2015 MLB Playoffs

Mister Tee
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Re: 2015 MLB Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Tue Oct 20, 2015 11:22 am

The election apparently went even better than hoped for -- we can only dream of such a result here. The Blue Jays, on the other hand, made what started out a blowout into a surorisingly close game. They were lucky Cueto was as bad as he was (and that Yost stuck with him beyond normal endurance), because Stroman was no ball of fire, either. Even when it was 9-2, I had my doubts Stroman would endure long enough to get the win, and the Jays bullpen is a bit wobbly just now.

Today's when we find out if the Jays are truly back in the series, and if the Cubs are showing up at all this round.

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Re: 2015 MLB Playoffs

Postby Okri » Mon Oct 19, 2015 8:18 pm

I will totally sacrifice the Blue Jays to get the election result I want, but right now it's looking good for both.

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Re: 2015 MLB Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Mon Oct 19, 2015 1:54 pm

Another quick update:

Four LCS games in, and only one truly memorable one: David Price's 7th inning meltdown against the Royals. If you weren't watching, it was truly shocking -- Price had, after a lead-off first inning single, cruised through retiring 18 in a row. Then a ball fell in between the infielders & outfielders, and the floodgates opened.

Mets/Cubs were close both nights, but a bit dull in spite of that, as each time the Mets scored early runs and the Cubs never caught up.

We'll see if these 2-0 leads are a sign of domination, or simply of home field advantage. Will the (seemingly spectacular) Mets pitchers look as squelching in Wrigley Field? If they do, you have to figure -- based on the Giants' recent success, as well -- that shutdown pitching has become the sine qua non of the post-season.

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Re: 2015 MLB Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Fri Oct 16, 2015 1:43 pm

Before round two kicks off, a few words about Mets/Dodgers:

My sense last night was, Greinke pitched better than deGrom (and would have been squelching had Murphy not existed), but the Mets played better. The Dodgers squandered opportunity after opportunity, while the Mets capitalized on what little they got. When Murphy made that run to third (and subsequently scored), I was reminded of Johnny Damon's mad dash in 2009. The Phillies were never the same after that in '09, and, after Murphy's move, I had no doubt the Mets were going to win it.

FilmFan, your moaning over the Cubs' being the Wild Card, despite the best record of all remaining teams, brought memories of 1985. In that pre-Wild Card time, the 97-win Yanks and 98-win Mets watched the post-season from home because of the 99-win Blue Jay and 101-win Cardinals -- both of whom lost (in memorable 7-game match-ups) to the Royals, who's won the then-western Division with a paltry 90 victories. And then it occurred to me: all those teams (plus the Dodgers, who lost to the Cards in the NLCS that year) are in this year's playoffs as well -- Back to the Future, in the two years Zemeckis' movie was set. Plus, I presume most of you have been reminded that, in Back to the Future 2, a sign announced the Cubs winning the Series in 2015? (Against Florida, so it's predictive powers aren't perfect.)

LATE EDIT: The above was written in morning-grog, and I realized after that of course it was Back to the Future 2 that was set in 1985 and 2015; the first film was set in 1955/1985. But...to bring it around...the post-season match-up in 1955, a one-winner-per-league era, was Yankees/Dodgers -- so it fits the pattern as well (albeit less elaborately).

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Re: 2015 MLB Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Thu Oct 15, 2015 7:25 pm

For anyone who hasn't seen it, I found this Grantland piece on yesterday's Toronto lunacy pretty hilarious.

http://grantland.com/the-triangle/2015- ... l-history/

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Re: 2015 MLB Playoffs

Postby FilmFan720 » Thu Oct 15, 2015 11:01 am

I too haven't posted much in here, although I love reading your thoughts on these things Tee.

I believe I'm the only board member here with a horse still in the race, so I can't be as objective about things as the rest of you. That said, the controversy seems to have hit everyone but the Cubs this year. I'm remaining very cautiously optimistic about things...I'm surrounded all day by excited teenagers claiming that the Cubs are sure to win everything, but they are too young to have lived through the Bartman game and the pain that came from being sure that 2003 was our year (and I'm too young to have lived through 1984, or 1969, or 1945, and so on and so on).

I won't be able to watch tonight, but I'm curious as to where Chicago goes next (and I'm sorry, it is ridiculous that we won't have home field advantage...we were a better team than both of these, wild card be damned). I think the Dodgers scare me less than the Mets, especially if both Kershaw and Greinke are out for Game 1, and Greinke not pitching until we get to Chicago. But, wouldn't it be fitting that after knocking out our dreaded Cardinals we then get to go and exact revenge on the dreaded Mets?!?

