You’re Looking At the Wrong Column

Every year we hear this garbage from the Pirates’ front office that the goal is to win the World Series. And us fans say, ‘Well yeah, but are you out of your mind? This is baseball where things don’t happen overnight. We would be happy with a .500 season.”

As it turns out, the fans are wrong.

This might sound dumb, but it should be obvious: The World Series champion is the team that wins the playoffs. Insofar as you make the playoffs, your regular season is irrelevant.

Let me say that again: .500 is meaningless and it is certainly not the goal.

For most teams, winning 83 games is a failure. But it shouldn’t be, because the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals won 83 games. And then they won the Worlds Series. That’s not a failure.

The 2006 Cardinals had been over .500 in each of the six seasons prior to winning it all. But as it turns out, the number of seasons you’ve been over .500 doesn’t seem to matter much either. In 2007, the Red Sox had been over for the past 10 seasons, in ’08 the Phillies were over for six, Yankees for 17, Giants for only two, and the Cardinals last year was four. Being consistent seems like a plus, but not a huge one.

Winning your division the year before doesn’t mean much either. For four out of the past five World Series winners, did not find themselves at the top of their division the season before they won.

While the Pirates’ front office does a poor job of getting their point across—although maybe they think they’re crazy too—they are correct in thinking that anything less than a World Series is a failure, and whether you’re coming off a 100-win season or a 72-win season matters as much as yesterday’s game.

And if you are jumping up and down and saying, “But just look at the regular season win totals for the past six World Series winners: 90, 92, 92, 103, 96, and 83!” Sure, it’s more convincing at first glance, but that 83 shows that like your third base little league coach used to yell at you… it only takes one.

But how many wins is the goal? It is four… in the World Series before your opponent.

For the regular season, the goal is to make it to the playoffs and you can’t put a number on that. Just like runs and RBIs are stupid and should be ignored, so should wins and losses. Because the column that matters is GB.

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