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Archive for October, 2012|Monthly archive page

World Series Game 1 Preview

In Baseball on October 24, 2012 at 7:03 pm

The World Series begins tonight. Crim Del Harris previews the Game 1 match-up of Detroit’s Justin Verlander against San Francisco’s Barry Zito.

Ty Cobb never faced Christy Mathewson. Carl Hubbell never threw a single pitch to Hank Greenberg. Mel Ott never stared down Hal Newhouser from the batter’s box. Maybe they did during a pick-up game on the Field of Dreams, but not at Tiger Stadium and not at the Polo Grounds. When it comes to the Tigers and the Giants, they have been two baseball teams passing in the night.

In more than a century of playing baseball, the Tigers and the Giants have never faced each other in the World Series. That’s remarkable when you consider how long the teams have existed, and how good they’ve been historically. The Detroit Tigers and the San Francisco Giants have been playing baseball since 1901.[1] Together, they have played 112 seasons, claimed 33 pennants and won 10 World Series Championships.[2] But no scorecard, no box score and no record book has recorded a Giants-Tigers World Series. Until now. Read the rest of this entry »

NLCS Game 7 Diary: The Quest for Peace

In Baseball, Long form on October 23, 2012 at 6:38 pm

Like modern-day Romans and Carthaginians, Crim Del Harris writers Ian Brickey and Sam Sutton love their baseball teams and (for the next week or so) hate each other.

—Pregame

IB: I shouldn’t be greedy. I should appreciate 2011 for what it was: an amazing, beautiful and unexpected gift. I should be thankful that I’ve seen not one, but two World Series Championships come to St. Louis — some teams play for decades without winning the last game of the season. I should be content, but 2011 was a year ago, this is a different team and I am spoiled. To quote the Smiths: Please, please, please let me get what I want.

The Cardinals and the Giants are in the same position: win or go home. Thus far, the NLCS has been a lopsided affair. Yes, the series is tied 3-3, but five of the six games have been relative blowouts — in Games 2, 3, 5 and 6, the losing team has been kept to one run or less. Accordingly, it’s interesting that Game 7 looks like it could be a pitcher’s duel. Read the rest of this entry »

NLCS Game 6 Diary: The Wrath of Khan

In Baseball, Long form on October 22, 2012 at 5:49 pm

Like modern-day Yorks and Lancasters, Crim Del Harris writers Ian Brickey and Sam Sutton love their baseball teams and (for the next week or so) hate each other.

—Pregame—

There is no joy in Mudville, Mo. after a drubbing by the San Francisco Giants in Game 5. Meanwhile, San Franciscans haven’t been this happy since Nicolas Cage and Sean Connery saved the city from a nuke-wielding Ed Harris.

The Game

Ryan Vogelsong shuts the Cardinals down again, blazing his fastball (of all things) past St. Louis hitters. The Cardinals, meanwhile, do their best Washington Generals impression, giving up a four-run second inning.

SCUTARO: I’ve done far worse than kill you, Carpenter. I’ve hurt you. And I wish to go on hurting you. I shall leave you as you left me, as you left her; marooned for all eternity in the center of a dead infield… buried alive! Buried alive…!

CARPENTER: KOZMAAAAAAAAAA!

Final Score: Giants 6, Cardinals 1— Read the rest of this entry »

NLCS Game 5 Diary: The Return of the King

In Baseball on October 21, 2012 at 7:31 pm

Like modern-day Montagues and Capulets, Crim Del Harris writers Ian Brickey and Sam Sutton love their baseball teams and (for the next week or so) hate each other.

Pregame

St. Louis is joyful. The Cardinals are one win away from the team’s first pennant since 2011. The long-suffering franchise (hey, 11 months is a long time — just ask any college sophomore) is ready to break the Curse of Gerald Laird and raise another flag.

The Game

Well, that escalated quickly. San Francisco Giants starter Barry Zito pitched like it was 2002 (a little-known Prince B-side) and dominated the Cardinals lineup. Cardinals starter Lance Lynn pitched poorly and fielded worse. The Cardinals offense looked silly, and the Giants coasted to a victory in Game 5 of the NLCS.

Final Score: Giants 5, Cardinals 0— Read the rest of this entry »

NLCS Game 4 Diary: Attack of the Clones

In Baseball on October 19, 2012 at 4:57 pm

Like modern-day Aaron Burrs and Alexander Hamiltons, Crim Del Harris writers Ian Brickey and Sam Sutton love their baseball teams and (for the next week or so) hate each other.

