Sunday, October 24, 2021

We've Got a World Series Matchup, and, uh...

 


...yeah, this...isn't quite what I ordered, but it's not BAD.

My worst fear for this playoffs was an Astros-Cardinals series. Clearly, this is not that. The Cardinals lost the Wild Card game, that wasn't gonna happen. But...any attempt to stop the Astros by great teams like the Red Sox and White Sox was futile, because the Astros had built up so much momentum that not even human starts by Luis Garcia and Zack Greinke could stop them. The Sox had a lead, the Astros won 3 straight, and that was it. There was always going to be that possibility that the Astros had a easy path to the World Series.

What I wasn't sure of was whether or not there was anyone in the NL that could stop them.

Going into the playoffs, I was thinking the Brewers were heading to a World Series, by the strength of their rotation, and the contact ability of their lineup. I just thought they were gonna dominate, and they'd be a match to Houston. But then the Braves beat them. Then I figured the Dodgers were gonna waltz all the way to the end on their payroll and strength alone, and their big-game mentality, like Chris Taylor and his 3 home runs, would obliterate Houston as payback for 2017. 

But then the Braves beat them. Which made me think...holy crap, are the Braves gonna be able to take Houston?

This is a thought I couldn't have had in August, when this team was still scraping by and trying to advance. When they had no outfield, I just couldn't see them doing anything in a postseason situation. But now they have an outfield of Eddie Rosario, Adam Duvall and Joc Pederson [and Jorge Soler when he's healthy], and it's made all the difference. Duvall, Pederson, Soler and ESPECIALLY Rosario have been heroes this postseason for them. That has made them into contenders, even if I lambasted the idea at the time. 

So now, the Braves have enough in the tank that they could definitely be a match for Houston. Charlie Morton taking down his old team is a good story. Dusty Baker against the symbol of his old mentor is a good story. Freddie Freeman, a future Hall of Famer with a few more years like this, finally getting to a World Series is a good story. It's a true good vs. evil matchup, and there shouldn't be any doubt as to who I'm rooting for here.

I'm hoping for a fun Series, something that doesn't depress me too much for the forthcoming offseason. I just really hope the Astros allow for one.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Championship Series Day 6: Clinching Positions Good and Bad

 


So, uh...Astros didn't really need the umps' help on this one.

This game came down to both the unstoppable Astros offense and Framber Valdez, who's been pitching beautifully this season, and had another really nice start last night. People are saying, however, that there was something suspicious about how Valdez rubbed his temple every time he got a new ball, and that it's funny that the umps aren't checking him for substances. 

Regardless, this lineup is on fire, putting up 9 runs in two consecutive games, leading with the same pack [Brantley, Alvarez, Altuve, Bregman], and now adding the young Jose Siri to the mix. They're getting stronger with every game, and unless the Red Sox manage to pull some serious offense together on the road, the Astros will be going to another World Series. I don't want it to happen, you don't want it to happen, but at this point it might be inevitable. 


Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, another team jumped on the 9 runs bandwagon, and it wasn't the home team. I have a Drew Smyly custom here because he got the win, honestly should have started [why start JESSE CHAVEZ when Ynoa gets bounced?], and leveled the Dodgers, with the bullpen's help, after things got going. But...if I hadn't already posted my Eddie Rosario custom twice, it'd go here, cause that man was on fire last night. He was a double away from a cycle and decided to hit a 3-run homer off of Tony Gonsolin just because he could. As tepid as Rosario has been as a contact hitter with Minnesota and Cleveland recently, the man has absolutely taken off in Atlanta, and is having the best stretch of his career by far. 

Plus, the rest of the lineup is helping out, as Freddie Freeman and Adam Duvall also had big moments last night. Things are looking really balanced, and the lack of Ronald Acuna, and Jorge Soler, is not hurting this team at all. Which is wonderful. 

The Braves are 3-1, and have one more game in LA tonight. This could be a clincher, but remember, these are the Dodgers we're talking about. The Giants had a lead too, and look what happened to them.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Championship Series Day 5: An Obligatory Testimony from the Opposition

 
I said yesterday that both series' would be battles of which bullpen could go the longest without making the mistake. Suffice to say, the Braves and Sox bullpens evened things up yesterday, culminating in two ninth innings that blew the game up entirely.

First of all, Braves-Dodgers. Seemed like a game of inches for the longest time. Corey Seager has his bomb, the Braves throw some points up and make it 5-2, and it just...stays there, palpably standing, waiting for someone to just do something. Like in the Sox game, the lead wasn't deep enough where you could turn off the set. While some Dodgers fans left before the Bellinger homer, there was still this chance that something could happen, and it certainly did. Getting all of this done in bottom 8 and leaving top 9 to Kenley, with some very easy lineup pieces batting, was just a wonderful twist of fate. Cause now all Kenley Jansen needed to do was just...do his thing, and that he did. While this has been a stronger year for Jansen, you still get the specters of past years of blown saves clouding what could be an easy opportunity, and I'm glad he can still be efficient in these situations.

