And That Happened: Division Series

Dodgers 3, Cardinals 2: Look, I know all you Cardinals fans want to kill Matt Holliday right now, but (a) your guys may not have made the postseason without him; (b) he did hit a homer in the game; and (c) Ryan Franklin still had to walk Casey Blake, give up a single to Ronnie Belliard, walk Russell Martin, give up a single to Mark Loretta and deal with a passed ball in order for the game to go bye-bye. All of that said, This is still the picture of the postseason so far. In other news, you had two Cy Young Award candidates pitch the first two games of a playoff series and you’re still down 2-0? Welcome to the the world of the late-1990s Braves, Cardinals fans! UPDATE: I lodged this same Braves comment on Facebook, and the great Mark Armour weighed in thusly:

Did you know: the 1995-99 Braves (a) had the best record in the league five years in a row (matching the 1949-53 Yankees) and (b) won 9 of their 13 post-season series. An incredible team with a fine post-season record.

That’s great and all, but my response: “Who ya gonna believe Braves fans, the well-respected baseball historian stating what are no doubt accurate facts, or your irrational, Jim-Leyritz and Livan Hernandez-hating hearts?”

Rockies 5, Phillies 4: Cole Hamels allowed four runs and seven hits in five innings and then high-tailed it to be by his wife’s side in the maternity ward. But I think the most amazing thing about this game is that Charlie Manuel used two of his three options to start Game 3 — Happ and Blanton — as relievers. Blanton pitched an inning of relief because, hell, I don’t know why. He hasn’t done it in three years, and when he came into the game, every single member of the Phillie bullpen had at least three days rest under their belt thanks to Cliff Lee’s CG on Wednesday. Then, having used Blanton, he turns to Happ, who was promptly knocked out on a comebacker. Is Manuel that afraid of his usual relief corps.? I guess not, because he used a bunch of them eventually. Thirteen pitchers in all between these two teams, and 3:41 for a nine-inning game. Heidi’s labor probably didn’t last that long. Oh, one other thing: it snowed in Denver yesterday and there’s a chance of it again on Saturday. Not exactly Pedro Martinez’s element. Happ pitched college ball at Northwestern and based on the Big Ten baseball I’ve watched, there’s no doubt he has pitched in snow before. Too bad he’s not available.

Angels 5, Red Sox 0: Based on what I’m hearing via Facebook status updates, angry emails, and generalized chatter in the winds, Red Sox Nation is none too happy with the umpiring of last night’s game, particularly as it came from C.B. Bucknor. Very little of this chatter mentions the fact that none of the controversial calls — Hunter walking in the third, Youkilis’ “missed” tag on Howie Kendrick in the fourth inning, Youkilis stretch in the sixth — came in innings in which the Angels scored. Fair? Oh hell no. Those missed calls led to extra pitches by Boston pitchers that weren’t helpful by any means. But maybe the Sox’ complains would be better taken if they had managed to do thing-one against John Lackey. Quote from the game story: “the noisy Orange County crowd didn’t seem to be anticipating disappointment while clacking its ThunderStix and easily drowning out the surprisingly small Boston fan contingent on a slightly chilly night.” Holy crap, they’re still doing the ThunderStix thing out there? I went to an Angels game in 2003 and it was played out then. Angels fans, take it from a Braves fan: you don’t want to continue to be identified in the world by a group cheering thing that, while possibly amusing when it started, grows more and more ridiculous as time goes on. No, ThunderStix will probably never be as bad as the Chop, but you don’t even want to be half as bad as that, OK?

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  1. Craig Calcaterra said...

    I think someone even mentioned—I can’t remember where—that they weren’t even waving the white towels when the Holliday play was happening.  More generally, it strikes me as a first class whine.  You don’t want to play Game 2 in a hostile land?  Finish with the better record.

    Thinking more about it, does anyone remember back in the mid to late 80s when NFL quarterbacks used to be able to step out from behind center and get an official time out if the crowd was too loud?  I have this image of Steve Fuller doing this, like, ten times in a row when he played for the Bears. Even got an official to warn the crowd to be quiet.  Thankfully, football got past that, put on their big boy pants and started to deal. I think baseball players should do the same thing.

