Sunday, October 30, 2005

« The next project »

By Suss
Coming soon: a team-by-team look back at the 2005 season.

Friday, October 28, 2005

« National vs American »

By Matthew Cary

I was thinking about it the other day, and I realized that there isn't a National League team that I really care about watching or following. In fact, I really don't have much use for the National League in general. I mean, sure, Inter-League games are great because then people in cities with AL teams can see their favorite players in the NL. However, I just don't think the National League is that good in general; I find them to be disappointing actually.

Let's look at the last 15 seasons, including this year. The NL has not won a World Series game in 3 years, which was last achieved by the Florida Marlins (whom we shall discuss later.) The American League has won ten World Series titles. I only consider two of the five NL champions as legitimate. In 1990, the Cincinnati Reds, who were 91-71 during the regular season swept the Oakland A's, who were 103-59, a record that was one win shy of their record two years prior when they lost to the Dodgers four games to one in the World Series. In their defense, they did manage to win the championship between those two seasons against the Giants. The other legitimate NL victory would be what most people call the greatest World Series ever, when the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Yankees, preventing them from winning four straight championships.

What do I find wrong with the other three NL World Series champs? First, there were the Braves who beat Cleveland in game 6 of the 1995 Series with a score of 1-0. This should have never happened. Weather or not your are facing good pitchers, a World Series team should at least score a run. To lose a championship game in that fashion is a joke. I don't count it. Two years later, it was the Florida Marlins, a team that was put together to win that one season and dismantled the next year. I don't even count them as a team. At least this series was more exciting than the Brave's series. It went 7 games and had some high scoring games as well, including a 14-11 Marlins win over the other team. Florida made its return to the World Series in 2003 with a more respectable team, not just a bunch of All-Star players thrown together. They ended up beating the Yankees in 6 games to win their second championship. So why don't I like counting this series? Their first championship was won after beating the Indians (the previously mentioned "other team".) Yes, I am still bitter.

So that takes care of the last decade and a half of World Series Championships. Now let's look at the last decade of All-Star Games. Next years All-Star Game marks the 10th Anniversary of the last time the National League won the Mid-Summer Classic. (I can't say that they lost every year since then due to the debacle in Milwaukee in 2002.) However, I believe the NL has a good chance of winning next year. Let me explain and try to keep up. The game is going to be played in Pennsylvania, the same state in which the NL last won the All-Star Game. The National League is 7-1 in All-Star Games played in The Quaker State, with the only loss in 1943 in a 5-3 defeat at Shibe Park. They are 4-0 in the city of Pittsburgh; This will be the first game played at PNC Park. The odds are in their favor.

If someone accused me of being partial to the American League, I would have to agree with them. I have no shame in admitting that I am. But for those of you who don't believe in the use of a designated hitter, I pass on the same sentiment I have heard in Cleveland for years...

"There is always next year."

Thursday, October 27, 2005

« Mrs. O'Leary's cow kicks with glee: Sox win Series »

By Suss
SOMEWHERE, DAVID JUSTICE is watching and smiling.

Justice was the last person to drive in the only run of a 1-0 game that won the World Series (Game 6 in '95.)

On the night of October 26, 2005, Jermaine Dye was the man to provide the only run batted in during Chicago's Game 4 victory against the Houston Astros in the 2005 World Series.

It is the first World Series win for the South Siders in 88 years.

Or 32,153 days.

Or 771,672 hours.

Or 46,300,320 minutes.

Or 2,778,019,200 seconds.

You get the idea. 's been a long time.

How it all went down

WHITE SOX STARTER Freddy Garcia matched the Astros' Brandon Backe pitch-for-pitch as both hurlers threw seven shutout innings and struck out seven.

But in the eighth inning, Dye laced a single, scoring Willie Harris.

And in the ninth inning, despite a Willy Taveras single and a Brad Ausmus bunt, the SuperStars had a chance to drive in a run with a base hit.

Uribe! Uribe! ¡Ándale! ¡Ándale!

AFTER AUSMUS' SACRIFICE, Chris Burke fouled off a Bobby Jenks pitch that looked to harmlessly land in the stands but Uribe, doing his best Derek Jeter impression, dove headfirst into the stands and caught it for the second out.

The final out was a high-bouncing grounder over Jenks' head and died well short of second, but Uribe charged the ball and threw out Palmeiro by a half-step to seal the inning and pump fists from Aurora to Waukegon.

Uribe also made a great throw to first to end the 8th inning. He also caught the final out in Game 3 after making a Buckneresque error the previous play.

J.D. power & associates

THE AFOREMENTIONED JERMAINE Dye, who went 3-for-4 with an RBI, received the World Series MVP for not only producing that final run but also hitting a robust .438 (7-for-16) in the World Series with a home run and 4 RBI.

Enjoy it, Chicago.

Monday, October 24, 2005

« White Sox dust off bullpen, win first two »

By Suss
Game 1
        1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 ... R H E
Houston 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 ... 3 7 1
Chicago 1 2 0 1 0 0 0 1 X ... 5 10 0

THE SERIES OPENER featured two former Yankee teammates: Roger Clemens and Jose Contreras. Then again, we needed a talking point going into this series other than "it's close," because nobody knew what to expect.

Chicago's Jermaine Dye began the series with the first run, a solo homer in the first inning. But Houston responded with its first baseman (no, not Jeff Bagwell, the other one) Mike Lamb hitting a homer of his own in the second.

And that lauded pitching duel took a different feel in the third inning, when Clemens was taken out in due to injury and gave way to rookie Wandy Rodriguez who found himself in the middle of a 3-3 game.

Then, in a live interview with Astros pitching coach Jim Hickey -- who was talking about how throwing a rookie in a situation like this can sometimes show what a kid is made of -- Rodriguez (0-1) gave up a home run to Joe Crede, putting the White Sox ahead 4-3, and they would never lose that lead.

The White Sox bullpen came into the game since Game 1 of the ALCS, which was also started by Contreras (1-0). Bobby Jenks notched the team's first save since he saved the clinching Game 3 of the ALCS back on Oct. 7.

