On Game 1 Of The World Series

Gotta balance those oral ions

Remember this the next time someone tells you that baseball is unpredictable.

It is. Over individual games, baseball is absolutely, completely unpredictable. And there's nothing anybody can do about it. You might think you know something interesting. You might actually know something interesting. You might have uncovered some key that seems really significant. But you just don't know how much that key is going to end up mattering over a period of nine innings, if it matters at all. Nine innings isn't a lot of time. They go by quickly, even when it seems like they don't. Nine innings don't allow things to balance out and play to the averages.

Odds. So what about odds? Odds are interesting right up to the point at which a game is being played. The odds remain in play - forever in play - but baseball is a series of individual events with binary outcomes. A guy won't get 30% of a hit. He'll get a hit, or he won't get a hit.

And you can't be real certain about the odds you come up with anyway, because you don't know how a guy's going to feel. You know how he'll feel on average, but you don't know if this guy's wrist is a little sore. You don't know if this guy's dealing with a dry eye. You don't know if this guy doesn't have a good feel for his cutter. The very fact that people aren't static is a big part of what makes baseball so random over small samples.

Coming in, Cliff Lee was a lock. That was the consensus opinion. Lee had been pitching as well as any pitcher anyone had ever seen, and that was against AL opponents. In an NL ballpark, against an NL lineup, the sky was the limit. Why wouldn't Lee be able to control the game and spin eight strong innings?

Anyone, I think, would've been willing to acknowledge that Lee wasn't a guarantee before the game. Even the most confident of all Lee supporters would've admitted that, sure, we can't be certain that Lee's going to go and dominate. But pretty much everyone assumed it was going to happen. If the Giants were to win, it would be because Tim Lincecum threw a shutout, or because Lee made one or two mistakes, the way Roy Halladay did back in Game 1 of the NLCS.

No one considered the possibility that maybe, just maybe, Lee would go and get his ass kicked.

And Lee got his ass kicked. He gave up seven runs in 4.2 innings, getting yanked before completing the fifth. He threw strikes, but he didn't look like himself, and the Giants pounced. It shouldn't seem so foreign - Lee did allow at least six runs in a game five times during the year - but here we are, fresh off a game in which arguably the best playoff starter of all time got destroyed, and no one's really sure how it happened. How was it the Giants - not the Yankees, but the Giants - who were able to bring Lee back to Earth?

Baseball. This happens. Nothing and nobody is a guarantee, and it's a testament to Lee's prior excellence that he was nearly considered one before. But no one's immune to the occasional stinker, just as everyone's capable of the occasional breakout. Cliff Lee got knocked around. Freddy Sanchez had four hits and three doubles. Baseball. Of all the World Series predictions floating around out there - the thousands, or tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands - none of them figured this was how the series was going to start.

Arguably the best pitching matchup of the month turned into the month's highest-scoring game, in an NL ballpark, with two NL lineups. So what if it probably wouldn't happen again? It's happened now. It's within the realm of potential outcomes. And it's an outcome that can never be written off.

There's just so much to take away from this game. So many lessons. But lessons that will be forgotten next week, if not tomorrow. People are still going to try to predict how games work out. And many of their methodologies will be sound. Pitching matchups are important. Splits are important. Defensive alignments and nagging injuries are important. On any given day, though, there's just no telling. And that's where all predictions fail.

Remember this game. Remember what Freddy Sanchez and the Giants did to Cliff Lee. Heed the lessons and you'll become a smarter fan for it.

  • The best part of the pregame introductions wasn't Bengie Molina drawing enthusiastic applause. It was Bengie Molina drawing enthusiastic applause in between Ian Kinsler drawing complete silence and Mitch Moreland drawing complete silence. I always figured silence would be the best way for a stadium full of fans to put an opposing player in his place. You shouldn't boo. Players might feed off of booing. Silence is perfect. Silence is mysterious. If you're a visiting player, and the fans respond to your introduction with silence, you don't know if they're ignoring you, if they don't care about you, or if they genuinely don't know who you are. That last possibility is distressing.

