October 23, 2005
BASEBALL: Game Two Notes
Mr. Lidge? Mr. Lidge? Mr. Niedenfeur on line one.
Early in the game, my 8-year-old son predicted that the game would go extra innings, the Astros would score and take the lead, and the White Sox would then rally and win. Now, mind you, this is the first year he has followed the baseball standings (as opposed to just watching individual games), and when the White Sox jumped out to a big lead early in the regular season, he kept saying they were going to win the World Series, and I kept explaining to him that no, they really aren't that good. Bear also in mind that he was insisting during the early innings of tonight's game that Scott Podsednik was the White Sox' best hitter, and asking how many home runs he had hit this year.
I may never again convince him that I am right and he is wrong.
I thought the Red Sox last year had the hammerlock on the record for most bad baseball karma reversed in one postseason, but really, what more can break the Pale Hose's way? Jermaine Dye gets hit on the barrel of the bat with two outs and very mistakenly awarded first base, and does the blown call pay off? Next batter, BAM! Konerko hits a grand slam. (You can't even get odds right now on Konerko signing an extravagantly large offseason deal with the Mets and batting .246 with 7 home runs at the 2006 All-Star Break).
You know, with the beard and all, Willy Taveras certainly looks like Frank Taveras.
You gotta give some serious credit to Jeff Bagwell for triggering the Astros' game-tying ninth inning rally by singling off Bobby Jenks. Bagwell didn't really look any less overpowered than last night, but he managed to fight a pitch into center field, and that was enough. And that game-tying slide by Chris Burke was just amazing - it was like a Lance Johnson slide. You couldn't duplicate the way Burke managed to land with his body in front of the tag and the hand that actually touched the plate behind the tag. It's one of those reminders of how elevated the quality of postseason baseball is; it's practically a different game from what you see in April.
Humorous Joe Buck quote of the night: calling Jose Vizcaino (career OBP: .318; career high in slugging: .397) a "professional hitter." Of course, then McCarver brought back ugly memories of the 2000 Subway Series . . . I was looking back in the Win Shares book one day and noticed that, in 1995, Vizcaino led the Mets in Win Shares. When Jose Vizcaino is your franchise player, you have problems. But he came up big tonight, for what it was worth for one exciting half-inning.
Too lazy to look it up, but I think Podesednik led the team in BA.
"(You can't even get odds right now on Konerko signing an extravagantly large offseason deal with the Mets and batting .246 with 7 home runs at the 2006 All-Star Break)"
Add in "and Ricky will spend 25% of his total fantasy allowance on him" and you're probably right on the money.
I was thinking the same thing about Konerko as the ball cleared the fence.
I figured about .253 with 8 HRs (including 17 GIDPs) at the break, but let's not sweat the small stuff!
You also have to figure their efforts to re-acquire Wheeler took a big hit on the same play, though.
Podsennik did lead the Sox, at 0.290.
I'm a devoted AL fan, but the home-plate umpiring is so bad that I'm beginning to think that the CWS owners have paid 'em off. Have to keep in mind that corruption is pervasive is Chicago, rivaling the [former] New Orleans. The umpires aren't paid megabucks like the players, and Jerry Reinsdorf [sp?] could easily buy a couple.
Well, as funny as it is, as an AstrosFan, I still think the call against LAA was worse...It didn't look like Wheeler had the stuff to get Dye out anyway, and it was a bang bang play, easy to miss. You'll get some of those, and lose some of those (Everett's phantom tag an example of where we got one)...I saw them tie the score, but couldn't watch the ninth...then heard obscenities downstairs from my wife so I knew it was not good...
Lidge, I think, is not locating his fastball like he was last year. All the hype about his slider, which is fantastic, and he's seemed to forgotten that it is so nasty because he was locating 97mph fastballs on the black.
I give it to the Sox on this one...actually, I give it to the All Star Game...I think home field made the difference in this one...starting two games in Houston with Clemens and Pettite on a weekend (rather than with Oswalt and Backe on a weekday) would make a lot of difference. I'm not confident the Stros can win three straight at home, but there is some home field advantage (tough to play that left field wall, and tough for right handers not to try to pull to the 315 mark all the time), so we'll see. Tough game to lose, but I had a feeling it was going to happen. Up by two in the 7th, I just wasn't confident we could pitch in 45 degree weather with the same stuff we do in normal conditions...and it showed...remember, this team struggled early on in the season...when it was colder...
I was wondering about Lidge and glad to hear from a 'Stros fan on this one. He still throws incredibly hard and his slider has bite. But unlike last year's playoffs, I don't watch and think, "How the hell is anyone supposed to hit this guy?" Last year he had one of those "exploding" fastballs that you see every once in a while -- Gooden in '84; Mariano in '96; Dibble in '90; Pedro in '99; Randy Johnson in '95. Those are not necessarily the "best" seasons for those pitchers, but still those seasons when they looked impossible to hit. Lidge is still excellent and won't be suprised to see him come back and save 3 games out of the next 5. But he looks mortal, and did even before Pujols took him deep.
Konerko? Nah, he's WAY to young for the Mets to pick up. He's only 29!
I'm thinking the big move this off season will be Billy Wagner. He's nice and old - 34 now - almost guaranteed to fall apart when the Mets sign him. (OF course, if they don't sign him, he'll have another 1.5 ERA season...) Keith Hernandez (rightly) criticized the possibility last night on "Mike'd Up".
But I'd rather get a closer than a 1st baseman anyway.
I think it's too soon to write the Astros off; they haven't lost at home yet. However, I think the White Sox will win simply because they are a better team. Neither is great of course, but I do think the Sox are a bit better.
My 11 year old wants to be an umpire, so he is really watching how they go about their business. One thing he notices: that the home plate ump stays consistent. That they are. It's really the bang bang plays where they are making some poor calls; they always seem to be just slightly out of the best position.
Sox haven't lost on the road yet this post season. Sox road record is only one game worse than the Astros home record.
Not sure if you read Simmons today, but he explicitly challenged you! A good one too: what's the history of relievers coming back in any meaningful way after giving up a (or "a" + "a"nother) demoralizing, killer home run?
One example of a guy who overcame it -- other than Eck, as he noted -- is the Goose, who came back from Brett's moonshot in the '80 LCS, as well as Gibson's series clincher in '84. In fact he was lights out in both '81 and '85 (when he gave up one homer all year).
Otherwise, from what I can think of, the odds Mr. Lidge faces are not in his favor.
Scott...you may be right...Stros may not recover...but the Sox won on fields they have played on before, and I think playing on a new infield and with an outfield funky walls and Tal's Hill, which you are not used to, can make the difference in close games...Stros have to keep it close for that to matter, of course.
As for Lidge coming back, it is probably up hill that the team will be back in 2006, so hard to imagine he can be back where he is...but I think he will need to look at his mechanics on his fastball...he's walking a lot more batters with it than he ever did before...he's nasty when he locates the fastball, making you not just sit on the slider thrown for a strike...we'll see...
That Dodgers-Cardinals box score ("Go crazy, folks! Go crazy") to which you linked, did you see Fernando Valenzuela's line? 8 4 2 2 8 7.
Using TangoTiger's pitch count estimator, Fernando threw 148 pitches. Yikes. Then again, he did throw 520 innings over the next two seasons so his arm must not have been totally slagged.