Game 2

        1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 ... R H E
Houston 0 1 1 0 2 0 0 0 2 ... 6 9 0
Chicago 0 2 0 0 0 0 4 0 1 ... 7 12 0

A GAME TWO in Chicago is notorious for wacky finishes. But this time, A.J. Pierzynski wasn't much of a factor.

In the seventh inning with a 4-2 Houston lead, Astros reliever Dan Wheeler threw a 3-1 pitch in tight to batter Jermaine Dye which at first seemed to be ball four, but the official ruling was that the pitch hit Dye on the wrist. But replays showed the ball probably hit his bat, which should have been ruled a foul ball. Nevertheless, Dye trotted to first, loading the bases.

After a pitching change, new thrower Chad Qualls' first pitch was carefully placed in the outfield seats by the bat of Paul Konerko, whose grand slam launched the Sox ahead by 2, 6-4.

The SuperStars weren't done, however. In the top of the ninth, pinch hitter Jose Vizcaino laced a single, scoring two runners and tying the game at 6-all.

But Scott Podsednik, who had zero home runs in the regular season, sent the fans home two outs early with a solo home run to right field of Brad Lidge, who is quickly becoming this year's Byung-Hyun Kim.

Bullpen, you say?

CHICAGO LOCKED DOWN the Angels lineup using four straight complete games, using their bullpen for a mere 2/3 inning in the ALCS.

In Game 1 Saturday, those non-starters were pointed to for the first time in 5 games. Neil Cotts, coincidentally the lone gunman from the bullpen in the Angels series, took the ball from manager Ozzie Guillen to relieve Jose Contreras, just like it unfolded in the previous Game 1. And, like his last game, Cotts went 2/3 of an inning.

In fact, both games used the crazy concept of "relief pitching." And in the first two games, their rusty pen has one win and one save.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

« Mother buckin' Broncos »

By Suss
Bowling Green was a 25-point favorite at home against Western Michigan. The final score was 45-14.

Bowling Green had the 14.

"The hell?" you may rightfully ask.

Omar Jacobs was injured early and his backup Anthony Turner threw 2 interceptions as WMU piled on 24 2nd quarter points to shock the Falcons at Doyt Stadium.

« A World Series without a powerhouse »

By Suss
The last five World Series have featured classic "David vs. Goliath" matchups:
  • 2000: The defending champion Yankees vs. the "other" New York guys, the Mets
  • 2001: Those Yankees again vs. the nascent Arizona Diamondbacks
  • 2002: Bonds & the dangerous Giants vs. the "Rally Money" Angels
  • 2003: The Yankees + Giambi + Contreras + Matsui, vs. the young-team-old-manager Florida Marlins
  • 2004: The 105-win St. Louis Cardinals vs. the any-minute-they'll-choke-again Red Sox
Even 1999's World Series featured two "powerhouses," when the Braves and Yankees was touted as the final showdown of the two best teams from the '90s.

But this year, whose the favorite?

Hmm. Well, let's see. The White Sox won 99 games, but ... no ... the Astros have great pitching -- er... the Sox are fundamentally sound ... then again the Astros ....

You could go back and forth forever, until the series is over. Neither of these two teams have a distinct advantage. But it's beyond being close. If the Astros played the Yankees or Red Sox, then the Astros would be the team heralded as the underdog. Moreover, if the White Sox played the Cardinals or Braves, then the White Sox are the team looking to dethrone a team with tons of recent success.

Both of these team have had long droughts of disappointment. While the White Sox haven't won the World Series since 1917, they haven't even been around this late in the game since '59 when they were "upset" by the L.A. Dodgers in six games.

The Astros never even saw the World Series up close. An expansion team in 1962, the Astros have made the playoffs eight times -- five of those coming in the last nine years -- and didn't win a postseason series until last year.

To put it simply, there is no powerhouse team this year.

Quick, name one player on the White Sox. (And Frank Thomas is injured.)

As for the Astros, guess who led their team this year in homers, RBI and OPS: Nope, not Jeff Bagwell or Craig Biggio. It's Morgan Ensberg.

Bagwell and Biggio no longer play the vital roles they used to. Bagwell has been hurt all year, and although Biggio is still a contributor, his on-base percentage was the lowest mark (.325) since his first full season in 1989.

So with Bagwell, Biggio and Thomas -- three players known for being overlooked in their career -- even further from the spotlight than normal, will people even care about this series?

Sure, Illinois and Texas will care, because those two states combined haven't seen a World Series win in almost 90 years, but will the two coasts tune in?

Maybe if they're fans of fundamentally sound baseball. And relief pitching.

Houston had arguably the best bullpen in the NL: 4th in ERA, 2nd in batting average against,
1st in WHIP, 1st in save percentage, and half of that being done in a "hitters park" -- Minute Maid Park.

Chicago's relievers can practically be ranked 2nd in the AL: 3rd in ERA, 3rd in batting average against, tied for first in total saves, and not one reliever with an ERA over 3.80.

Too close to call

POSITION BY POSITION, this series is way too close to find a spot in this lineup and declare an advantage.

The screenshot of MLB's "World Series Fantasy Player Challenge" game displays the level playing field. Aside from the subliminal marks on the White Sox players, every position battle is settled on gut instinct.

Lance Berkman is a big RBI producer, but so is Paul Konerko. Ensberg was large in the regular season, but Crede has been clutch in the postseason. Chris Burke has provided some big hits, but Scott Podsednik is always dangerous as a baserunner.

Even the computers are undecided. A baseball simulation Web site called Diamond Mind played out the World Series 100 times. The Astros won 55 times. The distribution of wins was as follows:
Houston in 4 -- 3
Houston in 5 -- 19
Houston in 6 -- 16
Houston in 7 -- 17
Chicago in 7 -- 12
Chicago in 6 -- 16
Chicago in 5 -- 13
Chicago in 4 -- 3
So this World Series will be one predicted on instinct or favoritism. There is no underdog. There is no favorite.

My pick? Don't ask me, I've been wrong every series.

