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Thursday, October 11, 2007
Top of the 1st
BASEBALL, ITS COMPETITION, FANS AND OBSERVATIONS
On October 18, I’m going to an open school night at the high school. It’s my daughter Jen’s first year there. Upon receiving the notice for the event, the first thing I did was check the postseason schedule. Now, mind you, this is the high school that Sox GM Theo Epstein went to, and yet there is open school night opposite Game 5 of the Indians/Red Sox series. What are these people thinking?
Fortunately, Billy-Ball Senior National Correspondent Jerry Malitz is here to provide some perspective with this week’s installment of (A)Musings From the Cheap Seats:
BASEBALL, ITS COMPETITION, FANS AND OBSERVATIONS
By Jerry Malitz
The TV imposed break in the baseball playoffs is up tonight after a sorely needed four days rest in the NL series. How happy do you think TBS is after rearranging all of their programming to accommodate baseball games and then lose out on seven potential 1st round, excuse me ALDS and NLDS, playoff games? As this break closed in I was able to give some thought to how non-baseball venues, areas where teams in the playoffs didn’t exist, and fans treated the baseball playoffs.
I had the opportunity to watch most of the 1st round on the road in northern Wisconsin. The drive there enabled me to pick up newspapers in Michigan where I saw that every baseball related story was about the Tigers, Magglio Ordonez’ great year, plans for next year but nothing about the ensuing playoffs. It was as if they didn’t exist. No Tigers, no playoffs. It’s the same way I fell when a team I root for loses. If I don’t read the paper the next day it really never happened. Try it, it’s quite cathartic.
In northern Wisconsin on the pristine banks of Lake Superior they do not have a baseball team other than the Northland College Lumberjacks. Since they do not play fall baseball there, baseball is out of sight and out of mind. One night I was forcibly dragged into a bar kicking and screaming where I was greeted not by the recognizable hum of Dick Stockton’s voice but by the sound of a wheel turning as the entire bar was fixated with watching Pat and Vanna and their Wheel of Fortune. Turned out that I was pretty good at guessing and the Leinenkugels were a buck-fifty so the next night I was right back in my newly claimed bar stool to play again. What playoffs?
This past Saturday night was spent at the Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey, part of the most outrageous concrete jungle sports complex you have ever seen. They could hold a mini-Olympics there if they wanted to. You have a racetrack, an indoor arena, a stadium, a practice field for football, and now they are building a new stadium on the same site. Anyhow inside the racetrack they were kind enough to have several large screen monitors with the baseball games on right alongside many college football games. Being a trained sociologist (I think that’s what American University gave me a degree in) I decided to place my bets on the races but to spend the bulk of my time glued in front of those beacons of light and action.
I was typically the only one watching the baseball games as college football with their point spreads and over/unders ruled the day. Occasionally a bettor who was tearing up his losing tickets would walk by and ask, “who the **** is playing,” or “what’s the bleepin’ score,” and more often than I liked I was accosted by a half-crazed gambler peppering me with their opinions on A-Rod. Any time I started a sentence with a non-condemning word towards A-Rod I would be cut-off by a stream of invectives against the Yankees number 13. Yes, as far as the race track crowd goes he was single-handedly the reason the Yankees were down 2-0 in games at that time.
The next day I ventured into another part of the Meadowlands maze of parking lots and jersey barriers and joined 78,000 others for the Jets-Giants football game. Since it’s a well known fact/myth that so many Giants fans are Yankees fans (and Jets fans are Mets fans because of the spelling similarities no doubt) I asked several if they could pick either the Giants or Yankees to win that day who would it be? With but one exception they all picked the Yankees. The exception, when picking the Giants said that if the Giants won he would then ask to change the rules so the Yankees could win as well. Now that’s a thinker. After searching the parking lots for two hours I finally found someone with baseball paraphernalia on. That brave individual had an A-Rod jersey on and he couldn’t have been more isolated if he was ruled contagious.
