Wakefield

    I had originally thought that if Boston wanted to fully take advantage of Colorado’s rustiness, you start Wakefield in game one.  Think about that.  You don’t see live pitching in eight days, then you see a knuckler in game one, followed by Beckett’s power assortment.
    The more I thought about it, it made more sense…  You’d probably want to avoid using a knuckeballer in Colorado in games 3-4-5, because it might not dance as well in that thin air. I’m aware that starting Wake in game 1 means he starts game 5 in COL, but depending on how the series goes, you could bring Beckett back on short rest in game 5 and keep Wake for game 6 at Fenway.
    Wakefield also pitched a gem this season against Colorado, and eight inning effort giving up one run on four hits, at Fenway.  Schilling was rocked for five runs in five innings then next day, followed by Beckett’s six runs in five innings.
    Just some food for thought, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get Wake two starts.  As of right now, Boston is listing Beckett for game one, TBA the rest of the way…  Could that mean Wake in games two and six?  Stay tuned.

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Wrong Again

    So, I was wrong again in my picks…  I didn’t have time to post to explain why I picked Cleveland, it was more of a hunch, and the fact that I felt that after the Beckett-Sabbathia pitching matchup in games one and five, I felt Cleveland had the edge in starting pitching…  But Carmona was disappointing, to be kind, and once the Red Sox bats got hot, there wasn’t any stopping them.  So you live and learn, and move on with your picks.

    The Rockies are a great story, something to really treasure, but it ends here.  The eight day layoff will do more to cool the Rockies than the Red Sox could, but even without the layoff, I’d pick Boston here.  While the Rox swept through the playoffs, they weren’t exactly beating the Big Red Machine.  While the NL will rise again (the process is already rolling) the AL remains the more powerful league.  Red Sox in five.

ALCS pick

    Cleveland in six.  I’d like to go in-depth further right now, but I really can’t, I’m terribly sleep deprived and need to be up again in a few hours.  Working midnights is great in that I have the middle of the day to get things done, but sometimes a bunch of stuff comes up and you don’t get any sleep.  Its been a busy last 24 hours for me, nothing bad, just busy, but I’ll have more later.  I just wanted to get my pick on the record before the series gets underway.

NLCS pick

    Even though I don’t want to, here are my picks for the NLCS…  I’m not bitter or anything (Removes tongue from cheek).  I’ll have an ALCS preview tomorrow.

      Starting pitching: The Rockies feature an ace type starting pitcher followed by inexperienced kids and the retread Josh Fogg.  The Diamondbacks feature an ace followed by two retreads and an inexperienced kid who can really rake.  Edge : ARI

   

Bullpen: The Rockies have a solid bullpen with Corpas and Fuentes at the back end, but the D-backs are deeper, with Valverde, Lyon, Pena, and Cruz.  Valverde and Cruz are strikeout pitchers who should thrive in high leverage situations.  Edge: ARI

   

Offense:  This is where the Rockies will thrive, because while the Diamondbacks shut down the Cubs, they won’t be able to do the same to Colorado.  The Rockies just have too much firepower here to contend with given Arizona’s weaker starting staff behind Webb.  The Cubs’ weak bats made Arizona look like a team of Cy Youngs, but Colorado will exploit this weakness.  Arizona will not be able to score enough runs to compensate against Colorado’s relatively weaker staff.  Edge: COL   

   

Defense:  Colorado made the least errors and had the highest fielding percentage in the NL, while turning the second most double plays.  Arizona’s 106 errors was 38 more than Colorado made.  Edge: COL

    Intangibles:  They’re both coming off a sweep, both with new managers in the postseason, Colorado is 10-8 vs. Arizona, but ARI has home field advantage.  Edge: Draw

    I’m picking the Rockies in six.  Sure, I know I picked against both in the first round,
and then they both swept, but I’m taking the Rockies this time.  Their
offense will play well in (insert financial institution here)
Field/Ballpark and of course, we know how it does at Coors Field.   

Good Comment

    This was a good comment I received yesterday, and I thought it’d be a good topic starter.

Ya
know, there’s a lot of Cub’s fans out here and we’re not all in
Chicago. But that doesn’t matter…. Anyway, while none of us might say
it out loud or even admit it to ourselves, there comes a point when you
just want to throw up your hands and say "enough!" There is no "next
year." There is only one thing the Cubs are good at and that is to
never fail to disappoint their fans year after year, season after
season. It’s like trying to teach a kid to ride a bike and they fall
off for years upon years ad infinitum. Is anybody else sick of it?

