2017 Baseball Playoffs

Mister Tee
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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Oct 29, 2017 1:58 pm

Two more games in the books -- a 5-3 Astros win, followed by a 6-2 Dodger victory. Oddly, the latter game was the most suspenseful by far.

The Astros knocked Yu Darvish out in the second inning of Game 3, building a 4-0 lead. The Dodgers got it to 5-3 by the middle innings, which should have made for a tense finish...except for the fact that, once Peacock took the mound in relief, the Dodgers basically stopped getting on base. The Stros were never able to augment their lead, despite a ton of chances (they had 12 hits, but stranded most), but Astro pitching made that a moot point.

The ugly footnote to the game: When Yuli Gurriel, the Cuban-born Astro, hit a home run off Darvish, a camera caught him, in the dugout, making his eyes slant, and uttering an anti-Japanese slur. I have to say, I can sometimes be naive about bigotry. Not that I'm blind to the most obvious forms -- anti-gay, anti-Muslim, and the perennially popular anti-black. But others amaze me -- when a friend once opined that a mutual acquaintance of ours was anti-Semitic, my reaction was, how retro. Same with anti-Asian -- it seems there wouldn't even be a market for it. But obviously I underestimate the depths to which we can sink. Anyway, MLB decided Gurriel needed to be punished, but not till next year, so as not to affect crucial Series games. Which is one of those things you can argue. What shouldn't be argued, however: Houston fans proved to be truly tone-deaf about it, giving Gurriel the better part of a standing ovation when he first came to bat. I get wanting to support the home-town player, but this amounted to endorsing his casual racism. It didn't do anything to change people's opinions of Texas mores.

Anyway, Game 4. The teams were down to their fourth-choice starters, so, naturally, we saw the best pitchers' duel of the Series. Dodger starter Wood took a no-hitter two outs into the sixth. Unhappily for him 1) both teams were scoreless at that time; 2) he allowed his first hit; 3) the hit was a home run, leading to the infamous sequence "there goes the no-hitter/there goes the shutout/there goes Wood". Astro starter Morton was gone soon after, once he surrendered a double to Cody Bellinger (up till then hitless in the Series). His successor served up a game-tying single, knotting us at 1. It stayed that way till the top of the 9th, when Hinch brought in his closer Giles, who was militantly ineffective. He gave up an instant single, walk, and ANOTHER double to Bellinger, which put the Dodgers on top and Giles out of the game. His replacement offered no relief, yielding a sacrifice fly and ultimately a 3-run homer that made the final score look more lopsided than the game. Jansen gave up another solo homer in the bottom of the 9th, but that was it. Series tied at 2-2.

A thought about closers: it's a bloody hard job to do, and harder still in the playoffs. Jansen is thought to be elite, but has given up long balls in two games now. Giles served his team well during the season, but has been a disaster post-season (it's telling Hinch didn't let him face the Yankees in those last two games). It makes one even more appreciative of the job Mariano Rivera did over so many years. He obviously had his failures (Cleveland '97, Arizona '01, Boston '04), but it says something that we remember those three so well among the 8 wins and 42 saves he racked up in the process. When I hear people touting some reliever as The New Mariano, my reaction is always, get back to me in a decade and then we'll talk.

So...it's best of three now, starting with a face-off of Cy lefties tonight. Another chance for Kershaw to shoo away his poor post-season reputation. In general, you'd think the Astros need tonight more, since they'll be headed to hostile territory afterwards. But I see no reason to think the Series over no matter who wins. These are well-matched teams, and we can dream of a Game 7. At the very least, we're guaranteed a Game 6 -- our 5th in the last 7 years, a blessing after the dreary 1998-2010 stretch of so many 4 and 5 game encounters.

Bog, I'll respond to your managerial thoughts in a separate post.

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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby Bog » Sat Oct 28, 2017 9:50 am

I have oh so many takes on things and am so far behind...wish I could do a better job keeping up..

