Drew Fairservice: October 2008 Archives

breadline.gifGame 3 didn't represent the best of baseball, but what it lacked in execution it made up in drama. Dramatic attrition. What does Overmanagin' Joe Maddon got in store for us tonight? Will he insert Cliffy Floyd into right field? Did anyone bothering waking up Charlie Manuel from his afternoon nap, or did they just rubber stamp the same lineup he's gone with all series?

The Devil's in the the Detail Rays - The right field carousel continues to spin. Back in right is Ben Zobrist, utilityman to the stars! The Rays outfield is so rangy that Maddon can get away with a converted infielder in right field. He gives Maddon plenty of versatility in the late innings also, perhaps allowing a better hitter to take Jason Bartlett's place should the situation demand it.

Andy Sonnanstine is a control pitcher that only one Phillie has seen before. He pitched reasonably well in the first two playoff rounds, drawing 13 ground balls out of the Red Sox in 7.1 innings in addition to numerous questions regarding his tribe membership. He's a stuff guy that well let everyone know right away if he's on.

Uncle Cholly's Xerox Squad - Steady Charles doesn't want to mess with a lineup that is, for all intents and purposes, working. The Phils keep getting people on base, it's but a matter of time before the floodgates open. Jimmy Rollins and Jayson Werth were on base 5 times last night, if not for Dioner Navvarro's cannon and Jayson Werth's braincramps, they will come around to score more often that not. If the top of the order sets the table against a guy known to struggle in the early innings, this could be over before it starts.

Joe Blanton spent 3.5 years in the American League, so he knows most Rays hitters. Again, Carlos Pena and Carl Crawford have good career numbers in limited at bats against Blanton, as they do against Moyer, which translated into jack shit last night. Nothing about Blanton really jumps off the page, aside from his poor choice of facial hair. He throws four pitches, all around the same speed. If he doesn't put too many guys on base, he should be fine.

I think this is the Phillies game to lose. Their offense is poised to explode, it will take something extra special from Total Eclipse of the Sonny to keep the Rays from the brink.
old-doghouse.jpgEach weekend during the playoffs, I'll attempt to answer some questions about the playoff games that absolutely nobody asked or ever would ask. This could be fun and uninformative or this could be painful and uninformative. Either way, it's another listicle in the listicle-ful sportsblogosphere.

It may not have been pretty, but it certainly counts all the same. A well-pitched game got a little woolly at the last, ending as anticlimactically as possible. Well, for WoW anyway. No shrimp, no craziness involving a fifth infielder, just a boring little roller down the line that may or may not have gone foul. The run scored all the same, and the Phillies now have a chance to clinch the World Series title at home. Question time!

  • Why were the powers that be so determined to play last night? I'm not quiet sure. The already ludicrous 8:30 start time was pushed all the way back to after 10 pm local time. Was losing the off day the big concern? Was it losing the chance to draw a big number on a Saturday night? I'm no Neilsen staffer, but I'm pretty the final pitch of the game flying at close to 2am may put a big damper in the ratings.

    The off day is scheduled for Tuesday, so it isn't fear of going up against Monday Night Football as I first suspected. I suppose the hassle of re-scheduling is considerable, but that couldn't have been the driving force?

  • Did Joe Maddon get it right with Gabe Gross? Not really. Gabe Gross was in the right place at the right time, twice. His lazy fly ball cashed Crawford after he did all the heavy lifting, and his RBI ground out followed the controversial bunt single and a Fat Catcher double. Credit to Gross for putting the bat on the ball (the other right fielders on Maddon's bench ie Rocco have struck out with some frequency this postseason) but that is about all you can give Grabe. This is why RBI isn't a good evaluative stat friends!

  • Is Jayson Werth the worst baserunner in the National League? Probably not, but he sure picked a bad time to get overeager. That is the only explanation for getting picked off two games in a row. Once on second base, trying to grab a secondary lead and once straying too far from first on a blooper. Safety first friend, this is the World fucking Series. Werth was on base three times last night, so he's doing something right. But trying to do too much on the bases won't endear him to an old school guy like Charlie Manuel.

  • Ryan Howard hit a breaking ball, is he cured? Not by a long shot. Pitch F/X tells us the slider Howard hit was a breaking ball in name only. A straight hanger down and in, right on a tee for the taking. Howard hasn't looked good against quality pitching, but your don't hit 177 home runs in fewer than 600 games if you don't punish mistakes. Look for junkballing Sonny to change speeds and continue the diet of crap Howard as seen all month.

Thanks to everybody that joined in last night's live glog, we'll have a full and complete live glog tonight with your host CTC, weather permitting. Joe Blanton and Andy Sonnanstine in Game 4 at the CBP. Check back in later today and I'll swing around the baseball world and see if I can't dig up something worthwhile.
worldseriesliveglog.jpgUnfortunately, I trapped at work and out of my normal glogspace. Fortunately, there is an HDtv and laptop handy, so I'm back in the game!

And what a game it looks to be. I am blessed by the MLB international feed, so I'll be free of Joe and Tim's adventures in boredom. I could always switch to Fox to increase my understanding of most of your suffering, but I'm just not that compassionate. I just cast my judging gaze over the lineups, but let's see what they look like exactly:

Tampa Bay Rays
  1. A. Iwamura 2b
  2. B.J. Upton cf
  3. C. Pena 1b
  4. E. Longoria 3b
  5. C. Crawford lf
  6. D. Navarro c
  7. G. Gross rf
  8. J. Bartlett ss
  9. M. Garza p
  1. J. Rollins ss
  2. J. Werth rf
  3. C. Utley 2b
  4. R. Howard 1b
  5. P. Burrell lf
  6. S. Victorino cf
  7. P. Feliz 3b
  8. C. Ruiz c
  9. J. Moyer p
Let's hope the rain holds off and we can see a ballgame, dammit! The answers lie after the jump.
breadline.gifThe scene shifts to Philly so Uncle Cliffy's out a job. He will have to make do with being a bench-dwelling gangsta. The Rays DH by committee has produced here and there during the post-season, but no one guy has caught fire enough to play every day. I don't think they'll miss the production too much. Cholly Manuel didn't seem to have a real grasp on the concept, using his backup catcher and backup third basemen in the first two games. What have they got for us tonight?

