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Assorted Thoughts On Game One

And we're back to the bullet points. It's like the season never ended. In the interest of full disclosure, I didn't watch the whole game.

  • If the Yankees were considered 60-65% favorites to win the Series this morning - which is where pretty much everyone of any significance had them - then they're down to something in the neighborhood of ~45% after dropping game 1. One the one hand, that's a huge drop, not unlike the drop in productivity a hitter will see if he takes a first-pitch strike. On the other, what that means is that even spotting the Phillies a one-game handicap makes this little more than a flip of the coin. The Yankees are uncomfortably good.

  • One of the topics of conversation coming into the game was that CC Sabathia was working off 7 days' rest while Cliff Lee was working off 9, and that being away from the mound for that long could have a negative effect on their respective performances. A glance at their career splits shows that this isn't necessarily a silly suggestion. Sabathia responded by being good. Lee responded by being terrific. If we assume that guys remain on a throwing schedule, I can't really think of a good reason why extra rest would be a bad thing in the playoffs. Short rest, yeah, that has some obvious issues. But long rest? I'm not sold on there being such a thing as "too fresh."

  • Sportswriters love a game like this. Maybe not the good sportswriters, but the average sportswriters...they don't even have to think. Two years ago Cliff Lee ran an ERA north of six and spent time in the minors. This summer he was traded midseason to the defending world champs without ever having thrown a game in the playoffs. He made his World Series debut in New York and shut down the best and most clobbery team in baseball. The stories write themselves. The story would've written itself had the opposite happened, too. Come to think of it, if you're lazy enough, your story could write itself no matter what took place on the field. Lee dominates? Coming-of-age tale for a guy who doesn't know what it means to quit. Lee falls apart? Phillies pay for gambling on guy with no experience. Yankees win a close one? Experience prevails. Phillies win a close one? Experience prevails. A feral cat sprints onto the field and bites Jayson Werth in the leg? Aura. Being an average sportswriter sounds like an easy job.

  • 0-4 with three strikeouts for Alex Rodriguez. How people respond will tell you a lot about how they feel about him deep down. If they give him the benefit of the doubt after a white-hot first two rounds, they're happy to have him big a big part of the Yankee machine. If they get mad at him for having a bad game under the brightest lights, they never wanted to support him in the first place.

  • The network and media love affair with Derek Jeter is annoying. This much is beyond well-established. But also annoying - and perhaps more annoying - is the horde of people that feel compelled to say something snarky every time Jeter comes up on the broadcast. We get it. His defense isn't very good. He doesn't always come through in the clutch. He's just generally overrated. You don't have to say "past a diving Jeter" at every possible opportunity. It's like Willie Ballgame grit & hustle jokes on a national scale. It sucks. It sucks. This material isn't fresh, and though FOX's Jeter Cam tonight may have been a little over the top, truth be told I'd rather watch Derek Jeter get into position than Joe Girardi make another trip to the pitching mound. At least the former presents an angle we don't get to see very often.

    If nothing else, just say something different. I'm not saying people should stop ripping on the media for fawning over its favorite son. But if you're going to rip, rip well. If you want anyone to pay attention to you, you have - you have - to be original.

  • Chase Utley came into the game as far and away the best player in the world that nobody talks about. If people still don't know who he is tomorrow then we'll know there's something more sinister at play than simple oversight. Ryan Howard returns almost twice as many Google hits. Second base seems like a good position to play if you want to fly under the radar.

  • Cliff Lee threw 122 pitches tonight, 16 of them in the ninth when the score was 6-0. He was excellent this year in starts after throwing 120+ pitches, but none of those came on short rest, the situation Lee would be facing should he go on to start game 4. It's worth noting that his velocity started slipping somewhere around pitch #80 or 85.

    I don't know what this means. If Lee throws in game 4 and dominates, it won't be fair to say it didn't effect him. And if Lee throws in game 4 and sucks, it won't be fair to say it's Manuel's fault for working him too hard. It's just a bit of information. He threw a lot of pitches. He threw a lot of really good pitches, but he threw a lot of pitches.

  • In the bottom of the eighth, Robinson Cano hit a comebacker that Lee snagged behind his back without looking. It was an astonishing play, but it didn't look as hard as it was, so given two points - one being this play, and the other being the Jeter Flip - we can say that Recognition = Improbability * Flashiness.

  • David Robertson has struck out 99 hitters in 74 Major League innings. After watching him for a little bit today, I don't understand how.

  • Interesting bit from Tim Brown:

    As wonderful as Lee was, as confident as he was, he started 16 of the first 27 Yankees with ball one. You know how many Yankees walked? None. How many struck out? Ten.

  • I can't think of a single reason why starting Pedro Martinez in game 2 would be a good idea.