Archive for Dodgers

Important Win for Phils

Posted in MLB with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2008 by nathanjzacharias

Pat the Bat may have to spray paint his pants on, but that doesn’t mean he can’t come up with a clutch hit.  Breaking a 2-2 tie with a solor homer, Burrell helped the Phillies beat an impressive Derek Lowe in game 1 of the NLCS.  Winning game 1 of any series is always important, but this one was big in my opinion.  Why? 

Because of the pitching match-ups. 

With Billinglsey vs Myers tonight, I would have to give the edge to the Dodgers.  Myers can be overpowering when he’s on, but the problem is you never know which pitcher he is going to be when he takes the mound.  Billingsley has shown more consistency, so the Dodgers have the advantage tonight.  

Game 3 will feature Jamie Moyer (the pitchers’ Julio Franco) and rookie Hiroki Kuroda.  Despit Kuroda’s solid ERA this season, this match-up favors the Phils because of Moyer’s experience. 

Then Game 4 will feature Joe Blanton against a TBD opponent.  Blanton had a high ERA for the year, but can turn in a quality start.  Not knowing who he’ll face yet, it’s tough to determine which team will have the advantage.  

All that to say, I think the pitching match-ups are fairly even once you get past the number one starters.  Which makes Derek Lowe and Cole Hamels pivotal in this series.  With 7 games, each ace will get to pitch twice.  The Phillies have put themselves in a position where they could conceivably get two wins from theirs.  That’s huge and helps the team’s chances immensley because it puts the burden on the right member of their pitching staff and not on the bottom half of the rotation.  

If Philly wins only 1 of the next 3, then the quest for a third win will be in good hands when they turn to Hamels.  Or if Philly loses the next 3 games, Hamels will back as the stopper.  Again, he’s the he’s exactly the one they would want in that position.  

By winning the first game, the Phillies have almost ensured that they will be competitive in this series, and they’ve given themselves a great shot at moving on to the World Series.

New Blood

Posted in MLB with tags , , , , , , , on October 8, 2008 by nathanjzacharias

The Yankees haven’t missed the postseason since 1993.  Until 2006, the Braves hadn’t missed a post-season since 1990.

Which means for 11 seasons, we knew at least 2 of the 8 teams that were going to make the playoffs.  We knew 3 for some of those years because of the Red Sox.  That tends to take away a little from the anticipation.

The only prediction we probably could have made about this year’s LCS teams is the Red Sox.  The Phillies had a shot, as did the Dodgers, but they weren’t a given.  And none of us saw the Rays coming.  Well if you did, please write me and let me know because I would like you to pick out some lottery numbers for me.

So as we look at the final four teams, only the Red Sox have made it to the LCS recently. As I mentioned the other day, the Phillies haven’t been there since 2003.  The Dodgers haven’t been there since 1988, and the Rays were so far removed from the playoffs most of their players probably thought LCS was something that could only be examined with an MRI.

Which means the new blood has assured MLB of some great ratings this year right? Ok, maybe not.  According to TBS, the Divion Series ratings were down 20% from last year.  But they attribute it to a perfect storm of factors: the quick series, the presidential debate, and the lack of  New York team.

Well, the New Yorkers may not be watching, but regardless of what the ratings do I think the infusion of new teams is great for the game.  It gives more exposure to other teams, and in the process gives them something to build on for next year.

A lot of the fans may be disappointed that there won’t be a millionth chapter of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.  But seeing as Fox and ESPN show us every single match-up between them during the year, I’m ok with not seeing it in October.  To me, it’s more exciting to see a classic franchise like the Dodgers get another shot.  It’s more fun to see the Rays finally put it together after 10 years of misery.  And it’s more entertaining to see the Phillies push through after a few years of always being right on the cusp.

This year’s final four may not grow the ratings, but it will grow the game.  The more fans that are able to watch their team contend, the better the game will do.

So good luck to all four!

Breezing Through the Division Series?

Posted in MLB with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 6, 2008 by nathanjzacharias

Hey everyone, I’m back from a week of travels and ready to tackle the heavy hitting issues with the vicious wit and side splitting humor you’ve come to know and love.  Ok…well….I’m back at least.

So over the weekend we saw the MLB playoff picture continue to take shape.  The Cubbies were swept by the Dodgers.  Apparently this year it was the fault of one of the stadium hot dot vendors.  He delivered cold hot dogs to some of the Cubs players, which therefore distracted them so much that they couldn’t win a game.

In other news, the Phillies knocked out the Brewers to move on to the NLCS for the first time since 1993.  That’s about the only thing they have in common with that year’s team.  The 2008 Phils have less hair, smaller waists, and fewer tobbacco stains on their jerseys.

In the other two series, the White Sox stayed alive by defeating the Rays in game 3, and the Angels are trying to fight off elimination by the Red Sox.  I may have to wrap this up before that game concludes, so my apologies for the lack of an up to date post.

Is it just me, or have the Division Series been slightly anti-climactic the last few years?  I don’t mean that the teams involved haven’t been interesting, it’s just that there haven’t been a lot of nail-biting match-ups in recent memory.

Consider this: in 2007, three of the division series were sweeps and the fourth only went to 4 games. In 2006, two were sweeps, and the other two went 4 games.  In 2005, two were sweeps, one went 4, and one went the full 5. Put that all together and in the three years of playoffs prior to this year, the winning teams in the Division Series were 36-6.  How is there so much imbalance when the top teams in the game are playing each other? Is it luck? Is it more? Or both perhaps?

I’ve heard players mention before that there is a world of a difference between a 5 game series and a 7.  At first I didn’t quite get it, as I didn’t see the difference in just 2 extra games.  But the more we’ve seen of division play I can see what they mean.  When it’s best of 5, the importance of every play, hit, and pitch is magnified even more.  Bottom line is, there is almost no room for error.  It’s much harder to come back from a mistake in a short series, and the concept of “getting hot at the right time” comes into play even more.

The last couple of years, the idea has been floated that perhaps the season should be shortened by a couple of games so that the Division Series should be lengthened to 7 games, and I think that would be a good decision.

It’s not that I think the outcome of the playoffs has been drastically altered due to the short first round.  I mean let’s face it, if a team loses the first 3 games, it’s unlikely they would be able to come back even if it were best of 7.

However, I do think the short series changes the feel of the series.  It feels more rushed and you almost feel like that first game determines the whole outcome.  And as I stated above, the last three years of Division Series haven’t provided the kind of back and forth outcome that we had seen prior to that.

Perhaps it’s just a weird phase the game is going through. After all, the imbalance hasn’t stopped there: the last four champions have won the World Series with a combined record of 16-1.

But I believe the Division Series has a bit of a different tone to it, and because of that I think it would be a good move to change it to 7 games.  I think it would allow for even greater competition and energy.

Plus, it would give the Cubs a chance to lose one more playoff game each year.