Shout at the Devil Rays - Sending Matt Garza to the hill is generally a good idea, as he's quite excellent. His big-time performance in Game 7 of the ALCS will not soon be forgotten, hopefully his lizardly tendencies will be.

The return of Overmanagin Joe Maddon! With crafty lefty Jamie Moyer on the mound, Micromanaging Joe opts to start the struggling left handed bat of Gabe Gross. Gross has never faced Moyer in game action, so your guess is as good as mine. What are you playing at here Joe? Gross is terrible, left handed and hasn't played in a week.

The rest of the lineup looks as you would expect. The Fat Catcher moves up to 6th in the order by virtue of the three (Gross, Bartlett & Garza) punchless bats in the lineup. Non-traditional Maddon has opted for 4 left handed bats in his starting 9. Whatever works Wacky Joe!

The Fightin Phils - Jamie Moyer makes his World Series debut at the ripe old age of 45 on what might end up being a cold, wet night. That can't be good for those old bones. Obviously a control pitcher, the free-swinging Rays may capitalize on his great love of the strike zone. As a team, they smack the living shit out of finesse pitchers like Moyer. Carlos Pena and Carl Crawford both have excellent career numbers against the lefty in 20 PAs. How will Old Man River cope with the Rays jumping on his early get-me-over fastballs?

Maybe Undermanagin Charlie Manuel sends out the same line up that faced James Shields in Game 2. The Adelphias offensive struggles are well documented so one can assume Manual believes a little home-cookin will provide the spark.

Both bullpens come in well rested, only converted starter David Price has threw a significant amount of pitches in the first two games. If the weather continues to be disagreeable, long delays will end the starters outings early on, so the long men will play a big role. If they even play at all.
donuts.JPGAs we already discussed, there is no time whatsoever to name, identify or acknowledge any of the "players" in tonight's "game", but what we do have plenty of time for is the same filler crap we used last year! Time to strap on your TV producer hat, let's kill some time and show some b-roll!

  • Video of pitchers taking batting practice. Oh would you look at Scott Kazmir, he just can't WAIT to take his rips. I need some footage of the everyday players laughing at the feeble swings...got it! Cue Timmy Mac breaking down the Phillies advantage because of all their extra bunting practice. Gotta be able to throw your outs away effectively! Is there time? Let's show the video of Jamie Moyer running down the umpire right after we show Chein-Ming Wang breaking his heel on the basepaths. Oh, it's so perilous!

  • Hmmmm, bottom of four eh? Time for the tortured history of Philadelphia sports montage! Oh Donovan McNabb, will you ever get it right? Allen Iverson had so much heart! Can anyone get Joe Carter on the phone? How's the Mitch Williams suicide watch going? Quick, throw a shot of Andy Reid staring into the middle distance while a Cowboy/Packer/Buccaneer/Patriot dances in the background. Pelle Lindburgh? Who the fuck is he?

  • Is it time for the Joe Maddon homecoming tearjerker yet? He's a Pennsylvania boy ya know? Did someone shoot the "Welcome to Hazelton" sign? I interviewed the local townsfolk, they've all got some excellent stories of the regular kid that loved fine wine and literature. Somebody find me a shot of him in some Phillies gear!
All the while, we will be treated to the condescending tones of Joe Buck stifling yawns. I, for one, cannot wait. This hard-hitting journalism really helps me know the players, and gives me insight into "the game behind the game." Without it, this is just a boring contest between two teams I couldn't care less about. Thanks broadcast team, you've allowed me to love again.
oldguy.jpgEveryone loves the pomp and pageantry of the World Series. The music, the bunting, the pre-game ceremonies that drag on for hours and hours. It's fun for the whole family, as long as the family isn't watching on TV. FOX has no time for your tired sentimentality old man, so buck up and let's get this game moving!

...a Phillies PR representative came into the clubhouse and informed the team that only the starting players would be announced on the field and on national television. That meant no clubhouse staff, no coaches and no Matt Stairs. He, along with 45-year-old Jamie Moyer, had waited their entire lives for this moment, and then it was gone. All non-starters were allowed to walk out onto the field, but they were never publicly acknowledged -- not to the TV audience, not even to the crowd.

Too bad for you, lifetime journeymen finally getting your moment on the big stage, you can suck a Viagra-soaked lemon. We've got commercials to run so you're out of luck. Our game time may have swollen to well over 3 hours, but that doesn't mean we have 3 minutes to introduce the coaches, trainers and bench guys that made it all possible.

At first I was completely unsympathetic to the players cries, until I realized that the introductions had been completely scrapped, not just cut from the broadcast. My ingrained thoughts to argue and disagree with anything the FOX corporation does kicked in, and I was on board with poor old Jamie Moyer.

Grizzled old man and staunch defender of all things right in the world Matt Stairs said "some guys were extremely mad about it" and he thought it was "bootleg" that they didn't take the time to introduce the players. Bootleg! You hear, college boy in your fancy suit pulling the strings for the teevee people? Matt Stairs declares it bootleg!

Rays union player rep Evan Longoria (23 year old rookie turned union strong man) hadn't heard any grumbling in his locker room, likely due to his youthful Rays ignorance of the way things were and they way things are just supposed to be, gal dangit.
mets phillies2.JPGIf 25 years of pent up angst is your thing, I recommend the joyous occasion that is a Phillies World Series birth preceded by a never acrimonious Devils - Flyers game wrapped in glorious public drunkenness. What could possibly go wrong?

