2016 MLB Playoffs

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Re: 2016 MLB Playoffs

Postby danfrank » Thu Oct 27, 2016 3:39 pm

So, the Cubs are right on track having split the first two games on the road. Amazing that Schwarber, who hasn't faced big-league pitching all year, steps into the World Series looking perfectly comfortable at the plate, and producing. Being designated hitter is one thing, but the big question mark is whether it makes sense to put him in the outfield at Wrigley and risk re-injury to a key player for the future of the franchise. I would opt to use him as a pinch hitter, especially in game 3 where the pitching matchup looks favorable to the Cubs. Only if the Cubs offense goes stone cold again would I even consider putting him in the outfield. I do agree with Francona's decision to use Kluber on 3 days rest, twice if necessary. There's a risk of his arm tiring, of course, but there's an even greater risk of not using such a dominant pitcher when good alternatives are lacking.

My nephew the Cubs fanatic got on a plane to Chicago from California this morning with his two sons, tickets for Game 3 in hand. He's as excited as can be, and I'm excited for him. "There's just something about this team," he says, and I hope he's right.

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Re: 2016 MLB Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Oct 23, 2016 4:39 pm

People are starting to create lists of things that were or weren't around the last time the Cubs won the Series. Things that were: Russian czars, progressive Republicans, the Ottoman Empire. Things that weren't: the states of Arizona and New Mexico; sliced bread.

I agree that the country will swing dominantly behind the Cubs, given the long-running publicity about them being the most deprived fanbase. And, yeah, there's a 40 year gap between the last Cubs championship vs. Indians championship. But in terms of most people living, there's not as much distinction: you'd have to be near your 80s to have a truly clear memory of Cleveland winning it all. And, as was noted during the NBA playoffs this year, Cleveland's drought extended to all other sports as well, while Chicago has won a Super Bowl, NHL titles, way too many NBA championships, as well as a World Series with its other team.

As always, I'm hoping for a good, long series above all...one that gives me time to decide in my gut who I most want to win in the end.

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Re: 2016 MLB Playoffs

Postby danfrank » Sat Oct 22, 2016 11:27 pm

Holy cow, the Cubs won the pennant! What a joyous game. You could almost feel the energy of the city of Chicago coming through the tv. Not too much to say about the game itself, except that Kershaw, great as he is, is apparently not a big-game pitcher. Hendricks was phenomenally good. A truly historic game. Now, on to the series. I think most of the country is going to get behind the Cubs. I, for one, am super-excited.

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Re: 2016 MLB Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Sat Oct 22, 2016 10:49 pm

It's really happening -- all congratulations to the Cubs and their looooong-suffering fans. I had one friend at the ballpark tonight, another at a bar across the street; I know they're delirious (and presumably multiple sheets to the wind).

I talked to my father a few days ago. I'd assumed he'd be pulling for the Dodgers, since he grew up in Brooklyn and rooted for them throughout the 40s and 50s. But he surprised me by saying that, before he was a Dodger fan, he was a Cubs fan -- something he inherited from his North Side Chicago-native father. And he told me his father -- who died in 1961 -- had actually seen that last Cubs championship team play, Tinker to Evers to Chance and all. So he was basically, screw the Dodgers, he was all in for the Cubs.

The next round is going to be even more emotional, with two long-deprived franchises going for the same trophy. For right now, though, rejoice along with all Cub fans.

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Re: 2016 MLB Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Fri Oct 21, 2016 4:02 pm

So, we're one Cub win away from my (for this year) dream World Series. Considering how often it ends up the opposite -- my least preferred teams the match-up -- I still expect it go awry at the last minute. (And I'm sure Cubs fans can't help remembering they were up 3-2 -- and leading by several runs -- in Game 6, when that Bartman fellow made his entrance, so they'll continue to sweat.) I actually thought the onus was on the Cubs to win last night, because the prospect of facing Kershaw in an elimination game was scary. (Reminiscent of the '86 NLCS, when the Mets to a man felt they had to win in Game 6 because Game 7 pitcher Mike Scott had utterly baffled them twice before.) I hope for the Cub fan-base they can eke out a win tomorrow night. Game 7 would be great for neutral fans, but heart-attack-inducing for North Siders.

