing career. He was an amazing, incredible athlete, an athlete on par with Michael Vick or Bo Jackson - huge, incredibly strong, and as fast as a college sprinter. He dominated low level competition. But he couldn’t take failure. When he finally got to a level where the players could match him, and he had regular slumps, he just couldn’t deal with it, and it tore him apart, screwed up his game, and destroyed his career. The players he played with who made it - Lenny Dykstra was used as an example - were the ones who seemed to forget failure, even though they’d have terrible games two, three times every week. They’d got 0 for 4 and make two errors, go out and have a few drinks, and come back the next day saying “Well, I’m gonna kick their asses now.” And if they went 0 for 4 again, they came back the day after with the same attitude.

As Henry Aaron put it, when asked if he went into his games expecting to get two hits, “No, but if I don’t get them, I expect to get them tomorrow.”

Believe me, the Japanese player ain’t torn up about this. If they were the types of guys to get torn up over one game they would not have made the Japanese League in the first place.

They actually did really well considering their start to the tournament was two losses.

They had also beaten Japan during qualifying.

Couple of anecdotes to back this up…

  1. In George Will’s book Moneyball Tony LaRussa, then manager of the A’s tells the story of playing against Aaron. When discussing how the pitchers and catcher’s would try to prevent Aaron from succeeding (i.e. hitting home runs) the best they could come up with was ‘make sure no one’s on when he hits one’. They were basing their strategy on assuming they would fail at some point and Aaron would connect.

  2. From fiction (and one of my favorite lines). In Major League just before the team takes the field prior to their first game Charlie Sheen’s character is getting over-excited. The older pitcher (in sort of a Gaylord Perry role) says ‘calm down…we’ll be doing this 160 times.’

I did a comparison for an article last year (not accepted, unfortunately) using team records, team OPS and team pitching to compare playoff teams. I used those metrics to determine which team was ‘better’ and then see which ones won playoff series (Divisional, League, and World). In that study I only found a very small bias when one team was HUGELY superior in the metric (i.e. they had won 20+ more games in the regular season or somesuch). Other than that the winners in short series (3, 5, 7, and 9) game series is essentially random.

True, but Australia doesn’t even have a national baseball league these days. Quite surprising the system even produced the players that it has.

The gist of this entire paragraph is no more true about baseball than it is with any other (pro) sport. The speciific mention of the NFL is particularly ridiculous. I might even go so far as to call it amazingly ill-informed. Idiotic, even.

The winningest coaches in NFL history have records that resemble the typical Yankee’s season.

If you line up a game by game comparison…say one baseball season compared to one football decade, there is no difference whatsoever in winning percentages. The fact that anyone attributes losing to baseball as a unique characteristic boggles my mind.

What was all the talk about when Steve Spurrier entered the NFL? “How is he going to adjust to losing?” Because, unlike NCAA football, in the pros, you are guaranteed to lose.

The only thing that separates baseball from other sports is its frequency, which is noted. This whole concept of baseball being unique because of the number of losses is a rather sad lack of understanding of basic math.

I mean, just look at last year. Why didn’t the Vikings make the playoffs? Because they lost a must-win game in the last week of the season to the worst team in the league. It ties into the famous “On any given Sunday…” expression.

These baseball philosophers really need a reality check.

You’re confusing the issue here. The NFL has spent years, deliberately working to create a situation in which few teams are notably better than any others. Pete Rozelle dreamed of having 32 teams with comparable talent and comparable records. Today, there a few real upsets in the NFL because few teams are much better than any others.

RickJay’s point was that, in football, a great team should ALWAYS slaughter a bad team, while in baseball, a bad team not only CAN beat a great team, it DOES so several times each season. And his point is unassailable.

Since YOU brought up college football, ask yourself this. Suppose that the Miami Hurricanes decided to kick off every season for the next 20 seasons by playing the Citadel. What do you suppose the result would be?

Answer: the Hurricanes should win EVERY one of those games by a margin of 40+ points. If the Citadel made even one game close, we’d be surprised. If they managed to WIN even one game, we’d be astonished, and would talk about it for years.

Now, let’s look at college baseball. There are a handful of college abseball teams that are about as powerful each year as Miami is in baseball. For the sake of argument, we’ll look at the Texas Longhorns, who are annual contenders at the College World Series.

If Texas played 20 games against the Citadel, I can absolutely GUARANTEE that the Citadel would win a few of those games! There’s BOUND to be a game in which the Texas starting pitcher just doesn’t have his best stuff, and gets hammered. There’s BOUND to be a game in which a Citadel pitcher gets hot, and the Longhorns can’t touch him. Sure, over the LONG run, the better team will win most of the time. But no baseball fan is surprised when a lousy team steals a game or two from a great one. It happens all the time. In baseball, there’s no such thing as an “upset” because anything can happen in one game or in a short series.