Comcast-Spectacor is planning a free block party from 2 to 4 p.m. tomorrow at the Wachovia Center, featuring live music, barbecue specials and interactive games.

Rally towels will be given out with Flyers on one side and Phillies on the other.

Outdoor drinking (with, gasp, a BBQ) followed by a hockey game, then more outdoor partying? Have the Phillies secured a sponsorship deal with Duracell yet? I'm sure the raucous CBP crowd will adopt the same happy-to-be here attitude found in St. Pete.

I'm no expert, but I see this ending in tears. Stigmata-esque tears of blood. The Rays have already braved the increasingly Disneyfied yet still unpleasant air of Fenway and the cheese-fueled black out in Chicago, but somehow I think the city of Brotherly Love will be different.

semiglog.jpgSince this may not be a real glog, we can't really call ourselves a true club. We'll be a loose association of commenters and observers.

This is a game 7 that many of us didn't expect to see. The improbably of game 5 gave way to the inevitability of game 6. I'm sure many Sox fans had all but checked out for the season, but now their hooked in further than ever.

I'm going to try to glog it as often as I can, but wives don't seem to appreciate monopolizing both the internet AND the TV on a Sunday night. Luckily, I saved some high quality lithium from my single days, so she'll be out like a light before the third inning. But first the lineups that I just finished "analyzing."

Red Sox
  1. C. Crisp cf
  2. D. Pedroia 2b
  3. D. Ortiz dh
  4. K. Youkilis 3b
  5. J.D. Drew rf
  6. J. Bay lf
  7. M. Kotsay 1b
  8. J. Varitek c
  9. A. Cora ss
Tampa Bay Rays
  1. A. Iwamura 2b
  2. B.J. Upton cf
  3. C. Pena 1b
  4. E. Longoria 3b
  5. C. Crawford lf
  6. W. Aybar dh
  7. D. Navarro c
  8. R. Baldelli rf
  9. J. Bartlett ss
Let's glog it after the jump
breadline.gifHmmm, if only I had lede. Game 7 is almost upon us and I'm here to shoot skepticism all over the manager's choices. Some key players have slumped through the playoffs, do their managers have the magic touch? Can they find the secret combination to secure a World Series birth?

Boston - Starting Jon Lester will no doubt give the Sox a boost. He got knocked around like a hogtied tourist in the trunk of a Brazilian taxi during Game 3, but has been the best Boston pitcher all season.

Tito Francona has made a few changes to his lineup, reinserting Alex Cora at short to start against Matt Garza. No joke Terry, I don't get it. Yes, a left handed bat has value, but doesn't Jed Lowrie sometimes hit left also? Oh right, he can't hit either. The rest of the lineup is the same, Yook following Papi, Drew in front of Bay.

Tampa Bay - Professor Joe Maddon has opted for a comprehensive overhaul of his lineup due to Jon Lester's freakish left handedness. Willy Aybar is in as the DH, relegating angry Cliff Floyd to the bench. Considering the early hook he gave Gabe Gross last night, he wasn't likely to start tonight no matter what. The southpaw on the hill gives Joe Maddon an excuse to bust out the secret weapon: ROCCO GETS THE START IN RIGHT FIELD!!11!! Rocco's made three starts this postseason, picking up 2 hits and 4 RBI. The team won 2 of his starts which qualifies him for secret weapon status.

Matt Garza's game 3 start was excellent, but quite a few Socks have excellent records against the big righty. Ortiz has only 2 hits lifetime, but both were big flies. Interestingly enough, the Sock with the best history against Matt Garza is the badly struggling and firmly benched Jacoby Ellsbury.

Both bullpens have been used extensively in the last few days, but who cares? It's game 7! Jonathon Papelbon will be out there in the 4th inning if Francona thinks it will save the season. There were some whisperings that Joe Maddon managed last night with Game 7 in mind by not using Dan Wheeler. Might we get a David Price sighting? He's not on the roster just to soak up the atmosphere is he?
sunrise.jpgEach weekend during the playoffs, I'll attempt to answer some questions about the playoff games that absolutely nobody asked or ever would ask. This could be fun yet uninformative or this could be painful and still information-free. Either way, it's another listicle in the listicle-ful sportsblogosphere.

Before the questions I'd like to give extra special Cokes and cookies to Tuffy for donning the restrictive padding of a glogblazer when he thought he had an easy night of chilling on the right field line ahead. He was a regular Matt Stairs facing the Borxton-esque heat of TBS's incompetence.

For a game with numerous wacky incidents, not that much happened. TBS 'sploded and an umpire became a creampuff, all the while Josh Beckett just kept his game together. Eerie. Your questions, gentlefolk.

  • Do we dare to call shenanigans on the umpire change? No. That would be hysterical and pointless. We'll let Simmons steal from us, we won't borrow a page out of his dog-eared playbook. Though I did agree with Ron Darling's suggestion to let crew chief Tim McClelland work the plate for game 7. I'm sure they'll figure something out.

  • Can I have some of whatever Bossman Junior ordered? Make it a double. Dude is ON FIRE in the playoffs, nearly equaling his disappointing season total. As Beckett's control improved he had Upton swinging at bad pitches, but B.J. sends any mistakes towards the rafters.

  • Would you pay one red cent for those ubercrappy nosebleeds? No way. The TBS team went to great lengths to showcase how terrible the recently untarped seats are without actually going up there. Those steps are STEEP. No union rep would allow a production team up that high.

  • Is Jon Lester v. Matt Garza match up a glimpse at the future of the American League? Who cares? Game 7 is tonight, not in the future! The improbable Red Sox could make their swollen fan base even more insufferable, simultaneously embittering the burgeoning Rays diehards! It's the perfect storm of doucheosity! But mostly it's a game 7! AHHHH!!!!
Well tonight certainly won't be dull. Not with [checks notes, shuffles paper] a WoWie here to glog it to death for us. I'll be back this afternoon to help you waste your Sunday away. GAME 7 hooray!

