Wednesday October 15, 2003
ONE MORE BASEBALL THOUGHT
DISCUSSION QUESTION OF THE WEEK
HELP!!! --- Be sure to e-mail me today with your thoughts on the Discussion Question. I will be posting your thoughts tomorrow! Believe me, it doesn’t have to be a long answer. Maybe a sentence or two. Maybe a paragraph or two. Help me write my column tomorrow. Just check out this week’s Question, E-mail me and be heard! Thanks!
CUBBIES COMBUST IN CRAZY 8TH
What a great and crazy day of baseball! In the first game of the day, the Yankees grabbed a 3-2 series lead with a 4-2 win over the Boston Red Sox. Later last evening, things got just crazy in Chi-Town!
ALCS SERIES (YANKEES LEAD 3-2)
After the Sox won Game 4 to even the series at two games a piece, I actually thought that they had a chance to win the series. They needed two wins and had Derek Lowe and Pedro Martinez each scheduled to make another start. However, yesterday, Lowe and the Red Sox lost, and now, I have to say that I think the Yankees will be finishing the series tomorrow. The reason- Starting pitching. You see, this afternoon, the Yankees will be throwing Andy Pettitte against the Red Sox. The Red Sox, well, they’re going to make a decision on whether to throw knuckleballer Tim Wakefield on one day rest or John Burkett, who the Yankees would destroy. Either way, it doesn’t look too good for the Boston club. Now, that said, if the Sox can somehow beat the Yankees today, then they’ve got Pedro against Roger Part II, this time in Game 7 in Yankees Stadium. I’m sure that Red Sox fans would be thrilled to know that their team can move toward breaking The Curse of the Bambino in The House The Ruth Built.
So many people wondered if David Wells was done when he struggled for a month or so in the second half of the season. His coaches were questioning him. Obviously the media was questioning him. His weight was questioned, along with his work ethic. Now, I’m not saying the way David Wells goes about his business is the right way, however, it’s his way, and it has led to 200 career wins. Will he be able to continue such a lifestyle and remain a big league pitcher? Obviously not. But, the problems that he was having were mechanical and about location of his pitches. Once those were corrected, it should have been no surprise that he would turn it around. And turn it around he has, especially in the playoffs, and yesterday was no exception. He pitched 7 strong innings, giving up just one run on a solo home run by my favorite Red Sock, Manny Ramirez. Wells gave up 4 hits and walked 2, while striking out 5. Mariano Rivera came in for another two inning save. He did finally give up a run, which, for the Yankees should be considered a good thing. That means he probably won’t give up any more runs the rest of the playoffs.
Game 6 Prediction - Yankees 7, Red Sox 3
NLCS SERIES (SERIES TIED AT 3)
Mark Prior toes the rubber to start the top of the 8th inning with the Cubs leading comfortably 2-0. Prior had given up just three hits. Cubs fans the nation-wide were preparing for their first trip to the World Series in 58 years. But, it was pretty clear that Prior was not the same pitcher as he had been earlier in the game. His fastball didn’t have the extra life on it, and his curveball was hanging and not real sharp. That said, some strange things happened to prolong the inning far longer than it should have. Here’s how the play-by-play looked:
Florida 0, Chicago Cubs 3
-Top of the 8th inning
-M Mordecai flied out to left.
-J Pierre doubled to left.
-L Castillo walked, J Pierre to third on wild pitch by M Prior.
-I Rodriguez singled to left, J Pierre scored, L Castillo to second.
-M Cabrera safe at first on error by shortstop A Gonzalez, L Castillo to third, I Rodriguez to second.
-D Lee doubled to left, L Castillo and I Rodriguez scored, M Cabrera to third.
-K Farnsworth relieved M Prior.
-M Lowell intentionally walked.
-J Conine hit sacrifice fly to right, M Cabrera scored, D Lee to third, M Lowell to second.
-T Hollandsworth hit for C Fox.
-T Hollandsworth intentionally walked.
-M Mordecai doubled to deep left center, D Lee, M Lowell and T Hollandsworth scored.
-M Remlinger relieved K Farnsworth.
-J Pierre singled to right, M Mordecai scored.
-L Castillo popped out to shallow right.
