Results tagged ‘ World Series ’

Goo Gone Wild: Why America Now Hates the Red Sox

One game into the World Series and instead of the national media latching on to the total domination that came from an 8-1 final score, they are talking about this:

Lester2
Now, the question is: what was that on Jon Lester‘s glove on Wednesday night in Boston? He seemed to be going to the substance during the game, but due to the conditions (very cold), it would seem unreasonable to think that it was Vaseline, as St. Louis Cardinals‘ minor league pitcher Tyler Melling tweeted during the game, because that would make the ball even harder to control; however, could it have been some other substance to assist with Lester’s grip?

How much does doctoring a ball really assist in a pitcher’s skills? Would the Cardinals have allowed the Red Sox to score eight runs over eight innings if Lester hadn’t been pitching so effectively?

The bottom line for the Red Sox win wasn’t about Lester at all.

What Adam Wainwright was doing last night wasn’t working. His ineffectiveness had very little to do with Jon Lester’s dominance, and Wainwright’s ineffectiveness had a lot to do with his inability to miss the Red Sox bats when they had runners on base. His way of doing things wasn’t working and Cardinals manager Mike Matheny didn’t take him out when he didn’t have “it”.

During the game, the apparent love for the Cardinals from the national media was highlighted by this tweet from Jon Heyman of CBS Sports and the MLB Network:

“The Cardinal way” likely refers to the club’s annual success, building from within, and solid performance on the field. However, while the Cardinals were sluggish defensively on Wednesday night, primarily shortstop Pete Kozma, this wasn’t a defensively gifted club in 2013. Sure, the fielding percentage was fifth in MLB, but the club lacked range, which was pointed out by MLB Network’s Brian Kenny, who used the team’s UZR Rating to say this:

It is easy to jump on the St. Louis Cardinals bandwagon and their internal baseball expertise, but the team was outplayed Wednesday night, regardless of what was on Lester’s glove and the apparent advantage that he may have gained from “cheating.”

If Lester had given up three runs in the second inning instead of having the umpires get together and make the correct call, would the bias towards Lester and what he did or didn’t have on or with his glove still be such a major topic today? Would the world have been okay with things going against the Boston Red Sox instead of the Cardinals fighting an uphill battle?

Smart people in baseball will use information like this:

Dan Brooks is a pitching genius over at Baseball Prospectus, and if you need further proof that doctoring a ball isn’t a big deal, notice that Gaylord Perry is in the Hall of Fame and the Steroid Era players are left outside of Cooperstown on the curb waiting for a shot.

It’s hard for me to not dislike the Cardinals being a Cincinnati homer and a Reds fan at heart, and the whining from fans and the questioning of Lester that is being published from major outlets today (ESPN, NBC, and Yahoo to name a few) is just the norm that I typically observe; However, more shocking is the fact that the original tweet from Melling (which started the whole conversation) was “mysteriously” deleted.

Kozma1Jon Lester was better than Adam Wainwright and there wasn’t anything that was going to help that, even if Pete Kozma was turned into Andrelton Simmons, Ozzie Smith, or Omar Vizquel defensively in Game One. While calling a player out for cheating can be a slippery slope (get it…because of the Vaseline), baseball observers should look at the bigger picture from last night – the Red Sox looked like the better team.

As the World Series moves to Game Two on Thursday, we should all be hopeful that the focus turns to a new game and a fresh start for St. Louis, where the Cardinals will ride the coat tails of postseason domination specialist Michael Wacha. It isn’t good for the game for all of the rumors to be more important than the game, and Major League Baseball brushing aside the possibility of Lester cheating quickly was the right thing to do. See the ball, hit the ball, shut up and play baseball. If you’re the better team, you’ll win.

About these ads

One Pitcher…One Game…Who Do You Pick?

All over the internet this week, different analysts have raised the question: “If you could choose any pitcher to pitch an elimination game, who would you choose?” It seems like a pretty easy question, but the answers have been all over the place. Obviously, the concept needs to be narrowed down. Is it right now? Is it in the history of the game? What kind of team is the pitcher facing?

