The World According to Keitho

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Posts Tagged ‘pennant race’

Dodgers v Giants: A feel good taping story

Posted by keithosaunders on September 1, 2015

For years my buddy in the Bronx and I have traded taping foible stories.  What is a taping foible?  That’s when you set your DVR, or in the old days, VCR to record the game and something goes horribly wrong.  The most common thing is to learn of the score either by accident or having it told to you by a random person.  In the old days it was actually difficult to program VCRs.  The taping landscape was fraught with danger.

Today I have a taping story with a happy ending. I had the night off (I’m a musician and gig most every night)  so I decided to watch the Dodgers/Giants game. Since I also wanted to watch this horror show I’m into called The Strain I decided to tape the game and watch it on delay.  I set it up to tape 2 hours extra. I use the word ‘taping’ in the generic sense.  I recorded on a DVR.

By the time I got to the game it was about 90 minutes old.  It was a slow moving game with deliberate pitchers and lots of pitching changes. In other words, it was a normal paced ballgame. The game went extra innings but since 9 innings took 3 hours and 40 minutes there was only 80 minutes left on the timer.  By the 12th inning there was only 20 minutes of taping time left and was 40 minutes behind real time!  I was rooting for a broo-ha-ha so I could get in some serious fast forward action but it was not to be.  I began forwarding between every pitch all the while sweating bullets.
Finally it was zero hour but I still had 1 minute of tape to get through.  The tape ran out with Justin Turner up representing the winning run.  I was sure that the one minute gap was going to do me in and that I would miss a Turner walkoff homer but the taping Gods were with me. I only missed a single.  Or a walk. Or a hit by pitch. I don’t know because I missed it.
I watched the final 2 innings in real time, every once in a while hitting the fast forward button on the remote by mistake.    A great pennant race game and a happy taping ending!
VCR
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The big 5-5 and the Mets

Posted by keithosaunders on August 25, 2015

Today I turned 55.  That’s right, double nickels.  The NY Mets were extremely generous, giving me an eight home run game last night and enough optimism to last until October.

I can’t recall a baseball season in which a team’s personality changed on a dime.  If you look back not even a month to July 29th — that’s when Wilmer Flores learned, in the middle of that night’s game, that he was being traded – you’ll see an entirely different team.  One that could not hit to save their lives.  Their pitching was elite (still is) but their lack of hitting made them extremely beatable.

During the July 29th game the cameras captured Flores crying and it looked like it was a new low for the Mets.  The Mets had not yet bottomed out, however.  The very next day they blew a 6 run lead to the Padres at home in the rain.  They were three games behind the Nationals and going nowhere.  I was actually rationalizing the season with an early post-mortem.   “Well they gave me much more competitive four months than I expected…”

And then…CESPEDES.

Who would have thought it possible?  He is the kind of gamer that the Mets almost never get.  Hell, they’re still paying Bobby Bonilla a yearly salary.

Wouldn’t you know it, given a new lease on life Wilmer Flores won two games versus the Nationals.  The Mets swept the series and have gone on to feast on the bottom-dwelling Rockies, Marlins, and Phillies.  True, they were swept by the Pirates, but this humble birthday boy is writing that off as a blip on the radar screen.

The shit’s about to get real.  Fasten your seat belts!

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At last, races.

Posted by keithosaunders on September 20, 2011

Thank you, Boston, for falling apart.  Your late season ineptitude is providing us with the late season intrigue we so craved.  At this writing the Redsox are clinging to a two game lead in the wild card race with the Tampa Rays hot on their trail. 

Good job out of Tampa going into Fenway this past weekend and taking three out of four from the Sox.  The only Redsox win came on a gutty pitching performance by Josh Beckett, who was returning from an injury.  Beckett, by the way, is unwatchable.  He holds the ball at least twenty seconds between pitches.  The only way to watch a Redsox game is to have it on tape so you can at least fast forward through the commercials.