But I'd love to see the White Sox win, so Astros in 6.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

« If sports figures were in politics »

By Suss
OCCASIONALLY AN ATHLETE will make a daring jump into the American government. Notables include Bill Bradley (D-NJ, F-NY) and Gerald Ford (U of M center, US of A president). Sports icons like Mike Ditka and Richard Petty and have contemplated getting into politics.

On the flipside, Congress will intervene in sports, like the Congressional hearings regarding steroids. But for the most part, the two entities are separate.

Yet while each of these worlds are polar opposites, these two groups have very uncannily similar characters. So, if more sports figures went into politics, they'd give certain political figures a suitable stunt double.

Lost? Then let's jump right into the examples to see what I mean.

IF former Cincinnati Reds player/manager Pete Rose was in politics, he'd be President George W. Bush.

Rose finally admitted what everyone already knew -- he bet on baseball, but it was too late and now people think less of him. Bush admitted what most people knew -- his government was responsible for the slow response to the flooding in New Orleans, but it was too late and now people think less of him.

IF San Francisco Giants outfielder Barry Bonds was in politics, he'd be Vice President Dick Cheney.

Bonds is very unapproachable by the media, comes off as very cold. Got little sympathy after his knee injury. Likewise, Cheney comes off as very cold in the media, and gets little sympathy for his heart condition. But you'll have that for a 41-year old muscly ballplayer or a 64-year old politician.

IF New York Knicks' coach Larry Brown was in politics, he'd be Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean.

Dean is the head of a defeated party trying to regain control of Congress. Brown is the head of an overpaid, overrated Knicks team trying to regain playoff glory.

IF Philadelphia Eagles' wide receiver Terrell Owens was in politics, he'd be Bush strategist Karl Rove.

Owens used the media to make his contract dispute of national media interest. Karl Rove used the media for his own agenda. People overreacted to Owens for being selfish. People overreacted to Rove for being hypocritical. Meanwhile, the Eagles kept playing games. And the Republican Party continued ... whatever it is politicians do.

IF New York Yankees' general manager Brian Cashman was in politics, he'd be White House press secretary Scott McClellan.

Cashman has to make owner George (Steinbrenner) look good. McClellan also has to make George (W. Bush) look good. Or else, George is getting upset!

IF former NHL superstar/current Phoenix Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky was in politics, he'd be former President Bill Clinton.

Now that "The Great One" is removed from the ice, he can be a face for the league and promote hockey, a win-win situation. Now that President Clinton is removed from the presidency, he can be an ambassador for the country and promote important issues, another win-win.

(It may be beaten to death before hanging chad jokes were cool, but in their prime they led their respective leagues in scoring.)

IF former XFL commissioner Vince McMahon was in politics, he'd be California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Failed experiments in trying something new on a large scale. Vince knows wrestling, Arnold knows Kindergarten Cop.

IF former New York Giants quarterback Jesse Palmer was in politics, he'd be former North Carolina senator John Edwards.

Palmer was Kerry Collins' crutch in '03. Edwards was John Kerry's crutch in '04. But while they looked good on TV (Palmer moonlighting as The Bachelor and Edwards announcing his run for presidency on The Daily Show), they quickly faded into oblivion after those appearances. Palmer was cut from the Giants, and Edwards is now a law professor.

IF Cleveland Cavaliers phenom LeBron James was in politics, he'd be Democratic Illionois senator Barack Obama.

Before James was in the NBA, he was slated to be the next Michael Jordan. Before Obama was a senator, he was slated to be the first black U.S. President. Not sure if that would make Carmelo Anthony the Alan Keyes.

IF ESPN's Cold Pizza personality Skip Bayless was in politics, he'd be Fox News personality Bill O'Reilly.

Bayless gets, deservedly so, hate mail for taking unpopular angles like "no kickers in the NFL" and "so what if college football players don't go to class?" O'Reilly gets hate mail for taking unpopular angles like "Let's have Ann Coulter on the show again" and "I'm right."

IF seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong was in politics, he'd be filmmaker Michael Moore.

(Admitted in advance, this one's a stretch.)

Every year people give accolades and attention to Armstrong for what he does, then we never hear from him again. Same with Moore: he makes a film, everyone talks about it and how revealing it is, the hype goes away, return to Step 1.

And every time we see them, they fade from the limelight much richer than before.

IF NBC Sports broadcaster Bob Costas was in politics, he'd be former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw.

Albeit from the obvious NBC parallel, Costas was a very trusted and well-recognized play-by-play announcer, the voice of the game. Likewise, Brokaw was a very trusted and well-recognized news anchor, the face of the news organization. And both are somewhat removed from their famed professions, although they'll likely resurface.

IF Fox NFL Sunday analyst Terry Bradshaw was in politics, he'd be CNN political analyst James Carville.

Born and educated in Louisiana. Bald. Ugly. No longer relevant. Still on TV for some reason.

IF radio host Jim Rome was in politics, he'd be radio host Rush Limbaugh.

Even though both their shows are on the Premiere Radio Network, Romey has his "clones" and Rush has his "dittoheads." They both use lexicons aimed towards regular listeners. And they both pretty much bombed on ESPN.

And on that note, I ... am ... OUT.

Monday, October 17, 2005

« Karl Rove outed as negligent garage owner »

By Suss
WASHINGTON -- Karl Rove's in trouble. With his wife.

Thanks to her, the world knows that he thinks terrorists shouldn't get therapy ... Joe Wilson's wife should take his last name ... John McCain might have jungle fever ... the cleanliness of his garage isn't very important.

And the Associated Press was there to see if the neocon owned large amounts of Neoprene.
The inventory, seen from outside:

--Some cardboard file boxes stacked one on top of the other, labeled "Box 6," "Box 4" and what appears to be "Box 7." No sign of boxes 1, 2, 3 and 5.

--What appear to be paint cans stacked alongside a folded, folding chair.

--A rather large wood crate marked "FRAGILE" and painted with arrows indicating which way is up. On top of the crate, two coolers.

--A tall aluminum ladder.

--A snow shovel leaned in front of another cardboard box.

