Sorry about the schedule slippage lately. Lots of house stuff to take care of. In fact, yesterday I was signing all the papers to actually apply for our loan that we were pre-qualified for. After signing roughly forty papers, I’m not sure if banks have the same idea for pre-qualified that I do, but whatever. That part is over now. Now I’ll just have to sign maybe even more paper come closing.
It’s been a few days since the Giants swept the Tigers in dramatic fashion, and I’m not sure what more I have to add to the conversation at this point. The Tigers hit that lull in the schedule while they waited for the Cardinals’ demise and never found their bats again. Now, I’m sure a big part of that has to do with the Giants pitching staff. I noted before the playoffs started that they had the staff to win the whole thing. Just as when they won in 2010. Also just as when they won in 2010, their offense didn’t click until October. Which, I suppose, if you’re going to have one month to get hot at the plate, October would be the month to do it. Still, great pitching or not, I’m sure that long break didn’t help anything. Congrats, San Francisco. Maybe one of these days you’ll get to celebrate the clincher in person.
Now, as to what’s got me a little bugged today. The Patriots beat the crap out of the Rams in London on Sunday. That was expected enough. But now comes all the buzz about how London is ripe for an NFL team and how the league and it’s owners want this to happen so badly. I’m sure the league does want that to happen, otherwise there would be no buzz at all. And, well, that’s the problem. The idea is just ridiculous.
First off, read this Grantland piece, written by a Londoner to boot. I don’t know how much clearly you want to see that, sure, crowds turn out for a game a year. They may turn out for two games a year.* But that has a lot more to do with curiosity than any sort of real demand for the game. It has not taken root at all in the proverbial “hearts and minds.” It sounds like the NFL in the UK has roughly the same following (likely smaller) than the EPL has here.
*Emphasis on “may.”
And that’s just talking about fan interest in the game. That’s not even getting into logistics. It was pointed out in the Grantland article and in yesterday’s MMQB by Peter King that teams on the east coast don’t have go much further to London than they do to the west coast. Which would be the perfect argument if, you know, all the teams were on the east coast. As is highlighted in the same argument, though, most teams are not on the east coast. If that were the case, you wouldn’t have to argue that the Patriots or Jaguars have to fly to Seattle or San Francisco. Or to point out that those trips by themselves* are further than Green Bay will travel all year. The NFL is spread throughout the whole nation.
*Just to clarify, one cross-country trip or one trans-Atlantic trip, not both trips combined.
So, sure, the teams that are closest to the UK don’t have to go all that far to London. That’s great for them. What about teams in the midwest, southwest, or God forbid, west coast? The whole argument that it’s about as far from Jacksonville to San Francisco as it is to Jacksonville to London just highlights that currently the longest trips in the NFL are comparable to the shortest possible trips to London. Really, all you’re arguing is that the logistics don’t work. This is exactly the same kind of argument you would expect in a political debate. Take the negative and attempt to frame it in a manner that seems positive at first glance. But it’s a wart for a reason. It doesn’t take much digging to figure out where the holes are.
If the Chargers had to play this hypothetical London team in Wembley,* they would be ponying up for a sixteen hour flight. Not to mention the entirely different timezone London is in than the west coast. Remember just a year to two ago when people were opining about how hard it was for west coast teams to win on trips to the Eastern time zone? There’s still debate over how real this is, as you can see from that link. But, still, can you imagine teams flying for over half a day, and then having to play at a ridiculous time? Of course, the other option is to try to make London operate on our time. That means your usual one o’clock Eastern game game would kick off at five local time. That’s not too bad, right? Next slot is four o’clock. So, that would translate into eight local time. Late, but it’s about the time of the “national” games. And, well, I think you’re starting to see the problem. Want to play a prime time game in London? Buckle up, English sports fan, because the pregame show isn’t even going to start until about midnight. Let alone when they kick off. As the Grantland piece points out, the small number of hardcore British watch Monday Night Football* very early Tuesday morning. And goes on until just early Tuesday morning. So if you want to expose your London team to a “national” American audience, it would have to be on the road. After a minimum six and a half hour flight.
*Note the italics.
