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Archive for October, 2011

Halloweaning

Posted by keithosaunders on October 31, 2011

Halloween has slipped way down on my depth chart of holidays — it’s still above Purim, but it’s fallen below Columbus Day.  I am the Ebenezer Scrooge of Halloween.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved it as a kid, and I am all for kids having a ball on this candy-laden night.  Trick or treating  is one of our finest traditions, and I, along with the dentists of America, am a hearty proponent of it.

It’s the adults I can’t take.  You mean to tell me that I, a grown man, and a middle-aged one at that, have to go through the stress and ageda of purchasing, or putting together a costume because you invited me to your Halloween party? 

How about no?!

Here’s the thing:  If I’m going to go through the trouble of preparing a costume, and feigning interest in your costume, then the party had better damn well end in an Eyes Wide Shut style orgy or I’m not going! 

You mean I’m supposed to preen around like I’m some kind of extra in a Cecil B. Demille film for three damn hours when I could be home watching the damn Stanford game?!  I don’t think so.

But…since I am a reasonable man, I will make a concession.  You want me at your midlife-crisis kiddy party?  Fine.  Set up a room with a damn TV in it and tune it to the fucking game.  That way when I get tired of prancing around, which will probably take about five minutes, I can have a safe room to escape to.

Oh, and can you put a keg of beer in there too?  Thanks.   

Bah, humbug, put the f***ing game on!

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For the 11th time: Cardinals

Posted by keithosaunders on October 29, 2011

David Freese is the new Jeter.  I hate him!  (kidding — he seems like a good guy)  What a dream post season he had — how is he ever going to top it, or even equal it?  I guess that’s a good problem to have.

I feel bad for the Rangers, and especially for their fans.  What that must have feel like to have victory snatched from them in that way.  I hope the Rangers have a chance to get back to the Series, but I have a feeling this is going to take a lot out of them, and let’s face it– like Verdun said, their pitching is not that good.  Feliz and Ogando alone cost them the Series, but you also have to look at C.J. Wilson.  Terrible job out of him!  He’ll be gone anyway — good riddance.  I hope he goes to the Yankees. 

Chris Carpenter is indeed a great pitcher — tremendous job out of him on short rest.  He seems like a miserable person, though, as does LaRussa.  That’s why I really wanted the Rangers to win.  The Cards have won enough — 11 Series and 18 pennants.  Still, I must give it up to St Louis.  What a pennant race and playoff run they had.

The Cardinals remind me a little of the 2002 Angels, another offensive-minded club  They’re a team full of gamers that played gutty and hard-nosed ball.  The main difference between the two being the Cards won despite their manager, whereas the Angels had a great manager in Mike Scioscia.  

The thing that makes me mad is that LaRussa’s over-managing style has been vindicated and that we will see much more of the same from all too many clubs in ’12.  It’s fun to watch these games in the postseason, but they are death when it comes to a mid-June A’s-Royals matchup.

So now we must say goodbye to that greatest of sports and turn our attention to football.  Here in the Bay Area the fans and media are crazed with the early season success of the 49ers, who at this writing are 6-1.  One of the radio hosts has them finishing at 13-3!  I don’t know about that, but I do know that I am ready for some football! 

Cmon, trainer, get in the mosh pit!

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One for the ages

Posted by keithosaunders on October 28, 2011

Two words I thought I’d never say are:  Poor Texas. 

Game six of the 2011 World Series was one of the greatest games I have ever seen.  Despite poor fielding, porous pitching, terrible managing, and one of the worst blown saves of all time, it was one of the most compelling and riveting games of all time. 

I watched the game with my middle child, Lee, and by the 10th inning we were both screaming and laughing in disbelief and awe.  How could a team be within one strike of winning their first ever World Series and blow it both times?!  Ranger closer, Neftali Perez has got to close that game!  He had two strikes on Freese before grooving a pitch that was hammered deep to the opposite field.  

When I saw the ball hit off the bat I thought the game was over, but Nelson Cruz, the Texas right fielder, either got a bad jump on the ball, or was afraid of running into the wall. 

