The Disappointment Zone

Musings from a Cleveland sports fan

Archive for October, 2007

Suck it, Boston

Posted by disappointmentzone on 18 October 2007

Everywhere I turn I see people making the argument that if any team can come back from being down 3-1 it’s the Red Sox. Hell, they came back from being down 3-0 in 2004 so they must be suited to do it in 2007! Um, no. I’m not sure how much bearing the team’s success in 2004 has on this team’s success in 2007, but my guess is very little.

That’s not stopping Red Sox fans from being insufferable, though.

To get you in the mood for Game 5 let me offer up this brief exchange I just had with a friend of mine from Boston:

Him: You forget this is the Boston Red Sox.  We invented playoff magic. We’ll see you ComeLatelys in a few hours.

Me: If by “playoff magic” you mean choking away every opportunity except for 2004 then yes, you’re right. Of course, it is typical of a Boston fan to think that the Red Sox invented anything. The Cubs invented losing and the Yankees invented buying their way to the top. The Red Sox are derivative and right now they’re also redundant: the AL already has its World Series representative. Just go home already and hang up your pink cap. It’s over.

Suck it, Boston.

Posted in Cleveland Indians | 4 Comments »

ALCS Game 4: cunning and guile

Posted by disappointmentzone on 17 October 2007

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* The Indians have a better, deeper starting rotation than the Red Sox. (1)

* The Indians have a better, deeper corp of relievers than the Red Sox.

* The Indians have a better, deeper lineup than the Red Sox.

* Enough said.

* (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

fn 1: I swear to god, if I ever have children I’m teaching them to throw a knuckle ball. It is the most devastating pitch in baseball when it’s working. It saves your arm so you can pitch for 20 years and so few people throw it that you’re always going to be a rare commodity. No team is used to facing it so you quickly become the metaphorical knuckleball of starting pitchers and that, my friends, has value. Teach your kids to throw a good knuckler and you’ve taught them to fish forever.

Posted in Cleveland Indians, Cleveland Sports | 1 Comment »

OSU #1? Damn straight.

Posted by disappointmentzone on 17 October 2007

The Ohio State Football Buckeyes emerged from the first BCS rankings at #1. They are #1 in both the AP and Coaches’ polls as well. Yet if you were to take a straw poll of AP voters and college football coaches and television pundits you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who would unequivocally defend Ohio State as the best team in the country. Most would point to teams like LSU or Oklahoma, coming as they do from conferences that are undeniably better than the Big Ten. Though LSU and Oklahoma have indeed played tougher schedules than the Buckeyes, in a year in which nearly ever team has suffered an unexpected loss to a team coming out of nowhere, why should the relative ease of OSU’s schedule serve as red herring for how good the team actually is?

Is there not an argument to be made that in a season in which Michigan has lost to a D1AA school, USC lost at home to one of the worst teams in college football, Cal lost at home to an unranked Oregon State, Oklahoma lost to unranked Colorado, etc., etc., etc., that avoiding such a crippling and humiliating loss is actually a pretty solid defense of OSU’s current ranking?

A number of writers are trotting out the usual calls for a playoff, using the jumbled mess of the rankings and unpredictability of the season as the catalysts in what is probably the strongest argument from a playoff yet. Parity is the word on everyone’s tongue. The balance of power has shifted to the point where an unranked team knocking off a powerhouse should not be treated as necessarily that surprising. That’s just the age we are living in. Broader media coverage and fewer scholarships are driving athletes to schools that have never been considered elite or, in the case of South Florida, schools that just a few years ago didn’t even have a D1 football program. Parity is the word and it’s the word used to push through a playoff agenda.

I just want to say that no one who points to parity in college football should be allowed to decry OSU’s ranking on the grounds that they haven’t beaten anyone. It’s one or the other, guys. Either the difference between the top programs and the middle programs is so small that the only reasonable way to determine whose the best is to have them play it out on the field OR beating mid-level teams does not justify a high ranking in the BCS. It can’t be both.

Posted in Ohio State Buckeyes | 2 Comments »

ALCS Game 3: Kenny!

Posted by disappointmentzone on 15 October 2007

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* Kenny Lofton must really want a World Series ring. Over the course of the playoffs Lofton has arguably been the team’s MVP. He’s certainly been the the team’s spark plug, coming up with huge hits left and right. The crowd sure loves him, too.

* Jake Westbrook was huge tonight. Not only did he shut down the Sox for the better part of 6 2/3 innings, but he was able to give the bullpen some much needed rest. Lewis faced one batter. Betencourt had an easy eighth inning. Borowski was just fine closing things out in the ninth. This could be huge dividends for the Indians tomorrow. Who knows how long Byrd can go?

