Monday, October 08, 2007

Random Thoughts from the Weekend

1. Good call me. I was scared to death of this game at Purdue but Ohio State simply spanked 'em.

2. It wasn't nearly as hostile as I was expecting. We saw a ton of Ohio State fans while tailgating and I first estimated it was about it broke down to 70-30 Purdue. But as the afternoon went on and we got closer to game time, it was probably closer to 60-40; OSU fans were freaking everywhere. I know we travel well and all that, but Purdue was 5-0, I figured they'd be out in full force.

3. Boeckman still scares me. I know his INTs were on long bombs, and none of 'em came back to haunt OSU... but still.

4. The schedule favors Ohio State. Realistically, OSU should be undefeated going into November 17th's game at Michigan. They have Kent State and Michigan State at home the next two weeks before playing Penn State at night on October 27th (which doesn't worry me nearly as much as it once did). After that they have both Wisconsin and Illinois in Columbus (though games, but they should be favored).

5. Anything can happen in OSU-Michigan. Ya, Michigan stinks this year. They never play road games, they've lost two games and they always choke blah blah blah. But that OSU game will be their entire season. They'll be playing for Lloyd Carr's job. They'll (possibly) be playing to ruin OSU's national championship hopes. They'll be at home with nothing to lose. Should be fun.

6. How has this happened? Before a season starts, you kind of map out the year in your mind, you figure you have a good idea of what your teams' prospects look like; how far they'll go, what you should expect, etc. I was not expecting Ohio State to be anywhere near the position to control their own destiny. This was supposed to be a rebuilding year. New quarterback, new players, licking our wounds after the debacle in Arizona... and now they're ranked number 3 in the country? They have a shot to go undefeated? This dumbfounds me.

7. However, this could be the year that the BCS gets completely screwed. What if USC wins out (beats Cal), OSU loses a game (Michigan), Oklahoma wins out and LSU loses one of its remaining tough games... basically, we'd end up with a bunch of Big Time one-loss teams. These are all top tier teams (not Auburn), what would happen? We'd have complete chaos (and inevitably some ESPN personality saying all this discussion is 'good for college football'). It would less the hurt if I knew that an OSU loss to Michigan helped fuck up the BCS (not that I'd ever root for that, but if OSU had to lose...)

8. A prank? Someone mentioned to me that Henton's prostitute fiasco was part of some prank he was playing on someone. I haven't seen this anywhere (though I haven't exactly looked), just a rumor from a buddy.

9. Was anyone else kinda surprised at how un-awful the Browns looked Sunday? They didn't exactly play well (Derek Anderson had a Charlie Frye moment or two) but they moved the ball quite well on offense (they just turned it over). 34-17 at New England isn't too bad, especially when one TD was a fumble recovery.

10. Every time I want to write something about Derek Anderson, I almost start typing Kelly Holcomb. It's really quite weird. I'm not sure what that says about the Browns QB situation, Anderson or myself.

11. Brady Quinn put on a helmet! And the CBS cameras were right there. I'm pretty sure this was the first time we saw 'Quinn Cam' this year. At one point late in the first half it looked like Anderson got roughed up and might come out for a few plays, but he didn't let Quinn step on the field.

12. This is the Browns. They aren't a bad team, but they aren't a good team. They look like they can play with anyone, they just can't have many (any) mistakes. The offense moves pretty well, the line blocks well, the defense isn't terrible... but a big play here or there ruins them. I was expecting much worse on Sunday (though I am a Browns pessimist) and I was pleasantly surprised at how well they played New England.

13. They held Moss in check. Sure, everyone else beat them, but they had Eric Wright matched up on Randy quite a bit and he did a decent job.

14. I want more Josh Cribbs. He's electric every time he touches the ball.... so why not give him the ball more often. Also, I want to see him unload a bomb to Edwards. Just once. Please.

15. I don't think Winslow fumbled. I would've called it an incomplete pass, but I think it was one of those plays that was so close, whatever was called on the field would've stood up to a challenge.

16. Has Anderson bought himself the entire season? Or will we still see Quinn start at the end of the season? Anderson hasn't looked bad, but he hasn't looked good either. The line has looked really good and receivers are catching freaking everything... plus the Browns don't look like they need to Win Now, playing Quinn wouldn't be the worst idea... Unless Anderson cuts down on the turnovers...

17. How about those gnats? Yes, only New York had to deal with the gnats. The Tribe was impervious. It was unfair for Joba Chamberlain to have throw those (wild) pitches while Fausto Carmona had to strike out the AL MVP. Totally unfair.

