2017 Baseball Playoffs

Mister Tee
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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Fri Nov 17, 2017 4:02 pm

The last vestiges of the 2017 season came with this week's awards presentations. I imagine the results left both me and Bog a bit disgruntled -- Bog because his guy came SOOOO close to being a repeat MVP, me because my guy didn't come as close as he deserved. I'm fine with Altuve winning -- in fact, thought it better in the long run that Judge not get so-much-so-soon -- but the idea that the first place votes were so lopsided strikes me as unjust. Oh, and as for the scribe who voted Jose Ramirez first -- it's good to know the Baseball Writers have an Armond White of their own.

Anyway, seeing all this reminded me I've been meaning to respond to Bog's queries about the managerial position, both in NY and in general theory.

I take what you say, about the Reds' expectation that Dusty Baker was the only obstacle preventing them from post-season success, and how it didn't turn out that way. We can only theorize, really, about how much managers mean to a club's success, regular season or post-. My issue with Dusty Baker is the number of heartbreaking catastrophes with which his teams have been associated -- the Giants' blowing a 5-run lead in the potentially clinching Game 6 of the '02 Series, the no-need-to-recount Cubs' Bartman game, this year's 1-run loss to the Cubs where a faulty umpire's call would have reversed the outcome. Fair or not, you have that stuff happen to a guy over and over, you start to believe in jinxes and get as far as you can from him.

Girardi was far from that. His teams, till this year, over-performed by a bit -- probably, especially the years of Betances/Miller/sometimes Chapman, because the bullpen locked down lots of close wins. But, as you note, he hadn't won anything beyond a Wild Card appearance from 2012 on -- a far worse stretch than what Joe Torre had endured just before his dismissal. It is, in fact, as you suggest, the longest Yankee losing stretch that didn't result in a managerial firing. (During the darkest years, 1982-1993, there were oft-times multiple managers in a single year. Thank god Billy Martin finally died, to end that ridiculous cycle.) But part of that is because Joe was signed to a multi-year contract that ended this year. All local accounts are that Cashman had decided some time ago that Joe wasn't the right manager for this new, very young team, and that he'd planned the non-renewal without thinking there was such post-season potential. The fact that the team made it as far as it did was a bit awkward, but it didn't weaken Cashman's resolve. (Had the team got to, or won, the Series, he might have been forced to re-evaluate, just from a P.R. standpoint; I'm guessing he's a tad relieved it didn't come to that.) So, I grant it could look strange that the team seemed fine with Girardi during non-winning seasons and then pushed him overboard after such an exciting one, but that's not the perspective the front office took.

Supposedly Meulens -- the one-time would-be Aaron Judge -- is the current leading candidate, but no one really knows. Nor do we know how it'll turn out. We're in a new era, of both players and manager, and you never know how that'll go. But fans are extremely optimistic, and can't wait for Spring training to come around again.

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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby danfrank » Thu Nov 02, 2017 11:23 pm

Thanks for all your astute posts during the postseason, Tee. I don’t have much else to say, except that the most interesting thing that happened in the game was that McCullers, so effective in that game 7 against the Yankees, hit a full 30% of the 13 batters he faced. I had fantasies that Game 7 would be close at the end, at which point we would see Kershaw in a do-or-die test of his mettle. Instead all we got to see was Kershaw pitching some ultimately meaningless middle innings. Morton was the MVP of that game, and of course Darvish, brought in late in the season to pad the Dodgers, was the goat. I agree that the Dodgers underperformed, and will be second-guessing themselves for a long time. Good for the Astros. They showed more heart throughout the series, and often enough in a well-matched series that is the factor that puts a team over the top.

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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Thu Nov 02, 2017 3:37 pm

So, not with a bang, but a whimper.