* Hated the amoeba-like strike zone. Westbrook was getting squeezed a bit more than Dice K, but neither pitcher should have had to deal with that ump. Westbrook’s fourth pitch to Manny in the sixth was definitely a ball, but I’m not totally sure the previous three pitches were all balls, either. And I know everyone groaned when Garko struck out with two on in the seventh (eighth?), but at that point it wasn’t clear just how far the strike zone extended off the plate. He probably felt as though he needed to swing at anything that wasn’t too high or low. Oh, and both Pronk and Varitek came pretty darn close to exploding right there in the batter’s box. All told it was laughably bad umping. At least it wasn’t a playoff game.

* The Indians now have a huge advantage in the series. The Red Sox — according to every report available — will be starting Tim Wakefield tomorrow. Wakefield hasn’t pitched since late September, he was left off the ALDS roster, and he’s nursing an ailing back. If his knuckle ball is flat he’ll be out of the game by the fourth inning and even if his stuff is on there’s no telling how long he’ll be able to go. The Red Sox’s bullpen is a little tired and was never robust to begin with and if Wakefield can’t go more than five innings the Indians will have a huge advantage.

* Why aren’t the Red Sox pitching Beckett on short rest? There are a lot of reasons, but here’s a big one that’s not being discussed: If Beckett goes in Game 4 then the Indians will have a HUGE advantage in Games 5 and 6. Sabathia would face Schilling in Cleveland and then Fausto would face Dice K in Boston. Right there are two games the Indians should win. By not pitching Beckett in Game 4 the Red Sox are counting on no worse than a split in Games 5 and 6 and will be happy to take Dice K vs Westbrook at home in Game 7.

* Of course, none of this really matters if the Indians win Tuesday. Up 3-1 with Sabathia, Fausto, Westbrook, and a rested bullpen the Indians will have too much pitching for Boston.

* Ortiz, Manny, and Lowell definitely scare the crap out of me (and Youkalis is annoying) but once you get beyond Lowell the Red Sox do not scare me at all. It’s like there is a black hole for 1.1 innings. Say what you will about Casey Blake or Franklin Gutierrez, but they can both smash. From top to bottom I think the Indians have the better lineup. At least right now.

* Keep your fingers crossed that Tuesday’s game is played. There is a 50% chance of rain. If the game gets rained out the Red Sox will pitch Beckett in the rescheduled Game 4 and then on short rest in Game 7. That’s much less attractive than Wakefield-Beckett-Schilling-Dice-K.

* (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Posted in Cleveland Indians | Leave a Comment »

ALCS thoughts

Posted by disappointmentzone on 15 October 2007

Despite allowing 16 runs in two games, despite neither of the Indians’ front line starters going more than five innings, and despite being on the road, the Indians return to Jacobs Field tonight tied with the Red Sox 1-1 in what has suddenly become a best of five series where the Indians have the home field advantage. This wasn’t how the script was supposed to go, but after a season that began in the snow and was propelled by a swarm of bugs, to hope that things go as planned is to dance with folly. This is your 2007 season and these are your 2007 Cleveland Indians.

If Game 2 of the ALCS was the biggest win of the season then Game 3 is the biggest game of the season. If the Indians manage a victory tonight the Red Sox will be in a tough position for Game 4, much like the Yankees last series. The scheduled starter is Tim Wakefield, but Wakefield is recovering from a back injury, an injury sever enough that he was left off the ALDS roster and even a healthy Wakefield should not inspire great confidence in the heart of Sox fans. Though he played quite well for much of the season Wakefield is literally limping into October. The Red Sox do not know what to expect from him. Contrast that to the Indians and Paul Byrd. Say what you will about Byrd’s stuff — it certainly isn’t the beat, that’s for sure — but his greatest advantage for the Wedge and the Indians is that they know what they are getting with Byrd. He’s more than capable of turning in five or six innings of work. He’ll probably allow a few runs during that time, but he’s enough of a pitcher (in the Maddox sense) that Wedge can rely on him to bridge the gap between the first few innings and the buzzsaw of the Lewis and the Raffys.

Terry Francona’s other option is to start Josh Beckett on three days’ rest. Though Beckett has shown the ability to pitch well on short rest, the overwhelming majority of pitchers who pitch on short rest are not terribly successful. If anyone inspires confidence it should be Beckett, but nothing is for certain. Again, this favors the Tribe. Moreover, were Beckett to pitch in Game 4 that would disqualify him from pitching until Game 7. Meanwhile the Indians would pitch Sabathia and Carmona in the intervening two games and in each of those games our pitchers would be favored.

Any way you cut it the Red Sox will be in a huge hole if the Indians win Game 3. The benefit of home field advantage, a rested bullpen, a lineup that came to life in Game 2, and a team that’s riding the momentum of a dominating extra-innings victory all work in the Indians’ favor tonight. Dice K is hittable and has shown signs of fatigue. If the Indians can chase him by the fifth inning — whether through hitting him out of the game or forcing him to his pitch limit — then they’ll be in great shape to earn a crucial victory. Other than Westbrook’s sinker this is what to watch for.

