Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Around the League Championship Series

- If I learned anything hanging around University of Delaware baseball coach Jim Sherman for several years, it's this... value outs. Don't give them away offensively. Always take them when the offense gives you a chance for one. The reason I bring this up is not to pontificate about an earlier stage in my life, but rather because the teams in this year's playoffs are not treating outs with that respect, and they are often paying dearly for it. How many baserunners have you seen thrown out this playoff season for being just a little too careless on the bases (Bobby Abreu?) How many plays in the field have happened where a defender tried to be a hero instead of just getting an out (Maicer Izturis?). Don't give away outs on offense. Don't give extra outs on defense. If you do this, you have a good chance to win.

- Outs are the only thing that can stop a rally. There's no clock. Get outs. This drives me nuts when it's not executed by paid professionals, if you can't tell.

- The adage that in the playoffs more games are lost than are won is certainly coming true. The NLCS could be over by now, taking that view. The Phillies basically gave the Dodgers five outs in the deciding bottom of the eighth inning.

- People always want to complain about umpiring when there's a bad call, but this year's playoff umpiring has been ridiculous. Game four between the Yankees and Angels had so many clear calls that were missed it was unreal. What's going on here? What's the problem? I don't know what those answers are, but it has to stop.

- There is no accountability for umpires. None. Tom White, a longtime NFL referee, made an egregious error a couple years back, and got docked a game check. That doesn't happen to umpires. But it needs to.

- If there were accountability, about 15 umpires would have some serious cash flow limitations right now.

- Fascinating point made by Tom Verducci in the Wednesday edition of his Five Cuts column... it's so good, I haven't linked to it, I've copy/pasted it...
"Red Sox president Larry Lucchino has a term for playing in the intense conditions of the Northeast: East Coast Baseball. He is on to something. In Philadelphia, Boston and New York, almost every home game carries an intensity (from fans and media) that is a close facsimile to playoff baseball. And when you do get to October, the frequently cold, wet, blustery weather provides something else to battle, too.

I started thinking about East Coast Baseball as I watched the Dodgers and Angels go 0-4 in Philadelphia and New York in the LCS, all the while looking like they were not up to the challenges of the crowd and the weather. And then I thought, is there something to West Coast teams not measuring up to East Coast Baseball in October?

So I looked at all the West Coast teams -- the Dodgers, Angels, Athletics, Padres, Giants, Mariners and, because they fit the criteria except for a nearby beach, the Diamondbacks -- who have played East Coast Baseball in the postseason in the wild-card era, since 1995. In addition to New York and Philadelphia, other cities that fit the definition of East Coast Baseball at the time they hosted West Coast teams in the playoffs were Boston, Detroit and Baltimore.

It turns out there have been 22 playoff matchups when a West Coast team ventured into East Coast Baseball. The result: the West Coast teams are 10-36 in East Coast Baseball venues, a .217 winning percentage. In other words, get them out of their laid-back, warm environment and into the nasty conditions in the East, and they're not even the 1962 Mets.

And it is not getting any easier. Since 2003 the West Coast teams are 3-17 in East Coast Baseball playoff environments. That's the kind of history the Dodgers are up against tonight when they play NLCS Game 5 in Philadelphia. Bundle up, Dodgers."
Wow. What a great observation, but no surprise from Verducci.

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