This Series deserved a much better Game 7. It wasn't the utter blowout we got in 1985 or 2011, but it got one-sided almost immediately, and turned duller and duller the further along we got. The Astros had 5 runs posted before the second inning was in the books, as Darvish once again proved to be the anti-Verlander. The Dodgers had multiple chances in the first five or so innings, putting runners on repeatedly, but failed over and over, often by strikeout, to put runs on the board. (Rookie Cody Bellinger was a conspicuous failure during these flopped rallies -- he even ended up breaking Judge's newly-minted post-season strikeout record, albeit in two more games.) The well-known Astro bullpen weakness was the only thing that let us hold onto a shred of hope for competition -- but Hinch foiled that by barely letting his relievers into the game...instead, burning through his rotation (what the hell, they have all winter to rest). Charlie Morton was the star here, pitching four mostly-squelching innings that vaguely recalled Bumgarner's 7th game heroics three years back. The game ended 5-1, with barely hint of Dodger protest.

I'm happy for the city of Houston, which has had a particularly tough year, and of course has waited 55 years (most of my lifetime), in two different leagues, before finally ascending to the top of the pyramid. They're a very talented young bunch, and, outside of Gurriel just now, generally likable (MVP Springer seems an especially good guy). It appears upcoming AL post-seasons will be very lively, with the Astros, Indians, Yankees, Red Sox and potentially Twins displaying excellent young talent.

Weird factoid: this is apparently the first team to win its first World Series in Game 7 on the road since...the Brooklyn Dodgers.

As for those Dodgers: one can hardly disparage a team that got to Game 7 of the World Series, but it still feels like they under-achieved, as their vaunted starting pitching was close to horrible in several otherwise winnable games. It's great Kershaw pitched so well last night (after the horse was figuratively out of the barn), but his failure to hold two substantial leads in Game 5 are the nearest cause I can find for the Dodgers' failure to raise up the championship trophy.

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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Wed Nov 01, 2017 1:31 am

A Game 6 far more to danfrank's taste. Two solo homers -- one for each team, the first and last runs scored -- but the crucial runs coming on a well-placed double and ensuing sac fly. Was anyone else surprised Hinch pinch-hit for Verlander with a man on first and nobody out in the 7th? Seems like Verlander should have been able to bunt there, and stay on. It didn't matter in he end, as the Astros never scored again, but, given the demonstrated futility of the Houston bullpen, I'd have guessed they'd stay with Verlander till his arm came lose from its socket.

Game Seven. Is there a happier phrase in all of sport? Three times in four years. The last two won by one-run margins. If this game is in that category, the Series will join 1991 and 2001 as recent all-time classics.

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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby danfrank » Tue Oct 31, 2017 11:57 am

Perhaps my distaste for the plethora of home runs is distorting my own perception, though I did just see an article in Bleacher Report that says that Minute Maid Park has the fourth shortest left field porch among MLB parks, with the quote, "Dead-pull hitters can absolutely feast and pad their home run totals." That park has strange dimensions, with fences of different heights and a very disjointed yellow home run line. I don't mind parks with quirky dimensions, with my hometown AT&T park being a prime example, AND I think announcers should make mention of it as it impacts the outcome of the game, especially for the World Series which appeals to the casual fan.

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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby Bog » Mon Oct 30, 2017 11:14 pm

danfrank wrote: I'm still rooting--mildly--for the Astros, though
I've completely given up, at least for this year and certainly for this series, on my type of baseball (solid pitching, tight defense, and manufactured runs)


So funny you made this comment...we sat down to watch the game...me to watch intently, my wife there with plenty of online distractions enabling her to endure baseball, and she asks "so who are we rooting for tonight?" (snide remark due to my apparent wavering selfishly to get 7 games...Hey we've been spoiled with 2014 and MadBum's amazement, last year's viewer exhaustive analytics-fest with SO much on the line...even 2015 was short but I think had a game 1 longer than last night and the Harvey gem/debacle at Citi Field failure to get back to KC). My simple response was I've been excited since Tuesday for it to hopefully be 2-2 and get Kuechel v. Kershaw II...and what I hoped would be a riveting 2-1 pitchers duel to the death with 2 fantastic offenses (1 historic) baffled by 2 of the 5 best pitchers we have going. 5 hours later and that happened ...still in complete shock over how this could be what becomes of Kershaw's usual brilliance. A guy who could be discussed as best pitcher ever had a 4 then totally separate 3 run lead and if you blinked twice it was GONE...poof...wild stuff

danfrank wrote: I kept thinking that left field porch looks way too close--as ball after ball flew over there--and the announcers made no mention of it.