Speaking of jerseys have you noticed that fans attending baseball games are not the jersey wearing type of fan you see at other sports? Sure baseball fans rule when it comes to wearing hats but they lag far behind in jerseys. At the Giants-Jets game it appeared as if half the people were sporting the uniform of a current or past Giants player (Jeremy Shockey seemed to be #1). The NBA goes to great lengths to market their jerseys which is evident when attending a game. At hockey games jerseys constitute the wardrobe of women fans in greater numbers than any other sport. And much like the strong link among fans of the different sets of New York teams hockey fans are also vocal about their baseball loyalties. At the Detroit-Chicago hockey game on Saturday October 6 a huge cheer went up when they announced that the Cubs were losing. Got to love those White Sox fans.
Tonight when you get ready to watch the Rockies play at Arizona remember that you are part of a great tradition. It might not be for everybody but it is for some so sit their tonight with your hat on, wearing a jersey, soaking it all in and if you flip the channel on occasion to see about buying a vowel that’ll be our secret.
Check out the archive for Jerry at http://billy-ball.com/AMusings.htm
Top of the 2nd
THE POSTSEASON SCHEDULE
AL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
Cleveland Indians vs. Boston Red Sox
Gm Date Site Time ET (TV)
1 Fri., Oct. 12 @BOS 7 p.m. (FOX)
CLE: C. Sabathia (1-0, 5.40) BOS: J. Beckett (1-0, 0.00)
2 Sat., Oct. 13 @BOS 8 p.m. (FOX)
CLE: F. Carmona (0-0, 1.00) BOS: C. Schilling (1-0, 0.00)
3 Mon., Oct. 15 @CLE 7 p.m. (FOX)
BOS: D. Matsuzaka (0-0, 5.79) CLE: J. Westbrook (0-1, 10.80)
4 Tues., Oct. 16 @CLE 8 p.m. (FOX)
BOS: T. Wakefield (0-0, 0.00) P. Byrd (1-0, 3.60)
* 5 Thurs., Oct. 18 @CLE 8 p.m. (FOX)
BOS: J. Beckett (1-0, 0.00) CLE: C. Sabathia (1-0, 5.40)
* 6 Sat., Oct. 20 @BOS TBD (FOX)
* 7 Sun., Oct. 21 @BOS TBD (FOX)
* if necessary
NL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
Colorado Rockies vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
Gm Date Site Time ET (TV)
1 Thurs., Oct. 11 @ARI 8:30 p.m. (TBS)
COL: J. Francis (1-0, 1.29) ARI: B. Webb (1-0, 1.29)
2 Fri., Oct. 12 @ARI 10 p.m. (TBS)
COL: J. Fogg (1-0, 0.00) ARI: D. Davis (1-0, 6.35)
3 Sun., Oct. 14 @COL 8:30 (TBS)
ARI: L. Hernandez (1-0, 1.50) COL: F. Morales (0-0, 9.00)
4 Mon,. Oct. 15 @COL 10 p.m. (TBS)
ARI: M. Owings (0-0, 0.00) COL: U. Jimenez (0-0, 1.42)
* 5 Wed., Oct. 17 @COL 8:30 p.m. (TBS)
ARI: B. Webb COL: J. Francis (1-0, 3.00)
* 6 Fri., Oct. 19 @ARI 8:30 p.m. (TBS)
* 7 Sat., Oct. 20 @ARI TBD (TBS)
* if necessary
Gm Date Site Time (TV)
1 Wed., Oct. 24 AL hosts FOX
2 Thurs., Oct. 25 AL hosts FOX
3 Sat., Oct. 27 NL hosts FOX
4 Sun., Oct. 28 NL hosts FOX
* 5 Mon., Oct. 29 NL hosts FOX
* 6 Wed., Oct. 31 AL hosts FOX
* 7 Thurs., Nov. 1 AL hosts FOX
Top of the 3rd
* This is the first time two teams from the NL West will meet for a league title, the first time in five years that a West team made it out of the first round.
* The Rockies led the league with a .280 batting average. Arizona ranked last, batting .250.
* Colorado has won 17 of their past 18 games and has outscored the opposition 118-59 during that stretch.
