A weblog of baseball news and analysis
Friday, October 29, 2004
Baseball's new OBP philosophy: will Cubs curse it or follow along? "The Cubs finished 11th in the NL in team on-base percentage. Despite a great starting-pitching rotation, they failed down the stretch largely because they didn't score runs, even against the bottom-feeding Mets and Reds. You can blame fatigue, but you also can blame bad approaches at the plate, including too much first-pitch swinging and swinging at bad pitches." (Daily Herald)
The Curse of Big Papi. "Just as the Twins felt they needed the $3 million more than they needed Ortiz, he clearly had an immediate benefit from a simple change of scenery. Perhaps that's just what he needed. To play on grass, in a hitter's ballpark, in a lineup full of offensive threats, on a team that wanted him to do what he does best -- hit for power. But as the Red Sox won their first World Series since 1918 -- with Ortiz starting at first base and Mientkiewicz coming in late as his defensive replacement, no less -- I can't help but wonder what could have been for the Twins." (The Hardball Times)
Beltran, 64 Others File for Free Agency. Others include Adrian Beltre, Steve Finley, Carlos Delgado, Magglio Ordonez, Brad Radke and Kevin Millwood. (Yahoo!)
Thursday, October 28, 2004
YES!!! Red Sox complete sweep, win first Series since 1918. "En route to eight consecutive postseason wins, the Sons of Tito Francona simply destroyed a Cardinal team that won a major league-high 105 games in 2004. The Sox did not trail for a single inning of the four-game sweep. No Cardinal pitcher lasted more than six innings and St. Louis's vaunted row of sluggers was smothered by the likes of Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez, closer Keith Foulke, and Lowe. The Cards batted .190 in the Series with cleanup man Scott Rolen going 0 for 15." (Boston Globe)
Red Sox 3, Cardinals 0. Game 4 recap. (Yahoo!)
As we'd expect, it was wild ride.
What a sweet ride it was. Has any team ever sent its followers on such a manic (sweeping the Angels), depressive (losing those first three to the Yankees), euphoric (each and every one of the last eight games) postseason journey? It's not possible.(Boston Globe)
Speechless. "The Cardinals fans were extremely kind -- I can't emphasize that enough. The only ones who even said anything to us were congratulating us. There were thousands of Red Sox fans in the stadium, and of course they stayed well after the end of the game. At one point after the victory, a 'Yankees suck' chant got started, but then it seemed like everyone collectively realized, 'You know what, who gives a damn about the Yankees? We just won the World Series. The Yankees don't matter right now.'" (THT Live)
When I was growing up, the Red Sox were simply a part of life. We'd have the games on the radio throughout the house all summer long. The Red Sox were the only thing that could interrupt dinner. We couldn't take phone calls or watch TV once dinner had been served until we were all done, but the Red Sox could stay on the radio while we ate.(The Hardball Times)
For Epstein, actions speak just as loud as words. "He had one spectacular offseason, clearly outdoing his Yankee counterpart, Brian Cashman, who, despite landing Alex Rodriguez, couldn't land a superstar pitcher. Epstein was able to close the deal for Curt Schilling on Thanksgiving Day at Schilling's Arizona home in what turned out to be a more significant signing." (Boston Globe)
Bad Time for a Slump. "I'm not going to sit here and ignore [the Red Sox'] payroll, mind you. The guys spent roughly $50 million more than the Cardinals this season. And baseball purists don't have to completely go crazy over this. After all, they can still cling to their 'pitching wins championships' blanket. But still - Theo Epstein is evidence of what can happen when you combine 'Moneyball' with actual money. So, my hat is off to them. They out-played the Cardinals in just about every aspect of the game." (Random Redbird Reasoning)
The real Cards never showed up.
In retrospect, the demise of the Cardinals' starting pitching was predictable. We could see it coming. We could see the increasing strain of this rotation late in the season and into the playoffs. Losing Chris Carpenter was a blow. And that's no excuse, just the simple reality. A resourceful starting staff that pitched above its ability level all season finally crashed. They didn't have enough. There is no shame in that.(St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
Red Sox 4, Cardinals 1. Game 3 recap. (Yahoo!)