For all their incessant yammering about meaningless statistics, Buck and McCarver were mute on whether or not Cruz had a play on the ball.  Their intent is to deliver as bland a broadcast as possible, and on that front they are successful.  Either way…triple and tie game.

Some people have been saying that Ron Washington should have stuck with Perez for the 10th, but I disagree.  I’ve seen enough of him to know that he stinks.  So does Ogando, for that matter.  Perez is one of those guys that compiles saves during the season, but when it comes to money time he wilts.  That’s what made Mariano so great — he was (is)great both during the season, as well as the post season.

LaRussa is an ass.  The Cards are winning despite him, just as the Rangers have made it all the way to game seven despite their inept manager.  Last night LaRussa worked himself into a situation where he had no remaining position players by the ninth inning, and had burned through the bulk of his bullpen.  He was even using multiple starting pitchers as pinch hitters.  He pinch hit Edwin Jackson for Kyle Lohse, who was batting for still another pitcher!  What a tool.  What I wouldn’t have given to see a 20 inning game.  He would have had to have used Carpenter!

I would be shocked if St Louis does not have a big lead in game seven by the middle innings.  It’s hard enough to win a game seven on the road, but to expect the Rangers to recover from a gut wrenching loss when they were inches from the crown…that’s asking a lot. 

I can’t wait to watch!

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Can you hear me now?

Posted by keithosaunders on October 26, 2011

Hey Tony, how about another pitching change?

Game five of the World Series was one of the more bizarre and exciting games I have seen for some time.  This entire Series has been a delight, and so far it has gone the way I wanted it to, with Texas in front of a long, hard-fought contest.  It was the first time since 2003 that the Series had been knotted at two — there have been six game series, but only after 3-1 leads in games.  The Series hasn’t gone to a seventh game since 2002. 

I hadn’t realized how universally disliked LaRussa was, but now that his over managing is front and center, the press and media have been all over him.  One podcast host stated that, “LaRussa came to manage in game 5.” 

And manage he did.  He managed to blow the game, that’s for sure.  First of all he had his ace on the mound, Chris Carpenter.   Of course he was removed once the magic 100 pitch mark was reached, and in came Octavio Dotel bearing gasoline.  If that’s not enough, with first base open he has Dotel walk Nelson Cruz.  What is Dotel in the game for if not to get righties out! 

Then we entered the twilight zone.  LaRussa removed Dotel from the game and out from the bulpen came Mr Scrabble, Marc Rzepczynski.  What the?!  A left-hander in to face consecutive righties, one of whom, Mike Napoli,  is the Series hottest hitter.  I sat there dumbfounded as Buck and McCarver, shills that they are, explained that LaRussa sometimes uses Rzepczynski to get righties out. 

One single and a gap double later the score was 4-2 Rangers.  But LaRussa wasn’t done.  He removed Rzepczynski from the game and replaced him with… Lance Lynn!  He had Lynn intentionally walk Kinsler and then…took him out of the game!   At the time I was thinking, LaRussa is out of control — why not have Rzepczynski issue the walk and then change pitchers?

Of course, later on we would discover the reason:  The bullpen phone didn’t work and LaRussa’s pitching coach had the wrong pitcher warming up.  Right…and Paul McCartney died in 1966. 

I don’t believe this cock and bull story for one second.  Before the game LaRussa had announced that Lynn, who had thrown 47 pitches the previous night, was unavailable for work.  Let’s assume for a moment that the bullpen coach misheard LaRussa.  Why wouldn’t he have questioned the move?  Not only that, Lynn sounds nothing like Motte, who was the pitcher that LaRussa said he wanted all along.  Might I suggest a simple text message for future moves?

Let’s face it, LaRussa simply wants to put his stamp on the game at any cost.  He’s not happy unless he is making moves.  At this point it appears his over-managing is costing the Cardinals a Worlds Series.  You can make the case that LaRussa, at this point, is responsible for at least two losses:  games two and five.

Finally, this little tidbit I heard on the radio.  One of the hosts of Slate’s Hang Up and Listen podcast attended game six of the 1977 World Series, the one in which Reggie Jackson hit three home runs. (a game also attended by my best friend, and sometimes guest-blogger, Jeff Mazzei)  The time of that game was two hours and seven minutes.  Amount of pitching changes:  three; all by the Dodgers.