- 8 managers make the playoffs and 3 of those are now without jobs...amazing that even with the incredibly less watered down playoffs compared to NFL/NBA/NHL teams are even more hypercritical...I guarantee 6 NBA playoff coaches won't be fired this season nor will 4 or 5 NFL playoff coaches.

- Dusty Baker has had 4 managerial positions and was let go in 3 of them on the heels of a frickin 90+ win season...intense! (95, 90, 97 to be exact)

- Nats fans et al...beware...the 2010 thru 2013 version of my Reds were certain from fan all the way up to Castellini that Dusty was what was holding us back from the ring we seemed poised to be aiming at...we're now merely HALFWAY through a decade of fantastic irrelevance...not that dissimilar to the Felipe Alou years out in the Bay Area

I cannot remember all I've stated about Girardi but I know for certain he seemed to get a raw deal in Miami. I believe we were looking at him as well the winter we chose Dusty and Joe went to N.Y. I also know that he seems to have lucked out with the ownership he resided under...he did successfully not having a losing season but I think when we last spoke of him it was regarding him not having a playoff series win or playoff game win period in 5 seasons(?)...and the anomaly that is in regards to Yankee manager stability historically...is there even a precedent in your lifetime Tee...he must be the first correct?

Were I a Yankee die hard pumped for the future...I'd be much more than just nervous that potentially Girardi is how this team excelled early and not in spite of him...and while talent is talent no doubt...does the next manager even have as much talent as Matt Williams had in D.C. for his debacle of an 83 win season?

Girardi seems to be abrasive in a less public way than Jim Harbaugh but I feel the similarities are applicable and sometimes winning is not in discussion for keeping your job. Baseball seems to be entering the forefront of the major sports in being a manager's game...guys like Ausmus and Matt Williams and John Gibbons and Terry Collins should be able to accidentally make the playoffs or at the least have successful seasons.

Everything we discussed was under the assumption this season would just continue to be the new Girardi status quo and how can it continue on and my assuming fans such as yourself were fed up with the shtick....and then he went big time and got to a game 7 of the ALCS...THEN got canned...cats are sleeping with dogs Republicans are criticizing Trump everything makes no sense!

So many scattered thoughts I apologize writing you back while at work...I hope you find the right fella (Dusty??) and keep it up. The Yankees are near the top of the list of things I dislike about baseball...but the game is much much better when they're good and considering the left side of your infield is only guys who should be starting each night in Cincy I did have fun watching their success...

I will say one thing though...this has been a fun playoffs and continues to be up until and including last night...and boy I wish I could have organically been a 'Stros fan...how fun would Altuve and Correa and Bregman as your infield for a dozen years be to have as your squad?

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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Fri Oct 27, 2017 12:50 am

We interrupt the World Series to bring you news from Yankee-land, as it was announced today that Joe Girardi will not be given a new contract and is a few days from officially being the ex-manager. This was, per Girardi's statement today, a management decision, not his.

It's not like it's big news managers who make the playoffs can get canned: Boston & Washington dumped John Farrell and Dusty Baker last week. But there's been consternation that someone who got his team within a game of the World Series -- a team that was projected to be .500 or lower when the season began -- would be treated this way.

I'm ambivalent on the subject. I think there are far worse managers than Joe Girardi. I think he's a very hard worker, and his record in the past few seasons has been impressive in generally scoring better than the run differential would predict (it's pretty much a miracle the team never had a losing season, even at its lowest point). However...this year was a pretty big exception, with the team winning 9 games fewer than the run differential expected, and it being obvious on certain nights that Girardi's bullpen management was costing wins. There was also the matter of his communication with certain players, notably Sanchez. Now that he's gone, several people have come forward to say that, while players have usually had respect for the guy, he's not particularly liked...that his obsessive nature sometimes communicated tension to his players, and didn't enable them to play relaxed. There was a fair amount of skepticism over whether he could truly maximize a young and improving team, rather than the vets he's had for most of his tenure. So, he's gone.