Kershaw3A recent article at FanGraphs actually posed the question to 12 different players. Not surprisingly, Los Angeles Dodgers left-handed starter Clayton Kershaw came out on top, receiving six votes, but it was relatively surprising that he only received six of the 12 votes. David Price ranked second with two votes, while soon-to-be free agent right-hander Roy Halladay, New York Mets’ right-hander Matt Harvey, Philadelphia Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee, and St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright each received one vote. With Andy Pettitte, the all-time leader in postseason wins (19), Cole Hamels (7-4 with a 3.09 ERA in 13 postseason starts), and Chris Carpenter (10-4 with a 3.00 ERA in 18 postseason starts) still around, is it fair to wonder what Baltimore Orioles’ first baseman Chris Davis was thinking when he said the zero postseason start Matt Harvey?

Certainly, the nastiness of the stuff has to be taken into account when you are answering a question like this, and Harvey is undeniably one of the nastiest pitchers in Major League Baseball…when healthy. If that is the case, should Miami Marlins’ right-hander Jose Fernandez be someone to consider? What about Justin Verlander – the guy has won seven of 14 starts, including a complete ownage of Oakland in the postseason, having posted a 0.29 ERA and a 43:7 K:BB in 31 innings (four starts)? Tim Lincecum has five wins and a 2.47 ERA over 54.2 postseason innings, why not him?

As great as Kershaw has been, he has just one win in five postseason starts. Certainly, it isn’t just about wins, as the win is a strange, outdated statistic; however, after watching Kershaw get rocked in the 2009 NLCS against the Phillies (albeit at the age of 21), is he the best option? How can a pitcher have a career 2.60 ERA, including a 2.21 ERA over his last 99 starts, and only win about 42-percent of his starts (63-percent of his decisions)?

It isn’t Kershaw’s fault. That’s why it doesn’t matter.

Pitching is fantastic, but if the team hitting behind that amazing pitcher isn’t scoring, all of those zeroes mean nothing. Case in point:

Courtesy:csnbayarea.com

Courtesy:csnbayarea.com

July 2, 1963.

Candlestick Park, San Francisco, California.

Milwaukee Braves versus San Francisco Giants.

Warren Spahn versus Juan Marichal.

Spahn’s line:

Pitching IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA BF GSc IR IS WPA aLI RE24
Warren Spahn, L (11-4) 15.1 9 1 1 1 2 1 2.84 56 97 0.970 1.68 5.5
Team Totals 15.1 9 1 1 1 2 1 0.59 56 97 0.970 1.49 5.5
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/12/2013.

Marichal’s line:

Pitching IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA BF GSc IR IS WPA aLI RE24
Juan Marichal, W (13-3) 16 8 0 0 4 10 0 2.14 59 112 1.470 1.49 6.7
Team Totals 16 8 0 0 4 10 0 0.00 59 112 1.470 1.68 6.7
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/12/2013.

Kershaw isn’t going to pitch 16 innings anytime soon, he is just as unlikely to pitch on three days rest several times in a series to accumulate dominant postseason statistics considering he has never started a game on three days rest in his career.

cabrera2The question “who would you start in a game that means everything” means very little. The pitcher means a lot to the outcome of the game, but what happens when that dominant pitcher has Miguel Cabrera playing third base with sore legs and Jhonny Peralta at short? What happens when Joe Kelly or some other non-elite pitcher somehow matches zeroes with the dynamic ace? What happens when Don Larson, who posted a career 81-91 record, 3.78 ERA, and 1.40 WHIP, throws the lone perfect game in World Series history?

Wins don’t matter and dominant pitching is only a luxury when it is happening while the offense is scoring runs. A pitcher is only as good as those playing behind him are on a given night. Even Kerry Wood and Roger Clemens, who struck out 20 in a single game, had to have a run behind them in case someone managed to score in between the seven non-strikeout outs.

Shouldn’t the real question be “if you could have one hitter and one pitcher on your team for a means-everything game, who would they be”?

