Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
October 27, 2006
BASEBALL: World Series Game Five

I dare you to find anyone before this - or any - series who said that the series would turn on the fielding of the pitchers. Next thing you know, the Tigers will be lobbying the American League to institute the Designated Fielder. Eight unearned runs the Tigers have now allowed, almost all due to their pitchers. Appalling.

Where else but the Midwest would you see a banner reading "Please win"?

For the record, I actually agree with McCarver calling for the Cards to take Duncan out for a fielding replacement in the middle innings.

UPDATES: Yes, I just posted that moments before his error in the sixth. Duncan is a born DH.

Weaver makes a great play in the field - talk about rubbing salt in the wounds of Tigers fans.

Eckstein brings his own Rally Monkey everywhere he goes, doesn't he?

McCarver wants the Cards to start bunting to pressure the Tiger pitchers, as if they are Jim Abbott or something. Then again, Jim Abbott was never this bad a fielder.

You would never know Fernando Rodney was Dominican to look at him; the guy looks very American.

Rolen gets the 2-out RBI. You have to tip your cap to Rolen for a gutsy performance even though he is plainly not close to 100% at the moment. 4-2 Cards in the 7th.

I keep seeing this ad from the US Postal Service with a water cooler talking to boxes of sneakers. The voice of the water cooler has to be William Sanderson, Larry of Larry, Daryl and Daryl from Newhart.

Tigers down to their last 3 outs. This is sad, and very bad for baseball.

Wainwright's in. I'm getting ugly flashbacks.

Frankly, little as I feel the Cardinals deserve this, their fans do. I would have been rooting for them in 2004 if it hadn't been the Red Sox.

Casey doubles after a long at bat to bring up the tying run with one out. Jose Reyes would have had a home run on that ball, which bounces past Taguchi in right and jangles around center.

Rodriguez grounds out to Wainwright, who does not make an error. Two outs.

1-2 to the hitless Polanco. Polanco takes a knee-buckling curve, but this time it's a ball.

Polanco walks, it's up to Inge with the tying runs on.

That's it. Inge strikes out. Cards win their 10th World Series.

I'm still really in shock as to all of this. Congratulations to all the Cards fans.

How long 'till pitchers and catchers?

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:00 PM | Baseball 2006 | Comments (29) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

So... it's more "sad" for baseball to have the Cardinals win it instead of a New York team buy their way? It's more "sad" than 2004 because the Red Sox bought their way?

Jeez.

The Mets had some bad luck. It happens. The Indians lost in 1995 because the Braves got the wide strike zone. They lost in 1997 because the Marlins bought their way. The Sabres lost last season because of bad luck injuries.

Quit your bitching. I mean, at least your team won a championship - or two. In your lifetime. My God.

What a "sad" day for baseball that this happened. Yeah, right.

Posted by: Dave at October 27, 2006 11:59 PM

You would not have heard a peep if the Tigers won it all, or the Twins.

I'll get into this more later, but basically a World Champion should be arguably the best team, or a team that rides one epic performance, or an exciting come-from-nowhere miracle team. Almost all the champions of the past except the 1959 Dodgers were one of those. (Even the 2000 Hated Yankees, who were a weak and declining team, at least had the cache of aging champs squeezing out one more). These guys are none of that; they aren't David because they have been stomping all over their division for three years, and they and are one of baseball's most storied and successful franchises, and they aren't Goliath because they won 83 games, collapsed down the stretch run and had a ton of weaknesses. I just don't think it's good for the game to have a team that is neither the best nor a particularly good or uplifting story win it all.

Posted by: Crank at October 28, 2006 12:08 AM

I agree. I think baseball should do things the way college football does it, where sportswriters will TELL us who the champion is, and we don't have any sort of messy "win it on the field of play" approach, where there's a chance a clearly inferior team will not know their place.

I know I haven't been a reader very long, but come on, Crank. Don't make me go all BCS on you.

Posted by: Linus at October 28, 2006 12:21 AM

Crank, I agree with you that the Cardinals didn't deserve to be there, but they didn't ask to be put in that position either. As you know, it is the way the game is now structured. Prior to 1968 the best team was gauranteed to go to The Series. They played the same schedule as everyone else in the league. It was FAIR. Now the strength of schedule can very greatly between even teams in the same division. The divisional playoffs and league playoffs are just a crapshoot. Bad for The Game? I agree. But it is very good for business. BTW, I can't recall you ever lamenting the fact that the ' 73 Mets made it to The Series with a worse record.