Maybe it's the right time to bring in someone new, simply because it's a new era. I imagine Joe laments not being able to carry this promising set of players into the next several seasons, but, hey, Joe Torre -- who had a far more impressive run in his 12 years -- became expendable at a certain point, to Girardi's benefit. For older fans like me -- who remember when Steinbrenner fired multiple managers in single seasons -- the fact that Torre/Girardi have between them spanned 22 seasons seems a paradigm of stability. If the next manager lasts 10 seasons, I'll be happy to live with that.

Seeing he's commented quite a bit about Girardi in the past, I wonder what Bog has to say about this (and about the baseball season in particular).

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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Thu Oct 26, 2017 1:12 am

At the start of the 8th inning of Game 2, this was looking like a snooze of a World Series. The Dodgers had a 3-1 lead -- exactly the same score by which they'd won Game 1. Not only were the games low-scoring, they'd been almost event-less: the Dodgers had scored via solo homer/two-run shot in both games, and barely had base-runners otherwise. The Astros were at least scoring on sustained base-hit rallies, but their best shot at a multiple-run inning -- inning 3, Game 2 -- had been short-circuited by a lucky bounce off the Dodger center-fielder's helmet. And here we were, in the 8th, the strong part of the Dodger bullpen in force. It looked awfully like we were headed back to Houston with the Stros in an 0-2 hole.

Bregman led off the inning with a grounds-rule double. Dave Roberts decided it was time to demand a 6-out save from his closer, the excellent Kenley Jansen. (This was a key decision, for reasons to be further explained in a bit.) Jansen preserved the lead, but did let Bregman score. John Smoltz, on the broadcast, thought getting that one run in was big -- as a former closer himself, he knew the value of having wiggle room in the 9th. He turned out a prophet, as Jansen surrendered a solo shot to Gonzalez leading off the 9th. Tie game.

Which was only the beginning. Cody Bellinger nearly won it in the bottom of the 9th, sending a ball close to the wall in right, but instead we went to extras. The Dodgers were by then a bit pitching-thin, because Roberts had burnt through the most dependable parts of his bullpen -- first because he'd lifted his starter Hill after only 4 innings despite his having pitched well (I'm told Roberts doesn't let most of his pitchers face a line-up a third time, which seems crazy), then because he pulled Morrow as soon as he'd given up the double in the 8th. The Astros made them pay pretty dearly, with Altuve and Correa hitting back to back homers in the 10th that seemed to settle the issue...

...except it didn't, because Puig led off the bottom with a home run, and a walk/wild pitch/clutch two-out single brought home the tying run. The winning run might have scored on a wild attempted pick-off throw to second, only the throw hit umpire Laz Diaz and stayed on the infield. Then it was on the the 11th, wherein the Astros -- now facing the literal last man in the Dodger pen, McCarthy -- scored two more runs on a double by Maybin and home run by Springer. And it STILL wasn't quite over, because Dodger scrub Culberson hit a two-out home run to bring it to 7-6 (which could easily have been 7-all, because the two batters who'd preceded him, Seager and Turner, had each crushed balls that somehow landed in someone's glove). This brought up Puig one more time. To make the whole thing truly excruciating, Puig appeared to strike out on a 2-2 pitch, but the first-base umpire ruled he hadn't gone around. He then fouled off two more pitches, before finally striking out, and ending the fully exhilirating game. Houston's first victory ever in a World Series game.

So...what looked dull early this evening now appears it might be a fun series. We'll see if the homer-party continues down in Houston (some are suggesting the well-documented LA heat wave may be making Dodger Stadium more gopher-prone than usual). There's more to talk about -- I didn't even mention Kershaw's splendid Game 1 start, a corrective to the "can't pitch in post-season" narrative that surrounds him. But it's late, and I'll leave that for the off-day. Tonight, baseball was our big winner.

