Jeff Pearlman uses a curious example to support his (and seemingly everybody's) theory about which type of team is best designed for post-season success:
But, once again, I don’t think Brian Cashman has built a team made for the playoffs. Mainly, the problem is pitching. Starting pitching. As the Atlanta Braves showed us throughout the 1990s, having a load of B+ starting pitchers is fantastic for 90-plus regular season wins … but doesn’t really work so well in the post-season. Generally speaking, the teams in the best shape have two ass-kicking starters with rubber arms and angry demeanors (think Johnson-Schilling, ‘01)
This is a daring formulation since it touches upon one of the most obvious anomolies of the "pitching wins championships" era. The '90s Atlanta Braves, it could be argued, had the best top 3 of any pitching rotation of the last 4 billion years. Or at least, as long as I have been following the sport. Maddux-Glavine-Smoltz in their primes. Pearlman was a Mets fan growing up, which suggests to me that his B+ grading for Atlanta pitching is based on the type of flawed insight (unconscious stupidity) that comes from too closely searching for weaknesses in your enemy. It's why I call Josh Beckett overrated. So why didn't the Braves win more in the post-season? Generally speaking, Maddux, Smoltz and Glavine weren't kick ass enough (where "kick ass" means something other than "amazing"), didn't have rubber arms (except their innings totals suggest they did), and didn't have angry demeanors. I cannot refute this last point. Call it the Pearlman Rule. Post-season success is the result of angry pitcher faces.
Pearlman's point about the Yanks' pitching has been analyzed to death in Yankee fans' recent nightmares. I have yet to talk to a YF who isn't worried about the starting pitching, especially AJ and Joba (it seems a little ironic that they are the most likely to fit the Pearlman Rule's demeanor profile). But I suggest this is a neurotic self-defeating thought that needs to end now. The truth is that the Yankees are probably the best team in baseball this season. While that doesn't mean they are going to be the eventual champs, it means they are better positioned than just about any other team going into October. That counts for something, I'd think, just as having the best starting rotation maybe ever should have counted for something for Atlanta. What is it they say about the best-laid plans?
Call this anti-intellectualism if you want or a conscious choice to put my head in the sand, but really, how much thought is there in these articles declaring the Yanks poorly designed for the off-season? They strike me as the desperate and panicked rants of Yankee haters and lovers alike, all of whom bought into Steinbrenner's Win-Everything-Or-Else! bullcrap. It's probably better to enjoy the silence these days than articles like Pearlman's. But worry if you must.