Wait until next year

Putting off what could be done tomorrow, today

Tag: play-offs

MLB play-offs braindump #6 – Phillies/Dodgers Game One

And so, after a little break, the play-offs resume. Last night the Phillies beat the Dodgers 8-6 in the first game of a seven-game series. The Dodgers can’t be happy, at not only losing, but failing to make the most of home advantage. However, there is clearly still a long way to go.

I do fear, though, that the small wager I placed on the Dodgers winning the World Series prior to the game hasn’t helped matters. The Dodgers were listed as the outsiders of the four teams left, which I wasn’t so sure about, so a flutter was in order. They are now duly cursed by my anti-tipping skills.

For the World Series I think I’d like to see a ‘Freeway Series’ between the Angels and Dodgers. As a Mets fan this seems the most satisfactory solution, considering the alternatives, and some sort of Southern Californian ‘derby’ sounds like it could be a lot of fun. But I won’t be betting the house on it just yet.

I caught some of last night’s game this morning, listening to the archived audio. I think listening to baseball on the radio can really accentuate the poetry of the sport. There is also the rich stream of facts, figures and anecdotes provided throughout. I often feel I’m learning a lot more about the game when I listen to the radio, than when I watch the television (this is the case for most sports, cricket comes to mind right away).

And I doubt many are better than one of the legendary broadcasters in baseball, Vin Scully. He’s been commentating on games for over 50 years, yet he doesn’t miss a step. He set the scene so well, with talk of the ‘gloaming’ and ‘leaden grey sky’, while also calling the game to perfection.

The television coverage of the play-offs has been far from perfect. Radio offers a worthy alternative. Particularly with Vin Scully in the seat.

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MLB play-offs braindump #5 – Five things I’ve learned about post-season baseball this week

And then there were four. Later this week we’ll have the Angels vs Yankees and Phillies vs Dodgers in best-of-seven series for a place in the big one, the World Series. The Red Sox, Rockies, Twins and Cardinals have all gone home, season over.

But what have I learned from the first round of play-offs?

1. The best teams went through

I think it is safe to say that the strongest teams went through. There might have been bad calls from umpires and huge mistakes that you just can’t legislate for, but all in all, there were no unlucky losers. There have been close games, but three sides were swept three games to none, and the other side, the Rockies, only won the one game. You’ve got to be ruthless at this stage, and the best teams were. Could the Red Sox, Rockies, Twins and Cardinals have done better than one win between them? I think we all the answer to that one.

2. It’s not all about heroics

There have undoubtedly been some good performances, but the game-changing acts have generally been self-destructive ones. Running errors, dropped catches, poor pitching. Which brings me on to…

3. You need a good closer

How many games have swung in the final inning? The teams that have won have had steady, reliable pitching in the ninth inning. When the closer has had a meltdown, his team has lost. Unless you somehow manage to rack up a massive lead beforehand, you’ve got to be strong in the later innings.

4. I don’t like the TBS coverage

I’m a creature of habit. I don’t like change. I’m no baseball media expert, but TBS coverage just isn’t the same somehow.

5. There’s not enough hours in the day

Believe me, in this, ahem, “current economic climate”, I’m very, very happy that I’ve got a job. But because of my pesky job I just haven’t got the time to watch all this wonderful baseball, especially with the time-difference (I live in London). I’m not complaining, though, about this embarrassment of riches. I’m just wondering what I’ll do after the season ends. Aha! Watch other sport, that’s what! Problem solved!

MLB play-offs braindump #3

Two games last night…

Yankees/Twins – Yankees are going to win it all, aren’t they?

There is an air of inevitability around the Yankees this year. They seem bulletproof. No matter what, they just look like they are going to win. Last night they were 3-1 down in the bottom of the ninth, yet still got out of it, with A-Rod’s two-run homer. In extra innings the Twins had the bases loaded and no outs. Still, the Yankees stayed alive. Then, finally, Mark Teixeira scores a home run and the Yankees win. Again.

The Twins must be plain exhausted after playing approximately one million innings of the past week. I can’t see them getting back in this series, particularly against this Yankees side. Last night was their big opportunity.

Angels/Red Sox – Boston need to pull their Sox up (ahem)

Oh dear. I’ll never make a headline writer. The Angels looked strong again, and the series moves to Boston with the Angels now 2-0 up. The game was pretty close until the seventh, when the Angels scored three to make it 4-1. And that, my friends, was how it finished. No last-ditch excitement in this game. The Angels have done a pretty professional job of dispatching the Red Sox so far. I wonder if home advantage in the next game might help Boston improve, but it may be too little, too late.

Is it too early to think about a Yankees/Angels match-up for the American League title? A pretty mouth-watering prospect.

MLB play-offs braindump #2

Back due to popular demand (or not)…a second braindump on the baseball play-offs.

Last night was a really good night’s baseball. I’ve experienced each game slightly differently, but enjoyed them all. Proper post-season baseball is well and truly here, and it’s so exciting I’m squealing like a little girl. Metaphorically squealing, anyway.

Rockies beat Phillies, draw level in the series

I caught live the ninth and final inning, seeing the Rockies beat the Phillies 5-4. It was tense stuff, as the Rockies just about protected a slender lead. It was also a good exercise in showing me the value and worth of a good closing pitcher. See, on the face of it, it seems easy. Turn up, pitch the last inning, go home. But a game like last night’s shows just how much pressure that puts on someone. It might not be as physically taxing as being a starting pitcher, sure. But, I have no idea how their heads don’t implode with the pressure and the responsibility, to save a game, and not throw it away.