--Wicker baskets inside of wicker baskets on top of a shelf running the length of the rear wall. Transparent plastic storage bins crammed with indiscernible stuff. Another cardboard box.

--In one corner, the rear wheel of a bicycle sticks out, along with what appears to be a helmet.

--Another ladder, this one green, leaning sideways.

Since the AP was outside Karl's house when he wasn't there, we have no way of knowing if any news occurred outside the place where he parks his car.

And seeing the messy garage reminded Judith Miller that she left more interview notes in Box 3.

But as the garage door slowly went down, Matt Drudge considered the story "developing."

« White Sox Whitewash Angels for AL Pennant »

By Suss
ALCS Game 5: Chicago White Sox 6, Los Angeles Angels 3
Contreras Controls Angels in Complete Game

That September meltdown doesn't look so bad anymore for the White Sox. They got in the playoffs. And that's all the opportunity they needed.

With a 6-3 triumph in Los Angeles, Chicago's "other" team is now "the" team in the Windy City.

On the arm of Jose Contreras (who went the distance, a feat done in every game for White Sox starters), the Black-hosed Gamblers stuck it to the California Cherubs in the fifth and decisive game.

The game began to take shape in the fifth inning, tied at 1-1.

Read the rest at BLOGCRITICS

NLCS Game 4: Houston Astros 2, St. Louis Cardinals 1
Cardinals Backe-ache puts them one loss from elimination

The Cardinals looked strong after their Game 1 win. But Game 4's loss puts them down 3-1 in the series. One more Houston victory propels the Astros into the World Series.

Brandon Backe went 5 2/3 innings of impressive pitching, allowing just one run and striking out 7.

Chad Qualls, being the pitcher in the seventh inning, was credited with the win.

Read the rest at BLOGCRITICS

Sunday, October 16, 2005

« White Sox "bullpen" shutting down Halos »

By Suss
The White Sox bullpen hasn't allowed a run in the ALCS. Or a walk. Or even a runner on base.

In fact, they haven't even made an appearance in four games.

Four complete games have helped the Monochrome Footwear attain a 3-1 lead entering Sunday's Game 5.

Jose Contreras, Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland and Freddy Garcia have a combined 2.00 ERA in the first four games. And one more win by Contreras tonight will send the Sox back home to await their opponent in the World Series.

“If the Angels escape with a win tonight, don't sell a ticket for Game 6 to Steve Bartman.”
In Game 3, the Angels were stifled by Garland in a 5-2 Chicago win. Paul Konerko was the offensive hero, going 3-for-4 with 3 RBI, including a 2-run homer. The offense on the Angel side was Orlando Cabrera's 2-run shot in the sixth. But Garland only allowed 4 hits and struck out 7.

Game 4 was more of the same from the South Siders. Garcia -- separated at birth from The Rock -- allowed six hits and mowed down 5 batters at the plate. His counterpart, rookie Ervin Santana, was unable to match his ALDS Game 5 emergency heroics and was knocked around early and often. Konerko again drive in three runs, all in the form of a first-inning homer.

Tonight's Game 5 (7:30 p.m EST., FOX) is a Game 1 rematch -- Los Angeles' Paul Byrd vs. Contreras. Playing for their first World Series appearence in 46 years, faithful Chicagoans will sure sacrifice The Simpsons for a chance to see their hapless Sox host the World Series for the first time since 1959.

If the Sox do wrap up the series tonight, picking an MVP would be difficult. While Konerko has supplied 6 RBI, he seems to be the favorite. But catcher A.J. Pierzynski, despite an average of only .200, was the catalyst for the heavily disputed Game 2 ninth inning strikeout.

But the last time a Chicago team was up 3-1 in the ALCS, it was the 2003 Cubs who had a commanding lead over the eventual World Series champs Florida Marlins. So if the Angels do escape with a win tonight, don't sell a ticket for Game 6 to Steve Bartman.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

« TFR: The Sweetest Day Edition »

By Matthew Cary

Guys, pay attention. Its that time of year again. When Hallmark's 4th quarter sales begin to rise, chocolate companies sales go through the roof, and the girls expect some kind of special treatment like today is different from any other day.

Heads up. It is different. Buy the cards, buy the chocolates, buy flowers even. There are a number of do's and don'ts in order to keep those of the female persuasion happy with you.

The Card

Find a card that actually has a meaning behind it. And remember, it doesn't necessarily have to mean squat to you. Put some effort behind your search. And before you buy the card, actually read it. You never know if you picked up what that says "From the Dog." They may take it a little too literally and put you in "The House." You don't want to shut down a romantic night that fast.

The Gift

Sometimes it is safe to get something not too mushy. If you haven't been together for a while, stick with a safe gift. CD's, favorite movies, things like that. Flowers can also be a fairly safe gift too. However, it really depends on how close you are with your significant other. If it's a newly formed romance, stay clear of the roses section. This is Sweetest Day. Valentines Day is still months away. Set the bar low now so the surprise then will be bigger. This way they don't say "You got me these last time. Are you going to get me these for every occasion?" This is a "romantic holiday" in the loosest sense. Therefore, expensive jewelry is also out. And as far as the sweets go, get a good box of chocolates. Not Hershey's. That's just cheap sounding.

The Date

If you have made it this far, you are beyond the difficult parts. Everything else is pretty easy. There are three words you have to remember the rest of the night. "Be the man." As much as you would rather have them decide what to do, it is seriously up to you. Let me explain. If you are like me, the first words you say when trying to find something to do is "So, what would you like to do tonight?" Not this time. Find something that you both like doing, or at least that she likes doing. Tonight is not about you. Furthermore, for the added touch, put some effort into how you look. This means no jeans and no t-shirts. Furthermore, for an added touch to the night, whenever possible, make sure she opens as few doors as possible. It is all about her today.

That being said...

You should have no problems if you put some thought behind what you are doing. Just don't blow it. Give her something to think about the rest of the night, the rest of the weekend, maybe even the rest of the week. Good luck guys.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

« K leads to W for White Sox, Cards start NLCS right »

By Suss
ALCS Game 2 - White Sox 2, Angels 1

A.J. PIERZYNSKI, WHO has had a marvelous post-season for his White Sox thus far, yet again helped his team by striking out.