It just so happens that, in today’s NFL, there are no longer any truly great teams or any truly lousy. Just a lot of good teams that could easily go either 6-10 or 10-6.

Yeah, I always think of it as the 4-3 rule. If any two teams played 7 games, even if it’s the worst team against the best, the most likely outcome is a 4-3 split.

Let’s look at winning percentages for the best teams:

Football: .875 (New England)
Baseball: .623 (Yankees, Braves)
Football: .750 (Packers, Buccaneers)
Baseball: .635 (Athletics, Yankees)
Football: .875 (Rams)
Baseball: .716 (Mariners)*
Football: .812 (Titans)
Baseball: .598 (Giants)
Football: .875 (Jaguars)
Baseball: .635 (Braves)

*2nd Highest of all time

Clearly, football allows for greater winning percentage. It’s interesting to note that in ALL seasons the highest winning percentage for that year in football EXCEEDS the highest winning percentage of ALL TIME in baseball.

What Ellis is obliquely referring to is, in baseball, called the ‘plexiglass principle’. To wit: a team which improves it’s performance has a strong tendency to lose performance in following year. While I haven’t done the study I wouldn’t be surprised if football followed the same trend.

Given that, however, the most damning thing about football is that, even though as a zero sum game (like baseball…for there to be a winner in a game there is also a loser), the deviation from the norm is so high. Part of this is the small sample size (with only 16 games per season). This almost certainly means there’s a higher ‘random’ factor in the determination of playoff teams (and therefore champions) than in baseball. But another part of it is that there simply appears to be a wider range of ability in different teams.

‘On any given Sunday’ is a nice dream, but if it were real one wouldn’t expect a continuing succession of teams winning above 80% of their games. It would be more likely that all teams would cluster in the 6-10 win range and in most seasons NO standout would emerge. Instead we have standouts every year!

This is evidenced by the fact that every year several NFL teams will win less than .300 but most years no baseball side will manage such a paltry return (except the Tigers of course).

That doesn’t seem to be a good comparison. The composition of any team will change significantly over a decade, with dynasties rising and falling.

One thing I must comment on, is that in the case of (US) Football, it resembles the Olympic team-sports competition in that the NFL starts with a round-robin season then switches to seeded single-elimination for the play-offs. While in baseball (and NBA basketball) you have series play at every step of the way.

Then let’s look at before Pete Rozelle’s dream was realized. How do you explain Joe Namath winning the Superbowl?

True, I did bring up college football. My exact quote was:

“What was all the talk about when Steve Spurrier entered the NFL? “How is he going to adjust to losing?” Because, unlike NCAA football, in the pros, you are guaranteed to lose.”

It reads pretty clearly to me. My original argument agrees with your example’s conclusion. In NCAA football, there are guaranteed wins. I included (pro) as a stipulation.

And yet people feel it is perfectly legitimate to compare the winning percentages of a single season of NFL (16 games) and MLB (160+ games). Statisticians weep. But even still, last year my beloved Giants ended the season with less than half the season opening starters in the lineup. How much does it really matter that the rosters change in the offseason, when the lineups change every week due to injury? I say it is coaching systems that truly define the beginning an end of a meaningful comparison. The Steelers since Cowher took over, for example, would be a good comparison to a single MLB season.

Parity is real in the NFL, but for anybody to claim that last year’s Cardinals were on par with last year’s Vikings is ridiculous.

Let me get to the heart of it. The original statement is that the sport of baseball allows the greatest chance for an underdog to win of any sport. That means it is less likely for the favorite to win. Okay. So, in the 75 year history of the NFL, the longest winning streak by any franchise is around 20 games. How about baseball? Any winning streaks that long?

Look at it this way: last year, the longest winning streak was…uh…(going by memory)…the Chiefs started 9-0, and the Pats won 15 in a row I believe. So last year in MLB, since it has so much more losing woven into it, I would assume there wouldn’t be a single double-digit winning streak. Is that the case?

My pet theory for Japan’s performance? Nagashima. His job this year has just been to sit and wave, but his effect is unmistakeable.

Shigeo Nagashima was a great player in his day, but as a manager, he’s demonstrated a remarkable talent for bringing together the nation’s best players at every position (the Giants routinely spend more than double what the other teams do), and turning them into semi-coherent mass of mediocrity. Even so, he’s considered the undisputed be-all and end-all of Japanese baseball. To get a feeling of his image here, the press hasn’t been calling the Olympic baseball team “Team Japan” or “The Japan Dream Team,” but “Nagashima Japan.” No player comes even close to stepping out of his shadow.

IMO, it’s the Nagashima curse. He’s a walking miasma of sub-par performance, and he’s just claimed another team.