Bedraggled. "I said before this series began that no matter what happens, we'll never forget this week as long as the Cardinals live. And sure enough, I'll remember that baserunning snafu by Jeff Suppan 'til the day I die. It's the touchstone for the entire series -- equal parts fluky and inept." (The Hardball Times)
A Fond Farewell? "If that was the last start Pedro ever makes for the Boston Red Sox, it will have a special place in my memory forever. He escaped some sticky situations in the first three innings, and then he was the man I remembered for four glorious innings. Four innings in which he struck out five batters and did not allow anybody to reach base." (The Hardball Times)
Done Deal. "McFadden and Whitehead don’t have anything on the Red Sox: these dudes are going to win the World Serious. The Cardinals are down 3-0 and as we’ve just learned, it’s possible that they could come back, but yo, I wouldn’t put any money on 'em, would you? St. Louis loaded the bases with one out in the first inning against Pedro Martinez last night but did not score a run. They had runners on second and third with nobody out in the third and could not score, thanks to a memorably bad bit of base running by Jeff Suppan. After Suppan was doubled up I threw my hands in the air and said, 'Well, I might as well root for the Red Sox. At least they are playing decent baseball.'" (Bronx Banter)
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Red Sox 11, Cardinals 9. Game 1 recap. (Yahoo!)
Sloppy Firsts. "Are these Sox hitters stubborn or what? They saw 190 pitches on the night, or 24 per inning. They just do not give away at-bats. Of course, it doesn't help that the Cards have almost no power pitchers on the staff, making for long ABs (and, at four hours, a very long game). St. Louis only struck out three guys on the night. With Morris and Suppan going the next two games, get used to it." (The Hardball Times)
Red Sox 6, Cardinals 2. Game 2 recap. (Yahoo!)
Bloody Sunday. "This game was one dull ache punctuated by searing jolts of pain. The truly painful moments were all the same. In the first, fourth, and sixth innings the Sox had two on and two outs. And each of those times, like clockwork, they got a big hit (two of those times in a two-strike hole). And the hits weren't bleeders either -- all three were ringing shots. One single, one double, one triple, and that was your ballgame." (The Hardball Times)
Game 3: When to drink? (Batgirl)
Friday, October 22, 2004
Rolen lifts Cardinals into World Series.
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The rollicking sea of red certainly helped.(Yahoo!)
Hoosier Daddy! "So it was Jasper, Indiana native Scott Rolen -- who grew up a Cardinals fan, who longed for moments like tonight -- who came through in the clutch, pounded a first-pitch fastball over the wall in left, and sent the Cardinals on their way to their first NL pennant in seventeen years. No analysis tonight, just celebration. Let's thank this cast of heroes." (Redbird Nation)
MLB Playoffs 2004: Series Page: St. Louis vs. Boston. (ESPN.com)
Rivals in Exile: The Comeback. Red Sox fan Ben Jacobs and Yankees fan Larry Mahnken discuss the ALCS. (The Hardball Times)
Chat: Gary Huckabay.
Andy (Raleigh): Martinez, Lowe, Varitek, and Cabrera are all free agents. What is the max the Red Sox should pay for each of them?(Baseball Prospectus)
Thursday, October 21, 2004
Comeback complete, Red Sox stun Yanks. "Just three outs from getting swept in the AL championship series three nights earlier, the Red Sox finally humbled the Evil Empire, winning Game 7 in a 10-3 shocker Wednesday night to become the first major league team to overcome a 3-0 postseason series deficit." (Yahoo!)
