Thursday, October 25, 2012

Where Was The Real Justin?

Ok, I'll admit it.  Even before the first pitch was thrown, I had given the Detroit Tigers the win.  How could they not?  Justin Verlander was on the mound.  Arguably the best pitcher in baseball, with three dominating wins and sporting a minuscule 0.74 ERA in the playoffs, the Tigers were going to be tough, if not impossible to beat in game one.

I couldn't have been any more wrong.

The standout pitching performance came from the opposite dugout.  Barry Zito, the pitcher who didn't even make the Giants post season roster in 2010, pitched the game of his life.  In his first World Series start, Barry pitched brilliantly for 5 2/3 innings, setting the tone for his team.  He was followed by Tim Lincecum, who sat down seven straight batters, five on strike outs.  

It was a welcome sound to hear the Giants fans cheering so loudly and passionately for Barry Zito.  He's had a tough time in San Francisco and the fans haven't always been kind to him.  All the bad outings were forgotten tonight.  He even joined in the scoring, driving in the Giants fourth run after getting a hit off of Justin Verlander in the fourth inning.  This marks the fourth straight game where a Giants pitcher has driven in a run.

Offensively, the game belonged to the Giant's Pablo Sandoval.  He drove in half of his team's eight runs.  With three home runs in his first three at bats, Pablo became only the fourth player in baseball history to hit three home runs in one World Series game.  He joins Albert Pujols (2011), Reggie Jackson (1977) and Babe Ruth (1926 and 1928)  Oddly, Pablo hit only 12 home runs during the regular season.  Guess he was playing catch up tonight.

Now the nagging question.  Did the five day layoff after their sweep of the Yankees hurt the Detroit team?  In 2006 the Tigers had almost a week off after winning the ALCS.  The Cardinals went on to beat the Tigers four games to one in the World Series and many felt that the rest did the team more harm than good.  The Giants came into the World Series with only one day off and whole lot of momentum, including the high of suviving six elimination games.  Perhaps the Tigers rest only led to rust.  Let's see if they can shake it off tomorrow night.

This World Series marks the first since 1954 where the AL and NL batting champs are facing each other.  Miguel Cabrera and Buster Posey won the titles this season.  In 1954 it was the New York Giants Willie Mays and the Cleveland Indians Bobby Avila who wore the crowns.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A 10 On The Richter Scale!

No, that wasn't an earthquake.  It was the Giants fans jumping up and down at AT&T Park.  They are loud, proud and over the top! 

Nothing in baseball is more exciting than a Game 7, especially in the LCS!  It's the ultimate win or go home!!

So which team do you think is going to keep playing?  Will it be an orange-on-orange World Series or will it be a repeat of the 2006 World Series?

A Tiger's Tale

Congrats to the Detroit Tigers, champs of the American League and the first team to make it to the 2012 World Series!

It's kind of funny, at the start of the season the Tigers had been picked to win their division.  After getting off to a slower than expected start, in many All-Star break polls they were oft-mentioned as one of the mid-season's biggest disappointments.  At the end of the season, not so much.

Without a doubt, the Tigers played head and shoulders above all the other American League playoff teams.  2011's American League Cy Young winner and MVP, Justin Verlander was absolutely brilliant.  Miguel Cabrera showed a national tv audience how and why he won the triple crown and Phil Coke stepped in when his team needed him like never before. 

The A's took the Tigers to five games in the division series but they were unstoppable in the ALCS.  The Tigers sent the Yankees back home without a win.  In fact, throughout the series the Yankees never had the lead in any of the four games played.  Not even once.  In 27 1/3 innings the team with baseball's highest payroll score only two earned runs.  They were humiliated.

Yet, in all of this, there is something disappoints me terribly.  The local and national coverage that the Tigers got, or should I say, didn't get.  It seems that everything that I saw and heard the day after the Tigers sweep of the Yankees was not about the Tigers victory.  It was all about the Yankees loss.  From Derek Jeter's fractured ankle, to A-Rod's lack of hitting and subsequent benching, to the sub-par pitching performances to everything else under the sun, once again, the Yankees grabbed the headlines. 

