Friday, October 19, 2007

Drumming Our Fingers Waiting for the World Series

Random thoughts on the East Coast while adjusting the thermostat on our air conditioning system on October 19th! (Good thing there isn't any global warming.)

Cole Hamels is a fine pitcher with a bright future, but he simply isn't a number one in a class with Boston's Josh Beckett. When the scowling Beckett takes the mound, the Red Sox are a confident team as they proved last night in a do-or-die win over Cleveland and their ace, C.C. Sebathia. Beckett is intimidating and dominating; Hamels is neither of these. Also, it's worth noting that Beckett has been this type of pitcher for a number of years now and is still only 27. The only thing that held him back in the past was a recurrence of blister problems.

Hamels may turn out to be the Phillies' ace in the long run, but he isn't going to intimidate anyone with a change-up as his best pitch. The Phillies haven't been able to send anyone similar to Beckett to the mound since the hey day of Steve Carlton.

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We've all lamented the pitiful scheduling MLB and the networks have subjected East Coast fans to in particular and now we are looking at a huge gap before the World Series gets underway. Here's something else to think about:

Denver's Winter/Cold Season Statistics

"Updated July 1, 2005"

Autumn First Freeze Information

Earliest Date of First Freeze:September 8, 1962
Latest Date of First Freeze:November 15, 1944
Average Date of First Freeze:October 7th
First Freeze Last 8 Years: October 14, 2004
September 14, 2003
October 4, 2002
October 5, 2001
September 22, 2000
September 28, 1999
October 06, 1998
October 12, 1997
October 21st is the average date in which Denver's normal overnight low temperature hits 32
degrees Fahrenheit for the first time.

Autumn First Snow Information

Earliest Date of First Snow:September 3, 1961
Latest Date of First Snow:November 21, 1934
Average Date of First Snow:October 19th
First Measurable Snow Last 8 Years: November 1, 2004
November 5, 2003
October 24, 2002
October 5, 2001
September 23, 2000
September 28, 1999
November 1, 1998
October 12, 1997

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Congratulations to Joe Torre. He has preserved his dignity by rejecting the Yankees' phony and insulting offer. The Yankees sure have a way of rewarding loyal not to mention successful employees. Now, the door is open for Tony LaRussa to step in and take the reigns. It would be a "marriage" made in baseball heaven: George Steinbrenner always acted like he knew baseball better than anyone else in the past and LaRussa still does. Let's see how genius works with a starting rotation in tatters, an aging group of position players at least some of whom are likely to walk and a closer who has already announced if Joe leaves he does, too. The Yankees could easily be a second division club come next season.


David said...

It might be difficult to intimidate with a changeup, but Hamels does come close to doing it at times, and I think that tendency will increase over time.

A couple of comments on Beckett:

1) This is the guy the Phillies were convinced they had in Brett Myers. But they've clearly moved on and now choose to believe that Myers is actually Jonathan Papelbon.

2) Beckett might very well be an even bigger prick than Myers.

Tom Goodman said...

As usual, David, I agree with you about Beckett. As for Hamels... I don't think there is anything intimidating about him. He's best when he has everyone out front on him or flailing away at his change. It isn't a question of fear; rather, it's a matter of his successfully keeping batters off balance and uncomfortable. But he needs to get bring his curve ball up to the same level to progress further.

Beckett is just as likely to yell at a batter as throw at him and that wicked breaking ball is a thing of beauty. Still, he's a first class ass and everyone, including teammates, knows it. But the guys behind him as opposed to in front of him love having him on their side. I doubt anyone on the Phillies has ever felt that way about Myers. To them, he's someone to put up with.

David said...

Another 'almost' for Cleveland. My heart goes out to the Indian fans. This one has to really smart, even though I did foresee there would be problems even with the 3-1 lead they had.

The think I might remember most about this series is Red Sox fans chanting "Na na na na, hey hey, goodbye" after the Sox had broken Game 7 open. You would think there would maybe be a sense of empathy from a fan base which once defined itself by heartache. Apart from Cub fans (and maybe Phillies fans) no one has suffered quite the way Cleveland fans have in the past five decades.

Wasn't it enough that Boston had their victory? Why was it requisite to additionally mock and piss all over the other team? There's far too much provincial mean-spiritedness like this prevalent among sports fans.

Tom Goodman said...


I, too, was upset the Indians lost in part because I feel great sympathy for their fans and in part because I think Red Sox fans are the most obnoxious in all of baseball. I lived in Cambridge for two years and though there is much to admire and enjoy about Boston, in the end it is without doubt the most smug population in the entire country. Boston's nickname, The Hub, was normally understood to mean the center of New England, but Bostonians don't have anything on Steinberg's New Yorker cover of Manhattan when it comes to seeing themselves as the center of the universe and everything else just a thin strip on the horizon. Even this Red Sox Nation business is nauseating to me, akin to the Cowboy's preposterous assumption they were ever America's Team. Bostonians thought everyone in America suffered along with them until 2004 but in reality apart from those who went to college in Boston and moved on, no one else outside Route 128 could give a damn whether the Red Sox ever won a championship.

David said...

I lived in Boston for four years and know precisely what you mean. That 'Hub' business always seemed to exemplify the general attitude there, which is distinctly smug and self-important - yet they just love to play that righteous 'underdog' card because they're smaller than big, bad New York.

What is it that makes Bostonians so proud and Philadelphians so self-deprecating? I think the main reason why the Red Sox and not the Phillies are beloved 'underdogs' is the national reputations of the cities themselves, and perhaps the near-holy stature of Fenway Park.