So, Braves are still leading, but they're the away team and the Dodgers are juuust gaining momentum. This could be very tricky for them. 

As for Boston...look...we need robo-umps. We just do. Angel Hernandez is one thing, but this guy was messing up all night, the media was REPORTING that he was messing up all night, and his mistake in the ninth led to the Astros coming back and winning the game. Meanwhile, all anyone can say is 'well, I guess it was a ball'. Bullshit. The ump got it wrong and cost the Sox the game, and put Jason Castro in position to score the RBI, and lead to the battering of the Sox bullpen. Meanwhile Manfred shrugs because...I'm beginning to think he actually wants the Astros to succeed, seeing as he only barely reprimanded them. 

If the Astros come back and win this series, people will point to this game. Which should have been a Boston win. I never thought I'd be vouching for Boston this much, but here I am.

Tonight, at least one team will take a 3-game lead. Please, PLEASE, do not let it be the Astros. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Championship Series Day 4: Slamming Into Oblivion

 


I figured that the ALCS was going to become a case of which pitching staff committed less mistakes, but I always thought the Sox' bullpen was going to be the victim of this. Hansel Robles sitting around looking human, that's a giveaway. Adam Ottavino and Matt Barnes teetering on the brink of unreliable? This is all foreshadowing in most seasons. 

However, this has all been a pleasant surprise. Something about the Red Sox lineup absolutely obliterating Houston pitchers has been giving me life in this bland, bland postseason schematic. LOOK AT 'EM GO! J.D., Arroyo, Schwarber, Devers, Hernandez. They're all absolutely attacking this team's bullpen. Which means, if anything, that whatever cheating that the lineup did all those years ago, and may still be doing, didn't spread to the pitching.

Aw, man. Something about seeing the Astros get what they've deserved this series has made me like the Red Sox a little. Let me stress that I'm still gonna be rooting for the NL team in the WS, but the Sox somehow have a habit of feeling fun whenever they get good momentum in the postseason. It happened in 2013, it happened in 2018, and it's happening now. Lots of fun, excellent players, like Rafael Devers, Kyle Schwarber, Enrique Hernandez, Eduardo Rodriguez, and now Christian Arroyo, are getting their due. Arroyo's success comes after years of trying to make it in San Francisco, Tampa and Cleveland before FINALLY getting a shot with the Red Sox and taking it to a huge postseason moment. I'm very happy for the guy. 

We've got a few more games left til we really see the full picture here, but with a Greinke-Pivetta battle looming tonight, I'd kinda like some more offensive olympics happening on the home side. Pivetta's been sharp all postseason, Greinke's been human all year, the signs are there. Let's just bring it on home. 

It'll be interesting how the NLCS game goes as well, considering that it's Morton v. Buehler. We could very well see the Braves go to 3-0. Wouldn't that be something? 

Monday, October 18, 2021

Championship Series Update: Intriguingly Close

 
I've been away for the last few days, so I haven't had a chance to do consistent posts on either of these Championship Series. They've been good games, but...it's still very hard for series' with these four teams to be entirely interesting. It's 3 of the teams from last year and the other team won 3 years ago. You can go 'ooooh, this team put up over 10 points', or 'oooh, this game's going to extras again', but without new and different teams, it only really pulls you in so much. 

The Sox-Astros series has been close in the sense that the series is tied, both teams have traded wins, and the strengths and weaknesses of both teams are showcased in both outcomes. The Astros' usual suspects will go to work, then their pitching will get beat up. The Sox will blow a lead, then pummel the heck out of Houston. I'm not sure which one of these is the winner yet, though both morally and quality-wise I am pulling for the Sox. A.) cause screw the Astros, and B.) because they actually have done work to get here. Plus, the Astros have actually been reprimanded successfully. Alex Cora may have been reprimanded, but I don't believe he's doing as much of the old shit as the Astros are. It's very interesting that the Sox are doing well again once Cora has been put back at the helm, but...better him than the Astros, I guess.

Dodgers-Braves is a lot more interesting. The games are closer, the teams are more evenly matched, there's more chance for true heroes. The first two games have ended in walkoffs, first by Austin Riley and then by Eddie Rosario. It's come down to pitching, and bullpen efficiency, and who can break through first, so it's more strategic than the other one, which is just 'HIT TONS OF HOMERS'. Also, more likable teams. I like the Braves, I like the Dodgers. I like that the Braves are winning after 2, even though most Braves fans are hesitant to be excited yet. Hey, the Sixers were winning after 2, and the sun shines on Atlanta sports more than it does Philly sports. You guys will be fine.

