Monday, October 14, 2013

ALCS Tied at 1

A few quick notes on this late night / early morning:

--I happened to have been lucky enough to watch the Patriots' comeback with 5 seconds left, and this Sox comeback, in the same night.  Ever since 2003, it's been great to be a Boston-area baseball and football fan.

--And I just caught the tail-end of both.  But what else was there to see?

--I know Bill James says there's no such thing as clutch, but I've been watching these two guys for a very long time now, and David Ortiz and Tom Brady sure look like clutch players to me.

--If there's no such thing as a clutch player, why would I want David Ortiz up at a crucial time, and not A-Rod, when the latter's numbers are clearly so much better overall?

--If there's no such thing as a clutch player, why is David Ortiz so respected as one by the other players--and why is A-Rod so not respected as one by the other players?  The players would know, right?

--Bill James has an open reservation to come to my house--or to take me out to dinner, preferably at a sports bar, so I can watch the games--and explain why he says that, statistically, there's no such thing as clutch.

--When your team has been held hitless for over 15 innings over two ALCS games, you should lose both.

--It is a testament to this team that they won one tonight, and actually could have, and perhaps should have, won it last night.

--I would agree that there's no such thing as momentum, but I saw the 2004 ALCS.  Then again, I also saw the 2008 ALCS, and was at Fenway for the eight-run comeback win, down by seven in the seventh, in Game 5.  If they come back from the brink and win that game, and they win game six, momentum stipulates that they'd also win game seven, right?  Nope.  So I'm undecided about whether momentum really exists.

--If it does, the Sox have it going to Detroit.  But you're only as good as your last game.

--Part of me thinks the Sox should be up 2-0.  The other half of me slaps around the first half, and says to be thankful that they're tied.  The Sox really should have won last night, and they really should have lost tonight, so I'll agree that the slate is as it should be.

--The Tigers bullpen doesn't impress me.  The only advantage the Tigers have is in starting pitching.  Which is huge, but if the Sox can hang in there and get into their bullpen, they have a good chance of winning one, and perhaps two, in Detroit.  They'll have to win at least one to bring it back to Boston.

--Cabrera's swing is coming around.  And most of the Sox's swings are not.  Even with the slam, Ortiz is hitting below a buck fifty.  And Ellsbury still doesn't have a hit.

--There've been four grand slams by Sox players in the playoffs, and I've seen them all.  Ortiz's tonight.  J.D. Drew's in the 2007 ALCS.  Johnny Damon's, of course, in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS.  And Troy O'Leary's in the 1999 ALDS, in Game 5, after Nomar was intentionally walked to get to him. 

--In his next at-bat in that same game, after another intentional walk to Nomar, O'Leary hit a three-run homer.  This was Mike Hargrove's famously mismanaged series, when even the announcers said he used his bullpen like he was panicking--up two games to zero.  He was fired after that ALDS.  This was the same game that Pedro came in with a busted back and pitched six hitless innings.  For those who care about such things.  Don't ask me how I remember such things--I just do.  But don't ask me anything about yesterday.

--I'm not surprised that the Sox have struck out over 30 times in the two games.  Isn't that what some of them have been doing all year?  Luckily they walk a lot, too, which is why Napoli can strike out a team-record 187 times this year, and still have an on-base percentage of around .350, which is decent.

--Left unnoticed is the job of the Sox bullpen these last two games.  And, for the most part, its defense.

--And Joe West's strike zone was amongst the most inconsistent I've ever seen, for both teams.  He's just happy this ALCS isn't between the Sox and Yanks.  (He infamously said two years ago that those teams make a mockery of the game because their games last so long.  How dare the hitters work the count and try to get on base?)

--Let's not get greedy if the Sox lose.  I know you expected them to be middle of the pack, if not in the basement, this year.  I know you did, because I did, too.

--Ortiz is hitting about .500 against Verlander for his career, and the Sox overall handle him pretty well, considering how dominating he is to everyone else.  Daniel Nava infamously had a great game against him.

--Go Sox.  They do better when I don't watch, so I'll continue not to, and just catch the last few innings.

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