The Indians' bullpen has clearly been the story throughout the playoffs. I hope the team appreciates the Yankees giving them Andrew Miller at the trading deadline. (Miller was the only guy the team traded who loss truly gave me pangs.) We now have the possibility of 2/3 of the early-season Yankee bullpen facing off for the championship.

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Re: 2016 MLB Playoffs

Postby FilmFan720 » Fri Oct 21, 2016 8:50 am

danfrank wrote: It will be a huge confidence booster for the Cubs if they can beat Kershaw on Saturday, though I wouldn't mind the excitement of a game 7.


I have tickets for Sunday night...I figured that if the game doesn't happen, it is only for the best possible reason!
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Re: 2016 MLB Playoffs

Postby danfrank » Fri Oct 21, 2016 8:13 am

Now that's more like it! All it took was one inning of the bats coming alive (4th inning, game 4) to completely turn things around for the Cubs. Young Addison Russell, who had struggled mightily at the plate all postseason, is now a big hero. So too is his fellow middle infielder Javier Baez, who made an absolutely phenomenal play on Adrian Gonzalez's bunt last night and has been money at the plate as well. Last night was a huge win, as the Cubs are now in the driver's seat heading home to Chicago. It will be a huge confidence booster for the Cubs if they can beat Kershaw on Saturday, though I wouldn't mind the excitement of a game 7.

As for the ALCS, all I can say is how cool is it that a setup guy, Andrew Miller, wins the MVP for the series? The bullpen becomes so critically important in the postseason. It's great to see one of those guys recognized.

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Re: 2016 MLB Playoffs

Postby danfrank » Wed Oct 19, 2016 7:06 am

Last night's NLCS matchup was the first postseason game I was able to watch and boy, what a disappointment. I, too, thought the Cubs would bounce back after the Kershaw blip. They were just outplayed at every level, but of course their complete lack of offense is the most glaring problem. I texted my nephew, a lifelong Cubs super-fan during the game to ask him about this. "I think the Cubs left their offense in September," he replied. Spoken like a true Cubs fan pessimist. Young Corey Seager looked like the superstar he promises to be, and Yasiel Puig, coming off the bench, made a bold statement that he refuses to be ignored. The Cubs look to be in serious trouble unless they break out ina big way tonight. I'm very curious how the kid Urias will do tonight.

Didn't get to watch the ALCS, but am grateful the Blue Jays avoided a sweep. I initially had said that I wanted the Blue Jays to win, but then was thinking about the historical significance of a Cubs-Indians series. The vast majority of the fans of both of those teams--likely none for the Cubs--have seen their team win a championship. Such a series would guarantee that at least one long-suffering fan base would finally get some relief.

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Re: 2016 MLB Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Wed Oct 19, 2016 1:09 am

So...yeah.

Cleveland went up 3-0 by surviving a game where their starter got knocked out in the first inning, then failed to clinch with their best pitcher on the mound. I don't think anyone felt Cleveland/Jays was such a mismatch it would end in a sweep, but today still felt a bit like the Indians let the Jays get up off the canvas. And, as I've said, Cleveland has that nagging history of blowing playoff leads. So, a little agita has probably infected the team.

Nothing, I imagine, like what the Cubs (and their fans!) are undergoing tonight. I have to confess, Monday night, I rooted for Kershaw to shake off his post-season jinx, and was happy to see him get his stellar win. This was, however, conditioned on the Cubs quickly coming back to take the rest of the series, and tonight's game put a severe crimp in that plan. I doubt most Cub fans ever expected to find themselves behind in the post-season, but, even beyond what angst that brought on, the bigger problem for the team is the glaring lack of hitting -- not only being shut out two nights running: barely getting runners on base. A teamwide slump at precisely the wrong time could end all the dreams that have sustained the team and its fans the entire season.