[remembers how far up the Falcons were in the Super Bowl]. Yeah. Fine.

I'm still pulling for a Braves-Sox series, and I hope tonight's Boston-set ALCS run pushes us towards that outcome. Especially the Sox. I can not have the Astros win another one.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Division Series: Check, Please

 


With a matchup this damned tight, it was always going to come down to a photo finish.

The Dodgers and Giants, the whole season, were so evenly matched that just calling them a wild card and a division leader did them both a disservice. The Dodgers may have won the wild card, but they still won 100 games. The Giants may have had the best record in the West, but they co-owned that division with LA. It's the kind of tight finish that is probably going to lead to Rob Manfred expanding the playoffs next year, for similar cases that won't be as deserving as this one [it's the equivalent of the Oscars making a Best Animated Feature category to appease fans of Chicken Run, and giving it to Shrek]. 

So, Giants-Dodgers coming down to a battle of pitchers, a battle of 1-run moves, and a single check swing? Yeah. That makes sense.

I was honestly rooting for the Giants, as they had the longer playoff drought and had the better regular season, but the Dodgers always felt like they could win anyway by force of payroll and roster. Their biggest indicator of status this season came when Trevor Bauer was suspended and the Dodgers just shrugged their shoulders and traded for Max Scherzer, like nothing had even happened. They can rebound from things that would wound a normal team, like coming in second, or being in elimination position at the hand of the best team in the NL. The odds are gonna be stacked in their favor, so bringing out Julio Urias and Max Scherzer in later innings is just...something the Dodgers can just do. They're the best, they can do these things.

And regardless of whether or not Flores checked his swing, which...I honestly think the umps did him dirty on, the Giants had lost the momentum, and were about to quietly lose a tense, close game to the Dodgers. Something like the Flores move puts an exclamation point on the game, and the season, sort of like Willie McCovey missing the catch in '62. It's not just a loss, we were robbed! And it's how Giants fans operate. Barry Bonds is a Hall of Famer, can't you see the stats? Willie Mays is the greatest, Hank who? They see the exclamation point and disregard the truth. The truth is that the Dodgers were never going to be stopped, because they're the Dodgers. 

Dodgers-Braves, unless I'm mistaken, is gonna end similarly. The Dodgers have all the cheat codes, the Braves are now missing another outfielder. I want to be wrong, I want the Braves to upset and make it to a World Series for the first time in 22 years...but the Dodgers have so much on their side right now.

In a very boring postseason schematic, Braves-Sox is the only hope of something fairly interesting. I don't know if that's what we're gonna get, but...wouldn't it be cool?

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Division Series' Day 6: Clarity and Thickening

 This was, unfortunately, bound to happen.

As the Red Sox-Rays game was balanced enough to amount for an upset...the Astros were always going to be better than the White Sox. The difference between Dusty Baker and Tony LaRussa is that Baker is going the same direction the Astros are, and is driving them further even despite cheating accusations and things like that. LaRussa is holding the White Sox back, and driving them in separate directions. And the sad part is, LaRussa has a very good chance of keeping his job this offseason, because the Sox don't realize he's a problem yet, or enough of a problem that requires replacing. 

The Astros did their thing, the whole gang was beating up Carlos Rodon and friends. Martin Maldonado joined Altuve, Bregman, Brantley and the rest in bringing the margin over 10 and making it possible for anyone other than Gavin Sheets to get anything done for the Sox. The once-mighty White Sox season ended with a whimper, setting up a Red Sox-Astros ALCS that is not one of the more interesting matchups we had this year.



As for the Sox...they gave it their all.Even without Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert most of the season, they still powered through, with an excellent rotation, some great unsung heroes throughout [Andrew Vaughn being chief among them]. They also proved that they can be a contender after a 2020 season that let a lot of false contenders into the playoffs. I really hope they can strike back in 2022 and climb further than they did this year.

Meanwhile, the Braves similarly clobbered a thought-to-be-impenetrable pitching staff, taking Eric Lauer and the bullpen for a ride, and making this a very close, very tense game, with great work on both sides, Brewers getting RBIs, Braves fighting through. If it wasn't for Freddie Freeman, we'd be going to Game 5, but Freeman got the better of Josh Hader, who just had a pretty awful postseason overall I think, and Will Smith got through the ninth without tanking himself. The Braves came into some insane momentum in September and have been riding it ever since, which should make it very interesting for whoever wins in SF Thursday night.

As for the Brewers...I really thought this was their year. The pitching looked so damn good this year that I really thought they'd get through Atlanta and be a serious favorite for the World Series. Alas, that was not the case, and heroes like Christian Yelich, Freddy Peralta and Brandon Woodruff struggled in the heat of things this week. Next season should also be a big year for them, but I foresee tight competition between them, the Cardinals and the Reds. They'll need Yelich fully back to really make a statement. 