Joe Maddon can no longer be accused of overmanaging. He has elected to start Gabe Gross in right field tonight. The Gabe Gross with one hit in 15 playoff at bats and one hit in 13 career at bats against Josh Beckett. Small sample sized be damned, this man isn't getting it done. By "it" I of course mean "anything."

That's it. Make way for Sooze! Let the glogging commence.
jesusbaseball.jpgNot actual pornography of course, the WORD pornography. The word "porno" in fact. The word porno is not fit for FOX's baseball broadcast. Such offensive and confrontational language, forced upon an unsuspecting public during a commercial for Kevin Smith's latest film Zack & Miri Make a Porno, will no longer poison the sanctity of a broadcast that alternates between ads for boner drugs and promos for a show with murderous robots of the apocalypse.

One complaint came from a man watching a game in September with his young son, who did not understand a suicide-squeeze bunt the Dodgers tried, team spokesman Josh Rawitch said.

"He was explaining to his son what a squeeze bunt was. Commercial break, the ad comes on, and the kid asks, `Dad, what does porno mean?'" Rawitch said. "Dodgers baseball has always been about family, and we've always been sensitive to the type of advertising that runs on our games."

That's a relief. Thank heavens the young man asked what a squeeze was, ignoring the suicide component. The Angels would be banned from FOX forever. Thank heavens for the family atmosphere at Dodgers stadium; where angry fans families can dump beer on police and burn the American flag while gorging themselves in baseball's first all-you-can-eat section. We're all better for it.

moneytree.jpgThese are heady times in Raysland. Interest in the plucky bunch of kids is so high the Rays have opted to uncover nearly 6000 extra tickets for games 6 & 7. While the new seats don't provide "the optimal fan experience" the team realized that people wanting to sit in their stadium and watch baseball is a good thing.

The Rays set up a lottery to decide who receive access to the next block of tickets. Or you could get your playoff tickets the old-fashioned way: buying 2009 season tickets:

  • Place a $750 deposit per seat toward a 2009 full season plan and receive the opportunity to purchase a postseason ticket package in the Upper Deck for $400.

  • Place a $1,000 deposit per seat toward 2009 full season tickets in any location other than the Upper Deck and receive the opportunity to purchase a postseason ticket package in the Outfield for $600.

  • Place a $2,000 deposit per seat toward 2009 full season tickets in a Lower Box, Lower Infield Box, Fieldside Box, Whitney Bank Club, or Home Plate Club location and receive the opportunity to purchase a postseason ticket package in the Lower Box for $900.

Wow, a $2000 deposit on a $15000 investment guarantees me another $900 expenditure. I feel so honoured. Like I've been invited to the prom by a loan shark.

Striking when the iron is red-hot just makes business sense but nobody likes to be raked over the coals. Teams like Arizona and Colorado show that recent success will help carve out a reasonably-sized, loyal fanbase that shows up year after year. One incredibly successful season could be enough to build a fanbase out of essentially nothing, but demanding your new-found fans pay for the privilege is asking a lot.
fish bowl.jpgThe drunken 3am meat-market that is the baseball offseason hasn't officially begun, but that won't keep GMs everywhere from shooting covetous glances at Jake Peavy. The rumours are already flying, linking Peavy with a number of potential teams. Every team in the baseball would improve by adding Peavy, but only half have a shot. Gaslamp Ball reports that the rumours have upset Peavy, but Jake knows he holds all the cards. His biggest stipulation? He won't go to the American League.

Why wouldn't Peavy want to switch leagues? CC Sabathia, Rich Harden, Johan Santana, even Joe freaking Blanton successfully switched this year, didn't they? Ah yes, all that water flowed downhill...

Miguel Batista. Brett Tomko. Matt Clement. Crazy stuffed but stuffed full of crazy AJ Burnett. These are National League pitchers that signed as free agents with AL teams in recent years. They're all terrible.

Other than run-supported Andy Pettitte and HoF locks like Clemens and early Pedro, very few pitchers successfully transition from the National League. Peavy could be a trendsetter, leaving the fertile fields of satin jacketed baserunners to face the fat, slow guys that do nothing but hit dingers and watch tape.

Peavy's reasonable contract and excellent numbers will bring the rebuilding Padres quite a haul, despite his trepidation. Maybe he likes to hit? Maybe he appreciates all the free outs given out via sacrifice bunts? I guess I can't blame him. People that live in San Diego don't generally book New England vacations in February.
sunrise.jpgEach weekend during the playoffs, I'll attempt to answer some questions about the playoff games that absolutely nobody asked or ever would ask. This could be fun and uninformative or this could be painful and uninformative. Either way, it's another listicle in the listicle-ful sportsblogosphere.

Soooo, nobody played last night. That sucks. Someone should ALWAYS play. There should always be baseball. Hopefully some game 6 drama will more than make up for it. Let us make with the rhetoric.

  • Is Terry Francona undermanaging? Probably not, as he basically has no alternative. While there is no tomorrow, there is no correct time to send your shaky ace to the mound when you need a win. Josh Beckett hasn't looked for good for a long while, but pulling the plug on him tonight "sends the wrong message." Also the wrong message to send: Hey Evan, hit this one off a cowbell!

  • Are Rays fans too dumb to be scared? Not necessarily dumb, but surely naive. This series could go the way of your high school girlfriend that got away. The girl that you loved from the first day of ninth grade, finally got to be with for a few glorious months before she told you she "needed to experiment" while you picked the pieces of your young life off her parent's kitchen floor. The girlfriend that you creepily stalked before turning into an unrepentant misogynist and womanizer before realizing your high school self was a wuss and she was a controlling bitch the whole time so what were you so hung up on anyway. Wait, what were we talking about?

