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View Full Version : Don't Underestimate the Importance of a Fast Start



Edskin
04-02-2007, 09:45 AM
Well, here I go again........have at it RFS62 :)

But seriously, hear me out:

I have always been of the belief that a good start for a team like the Reds is infintely more important than a good start for more "established" contenders like the Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals, etc....

No sport hammers home the law of averages more so than baseball. You can only avoid having your weaknesses tear you down for so long. Conversely, if you have the guns, you can (usually) only struggle for so long before you hit your stride.

The Yankees can play .500 baseball for three months, and still live the dream that a major turnaround is possible. When a team like the Reds plays .500 ball for three months, it's most likely because they are a .500 team, period.

Let's face it, the back of our rotation is simply not strong enough for us to be a consistent team that wins more than they lose month after month.

HOWEVER...

Baseball is also a game of streaks, grooves, and luck. Sometimes, a fast start can propel a team to great season, even if they are somewhat ordinary after said start. The 1990 Reds are, of course, a great example a team that rode a hot April throughout an entire season. The 1984 Tigers also started 35-5 and never looked back.

The 1999 Reds are somewhat of an exception. They struggled in April (9-13 I believe?) and then got hot. But just imagine if they'd gone 11-11 in April :)

There's also a psychological factor at play for a team in the Reds' situation. The fanbase is still a bit jaded, a bit cranky, ready to jump off the bandwagon at the first sign of another subpar season. A hot start may be fool's gold, but that fool's gold can "fool" the fans for an entire season. It can also "fool" the players. Teams that dwindle in the standings have a tendancy to "drift" come mid-season. But if you've managed to keep yourself alive in the standings, the concentration, effort, and energy stay strong.

There is also the "pressure" the FO feels to add talent if the team shows signs early that they can contend.

The Reds play 25 games in April. Let's just say they managed a really hot start to the season, even if a lot of it was luck, smoke and mirrors. Let's say they went 17-8.

That 17-8 could basically propel them for an entire season. 17-8 would allow the Reds to play .500 the rest of the year and still have a very good shot at making the playoffs-- at the very least, it would keep them alive in the race deep into the season.

A 17-8 start also gives the Reds some wiggle room for what is most likely an inevitable stretch of losses. If the Reds mingle at .500 for two months, they will not be able to afford any real spiral of games. But fueled by a fast start, they can handle a couple of bad weeks and still not destroy their season.

Like I said, exceptions abound. But I truly believe that a team in our situation benefits SO much more from a hot April than teams with greater expectations.

I'm not saying anything silly here. I'm not saying the Cubs series is an "important" one, or that our season is lost if we don't win 17 games. Just illustrating something that I believe sometimes gets overlooked in the glare of a 162 game season.

I will say this, it IS the most important April of the 2007 season. :)

Let's get it started out right! Go Reds!!!!

M2
04-02-2007, 10:22 AM
If 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006 have taught us anything, it's that a fast start doesn't mean diddly.

Hooligan
04-02-2007, 10:37 AM
I could handle a start of 162-0. That should put us in place to win the division.

westofyou
04-02-2007, 10:47 AM
If 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006 have taught us anything, it's that a fast start doesn't mean diddly.

In football it might be, in this game it's just a tear in a salted sea.

TRF
04-02-2007, 11:43 AM
If 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006 have taught us anything, it's that a fast start doesn't mean diddly.

1990 say otherwise. Without that fast start, the Reds likely don't even make the postseason.

the fast start of 2006 was done in by incredibly poor roster management and trades in June/July. All rookie GM mistakes. Hopefully he's past that now. He's made some really interesting moves this offseason (Burton, Livingston, Hamilton and AGon) but he's also acquired Conine, Stanton and still has Cormier on the roster. Bray and Maj are DL'd.

A fast start this year, if Krivsky doesn't get all jittery and trade Dunn for Dan Kolb and two one armed minor league pitchers could be what the Reds need to contend.

Even I am optimistic on opening day.

Go Reds!

Dom Heffner
04-02-2007, 12:44 PM
Since all the games count the same, you can get to October by winning the most, or at least the most in your division.

The 1990 Reds were an example of how a fast start helped, but if they had that run in June, we'd be saying it's important to to have a good June.

Win the most out of 162 in your division, I don't know what else to tell ya.

Puffy
04-02-2007, 12:46 PM
This is the most important Reds opener in my lifetime.