* Until Colorado did it, no team in baseball history had finished 14-1 to reach the postseason. The Rockies have lost once in the last month.
* The Diamondbacks will use a four-man rotation and won’t bring back ace Brandon Webb on three days of rest to start Game 4 at Coors Field, according to manager Bob Melvin announced. Citing Webb’s workload – 243 1/3 innings, counting the NL Division Series – and the fact he never has pitched on three days’ rest, Melvin said, “We try to err on the side of caution. I just don’t see bringing anybody back on three days’ rest.”
* Webb is scheduled to pitch Game 5, if necessary, with one additional day of rest. Davis, with two extra days of rest, would be in line to start Game 6, followed by Hernandez in Game 7 with one extra day of rest.
* Webb established career highs for wins (18), strikeouts (194) and innings pitched (236-1/3) in ’07. He had a 42-inning scoreless streak from July 20 to Aug. 22 that included three straight shutouts – the first pitcher to do so since Roger Clemens with Toronto in 1998.
* The lone loss during the last 18 Rockies games was a Webb-pitched 4-2 victory on Sept. 28.
* Arizona is 10-8 in its last 18 games.
* Micah Owings has a streak of 15 1/3 scoreless innings, but he hasn’t pitched since Sept. 27.
* Owings hit .333 with 4 homers and 15 RBIs in 60 at-bats.
* Arizona shortstop Stephen Drew is the younger brother of Boston’s J.D. Drew.
* Stephen Drew hit .238 during the regular season. On Sept. 17, he went 0 for 5, dropping his average to .228. From there, he hit .371.
* On May 21, the Rockies were 9 games below .500. That equals the fourth-biggest deficit overcome by a team that has reached the postseason. Houston was 15 games below .500 at one point in 2005. Oakland, in 2001, and Florida, in 2003, each were 10 games below .500. The 1995 Yankees, 1996 Cardinals and 2007 Cubs also were nine games below at some point.
* “We’ve got two guys up from Double-A!” said Arizona first baseman Conor Jackson, referring to third baseman Mark Reynolds and outfielder Justin Upton, the latter of whom began the year in Single-A. “That’s like jumping from sixth grade to senior year, algebra to calculus.”
* Colorado’s 22-year-old Troy Tulowitzki hit 24 home runs, most by a shortstop in NL history. He batted .291 with 99 runs batted in while leading all major-league shortstops in fielding percentage.
* The Rockies led the league in fielding.
* The Diamondbacks finished 11th in fielding.
* Despite the worst batting average in the league (.250), Arizona had the NL’s best record (90-72).
* The Rockies trailed in only one full inning of the 27 in the three NL Division Series games.
* The Rockies outscored the Phillies, 16-8, outhit them, 27-16, and held them to a .172 average. Chase Utley, Pat Burrell and Jimmy Rollins all went 2 for 11 in the series. Aaron Rowand went 1 for 12. Ryan Howard had three hits, tied with Carlos Ruiz for most on the team.
* Colorado swept Philadelphia in the NL Division Series despite the fact that Matt Holliday, Todd Helton, Brad Hawpe and Garrett Atkins, who combined for 107 home runs and 455 RBI during the regular season, hit.204 (10-for-49) in the NLDS.
* The Rockies added center fielder Wily Taveras to their postseason roster but chose not to include right-hander Aaron Cook, who threw about 90 pitches in an instructional league game in Tucson yesterday. Taveras, acquired in a trade with Houston last winter, was sidelined for the last three weeks of the season and the Rockies’ sweep of Philadelphia in the first round. Cook was 8-7 with a 4.12 ERA when he was sidelined by an oblique injury Aug. 10.
* The Diamondbacks were televised regionally on a Fox Saturday game only twice.
* Matt Holliday led the NL in average (.340), RBIs (137), doubles (50), total bases (386) and was fourth in home runs (36).
* Coming out of high school in Stillwater, Okla., Holliday ranked alongside Carson Palmer and Drew Henson as the best three or four quarterbacks in the nation.