Another problem: we’ve just been looking at this through the lens of an American team getting to London. What about the European team? Teams want to complain about cross country trips, but they do those, what, two or three times a year? Every time London would play on the road, so roughly half their games, they’re looking at a minimum of six plus hours. Again, those would be the short trips. Try bouncing back a forth from that every week. Then you’re really going to have to start figuring in jet lag to your playoff picture.
Not coincidentally, this is the same issue I have the NHL putting teams in Europe. At least hockey has a very strong following in Europe. On the other hand, the NHL has a hard enough time putting North American teams on the ice. Would it be nice to see maybe the Stanley Cup winner play the KHL winner, and raise the KHL to a true major league status? Maybe. But that’s a post for another day. To just have a regular team trying to play a regular schedule with a damn ocean between you just doesn’t work. Maybe we can revisit it when we get the transporters from Star Trek.*
*It’s unfortunate that there isn’t a Scott on either CBS or FOX pregame shows. I was very ready to do a “Beam me up, Scotty!” line.
Anyway, I know this post will be going up late. I’m going to Purdue’s first exhibition game tonight. I would do a preview for them, but I’ll wait until I see it with my own eyes. But, to summarize my thoughts right now, I think Purdue is going to be a lot better than people realize. Yeah, the Boilers graduated three very good core seniors. But this should be a much more athletic and much bigger Purdue team than we’ve seen for the past several years. Maybe even moreso than the trio that mostly graduated in 2010. Now, does that mean they’ll actually be better at basketball? Maybe, maybe not. But the pedigrees are there. Read what Larry Clisby has to say and where these freshmen are coming from over here. And remember that Purdue has both their Johnsons returning. And also remember that Indiana was only a game or two better than Purdue in conference last year and are most likely way overrated because they’re IU and they have some sort of weird cult. Purdue just might be a dark horse in the Big Ten.
UPDATE: I hadn’t read TMQ before writing this post. He also made a pretty good point about the NFL in London. Or at least poked a pretty big hole in the “they’re demanding it” theory. “Wembley Stadium note: The gate was announced at 84,004, but it seems about 30,000 Brits came dressed as empty seats. The NFL may be wrong regarding the appeal of American football overseas.”
Interestingly enough, the Giants managed to beat all teams from the Central during this run. Also, I didn't score game three, so my apologies if you were looking forward to that.
I suppose I should have listened to that little corner of my mind. I remember how hot the Rockies looked until they hit that big break. Heck, I remember how good the Tigers looked six years ago until they hit a big break, and how flat Verlander himself looked after it.
This is a pitcher who felt totally off his game because he had to wait an extra five minutes. I can’t imagine what all the pomp and circumstance around the start of the World Series would do to him. And, you know, his last go around in the World Series wasn’t exactly stellar. He was rookie, but it’s all the sample size we had.
None of this is to say that Verlander can’t bounce back. There’s plenty of time for that, and there are a lot of qualifiers to Verlander’s bad night.
First off, Pedro Sandoval had the sort of night where it doesn’t matter who’s on the mound. That guy was just a hitting machine last night. I did take some issue with Tim McCarver’s description of the first home run, though. Verlander did get the pitch up like he wanted, but it was over the plate, not in on the hands. Still, it was a good enough pitch that Verlander would blow it by hitters nine times out of ten. And on that tenth time, well, the dude just got a good swing on it, which is what happened here. The third inning, which is apparently where the Giants have decided they’re going to win and lose games, was one of the flukier innings I’ve seen. After getting two quick outs, Angel Pagan hits a bouncer that Miguel Cabrera probably would have handled fairly easily. Except that it happened to bounce right off third base, sending it skipping the opposite direction and rolling into left field for a double. Verlander gets out of there one-two-three, and the whole complexion of the game changes.
Heck, there’s even a qualifier on Sandoval’s second home run. Here, McCarver did have a point. You have a free swinger who has already burned you on a good fastball. Verlander had him down two strikes to nothing on two fastballs. He went with another fastball, and Sandoval caught up to that one. He likely would have been better served to break off one of his devastating curveballs there. It’s hard to blame Verlander, though, because that pitch was not a strike. It was designed to get Sandoval to reach for it and come up empty, or at the least squib it off to the shortstop or third baseman. Sandoval did reach, but the ball just kept going. It didn’t look good off the bat. I thought it was going to be a routine flyball. But it wasn’t, and the game was pretty well broken from there.