That said, no matter what happens in the next week, there is going to be a lot of blue worn at the World Series.
"Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good."
- Minor Myers, Jr.

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Re: 2015 MLB Playoffs

Postby danfrank » Thu Oct 15, 2015 10:29 am

That WAS probably the craziest inning of postseason ball I can remember. If the game had ended 3-2, it would be hard to blame Russell Martin for such a freak error (I can't recall ever seeing that happen either). Given the actual outcome, I can't imagine Elvis Andrus sleeping too well for a while. That inning must have been pure torture for Rangers fans.

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Re: 2015 MLB Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Wed Oct 14, 2015 9:43 pm

The 7th inning in Toronto was like an acid trip.

I didn't think anything could supplant the Utley brouhaha at the top of the controversy list, but the I've-never-seen-that-before deflection on Martin's throw that scored the go-ahead run topped it. The idea that something that freakish could determine the outcome of a series struck me as cruel (it obviously struck Blue Jays fans the same way. since they started heaving garbage onto the field).

And maybe it struck the Rangers the same way, because they started fumbling the ball like they didn't want the win -- three consecutive botched infield plays loaded the bases, then Donaldson's ball (which looked to everyone, including the runner at first, like a pop-up to second ) somehow drifted over the second baseman's head and tied the score. Following which Joey Bats scorched one into the second or third deck, and stopped to admire his work (which led to benches emptying for the third or fourth time in the half hour).

Oh, yeah: the Blue Jays won. Which they probably deserved, but it's weird it took an inning so strange to bring it about.

And now, I've just watched KC go ahead 7-2 in the 8th, meaning barring catastrophe they'll be meeting the Jays in the LCS. They, too, came from behind, but, compared to what the Jays went through, the wins seems mundane.

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Re: 2015 MLB Playoffs

Postby Okri » Wed Oct 14, 2015 6:55 pm

I'm reading but not much to contribute. People did go apeshit around the 7th inning, though.

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Re: 2015 MLB Playoffs

Postby danfrank » Wed Oct 14, 2015 1:22 am

Sorry to leave you stranded, Tee. I very much enjoy reading your baseball-related posts. I'm very happy about the Cubs. I read today that this was the first postseason series they've EVER clinched at Wrigley, which helps to demonstrate the incredible drought Cubs fans have endured. The Cubs are going to have to find ways other than the homer to score runs, though, as it's not likely this slugfest will continue.

I am now leaning toward the idea that the Dodgers will win (Kershaw's postseason dog days are perhaps over?) with Greinke pitching at home, but who knows?

To quickly weigh in on the Utley takeout, er, slide: I've seen scores of these types of slides over the years, including one just as bad during the NLCS 3 years ago, when Matt Holliday pummeled Marco Scutaro. The difference: Scutaro got up and kept playing. He injured his back, however, which effectively ended his playing career. So, no, Utley should not be scapegoated. If they want to make a clearer rule, they should do it in the offseason and apply it consistently afterward. I get the need to try to break up the DP, but I like baseball partly because it's not a very violent sport, so I'm fine with a rule change. The Buster Posey rule hasn't at all diminished my excitement about close plays at the plate.

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Re: 2015 MLB Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Tue Oct 13, 2015 11:26 pm

I'm mostly talking to myself in this thread, but an update:

Three of the four series go the full five -- EX-cellent! (And if one wasn't going to, I'm glad it was the one it was, as I feel certain the Cubs would have found a way to butcher it in the end, and we'd have to keep living with the Cardinals. Though you had to feel things were going Chicago's way when they won Jake Arrieta's game despite he and his successors giving up 6 runs.)

I have serious doubts Houston can come back after their debacle on Monday. When they pulled ahead by just one run in later innings, it looked gloomy for KC. When they bumped the lead to 4, it seemed all over but the crying. When a team comes back like KC did, from near-death (as, say, Boston did in '86 against the Angels), it's hard to imagine them not winning the series.

The Toronto/Texas game was more routine, as the Toronto bats finally came fully alive. The most interesting thing about the game was David Price coming in to relieve with the Jays holding a commanding lead. At first I thought they were just looking to get an inning or two out of Price on his throw-day. But, no, they kept him in there till it was clear Stroman, not he, will be the Game 5 starter -- which said pretty clearly that, while Farrell gladly accepted Price's down-the-stretch wins, he viewed his spotty post-season record (including this year; including Monday) as not meriting the ball in a do-or-die game.