* Todd Helton hit .469 at Chase Field this season. In nine games, Helton went 15-for-32 with four doubles, one home run, seven RBI, nine walks and one strikeout. Helton’s 12 career home runs at Chase Field are his second-highest total in an opposing park, trailing the 13 he has hit at Dodger Stadium.
* Seth Smith made his major league debut on Sept. 16. He went 5-for-7 as a pinch hitter, which earned him a spot on the Rockies’ roster for the Division Series, where he went 1-for-2 as a pinch hitter.
* Both teams swept their opponents in the Division Series, both scored 16 total runs.
Earned Run Average
Rockies – 4.32 – ranked 8th in the NL
Diamondbacks – 4.13 – ranked 4th in the NL
Rockies – 1497
Diamondbacks – 1446
Rockies – 758
Diamondbacks – 732
Earned Runs Allowed
Rockies – 706
Diamondbacks – 662
Home Runs Allowed
Rockies – 164 – ranked 5th in the NL
Diamondbacks – 169 – ranked 9th in the NL
Rockies – 68
Diamondbacks – 66
Rockies – 39
Diamondbacks – 51
Rockies – 504
Diamondbacks – 546
Walks per 9
Rockies – 3.1 – ranked 3rd in the NL
Diamondbacks – 3.4 ranked 10th in the NL
Rockies – 967
Diamondbacks – 1088
Strike Outs per 9
Rockies – 5.9 – ranked 15th in the NL
Diamondbacks – 6.8 – ranked 9th in the NL
Rockies – 4
Diamondbacks – 7
Rockies – 7
Diamondbacks – 12
Opp. Batting Avg.
Rockies – .266
Diamondbacks – .262
Rockies -.280 – ranked first in the NL
Diamondbacks -.250 – ranked 16th in the NL
Rockies – 860
Diamondbacks – 712
Runs per Game
Rockies – 5.28 – ranked 2nd in the NL
Diamondbacks – 4.40 – ranked 14th in the NL
Rockies – 1591
Diamondbacks – 1350
Rockies – 313
Diamondbacks – 286
Rockies – 36
Diamondbacks – 40
Rockies – 171 – ranked tied for 7th in the NL
Diamondbacks – 171 – ranked tied for 7th in the NL
Rockies – 823
Diamondbacks – 687
On Base %
Rockies – .354 – ranked first in the NL
Diamondbacks – .321- ranked 16th in the NL
Rockies -.437 – ranked 4th in the NL
Diamondbacks – .413 – ranked 9th in the NL
Rockies – 622
Diamondbacks – 532
Rockies – 1152
Diamondbacks – 1111
Rockies – 100
Diamondbacks – 109
NLCS PLAYERS WITH PLAYOFF EXPERIENCE
Players in NLCS with previous playoff experience:
Player Years Team
Eric Byrnes 2001-03 A’s
Tony Clark 2004 Yankees
Juan Cruz 2003 Cubs, 2004 Braves
Livan Hernandez 1997 Marlins, 2000-02 Giants
Player Years Team
LaTroy Hawkins 2002-03 Twins
Matt Herges 2003 Giants
Mark Redman 2003 Marlins
Yorvit Torrealba 2003 Giants
Top of the 4th
SWEEP NOT SWEET
This season, for the first time in the 13-year history of the Division Series, three of the four series ended in three-game sweeps. There have been 21 sweeps in the best-of-five Division Series, including at least one every year except 2003. But only seven of the 18 teams that swept the Division Series before 2007 have advanced to the World Series, and five of those teams won the World Series.
This time, at least one team that swept a Division Series will make it to the World Series because the Rockies, who swept the Phillies, and the Diamondbacks, who swept the Cubs, will meet in the NLCS beginning Thursday night in Phoenix. The Red Sox, who swept the Angels, will open the ALCS at home Friday against the Indians.
The Rockies, who won the first two games in Philadelphia and completed the sweep at Coors Field on Saturday, was the ninth team in Division Series history to win the first two games on the road in a sweep. The Rockies-Diamondbacks matchup is the third NLCS featuring two teams that swept the Division Series.