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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby danfrank » Thu Oct 26, 2017 12:35 am

Whatever happened to the manufactured run? With seemingly every run coming by way of the four-bagger, I officially miss small ball. That said, game 2 was pretty fun to watch. Roberts will no doubt get some criticism for running through his pitchers too quickly, but give the Astros credit for gutting out a come-from-behind win. This was a HUGE win for them as they proved to themselves that they could show some life on the road, and mostly because, early in the series, they stopped the Dodgers from continuing their roll. I smell a real series, and am glad of it.

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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Oct 22, 2017 7:40 pm

And then there were two. SOB! (Kidding; I’m over it.)

The NL is all too easy to dispense with. The Cubs looked weak going into Game 5, and did nothing from the start to change that opinion. They were behind 7-0 by the third inning, and were actually outscored even from there. Final 11-1. Kershaw pitched well, though it wasn’t exactly a test of his playoff grit. The Dodgers move on.

Playoff grit is something you can ascribe to Jason Verlander, who stymied the Yankees through seven innings in the key Game 6. The final score was 7-1, but you shouldn’t assume from that it was a blowout – 4 of the Astro runs scored in the bottom of the 8th. In the top of that inning, it was 3-1, two men on and a 3-1 count on Aaron Hicks. Yankee fans (at least the ones who haven’t already moved on) will remember an outside pitch being called strike two rather than ball four – the potential bases-loaded/one-out situation was their best chance of getting back in the game (and, it turned out, the series). When it didn’t happen, the Empire sagged.

C.C. Sabathia’s valiant run of strong starts came to an end in Game 7 – he pretty much didn’t have it from the get-go, and it took a monster catch by Judge to keep the Stros off the scoreboard till the 4th. Even then, C.C. only let in 1 run. But Tommy Kahnle – who’s a major reason the team got this far – gave up 3 more, and the Yanks had no answer for the Astro pitchers Morton and McCullers (it’s instructive that Hinch never went to his actual bullpen pitchers). In the end, it was a tale of two stadiums (stadia?) – in NY, the Yanks outscored the Astros 19-5; in Houston, it was Astros 15-Yanks 3. Moral of the story: win more games next year and secure home-field advantage.

The great Roger Angell once wrote that, for all but one team, the season ends with the taste of Indian pudding in one’s mouth. I don’t know if that’s one of those phrases that’s considered racist now. (I Googled “Indian pudding”, and it’s apparently still common enough parlance that dozens of recipes pop up.) I – and certainly Angell – don’t mean it to be. I’ve just always found it a useful metaphor: Indian pudding is one of those bland desserts people have mostly put aside for something with a bit more flavor; it perfectly describes the mood of those of us who got far more out of the season than we’d ever anticipated, but still have to deal with the fact that our last game was a loss. Yankee haters are of course out trashing the team/reveling in the loss, but screw them. I take comfort in knowing they’ll have to deal with this bunch – in fact, better than this bunch – in years just ahead. As Joel Sherman wrote the other day, this is very likely the least talented Yankee team you’ll see for the next 5-10 years; where now Chase Headley and Todd Frazier bring up the rear of the line-up, it’ll soon be Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar. In many ways, I didn’t want the Yanks to go all the way this year – even though, as people said last night, you can never count on getting this close again, it seemed to fall into the category of too-much-too-soon. I’m content to watch and see what this team can do when the young players hit their true prime years.

Meantime: The Dodgers and Astros -- two teams who, in 1980, had a one-game playoff to decide the National League West -- will now meet in the World Series. Times do change. They’re both 100-win teams – something we don’t often get in the Series these days. They’re the two teams who, mid-July, probably seemed the logical Series match-up – till the Dodgers’ late season slump and the incredible rise of Cleveland scrambled the picture. It’ll be interesting to see if the Dodgers continue to plow through the post-season, or will merely demonstrate that the NL offered weaker competition than an exceptional AL team can. New faces, for sure – for Houston, it’s been 12 years since their only Series trip, and for the Dodgers it’s 29 years since limping Kirk Gibson led them there. And, whoever wins, a popular guy who’s played for both the Yankees and Mets (Beltran or Granderson) will get a ring. Hoping for a long and fun bunch of games.

