Saturday, October 16, 2004

 

I don't get it

Before, when I was talking about the Grady Little Managerial Award, I didn't realize people were trying to top his performance last year. This award could easily be renamed after a single season of existence, thanks to the hard work of Phil Garner. St. Louis is up on Garner 2-0...I say Garner because this is not the Astros series anymore. Garner has not done a single thing right so far this series. He has pulled pitchers after they should be pulled (Backe) and then brought in pitchers who shouldn't be on the playoff roster in a series against the Cardinals lineup, nevermind actually pitch. Garner can easily rebound from what he has done wrong, by pitching Brad Lidge. In the first series he used Lidge when he needed him, and not in the 9th so much. This series he hasn't even been using him in the 9th (yay Dan Miceli). If Garner had gone to Lidge in the first two games, these things may not have happened. I am not saying they would be up 2-0, but they would've split, and going home for three games with Clemens and Oswalt and Backe lined up to pitch, they easily could be up 3-2 going back to St. Louis. I really don't know what else to say besides use the best strikeout pitcher on your team in tough situations. Lidge posted the best K's per 9 IP ratio EVER in the National League this year, but for some reason Garner seems to have forgotten about that all of a sudden. Maybe Ron Gardenhire was feeling lonely at home and was afraid Tony La Russa wouldn't want to hang out with him if he lost, so Garner obliged being the nice guy that he is.

As for the Sox, the rain delay should give Pedro Game 5...if Lowe pitches I might cry...I know he'd have to pitch Game 6 in New York if Pedro pitches Game 5, but that is ok. Pedro and New York just don't mix, so if one of them is going to lose let it be Lowe (sorry Derek). Hopefully the Sox remember why they are here now that they are home and this turns into a series all of a sudden. Maybe this time we can lose Game 6 and win Game 7...its always the opposite. Curt Schilling bullpen session? Does anyone have any information on that...ESPN.com wouldn't show me the video they promised so now I am just sitting here wondering what is going on. Schilling in relief if possible would be slightly helpful if he can be effective (especially if he he can come in for D-Lowe if necessary...maybe Lowe will surprise us, it would be his last start before a new contract)

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

 

E Plerbus...

So I was trying to decide who I wanted to pick in this series, and I came to the only democratic solution I could think of, and I flipped a coin, but this coin didn't say E Plerbus Unum, there was no God there.

E PLERBUS SCHILLUM.


In Curt Schilling we trust. I'm not placing my complete faith in Curt Schilling (sacrifices a small llama to Curt Schilling), honest!

Alrite, we all go through this every year, the rise, the fall, the roller coaster of emotional heart break that is being a member of Red Sox nation (and may I say screw you to anyone who vomits on the coaster every year and stops the ride early to get off, you have no place on the coaster to begin with), why is it this year the coaster isn't stopping; we went down the first drop, through the first loop, and everyone held their own.

It really just seems like the year to be here, that this team has the drive, the will, that special, intangible something it takes to win in the playoffs. The vaunted Yankees staff looks about as threatening as a teletubby (and not that purple one, we know he's hardcore, we'll call him Mike Mussina) right now. Lieber has looked great, but it's not going to last, not even Yankee mystique can keep him great. Kevin Brown is well, he's Kevin Brown, and if he's not to hurt to pitch at the start of Game 3, I'm sure he'll pull something in his back or groin relatively early into the game. Do I even need to get into Vazques and Loaiza?
Meanwhile, the Red Sox are countering with the pressure on someone other than Pedro, someone who THRIVES in the playoffs when it's all on the line, his name is Curt Schilling, and he has been so throughly embraced by Red Sox nation, when I see his fastball graze the corner for a strike, it's like every Red Sox fan is out there helping frame it. Never has anyone in my lifetime been such a beacon of hope for the Red Sox. I look at Curt Schilling, and I just think we can win, he exudes confidence, and you know what he has on his finger going into Yankee Stadium for game 1 tonight, we'll call it his power ring, HE ALREADY HAS A WORLD SERIES RING. (In brightest day, in darkest night, no Yankee hitter shall escape my might, may those paid by George Steinbrenner cower in fright, RED SOX LANTERN LIGHT!) Sorry, comic book moment. So Schilling is your Game 1 starter, and he has not just a chance to win, we KNOW he can win. Pedro pitches game 2, and suddenly no one is looking to Pedro to be the ace, just to give the Sox a chance, and that, Pedro can do. Wakefield has been the bane of the Yankees all year, and Bronson Arroyo's cornrows seem to have taken on a Sampsonesque power.
The Red Sox are just clicking on all cylinders. Johnny Damon is leading this team offensively, from the first pitch every game, and it's been all smiles so far. Sure, we aren't going to sweep the Yankees, we don't have to, we just have to win 4 games. I'll ride in the car with Curt, Big Papi, Mannys afro, and Caveman Johnny anyday.

