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Puffing in the 2011 Playoffs—Where to Smoke A Cigar in Baseball’s Postseason

Cigar Aficionado's guide to where you can smoke in MLB’s playoff cities.
Alejandro Benes
Posted: September 29, 2011

(continued from page 1)

Simply, WAR seeks to measure the value of a starting player against the likely less-expensive replacement that could be found. So, for example, Matt Kemp, the LA Dodgers center fielder, is having a career year and with five games left had a WAR ranking of about 9.6, the highest in baseball this year. By comparison, Ryan Braun, the Milwaukee Brewers left fielder and Kemp’s main rival for the NL MVP this year, has a WAR ranking of 7.2, even though Braun’s team has clinched its division’s crown, something that the Brewers probably wouldn’t have done without Braun’s performance. For reference, in 2004, Barry Bonds had a WAR of 12.4.

In the AL, even though Curtis Granderson of the Yankees is my narrow winner for MVP, his WAR is about 7. Jose “Joey Bats” Bautista, Toronto’s slugger, is at 8.2, and Boston’s Jacoby Ellsbury, also an MVP favorite, ranks 8.5, with his teammate Dustin Pedroia at 7.3.

WAR is designed to be able to have one statistic, admittedly comprised of numerous other statistics, define the value of a player. (If you want to know how WAR is calculated, Google “MLB WAR.”) The focus on WAR during all the baseball talk shows is appropriate if you want to get down to one number. It’s one of those tools that tells you little about a team game, unless maybe you’ve got the top 10 players by WAR ranking on one team, including four pitchers. Don’t even get me started on WHIP.

THE SEASON

The 2011 season started with a San Francisco Giants fan on opening day in Los Angeles getting beaten into a coma by two erstwhile Dodgers “fans” who reportedly have stronger ties to some local gang. The Dodgers’ season was ending with a surprisingly strong finish on the field and a thoroughly embarrassing procession in bankruptcy court where MLB has asked a judge to force parking-lot magnate Frank McCourt to sell the team. The best single stat to measure McCourt’s impact on the Dodgers is “PAOFITS,” or “paid-attendance-over-fans-in-the-stands.”

View from Camacho Cigar Bar inside the Detroit Tiger's Comerica Park.
View from Camacho Cigar Bar inside the Detroit Tiger's Comerica Park.
Basically, by the end of the season, about half the fans who had paid for tickets were going to the stadium to see Kemp try to become the first Triple Crown winner since 1967. His teammate, Clayton Kershaw, looks likely to win the Cy Young this year, with his own pitching triple crown. Kershaw is tied for most wins (21), lowest ERA (2.28) and most strikeouts (248).

The 2011 season was also about injuries, perhaps the most prominent of which was Buster Posey’s torn ligaments and broken left ankle. Posey, the catcher and key to the San Francisco Giants’ World Series win last year, was playing against the Florida Marlins when Scott Cousins, attempting to score on a sacrifice fly, collided with Posey, who was trying to block the plate. Posey fell back awkwardly and Cousins scored. Posey was out for the season. The Giants also suffered from injuries to their closer Brian Wilson.

Other prominent injuries included Alex Rodriguez, who will not hit 30 home runs for the first time since 1997, his third year in the league. More recently, most of the starting rotation for the Boston Red Sox was beaten up, leaving the team to rely on the Baltimore Orioles to beat up on the Tampa Bay Rays, the team that challenged the BoSox for the Wild Card.

The Atlanta Braves, impressive all year, also started to fold towards the end as the St. Louis Cardinals pressed for the Wild Card spot. Do we even need to talk about the “first to worst” Minnesota Twins? We should talk about the “worst to first” Arizona Diamondbacks.

As always, there were some amazing plays made by players you’d never heard of (Ben Revere, Roger Bernadina, Adam Jones, Sam Fuld) and a lot of unbelievable ones made by Cleveland Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who also set a team record this year for homers by a Tribe shortstop. Cabrera made the behind-the-back flip to second his own, while just about everybody, most notably Cincinnati’s “Mr. Personality,” second baseman Brandon Phillips, made a glove flip to first between the legs.


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Comments   8 comment(s)

David Savona September 29, 2011 4:53pm ET

I like your story, but not your picks. Yanks in five.


Arthur Pappas — MA,  —  September 29, 2011 5:03pm ET

May I also make a shamless plug for Cigar Masters in Worcester MA as a great place to watch a game (even though the Red Sox broke our hearts)?


Chris Homan — Coldwater, OH, USA,  —  September 30, 2011 7:49am ET

I'll be watching playoff baseball from the comfort of my own home, with good cigars and scotch on hand, being that my team didn't make it. I really don't care who wins, as long as it's not the Yankees. The only team in professional sports that I loathe more is the Green Bay Packers.


David Savona September 30, 2011 9:43am ET

Funny Arthur, all my friends who are Red Sox fans have shown zero interest in watching the playoffs this year. And Chris, why all the Yankee hatred?


Alex Benes — Newbury Park, CA, USA,  —  September 30, 2011 2:21pm ET

Watching from home is the best, really. I turn my screen towards the porch and look through the glass door. I light a big cigar and pour a huge glass of rum and sit back. It's always good weather here!


Chris Homan — Coldwater, OH, USA,  —  September 30, 2011 5:58pm ET

David,

I've just never liked the Yankees, and them winninng everything under the sun, going out an dspending money on big-name guys, and having the sports media ramming them down my throat every day gets really old. I know there's a lot of history there, and i can appreciate that, but I just can't stand the Yankees.


David Wisniewski — Pennsauken, NJ, USA,  —  October 1, 2011 8:19pm ET

Total agreement with your view on the Yankees, but I want to see them represent the AL, so, the Phils can put those cry babys and their bandwagon fans in their place, once and for all.


Chris Homan — Coldwater, OH, USA,  —  October 7, 2011 9:10am ET

Ding dong, the Yanks are GONE!!!! :)

Sorry, couldn't resist.


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