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Re: 2016 MLB Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Oct 16, 2016 4:43 pm

An update:

Cleveland pitchers have managed to hold the slugging Jays to one run in two games. I'm not sure that sort of thing can last: the Jays are going home, they've rebounded from this sort of hole before, and Cleveland has a history of giving back series ('99, '07, and -- most excruciatingly -- Game 7 of the '97 World Series). But I guess it's better to be up two than down two.

The Cubs had a stirring win, and their ability to rally from debilitating situations, both here and in the Division Series, bespeak resilience. However...at some point, are people going to start questioning Maddon's willingness to let the 8th inning get out of hand before bringing in Chapman (creating situations where he needs to be perfect)? He did it in Game 3 in SF, and here as well, and got burned both times (though Chapman's spectacular effort last night almost bailed the team out). The fact that the team won last night anyway seems to have kept anyone from pressing the issue, but couldn't at least someone have asked why he didn't bring the guy in when there were only two on, rather than wait for three? (Of course, if his 8th inning guys sowed any ability to get outs, the question would be moot.)

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Re: 2016 MLB Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Fri Oct 14, 2016 1:47 pm

The decisive game in Dodgers/Nats was gripping, and, since I didn't have any particular preference, I found it enjoyably suspenseful. Roberts risked huge second-guessing for waiting so long to bring in Kershaw -- if he was willing to let him get two outs, why wait till there were two on, and a ball that barely eluded an outfielder could have made the Nats the winners? -- but it turned out OK for him.

I used to hate the Dodgers pretty much above all other teams, but that was mainly because of LaSorda. Once Torre and Mattingly got involved, I softened toward them, and now have a mildly benign view. I am happy for Kershaw he has a positive credit to stand alongside his many disappointments.

Growing up, I was so used to seeing the Dodgers in the Series -- multiple appearances in every decade till the 90s -- that it's hard for me to conceive it's been 28 years since they got there. That's nothing on the Cubs, of course. And it's quite a while since either AL team saw final-series action, either -- the Jays in '93, and the Indians in their losing efforts of '95 and '97.

And, to really dig deep down: there's still one possibility among the surviving teams of a re-match: the Indians in 1920 faced the Dodgers (in an earlier incarnation when they were known as the Brooklyn Robins).

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Re: 2016 MLB Playoffs

Postby danfrank » Wed Oct 12, 2016 2:03 pm

As a fan I'll endure the "knives" of the general fandom if it means winning. No chance of that now, of course.

As for the Nationals, I don't dislike the organization per se, I just don't care for some of their key players, namely Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy. I actually did some rooting for them when my boy Matt Williams (someone I have closely followed since he was in the minors) was at the helm. He didn't seem up to the task of managing the strong personalities on that team, with fights erupting on camera in the dugout (Papelbon and Harper, as I recall). They probably did the right thing moving on from Williams given their improvement this year, but loyalty dies hard when you're a big fan of someone. The other thing I haven't particularly liked about the Nationals is the way they've babied their young starters over the last few years, notably Strasberg. Oh, and I also can't stand Mat Latos, who apparently isn't on the postseason roster. Story: Latos, when with the Padres, pretended he was going to throw a ball to a fan in SF, deeked the fan and threw it out of the ballpark altogether, busting the windshield of Giants radio announcer Dave Fleming. The Nats look to be the favorites for game 5 with Cy Young candidate Scherzer on the mound at home, and I will be okay with that so long as the Cubs put them to bed.

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Re: 2016 MLB Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Wed Oct 12, 2016 1:34 pm

A theatre/dinner evening kept me from seeing the later portions of Dodgers/Nationals and much of Cubs/Giants -- I arrived home about 8th inning of the latter (coincidentally, right about the time I arrived home from a similar evening in 2003, for what turned into the Aaron Boone game).