On the other hand, I don’t know that it really mattered too much. Barry Zito showed us why he was once considered one of, if not the, best pitcher in the majors once upon a time. And Tim Lincecum came out of the bullpen to remind us that he’s found himself again in a major way. I’m a little shocked that Bruce Brochy isn’t going to use Lincecum to start game two, but I suppose that’s why he’s in the dugout and I’m sitting here toying with computers. Anyway, those two were absolutely spotless. With they way they were dealing, it was a tall order for the Giants to win anyway.
All that said, even with Sandoval’s huge game, you would have to give some MVP* consideration to Gregor Blanco. He made two spectacular catches out in left field that saved who knows how many runs from the Tigers, keeping them out of the game. Especially in the sixth inning when it looked like Zito was running out of gas a little bit. Those were huge plays. I don’t think you can overstate how important those plays were to locking the game up in the middle innings.
*Of that one game, anyway.
As good as the Giants looked, I’m still not quite convinced they’re going to take this series. But I think it’s going to be a better fight than most expected coming into it. Let’s see what the Giants have in the tank when some of the more taxed pitchers get their turn.
I do have one more note to the game, but I’m not entirely sure how it affected things. I wasn’t too thrilled with Gerry Davis’s strike zone. It was too small, but that’s not my real complaint. My issue was how iffy he was with the outside corner, especially up and out. As a viewer, I found myself totally guessing at what was going to be called out there and what wasn’t. I can only imagine what hitters were thinking. It seemed to affect the Tigers more than it did the Giants, but that could well be the style of pitchers. Zito really abused an up and out breaking ball and generally is a crafty lefty who likes to nibble. Verlander is just going to blow it by you or give you a nasty curve. Zito’s style lends itself to a lot more testing of the waters than Verlander. Still, it was frustrating to watch. There was another game where I felt the same thing, though I don’t remember for sure which one it was. I think it was a Cardinal-Giant game, but I could be mistaken. In any case, this is not the first time this October I felt Davis didn’t have the best grasp of the strike zone. I know he’s the crew chief, but I would hate to have him behind the plate in a deciding game at this point. Problem is, he would be slated for game seven, which I now think this series could be looking at.
Game two tonight, Doug Fister faces off with Madison Bumgarner. Bumgarner has looked a little sketchy this postseason, which led to a skipped start last round. Maybe the extra rest will do him good, though. In any case, I do think the Tigers will bounce back in a much lower scoring affair.
Unless, of course, Fister has some rust to shake off, too. Oy vey, nobody said picking games would be this hard!
I'll have a full write up tomorrow, but just for giggles, here are my scorecards for tonight's game. I'll let you figure out who is who. As is the norm when I upload my own pictures, clicking will give you a larger version.
How rare is it that both teams happened to end in the nine hole? Every spot in the batting order for both teams got exactly four plate appearances. That just seems awfully balanced. I can't imagine that's happened all to often.
Well, with the off day and going through the World Series yesterday, I’m not sure what I left myself to write about. Thankfully, the “new look” Marlins gave me something.
Have we given up on big league ball in Miami yet? Or maybe Florida as a whole? It’s great for spring training, and the high school and college baseball scenes are top notch, but it just seems like the Rays and Marlins just aren’t hacking it. Sure, they’re newer teams, but they’ve been around for over ten years each now. It’s time they should really be putting down some roots.
You can’t complain about a lack of success. The Marlins have brought home two world championships in their short history,* and the Rays, after a rough first decade, have morphed into the model small-market franchise. Not to mention the Marlins’ shiny new ballpark.** But both teams typically draw flies.
*Although 1993 was almost twenty years ago. Gulp.
**The caption for picture four is a particularly good example of a mild funny aneurysm moment.
I don’t have an explanation for it, outside of Florida has consistently shown itself to be a poor host for professional sports. I complain about Indy being full of fair weather fans, but it’s nothing compared to what Florida teams deal with. And the Marlins seem to be the worst of the bunch.
It’s not as if the team didn’t try to make a splash. They bid on damn near every free agent, landing Carlos Zambrano, Mark Buehrle, and Jose Reyes, amongst others. They brought in Ozzie Guillen, who seemed like he should have fit like a glove for a team desperate for attention and Latino fans.