Here comes the big loop, the coaster is speeding up, and everyone is holding on tight, watch us from below Mom and Dad, this year, we're finishing the ride.

Pick- Schilling pitches 7 in a 5-3 Red Sox Victory.

 

The Killer B's Rejoice

Why? Because now they have won a playoff series, and the choke tag can be lifted (or at least loosened). Here are a few numbers (courtesy of Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Lineups) on the pre-2004 Killer B's:

Killer B's (Bagwell, Biggio, Bell, and for one season Berkman)

Games AB 2B 3B HR RBI OBP SLUG
40 144 1 0 1 6 .253 .167

Bagwell had the highest batting average at .174, and an OBP of .376 thanks to 12 walks. He also has 4 of the 6 RBI's. Biggio hit the double, and Bell hit the homerun (obviously a solo shot).

Yeah they had bad numbers, but they also have had some pretty insane competition. In 1998 there was Kevin Brown, and in various other years there were the Braves, and we know what their staffs looked like.

As for this NLDS though, there seems to be a changing of the tide, possibly Beltran inspired, a load off the other members of the B-crew perhaps. Take a look:

Killer B's 2004 NLDS (AVG/OBP/SLG as always)

Bagwell: .318/.400/.682 2 HR, 5 RBI, 2 2B

Biggio: .400/.455/.650 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 2B

Berkman: .409/.480/.591 1 HR, 3 RBI

And the Queen Bee...I guess...

Beltran: .455/.500/1.091 4 HR, 9 RBI, 2 2B

Granted the newcomer did a lot of the work, but when you win in 5 games, obviously the other three players contributions mattered. Not just that, but the combined production in this 5 game series completely wipes out their previous "highs".

A single postseason homerun in the previous 40 games, 8 homers in these 5. 6 RBI's before, 21 in this series. And the averages and such were a tad higher too, considering Beltran's slugging was almost 1.000 points higher than the cumulative one thus far. The reasons they may have succeeded this year (besides Beltran?)

Well, they didn't draw the pitching dominant team in the playoffs. That is because they are the pitching dominant team. They have the best closer not named Eric Gagne (and even that can be debated) as well as two frontline starters the other three teams would die for. Also, with the emergence of Brandon Backe as a candidate to be a big game pitcher, this could be a team going places in the playoffs, regardless of all the prophecies of a firey death at the hand of the Redbirds. Of course, that has nothing to do with why they hit this time. Rob Neyer's explanation: "Shitty luck" (exact quote, God love that man.)

Jaret Wright is not Kevin Brown (no offense to his fine season). He is also not Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, or John Smoltz. What good is Randy Johnson on your team in 1998 when he has to face Kevin Brown in his prime? The Astros were a pitching strong and hitting strong team in the playoffs, but only one of those would ever perform even close to their capabilities. If both of them keep it together like they have so far, the Cardinals might not take this series as easily as everyone thinks. Also, Phil Garner should just relax. Please don't emulate Tony La Russa, just don't do it.