I’ll be rooting hard for the Rays to pull this thing out.  I’m sick of Boston’s act — I have no confidence that they will win a playoff round, let alone beat the Yankees in the ALCS.  (let me take this opportunity to thank my readers in advance for not going into the Keitho archives and checking my 2011 playoff predictions)  Plus, Tampa is such a feel good story — they have built up a good organization through the draft and a few canny trades.  They play in a disaster of a stadium that looks like a prison field, compared to the designer parks of today.  How can you not like them?

And what’s this I see?  Atlanta’s N.L wildcard lead has been whittled down to two and a half games.  Just when I exhibited an unhealthy amount of man-love for the Braves, they have gone into free fall.  They’re in playoff form — choking in crunch time.  The Cards are improbably two and a half back, with the Giants right behind them at three and a half. 

The Braves will face the Marlins and Nationals, before closing the season out against the Phillies,  (who will have nothing to play for)  while the Cardinals play the Mets, Cubs, and Astros.  Between the expanded roster, and delicate-genius LaRussa’s propensity for over-managing, look for the Cardinals box scores to take up entire pages of the sports section.  

It looks like we’ll be in for an entertaining last week and a half of the season.  I know I’ll enjoy it.  Come the first week of October my season of misery begins — suffering through another Yankee post season.

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The wild card run amok

Posted by keithosaunders on September 15, 2011

Today’s post will be devoted to my esteemed guest-blogger, and best friend, Jeff Mazzei.  Since he wrote this, (last week) a couple of the races have tightened up, but with only 15 games or so remaining on the schedule, time is getting short. 

The Redsox, with their myriad of pitching injuries, have somehow let Tampa back into the picture; they are four up in the wild card race.  In the NL wild card, while I wasn’t looking the Cards crept to within four and half of Atlanta. 

But enough of me.  Here’s Jeff!

I don’t know why I should be surprised and confounded by this, but with the pennant races evaporating, all I read is how we need another wild card team like the commissioner wants because he’s coming to the rescue of this September’s non-races.  Talk about another knee-jerk reaction!  How long has the current format been in place?  To my recollection, this is the only time in 17 years it may come down to the wire with no race.  And may I point out that were it not for the wild card, there would be an exciting race in the AL East.  And if the Braves were to close the gap on the Phillies, that would be another non-race race.  Oh, but if the American league only had a second wild card, then we could throw the Texas – Anaheim race in the trash as well.  They just don’t get it.  The people who run this are so myopic.

Mr. Selig wants 2 wild cards in each league having a play-in game.  I can see this coming from 3000 miles down the road:  the first wild card is the Yankees or Red Sox with the 2nd best record in the league.  The second wild card is a so-so team—-we’ll call them the Seattle Mariners—-who happen to have a blue chip pitcher—–we’ll call him Felix Hernandez—-who throws a 2-hit shutout at the 2nd best team in the league, and on goes Seattle.  Let the hand-wringing begin and sound the alarms.

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Grand Central Division

Posted by keithosaunders on July 25, 2011

CENTRAL W L PCT GB HOME ROAD RS RA DIFF STRK L10
Pittsburgh 52 47 .525 26-25 26-22 382 378 +4 Won 1 6-4
St. Louis 53 48 .525 25-21 28-27 474 438 +36 Lost 1 5-5
Milwaukee 54 49 .524 33-14 21-35 443 452 -9 Lost 2 5-5
Cincinnati 50 51 .495 3 27-23 23-28 469 433 +36 Won 2 5-5
Chicago Cubs 42 60 .412 11.5 25-31 17-29 411 507 -96 Won 3 5-5
Houston 33 68 .327 20 17-36 16-32 388 506 -118 Lost 3 3-7

Don’t look now but there’s a classic pennant race shaping up and it’s not where you’d expect.  Forget your AL East with its twin behemoth Yankees and Redsox — their passion play will not begin until October, since the team that doesn’t win the division figures to take the wild card.