  2. Ben2009 said...

    It wasn’t just a time out for crowd noise Craig.  If the crowd “ignored” the “warnings” to be quiet, the home team was assessed a delay-of-game penalty.  Stupidest rule ever.

    By the way, I know it meant nothing – really, nothing – but that call on Youk’s “non-tag” of Morales was maybe the worst call ever.  Not the biggest blown call – obviously, not even on the radar – but the most obviously factually wrong call ever.  What in the world was the ump looking at?

  3. Rob in CT said...

    Either I’m more sensitive to it nowadays (or HD shows it better), or umping has gone downhill.  I suspect the former.

    The worst I’ve ever see was the “Willy Bloomquist” play at Yankee Stadium a few years back.  The guy was out by ~5 feet.  The still photo from that play is just amazing.  I look at it and I simply cannot fathom what the ump was thinking.  At least he manned up later and admitted he flat blew the call.

  4. ericinboston said...

    craig, the umpiring was terrible. west’s strike zone was all over the place the entire game on both sides.

    one of the more critical calls came late in the game for boston with 2 out and 1 on and youkilis batting. after walking martinez on 4 straight lackey threw 3 straight balls to youk. then he threw a 4th… but it was called a strike. it was 4-6” off the plate in the same spot 2 of the previous 3 balls had been called. he wound up grounding out (i think) and then ortiz did something crappy and that was that. should’ve been bases loaded 1 out.

    but the buckner calls were terrible and did lead to at least 12 extra pitches in those particular innings.

    there was also a strike 3 to hunter not called in which he wound up walking to load the bases. lester followed up by striking out vlad rather easily.

    the fact that they didnt score speaks to lester’s ability to make good pitches (the ball he put on the tee to hunter outstanding). it also does make bad umpiring OK.

    not the end of the world but they were obvious calls that gave anaheim additional outs to play with.

  5. ecp said...

    Without a vested interest in any of these teams, I was kinda thinking about adopting the Cards for the postseason, but with the towel-waving and ball-rubbing whines combined with ball-doctoring accusations in the ten days, I don’t think I can do it.  Grow up, already.

  6. ericinboston said...

    on a side… i found the commentary by buck martinez to be interesting. he went on and on all evening about how the prescence of abreu has magically changed the anaheim hitters approached pointing out the number of walks they had last night.

    anaheim walked 5 times… 4 of them were abreu’s. i dont know if that’s giving a team a facelift in their batting approach or one guy doing it really well like he always has and everybody else doing exactly that they always did.

  7. MooseinOhio said...

    Bucknor calls were horrible and while I question why he is even umpiring playoff games, the lack of any offense is the true cause of the Red Sox loss last evening.  If they lost the game by one run and that run was the result of a blown Bucknor call I would complaining about it all day but Bucknor had no effect on the lack of any offense on the Red Sox part.

    What I found interesting as I watched games yesterday is how many former Indians are playing in the playoff.  Sabathia, Lee, Pavano and Byrd make a decent set of starters and Betancourt is a decent bullpen arm.  Martinez is catching with an infield of Blake, Belliard, DeRosa – not too bad.  I believe Ben Francisco is the only former Tribe outfielder (surprisingly Cleveland is one of the few team Matt Stairs has not played for) but overall their are quite a few former Indians in the post-season.

  8. YankeesfanLen said...

    Since this observation can’t be catagorized, I’ll just throw it in here:
    Where do those Blue Network “Slide Shows” come from- People magazine or TMZ? Baseball action- Kate and Jay-Z, back and forth for 204 frames. Sabathia hat tip- reverse aperature, he’s blurry, crowd is crisp, then done a few more times with other players.
    NYT today has story on MLB archives and a newly-found 1928 home movie of Babe Ruth striking out that’s a much better baseball pictorial even taken from upper deck of OYS.
    The whole mess looks like it was taken with a GE 5 MP digital recently purchased at Walgreen’s and found on Getty Images cutting room floor.
    Now I feel better- save my Posada-Molina rant for MMIE.