  • Is it safe to blame Gabe Gross for not being Rocco Baldelli? Of course! Gross has started three games, finishing two. The Rays lost both games he played entirely and only won the third only after he was long showered. It's easy to blame Gross for playing too shallow on Drew's liner, but we should also remember that Gross has ONE hit in these playoffs, none in the ALCS. Maddon has many alternatives to choose from in right, but only one is DIVINE!
Excitement on the horizon! Where are you watching the game tonight? I know for damn sure you're going to be here with Sooze as she glogs it up for us. I've got a few more things for today, so keep your eyes on the WOW and we'll have us a good time.
burningcandle.jpgEach weekend during the playoffs, I'll attempt to answer some questions about the playoff games that absolutely nobody asked or ever would ask. This could be fun and uninformative or this could be painful and uninformative. Either way, it's another listicle in the listicle-ful sportsblogosphere.

Well that certainly was a ballgame, wasn't it? A million pitchers threw a million pitches, the teams combined for 7 dongs in a game that lasted 327 minutes. In the end a 23 year old pitcher that saw his first big league action less than one month ago got the win while a 42 year old pitcher took the loss.

On to the questions!

  • I thought these guys were supposed to be good? Good they were. Scott Kazmir and Josh Beckett were good, but they didn't come in pitching that way. Each man was a study in inefficiency; falling behind hitters, relying on their fastballs and leaving stuff up and over the plate. The two big studs got touched for 13 runs between them, giving up three home runs each. Not pretty from the "aces" that aren't really aces. James Shields and Jon Lester are the class of these rotations.

  • I thought these guys were supposed to suck? Suck they did. Dustin Pedrioa and Evan Longoria were sucking, but they woke up just in time to ignite their offenses. Pedroia scored 4 times, knocking himself with two tater tots despite coming into the game 2-20 in the playoffs. Evan Longoria started the playoffs with two tots then went 1 for his next 13 ABs. He dingered and laced two doubles to the left field corner to power the Rays offense.

  • What's wrong with David Ortiz? Plenty. He looks completely out of sorts at the plate, not making good swings at all. He walked three times, which makes it easier to swallow for Sox fans, but it is incumbent on him to swing the back and drive in runs. I'd like to draw some conclusion about him missing Manny's protection, but it just wouldn't be intellectually honest of me. Nobody to blame but himself right now.

  • Does Joe Maddon owe his life Dan Wheeler? Absolutely. Dan Wheeler was off his ass. He pitched three and a third innings of sparkling relief, the only blemish was a wild pitch that Dionner Navarro could have done more with. After Price, there was only one Ray in the bullpen, and he barely counts. Wheeler saved his team after Kazmir's short start put so much pressure on the bullpen, which got 17 outs. The only question remaining is Will Wheeler be able to pitch again Monday?
Tough act to follow National League. Let's see you bunt your way into that kind of business! Tonight's Gas Face recipient? The TBS exec. that greenlighted 8pm starts and extra-long commercial breaks. 5.5 hours is too damn long for a baseball game, and stay off my lawn your no-good kids.

Remember kids, Sooze will be here to glog your pants tonight while I give thanks and eat turkey. You're jealous, admit it.
playoffliveglog.jpgBattle at the Juicebox - Take Two! Tonight we see 2 hard throwin, pitch counts are for pussies Texans go at with all they got. Will we see 300 total pitches before the 7th inning? Will Josh Beckett - October God return? Will Scott Kazmir decide that being an ace is for him after all? Will Victor Zambrano enjoy his new job as Sox bullpen catcher? Will the cowbells drive you to drink? Are you headed towards the drink anyway? Will the Habs rebound from their shootout loss against the rebuilding Leafs?

The lineups look very much like last night, which mean they look like this:

Red Sox
  1. J. Ellsbury rf
  2. D. Pedroia 2b
  3. D. Ortiz dh
  4. K. Youkilis 3b
  5. J. Bay lf
  6. J. Lowrie ss
  7. J. Varitek c
  8. M. Kotsay 1b
  9. C. Crisp cf
Tampa Bay Rays
  1. A. Iwamura 2b
  2. B.J. Upton cf
  3. C. Pena 1b
  4. E. Longoria 3b
  5. C. Crawford lf
  6. C. Floyd dh
  7. D. Navarro c
  8. G. Gross rf
  9. J. Bartlett ss
The hot weekend liveglog action jumps off after the jump.
justice_is_blind.jpgYou know those brawls that erupt between people fighting for the payday known as a memorable home run ball? You know how sometimes things get heated in the stands and that beef makes it to the parking lot? You know how one guy fatally stabbed another in one of these donnybrooks, then plead guilty and was sentenced to 16 years in prison? That really happened. One man took another man's life after a skirmish for a free baseball. That is messed up.

The 16 year-to-life sentence is approximately half the time Barry Bonds would face were he convicted of lying to a grand jury. Bonds could face up to 30 years if convicted of all 15 counts of lying under oath and obstruction of justice.

People HATE Barry Bonds, they really do. If the opportunity to throw the book at him exists, any uppity judge will redefine irony or kismet or something else improbable and do so. Based on Barry's Revised Zone Rating, he won't even be able to catch it, AMIRITE???

The true criminals here are the insanely rich morons that shell out big cash for a stupid fucking baseball. One guy is dead and another's in jail for a serious chunk of time. I hope you're happy Todd McFarlane, there is blood on your hands. Not just the blood of Michael Jai White's career.
cops.jpgIf mid-nineties thug life movies have taught me anything, it's that the LAPD loves the good cop/bad cop routine. Poor little Cuba JR didn't stand a chance. The modern Dodgers don't stand a chance either, especially when faced with the yin-yang hyrda of T.J. Simers and Bill Plashcke.