Red Sox, since 1999, when facing elimination from the postseason:
1999 ALDS vs. Cleveland, Game 3: WTotal: 11 wins, 2 losses.
No possible way this could be sweeter. "We’ll say it one more time just because it feels so good. The 26-time World Champion New York Yankees, with all the aura and mystique this October to fill a toothpaste cap, have just suffered the biggest choke in baseball history and lost their first league championship series ever. Maybe the Babe doesn’t like A-Rod either." (Boston Globe)
Brown proves to be a clown. "Five innings, Joe Torre hoped and prayed. If Brown would give him five decent innings, then maybe Torre could keep the Yanks in the game with a patch-quilt combination of starters and relievers. But Brown walked stiffly to the mound and immediately showed everyone why he was not Roger Clemens, proving again the Yankees had thrown their $15.7 million per season at the wrong guy." (New York Daily News)
Game Diary: ALCS, Game Seven. (The Hardball Times)
Bliss. "There are times in life where something you don't think can happen happens and you want to say something about why or how it happened, but the words keep escaping you and what you come up with never sounds quite like what you really wanted to say. This is one of those times for most Red Sox fans." (The Hardball Times)
I Got You, Babe. "Right when Damon's second ball cleared the wall, I realized I needed a Yankee fan to tell me how to feel, to tell me what it's been like to do this 26 times. Like their fans, the Red Sox have no talent for lordly disdain, which should be fairly plain by the team's appearance. Damon looks like someone who flunked the audition to be part of Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Kevin Millar had until recently a very strange beard that made him look like the croupier in an Amish casino." (Slate)
This is not a tragedy. "There'll be a lot of talk about the Yankees choking, but that denigrates a heroic effort by the Boston Red Sox, who accomplished something that no other team in any major sport has ever accomplished (no, hockey doesn't count). Congratulations to the Boston Red Sox, and to their loyal fans. All sports teams have fans that are dicks, the Red Sox are no exception, but don't paint them all with the same brush. For the most part, they are among the most die-hard, loyal, and passionate fans in sports, and they deserve this night." (Replacement Level Yankees Weblog)
An Open Letter to George Steinbrenner.
George, you and I both know that what cost you the chance to go to the World Series was the ill-advised punkery of Alex Rodriguez in game six. Now, can you really have A-Rod back on your team next year? What if you get to game six again and he costs you the series two years in a row? Or even worse, what if he does something like that in the World Series? You'd be a laughing stock, George.(Batter's Box)
Edmonds blasts Cards into Game 7.
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Jim Edmonds skipped around the bases, jumping into a cluster of St. Louis Cardinals waiting for him at home plate.(Yahoo!)
The Fat Lady Clams Up. "My fingers are still shaking, so forgive me if Jim Edmonds comes out looking like Jgh Udmghgns. After 12 innings, 344 pitches, countless momentum shifts, and ten of my fingernails chewed to the bone, St. Louis finally got what they came looking for: a Game 7. Winner gets World Serious, loser goes home. So while we try to buckle down and keep it together before 7 p.m. Central Time, let's review how we got here and look at some of the day's biggest matchups." (The Hardball Times)
What a Blast! "Not only the one Edmonds hit, but the game as a whole. While I was frustrated that the Cardinals couldn't score more runs in the first nine innings despite piling up 14 hits, it was still a great game with an ending that will rank among the all-time best in Cardinal history. After some quick looking through old box scores on Baseball-reference.com, that was in fact the first walk-off post-season home run for the Cardinals since Ozzie in the 1985 NLCS. It was also the first playoff extra inning win for the Cardinals since they beat the Yankees in Game 5 of the 1964 World Series." (Random Redbird Reasoning)
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
Schilling sends Sox to Game 7. Boston 4, New York 2. (ESPN.com)
What Goes Around. "There is a sentiment that perhaps this is just a tease to Red Sox fans, get their hopes back up so that they can only get crushed again. Perhaps, but having already accepted defeat in this series, I would think most Boston fans are willing to accept their comeback coming up short. They won't be happy losing, but they won't be crushed. It's as although they've already won." (The Hardball Times)
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Ortiz does it again, Sox force Game 6.
BOSTON (AP) -- David Ortiz lifted the ball into center field on the 471st pitch of the night, and for the second time in 22 1/2 hours, the Boston Red Sox poured out of their dugout to celebrate an improbable ending.(Yahoo!)
