Congratulations to the Chicago White Sox…2005 World Series Champs in a sweep!
We didn’t get any complete games and only Game 4, which ended 1-0 can be called a pitcher’s duel in the traditional sense. But all four games were close and Game 3 went 14 innings, so there was some tremendous pitching in the Series. The Houston Astros would certainly subscribe to the "Good Pitching Stops Good Hitting" theory, given the inability of their hitters to come up with key RBIs. The Series was a sweep, but not a landslide. The Astros could have won any or all of those games. We could have had a 7-Game series, or a sweep the other way.
I like offense, so this was a great series for me. In fact, there was something for everyone except those who wanted to see a Houston victory. Final scores of 5-3, 7-6, and 7-5 (in 14 innings), indicated both runs scored and the drama of close games. Add in the 1-0 game where both starting pitchers threw shutouts for 7 innings and you have no game ending with a lead bigger than two runs. There was one big comeback, when the Sox came back from being down 4-0 to take the lead 5-4 in the 5th inning of Game 3, the longest game by time (5 hours and 41 minutes) in Series history.
The World Series was a team effort on both sides, especially when Chicago and Houston emptied their benches in their efforts to win Game 3. Just as we had seen Roger Clemens pitch relief in Houston’s18-inning win against Atlanta in the NLDS, Chicago starter Mark Buehrle pitched to one batter to get the save in Game 3. And, much to my delight, we saw reserves (especially Geoff Blum and Willie Harris of the White Sox) making important contributions to their teams.
The Astros had their moments. The one that stands out in my mind, besides Backe’s 7 scoreless innings, was the sparkling double play they turned just before Blum’s homer. And Jeff Bagwell, who worked so hard to rehab in time to get back this year, got to be the DH in the games in Chicago. Good to see him in there. (Too bad White Sox DH Frank Thomas’ injury was beyond healing in time). But Houston, ditch the hill in center field, please! I know each ballpark has its idiosyncrasies, but a hill in center field is a gimmick. Level the playing field…literally!
Too bad so many people missed the Series. Various news outlets are reporting that this World Series had the lowest TV ratings in history, fulfilling a prediction made on one of our local TV sports segments in the San Francisco Bay Area. A note to you casual fans who generally watch only the playoffs and the Series: Is it really not an "official" World Series unless the Yankees, Red Sox, or Dodgers are in it? Yes, here was a World Series featuring two Midwestern teams, one of which had not been in a Series since 1959 and another that had never been there. So what? Yo, Midwest, where were you? Did you really prefer reruns, or soon-to-be reruns, to a live, unique event?
Down the Left Field Line: Life, Baseball & Eric Byrnes won’t hibernate for six months. But the activity will have to slow down a little, at least for a while. Not because of lack of ideas for articles: I’ve got a list of Byrnes-and non-Byrnes-related potential stories hung up on my corkboard. (For example, the San Francisco stadium is going to change names yet again…Sheesh!)
But since I’m not a sports writer—woe is me–I have to go back to reporting my bread and butter stories, like Peak Oil and Global Warming, etc., even though I would much rather be contemplating ways for Eric Byrnes to attack change-ups low and away. Actually, my article on Byrnes’ batting stance is nearly done, so that will be one of the first Hot Stove League pieces I’ll have out. What I am trying to say is that I would much rather write about Eric Byrnes than about what’s going on in the non-baseball world any day of the week.
One of the reasons I enjoy writing the Byrnesblog is that I am becoming part of a baseball-loving community that looks out for its members. For example, the author of Some Ballyard alerted me to Eric’s being on ESPN radio the other night. I was working, and couldn’t listen, but he listened for me, and I appreciated the heads-up. I send alerts to Red Sox Chick about news concerning Timlin, Millar and other Red Sox. Daryl of Daryl’s Place and I occasionally ruminate on what the Orioles are doing to have a better 2006. If they make the big mistake of letting go of Byrnesie, they will go back to just being another team in the American League to me—my loyalties go where Byrnes goes–but now I will always be interested in what Daryl and his baseball-savvy wife, Ginger, are up to.