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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby danfrank » Thu Oct 19, 2017 1:50 pm

I'm glad the Cubs won one, but they definitely haven't shown the type of spark that would make me think they could pull off a 4-game streak to win the series. They COULD win against the unpredictable-in-the-postseason Kershaw, but I doubt even that. I just have to say that the overturning of the non-foul tip in the 8th inning was about the dumbest umpiring call I've seen in a long time. Lucky for the umps, who I'm sure felt completely foolish after watching the replay, that it didn't change the outcome of the game.

Didn't get to watch the ALCS game, but it's impressive that the Yankees got to Keuchel, who has looked untouchable in the postseason. I'm sure the media--and lot of other folks--would love to see a Dodgers-Yankees World Series, and it looks very much like it could happen, though there's certainly a good chance that the Astros could pull it together for the final two home games. The momentum, though, is clearly with the now-confident Yankees.

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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Thu Oct 19, 2017 12:19 pm

A quick update:

The Cubs staved off elimination last night, but they didn't inspire much confidence in doing so. The offense from both teams consisted of solo home runs -- for the Dodgers, the usual suspects (Turner and Bellinger), for the Cubs Contreras and 2 from Baez. Jake Arrieta did what he could, pitching 6 2/3 of 1-run ball, then white-knuckled it through a bullpen ride. Maddon brought in Wade Davis, clearly (and understandably) the only relief pitcher he trusts, and had him throw enough pitches he'll be useless for days. The team hung on (barely), but at what cost? The Cubs' best chance of going back to Chavez Ravine would seem to rest on having a big offensive explosion tonight. Facing Clayton Kershaw isn't a big help in achieving that.

But you never know how it'll go with a pitcher on any given day, as the Yankees found yesterday, when they knocked out long-time nemesis Dallas Keuchel in under 5 innings. I don't know if it's just Yankee Stadium or a simple turn in fortune, but the heart of the Yankee order (Judge/Sanchez) is suddenly on fire, and the team looks as good as it has all year. The Yankee starting staff is also performing at top level: they've only allowed 5 runs (4 earned) over the 5 games to a Houston offense that outscored the rest of the American League. Masahiro Tanaka is on a spectacular run, and he's put the team one game away from the World Series. Anything can of course happen back in Houston -- Justin Verlander is a mountain to climb, right off the bat. But look at this from a Yankee fan's perspective: 15 months ago, at the July 31st 2016 trading deadline, they saw their team go into deep-sell mode. All expectation was, at least a year or three of doldrums. For that team to have gone this far in just one season is amazing, regardless of what happens back in Minute Maid Park.

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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Wed Oct 18, 2017 1:13 am

Sonic Youth wrote:Good morning, Aaron.


And since this is a film buff's site, there ought to be people who recognize that paraphrase.

To achieve a semblance of balanced coverage, I thought I'd wait til Dodgers/Cubs was over, but as you can imagine, I was just busting to post.

And, as it turned out, the NL didn't provide much to ruminate on. The Cubs appear to have barely shown up, and this series is now as one-sided as any I can remember. We all know it's not 100% impossible for a team to rally from down 0-3, but let me speak as someone whose team suffered the one defeat in such a circumstance: the surprise with the '04 Yanks was not that they lost four in a row like that, but that they'd ever been up 3-0 to start -- it was a team that had Jon Lieber as an ace, and fading Kevin Brown/Javy Vasquez as prime starters. This year, the Dodgers are far numerically superior to the Cubs, and it's almost impossible to imagine them blowing this lead. It'd be nice if the Cubs can salvage at least 1 or 2 Wrigley games, but their offense and bullpen will need to pick it up quick.