The only team to force a Game 5 yesterday were the Dodgers, who railed against Anthony Desclafani, with big moments from Trea Turner, Mookie Betts and Will Smith. As intimidating as the Giants have looked this year, the Dodgers may be just as good, with enough punch and big players to account for some major chaos. Walker Buehler, even on short rest, was still incredible on the mound, adding another piece of evidence for his Cy Young case. Game 5 may come down to Julio Urias and Logan Webb, and it may just be a battle of which youngster will make a mistake first. And who will capitalize the most.

Excited for Thursday. Sox-Astros seems kinda simple, but this NLCS has the potential to be wild. 


Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Division Series' Day 5: Startling Developments

 The Red Sox-Rays series was, undoubtedly, one of the most tense upsets I've seen in a while. Because as the Sox annihilated the Rays, they never stayed down, and always fought back to the point where you figured they could take the lead at any second. And yet the Sox always had another trick up their sleeve, like Christian Vazquez hitting a homer or Enrique Hernandez's contact olympics. 

So watching last night's game once again go down to a tie and almost go to extras felt like the next logical step. Of course the Rays aren't done, not with Wander Franco and Randy Arozarena playing like this. But...again, it came down to Kiké Hernandez putting it where they ain't, the runner advanced, the Sox were in, and the four seed just obliterated the one seed.

Honestly, I'm here for it. I have no idea why I've been so prone to root for Boston in this, maybe because they're less of an alpha than Tampa, but it was satisfying seeing the unsung heroes of the Sox rail down on the young, likable kids of the Rays. I don't know what this means for whoever wins the other series, but I doubt that one's gonna be any easier for Boston.


Meanwhile, I genuinely thought the Rays were going to another World Series this year. I'd resigned myself to it and everything. Once Shane McClanahan had the strong game 1, and Shane Baz had the strong first few innings of Game 2, I just assumed the rest of the series would go the same way. And then the Sox found it, turned things around, and pummeled this team in Boston, for the fans. 

I don't think this loss is gonna change much of the hierarchy in the AL East. I still expect the Rays to do well next year, though the ownership and control issues will eventually hinder them somewhere down the line. It'll be fun to see what Baz and Franco do in full seasons, and it'll be great to see Vidal Brujan finally come into his own. 

As for the NL series'..

The Braves being the first team here to 2 wins is not something I called, especially as the Brewers were looking like a under-the-radar World Series pick in the NL. And the Brewers' pitching did seem to look like the x factor here. But for the second game in a row, the Braves' lineup has been able to get through it, with Joc Pederson getting through Adrian Houser for the sole runs of the game. It was down to people like Ian Anderson and Adam Duvall to just keep setting the Brewers off balance and riding it out til the end.

The Braves are in position to advance today at home, which I did not see coming. Let's see if the Brewers still have some life left, or if the Braves' September momentum is gonna push them all the way.

Much like the Braves-Brewers game, the Dodgers-Giants series came down to just one RBI, and it was one little home run from Evan Longoria, but the rest of the game hinged on stellar defense and pitching. Max Scherzer, regardless of the run, still had 10 Ks in 7 innings, an astonishing start for the 37-year-old future Hall of Famer. Alex Wood just needed four and a half strong innings on the mound before the bullpen, and Camilo Doval, could do the rest. And the Dodgers' lineup would have done something if not for the LA winds, and Brandon Crawford's leaping catch.

The Giants are in position to advance, but the Dodgers have the home crowd, and possibly Walker Buehler, on their side. 

Three more win-or-die games today. Should be interesting. 

Monday, October 11, 2021

Division Series' Day 4: Rising Sox

 

So, uh...wild playoff day overall.

Not only did Rays-Sox Game 3 go to extras, but it all came down to a controversial ground rule double that wounded the Rays and allowed the Red Sox to come back and win it. It was a game of heroes and villains- Nick Pivetta had an incredible night in long relief during the extras, and you had more big moments from Wander Franco, Austin Meadows and Randy Arozarena. Christian Vazquez, who's been hot all season, walked off in the 13th, the Sox are going into Game 4 at home leading, and despite the outcry for people defending the Rays and lambasting the umps, the Rays are going into a win-or-die situation after being the best team in the AL during the regular season.

Can't believe I'm saying this, but go Sox. Strike down the inevitable. 

speaking of striking down the inevitable...



Man...the White Sox needed that win last night, and they made it a great one, absolutely annihilating the Astros pitching staff. It was an all star cast of RBI guys, including Tim Anderson, Andrew Vaughn, Eloy Jimenez, Yasmani Grandal, Jose Abreu and Leury Garcia, one of the unsung heroes of the team who had a 4-RBI day including a home run. 

