Chad Billingsley and Brett Myers are set to square off in an afternoon affair. I’m not quite sure why the Phillies and Dodgers should draw the day game. After all, it’s 1:35 on a Friday in Los Angeles, and therefore, no Dodgers fans can really watch this game. Meanwhile, you have the biggest West Coast market and second-largest media market in the nation playing a team from the East Coast’s second most populous city. This should really be the night game. For this one, you’ve got your usual storylines. Manny Ramirez is hitting .500 in the playoffs while the rest of the Dodgers are hitting .213. The Phillies have scored most of their runs via the long ball. Can these trends continue? All this and more at 4:37 p.m. · (30) ·
Q: How do you win a political race in Massachusetts?
A: Accuse your opponent of being a Yankees fan.
No, I don’t intend this to inspire political debate at a baseball blog. I just thought it was an interesting article on a slow, slow Friday (until 4:30, that is). It appears that in the Massachusetts Senatorial race, incumbent John Kerry — remember him? — has accused his opponent, Jeff Beatty, of rooting for the Yankees. It stems from an issue in Beatty’s past, where he was photographed wearing a Yankees hat while in Grenada. He was injured while rescuing U.S. hostages, and the hat was supposedly put on his head to keep bandages in place. Whatever the story, it’s kind of funny/sad to see a political race in MA come down to the Yankees. · (39) ·
I’m really torn about Joe Torre’s Dodgers this year. On the one hand, I feel bad for Torre. The Steinbrenners didn’t handle his exit very well last year, and this playoff berth is a bid middle finger to the October-less Yankees. On the other, Torre didn’t impress me in his post-dismissal press conference, and I thought that the Yanks should have moved on after the failures of 2004 when Torre’s managerial flaws were laid out for all to see.
Yesterday, before the Dodgers lost to Cole Hamels, Chase Utley and the Phillies 3-2, Harvey Aarton chatted with the Dodgers’ skipper who feels satisfied with his team’s playoff appearance. Torre was careful to avoid the word vindicated no matter how often Aarton pressed him on it.
Larry Bowa, meanwhile, was the attack dog to Torre’s green tea persona. “I know Joe is never going to admit it, but I think it means a lot to him to be at this stage right now,” said Larry Bowa. “You keep reading that, well, he should have gone to the playoffs because of your payroll in New York. But they had the same payroll this year and they didn’t get in.”
I get where Bowa is coming from. I get where Torre is coming from. And I certainly get why the tabloids are proclaiming the playoffs Yankee fans’ worst nightmare. But it’s a false storyline. Through July 31, the Dodgers were a .500 team, hanging two back behind an underperforming Diamondbacks club. After Manny Ramirez arrived, the team went 30-24 and earned a playoff berth with a record five games worse than the Yankees’.
Maybe it was the presence of Joe Torre in LA. But the 84 wins are his team’s lowest full-season total since he skippered the 1992 Cardinals to an 83-win, third-place finish. I think, on the other hand, that Manny probably played a bigger role in the end that Torre did.
Now don’t get me wrong; I loved Joe Torre while he was in the Bronx. I wish him well during the playoffs, and I don’t begrudge him his playoff spot. I certainly don’t have nightmares about him. I do think it was time for him to leave New York. All good things must end, and Joe Torre’s tenure in the Bronx was no exception.
AzFL Peoria (6-4 win over Pheonix)
Austin Jackson: 0 for 4 - grounded into your garden variety 1-6-5-3-4-3 double play
Juan Miranda: 4 for 4, 2 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 RBI – he destroys this league
Kevin Russo: 0 for 1, 1 K – pinch hit late for the Reds’ Justin Turner
HWB Waikiki (4-0 loss to Waikiki in 7 innings) I give up, no friggin’ idea why they’re only playing 7 innings
Damon Sublett: 0 for 3, 1 K – first hitless game since coming to the islands
Andrew Brackman: 3.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 2 WP, 3-3 GB/FB - only 38 of 77 pitches were strikes (49.4%) … in his chat today, Keith Law offered this up: “Brackman is pitching in Hawaii now, also with his old velocity and a good breaking ball, but with the usual command issues for a guy that recently off surgery” … so don’t freak out about the walks, it’s normal for a guy this far out from TJ
Frankie Cervelli & Carlos Mendoza will be suiting up for Cardenales de Lara of the Venezuelan Winter League this offseason. High-A Tampa manager Luis Sojo will manage the team, and old pal Ramiro Mendoza will work out of the bullpen.
Caribbean League rosters are slowly trickling in, I’ll keep you updated where guys are playing.
Both League Championship Series this year are a lesson in player development. The Dodgers flat-out dominated the Cubs using a lineup featuring four homegrown players and a pitching staff again centered around in-house arms. The Phils are built very much in the same way, with five homegrown position players starting for them, as well as staff co-aces Cole Hamels & Brett Myers.
Don’t even get me started with the Rays and Red Sox. Stay the course, built from within. Looks where it gets you.
Just a quick roster note, the Dodgers removed ex-closer Takashi Saito from the playoff roster and replaced him with lights out lefty reliever Hong-Chih Kuo. Saito’s status was questionable because of ongoing elbow troubles, and Kuo (who had a ridiculous season) gives them a third southpaw in the pen (Kershaw & Beimel are the others) to battle Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.
First pitch is scheduled for 8:22pm; Joe Buck & Tim McCarver have the call on FOX. Talk it up here.
1. Rafael Furcal, SS
2. Andre Ethier, RF
3. Manny Ramirez, LF
4. Russ Martin, C
5. James Loney, 1B
6. Matt Kemp, CF
7. Casey Blake, 3B
8. Blake DeWitt, 2B
9. Derek Lowe, P (14-11, 3.24)
1. Jimmy Rollins, SS
2. Shane Victorino, CF
3. Chase Utley, 2B
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Pat Burrell, LF
6. Jayson Werth, RF
7. Pedro Feliz, 3B
8. Carlos Ruiz, C
9. Cole Hamels, P (14-10, 3.09)
We’re gearing up for Game 1 of the NLCS this evening, and a game thread is forthcoming. However, in the interim hours, I’d like to discuss an issue I’ve come across a few times today. A number of my friends said they’d like to see the Sox beat the Rays, but get beat by the Sox- and Yanks-alum-filled Dodgers in the World Series. I expressed that I’d rather see the upstart Rays take care of business now, rather than banking on an NL team to beat a powerhouse AL team.
So what’s more important to everyone? That the Sox lose in general, or that they lose to the Dodgers in the World Series? · (63) ·
It’s all about the numbers for baseball and TV, and this year, the numbers aren’t looking so hot. TBS’s Division Series rounds saw a ratings drop of 20 percent over 2007. While it’s easy to think that the lack of New York teams is to blame, both Los Angeles and Chicago, two of the biggest media markets in the country, had two teams in the first round. Mostly, politics — the Biden/Palin debate was on during two games — and lackluster games are to blame.
On the Yankee front, Richard Sandomir reports that Yankee ratings were down 10 percent this year. While fans went to the stadium for its final year, the folks at home weren’t so keen on watching a third-place team lumber through the season this year. · (7) ·