  9. Aarcraft said...

    I seem to remember the Braves’ 1-2 Cy Young combos doing quite well against the Astros in the first round in the late 90’s. Walt bleeping Weiss!

  10. Chris H. said...

    @Wooden: 65 degrees IS chilly by SoCal standards.

    I used to live in San Diego.  When it would hit 85 at the beach—and that didn’t happen often—people would faint from heatstroke.  And rain?  Rain was the lead story on the news.  Not the *weather*, the *news*.

    “This is Dave Bigjaw for Action7 News.  Our top story tonight: rain in the southland (cue fancy graphic).  Jim Takanawa’s live on the scene, interviewing some of the victims.  Jim?”

    And so on.

    As a guy who grew up in the Chicago area (and, consequently, who doesn’t stop wearing shorts until the snow starts), I really never stopped laughing during the 10 years I lived out there.

  11. ralphdibny said...

    I’ve got a confession to make—I just don’t like the baseball postseason.  Part of it is being a Braves fan, I know.  But the conditions of postseason baseball are inferior to that of the regular season.  And not just the best 3 of 5 nonsense.  Umpires are trained to listen for the sound of the ball hitting the glove on plays at first.  In the postseason, they can’t hear because of the additional noise, causing lots of “blown” calls at first.  Games start at weird times in the postseason, causing weird shadows and glare that mess with fielders and hitters.  In other words, the narratives of two of the games yesterday are directly linked to postseason quirks that mostly don’t exist in the regular season.

  12. Wooden U. Lykteneau said...

    @Chris H.

    Agree totally. Hence, the reference to “L.A. Story”

    Gail, News Anchor: And what a surprise this weekend when the weather turned unseasonably low. Here’s Harris Telemacher, our “wacky weatherman” with a report.
    Harris: And when the weather dropped down to 58 degrees this weekend, how did you cope?
    Man: I went to make sure all the windows were shut.
    Harris: And, what about your pets? Were they outside? What happened?
    Man: Well, the cats were out till around ten. But it got a little too cold for them and they came in.
    Harris: The cats were out till around ten. But it got a little too cold for them and they came in! Well, that’s how L.A. coped with that surprise low of 58 degrees that turned the weekend into a real weenie shrinker!

  13. Jack Marshall said...

    The umpiring in the Angels-Sox game was embarrassingly bad, but it’s amazing to me that Sox fans would bother to bitch about it. The team got beat; the Angels deserved to win. I will say this: it was kind of a dull game without many memorable moments. I’m not sure what else Sox fans would have to talk about besides the umpiring.

  14. Chris H. said...

    @Wooden: classic.  And it made a “Family Guy” scenario pop into my head:

    Tom: “And now here’s Ollie with our Blackuweather forecast.  Ollie?”


    Tom: “Thanks, Ollie.”

  15. Daniel said...

    Oh come one, Torii Hunter’s home run wasn’t awesome?  And while I’m an Angels fan, Lester’s strikeout of Vlad was pretty memorable.

    As for the Thunderstix thing – who cares?  The stadium passes them out, they’re fun, they keep my son occupied, what are we supposed to do, turn up our noses at them? 

    “No, Angels, we will NOT use those Thunderstix you provided because us fans are too good for that.  Internet personalities will ridicule us, other fan bases will make baseless accusations about our worth, and people will think we’re silly.  So I boycott the Thunderstix.”  Rubbish.  I always thought the Chop was fun.  And now I think the Thunderstix are fun.  That doesn’t ruin my “purity” as a fan.

  16. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Danuiel: you’ll never make it in this Internet business unless you can develop strong, sharp opinions about every little thing. This whole “what’s the harm” stance of yours is weak, weak, weak.