Joe Crede has to feel good after
his game-winning double (Getty Images)
Yes, apparently you can do that and be a help.

With a 1-1 score in the ninth inning, Pierzynski, at-bat with two outs and a full count, swung on a Kelvim Escobar pitch too low to hit for strike three. Angels backup catcher Josh Paul, in unison with the rest of his team, began to trot towards the dugout in end-of-the-inning style, and Paul harmlessly lobbed the ball towards the mound.

Then Pierzynski ran to first base. He was called safe.

The umpire crew ruled that the pitch grazed the ground, activating Rule 6.09b of the MLB Official Rules:
The batter becomes a runner when the third strike called by the umpire is not caught, providing (1) first base is unoccupied, or (2) first base is occupied with two out; When a batter becomes a base runner on a third strike not caught by the catcher and starts for the dugout, or his position, and then realizes his situation and attempts then to reach first base, he is not out unless he or first base is tagged before he reaches first base.
In short, if strike three hits the ground, the batter needs to be tagged or thrown out.

The kicker in this call was amplified not just by the fact that it was a playoff game, but that the out would have ended the inning and brought the game to extra frames. Instead, the ninth carried on.

Pierzynski's pinch-runner Pablo Ozuna stole second during next batter Joe Crede's at-bat, then Crede laced a game-winning double down the left field line, scoring Ozuna.

OK, Mr. Paul. Now you can walk off the field.

Overshadowed by Pierzynski's third strike, Sox starter Mark Buehrle (1-0) went the distance and tossed a gem -- one run, five hits, no walks, and four strikeouts.

The Pale Hose drew first blood in the bottom of the first on a Jermaine Dye groundout which scored leadoff speedster Scott Podsednik. Then Los Angeles tied the game in the top of the 5th on a homerun to left field by third baseman Robb Quinlan.

Angels' starter Jarrod Washburn turned in a 4-2/3-inning performance after battling strep throat over the weekend, allowing just the one unearned run. Escobar (0-1) took the loss in 2 2/3 innings of relief. Among 5 of his strikeouts was Pierzynski's in the ninth.

NLCS Game 2 - Cardinals 5, Astros 3

REGGIE SANDERS HAD a rather paltry post-season batting average coming into this year's playoffs. Despite having a ring and playing in three World Series for as many teams, the veteran outfielder was only 9-for-70 (.129) in LCS games, and .188 in the entire playoffs.

That was his career, this is 2005.

Sanders continued to rip through playoff pitchers (10 RBI in 3 games against San Diego) in Game 1 of the NLCS by slamming a 2-run homerun in the first inning to give his Cardinals a quick 2-0 lead, and his team never looked back.

The Redbirds continued to pepper the scoreboard with runs off Astro starter Andy Pettitte (0-1). They added a run in the second (Chris Carpenter squeeze bunt scoring Mark Grudzielanek) and two in the fifth (David Eckstein liner to right, scoring Abraham Nunez; Albert Pujols drive to right center, scoring Eckstein).

That 5-0 lead was plenty cushion for Carpenter (1-0) to allow a two-run shot by Chris Burke in the seventh inning. And despite giving up a run in the ninth, Jason Isringhausen closed up shop with the save.

Sanders' postseason numbers look much better now. Including the NLDS, Reggie is 5-for-15 (.333) with 2 homers and 12 RBI. For his career, Sanders career LCS average has "improved" to 14-for-85 (.165).


NLCS: The Astros try to even the series Thursday night as they hand the ball to 20-game winner Roy Oswalt. His tall task is to out-pitch St. Louis agent Mark Mulder Thursday night. (Thursday 8 p.m. EST, FOX)

ALCS: The Angels finally get a day off, but they have to travel -- something they're used to -- back to California to rest up for Friday's Game 3. In a battle of variations of the name "John," John Lackey will take the mound for the Angels against the Sox's Jon Garland. (Friday 8 p.m. EST, FOX)

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

« White Sox suffer from Byrd flu in Game 1 »

By Suss
THE LOS ANGELES Angels had spent much of the last three days on someone else's wings. In a span of 52 hours, they flew over 5,000 miles from New York to Los Angeles, then from Los Angeles to Chicago. And there was little time for rest. As the Angels arrived at their Chicago hotel at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, they had to play Game 1 of the ALCS in less than 14 hours.

And their starting pitcher, Paul Byrd, was their only "fresh" starting pitcher -- if you care to use that word. Byrd was starting on just three days rest (usually you get four) since:

*John Lackey pitched Sunday
*Ervin Santana pitched Monday
*Jarrod Washburn was recovering from strep throat
*Ervin Santana pitched 5 innings in the ALCS Game 5 Monday night
*Bartolo Colon was injured (and will be for the ALCS. Colon is not even on the ALCS roster).

And the White Sox were well-rested, its entire team having as much rest as Paul Byrd (three days) when they finished off the Red Sox sweep on Friday.

No sweat.

The Angels won 3-2 Tuesday night thanks to Byrd's (1-0) gutsy six-inning, two-run performance.

The Halos attacked early with a Garret Anderson solo homerun off White Sox starting pitcher Jose Contreras (0-1) in the second and RBI from Vladmir Guerrero and Orlando Cabrera in the 3rd inning, sustaining a 3-0 lead.

Chicago batters Joe Crede hit a solo HR in the bottom of the third, while A.J. Pierzynski added an RBI base-knock in the 4th to pull to 3-2, but Byrd and his bullpen shut them down after that.

They may have been exhausted from their 5,000 mile trek, but prior to the game Angels manager Mike Scioscia felt the flights didn't turn them into insomniacs:
"We're going on adrenaline, just like we did in (Monday's) game. We probably got to our hotel somewhere around 6:30 this morning and got about as much playoff sleep as you get anyway. So we're ready to go"
The Angels' heavenly performance should be lauded, but there's not much time for high-fives. Game 2 is Wednesday, and their scratchy-throat lefty Washburn will face off against the White Sox interpretation of a left-hander, 16-game winner Mark Buehrle at 8:00 p.m. on FOX.

