Wait until next year

Putting off what could be done tomorrow, today

Tag: world series

MLB play-offs braindump #11 – World Series!

Finally. After 2,430 regular games, one ‘play-in’ game and 24 play-off games, the 2009 major league baseball season is down to two teams to see who is the best team in baseball. Wednesday night was the start of the World Series, with the New York Yankees facing last year’s winners, the Philadelphia Phillies.

Now we’re two games in, and the seven game series is tied one-apiece, and is now heading to Philadelphia after the first two games at Yankee Stadium.

The Phillies looked very strong in game one, winning 6-1. Cliff Lee pitched a dream and Chase Utley hit two home runs. It was quite the statement of intent. As much as many (including me sometimes!) would love to count out the Yankees, you just can’t. And last night proved that, with them getting a 3-1 win, and this time AJ Burnett was the pitching star of the evening.

The memorable moments of the post-season, prior to the World Series, had been mistakes, from fielding and running errors to pitching meltdowns and questionable umpiring. What has been so good about the World Series, so far, is that the games have been all about great performances, not players (or umpires) having a nightmare. In particular, every starting pitcher has put on a great show.

For any major sporting final this is ideal, this is how it should be. Probably the two best teams in the sport, finding out who is really the best, not the least worst. If that makes sense? Long may the series continue!

MLB play-offs braindump #9 – Phillies reach the World Series

Last night the Philadelphia Phillies reached baseball’s World Series for the second year in a row, and are on course to retain their title.

The Phillies beat the Dodgers 10-4 on the night, and 4-1 in the series, to become National League champions, and will now face one of the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, still going at it in the American League series.

As the score betrays, this was a night for the hitters, not the pitchers. The highlights made it look more like a home run derby than a play-off game. There were sixteen hits in all, including seven home runs. Padilla for the Dodgers saw his post-season form grind to a halt, giving up six runs in three innings. His counterpart, Cole Hamels, wasn’t a whole lot better, giving up three runs, before being pulled from the game in the fourth.

The Dodgers had their chance to mount a memorable late comeback, but failed to make the most of loading the bases late on. And so the Phillies go through, and in all probability to face the Yankees.

Neither side is the most likable, so in the meantime I’ll be rooting for the Angels to turn around their series against the Yankees. As that looks like a losing battle, I’ll perhaps take this advice from Fear and Faith in Flushing, and reluctantly support the Phillies…

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.

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!

Rockies make play-offs, post-season takes shape

After Texas were eliminated from the play-off race this week, I feared that me choosing ‘surrogate’ teams for the post-season had produced some sort of unintentional curse. I’m happy to report that my jinxing skills have diminished, however, with the Colorado Rockies securing a spot in the play-offs last night.

I caught the game, and the Rockies looked very impressive casting aside the Milwaukee Brewers by 9-2. Aaron Cook pitched eight strong innings, in response to the Brewers starter Manny Parra, who had a tough day at the office, lasting only 2 2/3 innings (that seemed to go on forever and ever), giving up five runs.

The Rockies now face a three-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers to finish off their (normal) season, and can potentially overtake them to win the National League West. This is some turnaround by the Rockies and manager Jim Tracy. The Rockies looked dead and buried in May when he took over, but have since won 73, and lost 40 – a real contrast to their pre-Tracy record of 18-28.

The Rockies have been building up momentum for some time now, and while outsiders for a berth in the World Series, it would be hard to discount them, if they can sustain this rich vein of form and keep injury-free.

With three days of the regular season left, the play-offs are starting to take shape. Even without my beloved Mets involved I’m getting pretty excited. Picking a ‘surrogate’ team probably doesn’t hurt, but even discounting that, we’re going to see some pretty special teams and players going at it this month.

Are you looking forward to the post-season? Any thoughts on what to look out for? Dare I say it, any predictions?