It’s been great to meet a bunch of baseball-savvy women here. (An article about women and baseball is on the cork-board list). The authors of White Sox Nation, Pinstripe Nation, Long Live 1984!, Diamonds are for Humor, and Redbird Fever are among the women who blog here. I look forward to meeting more of them in 2006.
Well, I shouldn’t be writing like I’m not going to be back for 6 months. I’ll likely be back in 6 days. (I’m on deadline for another energy story). Still, with the World Series over, it is the end of a year. So let me wind this up with a dozen things I would like to see in 2006 besides seemingly impossible stuff like peace on earth:
- Eric Byrnes to have his breakout year. That 30-30, .300+ batting average, 100+ runs-scored, 100+ RBI, lead-the-league-in-doubles, All-Star, Gold Glove, lead-his-team-into-the-playoffs kind of year I know he’s got in him. The one that is just the first year of his truly fulfilling his potential as a major league baseball player until the natural end of his career or until the collapse of fossil fuel-based industrialized civilization, whichever comes first.
- Eric Byrnes to read my blog and enjoy it. And to let me know that he does. (Of course, if this were to happen, you would not know). He doesn’t come across as the type of person who sits in front of a computer, or anything else, for long. But it would be nice if he read the Byrnesblog now and again.
- Hey, MLB.com, there are some of us here—I’m one of them—ready to put your countdown clock about when pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training on our blogs, NOW! Can you arrange that for us? We need something to get us through the long baseball-less nights to come.
- Indiana University to go far in the NCAA tournament next March. (Yeah, I confess, I like other sports besides baseball. And I went to IU).
- Billy Beane and all his protégés in MLB to take their Moneyballs and go home.
- Owners to understand that winning is not bound up in being either penurious or extravagant.
- Baseball players to be wealthy without being greedy. And to remember, as Eric Byrnes always does, to give their best to the fans who are paying to watch them.
- Another year of tight races that go down to the wire.
- The understanding, on all sides, that while baseball is a business, it isn’t just another business.
- More complete games.
- More MLBlogging with a lot of terrific people.
- More time to read some good baseball books.
‘Til later. And a good Hot Stove League season to us all!
Congratulations, White Sox! You won the World Series in a sweep! You captured your first World Championship in 88 years! You won 11 of 12 during the postseason including the last 8 straight.
Pinch-hitter Willie Harris started the rally that produced the only run of this whale of a pitcher’s duel Game 4.
You never know who’s going to come up big!
"It’s the stuff dreams are made of. I’ve had about 100 of these at-bats in my backyard with my younger brother."
–Geoff Blum, Chicago White Sox
Congrats to White Sox reserve infielder Geoff Blum, who hit the game-winning homer of World Series Game 3! In his first World Series at-bat ever, the journeyman switch-hitter, who played with the Astros in 2002 and 2003, went yard on an Ezequiel Astacio pitch in the 14th inning. Blum hit the homer right after the Astros turned a sparkling double play on two of his more famous teammates: Jermaine Dye and Paul Konerko.
Blum has the least playing time of anyone on the White Sox postseason roster. He entered the game in the 13th inning as a defensive replacement.
You never know who’s going to come up big.
Jim Molony of MLB.com reports that the roof of Minute Maid Park In Houston will be open for Game 3. According to Molony’s article, the decision was made in conformance with rules for a retractable roof: the roof is supposed to be open unless the temperature at Game time is 80 degrees or higher, or if rain and/or winds are factors, regardless of temperature. It’s cloudless and will be nowhere near 80 degrees come game time.
The decision will be welcomed by traditionalists, like "My Friend, the Yankees Fan," who hates roofs on ballparks. She was just telling me this morning that Minute Maid’s retractable roof should be blown up.