Barring another emergency performance like Santana's Monday night, the Angels should be OK with their starters. With Thursday's off-day, Lackey will be ready to go in Friday's Game 3, while Santana will be fully rested to pitch in Game 4 Saturday.

MEANWHILE, THE CARDINALS shed their practice jerseys and lace up for their NLCS opener Wednesday night as well. St. Louis starts off the series with their biggest gun, Chris Carpenter (21-5, regular season, 1-0 postseason) while the Astros offer up their proven postseason lefty Andy Pettitte (17-9 regular season, 1-0 postseason).

While the Cardinals are a hotter favorite to move to the World Series, ESPN experts are split down the middle on this series:
Jerry Crasnick 4-2
Tim Kurkjian 4-3
Steve Phillips 4-3
Gary Gillette 4-2
Eric Neel 4-3

Peter Gammons 4-3
Jayson Stark 4-3
Buster Olney 4-2
Rob Neyer 4-2
Jim Caple 4-3
At least everyone sees it as a close series going at least six games.


Depending on where you live, one game or the other will be shown on FOX. The other game will be seen live on the cable channel FX.

Don't worry. For a second I was worried I wouldn't have a viewer's choice either.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

« MS's DS picks were BS »

By Suss
I WAS WRONG about every divisional series.

Yankees. Red Sox. Braves. Yes, even the -- gulp -- Padres.

Hey, at least I was consistent. If I was right about just one series, notably the Yankees, then I would have looked worse. "Oh, way to go out on a limb and pick the team with a $200 million salary."

0-and-4 is beyond bad. 0-and-4 is gloriously off-the-mark. It's a direct result of over-thinking, over-analyzing, and having the brain capacity of pine tar.

“I was just plain wrong. Way off base. Nowhere near perfect.”
I FIGURED THE Yankees had enough quality starting pitching, experienced clutch hitting and a guaranteed lockdown by Mariano Rivera in the last 1 1/2 innings of each game.

And Mike Mussina did pitch a gem in Game 1, with 5 2/3 innings of shutout ball. Shawn Chacon had a gutsy outing, 6 1/3 innings allowing 2 runs and putting his team in a position to win Game 4, which they did.

But Randy Johnson got shelled in Game 3. And rather than starting diamond-in-the-rough Aaron Small, they gave the ball to rookie Chien-Ming Wang in Game 2. Finally, Mussina was hit early and often in Game 5.

And when Bartolo Colon went down for the Angels after an inning with an injury in the deciding Game 5, I thought I'd have that one correct prediction. But rookie Ervin Santana went 5+ innings, outlasting Mike Mussina and earning the win over Randy Johnson in the same game. I don't think anyone else can say they beat 487 career wins worth of pitching in a single game, let alone someone with 12 career victories.

I FIGURED THE White Sox was the season's surprise team whose division title was a fitting prize, but that was all coming their way. Plus the Red Sox had been here before.

But it wasn't the same Red Sox team, and their monochromic footwear foes exposed those holes -- specifically, starting pitching and second base.

I figured the White Sox were too new to this whole playoff thing. New? Paul Konerko was there when they were swept in 2000. So was Mark Buehrle. Three-ringer Orlando Hernandez gave them a legendary relief appearance in the clinching Game 3. Manager Ozzie Guillen has played in a World Series. So did Jose Contreras and Jermaine Dye. In all, nine of the 20 who played for the White Sox in the series had been in the postseason before.

I FIGURED THE Braves had enough magic to go deep into the playoffs. They just didn't have enough bullpen.

I thought Houston barely beat out several good teams for the Wild Card that Atlanta pulled away from much earlier than the last day of the season, when the Astros wrapped up the Wild Card.

I thought Atlanta had veterans with vast playoff experience. And John Smoltz and Andruw Jones did their part. But Chipper Jones did not, just like the rest of the rookies -- Jeff Francoeur, Brian McCann (except for one big grand slam, he was 2-for-15), Joey Devine (drafted this year, gave up Chris Burke's 18th inning walk-off HR).

The Astros have done this before. They beat Atlanta the last time they locked horns in October.

I FIGURED THE Padres ... oh, shut up.

SO I WAS just plain wrong. Way off base. Nowhere near-perfect.

But that's OK. There are advantages for throwing a goose egg in playoff predictions.

A team can pay me to pick the other team to win. But I don't think the White Sox will take up this offer, as they learned from that mistake 85 years ago.

LCS Outlooks

American League: Angels vs. White Sox
CONGRATULATIONS HALOS! YOU'VE knocked off the hated Yankees! Your prize: a plane to Chicago that leaves in about 10 minutes. You play tomorrow. You have a tired team, especially on your pitching staff. Colon is hurt, Santana was tapped today, John Lackey pitched Sunday, so you have no choice but to use your rotation's weakest link, Paul Byrd, who was hit up for four runs in 3 2/3 innings in Game 3. Meanwhile, the White Sox are rested, having only played three games, and their starter, Jose Contreras, will pitch on six days rest. Good luck.

National League: Astros vs. Cardinals
WITH SO MUCH attention on the NL East and its depth, the only two remaining in the NL hail from the Central Division. St. Louis flew through the first round with little resistance from the outmatched Padres, while the Astros handled the addled Braves in four games. Since this series doesn't begin until Wednesday, Houston will have time to rest up before flying up to St. Louis and start Andy Pettitte, whose 13-8 postseason record will match up against Chris Carpenter, who won in his first career playoff game last week.

Friday, October 07, 2005

« Braves pull even, Cardinals triple up Padres »

By Suss
TRY AS THEY may, the San Diego Padres couldn't get the job done against Mark Mulder (1-0) and the Cardinals as St. Louis claimed a 6-2 victory to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-5 series.

Mulder scattered 8 hits over 6 2/3 innings, allowing just a single run.