Red Sox, since 1999, when facing elimination from the postseason:
1999 ALDS vs. Cleveland, Game 3: WTotal: 9 wins, 2 losses.
Wow! Joe Sheehan on last night's games.
What's most interesting about the last two nights is how the events don't fit the storyline. Were it the Red Sox--or the A's or Twins--who had blown two late leads and lost games in extra innings to the Yankees, it would be easy for the media: use the words "clutch," "experience" and "veteran leadership" as many times as possible. After all, it's the Yankees who have the reputation of being the team that wins these types of games, getting there on heart and desire and all the other October clichés.(Baseball Prospectus)
Kent blasts Astros to 3-2 lead on Cards.
HOUSTON (AP) -- Only when Brandon Backe and Woody Williams were done did the hitters have any chance.(Yahoo!)
A World of Pain.
How did it all happen? Well, of course, Kent's dramatics wouldn't have been possible without the staggering performances of Brandon Backe and Woody Williams, who locked horns in one of the greatest pitching duels in postseason history. Seriously. It was up there with Morris-Smoltz in '91, Blue-Palmer in '74, Gooden-Scott in '86. Heading into the ninth inning, both teams had only one hit each. One hit! And these are offensive juggernauts we're talking about.(The Hardball Times)
Monday, October 18, 2004
Ortiz HRs in 12th, Red Sox stay alive.
BOSTON (AP) -- David Ortiz's drive into the right-field bullpen set off a frenzy at Fenway and gave the Boston Red Sox a shot at pulling off the greatest comeback ever.(Yahoo!)
Hope For The Forsaken.
If the Red Sox are going to make the comeback, circumstances are lining up almost perfectly for it. They were able to win their least dependable starter's game, and the dramatic fashion in which they came back and won only helps them and hurts New York. Now they try to force a sixth game with Pedro Martinez, and if they can get there Terry Francona announced last night that Curt Schilling would be the Game Six starter. While Martinez will have to beat Mike Mussina and Schilling will have to beat Lieber, as well as overcome a serious ankle injury, there's no particular reason to think that Martinez can't shut down the Yankees, and if Schilling can overcome his pain and maintain his mechanics, he can beat New York, too. And if that happens, it comes down to Game Seven, where anything can happen.(The Hardball Times)
Beltran's record homer evens series.
HOUSTON (AP) -- Julian Tavarez must have forgotten about Carlos Beltran when he said the Cardinals didn't think the Houston Astros were so special.(Yahoo!)
Carlos Beltran. I'm gonna be seeing that guy's swing in my sleep. Really, I have nothing to add about his performance; it simply defies analysis. He's in one of those white-hot zones that only a few athletes get to -- guys like Bonds, Jordan, Tiger Woods -- where there seems to be no disconnect between what he wants to do and what he does. The only thing that tempers my reaction to him is that there's a guy in the Cardinals dugout who has just about matched him stroke for stroke. It's too bad Beltran will probably sign elsewhere in the offseason, because it'd be fun to see him go toe-to-toe with Pujols in the same division for years to come.(Redbird Nation)
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
Yankees almost let one slip away. The Red Sox clawed back from 8-0 to make it 8-7, but the Yankees held on. (Yahoo!)
A Win Is A Win.
The Yankees can't feel euphoric about this win, Boston can't feel deflated. There are too many positives and negatives to temper the feelings. For the Yankees, it makes Game Two less important, though still quite important. For Boston there isn't a sense of urgency to win Game Two, though a poor start by Pedro Martinez could spell trouble. If Boston falls behind 2-0, this series is still far from over. I wouldn't even count Boston out if they were down 3-0. With Schilling and Pedro starting three of the remaining games in that scenario, I could see those two winning their starts all by themselves, and the lineup winning the fourth game. Not likely to happen, mind you, but I could see it happen.(The Hardball Times)
Friday, October 08, 2004
Cardinals take 2-0 lead to Los Angeles.
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Mike Matheny, Edgar Renteria and the St. Louis Cardinals can win with singles, doubles and triples, too.(Yahoo!)
