Congratulations to the city of Houston on the World Series triumph over the equally young and impressive, hard swinging Dodgers in one of the most interesting championship series ever played! Charlie Morton, George Springer, and Alex Bregman have now become household names outside of Texas among those of us usually confined to the Yankees-Red Sox network otherwise known as ESPN. We already knew about Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa, of course, but now we have actually seen them play as well. It was also good to see Yuli Gurriel prior to his being named ambassador to Japan by President Tweety.
The playoffs were being held during a busy time for your Baseball Anarchy correspondent because, as you know, it is also a time for job searching in the world of baseball. and I was right there in the thick of it. First, I had to fly to a secret location in the Midwest for an interview with the FOX network. The job opening was for someone to finish Joe Buck’s sentences for him. I thought I had an edge because of my impeccable command of English grammar, but I failed, apparently because I wasn’t good at starting arguments. I hadn’t thought that to be one of the requirements so I should have been paying more attention. I couldn’t be interviewed for the job of replacing Pete Rose on the pre-game and post-game studio crew because my criminal record was not extensive enough so they gave it to that stiff, David Ortiz.
After the Washington Nationals were eliminated, it was on to the District of Columbia to attempt to be the replacement for Dusty Baker. This was not easy, because Dusty has long been a favorite of mine and I have admired him as a manager who has earned and deserved a better fate and also as a player who got on the wrong side of the loathsome Tommy LaSorda. None of that mattered as I was once again rejected. I imagined that they would be interested in my latest theory about handling a major league pitching staff. Why not, I proposed, have your “closer” start the game? Since conventional wisdom holds that your typical “closer” is always “lights out” and guarantees a scoreless inning, why not have him pitch the first inning and go on from there with lesser entities like Scherzer, Strasburg and those other shlubs. Then they could pitch four or five innings and qualify for the win! Also, my idea was to position the first and third base men in foul territory when one of the many fireballers on the staff was pitching so that, when all of those late swing foul tips were hit, they wouldn’t have so far to run to catch them, and the all important pitch counts could be lowered. Innovative ideas like this, unfortunately, take time to be recognized.
So now I am back to the extremely high paying but relatively low prestige blog gig.
Joe Buck’s announcing partner, John Smoltz, is a man who knows a lot about that which he chooses to speak, at least when it comes to baseball. So when he talked at some length about the dangers of lifting starting pitchers very early in the games we had to listen. After all, Smoltz had been an excellent starting pitcher and an excellent reliever. The question is, did Dave Roberts blow it by going to the bullpen too soon and too often? The results were mixed. In defense of Roberts, he does have a staff of five inning type starting pitchers, with the obvious exception of Clayton Kershaw. Alex Wood, Rich Hill, and the others will not be challenging any innings pitched or complete games records in their careers. Kenta Maeda is a good pitcher but was turned into a reliever for the playoffs because he is definitely not the workhorse type and, as always, two times four (innings) equals eight. Kenley Jansen looks like he could pitch every inning of every game but perhaps not. It looks like A.J. Hinch got the better of Roberts in this regard but objects in the rear view mirror can look closer than they are sometimes.
Smoltz had another theme during the playoffs (post season sounds so morbid) and on this one I am right there with him. I am too ignorant of the physics of hitting (ask anyone who ever played with me) to expound about launch angles, leg kicks, lifting, etc. but I always loved a good game of pepper. Situational hitting. Take two and go to right. Keep the line moving. Choke up. Hit it where they ain’t. To me, it works in all types of weather and in any stadium. Yes home runs are fun, mostly. As I have moaned on about previously, Home Run Derby was a boring television show and adding countless strikeouts doesn’t enhance the appeal. It was a fantastic series though. Now, the meaningless void of Winter begins its reign.