 

Looking Ahead: The 2014 Cincinnati Reds

Votto1While I write about as much of baseball as I can, I always come back to my hometown Cincinnati Reds, a team that I grew up watching that I continue to root for. I’m fairly certain that the 2013 season will end in some sort of playoff appearance, likely a one-game playoff with the St. Louis Cardinals or Pittsburgh in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, but I am also not too confident in the club reaching the World Series this season, either. You can say that I am a “doubting Thomas” if you want, but with the talent in St. Louis, Atlanta, and Los Angeles this season, I just don’t see the Reds going very far. For that reason, I wanted to take a look ahead to the 2014 season to see what the club could look like.

The club has a lot of money invested in Joey Votto going forward, but the $20-25 million annual salaries won’t start until 2016. Below is the payroll breakdown for 2014, featuring expected arbitration figures (courtesy Baseball Reference):

Age 2013 2014
Joey Votto 29 $17M $12M
Brandon Phillips 32 $10M $11M
Jay Bruce 26 $7.5M $10M
Bronson Arroyo 36 $16.45M FA
Johnny Cueto 27 $7.4M $10M
Aroldis Chapman 25 $2M $3M
Jonathan Broxton 29 $4M $7M
Sean Marshall 30 $4.5M $5.5M
Ryan Ludwick 34 $2M $8.5M
Mat Latos 25 $4.25M $7.25M
Shin-Soo Choo 30 $7.38M FA
Nick Masset 31 $3.1M FA
Homer Bailey 27 $5.35M Arb-3
Ryan Hanigan 32 $2.05M Arb-3
Jack Hannahan 33 $1M $1M
Mike Leake 25 $3.06M Arb-2
Logan Ondrusek 28 $950k $1.35M
Chris Heisey 28 $1.32M Arb-2
Manny Parra 30 $1M FA
Alfredo Simon 32 $890k Arb-2
Cesar Izturis 33 $800k FA
Zack Cozart 27 $527.5k Pre-Arb-3
Todd Frazier 27 $527.5k Pre-Arb-3
Sam LeCure 29 $510k Arb-1
Xavier Paul 28 $505k Arb-1
Devin Mesoraco 25 $497.5k Pre-Arb-3
J.J. Hoover 25 $492.5k Pre-Arb-2
Corky Miller 37 Arb
Henry Rodriguez 23
Tony Cingrani 23
Pedro Villarreal 25
Justin Freeman 26
Donald Lutz 24
Curtis Partch 26
Derrick Robinson 25
Neftali Soto 24
Shin-Soo Choo Shin-Soo Choo traded to/from Cleveland Indians -$3.5M
Ryan Madson Ryan Madson buyout $2.5M
2013 2014
Signed Players With Guaranteed Contracts (does not include players with options) *27 11
Dollars Committed Value of Guaranteed Contracts (no options are exercised and includes buyouts) *$104.1M $76.6M
Contract Options Players with any type of option
Option Values Maximum value of options if all are exercised
Arb Eligible Number of arbitration eligible players (1st-2nd-3rd-4th, “Arb” players = 3rds) 2-3-2-0
Arb Costs Rough estimated value of all arbitration cases (uses 3-year averages for 1st yr, 2nd,..) $19.3M
Other Players Additional Players Needed to Fill 25-man (no options exercised) 7
Other Costs Estimate of Remaining Players Costs (based on 1-year avg of all pre-arb players) $3.5M
Payroll (no options) Est. Total Payroll w/o Options (Guaranteed + Arb + Other) $99.4M
Payroll (options) Est. Total Payroll w/ Options (Guaranteed + Options + Arb + Other) $99.4M
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/24/2013.

With the depth that the club has in starting pitching, barring another lost season from supposed ace Johnny Cueto, the Reds can afford to let Bronson Arroyo walk via free agency, unless, of course, he is willing to take a dramatic pay-cut in his age-37 season. How does the club look as far as depth overall?

Based on the current 40-man roster:

Players reaching free agency – (5) – Arroyo, Manny Parra, Nick Masset, Cesar Izturis, and Shin-Soo Choo

Starting Pitchers – (8) – Cueto, Mat Latos, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake, Tony Cingrani, Carlos Contreras, Daniel Corcino, and Ismael Guillon

Relief Pitchers – (13) – Aroldis Chapman, Sean Marshall, Jonathan Broxton, Nick Christiani, Justin Freeman, JJ Hoover, Sam LeCure, Kyle Lotzkar, Logan Ondrusek, Curtis Partch, Josh Ravin, Alfredo Simon, and Pedro Villareal (has been pitching in relief recently).