The Astros are totally unhappy. They have a great home record with their roof closed. Houston’s May-through-September weather often justifies roof closure, but that’s not really it for the Astros: thanks to roof reverb, the hometown cheering is louder that way. They like that.
I’m a roof moderate. I like retractable roofs and think that they should be closed at the top of the inning after which the temperature goes below 50. Game 2 in Chicago was simply uncomfortable in the cold and rain. And that’s how I felt watching it indoors in Oakland. Maybe the players should be able to tolerate the elements. They are being well paid to be where they are, and they are, (or are supposed to be), in peak condition. But the folks in the stands PAY to be there, and for their money should not have to sit in the cold and rain. This ISN’T football! (I kept hoping that 92-year-old woman stayed warm!)
The other ballpark in Texas doesn’t have a roof, and twice when I listened to games from there I heard them ask the fans in the upper deck to evacuate because of lightning danger. Lightning is not a concern when the park has a roof.
There are other places around the majors where it’s outrageously hot for players and fans. Right toward the end of July, it was in the upper 90′s at game time at Coors Field. And I hear Camden Yards is lovely, but there had to be nothing lovely about starting a game with the temperatures at 100 and at 96, as happened to the Orioles in mid-August the weekend before they came here to Oakland; they so enjoyed starting games in the low-60′s that they swept the A’s.
You wouldn’t get me, and lots of other people, to the ballpark on days with the temps as high as the speed of a Bobby Jenks fastball. So, for the sake of building attendance, new ballparks should have retractable roofs.
As for this World Series, the situation in Houston will be reviewed each day. IF true Astros fans are getting the bulk of the tickets, they can just manage to be a little louder on their own if it means that much to them. If the World Series is being stuffed with casual fans who "know somebody who knows somebody" as White Sox fans suspect is the case in Chicago, well, then the Astros will just have to figure out what to do in a somewhat quieter venue.
I think Houston has bigger problems than that.
I couldn’t blog much this week because I had to do the "work for a living" dance. But with that over for the weekend, I’m going to borrow something from the style book of Inside the White Sox and give you short takes on various subjects before Game 1 starts.
NLCS Game 5
I was rooting for the Cardinals in the NLCS. Thank you, Cards, for that exciting finish to Game 5. But for all the well-deserved adulation of Albert Pujols for that storybook piece of clutch hitting, let us not forget that he wouldn’t even have gotten to the plate without the Eckstein single and the Edmonds walk. And that it took a three-run homer to give the Cardinals the lead. A solo shot would not have meant anything. As John Milton wrote, "They also serve who only stand and wait."
A confrontation between the league’s toughest closer and the league’s toughest hitter with the game and a championship on the line: the only way it could have been any better would have been for the confrontation to occur in a Game 7. Kids don’t dream about being the hero of Game 5.
NLCS Game 6
I’m not surprised that Mulder brought his B game to an elimination game. I live in Oakland. But we can’t pin the loss on him entirely. Oswalt was just lights out.
The Houston Astros
Congratulations on winning the National League pennant by beating, in the playoffs, the team that finished ahead of you by 11 games in the regular season. You got there by winning that 18-inning epic against the Braves. Maybe the baseball gods have decided that a team that has never been in the World Series should take it all this year. You certainly have championship stuff. Three great pitchers, an outstanding closer, a rookie who is rising to the occasion, Biggio and Bagwell (who’s DH’ing in Game 1 of the Series), and a fan with enough sense of history to give those two baseballs to Cooperstown instead of Ebay. (That’s good for karma points with the baseball gods).
But you are still from Houston. Still from Texas. If the Astros win the World Series there will be too many yahoos–of course, to me, one is too many–who will think it to be their god’s way of saying that patriarchal, dominionist, militaristic, neocon, American imperialism is "alright by the Almighty."
