Results tagged ‘ Playoffs ’
Congratulations to the Arizona Diamondbacks for becoming the NL Western Division Champs!
The Mets completed their collapse today, losing to the Florida Marlins 9-1. It was an ugly end to an ugly swoon, complete with Carlos Delgado getting his left hand fractured by a Dontrelle Willis pitch.
I expect to hear some gloating by "My Friend, the Yankees Fan." While the Mets were choking, the Yanks clawed back into the playoffs. But the Mets collapse does not bother me as much this year as it would most others. The Mets have had the Diamondbacks number for a long time and I’d just as soon not see them in the playoffs.
Seven of the eight voters in my latest poll said The D’Backs would finish atop the division. 1 voted that they’d finish as the wild card. No one though they’d fall out of the race altogether.
While the Diamondbacks had today off, the Padres completed their sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-3 to extend their winning streak to 7 games.
The Padres are now just a half game behind the first place Diamondbacks. The Snakes have 9 games left. They close out their home season with a series against the Dodgers this weekend. Then it’s on the road for three games in Pittsburgh and three games in Colorado.
The Padres have 10 games left on their schedule: Three more at home against the Rockies, then 3 in San Francisco and 4 in Milwaukee. The Padres swept the Giants at PETCO last weekend. Maybe the Giants will surprise up at "Ballpark by the Bay," but D’Backs fans shouldn’t count on much from the NL West’s cellar dwellers.
The Brewers, who are fighting for the NL Central title, are a game behind the Cubs. They’ve got 11 games left: four with the Braves at Turner Field starting tonight, then back homer for three with the Cardinals before closing out against the Padres.
We promise to drink more Milwaukee beer this offseason if they take care of business versus the Friars.
It was everything you could ask for from a Game 7, except one:
The team I was rooting for lost.
Those were some filthy, filthy breaking balls in the bottom of the ninth, Mr. Wainwright. You should be fined for pollution.
Congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals for gutting this one out and away from home no less.
But I figure that either team coming out of this NLCS should be Tiger food and the tightness of this game only adds to that feeling.
In fact, this Game 7 and really the whole NLCS was so good, that the World Series feels anti-climatic. Sort of like it did in 2004 after the Red Sox came back on the Yankees.
Good thing they are not thinking of making the divisional series a best of seven. Playoff season is getting too long.
With Detroit in it, might we see snow before the Fall Classic is over?
One odd note about this Game 7. Billy Wagner was throwing hard in the bullpen but was left there. It was Aaron Heilman who gave up the gopher ball to Yadi Molina. With all the effort that was made to sell New York to the Wagners, with Wagner being one of the premier closers in the league and with him throwing hard in the bullpen, why didn’t he pitch the ninth? Sure, he’s blown saves before; he might have given up a homer also. But with the pennant on the line, aren’t you supposed to have your closer in the game? Especially since he’s supposed to be one of the best ones around?
Just a thought.
Kéllia "Armchair Manager" Ramares
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig is thinking about making it harder for Wild Cards to advance in the playoffs, possibly by giving the Wild Card team fewer home games. While the story as published on MLB.com did not give any specifics, one of my local radio stations mentioned a plan that would give 4 home games to the division winner and only one to the Wild Card in the best-of-five LDS.
This is a bad idea.
First of all, it’s turned out that the assumption that home field is a major advantage in helping a team to advance is false. While I was listening to the Cards-Mets playoff game 5 last night, the announcers mentioned that since 1996, when the LCS went to a best-of-seven format, the team with the home field advantage is only 10-11. Some teams play better on the road. So if a division winner is a better road team, giving it more home game will not necessarily help it to advance.
The one sure advantage of having home field is that the team that has it will get extra revenue for themselves and their cities by having the extra home game. As if big market teams with big payrolls really need that. How about extra home games for the smaller market teams that managed to make the playoffs anyway? The Tigers get homefield over the Yankees. The A’s get homefield over the Tigers. The Cardinals would get homefield over the Mets. The Mets and the Dodgers? A coin toss for them.
Although the Wild Card system is popular now, it was controversial when it started and it still retains an element of controversy in some quarters. For example, "My Friend, the Yankees Fan" still doesn’t like it. She told me last year that she doesn’t believe that a team what finishes 17 games out of first in the regular season should be fighting for the championship. But not all Wild Cards are like that. Consider the current Detroit Tigers. A bad September coupled with a great surge by the Minnesota Twins cost the Tigers the AL Central crown, but they finished second by only one game.
If the desire is to reward the teams who do best in the regular season, an argument can be made that to greatly disadvantage a team like the Tigers just because they slumped in the end and finished second by only one game is unfair. If what happens at the very end is the most important, such as who finishes first in the Kentucky Derby or the Indy 500, than the six month regular season is not that important and way too long.
When we see the box scores of the playoffs, we see that the numbers from the regular season are wiped out. The post-season is a really a new season, and the rewards go to the teams and players that can play the best in that short new season. That is why Alex Rodriguez is getting so much guff despite batting .290 with 35 HRs and 121 RBI during the regular season. Being hot at the end of the regular season matters not, if the team cannot continue that hot streak in the playoffs. Just ask the Twins. Having the best lineup in the history of the game matters not, if, for a short series, another team’s pitchers coould control that vaunted lineup. Just ask the Yankees. And if the team that slumps at year’s end can wake up during the playoffs, they can go the World Series. Just ask the Tigers.