But, well, we saw that glove fit more like OJ’s than, say, Hepburn's. This was not surprising. He had long worn out his welcome in Chicago and with Kenny Williams. He was just lucky enough that he had awfully good teams, too good to be shaking up with firing the manager. I honestly wonder if the White Sox might not have had a few more pennants with a different guy at the helm. But, finally, everybody had enough, and the newly-christened Miami Marlins were waiting with open arms.
In response, Guillen barely made it past opening day before sticking his foot in his mouth and creating a huge gulf between himself (and quite possibly the team as a whole, to their chagrin) and the Cubano community the team was so desperately trying to court.* Combine that with his other childish outburts** and losing 93 games with a team that management fully expected to win the division, and there really wasn’t any other way for this to end. Guillen, if you hadn’t heard, was shown the door yesterday. After how badly this year as flopped, he may never get another chance to manage a big league squad. Time to cozy up to wherever Bobby Valentine lands, I suppose.
*Not that I, or many others, necessarily disagreed with Guillen.
**That’s a clown argument, bro.
Has there been a bigger flop for a team that was opening a new stadium? I sure can’t think of any. Most teams at least have an okay year when they open a new place, and if not, the stadium itself is enough of a star to put butts in the seats. But, of course, not Miami, not the Marlins. I know they’re likely stuck there for a good while now after sinking $515,000,000 into that stadium.* But, really, the next time a city starts clamoring for a team, I think there’s one that could be had, and nobody would really care.
*I just wanted to type out that $515 million to emphasize that’s more zeroes than I’ll likely ever see in my life.
It was a noble experiment, but two decades and two rings later, can we say it was a failed one?
Sorry about not having anything yesterday. I had an idea that I would write something as soon as I got home, but I should have known better. Ah well. Nothing to be done about it now.
Just for everybody’s information, I’m writing this at a quarter after ten this morning, but I have no idea when it’s going to be posted. We’re looking at some more houses after work today, so no guarantees about when I’ll be home or what I’ll be doing once I get there.
And another note before we go on. A big congratulations to the Indiana Fever. I don’t write too much about the WNBA, mostly because I don’t really follow it. I have been to a Fever game, and I followed it semi-closely a couple years ago. I guess that would have been 2009. Back then, Eddie White and Bob Kravitz were still the afternoon show on 1070, and they gave pretty regular updates on the Fever. Just another way they were much, much better than JMV is now.* But I digress. Back in 2009, the Pacers weren’t showing the improvement they should have been, and were quickly losing what little was left of their support in the city and the state. The Simons, as Mel was still kicking it then, were worried about the money they were losing on the Pacers, let alone propping up a failing team in a failing league. The feeling, and maybe the mandate from above, I don’t remember, was it was championship or bust for the Fever.
*Really, his radio show is terrible. Better than Cowherd, but that’s about it. I’ve written it here before, but I would very highly recommend the other two daytime shows on 1070, though. Grady & Big Joe and Dan Dakich are very good. I would put them up against local programming anywhere else in the country.
And, you know, the Fever had a very good roster. It was more or less the same core as this year’s group: Tamika Catchings, Katie Douglas, Tammy Sutton-Brown. It wasn’t exactly a pipe dream. But that added pressure of “win the whole thing or it’s over” made it feel a little Major League.* Except, you know, real and with less Charlie Sheen. As far as we know, anyway. And wouldn’t you know, they got all the way to the finals and pushed Phoenix to a deciding game five. They came up just a bit short, but that was enough to convince the Simons to keep this train a-rollin’.
*Of course, even that crew was just looking to win their division and get into the playoffs. Apparently nobody cared what they did come October.
So, yes, it was pretty gratifying as a sports fan in this state of the sport of basketball to see the Fever break through. I didn’t follow them very closely this year, but once I saw they were in the playoffs and were doing well, I definitely took note.
In other sports, it’s official, we have a Giants-Tigers World Series. The Giants were pretty emphatic about it, putting nine runs across. Not sure how many of those were unearned, because Pete Kozma suddenly turned back into a backup shortstop. I suppose I shouldn’t say “turned back into.” He has actually had a pretty eventful go of it in the field in the playoffs. I mean, remember Atlanta? Suffice to say, the past few Cardinal teams have not exactly been the Rolen-Edmonds era Cardinals. If not for Yadier Molina, there may not have been a single redbird even sniffing a gold glove.