The Chicago White Sox
So I’m rooting for the White Sox, even though they wear a picture of a white sock on their sleeve and black hose on their feet. This is really weird since their scandal team was nicknamed "The Black Sox." ChiSox in 7. Of course, I always want to see a seven-game series. I generally feel a little cheated if it’s anything less than that, though the sweep last year was OK. The REAL World Series last year was the Yankees-Red Sox playoff.
And if both teams pitch the way they did in the playoffs, it SHOULD go 7 games. Seven pitchers’ duels where one hit or one error could make the difference. I like offense, so I wouldn’t mind a slugfest, as long as it’s two-sided. Lopsided games are dull, even if the team you’re rooting for is winning.
The World Series on TV
One of the sportscasters for a TV station in the San Franicsco Bay Area has predicted that the TV ratings for this World Series will be even worse than those of the current recordholder for bad: The 2002 Series between the San Francisco Giants and the geographically-challenged Angels. That would be a shame. The White Sox and the Astros feature some incredible pitching that should make for tight, dramatic games. And even if you don’t have a strong rooting interest if you are in the population centers of the East and West Coasts, baseball is supposed to be the NATIONAL pastime, right?
Mrs. Clemens and Shoeless Joe Jackson
I really believe that truly hellacious hells are reserved for the truly evil people of the world: war criminals and other murderers and torturers, rapists, child molesters and the like. The rest of us merely imperfect souls, who may or may not have thrown a World Series, will find ourselves in a place that is no where near as bad as advertised. Someplace rather familiar, in fact, while we wait for the go-ahead to take the next step.
The story of Mrs. Clemens speaking of Shoeless Joe as she neared death reminded me of a similar story about musicians. In the middle of the 20th Century, there was a Parisian teacher of composers named Nadia Boulanger. Leonard Bernstein was among her students. Many years later, Lenny visited Nadia when she was in that space between life and death that Mrs. Clemens was in recently. He asked Nadia what was on the other side, and she replied, "La musique…ni commencement, ni fin." ("Music, without beginning or end.")
And so I believe that, somewhere, Bess Clemens and Shoeless Joe Jackson will be sitting side- by-side, rooting for their respective teams in this World Series. Bess will tell Joe how Roger would have dealt with him; Joe will tell Bess that he’d have known how to hit Roger, as good as he is. And the hot dogs will be as perfect as in baseball heaven hot dogs should be.
What I did instead of blogging this week.
The Chicago White Sox have won the American League pennant for the first time since 1959. But they did it pretty much without the guy who has been the heart and soul of the team for many years: Frank "The Big Hurt" Thomas. He played just 34 games in 2005,sandwiched between two breaks of his left ankle. In all likelihood, his career is over.
I saw the 9th of the 12 homers he hit this year. (Think about it, 12 homers in 34 games. That’s pretty impressive!) It came July 3 at the Oakland Coliseum. Thomas sent a pitch by Barry Zito, the southpaw ace of the Oakland A’s, into the left field bleachers to give the White Sox a 1-0 lead in the 4th. It wasn’t to be one of those times when a Thomas homer put the White Sox in the win column; the A’s won 7-2.
It was a fine day for the man who’s presence in the lineup explained my presence in the stands. Eric Byrnes went 2 for 3 with a walk and two runs scored. That "other" AB was a comebacker to the pitcher that was supposed to be a double play. But Buerhle threw the ball into center field and the A’s had runners on 2nd and 3rd. The Athletics have some sort of mojo going against the White Sox at the Coliseum.
But A’s mojo or not, The Big Hurt hit a bomb. Byrnesie took two steps back and then just watched the ball sail into the seats. And I realized in that moment that I had seen one of the last homers hit by one of the greats. Whoever it was that threw the ball back onto the field was a fool. And so were the others in the left field bleachers who loudly chanted "let him stay, let him stay" when security removed the fool. Catching any ball is special. Catching one hit by a two-time MVP is extra special, especially when you know he might not have too many left in him.