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Cards v Rangers getting great ratings in the East Bay

Posted by keithosaunders on October 22, 2011

I don’t know about the rest of the country, but my son and I are tuning in.[Maxwell Smart voice]  And…loving it! 

Game two was actually tied 1-1 for a few minutes in the ninth inning.  I almost got my wish of a long extra inning game — Nick Punto was even in the lineup.  For those of you who didn’t read my prediction a few posts back, I’m waiting for LaRussa to burn through his entire staff during a long extra inning game.  He actually was down to his last position player last night.  He even took Yadier Molina out for a pinch runner.  What a tool.

Finally, on Thursday night, LaRussa’s over-managing caught up with him.  He has his fireballing closer — Jason Motte — on in the 9th throwing seeds and he takes him out for Arthur Rhodes, an aging, journeyman contact pitcher.  You’d think he would have at least gone to Octavio Dotel at that point, but he didn’t, and two sac flies later the Rangers were up for good, 2-1.

Ron Washington is not much better, he’s just more likable.  How the hell do you remove Colby Lewis from that game.  I’m sure his pitch count was well below 100, and even if it wasn’t, Lewis has shown himself to be a big game pitcher.  I would rather have him out there than Alexi Ogando, who is rapidly turning into this year’s version of Byung-Hyun Kim.

My fear is that since LaRussa and Washington have, for the most part, gotten away with their revolving door style of pitcher management, that other major league managers will begin to copy their style next season pushing the average time of game to four hours. 

But enough nitpicking.  This has been an incredible start to the Series and I could not be enjoying it more.  Well…I guess I could if the Mets were up 2-0. 

What happened?  I was delusional.  Now where was I?  Oh yeah…there has been great pitching, stellar defense, and some clutch base stealing as well.  All of this may yet take away some of the sting of having to suffer through Buck and McCarver.

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Behind the black curtain

Posted by keithosaunders on October 20, 2011

Each time I see one of those NFL refs disappear behind the black curtain to review a play I wonder what he’s actually looking at.  I mean, what is behind the curtain?

I’m picturing a Times Square-esque Show World setup circa 1984.  

The ref steps behind the curtain and instead of a TV monitor he finds a coin operated machine.  He pops two bits into the slot and an automated window slowly rolls open to reveal a sultry naked lady. 

In the meantime we home viewers are treated to expert analysis by some former ref in a Los Angeles TV studio.  “This is what will happen, yadda yadda yadda…”    

The ref does his business, exits the booth, and announces to the crowd…

(all together now)

AFTER FURTHER REVIEW, THE PLAY STANDS.

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Speed

Posted by keithosaunders on October 16, 2011

I played an early morning gig the other day — like 8AM early.  How strange to wake up for a gig to find that it was still pitch black outside, not to mention leaving the gig in broad daylight — it’s the reverse of how it usually works. 

The gig was for a non-profit corporation that had a breakfast affair and wanted music.  As usual the band was talking sports before the gig.  With the playoffs ongoing, baseball was the subject of the day.   The drummer asked if we remembered that the AL had a designated runner for two years.  The sax player and I knew that this wasn’t the case — that it was an innovation that Charlie Finley, the A’s owner, wanted to implement.

A little while later the  drummer emailed this info:

1974. Herb Washington of the Oakland Athletics is known as the only “Designated Runner” in Baseball history. As a world class sprinter who broke various sprinting records while in College at Michigan State University he caught the attention of Oakland’s free spirited owner Charlie Finley. He was able to convince Washington to take the role of Designated Runner even though he had no Baseball prior experience. He spent the entire 1974 season and 1 month of the 1975 season with the A’s where he had zero at-bats or time playing the field in the 105 games he appeared in. With that said, Washington still accomplished to steal 31 bases, score 33 runs, and win a World Series ring in his short career. After being released by the A’s he remained in professional sports for 2 additional years as a competitive sprinter in Track & Field. 

