The World According to Keitho

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Posts Tagged ‘Tony Larussa’

Billy goat begone!

Posted by keithosaunders on November 3, 2016

 

For the first time in my life — for the first time in anyone’s life – the Cubs have won the World Series.  On the way they overcame a  3-1 deficit in games, the last two being on the road, and a delicate genius, hands-on manager who did everything in his power to sabotage his team’s victory.

This was the worst managed Series deciding game I have ever seen.  Joe Maddon is one of these managers, from the Tony LaRussa school, who likes to let you know he’s in the dugout running things.  He pulled starter, Kyle Hendricks, out of the game too soon, attempted a squeeze with two strikes and one out where a fly ball would have scored a run, and had burned Aroldis Chapman needlessly in game 6 so that he had nothing left for game 7 when he really needed him.

Terry Francona, on the other hand, stuck with his starter, Corey Kluber, too long.  Kluber, who has been pitching on short rest throughout the series was running on fumes.  Francona had fresh arms on the bench – Danny Salazar and Trevor Bauer — and he chose to stick with Kluber.

Still, it was one of the great Series games, packed with drama and tension and I was glad to have seen it. In fact, I stumbled into a windfall.  When I arrived at my solo gig I found that the game was on their TV.  The owner asked me if I would mind waiting for it to end before beginning to play.  Suppressing a grin I said, “Well…I suppose,” while thinking, ‘Oh baby!’ By the time the game ended my gig was over.  I ended up playing three and a half tunes during the game’s rain delay.

Years ago I had missed the greatest World Series ending of all time while at one of my gigs – the Joe Carter walkoff home run in 2003.  I was prepared to miss another classic, telling myself I could take it and that nothing could be as bad as 1993.  But the truth is I would have been upset to miss this game.  It was a great game despite the momentum-killing booth reviews, the incessant droning of Joe Buck, and the perpetual pitcher-changes.

Now  on to football!

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The second guessers

Posted by keithosaunders on November 2, 2015

I killed Matt Harvey back in September over the maxed-out innings controversy. I said he was gutless and that he was a pussy. Well I was wrong. He pitched his ass off in the post season leaving nothing on the table. Last night he was as dominating as a pitcher can be and showed no signs of weakening in the 8th inning.

Terry Collins showed guts in allowing Harvey to come out for the 9th. I don’t want to hear this BS about automatically going to the closer. Who are they going to? Mariano Rivera? Familia had a great season but by the time the Series came around he was used up meat and the Royals can hit him.

I can remember a delicate-genius manager, Tony La Russa, who went to his closer in the 9th inning.  This was a pitcher who would end his career with 390 saves and he probably would have had the most ever had he not been a starter the first 10 years. I bet Kirk Gibson remembers him.  If Dennis Eckersley can fail (and even the great Mariano couldn’t get it done in 2001) then it’s certainly not written in stone that Familia gets three easy 9th inning outs.

This is not a cookie cutter game.  Just because you have a closer doesn’t mean he will succeed every single time out, as evidenced by game one of this Series.  If you want to kill Collins how about this? He had two starters in his bullpen, both pitching effectively — Jon Niese & Bartolo Colon. How about sticking with them for more than an inning at a time?

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The Cardinals: The king of Game 7

Posted by keithosaunders on November 3, 2011

You’d better believe I’m in baseball withdrawal.  What a compelling, riveting Series we just experienced; it was one of the best I”ve ever seen.  Now comes the boring time of the year which is dominated by free agent signings and arbitration settlements.  Gee, will you look at that, Willie Bloomquist got a 2.5 million dollar extension…

Last week’s game seven Cardinals win got me thinking about how they had won more Series — 11–  than any National League team.  The runners-up are the Dodgers and Giants, each of whom have won 6 out of 18 Series appearances.  (the Cards have also played in 18 Series)

But I was more interested in the Series that went to a seventh game.  Off the top of my head it seemed the Cardinals had played in an inordinate amount of them.  Here is what I found:

The Cardinals have won eight World Series game sevens. 