I am sure the ChiSox will take care of "The Big Hurt" this winter in terms of both bling and money. But it’s one of the cruelties of life and sports that the team finally gets to the World Series the year their DH is on the DL.
In defeating the geographically-challenged Angels 8-2 in the ALCS today, the Chicago White Sox starting pitchers have turned in their third complete game in a row. That’s three complete games out of four games played so far in this series. Jose Contreras, who went 8 and a third innings in Game 1, gets another chance at a complete game tomorrow.
I like this. I’m generally a fan of offense; note that my favorite player is NOT a pitcher. But I can admire a sterling pitching performance as much as the next fan. And I love complete games. As I have said before, and I am sure I will say again, relief pitchers are overused these days. There are too many of them and they’re too specialized: there are some who pitch to left-handed hitters, others who pitch to righties, middle relievers, 7th inning guys, the set-up man in the 8th, and the closer in the 9th.
Thank goodness there isn’t a 40-man roster all season, or we would be hearing about the day guy, the night guy, the away guy, the home guy, the dome guy and the pitcher who only gets into the game when there’s a hard aspect between Jupiter and Mars.
And all the concern about whether the bullpen is getting enough work. Sheesh! Hey, if the relievers need to throw, they can just get up and throw. We saw some of that in the White Sox bullpen tonight.
I like what the announcers said about White Sox reliever Cliff Politte as they were noting the non-wearing out of the Chicago bullpen this ALCS for the nth time. According to the announcers, Politte was not the least bit upset about the lack of work. "If I’m not in the game, we’re winning," he supposedly said. And Politte is a guy who’s had a good year this year, so he has nothing to fear about his own work putting his team in jeopardy.
Relief pitchers are supposed to be there "just in case," not "just because." So it was disturbing to hear White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen admit in the post-game on-field interview that he went to the mound in the 9th with the intention of pulling Freddy Garcia after a hard hit ground ball got past first baseman Paul Konerko. For goodness sake, the Sox had a 6-run lead!
Managers who do let pitchers go out for the 9th seem to do so with great trepidations. They are always ready to pull the guy after one small bit of trouble. When you’re up by 6 runs, one single is not trouble.
Kudos to Garcia for talking Guillen out of the hook, and finishing his win. And relax, Ozzie. Lots of managers would love the problem of an over-rested bullpen.
The Houston Astros won the opportunity to meet the St. Louis Cardinals for the National League pennant by beating the Atlanta Braves 7-6 in 18 innings. So, though technically the ‘Stros won the series in 4 games, for all practical purposes, especially the fatigue factor, they played 5 games. It was a most amazing game, with something for fans of both offense and defense. Each team hit a grand slam. The game was tied by a two-out homer in the 9th. A rookie ended it with a homer to the same Astros fan who had earlier caught the Astros grand slam. But it took the Astros a long time to win because the Braves pitchers held for so long after the 8th and 9th inning stumbles. The "W" went to a starter with the Hall of Fame in his future, who pitched three innings of scoreless relief after getting clobbered in his Game 2 start. But redemption for Roger Clemens was only one part of the epic. Because a player removed from the game cannot be re-instated, extra-extra inning affairs highlight what a team effort baseball really is, and how everyone on the roster is crucial at some point or another. Brad Ausmus, who tied the game with a solo homer, is a veteran catcher whose regular season line was 3 HRs, 47 RBIs and .258 BA for 135 games in 2005. And the walk-off homer that gave the Astros the series and Clemens the win, was hit by Chris Burke, a rookie left fielder who hit 5 HRs 26 RBI and .248 for the 108 games in which he appeared this season. He entered Game 4 late as a pinch-runner. You never know who’s going to come up big.
The Houston Astros won the opportunity to meet the St. Louis Cardinals for the National League pennant by beating the Atlanta Braves 7-6 in 18 innings. So, though technically the ‘Stros won the series in 4 games, for all practical purposes, especially the fatigue factor, they played 5 games.