    My reply:

    I hear you, we’re all sick of it.  You really have to be an optimist to be a Cub fan…  But its like your analogy of teaching your kid to ride a bike, you can’t give up because its your kid, and deep down inside, you believe you can eventually teach him.  Some of it is stubbornness, some of it is pride, and some of it is the realization that even if you tried, no other team would matter this much to you anyways.
    I get frustrated too, and I’ve seen people who get to that point where they’ve had it and they stop following baseball, period.  They don’t ever change teams, they just stop going to games, and stop watching.  They’re the ones who show great knowledge of teams of the 80s, almost as if they’re frozen in time, but they couldn’t name more than five players today. They may come back when the team is good, but its not much more than a passing interest…
     I’m too much of a baseball fan in general for that to happen to me, but I’ve seen it happen to others.  Its the burnout of wasted mental and emotional energy, only to lead to the inevitable conclusion of another wasted season.
    All I can say is keep the faith and don’t let it get to you.  The winter months are cold and cruel, but eventually spring comes, and with it, all the optimism returns as well.  Most Cubs fans never leave because we know that eventually it will happen, and we don’t want to miss it.  Eventually, it will happen, but in whose lifetime is anyone’s guess.
   

TBS

    After the Rockies-Padres wildcard playoff game last Monday, there was much criticism of TBS and their coverage.   They were called  "boring" and  "afraid to criticize", but after watching their coverage this past week, I have to give them a thumbs up.

  • I’ve had HD for about two years, and sometimes the picture quality hasn’t been as good as it should be, particularly on Directv’s channels.  I know that Directv launched some extra satellites recently, as we just got TBSHD in time for the playoffs, and I have to say, the picture quality was phenomenal, as good as I’ve seen it.  In game two of Indians and Yanks, with all the bugs flying around, maybe the picture quality was a little too good.
  • They used more camera angles, for instance, an overhead camera on different plays at the plate.
  • They didn’t overdo it on shots of fans like FOX usually does, although at times, it was a little more than I’d like.  Still, it was an improvement over FOX’s use of fan shots to create false drama.  We don’t go to a game to look at other fans, we go to games to actually see the game, and TV has the ability to take us closer than we can ever get at the game.  It seems that TBS might actually understand this.
  • Not broadcasting games on free tv in local markets is a bad idea that one would hope could be remedied.  In the past, WGN had broadcast local playoff games that were on ESPN, but that isn’t the case this year.  I understand TBS paid for exclusivity rights, but while most people have cable, not everybody does.   Shutting out people who cannot afford cable is no way to grow your business, or create goodwill.  In this politically sensitive era, you’d think they’d understand that.
  • The only negative I saw, was that early in the week, both video and audio would skip pretty regularly, every few minutes.  I’m not sure if this was a problem on TBS’s side of things, or the satellite, but whatever it was, it was fixed by game three of the Cubs series.

    When last week started, people were complaining about TBS, but overall, I liked what I saw from them so far.  Now that we’ll have FOX for the ALCS and WS, we’ll be begging for more TBS.

Experience?

    Its an old axiom that experience matters in the postseason…  The Cubs were loaded with postseason experience, and we know what that got us.  Our biggest hit of the sweep, which led to our only, albeit short-lived, lead in the series was Geovany Soto’s two run homer in game two.  Its ironic that our biggest hit was by our least experienced player, and somewhat inexcusable that he was on the bench for game three, as there is no defensive case for playing Jason Kendall.

    Just another data point in the experience vs. rookies debate.  I’ll acknowledge that experience counts for something, but it remains one of the more overrated aspects of postseason play.  I have a few reasons why:

  • In the case of the Cubs, many of the players had postseason experience, but excepting three players (Wood, Ramirez, and Zambrano) it was all with different teams, in different situations.
  • Along the same idea, the Cubs had five new starting position players, and two new starting pitchers by the end of the season.  They had more experience on paper than they did actually with each other.
  • Players with a lot of postseason experience are often veteran types who could be on the downside.  Jason Kendall had good numbers vs. Livan Hernandez, but it was mostly years ago when he was a Pirate, and you know, a good player.

    In the end, its hard to view this team as being anything but underachieving.  I hate to say that, but the fact that they left nine runners on base in each game, and were unable to come up with hits in key situations bears that out.  They were hitting Arizona pitching, they were getting on base, but when they really needed a hit, they came up empty, time and time again.
     When people talk of experience, they often cite it as something that helps a veteran player come through, and while that might be the case at times, it certainly wasn’t the case here.

    The Diamondbacks were young, inexperienced, hungry and had something to prove.  The Cubs aren’t the ’27 Yankees, but they should have won this series, but they were beaten in nearly every phase of the game.  So the next time somebody touts experience as a deciding factor, remember your 2007 Cubs and how far experience got them.