Monday, October 26, 2009

LCS In Review

- Closers are scared. Scared. Closers are supposed to be the guys who come in with electric stuff and no fear, who say 'here it is, hit it' and let the chips fall where they may. However, too many closers in the playoffs have pitched scared. They keep going away, away, away. They're nibbling. Blah blah blah. You're the closer. YOU have the lead. YOU have shut down stuff. Use it. What is Jonathan Broxton doing staying away, away, away with Matt Stairs? I know Stairs took him about 9000 feet deep last year, but Stairs is hitting under .200 this year and looks done. And Broxton is throwing 100 mph. Go after the hitters.

- There are only two closers in the playoffs this year who haven't looked scared- Mariano Rivera and Brad Lidge. Their teams are in the World Series. Rivera and Lidge are also number one and two all-time in playoff saves and playoff series' closed out. Think those numbers and the corresponding World Series matchup of their respective teams is a coincidence? I don't either.

- Catchers visting the mound between pitches in the playoffs has got to be curtailed. I understand there are some big spots and some big pitches, but if a catcher needs to run out to talk to his pitcher one more time on a 1-1 count with no on and no out, I'm going to scream.

- Umpires, among other issues, need to keep the game going. Randy Wolf isn't ready to pinch run? Mariano Rivera isn't quite ready to come in, so Joba Chamberlain throws to first 72 times and never has the intent of throwing home? No. The men in blue need to keep the game going. If you're not ready, too bad.

- TBS is brutal at broadcasting baseball games. Brutal. Who's warming up in the bullpen? Who's likely to be used off the bench in a given spot? You would never know watching TBS. The camera work was baseball poor, and the thing that really drives me nuts is how they would remain on a long view shot as a pitch was about to be delivered. Show the game, not how many goofy camera angles you have.

- Chip Caray was alright at best behind the play-by-play mic.

- I like Ron Darling, however.

- Buck Martinez. Yawn. I can take or leave him.

- Great observation by my friend Chip (clearly not Caray), who pointed out that for whatever reason, catchers seem to rise up offensively come playoff time. You've seen it this year and last with Carlos Ruiz, and you've seen it in recent years from Yorvit Torrealba, Jason Varitek and any of the catching Molinas (I don't include Pudge Roriguez in that group, because he's always been a great offensive player). But why are catchers seemingly 'playoff clutch' more than second basemen or right fielders? I've seen this in college too, where the team I worked with had a catcher play better in a conference tournament than I had ever seen him play, and during this run he caught five games in four days. Maybe it's being more in tune with the game because you're a part of every play. Maybe it's the same inner qualities that makes catchers good managers (three of the final four managers were catchers in the bigs). Who knows? I don't. But it is a trend I'd expect to continue.

- Bottom line on the NLCS-  the Phillies are just better than the Dodgers. You can analyze it six ways to Sunday, but that's it. The Phillies lineup is better, the Phillies pitch better, run better, manage better, execute better. Period.

- The Dodgers do have bright days ahead of them, however.

- Cole Hamels stinks. He was as responsible as anyone for the Phils winning in '08, but he's killing them now. Who wouldn't pick the Phils to beat the Yankees if they had 08 Hamels and Cliff Lee at the top of the rotation?

- The umpiring has been terrible across all playoff series. Much worse in the ALCS than the NLCS though.

- The Angels played like a last-place team intimidated by the big, bad Yankees. One thing that drives me nuts is stupid, sloppy baseball. One reason I generally like watching the Angels is that they play clean an execute well. But in the ALCS... not so much. Nine walks in an elimination game? Vlad Guerrero getting picked off first on a shallow pop up to right? Everyone throwing the ball all over the place? Ugly.

- The Yankees were once again the beneficiaries of some horrendous mistakes in the ALCS. I'm not saying they didn't deserve to win either series, because they clearly did. But I am saying they were beatable, and it's unlikely that a team like the Phillies will let them off the hook when they mess up. The Phillies may not win, but they will make you beat them, as opposed to giving away games.

- Not counting NLCS game two, that is.

- Andy Pettitte was money in another elimination game. However, getting pushed to six games means Pettitte realistically only gets one start in the World Series.

- If the ALCS went seven, C.C. Sabathia would only have been able to pitch twice in the Series. Another good reason to close it out in six.

- A-Rod and Ryan Howard. I wouldn't pitch to either of them right now.

- Epic World Series on tap. Enjoy. Preview soon.

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