1926 v Yankees

1931 v Athletics

1934 v Tigers

1946 v Redsox

1964 v Yankees

1967 v Redsox

1982 v Brewers

2011 v Rangers  

They lost game sevens to the Tigers in ’68, the Royals in 85, and the Twins in ’87. 

61% of the World Series that the Cardinals have appeared in have gone to a seventh game and their winning percentage in these games is 72%.

Now lets look at the Yankees who have won a staggering 27 Series.

Of those 27 Series ony ten have gone to a seventh game and they have won four of them, or 40%.  Three of those four wins were versus the Dodgers in ’47, ’52, and ’56, and they beat the Giants in ’62.  Admittedly the Yankees probably did not play that many game sevens because of their dominance, but still, for a team that has one 67% of the Series that they appeared in, (27/40) you would think they would have won more game sevens. 

The Dodgers are 2-3 in game sevens, (but I think 1955 should count for more than one win!) and the Giants are 1-2. 

The Philadelphia/Oakland Athletics have fourteen pennants to their name, but have only played in three game sevens, going 2-1.  The Tigers, on the other hand have played in ten Series, five of which have gone to a game seven.  Their record in those games is 2-3. 

What can we learn from this?  The Yankees are indisputably the most dominant team in baseball, but the Cardinals are the most clutch.  After coming from ten and a half games behind in the division, 3-2 down in the Series, and down to their last strike (twice!) who can deny it? 

Ol' bucket-head, Tim McCarver

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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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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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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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R.I.P. pennant races

Posted by keithosaunders on August 24, 2011

It seems like only yesterday that I was waxing rhapsodic about the possibility of an epic four team National League Central Division pennant race.  I had Pirate fever and was envisioning playoff games from PNC Park.  Braves-Pirates would have been a fun first round matchup — a rematch of the 1991 and ’92 NLCS, and a chance for the Buccos to have reaped revenge. 

Alas, what a difference four weeks make.  Not only are the Pirates dead and buried — their hopes of breaking their 19year consecutive losing season streak all but dashed — the entire division has been taken over by the ascendant Brewers.  Mind you, I am happy it’s Milwaukee, rather than the Cardinals and their insufferable skipper, LaRussa, but I would have preferred a good old-fashioned dogfight.

In fact, there is only one pennant race this year, and I am lucky enough to be residing in one of two major league cities that is still hosting meaningful games.  By all rights, the San Francisco Giants should be buried, but it is their good fortune to play in the NL West, which contains a broke Dodgers, and a broken down Rockies.  The Diamondbacks are a feisty, young squad, and they are the surprise team of 2011, but I don’t see them winning more than one playoff game, if that. 

The Giants, with their pitching, would at least have a shot.  They have been a walking M*A*S*H unit this year — at this writing they have nine players on the DL — and yet have managed to remain in the race.  They picked up Carlos Beltran from the Mets, who did his best to blend in with his teammates by immediately going on the DL.  What is it with Beltran — the man can’t stay healthy.  He is a great player, but his entire career is based on the 2004 post season. 

A September devoid of pennant races is a bitter pill for me to swallow.  Once October begins, so does my personal hell, which consists of sweating through another Yankee blitzkrieg.  It’s torture watching them grind their way through playoff run after playoff run.  Yes, I know they’ve lost a few first round series in recent years, and the Redsox look formidable, (as does Texas) but something tells me that the Yanks will not be an easy out this year.  I dread another Redsox – Yankees ALCS — those five hour marathons which end when some obscure Yankee hits a homerun.  

All I hope for at the beginning of each baseball season is for the Yankees to miss the playoffs.  This has occurred once in the last 16 years.  It has been a reign of terror and there is no end in sight. 

The fact that there may be no pennant races, thus cutting off my last enjoyable month of the year, is a bitter pill to swallow.  Football, you can not start soon enough.

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