Funny thing, though.  Later that night I was playing a gig with a bass player who is an avid sports fan and who has lived in the Bay Area for over 30 years.  He remembered Washington and he told me that, in fact, he was a terrible base runner.  He got picked off many times, got terrible leads, and made a myriad of mistakes on the bases.

Kind of funny, but it brings out the point that there actually is a skill to running, and that it is not merely speed that steals bases.  It serves to illustrate how great players like Lou Brock, Tim Raines, and of course, Rickey Henderson were.

One of the things I love about living in the Bay Area, after having been in New York for so long, is hearing the inside dope about the players and teams of yesteryear.  Even though a hard-core sports fan like myself is aware of those teams and players, there is nothing like getting the first-hand, inside dope.  I eat that stuff up!

Too bad the Tigers couldn’t pull out the ALCS.  Now we’ll have to suffer through another Series of Bush sitting next to jowly Nolan Ryan.  In the end the Tigers were a little too beat up, didn’t have the arms, and suffered from way too much Nelson Cruz.  

I’m still hopeful that Milwaukee can pull it out at home, but I am steeling myself for another Series of delicate-genuis LaRussa, with his revolving door of pitchers.  How does he get away with it?  I only hope we see a 16 inning game with LaRussa forced to pitch Nick Punto when he runs out of relievers.

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Elimination day

Posted by keithosaunders on October 9, 2011

At last I can exhale and begin to enjoy the 2011 baseball season now that the corporate automaton known as the Yankees have been eliminated by the Detriot Tigers.  That’s twice in five years that the smug, arrogant Yankee fans have looked past the Tigers towards the ALCS, and each time, much to their chagrin, their clean-cut, star-laden team has come up short.

How did the Yankees lose that game?  They had men on base in every inning except the first and the ninth, yet they could only score two runs.  Playoff A-Rod is an out waiting to happen.  I wonder if the Yankees are beginning to regret the contract that they gave him.  Who am I kdding — they could sign Pujois, Lincecum, and Cliff Lee next week and not blink. 

Here is the opening of longtime New York sports radio host, Chris Russo’s show the morning after the Yankees were eliminated.  It’s worth a listen.

But enough about the Yankees.  Let’s talk Brewers baseball.  There were two classic game fives on Friday night, but few games will match the intensity and drama of the Brewers deciding game versus the surprising and resilient Arizona Diamondbacks. 

This is why we watch baseball:  Not to see high-wattage super-teams composed of mercenary, colorless players, but to see the unbridled elation from teams such as Milwaukee. (or Arizona, had they advanced)   

Elation may have been an understatement.  I have never seen a team go so wild over a divisional series win before.  Granted Milwaukee won it with a walkoff hit in the bottom of the 10th, coming on the heels of Arizona failing to score a go-ahead run after they had loaded the bases loaded in the top of the ninth.  Still — the way they were carrying on you would have thought they had won the World Series.  

The sideline reporter tried to interview Prince Fielder, but the big guy would have none of it.  He grunted a few syllables before saying he had to go.  After a couple of comments from Ryan Braun, the hero of the hour, Nyger Morgan, popped his head into the frame and the reporter, quick as a cat whirled around and shouted, “Nyger, a few words please!”  Morgan had turned to the crowd and was shouting something at them.  All of a sudden you see this hand with a television mic extend towards Morgan and then you hear, “FUCK YEAH! FUCK YEAH!”

You know it’s been a couple of good days in the Keitho household when you get a Yankee elimination followed by unscripted F bombs on TV.  

Finally the reporter corals Morgan for an interview and he’s still looking around at the crowd and hugging various players, and finally he turns to her and says, “I got nothing for you,” and leaves for the clubhouse. 

 What the?!  The Brewers are the anti-corporation, dissing the media.  I love it!  

The next thing TBS showed was the clubhouse and I had never seen so much champagne flowing and such carrying on.  I counted eight bottles, and believe me, they were flowing.

Psst…Brewers…you haven’t won anything yet. 

 Ah, who am I kidding, I can’t stay mad at them.  I’ll be rooting for them to advance to the World Series, if no other reason than to see how much more amped up their celebrations can get.  Pass the cheese!

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