  • At one point, Tim McCarver said (paraphrased) "the definition of a two-out hit is one that doesn't come cheaply." Tim McCarver did not say "the definition of a two-out hit is a hit that comes with two outs."

  • I get that Bruce Bochy doesn't want to take any chances. I do. I get that there's no downside to being too careful at a time like this, with everything on the line. But making two pitching changes in the ninth inning when you're up by seven runs is a crime. The lowest the Giants' win expectancy ever got in the ninth inning was 99.5%. 99.5%. Faced with the same situation 200 times, the Giants could've been expected to lose once. But still, Bochy went from Ramon Ramirez to Jeremy Affeldt to Brian Wilson.

    That's fine as a manager, I guess. You want to make sure you slam that door shut, and it's hard to overuse your relievers when you've been off for three days and will be off again in two. But on the other hand, oh my god, once Juan Uribe hit his home run all the excitement was gone and so many of the viewers just wanted to get to the end. Those pitching changes put off the end for no compelling reason, and they forced me to sit through two more ads for Human Target. I'm not going to watch Human Target. Originally I wasn't going to watch because it doesn't look like a show that I'd like, but now I'm also not going to watch for the additional reason that go to hell Human Target

  • So Freddy Sanchez became the first player in baseball history to hit doubles in each of his first three World Series at bats, which duh. But something I think a lot of people forget is that Freddy Sanchez won the batting title in 2006. He hit .344 that season, and has batted .298 for his career, standing as one of the quieter .300 hitters in recent decades. Not only did he lead the league in hitting in 2006 - he also led the league in line drive rate, at 27.5% - narrowly edging out Mark Loretta and Adam Kennedy. That was a good year to be a skinny white infielder. Except for Clint Barmes. It was a bad year to be Clint Barmes.

    Sanchez isn't the hitter he was in 2006, when he roped 53 doubles, but on a night like this, it's fun to think that, for a handful of hours, he was. A lot of the things that came together to make Sanchez that good a few years ago are still somewhere in his body. Tonight, he tapped into them.

  • The two guys from tonight who pitched for the Mariners this year were responsible for ten runs in 5.1 innings of work.

  • I can't believe it.

    It was pretty clear that despite Vlad's issues in right field in Game 1, Ron Washington is committed to playing him in Game 2.

    Vladimir Guerrero is right-handed and awful defensively. David Murphy is left-handed and good defensively. You can see how Murphy is the better bet against Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain in an NL ballpark. And yet, Ron Washington insists on keeping his cleanup guy in the lineup, despite having a number of very good reasons not to.

    I know, I know - baseball is unpredictable. That's absolutely true, and if Vlad comes out tomorrow and hits two home runs or drives in four guys, it'll all be worth it. But there's no reason to have so much faith in him. He's no longer even close to being the threat he once was at the plate, and in case you didn't watch the game tonight, he was a nightmare in the outfield, bobbling one ball, misjudging the bounce of another, and taking poor, slow routes to his left and his right. His defense directly cost the Rangers several bases. Important bases? Maybe not. But they could be tomorrow.

    It was apparent to anyone and everyone watching that Vlad didn't belong where he was. It was somehow not apparent, I guess, to Ron Washington. I thought that, at the very least, Vlad's troubles tonight would've ensured that he wouldn't be put in position to have the same troubles again later on, but here we are, and it seems that may not be true.

    Vladimir Guerrero - he's not very good. For the Rangers' sake, and for Vlad's, I hope that Buster Olney is wrong or that Ron Washington reconsiders, and that David Murphy lines up in right tomorrow evening. The Giants don't need anybody's help.

  • Willie Mays was to throw out the ceremonial first pitch, but there wound up being a change of plans, as Mays was feeling under the weather. Which seems like a lousy excuse. We're all always under the weather, or within it.
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