Speaking of fine pitchers who've struggled in the post-season, Clayton Kershaw (ike Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux), given enough chances, finally threw the sort of game his career said he should. I think the Mets really expected to win tonight, and won't enjoy the long trip West. For neutral baseball watchers, though, Greinke against deGrom promises a truly championship face-off.

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Re: 2015 MLB Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Mon Oct 12, 2015 10:27 am

In case anyone's in doubt: I profoundly disagree with Joe Torre's descision here. Which is not to offer a cheer for Chase Utley, but to say, if what he did was illegal/deserving of suspension, there should have been a dozen such rulings over the course of pretty much every baseball season in history. Grantland's take this morning is, so what about that, he still deserves to be punished. My response to that is, I think scapegoating -- letting one or two people take the fall for a multitude -- is an evil thing, that's generally assigned to people unpopular for other reasons (as in, Bonds and ARod are permanently excluded from decent society, while other steroid users will waltz into the Hall of Fame). I have enormous affection for Joe Torre, but here I think he let (largely uninformed) public opinion push him into an unwarranted action.

Back (mercifully) to baseball: Houston got the game it needed yesterday (if they didn't win with Keuchel, their chances were nil); I still rate that series about even. And Toronto, given its win-or-go-home position, got a game it needed even more. I still view that series as fully alive, as well: it's not that much more difficult for Toronto to win two in a row than it is for Texas to win one of two against a (by the numbers) superior team.

In another half hour, a whole day of baseball -- four games -- begins. Onward.

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Re: 2015 MLB Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Oct 11, 2015 2:16 pm

A great brouhaha last night, one that will live on – partly, I think, because it was pivotal to the game, and because it encompassed two of the major ways in which the game has changed of late.

First, the facts, which divide into two topics:

1) The Slide.

The situation: the Dodgers, trailing 2-1 in the 7th, have runners at 1st & 3rd with one out. The batter grounds a ball up the middle. The second baseman goes fairly deep to his right to make the play, flips it (inaccurately – key to what follows) to the shortstop Tejada, who (he thinks) steps on second for the out, and twists his body oddly to get in position for a throw to first. But base-runner Chase Utley is by now barreling toward him, and he slides into him (a bit high), knocking him down, ending any possibility of a throw/double-play, and, in fact, breaking Tejada’s tibula (somewhat tangential to the discussion, but a fact that’s coloring a good deal of the discussion). The runner at third scored, and the game was tied.

2) The Replay Call

The umpire signaled Utley out at second, so he ran off the field. But the Dodgers challenged the call at second, and the replay indicated Tejada never quite touched second. (I’d have thought the “neighborhood play” might apply here – I’ve seen outs called where the fielder missed second by a far greater distance -- but the ruling was that the second baseman’s throw pulled Tejada away from the bag, which negated the possibility…a codicil to the neighborhood play with which I confess I’d never been familiar). The replay also showed that Headley never quite touched second, either, but the umpire decision was that he would have come back and done so had the initial call not been “out”. So he was awarded second base, and the Dodgers still only had one out.

This was crucial, because the Mets got the next out (which, without the overrule, would have ended the inning), but Gonzalez and Turner followed with doubles, which gave the Dodgers the three runs (one of them Headley’s) by which they won the game.

This was followed by screaming and arguing throughout the baseball universe. My take on each aspect:

Let’s start by saying, for most of the first century of baseball, there’d be no serious argument against Headley’s slide. Ty Cobb would have done three of those in a game; middle infielders took for granted base runners would do pretty much anything to break up rally-killing double-plays.

This changed to a degree in the 1977 playoffs, when Hal McRae took out Willie Randolph in a potential double-play situation. It’s worth looking at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIiYw53nGd0

McRae is obviously two feet past second base when he knocks Randolph over. Baseball got together (after the season) and decided that constituted interference. From henceforth, runners headed to second had to be at least within reach of the base when they knocked an infielder down. (It was dubbed the McRae rule.) Some runners pushed the bounds of the rule – being barely able to reach the base with their finger-tips – but, in general, things calmed down.