    Just joking of course. You’re right. I tend to get animated over these odd aesthetic things. Cheers, jeers, jerseys, etc. etc. If I was at that game I know damn well that my kids would be banging ThunderStix. I’d probably take their picture doing it too.  Wouldn’t make me like it on an intellectual level, but a lot of what I write here is some grouchy reaction to the fact that, because I don’t live in a major league town and don’t get to a lot of games, I HAVE to take in baseball on more of an intellectual level and less as a fan than I’d like.

    And besides: I’ve been complaining about petty stuff for more than 36 years now, so I don’t think I’m ever going to stop.

  17. MooseinOhio said...

    GrandSlamSingle – I did forget Manny as I was thinking more about recent Indian players who departed the team in the last few seasons.  Your inclusion of Charlie Manual does connect with my intrigue about how many ex-Tribe players are playing in the playoffs as it helps highlight that Cleveland certainly had the talent to be a playoff worthy team but fell short. 

    Interesting questions to consider – Where could the Indians be if Manuel was still managing the Tribe?  My intent is not to slam Cleveland but to question the (in)effectiveness of Wedge and Shapiro to lead the team.  Obviously Wedge is gone but what could have happened if he was let go two seasons ago or never hired?  Shapiro brought Wedge in to manage the team – if he had opted for another candidate at the time would CC, Lee, Martinez, Blake, DeRosa still be on a playoff roster – just this time for the Indians not the teams they got shipped off to? 

    It one thing to miss the playoff when you do not have the talent to compete (e.g. Nationals) but another when you obviously had the talent but underperformed (e.g. Indians, Mets).  I guess watching parts of three playoff games yesterday made me wonder what could have been in Cleveland when I realized how many of the players are actively helping other teams be successful.

  18. Aaron Moreno said...

    Goin’ to tonight’s game, and if it’s 65 again, I’m wearing my coat.

    And if you ever go by what Saux fans tell you, the opposition never wins a game. Either the Red Sox lost it themselves or they got screwed.

  19. ericinboston said...

    aaron don’t generalize that badly. we dont all have the ‘right to win’ attitude or whatever you want to call it.

    and in response to someone elses post… what else is there for red sox fans to talk about besides the umpiring? from our perspective nothing else happened.

    lackey took it to us and the umpires stunk. that’s it.

  20. Mark Armour said...

    Don’t think for a second that I don’t completely understand your frustration in the 1990s.  I do.  I am not a Braves fan exactly, but I rooted for the Braves in every one of those series, and have not really completely gotten over the 1996 World Series of the 1997 NLCS.  Winning 3 series in a row is a bitch.  That Braves era will be forever considered a disappointment, and that is unfortunate.

    After the 2007 World Series there were numerous articles stating that Red Sox were no a dynasty, and we Red Sox fans should sit back and watch the championships roll in.

  21. Daniel said...

    Craig, sorry, I didn’t mean my post to come off as quite so critical.  So I apologize for the tone.  Thanks for acknowledging it though.

  22. Craig Calcaterra said...

    No worries, Daniel. I didn’t think there was a thing wrong with the tone. You’ve been reading my junk for years now, so you more than have the benefit of the doubt.

  23. Daniel said...

    As for the game itself, I’m really glad the Angels didn’t win as a direct result of any of those blown calls.  Bucknor was AWFUL at first base.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen two calls blown that badly in the same game.  Heck, you rarely even see one.

    If Kendrick would have scored the only run of the game after getting on on one of those calls, I would surely have taken the win, but it would have felt stolen and not earned.

  24. Rob² said...

    Anyone else a little disturbed by the reverence with which the Angels were described to be remembering Nick Adenhart?  He, who was killed by a drunk driver, being honored by beer-toting, champagne drenched athletes patting his image on the outfield wall?  The irony was unfortunate.

  25. Christopher said...

    It’s pretty rich to hear Red Sox fans complain about the umpiring.

    First, when the Angels got screwed in that last game at Fenway, all we heard is, “Well, sometimes the home team gets the calls.”

    Second, some of the bad calls went against the Angels. For example, that tag at third that would have given the Angels another run if not blown.