Catchers – (3) – Devin Mesoraco, Ryan Hanigan, and Corky Miller

Infielders – (7) – Votto, Brandon Phillips, Zack Cozart, Todd Frazier, Jack Hannahan, Henry Rodriguez, and Neftali Soto

Outfielders – (7) – Jay Bruce, Ryan Ludwick, Chris Heisey, Donald Lutz, Derrick Robinson, Xavier Paul, and Yorman Rodriguez

Sizemore1

The loss of Shin-Soo Choo is pretty dramatic considering the skills that he has provided as the leadoff hitter for the Reds, as he is 2nd to Votto in on-base percentage in the National League. His production will have to be replaced, but who can provide the same skills. The Reds were likely hoping for another excellent season from Billy Hamilton, one of the team’s top prospects, in Triple-A Louisville this season, but, while he has stolen 73 bases, he is hitting just .259/.311/.347 after stealing 155 bases and hitting .311/.410/.420 in 2012 over two levels. If the Reds aren’t going to be in on Choo in free agency due to costs, it is also unlikely that they would make a play for Jacoby Ellsbury or Curtis Granderson. However, the club could look to a reclamation project in center to pair with Hamilton, such as: Chris Young (who has an $11 million option with a $1.5 million buyout, coming off of an unspectacular season but still possessing plenty of skills), Franklin Gutierrez ($7.5 million option with a $500,000 buyout, coming off of another injury-filled season but still a solid defender with occasional right-handed pop), or, my wife’s favorite, Grady Sizemore (a player well on his way to a Hall of Fame career before knee injuries stole his ability to stay on the field). Certainly, the club has had decent production, at times, out of Paul, Heisey, and Robinson this season, as they platooned in left field and kept the Reds in contention when Ludwick was out for several months, but they would need to upgrade from that group in center to come close to replacing Choo’s production.

Due to the recent elbow surgery that Jonathan Broxton had to undergo and Sean Marshall‘s inability to pitch for most of the 2013 season, the Reds may need a couple of back-end bullpen arms to pave the way to their shutdown closer, Aroldis Chapman. Bullpens are tough to predict and it wouldn’t be a good idea to invest in another large, multi-year deal (as they did with Broxton) this offseason. Some relievers who will become available may include: Javier Lopez, Rich Hill, J.P. Howell, Jamey Wright, LaTroy Hawkins, Jason Frasor, and Joe Smith.

Additional items the Reds may want to address this coming offseason:

  • Lock up Mat Latos to an extension. Latos is due $7.25 million in 2014 and will be arbitration-eligible for the final time in 2015 prior to reaching free agency prior to the 2016 season. Would the Reds be willing to commit to Latos at five-years, $65 million and is that enough to keep Latos in Cincinnati?
  • Due to Tony Cingrani relying so heavily on his fastball, what can the club do to enhance his secondary pitches so that he can have extended success as a starter? Is he a relief pitcher long-term? With Broxton and Marshall coming off of injury, would it be wise to commit to Cingrani in a set-up role?
  • Should the club re-sign Bronson Arroyo to a one-year deal to keep a rotation spot warm for Robert Stephenson or should they gamble on Cingrani, Carlos Contreras, or Daniel Corcino next season as the No.5 starter? If they look elsewhere in free agency, are pitchers like Colby Lewis, Jason Hammel, Phil Hughes, Josh Johnson, or Ubaldo Jimenez (if he voids his $8 million option) better options than Arroyo?
  • Who is the catcher? Should the Reds truly commit to the offensive potential within the bat of Devin Mesoraco or continue to share the duties between Mesoraco and Hanigan at nearly 50-50?