However, we’re in a different era now. We belatedly discovered the existence of the concussion in football. Buster Posey got hurt in a home plate collision, and suddenly we have different rules about what a catcher and runner can do when one is trying to prevent the other from scoring at the plate (I guess retroactively negating Pete Rose's winning run in the 1970 All-Star Game). There’s been far more concern about how far inside a pitcher can throw to a batter. Old-timers dismiss all this as some pussification of the game. Those seeing themselves as more enlightened feel like they’re trying to preserve the essence of the game without it evolving into brute sport.

Though my sympathies are with the latter, I think to some degree all this effort to protect players has been on a collision course with the root realities of the game. Baseball is of course far more civilized than hockey, football or rugby – but, still, moments occur in the game where two players have diametrically opposing goals, and in those moments something near-violent can occur. And how we feel about those moments can depend on who’s doing what to whom, or what we, in reflection, decide is the proper behavior – decisions made by the main actors in split-seconds, without benefit of weighing options.

I had an exchange late last night with a Met fan friend, who was fuming that Utley should have been called out for interference. And, sorry…I don’t see that at all. Utley is in no way in violation of the McRae rule; he’s well within the base-line the whole time. It’s certainly true that his focus by the time he arrived was on making Tejada incapable of throwing to first, not of securing second base, and I’ve heard some suggest that means it was a dirty play. I reject that, as well: everyone who’s ever done a take-out slide at second has had that same m.o., and it was never cause for calling interference before. The one element of the slide that evokes concern is the fact that Utley went in pretty high. Gary Sheffield last night suggested that Utley would have known by then the DP couldn’t be turned, and that doing it so high could only have been aimed at deliberately maiming Tejada. This might be so (though, again, it falls into the category of assuming a base runner makes clear choices like that in the heat of the moment). It’s interesting to me, however, that the one ex-player who had least problem with Utley’s slide was the one person who’s actually been in that spot: Cal Ripken.

It should also be noted that Chase Utley has something of a career reputation for being a rough player, which may well cause people to take a negative view here. There’s no sense pretending fans, players and the press are perfectly objective; a well-liked player can get away with things someone less popular can’t. (ARod trying to slap the ball out of the first baseman’s glove in 2004 is routinely cited as reasons why he’s the Worst Person in Baseball History; within a year or so of that event, Dustin Pedroia did the EXACT same thing – and he still stands on the all-time Good Guy list.)

Anyway, I can tell you the locals here in NY see no ambiguity. The headline on the Daily News is “Screwed!”, with “dirty slide” and “umps blow call” prominently featured. I have my great doubts that, had the same play occurred with the teams switched, we’d have seen anything like that reaction.

Bringing me to the second part: the safe call on Headley.

I’m thinking this might be the first case since the introduction of replay challenges that the TV-aided, and probably technically correct call, led to a less-defensible situation than the original, probably technically incorrect, call. I mean, I see the umpires’ thinking: Tejada never properly stepped on the base; Utley, had he not seen the “out” call, would almost surely have returned to second before the crippled Tejada could have tagged him; he certainly wouldn’t have run off the field without ever tagging up. Headley on second, one out, is probably how you have to call it.

But it seems absurd for that play to have ended with such a favorable outcome for the Dodgers. So, even if the original call was wrong, it would have felt a lot more fair to most of us for it to have been upheld. Truly weird.

So: changes in rules of contact and the introduction of replay – two very recent developments in the sport – united to create a play we’ll be talking about for a long time.

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Re: 2015 MLB Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Oct 11, 2015 12:19 am

Oh, boy, just what baseball fans love: a play to really ARGUE about.

More on it tomorrow. Oh, by the way: the Cubs won, too.

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Re: 2015 MLB Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Sat Oct 10, 2015 4:51 pm

Quick update on day two of the Division Series:

The AL, at least, came to the realization that the team scoring first doesn't HAVE to hold on and win. Both games saw reversals of scores, though with different outcomes: KC came from behind and managed a split in its home park. Toronto also came from behind, but then squandered a late lead, and lost in 14 innings. Having seen how Toronto swept to the division win after being below .500 post-All-Star break, one doesn't want to count them out. But losing the first two at home in a five-game series is certainly putting oneself behind the eight-ball.

The two NL games featured quite similar squelching starting pitching -- in both cases, the score was 1-0 into later innings, with, in the Mets/Dodgers match-up, two weeks' worth of strikeouts for some pitchers. Then the bullpen came in, and runs were easier to come by (the two runs went onto Kershaw's record, but it was his reliever who let them in), and the teams that had led 1-0 ended up winning by slightly more comfortable margins. Today, we'll see if those initial contests were the start of a runaway,


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