If you didn’t, it was a fun one that had some great teaching moments for both hardcore and casual fans.
In no particular order:
Here’s a quick recap: The team that hit two home runs (one a three-run shot, one a two-run shot) beat the team that had one solo home run, 5 to 1. That’s all you need to know. That’s how baseball works. The team that gets more guys on and gets more extra-base hits wins, period. It’s been that way since 1921, so please don’t come at me with “the way the game is played today” nonsense.
You can go ahead and talk until you’re Dodger blue in the face about “finding other ways to score” and about how you “can’t sit around and wait for the three-run home run” and going the other way against the shift if you want. But by the beer gut of Tommy Lasorda, the team that gets guys on then hits the ball over the wall wins.
I loved – LOVED – that both Craig Counsell and Dave Roberts used the managerial philosophy of “The game is on the line now. The game can be won or lost now. I’m going to put my best relief pitcher in the game and I don’t care that it’s not the 9th inning.” Josh Hader went into the game to start the top of the 3rd inning with Milwaukee trailing by a run. Kenley Jansen entered the game with two outs in the 7th with the Dodgers holding a 4 run lead but with the Brewers threatening.
The more managers that get away from the closer mindset and more toward use your best weapon when it’s needed the better off the sport is. Fans will be less dumb because they’ll stop being told that the 9th inning is more important than the 2nd. Don’t worry – there will always be fans and broadcasters who will try to convince you that not using your best players when you need them is somehow a sound strategy, but they’ll become fewer and further between with more games like last night.
On another note, I can’t believe how much Jansen reminds me of Mariano Rivera. The command of the cutter and the varying degrees of movement on the cutter at over 90 mph is peak Rivera stuff and it is fun as hell to watch. Don’t get your Rivera t-shirt in a bunch – I know Jansen has to do it for another decade and a half to be the pitcher Rivera was. I’m talking about how he pitches in look, style, and effectiveness.
I’ve spent a good chunk of the past two seasons chuckling at Paul O’Neill mispronouncing the name “Frazier”. I mean really, how can you screw up “Frazier”? Then I heard Joe Buck try to say “Xavier” last night. He added at least two extra syllables. Hey guy who calls baseball games for a living: There are a lot of players with Spanish names. Just a heads up. (Man I hate nepotism…)
But that crack FS1 team wasn’t going to stop with just mispronouncing names. John, “I don’t recall my own career very well when I say my way was better than today’s game, after all, I hurt my elbow as a starting pitcher and my World Series ring was given to me by my teammates who hit a lot of home runs in ’95. I forget these and many other things when I’m complaining about how much I don’t like baseball today” Smoltz, was on top of his articulate game last night.
No, it’s not just his keen analysis we all love, it’s the Shakespearean level of eloquence with which he delivers it. When explaining the importance of age on a baseball player, he told us:
“Age is more a topic than it ever was, in terms of how old you are.” (Squints, scratches head…)
And just when you’re thinking how many idiots can a village hold, Tom Verducci asks someone to hold his beer.
Late in the game when it was becoming more evident the Dodgers were going to win – their WPA was over 90, which Tom wouldn’t say of course as he thinks WPA is an airline – Tom wanted to explain to us that the outcome of the game that had six runs all scored on home runs, hinged greatly on a Manny Machado 2nd inning…bunt…? Yup. “That started it all” proclaimed Verducci. Smoltz, hearing this drivel, cheered up and added “It’s the little things.”
Of course. The little things. Like Cody Bellinger and Yasiel Puig hitting baseballs almost 900 combined feet with runners on base. Yep. The little things. (Rubs eyes…)
I’ll get back to you with my thoughts on the Dodgers and their chances against the Sawx soon. As a teaser, I’ll tell you I like their chances better than most will. But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: A seven-game series isn’t quite a coin toss, but it’ll do until the coin shows up.
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