Now, Ryan Tepera seems to be indicating that the Astros are still stealing signs, and were doing so during the first two games in Houston, which...of course they were. You don't reprimand this team enough for cheating, and they're going to cheat more. How else do you explain why Chris Brown still has clout? So if Tepera is to be believed, the White Sox are doing well at home because the Astros don't have the sign-stealing tell on the road. So...if this series goes to Game 5, which I seriously want it to, all eyes are going to need to be on the Astros. Cause if they win, it's going to be very suspicious, as it usually is.

But also...if the White Sox are giving their all to win, and a team that's cheating comes in and clobbers them...it's not gonna look good for small-ball baseball, or Rob Manfred. So...I'm not expecting anything to really be done about this, because of the aristocracy of the MLB, but it really would be nice if somebody did something about it before a potential Game 5. 

Anyway, super happy about the White Sox winning last night, hope they can do it again tonight. 

All four series play tonight. Two of them are win-or-die games, the other two are tied. Fun stuff, man.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Divison Series' Day 3: THAT's How You Build Tension

 

See, Astros? 3 out of 4 of the playoff series' are currently tied. Three out of four of the teams that won Game 1 gave the other team a chance by, well, being NOT AS GOOD during the second game. So maybe you should think about this today in Chicago. The White Sox maybe want to win a game too, you know?

Anyway. The Braves evened things up in Milwaukee behind Max Fried, who somehow had the stronger performance over Brandon Woodruff, who had the better regular season. Meanwhile, big moments came from the usual heroes like Austin Riley, Freddie Freeman and Ozzie Albies. Even Eddie Rosario is hitting relatively well so far this postseason, recapturing his power numbers from his peak Twins years. Heading to Atlanta tomorrow night, things are looking even and exciting, and it could go either way at this point.



Meanwhile, contrary to the assumption, Kevin Gausman managed to give up several more runs than Logan Webb did. I was thinking going into the series that Gausman should have started Game 1, but Webb was clearly hotter than Gausman lately, and the Giants knew that. The turning point of the game came thanks to Cody Bellinger, clearly not to 2019 levels but still willing to annihilate the ball here and there, with an RBI double that opened up the game. From there the Dodgers kept pounding until it was 9-1, and the bullpen that was so ironclad in the wild card game struck back, with Joe Kelly, Corey Knebel, Brusdar Graterol and Phil Bickford having great nights in support of Julio Urias, who had an RBI himself this show.

Heading back to LA, this one could also go either way. I am more worried about how the home crowd may affect the Giants than the Brewers, but some wild things are gonna happen tomorrow night either way.

ALDS Game 3s today. Go White Sox. Please. 

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Playoffs Day 2: Intriguing Trends and Also Some BS

Okay, most disappointing outcome first. The Astros are up 2-0 on the White Sox, thanks to a barrage of new figures including Chas McCormick, and have managed to get past Lance Lynn AND Lucas Giolito. This is not good at all, especially considering that the red-hot Astros only need one more win to advance, and the White Sox just aren't very formidable. Again, this White Sox team have spent the year looking really good, and being the far-and-away leaders of the AL Central, so for them to look so effete now is kinda sad. 

Tomorrow is the do-or-die game for Chicago, and while they will be home, the odds are no longer on their side. It's going to be very difficult to beat the Astros now, and I hope they have some energy left to at least win Game 3. 

Meanwhile, Game 1 of Brewers-Braves went kind of exactly the way I figured- a pitching battle. I knew Corbin Burnes would be on for a while, but Charlie Morton held his own as well, putting in a really nice start despite giving up a 2-run shot to Rowdy Tellez, finally having some nice postseason numbers [just not with Toronto]. The Brewers looked really good yesterday, and I'm still thinking they're the favorite here, despite some solid stuff from the Braves as well. Today is Fried v. Woodruff, and the former is known for giving up more runs than the latter.

Game 2 in Tampa was nice because it permeated the expectations set by the Astros series. Yes, Game 1 may have been a Rays blowout, but after the Luplow grand slam, the Sox got the best of the Rays' bullpen, beating up on Michael Wacha and friends and giving big moments to Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, J.D. Martinez and Christian Vazquez. It's much more exciting if the lower seed in a playoff series puts up a fight, and evening the series on the way to two more games in Boston is a nice turn of events. Again, it'd be very cool if the Sox somehow upset the Rays, even if...it's not looking like anyone in the AL will be worth rooting for for me..

