Friday, October 16, 2009

2009 NLCS-2004 Sox Connections

With Pedro pitching for the Phillies today, and Manny obviously on the Dodgers, there are quite a few connections to the 2004 Sox in the NLCS. Doug Mientkiewicz is on the Dodgers’ 40-man, but not active for the NLCS. Billy Mueller is currently an assistant to the GM for the real LA team.

Even though he’s not a member of the 2004 Sox, I also chuckled a bit when Miguel Cairo came up to bat for the Phillies last night. He was a member of the MFY in 04, and was involved in one of the most entertaining non-A-Rod-getting-soved-in-the-face regular-season moments of 2004. Hopefully we can get a repeat in 2009, cause seeing this again would be awesome:

posted by Matt at 1:44 pm  

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pennant Predictions and More

Well, so far I’m 2-2 in predicting series, and sadly the wrong 1-1 in the AL series. So, here are my very scientific predicitons for the pennants:

  • MFY over Angles in six

  • Phillies over Dodgers in six

Now for those of you who have properly grieved over the Sox season and are able to turn on a live baseball game again I’d like to make a suggestion. Don’t listen to Carey, Darling and Martinez call the NLCS games. Now this normally goes without saying, but in this case it’s especially true. Mute the TV, load up mlb.com and stream the Dodgers radio broadcast so you get to hear Vin Scully.

Most of you know probably already know that Scully is the best baseball announcer, period. But what you may not know, is that aside from the playoffs, he doesn’t even work is in best medium anymore. During the regular season every game that Scully announces is done as a TV broadcaster, except for the first three innings which he simulcasts the TV and radio. It’s still a good play-by-play, but doing both at once really doesn’t put him at his best. However, with Fox doing the TV coverage of the NLCS it means that Scully gets to do what he does best: radio, and just radio. I don’t know how many more times Scully will get to do Dodger playoff games, so if you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and listen Vin Scully remind you that “It’s time for Dawwwwwdger baseball!” What, are you going to listen to Suzyn Waldman instead?

Edit: Ed is right, TBS has the NLCS this year, which probably reiterates that you should listen to Scully. At least I can stand Buck. McCarver, Martinez, Darling and especially Carey are just nauseating.

posted by Matt at 3:31 pm  

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Why Paps, Why?

First off, congratulations to the The Angels Angels of Anaheim. They were clearly the better team in this series. They pitched better, they hit better, they ran the bases better and their bullpen was better. You won’t hear anything like “We are way better than they are. We lost to a team not as good as us” here, for two reasons. One, I’m not a member of the Boston Red Sox starting 25. And two, because I have more class than John Lackey. Now I hope they go and beat the living shit out of the MFY.

Coming into the series I thought there would be three big questions: Josh Beckett’s dominance (fail), the Sox bats against good starting pitching (fail), and the umpiring crew putting everybody on an even playing field (do I really need to re-hash this?). And yet I didn’t worry at all about Paps. I mean, why would I? The guy had pitched 27 innings in the playoffs and allowed (carry the two) ZERO runs, as in none, nada, zip, zilch. He had been the one person the Sox could always count on in October.

But by the time Paps was intentionally walking Torii Hunter, this series was over. It’s not that Paps didn’t have the ability to get Vladdy out with a one run lead and the bases loaded, it’s that even if he did, this team looked so shaky I couldn’t imagine them winning another two straight, and then four of seven against the MFY. I screamed obscenities when Abreu got the double, I sat in silence when Vladdy got to the go-ahead single.

So another season has ended, but as bad as the Sox getting swept felt, it could have been worse. They did make the playoffs for the third straight season. And getting swept is still better then losing four straight to our arch rivals after having a 3-0 lead and the lead in the 9th innings.

posted by Matt at 11:07 am  

Saturday, October 10, 2009

You Can’t Win if You Don’t Score

1999. 2003. 1999. 2003. That’s what I have to keep repeating to myself, hoping that I’ll actually believe it. Sadly for us D-Lowe won’t be starting game three. But if the Red Sox continue this lovely offensive trend of scoring an average of a half a run per game, not even D-Lowe and his magic in playoff elimination games would help.

Right now this just isn’t the same Red Sox team that played in back-to-back ALCS. The starting pitching has been good, but not step-on-your-throat-until-you-can’t-breathe good. And the offense, well, pardon the pun but it has been truly offensive. One run in 18 innings is awful, but what might be worse is the whopping 12 baserunners they’ve had over that span. That’s a WHIP of 0.67 over two freaking games. As much as I want to blame CB Bucknor, not even he could have done that much damage to the Sox bats (yes Dana, you’re right). Although I do wish that he wouldn’t give the Angles free bases. I didn’t think he could do it from behind the plate, and after the first game you’d think he might have tried to give the Sox a makeup call or 15, but letting Napoli get a free pass to first after leaning that far into a curveball is unacceptable. Can we fire Bucknor and bring in Harry Wendelstedt?

