"Experience," like "chemistry" and "character," is one of those immesurable intangibles that sports fans and writers alike like to throw around when discussing a player or team's chances to succeed. Think of it like this apt metaphor considering our location: The intangibles in sports are often viewed like the Supreme Court’s definition of pornography – we know it when we see it.
"Experience" came into play this weekend when discussing the National League Division Series between the Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals. In one dugout was a team representing a city that hasn't seen meaningful baseball in October in nearly 80 years. In the other was the defending World Series champions. You have to give the edge to the Cardinals on principle, right?
Well, not necessarily. The Nationals came back Sunday to defeat the Cardinals 3-2 in Game 1 of the NLDS thanks to rookie Tyler Moore. Before the game, however, shortstop/soothsayer Ian Desmond got all philosophical on us while making a pretty valid obversation.
“The ark was built by an amateur," he said to The Washington Times' Amanda Comak. "The Titanic was built by a professional.”
Wise as Solomon that shortstop is.
Speaking of mythology, the myth of experience in the postseason is something that Sports Illustrated recently covered in their latest issue:
The success of the 1996-2001 Yankees helped entrench the idea that postseason experience is critical. The good news for Bryce Harper and the young Nationals: Outside of the New York dynasty, experience has been a nonfactor. Since 2002, when the upstart Angels beat the Yankees in the ALDS on their way to a world championship, teams that had not played in the previous postseason are 23-13 against teams that had. Four of the last 10 World Series have been won by teams snapping streaks of at least four years without a postseason appearance. And the last three World Series were won by teams that missed the previous year's postseason. Don't believe the math? Check out last year's World Series MVP: David Freese had zero postseason at bats before 2011.
The Nationals have experience now, albeit nine innings worth, but experience nonetheless. Let's just hope that the next time the Nationals make a Titantic-related metaphor, it doesn't involve their sinking ship.
In the mean time, I'll never let go of hope, Ian. I'll never let go.
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