C'mon guys, give the Tigers their due.  They've earned your respect and more importantly, they deserve it.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Werth It?

Two years ago, the Washington Nationals went on a spending spree.  They signed Phillies free-agent outfielder Jayson Werth to a $126 million, seven year deal.  The pundits criticized the team, saying they way over-paid for a good bat and a strong veteran presence on the team.

Werth had a disappointing season in 2011 and the criticism continued.  In April of this season, while attempting to make a diving catch, Werth broke his right wrist.  He missed three months of the season.  More criticism.

Last night, the Cardinals were up 2-1 in the National League Division Series and needed only one more win to advance to the League Championship Series.  The game versus the Nationals was deadlocked at 1-1 for the majority of the game.  In the bottom of the ninth, Jayson Werth hit a walk-off home run, forcing a game five.

In that moment, Werth became worth every penny. 


Sunday, October 7, 2012


I'm still at a loss.  I can't get my head around what happened at Turner Field Friday night.  I was confident that the Braves would win.  The way the game unfolded?  No words. 

Well, maybe a few.

I will say this first.  The Braves were not at their best.  Three errors and ten left on base leaves a team at a huge disadvantage.  But what about momentum?  The Braves had it on their side in the eighth inning.  And then it was lost on a call.  A call that will live in infamy.

Down 6-3 with runners on first and second with one out in the bottom of the eighth, Andrelton Simmons hit a fly ball into the outfield.  The outfield.  The ball dropped between outfielder Matt Holliday and shortstop Pete Kozma.  Braves fans went nuts!  The bases were now loaded with Brian McCann stepping in to pinch hit.  Momentum was on our side!

Then the unthinkable.  The bizarre.  The unexplainable.

Left-field umpire Sam Holbrook called it an infield fly.  WTF!?!  The ball was a good 60 feet into the outfield.  Now instead of having the bases loaded with one out, the Braves had runners on second and third with two out.  The shift of momentum had begun.

Braves fans were incensed and it was made known!  It was like nothing I've ever experienced.  A barrage of cups, beer cans, coke bottles and trash were all thrown onto the field to a soundtrack of shouts, curses and screams.  The game was halted.  The players cleared the field and the grounds crew cleaned the debris. 

Eighteen minutes later play resumed.  The momentum had shifted 180 degrees.

Yesterday and today I read and watched everything that I could about the incident.  I knew what I thought and felt about everything, both the call and the reaction.  But what about those who are more knowledgeable than I?  Was it the right call?  Were the Atlanta Braves fans a disgrace and an embarrassment?  I needed to know.

From my "research", baseball insiders and analysts were divided 50-50 on the veracity of the call.  The infield fly rule is, in itself, vague.  To have it have such massive implications on a game of such importance is unacceptable.  Something has to change.

As for the reaction of Braves fans, I'm proud of my peeps.  Atlanta fans have been criticized for decades for not being "good fans".  Friday night our passion shone through.  What I find funny, is that if this had happened in either New York or Philadelphia, it would have been acceptable.  It's ok when Yankee or Phillies fans react strongly.  But Atlanta fans?  Apparently not. 

And now on to my other point of contention.  The one game playoff between two wild card teams.  It's wrong.  Two teams that play 162 games in a season SHOULD NOT have their seasons hinge on one game.  Football, sixteen games, one game playoff, yes.  Baseball, 162 games, one game playoff.  NO.  My feelings regarding this don't stem from this game.  Revisit my post from March 11, 2012.  I didn't like it then and I don't like it now.

I'm realistic.  Before the incident, the Braves had already dug themselves a pretty deep hole and the Cardinals were playing well.  But in the eight inning the Braves were digging themselves out of that hole.  Just like they had done so many times throughout the season. 

Would the Braves have won without the infield fly call?  No one knows.  That said, as the Cardinals celebrated their win in the locker room they weren't chanting "happy flight."  They were chanting "infield fly."  

That speaks volumes.