This certainly isn’t the first time this team has been behind the eight ball. We all remember 1999, 2003, 2004, and 2007. Hell, even last year they came back from being down 7-0 in the 7th inning of an elimination game. So no decent Sox fan should have given up on this team yet. In the famous (adapted) words of Kevin Millar “don’t let us win today, cause then we’ve got Lester and then Beckett.” Plus, seeing Mike Scioscia’s face after coming back from being down 0-2 would be unbelievable. I bet he’d put Peyton Manning to shame.

posted by Matt at 8:26 pm  

Friday, October 9, 2009

Blame the Sousaphone

I should have known it was a bad sign. For the past couple of years, Kim and I have watched the playoff games either at our house, or at our friend’s house. But this year we decided to try watching the game at a sports bar that we’ve grown to love. However, we didn’t expect a dart league that stood directly in front of the TV while they were throwing. But at the time, Lester was still putting up zeros, so we figured that it wasn’t worth moving.

But then in the fourth inning we started to notice some strange music. It wasn’t country, and it wasn’t a marching band. It was a combination of the two: a couple of banjos and a sousaphone. I can only describe it as “county fair music.” Since a sousaphone and baseball haven’t been paired together since the 1920s, I immediately had a feeling that this game was not going to end well. (The waa-waa-waa-waaaaaaaa from the sousaphone didn’t inspire confidence either.)

All of Red Sox Nation has forgiven Bill Buckner for his error in the 86 World Series. (Most real Sox fans realized that the game was tied anyways, so it’s not like he singlehandedly lost them the series.) But it’s going to take a lot longer to forgive CB Bucknor for his not one, but two errors at first base.

The reason the Red Sox lost last night was because the offense was terrible against the Angels best pitcher. Give Lackey credit, he pitched well, but just because none of the “errors” directly lead to runs for the Angels I don’t think most people are recognizing was an effect Bucknor’s terrible calls had on Lester. First, there’s the nine extra pitches that Lester had to throw. Without those, he could probably have pitched the 7th, and maybe kept the game at 3-0 instead of 5-0. But the bigger problem is that because of Bucknor’s calls, Lester had to throw a lot more high-leverage pitches. Think about it this way (and I know, it’s a lot of assumptions): if Lester is correctly given the 3rd out of the 4th inning he leads off with Mathis, who Ks. Then Aybar’s double is with one out, not none, so he can still pitch to contact. Instead, he’s got to try a strike out everybody after the sac bunt, and eventually leaves a pitch up to Torii Hunter. With Bucknor’s calls would Lester have been able to match zeros with Lackey? Who knows, but he certainly would have had a better chance.

So there will be no sousaphones, banjos or darts tonight. I will be watching the game from home, where the only noise will be from me yelling at the TV. Sadly, there will still be CB Bucknor, and he won’t be in hiding as he calls balls and strikes. Let’s just hope that Beckett strikes out everybody swinging so he doesn’t have a chance to hand the Angels a 2-0 lead.

posted by Matt at 11:33 am  

Thursday, October 8, 2009

ALDS Breakdown: TTAAoA vs the Sox

For the past couple of years I’ve done the “Dr. Jack-style breakdown” for the playoff series by comparing the staters of one team to the starters of the other, the bullpens, the offenses, etc. But considering that the Sox have played the The Angles Angels of Anaheim in the ALDS the past two seasons, that seems like a bit of overkill. Instead, I’m going to look at the major issues that will either win or lose the Sox this series:

1. Josh Beckett. The man was the ALCS MVP in 2007, although you could have just called him the playoff MVP that year. Last year he had back problems and was mediocre bordering on crappy, and the Sox were within a game of the World Series. Sadly, he’s been having back problems in the last couple of weeks, so that begs the question: will we get the “playoff” Josh Beckett, or the injured back Josh Beckett?

2. How much are the umpires going to have a hand in determining the series? This crew reads like a who’s-who of umpires that you’ve heard of because they make it their business to try and take over a game. Joe West, CB Bucknor, Eric Cooper, Greg Gibson, Brian Gorman and Dan Iassogna. Why not throw Angel Hernandez in there too? Or is MLB saving him for the ALCS?

My first thought when seeing this crew was “oh shit, this is gonna suck.” However, the more I thought about it, the crew may work in the Sox favor. You see, Mike Scioscia bitches and whines more than any other manager I’ve seen (see here, or here). He makes Youks and Papi look like mutes. So with Joe West and company, you wonder if he’s going to piss them off just enough to get a few extra calls to go the Sox way.

3. Can the offense finally hit #1 and #2 pitchers? We know they can crush the three, four and five pitchers for the Orioles, but ever since June it seems like they struggle more than the average team when facing the ace and #2. Lackey certainly is no Zack Grienke with a 3.83 ERA, and Weaver’s numbers are heavily skewed towards the first half of the season (Trust me, he was on my fantasy team. Before the ASG he was magnificent, after he was average). And Scott Kazmir has an .834 OPS-against the current Sox lineup. But it’s going to be up to the offense to try to get the Sox a slim lead or at least keep it tied before entering the Angels’ pen.

Will these three points determine the outcome of the series? If my track record means anything, then absolutely not. But truthfully, I won’t care as long as the Sox find a way to push the The Angels Angels of Anaheim to the curb for the fourth time in six years. Oh, and in case you didn’t believe me about the bitching, let me leave you with this gem from last year:

posted by Matt at 10:19 am  

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

2009 Divisional Playoff Predictions

I promise I’ll get to a full rundown of the Sox-Angels series tomorrow, but before the first DS games start, I figured I should get my predictions in:

  • MFY over Twinkies in 3
  • Cards over Dodgers in 4
  • Rockies over Phillies in 5
  • The The Angels Angels of Anaheim over Sox in 5
posted by Matt at 9:55 am