Sunday, November 16, 2014

Jimmy Carter Invitational - PREVIEW

I’m organizing the next tournament project and have to admit, I’m getting excited over the way the seeds fell and the players that will be participating.  As with all of the tournaments so far, there are some interesting peculiarities and exciting possible matchups when you look at the brackets. 

The five years represent the best team of each franchise, by winning percentage, from 1976-1980.  Teams were seeded based upon those percentages.  Ties were broken by run differential.  Breaking down the teams, you find that out of the 5 World Champions, only 2 are represented in the bracket.  Those two representatives could face in the semi-finals making it very likely the tournament winner was not a world champion in real life.  In fact, only four teams in the entire field were pennant winners, making this tournament wide open.

Mr. October looks to roll in November
The New York Yankees, which will again be commanded by Yankee Boy, collected two world championships in the period (1977 and 1978), but neither of those teams finished the regular season with as many wins as the 1980 team who will represent the Bronx.  The ’80 Yanks (.636) are the #2 seed in the AL, but were swept by the Royals in the ALCS that year.  The 1980 Royals were finally able to knock off New York after being beaten by them 3 straight times from 76-78, but that team isn’t present either.  The 1977 team represents Kansas City with a .630 pct and comes in with a 3 seed.  On the bottom side of the AL bracket, we have the possibility of a ’80 Yankee / ’77 Royals semi-finals matchup for some retribution by teams who both lost to the other in real life. 

On the top side of the AL bracket, the #1 seed ’79 Orioles are looking to regain some respect from losing to the Pirates after being up 3 games to 1 in the World Series.  Standing in the O’s way of the AL Championship game are the ’78 Red Sox and the powerful ’79 Brewers.  The Red Sox believe their chances are good of making the final round since the big bat of Bucky Dent is on the other side of the bracket.  

Three of the five World Series were won by NL clubs during this period.  The 1976 Reds are the NL top seed and look to a possible matchup with the other world champion, the 1979 “We Are Family” Pirates.  The Reds would like some revenge against Pops and company after being swept by the Bucks in the NLCS that year.  Before Pittsburgh or Cincinnati can meet in this classic rematch, both teams will likely have to get passed two other strong teams from 1979.  The Cardinals with MVP Keith Hernandez, and the Expos, who are loaded from top to bottom, will likely pose serious opposition to the two world champs.

Phils look to even the score with the Reds and LA
The final world champion of the period, the 1980 Phillies, is not present.  In fact, the ’80 team was the only the 3rd best Philadelphia squad from the period and only 1 game better than the 4th best 1978 Phils.  APBA chose the ’77 Phillies as a GTOP, although they had an identical record as the ’76 team with both clubs winning 101 games (.623).  The ’77 team out hit the ’76 team slightly (.279 to .272); however, ’76 had a much better ERA (3.10 to 3.71) than ’77, and a higher run differential.  For this reason, they get the selection.  On their side of the bracket the 1980 Astros are looking for a rematch of game 163 with the ’77 Dodgers in the quarter-finals.  The possibility of a rematch of the 1980 NLCS (Phillies-Astros) or the 1977 and 1978 NLCS (Phillies-Dodgers) exists in the semi-finals.  Of course in a tournament of this type, an unexpected underdog could get hot and eliminate any of the favorites.  You just never know. 

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