Well, well, looks like I actually got a comment for once! Yeah, for the most part, this is just an extension of me having fun. Still, after utterly failing at last year’s All-Star Game–writing a potential entry on paper, but never typing it up–things are going to be different this year. We have a wireless network in the house now, so I can be typing it up as I watch. Here’s hoping it’s half as surreal as the last one.
As we continue our pregame coverage, I found out from Sirius/XM’s “The Show” that in last week’s appearance, Chone Figgins said that if he made the All-Star team, he’d do the Ozzie Smith somersault–apparently he was a big Ozzie fan. Now, thanks to the sudden scratch of Evan Longoria, Figgins is in–even though we still have two third basemen, even without Longoria, while we only have one second baseman thanks to Joe Maddon’s weird decision to replace Dustin Pedroia with a fourth first baseman. Good thing Inge, Figgins and Zobrist are all kind of utility guys…Inge has never played second, but that’s okay because we need to save him in case we need a third catcher. Oh, right, so anyway, be on the lookout for Chone Figgins to attempt to do a tribute to Ozzie Smith in tonight’s game!
“I know they feel better about themselves right now, and confidence is
really a wondrous thing in regards to us humans,” said Tampa Bay
manager Joe Maddon. (about Carlos Peña and Evan Longoria, who combined for three hits in the first part of Game 5 after going hitless through the first four games)
Um…yeah. Er, who else would it be in regards to? Have you made contact with another planet, Joe? This is going to be a bizarre game regardless, with the “seventh-inning stretch” just six outs past the start of the game and relievers working, well, pretty much right from the start. (Of course, as certain extra-inning games have shown, it’s more like the “every seventh inning stretch”.) This is going to be really cool, no matter what happens, and if the Rays can take it back to Tampa, well, like I said, things could get epic. Now, for the obvious question: If the Rays do force Game 7, who gets the start for Philadelphia? Would they opt to bring Hamels back on short rest, or would they go with one of their other starters? And if it’s the latter, who do you choose, Moyer or Blanton? The way I see it, in Game 7 of the World Series, everyone is available to pitch. Since Hamels still wouldn’t have the full four days rest (although personally, I think this sucks anyway–call me a purist), I’d go with Blanton to start and bring Hamels and whoever else you need out of the bullpen. Of course, this is all just hypothetical–the Rays need to win Game 5 first, and then we can start thinking about Game
7 6. (No, I’m not even going to declare that one a foregone conclusion, even though they should have a marked advantage. There is only one time that I’ve called a postseason game that wasn’t guaranteed to occur to be a foregone conclusion if it did, and that was in 2004, right after Game 5 of the ALCS, when I facetiously referred to that night’s game as “Game 7”. That much I was certain of. With the Yankees ahead 3 games to 2, I was certain that there were only two possibilities: Yankees win it 4-2, or Red Sox win it 4-3. My reasoning for this was flawless in that just as I expected, the Red Sox absolutely hammered the Yankees’ poor excuse for a Game 7 starter.)
Also in the weird world of the 2008 World Series: the effects the rain
had on gambling. According to the Nevada Gaming Commission rules, the
final score of a baseball game is determined at the end of the last
completed inning, and so in Las Vegas, all bets on the Phillies in Game
5 have paid out, as they “won” 2-1 in five innings. There will be a
prop bet on the resumption of the game.
Wow. This is awesome. Again, cements the Rays’ status as a “cool” team (even if it is that stupid Jonny Gomes, bleah!), but more importantly, it allows me to make fun of stupid school administrators. Making fun of stupid school administrators is a lot of fun, albeit extremely easy. On the baseball side of things, BJ Upton and Evan Longoria have five home runs apiece in the postseason. The record for a single postseason is 7, by BALCO Barry in 2002. With his fifth of the postseason tonight, Evan Longoria sets a new rookie record for postseason home runs, one better than Miguel Cabrera in 2003.
When Upton hit his fifth home run of the postseason in Game 3, he set a new record for youngest player to hit five home runs in a postseason, previously held by Albert Pujols. This is what’s known as a “one-day record”, as Evan Longoria is younger still. Another record that lasted precisely one day: Longest postseason game by time, which was actually set twice in the same day–once early in the morning, when Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS ended at 5:02, and then late that night, when Game 5 ended at 5:49. Neither was a record for innings, which shows the increased level of commercialization that evolved after 1986 (Mets-Astros, 16 innings.) Also proof of increased commercialization? When the Astros and Braves broke the innings record with 18 innings in the ’05 NLDS, they only just barely broke the time record, 5:50. Why so close to the 14-inning game in length? LDS on ESPN vs. LCS on FOX. Purists, express your disgust.
Purists, root for the Dodgers these next two games. If the NLCS reaches a seventh game, Derek Lowe will start Game 7, making him the first pitcher to make three starts in a postseason series since…well, I don’t know who was the last to do it, but it probably wasn’t in my lifetime. Of course, since Lowe was the winner of the 2004 ALCS game 7, they’ll probably bring up the same fact that they mentioned when 2004 NLCS game winner Jeff Suppan started Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS–that only the legendary Bob Gibson has won two deciding Game 7s in his career (1964 WS and 1967 WS–and he started a third one afterwards, in the ’68 WS!). This is still the case, as while the Cards won Game 7 in ’06, Suppan got a no-decision. (Thank Endy Chavez for that. And thank Yadier Molina for the Cards winning it anyway.)