Simers took time out from slamming the city of Brotherly Love to, uh, slam the city of Brotherly Love. As dear commenter Honeynut Ichiros pointed out, Simers has even more choice words for Philly:

It isn't just a game here in Angryville, but a violent attitude to determine who is really tougher. Before Game 2, they showed previous playoff highlights between the Dodgers and Phillies to the sound of Edwin Starr singing "War."
As T.J. spewed more bile in an Easterly direction today, he also snuggled up close to the boys in blue and promised they'd do their best. He used Manny's Crown Royal quote to up the pun in his title "Dodgers will still give it their best shot" while still ensuring everyone else hates him:

Sure, the Dodgers are down 2-0, but doing so much better than the Cubs and their fans.

And although they were nothing more than Angryville chum here the last two days, as bad as the Dodgers must feel, they get to leave Philadelphia while all the towel wavers remain stuck here.
While T.J. is content to piss off people that don't read him every day, Bill Plaschke chose to keep the hatred in-house. He points his finger at the Dodgers, a team he believes has lost its identity:

The Dodgers didn't just leave Citizens Bank Park field Friday, they were thrown out by a Phillies team that pushed them to the door just before snatching their swagger.

Gone is the clubhouse music. Gone are the hopeful smiles. Gone is the idea that Manny Ramirez can carry them.

He hit a three-run homer Friday, he's batting .375 in the series, and the Dodgers still haven't won a game.
Big Bill questions all of Joe Torre's managerial and life decisions in his piece; blaming the esteemed headman for the Dodgers' sudden collapse. All this fingerpointing and invective must make for interesting conversation around the lunch table at Times HQ. I assume T.J. Simers got to wear the Baba Au Rum costume on his way out of Philadelphia last night.
sunrise.jpgEach weekend during the playoffs, I'll attempt to answer some questions about the playoff games that absolutely nobody asked or ever would ask. This could be fun and uninformative or this could be painful and uninformative. Either way, it's another listicle in the listicle-ful sportsblogosphere.

Sweet Fancy Moses! Two LCS games in one day??? Whatever have we done to deserve such bounty? The early game was full of fireworky goodness, with Manny dongs and hitting pitchers. Bascially everything you look for in a baseball game. The nightcap was a pitchers duel of the highest order. Well played, defense, all that good stuff we're supposed to like.

Weekend mornings don't often find us with the clearest of minds, and I'm not as astute as Rob, so this mornings questions will skew more towards "the human condition" than "baseball". Rhetoric ho!

  • Is it at all possible to feel comfortable during a Dice-K start? Absolutely not. He's pitching a no-hitter, he's walking the bases loaded. He's giving up consecutive hits yet stranding them all. I believe the stress is equally split between each team. Rays fans keep thinking this is the inning they break through, until they don't. The normally balanced and perspective-laden Red Sox fans just wait for the other shoe to drop all game long. At least he's not boring!

  • Why can't Ryan Howard hit a curveball? I wish I knew. The Dodgers fed him a steady diet of nothing, and every time he quickly returned to the waiting room. Dude is rocking a sub .500 OPS in the playoffs, but the Phillies are winning all the same. He's struggling, and it ain't pretty.

  • What is the most annoying sound in the world? Cowbells. So. Many. Cowbells. Make them stop. They will haunt my dreams. Watching the Phillies/Dodgers game was great because the crowd at CBP was AWESOME. The early rallies had them roaring like an international soccer crowd. Fox's myriad of microphones picked up every shout and cry, really adding to the sense of atmosphere, which I enjoyed. Somehow, I can't see Dodger Stadium bringing the same kind of intensity.

  • Is 3.5 hours an acceptable length for a baseball game? Not remotely. The NLCS game featured lots of early offense but the late innings went by at a decent clip. The patient Red Sox and the wacky Matsuzaka drew out a 2-0 game to that same extended length. Will a not-quite on Josh Beckett and the normally wild Scott Kazmir get in under 4 hours? I have my doubts.
Only one game tonight, and I'll be here to live glog the living shit out of it. Maybe we'll even have something to look at between now and then.
cheesecurds.jpgThe dreaded day game after a night game. Do you think Jamie Moyer will be available to pinch run today? Was there time to give Shane Victorino a crash course in sliding and baseball etiquette? If the Phils lose today, will a single person in Philly be mentally fit to attend Game 5? If the Phillies and Eagles both lose on the same day, will the city implode?

It's the match up we've all been dreaming about: Jeff Suppan versus Joe Blanton. Neither hurler was especially sharp coming down the stretch, but their team's need them now.

Additional Discussion Points! Crowd gimmicks: hate them or loathe them? Thundersticks, blackouts, white flags blah blah. I thought some of these were real baseball cities, do the fans really need help and direction when to cheer and make noise?

Another rhetorical question: why the hell did this game start at noon central time? I would have no shot of getting up in time for morning baseball, playoff of otherwise. Bud, these are your own people, how can you do them like this??

Bonus Brief Semigloggery - 1:55: Joe Blanton just breezed through the second inning by throwing about 7 seven pitches. Jeff Suppan gave up a leadoff home run to Jimmy Rollins and narrowly avoided a big inning in the second. Jeff Suppan does not inspire the utmost confidence on the hill, were I a Brewers fan I'd terrified.

2:00: Shane Victorino, brainfarts aside, is having a great series. Dumping a little flair over third base may not qualify as truly great, but he's standing on second base either way. With Victorino moving to third and two out, Sveum elects to walk Howard and face Pat The Bat. Back to back tots and it's 5-0
sweepingbaby.jpgEach weekend during the playoffs, I'll attempt to answer some questions about the playoff games that absolutely nobody asked or ever would ask. This could be fun and uninformative or this could be painful and uninformative. Either way, it's another listicle in the listicle-ful sportsblogosphere.