The action this year resides in the NL Central; that erstwhile laughing-stock of a division.  There, four teams sit separated by two games in the standings.  Given the fact that the NL East-residing Atlanta Braves figure to take the wild card, only one Central club will advance to the playoffs.

My sentiments lie with the Pittsburgh Pirates, who are at this writing, leading the division by percentage points over the Cardinals.  The Pirates have reached the rarefied air of five games above .500, threatening to break their ignominious streak of consecutive losing seasons, currently at eighteen.  It is the longest such streak in professional sports. 

The Buccos are winning with a team of gritty, young ball players.  (that’s what several consecutive years of high draft picks, and a savvy GM will do for you) It’s rare for me to watch a Pirate game in which I fail to utter the sentence, “Who is that guy?”  

Andrew McCutchen is a speedy young center fielder who has 59 RBI.  Their second baseman is Neil Walker, a slick fielder, and a good run producer as well.  Their only semi-star is Lyle Overbay, who is playing first base.  The pitching has been surprisingly solid behind Kevin Correia, Jeff Karstens, and Paul Maholm, and their closer, Joel Hanrahan, has been superb. 

The Cardinals are the favorites, with their murderers row middle of the lineup — Pujols, Holiday, and Berkman — but I’m hoping that their shaky bullpen will see to it that the do not run away and hide. 

Milwaukee was a sexy pick at the beginning of the season, and they are proving themselves worthy of the hype.  They’re a good team, and as long as K-Rod doesn’t blow too many games, they are going to be fine.  They’re another team I would like to see take the next step. 

I can’t stand the Reds pitching.  Johnny Cueto?  Edinson Volquez?  Homer Bailey?  It speaks volumes that Dontrelle Willis is making a comeback with this staff.  Still, they’re  another good hitting club that may be able to hang around. 

You see, this is why interleague play is a sham.  Here you have four teams in a pennant race, and they’re all going to playing each other come August and September.  While the Yankees, Phillies, and Redsox, spend September sorting out their post season rotations, there will be daily blood-lettings in the middle of the country.  Interleague is a distraction from pennant race baseball.  It is a novelty act that has worn thin.

If MLB has its way, however, we will see the expansion of interleague play, as well as the end of pennant races as we have known them since 1969, the year divisional play was introduced.  There has been a plan floated around that would do away with divisions, creating two 15 team leagues.  The schedule would be balanced, meaning that all teams would play each other the same amount of times, regardless of league.  Imagine if the Pirates played the Royals the same amount of times as they did the Cardinals.   

Baseball seems high bent on removing any sense of tradition from the game, rendering it corporate and soulless.  All the more reason for us to savor what could well be one of the last great divisional races.  

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A pennant race like it oughta be

Posted by keithosaunders on September 24, 2010

This year baseball fans are being treated to a good old-fashioned pennant race.  With a week and a half remaining in the season the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants have been flip-flopping daily for the division lead, with the Colorado Rockies not far behind.  At the moment the Giants are in front of the Padres by a half a game with the Rockies trailing by 3 and a half.  In addition, the Padres also trail the wildcard leading Atlanta Braves by a half game.

Over in the A.L. East the Yankees and Rays have been involved in a close race which has been rendered moot by the absence of an American League wildcard race.  Barring a miracle finish by the Redsox, who are 7 games out of the wildcard lead, both the Yankees and Rays will be in the playoffs.  What should be a riveting race between two great teams is instead meaningless.

In 1993 there was an incredible pennant race between the Atlanta Braves, then in the western division, and the San Francisco Giants.  On July 20th of that year the Giants were a comfortable 9 games ahead of the Braves.  Around that time the Braves acquired Fred McGriff from the Bluejays, and inserted rookie Greg McMichael into the closer role.  They reeled off 27 wins in 35 games before facing the Giants with their new lineup.  They then swept a 3 game series at Candlestick to move to within 1 and a half games of the Giants.  The teams met for their final series on the last week of August, a series in which Atlanta won 2 of 3.