Posted by: feeblemind at October 28, 2006 12:23 AM

C'mon, I'm not doing the Whitey Herzog thing here and writing a book about how they need to change the rules because of how my team lost. I just think it's not good for the game that the Cards won.

Posted by: Crank at October 28, 2006 12:26 AM

Not to dump on the Cards too much, but this has to be the worst Championship team ever right?

Posted by: Ted at October 28, 2006 12:27 AM

Bob, the 73 team was before my time, but see at least they fit the miracle team profile: great late season run from behind. And they fit another part: they had incredible starting pitching. Much like the 88 Dodgers.

Posted by: Crank at October 28, 2006 12:27 AM

Maybe it's too late in the day, but I'd like you to elaborate on WHY it's bad for the game that more teams have a realistic chance of a championship.

Posted by: Linus at October 28, 2006 12:27 AM

Yeah, it is late. I'll be back on this theme in more detail in the next few days.

Posted by: Crank at October 28, 2006 12:30 AM

As a Cardinals fan I haven't come to gloat. The winner of the NLCS was playing for first place. After a GREAT series with the Mets the Tigers were a breeze. They had no offense and their pitching was solid but way overrated. The Cardinals 83 win season was very deceptive. Take out the injured Mulder and Izzy and the brain dead Marquis and the playoff team was unrecognizable compared to the regular season. Pujols is the best player on the planet, Carpenter is the #1 pitcher in the game (despite his struggles in Shea) and Edmonds and Rolen are at least borderline Hall of Famers so it shouldn't be a shock that they won. Anyway, after this we can finally stop hearing about how great the AL is because they only avoided a sweep because Kenny Rogers was greviously molesting the ball.

Posted by: andrew at October 28, 2006 12:43 AM

'Tis bad because a team that had nothing going for it won The Series. No streak at the end of the season, no big lead before the season ended, no momentum going into the playoffs....and yet they won it without a good fight. I can't think of a worse team winning the World Series.

Posted by: Dave at October 28, 2006 12:53 AM

"I can't think of a worse team winning the World Series."

Carpenter, Pujols, Edmonds, Rolen? And now of course Wainright. When they are healthy and motivated? Forget about it. And don't think I'm satisfied with one. After the brutal post seasons I've had to endure- Ankiel's throwing/mental problems in 2000, being stopped by Schilling twice in 2001, Darryl Kile dying, Rolen missing the 2002 AND 2005 NLCS, Carpenter missing the entire 2004 playoffs, watching 2005 Astros hit 300 foot homeruns into the retarded Crawford boxes. Next year we will have a rotation of Carpenter, Reyes Suppan/ or Weaver and Wainright there's no reason we shouldn't have a good shot at repeating.

Posted by: andrew at October 28, 2006 1:48 AM

I understand why you say the Cards' winning is bad for the game, but having David Eckstein win MVP is arguably good for the game. Selig for once got something right when he said that Eck "plays the game as it is supposed to be played". As an Angels fan, I am gratified that Eck is getting such recognition, and his first new car.

Posted by: Rob at October 28, 2006 3:12 AM

It was sloppy.

Congrats to Cards fans, you won, that's the test, you're the best team in baseball today.

My impression (NB: I am not a baseball scientist like Crank, just a fan) of the entire post season is the teams all played sloppy ball - the Cards just less so. It seems as if I never saw so many wild pitches, wild throws to every base, dropped balls, etcetera. It didn't look like championship ball to me.

Posted by: Dwilkers at October 28, 2006 7:18 AM

Andrew-

Carp's a helluva pitcher, no doubt. But the "best" in the game? C'mon. You've gotta admit neither he nor anyone else is in Santana's league.

Linus-

Maybe it's too late in the day, but I'd like you to elaborate on WHY it's bad for the game that more teams have a realistic chance of a championship.

I can't speak for Crank, nor can I present this as anything more than my opinion, but here goes:

To me, one of the wonderful things about baseball is the 162 game season (or 154 in the day). In a game where one player -- usually the starting pitcher -- can so unduly influence the outcome, it's the marathon quality of the long season that determines greatness. A great team needs not one, but 3 or 4 dominant pitchers.

Unlike hockey where one amazing player (a goalie) can get you where you need to go.

A great team needs a solid lineup, not just one star player.

Unlike basketball, where the team with the best player nearly always has the best record and wins the championship.