Okay, on to the AL, where things have changed dramatically since I last made observations. We first need to go back to Monday night -- which seems a lifetime ago. The ageless C.C. Sabathia once again provided excellent starter innings, going six without surrendering a run. For a while, the Yankees weren't doing much with Astro pitcher Charlie Morton, either, until the third, when a few soft and/or infield hits fell in for them, and Todd Frazier flicked a 3-run homer just into the center-right seats. After that, it was a lot of Aaron Judge -- two great catches (one leaping at the wall, one sliding on the grass) and, oh yeah, a three-run homer that made the score 8-0 and effectively ended the game. (Though Dellin Betances tried to create excitement in the 9th.) The first real offensive explosion of the series, and the Astro lead was cut to 2-1.

And then we had this afternoon/evening's effort, one that will be appearing on Yankees Classics for years. Like many classics, it began badly. The Yankees managed only one hit through six innings off surprise starter Lance McCullers Jr. Aaron Judge looked like a fool on the basepaths -- he not only got doubled-off first, but, when it was decided he'd actually slipped back in safely, a play showed he'd never touched second before heading back. When the Astros took the lead in the 6th, on a rally consisting of two walks, a catcher's interference, and a two-out bases-clearing double, and then added a 4th run on an egregious Castro error in the 7th, it seemed like it wasn't the Yankees' day -- and maybe year.

Judge led off the bottom of the 7th with a Judge-ian shot over the center field wall. It affected the game instantly, in that Hinch removed his starter despite that only being his second surrendered hit. But it also brought the place alive. Didi followed instantly with a triple, which scored on a bullet off Sanchez' bat that Houston was lucky was only a sac fly. 4-2, now, and the Yanks were into the Houston bullpen, not their strongest feature. Todd Frazier -- who seems to be in the middle of a lot of rallies -- led off the 8th with a single. Backup catcher Romine was due next, and Girardi pinch-hit with Chase Headley -- one of our team of DH's, who'd managed to so far go 0-for-18 in the series. Never mind: he laced a double to left...though he flat fell down between 1st and 2nd, and it took a comical exchange between the Houston infielders for him to somehow get in safely. Gardner drove in the 3rd run with a groundout, which brought Judge up again. This time he didn't quite reach the seats, but came close enough (double off the wall) to drive Headley in with the tying run. After that, Didi's single and Sanchez's double to right seemed almost anti-climactic. Well, not really -- I was screaming through all of it. Incredible, back-from-the-dead rally that recalled the rally off Pedro back in 2003 that preceded the Aaron Boone homer.

Going into the game, and especially during the earlier, discouraging innings, I found myself longing for those years when my team WASN'T involved -- when it was so much easier to watch events unfold, and not have to feel intense anxiety with every development. But then this rally reminded me why we let ourselves get involved: because the joy is so immense when great games like this come along. Whatever else happens this year -- and I've said, multiple times, this is all more way than I expected -- we'll always have this great game to look back on.

By the way, Judge -- who, two days ago, was a rookie over his head -- has a series OPS of 1.284. Sanchez's double was his first hit of the series, but, combined with his blistering sac fly, makes one hopeful his bat is coming alive. If the baby bombers are at full strength, these next 2 or 3 games could be very exciting.

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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby Sonic Youth » Tue Oct 17, 2017 7:21 pm

Good morning, Aaron.
"What the hell?"
Win Butler

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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Mon Oct 16, 2017 3:21 pm

A quick look at where we stand, with the teams from a potential re-match of the famed 1932 Series stuck down 0-2 apiece.

The Dodgers/Cubs games haven't been blowouts -- the Cubs, in fact, took early leads in both -- but the Dodgers won both with runs off the seemingly-exhausted Cub bullpen. The Saturday game was distinguished by the Dodgers (specifically Justin Turner) scoring a Buster Posey-enabled run, with a replay-overrule erasing an out at the plate because Contreras blocked the plate without the ball. Ron Darling (along with probably many old time players) was livid, but this is our new world.

