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First comes shock, then denial

Aug 26, 2009, 10:20 AM EDT

Kurt Helin, at our NBC corporate cousin in Los Angeles, thinks that the Dodgers recent swoon is a good thing in that it will cause them to be challeneged and make their stomach muscles ripple and all of that:

Coasting can lead to a flat team not ready to rise to a challenge — and a couple months back that looked like the Dodgers. But their mediocre play has closed their lead and forced them to focus.

Now they have to be sharp. That will carry over into the playoffs (which the Dodgers almost certainly will still make).

Hey, I love optimism as much as the next guy, and to be fair to Kurt, that was written before last night’s extra-innings loss to the Rockies.  But I have a hard time buying this argument. 

Coasting into the playoffs may not have worked for last year’s Angels team (Helin’s primary example), but you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone in baseball who wouldn’t rather have a rested bullpen, experienced bench players and the ability to set up their rotation just the way they want to heading into October.

And of course, there’s the small matter of a team not being able to simply step on the gas when they want too.  Personally, I’d rather have to figure out a way to motivate a team that coasts into the playoffs than to have a sharply-honed and battle tested team that finishes a game out.  Wouldn’t you?

(link via BTF)

  1. sirsean - Aug 26, 2009 at 12:39 PM

    Yeah, you definitely want to peak at the exact right time and storm into the playoffs on a big winning streak, having come from nowhere. That way, the players are hungry, and obviously they play better.
    Worked GREAT for the Rockies in 2007.

  2. Matt - Aug 26, 2009 at 1:57 PM

    On the flip side, the White Sox were challenged by the Indians after holding a large division lead, almost missed the playoffs, and then went 11-1 in the playoffs.

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