It was a most amazing game, with something for fans of both offense and defense. Each team hit a grand slam. The game was tied by a two-out homer in the 9th. A rookie ended it with a homer to the same Astros fan who had earlier caught the Astros grand slam. But it took the Astros a long time to win because the Braves pitchers held for so long after the 8th and 9th inning stumbles. The "W" went to a starter with the Hall of Fame in his future, who pitched three innings of scoreless relief after getting clobbered in his Game 2 start.
But redemption for Roger Clemens was only one part of the epic. Because a player removed from the game cannot be re-instated, extra-extra inning affairs highlight what a team effort baseball really is, and how everyone on the roster is crucial at some point or another. Brad Ausmus, who tied the game with a solo homer, is a veteran catcher whose regular season line was 3 HRs, 47 RBIs and .258 BA for 135 games in 2005. And the walk-off homer that gave the Astros the series and Clemens the win, was hit by Chris Burke, a rookie left fielder who hit 5 HRs 26 RBI and .248 for the 108 games in which he appeared this season. He entered Game 4 late as a pinch-runner.
You never know who’s going to come up big.
Radio Internet Story Exchange
Thanks for the "Best Profile" designation, MLB.com! When I informed "My Friend, the Yankees Fan," she reminded me that you folks thought from the beginning that I had an interesting life. Of course, I wonder if saying I have an interesting life is just a nice way of saying I’m old. (I’m having mixed feelings about having turned 50 this year. Little did Eric Byrnes know that he was making my birthday by going 3 for 5 with a homer. Then again, any time Eric Byrnes gets a hit or makes a great defensive play is an occasion to be of good cheer). I will have to look at the profile again to see if there is anything interesting I left out. Got a reputation to keep up now, thanks to you!
Like Red Sox Chick, I had no idea you folks were planning something like this and it’s great to be included. I have no idea how many people read this blog at all…only that I need not yet take off my shoes to count the number I am sure of. (In my wildest daydreams, I imagine Eric Byrnes himself reads it…and if he really does, I hope he doesn’t mind that I had a little fun at his expense with the photo album). I just enjoy writing the Byrnesblog, and reading others. I hope your mentioning "Life, Baseball & Eric Byrnes" in the "Introducing the Bloggies" article will draw in some more readers for me, which should, in turn, result in more fans for Byrnesie.
A few words to some of the other "Bloggie" winners:
To England Here: Rays from Across the Pond, voted Best Displaced-Fan Blog: You were wondering about the existence of other displaced-fan bloggers. Even though I haven’t read all the blogs, I know that there are several other displaced fans here. There’s that (temporarily) displaced Mets fan who’s been honeymooning in Australia. (Hmm, shall we question the baseball bona-fides of people who honeymoon outside the US during the season? Just kidding. I suppose love does indeed conquer all, including baseball!) And although the ends of the earth are the boundaries of a baseball nation, the author of White Sox Nation considers herself displaced; this fan of the Chicago Southsiders lives in the Pacific Northwest. I grew up in New York, but now live in Oakland, CA, so I can certainly claim displaced status as far as the Mets are concerned. Can I claim doubly-displaced status, now that Eric Byrnes is a Baltimore Oriole?
To The Good The Bad and The Barmes: Congrats on being considered Best Blog. Given what happened to Clint this year, perhaps you are the one to provide us with an article on significant off-field injuries. There was the late Bobby Bonds in a pick-up basketball game. There was a Mets pitcher, Bob Ojeda or Sid Fernandez, I don’t remember which, and his encounter with garden shears. (Geez, don’t players get paid well enough to hire gardeners?) There was Jeff Kent who claimed to have hurt himself washing his truck, but it was probably an injury sustained while riding his motorcycle. And, of course, there’s Clint. Venison given to him by Helton? I had heard it was a bag of groceries. Your version has more panache.