Turner again was a hero last night, hitting a two-out game-winning homer in the 9th. Much of the post-game discussion centered around not so much Turner's hit as the pitcher who served it up to him: John Lackey, who is not only not an experienced reliever, but was apparently pitching on consecutive days for the first time in his career. The post-game panel seemed mostly convinced Maddon should have brought Wade Davis in, but Davis was still exhausted from his long outing on Thursday and would only have been available for an inning or less. The real problem is, the rest of the Cub bullpen isn't very good. (The Dodger pen, on the other hand, has been squelching so far, a surprise to those of us who were unimpressed by them during the NLDS.)

The Cubs are still defending champs, and dangerous to discount, but, at the very least, we can say the Dodgers haven't stumbled over their own feet, so for the moment they seem to be acting as if this year IS different.

The ALCS has been even closer, two consecutive 2-1 Astro wins, both of which turned on extremely close plays -- ground ball singles just eluding Yankee infielders/Aaron Hicks' ball dying at the wall/Greg Bird getting throw out at the plate in Game 1; Correa's home run barely sneaking over the wall/Brett Gardner being nailed at 3rd/Sanchez being unable to handle the throw to the plate in Game 2. The Yankees are clearly not hitting -- Sanchez in as much a funk as Judge -- but the Astros aren't exactly tearing the cover off the ball, either. No team likes to go down 0-2 (though it's less terrifying than in a 5-game series), but we'll see what happens when the Yankee line-up faces a pitcher or two who hasn't won a Cy Young award.

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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Fri Oct 13, 2017 1:02 pm

So, a quick review of the LDS. We got a variety of outcomes -- a three-game sweep, a did-it-in-4, and one do-or-die in in each league. The way it broke out, with the favored teams winning the short series and the underdogs taking the elimination games, all four winning teams clinched on the road. Don't know if that's ever happened before.

danfrank, I agree that Altuve will likely win the MVP, partly for the reasons you noted (MVP voters, like Oscar voters, sometimes look for chances to pick those who've come close in the past), but also because 1) many of them had decided on Altuve during Judge's August slump, and seemed almost irked that Judge's September surge forced them to recalculate; 2) the fact that Judge's trough was so deep and long-running (If that six weeks' worth of games had been spread out/sprinkled throughout the rest of the season, the same year-end stats would look more sparkling); and 3) even the folks at Baseball Prospectus have noted that baseball writers, rightly feeling NY players get plenty attention as is, will, when it's a choice between a Yankee and non-Yankee, generally opt for for the non- (notable cases: Morneau over Jeter '06, Rice over Guidry '78 vs. Clemens over Mattingly '86). Given that Judge ought to win the Rookie prize unanimously, they'll decide that's plenty for one year. (And they might be right about that.)

Judge right now is an interesting case. The general feel of course is that he's hitting bottom again, and you can't argue with the results. But a lot of Yankee fans I know think he's getting wildly screwed on strike calls way off the plate or at his ankles, and the absence of a reliable zone hobbles him as a hitter. Judge's size makes him a challenge for umpires -- his ankles are about where Brett Gardner's knees are -- but holding him to Gardner's strike zone doesn't seem fair. Anyway...I'll be interested to see if this carries over into the LCS, or if he finds a way to adjust.

I pretty much agree with danfrank's take on both series. I still think the Yanks are a year or two ahead of schedule, and getting to the Series would be wildly beyond-expectation (though, to be honest, I'd have said the same about the '96 team). Houston ought to be the favorite, and, as with Cleveland, I wouldn't begrudge them a win, even if I must root the other way.

I really feel bad for Cleveland, by the way. This is kind of the second time this millennium they've had what appeared a juggernaut upstaged by a suddenly-maturing Yankee team. (How did a team with Jim Thome/Albert Belle/Kenny Lofton/Carlos Baerga/Manny Ramirez never win a World Series?) I guess the recent Tiger teams can commiserate for not quite getting to the top -- though they at least beat the Yanks multiple times before falling.