Another amusing oddity about that game was the ninth inning. I mean, seriously, if that game hadn’t been over since the third inning, is there any way that’s not delayed? I thought they were going to have to start breaking out some kayaks to navigate the infield. And poor Javier Lopez. A sidearm pitcher trying to throw the ball in those kind of conditions? It’s a wonder he got anybody out. But, as much as that wasn’t really baseball, I can’t blame Gary Darling one bit for his determination to get that game over with. The Cardinals had definitely turned into Old Yeller by that point. It was past time to take them behind the shed.
Sorry, Cardinal fans. They’re called miracle runs because they aren’t supposed to happen. There was no way you were getting two in a row. That’s just getting greedy.
Turning our attention to tomorrow, on paper, and by the last few games, as hot as the Giants have been, I don’t see how they beat the Tigers. The Tigers have looked like the team they were supposed to be all year. They’ve got their rotation set up so we could very well see Jason Verlander three times if necessary. And, yes, as has been widely discussed, Verlander seems to have figured out the playoffs. Assuming Verlander keeps pitching like the stud he has been, that leaves the Tigers to win one game behind the likes of Doug Fister, Max Scherzer, and Anibal Sanchez. Seems like if you can’t figure out how to win one or two out of those three, you don’t deserve to win anyway.
But, you know, there is hope. The Tigers have been off for a long time. We’ve seen this before. Back in 2007, the Colorado Rockies caught fire, made the playoffs in game 163, and proceeded to sweep the division series and the NLCS. The Red Sox had a devil of a time with the Indians, and were dead to rights at one point before the Indians do what Cleveland teams do best: snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.* Then came the World Series, and the Rockies could not have looked any flatter. There’s a chance the long layover could do the same to the Tigers.
*I know that line has become a cliche itself by now, but I’ve been saying it for a long time and I still get a kick out of it, so I’m sticking with it.
That said, I don’t think that’s going to happen here. The Tigers were just here six years ago, where they had a bit of a layover themselves before erroring their way out of that series against the Cardinals. I’m sure they’ve learned their lesson. The Giants’ rotation is all out of whack. If you would have told San Francisco (or anybody else, for that matter) that they were going to make the World Series, and Barry Zito was starting game one, there would have been a visible cringe.
Granted, Zito looks like a very credible and solid choice now, but do you like his chances against Verlander?* And we don’t even know what the plan is for game two. If it were me, I’d probably turn to Lincecum. Any other year, you do that and start marking that game in the win column. Lincecum has looked a lot better as of late, but not well enough where you start doing that just yet.
*On the other hand, do you like anybody’s chances against Verlander?
So, on the surface anyway, I think the Tigers will take this one, and may take it fairly quickly. Still, the Giants have proven they are determinators of the highest degree. I was going to pick Tigers in five, mostly because I pretty well never pick a sweep, but I’ll give the Giants a few moments. Tigers take this one in six. You know, just long enough that they’ll clinch it on the west coast.
Does Detroit only riot when they lose, or do they still riot when they win just because they don’t know any other way?
No real post to end the week. We're finally really serious about buy a house. Looked at a very promising one on Thursday, and we've got seven(!) to look at Friday evening. So, suffice to say, while I could write up something at work, there would be no posting it until awfully late.
First off, congrats to the Tigers. I fear we're going to have a repeat of 2006 after tomorrow, though. The Giants just look all out of sorts, and this is not the time of year to be doing that.
In an abbreviated Friday Football Forecast, the Colts get to host the Browns. I think they'll bounce back. Last week was a classic let-down game, and the Colts played into it. They'll get their act together now. And, if anything, the Browns are now in let-down mode, after finally breaking through to become the last team to win this year. So, yeah, Colts win, we'll say 28-17.
Purdue gets to travel to Ohio State. That doesn't leave me feeling all warm and fuzzy for a few different reasons. First off, Purdue has been all sorts of disappointing the past two weeks, and the Buckeyes have looked head and shoulders better than Wisconsin and Michigan. If the Boilers bring the same kind of attitude to Columbus that they brought, well, to their own backyard, this will be a massacre. Add to that Purdue's two-game win streak at Ross-Ade, and I'm sure the Buckeyes wouldn't mind sending a message. I don't even want to put up a score for this one, just suffice to say, this one will probably get ugly early. Watch at Harry's or a similar establishment to distract yourself if you can.