I don't know what the average corner distance is for an MLB park ...but it's funny I had the opposite thought process...from you and Tee. Other than the Puig poocher I thought Minute Maid's odd layout kept more in...Gurriel and I think Barnes each hit all other park homers that were doubles. Springer, Altuve, Correa, Gurriel had monster Judgey blasts. I'm not saying I don't agree with Sonic something fishy is afoot...I just think it could have been worse.

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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby danfrank » Mon Oct 30, 2017 3:57 pm

Well put, Tee. Baseball isn't supposed to provide so much instant gratification on demand. The part that really bugs me is that it is (in part, at least) by design with the purposely juiced and very lively balls appealing to the mass audience. And I agree about the cheapie homers as well. I kept thinking that left field porch looks way too close--as ball after ball flew over there--and the announcers made no mention of it.

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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Mon Oct 30, 2017 2:15 pm

To expand a bit on why I thought last night's game was both wonderful and somewhat appalling...

The deepest appeal of baseball, to me, has always been the fact that it's so difficult. One of the most widely-repeated truisms about the game is the fact that great hitters can fail 7 of 10 times at bat. There are times when a player goes on a binge and achieves beyond our dreams -- Roger Angell long ago wrote about Carl Yazstremski in the late part of the 1967 season, or Willie Stargell down the stretch in 1979. At those moments, it feels as if the game has become unfairly easy for these individuals. The long-term lesson is that such stretches don't last -- Ron Guidry never had another season like his extraordinary 1978; even Sandy Koufax's glorious peak was only 6 seasons (and his early pain-induced retirement may have resulted from how high he flew). It's what makes people -- even fans -- look at Aaron Judge and think, he'll never hit this peak again. On a certain level, we don't want him to: it throws the game's balance off.

For me, last night's game fell into that category.

We've all watched games that seemed hopelessly our of reach and thought, "well, if this guy gets on, and the next guy hits it out, we'll be within three, and there are still two innings..." The important thing about these fan imaginings is, they almost never come about. In last night's game, though, they seemed to come about on command. Kershaw will never blow this lead -- boom, game-tying homer. Now the Dodgers lead by three again -- no problem, three more runs to tie. The late Astro rally should seal this one (especially after McCann's insurance homer) -- wrong; three runs in the 9th, the last with two outs and two strikes. This stuff isn't supposed to happen. It's wonderful when it does -- like the ultimate in fan service -- but it doesn't feel real. It's like when the Amazin' Mets won -- it feels more like a whimsical gift from the gods than a serious part of baseball history.

Oh, one whiny-Yankee-fan thing: whenever a home run slipped over the wall in Yankee Stadium, John Smoltz moaned and groaned about what a chintzy ballpark it is. Howcome no comments last night for cheapies like Puig's 9th inning squeaker?

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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby danfrank » Mon Oct 30, 2017 9:40 am

Woody Allen was wrong when he said the only cultural advantage to living in California is that you can turn right on a red light. You can also watch a five-and-a-half-plus hour baseball marathon and still go to bed at a reasonable hour. I've completely given up, at least for this year and certainly for this series, on my type of baseball (solid pitching, tight defense, and manufactured runs) and am just going for the ride. For me it's like giving up art films and going on a steady diet of popcorn thrillers. And last night's game was about the best summer popcorn movie I've ever seen! It was the kind of movie where you roll your eyes at yet another plot twist, the biggest for me being the part where the Dodgers tie it up in the 9th.

I'm still rooting--mildly--for the Astros, though certainly not for Gurriel whenever he comes to the plate. His behavior was appalling. I wonder what type of diversity training is done by MLB teams. Not enough, evidently. The Texas fans acted as I would expect Texans would do (though fans almost everywhere tend to stick by their players no matter what), and I almost never root for a team from Texas, but that is all trumped by my historic dislike for the Dodgers. I also am enjoying watching Springer, Correia, and Altuve expressing the pure joyfulness of the game. So, I was happy with last night's outcome, and it certainly makes the series more interesting since it would have been a tall task for Houston to win both in LA. This is a series I will certainly remember.