Cincinnati has a pretty bright future, having locked up Votto, one of the top 15 players in baseball, to be the cornerstone of the franchise, while having solid pieces within the rotation and plenty more talent on the way. Hamilton, Stephenson, Jesse Winker, Phil Ervin, and Michael Lorenzen are going to rise quickly through the organization, just in time for the Reds current 2015 championship window.

Why the World Series Trumps the Super Bowl

One game. Seriously? A 16-week schedule of pounding, collisions, broken limbs, and disformed joints comes down to a single game.

A game with advertisements that cost millions of dollars for seconds of exposure, observed by many who have little interest in the outcome who are looking for something to talk about at the water cooler.

A game with two weeks worth of hype and an entire day, “Media Day”, where journalists from around the world try to trap players into saying something stupid. This year’s winner: Chris Culliver of the San Francisco 49ers for saying he wouldn’t want to play with a homosexual.

TyreeA game where a player can make himself millions of dollars by making a single play, like David Tyree pinning the ball to his helmet for the New York Giants in Super Bowl 42 and getting a book deal, or Larry Brown intercepting two terrible Neil O’Donnell passes in Super Bowl 30 for the Dallas Cowboys and making millions by signing with the Oakland Raiders in the offseason.

A game where a nipple being flashed defines how people can now be entertained at halftime for nine years, finally getting Beyonce to have a decent, modern performance this year for those of us under the age of 60.

A game where a man who was an accomplice to the murder of two people can redefine his image, getting cleats with “Psalms”, apparently a new book of the bible, printed on his shoes by Under Armour. A man who can be featured as a man of God on the cover of Sports Illustrated, yet, hasn’t answered questions about using steroids to get his arm “healthy” enough to play again this season.

The World Series is, potentially, a seven game exclamation on a long season. While some people complain about a 162-game season in baseball, are those people taking into account the 140 days involved in a 20-week NFL season, when counting the preseason, and the five weeks of the postseason that comes down to the single game championship, adding up 25 weeks and 175 days of a season, roughly the same number of games that a MLB team plays including the postseason…and that doesn’t include an offseason that never ends that has ESPN and the NFL Network cramming the NFL Combine, Draft, and fantastic analysts like Mel Kiper, Jr. ruining your life.

Every day that the NFL exists, I get more and more tired of it. I enjoyed watching college football until it literally became the minor leagues for the NFL, where conferences and schools became more interested in the money being thrown at them by ESPN and the creation of their own network than the fact that the schools are institutions of higher learning. Now, football has become a game of thugs, even more than the NBA, where acting like a clown and screaming obscenities and fighting with one another, which doesn’t go unnoticed to the children watching, seems to be the norm.

Certainly, a lot of baseball players are trying to escape their situations. The opportunity for 16-year-old kids to sign contracts in the world of International free agency helps the extremely poor from the Dominican Republic to provide an opportunity for their family, but the number of players signed from there to go on to make millions is few and far between. However, baseball continues to be a game with very few examples of idiocy.

Baseball is and always has been a game appreciated by the patient. Baseball is a game where fans go to watch a game, not party in the parking lot and get hammered every Sunday home game. Baseball is a long season, a long career, and a game of character, which is why Pete Rose, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, Roger Clemens, and Barry Bonds are outside of Cooperstown, while Lawrence Taylor, Michael Irvin, and O.J. Simpson are enshrined in Canton.

The World Series is a tradition like no other, no matter how many times you hear Jim Nantz talk about The Masters golf championship on CBS in the coming weeks. The Super Bowl is fine entertainment, but careers in all sports are defined by more than a single game. No one cares about David Tyree anymore and no one cares about Stanford Jennings kickoff return anymore. However, baseball fans remember what David Freese did for the Cardinals in the 2011 World Series, what Billy Hatcher did for the Reds in the 1990 World Series, Don Larsen and his perfect game in Game Five of the 1956 World Series for the Yankees, Kirk Gibson and his home run trot in Game One of the 1988 World Series for the Dodgers, Willie Mays and “the catch” in 1954, and Jack Morris and his 10-inning shutout in Game Seven of the 1991 World Series. Those moments live forever and always have and will.

Seven games are greater than one. Passion and character overcome whatever this is:

RayLewisFInalDance_original

Is Tim McCarver the Worst Ever?