Instant Replay. "If you had told Dodger fans before the game that (a) they'd get three long bombs from Jayson Werth, Shawn Green, and Milton Bradley; and (b) that they'd hold the first five guys in our order to 3-for-20 on the night, I think they'd have bet their life savings on Los Angeles and even put up their first-born sons as collateral. Instead they got the same 8-3 drubbing at the hands of the Cardinals. How did it happen? Renteria, Sanders, and Matheny." (Redbird Nation)
Furcal's walk-off blast gets Braves even.
ATLANTA (AP) -- More than anyone, Rafael Furcal wants the season to last as long as possible.(Yahoo!)
Leaving a few ghosts in a ghost town. "It wasn’t pitching that lost the game for Houston today. Instead it was an offense that all but went to sleep halfway through regulation. You can’t expect to score a lot of runs against the likes of Hampton, Kevin Gryboski, John Smoltz and Antonio Alfonseca. But you still have to score every single one that you can, and the Astros just failed when those few chances presented themselves early in this contest." (Astros Daily)
Running Diary: October 7, 2004. Ben Jacobs watched both games. (The Hardball Times)
Monday, October 04, 2004
2004 MLB Playoff schedules. Matchups: Red Sox/Angels, Twins/Yankees, Astros/Braves, and Dodgers/Cardinals. The Cubs, Giants and A's were eliminated over the weekend. (Yahoo!)
Got Them Giants' Fan Blues.
McCovey's line shot going straight to Richardson.And so on. (The Hardball Times)
Release the Hounds! "'Moneyball doesn't work.' Get used to that phrase, because you're about to hear it a lot for the next six months. Within hours of Oakland being eliminated from playoff contention by Anaheim, critics of Moneyball and Billy Beane were out in full force, from e-mailers, message board posters, ESPN personalities, and columnists across the country, jumping at the chance to attack the wounded animal that is the Oakland A's. And trust me, it's only going to get worse." (The Hardball Times)
Voulez-Vous Coucher Avec Moi Ce Soir. Playoff predictions from an Angels fan. (6-4-2)
Rivals in Exile: Playoff Time. Playoff analysis from a Red Sox fan and a Yankees fan. (The Hardball Times)
Uncertainty reigns in races. Playoff musings from Peter Gammons. (ESPN.com)
The Long Shadow of 2004. "105 wins. I like it. In fact, I’d sorta been rooting for 105 wins for the last couple weeks, for three main reasons – one, because it bests the mark set by the '88 A's as the winningest of all Tony La Russa's teams; two, because I kinda wanted the '44 Cards (probably the best team in franchise history) to keep their record; and three, because it betters the win total of the 1984 Detroit Tigers. I know that might not sound like much to you, but when I was younger the Tigers were the paragon of excellence." (Redbird Nation)
Gopher Gofers. "Today’s Twins-Indians game had to be suspended after eleven innings and a tied 5-5 score so that the field could be readied in time for the Minnesota-PSU game, or as its known around State College, PA, the latest reason to fire Joe Paterno." (Mike's Baseball Rants)
Good Bye, Larry. Phil Fans Bid Jerk Adieu. (Mike's Baseball Rants)
Bonds wins batting title, shatters record for walks.
The 40-year-old outfielder hit .362 for the San Francisco Giants and finished with a .609 on-base percentage, topping his old mark of .582. Bonds walked 232 times, 34 more than the previous record, and his 120 intentional walks obliterated the old mark of 68, also set by Bonds in 2002.(USA Today)
One Man is an Island.
ESPN analyst Tim Kurkjian dropped a surprising fact in a recent online chat: Barry Bonds has never had a Hall of Fame teammate. This is unique; no current Hall of Famer ever played his entire career without sharing a clubhouse with at least one other Cooperstown-bound player. Bonds, a lock for enshrinement as he scales the all-time home run list and continues to rack up eye-popping numbers, would be the first to do so.(Baseball Prospectus)
Friday, October 01, 2004
Au Revoir, Les Expos.
No New Senators. The case against baseball in Washington. From 2003. (Slate)