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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Mon Oct 30, 2017 12:50 am

Best Beer League game ever.

I imagine many of you didn't make it to the very late end. Sorry for that. It was surreal; never seen anything like it.

This isn't to say I admired it. It was sloppy; nobody's bullpen could get anyone out (you have to wonder what they'll be like in a Game 6 or 7); I can only imagine what danfrank will have to say about it, since it makes Game 3 look like a tidy affair. But it was something to see.

The game launched a thousand great jokes on Twitter, most of which I've already forgotten, but, about half an hour ago, someone posted this, and I think it's worth sharing:

"wow -- george w. bush got us all into a prolonged conflict with no clear winner and a murky exit strategy; go figure"

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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby Sonic Youth » Sun Oct 29, 2017 11:53 pm

I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but I think the League has tampered with the balls this post-season. This isn't a game, it's a home-run derby.
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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby Bog » Sun Oct 29, 2017 9:17 pm

Mister Tee wrote:
ON EDIT: But if you want another reason to root against Houston, they just had GW Bush throw out the first pitch.


Even more frustrating or odd...both HW and W sporting full on Astros garb...with their actual team not only NOT being Houston but now a division foe. Almost had the stink of Jeter throwing out the first pitch of a Mets /Royals World Series game strictly because Jeter is so "New York"

Boy does Gurriel hit some big time home runs!!!

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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby Sonic Youth » Sun Oct 29, 2017 8:56 pm

I'm not saying there are no arguments. I'm saying I don't accept any other arguments. You may as well never suspend an athlete (at least an important one) if he's a member of a team at any period during the season for the same rationale. The question then becomes not "What things can you get suspended for?" but "Who can get suspended for it?".

I actually don't care what the punishment is. He can receive no suspension and be fined instead. The point is, if you're going to enforce punishment, don't say "But the World Series is more important, so we'll hold off on it". I do understand what you're saying in point 2), but it doesn't matter. MLB cowered, and now Yuli and the Houston crowd are laughing on the other side of their faces.
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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Oct 29, 2017 7:00 pm

Sonic Youth wrote:
Mister Tee wrote: Anyway, MLB decided Gurriel needed to be punished, but not till next year, so as not to affect crucial Series games. Which is one of those things you can argue.


I don't see why there should be any argument. If it's determined that you did something that merits a suspension, then that's that. Hold it over, and the organization sends a message that they don't take the offence seriously. I'd be happier with a 1 game suspension during the World Series than a 5 game suspension next April. It'd probably be more effectual.


I didn't elaborate because it was already a bit of a tangent, but... 1) The rationale from Manfred was, the absence of a key player from a World Series game can be so significant that it would be effectively punishing 24 other guys for the actions of one person. 2) The more cynical take is, Gurriel could (likely would) have appealed, effectively delaying the decision till after the Series anyway, but leaving it hanging in the air so it would overshadow all the rest of the games. This way, a punishment, however ineffective, is in place, and the games proceed. 3) Your take is totally valid --it's why I said it can be argued, since the Manfred stance is the one in place. This stance, of course, raises questions like "What things that can get you suspended WOULD be deemed important enough for immediate enforcement?"

As for rooting interest...I've hated the Dodgers since Tommy Lasorda and I'm annoyed with McCullers mocking the Yankees' thumbs-down thing, so I'm watching with blissful indifference and just watching the games.

ON EDIT: But if you want another reason to root against Houston, they just had GW Bush throw out the first pitch.

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Re: 2017 Baseball Playoffs

Postby Sonic Youth » Sun Oct 29, 2017 5:23 pm

Mister Tee wrote: Anyway, MLB decided Gurriel needed to be punished, but not till next year, so as not to affect crucial Series games. Which is one of those things you can argue.


I don't see why there should be any argument. If it's determined that you did something that merits a suspension, then that's that. Hold it over, and the organization sends a message that they don't take the offence seriously. I'd be happier with a 1 game suspension during the World Series than a 5 game suspension next April. It'd probably be more effectual.

Maybe what Gurriel did may not have been quite enough to get me to stop rooting for Houston overall. But when combined with last night's crowd, it was. Now I have no one to root for this WS.
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