Our first elimination! The curse-busting Cubs are now cursing the bus taking them back to Wrigley for Clean Out Your Locker Day. Hold the ticker tape. The Dodgers came out on top in a well-pitched game that sends them to the next round. 3-1 was your final last night, and 3-0 goes the sweep. The Milwaukee Brewers finally got a good start from somebody not named CC Sabathia, and live to play another day. 4-2 4-1 was the final after a wacky ninth inning.

Weekend mornings don't often find us with the clearest of minds, and I'm not as astute as Rob, so my morning questions will skew more towards "the human condition" rather than "baseball". Rhetoric ho!

  • How many Brewers fans should feel good after staying alive last night? I think I'll have to use a fraction on this one. Salamon Torres came in to close out a game that, had the Brewers not stranded 20 base runners during the game, would have been well out of reach. 2 minutes later, Torres loaded the bases and was yet to retire a soul. He got the ground ball he needed and help from Shane VIctorino to ensure the gimmie run wasn't even given. A win is a win, but that was too much for a cheese-addled heart.

  • Did Shane's double earflap helmet impede blood flow to his brain? Oh no questions asked. What possible excuse could Shane Victorino offer for not sliding? Rolling block, at least bust out the rolling block. You can't just run over the shortstop, you just CAN'T! Not only did it take a run off the board, it also stretched my credulity to the point of pain.

  • Would this be a good time to belittle the Cubs fan in my family and/or on legal defence team? Probably not. Anniversaries may seem like a great time to exercise old demons, but they mostly just remind you how long things have been shitty.

  • Who should carry the burden of the Cubs defeat? Alfonso Soriano wasn't the only Cub to struggle, but 1 total base in 3 playoff games is bad enough to attract attention. 1 for 14 from the guy entrusted with the most plate appearances? You get The Playoff Gas Face Alfonso.

  • Does anybody want to play the Dodgers? Not likely. A few extra days rest will allow them to set their top-loaded rotation and rest their excellent bullpen. So long as they keep the geriatrics on the bench, their young lineup doesn't have many holes. A short series could erase the memory of a middling season in a lackluster division.
Three more games today, three more chances for postmortem teasing. Live glogs, antiglogs, semiglogs; you never know what might come your way.
babybear.jpgHave the Brewers provided a script for the Cubs? Living to play another day on your own turf is one thing, flying out west and playing in front of the passionate Dodgers diehards is another. Can the Cubs continue their season? Brittle Canuck Rich Harden takes the mound for the Cubs, Hot & Cold Hiroki Kuroda for the Dodgers.

The Cubs have all but eliminated the slider & splitter from Harden's repertoire, relying on his change-up to keep hitters off-balance and perhaps protect his tender bits. His National League numbers are downright ridiculous, making it difficult to argue the results. If the Cubs can scrape a few across they should be okay right? Right? Kuroda gave the Cubs a pwning in July and pitched well despite the loss in his only other start against Chicago. Looks to be a great match-up!

Additional Discussion Points! You're at a wedding. What is worse? Brutally typical (typically brutal?) wedding muzak or a couple trying way too hard to make the music cool and unique, thereby alienating the old and ignorant people in the crowd? If you find yourself thinking the bride obviously stopped discovering new music in the eighth grade and no way could you marry someone like that, does that make you a bad person? If the couple decides to play My Bloody Valentine's complete discography, are you more upset because it was boring or because you're deaf?

goldenskillet.jpgEvening friends! Hopefully you got your fill of shamefully exploited youngman football and are ready for a sport that matters - playoff baseball! Let's use this post as a landing spot for all your comments/concerns regarding tonight's crucial Phillies and Brewers game. With the Brewers riding CC for all he's worth just to reach this point, is a lesser light of the rotation going to step up? Dave Bush has the pedigree if not the record of a big league stud. He's all that stands between the Brew Crew and the golf course.

Additional discussion points! What do you make of the new wave of defensive statistics/metrics/silk gloves? Do you care? Do they interest you? Do the concepts of errors, fielding percentages and the Gold Gloves they reap seem straight out of the Dark Ages and arbitrary to you?

Just as big sites like ESPN began tracking and easily sorting (as my esteemed college at The Mockingbird called them) Bronze Age stats like Range Factor and Zone Rating, the real baseball nerds introduce Revised Zone Rating, Defensive Plus/Minus and Defensive Efficiency. Unearned runs have featured prominently the last few nights, though these are all largely (not the Dodgers) good fielding teams.

Personally, I can't get enough of these new wave numbers. The ability to objectively compare players beyond the "Whoa, that was awesome" factor is great. RZR even salvages Jeter's scarred reputation! Discuss in the comments, or send your beefs to lloyd@walkoffwalk.com and enjoy the game!
rem.jpgKnowing his team needed to be loose going into Game 2 against the Red Sox, Mike Scioscia encouraged his players to have fun on gameday, perhaps enjoy a movie at the local Googoplex. Frankie Rodriquez mistakenly took in Bill Maher's latest film Religulous and now his team is paying the price.

Despite being panned by most critics, K-Rod found Maher's crashing into the broadside of a barn compelling and thought-provoking. Thoughts that clouded his head during his long day in the bullpen. When called upon to pitch, his thoughts were with Richard Dawkins and the nature of creation, rather than getting his slider down to JD Drew. Handing the lead back to the Sox after his team had tied the game only shook Rodriquez further.