Puffy
04-02-2007, 12:47 PM
Until next years opener.

M2
04-02-2007, 12:48 PM
1990 say otherwise. Without that fast start, the Reds likely don't even make the postseason.

the fast start of 2006 was done in by incredibly poor roster management and trades in June/July. All rookie GM mistakes. Hopefully he's past that now. He's made some really interesting moves this offseason (Burton, Livingston, Hamilton and AGon) but he's also acquired Conine, Stanton and still has Cormier on the roster. Bray and Maj are DL'd.

A fast start this year, if Krivsky doesn't get all jittery and trade Dunn for Dan Kolb and two one armed minor league pitchers could be what the Reds need to contend.

Even I am optimistic on opening day.

Go Reds!

Winning's always better than losing, but the 1990 team had an entire season to blow that fast start and it didn't. Acting like the division was won in April that season ignores the five months of hard work and adjustments the team made after that. The 1995 Reds fell flat out of the box. The winningest Reds team of the past 30 seasons, the 1999 team, struggled at the start of the season as well.

Obviously every game counts. No one's saying that April games don't matter, but what makes you a winning team in the long run is being a good team for the bulk of the season. I was talking about this last week (http://www.redszone.com/forums/showthread.php?t=55983) in fact. If things go right in April or go wrong in April the more important thing will be whether the team that jells to play the bulk of the season needs to be a good one.

RedsMan3203
04-02-2007, 12:50 PM
This is a "must win series" for the Reds. :)

RFS62
04-02-2007, 12:52 PM
I think it's more important for marketing and ticket sales.

You can create a buzz that could be sustained if they come out of the gate hot. Hamilton, Dunn, several potential good story lines could fuel ticket sales.

If they start slow, I'd bet it would be harder to regain the momemtum they have now coming out of a strong spring training.

flyer85
04-02-2007, 01:01 PM
... the power the schwartz. :starwars:

Edskin
04-02-2007, 01:03 PM
If 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006 have taught us anything, it's that a fast start doesn't mean diddly.

Certain teams are beyond hope. I'd put at least 4 of those teams on the list. IMO, the Royals could go 20-5 in April and still have no realistic shot at the post-season. No matter what they do, there simply isn't enough ammo to sustain anything.

I am operating under the assumption that THIS Red's team has a bit more of a glimmer of hope. Arroyo and Harang are certainly a better 1-2 punch than any of the rotations of the recent past, and we now have at least a SLIMMER of hope that the end of the rotation may not be embarrassing.

And 62 makes a great pont-- perception sort of becomes reality. It really helps a team like the Reds ratchet things up a bit if they come out smoking.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I believe that this Reds team is talented enough to NOT totally self-destruct down the road. I believe that THIS team could sustain a good start much better than the teams listed from the past.

Hubba
04-02-2007, 01:57 PM
I agree with M2 on this one.:luvu: :luvu: A win is a win, Fast start or a good finish are equal but a fast start is good for the nerves,

Ltlabner
04-02-2007, 10:24 PM
Didn't the 1975 team start out really slow until Rose moved the 3rd and room was found for Foster? IIRC they got it in gear in mid May and never looked back.

Not that one year is proof of anything, but while a fast start is good for morale (team and fans) the season is too long and it's easy for it to be frittered away. That said, a fast start is a nice thing to have.

Falls City Beer
04-02-2007, 10:36 PM
I'm guessing that a fast start might matter more to a young team in need of confidence than it would to a team like last year's Cards or Mets. But I don't know; the psychological aspect of the game is vague; I think it exists, to be sure, but I'm just not sure how to parse it.

paintmered
04-02-2007, 10:40 PM
An old coach once told me, "It's better to have the lead than need it."

Edskin
04-03-2007, 06:03 PM
Want to clarify something:

1. My "fast start" theory means zilch if the team is just talent poor. No matter how fast a really bad roster starts out, the law of averages will eventually bit them hard-- I think that's what we saw several times over the past few years. I think THIS team has more talent, but has still yet to taste any real success-- thus my theory applies.

Hoosier Red
04-04-2007, 02:45 PM
I agree with Ed, not only does a fast start help with confidence and other vague issues that are hard to define.
I team that starts out 9 games over .500 in april, but plays 3 games below .500 for the next two months will still be in a position to try and make the team better and aquire some help for the stretch run.
If the same team didn't have the hot start, they'd be looking at what guys they can trade and get valuable prospects.