Wabash gets to come home after two pretty convincing road wins. They'll welcome the Scots of Wooster. Normally Wooster is one of the better teams in the NCAC, but this year is not one of those years. They're sitting at 2-4 right now. And those two wins are over perennial doormats Hiram and St. Vincent. Both teams that many times go years between winning games. Not exactly the sort of wins you write home about. With Wabash regaining their mojo, I think this one will be pretty lopsided. At least I'll get to enjoy one blowout on Saturday.
Anyway, off to sleep now. Long day tomorrow, and apparently I'm not doing it on much rest.
Forgot to add this. Wooster has a famous bagpipe band, at least in bagpipe circles. How famous? Coke famous!
Well, last night pretty well cemented the Tigers’ boot to the Yankees’ throat. That was all but guaranteed, though. What may be bigger news coming out of last night’s game is the cementing of Justin Verlander’s reputation and career.*
*No matter how much I start to call him Jason Verlander. This has been a recent thing, I don’t have a clue where it came from. If I ever slip up and write it that way in the blog, please, let me know in no uncertain terms that it is just dead wrong.
There has been a train of thought for some time that, as great Verlander has been every year for his entire career, his post-season resume left something to be desired. This isn’t a universally-held view, but it’s prevalent enough, and something I did happen to agree with. Here is a Joe Posnanski article that sums it up pretty well, written during last year’s playoffs. And, well, last year, Verlander played right into that hand. If you are really that sort of elite pitcher, you don’t have ho-hum four-run games when your back is against the wall in the ALCS. And, well, those are the sorts of outings Verlander kept having.
Until, obviously, this year. Again, Posnanski wrote about it, and I’m on board. Verlander was who he is supposed to be in both starts against the A’s. In two starts, he threw sixteen innings, gave up one run,* struck out twenty-two, and walked only five. That’s pretty darned good. Last night was more of the same. Verlander went eight and a third, giving up one run,** struck out three, and walked no one. And, to listen to Jim Leyland, Verlander would have finished the game if Ichiro wasn’t coming up. If Ichiro hadn’t had the other two hits in the game, that probably wouldn’t have mattered, either.
*That was a solo home run, so not like a sustained inning or anything. Just one good swing.
**Again, it was a solo home run, this one in the ninth inning.
So, yeah, Verlander, you are officially on the doorstep of “legendary stud” status. I would be shocked if the Tigers don’t put the Yankees out of their misery tonight. I fell asleep the last couple late games, because apparently I’m turning into my dad. But, I’m going to try like hell to make it to the end of this one.
Turning over to the National League, I think Matt Holliday is kind of a dirty player. I don’t know if he really means to be, but it’s just the case. Obviously, the most recent play is the one where he tried to snap Marco Scutaro’s leg off at the hip. Holliday apparently asked Buster Posey to apologize to Scutaro for him, saying he should have started his slide a little earlier. And I read that it seemed sincere. I don’t know if Posey took it much to heart, essentially losing a season of his young career to a “slide” a lot like Holliday’s.* But, at least he tried. Still, it takes more than words when you don’t even hit the ground on your slide until you’re on the left field side of the bag. That had a lot more in common with an open field tackle than it did a slide into second. How Holliday wasn’t ejected for that, I don’t know. And let’s not even get into calling runner’s interference to grant the out at first.
*Actually, that collision looks a lot more vicious and a lot less clean than I remember it being. I didn’t remember Scott Cousins lowering his shoulder that much, and I sure don’t remember him loading up for a big hit. Sure, you’re going to brace yourself, but that didn’t really seem very kosher upon review. Maybe that’s because I knew how the hit ended, though.
We’ve been through this before, though. I can remember one of the few times my being a Cub fan in a family of Cardinal fans caused some strife was because of Matt Holliday. And, of course, it had to happen while we were in Missouri for a family reunion. It was a better slide than the one against the Giants, but it wasn’t that much better. Remember when he did his darnedest to take Starlin Castro out of commission? That seemed like an awfully dirty play at the time. Yeah, maybe Holliday could have stretched out and got the bag with his fingertips. But he didn’t. That slide was nothing more than going out of his way to take down a shortstop who had done everything in his power to protect himself. And still couldn’t do it, because Holliday was, unequivocally, sliding at the fielder instead of the bag.
