It was a long shot. A nice little dream. But this year, it seemed plausible. It seemed right. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim California had the best record in baseball this year. The Los Angeles Dodgers of Los Angeles after they moved from Brooklyn have the game's best pitcher, a nice starting staff, and a pretty good lineup. I had by World Series ticket money saved up.
If either of the teams were to disappoint, one figured it would be the Dodgers (who still very well can), but a three-and-out by Mike Scioscia's club? No way.
The Kansas City Royals are a fun club to watch. That 9-8, 12 inning win over Oakland was one of the most fun games to watch in a long time, and you knew they would have momentum going in against the Halos. The Angels starting pitching has been banged up, and you knew that would be a problem. The bullpen was solid, the Royals (supposedly) didn't have any power, and you figured that the Angels would at least get one of the first two at home. Two extra-inning games, the Royals winning both with power and speed, the trip back to KC, and then the Angels finding themselves going home. There's a chance, although it shouldn't happen and I don't think it will, that Mike Scioscia could lose his job for this. It's the first time since Division Series play began in 1995 that the team with baseball's best record was swept in the first round.
So while the Angels are out, the Dodgers are not faring much better. The 10-9 loss in Game One was excruciating because Clayton Kershaw was charged with 8 runs in 6 2/3 innings. Manager Don Mattingly left Kershaw in there too long, but what choice did he have? As we've seen since, the bullpen is horrendous, and just to back that up, relievers who are not named Kenley Jansen have an ERA of 10.13. Throw in 4 runs charged to Kershaw when he shouldn't have been in there in the first place, and the number is more like 15.88. I will say, though, that when Dodger fans booed J.P. Howell after he gave up the home run to Matt Carpenter in Game Two, that was a little out of line, but you can't blame their frustration. Was it a surprise that Scott Elbert's first pitch tonight was hammered for a double? The Dodgers are in serious trouble, but do have Kershaw tomorrow and Greinke for a possible game five. As long as they can each go nine (or maybe eight), the Dodgers have a shot.
And who would have thought this? If the Dodgers make it through to the next round, it's likely at this point, they would be playing... the Giants! I'm not so sure if I want to see that, but I would if LA wins. And it would be verrry entertaining.
What time is it?: I understand when they don't announce starting times until the last minute because a game four night not be necessary or another team faces elimination, but please explain the following. The starting time of game one of the Angels series depended on who won the Wild Card game between the A's and the Royals. The game was going to be in Anaheim no matter what, and the difference was a half-hour. When the Royals won, it became a 6pm game. If the A's had won, it would have started at 6:30. The Nationals series was similarly affected. This may not seem like a big deal, but if one wants to know what time the game is, all they see is TBA in their program listings. Some people actually buy tickets, and/or need to get time off of work to see the game. Very little notice over a half-an-hour? Very stupid.
Blacked Out: Speaking of starting times and networks brings this to mind. A lot of people who live in the Los Angeles area had trouble getting Dodger games on TV all year. Time Warner Cable has the broadcast rights, and launched their own channel, but if you don't have Time Warner, the channel is likely not available, due to a contract dispute. Dodgers-Cardinals Game One was on Fox Sports 1, which I get, but, because of the length of the Giants game, started on Fox Sports 2, which I don't get. Game Two was on the MLB Network, which I also don't get. At least Vin Scully is doing six innings on radio. Giants fans without the MLB Network didn't get to see today's game, but at least MLBN is done now, so that will no longer be an issue.
Not-so-amateur hour: Four former Gold Sox opponents have appeared in playoff games over the last week. Pitchers Bud Norris of Baltimore and Doug Fister of Washington each started and picked up victories, C.J. Cron was the DH for the Angels, and Kevin Frandsen appeared as a pinch-hitter for the Nationals in that 18-inning loss to the Giants. Yes, before appearing in front of thousands of people, and millions on national television, they played in Marysville.
They said it: Announcers have good and bad lines throughout a given broadcast, but a few stand out. TBS' Ron Darling is pretty much Captain Obvious when it comes to his analysis anyway, but it was Dennis Eckersley in a different game that stole a page from Darling's playbook. When Baltimore's Jonathan Schoop stole second base in the seventh inning, Eck said, “That slide really slowed him down, didn't it?” In fairness to the hall-of-famer, Eckersley was trying to point out that Schoop (somehow pronounced 'scope') may have gotten a spike stuck or something when he began the slide. Fellow analyst Joe Simpson had a better line. In response to Eckersley, Simpson said, “It was like a cargo ship going through a swamp.” Gotta like that one... Former Fox analyst and Cardinal baseball legend Tim McCarver threw out the ceremonial first pitch in St. Louis tonight with Bob Gibson as his catcher. A nice moment when FS1 and Joe Buck talked about it, but what was even better was McCarver's booth replacement Harold Reynolds doing a spot-on McCarver impersonation. I always thought Reynolds sounded a lot like comedian Chris Rock, but his McCarver was impressive... In today's Nats-Giants game, which was scoreless after six innings, ESPN Radio's Dave O' Brien thought the pace was fast, saying they were “charging like a freight train.” It took two hours to get to that point, which means a three-hour pace. Not exactly high speed rail.