Archive for October, 2004

The Great Debate

We’ve had some good baseball in the playoffs. The Twins/Yankees series looks like it’s the marquise matchup though, as we had a great pitching matchup last night, and now the Twins are down by single run in the bottom of the seventh.

A challenge has been issued. Upstart blogger and close personal friend Blade Stevens (it still kind of creeps me out calling him that) has continually argued over the years that the 1975 Reds were Sparky Anderson’s best team.

And that’s an odd statement, considering the fact that Sparky managed the 1984 Tigers, and we all know that was his best team. We’re going to hash it all out between the two blogs and we’re going to debate, position by position, which team was better. If you follow the above link, Blade wants to run a Diamond Mind simulation as well, but I’m not making any promises.

The Twins just doubled up Sheffield. The game’s going into the eighth and the Yankees added a run.

Tigers Central handed out their post season awards. If you’ve never been to the site, it’s got some top notch writers, and some great analysis. It’s no surprise that I completely agree with their choices.

Roger Clemens wasn’t on top of his game, but still notched the win. He walked six batters in seven innings. The seven strikeouts helped, but Atlanta stranded twelve runners. It’s Oswalt vs. Hampton tomorrow.

Two runs off of Gordon and Rivera, and the game is tied. If the Twins can get out of this inning, they have the advantage. They’ll have Nathan for probably the ninth, and if needed, the tenth. Rivera probably won’t pitch more then one more inning, seeing as how he threw fifteen pitches to get the two outs in the eighth.

Enjoy the rest of the game.

The Gem

1984 American League Championship Series

October 5, 1984 Tigers 1, Royals 0 Tigers Win Best of Five Series 3-0

I really enjoy a good old pitching duel. One of my favorite games was Jack Morris’ 10 inning shutout in the 1992 World Series. This one was just as good, and it send the Tigers to the World Series for the first time in 16 years.

Things started out innocently enough. The Tigers drew first blood in the second. Barbero Garbey led off with a single, and was forced out at second by Chet Lemon. Darrell Evans singled, sending Lemon to third. And then Marty Castillo hit into a fielders choice that scored Chet Lemon.

And that was it. The Tigers managed only one other hit the rest of the game, as Charlie Leibrandt threw the game of his life. Unfortunately, it wasn’t good enough.

Milt Wilcox went eight innings, giving up only two hits, two walks, and he struck out eight Royals. The Royals first hit came in the fourth, and the second came in the eighth. They were both singles, and no Royal made it past first base off of Milt.

In the ninth, Willie Hernandez came in to finish things out. He gave up a single to Hal McRae with two outs, but like Wilcox, he didn’t let the runner past first base. The Tigers were going to the World Series, and they did it grand fashion.

Things did not go as well for the Chicago Cubs. After taking a 2-0 lead in the NLCS, the San Diego Padres won all three home games to earn the right to face the Tigers in the series.

2004 Season

If the excitement of this season can be held as any sort of indicator, this promises to be a great postseason. In a season where a third player accomplished the feat of hitting 700 home runs and another broke a long standing record for the number of hits in a season. Hopefully, the best is yet to come.

In celebrating the great year, one has to feel for the Chicago Cub’s and Cub’s fans who witnessed their heavily favored team meltdown with a bad bullpen and Shakespearean back-biting amongst players, coaches and the media. They are a team who will probably take a couple of steps back next year in order to continue to move forward.

Most of all, this season gave me hope that the management of the Tiger’s organization do have a game plan that appears to be working. That plan, along with a little good luck mixed in will help the team to become legitimate contenders in the near future. It will be an incredibly intriguing offseason, to say the least.

Quick Predictions
Houston Over Braves in 5
Cards Over Dodgers in 4

Houston over Cards in 6

Yankees over Twins in 5
Red Sox over Angels in 4

Red Sox over Yankees in 7

Astros over Red Sox in 6

Series MVP: Craig Biggio

Playoff Predictions

Back in February, I made a bunch of predictions about what would happen during the 2004 season. Some came true, most didn’t. So here’s a chance to redeem myself, slightly.

American League

Twins vs. Yankees – Yankees win series in four games

Johan Santana wins game one is his normal dominating style, but the Yankees win the next two against Radke and Silva. Then in game four, Santana is less then perfect, and loses a 2-1 pitching dual versus Mike Mussina in game four.

Red Sox vs. Angels – Red Sox win series in four games

Pitching, pitching, pitching. Pedro and Schilling are too much for the Angels. No repeat of 2002 here.

Red Sox vs. Yankees – Red Sox win series in seven games

Fox Sport’s wet dream is this series happening. For the same reasons the Red Sox beat the Angels, they also take down the Yankees. Pedro will disown his new daddy, and go 3-0 in the series, winning the ALCS MVP.

The only alternative scenario I see is Pedro pitching in game seven, struggling in the seventh with a small lead, and then getting pulled. After going to the pen, the Yankees run up the score, and everyone questions why Francona didn’t leave Pedro in.

But I’ll go with the former scenario.

National League

Astors vs. Braves – Astros win series in four games

Clemens will heal from his virus, and go on to win games one and four. The old man still has it, and I’m still not sure how the Braves did it this year.

Dodgers vs. Cardinals – Cardinals win series in three games

The Cardinals were the best team in baseball, and their run doesn’t stop here.

Astros vs. Cardinals – Astros win series in six games

Like in the American League, the NLCS will be two division rivals squaring off. The Astros have it all. Top notch starting pitching, some great bats, and Brad Lidge was unhittable yesterday. The team is red hot, and they continue their winning ways.

World Series

Astros vs. Red Sox – Astros win series in seven games

The back story to this one will be Roger Clemens coming home. The end story will be Clemens ending the Red Sox chances of winning a World Series. But the MVP won’t be a pitcher, it will be Carlos Beltran, who will finally get some national recognition.