18. Dear lord I've missed October baseball. We had Game 2 on the radio in the car on our way to West Lafayette on Friday night and I've forgotten how awesome these games are. Every pitch matters, the pressure situations, everything being magnified... Tom Hamilton informing us that it was 10 years ago to the day that Sandy Alomar hit a home run off of Mariano Rivera to win Game 4 of the ALDS was a nice touch.

19. Game 2 will go down as historic. Pettite pitching out of so many jams. Carmona throwing an absolute gem. The gnats. 1-17 with RISP. Extra innings. Just wow.

20. Game 3... meh. I though we'd see Westbrook, if not cruise, make it through six with minimal damage, especially after he started off getting ground ball outs in bunches. But he went South and the Tribe never recovered.

21. Paul Byrd? I'm not sure how I feel about this. Byrd has been good all year, he's earned a chance to start a playoff game... but he gave up 7 runs in two innings (that's a 31.50 ERA!) against the Yankees this season (0-3 with a 6.86 ERA in his last four starts against NYY) and was 2-3 with a 5.21 ERA in September. Plus, the article says Byrd is "anxious" to pitch Game 4. If he gets pounded...

22. But Sabathia on three days rest? At first I wasn't a big fan of the idea at first, but I'm slowing warming up to it (or it could just be dawning on me that Paul Byrd is starting for the Tribe tonight).

23. More Sabathia. From Joe Posnanski:

But I can say that I really would like to see this Indians team break the spell. And I’m seeing heartbreak ahead. The Indians lost Sunday night. Now, they’re going with Paul Byrd, which probably means another loss — and an eventual Game 5. I cannot believe they’re starting Paul Byrd. I mean I know Paul, I’ve written about him — he’s gutsy enough. He has done what he can with his abilities. I respect that. But come on.

To me, you have to win one of the next two games, and you have two of the best pitchers in baseball, C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona. You HAVE to start them in Games 4 and 5 and give yourself the best shot to win. You cannot start Paul Byrd. That’s all.


As a fan, that’s all I want from my manager or coach. Do everything you can to win. If it doesn’t work, hey, losing is part of the deal. If Sabathia gets racked in Game 4 (he has only gone on three days rest once in his career, and that was back in 2001 — though he did throw a one-hitter for five innings in that outing), so be it. If Carmona loses Game 5, OK, you tried.

But if you lose the series because you just gave away Games 3 and 4 by starting Jake Westbrook and Paul Byrd, well, that’s just a whole lot harder to live with. And yet, that’s the way they’re going. Yep, heartbreak. I can almost feel it now.

24. Even more Sabathia. From Rob Neyer (insider):

The Indians are a fine team, but there's just one thing that sets them apart: They've got the best one-two starting pitchers in the majors. Amazingly, the screwy playoff format allows the Indians to use those two pitchers in four out of five games. Frankly, if they lose this series without having done that, they deserve their fate.

25. Still more. From Tom Verducci:

Cleveland manager Eric Wedge is making a gutsy decision to throw Paul Byrd on 10 days of rest in Game 4 of the ALDS. His other choice was to throw ace C.C. Sabathia on short rest with Fausto Carmona sitting there fully rested if a Game 5 is played. (Sabathia has only one career start on short rest.) But if the Indians need five games to advance, that scenario would leave him without Sabathia and Carmona for the first two games of the ALCS. Wedge is playing the ALDS with an ace in the hole (Sabathia in Game 5) -- and one eye on the ALCS.

26. Even more. From Howard Bryant (and about that ALCS):

At first, it appeared Wedge's strategy was to set up his rotation for the ALCS against the Red Sox that starts Friday night. But even if Sabathia started, he would be available on normal rest for Game 2 in Boston.


Were Sabathia merely a good pitcher who won a lot of games this season but lacked the sufficient ace mentality, Wedge and the Indians would be justified in being cautious.

But Sabathia is a franchise pitcher, and the Yankees are a dynasty for a reason.
27. Still going. From Bud Shaw:

The decision fits Wedge philosophically as well. His season has been all about the Indians' refusal to panic, about depending on each other.

This isn't sheer sentimentality at work, just as Joe Torre's decision to bring back Chien-Ming Wang tonight on short rest isn't a knee-jerk to owner George Steinbrenner threatening the manager's job.

It's all about position in the series. Torre's call is the right move for a team facing elimination and a Game 5 on the road. So is Wedge's.

There are two other words that might comfort those who feel these are desperate times in camouflage for the Indians.