Pregame—

IB: Well that was certainly worth the wait. After a 3.5 hour rain delay (during which beer continued to be sold — pure St. Louis) in Game 3 of the NLCS, the St. Louis Cardinals held on to win and take a 2-1 series lead over the San Francisco Giants. Rookie Matt Carpenter hit a crucial two-run home run and Jason Motte notched his first career six-out save for St. Louis — and with that, the ghost of 2006 Jason Isringhausen was exorcised from Busch Stadium.

The Cardinals haven’t looked as good in the last two games as they did in Game 1 of this series. Neither Chris Carpenter nor Kyle Lohse had particularly good outings, and the St. Louis offense has been almost non-existent. Combine that with an injury to Carlos Beltran and the Cardinals could be in serious trouble. But when you’re being chased by a bear, you only have to outrun the guy immediately behind you, and St. Louis has managed to outrun San Francisco thus far. Read the rest of this entry »

NLCS Game 3 Diary: A Rope of Sand

In Baseball, Long form on October 18, 2012 at 6:46 pm

Like modern-day Hatfields and McCoys, Crim Del Harris writers Ian Brickey and Sam Sutton love their baseball teams and (for the next week or so) hate each other.

Pregame

IB: It’s that time of the year again. The leaves are changing, the air is crisp, and bunting decorates the stands of a select few stadiums. Yes, playoff baseball (or, as it’s known in Pittsburgh, the off-season) is back.

After an exciting wild card round was followed by four five-game League Division Series — including a pair of improbable upsets — baseball’s final four teams are battling each other for a ticket to the World Series. In the American League, the Detroit Tigers and the New York Yankees square off in a series that has been dominated by Detroit’s fearsome pitching core, while the National League boasts two teams in the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals that, on paper — and in the series standings — appear evenly matched. Read the rest of this entry »

The 2012 A’s: Stop Calling it Moneyball

In Baseball, Long form on October 18, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Despite their first-round loss to the Detroit Tigers, the Oakland Athletics surprised the baseball world with a new take on old-school baseball

Even broken clocks are right twice a day.

The Oakland Athletics, a team many considered broken after the Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill trades, were right exactly 94 times this season, just enough to steal an American League West title from the Texas Rangers.

Unfortunately, it all came to an end last week when Oakland fell victim to a complete game shutout at the hands Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers. The team’s many weaknesses finally overtook its contagious enthusiasm. Inexperienced pitchers gave up six runs to one of the American League’s most feared lineups, and their own bats failed against a generous strike zone and Verlander’s own vicious efficiency.

If you watched the A’s at any point this season, you know that Oakland was playing with house money in the playoffs. The 2012 squad was, for lack of a better phrase, really stupid. Their batters set a single-season record for strikeouts. They stole bases constantly. They reinvigorated a gloriously terrible dance song from 2010. Read the rest of this entry »

Home Field Advantage and the 2012 MLB Playoffs

In Baseball on October 10, 2012 at 12:56 pm

For the 2012 League Division Series, teams with home field advantage start with two games on the road. Here’s why you should care.

The Oakland Athletics won 94 games this season. They won 10 of their last 14 games, capped off by a three-game sweep of the Texas Rangers in Oakland, to claim the American League West division crown by a single game. A team that was 13 games behind the then-division leading Rangers on June 30 put together one of the greatest second-half runs in baseball history to make the playoffs for the first time since 2006. Their reward? Home field advantage — by starting the American League Division Series on the road for two games against the Detroit Tigers.

The St. Louis Cardinals won 88 games this season. They underperformed their Pythagorean win-loss projection by five games. They claimed the second National League wild card by a single game. The Cardinals began the National League Division Series against the NL East champion Washington Nationals with two games in St. Louis. Confused yet?

It is a fact universally acknowledged in baseball that it’s easier to win at home than on the road, and why wouldn’t it be? Teams play 81 games in a single stadium. They learn its intricacies: its power alleys, the speed of its infield grass, and just how many strides an outfielder can take before he crashes into the wall. And then the team hits the road to play — at most — nine games in another team’s ballpark during the season. But home field advantage isn’t entirely anecdotal — the games prove it. Read the rest of this entry »

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