Wait until next year

Putting off what could be done tomorrow, today

Tag: St Louis Cardinals

MLB play-offs braindump #4 – quick and dirty edition

The Dodgers beat the Cardinals 5-1 to sweep the series by three games to nothing. The Cardinals haven’t really had a look-in at all this post-season. I expected a closer series and the Cardinals to put up a bit more of a fight. That goes to show how hopeless I am at predicting anything. It also shows that having the best player in baseball, Albert Pujols, isn’t enough to take you to a World Series.

The Dodgers now go to the National League Championship, to face the winner of the Rockies/Phillies series. The third game in that series got snowed (snow!) out last night, so they’ll have had two days rest before resuming this evening.

The Dodgers are going to have had significantly more rest than whoever they face in the Championship series. An advantage? Potentially, but history shows it doesn’t always work out that way. Momentum can be pretty important too.Wild guess? I think the Dodgers should shade it against either the Rockies or Phillies. And if that prediction doesn’t jinx them, nothing will.

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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?

The end of a season

Last Sunday was the end of the line for the majority of major league baseball teams, as the regular season wound to its conclusion.

Seven sides have now made the play-offs: New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, St Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado Rockies. Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers, drawn level after a 162 game season, will have a one-off game for the final play-off spot tonight. All those games, and it comes down to one single evening. No pressure there, then.

For the other 21 teams, the season is over. Time to clear out the locker and have a well-earned rest.

The play-offs are an interesting sporting format, for an Englishman like me who didn’t grow up with them, in the sense that the end of the season is essentially staggered. There’s no final day blow-out, like in other sports. Instead, after the initial cull of play-off qualification, each team will face their very own individual end to the season. While the play-offs are a huge reward after such a long season, they also, for all but one team, provide a very public, high-profile and (perhaps) demoralising defeat to finish the year.

But for those other 21, the end has come already, and much more gently. For them, the season has ended with the proverbial whimper, rather than the bang.

This, I feel, suits the game of baseball. The game, at its heart, is a leisurely, even-paced one. Even the most frantic game takes over two hours. There is an ebb and flow, not just across the course of a game, but across the course of a season. It makes sense that the season ends this way for most teams.

With so many games to play, and a game nearly every day, baseball does not suffer from the hype overload other sports do. Many a NFL game, or English Premier League game can be (and will be) touted as ‘must-win’, even if that is not strictly the case. Baseball, however, saves such talk for when it is truly necessary, as for most of the year there is enough time and enough games ahead to catch up, to recover from a loss.

Baseball can be enjoyed in the moment. For much of the season, it doesn’t rely as much on the context of league standings as other sports do. And that is one of its main charms, for me. I can watch the game for what it is, rather than worry about what the result might mean. Mid-season, one game won’t ruin everything.

I think baseball also feels so languid as it is a summer sport. It’s the sort of game that can be played day-in, day-out, without killing the playing staff. It suits a summers day when the spectator wants his entertainment to wash over him, not smack him in the face (figuratively, not literally, of course!).

Being a summer game, it also lends itself to a certain wistfulness at the season’s conclusion. Not only is the season over. So too is the summer.

The autumn play-offs, however, are a different beast. After 162 games, this truly is high-stakes stuff. Will a whole season’s effort be for nothing? Or will there be a shot at making history? This is sport at its most unpredictable. No team in the play-offs can be ruled out. No one team is a lock-in.

So, there is still some excitement to come (and some). But here’s to the regular season. Where the game means more than the result. Where a team can hope and dream. And where there is always another game tomorrow, no matter how badly today went.