But it wasn't until St. Louis' fifth run of the game that was driven in by a base hit. A third-inning by Padre SS Khalil Greene's faulty attempt to start a double play opened the gates to establish a 2-0 lead.

The Male Parents' starter Pedro Astacio (0-1) only lasted four innings while giving up four runs -- two unearned -- and throwing 80 pitches.

The Cardinals aim to finish off the Padres on the road at PETCO Park Saturday night at 11 p.m. (ESPN). Their executioner of choice is Matt Morris, while San Diego will begin their attempt at a three-game comeback with ex-Cardinal Woody Williams.

WHILE THE ROOKIES have been the story of the '05 Braves, it took a mixture of the youth movement and a vintage moment by a Braves starter.

Rookie backup catcher Brian McCann clocked a 3-run home run while 2nd-year first baseman Adam LaRoche smashed a deep double to drive in two more runs, all off the ageless Roger Clemens (0-1) to give the Braves a 7-1 victory.

But John Smoltz (1-0) turned in a strong start reminiscient of his postseason starts in the 90s by lasting seven innings and giving up just one run. Smoltzy earned his career 15th postseason win, passing Andy Pettite for the all-time most in a career. And Andruw Jones -- once known as a 19-year old hitting home runs in the World Series -- went 3-for-4 and scored three runs.

It was Smoltz's first postseason win since the '99 World Series against the Yankees. The pitcher he faced? Clemens.

Game 3 will be played Saturday at 7:30 p.m., when the Astros' Roy Oswalt faces off against the Braves' Jorge Sosa.

4:05 p.m. ET: Chicago White Sox (Freddy Garcia) at Boston Red Sox (Tim Wakefield) on ESPN
--The Sox are 2-0 and look to close out the series with a win at Fenway.

8:05 p.m. ET: Los Angeles Angels (Paul Byrd) at New York Yankees (Randy Johnson) on ESPN
--With the series tied at one game apiece, the scene shifts to the East coast.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

« Division series outlooks »

By Suss
Playoffs. (Say it like you're Jim Mora.)

AFTER A GRUELING 161-game season, 20 teams were eliminated from the playoffs. Judgment was reserved until the 162nd game, whether the Astros or Phillies and the Indians or Red Sox would become Wild Card contenders in the playoffs. As the Astros and Red Sox won their final games, they assured a spot in MLB's version of Oktoberfest.

The divisional playoffs commence Tuesday:

Los Angeles Angels (95-67) vs. New York Yankees (95-67)
(a.k.a. Mickey Mouse vs. Mickey Mantle)

THE ANGELS BEAT the Yankees 6-4 in the season series, and despite the Yankees getting pissy at the Rangers for pulling their starters early in their loss to L.A., the $200 Million Men travel cross-country to California.

LA's super-utilityman Chone Figgins has dominated the Yankees this season, hitting 19-for-39 (.487) against Yankee pitching, but ace Bartolo Colon has struggled in his 2 starts against them (1-1, 8.44 ERA

The Yankees' MVP candidate Alex Rodriguez has done quite well against the Angels, hitting 16-for-41 (.390), including 5 homers. But their tall lefty Randy Johnson has been inconsistent against them, with a 5.40 ERA in two games (no decisions).

SUSSMAN'S EDGE: Most of the experts choose the Angels in a close game, although I've never been able to count the Yankees out in any series. However, history tells us that last time these two tangled in the ALDS (2002), the Angels won in 4 games. So I'll pick that.

Chicago White Sox (99-63) vs. Boston Red Sox (95-67)
(a.k.a. The Battle of Quality Elastic Footwear)

THE AL's MOST cursed team plays the AL's most recently "un-cursed." The defending Red Sox snuck into the playoffs following a Cleveland collapse, while the White Sox look to return to the World Series for the first time since '59, and perhaps win their first postseason series since '17.

Chicago's hot man against the BoSox has been Paul Konerko, who went 12-for-28 (.429) with 4 homers. But their two top starters, Mark Buehrle and Jon Garland, are a combined 1-2 (5.76 ERA) in Boston games.

While no one pitcher has shut down the White Sox, the relievers have done extremely well: Mike Timlin, Mike Myers, Jeremi Gonzalez and Chad Bradford combined for 11 appearances and 8 innings, allowing no runs.

But Manny Ramiez and Johnny Damon have been shut down by the Angels, hitting a combined 11-for-47 (.234) with 3 homers.

SUSSMAN'S EDGE: Boston's done this before. Chicago hasn't in a while. I'd love to see another curse get broken, but Boston has too much firepower, and Chicago's offense has been errant at times.

Atlanta Braves (90-72) vs. Houston Astros (89-73)
(a.k.a. The Struggle Between Playoff Underachievers)


St. Louis Cardinals (100-62) vs. San Diego Padres (82-80)
(a.k.a. Reddish Birds vs. Spanish Dads)

ON PAPER, THIS series isn't even close. The Cardinals have the best hitting. The best pitching. The best bullpen. The most experienced manager. The Padres ... were better than 4 really bad teams.

In Jake Peavy's only start against the Cards, he threw a gem, allowing only two hits and one run over 8 innings, striking out 10 in a victory.

Ryan Klesko hasn't done so hot, going only 6-for-25 against St. Louis (.240).

Meanwhile, Albert Pujols has eaten up Padres pitchers, going 10-for-26 (.385) this year.

But their ace Chris Carpenter hasn't been as sharp as his season stats, going 1-1 in two games (5.14 ERA)

SUSSMAN'S EDGE: San Diego actually beat St. Louis in the head-to-head matchup, 4-3. They only have 82 wins. They only have one proven starter. But he'll win two games and steal another somewhere down the line. That's right, it's just me and Jim Caple out there picking San Diego.