So, as baseball has gone from a winner-take-all/the best in the league goes straight to the series approach, to today's "October Madness" fall tournement, it inevitably waters-down the value and importance of winning that marathon.

The 2001 Mariners won 116 games, but didn't even represent their league in the series. Baseball history's replete with the team with the best record not winning the series (1906 Cubs, 1931 As, 1953 Dodgers, 1954 Indians, 1969 Orioles, 1973 Reds, 1987 Tigers, and more), but with the exception of '87, the team that did win usually had quite a good record, because it won the league over 154 games. For instance, the '06 White Sox, '31 Cards, '53 Yanks, '54 Giants are all remembered as being excellent teams, with good reason.

But now, the value of the 162 game season is necessarily diminished because the ability to get hot for three weeks and win the sprint to 11 victories is the determining factor.

So, to me, this is bad for baseball because it's turning it into hockey and the NBA where the regular season doesn't matter much beyond qualifying for the tournement, then overemphasizing that tourney.

Posted by: Mike at October 28, 2006 8:55 AM

The one Cards fan had a good point about this not being necessarily the same team as it was in the regular season. I don't want to jump too much into the "do they deserve it?" breach, because the fact is they did win. But this isn't exactly a team for the ages. Congrats, nonetheless, to Cards fans.

I am slightly happy, as was mentioned under a different post, that the NL did win the Series. That should shut up some the "it's a AAAA league" people.

There is one really negative thing about all this. Thanks largely on the strength of one game, the glorification of the most overrated player in the sport will continue apace. The Eck with it. I don't care how fast he runs to first of a frikkin walk, he is a mediocre player who had one good game. That is all.

Posted by: paul zummo at October 28, 2006 9:27 AM

Sorry, but I think this IS a case of David. No one picked them, it was (as usual) either the Mets or the Yankees.

They lost their dominant closer for the last month & had to rely on a rookie, their third baseman is right out of the M*A*S*H unit, they have a rookie in RF, a retread who was waived a few months ago in LF (P.Wilson) , a retread who was waived as a SP (Weaver), their #2 starter went down for the season, their catcher couldn't hit .220 and their CF has been a walking injury for the last five years....yet they won it all.

Their "defining" moment was when they beat everyone they played in the playoffs despite losing Mulder and Izzy and playing with guys the Astros & Angels didn't want participating in key roles. That is a great story.

And it's great for baseball, IMO.

Posted by: RW at October 28, 2006 10:16 AM

Lots of good comments (mixed in with some confusing ones). To those who say it is bad for baseball that the World Series was won by a team that wasn't dominant I'd respond that baseball has survived many times in the past where the weaker team won (1954 and 1990 are two of the best examples). To quote Berman: "That is why we play the games." This was clearly the worst WS as far as the quality of play. Maybe an outfield mishap or two can be attributed to the sloppy wet field conditions, but the pitchers have no excuse. I wouldn't want to be the first Tiger pitcher to complain about extra fielding practice in March.

Lastly, Eckstein's success gives hope to every 10 year old kid who is a great player but sees his parents are short and realizes he isn't going to be a prototypical 6' 3" player when he grows up.

Posted by: LargeBill at October 28, 2006 10:43 AM

Although I was hoping that the Cards would win once they made the series, I have to agree that they're just not that good of a World Series Champion.

David Eckstein seems like a wonderful guy and someone who truly loves the game, but come on. This over-glorification of him needs to stop. Let's look at the fact that he had a line of .185/.290/.259 (with only one extra base hit!) up to Game 4 of the Series - and, yes, I hate small sample sizes, too.

Of course, the .292/.350/.344 over the course of the season still doesn't look too good.

This isn't saying he didn't necessarily deserve the MVP, as the last two games were great (6-9, 3 2b, 4 rbi). Since those games started, though, I've been reading article after article about how he's the first guy on either team that would be on a "winning team" and that he's actually "heroic."

I personally hate guys who play the game just for the money and never put effort and heart into it. Yes, it does seem like David Eckstein We should definitely praise guys like that and make sure we teach children accordingly, but we should not confuse things like that with greatness.

Posted by: Will at October 28, 2006 11:04 AM

I ahve spoken several times that I do not believe the Cards were the best team this year. That being said, they did win and therefore are the champs. The best team often does not win the World Series and like was pointed out earlier, often does not even make it to the series. Look at all those Braves teams through the years. 13 straight division titles, several times obviously the best team in the NL and they won the series once? It is good for baseball that the best team doesn't win the series. It gives ever team and their fans hope that next year they will be good enough to squeak into the playoffs and ahve a chance to get to the World Series. That is why we still play in KC and hold out hope that our young players will bring it all together and we to can return to the fall classic.

