Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
October 19, 2004
BASEBALL: Doubling Down on Schilling
Last night's action almost defies belief, let alone explanation - what unbelievable baseball. I mean, here we have two teams playing 26 innings in 27 hours, and as soon as the Sox-Yankees game ended, it was on to the 8th inning of a 0-0 tie in Houston. Dr. Manhattan emailed this morning to compare this to the 1999 NLCS - a comparison I'd been thinking of last night myself - when the Mets fell behind 3-0, rallied to finally beat John Rocker in Game Four, won the classic rain-soaked "grand slam single" game in 15 innings the next day at Shea, and then lost Game Six - after coming back from 5-0 and 7-3 deficits - in 11 innings two days later. That series involved the home team coming back from a deficit in extra innings twice in as many games, and ended with Kenny Rogers walking in the winning run. 1986 also comes to mind - especially with the parallel of two heart-stopping serieses running at the same time - with the Mets and Astros playing a 12-inning classic at Shea followed by a 16-inning topper in Houston the next day (again due to rain).
David Ortiz has been the anti-Manny, raising his game in the postseason as much as Manny's falls off; he's in George Brett territory right now. The two teams seem to have almost given up hope of stopping Ortiz and Matsui. It's Poppy vs. Godzilla!
The Red Sox can eschew the bunt all they want - the Yankee announcers said only 12 sacrifices all year, which sounded low to me but I'm in too much of a hurry right now to check - but if that's the strategy, they really need to use better judgment trying to steal bases. The caughts by Damon and Ortiz in the late innings last night were devastating.
Assuming no rainout tonight - and the day is certainly off to a rainy start here in NY - everything will turn on Curt Schilling. The Yankee bullpen is exhausted as well, but the Yankees are at home, they can still afford to lose one, and there's no reason Jon Lieber can't at least go 6 innings. If Schilling's ankle holds up, he may be able to give the pen a serious rest; if he goes down in the first three innings again, I have trouble imagining this one being close.
As for the NLCS, I hope you saw a happy Jeff Kent last night, a rare sight indeed.
Predictions for the rest of the serieses? You think I'm crazy? Well, maybe. I'll say this: I still, in my guts, expect the Yankees to face the Cardinals.