After every save, I offer my thanks to the Lord. But what if He isn't listening? What if He isn't there??? What if my overwrought celebrations and homages are for nothing? I tried to let my Faith guide me, but we lost. Is it a message? A test? Perhaps a mere baseball game isn't enough to attract God's attention. This whole thing has me baffled, I think I'm going to make a pilgrimage this offseason:

With his team down 2-0 in the series, Rodriquez knows it will take a miracle to come back against the dominant Red Sox, a miracle he isn't sure he believes in any more:

Maybe God has nothing to do with it, maybe we just need to play better defense. What if our success is due to timely hits not Divine Intervention? I think I need to lie down
Rodriquez was seen leaving the ballpark with the complete works of Ayn Rand under his arm.
sunrise.jpgEach weekend during the playoffs, I'll attempt to answer some questions about the playoff games that absolutely nobody asked or ever would ask. This could be fun and uninformative or this could be painful and uninformative. Either way, it's another listicle in the listicle-ful sportsblogosphere.

Playoff baseball brings out the best in some of our favorite baseball heroes. Playoff baseball and whiskey bring the drunken late-night posts out of our favorite baseball nerds. The Rays kept the proud Floridian tradition of mimicking California's every move by jumping out to a 2-0 series lead against Chicago-based opponents. The Red Sox continued bamboozling and exposing the Angels, taking a 2-0 series lead from the world greatest closer.

Weekend mornings don't often find us with the clearest of minds, and I'm not as astute as Rob, so this mornings questions will skew more towards "the human condition" than "baseball". Rhetoric ho!

  • Which player really wants a do-over on the first inning? Despite getting the first two outs quickly, Ervin Santana learned the Red Sox 3-4-5 hitters pack a little more punch than Ibanez, Beltre and Lopez. Bloop, bloop, blast, blast and it was 4-0. Scott Kazmir's perfectly Kazmiric first inning (full count a go-go!) was a distant second.

  • Which player's annoying tick made you pray for death? Watching him pitch in and out of trouble might shorten lives in New England, but Daisuke's Matsuzaka's need to align the spirits and ghosts between pitches had me considering my options. Even stoic Garrett Anderson looked visibly bored and impatient while standing in the box for untold seconds. A.J. Pierzynski's uncanny ability to be A.J. Pierzynski is the first runner up.

  • Which player unveiled a hidden ocean of awesomeness? Forced into action by a freak injury, Willy Aybar has playoff hero potential in spades. He strikes me as guy that could figure prominently in a long Rays run, only to bounce around the league for a few mediocre years thanks to three good weeks. Runner up: Jose Arrendondo. Closer in waiting? Needs a sack dance first.

  • What happens if the Sox big bats stay small in the cold? Without the tater-tot offense, the Sox go from playoff team to this in a hurry. If the Rays are going to put them on, they need to cool it with the station-to-station nonsense and hit some dingers.

  • Which player overcame a freaky disease to score from first on a Texas Leaguer? Why Rocco Baldelli of course. Runner up: Nobody. Not enough heart!
No afternoon games because Bud Selig hates children, but stop by for some fun in the meantime.
zedkey2sa.jpgGame Two in Chicago kicks off with the Cubbies desperate to stay in the series. Will the big man keep tears out of tightly controlled Wrigleyville beers?

You probably aren't working, but you still enjoy the warming glow of your LCD screen. Gather round as we belittle our way through a baseball game together. Yahoo teaches us the lineups, Chad Billingsley starts for the Dodgers, Carlos Zambrano for the Cubs.

It all goes down after the jump.
morerocco.jpgTo mark the momentous occasion that is the 2008 Playoffs we asked a couple of esteemed guest writers to talk about their favorite team's chances this postseason. Sadly, nobody likes the Rays. Yet. So Lloyd the Barber of Roccorunner on First will examine the other 24 roster spots and the team's postseason chances.

I won't be the first person to draw the analogy, but the Tamp Bay Rays meteoric rise is unlike any seen in baseball for 40 years. Teams like the Diamondbacks, Jays and Marlins discovered success almost instantly while the Mariners slowly improved, posting a few winning seasons before finally breaking out in 1995. The only team that can relate to a decade of futility giving way to a dream season are the Miracle Mets. The Rays didn't even have the dignity of being lovable losers, they just lost. Over and over again. In new and dramatic ways. They tried spending money, but it didn't work, so they opted to spend none and build from inside.

The Rays came into this season as the sexy pick of clever writers everywhere, but with many questions surrounding their pitching. "Troy Pervical is still alive?" they asked. "I saw Scott Kazmir throw 75 pitches in one inning, no way will he last the season." they said. Their bullpen ended up being one of the best in baseball while Kazmir's season started late but ended without missing a start.

We all waited for the inevitable collapse but the Rays started hot and stayed hot. They overcame key injuries, BJ Upton's aversion to effort and Rocco's illness scare to stay in first all summer. They signed an unproven but massively hyped rookie to a massive contract and he responded with a 130 OPS+ season. Just when it looked like they were going to roll over in Boston, they took two of three from the Sox and didn't look back.

There is a lot to like about this team. They grew beards in support of their ailing teammate and then grew mohawks in support of Indigenous peoples and their struggle all over North America. They have a wacky manager that walks in runs to avoid facing sluggers and is more of a cork dork than Rob & Kris combined. They are an exciting mix of high draft picks (not as many as you'd think) and shrewd waiver-wire pick ups that play a free-swinging, exciting brand of baseball. Their playoff rotation of James Shields, Scott Kazmir, Matt Garza, and Andy Sonnanstine is a good combination of control and power pitchers. Their bullpen was bolstered by that submariner that's played for half the teams in the American League.

Just in time for the playoffs, the Rays are getting healthy. Carl Crawford will be in the starting lineup for game one after missing almost two months. BJ Upton and Evan Longoria both missed time in September but have bounced back in time for the second season.

The Rays are playing with nothing but house money at this point. No matter how sexy a pick they were, nobody expected them to be here. They will be playing in a sold-out Trop, but for the first time those in attendance will be cheering for them! The infernal cowbells will be clanging, the young Rays might not have to good sense to be nervous.

Special thanks to the Che Guevara of the Rayvolution David Chalk for the spiritual guidance.