In the NL, I see it just the way danfrank does: if LA is really different this year, they have to demonstrate it from the get-go. If they get to a do-or-die point, it's hard not to imagine their recent ghosts taking hold (as happened with the Nationals), and the Cubs slipping past them.

About the Cubs, if they do make it to the Series: Someone noted a while back that, since the Giants 1921/22 back-to-back championships, 8 NL teams have got back to the Series to defend a single championship, and only one has succeeded. The losers were the '43 Cardinals, '56 Dodgers, '58 Braves, '66 Dodgers, '68 Cardinals, '96 Braves and '09 Phillies; the one winner was the '76 Reds. That 5 of the 7 losers fell to the Yankees is mostly reflective of how dominant the Yanks have been in post-season (the one winner also faced them)...but it is interesting that the Cubs have a 1-in-4 chance of getting them in a match-up, trying to do what's been very difficult for the NL -- even while the Yanks (multiple times), A's and Blue Jays have all managed it in the AL.

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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Fri Oct 13, 2017 12:26 am

And, oh god, it got worse.

At the time I posted that, the Cubs were ahead 8-4 (after initially trailing 4-1). The Nats got it to 8-6, gave up another run to make it 9-6, scored 2 to make it 9-8, but had a runner picked off first with 2 on and 2 out -- and then went down 1-2-3 in the 9th. Then, AFTER the game, it was discovered that the umpires missed a batter-hit-the-catcher-on-his-backswing call in the crucial 5th, which should have ended the inning before 2 key (in this instance, series-winning) runs scored. They can't do anything about it for this game, but, don't worry, they'll be sure to enforce it from here on out.

Dusty Baker seems to be a nice guy, but this sort of thing always seems to happen to his teams in the playoffs.

It was a crazy game for all sorts of other reasons -- hit batsmen, grisly errors, a ton of walks, a catcher's interference (since Ellsbury reached on catcher's interference last night, we had the first instance of it showing up in two elimination games in one season). Mainly, what we saw was that neither team had anyone in the bullpen they trusted aside from their closer. (I'm more sympathetic to Maddon's overuse of Chapman last year, after seeing his replacements.) Perhaps I'm spoiled seeing the Yankee bullpen every day, but it's hard for me to believe either of these teams can survive all the way to the finish line unless their starters go deep into games.

So...Yanks/Astros, Dodgers/Cubs. Three of the four are from baseball's original 16; the other has been around since 1962 with one World Series appearance and no wins. Thoughts about them tomorrow.

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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby danfrank » Fri Oct 13, 2017 12:16 am

Wild game tonight in Washington. A real nail-biter. I had said earlier that I wanted Dusty Baker to win a championship, but as I watched the series it was clear that my heart was all-in for the Cubs. And yeah, the Nats are becoming quite prolific in the art of collapse. So now we have a Cubs-Dodgers repeat. It's hard to predict, for sure. I think that the Dodgers will either continue to roll fairly easily or, if it gets close, they fold against the scrappy Cubs. We'll see.

Tee, congrats on your Yankees making it through. As I had said earlier, I'm not surprised at this outcome, though I wouldn't have betted on it. Now we get to see the David-and-Goliath MVP favorites head-to-head (I predict Altuve gets the MVP by a decent margin: he's had 4 monster years in a row and sports writers love all-around players; Judge will have to be content with the ROTY consolation prize). As far as the series, I'd have to predict the Astros. A Yankees win DOES seem a bit premature, but stranger things have happened.

In any case, baseball is a very nice distraction from what is going on in the rest of the world, including the absolutely devastating fires in my neck of the woods. It seems we can't get a break these days.

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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Thu Oct 12, 2017 9:45 pm

Ummm...only the 6th inning, but it's beginning to look like the Nationals' post-season karma is locked in.


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