8 runs, 5 hits, 1 error
Florida 8, Chicago Cubs 3
Where do we start? Well, my first thought of the half-inning was “why do they continue to pinch hit Mike Mordecai?!?” Juan Pierre doubled, and I still wasn’t thinking anything. Then the Luis Castillo at bat. And, the foul pop up. My thoughts- First, the fan technically did nothing wrong. He didn’t lunge forward. The ball would have landed in the stands. So, the fan did have the right to the ball. Now for my real thought- DUDE! You’re a Cubs fan, it’s the playoffs. You need 5 outs to go to the World Series. Let your team’s left fielder make that catch. Alou was there and easily would have made the catch. 2 outs, and Pudge coming up. If that’s a Cubs hitter that hits that ball, absolutely, reach straight up and catch the ball, not allowing the other team to record the out. Of course, Castillo walked. So now there are two runners on and Rodriguez coming up. First pitch to him, a hanging curveball that he is lucky was only fouled off! Second pitch, a fastball right by Pudge for strike two. Third pitch, another hanging curveball, this time a sharp single to left scoring Pierre. The shutout was broken, and I was thinking that Prior was at the end of his rope. Kyle Farnsworth was ready to come in. But, Dusty Baker stuck with his stud, and actually Prior induced a possible (unlikely) double play ball to shortstop. But, the normally sure-handed Alex Gonzalez bobbled it, meaning the bases were now loaded with just one out. (I feel bad for Gonzalez. He will take a lot of criticism for the error. These things happen. It was just a bad time. He had not committed an error since August 13th!) Again, time to bring out Prior? Baker thought No. And Derrek Lee made that decision hurt, doubling in two more runs and tying the game. At that point, Baker made the move to Farnsworth. From that point on, the floodgates just cascaded on the Cubs. A sacrifice fly, and later a 3-run double by the guy I was asking “Why?” about frequently, Mike Mordecai. Final Score, Marlins 8, Cubs 3.
What an amazing turn of events for the Cubs and their fans! But what an amazing emotional roller coaster for the Cubs players. They have to be asking themselves what happened. So, tonight, it’s Game 7. The Cubs have their post-season ace, Kerry Wood toting the mound for them. Florida will counter with former Twin Mark Redman. The Marlins certainly have the momentum winning the past two games, including yesterday’s crazy ending. So, what will happen? Who knows? I’m bad at predictions, but here goes:
Game 7 Prediction: Cubs 2, Marlins 9.
That’s right, by the end of the night, it is possible that neither the Cubs or the Red Sox will be in the World Series, and we’ll be hearing those respective cities complain for another year.
Check out the Twins site today for notes on Johan Santana’s surgery. He supposedly is not to throw for six weeks, but how much he pitches in Venezuela this winter is up to him. I know they’re saying this is a ‘minor elbow surgery’, but it scares me how nonchalant they are treating this.
Also, the Twins cut ties with reliever Mike Fetters. He could have been extremely helpful to the Twins this season out of the pen. Arm injuries just hurt him the whole year and he finally had Tommy John surgery. Of course, because of the injury, Juan Rincon got his chance, and took off with that!
Also, be sure to check out this week’s JD Durbin journal entry. His entry isn’t actually terribly long, but he answered a number of great e-mail questions from fans. He answers some good questions on tough hitters he’s faced, being on Team USA, when he and Joe Mauer will get the big league call.
DISCUSSION QUESTION OF THE WEEK
I’m sure you’ve got plenty of comments on my thoughts on the 2004 Twins. We’re going to make this another discussion question. There are many new readers to the site since the last time we had a Discussion Question, so let me again explain how this works.
1.) Take a look at the below question and take some time to think it over.
2.) Send me an e-mail (by tomorrow) with your thoughts on the subject.
3.) Check back on Thursday, when I post your thoughts on this web site.
So, here’s the Question of This Week:
“The Twins had a very good 2003 season. Terry Ryan has some very difficult roster decisions to make. IF YOU WERE TWINS GM TERRY RYAN, what would you do this offseason? What would your priorities be? Who do you think will be on the 2004 Minnesota Twins team roster?”
Thanks for thinking about it, and I can’t wait to hear the responses. Please be sure to e-mail me.
ONE MORE BASEBALL THOUGHT
I received an e-mail from Alex Belth who writes a wonderful Yankees website Bronx Banter. He asked me (and others) to check out the posting on his website and give some opinion on what I thought of it. Now, I read his posting every day, but with the e-mail, I really read it and thought about it so that I could respond to it. To summarize, it’s more discussion about Saturday’s Game 3 events and how it really turned off a lot of baseball people, and the reasons why. Here are some of the quotes he uses:
Edward Cossette of Curse of the Bambino:
All day yesterday I was telling people that something "broke" inside me after Saturday's disaster at Fenway, but now I realize that is the wrong metaphor. It isn't that something inside me broke but rather that I was awakened to or otherwise forced to acknowledge how I, as a fan, as a Red Sox fan in particular, need to better scrutinize my own relationship with the game of the baseball.
And under the light of scrutiny I realize I need to drop baseball down a few notches on my priority list. It is just a game. And I don't want to fall down the slippery slope of believing "I live for this," when it's the other way around: "It lives for me."
David Pinto of Baseball Musings:
I would suggest what is really bothering people like Edward is that there was a shift of virtue from the Red Sox to the Yankees Saturday. It's been going on for a while, but Saturday the fault line moved. When it was Nettles and Jackson and Rivers against Lynn and Fisk and Lee, it was easy to see the Yankees as the evil team that deserved to be vanquished by the Red Sox. But on Saturday, it was Pedro and Manny who caused the trouble. Here they were in game the Red Sox had to win, and their antics came close to having them thrown out. Up until Zimmer charged Pedro, the Yankees did nothing wrong. Someone watching a baseball game for the first time would come away from Saturday thinking the Red Sox are a bunch of evil jerks and the Yankees were just defending themselves.
