TIM: John, the readers of NPI are in luck. San Francisco’s dramatic comeback — although Jayson Stark, let’s cool it on the overzealous use of the adjective “impossible” — means the Cardinals aren’t in the World Series, which means my personal boycott of previewing Cardinals postseason series doesn’t affect this Fall Classic.
I guess we should start by talking about the team that’s played in the last several weeks in the Giants. What do you think about this team, especially with the 2010 Giants in the back of your mind? I mean, Barry Zito in Game 1? LOL, right?
JOHN: Totes LOL. When Zito was shutting down the Cardinals lineup in Game 5, my brother and I got into a discussion about his absurd contract. We both seemed to entertain the idea that San Francisco has salvaged some value out of him. After all, he won 15 games this year and came up huge in the NLCS. But, really, when you look at his stats, he’s still a pretty lousy starting pitcher and has been throughout his time with the Giants.
I suppose, though, that pitching him in Game 1 at least works with the logic you brought a few years ago in a postseason preview: If you’re going up against someone like Justin Verlander, you might as well use someone like Zito. If he’s terrible, then you just shrug it off and say you probably weren’t going to beat Verlander no matter what. But if Zito has another performance like he did in St. Louis, then maybe SF can steal Game 1 and still have Baumgarner, Vogelsong, and Cain lined up for the rest of the series.
I know that’s not the Giants’ actual reasoning (and I also realize it doesn’t answer your question– what is this a Presidential debate? Am I right?), but should a San Francisco fan take comfort in that anyway?
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TIM: Well, John, another baseball season has come to an end and, as is custom, the ritualistic falling of snow in late October in the northeast has commenced the off-season. As we look back on the World Series, I believe you owe me several units of Cassandran kudos.
JOHN S: Yeah, I believe you are due several Cassandra units. After all, I recall a few conversations we had throughout the season:
March 27: “You know, John, I don’t think Lance Berkman is done. He’s going to have a big year in St. Louis.”
May 13: “The Red Sox may have rebounded from that slow start, but you have to question their ability to perform in months with 30 days…”
May 28: “Pay attention to Nelson Cruz”
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Cardinals vs. Rangers
Well, just like Tim and John S always predicted (don’t bother looking it up), the 2011 season comes down to the Rangers and Cardinals. Will Tony La Russa prove his genius? Will a starting pitcher reach the seventh inning? Will Joe Buck emote? All that and predictions are discussed….
John S: Man, can you believe Jonathan Lucroy didn’t win NLCS MVP?! And can you believe someone almost as unlikely–David Freese–DID? You know, I usually hate the discussions that media outlets have every year that the Yankees/Phillies/Red Sox miss the World Series, where they make jokes about how angry FOX must be. But this World Series DOES seem conspicuously lacking in star power. At least last year the Rangers had Cliff Lee–the closest this year’s team has to such a star is Josh Hamilton, who had a disappointing season. The Cardinals, of course, have Albert Pujols, but after him their biggest star is Tony La Russa, who seems to wear out his welcome more and more every year. But while my instinct is to say that these two teams are mediocre, the evidence doesn’t really support me. The Rangers were better this year than they were in 2010, and even the Cards won 90 games, which is more the 2006 championship team won. Perhaps I should be more excited for this World Series… Am I off base about the lack of compelling personalities in this matchup?
TIM: No, I cannot believe Jonathan Lucroy didn’t win NLCS MVP. His .294 average in the six games was bested by only four Brewers, and like the four best Brewers in Randy Wolf, Jerry Hairston, Yuniesky Betancourt, and Ryan Braun. It was practically half of what Freese hit! I hate these traditionalist writers who always vote for the guy with the ..500+ average on the winning team. Continue reading »
“What we call basic truths are simply the ones we discover after all the others.”
—Albert Camus (the official voice of Unabated to the Quarterback)
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about loyalties — both loyalties in sports and across them.
This was an issue provoked by two entirely separate events. The first happened at the beginning of October, when on back-to-back nights Minnesota fans were treated to two huge victories at the Metrodome: the Vikings beat the Packers on Monday Night Football, followed by the Twins defeating the Tigers in a divisional tie-breaker.
Now, this forced me to consider something very simple and elemental that I had long suppressed/ignored when I thought about sports: Geographic loyalties carry across sports. Quite simply, the same people who rooted for the Vikings also rooted for the Twins. Don’t ask me why I didn’t consider this before; it’s fairly obvious when I think about it now.
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Tim and I have each spent time challenging the uses and abuses of the English language. Josh, for his part, has highlighted words the make him cringe. It’s not unfair to say that we are sticklers for linguistic precision here at NPI.
So it is with this in mind that I take umbrage with the overuse of the phrase “must-win” in sports parlance. When the Yankees lost Game 1 of the World Series, people started calling the next game a “must-win” for New York. Except that it wasn’t. “Must” means that something has to happen, from the sheer force of necessity. The Yankees were down one game in a best-of-seven; they didn’t need to do anything. Continue reading »
After about as many off-days as game days, we’re finally down to two teams in Major League Baseball: the last dynasty against a team hoping to build one. It’s Yankees-Phillies in what many expect to be the most exciting World Series since 2001.
Resident Yankee fan John S. and Phillie hater Tim break it down.
LEADOFF: ROLLINS V. JETER
TIM: So, John, make the case to me that Derek Jeter is not only a better leadoff hitter than Jimmy Rollins (which he is), but that he’s the best leadoff hitter the Yankees have had during this 15-year run. Am I forgetting somebody better?
JOHN: As for why he’s better than Rollins, do I need to say more than that Rollins OBP this year was .296? That’s 110 points less than Jeter’s. As for in the last 15-years of the Yankees, that’s similarly obvious. NY has basically had 3 lead-off hitters since then: Chuck Knoblauch, Alfonso Soriano and Johnny Damon. Knoblauch was good his first 2 years, but never as good as Jeter’s been this year. Soriano was always miscast in the leadoff role, and Damon’s best years were in Boston. Jeter wasn’t actually new to the leadoff spot this year, as many people thought him to be; he did it for pretty much all of 2005, and he’d done it over 400 times in his career before 2009.
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