Friday, October 13, 2006

The Playoffs

The New York Mets sent the eldest statesman on either roster out to pitch last night but it was the St. Louis Cardinals who looked old when all was said and done.

Forty year old Tom Glavine shut down the Cardinals on four hits over seven innings as the Mets took a 1-0 lead in the NLCS with their 2-0 win last night. Carlos Beltran, who always seems to step up in the post-season, accounted for both runs with a tremendous home run in the sixth inning.

The Cardinals hit the ball hard with men on base a few times last night, but always right at someone. Still, the game may have been a preview of the dying throes of a Cardinals team that has been to the post-season several years in a row with largely the same cast of characters only to fall short each time. Jim Edmonds is probably in his last season in St. Louis. Scott Rolen continues to be plagued by injuries. Closer Jason Isringhausen was lost before the playoffs began, undergoing hip surgery in mid-September. Only King Albert remains young, vigorous and consistently productive, but even he missed some time during the season with an injury.

St. Louis only had the fifth best record in the National League this season but backed into the Central Division title in the final days despite playing poorly since the All-Star break. They managed to rally themselves against a weak-hitting San Diego team to sweep the first round of the playoffs, but the Mets aren’t the Padres. Despite losing Pedro Martinez and El Duque, New York has the most potent lineup in the league even when Endy Chavez is substituting for Cliff Floyd and St. Louis doesn’t appear to have the pitching to neutralize them.

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Cardinals’ skipper Tony La Russa ordered David Wright intentionally walked in the sixth inning. Normally, that decision would not merit special attention, but prior to the game La Russa said it would be cowardly of the Mets to pitch around Albert Pujols during the series.

I can only assume La Russa was scared, really scared, of Mr. Wright.

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Maybe you can teach an old dog some new tricks. Normally, Bud Selig would wear a plywood suit in a hurricane rather than postpone a playoff game or change its start time, but with the tonight’s forecast in Detroit calling for temperatures to dip into the ‘30’s with strong, gusty winds and possible snow showers, the Commissioner has relented and moved the start time up to 4:30. The forecast for the afternoon calls for a few showers and temperatures in the high 40’s..

Being a mid-westerner, Bud will show up appropriately dressed with long johns and a parka, unlike Bowie Kuhn, who once showed up for a frosty World Series game lightly dressed with only a sports jacket in a clear albeit pathetic attempt to prove to the world watching at home that the weather wasn’t bad at all. The folks at home weren’t fooled, however. Maybe it was the two guys sitting to either side of Kuhn, each of whom was dressed in an outfit that looked like the Michelin Tire mascot.

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Speaking of corporate sponsors, which we weren’t, really, MLB and the networks that televise their games are selling naming rights to everything within earshot if not sight. Maybe the outfield walls don’t look like a European soccer stadium all decked out with logos, yet, but every other aspect of a baseball telecast comes replete with a sponsor. The Exxon-Mobil keys to the game. The WebMD injury report. The Pepsi this and Coke that. Yeah, I know, the business of America is business, but does every other sentence uttered by the clones in the broadcast booth have to come with its own corporate tag?

1 comment:

RickSchuBlues said...

One player I really am enjoying in the postseason is David Eckstein. He has got to be a living inspiration to small guys who want to play baseball. His determination is written all over him, and he plays the game with utmost respect and in the purest way possible - kind of like Larry Bowa without the chip on his shoulder.