What better way to savor a spectacular Indian Summer than flavor it with outstanding baseball? The regular season ended in absolutely stunning fashion with four games on the final day of the season having playoff implications and those games themselves going down to the wire. The playoffs have not disappointed either with all but one series going the full five games, concluding with yesterday’s walk-off win in the 10th in Milwaukee and a pitching duel for the ages in Philadelphia.
I Think It’s Safe to Say Macey Is Not a Cardinals Fan
The story in St. Louis remains the infamous rally-squirrel. While Ryan Theriot batted in Game 3 a squirrel ran through the Busch Stadium outfield causing a delay. In Game 4, a squirrel ran across home plate as Phillies pitcher Roy Oswalt delivered a pitch to the Cards’ Skip Schumacher. The pitch was a ball, prompting both Oswalt and manager Charlie Manuel to argue with the plate umpire for a “do-over” claiming the rodent created a distraction interfering with Oswalt’s delivery. The plea failed and the Cardinals came back to win forcing a Game 5 in Philly. During the Phillies warm-ups yet another squirrel ran around the outfield before the grounds crew trapped it. St. Louisians dubbed it the “Rally-Squirrel” and it is now the cause celebre among Cardinal fans; it even has a Twitter account!
Fear the Beer
Meanwhile in Milwaukee, the Brewers stayed true to their modus operandi of the season by dominating at home and choking on the road. All three of the Brew Crew’s victories came at Miller Park with outfielder Nyjer Morgan getting the game winning hit yesterday in the tenth inning.
Morgan has been a favorite of mine since a well-publicized episode last summer. Morgan played for the Nationals last year. In a late-August, meaningless game between two hopeless teams he scored from second to break a scoreless game. The violent collision at the plate ended the Marlins catcher’s season. The hit was hard, but that’s what you get when you block the plate.
The next night, with the Marlins up 14-3 in the sixth, Morgan came to bat and got plunked for his baserunning the previous evening. Morgan took his base without so much as glaring at the pitcher. He then stole second and third before scoring on a sacrifice fly. Now, keep in mind his team was down by eleven runs when this took place. The Marlins took offense to his base-running and his next at bat he got plunked again. This time, a melee ensued.
The media (notably ESPN) exploded on Morgan saying his swiping the two bases with his team down eleven violated the “code” of baseball. Now, I get it that if your team is up by eleven you do not do that….but down? I lost a lot of respect for certain baseball people when they chastised Morgan for the play. Hell, I was hoping my old Loyola classmate who now owns the Cubs would trade for him. I thought the name of the game was to win, no? Here’s Morgan – his team going nowhere in a meaningless game – taking his “punishment” for the previous evening’s play at the plate and using it to his team’s advantage and they editorialize against him? Anyway, the guy’s been a favorite of mine ever since and I was glad when he got traded to a winner in the off-season. Oh, and here’s the delicious denouement: the Nationals came back and won that game. In no small part due to Morgan’s aggressiveness.
The NLCS is a rematch of the 1982 World Series (the Brewers were in the AL at the time). What a great series that was – seven games, former Cardinal great Ted Simmons facing his old team along with Robin Yount, Paul Molitor and Rollie Fingers facing off against Ozzie Smith, Keith Hernandez, Willie McGee and Bruce Sutter. The Cards won it in seven and Darrell Porter was the Series MVP. Honestly, this guy was the MVP of the 1982 World Series:
Here’s hoping we get as good of series this time. Predicition: Brewers in seven.
I Feel Badly For A-Rod
Just kidding. What sweet joy it was to watch the Yankees go down in the playoffs – at home, no less. Please pardon this aside, but I’m about to put out there what will likely go down as the least controversial statement in EMP history: I’m probably the furthest to the right of any of our contributors. That statement is relevant to this discussion because what I’m about to say does not sound like it comes from someone right-leaning: Hey, Yankees – enough with the “God Bless America” during the Seventh Inning Stretch! Never forgetting does not mean bludgeoning us with 9/11 reminders every time you play baseball. And why does every network feel compelled to broadcast it? ESPN, TBS, FOX – they all show it! Remember when every elected official told nervous Americans to “get back to their daily routine” after the attacks? It’s been ten years. It’s time to start singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” again.
As for the baseball, the Yankees Curtis Granderson (a former Tiger) had a great series highlighted by spectacular defense. He’s the only Yankee I truly enjoy. Justin Verlander pitched a masterful Game 3 to lead his team past the Bombers and if you have not been watching him up to now enjoy him against the Rangers. Because I like Detroit’s uniforms – the olde-English “D” is a classic – I’ll be rooting for them in the next round.
Don’t Mess With Texas
I hate the phrase noted above. What does that mean, really? And who or what would mess with them? Well, George W. Bush’s old team is back in the ALCS for the second year in a row and they look pretty tough to beat. They dismantled the Rays in four games even though Tampa came in on the heels of a scortching September. Remember when they were the Tampa Bay Devil Rays? Well, I do. And earlier this year I learned they dropped “Devil” in deference to protests by local Evangelicals. It’s time to return Florda to Spain. Now.
This Rays-Rangers series was kind of boring. I don’t have much to say about it other than I’m glad its over. And while I love Tampa’s team, that stadium has to go. You know what? That team just needs to move. They have no fan base and didn’t even sell out its home playoff games! What a travesty. I repeat: it’s time to return Florda to Spain. Now.
The Rangers simply out-slugged everyone in the American League this year and I expect more of the same against the Tigers. Unless Detroit figures out a way to pitch Verlander every game, I suspect Jim Leyland will be smoking a lot of Marlboro Reds in the dugout. A return trip to the series likely means we’ll see W throwing out the first pitch again. Say what you will about the man, but history at least will recognize him as the “Greatest-First-Pitch-Thrower-Outer” in Presidential history. Prediction: Rangers in five.
World Series: Rangers over Brewers in seven.
Enjoy the games!