The biggest statement of the night might have been Logan Webb absolutely silencing the Dodgers in San Francisco, all while Kris Bryant, Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford kept him warm. As awesome as the Dodgers have been this season, the Giants have always been one step ahead, and having Bryant along for the ride as the team shifts into October mode for the first time under Gabe Kapler is a little scary, especially for the Dodgers. I do think there's still a lot left for LA to do, but it's going to be an uphill battle for them, especially with Gausman on the hill tonight.

Keep up the good work. Hoping for the Brewers and Giants to keep it going and avoid a complete playoff cycle repeat from 2020. 

Friday, October 8, 2021

ALDS Game 1: A Step Towards Awfulness



 Because Rays-Astros in the ALCS worked so well last time, from the looks of last night, that's what we might be getting again this year. 

I talked yesterday about how I can't understand why a lot of people don't like the Dodgers, other than the whole 'money' thing. Similarly, I don't understand why a lot of people would be fine with the Rays winning. On one hand, yes, it is perfectly cool to root for a team that has never won a World Series, that is 100% valid, and if it weren't the Rays, I'd be there with ya [I'm a lot more partial to the Brewers in this category]. But I think a lot of people are cool with the low-budget, scrappy, young team, even though the low-budget-ness is, according to recent tweets from one Melvin "Sexual Innuendo" Upton Jr., the result of bad ownership screwing over players and refusing to put in the money for facilities. 

The Rays, to people who are not Yankee fans, are the fun, harmless underdogs that get by without money [because the ownership keeps it to themselves]. This sort of factors into why they don't like the Dodgers, cause they have a lot of money and use it on extraneous empire needs, like the Yankees do. And while on most other issues, I am perfectly in favor of the people without a great deal of money and support succeeding...come on, guys, the Rays aren't likable! I'd rather have the Red Sox win than them!

I think it's honestly just the sting of being trounced by the Yankees recently, considering how much the Yankees have spent to be great. The joke was that we paid Gerrit Cole 300 million dollars to blow a playoff game. Meanwhile, Randy Arozarena is on a standard baseline contract and he's playing like a superstar, with another huge game last night against Boston. That kind of infuriates me. I can't entirely like them if they're gonna make this look so effortless, especially against a team that crushed us a few nights ago.

Now, let me make this clear...if this DOES end up being a Rays-Astros ALCS, I will CERTAINLY root for the Rays. Because I really, really don't want the Astros to get much further, regardless of the fact that they are very good this year. The White Sox are the more likable team, they'd get a lot more out of advancing this year, and it'd just be a good, fun time. Now, granted, if the White Sox do lose, then that means there's a chance they could fire LaRussa, so it wouldn't be a complete loss.

But still, if these two landslide victories on night 1 are an indication of how the rest of these series' are going to go, I am not a fan, and I guess I'll be watching the NL games a little more closely. Which is nice, as they start today.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

NL Wild Card: Money Beats Luck

 


Seeing as the AL Wild Card didn't go as planned for me, it's very nice that the NL Wild Card game went exactly as I wished it would. The single most infuriating non-Astros team in the playoff picture got bounced in an instant. It was a very good day.

And I saw a lot of people online going 'yeah, the real winner would be if a meteor destroyed Dodger Stadium and both teams got incinerated'. FIRST OF ALL...THAT IS NOT HOW METEORS WORK. There'd be a bunch of Cardinals and Dodgers going 'OW'. It's not like a gigantic explosion. I may not have a degree in science, or anything applicable to the advancement of society [screenwriting, I went to school for screenwriting], but I'm pretty sure that just a lot of people would get hurt. Which, I think, still accomplishes the primary goal of the threat, but less colorfully.

Also, and this is maybe because I root for east coast teams, I don't have a ton of issues with the Dodgers. Why should I? They're like the Yankees, except they actually get to World Series' and keep the same manager when they lose a playoff game. I don't hate anyone on the Dodgers. I'm patient with Bellinger, I love the fringe guys like Tony Gonsolin and Phil Bickford. And come on, you can't hate on Albert Pujols. It's impossible. The guy's a living legend, and now he's the cute uncle of the Dodgers clubhouse. And the media wants me to hate Trevor Bauer, but we never really found out whether it was actual abuse or just a rough sex thing. Is Trevor Bauer about to become the Johnny Depp of baseball? Like, when he's actually innocent of this one thing but enough people are saying 'yeah, but he probably did SOMETHING bad at some point'?

So the Dodgers are a very successful, very well-built team that has a lot of players that I like, and is one of now FOUR teams I don't have much of a problem with that are in the NL playoff picture. Meanwhile, the Cardinals ruptured Ryan Howard's achilles, have constantly made the playoffs in years where there was no room in the conversation for them, and annoyed the hell out of me with this 14-game streak from this year. Of course I wanted the Dodgers to win, and I'm glad they did.