Courtesy: jerseyisbest.blogspot.com

Last night, when Barry Zito singled in the 4th inning off of Justin Verlander, the San Francisco Giants crowd at AT&T Park started chanting “Bar-ry, Bar-ry.” Not a big deal, only…McCarver’s reaction was to say that “that’s a sound that is not heard too often in this park.” Sure…for Barry Zito, but where was Tim McCarver with Barry FREAKIN’ Bonds was playing!?! The crowd did it all the time.

When Joe Buck tried to correct McCarver by saying “they used to say it for someone else around here,” McCarver replies with “Barry Manilow.”

Here is a link to that amazing conversation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=VHk65O37y5g

I hope he was drunker than Harry Carey at that moment, but it was just another example of the stupidity that Tim McCarver spews. While people, specifically Frank Caliendo, have made a living ripping apart John Madden, McCarver is just as bad. Some other zingers:

  • “I think if you asked that question 30 years ago, it would have brought a different response.”
  • “Well one option that Joe Girardi has is to keep Chamberlain in to pitch the next inning. *pause* Oh, I guess they pinch hit for him. Never mind.”
  • McCarver:  “Take a look at the hitters bat.  Now, if that bat is not in fair territory, there is absolutely -no way- he can bunt the ball INTO fair territory”(Hitter proceeds to bunt the ball fairly down the 3rd base line, while his bat was clearly in foul territory)Joe Buck:  “That rather dispells the theory of the fair/foul bat approach.”

    McCarver:  “Yes Joe, it does”

  • When describing an increase in home runs: “It has not been proven, but I think ultimately it will be proven that the air is thinner now, there have been climactic changes over the last 50 years in the world, and I think that’s one of the reasons balls are carrying much better now than I remember.”

McCarver was an All-Star in 1966 and 1967, finishing second in the NL MVP race in 1967 to his teammate, Orlando Cepeda. However, in his 21-year career, McCarver was nothing more than average at best, with his best comparison over his career being to Jim Sundberg…You probably have to look him up to realize what he accomplished. McCarver hit .271/.337/.388 in 5,529 at-bats, and while his fielding percentage was better than league average during his career (.990 to .988), his arm left a lot to be desired, throwing out 34 percent would-be base stealers when the league average was 37 percent.

While he won two World Series titles with the Cardinals and appeared in his two All-Star Games, at 71 years of age, McCarver is not capable of relating to the game, the current players, but especially to fans. When you need a good explanation of what happened, he certainly is not going to give it to you.

While Bob Costas and his holier-than-thou approach at sports is the most annoying, and Dick Vitale’s obnoxious at best, Tim McCarver ranks right up there with Chris Berman as the worst announcer ever.

World Series Preview

With the Giants Game 7 win on Monday night in San Francisco, the world prepares for its series, with Game 1 on Wednesday night at AT&T Park. The Giants get home-field advantage with that awesome Bud Selig, All-Star Game idea, as the National League won the mid-summer classic in July.

Some things to look forward to:

Pitching:

Courtesy: dcobb1621.blogspot.com

The Tigers’ starting pitchers are 5-1 with a 1.02 ERA in nine postseason games, covering 62 innings, while posting a 66:19 K:BB. That stat includes the absolute domination of the New York Yankees in the ALCS, where Tigers’ starters were 3-0 with a 0.66 ERA. The Tigers have the luxury of setting up their rotation for Game 1, which would allow them to start Justin Verlander in Game 1, 4, and 7; however, Jim Leyland has penciled in a four-man rotation in the World Series, with Verlander, Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez, and Max Scherzer slated to toe the rubber for the Tigers.

The Giants taking the St. Louis Cardinals to seven games and losing Matt Cain is sort of devastating for the outlook on the series. Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy could surprise people with what he does, especially after moving Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum around from the rotation to the bullpen already within this postseason. If Bochy keeps his NLCS roster, the Giants could start Tim Lincecum in Game 1, followed by Barry Zito, Ryan Vogelsong, and Cain in Game 4. Due to Lincecum’s struggles in Game 4 of the NLCS, could the “rest” that Bumgarner received allow him to jump back into the rotation, after Bochy said he was “tired” after his Game 1 loss to the Cardinals?