The same day it’s being posted
Extra innings abounded yesterday, as the two New York teams both won in extras, the Yanks in 10, the Mets in 12. Together, the two games were just five innings longer than the Braves’ 7-6 victory over Houston, four straight singles leading off the bottom of the seventeenth. Detroit and Seattle also went 15, the visiting Tigers winning 2-1. Mariners backup catcher Jamie Burke came in as a reliever. All-Star selections were announced yesterday, and my powers of preseason prognostication proved faulty–quite deservingly with the somewhat down year he’s been having, Nick Markakis is not an All-Star. This prediction had been made partly because I thought Markakis was a rising star and partly because I didn’t think the O’s had any better candidates. The lone representative of the Baltimore club is in his first year with the team, and that is George Sherrill, the former Seattle setup man who became the Orioles’ closer. Brian Roberts, two-time All-Star, has been relegated to the final man ballot. However, as an American League fan who wants the AL to win, I must advocate for a member of a team that I’m not particularly fond of right now: Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays. “Longo” is the best of the five players on the ballot, in my opinion. However, since I’m a fair guy, I’ll also tell you honestly who I think should get the final spot in the National League: Pat Burrell, Philadelphia Phillies. Other fairly happy news: the underachieving Jason Varitek, for a long time the AL vote leader at catcher, has been relegated to backup status by Joe Mauer. Why is Tek still the backup? Er, well, I think it has something to do with Francona being the AL manager. The players pick the first line of backups, but there are two reserve catchers and Dioner Navarro seems more likely as the players’ choice. Like most of the Rays, he’s been having a good year. C.C. Sabathia has been traded to the Milwaukee Brewers.
Correction: Varitek was the players’ choice…sort of. The player ballot is submitted before the fan voting ends, and so the with the players’ choice, Mauer, the starter, the second-place finisher on their ballot gets the nod. Well, on the plus side, there’s no rule saying Terry has to play him…but of course, he will anyway, because he’s not about to diss his captain…is he? Does he have the guts to follow the example of Tony La Russa, who last year chose Dmitri Young over his own player, Albert Pujols, to pinch-hit in the ninth inning with the game on the line? I sure hope so. Final observation: The Twins are currently on a 17-2 run.
Which two likely future Hall of Famers made their major league debuts
in the same game? The date was April 3, 1989 (literally a
lifetime ago for me, give or take a few days), and the Seattle Mariners
were starting their season off in Oakland. The visiting M’s had a pair
of rookies in the lineup that day: Ken Griffey Jr., slugger supreme, in
centerfield. and defensive whiz (and a fairly good singles hitter to
boot) Omar Vizquel at shortstop. Griffey hit his 600th career home run
in the first inning of yesterday’s 9-4 win over the Marlins, a game in
which the Reds had a homer in each of the first three innings. Paul
Bako, who homered in the second, added a second home run in the ninth.
He wasn’t the only player with two home runs on the day, as Evan
Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays punctuated his return to Southern
California with a pair of jacks against the team he grew up rooting
California Anaheim Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Griffey became just the sixth player in major league history to hit 600
home runs. The one hit also temporarily broke a tie with the
aforementioned Vizquel for 68th on the all-time hits list. Like I said,
both of them are pretty good hitters. Did you know that Vizquel at one
point looked like he could tie the single-game hits record? August 31, 2004,
when the Indians visited the Yankees. As the visiting Tribe pounded the
host Yankees, Vizquel already had two singles, a double, three RBIs,
and two runs scored by the end of the third inning, and would add
another run scored and RBI as he started off the game 6-for-6, four
singles and two doubles. However, he flied out in the ninth inning, his
seventh at-bat, and had to settle for a 6-for-7–one hit shy of the
record for a nine-inning game.
(Cue up music: “Walk Like an Egyptian”) You know that a bad pun is coming, right? Yes, Miguel Cairo–incidentally,
the Yankees’ second baseman for all nine innings of that game mentioned
earlier–had the first bases-loaded extra-inning suicide squeeze by a
visiting player since 1976, providing the winning run in the tenth
inning for the Mariners at the Rogers Centre. (Statistics courtesy of
XM’s “Baseball This Morning”) Extra-inning bases-loaded squeeze plays
are rare in any event–when Melvin Mora sealed the Red Sox’ AL East
championship with a two-out 10th-inning bases-loaded bunt base hit to
beat the Yankees following a ninth-inning that saw the Yanks blow a
three-run lead when Mariano Rivera gave up a two-out, bases-loaded
triple to Jay Payton, on September 28th of last season, it was the first extra-innings bases-loaded bunt
in three years–but with the uncertainty that being a visiting team in
extra innings can produce, it’s even rarer for a visitor to squeeze.
An addition, courtesy of an article on ESPN.com about why “home field advantage” appears to be at an all-time high:
“I have always thought,” said White Sox GM Kenny Williams, “that
outside of Boston, New York and Minnesota — yes, Minnesota, due to the
House of Horror Dome — there are no great advantages for home teams in
Yes, “House of Horror Dome” is inside the quotation marks. Have the
White Sox ever been this entertaining? And so far, it’s just been
manager Ozzie Guillen and GM Kenny Williams. Imagine how much fun
they’ll be if A.J. Pierzynski makes a return to form.