ALCS Game Six Spillover Thread II

Time to make Saunders pay.

ALCS Game Six Spillover Thread

Joe Saunders … hardly untouchable. They got this.

ALCS Game 6: Angels @ Yankees

In beginning-mid-September, many of us, me included, figured the AL East race was over. The Yankees had a big lead over the Red Sox, and it would have taken Mets-esque collapse for them to lose it. But over the next few weeks the Yanks dropped a few games and got hot, and some people started to doubt that the Yankees had it in the bag. This was a bit odd for me. The reason we called the division for the Yanks in the first place is that they had built up such a large lead that even if they had a slip-up, they still had a big margin of error. That’s the whole point of thinking it’s in the bag.

The Yankees certainly do not have the ALCS in the bag, but they set themselves up with a 3-1 advantage after a Game 4 victory. That’s not insurmountable, but it’s a pretty big lead at this late stage. It would take three straight Angels wins to win it, and that’s just improbable, especially against a team as good as the Yankees. The Yankees saw their advantage at work in Game 5, as they dropped a heart breaker to the Angels. Now they’re back in the Bronx, still with the advantage. Unlike the Angels, their backs are not up against the wall.

Then again, that could be an advantage for the Angels. As Sun Tzu says:

Soliders when in desperate straits lose the sense of fear. If there is no place of refuge, they will stand firm. If they are in hostile country, they will show a stubborn front. If there is no help for it, they will fight hard.

I expect this to be like the non-Game-4 games of this series: always close in score, can turn around in a matter of outs. The Angels aren’t going away, and it’s going to take everything the Yankees have to finish them off.

Without further ado, your Game 6 lineups:

Yankees

1. Derek Jeter, SS
2. Johnny Damon, LF
3. Mark Teixeira, 1B
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
5. Jorge Posada, C
6. Hideki Matsui, DH
7. Robinson Cano, 2B
8. Nick Swisher, RF
9. Melky Cabrera, CF

Pitching: Number forty-six, Andy Pettitte.

Angels

1. Chone Figgins, 3B
2. Bobby Abreu, RF
3. Torii Hunter, CF
4. Vladimir Guerrero, DH
5. Kendry Morales, 2B
6. Howie Kendrick, 2B
7. Juan Rivera, LF
8. Jeff Mathis, C
9. Erick Aybar, SS

Pitching: Joe Saunders

Eiland: Hughes’ problems mechanical

One of the main reasons why we’re anxiously waiting for the clock to strike 8:20 tonight is Phil Hughes. The Yanks’ youngster who dominated the 8th inning this year couldn’t get the job done against the heart of the Angels’ lineup on Thursday, and he has now allowed nine hits and three earned runs in 4.2 innings this October. Speaking with MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli yesterday, Dave Eiland said that Hughes has to fix a mechanical flaw in his delivery. “[It’s] just a minor adjustment and he knows it,” Eiland said. “It’s just staying within yourself — just trust it and not trying to make that good stuff you have even better. Because you do that [and] you get a little jumpy, you get a little quick through your delivery and you affect your command. And that’s what is happening.”

The Yankees still trust Hughes, as they should, and odds are good that he plays a key role in tonight’s Game 6. Hopefully, the work Eiland and Hughes put in yesterday and today have solved the problem, and the Bridge to Mo will remain ever strong.

Rarely playing a game

It’s a sunny day out in New York City. After last night’s deluge, the sky is perfectly blue, and the mercury is hovering around 63. It is the perfect day for a Sunday afternoon baseball game. Yet, because of the demands of television, we have to wait. We have to wait until 8:20 p.m. when temperatures will be in the low 50s. The ninth inning should arrive sometime around midnight with a chill in the air.

By now, the Yankees and the Angels must be used to this. The two teams have been playing in extremes — cold and rainy New York, warm and sunny Anaheim. The weather is, of course, just one aspect of postseason baseball. By the time mid-October arrives in the Northeast, it could be chilly and damp or it could be warm and sunny.

Baseball can’t control the weather, but they can control the calendar. It’s time to start rethinking the playoff schedule. When the Yankees and Angels take the field this evening, it will be just the ninth time in 21 days that these two teams play baseball. The Yanks have played games on back-to-back days twice since the regular season ended.

Today, The Times tackles this lack of baseball. The Angels’ manager doesn’t think too highly of this approach to scheduling. “Ridiculous,” Scioscia said. “I don’t know. Can I say it any clearer than that? We should have never had a day off last Wednesday. We should never have three days off after the season. You shouldn’t even have two days off after the season.”

In another piece, Joshua Robinson explores baseball’s reactions and excuses and examines why the World Series is going to end in November. My favorite quotation in that second article comes from Katy Feeney, baseball’s V.P. of scheduling. “If somebody can tell us which week in April or which week in November would be best, we’d be happy to schedule around those, but nobody seems able to quite do that yet,” Feeney said. “Weather people seem to be the only people that can keep their jobs and be wrong most of the time.”

That’s right; a Major League Baseball executive is blaming the meteorologists for baseball’s elongated October scheduling. The reality is much simpler. Baseball is being held hostage to its television deals. Because the networks pay billions of dollars for the TV rights, they want to maximize prime time coverage. Gone are the days when two games are on at once, and mostly gone are the days when two games are played on the same calendar day. With a crazy 2-2-1-2 format for the league championship series, FOX and TBS ensure that most days just feature one baseball game.

For the players, this change is tough. Starters are used to playing 162 games in around 190 days. They play every day every month for six months. And when October arrives, they play now and then.

For the fans, the stop-and-go pace of the postseason is excruciating. Fixing it, though, is easy. Baseball needs to assert a variable schedule about the Division Series. They should ensure that, outside of travel days, the unnecessary off days should be eliminated. The Yanks don’t need to take a day off in New York after Game 1 of the ALDS, and the Angels and Yanks didn’t need to sit around Anaheim on Wednesday while not playing.

Baseball should also start the League Championship Series sooner if the teams are ready. The Angels and Yanks wrapped up their division series on Sunday and didn’t play until Thursday. It would be easy for those two teams to play on Tuesday, and fans would manage.

In the end, this is about the money. Baseball fans wait as baseball and TV executives see the dollars flow in. At some point, it should change. It’s better for the game to let October play out smoothly instead of this as a stop-and-start postseason we are witnessing this year.

It’s not like anyone buys AL championship gear anyway

If you want that hat, it’s available at the MLB.com shop. Why they’re making it available before the series is over, I have no idea. Then again, I don’t know anyone who would buy an AL Champions hat. But, if you want it, there it is.

Hat tip FanHouse.