However the Giants rotation shapes up, the spacious ballparks involved in this series will allow for success from the least likely of candidates. The power that lies in the arms of the Tigers’ starting pitchers could make for some high strikeout totals, while the blend of power and finesse in the Giants rotation could lead to some very low scoring games.

Power:

Power in the throwing arms is evident but the greatest asset that the Tigers possess are the two bats in the middle of their order, Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera. Those two are capable of changing the game with one swing, and while the Giants have power in the bats of Pablo Sandoval, Hunter Pence, and Buster Posey, they aren’t nearly as productive, historically and recently, as the portly sluggers on the Tigers.

Courtesy: USAtoday.com

While Comerica Park and AT&T Park can sap the power in both lineups, both teams have enough on-base and speed guys (see Austin Jackson and Marco Scutaro) to manufacture runs. However, one swing of the bat can change everything, just ask Cincinnati fans, who saw the grand slam by Posey in Game 5 of the NLDS destroy their lives. While the advantage lies with Fielder and Cabrera, the Giants, so long thought to be ineffective offensively, have enough to win this series.

Passion:

There is nothing better than postseason baseball. Watching the fans in San Francisco the last two nights is what makes baseball special. While they were there for all of the 81 home games in the 2012 regular season, the fire and excitement over the last two nights fueled the Giants to an amazing comeback from a 3-1 deficit in the NLCS.

The Tigers are showing the passion of a city in the middle of a rebirth. While there were times of weakness, the strengths of Detroit came out to conquer those moments, establishing the franchise as a legitimate juggernaut, just as Detroit has done with the rebound of the American car manufacturing companies.

The pitching is going to make the “normal baseball fan” bored, but this series is exactly what the die-hard fans enjoy. The team that makes the first mistake in each game will lose, and the scores will look lower than a Tiger Woods scorecard before his man-whorishness was made public.

What to Expect:

The Giants will enjoy their home-field advantage in Game 1, continuing the momentum that drove them to a tremendous comeback over the Tigers, but due to the opening game loss, Jim Leyland will run Justin Verlander out for Game 4 and again in Game 7, which the Tigers will win with another Verlander shutout.  Max Scherzer becomes the Tigers’ version of Trevor Rosenthal, making several appearances but totally shutting down the opposition.

Tigers in 7. Justin Verlander will be the World Series MVP. Brian Wilson‘s beard is still better than Sergio Romo‘s, however, it’s still a distant second to Peter Griffin’s.  

Courtesy: familyguy.wikia.com

Freese + Postseason = Mr. October

David Freese was just another role player for the Cardinals this season.  Their lineup was built around Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday and they got lucky when Lance Berkman decided to try again after bailing on the Astros last season.  Well, Freese is now a cornerstone at the hot corner, and he becomes a legend due to 18 games.

In 18 games this postseason, Freese has posted a .397/.457/.794 slash, scoring 12 runs, with 25 hits, including 8 2B, 1 3B and 5 HR.  His 21 RBI are a postseason record.  While Freese showed some skills in April before an injury caused him to get just 14 at bats in May and June combined, his overall stats in his 604 at bat career wouldn’t lead to anyone being intimidated by him:

.298/.354/.429 with 72 R, 30 2B, 2 3B, 15 HR, 98 RBI and a 141/47 K/BB

Getting hot at the right moment is what it is all about in October.  While Albert Pujols’ 3 homer, 6 RBI-night will be remembered due to his ultimate legacy, Freese has given himself a couple of years in St. Louis to establish himself as their third baseman.  Leading a team to a World Series title when you’re making $416,000 is a big deal, especially when Pujols could get $30 million per season and will never have a postseason like Freese did in 2011.

No one will ever have a postseason like Freese has had.  Not bad for a 28-year-old who looked like organizational depth when he was acquired from the Padres for Jim Edmonds in 2007.  He has become a story, the story.  While so many thoughts will immediately jump to where Albert Pujols ends up after the World Series is completed and Free Agency begins, Freese deserves better than that, and as the Cardinals lead 5-2 in the top of the 7th in Game Seven as I finish this, he is worthy of the World Series MVP, even if the Rangers come back.