Johnny Footstool
04-04-2007, 06:22 PM
A fast start "doesn't mean diddly" only if it prevents you from recognizing a team's weaknesses. That seemed to be a regular occurrence for the Reds in the 00's. Fast starts convinced Bowden that he was spending "Seven Minutes in Heaven" with the hot chick at the party. Then the harsh light of June revealed he had been kissing his sister all along.

Krivsky did seem to recognize the team's glaring bullpen weakness last season, and I give him credit for that. Sadly, he really shot himself in the foot in trying to correct it.

Falls City Beer
04-04-2007, 06:41 PM
Sadly, he really shot himself in the foot in trying to correct it.

Fell asleep at the switch fixing the rotation as well (Lohse).

Johnny Footstool
04-04-2007, 06:42 PM
Fell asleep at the switch fixing the rotation as well (Lohse).

Yeah, but the cost wasn't as high.

Falls City Beer
04-04-2007, 06:43 PM
Yeah, but the cost wasn't as high.

We shall see about that. A false sense of security can really, really hurt. At least we know Bray and Majik suck from the get-go in 2007.

M2
04-04-2007, 06:49 PM
Actually the more I think about, the more I'm convinced this team shouldn't get off to an overly hot start. If this club gets off to a hot start it will be looking over its shoulder and waiting for what must seem to the bulk of these players (and Reds fans) the inevitable collapse.

This Reds team, the 2007 model would do better to be around .500 the first six weeks and then hunt down some clubs in front of it. Psychologically it needs to shift its momentum timing. The last thing this club needs is a hot start. It will cause a "been there, blown that" reaction.

Johnny Footstool
04-04-2007, 06:55 PM
Actually the more I think about, the more I'm convinced this team shouldn't get off to an overly hot start. If this club gets off to a hot start it will be looking over its shoulder and waiting for what must seem to the bulk of these players (and Reds fans) the inevitable collapse.

This Reds team, the 2007 model would do better to be around .500 the first six weeks and then hunt down some clubs in front of it. Psychologically it needs to shift its momentum timing. The last thing this club needs is a hot start. It will cause a "been there, blown that" reaction.

For a small-budget team like the Reds, lurking around .500 will probably mean roster stagnation. Ownership won't be willing to acquire any salary if the team doesn't look like it's going anywhere.

Falls City Beer
04-04-2007, 06:58 PM
Actually the more I think about, the more I'm convinced this team shouldn't get off to an overly hot start. If this club gets off to a hot start it will be looking over its shoulder and waiting for what must seem to the bulk of these players (and Reds fans) the inevitable collapse.

This Reds team, the 2007 model would do better to be around .500 the first six weeks and then hunt down some clubs in front of it. Psychologically it needs to shift its momentum timing. The last thing this club needs is a hot start. It will cause a "been there, blown that" reaction.

As long as they don't go in the crapper I'm fine. Striking distance should be the order of the day. Six or seven games out at the end of May would be a disaster IMO, and likely spell the end of the season for this squad. It's just not talented enough to make up real lost ground.

Striking distance would keep the FO's finger on the trigger; wouldn't spur a sell-off and would be impetus to bring in MLB talent. Which suits me fine, provided it's not a Lohse or a Majik.

M2
04-04-2007, 07:09 PM
For a small-budget team like the Reds, lurking around .500 will probably mean roster stagnation. Ownership won't be willing to acquire any salary if the team doesn't look like it's going anywhere.

I'm talking about six weeks here, not three months.

Though I'm not overly concerned about the team making a name acquisition. If this team is going to contend it's going to have to come from internal surprises - a Matt Belisle here, a surprising bat from AAA there.

In fact, the time to go shopping might be right now when you might be able to pick up a guy who's being overlooked by his current club.

Chip R
04-04-2007, 08:01 PM
This Reds team, the 2007 model would do better to be around .500 the first six weeks and then hunt down some clubs in front of it. Psychologically it needs to shift its momentum timing. The last thing this club needs is a hot start. It will cause a "been there, blown that" reaction.


The 99 team really floundered till right around Memorial Day so you might have something there.

Edskin
04-05-2007, 05:43 PM
Solid start. But now it really heats up. The Pirates come to town for a pivotal series pitting the two teams currently atop the Central Division standings. First place is on the line. :)