The Wall Street Journal had their annual baseball contest, and the chances of picking this year's playoff teams was really small:
This year's playoff field confounded the 177 readers, nine guests and two Fixers who entered our seasonlong baseball contest. Just 11 entrants got five out of eight of the playoff positions right (no credit if you chose a wild-card team to win a division, and vice versa). And everyone else was no better than 50% right. Three NL teams -- the Chicago Cubs, Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies -- were especially surprising.
What is interesting though is the how so many picked the Dodgers (the NL West votes were as follows: Los Angeles 109; San Diego 34; Arizona 19; San Francisco 11; Colorado 3), and how their freefall flummoxed everyone (my bold emphasis added):
Paul Steiger focused on the fourth-place finish of the Los Angeles Dodgers, last year's NL West champion; he had predicted they'd win the wild card. "OK, so it wasn't an epic, last-minute horror like the one in Flushing," Steiger writes. "Still, the LA Dodgers did a pretty impressive nosedive -- 54 wins and 41 losses and the best record in the National League in mid July, followed by 28-39 the rest of the way. The reasons: In late September they ran into the hottest team in baseball, the Colorado Rockies, whom they ordinarily dominate but who beat them seven in a row during a depressing two-week period. Before that final, 3-11 dive, they had pulled to within 3.5 games of the NL West lead with a 19-10 run. There was also the loss of Randy Wolf for the season in June, with a shoulder injury. But most important are the moves that general manager Ned Colletti and Manager Grady Little made and didn't make over the winter and in the first half of the season. The previous year, they were geniuses. Not this time. The worst of the bad moves: acquiring Juan Pierre and Luis Gonzalez; letting Nomar Garciaparra clog first base and third base; and hiring journeyman outfielder Brady Clark. They need to do better this offseason, starting with the starting rotation and the offensive black hole at third base."