It was very tense watching this game as the score was close the whole time, and it was very much a game of inches. Whose bullpen will break? Whose lineup will spark fire? Who will make a mistake first? Even though the Dodgers were the better team, they still couldn't get past Luis Garcia and Giovanny Gallegos. And the Cards couldn't get past Kelly, Graterol, Treinen, Knebel or Jansen, because DAMN that Dodgers bullpen is awesome this year. 

But when Taylor walked off, it just felt nice. I could have used it about 5 innings ago, but it was nice.

I dunno what I'm gonna do in the AL, other than hope the White Sox somehow stick it out over Houston. But the NL is pretty open for me. I'd be fine with any of the four making a World Series, though arguably the more fun teams will be playing each other in Milwaukee tomorrow night. If the Dodgers repeat, that may be the most boring outcome, but it's still better than another Astros World Series. 

Tonight, some AL matchups. I am rooting for both kinds of Sox. I know, weird, right?

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

AL Wild Card: So Much For That


 Well I'm glad we got the heartbreak out of the way on literally the first day of the playoffs. 

I wanna go back and examine the science of how the Red Sox got that higher seed, and therefore home field advantage last night. Because we had the same record, and the Yankees won their game first, and that means it probably went down to who had more wins over the other, and...look man, maybe a lot of those wins were in May or June, back when the script was kind of flipped for both of those teams.

Am I saying that the 6-2 loss wouldn't have happened if we were in Yankee Stadium, and maybe had competent umps? Yeah, I am. Somebody pulled up a stat last night that two of Giancarlo Stanton's singles in Fenway would have been homers in Yankee Stadium. Also, Cole getting beat up is probably the result of him facing a bloodthirsty away crowd. So the smallest of stats dulled our best hitter and best pitcher, and gave the win to the Red Sox. 

...What I'm saying is that if somebody sifts through all the close Yanks-Sox games that the Sox won and all of them were down to an Angel Hernandez call, I wouldn't be surprised. 

I'm whining. Of course I'm whining. The Red Sox, at the end of the day, are the better team, and also the luckier team. The Yankees were very okay this whole season and had spurts of greatness. The Sox were a good team this season that had spurts of terribleness. Clearly, the actual good team is gonna win in a one-game playoff, unless something goes terribly wrong. And what can I say? Nate Eovaldi showed up, the offense got the best of even some Yankee titans, and it wasn't much of a contest. I can't really say we were robbed, at least not in the circumstances we were left with last night.

And so here we are. We have an AL bracket where three of the teams are ones I would rather not win anything, and also the White Sox. My best case scenario for all of this is a White Sox-Rays ALCS. Just flush out the Astros and Red Sox, take the pain away. I'm not gonna love it if the Rays repeat, but it's better than a lot of the other outcomes here. All of the fun options are in the NL, at least as long as the Dodgers win tonight. 

I no longer have a horse in this playoff race. So, uh...go White Sox, I suppose. And the Brewers, I dunno, a friend of mine started working for the Brewers this year and I want him to enjoy himself. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

AL Wild Card: The Inevitable

 
Once the Rays took hold of the AL East, there was really only going to be one outcome for the AL Wild Card game, as much as the Blue Jays, A's and Mariners wanted to think otherwise. It was always going to be Yankees-Red Sox.

And it sums up a lot of the baseball year. The Red Sox represent the first half, where J.D. Martinez went on his home run tear, Nick Pivetta returned to the baseball limelight, Barnes was a major closer in the league, and Bogaerts and Devers were contact superstars. And the Yankees represent the second half, where the streak illuminated the best of habits, Rizzo and Gallo added to the fun, Stanton and Judge took off, and Gerrit Cole had some truly mesmerizing starts. 

But the reason they're both in the wild card game is that neither of them is wholly great enough to lead. The Rays played the best kind of small-ball, building an excellent roster of efficient players without a great deal of big names. The Yanks and Sox had big names, and big moments, but also big droughts and big collapses. This game is a second chance for both of them. If this were 2020, they'd still be seeded well enough to potentially dominate in the postseason. 

And so it's really a matter of which team truly shows up tonight. The Sox may have the better contact hitters, but Gerrit Cole's on the mound. And the Yanks may have some serious power, but they also can strike out a lot, and with Nasty Nate on the mound, it could be tricky. It's going to probably come down to who pounces first, and it could be either.

I'm pulling for my Yankees obviously, despite knowing that they're a bit more human this year. They also have had the most recent momentum. But it's far from a lock, and we won't know what's going on until things truly get underway tonight.

Monday, October 4, 2021

The Stars Are Out 2021: July to September

 


Before we get into the postseason, we have to wrap up the regular season's Stars are Out customs, based off of cool gets for first pitches at MLB stadiums. Seeing as we're starting with July, how about the fella that threw out the first pitch at the All Star Game, Peyton Manning. My fun Manning claim to fame is that I was present for the last football game Manning ever played, Super Bowl 50. Always had a lot of respect for him, glad he's made a decent enough career for himself as a TV personality. 