Season stat titles

Batting titles:
NL: 1B Derrek Lee, Cubs (.337)
AL: 2B Placido Polanco, Tigers (.331)

Home run titles:
NL: CF Andruw Jones, Braves (51)
AL: 3B Alex Rodriguez, Yankees (48)

RBI titles:
NL: CF Andruw Jones, Braves (128)
AL: DH David Ortiz, Red Sox (147)

"Moneyball" (on-base percentage) titles:
NL: 1B Todd Helton, Rockies (.443)
AL: 1B/DH Jason Giambi, Yankees (.440)

ERA titles:
NL: Roger Clemens, Astros (1.87)
AL: Johan Santana, Twins (2.92)

Strikeout titles:
NL: Jake Peavy, Padres (216)
AL: Johan Santana, Twins (229)

Win titles:
NL: Dontrelle Willis, Marlins (22-10)
AL: Bartolo Colon, Angels (21-80

Hold titles:
NL: Scott Eyre, Giants (32)
AL: Tom Gordon, Yankees (33)

Save titles:
NL: Chad Cordero, Nationals (47)
AL: Bob Wickman, Indians (45)

No errors (minimum 108 games)
LF Frank Catalanotto, Blue Jays
CF Vernon Wells, Blue Jays
RF Shawn Green, Diamondbacks

Monday, October 03, 2005

« Box-Office Hit Questionable? »

By Matthew Cary

I read the title of an AP article last Friday about the new Jodie Foster thriller Flightplan. Knowing that I was going to go see it the next day, and assuming reading it would probably spoil the movie for me, I held off writing this post until after I saw it. for those of you who have not seen the movie and don't wish to know what the ending is, turn away now. If you don't care, allow me to spoil it for you.

As described by the Associated Press:

In the Jodie Foster thriller about a mother looking for her missing daughter aboard a plane, a flight attendant colludes with an air marshal as part of a plot to extort a ransom from the airline.
Other flight attendants are shown treating passengers rudely and being unsympathetic to Foster's character, whom they think might be delusional.

This movie has managed to get real flight attendants up in arms. Three groups that represent flight attendants are calling for a boycott, claiming the Disney film could breed distrust of their members among real airline passengers. The three groups represent more that 80,000 flight attendants at 23 airlines.

Disney made a statement saying that the movie was not intended to create anything other than a great action thriller. They figured the public would be able to tell the difference between fiction and a non-fictional movie.

I saw the movie. Don't let the fact that it is a Disney movie make you think it is okay for you to take your 5 year old to go see. They won't understand it. I thought the movie was not bad. I would have given it a thumb up, and maybe some of the other thumb, but not two thumbs fully up. Most of the movie, all that the Jodie Foster character did was look for her daughter. I thought the search was a little too lengthy and some of it could have been cut out. I realize that the premise of the movie was finding the lost little girl, but still. I think the audiance got the idea after the first 15 minutes.

They added a nice little twist to the movie. Sitting in the front of the coach section of the plane was a group of Arabs. It definatly caught me off guard, questioning how politically correct this movie was. I will admit, during the movie, I thought that they had something to do with the lost daughter, but I was wrong. In the end, they symbolized an underlying message that not all Arabs are terrorists. As Fosters character is leaving the airport terminal, one of the Arab gentleman that Fosters character accuses of kidnapping her daughter during the movie helps her load her bags into the back of a minivan. I have to give the writers credit, it was a very well placed message.

Flight attendants who are protesting this movie, please realize that this is only a movie, not real, made up, Hollywood, FICTION. There are a number of other things you will see in the movie that don't actually happen in real life. I still trust you do a fine job supplying me with drinks and hard-to-open bags of peanuts on my flights.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

« AL Avoids 3-Way Tie, Tribe Avoids Winning »

By Suss
THE YANKEES ENDURED a season of almosts.

Jason Giambi was almost sent to Triple-A Columbus., Gary Sheffield was almost traded to the Mets. Joe Torre and Brian Cashman were almost fired. The Yankees almost finished in fourth place.

But Giambi found his swing. Sheffield stayed on the team. So did their manager and GM. And after the Orioles and Blue Jays flew south, they caught the Red Sox.

And the Yankees finished up a season of almosts with an 8-4 victory. That's their eighth straight division title.

While the $205 million payroll was widely scrutinized, it was the arm of their $350,000 diamond in the rough, Aaron Small. The 33-year old Small had been pinballed between 11 franchises' minor league teams and had 3 career major-league starts prior to this year, with the last coming in 1996. Small's 10-0 record is arguably the X-factor that pushed the Yankees from an underachieving juggernaut to a hard-fought division victor.

ONE RUN LOSSES plagued the Indians all year, especially at the beginning of the year. This weekend it seems the Indians suffered an episode of deja vu after dropping Friday's game 3-2 and Saturday's game 5-4, both to the White Sox.

The most embarrassing facet of Friday's game is that they lost to a White Sox team that began only two everyday starters. Two. Scott Podsednik and Joe Crede. Everyone else was a backup or September callup. Granted, Mark Buehrle started but the Indians have to beat a team that starts two regulars.

The Indians had several chances to blow the game open. They did tie the game in the bottom of the 9th with an RBI groundout by Ron Belliard, but The Sox's Ross Gload's smashed 2-run double over the head of center fielder Grady Sizemore to put the game away 3-2 after Belliard's solo HR in the bottom of the 13th.

The Indians are 22-35 in one-run games this year, leading the majors in such losses.

But while the Indians failed to execute in go-ahead situations, the White Sox played the odds to get the "right" batter in there.

After the Indians tied Friday's game 1-1 in the bottom of the 9th (and still threatening), the Sox walked Ben Broussard to set up the double play for Aaron Boone, which he conveniently hit into. And in Saturday's 8th inning, the White Sox intentionally walked Victor Martinez to load the bases, getting out Belliard and Broussard.

The Indians have now lost 5 of their last 6 games -- no way to finish out a season.

THERE WILL BE no three-way tie between the Yankees and Red Sox. The Yankees are two games ahead of the Indians, so they are guaranteed a playoff spot. Therefore, no one-game playoff is necessary even if the BoSox catch up to their Bronx brethren, since they would both make the playoffs.

So, the Indians will need a win Sunday and a shake from the 8-ball, hoping the Red Sox lose again, which would force a one-game playoff to decide the Wild Card.

All scenarios are explained on, but they are pretty simple by now.