Posted in Cleveland Sports | 3 Comments »

Cleveland Browns: QB Score: Week 6

Posted by disappointmentzone on 15 October 2007

Before last week it had been quite some time since the Browns were last favored in a game. After this weekend it’s pretty clear that the Browns should count on being favored at least a few more times this season. After the bye comes an away game against the impotent Rams. Plan on the Browns being slight favorites in that game. From there, anything is possible, especially if Derek Anderson keeps playing like he did this week.

Simply put, Anderson was efficient. No interceptions. No sacks. Few incomplete pases. Multiple touchdown passes. A running TD (?!!?). It was the sort of performance that inspires confidence. Quinn might as well get used to the bench. Short of an injury I do not see him starting until at least late November, if then.

QB Score: 164
QB Score per play: 5.47

Posted in Cleveland Browns, statistics | Leave a Comment »

ALCS Game 2: Relief

Posted by disappointmentzone on 14 October 2007

All the credit in the world is not enough for the job Rafael Betancourt and Tom Mastny did against Boston in Game 2 of the ALCS. The Youkalis at bat in the ninth was tremendous and Mastny shutting down the heart of the order 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 10th was even more clutch. Seriously, did anyone have hope after the Indians failed to score in the top of the 10th knowing that Betancourt was done and Ortiz, Ramirez, and Lowell were coming to the plate? Turns out the key to shutting those guys down is to throw strikes. Who woulda thought?

Posted in Cleveland Sports | Leave a Comment »

Defaulting their way up to #1

Posted by disappointmentzone on 13 October 2007

Congrats to Ohio State for not losing this season. That’s all it took for OSU to land at the top of the polls only seven weeks into the season. USC, LSU, Cal, Oklahoma, Florida, West Virginia, etc., etc., etc. One by one they go toppling down. Unfortunately if the trend continues that means Ohio State will lose within the next two weeks, so let’s hope all the surprises for this college football season are out of the way.

Posted in Ohio State Buckeyes | Leave a Comment »

Quick ALCS preview

Posted by disappointmentzone on 12 October 2007

If Boston pitches Josh Beckett on three days’ rest in Game 4 then the Indians will win the series.

If the Indians pitch CC Sabathia on three days’ rest in Game 4 then the Red Sox will win the series.

Otherwise I like Boston in 6.

Sorry. Sorry. Sorry.

Yankees in 4.

Posted in Cleveland Indians | 2 Comments »

Hey, did ya hear?

Posted by disappointmentzone on 9 October 2007

Did you hear that the Yankees lost a game last night? Yeah, they lost to some team from out west. It was a surprise to see the Yankees lose. The Yankees never lose. They are the best team in baseball. They are the team everyone fears. They are the team everyone secretly desires to root for, except for LeBron, who openly roots for them. No way the Yankees lose. They blew it. I wonder who’s to blame.

Each time the Yankees managed to get a runner on base that Caray guy from TBS would shout, “Here come the Yankees!” So I really thought the Yankees were on the charge. I was sure they would come through. I mean, that’s what Jeter does. He’s Captain Clutch. The rest of the lineup is a murderer’s row, maybe the best lineup in baseball history, with A Rod and Matsui and Posada and Cano and Giambi, so why didn’t they score ten bajillion runs? Must have been the team choking. I wonder who’s to blame.

I say blame the bugs. Did you see how they messed up Joba? Dude was on. No one wanted to face him. He’d given up like one run all season, bro. He’s a Hall of Famer. That city must be dirty with all those bugs, man. Such an unfair advantage. They are used to playing in that crap. The Yankees are used to playing in the pristine meadows of the House that Ruth Built. It was totally unfair to make Joba pitch with those bugs in addition to the pressure of being on the road in the playoffs in the eighth innings of a close game. He’s just a kid. Things ought to be perfect for him, perfect like pinstripes and no facial hair perfect.

Then there were all those bogus strike three calls against A Rod. I don’t care if he swung and missed. The only reason he did that is because the ump’s strike zone for the Indians pitchers was so huge that he, like, had to swing. The Yankees hitters got jobbed the entire series. That’s the only reason why they didn’t score ten bajillion runs on that one team, whoever the Yankees were playing, the guys who were supposed to lose, you know, that team from out west. The Yankees pitchers were getting squeezed the whole series. That’s why Wang had to keep his pitches elevated in Game 4. Because Yankees never tire and never flounder.

Joe Torre is about to be fired. That’s the real story. And what’s going to happen next season? Is A Rod going to opt out of his contract? Is Posada going to stay? Is Pettite going to decline his option? Is Mo coming back? Whatever happens I know the Yankees will be back. The storybook run of this dynasty is far from over.

In fact, I’m not even sure it’s over for this season. Alex Rodriguez just scratched his balls so Caray yelled, “And here come the Yankees!” We’re not done yet. TBS won’t let that happen. The national nightmare will end. The Yankees didn’t lose. I swear.

Posted in Cleveland Indians | 17 Comments »

 
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