In September, thanks to an injury-depleted pitching staff, the Giants fell 4 games behind Atlanta.  Improbably, that managed to turn it around by going on a 13-1 tear setting up a final weekend of the season which found the two teams deadlocked in the standings.  The Giants played in Los Angeles against their arch-rival, Dodgers, while the Braves played the expansion Colorado Rockies, whom they had owned throughout the season.  It all came down to the last day of the season, both teams owning identical records.  The Braves won their game against the Rockies 4-3 and retired to their clubhouse to watch the Giants lose a laugher to the Dodgers, 12-1.  (This was a modicum of revenge for L.A.  The Giants, behind a home run from an aging Joe Morgan, had ended their 1982 season in similar fashion)  The 1993 Giants finished with a record of 103-59.    

Because a 100 win team missed the playoffs, baseball felt that they had to do something to rectify the situation.  This factor, along with the enticement of additional TV money, prompted the creation of the wildcard team.

In 1995, when the wildcard system was adopted, baseball sacrificed drama for the inclusion of two additional playoff teams.  While there still are compelling races such as the one this year, having a wildcard team precludes the possibility of two 100 + win teams doing battle.  One or the other will almost certainly claim the wildcard spot since the chance of having a third dominant team is practically impossible.

In the two division format there had been riveting tension that lasted all throughout September.  Compare that with the ennui that has settled into the AL East most of this, and every season.  The divional format existed in major league baseball for 24 years.  In this span 100 win teams missed the playoffs twice.  The only other time it occurred was in 1980 when Earl Weaver’s Baltimore Oriole’s won 100 games yet finished behind the division-winning Yankees.  Imagine how crabby Weaver must have been after having squandering a 3-1 lead in games to Pittsburgh in the 1979 World Series only to follow it up in with a 100 year non-playoff season! 

A good friend of mine, and occasional guest-blogger, Jeff Mazzei,  has long thought that the leagues should be divided into four divisions, thus eliminating the need for the wildcard.  There would be the same amount of playoff series, yet each division would at least have the possibility of a good race.  I can live with a good team missing the playoffs.  What I can’t stomach is too many more close, yet meaningless divisional races.
 
Fred McGriff — Crimedog!

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I’m on bizarro Earth watching Giants games

Posted by keithosaunders on September 5, 2010

Not the football Giants, but baseball’s Giants, the team I grew up hating.  How strange it is to turn on my local TV and see the orange and black of San Francisco playing at 7 PM.  Living in New York for the past two and a half decades, I was used to seeing their games begin at 10:00 PM.  With this damn Pacific time zone all of the sports is done before the network news, which is fine if you like to go to sleep early, but not so fine if you’re used to keeping late hours.

Yesterday’s game, versus my old Dodgers, was a honey.  The Dodgers leaped out to a 4-0 lead and it looked as if the punchless Giants would go down easily.  The tide began to turn in the middle innings when solo home runs by Buster Posey, Edgar Rentaria, and Pat Burrell (I hate him, that Met killer!) brought them to within a run. 

In the 9th inning Joe Torre brought in his fireballing closer, Johnathon Broxton, who proceeded to throw 12 straight 96mph-plus fastballs.  There was one on and two out when Juan Uribe stepped to the plate and hit a hanging slider deep into the left field bleachers.  5-4 Giants. 

In the bottom of the inning the Giants closer, Brian Wilson, allowed a pair of singles to put runners on 1st and 3rd with 1 out, but easily retired the next two hitters to nail down the ballgame. 

The game had added intensity since the Giants are involved in a pennant race — they are 2.5 games behind the slumping San Diego Padres, and 3.5 off the wild card pace, chasing the Phillies.  If I have to be in a strange city where I know no one and have no gigs, at least there is important September baseball to watch.  Oh, and did somebody mention football?

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