It occurred to me that I already tweet pretty much everything that comes to me as the games roll along. So these posts are just portions of my Twitter feed, expanded to slightly greater length. I can see how that might bother some of you, but I'm not a bloody idea machine. Besides, how would you feel if I saved my best ideas for Twitter, or if I saved them for LL? That would be like a player saving his best performance for a pressure situation. No, stupid, you're supposed to put forward your best performance all the time. If there were a Mariner who only truly excelled in pressure situations, I wouldn't love him for doing well some of the time. I'd be frustrated with him for not doing well all of the time. What is the matter with you!
- I'm starting to understand how, for those in the sportswriting business, rooting interest can be a funny, complicated thing. I'm all about exciting baseball. I'm all about watching great games and having every series go the maximum length. But that's my heart. See, my brain wants to have to do as little work as possible. Being that I have to work during every playoff game of the month, my brain wants quick series. My brain wants sweeps.
Take the Rangers and Rays, for instance. The Rangers came into action this afternoon up 2-0 in the series. They took the lead in the seventh inning, thanks to Ian Kinsler, and I was excited, because they were six outs away from moving on. Then the Rays came back. Then the Rays came back, in sudden, dramatic fashion, against a good bullpen, and I was furious. Incensed. I threw my phone. I threw the remote. I shouted words you shouldn't shout with your windows open when you live near a school. I can recall being that mad at the Rangers, but I can't recall being that mad at the Rays, or being that mad about a game that got the majority of baseball fans excited.
Why? Because Game 4 of the Rangers/Rays series is scheduled for 10:07 tomorrow morning. By winning, the Rays have guaranteed that I'll have to get to work, rather than enjoy a nice Sunday brunch. It would be one thing if that were the only game of the day. But it's not. It's the first of three, going from 10 in the morning to 9 or 10 at night.
I'm mad at the Rays for pulling out a thrilling, season-saving win, because I know tomorrow I'm going to want pancakes.
- A proof:
- I don't put a lot of stock in this stuff and don't find it particularly meaningful either way, but it is interesting that, whenever the Rays' dugout is shown, whether they're winning big or about to end their season, they always seem to be joking around. Several of them are always smiling. Several of them are always up on the rail with live, engaged eyes. I made a joke when the TBS announcer talked about how loose they are, but they are really loose. At least, on the outside. Who knows how they actually feel.
It's just weird to me how differently they act from everybody else. It's like they've made Not Yankees their identity. Truth be told, it's like they're the Yankees' younger brother, equally intelligent and successful but also eager to separate themselves and prove they're their own person. Oh, the Yankees are serious? The Rays will joke around. Oh, the Yankees have to maintain a disciplined appearance? The Rays will wear hockey jerseys and loud pants and grow beards and funny hair. Oh, the Yankees will sweep their ALDS? The Rays will fall behind and try to come back.
It's a sibling rivalry. And things being what they are, it's a sibling rivalry where only one of them can possibly achieve the greatest success in each given year. We'll see if the Rays keep trying to emphasize how different they are, or if they get fed up, re-evaluate their life path, and fuck their brother's girlfriend.
- I understand that strikeouts aren't everything. I know the ins and outs of ERA, and FIP, and xFIP, and I get how a pitcher can be successful by inducing a bunch of contact. Pound the zone! Throw a sinker! It all makes so much sense during the regular season. As soon as the playoffs get going, though, I lose all trust in any starting pitcher with a strikeout rate that's league-average or worse. I don't know what it is. It's just...I mean, did anybody think that Brian Duensing actually had a chance tonight? According to xFIP, one could argue that Duensing's actually a better pitcher than Phil Hughes, but Phil Hughes can makes hitters miss, and that made all the difference in how I thought about both of them tonight.
The lineups are better in the playoffs, to be sure. That feeds into it. But it's not like batted balls in October are that different from batted balls in September or August. I'm sure finesse and contact pitchers can work in the playoffs. I'm sure they have, and I'm sure they will. I'll just never believe in them. If the Mariners ever start Doug Fister in the ALCS, I'll consider anything shy of a nine-run loss an absolute miracle.
- Since 2001, the Twins have gone 6-21 in the playoffs. They've qualified six times, but they've advanced only once, and they're currently riding a 12-game playoff losing streak that's the second-longest in baseball history. And this has all been under Ron Gardenhire, who took over following the 2000 season.
I don't think there's something wrong with the Twins. I don't think there's something systemic about the organization that makes it vulnerable to spectacular failures once the postseason rolls around. But then, Will McDonald from Royals Review made a good point. The A's lost in four consecutive first rounds. They then got swept in the ALCS in 2006. From this, people concluded that Billy Beane's shit doesn't work in the playoffs.
So, does Minnesota's shit not work in the playoffs? Because Minnesota's approach and the approach the A's made famous could not be less alike. If the A's failed because they cared too much about the numbers, too much about OBP and discipline, then the Twins failed because they cared too little about those things and too much about athleticism, and tools, and projectability.
I don't know who I'm writing this to. It's just a thought. Somebody else's thought, to be specific.
- Sometimes I get so mad I surprise myself. When I'm in a pleasant mood, and think about how I act when I'm mad, I think it's ridiculous. I don't understand why I behave the way I do, because being mad and acting mad never works out. It never improves the situation. But sometimes I get so upset I throw things, or hit things, or break things, or say things, and though I've mellowed a lot in my years, it's still there. It still comes out when a ref makes a bad call in an Ottawa game, or when the Rays keep me from having Sunday pancakes.
But one thing I don't have to worry about is my potential for taking another human life. I think, at some point or another, everybody asks himself, could I kill? Could I kill another person? Few people ever try to *find out*, but it comes up. It's just one of those questions you ask yourself without ever telling your friends, like "how does poo taste?" or "if I had the power of invisibility would I ever go anywhere other than a women's locker room?" You just wonder. How mad can you get? How much could you do?
Here's how I know I could never kill another person: when Mariano Rivera closed out today's Yankees game, the camera cut to shots of the Minnesota dugout, and looking at all the players sitting there, motionless, staring vacantly forward, I almost cried. And this happens every time. It doesn't even have to involve the end of one team's season. If this had been a regular season game in July, and Brian Duensing had the same start, and the camera showed him like this in the dugout, I would've felt awful. I can't stand looking at people coming to grips with personal failure.
It hurts my soul, albeit in a reassuring kind of way. These are strangers. These are people I don't know, and people I'll never meet. Some of them are complete assholes. Many of them might be complete assholes. But when a player fails, or a team loses, and the faces spell out all the hopelessness and despair that lies underneath, it's hard to watch. It pokes me in my organs, and not in a fun way.
I can hardly stomach watching human pain and suffering. Not even real human pain and suffering. Human pain and suffering that takes place because of a baseball game. No, I don't think I could kill a man. I don't think I could even accidentally sit on a man's glasses without offering to buy him a lunch.
Yankees clubhouse after the sweep
Kearns: Come on, guys, can't we just drink some?