Last year, both teams that swept Division Series were knocked off in the LCS – the Athletics, who swept the Twins, lost to Tigers; and the Mets, who swept the Dodgers, lost to the Cardinals. That also happened in 2000, when the Mariners, who swept the White Sox, lost to the Yankees; and the Cardinals, who swept the Braves, lost to the Mets.
There have been 21 sweeps in the 13-year history of the Division Series:
Year League Result Notable
1995 NLDS Reds over Dodgers Reds were swept by Braves in NLCS ALDS Indians over Red Sox Indians lost to Braves in World Series
1996 NLDS Cardinals over Padres Cardinals lost to Braves in NLCS NLDS Braves over Dodgers Braves lost to Yankees in World Series
1997 NLDS Marlins over Giants Marlins beat Indians in World Series NLDS Braves over Astros Braves lost to Marlins in NLCS
1998 ALDS Yankees over Rangers Yankees beat Padres in World Series NLDS Braves over Cubs Braves lost to Padres in NLCS
1999 ALDS Yankees over Rangers Yankees swept Braves in World Series
2000 ALDS Mariners over White Sox Mariners lost to Yankees in ALCS NLDS Cardinals over Braves Cardinals lost to Mets in NLCS
2001 NLDS Braves over Astros Braves lost to Diamondbacks in NLCS
2002 NLDS Cardinals over D-backs Cardinals lost to Giants in NLCS
2003 No sweeps
2004 ALDS Red Sox over Angels Red Sox beat Cardinals in World Series
2005 NLDS Cardinals over Padres Cardinals lost to Astros in NLCS ALDS White Sox over Red Sox White Sox beat Astros in World Series
2006 ALDS Athletics over Twins Athletics lost to Tigers in ALCS NLDS Mets over Dodgers Mets lost to Cardinals in NLCS
2007 ALDS Red Sox over Angels Stay tuned NLDS Rockies over Phillies Stay tuned NLDS Diamondbacks over Cubs Stay tuned
Top of the 5th
The Rockies’ position players aren’t quite as young as the Diamondbacks’ starters, but two of the starting pitchers Colorado is expected to use in the NLCS have fewer than two seasons’ experience.
C Yorvit Torrealba Age: 29. Debut: Sept. 5, 2001
1B Todd Helton Age: 34. Debut: Aug. 2, 1997
2B Kaz Matsui Age: 31. Debut: April 6, 2004
SS Troy Tulowitzki Age: 23. Debut: Aug. 30, 2006
3B Garrett Atkins Age: 28. Debut: Aug. 3, 2003
LF Matt Holliday Age: 27. Debut: April 16, 2004
CF Ryan Spilborghs Age: 28. Debut: July 16, 2005
RF Brad Hawpe Age: 28. Debut: May 1, 2004
SP Jeff Francis Age: 26. Debut: Aug. 25, 2004
SP Franklin Morales Age: 21. Debut: Aug. 18, 2007
SP Ubaldo Jimenez Age: 23. Debut: Sept. 26, 2006
The Diamondbacks have five (of eight) starting position players with fewer than two full seasons of experience in the majors, and one of their starting pitchers, Micah Owings, is a rookie.
C Chris Snyder Age: 26. Debut: Aug. 21, 2004
1B Conor Jackson Age: 25. Debut: July 28, 2005
2B Augie Ojeda Age: 32. Debut: June 4, 2000
SS Stephen Drew Age: 24. Debut: July 15, 2006
3B Mark Reynolds Age: 24. Debut: May 16, 2007
LF Eric Byrnes Age: 31. Debut: Aug. 22, 2000
CF Chris Young Age: 24. Debut: Aug. 18, 2006
RF Justin Upton Age: 20. Debut: Aug. 2, 2007
SP Brandon Webb Age: 28. Debut: April 22, 2003
SP Micah Owings Age: 25. Debut: April 6, 2007
SP Edgar Gonzalez Age: 24. Debut: June 1, 2003
Check out the Rockies Division Series roster.