Monday, October 11, 2004

 

Round 2 of the Playoffs...mostly

Well us Boston fans must not be too smart for firing Grady Little. Apparently it is hip and trendy to try and manage incorrectly costing your team playoff victories. Nominees for the First Annual Grady Little Managerial Award this playoffs are Ron Gardenhire, Phil Garner, and Game 5 Mike Scioscia. Scioscia did the least bad thing (sort of) but he did go against what he always does, which just makes it one bad decision at the wrong time. What it is that Scioscia always does is never fall into the matchup trap. The one time he did basically all season came back and hit them as hard as a Jose Guillen helmet hitting the back of the dugout. Too soon for that comment? Maybe now people will realize Washburn isn't you know...good.

Garner has not lost his series yet, but the domino effect of moves in yesterdays contest just made me sad as a fan of baseball, nevermind the Astros. Starting Clemens on 3 days rest was questionable, yes, considering his past record on short rest as well as his recent stomach flu. But Clemens did well, giving up only 2 runs in 5 innings (a quality start with a 3 run lead in the playoffs? I'll take that.) What he did after was the problem. Brad Lidge got to throw 7 pitches. 7. The most dominant pitcher left on your entire roster threw seven pitches in a game that could have easily ended the series. Granted he was pinch-hit for in a critical hitting situation, but you probably should not have brought him in when you did if you knew his spot was coming up in the order. Or atleast double switch for him, you know since you had already taken the 3/4 Craig Biggio out of the game with a previous double switch. 3/4 with a homerun and a double mind you. Last thing: Russ Springer v. J.D. Drew, game on the line, first base open, what do you do? Not what Garner did. He can redeem himself tonight by deciding whether or not he wants to overmanage or undermanage and sticking with it. Go Astros, but if not, please don't blame the Killer B's, who finally are allowed some solace from the media.

I think I am going to interview for the Minnesota Twins managerial position when Gardenhire gets fired. Well if he does. Why do I think I have a chance? Because I'm not Ron Gardenhire. Gardenhire lost Game 2, then the Twins lost Game 3, then Gardenhire lost Game 4. You know who else lost Game 4? Terry Ryan, for letting Pat Borders have a roster spot. For someone who has been in the league as long as Pat Borders you think he would know how to stop a baseball. You can it was just bad luck, one pitch down, but I was watching him try and catch Nathan and he looked like he was in little league. Maybe all of those articles on how it was a good idea for Minnesota to sit on their prospects and look towards 2005 weren't worth the materials they took to produce. Maybe finding another catcher, any catcher, would have been better than simply prayers for Joe Mauer or even more prayers for Pat Borders. Maybe moving Mauer to another position should be something they should work on (I hear Corey Koskie might be leaving, so why not make Mauer learn third? Can't hurt, considering how productive one of the top prospects in baseball got to be this year...Oh wait.) The Twins have a lot to work on this offseason if they want to stop being solely AL Central bullies, especially with the Indians capable of making a push in the near future.

Kudos to Lima Time for putting up the only thing resembling a valiant effort in the Cardinals-Dodgers matchup. Sorry for the Dodgers but all of those things that were supposed to weaken St. Louis in the first round didn't. Good news for the NLDS opponent of St. Louis though, as Chris Carpenter will not return for the Cardinals. Of course if the Astros do win tonight they get to start Peter Munro Game 1. You know, the guy they couldn't trust to win the non-elimination game 4 in a series that could have easily been wrapped up tonight with a fully rested Roger Clemens. I'll stop playing armchair quarterback until tomorrow though.

Submit your votes for the First Annual Grady Little Managerial Award for Unbelievable Playoff Non-Excellence to WhoNeedstoWinAnyways@HopelessCause.com

And pray as hard as you can to whoever it is you think is listening to you that Tito doesn't join the nominees.


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