Posted by: maddirishman at October 28, 2006 11:16 AM

Maybe some of the AL believers will step off their high horse now that an 83 win NL team, that was extended to a 7th game in the NLCS, has routed the Tigers. The Tigers, we were told, played in the toughest division of the "real" league. The Tigers walked thru the Yanks, walked over the A's. And they were barely competitive with the NL's champion. Perhaps some sportswriters will eat humble pie as well. The NLCS was to be an all west coast affair according to several ESPN talking heads. Pitching wins in the post season, and the stumbling Cards and injured Mets just could not keep up.

Posted by: abe at October 28, 2006 11:40 AM

How long 'till pitchers and catchers?

Too damn long.

The worst time of year for me is after New Years, when football is over (except SB) and there's no baseball. I just can't get into basketball. So I get greyed out for about 4 months. :-/

Posted by: Dwilkers at October 28, 2006 1:31 PM

For once the New York Times headline writers have it right. St. Louis wins the World Series, and the Times splashes it on their home page with the priceless heading:

Baseball Season Ends

Posted by: Henry at October 28, 2006 4:15 PM

Maybe we're all just operating from different definitions. To say "the best team", I thought that's why we had a World Series. If we're going to award championships after the regular season, let's do that. If we're going to award them after a postseason, let's quit bellyaching that "the best team" didn't win. After the last few years of what is the college football FUBAR championship, I'm so tired of hearing about this mythical "best team", based on what ifs and if onlys. I'm not disputing that other teams won more games during the regular season than the Cards. But "the best team"? Pffft. It's stupid. I thought I'd get a rest from this kind of after-the-fact hypothesizing once I left college football.

Posted by: Linus at October 28, 2006 4:29 PM

They lost their dominant closer

Stretching the definitions of dominant, are we? Unless 9 blown saves in five months is the new definition of dominant.

Let's also cut the downtrodden team dealing with injury crap. Lots of teams had to deal with injuries. The Mets pitching staff was like a hospital ward, what, with 13 different starting pitchers this year.

The Cards had a great post-season, no doubt, and for that they deserve their championship. But slow down on the re-writing of what this team was.

Posted by: paul zummo at October 28, 2006 4:47 PM

Paul,
The Mets lost Pedro. The Cards lost Mulder. (pedro is better, but point made).
The Cards lost Izzy. The Mets kept Wagner.
The Cards had to pick up P. Wilson. The Mets kept Floyd.
The cards had to pick up Weaver. The Mets kept El Ducque.


BTW, w/apologies to Crank, the Cards faced the Mets. They disposed of them in short order, with what even the host proposes to be a less than dominant team.

Please do not compare the Mets to the Cards. I know the Mets had pitching difficulties, but it's nice to go out and sign folks like Beltran and Delgado, isn't it? Who'd the Cards sign? Oh, yeah, Eckstein.

Posted by: RW at October 29, 2006 5:39 PM

So a series decided in the 9th inning of the 7th game is short order, thanks for that wisdom. When the Cards signed Wilson, the Mets picked up Green. That's the comparable player, not Floyd. Who was, incidentally, physically unable to contribute in the NLCS.

Posted by: abe at October 29, 2006 5:49 PM

abe,
I thought Green was in RF? I noted Floyd because of the position (LF) that Preston Wilson played, meaning that the Mets preferred to have Floyd in left instead of Preston Wilson. But, yes, the Mets went out and got a healthy rightfielder before the trade deadline so they wouldn't have a rookie at that position while the Cards picked up someone off of waivers to play left and stayed with a rookie to play in right.

I should've included that in my earlier post, as it actually buttresses my point.

That's also one reason why baseball is so great, as "on paper" it wasn't a fair matchup and the Mets were the much better team. Not. Close.

Posted by: RW at October 30, 2006 11:21 AM

RW, Mets got Green after the trade deadline, but prior to the playoff deadline. Meaning Green had to pass thru waivers. Meaning the Cards could have claimed him if they wanted him. The Mets gave up nothing, and the Diamondbacks ate salary. In other words Green and Wilson were both castoffs, and Wilson is the better player at this point in time. That said, I agree with your conclusion. That is one reason it's a great game.

Posted by: abe at October 30, 2006 9:39 PM
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