* The highest-paid imports are pitchers LaTroy Hawkins and Josh Fogg, who are making $3.5 million apiece.
* The Rockies had 14 homegrown players on the 25-man roster, one fewer than the Los Angeles Angels and the same number as the Diamondbacks. Among the five other teams that advanced to the postseason, the Yankees had 11 players they originally signed on the Division Series roster; Philadelphia, Cleveland and the Chicago Cubs had nine apiece; and Boston had seven.
* The starter in all three games of the sweep of the Phillies came from within — Jeff Francis and rookies Franklin Morales and Ubaldo Jimenez — as did closer Manny Corpas, who got the final out in all three wins against the Phillies.
* Six of the eight lineup regulars originally signed with the Rockies — Helton, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, third baseman Garrett Atkins, left fielder Matt Holliday, right fielder Brad Hawpe and center fielder Ryan Spilborghs, who shares time with another homegrown, Cory Sullivan.
* And it was homegrown Jeff Baker who delivered the winning single off Phillies reliever J.C. Romero.
Top of the 6th
ROCKIES/DIAMONDBACKS 2007 GAME LOG
* Colorado won the season series, 10-8.
* The Rockies were 5-4 at Chase Field in 2007, and 5-4 against Diamondbacks at Coors Field.
Date Location Results Winning Pitcher Losing Pitcher Save
Apr 2 COL ARI 8-6 Juan Cruz LaTroy Hawkins Jose Valverde
Apr 3 COL COL 4-3 Byung-Hyun Kim Jose Valverde
Apr 4 COL COL 11-4 Rodrigo Lopez Doug Davis
Apr 13 ARI COL 6-3 Jeremy Affeldt Brandon Webb Brian Fuentes
Apr 14 ARI ARI 5-4 Brandon Lyon LaTroy Hawkins Jose Valverde
Apr 15 ARI ARI 6-4 Doug Davis Byung-Hyun Kim Jose Valverde
May 15 COL ARI 3-0 Randy Johnson Jason Hirsh Jose Valverde
May 16 COL COL 5-3 Aaron Cook Brandon Webb Brian Fuentes
May 17 COL ARI 3-1 Livan Hernandez Josh Fogg Jose Valverde
May 21 ARI ARI 6-5 Doug Slaten Jeremy Affeldt Jose Valverde
May 22 ARI COL 3-1 Manny Corpas Brandon Lyon Brian Fuentes
May 23 ARI COL 2-0 Jeff Francis Doug Davis Brian Fuentes
Aug 31 ARI COL 7-3 Matt Herges Tony A. Pena
Sep 1 ARI ARI 13-7 Edgar G. Gonzalez Elmer Dessens
Sep 2 ARI COL 4-3 Josh Fogg Brandon Webb Manny Corpas
Sep 28 COL ARI 4-2 Brandon Webb Jeff Francis Jose Valverde
Sep 29 COL COL 11-1 Mark Redman Edgar G. Gonzalez
Sep 30 COL COL 4-3 Brian Fuentes Dustin Nippert Manny Corpas
Top of the 7th
REASON TO ROOT FOR THE ROCKIES
Twenty-four hours before the first NLCS game against the Colorado Rockies, the Diamondbacks still had about 4,000 seats available for Thursday’s game. Another 6,000 were available for Friday’s game.
Coors Field is sold out.
Top of the 8th
THE BOTTOM LINE
1. The Red Sox payroll of $143 million going into the season ranked second to New York.
2. The Indians entered the season ranked 23rd in payroll, at $61 million.
3. The Rockies were 25th, at $54 million.
4. The Diamondbacks settled for 26th, at $52 million.
Top of the 9th
I’M SORRY BOSTON AND COLORADO
You’re my picks for the World Series.
Bottom of the 9th
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Information provided in Billy-Ball has been gathered from A.P. reports, espn.com, sportsline.com, mlb.com and numerous other e-sources. Opinions expressed in Billy-Ball are obviously solely the opinions of the author of Billy-Ball and do not reflect those of source material no matter how off the wall they may be.