Of course, maybe Holliday is just really bad at sliding. You might remember he had a questionable slide of a different nature when he was still in Colorado. I mean, at this point, I would say your average Little Leaguer might have a better grasp on the whole sliding thing than Holliday at this point.
Of course, your average Little Leaguer might have a better grasp on playing left field, too.
Note: This was written Monday morning, but I forgot to post it. Better than late than never. Incidentally, I don't have too much to write for Tuesday, but I do think Verlander will take care of the Yankees tonight.
I don’t know if the Yankees have ever looked so screwed before. Game one looked, for a moment, to be the typical Yankee mythology, making up four runs in the ninth inning. But, then things took a darker turn in the twelfth, starting with Derek Jeter’s ankle.
I’m sure it comes as a surprise to no one that I’m pulling for the Tigers in this series. Even so, I feel a certain sadness over Jeter. I’ve written here before about how my perception of Jeter has changed over time. I didn’t like him for a long time because he was the Yankees personified. But, the more I think about it, he really has handled his career in the best possible way in virtually every situation. The guy goes out, gives it the proverbial 110% every night in a market that is not the most forgiving. He has handled the media with class and dignity at all times. I don’t know what more you could ask for. It doesn’t sound like this break will end his career, but it’s just a shame to see him go down in the playoffs like that. And, you know, he’s not a spring chicken any more. It might take significantly longer than anybody realizes right now for that ankle to heal. And if he’s not ready for spring training, who knows? It’s not entirely out of the question that we’ve seen the last of the Captain.* But, if Jeter had to pick a way to go out, an injury on a play giving it his all had to be high on his list. To quote Tony Kornheiser** on PTI, “going out like a warrior.”
*I know the Yankees have had many, many captains through the years, but has there been another player that really seems to embody being the Yankees’ captain in every facet the way Jeter has? And to do it in an age where the media is all-consuming as we live in now, it really is just impressive. And, on a related note, is another team (except for possibly the Red Sox, and even that seems to be on a much lower level) that we care about who the captain is the way we care about the Yankee captain?
**I think it was Tony, anyway. If it was Wilbon, my apologies to him.
Over in the National League, the Giants have a problem. AT&T Park has been nothing by kryptonite to them in the playoffs. That may not sound like the biggest problem in the world, except that AT&T Park is in San Francisco, and you have home field “advantage.” After being manhandled there twice by the Reds, they were flawless on the road. Last night looked pretty bad other than the fourth inning. This is not the first time they’ve been shut out in eight out of nine innings this October, either. They made it work, however improbably, against the Reds, but this just isn’t a strategy I think you’ll be able to ride all the way to the championship. I know the Giants have an amazing rotation. I mean, they couldn’t even find a spot for Tim Lincecum to start, even after he seemed to right his season. But, as good as the pitching is, you’ve got to score some runs, and I just don’t know if the Giants have quite enough fire in their bats.
Of course, I think I said that every round of the 2010 playoffs, and we all saw how that worked out.
Over on the gridiron, this weekend played out exactly how I predicted. The Colts had their letdown against the Jets, pretty well out of the game by halftime. The Boilers looked plain impotent against Wisconsin, unfortunately reverting back to “who we thought they were” territory. I’m starting to get a little worried about a bowl berth. And I don’t think Ohio St. will take it easy on Purdue after being beat in West Lafayette twice in a row and almost slipping up against lowly Indiana.
But, as almost always, Wabash remained a bright spot. Even after senior All-American quarterback Chase Belton went down fairly early with a mild concussion, the Little Giants romped in St. Louis, beating the Washington Bears 34-14. Going through an Alumni Breakfast Club with Kristine and her college roomies pretty well made sure that I didn’t stay awake to actually watch Wabash, though. I did see we were up 20-7 at halftime, which told me pretty well all I needed to know. Thanks to some other upsets, this week’s win led to a little bit bigger jump in the polls, up to thirteenth this week. It’s not sixth or seventh like we were, but much better than seventeenth.
The Giants give it another go tonight. Surely the can’t lose four in a row at home, can they?