Archive for red sox

I’m Not Dead Yet

Posted in MLB with tags , , , , , , , on October 17, 2008 by nathanjzacharias

Just when baseball fans across the country were figuratively walking through the streets of Boston crying, “Bring out your dead,” the Red Sox responded by letting everyone know that they’re not dead yet.  

The Sox made an improbable comeback last night, winning the game after being down 7-0 at one point.  Could this comeback lead to a comeback in the series?  

This team has shown several times in recent years that they apparently work best under pressure in the first two rounds of the playoffs.  After all, why make things easier by winning a couple games early on in the series when you just have more fun by winning after you’re on the brink of elimination?  

Game 6 has a lot of promise to it for either team with Boston sending Beckett to the mound and Tampa responding with James Shields.  If this were the Josh Beckett of 2007, you’d think the Sox would have the edge, even with Shields’ impressive season.  But Beckett hasn’t been the same this year and especially in these playoffs.  

I think the Rays have to treat this next game as a must win.  They don’t want to take this to 7 games and have the series come down to a win against Lester.  He may have gotten rocked in his first start in the series, but the chances of him doing that again don’t seem likely.  

Do the Rays still have the advantage? Of course.  But Boston’s win last night changed the look of this series dramatically.

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.

David or Goliath?

Posted in 1, MLB with tags , , on September 10, 2008 by nathanjzacharias

As I type this, the Rays have held on to their first place status by beating the Red Sox 5-4.  I’m not going to lie – I’d really like to see the Rays win this division.  Why? Well, because I picked them to win the division and it should be such a shame to ruin my lifetime run of being right.  Um…yeah. 

But as I was checking the score I was thinking to myself (a common practice of mine) and I began to wonder what would be better for baseball – the worst to first Rays or the cursed to first Red Sox? (cursed to first…that was good….I just thought of that….but I’m afraid to google it for fear someone already thought of it 4 years ago)

The Rays have been baseball’s biggest surprise in quite a while.  The first half of the season they were a great story, but how many of us figured it was only a matter of time before the Yankees summoned the maddening extra gear that seems to turn even the lightest of hitters into Joe Dimaggio during a pennant race.  Or how many of us figured the Red Sox would somehow turn calling themselves idiots into a winning battle cry again?  

Well, the Yanks are out and while the Sox could still make it, there’s not doubt the Rays have surprised us all.  It would be a great way to infuse some new blood into the MLB playoffs.  Afterall, the last time the playoffs didn’t include the Yankees or Red Sox was 1993.  

But the flip side is this: when the Red Sox play, the fans watch.  Their history, both painful and successful, is always a draw.  And though the Yankees definitely won’t make it this year, the epic battles between those two teams have added to the game’s list of greatest playoff moments.  When those either of teams play, history always has a way of showing up and new legends are born.   

So which do you think would be better – a new chapter in Red Sox history or a new book all together with the Rays?