As to the first: it continues strange that Kershaw can't seem to replicate his in-season mastery during the playoffs. Though, two points worth making are 1) the Dodger bullpen could have given him a much stronger box score line if they'd kept inherited runners from scoring, and 2) somehow, the Dodgers have won both his games. danfrank, why the animus toward the Nationals? I didn't think they'd been around long enough to create enemies. Anyway...Scherzer tomorrow would seem to favor the Nationals, but we'll have to see. As a neutral, I'm happy to see at least one series go full-tilt.

It's certainly encouraging for the Cubs to have not only won (a Game Five would have created terminal angst in their fanbase), but to have won in a way that an earlier Cubs team might have lost. They're still only as far as they got last year, but the vibe feels better -- subject to crushing reversal if they don't make the Series.

Stipulating that any team's fans want their guys to win every year regardless (I never don't root for the Yankees), I'd say to danfrank that, if there was a year to lose, this was it. Despite the Giants' winning three championships in five years, I haven't heard much "I'm sick of them" resentment out there. But if they'd denied the uber-sentimental-favorite Cubs, in the year nearly everyone thinks is their best shot in a century, I think the knives would have come out, and it wouldn't have been pretty to endure.

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Re: 2016 MLB Playoffs

Postby FilmFan720 » Wed Oct 12, 2016 12:13 pm

Well, that was something to be seen.

I have to admit that until the end of last night I don't think I had completely gotten caught up in the belief that This Year Could Really, Finally, Actually Be The One. Throughout this series it seemed like the curse was yet again playing itself out, not in reality but at least in the players' heads: Rizzo can't get a hit, Hendricks gets hit by a ball, Rondon continues to under-perform, Chapman flounders, only the pitchers are hitting. Last night's anemic display was painful and I felt like the Bartman game all over again -- they're going to go into the win-or-go-home game and have lost all will to win.

Then, that ninth inning came. It was perhaps the most electric half hour of baseball I have ever witnessed. They finally played like the team that they had showed the promise to be all season.

Frankly, The Giants scared me more than either the Dodgers or the Nats do. Bring it on!
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Re: 2016 MLB Playoffs

Postby danfrank » Wed Oct 12, 2016 11:57 am

Thanks, Tee, for keeping the baseball thread alive, and for your perspective. I have been traveling in Morocco and have had fairly spotty wifi, so am only catching highlights and reading box scores for the games. I actually wrote a fairly lengthy post after the wild card game but it got swallowed before it would post.

Well, my Giants lost in the fashion that most Giants fans feared they would. Not having a closer (Casilla became a head case during the second half) is a glaring weakness that needs addressing in the offseason. I was hoping that they could take the Cubs to a game 5, but alas. No shame in losing to the Cubs who have been the superior team all season. Having roots in Chicago, and living a stone's throw from Wrigley Field when I was in grad school, the Cubbies are my second team. I will be rooting hard for their victory henceforth. If not this year, when?

I don't have any skin in the other NLDS. As a Giants fan I can''t root for the Dodgers on principle but I really dislike the Nationals. At least this one is going to a game 5. Kershaw, someone whom I greatly admire both as a player and as a person, continues to underperform in big games. I suppose it would be some type of story for the Dodgers to win it all during Vin Scully''s final broadcasting season, but I don't see it happening. They seem more like a collection of players than a team. Speaking of Scully, I had the good fortune of listening to him often as a kid growing up in SoCal. Listening to him was like listening to your favorite uncle spin stories for hours. Pure pleasure. The longevity of his career is just astounding. One of the great baseball personalities who will be sorely missed.

I can't say much about the AL because I watch almost no AL ball during the regular season, and have been able to watch nothing postseason while in Morocco. I will pull for Toronto just to have a different team in the WS, and also because I'm a fan of Josh Donaldson, the hero of the clincher vs. Texas.

I'll be home Monday night, in time to see most of the championship series. Go Cubbies!


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