Much like Dave Cameron over at Fangraphs, I'm glad the Angels won last night. This means there'll be baseball on Saturday night. In my Plato-ideal world, the California Angels will win tomorrow night too, forcing baseball on Sunday.
At some level, the AL teams should be happy their ALCS is extended another game, shortening the time off they will have between the conclusion of this series and the start of the World Series. Remember the 2006 Tigers? They had a week off, and it showed during their WS loss to St Louis - they were rusty. Hard to believe after a 6-month season a team could get that far out of whack with 7 days off, but remember: the only break of comparable length is the 4 days off around the All-Star Break. These guys are used to playing every day.
Which is another reason why the long breaks between series, and the indefensible off-day between Games 4 and 5 of the LCS, is so exasperating. I believe MLB is actually hurting the competitive nature of the playoffs by artifically extending the schedule. No I don't have any hard statistical evidence to back that up; I hope to develop this thesis during the off-season. But philosophically, here's the jist of my argument. If MLB teams craft their rosters to compete over a 162-game season, negate that team aspect of the game during the post-season? Specifically with starting pitching. I don't know if this will just be me proposing another unpopular opinion that has no basis in fact. But I hope to soon.
Phillies the best team in the NL. Obviously we say that now since they've won the League title. But based on how the playoffs played out, Philadelphia has the best team. Best lineup, best pitching staff, deepest bench, solidifying bullpen. If the NL is to win the World Series for the third time in 4 years, this Philadelphia team gives the league its best shot. And for those who think the Yankees will win the LCS and roll over the NL in the Series: I believe this will be a better Series than you do. I believe it will go at least 6. And I believe the Phillies has a good shot at repeating.
Oh, the wonders of pitch selection. In two key situations during the ALCS, the pitch thrown has made me question what the pitcher/catcher were thinking. The first was the 0-2 fastball Fuentes left up in the zone to A-Rod in Game 2. I still can't get over this. Behind A-Rod was Guzman and Gardner. A-Rod was the only bat in that inning that had even a remote chance of hurting the Angels (of the three scheduled hitters). YOU'RE AHEAD 0-2. Why throw him anything in the strike zone, especially after throwing 2 fastballs for strikes. Now, A-Rod might have gotten a pitch later in the at-bat to hit; we don't know. But that pitch was ridiculous.
The other was Hughes' 1-2 fastball to Vladimir Guerrero last night. Tim McCarver went on and on about how lousy this pitch choice was, especially after Guerrero looked really bad on the 1-1 curveball the pitch before. As near as I can tell, of the 18 pitches Hughes threw in the seventh 3 were curveballs, and on all three he got a swinging strike (I can't seem to get GameDay on MLB.com to come up from work. Crap.). Seeing as Guerrero is a dead fastball hitter, WHY throw a fastball in that count? And as it turned out, why throw a straight 4-seam fastball in that count?
Intentional Walks. Joe Posnanski is on record for hating the intentional walk on principle, in almost any instance. I've never thought much about the intentional walk per se; I believe there are times when it is called for, if used properly. However, I don't believe Fuentes' intentional walk of A-Rod was one of those times. Why? Because:
- There were two outs in the ninth and no one on.
- Scioscia basically admitted, 'I don't trust my highly-paid closer to get A-Rod out with the game on the line.' What happens when, tomorrow or Sunday night, Fuentes has to get A-Rod out with no where to put him? Is Scioscia going to take Fuentes out in that situation?
- It seemed to get into Fuentes' head. He couldn't find the plate to the next two hitters, walking Matsui and hitting Cano. He jumped ahead 0-2 to Swisher because Swisher went to the plate with his head up his ass. I mean, seriously: Fuentes suddenly has command issues, so why are you hacking at the first two things he throws up there?
The Angels were lucky to survive and win last night's game.
At any rate, the UCB is conducting a round-robin this week. I'll have a question and responses up on Monday here and at the UCB Home Page. Also, the BBA is voting on MVPs, so I'll have that story up over there Monday as well (there'll be a link to the BBA site here Monday afternoon).
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