    Third, we are not privy to everything the umpire says. I had the impression that the one safe call at first was not “blown” but was made because Youkilis was blocking the base.

  26. Daniel said...

    Rob2 – I know we went over this extensively when it happened, but no one in the Angels organization thought there was anything wrong with it.  More importantly, Adenhart’s parents called and said they were touched by the way the Angels included Nick in their celebration and thanked the Angels for everything they’d done.  If Nick’s own PARENTS don’t have a problem with it, I don’t know why anyone else should.

    When it happened, it felt a little weird to me, but in retrospect it was really the only way they could celebrate “with him.”  Anything else would have felt forced and inauthentic.  If Nick had been there, he would have been spraying champagne and drinking beer right along with them.

  27. Mode: Theif and Lair said...

    Craig, if the playoff structure in the 90’s was the same as the 50’s, the Braves may have had 2-3 more championships.

    /reverse Cashman’d

  28. Rob² said...

    @Daniel – That’s fine, his teammates and parents can certainly decide how they want to honor the memory of their friend and family member.  However, it’s more than a little unfortunate for TBS to put together a reverential video package that highlights it.

    I don’t know how they would have done it exactly, but one way would have been to avoid the footage altogether.  Adenhart is obviously front and center in the team’s mind, there’s no reason to juxtapose that honored memory with a bunch of guys that were probably about to get in their cars and drive home.

    I’m no teetotaler, but it’s an unfortunate element of our culture that has to celebrate these accomplishments soaked in champagne.  Save the bubbly for the World Series.  It’d be nice if some producer felt similarly.

    Of course, it’d be nice if some producer realized the stupidity in listing team fielding percentages in each broadcast, too.  Maybe I just enjoy tilting at windmills.

  29. Jeff Berardi said...

    1. I’m a Red Sox fan.

    2. I don’t think the Red Sox lost because of bad umpiring, I think they lost because they played like trash and the Angels didn’t (for the most part).

    3. The umpiring in that game was AWFUL. Completely unacceptable. In fact it wouldn’t even be acceptable for a regular season game. Major League Baseball should be ashamed of itself for assembling this crew. So to should the umpiring crew be ashamed. Shame all around, in fact.

  30. Jack Marshall said...

    All unique team traditions enrich baseball, if you ask me, from the Chop, to the Rally Monkey, to the homer hankies,  cow-bells, sausage races, “Thank God I’m a Country Boy, the Phanatic,“Sweet Caroline” and the rest. And having out-of-town fans and media find them irritating is half the fun.

  31. Daniel said...

    Jeff – Angels fan here.  Just wait until we get Bucknor behind the plate tonight.  This could get REALLY ugly.

  32. Jim Atkins said...

    Geez, counselor- Hunter crushes a Lester mistake, Lackey sucks it up and pitches a gem, and all you have to say is thunderstix are passe? The umpiring did bite, (on both sides) but how about a little credit where credit is due?

  33. Wooden U. Lykteneau said...

    the noisy Orange County crowd didn’t seem to be anticipating disappointment while clacking its ThunderStix and easily drowning out the surprisingly small Boston fan contingent on a slightly chilly night.

    From -> Weather: 65 degrees, clear.

    Yes, definitely a real weenie-shrinker! Better make sure those windows are all shut and let those cats in by 10!

  34. tadthebad said...

    I’ve been reading Shyster a while now, Jim, and I can tell you that ain’t the priority.  At least not for non-ATL teams.  Can’t believe John freakin Lackey shut them out.

    Curious, what did you all think of the broadcast for BOS-LAA?  Particularly play-by-play man Don Orsillo (Buck Martinez – no desire to discuss him)?

  35. brianguy said...

    … and from

    Actuals:  High 73F Low 53F Precip 0in

    so, sure 65F was accurate, to start the game.
    mid-to-upper-50s IS _slightly chilly_ for So Cal in early Oct.  not that I’m complaining – I enjoy this weather.  but don’t shoot the messenger for being accurate.

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