Thursday, October 8, 2009
PLAY (post-season) BALL !!!!!!!!
HERE WE GO !!!!!!!!! Sox at the (California, Anaheim, Los Angeles) Angels (of Anaheim) tonight... 9:37pm eastern... WTF kind of starting time is THAT ?!?!? Anyway, it proves to be a late night in the "Ced" household, for sure (I better take a nap, I'm NOT getting any younger, ya know !!). And for my Facebook friends, watch my wall for "live" updates...
First off, they can't even decide what city they're from !!!!!!!!! It's kinda like saying the Pawtucket Red Sox of Boston !!! But wait, Pawtucket already has a team (Red Sox AAA affiliate - The Pawtucket Red Sox). For THAT matter, Los Angeles already has a team too... Imagine the Angels and Dodgers in the World Series..... NOT THIS YEAR !!!!!!!!
Anyway, what's in a name right? Maybe Gene Autry should have willed that the Angels ALWAYS be named California... Either way, true that the Sox have easily handled the Angels in post-seasons past. But this isn't your sub-average "Angels" team of years past... Here's to hoping the Sox will be "Back In The Saddle Again".
The Angels pose a very formidable opponent... excelling in all phases of the game. They hit for average - .285 as a team to lead the Majors (Sox were 4th at .270).... they hit for power with 4 players having 20+ home-runs (Sox had 5 and were 3rd in the league with 212) - and that doesn't even include Vladi (Guerrero) who is always a threat to go long.
They can run the bases - 3rd in the league with 148 steals (Sox 5th with 126). And defensively, the Angels and Sox were tied for 3rd/4th in the AL with a .986 fielding percentage... 2 percentage points behind the league-leading Blue Jays.
That leaves the last phase and you all know PITCHING WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS !!!! The Angels staff posted 97 victories this season to Boston's 95 - but THEY don't play in the toughest division in baseball - the AL East !!! The Sox' team ERA of 4.35 is slightly better than the Angels' 4.45... and as a team the Sox struck out 168 more opposing batters than the Angels while issuing only 7 more free passes (uh, walks).
VERY similar teams on paper. But who has the "edge"? OBVIOUSLY, Nation members will say the Sox will win HAND'S DOWN as this year's club is also an uncharacteristic mix of power and speed, compared to years gone by. In MY opinion... and take it for what it's worth.... the "secret" lies in what I have always felt is the most critical element of the game of baseball..... an element NOT practiced enough by Tito and the boys... Any guesses ??????
SMALL BALL !!!!!!... this series isn't going to be won by no-hitters and home-runs (ok, well it COULD be!!!). Nope, the edge in this series will go to the club that can best MANUFACTURE runs when needed... ie, bunting a runner over with less than 2 outs... hit and running... sac flies.. hitting the ball to the right side to advance a runner... GIVING UP AN AT BAT FOR THE TEAM!!
With the clubs being so similar statistically, there is one glaring statistic that could be the ace in the hole.... small ball isn't something regularly practiced by the boys from Boston, but will need to be over the next week and beyond. Consider this, the Angels had 43 sacrifice hits (uh, bunts) this season... the Red Sox..... 19 !!!! definitely not a major part of their arsenal....
And don't mis-interpret this theory... pitching STILL wins championships as it is the pitcher's responsibility to not ALLOW the opposing batters to play that game... keeping runners off of the bases... not losing their composure when a runner is moved along the base-paths by some means... being the 9th fielder on the team if/when needed... I used to tell my little league "students" that pitching is 90% mental and 10% physical... perhaps not entirely true but....
Jonny Lester takes the hill in the series opener... for those that put any DEmerit in the fact that Beckett isn't starting game 1..... it came down to a matter of timing... certainly aided by Beckett's missed start 2 weeks ago. Throwing Lester first keeps them both on 5-6 days rest, which is critical to keep their sharpness. Lester/Beckett or Beckett/Lester really doesn't amount to a hill of beans - either is equally capable of posting that first VICTORY, as coming home to Boston with at least 1 win is CRITICAL...
Also consider... yes, Jonny has been here before and yes he's a cancer survivor... BUT, should the Angels happen to win game 1, it just may be more important to have the more experienced and seasoned play-off pitcher in Josh Beckett trying to win game 2.... and maybe he can finally earn that song !!!!!!!!
In any event, the next 3, 4 or 5 games could/should prove to be a very exciting and classic play-off series between 2 VERY good ball clubs.. hell, there's 22 teams that DIDN'T make it to October !!! AND NO !!!!!!!! I am NOT being pessimistic... just critically cautious... I call it the way I see it... Nuf Ced
Now.... the lead-off hit of the day being a flop, I have chosen today's... a classic by the Troggs... AND Jonathon Papelbon's previous entrance tune... a tune used in the movie Major League... HA, remember when Paps had the Ricky Vaughn's (Charlie Sheen's) wild thing haircut ?!?!?!
Also, thank you all for your continued support. I noticed today that Pahdon has been visited for the 1,000 time... (see "Now Serving") since I added that counter in mid-August... Still a virgin blogger, I can only assume that's a good thing...
Thanks for stopping in for a visit. It's just my opinion, so please PAHDON it. Y'all come back now, ya heah !! Nuf Ced