And there is obviously some bias to these predictions. In the 1980s, the Astros were my favorite National League team. Mike Scott was one of my favorite players, and they were the team I was rooting for in 1986, Now I get to root for them again.

As a baseball fan, all I want to do is see some good baseball. The playoffs usually don’t disappoint, as there’s always a ton of drama.

Tigers Take Game Two in Eleven Innings, One Win Away From World Series

American League Championship Series Game 2

October 3, 1984 Tigers 5, Royals 3 Tigers Lead Best of Five Series 2-0

While the first game was over pretty much after the first inning, this game showed why the Kansas City Royals walked away with the AL West division title.

Like Game 1, the Tigers went up quickly in the first to take a 2-0 lead. Lou Whitaker reached on an error, and moved over to second on a deep out to center by Alan Trammell. Mr. Clutch, Kirk Gibson drove in Lou with a double, and then was driven in himself on a double by Lance Parrish.

The Tigers extended their lead to 3-0 when Kirk Gibson hit a solo homerun in the top half of the third. Up 3-0, the Tigers looked to be comfortably in control, but the Royals were poised for a comeback.

It started in the bottom of the fourth off of starter Dan Petry. Pat Sheridan was driven in with a sac fly to cut the lead to 3-1. They added one more run in the seventh on an RBI single by pinch hitter Dane Iorg, then tied the game up off of Willie Hernandez in the eighth on a Hal McRae RBI double.

Neither team would score in the ninth or tenth innings, and it was finally in the eleventh when the Tigers sealed the game up. Lance Parrish led off with a single, and moved to second on an error committed while Darrell Evans was trying to move him over. Ruppert Jones forced out Lance Parrish at third to make it once again first and second with one out. Then John Grubb came up with the big hit, and drove in both baserunners with a two run double.

The Royals made an attempt in the bottom of the eleventh to come back by getting two men on, but Aurelio Lopez pitched out of the jam to earn the win.

And now the Tigers were heading home for two chances at home to take the series. Over in the NLCS, the Cubs had cruised to a similar 2-0 lead, and it appeared we’d have a rematch of the 1945 series.

Trimming the Fat

With a day and change left in the regular season, the playoff picture is finally getting a little more clear. The American League teams are now set, as the Angels topped Oakland. They join the Twins, Yankees and Red Sox. The only issue is who’s playing who. The Twins game went into extra innings and had to be suspended because of a Gopher’s football game, and if they can pull it off, they’ll be tied with the Angels. The team that ends up with the better record plays the Red Sox. The lesser record plays the Yankees.

The National League is also clearing up. The Dodgers clinched the NL West with a win over the Giants, so they’re in. Barry Bonds walked three more times, and according to John over at Only Baseball Matters, he’s got a shot at breaking Babe Ruth’s “Times on Base” single season record. Despite this, his team’s post season chances are now in jeopardy, as the Astros are safely in front of the Rockies. If they hold on, the Giants need the Astros to lose, and they need to beat the Dodgers in order to force a one game playoff.

Got it? Well, it’s a whole lot less confusing then it was even a day ago.

In my mind, the biggest dissappointment were the Cubs. I really thought they’d do something once they got in the playoffs, and Mark Prior was simply incredible on Thursday. Of course Blade is taking credit for their demise (he seems to think he plays for the Reds or something), but it kind of comes down to a choke job. I can’t really talk though, because I root for a team that hasn’t made the post season in 17 years.

The Tigers had their 11th straight losing season. From 1978-1988, they had eleven straight winning seasons. Their next longest streak of losing seasons is four, which they did twice, so this really is a very low point for the franchise. Yes, we are improving, but, we also have a long way to go.

I’m happy to announce that I joined the Society of American Baseball Research. It’s not official yet because my membership hasn’t been processed, but this is something I’ve been leaning towards for quite some time. It was basically time constraints (which I kind of still have) that held me back. In anticipation of this, I’ve added some links to a few of SABR’s resources on the web. Excellent material

This weekend my wife was out of town, so it was father and son at home alone for the first time (over night, I’ve had him for some pretty long days). Tigers are up 5-1 in the seventh, so let’s hope they’ll hang on. Wins today and tomorrow mean a 30 game improvement from last year.

Tigers Win Game One, Usual Suspects Contribute

American League Championship Series Game 1

October 2, 1984 Tigers 8, Royals 1 (Tigers Lead Best of Five Series 1-0)

Big players produce during big moments, and two of the Tiger’s bread winners, Jack Morris and Alan Trammell, came up huge in game one to give the Detroit Tigers a 1-0 lead in their quest for a world championship.

The Tigers started things off early. Lou Whitaker led off the inning with a single, and was summarily driven in by Alan Trammell on his triple. A sacrafice fly by Lance Parrish put the Tigers up 2-0 without the Royals even touching their bats.

The Tigers added a run in fourth on a Larry Herndon homerun, and another run in the fifth as Alan Trammell struck again, hitting a homerun of his own. Tram wasn’t done, because in the seventh, he drove in Lou Whitaker on a single, his third hit of the game.

In the meantime, Jack Morris looked like his April self. He cruised through the first six innings, and it wasn’t until the seventh inning when the Royals finally tagged him for a run. He’d go seven innings, giving up only five hits, the one run, and he struck out four.

One run singles by Barbero Garbey and Darrell Evans in the eighth put the Tigers up 7-1, and Willie Hernandez closed out the game by pitching two perfect innings. The Tigers would add one more run in the top of the ninth on a Lance Parrish homerun, but this game was over with after the Tigers batted in the first inning.

It was an all around dominating performance by the Tigers. Good pitching and good hitting. Can’t ask for more then that, especially in a five game series where anything can happen.

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