It’s Always Something…

2,365 times Tony LaRussa has lost as a Major League manager, but only in the last couple of seasons does it seem like there is someone to blame other than himself or his team.  In Game Five of the World Series on Monday night, LaRussa called the bullpen twice.  Twice he, supposedly, asked to get Jason Motte up and warmed up.  Derek Lilliquist, the Cardinals bullpen coach, got Marc Rzepczynski up the first call and Lance Lynn up the second time.  No Motte.  The visitor team can’t see the visiting bullpen from the dugout at the Ballpark at Arlington, but there isn’t much of an excuse here.

LaRussa’s gaffe was that he didn’t make sure that the right man was up.  Whether the stadium was louder than any stadium in history or the Cards couldn’t see who was up, it is his responsibility to make sure that things are aligned.  If having a telephone as the only line of communication doesn’t work and the Rangers don’t have cameras, maybe it would have been in the best interests of the Cardinals or the League to step things up prior to the series.  No one did.  Deal with it.

Who knows if the bullpen phone was an excuse, though.  LaRussa has long been the manipulator of the bullpen and maybe he was throwing someone else under the bus for Rzepczynski’s inabiltiy to get Napoli out.  Rzepczynski is much better against left-handed hitters, but it’s not like anyone else has had much luck getting Napoli out this season, the man hit .383 after the break!  You can’t say that even if Motte or Lynn were on the mound at that point, they would have been able to get anything done.  It probably would have been Napoli-ever-after anyway.

Just add it to the list of excuses.  As a first-year teacher, I have heard quite a few interesting excuses already, but LaRussa and the Cardinals inability to adapt and accept what is thrown at them is assanine.  Since they lost home-field advantage when they lost Game Two at home, are they going to say that the 2-3-2 alignment isn’t fair when they lose Game Six?  Blame the League for not having enough off days if Kyle Lohse is their Game Seven starter?  The balls aren’t rubbed enough, the lights got in the way, the fireworks made the field too smokey, and you still need to shut your mouth and play the next game.  Against the wall, the Cardinals need to find themselves and get over it.

Uncomfortable Conversations about Groins

Looking back, nothing is quite as funny as the ol’ groin shots that dads always seem to take on America’s Funniest Home Videos.  Although Bob Saget made it an awful show (he’s much funnier when he is lewd), you knew the wiffleball bat  to the groin was money in the bag.  Still is.  However, there isn’t really anything funny about pain in the groin, especially if you’re a man and even moreso if you are a Rangers fan.

Josh Hamilton’s groin is getting talked about more than Ron Jeremy’s ever was, and he isn’t even sporting a porn-stache.  Hamilton has been bothered by his left groin injury for over a week, telling ESPN 103.3 FM in Dallas that he is playing at “about 50 percent” on October 16th, acknowledging the injury as far back as October 13th.  His groin and Ron Washington, the Rangers’ manager, don’t seem to be on the same page, though.

Ron Washington will have Josh Hamilton playing in Game Three of the World Series Saturday night, but he won’t be the Designated Hitter…oh no…he’ll be covering centerfield for the Rangers.  Michael Young will be the DH, Mike Napoli will move to first base and Yorvit Torrealba will be behind the dish at catcher.  With an off day on Friday, Napoli should have been back behind the plate.  If Hamilton is still one of your top hitters, even at 50 percent, but you want him around for the remaining games, why would you put him in the field when he could DH and rest his ailing groinal region?

Craig Gentry  handled centerfield for Hamilton in Game Two and his speed could be valuable for the score-at-any-cost mentality of the World Series so far.  Certainly the Rangers lose something by having Gentry in center and David Murphy in left, but they lose even more if Hamilton tears his groin or injures it further while playing center in Arlington.  The warmer weather could help him, the adrenaline will definitely help him, but Ron Washington’s choice to mess with Josh Hamilton’s groin is a decision that I can’t agree with, and I’m not talking about religious viewpoints or anything besides baseball here.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 409 other followers