Bartolo Colon.

Mike Hargrove's decision to pitch Colon on three days against Boston in 1999 ended in a score more fitting for a Patriots-Browns game. The Indians proceeded to blow the series.

But none of this should quiet your nerves. As soon as Wedge announced he'd go with a four-man rotation, you knew these games in New York were iffy.

28. One more. From Alex Beth:

Are the Indians making the correct move here? Sabathia has not pitched on three days rest all season. He's made 27 starts on 4 days rest (2.97 ERA), just three starts on five days of rest (4.05), and only four starts on six or more days of rest (4.33). Even though Sabathia threw a lot of pitches last Thursday in Game 1 and has only started on three days rest once in his career, wouldn't he give the Tribe a better chance than a veteran control pitcher like Byrd, who is facing a Yankee offense that is finally feeling confident?

After all, Fausto Carmona would be available to pitch on normal rest if the series moved back to Cleveland on Wednesday. Byrd actually pitched better this season the more rest he had, ending the season with 15 wins. But his ERA (4.59) was higher than league average (4.42), and while they would never admit to it publicly, you'd have to imagine that the Yankees would rather take their chances against Byrd than Sabathia.

29. My thoughts. I understand why Wedge is pitching Byrd (he's done well all year, he's a veteran, he doesn't want to use C.C. on three days rest, etc) but I don't like it. C.C. is your ace, I know it's three days rest and blah blah, but I figure Sabathia on three days rest is better than Paul Byrd on ten days (!!!!) rest. Plus, you still have Carmona (on full rest!) for Game 5 if C.C. doesn't pull it out. And if Sabathia does win tonight, he can still pitch on full rest for Game 2 of the ALCS (so Boston would still face C.C. and Carmona in the first two games, just reverse the order). Sabathia is your ace, he's a beast, he's favored to win the AL Cy Young and he's not named Paul Byrd, use the big man. I'm with Rob Neyer on this; the Tribe's biggest asset is their pitching, namely Sabathia and Carmona and they have a chance to have them start 4 out of 5 games. If Tribe loses with Sabathia and Carmona going twice apiece, you tip your cap to the Yankees. But if Byrd gets spanked and the Tribe loses Game 5, you're going to wonder 'what if' for the entire offseason. Pitch Sabathia.

30. And by the way... The Tribe still controls the series. Oh yeah...

31. I concur. Terry Pluto sounds like he's losing his mind over the reaction to LeBron's Yankee cap flap:

Randal Lee Dowler wrote: "Would Kobe Bryant wear a Seattle Mariners cap in lieu of a Dodgers cap? Would Terrell Owens wear a Kansas City Royals cap in lieu of a Texas Rangers cap? How bush for LeBron to act' this way! LeBron, you should be ashamed of yourself."

OK, I have no clue what Owens would do, I just know he makes James look liked a monk who took a vow of silence. As for Bryant, I think the Lakers would have preferred that he had worn a Yankees cap rather than drag the organization through a rape trial (he was acquitted) a few summers ago. Bryant also has made noises more than once about wanting to be traded, and about not liking his coach, etc.

Let's be fair and mention how James has done a lot -- especially for Akron -- in terms of backpacks for school kids, rehabbing local recreation centers and other charities. And do we blame him for being born into a poor family?

This is a great talk radio subject, and it was not James' finest moment. But has he not played well for the Cavs? Has he not led them to the highest level the franchise has ever reached?

Has he not represented the community well in terms of staying out of trouble and saying nice things about his hometown? Aren't those the big issues? And while it seems he's been around forever, James is only 22. Here's my advice to James: Throw out the Yankees cap. But I'd really be more worried if he showed up in a Knicks cap.

32. More Pluto. Trot Nixon's start confuses him, he likes Jensen Lewis and he wouldn't pitch Sabathia on three days rest.

33. Get to work Tivo! Tribe playoff, new Heroes, new Journeyman... fantastic.

34. Something clever. Should go right here.

35. My God, yes! November 27th....


LargeBill said...

20 minutes to game time. Byrd should be on a short leech.

Has Wang pitched on 3 days rest previously?

susan mullen said...

On your item #18 about Mariano Rivera and the 1997 ALDS, what you say is widely believed--but not true. The Alomar homerun came in the 8th inning and it only tied the game. The pitcher who gave up the winning run to Cleveland in the bottom of the 9th was Ramiro Mendoza.

Ben said...

my bad on the Sandy homerun, I knew it was Mariano and I just assumed it was the 9th.


Anonymous said...

This is unbelievable: