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.... Pete Rose revisited, Part IV

Dave Anderson, a real sportswriter who is employed by the renowned NY Times, wrote a piece about Pete Rose a few weeks ago, and one of my readers sent it in. It's an interesting approach, in that he doesn't really address the guilty/not guilty aspect of the issue. It's an open letter to Bud Selig, in which Dave tells Bud that the fans have forgiven Pete, (as evidenced by the standing ovations he receives every time he appears at a baseball game), and Selig should too.

He also raises the age-old question of how Rose's memorabilia can be a part of the Hall of Fame but Charlie Hustle cannot. One more piece to the puzzle.

For those of you new to OBM, please take a moment to bang away on my archives, and let me know if you like 'em, or if you don't. And by the way, if there's a link there on the left, that means I go there everyday.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 31, 2002


.... Pete Rose, ad infinitum

Inexplicably, I have not posted this Jim Caple piece on Rose, when it is the main reason I decided to re-open the wound. Jim thinks Pete should apologize. I could care less about him being sorry or not, but I have a ton of respect for Jim, and I welcome all opinions to this raging debate. Jim's can be summed up pretty easily:



"If Rose wants back in the game, if he wants into the Hall of Fame, he knows what to do. Finally admit that he bet on baseball, that it was wrong and that he's sorry. Until he does that, baseball can't even consider the issue, no matter how unpopular such a stand is."

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 31, 2002


.... Pete Rose revisited, Part IV

Dave Anderson, a real sportswriter who is employed by the renowned NY Times, wrote a piece about Pete Rose a few weeks ago, and one of my readers sent it in. It's an interesting approach, in that he doesn't really address the guilty/not guilty aspect of the issue. It's an open letter to Bud Selig, in which Dave tells Bud that the fans have forgiven Pete, (as evidenced by the standing ovations he receives every time he appears at a baseball game), and Selig should too.

He also raises the age-old question of how Rose's memorabilia can be a part of the Hall of Fame but Charlie Hustle cannot. One more piece to the puzzle.

For those of you new to OBM, please take a moment to bang away on my archives, and let me know if you like or don't. And by the way, if there's a link there on the left, that means I go there everyday.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 31, 2002


.... Sabean stays

Christian Ruzich, the Cub Reporter sent this link to the Brian Sabean signing.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 31, 2002


.... Pete Rose revisited, ad infinitum

The following piece is the work of David Levens, who helps run things over at the Oakland A's Blog. Read and learn:



We studied the Rose case for about a week during a college course called Sports Law. The Pete Rose case is important for several reasons, not just the scope of the Pete Rose allegations, but also what was happening in the state of Major League Baseball at the time. Further, it acts as a window into how law enforcement works in a big picture sense (why are there so many repeat offenders out on the streets while the criminal organizations they are a party to continue to operate?).

Officially, the investigation of Pete Rose came out of the Office of the (then) Commissioner, Bart Giamatti. Unofficially, the case may have stemmed from ongoing investigations of drug smuggling and/or drug trafficking, gambling and racketeering by local and federal law enforcement. This can be alluded to, but not proven, by the federal tax evasion charges filed against Rose and the previous convictions of the circle of characters Rose chose to surround himself with.

The tool of the Pete Rose investigation consists of the Dowd Report, in what it says and what it does not. The Dowd Report does not painstakingly list the specific allegations per incident for a number of reasons. On the one hand, it's to keep MLB clear of charges from harboring a known felon and liable to federal charges of racketeering, etc. More specifically, the Dowd Report and subsequent agreement allowed MLB to save face without airing their dirty laundry in public and in court documents.

Law enforcement busting a single person for gambling, tax evasion and being involved with or being a party to drug trafficking (and let's not be childish, drug use) on a smaller scale does not help a larger investigation. Law enforcement needs to make a number of arrests to justify the amount of funds and energy put into an investigation. A small-time poacher can scare away big game. Headlines are made when law enforcement can bring down an entire ring of corrupt individuals working in a systematic way to break

numerous laws not just an individual.

Law enforcement could not very well turn a blind eye to the MLB suspension of Pete Rose. The reasons for the Rose suspension were public knowledge, and MLB was not the end all authority for Rose, he still had to answer to the People. This is what creates a dichotomous situation. Yes, Pete Rose served his time for breaking U.S. law, he's a convicted felon. He can not vote or hold public office along with all the other goodies attached to admitting to a felony. However, just because Rose paid his debt to society, (supposedly), that doesn't mean anything to his efforts for reinstatement, especially to MLB. The court of opinion has no bearing on decisions and agreements with MLB or the Office of the Commissioner. It was clear that he was involved in illegal activities, it was documented and Pete Rose had agreed to his punishment by MLB; a lifetime ban. Rose also pled guilty to the income tax evasion charges and served his time, furthering the understanding that Rose had illegally made money through gambling, autograph signing, memorabilia sales, and possibly drugs.

Keep in mind this was a different era, the 1980's, and it was last call for the bad boys of sports, Wall Street, politics and religion. The Me decade was coming to an end. What's more embarrassing, prosecuting a criminal who makes you look foolish in the process or continually trying to prosecute a criminal who makes you look foolish in the process for many years?

MLB took the safe road and created a Paper Wall (an old District Attorney trick). The DA convinces the suspected criminal that there is no hope of escaping justice/punishment. However, the DA may want to limit the scope of public knowledge of how they gathered the information; perhaps illegal wire taps were used, or an undercover agent might be put in harms way if a case went to trial, or a larger investigation would be hindered by the (relatively) minor charges to the individual. The DA constructs a legal brief detailing the information (the Dowd Report) and the defendant agrees to a plea bargain without an acquiescence of guilt. It gives the DA leverage to use the defendant as a possible witness at a later date without smearing his name and the defendant gets to stay out of jail by not having to appear in court before a judge.

It's like paper partition walls. You can see by the shadows what is transpiring on the other side. By not shedding light on the depicted object you can continue to witness the events transpiring without being cast in the light yourself.

MLB did not want to be the perceived as the bad guy. They did not want to enter into a haphazard situation where MLB could be the defendant in a lawsuit and eventually bankrupted by a smear campaign of rootless charges. They also did not want to leave the All Time Hit King as a staple answer for all that's bad in sports, specifically baseball.

See also; O.J. Simpson and the NFL.

Consider the situation again in context of the time. MLB was in a crucial time period where television deals, advertising and marketing were all in a lull. A negative stain against baseball could mean hundreds of millions of dollars and a poster boy of what the sport was supposed to mean, Charlie Hustle, in a federal penitentiary.

The paper wall allowed Pete Rose to avoid dragging the personal life of a true major league son-of-a-bitch into the light, as well as obscuring the fact that MLB had known about the gambling, et al., for years and was essentially not publicly willing to do anything about it until the Fed's were involved. Bud Selig's performance as a public relations whiz is only more lucid because of MLB's years of silence following the drug problems of the 1970's and economics of the early 1980's.

Peter Ueberroth wasn't one to stomach controversy. He could see the horizon in the business sector, in the private sector and in the game. He served his single term and got the hell out of Dodge, leaving on a high note. And if not for the huge (for the time) television deals Ueberroth negotiated, MLB might have continued to stumble along. Moreover, if the IRS had started knocking on doors and the FBI and DEA started sting operations, MLB might have gone the way of the USFL. MLB went after an easy target in Rose in an effort to prove to federal and local authorities that they could keep their messes to themselves and clean them up nice and shiny.

And don't forget that Faye Vincent was second chair to Bart Giammatti and his background was in law. Faye Vincent would not have been there if not for a definitive need for an investigative arm of MLB. Prior to the creation of the post of Deputy to the Commissioner, baseball investigations were handled by either private detectives, ill-equipped and poorly trained MLB security personnel, or worse, baseball writers. The Commissioner had the ability to investigate but could not do so without the appearance of impartiality. This led to the lawsuit Rose filed against MLB accusing them of rail-roading him.

It wasn't until Pete Rose started challenging the investigation in public with the lawsuit that the Feds went after Rose for income tax evasion, which led to the withdrawal of the civil suit Rose filed. Deeper than the gambling, though, there was the income tax evasion and the question of drugs, notably cocaine. This combination of factors ultimately led Rose to the agreement of the lifetime suspension from baseball and the creation of the paper wall.

The Commissioner's Office may not have acted within the limits of the Constitution of the United States and the principles of natural law. Maybe not even in the Best Interests of Baseball. But when you break the law, flaunt breaking the rules, and are brash about getting away with it because of your stature, you destroy the unwritten/unspoken contract between player and sport. That's what the Rose case really boils down to: power trips and ego, the makings of a classic drama. Street rules are enforced and ethics go out the window.

Rose broke the law, the rules and the unwritten contract, and then cried foul when the powers that be decided to use the powers at hand. When the powers at hand went overboard the public authority threatened to step in. In short, Rose and MLB shook hands and promised never to fight on the playground again. Rose was bitter and resentful and of course, hasn't come close to acknowledging wrong-doing since, and MLB went out to make sure that they would never have another Pete Rose.

See also: Steve Howe, Steve Howe, Steve Howe, Steve Howe, Steve Howe and finally Howe, Steve.

Faye Vincent, when a similar situation hit his desk when he became Commissioner, did what anyone in authority is supposed to do. He told Steve Howe and his (read: George Steinbrenner's) legal team to go piss up a rope. Howe was only reinstated after an arbitrator (MLB does not have good luck with arbitrators) argued Howe relied on cocaine to help him with his Attention Deficit Disorder. Apparently Ritalin wasn't available and heroin was too expensive and not conducive of a MLB closer's lifestyle.

Anyway, when Bud Selig railroaded Vincent out of office he tried to be a kinder, gentler Commissioner.

See also: Darryl Strawberry, Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry.

Was it an over-correction on the Rose situation coupled with the We're All Okay if You Want to Feel Okay 1990's? Maybe.

In reality, the reaction was probably a hint of Selig's gun shy ways in the public eye. The Rose situation has generated an ill smell, and MLB would presumably prefer a definitive silence on the subject. Rose, on the other hand, is free to wage a war of self-pity and self-promotion. Should he continue to do so, and make a profit out of his status as persona non grata, MLB could very well step in and file suit forcing a federal judge to reissue the gag order written into the agreement, not that they haven't had plenty of opportunity to do so already. In the meantime, Rose has perpetuated himself as a silent victim. He's the spoiled child trying to make his parents feel guilty for punishment so readily deserved. It's just one more indication of Rose's vindictive, manipulative and contradictive nature that got him into this trouble in the first place.

Rose's case isn't really a case. If the allegations took place in any other sport they would have been dealt with accordingly with appropriate jurisprudence, without the slight of hand that MLB has assumed in the past. If you recall, the civil charges against the Black Sox were dismissed when the evidence disappeared. However, the lifetime bans from baseball were instituted as an end all on the subject matter.

The NFL is a perfectexample of how to handle controversy. Sure, the league has been given a black eye due to frequent arrests to players and even coaches. However, in the NFL, arrests are made, trials occur, people pay their dues to society and that's that. There's no hidden and unexplained misunderstandings and disagreements that never end. The public can overlook the Raider's constant lawsuits with the NFL because there isn't any fishy business going on. The NFL cleans up its mess in public with appropriate legal action, and refuses to allow situations to fester in private and/or run amuck in public.

Baseball chose to try and cover the Rose mess up, and it's never gone away.

EPILOGUE

I am an avid Oakland A's fan and am part of the staff at Oakland A's Blog. Ray Fosse is the color commentator for the A's on television and radio. I have never been a fan of his work in the booth. His comments are grating and irrelevant. We mute the TV and simply grind our teeth when he's on the radio.

However....

The next time you see the video footage of Pete Rose barreling Ray Fosse over the plate at the All Star game (essentially ending his playing career), pay close attention; Fosse didn't even have the ball. True to fact, the ball came in as Pete Rose was getting off Fosse. Two full counts after going out of his way to make a spectacle of himself and cause bodily harm to an opposing player.

The play wasn't about hustle or winning, or taking one for the team. It was all about Pete Rose. Even in an All-Star game. That's all you really need to know about Pete Rose.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 31, 2002


.... If you don't ask

You'll notice a new link there on the upper left. It is an Amazon.com donation link. Anyone who visits OBM and feels that it is good enough to warrant financial support, now has a way to do something about it. The minimum donation is $1.00, and if you don't want to, I won't be offended or have to shut it down or anything like that. If enough people want to, it might enable me to do a little more with the site.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 31, 2002


.... Pete Rose revisited, Part IV

Dave Anderson, a real sportswriter who is employed by the renowned NY Times, wrote a piece about Pete Rose a few weeks ago, and one of my readers sent it in. It's an interesting approach, in that he doesn't really address the guilty/not guilty aspect of the issue. It's an open letter to Bud Selig, in which Dave tells Bud that the fans have forgiven Pete, (as evidenced by the standing ovations he receives every time he appears at a baseball game), and Selig should too.

He also raises the age-old question of how Rose's memorabilia can be a part of the Hall of Fame but Charlie Hustle cannot. One more piece to the puzzle.

For those of you new to OBM, please take a moment to bang away on my archives, and let me know if you like 'em, or if you don't. And by the way, if there's a link there on the left, that means I go there everyday.

.... Pete Rose, ad infinitum

Inexplicably, I have not posted this Jim Caple piece on Rose, when it is the main reason I decided to re-open the wound. Jim thinks Pete should apologize. I could care less about him being sorry or not, but I have a ton of respect for Jim, and I welcome all opinions to this raging debate. Jim's can be summed up pretty easily:



"If Rose wants back in the game, if he wants into the Hall of Fame, he knows what to do. Finally admit that he bet on baseball, that it was wrong and that he's sorry. Until he does that, baseball can't even consider the issue, no matter how unpopular such a stand is."

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 31, 2002


.... Laugh out loud

Super-fan Pete Rodriguez, who has been to every single baseball game ever played at PacBell, says the new Giants manager will be Shawon Dunston. ;-)

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 30, 2002


.... Pete Rose revisited, Part II

Travis Nelson, the Boy of Summer, has generously agreed to participate in our ongoing Pete Rose discussion. Here's his take, pretty much the gist of the opposition to the position Lee Sinins and I have taken:



Here at Only Baseball Matters, John is publishing a series of pieces about Pete Rose and his candidacy for reinstatement from baseball's ineligible list, in the wake of Charlie Hustle's appearance in the opening ceremonies of Game Four of the World Series for MasterCard's Most Memorable Stuff For Which Almost Nobody Who Knows Anything About Baseball Woulda Voted. John (and a few others) thinks that Rose was deceived/robbed/slighted and should be allowed to be let in the Hall of Fame, but I disagree. The following is my take on the issue, encapsulated about as well as I can.

ESPN Radio occasionally plays a clip of a Pete Rose interview on the Dan Patrick Show in which he states, "I was suspended from baseball for betting on football. I have a signed document from the commissioner that says that there are no findings that I bet on baseball. To me that puts the question to rest. It says that there's no finding or admission that I bet on baseball. I've lived up to my part of the agreement but they (MLB) haven't lived up to theirs... I know it says a lifetime ban, but I didn't look at it that way, because I could apply for reinstatement in one year..."

Well, I don't know why ESPN keeps playing this clip, whether it's because they believe him or because they don't, but you'd certainly think that their continued use of their own airtime to play this clip somehow indicates support for Rose's Hall of Fame candidacy. The thing is, Rose is lying, but then, what else is new? At the very least he's bending the truth. The agreement he signed actually says:

Nothing in this agreement shall be deemed either an admission or a denial by Peter Edward Rose of the allegation that he bet on any Major League Baseball game.

But what Charlie Hustle(r) doesn't tell you is that this statement occurs in the following context:

a. Peter Edward Rose is hereby declared permanently ineligible in accordance with Major League Rule 21 and placed on the Ineligible List.

b. Nothing in this Agreement shall deprive Peter Edward Rose of the rights under Major League Rule 15(c) to apply for reinstatement. Peter Edward Rose agrees not to challenge, appeal or otherwise contest the decision of, or the procedure employed by, the Commissioner or any future Commissioner in the evaluation of any application for reinstatement.

c. Nothing in this agreement shall be deemed either an admission or a denial by Peter Edward Rose of the allegation that he bet on any Major League Baseball game.

Neither the Commissioner nor Peter Edward Rose shall be prevented by this agreement from making any public statement relating to this matter so long as no such public statement contradicts the terms of this agreement and resolution.


And of course, he really doesn't want you to know that it says:

4. Peter Edward Rose acknowledges that the Commissioner has a factual basis to impose the penalty provided herein, and hereby accepts the penalty imposed on him by the Commissioner and agrees not to challenge that penalty in court or otherwise. He also agrees he will not institute any legal proceedings of any nature against the Commissioner of any of his representatives, either Major League or any Major League Club. (bold added)

Well the rule doesn't say that someone can be suspended from baseball for betting at all, or betting on football, it says:

Rule 21(d):

Any player, umpire, or club or league official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has no duty to perform, shall be declared ineligible for one year.

Any player, umpire, or club or league official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform, shall be declared permanently ineligible.


So if he admits that there's a "factual basis to impose the penalty" then why didn't he contend at the time that the punishment he was receiving was inappropriate and not warranted by the rules of MLB?

The answer is simple: he couldn't, because he understood that he was being suspended permanently because there was overwhelming evidence of his betting on baseball games, including Cincinnatti Reds games he managed, and he knew it. He didn't want to admit it, so he signed, anticipating that he could apply for reinstatement in one year, but with no guarantee that his application would be granted, and acknowledging that he would not challenge either the penalty itself, the agreement, or the Commissioner's response to his applications for reinstatement. And, of course, he has done just that, any chance he gets. So it's actually Rose who has not held up his end of the bargain, rather than the Commissioner's office, as Pete would have you believe.

Sure, the Hall of Fame isn't a church, but it is a shrine: a shrine to the people who have exemplified the talent, creativity and innovation that make baseball America's pastime, preferably without compromising or abusing the game for its own purposes, and without violating the rules that allow baseball to remain as great as it is. Nobody's saying that you have to be perfect to get in, so invoking Ty Cobb's or Babe Ruth's or Rogers Hornsby's or any other jerk's names as evidence that his being a jerk should not preclude him from having a plaque in the hall is moot. The point has already been conceded.

The argument against Rose is not that he's a jerk (a point which, it seems, is not especially contested) but that he bet on baseball games, both ones in which he was involved and ones in which he wasn't. I cannot argue from having seen the evidence, as I have not, but if you presume that there are at least some actual facts and some substantial evidence in the Dowd Report, then it is hard to defend Rose. The betting slips may not be as hard as we would like simply because most of us are not experts in handwriting analysis and/or betting protocol. But there seems at least to be some evidence, between testimonies, signatures on slips, motives and character of Rose himself, to believe that he did at least some, if not all of the things of which he is accused.

What do you think? There's a vast, right-wing conspiracy against him? That someone went out and bought a poorly groomed hippie wig and a trench coat and learned to forge Charlie Hustle's signature? That he didn't think about all the money he was going to owe in taxes? That someone who would get married and then fly to meet his mistress on the same night wouldn't "stoop so low" as to bet on his own team? What would MLB have to gain from vilifying a player as loved and revered for his passion, work ethic and accomplishments as Pete Rose? Only the ire of the masses.

Sure, the low-lifes with whom he associated may not be of utmost repute, but what do they have to gain by fabricating lies about Pete? What does John Dowd or Bart Giamatti or even Seligula or anyone else have to gain from keeping Rose out, as it seems that much of the (albeit uninformed) public sentiment is on Rose's side? The only reason is that there's some integrity to be kept for baseball and the Hall of Fame. (I know, Bud Selig lecturing us on integrity is like Chris Farley lecturing us on organic farming, but hear me out.) Rose acknowledges that the Commissioner has a factual basis to impose the penalty provided herein (a lifetime ban from MLB), which is a penalty consummate with the actions of betting on one's own team (for or against) and nothing else. If the punishment didn't fit the crime, why make such an acknowledgement?

He could have agreed to the ban without that statement if he didn't believe it was true. Lawyers change documents all the time to tweak them until they're completely satisfied with the language. You say it's because he expected to be able to apply for reinstatement in one year, which he was. No one and nothing has prevented him from such applications, but no subsequent commissioner is under any obligation to follow through on a promise/implication/wink-wink made by a previous commissioner, just as the new CEO of a corporation is under no obligation to fulfill promises made by a previous administration. The agreement says, This document contains the entire agreement of the parties and represents the entire resolution of the matter of Peter Edward Rose before the Commissioner. Even if there was a side-deal, it was never official, and so it's not fair to hold the next commissioner to such a requirement. The commissioner has the right to refuse Rose's application for reinstatement, according to the agreement, and he has used that right.

You also have contended several times that Dowd violated the agreement by stating publicly that he thought that Rose bet on baseball games, including those in which he played a role. Well, if you look at the signature page of the agreement, Dowd's name does not appear. The agreement only states that, Neither the Commissioner nor Peter Edward Rose shall be prevented by this agreement from making any public statement relating to this matter so long as no such public statement contradicts the terms of this agreement and resolution. Nothing about John Dowd not being allowed to speak his mind in public on the matter. You can't hold him to that standard. No one ever has.

Rose had his chance for a hearing. He turned it down. He had a chance to clear his name, to defend against the allegations. If the evidence is in fact as thin as tissue paper, it should not have been very hard to de-bunk in court. Don't tell me he was trying to avoid more of a scandal or more bad press, as he stood only to gain from going to a hearing if he was in fact innocent of betting on baseball. Even with all of MLB's money and lawyers, he should have been able to prove his innocence, if there was any to prove. No, Rose refused the hearing because he knew that only negative things would come from it. He knew that the evidence would all be made public (as it has), but also that there would be an official legal finding of his guilt (there hasn't). And that would have really killed his chances.

With all due respect to Bill James, I don't think he's a lawyer himself. The notion of "innocent until proven guilty" is in the U.S. Constitution, a guideline for state, county and local laws to stay within, but having nothing to do with the inner workings of private businesses, groups, partnerships, or alliances. MLB is entirely permitted to make no public official finding in a case but still sanction someone within its own jurisdiction based upon mutually agreed upon criteria. Rose had a choice. He made a choice based on what he thought would be best for him at the time, just like everyone always does. He was probably correct, that this course of action gave him the best chance of getting reinstated, but it didn't work out that way. Shit happens. Rose brought this on himself. MLB didn't lie to him. He just wants it to look that way.



Thanks Travis. Next up, I'll put together both sides of the argument.

Comment on this   [1]  »  October 30, 2002


.... Superman

David Halberstam is one of the very best writers you'll ever read. He has been and done and he demonstrates all of his talents in this piece on Barry Bonds. Mr. Halberstam suggests that Barry doesn't seem to be having much fun, and he's right, he doesn't.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 30, 2002


.... Quick and dirty

Listening to Rick Barry on 680 KNBR this afternoon, I heard a lot of callers bitching and moaning about how bad it would be if the Giants didn't bring back Dusty or if they lost Kent or both or whatever...

You know what always surprises me? How quickly people forget. They forget how the Mariners lost a Hall of Fame player three years in a row and got better each year. They forget how teams replace players, sometimes with much worse talent, and still manage to improve, i.e., Jason Giambi leaving and being replaced by John Mabry.

Another thing they forget is how easy it can be for a manager to take over a good club and take them to the next level. I've been as critical of Dusty as anybody, and I'm very ambivalent as to whether he should or shouldn't come back. Sometimes change is good, and sometimes it's not. There's a good argument to be made that the Giants would be better off spending say, half a million on a manager and $3 million on another outfielder, rather than $3.5 million for Baker. I'm not entirely comfortable making that argument, and I'm not so sure he is that easily replaced, but it's not the stupidest thing I've ever heard.

In 2000, the Arizona Diamondbacks finished a disappointing 12 games behind the division winning San Francisco Giants, after winning the division the previous year. The Diamondbacks fired Buck Showalter and hired Bob Brenly.

In 2001, the Diamondbacks won the World Series.

In 1996, the Florida Marlins finished 16 games behind the Atlanta Braves, who ended up losing the World Series to the Yankees. The Marlins went through three managers that year, and in the off-season, they hired Jim Leyland.

In 1997, the Marlins won the World Series.

In 1995, the New York Yankees lost a heart-breaker of a ALDS to the Seattle Mariners. They fired their manager, Buck Showalter, and replaced him with Joe Torre.

In 1996 they won the World Series, and I think I read somewhere that they've done pretty well since then.

In 1989, the Cincinnatti Reds finished 17 games behind division winning San Francisco. They fired Pete Rose, and then they fired his replacement, Tommy Helms. In the off-season, they hired Lou Pinnella.

In 1990, the Reds won the World Series.

That's four of the last thirteen titles won by first year managers, that's 30%. Looking at this issue a little further, this year, the Anaheim Angels won in Mike Scoscia's third year with the team. How far do you want to go back? In 1987, the Minnesota Twins won the World Series in Tom Kelly's second year at the helm. The 1988 Oakland A's went to the World Series in Tony LaRussa's second year with the team, and they won it in his third. In 1986, the Boston Red Sox went to the World Series in John McNamara's second year. In 1980, the Kansas City Royals went to the World Series in manager Jim Frey's first year.

The point is simple, winning is such a fragile and complex thing, no one has completely figured it out yet. The Giants might fall apart if Baker leaves, sure. And they might win it all if somebody like Willie Randolph or Dave Righetti or Mike Krukow or Jim Leyland or whoever takes the reins. You never know. Irreplacable? Nobody is irreplacable, not even Superman.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 29, 2002


.... Pete Rose revisited, Part I

I have stirred up a big hornets nest around here lately with my Pete Rose comments. I've gotten a lot of feedback from people I trust and whose opinions I respect, and they have made a strong case that I may have misread the issue. To that end, I am going to go back and re-read all of the documents surrounding the case, as many books and articles as possible, and of course, I am going to do a real close read of the Dowd Report. Today, I want to start a multi-part examination in the hopes that I will come to a firm and well-established position, one that I am comfortable arguing for, and one that stands up to some rigor. To that end, I want to put out a guest column on the subject, one that I feel is an eloquent expression of where I stand at this point, as I begin this journey.

I am sure that most of you are familiar with Lee Sinins' Sabermetric Baseball Encyclopedia. Lee is an extremely knowledgeable and experienced baseball historian and analyst, and we at Only Baseball Matters are proud to have him as a guest columnist today. Lee has followed the Pete Rose pieces I've been doing these past few months, as well as the many articles and columns featured in the various professional publications, and he has an opinion that moves along the same path of consideration I've been stumbling down. Here's what Lee has to say:



John, I'd like to comment on some of the things you've brought up regards Pete Rose. You've done a good job in his defense, but I just have a little bit I'd like to add.

The Dowd Report was a prosecutor's brief. Dowd was hired by MLB to prosecute the case. Prior to leaving the profession to go into computers, I was a criminal defense attorney. And I will tell you that the idea that a prosecutor is a neutral party who just looks to find the truth is a bunch of bullshit. Once an individual is targeted as the suspect, the prosecutor's job is to convict. His job is to find whatever is there and convict. Nobody in the legal field even pretends it's anything else.

A prosecutor's brief will inherently be a one sided document. It will contain a fair review of the facts. The more a set of facts is disputed, the farther a prosecutor will go to make his case look as strong as it can.

Give me the resources of a prosecutor (either a real one or one who has the backing of the resources of MLB), give me access to a bunch of unsavory people who I can make any kind of deal I want for them to implicate someone and I can guarantee you I'll come up with evidence, which if that's all you see, will be enough to convict anyone of any crime I'm in the mood to convict you of.

My favorite example of this is, give me a jailhouse full of people eager to tell me whatever I want to hear in exchange for a favorable sentence, or a reduction in their sentence, and I will get a collection of people who will swear under oath that they saw my brother and my best friend assist in the plotting of the murder of President Kennedy, that my brother helped drive the car that brought Oswald (or anyone else you believe fired those shots) to the building, that my best friend stood in the grassy knoll and fired shots and that the two of them gladly admitted to their participation while sitting around in bars afterwards.

If all that you know is what those witnesses swear to, how could you not be convinced that they were guilty?

Of course, I'm leaving out several important facts. Kennedy was killed in 1963, my brother wasn't born until 1975. Not only was my best friend not born until 1989, but he also happens to be a golden retriever. It would be an understatement to say my witnesses's credibility leaves a lot to be desired. The only hope for our system to work is for there to a defense who can point out that problems. As we know, without hearing the other side, which we haven't in the Rose case, it is folly to just believe the prosecution.



Thanks Lee, for stating the key aspect of my position so eloquently. I am not sitting here blindly asserting that I believe that Pete Rose didn't bet on baseball. All I'm saying is that the primary evidence that he did, the Dowd Report, sure has a lot of problems. As Rob Neyer, Jim Caple and many other writers have said, the fact that Pete Rose turned down the chance to dispute the report is problematic for him and his defenders. That's true. But as Lee points out, if you have money and time, you can put together a case that will prove almost anything. I am a fairly critical reader, and I have a tough time with the hard-line in this case, just because it's so hard.

I wish Pete would have fought back. I know, as Travis Nelson has pointed out, that Rose wasn't entitled to a fair judicial process, because his impropriety was limited to the jurisdiction of MLB. I also know that the precedent established for dealing with gambling and baseball, by Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis when he was Commissioner of Baseball left a lot to be desired in terms of fairness and impartiality. Anyway, that's where I stand. I am skeptical of the Dowd Report, and I intend to start going deeper until either my skepticism is conquered or borne out. Thanks in advance to all who decide to chime in and offer insight, criticism and pieces to the puzzle, you know where to find me.

Tomorrow, Travis Nelson of the Cub Reporter.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 28, 2002


.... Changes

I'm dropping the Giants colors, so please bear with me.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 28, 2002


.... Guest Commentary

Christian Ruzich, who runs the Cub Reporter, has a surprise suggestion to replace Dusty, should he leave:



John, you have my condolences. It was a great run by the Giants all year, though my wife still isn't ready to hear me say that and I imagine you aren't either.

Rather than look back at what Dusty did wrong, I thought I'd take a look forward. Assuming that Dusty won't be back in '03 (an assumption which is, I would say, pretty safe), who should manage the Giants?

The Giants are going to need to find a manager who can easily balance the needs of Barry Bonds against those of the rest of the team. A situation like what the Giants have calls for a manager with experience and one who is well respected by his players. They are an experienced team, and I don't think they need a gung-ho, high energy guy to motivate them. I think they need someone who will give the players their space, let them play, and serve as a strong guiding force without yelling, calling team meetings, etc.

There are a number of managers with experience who are currently not working, and one whose name has already been mentioned as a successor to Baker is Jim Fregosi. But one name that has only briefly surfaced for some of the other openings intrigues me -- Jim Leyland. He has a reputation as a player's manager, has experience winning with veteran players, and has a long, mostly positive, history with Barry Bonds. Leyland, remember, was Bonds' first manager when he came up with the Pirates, and was the man who moved Barry from the top of the order to the middle of it.

Early in Bonds' career, he and Leyland had an on-field argument during Spring Training, but in fact Bonds has said in the past that he and Leyland have a very good relationship, a sentiment Leyland echoed in this interview, from last year:



"We had and still have a great relationship," Leyland said. "I had players get in my face several times, but it happened behind closed doors. That one just happened to be in front of everyone. But that doesn't mean we weren't friends the day after it happened. We're always going to be friends."



Jim Leyland, back from retirement, re-united with Barry Bonds, and leading the Giants in 2003? It could happen.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 28, 2002


.... On and on

My good friend David Pinto has this take on Baker's mistake yesterday.

Simply, there was no excuse for not having a pitcher warmed up and ready to go the minute Livan got into trouble. None.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 28, 2002


.... Stupid, stupid man

Bud Selig, once again demonstrating his grasp of the subtleties of handling his position as Commissioner of Baseball, wasted no time announcing his intention to prohibit children from being in the dugout, as the Giants have done for several years now. As reported in the NY Daily News today:



Selig and the rest of the baseball hierarchy are embarrassed over all the kids in the Giants' dugout. As one baseball official said: "This has become a travesty. We look ridiculous and very unprofessional."



Funny, all along I thought the travesty was having a disheveled, dishonest, dunderhead running one of the most important institutions in the United States. Oh, and by the way, ridiculous and unprofessional? Please. Seligula, the Commisioner(!) who couldn't even remember that the Angels had changed their name to Anaheim last night, invented ridiculous and unprofessional.

.... World Series post-scripts

Bruce Jenkins sums it up:



The last good moment: Baker, wanting Russ Ortiz to gain the full measure of his brilliant outing Saturday night, didn't take the ball from his hands. He made sure Ortiz kept it as he left the field. The Giants were world champions right then. It was all over. But someone let the clock keep running.



For us second-guessers, the San Jose Mercury's Skip Bayless hits the nail on the head in his column today. He explains the failings of each and every move Dusty Baker made, from the seventh inning of Game Six through the final out yesterday.

Jayson Stark agrees it was Game Six that ended this World Series for the Giants. So do I.



.... All on the strength of the most breathtaking comeback from the edge of winter in the history of this sport. No team has ever been five runs behind in a World Series game that could have ended its season and somehow won. We repeat: No team. Let alone a team down to its final eight outs.



Reader Lee Moberly found this Thomas Boswell piece. Mr. Boswell also demonstrates an ability to string words together nicely:



.... the Giants had drubbed the Angels by an amazing score of 25-4 over the previous 21 innings. In that process, the Giants had come back from a 3-0 deficit to win Game 4, 4-3, beating the super-rookie reliever Rodriguez in the process. They'd utterly embarrassed the Halos, 16-4, in Game 5 (and might have scored 20 runs with a bit more luck). And the Giants seemed to have several more runs than they needed to clinch Game 6.

No wonder Dusty baked the victory cake a little too soon. As soon as Ortiz departed, the next eight Angels batters, off four different Giants pitchers, produced two home runs, a double off the left field wall and three singles -- all in the span of fewer than 25 pitches. In the most stunning comeback ever made by any team facing Series elimination, the Angels turned a five-run deficit with eight outs left into a 6-5 win in which they didn't even have to use their turn at bat in the ninth.



And me? I got nothing. Words escape me.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 28, 2002


.... Bad moon rising

The Anaheim Angels won their first World Series in their 42 year existence tonight, defeating the San Francisco Giants 4-1. The Giants were unable to overcome the early three run lead allowed by Livan Hernandez, who in two World Series starts found himself unable to make it through three innings in either game.

The Angels were led tonight by John Lackey, a 24 year old rookie pitching on three days rest. Lackey became the first rookie to win a Game Seven in 93 years, since Babe Adams in 1909 for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Giants fans (myself included) will forever second guess Dusty Baker, who in the pre-game news conference indicated that Livan would be on a short leash, and that he wouldn't hesistate to go to his bullpen early and often in an effort to keep the Giants in the game. Besides the question of whether he should even allowed Livan Hernandez to start, he watched Hernandez allow five consecutive baserunners to reach in the pivotal third inning. More importantly, he allowed him to pitch to Garrett Anderson after Livan hit Tim Salmon on a 2-2 pitch to load the bases, and was clearly missing his target on virtually every pitch. Anderson drove a 1-0 pitch into the right field corner to clear the bases.

That's not to say that the Giants players aren't responsible for this loss. The pitchers, especially Felix Rodriguez, Tim Worrell and Robb Nen, allowed the Angels to essentially come back from the dead on Saturday night, something so overwhelming the Giants simply could not overcome it. Reggie Sanders was a strikeout machine throughout the playoffs, Rich Aurilia was missing today when he was most needed, and Jeff Kent, other than his 3 for 4, two home run performance in Game Five, was completely neutralized for the entire postseason. Add it all up, and the Giants now face their own special winter of discontent.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 27, 2002


.... Superman

Since I really don't have much to say about Game Seven, as there is an amazing amount of stats and information out there on virtually any link there on the left, I want to point out a really nicely written piece on Barry Bonds over at Mike's Baseball Rants.

Scary situation for the Giants, and to think they were 8 outs away from champagne....

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 27, 2002


.... Dazed and confused

The Giants suffered perhaps the the most disheartening and distressing loss in the history of baseball tonight, losing 6-5 to the Anaheim Angels, who became the first team in the history of the game to win an elimnation game of any kind after trailing by five runs or more.

I'd love to write a nice long piece about the managerial mistakes made by Dusty Baker tonight, I really would. I'd explain how he inexplicably allowed Russ Ortiz to come out for the seventh inning, even though he had already thrown over 90 pitches to the superb Angels lineup, holding them to three baserunners and no runs through six outstanding innings. I could explain in painful detail how the first man out of the bullpen with two on and one out to face lefty Scott Speizio should have been lefty Chad Zerbe, only one of the two or three most effective pitchers Baker has had this postseason; as opposed to the one-pitch specialist, Felix Rodriguez, whom the Angels had faced in five consecutiove games.

I'd wax poetic on the vagaries of pitching low and inside with a 3-2 count to a hitter who feasts on low and inside pitches, something so obvious even the pedantic Tim McCarver pointed it out prior to the home run. I'd be more than happy to remind everyone that Tim Worrel, as great as he's been these playoffs, was brought in to face three hitters who had been among the toughest hitters against him in his entire career. And I'd be happy to criticize Dusty's inability to figure out a way to stop the bleeding once Anaheim came alive, I really would.

But I'm too depressed, too disappointed, and too disgusted. Once again, the San Franciso Giants will be required to rebound from a devastating loss. Once again, Dusty Baker will have to rally his troops, asking them to overcome his failings, and their own, to make it to the promised land.

They have given all the momentum back to the Angels, after out-scoring them 25 to 4 over the 20 innings prior to the seventh tonight. They now face a re-awakened juggernaut, in Anaheim, in a do or die Game Seven, after being eight outs from their first championship ever. Suffice to say, the odds against them tomorrow are as long as the ones the Angels faced tonight, when they came to bat in the seventh inning down 5-0.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 26, 2002


.... Oh, people will come, Ray. People will most certainly come.

The immortal Roger Kahn writes about the lineage between Willie Mays and his Godson in today's LA Times. Need I say more?

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 25, 2002


.... On and on

I'm gonna drop the Rose deal, I've got a couple of people working with me to do the issue real justice, and when I finally get it all together, I'll post a nice long final piece.

In the meantime.... The Giants are poised to win their first World Series since 1954, and their first in San Francisco after last night 16-4 pounding. I had put together a nice post with a bunch of links to the box score and all that, but Blogger went down and ate it, so all I got is my own hot air.

Let me say that the Giants are in position to fashion one of the more stunning turnarounds in team sports history. Rarely will you see a team rebound from such devastating losses as they suffered in Games two and three, think back to the 1996 Yankees, and I can hardly think of another instance where a team came back from the dead so decidedly. In fact, the '96 Yankees struggled to get back into that series, although they get mucho points for doing it on the road. But the Giants were down 2 games to 1, down 3-0 in the fifth inning, and for all intents and purposes, they looked like they were in danger of being over-run like the Scots by the Brits in the 14th century.

Instead, they have now outscored the Angels 20-4 in the last 12 and 1/2 innings, and it's the Giants who are breaking all kinds of offensive records in the World Series. Amazing game, baseball.

Let me also say that when they went into that Game Four, I told my wife that they needed Rueter to do more than just win the game, they needed him to use all of his funky, off-speed, nibbling, in and out goodies to knock the Angels out of their rythym, and I think that he just might have done that. At least, going from Rueter's 85 MPH swag to Schmidt's 97 MPH laser beams has.

Anyway, the Giants seem to have all the momentum and advantage, with everyone saying that Ortiz should be able to rebound and pitch much more effectively than Appier. Here's hoping everyone is right. Go Giants.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 25, 2002


.... A Rose in Spanish Harlem

Reader Tom Curl is adamant that Pete Rose bet on baseball, citing this Gary Huckabay column, among others. I love Gary, and I read his stuff religiously, but I cannot for the life of me understand how he continues to assert that we know that Pete Rose bet on baseball, or that the agreement signed by Rose is an admittance that Rose bet on baseball. In an effort to inform my readers, here is the link to the whole 225-page Dowd Report. And here is the text of the Pete Rose agreement:



AGREEMENT AND RESOLUTION

On March 6, 1989, the Commissioner of Baseball instituted an investigation of Peter Edward Rose, the field manager of the Cincinnati Reds Baseball Club, concerning allegations that Peter Edward Rose engaged in conduct not in the best interests of baseball in violation of Major League Rule 21, including but not limited to betting on Major League Baseball games in connection with which he had a duty to perform.

The Commissioner engaged a special counsel to conduct a full, fair and confidential inquiry of the allegations against Peter Edward Rose. Peter Edward Rose was given notice of the allegations and he and his counsel were generally apprised of the nature and progress of the investigation. During the inquiry, Peter Edward Rose produced documents, gave handwriting exemplars and responded to questions under oath upon oral deposition. During the deposition, the special counsel revealed key evidence gathered in the inquiry to Peter Edward Rose and his counsel.

On May 9, 1989, the special counsel provided a 225-page report, accompanied by seven volumes of exhibits, to the Commissioner. On May 11, 1989 the Commissioner provided a copy of the Report to Peter Edward Rose and his counsel, and scheduled a hearing on May 25, 1989 to give Peter Edward Rose an opportunity to respond formally to the information in the report. Peter Edward Rose received, read and is aware of the contents of the Report. On May 19, 1989, Peter Edward Rose requested, and subsequently received, an extension of the hearing date until June 26, 1989. Peter Edward Rose acknowledges that the Commissioner has treated him fairly in this Agreement and has acted in good faith throughout the course of the investigation and proceedings.

Peter Edward Rose will conclude these proceedings before the Commissioner without a hearing and the Commissioner will not make any formal findings or determinations on any matter including without limitation the allegation that Peter Edward Rose bet on any Major League Baseball game. The Commissioner has determined that the best interests of Baseball are served by a resolution of this matter on the following agreed upon terms and conditions:

1. Peter Edward Rose recognizes, agrees and submits to the sole and exclusive jurisdiction of the Commissioner:

A. To investigate, either upon complain or upon his own initiative, any act, transaction or practice charged, alleged or suspected to be not in the best interests of the national game of Baseball; and

B. To determine, after investigation, what preventive, remedial, or punitive action is appropriate in the premises, and to take such action as the case may be.

2. Counsel for Peter Edward Rose, upon his authority, have executed a stipulation dismissing with prejudice the civil action that was originally filed in the Court of Common Pleas, Hamitlon County, Ohio, captioned Peter Edward Rose v. A. Bartlett Giamatti, No. A8905178, and subsequently removed to the United States District Court from the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, Docket No. C-2-89-577.

3. Peter Edward Rose will not avail himself of the opportunity to participate in a hearing concerning the allegations against him, or otherwise offer any defense to those allegations.

4. Peter Edward Rose acknowledges that the Commissioner has a factual basis to impose the penalty provided herein, and hereby accepts the penalty imposed on him by the Commissioner and agrees not to challenge that penalty in court or otherwise. He also agrees he will not institute any legal proceedings of any nature against the Commissioner of any of his representatives, either Major League or any Major League Club.

5. The commissioner recognizes and agrees that it is in the best interests of the national game of Baseball that this matter be resolved pursuant to his sole and exclusive authority under the Major League Agreement.

THEREFORE, the Commissioner, recognizing the benefits to Baseball from a resolution of this matter, orders and directs that Peter Edward Rose be subject to the following disciplinary sanctions, and Peter Edward Rose, recognizing the sole and exclusive authority of the Commissioner and that it is in his interest to resolve this matter without further proceedings, agrees to accept the following disciplinary sanctions imposed by the Commissioner.

a. Peter Edward Rose is hereby declared permanently ineligible in accordance with Major League Rule 21 and placed on the Ineligible List.

b. Nothing in this Agreement shall deprive Peter Edward Rose of the rights under Major League Rule 15(c) to apply for reinstatement. Peter Edward Rose agrees not to challenge, appeal or otherwise contest the decision of, or the procedure employed by, the Commissioner or any future Commissioner in the evaluation of any application for reinstatement.

c. Nothing in this agreement shall be deemed either an admission or a denial by Peter Edward Rose of the allegation that he bet on any Major League Baseball game.

Neither the Commissioner nor Peter Edward Rose shall be prevented by this agreement from making any public statement relating to this matter so long as no such public statement contradicts the terms of this agreement and resolution.

This document contains the entire agreement of the parties and represents the entire resolution of the matter of Peter Edward Rose before the Commissioner. Agreed to and resolved this 23rd day of August 1989...



The rest of it is the signatures of all the parties. So, where does this document say that Pete Rose bet on baseball? Nowhere. In fact, this document specifically states that it shall not be deemed either an admission or a denial from Rose. It also says that none of the parties are allowed to publicly contradict the document, something that John Dowd did immediately, and subsequently, Bart Giamatti and his successors, Fay Vincent and Bud Selig have had no problem doing.

This document spells out that the Commisioner has a factual basis to impose this penalty, sure, but it does not state what those facts are, and in fact; it specifically says that no one else is allowed to do so. I have already detailed how Bill James questions the validity of the assertions and allegations found in the Dowd report, read it yourself if you doubt the veracity of Bill's position. The point is that Rose signed this non-admission of guilt sanction knowing that because it did not include any confirmation that he bet on baseball, he would be able to apply for re-instatement, and in all probability, he would receive it.

Rose signed it because he had no choice. If he took MLB to court, he'd lose no matter what happened. Win or lose, he'd never get in the Hall of Fame. This way, he allowed MLB to show that it was defending the honor of the Hall of Fame (whatever that means), and he was in turn, rewarded with a way back in. MLB lied to him, and by doing so, and then following up their lies with ignoring his petitions for re-instatement, they've made a mockery out of the very thing they say they are defending, the ideal of integrity. Then again, with a used car salesman running the show, who'd expect more?

One more thing. The Hall of Fame is full of players and managers who were less than ideal citizens. Babe Ruth was a womanizing, drunken lout. Ty Cobb was a lying, fist-fighting racist. Tris Speaker, John McGraw, Charlie Comiskey, the list of people who are in the Hall of Fame that I wouldn't trust with my daughter is longer than my arm. The point isn't that those who aren't perfect should be expelled. The point is that human beings are fallible, and to hold one man to some standard of perfection that so many of us would never meet is flat-out wrong, and it's the worst example of the kind of hypocrisy so prevalent in today's politically-correct world. Only Jesus Christ was perfect, that doesn't mean that we can't honor and lionize those whose lives are flawed.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 24, 2002


.... Oh yeah

I forgot to mention my prediction results. Way back in July, while the Giants were struggling to stay in the race, I posted a prediction piece using the Bill James Pythagorean formula. What I did was pretty simple, I took the Giants expected winning %, and ran it out on how many games they had left. Originally, it showed that the Giants would beat the Dodgers by a couple of games, finishing with 92 wins to 88. After a couple of more runs, I posted one final prediction piece on September 1st, showing the Giants with an expected record of 94-68, and, of course, the Wild Card. As you know, they finished with 95-66 record, so I guess the use of the Pyth formula worked pretty well.

Something to note, the Giants and the Angels, playing in the two toughest divisions in baseball, had the best expected winning % in their repsective leagues.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 24, 2002


.... Bitch ~n~ moan

I am scrolling through my archives and I came across this absolutely insane rant on Dusty's managerial style. The point I was making in this post was that Dusty has a history of treating each game the exact same, without the urgency that some games demand. Has he conquered that demon? Is the run this team is on due to a change in his style, or have the players come through as they never have before?

It's an interesting question, one that I intend to delve into during the off-season. Here's hoping that it's a post-World Series off-season.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 24, 2002


.... Odds and ends

Jim Caple has another "Pete Rose should apologize" piece today, after the standing ovation he got last night. I love Jim's writing, and I usually find myself nodding in agreement with virtually everything he says, but I disagree with him on this, and so does our good friend Mike over at Mike's Baseball Rants. He accurately reminds us that the evidence against Rose is as thin as tissue paper, something I talked about in this post, and again in this one.

Mike reminds us that the one thing Rose cannot do is apologize, because that's the one thing that would effectively end any chance he has of ever making the Hall of Fame. Rose had been told that if he would sign an agreement that admitted conduct detrimental to baseball he would be eligible for reinstatement in one year, and that agreement did not include betting on baseball. Rose knew that acknowledging he had bet on baseball was a a death sentence to his chance of ever making the Hall of Fame, since he was as knowledgable about baseball history as perhaps any player ever. Major League Baseball lied to Rose, broke the agreement that they wrote the minute it was signed, and they have black-balled him ever since, led by the amazingly slimy looking Seligula, who apparently is reluctant to be the one who lets Rose back into the fold, for fear of having people not think the best of him.

Let me ask this question again, if the Dowd report is so damning and conclusive, why did the Commissioner of Baseball sign an agreement stating that he didn't conclude that Pete Rose bet on baseball? Furthermore, why put in the agreement a line clarifying Rose's ability to apply for reinstatement? I can't imagine a scenario in which he would have signed an agreement stating the opposite, but without such a coda, he would have been eligible to apply for reinstatement whether this agreement said so or not.

I believe it's in there because he was told or it was implied that by signing this agreement, allowing baseball to get the problem out of the limelight, his reinstatement would be a matter of formality. I believe that Bart Giammatti, a student of baseball history, realized that the long line of baseball legends included many men whose conduct had failed to reach the lofty standards put forth by the sportswriters and the hypocrites; and that the best interests of baseball included allowances for such men. I believe that Bart Giammatti never intended Rose's ban to be a lifetime ban and that he and Pete Rose were in agreement that Rose needed to acknowledge that he did do things that were bad for baseball, but that, over the course of his career, he had done far more good; and if he did this, eventually he would be allowed to bask in the glow of all of those accomplishments once more.

It's a pity that someone like Bud Selig, whose list of questionable and dishonest actions are far more damaging to baseball than any of the acts Rose is supposedly guilty of, is in the position to hold Rose hostage.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 24, 2002


.... Swinging strikes

The San Francisco Chronicle's Mark Purdy seems to be pointing out the obvious in today's column on the Giants.



".... pitchers get in trouble if they try to nibble the corners against Anaheim. The better idea is to give them good strikes that aren't the most hittable strike. Every batter in the world has a strike he doesn't like, a location he doesn't hit as well as other locations. Give it to him."



Reader Ed Loots, who charts pitches during the games, among other things, suggests that Purdy is dead on:



John, here's a few additional thoughts on the Series. As you and your readers know, I pay special attention to first pitches. Besides gauging a pitcher's overall effectiveness, I also monitor base hits and what follows that first pitch. For instance, in the first four games of this series, there have been a total of 87 base hits. Sixty-two of those hits (71.3%) occurred on either the first pitch or when the first pitch was a "ball." For the Angels, the numbers are 38 of 51(74.5%). The Angels have 12 base hits on the first pitch, the Giants just three.

There have been six base hits following a first pitch "swinging strike," three by each team. There have been only three hits in the Series following a first pitch "foul ball." There have 16 base hits following first pitch "called strike."

It is crucial to remember that when the first pitch is a "ball," there is a high percentage that a base hit will follow. We know that's true during the regular season, but it has been extra true in this World Series so far. I will be watching this fifth game tonight. I will be hoping for Giants' win by no more than three runs, and then I will be convinced that this is somehow a replay of the 1960 World Series. The only real difference so far is that the 1960 Series opened in the National League, in Pittsburgh. Let's see what happens. There's never been a World Series like 1960.

Here's an interesting World Series fact, the seventh game of that series was the only game in World Series history that was played without a single strike-out. Neither team had a batter whiff, and 77 of them tripped to the dish.



As shown by Fox during last night's telecast, all major league hitters batting averages go up when they get themselves into predictable pitch counts (1-0, 2-0, 3-1), and they go down when they are in in a defensive mode (0-1, 0-2, 1-2). So far in this series, we've seen an exaggeration of these trends, and as Ed points out, it's the Angels who have really warped the Matrix. But after they had gotten up 3-0 last night, the Angels only managed to send 18 batters to the plate over the last six innings, the minimum. The Giants pitchers threw nine first pitch strikes during those last six innings, and only six first pitch balls.

One other thing. In the Game Three postgame news conference, Dusty said that maybe the Angels had hit themselves out. After last night's game, I wonder if he might be on to something. At some point, hits don't keep falling. No team can sustain a .350 batting average for very long, and the Angels have been raking for three weeks now.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 24, 2002


.... Back from the brink

The Giants held off the awesome Anaheim Angels 4-3 last night, evening the World Series at 2-2. Behind the careful pitching of Kirk Rueter, and the clutch hitting of JT Snow and David Bell, the Giants did what many, including me, thought was impossible. In fact, going into last night, the consensus was that the only way the Giants could beat the Angels with Woody on the mound was if they won a slug-fest.

Instead, Woody and the rest of the pitchers were simply brilliant, keeping the ball down, staying ahead of the hitters just enough, and even though the Angels were able to get an early 3-0 lead, Rueter was able to get a key double play, the hitters kept putting runners on, and eventually they were able to tie it in the fifth. The Giants held the Angels to just three hits over the last six innings, and they didn't allow a walk.

By the time the game was in the eighth, the two Rodriguez's were in the game, and this time the Giants were able to put the kibosh on the rookie. After a perfect seventh against Kent (still lost at the plate), Bonds and Santiago, K-Rod gave up a leadoff single to Snow to start the eighth. Pitching from the stretch for the first time in the series, he and Molina got crossed up and the passed ball allowed Snow to take second. However, Reggie Sanders, looking like he'd never bunted in his life, popped out to a siving Spezio, leaving the game, the series, and the season in Wille McCovey Award-winner David Bell's hands.

As he's done all season long, Bell proved to be more than capable. His two-out single started the rally against St. Louis that put the Giants in the World Series, this time his RBI single kept them in it. In the ninth, Nen allowed a one out single, and then on a nasty 0-2 pitch, he got the Giants third double play of the night, and that ended it.

.... emails and details

Reader Ed Loots thinks this series looks a lot like the 1960 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Pittsburgh Pirates.



John, there is a strange similarity between this Series and the 1960 World Series. The Giants won a tight opener. They were bloodied by the Angels in the next two, and the Giants saved face by nipping the Halos in the fourth contest tonight. Same as '60. The Pirates won a close opener, 6-4. They were murdered in the next two games, 16-3 and 10-0. They stayed away from annihilation in the fourth game by nipping the Yanks, 3-2. Let's see what happens tomorrow night. If this Series follows form, the Giants will win another close one tonight only to get clobbered in the sixth game Saturday.

I studied this matter for a lengthy period today because I felt the Angels hitting was so impressive and so very near the Yankees' performance in the 1960 World Series. I was wondering if the Giants could win a one-run contest tonight to maintain the parallel conditions to 1960 and turn this Series into a possible seven-game exercise, and, by golly, they did. This is a terrific Series now that the Giants have evened it. If it goes the route of 1960, hang on to your hats in the Bay Area. Pittsburgh has yet to get over the 1960 excitement. San Francisco will enjoy the same long-lasting joy.



Thanks Ed. I am sure many people familiar with baseball history have already noticed the similarities. Even yours truly said something to my wife about it while the Giants were taking the field in the top of the ninth. So now the Giants have their two best pitchers going these next two games. Not for nothing, I'd just as soon win it in six.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 24, 2002


.... Analyze this

The great William Carroll, who runs the awesome Under the Knife site, was wondering why Jeff Kent has so few runs batted in this postseason, especially considering the difficulties the Giants seem to be facing. His point, and I agree, is that Kent is in line to be the un-informed and easy choice for World Series goat. He rightly suggests that Kent probably hasn't had that many opportunities to drive in runs, so I looked it up on ESPN's box score pages.

Here's what the San Francisco Giants big six have doen so far this postseason:





LOBRBIRunsWS RBI
Aurilia1313101

Kent10261

Bonds1614154

Santiago211241

Sanders33544

Snow17974



Clearly the biggest culprit for the Giants has been the only recently resucitated Reggie Sanders. Kent is going to take a lot of flak for just 2 RBI in 13 games, but Will hit the nail on the head, he hasn't come to the plate with many opportunities to drive someone other than himself in. Then again, he's only had 13 hits, which helps explain his poor runs scored total as well as Bonds' huge number of walks.

Overall, these numbers don't surprise me at all. They look just like they would from any two week stretch of the regular season, outside of the Kent slump, which really started in September. He had a great season, but really, he was only actively productive for about three months. He did almost nothing in March/April, and after hitting 14 home runs with 34 RBI in August, he fell off a bunch in September, dropping all the way to 4 home runs and 10 RBI. His lack of production in the postseason is perfectly in line with that drop.

It's worth glancing at Kent's season to see what I'm talking about:

April .261/.323/.432 4 HR

May .259/.316/.407 3 HR

June .414/.463/.667 6 HR

July .379/.413/.670 6 HR

Aug. .316/.381/.772 14 HR

Sept. .232/.300/.394 4 HR

I don't know about you, but when I see a player hit more home runs in one month than in any other two combined, as his batting average and on base percentage plummet, I'm thinking he started to develop some bad habits swinging for the fences, and in Kent's case, he looks like he hasn't been able to get his swing back on track. I've watched the postseason pretty closely, and that's what it's looked like. I'd say the stats bear this out. And the reason this is such a big deal is simple. For the Giants to win this series, they will almost certainly have to out-hit the hottest team on the planet. That means that Kent, Sanders, I mean, really everyone on the team has to get on base inning after inning, otherwise the Giants are going to be over-run by the relentless Angels.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 23, 2002


.... Dumbelina

So I'm at the World Series last night, wandering around the bleachers. You could see Karl Ravich and Peter Gammons doing Baseball Tonight out by the Glove, it was pretty awesome. I made my way over to the left field bleachers where they set up the press box, and my friend Rob noticed there was no security or yellow tape or anything stopping you from going down there. At the same time, I saw Jayson Stark chatting with Jim Caple, and Rob knows I write this blog, and I told him who those guys were, blah blah blah.

So Rob says I have to go say hi, and I'm like no way, and we went back and forth, and finally I gave in and walked down there. I walked right up to Jayson Stark, tapped him on the shoulder and said, "Jim Caple." Reached out and grabbed his hand, "Big fan."

Jayson was kind enough to introduce me to Jim, and actually I was nimble enough to recover and re-introduce myself to Jayson, but I felt stupid enough that I didn't stick around long. Thanks to the two ESPN legends for not laughing in my face.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 23, 2002


.... Hammered

The Angels hammered the Giants 10-4 last night, to take a two games to one lead in the World Series. Game Four is tonight, and the Giants season rests on the slender shoulders of Kirk Rueter, who starts against John Lackey.

As pointed out by Larry Krueger on KNBR 680 as I was driving home, the Angels have had 64 baserunners in three games, actually a little less than three full games since they won Game Two going away, they only came to bat eight times in that contest. Wow.

Livan Hernandez did make history last night, just not the kind of history Giants fans were hoping, losing his first postseason game. He was unable to throw all of his pitches for strikes, and in fact, he did appear to lose confidence in his fastball, right around the time he was unable to get through the third inning without allowing nine men to bat. The Angels, in fact, were so relentless, that David Eckstein led off the first, third, fourth and fifth innings, something that I don't ever recall seeing before. Stranger still was that he was hitless through the fifth inning, but then he came up with runners in scoring position later and drove one in with a clean, first pitch single.

Relentless, unstoppable, machine-like in their approach, the Angels have turned into Bugs Bunny, marching around the bases inning after inning. I said before the series started that I thought no team could be a 328/.365/.547 juggernaut for very long, and that we should see them seek their proper level; and if they had found a new level of dominance, that they would win the World Series going away. They sure seem like they're not interested in slowing down.

At this point, if the Giants come back and win this series, it would rank among the most incredible wins in baseball history. I just don't see how they are going to slow down these hitters with Kirk Rueter, good luck charm or not.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 23, 2002


.... Tonight's the night, we make history

Livan Hernandez has a chance to become the only pitcher in the history of baseball to win his first seven postseason decisions tonight, and he couldn't have picked a tougher opponent. The Anaheim Angels have made the playoffs their own little softball rec league, taking their basic principals of hitting, don't swing at bad balls, don't give up on at-bats, shorten up with two strikes, get into hitters counts and rake; and amplified them to the max. Everyone knows how amazing they have been offensively, so let's focus on Livan's strengths and weaknesses.

Strengths

Livan must throw all of his pitches for strikes. This is fairly obvious for any pitcher, but in Livan's case, the difference between pitching ahead in the count and behind is staggering. Here's what he's done when he's ahead in the count:

At 0-2 .200/.200/.244

After 0-2 .227/.268/.376

At 1-2 .217/.216/.330

After 1-2 .195/.245/.325

At 2-2 .199/.197/.326

After 2-2 .179/.272/.284

At 3-2 .159/.421/.244

After 3-2 .159/.421/.244

Surprisingly, he has been able to control the at bats once he gets to 2-2 and beyond. He also has enjoyed a substantial advantage pitching at PacBell Park, with improved results in all areas, including an earned run average almost a full run lower. He can changes speeds with all of his pitches, and if he can get the outside corner, he will expand the strike zone throughout the entire game.

Hernandez is also an excellent athlete, a terrific hitter, maybe the best hitting pitcher in baseball, (Other than perhaps Mike Hampton, who looks good in and out of Coors Field). He's not the best bunter, but against the Angels, I would guess that Dusty will be a little more aggressive than normal, since a one-run strategy against a team scoring almost seven runs per game is probably not going to be effective.

He is one of the best fielding pitchers in the game as well, and he keeps the ball down when he pitches, resulting in a lot of double plays, which helps him dominate with runners on first and second, .145/.186/.218 with 29 double plays this season, .236/.284/.354 with 51 double plays 1999-2001.

Finally, he is a work-horse, so if he can keep the Angels off the board early, he is less likely to be worn out by their long at bats. In fact, not unlike Jason Schmidt, if you can get Livan the early lead, he also can dominate with a completely different approach; frustrating opponents with his off-speed pitches down in the strike zone, and teasing them with his fastball on the black.

Weaknesses

Doesn't possess a dominant out-pitch. Doesn't strike out many hitters. If he cannot throw all or most of his pitches for strikes, look out, he can be lit up early and often. Here's what he's done this season behind in the count:

At 1-0 .383/.381/.517

After 1-0 .284/.370/.425

At 2-0 .348/.385/.391

After 2-0 .289/.445/.456

At 2-1 .466/.458/.724

After 2-1 .316/.425/.491

RISP .304/.371/.418

Simply put, he sometimes plays like he is somewhere else. I've seen him lose a game on the first pitch, glaring at the umpire after a ball that he thought should have been a strike. His confidence can be very fragile, which will sometimes cause him to ignore a pitch he doesn't trust, especially his fastball. If he cannot throw it early without getting hammered, he will stop using it, virtually guaranteeing he will be pitching from behind.

Final thoughts

He has that special something in the playoffs, the big stage seems to really help him focus and concentrate. The Giants will need him to be at his very best tonight, because they are in there against a phenomenal offense, one that is a threat from any spot in the lineup, with any count, any situation, and on any pitch thrown anywhere. Some of the hits they got on Sunday were on pitches that were not only balls, they were nowhere near the strike zone!

Forget about numbers, because any way you slice up the Angels, they are on a devastating roll. They didn't strike out one time on Sunday. That's all you need to know. The Giants pitchers threw over 150 pitches in just eight innings of work, and the Angels swung and missed just six times!

Felix Rodriguez, one of the hardest throwing pitchers in all of baseball, threw 37 pitches to eight hitters, and they swung and missed just twice! Felix was hitting 95-98 MPH, and he couldn't throw it past them. The at-bat prior to Salmon's game-winning home run, Erstad took eight pitches to get out, all of which topped 96 MPH. Adam Kennedy took seven pitches to get out, after starting out 1-2, he got his bat on four pitches in a row, all of which were 96 MPH or better. He threw nine pitches to Brad Fullmer, and was unable to get one swing and miss.

The only advantage Livan might see here is that he is used to getting outs with his defense. Tough game, I think the Angels have a ton of momentum, and frankly, with Rueter scheduled tomorrow, this is a flat-out must win for the Giants. I don't like their odds. As a Giants fan, I am scared to death.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 22, 2002


.... emails and details

Mike from Sacramento writes:



John, I've been a Giants fan since 1960. Needless to say, these post season games are just too tense for me to watch on television. Whenever the Giants fall behind, I have to listen to the game on the radio. Maybe it would not be so bad if they had chalked up the big prize one or two times times over the years.



An observation about this series versus the Angels that really gets me worried. The Angels have their first two hitters slapping the ball around and playing old style baseball with contact and speed. Going with the pitch, you know... they set up the table for their middle lineup, which is the way baseball should be played. Intense and very focused on wreaking havoc, doing whatever it takes to get on base and score runs.

Then there's the Giants. Here we are in the ninth inning last night and Bonds is up third. The strategy at that point would seem to be for Aurilia and/or Kent to get on base (not leaving first base open). Making simple contact or trying to get a walk would have been the way to go. But no, these two knuckleheads are swinging from their heels. Here you have the most feared hitter possibly in the history of baseball and not using him properly. When Bonds hit that mighty homerun, (I was listening on the radio) I thought to myself "so what?"



I guess my point is that the Angels are playing "percentage baseball" and the Giants are not. Setting up the table for Bonds will win the series for the Giants, but they need to get their 1, 2, and 3 hole hitters to play smart. OK, so Bonds may not get pitched to most of the time, but we saw what happened when there were runners on base with Bennie, Snow coming up after....



Mike, I get the picture. I've tried not to be too bitchy in my posts, I mean, the Giants are tied 1-1 in the World Series for crying out loud.

Nonetheless, you are dead on about Aurilia and Kent last night. I sometimes get the feeling watching Kent that he is going to hit away no matter what the situation, in order to either assert that he is just as good as Barry, or to make sure that he is the one to get the credit for the team winning, or even possibly to make sure that Barry doesn't get the RBI opportunity. I mean, in all four of his at bats last night, Kent was trying to hit a home run, no doubt about it.

In the ninth inning, after Aurilia swung at ball two, (admittedly, he missed a home run by thismuch), Kent should have choked up and done his level best to fight to get on, both he and Aurilia should have. They didn't, and even if one of them had reached first, it would have been up to Santiago to win the game. The only way Bonds gets something to hit is two outs nobody on or no outs, two men on. This is the way these two teams play, like it or not. The Angels slap the ball around and the Giants, well, the Giants smash the hell out of it. Think of it this way, if the Giants played their home games at Edison Field, they'd have led the majors in home runs by about thirty or forty. If the Angels played their home games at PacBell, well, they'd be watching the World Series like you and I, because they would have hit about 110 home runs instead of 150, and that forty homer difference would have probably put the Red Sox in the playoffs instead of the Angels.

Thanks for the email Mike.

One other thing. There's no way Felix should have been left in to pitch to Salmon. Nen is an absolute no-brainer there, expecially after Dusty showed everyone he was concerned by sending Rags out. If you have any doubts in that situation, you have to make the move. Dusty didn't, and it cost him a game he very well should have won. Using Aaron Fultz was another bad move, has he gotten one hold in a critical situation the last two seasons? Lefty vs. lefty, whatever. He's the Giants tenth best pitcher for crying out loud, and you bring him in to face their biggest RBI guy? Not smart.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 21, 2002


.... Statistically speaking

After two games what can we say about the World Series?

Let' s see.... First of all, apparently I was wrong, the Angels have found a new level of offensive ability. Coming into the series they were running a staggering .328/.365/.547. So far, all they've been able to do against the Giants two best pitchers is raise their level of production... banging out an absolutely overwhelming .342/.372/.575 with a .947 OPS!!!! That the Giants, with the best offense in baseball have matched them run for run is astonishing, especially considering that the G-men have scored ten of their fourteen runs via the long ball. In fact, therein lies the biggest worry Giants fans have coming into the next three games at PacBell.

Everyone knows that PacBell depresses offense. What most people may not understand is exactly how it does this. The Giants hit and allowed home runs at just about half the rate at home as they did on the road. On the road, the Giants and their opponents combined to hit 198 home runs, for an average of 2.4 per game. At home, they combined to hit just 114, for an average of just 1.4 per game. So far in the World Series, while the Giants have leaned heavily on home runs to score therir runs, the Angels have scored just six of their fourteen runs by doing so.

Also weighing against the Giants are the recent struggles of the top three hitters in their batting order, Kenny Lofton, Rich Aurilia, and Jeff Kent. Each has just one hit so far in the series, contributing to the success of the Angels strategy of avoiding pitching to Barry Bonds with men on base. In fact, Bonds has just one at bat so far with a man on base. He came up with Aurilia on second and one out in the fifth last night, and Scioscia walked him. Take a look at Bonds' World Series at bats:

Game One

2nd inning, 0 outs 0 on base HR

4th inning, 1 out 0 on base K

6th inning, 0 outs 0 on base Ground out

8th inning, 1 out 0 on base BB

Game Two

2nd inning, 0 outs 0 on base BB

3rd inning, 0 outs 0 on base BB

5th inning, 1 out Aurilia on 2nd IBB

6th inning, 2 outs 0 on base ground out

9th inning, 2 outs 0 on base HR

From the Angels standpoint, the good news is that they've had very little decision making to do with Barry. The bad news is that even though they've been able to pitch around him for the most part, they barely managed to split their two home games. From the Giants point of view, they were only able to manage a split with their best two pitchers on the mound, but they also have a silver lining, since the Angels have at least as many question marks with their next two starters as the Giants do.

As we head into the National League's home three pack, expect more scoring than you're used to at PacBell, as these two offenses seem to be reaching another gear. Scary team, these Angels.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 21, 2002


.... Weekend at Bernie's

Wow. What a start to the 2002 World Series. Bonds goes deep twice, Sanders' bat has come alive. The Angels are relentless. Great stuff so far. Can't wait until tomorrow night. The Giants won Game One 4-3, and the Angels survived Game Two 11-10.

I guess the goat of last night was Ortiz, but you have to give the Angels some credit too. He was a little wobbly, sure, but they didn't miss anything. Line drive after line drive, they are an awesome offense. The Giants pitchers were unable to get a single strikeout against them last night. Not one! That makes Jason Schmidt's six K effort on Saturday even more impressive.

Watching the Angels last night made me worry. A team that won't give up even a single at bat, battling each pitch to try and get on base regardless of how many outs or the situation, impossible to strikeout, every batter seems to have a terrific eye, they never seem to swing at bad pitches and then when they do, they hit line drives off them. These next two games are gonna be tough games for the Giants. They better keep swinging the bats, because even PacBell is gonna have a tough time slowing down the Angels.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 21, 2002


.... Nerves of steel?

I know I'm supposed to write something on tonight's game, but I am just completely overwhelmed. Nervous, excited, anxious, jittery... Way too much time between games.

Tonight's matchup has been analyzed over and over, pretty much every newspaper and magazine, a dozen of my fellow blogsters.... There's so little separating these teams that it's easy to picture a dozen scenarios for each team winning, sweeping, seven games, whatever.

I'll go back to what I said prior to Schmidt's last start; if the Giants can get a run or two up on the board early, Schmidt can dominate relying on his spectacular fastball. I don't see Washburn being able to be anywhere near as overpowering, so I would think the Giants can get Schmidt that early lead, and they should be able to win Game One. That's all I can say right now. Once we get underway, I'll be able to relax, I'll probably do some live stuff, but not too much.

Go Giants

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 19, 2002


.... Toot toot

Rob Neyer writes about the Barry dilemma, and he explains that the "hidden" cost of walking Barry indiscriminately is that he doesn't make outs, giving his teammates more opportunities. Gee, where have I heard that before? ....Hmmm, let me see ..... oh yeah, HERE!! That's right, you heard it here first. That's what my mom used to call tooting your own horn, don't think I don't know it.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 18, 2002


.... Change of pace

Now that he has led his team into the World Series, Dusty Baker is being hailed as one of the greatest managers in today's game. All of the things we have been complaining about here at OBM, his patience (inaction), loyalty (stubborness), strategy (come on...), these traits and many others are now touted as foundations of his long-term success. Murray Chass of the New York Times has a piece on his 10 year run with the Giants, and his reaching the promised land this season.

Not to spoil the party, but before we crown Baker manager for life, I'd like to remind everybody how slim the margin of winning was in that Braves series, how close to losing another playoff series Baker and Bonds and the Giants were.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 17, 2002


.... Angels in the outfield

Looking at this World Series, the Anaheim Angels have what appears to be an overwhelming advantage offensively. In fact, since these two teams feature rotations that are so even that, quite frankly, they are almost interchangeable, the only real question revolves around these two offenses. The Giants, based on the regular season statistics, have the best offense in baseball.

Here's my base lines for analysis, their Only Baseball Matters Triple Crown stats:

On the Road:

Angels .286/.343/.437 81 HR

Giants .273/.350/.471 126 HR

Against Righties

Angels .278/.336/.425 99 HR

Giants .263/.341/.425 136 HR

Against Lefties

Angels .292/.351/.451 53 HR

Giants .279/.356/.493 62 HR

But throughout these playoffs, the Angels have completely transformed their offense, striking out just slightly fewer times per at bat, but hitting home runs at twice the frequency, every 19 at bats compared to every 38 at bats during the regular season. Here's how they match up with the Giants, with the Angels having played 9 playoff games to the Giants 10, the first line showing their production with the 18 hits and 20 runs from their two historic innings, the second without them:

Angels .328/.365/.547 105 hits, 17 HR, 60 runs scored, 44 SO

Angels .293/.344/.496 87 hits, 14 HR, 42 runs scored, 42 SO

Giants .247/.332/.417 80 hits, 13 HR, 47 runs scored, 81 SO

Here's what each team has done vs. Lefties:

Angels .363/.394/.588 6 HR, 6 BB, 15 SO

Giants .344/.430/.469 2 HR, 16 BB, 15 SO

Here's what they've done vs. Righties:

Angels .312/.352/.528 11 HR 10 BB, 29 SO

Giants .206/.288/.395 11 HR 23 BB, 66 SO

Amazing stats for the Angels, but let's remember that they get an extra hitter, which the Giants will also get when they play in Anaheim, and the Angels will lose that hitter when they play at PacBell.

Overall, these are the two teams with the largest runs scored and allowed differentials in their respective leagues. The Giants score their runs by walking and hitting home runs, and the Angels score theirs by piling up huge numbers of hits. Because the Angels rely on stringing hits together, it is very important for them to avoid the strikeout, which they have done extremely well. In the postseason, they have just 44 in 320 at bats, or about once every 7 at bats. The Giants, by comparison, have struck out 81 times in 324 at bats, or once every 4 at bats this postseason.

By being so tough to strikeout, the Angels really work over a pitcher and a team. They not only eat up a huge number of pitches, fouling off one after another; but they also put a lot of pressure on their opponents defense, because invariably they put the ball in play; often-times on a flair or a bloop or some other demoralizing, exhausting, frustrating way. Finishing off these hitters has undone two terrific rotations, and it's the main reason they are in the World Series. It's how they were able to put together those two innings of mayhem.

It will be very important for the Giants to finish off the Angel hitters when they get two strikes on them, something the Yankees and the Twins simply could not do. In fact, the Angels have hit an astonishing .310/.310/.552 with an 0-2 count in these playoffs.

This is the key to their offensive success, and I believe it is the key to this series. Can they continue to produce in such obviously difficult counts. The Giants have a couple of guys who have been pretty big strikeout guys throughout their careers, Rob Nen, Felix Rodriguez and Jason Schmidt primarily, and Russ Ortiz, has as well, to a lesser degree. They will need to lean heavily on these pitchers. Middle relievers Jay Witasik and Chad Zerbe et al, will have their work cut out for them, something the Minnesota Twins will tell them all about.

Starting pitchers Livan Hernandez and Kirk Rueter, who rely on their defense to pick it up and throw it, may find themselves struggling to get out of innings against these hitters. Consequently, it is imperative that Dusty Baker set up his rotation to ensure that Ortiz and Schmidt each get at least two starts. In fact, with the extra rest before the series, if I were Dusty, I'd consider starting Schmidt three times, especially if he can get through Game One having thrown under 100 pitches.

For the Giants, they have scored runs at about the same rate they have all season long, just under 5 runs per game. They have gotten excellent production throughout their lineup, and they have won four of five on the road, primarily because of their terrific offense. I expect the Giants will have little difficulty scoring against the Angels pitchers.

So where does that leave us? Let's summarize:

The Giants hit a lot of home runs.

The Angels pitchers gave up a lot of home runs.

The Angels hitters are tough to strike out.

The Giants pitchers don't strike out very many hitters.

The Giants offense is powered by walks and home runs.

The Angels offense is powered by singles and doubles.

This series won't turn on whether or not the Giants can score, it'll turn on whether or not the Angels have reached a new level of offensive production. If the Angels really are a .328/.365/.547 team, with a .912 OPS, they're gonna win the World Series, no matter what the Giants do. But as I've shown above, once you take the production they got out of those two innings out of their stats, well, they still look really good, but not unstoppable.

I don't believe that this team has found a new level of production. The Angels have piled up some very impressive stats due to their two history making innings. I believe that they have simply gotten all the breaks, and all of their two strike battles just happened to bounce their way these last two weeks. I believe that they really are a .280/.320/.460 team, pretty much right at the same level the Giants are. And I believe that the Giants have a terrific chance to win their first San Francisco championship.

By the way, I'll do individual game assessments the day before, just like I did for the St. Louis series, and I'll bring home the computer this weekend, maybe I'll even do another live game posting.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 16, 2002


.... Odds and ends

I was popping through the web doing some research, and I came across this site, Bat Speed Research, run by Jack Mankin. He has done something like nine years of research to come up with a replicable, analytical way of teaching hitters how to maximize their abilities. It is a bit beyond me regards the physics, but he makes sense in the way he describes hitting, and the instructional drawings he uses look a lot like Barry Bonds; to me, that's a persuasive presentation.

It made me think of Reggie Sanders, who appears to have a lightning fast swing but can't seem to catch up to a 90 MPH fastball. Anyone care to take a stab at explaining his stuff to my readers is welcome to try. Here's what Jack says:



I think the major reason for the sharp rise in the number of home runs and top hitters can be traced to the availability of improved VCRs that provide a good clear frame-by-frame breakdown of the baseball swing. This has allowed many players to study and emulate the rotational mechanics used by the most productive hitters.



Interesting stuff.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 15, 2002


.... Sour grapes, Part II

One of my extremely well educated and bored readers followed up on my sour grapes rant and sent me a "Just the facts, idiot." email. Rob Bates, great grandson of Norman ;) explains:



John, love your blog; I've been reading it for several weeks now. I'm a life long Giants fan, and like yourself, try not to let that stand in the way of a rational analysis of the team, although last night was awesome!!! While I don't always agree with your assessments, your posts are always entertaining and informative. Here's an example of a disagreement. On the obstruction call, (well, you knew it had to be something, right?) Anyway....

Rule 7.06(a) applies only in two situations; if a play is being made on the runner, or if the runner has not yet reached first base. Neither of these applied to Santiago last night. Instead, you have to go to 7.06(b), which reads:



If no play is being made on the obstructed runner, the play shall proceed until no further action is possible. The umpire shall then call "Time" and impose such penalties, if any, as in his judgment will nullify the act of obstruction. Under 7.06(b) when the ball is not dead on obstruction, and an obstructed runner advances beyond the base which, in the umpire's judgment, he would have been awarded because of being obstructed, he does so at his own peril and may be tagged out. This is a judgment call.



Note that assuming that the umpire rules that Santiago is entitled only to third base (as in the case last night), then not only is Santiago not entitled to an extra base, but if he's thrown out at home, then he is not re-awarded 3rd (since he did so at his own peril). Basically, Palermo explained the rule correctly, although he should have been clearer about the potential to advance to home (on John London's show this morning, they stated that Santiago should have tried to go home, since if he had been thrown out, they would have put him back at 3rd; the way I read this, this would have been incorrect).

Now, it can be argued that the judgment call was flawed, but after that, everything else was correct. Besides, I thought the explanation by Palermo last night was fascinating enough that I went and looked up the rule, which is unusual for a Fox broadcast.



Thanks Rob. I never was one for looking things up, preferring to rush forward with my angry young man stance, (although I'm neither angry nor young anymore). Anyway, great job, hope you stay tuned as the Giants try for a title.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 15, 2002


.... New Look

As a tribute to the San Francisco Giants, I've redesigned OBM with a Giants color scheme. Hope everyone likes it. I know it's not perfect, but if you go the Giants home page and look at it side by side, you'll see it matches really well. Anyway, I just wanted to do something to show my support. When the series is over, I'll probably do something else. Go Giants.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 15, 2002


.... Sour grapes?

The appearance by the Supervisor of Major League Umpires Steve Palermo to address the Benito Santiago obstruction play was interesting and informative and, unfortunately, disingenuous at best. Palermo made a big show of celebrating what a great job Jeff Nelson did in properly calling Miguel Cairo for obstruction and then awarding Santiago third base. Palermo practically jumped up and down singing the praises of Nelson, and he also made a point of reading the rule regards obstruction, to explain how Nelson made the perfect call. As he read the rule, both my wife and I felt that he was missing the point, that regardless of whether the Cardinals could have executed a perfect relay, Santiago and the Giants were prevented from forcing them to do so. That's why, in the spirit of fair play, it looked to the casual observer that Santiago was deprived of an opportunity to make a play.

Over at Mike's Baseball Rants and at Baseball Junkie, Palermo's frankly dishonest efforts are revealed. The rule reads:



When obstruction occurs, the umpire shall call or signal "Obstruction." (a) If a play is being made on the obstructed runner, or if the batter runner is obstructed before he touches first base, the ball is dead and all runners shall advance, without liability to be put out, to the bases they would have reached, in the umpire's judgment, if there had been no obstruction. The obstructed runner shall be awarded at least one base beyond the base he had last legally touched before the obstruction.



The part in italics was conveniently forgotten by Palermo while he explained how Nelson deserved a bust in Canton. What that means is that Santiago should have been awarded home plate, there's no other way to look at it. Nelson was wrong, in his judgement, his interpretation, and his application of the rule. Now, every play is a judgement call in one way or another, and sometimes unpires get it wrong, that's not what matters here. What matters is that Palermo was blatantly dishonest in a national setting. His umpire blew an obvious call that essentially penalized the Giants a run in a scoreless tie game. He didn't need to hang him out to dry, but he could have pointed out that pehaps he was interpreting the rule incorrectly, instead of covering his ass.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 15, 2002


.... The Giants win the pennant!!



The San Francisco Giants, shaking off the disappointment of being eliminated in the first round by the wild card Mets in 2000, the heart-break of finishing two games behind the eventual World Champion Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001, overcame the struggles of 2002, the injuries, the in-fighting and speculation over the status of their manager, general manager and second best player, beat the St. Louis Cardinals 2-1 last night to advance to the World Series for the first time in 13 years.

Kenny Lofton drove in David Bell with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to send 43,000 fans into a state of delirium, not to mention my wife and I dancing around our living room. The Cardinals lost the last two games of the series 4-3 and 2-1, even thought they out-hit the Giants 21-11 combined. The Cards finished the five game series 3 for 39 with runners on base.

The Giants roster includes few players with World Series experience; from Lofton, Robb Nen, Livan Hernandez and Jay Witasick, they have a combined 19 innings pitched and 53 at-bats on baseball's grandest stage.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 15, 2002


.... I can feel it in the air tonight

Kirk Rueter has faced 30 right-handed batters in this postseason. He has given up 13 hits and 2 walks, and overall, he's allowed hitters to bash him at a frightening .464/.485/1.036 clip. If the Giants are going to close out the Cardinals tonight, they're gonna have to do it with their offense, because Woody's not likely to hold the Cardinals to less than 4 or 5 runs.

Of course, Matt Morris hasn't exactly shut down the opposition either. His opposition OBM TC numbers are just a shade better than Rueter's, at .354/.411/.932.

How did the Giants light up Morris in Game One? By being patient. Actually, I believe that both Morris and Rueter were the victims of a shaky Randy Marsh behind home plate. In the first inning of Game One, Morris walked three batters and allowed one hit in two at bats behind in the count. In the second, after striking out Bell and Rueter on seven pitches, Lofton singled on a 2-1 pitch, Aurilia singled on a 2-2 pitch, Kent singled on 1-2, Bonds tripled on 2-1, Santiago singled on 1-0, Snow singled on 1-2.

All in all, it took Morris 55 pitches, 7 hits, 3 walks and 5 runs to get through the first two innings. Is it likely he'll have as tough a time tonight? Maybe. Against a Triple A lineup in Game One of the NLDS, he allowed 7 hits and 2 walks in 7 1/3 innings. I'd expect the Giants hitters to be able to be a little more effective against Morris than they were against Benes last night, especially with a World Series berth on the line. Looking at the umpire rotations for this series, the home plate umpire should be Tim Welke. I don't know enough about him to say whether he has a small or wide or inconsistent strike zone. I'm gonna have to start paying attention to these guys, take some notes or something.

Not that this is earth-shattering, but if Woody gets the outside corner, look out. He's pitched very well at home this season. If he gets that pitch, the Cardinals could be shut down, and the Giants more than likely won't, since Morris relies on a late-breaking fastball that's usually right around the plate. If Rueter doesn't get the outside corner, I expect a high-scoring game tonight, maybe a 6-4 game or something like that, with the Giants taking the early lead and then holding on for the win.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 14, 2002


.... Notoriety

John Bonnes, the Twins Geek, sent my a link to an article in the Chicago Tribune in which he and I and Charlie (of America's Pastime) are featured. That's awesome, even though it was a back-handed compliment to yours truly.

You have to register to read the whole article, here's the part where it mentions OBM:



www.onlybaseball.blogspot.com

A more ponderous blog, this one by San Francisco Giants fan John Perricone, is bogged down by stats but does deliver some insights you can repeat from your barstool: "[Barry] Bonds helps the Giants offense be the best in all of baseball not by hitting home runs or getting walks or driving in runs . . . but because he makes so few outs." Perricone accepted an invitation by Cardinal blogger Charlie to join a "World Blog Series" involving one blogger from each team remaining in the playoffs (although the Angels seem to have no bloggers). The cyber-scribes post each other's commentary and pick it apart, though the rants may be too long-winded to keep readers' attention.



Doesn't get any better than that, eh? Well, actually it does, John Bonnes got some real nice words, but hey, the only bad publicity is no publicity.

Ponderous? Am I ponderous?

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 14, 2002


.... I love to be right

OK, I know a lot of this is luck, but you have to admit, I've been pretty much dead on these last four games. The Giants won 4-3 tonight, led by JT Snow and Benito Santiago's late inning heroics. Here's what Santiago had to say in the post-game news conference, something that was a lot better live than it is in print.

"You know what, I like to see these people rockin' the house like that," he said. "I was looking for that type of pitch. He got me out with that pitch. I guessed right this time."

Santiago is priceless, and the Giants are poised to make it an all Wild-Card World Series. Oh, and by the way, Livan needed 23 pitches to get through the second, and he didn't throw his 50th pitch until he was into the fifth. Game Five analysis tomorrow. Go Giants.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 13, 2002


.... Game Four

After a great night's sleep, I awakened today refreshed and clear-headed. No longer dwelling in the disappointment and bitterness of having been to three playoff games at beautiful PacBell and having watched the Giants lose all three of them in spectacularly discouraging fashion; I am ready to address the pivotal Game Four match up. Will this be a series, or will it be essentially over? Today we will know. But before we begin with today's matchup, might I mention that I have been eerily prescient in my three previous game assessments. Let's review:

In my Game One analysis, I picked the Giants, saying their offense was just flat-out better, and that would be their edge, "(This) game has the Giants going against a pitcher who is just a little bit better, while their hitters are just a little bit better than the guys they're facing. I'd say the Giants' little bit more at the plate, is a little bit more than the Cards' little bit more on the mound." And then I summarized by saying that, "I'd guess Rueter and Morris will both pitch well, although I like the Giants chance to score a run or two early." The Giants jumped out to a quick 5-1 lead, knocking Morris out with a couple of tack on home runs, and won going away.

In my Game Two Analysis, I again picked the Giants, my reasoning being that they would be able to get an early lead against Williams, and with a lead, Jason Schmidt is unbeatable. "And there's the key. If Schmidt is dealing, and more importantly, if the Giants can get him a couple of runs early, the Giants will win this one going away, because Schmidt is a front-runner. In the six games (in his last ten starts) he allowed two runs or less, he was given a first inning lead four times, and a second inning lead once. Get him an early lead, and he can relax and lean on his excellent fastball." We all know what happened in this game, Schmidt was essentially unhittable, the Giants scored in the first inning, and the game went just as I predicted.

In my Game Three piece, I equivocated a little, but that was after I wrote, "I'd say the Giants are in the driver's seat, wouldn't you? If this series were 1-1, I'd have no problem picking the Giants, but down 0-2, the Cardinals desperation should make up for all of these shortcomings. I think the Cards will win this game with a late hit, probably against somebody like Chad Zerbe or Aaron Fultz or Manny Aybar in a situational substitution." The loss was pinned on the right-handed Jay Witasik, after Dusty brought him in to start the sixth agianst the right-handed Eli Marrero, who promptly beat the platoon advantage with a solo shot just over Bonds glove.

So, Game Four. I've already posted all the season long numbers for each team, home, away, vs. righties and lefties. To summarize, both teams hit righties very well, although, led by Superman, the Giants have the best offense in the league. PacBell depresses offense at historic rates, both managers are addicted to the situational reliever... Andy Benes vs. Livan Hernandez comes down to which Livan shows up. As we've seen all series long, the Giants will put tremendous pressure on the Cardinals pitchers by constantly getting men on base, their scoring will depend on coming through with the two-out hits, which they couldn't yesterday. This matchup reminds me of the Game One matchup, their pitcher is a little better, but he's pitching into the teeth of the best offense in baseball. PacBell uncharacteristically allowed four home runs yesterday, I'd be stunned if that happened again.

So what do we have? Livan-I-never-lose-in-the-playoffs-Hernandez's first two innings will be the tell. If he gets through the first two innings without having to throw more than 30 or so pitches, the Giants will win this game, regardless of the score at the time. If he heads into the fourth inning above 50 pitches, the Giants will lose, again, the early score won't matter.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 13, 2002


.... Unbelievable

I've heard all the press conference highlights, all of the little sound-bites of the Giants saying all of the right things, but I'll believe it when I see it. Today's loss was frighteningly similar to the JT Snow home run game in the 2000 playoffs. They get a huge boost in the form a spectacular, game tying three-run home run, and a pitcher makes a flat-out, inexcusably horrible pitch to start the very next inning, and boom, next thing you know, all the momentum is gone, and you lose a game that a team simply cannot afford to lose, a game that good teams simply do not lose. Good teams don't leave the bases loaded three times in one game against a team struggling to save their season. Good teams don't lose when their best player does what Bonds did today, they just don't these games.

This Giants team has now lost three home playoff games in almost indescribably horrible circumstances, remember, sandwiched between this home playoff loss and the JT Snow loss was the Manny Aybar two pitch, five run debacle that they were only just able to overcome. That's three home playoff losses that you wouldn't normally see in 40 or 50 seasons worth of baseball.

And that's something that cannot be discounted or just forgotten. After that loss in 2000, the Giants didn't win another game. In fact, they never had a lead again, not for one more half inning. The reality is that they didn't recover from that loss until about August of this year. The Giants just gave up three home runs in one game at PacBell, after allowing 42 home runs in 81 home games all season. They just lost a game that their so-called best pitcher started and gave up 2 home runs in 4 innings, 1 fewer than he had given up all season at home. Oh, and by the way, he lost after he had just won eight consecutive starts. They just lost a game in which Barry Bonds hit the most dramatic and important home run of his entire Hall of Fame career, and he had hardly put his glove on and turned to face the infield before it was rendered pointless. You can say all you want about it being just one loss, about how they'll just bounce back, how they still are in the driver's seat.

That's all a bunch of bullshit. What happened today can ruin a season, derailing a teams sense of resiliency and confidence. What happened today can shatter a team. Everything about this loss screams danger. When the Giants lost the first game in LA a month ago, I told my wife that if you wanted to see if Dusty's idea about loyalty and handling his players had any merit, you'd see it in the way they bounced back from that devastating grand slam that Brian Jordan hit off Jason Schmidt. They went 11-1 from that point forward, burying the Dodgers and surging into the playoffs. He did a yeoman job getting them to rebound from Manny Aybar's pitiful performance. He needs to do it again. This team better come out tomorrow like they're the team down 2 games to 1. Because if they don't, and they allow this team to get up off the canvas, they better realize they're gonna be in for a war.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 12, 2002


.... Superman, re-defined

Dan Malcom over at Baseball Primer wrote an article about Barry Bonds that is a jaw dropping tribute to his super-human abilities.

A few highlights:



I wonder if anyone prior to Bonds (in 2002) has managed to produce a .991 OPS in plate appearances where they began down 0-2 in the count. (His OPS in these situations in 2001 was only .675, only a bit higher than his career mark.)

How about if we break out Barry’s performance according to game result? In other words, what did Bonds hit when the Giants won? (How about OBM TC numbers that look like this) .445/.643/.975 for an eye-popping 1.618 OPS

(What did Bonds hit against team with records at or above .500 when the Giants won?) .440/.653/1.022 for a mind-boggling 1.675 OPS.



Italics mine, alterations shown in parentheses. Read the article. Amazing. Great work Don.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 11, 2002


.... Things that make you go hmmmm

Rob Neyer has an interesting take on the Bonds shift. He seems to have come to the conclusion that the way the Angels pitched Jason Giambi in one at bat in the ALDS means that all teams that use the Boudreau shift are trying to force a hitter to hit into the shift, and that since a hitter can guess what's coming, he'll be able to hit the ball so hard that he beats the adjustment anyway.

He obviously hasn't watched too many Giants games this year, because that's not what teams have done against Barry Bonds, and I'd bet that's not what they were doing against Ted Williams. Against Bonds, teams would put the shift on, and then they'd pitch him away, away, away.... all day long, begging him to hit the ball to left field, away from his power, hoping that with nobody on, the worst they'd give up most of the time would be a double the opposite way.

In fact, I can't recall a single instance where they pitched him to hit into the shift, not one time did an announcer or somebody I was watching the games with or a sportswriter afterwards say, gee, they tried to make him hit it to right field. Managers who used the shift against Bonds this season essentially conceded the hit to left, Bonds' willingness to take it is one of the reasons he batted .370 this season, after only hitting higher than .330 once before in his 17 year career.

Reading this inaccurate piece by Rob reminds me how hard it is listening to Joe Buck and Tim McCarver and Steve Lyons talk about the Giants. They constantly say things that are mis-interpreted, or over-simplified, or flat-out wrong, I am surprised to find myself expecting more out of them, knowing full well that I am spoiled by the deep knowledge of the team and the game of baseball demonstrated by Mike Krukow, Duane Kuiper and John Miller.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 11, 2002


.... Add it up

I'm equivocating here. I know I said that I felt that the Cardinals desperation would be the deciding factor tomorrow. I still feel that it will have an impact. But it should have had an impact last night, and the Giants played so well that it didn't. So, with that in mind, I offer this caveat:

The Cardinals will have an edge by dint of being a team playing as though their lives depend upon it. The Giants will have an edge by dint of being the better team.

I still think the game will be decided late, but it won't neccessarily be a Giants pitcher who falters. LaRussa is as much a slave to platoon matchups as any manager in major league history, consequently, the Giants are just as likley to beat the platoon as the Cardinals are.

Players to look out for tomorrow:

San Francisco Giants

Reggie Sanders (early against Finley)

Barry Bonds (also against Finley, LaRussa simply can't not pitch to him with the platoon advantage, and he might be fooled by last night's K's)

Jeff Kent (one of the five best hitters against lefties in all of baseball)

St. Louis Cardinals

Tino Martinez (against one of the Giants lefty on lefty guys, Eyre, Fultz or Zerbe)

Scott Rolen (in a possible Kirk Gibson, pinch-hitting situation)

Jim Edmonds (simply too good to continue to slumber, especially with McCovey Cove beckoning)

Sorry if that's a bit too uncommitted, I just don't believe in flat-out predictions anyway, even if I did it the first game.

Let me add one more thing....

Over at Rob Neyer's home page you'll find a little chart showing something called the Beane Count, named after Oakland A's GM Billy Beane, which is derived by summing a team's ranks in home runs hit, walks drawn, home runs allowed, and walks allowed. The lower your number, the better your score. The Yankees led the AL with a sum total of 7.0, and the Giants led the NL, with a 9.0 and while the St. Louis Cardinals were fourth in the NL, their Beane Count total of 23.0 was more than double the Giants.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 11, 2002


.... Game Three

Well, after the scintillating performance by yours truly in the first two games of the series, I face the ultra-important Game Three showdown with trepidation. I don't want to get carried away and just stay with the Giants againts all reason, so I will be extra careful here. Charlie hasn't put anything up yet at America's Pastime, so I'll get the ball rolling and send him a copy. Also, my wife wanted me to let everyone know that she called Aurilia's second home run. Great job, honey.

Offense

Reader Tom Curl sent me an Excel Spreadsheet with all four of the remaining teams secondary averages. For those of you who don't read Bill James every day like Tom and I, secondary average is calculated by the following formula: ((TB-H)+(BB+Stolen Bases)/AB). Bonds leads the world in secondary average, with a ridiculous .938, a mere 300 points better than Thome at .625. Anything above .450 is considered excellent. Here are the Giants and Cardinals team secondary averages:

Giants .3100

Cards .3017

Most of the Giants advantage is found in Bonds, of course, but as I've said before, his stupendous walk totals essentially give extra outs to his teammates. They might not be anywhere near as effective, but by increasing their sheer volume of opportunities you've increased the offense's production.

We know the Cardinals hit well against righties, let's see their OBM TC numbers away from Busch:

Away

Vina .260/.316/.335 31 runs in 331 AB's

Drew .279/.375/.447 9 HR

Edmonds .316/.416/.534 11 HR

Pujols .340/.404/.602 20 HR

Renteria .309/.365/.446 7 HR

Martinez .236/.301/.488 9 HR

Cairo .227/.283/.351 15 runs in 97 AB's

Matheny .255/.311/.350 2 HR

Not great, actually. Not a lot of power, although they have some impressive OBP's there. Tino looks pretty shaky, in fact, I expect to see some kind of shakeup from LaRussa, batting order, maybe sitting somebody down, I don't know. He can't just trot the same lineup out there, can he? By the way, the Giants struggle to score at home, but their opponents really struggle at PacBell. Here's how they both look:

Giants .259/.339/.410 72 home runs and 4.4 runs per game

Opponents .246/.304/.350 42 home runs and 3.4 runs per game

How about the Giants against lefties:

Kenny Lofton .300/.378/.475 12 runs in 40 AB's

Rich Aurilia .241/.276/.336 2 HR

Jeff Kent .366/.439/.669 11 HR

Barry Bonds .384/.556/.976 21 HR

Benito Santiago .276/.341/.474 4 HR

JT Snow .229/.382/.429 2 HR

Reggie Sanders .289/.358/.537 8 HR

David Bell .263/.333/.416 5 HR

Hmmm... That's pretty ugly, other than Bonds, Kent and surprisingly, Reggie Sanders, who could use a little help breaking out, maybe facing a lefty gets him going.... I don't think Dusty will make any changes, although if he wanted to, Torrealba does fairly well against southpaws. Keep in mind, that as weak as that lineup looks, it's only based on about 60 games or so for most of these guys, but even so, it'll probably hold up, because at PacBell, every hitter suffers a big drop in production. Here's the Giants at home:

Kenny Lofton .271/.354/.376 14 runs in 85 AB's

Rich Aurilia .260/.307/.398 4 HR

Jeff Kent .302/.358/.493 11 HR

Barry Bonds .351/.564/.750 19 HR

Benito Santiago .253/.283/.408 6 HR

JT Snow .221/.336/.311 1 HR in 190 AB's

Reggie Sanders .265/.338/.491 12 HR

David Bell .251/.324/.384 7 HR

Given that, you could conceivably see Kent at first, David Bell at second and Bill Mueller at third. I'm not saying for sure, 'cause Snow is swinging the bat as well as he has in two years, but maybe Baker figures he'll protect Snow from the combination of the lefty and PacBell, and wait until they face a righty again on Sunday and Monday so he doesn't derail him. Maybe. You could also start Torrealba, because he's also done pretty well at home, albeit in limited action. Again, I would be very surprised if Baker changes anything given the roll these guys are on. You'd also have to say that Aurilia, Snow, Santiago are all hitting better than they have all season, so to some degree these numbers go out the window.

Offense tomorrow looks pretty even, maybe a slight edge to the Cardinals on the premise that they will be desperate. I expect a low scoring game, maybe even a 2-1 game, as the pitchers will throw it down the pipe and let the outfielders run 'em down.

Pitching

Russ Ortiz has won eight straight starts, not decisions, but starts. That is as impressive a run of pitching as he's had in his career. At PacBell, he's just 5-4 with a 3.41 ERA, allowing just 3 home runs in 95 IP. The team was 9-6 in his fifteen starts; it's not unusual for a pitcher to have a lot of low scoring no-decisions at PacBell, if you take out the 8 runs in 2 IP he gave up on July 26th, he looks a lot stronger, his ERA drops all the way to 2.71, and he averages 6 2/3 IP in his other fourteen starts.

In 2001, he gave up just 1 home run in 108 IP at PacBell, that's a total of 4 in over 200 innings. That's outstanding, dominating pitching.

Chuck Finley pitched extremely well against a weakened Diamondbacks team in the NLDS, but overall, he's been just OK. Away from home he's got a 4.29 ERA, and he allows more than a hit per inning, and a .272 batting average against. He's never pitched at PacBell, and there's nothing to suggest he won't benefit from Death Valley. That said, he's 39 years old, his team is in desperate straits, and he has one career postseason win, from last week.

Pitching I give the edge to the Giants. Sure, Ortiz could come back to earth tomorrow, but even if he does, PacBell will help him; and he's better than Finley anyway, so all that would happen is they would cancel each other out. If that happens, I like the Giants right-handed hitters against Finley more than I like the Cardinals lefties against Russ and the park conditions.

I'd say the Giants are in the driver's seat, wouldn't you? If this series were 1-1, I'd have no problem picking the Giants, but down 0-2, the Cardinals desperation should make up for all of these shortcomings. I think the Cards will win this game with a late hit, probably against somebody like Chad Zerbe or Aaron Fultz or Manny Aybar in a situational substitution.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 11, 2002


.... Dominatrix

Wow. That was simply overpowering. Jason Schmidt completely blew the Cardinals away, winning 4-1, in a game that wasn't as close as the score. On the TV, he looked Ryan-esque, and you knew he was as good as he looked when LaRussa sent JD Drew in the third inning. Read Jason Stark. He said the same thing, that he was flat-out unhittable.

Reader Ed Loots sent me an email detailing the many ways Schmidt's domination was evident. It's so good, I'm gonna highlight it as a feature piece, so that all of you can get a handle on a terrific tool to use while watching a game.

John, I thought I'd add my two cents to the Giants chase for the ring. When I watch a ball game, I always keep score. And, in watching approximately 140 games a season, I have developed schemes over the years that I use to determine the ongoing effectiveness of the pitchers. Here they are:

Swinging Strikes

I have found that once a pitcher reaches twelve swinging strikes in a game, for instance, he is usually showing signs of seriously, if not totally, dominating the other club. Woody Williams tossed just seven swinging strikes tonight. Jason Schmidt, on the other hand, threw eighteen! The announcers tried to convey just how dominant he was, but not one of them mentioned even once, how many times the Cardinals hitters had swung and missed. That is outstanding. By comparison, Kurt Rueter threw exactly one the night before. The most thrown by any Game One pitcher was four, by Dave Veres, who was perfect in his two frames.

First Pitch Strikes

I also monitor the first pitch, because it is so important to throw strikes. Schmidt faced 27 batters and threw 19 first pitch strikes. That is also outstanding. As you may or may not know, there is a significant difference between starting 0-1 vs. 1-0. The Giants, for instance, ran a .230/.281/.372 after they started 0-1, and a .291/.401/.482 after they started 1-0. Rueter faced 25 batters Wednesday night and threw 15 first pitch strikes. Not as good as Schmidt, but very acceptable. Williams and Morris (are they an ad agency or what?) also threw 15 first pitch strikes in facing 25 and 26 batters, respectively.

Special Pitch Counts

I also look for important pitch counts, let's start with 2-0. Schmidt didn't have a 2-0 count until the seventh inning, (as though that isn't enough of an indication of dominance) and then he did it twice. That count is usually good for an approximate .420 OBP. The Giants run out at .388/.396/.650 after a 2-0 count. Schmidt walked Martinez and got Vina to fly out to right. So the Cards had a .500 OBP with that count, even as dominant as Schdmidt was. The Cardinals' pitchers went to a 2-0 seven times in the game, and the Giants reached base four of those times.

0-2 is an equally important indicator. The Giants hit just .161/.172/.224 from an 0-2 hole. Schmidt got to an 0-2 count seven times in the game and would have been perfect with seven outs, if Snow had just covered first and allowed Jeff Kent to field that grounder, (or if Schmidt would have covered first). When Cardinals' pitchers reached that same count, the Giants were just one for ten, the one being Snow's second inning single, after a pretty impressive battle.

Finally, I watch how pitchers overcome three ball counts. It tells me a lot about their control if they can stay at four such counts or less per game, and it tells me more if they can get out of the immediate jam they put themselves in. The Giants at 3-0, .500/.951/.857. Can you say hammer-time? Anyway, Schmidt reached three ball counts four times and retired three batters while walking the other. That's great. By comparison, both Williams and Morris reached three ball counts six times each in the first two games. The Giants got on base six of the twelve times, for a .500 OBP, which was actually a bit below their regular season standards.

Thanks Ed. As you can see, I did a bit of editing to put your information into a format that I think can really help my readers "See a different game."

.... Game Notes

Rich Aurilia tied the major league record for home runs in a playoff game by a shortstop, with two last night, home runs by a shortstop in a single postseason, he now has four, and runs batted in by a shortstop in a single postseason, he now has eleven.

Schmidt earned the first playoff win of his career.

The Giants' Ramon Martinez put down a successful suicide squeeze in the top of the ninth, after JT Snow's leadoff triple.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 11, 2002


.... I picked a bad day to quit sniffing glue, Part II

Loyal reader Mike Bowden sent this:



I just did a search in Yahoo for "Tim McCarver is an idiot", and this is what I got.

I'm still laughing over here! Thought your readers might enjoy that.


Thanks Mike.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 10, 2002


.... Woody, Part II

Woody Williams went from July 6th to August 29th between starts. He came off the DL and pitched against the Cincinnati Reds the 29th. I'd say this was an interesting start, because he's also going tonight after a long layoff. Against the Reds, he needed 20 pitches to get through the first inning, and the Reds swung and missed just one of them. Todd Walker started him off with a 12 pitch, 6 foul battle, and then he got through Barry Larkin and Ken Griffey Jr. In the second, he unraveled. After Adam Dunn flied out on the first pitch he saw, hit Aaron Boone with a 1-2 count. Sean Casey singled, and after Reggie Taylor struck out, he allowed a single, a walk, a single and a double before Junior lined out to end the inning with a 5-0 lead for the Reds. That second inning took him 31 pitches, he hit one, allowed four hits and a walk. For the game, he allowed 8 hits and 5 runs in 4 innings.

Something to think about.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 10, 2002


.... World Blog Series

OK. Yesterday I said that I thought the Giants offense would do fine against Morris, and that they should be able to score a couple of runs againts him early. I am happy to say I was right on both counts, really right. On to tonight's matchup.

Jason Schmidt against Woody Williams. Over at Under the Knife, William Carroll mentioned that he thought he saw Williams look a little stiff and maybe even in pain during the base-brawl that almost was in the fifth inning. That can't be good for the Cardinals. Especially after they did exactly what they wanted to do against Rueter, throwing a six spot on the board. Of course, doing that with your ace on the mound and losing must be awfully demoralizing.

Anyway, here's what Charlie said this morning:



OK, time to regroup. Yesterday was yesterday......Today we are anew!

Only Baseball Matters did an excellent job of running commentary on the action last night. It was very much like one of my other favorite sites Baseball Musings. The Giants kicked our butts...plain and simple.

What's with the Twins fans and Blogging? Aaron's Baseball Blog and TwinsGeek are giving highly detailed breakdowns of every angle. Great jobs guys.

I do not look forward to breaking down last night anymore, so let's look towards tonight.

Well, the Cardinals haven't really hit Jason Schmidt very well this year. Jimmy Edmonds has been the best with a .417 average (5 for 12) and the next best is Edgar Renteria with a .250 average (7 for 28), but he walked 5 time too. But, the team is swinging the bat well, in general. I hope for as much offense tonight as we had last night. We better!

As for OPS... Edmonds comes in with a 1.283, followed by Tino Martinez's 1.000 and JD Drew's .814. The next highest is .685 by Renteria. Again, I hope to see the bats swinging, and the ball making it 6 inches over Aurilia's glove tonight.

We need to take this slow. I never really thought aht we were out of the game late night util the Kenny Lofton's HR. Kenny looked like he was playing for the Tribe back in the early 90's. That was an excellent show by him last night. As for the brush back....."Settle down Francis" Kenny has always been sensitive to someone coming inside. I lived in Cleveland and watched him for years. He loves to glare out at the pitcher and flap his jaws after an inside pitch.

Anyway, back to tonight.....

Woody Williams. I do not have much confidence that we will go long into tonight. If you follow William Carroll's Under the Knife, you would think that Woody is being forced to pitch, but I disagree. Anyway, if we get 5 competitive innings out of him, I'm fine. I have enough confidence in the middle relief to let them pitch.

BTW- Did you how well my favorite whipping boy pitched last night? Dave Veres- 2 innings no hits, no runs, 2 K's 18 pitches 15 were strikes. Geez Dave, why don't you just think that the game is out of reach when you pitch?

Tonight, keep it close and let the offense move it. Don't worry about bringing multiple pitchers. Besides, a LaRussa coached team will always have lots of pitchers pitching. I believe that if he had his way, no one would go more than 2 innings.

Hey, they did score 6 runs last night! It's not like they were shut out.

So, another prediction? I was right about the Redbirds 6 runs, I just wasn't clairvoyant enough to get the Giants number right.

Game Two Cardinals 4 Giants 3



OK. I did the Giants road and vs. righthanders stats yesterday, let's see how the Cards do at home and against righties, using OBM TC numbers:

Versus Right-handers

Vina .280/.329/.359 61 runs in 479 AB's

Drew .250/.348/.432 15 HR

Edmonds .329/.443/.592 21 HR

Pujols .315/.395/.555 26 HR

Renteria .310/.359/.442 8 HR

Martinez .278/.350/.465 17 HR

Cairo .237/.287/.305 14 runs in 118 AB's

Matheny .239/.307/.312 3 HR

That's a lineup that's powered 93 home runs against righties, not too shabby. Edmonds and Pujols have feasted against them.

Home

Vina .282/.352/.340 44 runs in 291 AB's

Drew .225/.322/.411 9 HR

Edmonds .305/.425/.590 17 HR

Pujols .285/.384/.516 14 HR

Renteria .301/.362/.432 4 HR

Martinez .290/.374/.492 12 HR

Cairo .276/.333/.356 13 runs in 87 AB's

Matheny .234/.315/.285 1 HR

But only 57 home runs at home... hmmm, that's not quite so good. I wonder why, they seem like a pretty good power hitting team, but overall, they've hit 88 home runs in the conforts of home and 87 on the road. That doesn't bode well against Jason Schmidt, a pitcher who, when he's on, has some of the best stuff in the NL. Of course, the question is whether he's on or not. Over his last ten starts, he's given up 1, 0, 2, 4, 4, 2, 4, 1, 1, 4 runs. That's about as up and down as you can get. A closer look at the games in which he's given up at least 4 runs is illuminating:

August 9th, he allowed 4 runs on 5 hits in 7 innings of work.

August 30th, he allowed 4 runs in the second inning, and then just one more hit through five innings.

September 5th, he allowed 4 first inning runs to the Diamondbacks, and then shut them down for the next five innings.

September 16th, he gave up a grand slam to Brian Jordan, as some of you may have heard, and pretty much dominated in the other four innings he pitched, allowing 2 unearned runs in the fifth.

October 5th, he allowed just three hits and one run into the sixth inning before walking the bases loaded, setting the stage for Manny Aybar's historic collapse.

And there's the key. If Schmidt is dealing, and more importantly, if the Giants can get him a couple of runs early, the Giants will win this one going away, because Schmidt is a front-runner. In the six games he allowed two runs or less, he was given a first inning lead four times, and a second inning lead once. Get him an early lead, and he can relax and lean on his excellent fastball. If the game is close, he will sometimes press, and when he presses, he tends to try and throw harder and harder. The end result of that is predictable, walks and home runs. If he stumbles his way into one of those innings from hell that have plagued him, look out, because the Cardinals have a couple of guys who can really make him pay.

That said, don't forget that the Cardinals are starting a pitcher who hasn't toed the rubber in over three weeks. In fact, I'd say there's a good chance that Williams doesn't even start tonight, and LaRussa pulls a fast one, starting Simontacchi or somebody else. Either way, the Cardinals won't say it, but scoring six runs with your best pitcher on the mound and losing was a huge blow to a team that has serious injury problems with their rotation.

I think the questions around LaRussa's starter are far bigger than those around Schmidt. The Giants should be able to get a couple of runs early, and Schmidt will coast to his first career playoff win, no score prediction, just a 2-0 series stranglehold.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 10, 2002


.... Charlie horse

Charlie over at America's Pastime gave me a kind word on the running commentary I did last night. Well, I'm glad somebody paid attention, but I'm not doing that again. I got about twenty-five hits all night, and that's not worth the effort of keeping my 14 month old daughter at bay for four hours.

The Giants had their way with Morris, and although Rueter shouldn't have been allowed to give up the last two-run homer, he didn't picth that well anyway. I almost nailed it when I mentioned that home plate umpire Randy Marsh's strike zone was all a-flutter, I said if he was gonna call 'em like that all game the final score would probably be 8-5. I said that after the bottom of the first. Not bad, eh?

Anyway, I still don't know if Lofton was justified, I guess my take is that he shouldn't have done anything to get them fired up, given the beating they were getting. Other than that, I'm worried about Rueter. Yeah, Marsh was all over the place, but Woody was pretty bad anyway. since he is in line for a start every fourth game as far as they go, he really needs to settle down and let his pitches do the work.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 10, 2002


.... Things that make you go hmmmm

Got an email from a guy named Aaron Haspel, who runs a website called God of the Machine. I have just put it in my featured links, because he has designed a stat search engine that appears to work very well for doing customized searches, like, a list of all players who have accumulated 30 home runs, doubles and stole bases in the saem season. Try it out, it works really well.

Thanks Aaron, and I hope you can return the plug and send some of your very astute readers over.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 10, 2002


... Nen

There you go... two pitches right there called balls... Is Marsh kidding somebody? 2-2 against Marrero... Joe Buck suggests that Nen is trying to upset the timing of the hitter by tapping his toe, McCarver corrects him. He does it for himself, not for the hitters....

3-2, another squeeze by Marsh, ball four. Here's a question, how can these two idiots not say a word about Marsh's completely inconsistent strike zone?

0-1 against Edmonds, who just missed a home run by about ten feet.... 0-2... Did McCarver just say that a two run home run would be worthless? Did he pick a bad day to quit sniffing glue, or what? Still 0-2 to Edmonds.... Line drive to right, Sanders is there, one out.

Pujols is up... 1-0... 1-1, 96 MPH... Slider, 1-2.... Filthy is the word.... filthier.... strike three. Two down.... Renteria up...

0-1... Nen settling down now.... Softly to Nen, inning over, Giants win Game One, 9-6.

The Giants win!!!!

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 9, 2002


.... Superman

Barry Bonds seems to be settling in to this playoff thing, doesn't he? 2-0, doesn't look like he'll pitch to him. 2-1, Bonds takes a mighty cut. 2-2, maybe they are pitching to him.... hmmmm... just missed that one... just missed that one too.... didn't miss that one by much.... wow, Klein is coming right at him.... got him, right into the shift, one out.

Is it just me, or does the Kia Sorrento look pretty good?

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 9, 2002


.... pinto beans

David Pinto is doing the same thing I am, and he also noted that McCarver was wrong in saying that they don't hit as many batters in the AL. His numbers are different than mine, but since he has the ESPN database at his disposal, I'd say his are probably more accurate.

JD Drew just made it a three run game, that's bad. But the Cardinals are down to their last four outs, that's good. McCarver is right here, throwing it over the plate with a four run lead and a 3-2 count and nobody on is the right move. You can't expect every frigging guy to hit it out, although the Cardinals have done it three times tonight. Jeez

Worrell has really struggled in the postseason. Dusty Baker really needs him to figure it out.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 9, 2002


.... Six six six

Six outs away. Lofton's swinging at everything since the bench-clearing stand, he's still pissed off. One out, Aurilia up. Lousy call by Marsh, man, his strike zone looks like a parachute. Two outs.

Kent up, Giants have scored 9 runs and Kent has two singles... he has yet to hit a home run in this postseason... Popped up, inning over. That was quick.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 9, 2002


.... Marrerro

He missed him, I mean, Santiago made a great throw, but Aurilia completely missed the tag. So not only is Marsh inconsistent behind the plate, but whoever is at second blew that call. Anyway, 2-2 to Marrero, nobody on, nobody out.

Felix is all over the place, even without Marsh's poor calls. 3-2, high and tight. Popped him up. One away. Besides Cairo, Edmonds is perfect at the plate tonight too. Edmonds is complaining about a strobe light or something in center field. Wus.

1-1, and Rodriguez is at 97 MPH. 1-2, 96 MPH. 98 MPH, outside corner, awesome pitch. 2-0 to Pujols, so far he's been effectively wild. 2-1. 2-2... 96 MPH, after going 2-0, he looked like he was going to make sure his next two pitches were strikes. Still 2-2, 2 outs... Pujols... 97 MPH, high and tight, oohs from the crowd. 3-2.... Walk. Come on Felix.

Renteria up, man on, two outs. Base hit.

Tino Martinez is at .278/.350/.465 against righties. 1-1... two on, two outs.... away.... 2-1... Rodriguez is taking a long time between pitches....

Santiago comes out... 2-1, popped him up. Inning over. Sorry Tino, but you're on the wrong team now. 9-5 Giants after seven.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 9, 2002


.... My wife is....

Complaining that I'm not a chiropractor. Her back hurts, and I can't help.

Anyway, Rueter's gone after giving up another two-run home run, this time to the soon to be immortal Miguel Cairo, who is now 8 for 8 in his career in the postseason.

Felix Rodriguez comes in and shuts 'em down. On to the top of the seventh.

Top of the seventh lasted about twenty seconds. Bottom coming up.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 9, 2002


.... Things that make you go hmmmm

I would think that the last thing the Giants wanted to do there was wake up the Cardinals, who were sleepwalking through a pasting. Let's hope Woody can keep 'em down.

One out, Vina to Kent. Two out rally, Edmonds doubles and Pujols lights one up. 7-3 game. Just finish it off, Woody.

McCarver just said that they don't hit batters in the AL like they do in the NL. Just like so many of the things announcers say, it has no basis in reality. I see that pitchers in the AL have hit 864 batters. In the NL, pitchers have hit 811, so really, the exact opposite of what McCarver said is actually true.

Giants up, two outs, Bonds walked again. Santiago just homered, and they got the two runs back. Boy, 9-3, and 8 of their 9 runs have come with two outs.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 9, 2002


.... Okee dokee

The Giants just knocked Morris out of the game. Sanders almost took his head off with a missile back up the middle tha morris caught in self defense, and then David Bell hit a no doubt, titanic blast to make it 7-1.

Wow. If you think back to the first inning, both teams were able to load the bases with two outs. The Giants got the one run lead, the Cardinals got nothing. It was anybody's ballgame at that point, Rueter and Morris were struggling to find the strike zone... Woody got out of it, and the Giants never stopped swinging the bats.

Now Matheny said something to Lofton after a tight inside pitch, the benches have emptied, and a lot is going on. Dusty Baker and Tony Larussa are jawing at each other, Bonds is shoving people. McCarver says it wasn't close enough to warrant anything, but really, Lofton had reached base all three times, as had Bonds, and something went on between Matheny and Lofton.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 9, 2002


.... Keep on continuous

kent hits the first pitch into left-center. Base hit. Well, pitch to him, walk him, Barry's on again. Cairo thought about a triple play, only gets the double play. gotta eat

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 9, 2002


.... Bottom of the third

Called strike one to Edmonds. 1-1... 1-2, all Rueter needs to do is throw strikes. Joe Buck notices he's been behind a few hitters, wow, an announcer who is watching the game. Hit for Edmonds.

Pujols up, 1-1 count... I'm telling you, Dusty needs to get Witasik or somebody up in the pen. 2-2 coun, popped up out of play... Slow grounder.... Out at second, one out with a man on first. Great play by Bell, he was the only one who could have gotten an out. Rueter is pitching like it's a regular season game, and he's behind every hitter so far. 2-0 to Renteria and Edgar pops it out of play, big rip.

2-1 to Renteria... grounder right back to the pitcher, to second, to first, double play!!! Awesome. Inning over. Woody's living dangerously, but he's holding them at bay so far.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 9, 2002


.... Outside, inside... who can tell

Home plate umpire Randy Marsh hasn't done a very good job so far in this game. 1-2 to Bell, one out. Rueter up there... 1-1... 1-2, I mean, does anyone have any idea what the strike zone is right now?



Lofton goes yard!!!! Two for two with a walk and three runs scored. Wow!! 6-1. Got that run back. Aurilia pops it up. Unbelievable, 6-1.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 9, 2002


.... Bakersfield

Dusty better get somebody up in the bullpen, because a) Rueter's not getting the corner, and b) he's not getting anything else over with any consistency. Second and third, one out, 2-1 to Vina. Grounder to second.... OK, a run for an out, no problem. Just finish the job.

Man on third, two outs, Marrero up there... popped it up. Done. 5-1 after two innings. I'd say we need a couple more runs the way Woody's pitching right now.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 9, 2002


.... Dinner time

I'm gonna take a quick break to eat, hopefully Rueter will hold them down.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 9, 2002


.... Wow

Are you kidding me. After the first two turns at the plate, Marsh expands his strike zone for the first two pitches against Bell, and then strikes him out. Two K's in a row, and after a first inning where Morris couldn't throw a strike, now he can't throw a ball.

McCarver must have no friends around to tell him how stupid he sounds. "Leadoff walks always score, always." Yeah, tell minor leaguers that, something they know isn't true. What does he think the minor leagues are the land of darkness?

Lofton hits a line drive single, Aurilia's up... 0-1, Lofton looks to steal. 1-1, Morris blew away Bell and Rueter, and now he's struggling... That outside curveball is not a strike. He better start giving that pitch to Rueter. 1-2... Lofton steals.... SAFE!!!

Now Aurilia's 2-2, with a man in scoring position. Base hit, 2-0 Giants.... Yeah!!!!

Kent, 1-0... 1-1 to Kent... Ripped foul, 1-2 count, Bonds lurking on deck... I still don't understand why Vina covers second if Lofton stealking third. Base hit, first and second, two outs, Bonds at the dish....

Bad pitch to swing at... take it easy Barry... 1-1, not close. 2-1... They might just pitch to Santiago with the bases loaded... TRIPLE!!!!!! on a 2-1 count, lined it into right center.

Santiago singles, 5-0.... Snow makes it six consecutive hits against Morris. Oh my God.... first and third, Sanders up with a chance to redeem himself, caught on the track...

5-0, wow, wow, wow....

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 9, 2002


.... Cardinals, bottom of the first

The home plate umpire, Randy Marsh, looks like he has a strike zone the size of a postage stamp so far. Double by Marrero on a two strike pitch. Way too much of the plate. One out and a man at second. Come on Rueter, settle down. He's not getting any pitches right now, 2-0 to Edmonds. 3-0, Rueter is looking a lot like he did in Atlanta, breathing heavy, sweating his ass off... not good.

That 3-1 pitch was a strike, this ump is kidding somebody.one pitch pop up by Pujols, what a break. I'd punch him in the mouth if I was on that bench. 1-2 to Renteria, one strike away from the bench. Unbelievable, he hit him on a 1-2 pitch.

Tino, bases loaded, pretty much the same set up for the Cards as the Giants, struggling hitters up with the sacks full. Wow, expect some runs tonight, Tino hits a fly ball to Lofton, inning over. If Marsh is gonna call the game like this, we're talking 8-5 game here.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 9, 2002


.... Live and in color

Here we go. Lofton, 3-1, walked him. Good start for the G-men. Aurilia sacrifices Lofton to second.... Interesting call. 2-1 on Kent on a borderline inside pitch. Another close call, 3-1. Kent continues his postseason woes, grounding weakly to second on a pipeline 3-1 fastball.

McCarver rightly says if they're gonna stay that far outside, you might as well IBB. That's essentially what that was.

Santiago, first and third, two outs. Joe Buck accurately accuses LaRussa of obfuscation at best, regards his approach to Bonds. 2-1 to Santiago, and Morris is missing by a good amount. Slow roller, infield hit and the Giants are up 1-0. Morris is struggling to get the ball over the plate, and he just walked Snow to load the bases. Sanders, contuing his two month long slump, can't get the ball out of the infield and leaves them loaded. Too bad, they had Morris on the ropes, and one hit would have been a real back-breaker.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 9, 2002


.... Cardinals bleed Red

Here's what Charlie has to say about the Cards over at America's Pastime.



Two words. Matt Morris. Matt is the ace of the Cardinals staff and has been the most consistent pitcher throughout the 2002 campaign. His 17 wins, and 3.42 ERA leads the team and it also puts him in the same league as some of other National League Aces. His last start against Arizona was masterful. 7 innings pitched, 7 hit, 2 runs, 1 earned. He's on a roll. Focused, has a goal (inspired by Kile), and pitching up to his potential.

He's 2-0 against the SF this year. Call it karma, luck, or being in the right place, but Matty has done the job this year against the Giants.

The Cardinals are averaging .270 against SF pitchers while they are only hitting .251 against the Cards.

Home Field Advantage. God knows that in baseball a home field advantage is barely negligible. But with St. Louis this season, they will benefit from it.

Emotion. I've said it again and again, but no one is playing these games with more emotion than the Redbirds are. The closest would be the "Contraction Kids" e.g. Twins Geek. They are using their misfortune as their catalyst to carry them on.

Matt is the KEY to their success from here on out.

On John's site you will get numbers to support his views. You can't argue with numbers most of the time. Read em, calculate em, spit em out.....and it says Giants should win based on offense. Defense is about the same, but I give the edge to the Cards. But remember, everyone picked the Diamondback to win....many with a sweep. Again, I'll take the Redbirds.

As Mills Lane would say, "Let's get it on!"

My prediction: Cardinals 4 Giants 2



Charlie, everyone picked the Diamondbacks to win because everyone thought Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling would dominate, not because they thought the D'backs would be able to outscore teams. Once it began to be clear that the big two were off their game, all bets were off. And you all know where I stand on Morris record against the Giants this year. Throw it out the window. His start against the Diamondbacks, I mean, come on, who was in the lineup for that game? The Diamondbacks lineup looked like this, OBM TC stats vs. RH pitchers:

Tony Womack .214/.292/.253 64 runs in 408 AB's

Junior Spivey .291/.362/.413 5 HR

Steve Finley .282/.369/.478 16 HR

Mark Grace .226/.340/.346 4 HR

Matt Williams .242/.315/.371 4 HR in 132 AB's

Quentin McCracken .312/.367/.488 3 HR

David Delluci .262/.346/.436 7 HR

Chad Moeller .338/.418/.538 1 HR 80 AB's

What the hell is that? Is that a lineup? 45 total home runs against right handers, all year!?! Bonds and Kent alone had more than that. Here's what the Giants lineup has done against righties this year:

Kenny Lofton .257/.346/.386 23 runs in 140 AB's

Rich Aurilia .261/.314/.434 13 HR

Jeff Kent .297/.346/.533 26 HR

Barry Bonds .363/.592/.719 25 HR

Benito Santiago .279/.306/.442 12 HR

JT Snow .250/.336/.347 4 HR

Reggie Sanders .237/.313/.430 15 HR

David Bell .260/.333/.434 15 HR

Try 110 home runs, and as I said before, on the road, this team flat out rakes:

Kenny Lofton .263/.352/.432 3 HR

Rich Aurilia .253/.304/.425 11 HR

Jeff Kent .323/.377/.631 26 HR

Barry Bonds .386.596/.842 27 HR

Benito Santiago .302/.346/.490 10 HR

JT Snow .267/.351/.401 5 HR

Reggie Sanders .236/.311/.424 11 HR

David Bell .269/.340/.468 13 HR

That's 106 home runs on the road from an eight man lineup, which, by the way, is more than any team in the National League this season, and more than any team in baseball other than the Yankees. Charlie, if you think Matt Morris is gonna dominate the Giants like he did in July, or like he did the D'backs, I'd say you're in for a surprise. Numbers don't prove anything, you're right about that. But they do have some meaning, and I think these numbers mean the Giants will do fine tonight against your ace.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 9, 2002


.... Where they have failed, you will succeed

Led by Manny Aybar's soon to be legendary, two pitch, five runs allowed debacle, the Giants relievers have had the worst performance of all the teams in the postseason to date, using the BP's Relievers Report analysis. Even after you subtract Aybar's 0.0 IP, 3 inherited runners, two earned runs allowed in Game Three, the rest of the relievers have just been adequate, especially Nen, who needs to dominate for the Giants to have a chance.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 9, 2002


.... Funny, how exactly am I funny?

Aaron Gleeman, of the now famous playoff preview, did a running commentary on last night's Twins-Angels tilt, and it is hilarious. He does an especially good job poking fun at the stupid things announcers say to pass the time. Here's a little taste:



Hunter lays down a bunt and is thrown out at first on a nice play by Molina. Brennaman says, "That is an example of the style of this Minnesota team, the five hole hitter hitting a sacrifice bunt." About 30 seconds later, after someone actually looked up the numbers on that, Brennaman says, "That was the first sacrifice bunt on the year for Hunter." Does it count as the "style of the team" if it is the first time they have done something the entire season?



I don't know how many of you will follow me tonight, but I am going to try the same thing. I did an almost pitch by picth account of a game earlier this year, it went OK, nothing spectacular, hopefully tonight will be an interesting affair and I'll have something to say that's worth the effort. Please tune in, and tell all your friends.

Something that keeps floating around in my head is how different everything about the LCS feels. Is it because of the seven games or what? I have often speculated about the very scary kind of roll the dice effect you get in a best of five, it's so easy to lose a pivotal game that you have no business losing (See Aybar, Manny), and that could spell the end of your season. Best of seven is more of a test of a team, four starters, the bench, the relievers, really, everyone on the roster is likely to see some action. And a bad loss can be recovered from much more easily, so the pressure ratchets down just a bit, especially early in the series.

.... That is just offensive

Over at Baseball Prospectus Statistical Reports, you can see that, as I said yesterday, these teams are pretty evenly matched defensively. St. Louis ranked third in defensive efficiency, San Francisco fourth. The only real difference is that the Cardinals gave up about twenty-five percent more home runs, and they also hit about twice as many batters. Using BP's relative runs prevented charts, the Giants and Cardinals relief pitchers are about as evenly matched as two teams can get.

Not to be too repetitive, but EQA is just one more measuring tool that says the Giants have the best offense, not just in the National League, but in all of baseball. Better than the Yankees, better than the Angels, better than everyone. A pretty good margin better than the Cardinals, I might add, the Giants EQA is .283, the Cardinals is .267. A lot of that is due to Superman, of course, but not everyone understands exactly why. I've heard, even on TV, (Oh no, not on TV! If it's on TV, it must be true, right?) that Bonds only hit 46 home runs, or he only drove in 108, or whatever.

Well, you heard it here first (maybe). Bonds helps the Giants offense be the best in all of baseball not by his counting stats, not by hitting home runs or getting walks or driving in runs. Those are things that all players do, and even though he does them very well, a lot of players could have hit 40 home runs and had 100 RBI in the Giants #4 slot. Bonds makes them the best offense in the league because he makes so few outs. Read that sentence twice. If the only thing you ever take from this site is that, I'll die a happy man.

Barry Bonds hit 46 home runs and only made 256 outs this year. There isn't a single 40 plus home run player that's spent so few outs. Jim Thome's closest, he hit 52 home runs and made 334 outs. Alex Rodriguez hit 57 home runs and made 438 outs, almost 200 more than Bonds, 200(!). Alfonos Soriano hit 39 home runs and made 495(!) outs, almost twice as many as Bonds. Vladimir Guerrero hit 39 home runs and made 424 outs. Albert Pujols hit 34 home runs and made 406 outs. Jeff Kent hit 37 home runs and made 429 outs. Think about this when you watch the Cardinals walking him time after time. It's not just that he's reaching base, or that he's putting the pitcher into the stretch, or that he's extending the inning. The most important thing he's doing is giving his teammates more opportunities to drive him in, themselves in, reach base, whatever.

He essentially adds outs to a game, almost three per game, like an automatic error or two added to the opposition's defense. This forces teams to choose between having to face an astonishingly effective hitter, or adding an extra inning of defense and pitching to their day's work. That is the real reason the Giants have the best offense in baseball, and that is why they have to be considered a strong candidate to win the World Series this year. Their pitchers have been good enough to get them 98 wins so far, all the Giants need to do is go 8 and 6 and a title is theirs.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 9, 2002


.... World Blog Series

Charlie over at America's Pastime, has posted an invitation to me, the Twins Geek, and whoever blogs the Angels to do a linking back and forth, sort of like a playoff prediction/analysis showdown. Of course I said yes, so here goes...

I would suggest we do a game by game approach, the better to generate pub for our blogs, and also so that we may concentrate on either a particular matchup or player.

Game One

Pitching

Kirk Rueter, (LH) 14-8, 3.23 ERA vs. Matt Morris, (RH) 17-9, 3.42 ERA.

Morris is 2-0 with a 0.56 ERA against the Giants this year, beating Jason Schmidt both times. On July 18th, in St. Louis, he held the Giants to 8 hits and one run over 8 innings, with 8 strikeouts, but that was without Barry Bonds, who was injured. He beat them again five days later, this time at PacBell, allowing just six hits and no runs, with 8 strikeouts in eight innings. Joining Bonds on the bench for this game was both Reggie Sanders and Jeff Kent, so he beat a lineup that reader Tom Germack highlighted as featuring one of the worst starting outfields in major league history.

Tom Goodwin - 1 HR, 11 RBI .231/.307/.308

Tyuoshi Shinjo - 8 HR, 32 RBI .237/.296/.367

Shawon Dunston - 1 HR, 8 RBI .227/.248./.280

I think it's safe to say that whatever Matt Morris has done against the Giants this year comes with a caveat, wouldn't you? That said, he's been one of the best pitchers in the league for a while now, so I wouldn't anticipate lighting him up anyway. Not to mention, he's 3 -1 with a 1.74 ERA and a 3-1 K/BB ratio in 5 starts before 2002. If he is at his normal level, he'll give his team a chance to win, which is all you can ask.

Rueter has pitched very well historically against St. Louis, 3-0 with a 1.90 ERA in seven starts over the last four years, and he beat them the one time he faced them this year, allowing 6 hits and 2 unearned runs in 7 1/3 innings on July 24th, the day after Morris beat Schmidt the second time. Given that he was facing the real Cardinals lineup with that same weak lineup Schmidt lost with twice, he knew he had to shut them out for a chance to win, and he did, keeping them scoreless into the 8th inning. Rueter and the Giants were able to survive his poor outing in Atlanta, in my mind, he's the key to this series, and particularly Game One. I expect him to be much better prepared tomorrow night, and he should be able to keep the Cards off balance.

Pitching Even

Hitting

The Giants have the best offense in the National League. A look at their away stats confirms that every player (other than Bonds, although he is hurt somewhat) in the lineup is terrifically hurt by playing 81 games in PacBell. The Cardinals have a very good offense, led by some of the best hitters in the league, led by Jim Edmonds and Albert Pujols. They will feel the loss of Scott Rolen, who was just starting to get into a groove, they're gonna have to give up offense or defense replacing him, depending on Tony LaRussa's strategy. By the way, I use away stats to help me figure out how good or bad a team is, you can use EQA, or whatever, the Giants have the best offense in the league, no matter how you figure it out.

Here's some Only Baseball Matters Triple Crown stats:

Away:

San Francisco Giants .273/.350/.471 126 HR

St. Louis Cardinals .269/.332/.426 87 HR

Against Righties:

San Francisco Giants .263/.341/.425 with a .766 OPS and 136 HR

St. Louis Cardinals .271/.337/.426 with a .763 OPS and 133 HR

Against Lefties:

San Francisco Giants .279/.356/.493 with a .850 OPS

St. Louis Cardinals .260/.341/.421 with a .762 OPS

All that mumbo jumbo says is that no matter how you slice it, the Giants were the best hitting team in the NL, and against lefties, the G-men flat-out rake.

Hitting Advantage Giants

Analysis

Similar to the series with the Braves, tomorrow's game has the Giants going against a pitcher who is just a little bit better, while their hitters are just a little bit better than the guys they're facing. I'd say the Giants' little bit more at the plate, is a little bit more than the Cards' little bit more on the mound. ;)

Overall, both teams play very good defense, the Cardinal infield was awesome with Rolen at third, that's a huge loss, but they still have above average defenders at just about every position. They have more team speed than the Giants, especially in the middle of the infield. The Giants infielders threw the ball around a bit against the Braves and it almost cost them the series, but with the monkey off their back, I'd guess we'll be seeing them settle down a little for this round.

Both teams have a bevy of situational relievers, righties and lefties, long and short, closers... I don't see one or the other having a notable advantage. Perhaps you could argue that the Worrell, Rodriguez, Nen team for the 7th, 8th and 9th is better than LaRussa's committee approach until he reaches Isringhausen, I'm not so sure.

Am I supposed to make a prediction here? Game by game, I don't think too much of predictions per se, with a gun to my head, I'd guess Rueter and Morris will both pitch well, although I like the Giants chance to score a run or two early.

Giants win 4-2

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 8, 2002


.... Out there in the real world

Rob Neyer, whom I like very much, nevertheless is wrong when he says Bonds did little to enhance his postseason record of failure, after runnning a .294/.409/.824 with a National League Division record three home runs against arguably the best pitching in the majors. Gee, Rob, is he supposed to go back in time? How exactly does a player overcome past failure other than current success?

I would suggest that Bonds did fine, and in the pivotal Game Five, he scored the first run of the game, blasted an opposite field home run to push the lead to two, and made several excellent plays in left field leading his team out of the first round. What more is he supposed to do?

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 8, 2002


.... Futility, be my friend

Jay Jaffe, over at Futility Infielder, takes a deeper look at the King Kaufman piece in this post. He mildly rips Kaufman for his sloppy and misleading use of counting stats as well as forgetting to examine some of the more salient points of how the Giants offense, or more accurately, how any offense actually works.



Kaufman also attempts to figure out how many runs Barry would have scored had he batted leadoff. To do this, he takes regular leadoff-hitter Lofton's rate of scoring and applies it to the number of times Bonds was on base: "If he scored at Lofton's 39.1 percent rate, he'd have tallied 167 runs this year, 50 more than his actual number."

Which is a horrible assumption. Lofton's scoring rate was dependent in no small part on having Bonds to drive him in.



He continues to point out one inaccuracy after another, because in the land of reality, pretty much everything Kaufman says in his article is wrong. Jay does a terrific job of pointing out just how wrong. Yummy.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 8, 2002


.... Wow!!



The San Francisco Giants won their first playoff series since 1989, and Barry Bonds exorcised a whole closet full of demons after tonight's heart-stopping 3-1 win over the Atlanta Braves. Bonds hit his third home run of the series, tying the National League record for a five game set, and more importantly, he advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in his career.

The box score will say that the Braves had just seven hits and one run. But the Giants also made two errors, missed three foul pop ups, walked five men, and messed up at least one double play. All told, the Braves individual batters left 21 men on the basepaths, and the Giants pitchers needed 156 pitches to hold them to one run, in one of the most important games in franchise history.

I really can't write anymore, because I am wiped out. Go Giants. League Championship Series previews tomorrow morning.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 7, 2002


.... Never say die?

Why in the hell did Art Howe leave Billy Koch in the game yesterday? After Koch gave up the two run home run, and then continued to allow baserunners and eventually another run, it appeared to me watching the game that he put his head in his hands and gave up. To me, that was a classic case of a manager allowing a situation to get out of hand, and it cost the A's the extra run that ended their season.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 7, 2002


.... Season on the brink, Part II

The Gianst won 8-3 tonight, behind the stellar pitching of, gasp(!), Livan Hernandez, who made it all the way into the ninth inning, the first pitcher to do so in the 2002 playoffs.

What can I say, virtually every hitter I spot-lighted in my post today came through, led by Rich Aurilia's 3 for 5, 3 runs scored and 4 RBI performance. Barry Bonds had a sacrifice fly and little else, although he did come close a couple of times, but while he struggled, the rest of the team continued their dominance of Tom Glavine, who repeated his forgettable performance in Game One.

It bears mentioning that Dusty was once again able to regroup this team after a couple of really bad games, just as he did after the grand slam game in LA. They came out in the first inning and just started banging away on Glavine, Livan didn't give up a hit until the fifth, (and the hits he allowed in that inning traveled about 90 feet combined). All in all, a terrific team performance.

Let's hope the decision to not send Russ Ortiz ahead of the team doesn't bite them in the ass tomorrow. The Giants live to play another game.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 6, 2002


.... Dusty Dusty Dusty

Besides the obviously indefensible decision by Dusty Baker to use Manny Aybar (Would you say that Aybar is Baker's tenth best pitcher or eleventh?), the Giants hitters have apparently allowed their quick start against Glavine to go to their heads.

Swinging at virtually every pitch they've seen in the last two games, they've allowed the Braves pitchers to dictate the pace of the game, while on the other side of the plate, the Braves hitters have feasted on a steady diet of 1-0 and 2-0 counts, forcing Dusty to go to his bullpen far earlier than he would like. In Game One, the Giants needed 164 pitches to finish off the Braves. In Game Two, it took 132, and today, it took 170(!) pitches, including nine walks allowed. By contrast, the Braves in Game One needed 159, in Game Two 125, and today, led by Maddux, they needed only 107 to put away the suddenly punchless G-men.

At the end of the sixth inning in Game One, the San Francisco Giants had accumulated seven hits and eight runs, and the Atlanta Braves had five hits and two runs. In the 21 innings since then, the Giants have been out-hit 23 to 17, and they've been outscored 20 to 5.

Coming into the playoffs, the Giants had finished the season on an eight game winning streak, and they had won ten of their last eleven games. They hadn't allowed an opponent to score 10 runs in a game since they beat the Cubs 11-10 in Chicago on August 6th.

The Giants will rest their season's hopes on Livan Hernandez and his career 5-0 post-season record, while the Braves will run Tom Glavine out on four days rest in the hopes of avoiding a Game Five.

Jeff Kent, continuing his September slump, has more strikeouts than hits, and the foursome of Reggie Sanders, Rich Aurilia, David Bell and Kent have combined to go 8 for 45, with 12 strikeouts, 1 home run, 4 runs scored and 5 RBI.

The two teams OBM TC numbers are pretty horrible, from San Francisco's standpoint:

Giants .233/.282/.398

Braves .280/.371/.480

Can anyone say season on the brink?

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 6, 2002


.... Chokers?

The Giants were pasted 10-2 this afternoon, behind six strong innings by Greg Maddux, and more stunning production from some of the worst hitters in the National League.

The umpires had a particularly poor game. In the first inning, with kent and Bonds attempting a double steal, Santiago hit a sharp grounder to third. Castilla picked it up clean, but then completely missed the tag on a sliding Jeff Kent before throwing to first to get Santiago. Amazingly, Mark Hirschbeck, the third base ump, pointed to Kent emphatically and called him out, completing the double play. Replays showed that Hirschbeck, in perfect position to make the call, inexplicably missed what should have been an easy play, as Castilla never even attempted to p[ut a tag in Kent. Instead of second and third with two outs, the inning was over, and the Giants never threatened again.

Besides that one example, what stood out for me was umpire Ron Kulpa's very uneven strike zone. The Braves pitchers threw 107 pitches and 71 were for strikes. The Giants pitchers threw 173 pitches and 99 were strikes. That astonishing ratio was especially evident during Jason Schmidt's melt-down fifth inning, when, regardless of the fact that he was right at the strike zone the whole inning, he got only two called strikes out of 23 pitches. The single most egregious example was the Chipper Jones at bat, in which Schmidt was squeezed by Kulpa on four consecutive pitches, effectively ending his outing.

Besides the atrocious umpiring, the Giants hitters continued their poorly timed slumps, managing just five hits today. The Giants have been outscored 20-5 since the fifth inning of Game One, a stretch of 21 innings in which they have hit four solo home runs, and had more than one hit in an ionning exactly once.

The Braves, on the other hand, have gotten production from some of the worst regulars in all of baseball, including Vinny Castilla, Javy Lopez, Julio Franco and Keith Lockhart.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 5, 2002


.... Angels over Broadway

I only caught the last two innings of the Angels 9-6 come-from-behind win tonight, but I did watch the whole Game Two loss, and everything I wrote earlier was more evident tonight.

In that two innings, I saw Soriano misplay a two out, runner on second flair into a game tying single, Mondesi misplay a slicing bloop into an rally starting double to open the ninth, both Stanton and Karsay, along with virtually every Yankee pitcher, completely unable to throw a pitch that the Angels coudn't get their bats on.

At one point in the eighth, with two strikes on Erstad and a runner on third with one out and the infield playing in, either Jon Miller or Joe Morgan was talking about Stanton going for the strikeout. I mean, come on, what game are you watching? Without doing an entire pitch by pitch analysis, I'd say the Yankee pitchers have thrown about ten swinging strikes so far in the whole series.

OK, I did a little looking. Tonight, Jeff Weaver managed to get six swinging strikes in an inning and a third, Mussina had six in five innings. Stanton had three. That's a total of fiteen over eight innings. That ain't enough, I'll tell you that. This Angel team is working the pitching staff over, 156 pitches, 12 hits and 9 runs tonight, 164 pitches, 17 hits and 8 runs in Game Two, 157 pitches, 12 hits and 5 runs in Game One; we are talking about the three worst pitched back to back to back playoff games in the Torre era.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 4, 2002


.... Jay chimes in on Superman



Hey John, I trust you're enjoying the postseason thus far with as much excitement and nervousness as the rest of us. Can't say I'm rooting for the Giants, but to each their own, right? I did give Bonds my MVP and Dusty a place on my MOY ballot at the Internet Baseball Awards site.

Anyway, I'm not sure whether you've already addressed this or plan to, but I'd be interested to hear your take on this Salon piece by King Kaufman which suggests the Giants should bat Bonds leadoff. A friend asked me for my take and this is what I wrote:

Having fumbled around with it on a few occasions, I can tell you that trying to do a statistical analysis involving batting-order principles and reshuffling is a fairly fruitless pursuit--you can't assume the elements in the chain would react the same way. But I think Kaufman has a point that Bonds is not in the optimal spot in the order. I don't think leadoff is the best spot, however, because teams are less reluctant to pitch to him when nobody's on base, and somebody's getting the bastard out. Last year this was discussed frequently on Baseball Primer, and I think the prevailing consensus was bat him 2nd behind a high OBP guy, because you want to take advantage of his ability to drive in runners as well as causing the opposition to think twice about whether they want to walk him or not. If he bats first, the runners he's got in front of him are the bottom-of-the-order guys, who presumably have low OBPs.

I also think he understates the Kent/Bonds flip-flop; I think most Giants followers would point to that as the turning point of their season. Kaufman writes: "At the time of the switch, Bonds had 50 RBIs in 71 games while hitting .354, with an on-base percentage of .574. After the switch, Bonds played in 72 games. He hit .385, with an on-base percentage of .588. He drove in 60 runs. "

I don't really see a problem here. He's -9 in R+RBI over the second stretch despite a slightly higher OBP, but we don't know his SLG here, and we haven't quantified the team's batting performance (the big-picture matter) in those two blocs of time. Even if it was a slight downturn, Kent's resurgence had to have made up the difference.

Jay Jaffe, Futility Infielder



Let's see....

First, I don't agree that the Bonds/Kent swap was the turning point of the season. The turning point of the season was when all of the injured players got healthy. Kent was red hot at least a month before the swap, and at first, Bonds didn't do so well batting cleanup, although he came on as the season moved on.

And Kaufman subtracting Bonds and Pujols' numbers from their team totals is meaningless, as each players runs and RBI are dependent on the rest of their team, opportunity and spot in the order, among other things.

Runs plus RBI minus home runs is a fairly rough calculation tool, and it fails to adequately describe a players contribution. Win shares, a formula created by Bill James, is a much more accurate and rigorous way to try to put a players contribution into context. David Pinto ran rough form win shares a week or so ago here, and by that calculation, Bonds, with 48.6 win shares, is roughly 50 or 60% more productive than Pujols, with 32.2.

I would use that as a starting point to challenge anyone asserting that Pujols was even in the same league as Bonds. If you don't like that, you could use ESPN's runs created numbers, which show Bonds being responsible for creating 181 plus runs, with Pujols at 121 or so, again, it's pretty much a 50% bump. Or you can ask a simple question: at what cost did each player accumulate his stats?

Anyone suggesting that Bonds isn't the most productive hitter in the league, if not of all time; is missing the cost of the "runs" each player creates. Pujols may have larger counting stats, but what did he "spend" to "buy" those runs and RBI? Pujols "spent" 330 outs to create his runs, Bonds spent 206. That means that while Barry was scoring his 116 runs and driving in his 108, he also "gave" his teammates 124 more opportunities than Pujols did his teammates.

That's why I prefer to use, and have endorsed the Only Baseball Matters Triple Crown. All I care about is success rate. Using averages and percentages, Bonds isn't penalized by the fact that his teammates only drive him in 16% of the time, and how many outs or runs or home runs he hits, all of that is contextual and I'm not interested in it. What does Bonds do, or more accurately, what did he do this year? He ran a .370/.583/.799. He hit safely 37% of the time, he reached base 58.3 % of the time, and he averaged 79% of a base each time he stepped to the plate.

Pujols? Guerrero? Even Alex Rodriguez? Nobody is on the same planet as Bonds. Move him up in thge order? Maybe. I'd agree with Jay that batting him second might make a difference, at least in his first inning opportunities to score runs. Given how little opportunity Bonds gets with men on, at least you could create more chances for him to score. But there can be no doubt that Bonds is the most awesome player in decades, certainly right now he is as effective at producing runs as any player ever has been. Where he bats in the order will have only a marginal effect on his production, because players who reach base 32% of the time will only drive him in at whatever rate they do. Only batting him behind himself would make a real difference.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 4, 2002


.... Bounce back

The Giants will get a chance to bounce back from their first loss in almost three weeks, after being hammered by the Braves, 7-3. The game was over in the fourth, as Dusty Baker inexplicably allowed Kirk Rueter, who had nothing working, to pitch with two on and nobody out with the Giants already down 4-1.

Hindsight is 20/20, I know, but shouldn't the Giants coaches and particularly Dave Righetti have had Rueter maybe try a slightly different approach yesterday? After watching Glavine get crucified by doing exactly what he said he was going to do, I couldn't help thinking Rueter would have blown them away if he would have pitched them inside, even for just the first time through the order. I know it's a risk, but hell, once it was 4-1, they could have done it then, it was obvious he wasn't going to last more than an inning or two more.

Bonds' titanic home run might, just might bode well for him and the team. If there was ever a time for him to go nuts, it would be now, and after watching him watch his home run stay fair, I kind of got the feeling that he was saying to himself, hey, maybe things will be different for me this time.

.... Tuned up, or tuned out

Let's talk about who's helping and who's not. Jeff Kent is not. Kent has swung at pretty much every pitch they've thrown, he's tried to pull every pitch he's swung at, and the Braves haven't thrown him one inside pitch yet. Here's a prediction, and a hope; swap him and Barry back. Make sure Barry's getting up every first inning these next two games. Just a hunch, but I think he's gonna go off.

Kenny Lofton needs to take a couple of pitches, stop swinging at everything, whether it looks good or not.

The relief pitching, with the exception of the one inning by Worrell, has been superb. Last night, Manny Aybar gave the team a big lift, if Dusty would have made the move that Joe Torre wasn't afraid to with Andy Pettitte, maybe the Giants could have made a game of it.

Dusty needs to be quicker on the take here, one game OK, but Rueter had nothing last night, and he should have been on a real short leash once he gave up monster home runs to Castilla and Lopez, two guys struggling to hit their weight. Big game tomorrow, I'll be there, and I'll have a post game report once I get home.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 4, 2002


.... Snow job

I have said an awful lot about the poor hitting of JT Snow, both this year and last. I have written that the Giants absolutely have to get more production from first base, and that his inability to hit is a huge detriment to the team. I ain't taking any of it back, not one word.

He got a big hit yesterday, a huge one really, because it let everyone know that Glavine wasn't Hall of Fame Tom, just regular Tom. But let me say it now, I will not change my tune.

JT Snow can run a .400/.500/.750 out there, and lead the Giants to the promised land. He can win every postseason award their is, and hit one big home run after another, and lead this team to a World Series Championship. That won't change reality.

In the real world of the regular season, he is an offensive liability, and no amount of short term production will overcome weeks and months of outs and double plays. The good news for him and the Giants is that the Braves have great pitching, but it is not filthy pitching. They don't have a lot of 95 MPH wickedness, like say, the D'backs, or the Angels, or even the A's. They have guys that hit their spots, maybe as well as any pitching staff ever, but the Giants and JT can hit those kind of pitchers. Yesterday is over, and today is here.

The only guy on the Giants who could say he had a great day at the plate was Benito, and that's great, because he's the X-factor. Batting in the fifth spot, he can change the whole lineup if he gets and stays hot. Here's hoping he will.

Today is humendous. If the Giants can steal today's game, they go for the sweep with Schmidt on Saturday, and he is almost untouchable at PacBell. I'm sure the Braves realize that too, and they're gonna come out desperate. Gop Giants.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 3, 2002


.... More on Derek Jeter

Interesting choice of words for the headline in this New York Times piece on Derek, Jeter fails, for a change, in October. Given that he is 5 for 7 with two home runs and two walks so far this postseason, wouldn't the headline more accurately read, Jeter succeeds, as usual, in October? Anyway, the gist of the piece is actually more in line with my suggested headline, it's about the way a player responds to being spoken of as a clutch performer, and especially how Derek has.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 3, 2002


.... Continued praise for Aaron

Watching the Yankee game last night, I was again struck by how prescient Aaron's preview was. There were at least three ground balls that went right under the gloves of Soriano and Jeter, Bernie Williams apparently can't throw at all, and man these Angels are tough outs.

Percival, by the way, is devastating. That was some filthy pitching, although that called strike three was pretty generous.

Looking farther ahead, I'd say Brian Cashman's got some real hard thinking to do this off-season. He's got a shortstop with a third baseman's range, a first basemen whose really a DH, a centerfielder who should be in left, a second baseman who kind of looks like a centerfielder, and a catcher who should be a DH.

Anyone think I'm crazy? They look old and slow at so many positions, not to mention they seemed to be out of position on a number of plays... i don't know, they sure looked a lot different from the last few years.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 3, 2002


.... Mild disagreement

Over at Aaron's Blog, Aaron mentions that I ranted and raved about how great his playoff preview was, which it was. He also takes a moment to suggest that maybe Derek Jeter is perhaps getting a little too much New York is the center of the universe hype as a clutch playoff performer and postseason hero, mentioning his poor performance in last year's ALCS and WS. I disagree with him, and here's why:

First, Aaron points to the poor showing Jeter had in last year's ALCS and WS. No argument there, he didn't do squat, but he was playing hurt, after that spectacular catch he had in game five against the A's when he flew into the stands and plastered himself. He didn't miss an inning after that, but he was clearly shook up. Prior to last years ALCS, his career playoff OBM TC numbers were outstanding:

.332/.402/.488 with an .890 OPS

That's better than his career regular season numbers:

.320/.392/.470 with an .862 OPS

And even with last season's poor showing, he has managed to hit safely in 80% of his postseason starts, an astonishing record considering that in the playoffs you are almost always facing some of the best pitchers in the league. Here's what he's done, series by series:

.412/.412/.471 .889 OPS

.417/.417/.625 1.042 OPS

.250/.375/.250 .625 OPS

.333/.417/.667 1.084 OPS

.111/.273/.111 .384 OPS

.200/.259/.320 .579 OPS

.353/.450/.353 .803 OPS

.455/.538/.727 1.265 OPS

.350/.409/.550 .959 OPS

.353/.389/.412 .801 OPS

.211/.286/.211 .497 OPS

.318/.464/.591 1.055 OPS

.409/.480/.864 1.344 OPS

.444/.474/.500 .974 OPS

.118/.211/.118 .329 OPS

.148/.148/.259 .407 OPS

In 16 postseason series coming into 2002, he's been outstanding 9 times, OK twice, and mediocre to poor 5 times, including the two series I already mentioned from last year when he was hurt. That is a terrific postseason record, and without doing a ton of research, I'd say probably one of the best of any player, ever.

In the postseason, he's had 342 at bats coming into this year, in 78 games. He's scored 53 runs, second all-time, he has 93 hits, first all-time, 137 total bases, 5th all-time, 33 walks, good for 9th, 23 extra base hits, good for 8th all-time, and he's reached base a total of 126 times, good for 4th all-time. Most of the guys he's up there with are modern players, David Justice, Tino Martinez, Bernie Williams, Chipper Jones, Paul O'Neill... but there are some immortals in there, Yogi Berra, George Brett, Pete Rose, Reggie Jackson, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle. And if you're wondering, he doesn't have hundreds more plate appearances than these guys, he's fourth all-time in at bats.

I think that considering the crucial position he plays, the way he carries himself, the leadership role on the team he has clearly assumed, and the fact that he seems to be in the middle of everything, (whether it's true or not is secondary to the impression he makes, which is that everything starts and stops with Derek Jeter), his reputation as a clutch performer is hard-earned, and clearly deserved.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 2, 2002


.... That's why they play the games

Two days into the 2002 baseball postseason, we have just seen two of the most remarkably poor performances ever turned in, by two of the best pitchers of all time. Randy Johnson and Tom Glavine, easily the two greatest lefthanded pitchers of our time, seasoned playoff veterans, winners of a combined 466 games and six Cy Young awards, each suffered the worst playoff defeat of their careers. Here's the pitching lines from their repective games:



IPHRERBBSO
Johnson6106524

Glavine5106623



Those are some bad looking pitching lines, the two stars posting a combined ERA of 9.00. Wow.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 2, 2002


.... How do I say this? Me and Rob agree

Rob Neyer says essentially the same thing I did about Scosia's error last night in today's column. Hope that makes me smart or something.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 2, 2002


.... Nostrodamus?

Looking back at Aaron Gleeman's playoff previews, I found that he absolutely nailed the Yankees/Angels series. He said, among many things:

...will the Yankees struggle to score runs when the walks aren't as plentiful and they aren't getting as many opportunities to hit a 3-run home run?

Last night, they were able to get that three-run home run.

I think the Yankees will be able to score runs off of Anaheim's pitching staff, particularly off of Appier, Ortiz and the middle relief.

4 runs off of Weber and Donnelly.

The Angels simply do not strikeout.

No kidding. I mean, come on, Ekstein fouled off a pitch out.

We should be seeing a lot of bouncing ground balls that get by the outstretched gloves of Derek Jeter and Alfonso Soriano.

I counted three, at least.

Can the Angels stop the Yankees from scoring? I think the answer to that, outside of Jarrod Washburn and Troy Percival, will be no.

The answer was no, at least for one night.

I see a lot of 6-4 and 7-5 games, with the Yankee middle relief (Mendoza, Weaver, Stanton, Karsay, El Duque) doing a better job than the Angels' (Weber, Donnelly, Levine, Schoeneweis, Shields).

Final score, 8-5.

See, I told you it was a spectacular preview. Great job, Aaron.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 2, 2002


.... October notes

The Yankees had a rousing, come from behind, 8-5 win over the Anaheim Angels last night. Murray Chass writes about the decisions made by Angels manager Mike Scosia in the pivotal eighth inning, and he illuminates the key flaw in the approach some managers, particularly inexperienced managers, bring to the postseason.



Second-guess Scioscia if you want, but he stuck with the pitching plan that helped put the Angels in the playoffs as the wild card, and he wasn't about to change it for any old game with the Yankees, even if it was the Angels' first postseason game since 1986.

"A tie game like that, that's the way Mike's been doing it all year long," Jarrod Washburn, the Angels' starting pitcher in the game, said, talking about Percival's absence. "He's got to be out there for the ninth. That's how we've been doing it all year long and most of the time the guys get it done. It just didn't happen tonight. Mike's going to get second-guessed for it, but he made the decision he's been making all year and it's been working all year so I don't see anything wrong with the move that was made."



Mike should get second-guessed for it. He left his best relief pitcher in the bullpen while his fourth and fifth best relievers lost the game for him. That's not managing to win, that's managing not to lose. In 2000, Dusty Baker took a lot of flak in the San Francisco area for doing exactly the same thing, managing his team using the same formula that got him there. His team couldn't get out of the first round.

Once the postseason starts, managers who insist on doing things the same way they've been doing them all year are usually on their way to a golf course. Nothing about the playoffs is the same as the regular season, nothing. In the playoffs, every pitch, every inning, every game is vitally important. An eighth inning lead is gold, and it should be treated as such.

The crazy thing is that whenever you hear someone from baseball being interviewed, they all say the same things over and over; there's no tomorrow in the postseason, it's a sprint, the regular season is a marathon. And then the games begin, and managers go on auto-pilot. And I'm not talking about panicking, I'm talking about urgency.

Joe Torre understands that. His one big edge ever since he took the reins in NY has been that he doesn't care what other people think or say. Back in 1996, his first year, Tino Martinez, who had been his big hitter all season long, was killing the team in the playoffs. He benched him, and started Cecil Fielder. For Torre, he never even considers whether someone will mistake his moves for panic. He understands that in the playoffs, you simply cannot give away games, innings, at bats, or more importantly, eighth inning leads. If you watched the game last night, you saw the graphic showing Mariano Rivera's postseason dominance. 52 games, 24 saves, 2 blown saves, ERA below 1.00, and the one completely misunderstood stat, that he has been brought in to pitch more than one inning 19 times! That's almost 40% of the time!

To hear the announcers talk about it, you'd think it was Rivera calling in from the bullpen to let Torre know he's gonna pitch the eighth inning too, as if it was something great about Rivera that he is willing to pitch more than an inning, as if it were his decision. Hey guys, it's Torre's decision!! It's Torre who decides to bring him in for the eighth inning, just like it's Torre who takes the ball from Denny Neagle with two outs in the fourth inning of a one run, World Series game, Torre who walks out there last night immediatley after watching Ramiro Mendoza give up a home run. He's not panicking, he's not showing up his player, he's simply acting in the best interests of the team, doing everything possible to ensure that his team has an opportunity to win this game, this one, tonight, now, this game. He understands that a one run game in the sixth or the seventh or the eighth inning is a winnable game, a game for the taking; and he acts accordingly, with urgency and decisiveness.

Of all the things that the Yankees have done these last six years, of all the magic they seem to have, (last night was just one more example of them beating up on a good relief corps in the playoffs, something they've done over and over again during Torre's tenure), but of all the things that make up their magic, I believe that it is Torre's understated urgency that is at the core of it all. By acting with urgency and decisiveness, by treating each at bat, each inning, each game as if it were the last game of the World Series, he lets every player on that team know exactly how they should act, how they should treat each at bat, inning, and game.... Did you see Alfonso Soriano take Webster from 0-2 to a walk? This is a guy who walked 23 times in something like 700 plate apearances?! Here's what Soriano said after the game:



"I swung at the first two pitches, bad pitches," Soriano said. "I said, `O.K., Sori, calm down, wait for your pitch — a good pitch in your zone.' He didn't throw a pitch in my zone, and I take a walk. They were nasty pitches, but balls. They came in like a strike, but at the last moment, they go down."



Where did he develop the poise to think like that? He didn't do that all year long, but last night, with two outs and nobody on, down a run in the bottom of the eighth inning, suddenly Alfonso Soriano decides not to waste an at bat? The only thing more amazing to me, is that after watching the Yankees and Torre do this for six years running, a guy like Mike Scosia or Dusty Baker can sit there and say to himself, well, this has worked all year, so I guess I'll do it now.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 2, 2002


.... Things that make you go hmmm....

I've written a couple of posts regarding the Giants inability to win as many games as their Pythagorean expected win % would indicate. This is a formula created by Bill James that takes the square of a teams runs scored and divides it by the square of its runs scored added to the square of it runs allowed. Basically, it estimates the teams winning percent by dint of the number of runs scored in its playing environment.

I've written that the Giants have under-performed given how many runs they've scored and allowed. David Pinto has a great column explaining how the distribution of runs scored can skew the expected win percentage. I've highlighted the Giants inconsistency, David explains how that inconsistency shows up in wins and losses. Read and learn.

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 1, 2002


.... Playoff preview

Since Aaron did such a great job of previewing the playoff matchups, I thought I'd just do a quick run-down on who was most responsible for driving the Giants into the postseason. Let's look at the hitters first, with their key September stats:

Rich Aurilia 29 hits, 18 RBI, .826 OPS

Kenny Lofton 42 times on base, 19 runs, .416 OBP

Barry Bonds 22 RBI, .614 OBP, .681 SLG, 1.295 OPS

Reggie Sanders 21 hits, 6 home runs, 12 RBI .856 OPS

Benito Santiago 21 hits, 14 RBI

Tom Goodwin .533/.588/.867 5 runs, 5 RBI in 15 at bats

And here are the pitchers' September numbers:

Russ Ortiz 34.1 IP 2.88 ERA, 5 wins, 0 losses

Jason Schmidt 33 IP 33 SO, 3.27 ERA, 3 wins, 2 losses

Kirk Rueter 29 IP 3.41 ERA, 2 wins, 1 loss

Rob Nen 10.2 IP 2.53 ERA, 14 SO

Worrell/Rodriguez 20 IP 2.25 ERA 14 hits, 14 SO

Fultz/Eyre/Witasik 24 IP 0.00 ERA, 16 hits, 19 SO

As detailed in this Baseball Prospectus article, September success has little to do with postseason success; nonetheless, the Giants come into the playoffs having been in a game after game playoff pressure cooker for well over five weeks, and they have thrived under the gun. They have gotten the clutch, late inning hits that are so integral to winning playoff games, and they are arguably as battle tested as a team can be prior to the first game of October.

Giants in 4 games

Comment on this   [0]  »  October 1, 2002


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