If all we want to do is reward the teams with the best record, we can dispense with the playoffs all together and just have the team with the best record in each league play the World Series. That is the way it was for most of the history of the game. But economics militates against that because, with so many teams in each league now, many people are not going to be interested in going to games involving teams at or below .500, like the D’Backs and the Rockies, playing each other to keep out of the cellar. The divisions and the Wild Card have proved popular because they keep more teams in a race longer. That decision having been made, any fooling around with the system to attempt to load the playoff dice in favor of the division winner because too many Wild Cards have been making it into the Series lately is basically saying that the playoffs are just window dressing and that the World Series is still supposed to be played by the teams in each league that finish the regular season with the best record.
But in fact, the playoffs are a second season, and a reward for the teams that have turned in the eight best records of the regular season. One of the beautiful things about baseball is that in a short series, you never know which players and which teams will come up big. That is what made the 2004 Boston Red Sox comeback so dramatic.
Leave well enough alone.
A two-out, two-on, 9th inning homer by Magglio Ordonez enabled the Detroit Tigers to complete their sweep of the Oakland Athletics 6-3 in the ALCS today. The 2006 Tigers are the first Detroit team to reach the World Series since 1984.
A’s closer Huston Street, who had been brought in in the 7th, gave up the gopher ball.
The young Tigers appeared to be crumbling at the end of the season, when their bad September cost them the AL Central Division crown. But they lost only one game to the Yankees and now have swept the A’s.
They await the winner of the Cardinals-Mets NLCS.
The ESPN Radio announcers, Wayne Hagen and Luis Gonzalez, yes, THAT Luis Gonzalez, reported that if there was to be a Game 5, it would be played tomorrow in San Diego, and that the Padres had gotten permission to land at the S.D. airport after midnight. The Cardinals, however, could get no similar permission and would travel in the morning. In fact, the closest airport that would let them land late at night–or shall we say, the wee hours of the morning, was Ontario, an hour and a half’s drive away from San Diego. Gonzo called it "home state advantage."
The Cardinals don’t need California’s permission now. They’re heading to New York City, having beaten the Padres 6-2.
I’m going to be rooting against you now, Redbirds. But I trust you’ll make the NLCS very interesting.
The Detroit Tigers lost their last 5 regular season games and with them, the AL Central title. But in the ALDS, they remembered how good they are, and today they proved again that great pitching stops great hitting, especially in a short series. The Tigers eliminated the New York Yankees from the playoffs by the score of 8-3, and it wasn’t really that close.
The Yankees line up, dubbed Murderers’ Row 2, scored only three runs in their last 23 innings of playoff ball. Runs 2 and 3 came on a 2-out ninth inning homer today. Detroit’s Jeremy Bonderman was perfect through five. I hope Bondo does well against Oakland, just to remind Billy Beane what he gave away. I hate Moneyball.
As for the Mets, it was a sweet sweep of the Dodgers, the team they succeeded in NYC when the Dodgers and the Giants moved to California. The Boys Who Are Blue made a game of it for a while, erasing an early Mets lead. (Scoring runs in the first inning rather than giving them up. What a concept! D’Backs, are you paying attention?) But then the Mets took over for good and Billy Wagner closed out a 9-5 victory.
So if there is going to be a New York team in the World Series this year, it won’t be King George’s crew. I sent a sympathy e-card to "My Friend, the Yankees Fan," the one who called just before the playoffs began to say she felt sorry for Mets fans and would be around to console me.
Kenny Rogers and his bullpen shut out the Yankees 6-0 to give the Tigers a 2-1 lead in the ALDS. The winner of this series meets the Oakland A’s who swept the Twins earlier today.
Rogers was masterful, keeping the vaunted Yankees All Star lineup at bay by changing speeds. Great pitching does indeed stop great hitting.
The Oakland A’s swept the Minnesota Twins out of the playoffs today 8-3. The win ended their 0-9 streak in clinching games over four years during which the A’s would go up 2-0 in the division series, only to not get out of the first round.
The Twins did not help their own cause with bad defense: three errors and five unearned runs. But the real hero of the game for the A’s was Marco Scutaro. In the spring, the little Venezuelan middle infielder was slated for Triple A, despite a very good 2005. But he made the team and stuck because of injuries to 2B Mark Ellis and SS Bobby Crosby.
Playing shortstop today, Scutaro had 4 RBIs, three on a bases-clearing double in the seventh inning that put the game out of reach for the Twins. He also had an RBI double in Game 1 and Game 2, and made no errors. The capacity crowd at the Coliseum chanted "Marco — Scutaro" as he batted and after he reached second base in the seventh. Then they gave him a standing ovation when the inning ended.
Pretty good for a guy who started the year not sure he was even going to make the team.
You never know who’s going to come up big.
The Minnesota Twins come to Oakland down 0-2 in the ALDS. As fans of the Yankees and Red Sox can tell you, recent A’s playoff history suggests the Twinkies have the A’s right where they want ‘em.
Dodgers reliever Joe Beimel seriously injured himself when a bathroom glass shattered in his hotel room. He had to have 30 stitches in his pitching hand and lost his place on the roster for at least the NLDS. Why do hotels use glass glasses in the bathroom? How many of you use glass at home? Isn’t it dangerous? (Beimel would say yes). Is glass considered more classy or more sanitary? Plastic is washable and no where near as dangerous.
Devotees of ESPN TV are enjoying Eric Byrnes’ analysis on Baseball Tonight. If you ever wanted to see Eric Byrnes in a suit, here’s your chance.