And that I think is what's bothering Edward. Red Sox fans no longer have the high ground; they are no longer the nice losers who are worth rooting for. Their stars are jerks, and the team they hate is in control. People who have based the allegiance on the virtuousness of the Sox have a lot to think about today. I'm not surprised they don't want to watch the game.
Here’s how Alex responded to the two points:
I think Pinto only addresses part of what is upsetting Cossette. He is right on about the Red Sox losing some of their underdog appeal, but I think what Edward is talking about goes deeper than storylines and morals. What he's talking about is our ability to lose our mental health to these games, contests which we have no control over.
I know that I am guilty of this all the time. It has become a constant struggle for me. A few weeks ago, one of my oldest friends in the world asked me after a Yankee loss: "Why do you take it so hard? Why do you let it effect your life so much?"
The answer is that I allow my narcissism, my own sense of grandiosity, to get in the way of my enjoyment of the game. Meaning that if the Yankees win, I feel good, validated, or like a winner, and if they lose, I feel like a loser. The world is black-and-white, and I'm either a somebody or a nobody. As if I have anything to do with how they do. I know this is a simplification, but it's something that is very real for me.
For instance, how many times do fans believe that if they wear their lucky hat, or sit in a certain position on the couch, it will actually effect the outcome of a game? All the time. Superstitions are the birthright of every sports fan---we all know how superstitious the players are, right? All we want to do is identify with them. But even though our little routines are innocent enough, that doesn't mask the fact that they delude us into thinking we can actually have an impact on a game. Perhaps it's just a way for us to feel closer to the action, but it also skews our sense of reality too.
It's this personalization which is unhealthy, and I think that is at the core of what bothers Edward so much. Sure, it doesn't help that his team displayed qualities that he rejected, but I think his dependency on the team's fate to feel good about himself is what is wearing him down.
I'm projecting, of course. What I should say is that I'm allowing my dependency on the Yankees' fate to wear me down. It's been like this every since I can remember. I can state honestly that I've been distracted at work for weeks and have lost plenty of sleep, obsessing about the games. And the funny part is that I feel like I cope much better now than I ever did before.
You know what makes this mishigoss easier to take? Being able to write about baseball every day. It's the best therapy a fan could ask for as far as I'm concerned (and I know I'm not alone here judging by the boom of baseball blogs that have sprung up over the past two seasons). Edward will bounce back--his enthusiasm and optimism and love for the game won't allow him to slink away---but I empathize with his need for distance, relief and clarity. Even in the eye of this Yankee-Red Sox storm.
Well, first, I hate to have included so much from these people, and I would encourage you to check out their sites every day because they all are great, deep thinking writers. Please go to the Bronx Banter site though and check out many of the Comments that other readers wrote following reading these thoughts. I wrote my comments in there, and here is what I thought:
Alex, excellent posting and great response. I enjoyed reading it as well as the above Comments.
Believe me, I understand emotional attachment to a team. When the Twins lost game 4 to the Yankees, I had to get up and go for a walk for about an hour (and I'm fat and don't like walking), just to cool back down. My emotional attachment with the Twins is probably a little different than many other teams. When you continually hear about how these guys all came up through the farm system together, and how many of them came up to the big leagues together, it kind of gets old. But, as a fan of the Twins for as long as I can remember, I have, in some ways, come up with them too. I watched every game back in 1998 and 1999 and 2000 when they were terrible. I watched every game in 2001 when they were 5 games up at the all-star break and then collapsed (in the 2nd half). I wasn't at all surprised when the Twins easily won the division in 2002, and I felt a sense of pride that is maybe pathetic, but the pride came from knowing that I wasn't a fair-weathered fan, that I didn't just jump on the (Twins) bandwagon when things got good. So this year, when they struggled, I hurt. When the season ended at the hands of the Yankees, I wasn't surprised, knowing the Yankees had more talent. The thing that "upset" me was the fact that because they're the Twins, I know that team that I've enjoyed watching the past 5 years will probably be broken up. Guys I've been cheering for for five years will maybe price themselves out of Minnesota's salary plans and will be playing for other teams. I fully understand that the Twins have a bunch of prospects that will come up and probably outperform the current group, and that will be exciting to see, but it will be different.
I know this is probably too long, but I guess that explains my feelings about "emotional attachment" to a team. No, I don't throw things when they lose, especially in the regular season. I can look beyond individual games. I understand that the playoffs are a small sample series where the best team doesn't always win.
Thanks Alex for a great read and a very thought-provoking posting. I wonder sometimes if Yankees fans or Red Sox fans or Braves fans can really understand that concept?
I know this isn’t terribly long, but I didn’t want to write too much in the Comments section. Am I wrong? Am I off-base? Do you have any superstitions you follow when watching the Twins, or your favorite team that you’d like to share? Please send me an e-mail and let me know what you think.
That’s it for today! It is conceivable that by the end of today, we will have our two World Series teams. It’s another big day for baseball watching! Enjoy it!
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