To The Baseball Collector: I haven’t made it over to your blog yet. (So many blogs, so little time when you also have to work for a living!) There’s a beer commercial that sings the "praises" of "Mr. Overeager Foul Ball Catcher." Did you inspire that one? I hope not. The commercial speaks of "Mr. Overeager" as running over infants, hot dog vendors and old ladies in pursuit of the baseball. You really wouldn’t run over a hot dog vendor, would you?
And last but not least, to Red Sox Chick: Yeah, you got voted No. 2 blog here, but at least the Red Sox made the playoffs, which is more than I can say for the Mets, the Orioles or the A’s.
Here’s a plan for us to be in the running for next year’s "Best Photo" bloggie. Millar stays with the Red Sox; Byrnes stays with the Orioles (and starts tearing the cover off the ball, like I know he can), and I make enough money to buy a Byrnes/Orioles jersey and get to Boston for a Red Sox-Orioles game. Can you imagine a photo of you and me in our respective 15 jerseys singing "Sweet Caroline" in historic Fenway?
In a world full of generational global war, fear of a bird flu pandemic, peak oil, global warming, hurricanes and earthquakes, Neocons, Dominionists, and other disasters, baseball keeps me sane. (And my dream of Eric Byrnes having a .300+ season before civilization as we know it collapses–a dig at civilization, not at Byrnesie–keeps me happy…that and good chocolate!)
Radio Internet Story Exchange
I was rooting for the Red Sox, but I acknowledge that you guys really took it to ‘em. You last won a playoff series in 1917. That’s an even longer stretch of futility than Boston’s. So if you go all the way this year, what’s next? The Cubs win the ’06 World Series? Sounds like a sure sign of Armageddon to me!
But seriously, for a while there, it looked like the Pale Hose were going to take a place in baseball history beside the ’51 Dodgers and the ’64 Phillies. But then you ended the regular season by taking the last two from the Detroit Tigers and sweeping the hard-charging Cleveland Indians. Now you’ve swept the defending champion Boston Red Sox in the ALDS. Since you don’t have to deal with the team that had your number this season: the Oakland A’s, it will be interesting to see if you can win the 8 more you need to get your rings.
Game 3 against Boston was very interesting. Seesaw battles always are. Ortiz and Ramirez hitting back-to-back homers to tie the game shows why they are baseball’s most devastating 1-2 offensive punch. But look up the phrase "grace under pressure" and you will see a picture of "El Duque" Hernandez. When Hernandez was with the Yankees, Joe Torre said that there was no situation in which he was afraid of using El Duque; there could be no situation on a baseball diamond that could be more pressured than what Hernandez had faced off the field in defecting from Cuba.
Hernandez came in when one of the most awesome offenses in the majors has the bases loaded, with the tying run on third and none out, in a do-or-die game. Child pitchers make up scenarios like this when they practice, only they might imagine it’s Game 7 of the World Series, not Game 3 of the ALDS. Adult pitchers prefer that their teams not get into such a mess.
But mess happens, which is what makes the game exciting. And if great hitters aren’t afraid of hitting with two strikes, then it stands to reason that great pitchers aren’t afraid of pitching with three balls. As a matter of fact, the Yankees announcers, who were reviewing your game while the Yanks were losing to the Angels last night, said repeatedly that "El Duque" doesn’t throw strikes until he has to. Sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it? When pitch counts are announced, we get not only the total number of pitches, but also the number that went for strikes. When strikeout pitchers take the mound, people hang signs at the stadium to count each K. You end up with the bases loaded if you don’t throw strikes.
But El Duque doesn’t throw strikes until he has to. And he didn’t have to when Johnny Damon turned ball 4 into strike 3 on his own. The Red Sox officially had three more chances after that, but at the end of the 6th, I knew it was over.
Congrats, again, White Sox!
Radio Internet Story Exchange