Speaking of recent NFL Hall of Famers, here's Detroit Lions defensive legend Calvin Johnson, still a legend in Detroit, even if his career may have been shorter than the average NFL career. I'm glad Megatron still gets the crowd going over there.

Onto another sport, Cade Cunningham was the first pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, and the Pistons seem to have a lot of faith in this guy to turn the team around. Hopefully he's the guy to do it. 

Alternatively, Tyrese Maxey came off a fantastic 2021 playoff season off the bench for the Sixers, and is slowly becoming a major figure on the team. In Simmons' absence, we need to cement our beloved Sixers, and hopefully he keeps those numbers going. But yeah, great to see him pop up at CBP.

And in the category of NBA legends, here's Jason Kidd, who won an NBA title with the Mavericks and is now suiting up to coach the Mavs, after...coaching the Nets went so well for him [sidenote, can ANY hall of fame NBA player make it work as a coach in New York?]. He's still a hero in Texas, he's still feeling very optimistic, and hopefully the Mavs do better than the Rangers this year.

I did have an MLB one in here as well, and that's Manny Trillo, Phillies legend who was inducted into their wall of fame this summer. Kind of a cool, fringe Phils hero to showcase.


Moving towards some cooler pop culture ones...there wasn't many this stretch, but there were some. Nathan Followill is the drummer for, and one of the charter members of, Kings of Leon, a relatively cool rock band that's having a pretty decent 2021 despite some personal woes. 

Here's the big one for me. Drew Carey is a comedy legend, has been hosting Price is Right for almost 15 years, and ruled my childhood as the host of Whose Line is it Anyway. He's also famously a very big Cleveland sports fans, and got in one last first pitch for the Indians before the Guardians name change takes effect next year. This was probably the coolest one for me to make.

That's all we've got for now, maybe there'll be some cool ones for the postseason.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

The Best of the Rest: 2021

 

Well, at the expense of two fanbases in particular, we have our playoff schematic, and we have our crowd of 20 also-rans. It's a depressing, maddening day for a lot of teams, both the non-competitive bottom feeders and the teams that seemed very close to breaking into the race. From last year, we have two new additions to the fold, but they are both teams who have won a World Series ring in the last 10 years. Alternatively, there are two teams who have never won a World Series in this playoff picture, and only one additional team that hasn't won in over 20 years. 

The teams that made the playoffs are a lot of the usual suspects, and so are the teams who made this Best of the Rest list.

Without an expanded playoff, eight teams that made the 2020 playoff picture are back on this list. Three of them were downright terrible this year. Everybody else is a barrel of surprises and not-surprises, and we're gonna give some superlatives for all of them, ranging from painful to mirthful. 

Most Likely to Succeed [According to the Sportswriters in February]: San Diego Padres

Most Depressing Example of Peaking Too Early: Kansas City Royals


Best Team That Peaked Too Late: For the 2nd year in a row, Seattle Mariners

Best Squanderer of Hopes Their Fans Had in 2020: Oakland Athletics

Best Squanderer of Hopes Their Fans Had in June: New York Mets

Biggest Proponent for an Expanded Playoff in 2022: Toronto Blue Jays

Biggest Proponent Against an Expanded Playoff in 2020: Miami Marlins

Most Willing to Settle: Los Angeles Angels

Most Blatant July Dismemberment: Chicago Cubs


Collapse That Makes a Lot More Sense When You Really Think About It: Minnesota Twins

Best Pitching Staff for a Team That Didn't Make the Playoffs: Cincinnati Reds

Worst Pitching: Baltimore Orioles


Best Farm System [Composed of Other Team's Prospects]: Washington Nationals

Biggest Anticlimax: THREE- WAY-TIE - Toronto Blue Jays/Seattle Mariners/Philadelphia Phillies 


Most Blatant Victims of a Rough 2nd Half: San Diego Padres

Most Inexplicably Reserved Trade Deadline Strategy: Colorado Rockies

Most Depressing Team to Talk About Every Few Weeks: Arizona Diamondbacks 

Most Comically-Timed Injuries: Cleveland Indians

Most Fun Last Place Team: Washington Nationals

Most Confused Youth Movement: Detroit Tigers

Most Likely to Just Accept Walk-Ons from the Public for Spring Training Next Year: Pittsburgh Pirates

Most Unwilling to Recapture the Lightning in the Bottle: Texas Rangers

Most Likely to Not End Up On This List in 2022: Toronto Blue Jays & San Diego Padres



That's the end of the road for these 20 teams. I'm gonna predict the other ten's playoff path sometime in the next few days, probably inaccurately.