Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
October 22, 2006
BASEBALL: Game Two, Over and Out

This game was fairly impossible for New York baseball fans - Mets and Yankees alike - to view without a hot steaming cup of bile at hand:

*Jeff Weaver yet again pitching creditably (albeit not more than that) in a postseason game.

*Kenny Rogers throwing lights-out baseball one more time, 8 innings of two-hit ball.

*The Tigers closer (Todd Jones) beaning a guy - not just any guy, but Mookie's stepson - to load the bases while protecting Rogers' lead, setting up the potential for karmic retribution for 1999.

*Yadier Bleeping Molina hitting into a game-ending double play with the bases loaded and the tying run in scoring position.

This was better baseball than Game One, but this still has the feel of a series that hasn't really gotten rolling yet. Which is fine; such serieses sometimes come to highly dramatic conclusions after the two combatants circle each other for a few games, setting up the decisive battle.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:22 PM | Baseball 2006 | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

Why Chris Duncan did not hit for Yadier Molina in that situation is anyone's guess.

Posted by: jec at October 23, 2006 12:05 AM

I liked what you wrote about this thing not really getting going yet. It has exactly that feel. The baseball's been good, but not scintillating yet, and yet it's felt as if it could have really gotten going if a couple of plays went differently. Like maybe in the top of the ninth.

As for Rogers, Francesa is completely on point on this one: he says he couldn't explain it in a hundred years, and he could add to that that no one else could, either. I can't think off-hand of another single example of a guy finally finding his true self at age 40. Before now, this guy was the spiritual descendant of Steve Trout and Ed Whitson. Even steroids couldn't explain him suddenly growing a monster-sized pair; they do the opposite. :)

Posted by: Thom at October 23, 2006 12:58 AM

Thom, I have to disagree with your comment about steroids not explaining Rogers. Of course, I know of zero proof, but Kenny Rogers posted two of his top four ERAs (with over 100 IP) at ages 40 and 41. He used to get criticized for not showing enough emotion and now he is attacking cameramen and can't control his emotions on the mound. He spent a lot of his career in Texas where he was teammates with Rafael Palmiero and Jose Conseco. Personally, I think some performance enhancing drug is the most likely explanation.

Posted by: WD at October 23, 2006 9:26 AM

That settles it, Rogers is on 'roids, Tigers forfeit game two. Cards lead 2-0.


Seriously, that fact that we are even discussing this shows how far baseball has fallen. COnsider the number of pitchers that haven't really gotten good until they were older. Jamie Moyer comes to mind and you have to admit, Rogers has gotten better as he has aged too.

Posted by: maddirishman at October 23, 2006 10:49 AM

Moyer would have hit it big a bit earlier if he had had big league opportunities earlier. Bill James was predicting a Moyer revival by 1993. Anyway, nobody has accused Moyer of adding a yard to his fastball.

Anyway, the issue isn't Rogers pitching better generally, just in October. In 1996 & 1999 he had a 9.47 ERA in the playoffs, and he has been dominant in this postseason (in between, in 2003, he threw 1.1 scoreless innings against the Yankees for the Twins).

If you look at ERA+, Rogers' career best ERAs relative to the league were at ages 33, 30, 24, 40, 37, 25 and 27. Granted, the three in his twenties were as a reliever - Rogers didn't get a rotation slot until he was 28. He's bloomed later in his career than most, but his career path isn't unusual. And in fact, his K rate has dropped off sharply the past two years.

Posted by: The Crank at October 23, 2006 11:04 AM

maddirishman -- Moyer was the first one who came to mind and I did look at his stats. Moyer's performance wasn't nearly as aberrational as Rogers. Moyer had three good years when he was 38, 39, and 40, but they weren't that much better than his seasons when he was 34, 35, and 36. Also, the numbers from when he was 34, 35, and 36 came in the hitter-friendly Kingdome, as opposed to the pitcher-friendly Safeco. Moyer also went downhill after 40.

As far as I know, no one has suggested Rogers is on steroids (other than me). All I am saying is that I am suspicious.

Posted by: WD at October 23, 2006 11:09 AM

But remember when we didn't even suspect? Aaahh, the good old days.

Posted by: maddirishman at October 23, 2006 11:57 AM

That's a good point. Imagine how big a story Ryan Howard's 58 home runs would have been in 1986.

Posted by: WD at October 23, 2006 12:39 PM

Molina didn't GIDP...there were already two outs...

Posted by: Darrell Teubner at October 23, 2006 2:52 PM

WD: I have to admit, that's not a bad point. I don't agree with it totally, but I began suspecting Sosa circa 1996 or -7 on similarly circumstantial evidence, if you will. In that case, I'd been following him since 1990, because one of my best friends in college was a Ranger fan and told me about him, and because I'd had experience in high school with a friend then who was on the wrestling team and doing steroids (that had a happy ending, fortunately). Anyway, with Sosa, like with my high school friend, it was like looking at two different people after he bulked up. Then I heard tell of the tell-tale signs in the press. In any case, yeah, in this day and age, it's simply the case that no one is going to be above suspicion.

Still and all, as of this moment, the pine tar thing is making a lot of sense. Again, it can't be proven; the images that ESPN put together may speak a thousand words, but none of them are definitive. Still and all, MLB's modus operandi regarding anything like this, particularly in the middle of the World Series, is consistently "Nothing to see here, move along, and please ignore what we're sweeping under this rug here." Instead, the umps don't inspect him, La Russa doesn't challenge it, and Steve Palermo, head of umpiring, comes out and says definitively it was dirt, when he has no way of knowing. And Bud wonders why he's always on the defensive.

Posted by: Thom at October 23, 2006 4:51 PM

/agree with Thom about the 'dirty' hand thing. That was weird.

Posted by: Dwilkers at October 23, 2006 8:09 PM
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