Archive for the ‘Postseason’ Category

MLB: World Series-Boston Red Sox at St. Louis Cardinals

Game Three of the 2013 World Series was a vast and storied affair. It contains multitudes, layers, and, as I wrote last night, cascading ripples of insanity.

Those ripples built into a rogue wave that suck the Edmund Fitzfarrell, drowning all sorts of great little talking points and moments on which the game might have turned. More than anything, this game provides ample opportunities for second guessing. Let’s count’em down in the Second Guessing Power Rankings!

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MLB: World Series-St. Louis Cardinals at Boston Red Sox

The Cardinals weren’t going to play worse than they did in Game One and, for betterment of us all, they did not. As it turns out, the Red Sox were also unlikely to play as well as they did in Game One. It wasn’t as ugly as the Cardinals defensive performance in the first game of the series but the Red Sox picked the least opportune moment to get wild and loose in the field.

Both managers really starting yanking levers and pushing buttons but, in the end, it was Mike Matheny‘s dominant bullpen that bested Farrell’s friends 4-2 to even the World Series at one game apiece.

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MLB: World Series-St. Louis Cardinals at Boston Red Sox

Almost all of our conventional baseball thought is based on the idea of the long con. The baseball season is long so, over the six month and 162 game season, things have a way of working themselves out. Managers must always be wary of the long game, finding rest opportunities for their players and, in their own way, abiding by their own interpretation of the “lose one today to win two down the road” philosophy.

A short series is completely different. Strategy changes, the long game is no longer a concern. There is no tomorrow, as it were. Managers must play to win every night, as they can’t afford to lose four games out of seven.

When the Cardinals fell behind 3-0 after five batters, many fans and observers wondered aloud about the Cardinals packing it for the night. Adam Wainwright “didn’t have it” on Wednesday night so why not get him out early with an eye to using him again in the series?

It isn’t the worst idea but it hardly seems realistic. Luckily, Twitter’s finest professional baseball playing analyst saw an opportunity to set the record straight.

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MLB: World Series-St. Louis Cardinals at Boston Red Sox

Just about every pundit or World Series preview agreed on the big issues. The Cardinals’ starting rotation was better than the Red Sox starting rotation, given the way Michael Wacha has thrown the ball and taking Clay Buchholz‘s injury concerns into consideration.

Most also conceded the Red Sox defense was better than the Cardinals defense. The Red Sox shift and switch players and devote man-hours and assets and go out of their way to grab extra outs where ever they can while the Cardinals….well they sure score a lot of runs, don’t they?

In a tale-of-the-tape list post, it makes sense to break these factors off into different sections. The need for content is significant, and dispensing binding letter grades or check marks is Serious Business.

When the lights come up and the bunting hangs just so around the venerable grounds of Fenway Park, these two component work in concert to become run prevention – and one side cannot exist without the other. As Adam Wainwright, the postseason warrior and ace of the Cardinals staff who witnessed the power of poor defense up close and personal. The Cardinals defense gave away bases, outs, and runs in undoing an otherwise decent outing by Wainwright as the Red Sox bested the Cardinals 8-1 to take a 1-0 series lead.

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MLB: World Series-St. Louis Cardinals Workout

They only play one World Series a season so, suffice to say, it is an event. The World Series is not like the Super Bowl or even Champions League, where neutral observers tune out of duty and the lure of a spectacle. The World Series still brings baseball back onto the radar of of fans who otherwise might not live and die with the six month grind from April through September.

If such a fan happens to flip on their TV to catch Game One of the World Series, they’re guaranteed to see a few things.

  1. A team they hate for reasons either non-specific (a general distaste for the perennial successful) or highly specific (wrongdoing at the hands of said perennially successful team)
  2. The best/most enviable/most complete clubs in Major League Baseball.

The outcome of the series is very much in doubt, as two evenly matched teams face off in the Fall Classic. What is very much not in doubt is the status of these two teams in the greater baseball sense – they are simply the best in the game.

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MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs

The playoffs are all about results. This is the “house style” of this postseason – process doesn’t really matter. Unsustainable production is no match for forever flying flags. Mr. October is not subject to regression.

The St. Louis Cardinals better pray this is true. They defied the Gods of situational hitting all season long, putting up incredible numbers with runners in scoring position. Allen Craig drove this bus, of course, but the Cardinals marched all the way to the World Series without his magic RBI wand.

The Cardinals also have a secret weapon in their bullpen, a man immune to the law of average’s pull. Seth Maness is their escape artist, the Cardinals Houdini. The master of the double play ball when it is needed most.

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MLB: ALCS-Boston Red Sox at Detroit Tigers

The American League Championship Series ended on a swinging strikeout as Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias came up empty against another Koji Uehara splitter. The whiff ended Uehara’s sixth scoreless inning of the ALCS. The five-game body of work made Uehara the obvious choice for the American League Championship series, a series defined by close victories for Boston and widespread mistakes in the opposing Tigers bullpen.

To put it simply, Boston won because Boston had The Pitch.

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