Ryan Madson was awesome for the Phillies, removing the final three Rockies in just seven pitches, including six strikes. Considering the Phillies bullpen has been a bit of a question-mark, I wasn’t expecting such a dominant display.

His efforts were in vain, however, as his counterpart, Huston Street managed to stop the Phillies scoring, and gave the Rockies the win. So, after two games in Philadelphia, and heading to Colorado, it is one game apiece.

That just goes to show the importance of the second game in a five-game series. The Rockies are now in a strong position – they could win the series in the next two games, both at home. The Phillies have missed the chance to go 2-0 up and wrap the series quickly. It is, as they say, all to play for.

Dramatic Dodgers defeat Cardinals at the death

Corny alliteration ahoy! I saw the condensed game of this, this morning. As tense as the previous game had been to watch live, I wish I’d caught live the ninth inning of this one instead. Although that would have meant me being up at stupid o’clock on a school night.

The Cardinals were 2-1 up, and only needed to get one more Dodger out to win the game. James Loney popped the ball up, and Matt Holliday went to catch it for the Cardinals. Game over. Or not. In the glare of the lights he lost the ball and it fell to the floor. The Dodgers had cheated death. They then went on to score two runs to win 3-2 and go 2-0 up in the series. In that one moment, had the Cardinals thrown away their play-off hopes?

I feel very, very sorry for Matt Holliday. He’s been an asset for the Cardinals all season. He’d scored a home run earlier in the game. He could have been the hero. It’s funny how one single moment can end up defining not just a game, but a whole season, a whole career. I wonder if that will be the case for him?

Angels keep the Red Sox quiet

This morning’s listening has been the first game in the Angels/Red Sox series. I do enjoy listening rather than watching the baseball from time to time. It certainly offers a very different perspective. And some great commercials. I want a shredded beef taco. And it certainly made this morning go a whole lot quicker.

The Angels sounded pretty strong. They continually put runners on base, and eventually made that count. Stopping the Red Sox from getting on the board was pretty impressive too.

OK. Braindump over. Any play-off thoughts? What can we expect next?

MLB play-offs braindump #1

It’s probably high time for a disclaimer. I don’t profess to be a baseball expert. Thinking about it, I don’t profess to be an expert in anything. I’m just another voice in the crowd, yelling the first thing that comes into my head. The power of blogging, eh?

Still reading? Wow.

I’d thought about putting up some sort of play-offs predictions/preview post earlier this week. However, I figured that there were already plenty of good, and plenty of bad, posts of that nature already floating around the ether. And who needed another one?

I also think the New York Yankees are probably going to win it all. And as a New York Mets fan, I couldn’t bring myself to dedicate a whole post to that.

So, I thought I’d just assemble some random ramblings on the baseball and see where it takes us. This could be ongoing over the course of the play-offs, or could sit lonely in the archive, a #1 without a #2, let alone a #3, for company.

Finally, here’s what you’ve been waiting for – some ill-thought-out thoughts from a self-professed non-expert. And fan of hyphens, if the last sentence is anything to go by.

Throwing logic out the window, let’s start with something from before the play-offs – that amazing Twins/Tigers game from the other night. What struck me in the aftermath was the fantastic sportsmanship of the Detroit Tigers. They had just lost an epic, classic battle. There had been suspect calls that would have changed the course of the game in their favour. They’d thrown away a three game lead with four games to play. Yet, somehow, they were able to take the loss in the proper sporting way. No sour grapes here.

I was struck by Brandon Inge’s comment, “No matter what we did, it seems like it wasn’t to be. This is the best game, by far, that I’ve ever played in no matter the outcome.” If only everyone in sport could be that dignified when losing…

OK, onwards and upwards to last night, the first night of the play-offs. I was pleased to see that bog-standard normal mlb.tv has returned for international viewers catching the game online. I’m not sure where I’m going to find the time to watch all the games, so the condensed game, while very much second best, is a handy substitute when time isn’t on my side.

No real surprises in the Phillies/Rockies game. The Phillies do look vulnerable in the later innings of games, but the Rockies need to still be in the game for that to be a factor. No chance of that last night.

The Yankees looked very strong. My first thought was who can actually beat them? My second thought was perhaps the Twins made them look good, as the Twins had been on the booze after their win against the Tigers, and then on an overnight flight to New York. I doubt that is the best way to prepare for any game.

The Dodgers looked promising, beating the Cardinals without too much strain, but I very much doubt this series is finished yet. Both teams finished the season badly, but have been amongst the best over the course of the year, so a bit of a weird situation. Who will get good again first? The Dodgers, by last night’s evidence, I guess.

The other play-off starts tonight with the Angels against the Red Sox. I think this is too close to call. Oh dear. The insight has dried up before it started. More tomorrow! Maybe!

In the meantime I’m not ignoring other sports, I just think it’s worth concentrating on the fun stuff. And I’m finding the baseball a lot of fun at the moment. But I’ll try and get some other non-baseball odds and sods up soon. Maybe even more man-crushes? Wait, don’t leave me…