Wednesday, October 03, 2007

It would be a lot easier on the viewing public if the American League playoffs were rescheduled with an eye to sparing us from terrible teams. I must confess, I do not know very much about the Cleveland Indians. Nor do I particularly care to learn. But this season, like 1999, 2003 and 2004 seems destined to end in a Red Sox vs. Yankees grudge match.

The Angels are just not built to win a game at Fenway, at least the way it looked tonight. I told my friend as we watched the game that if the Angels didn't score in the first inning, this game was as good as over. After Figgins very nearly ran into a bizarre double play with Guerrero grounding to third while he was trying to steal, I got to thinking that if they didn't score, the Angels were finished for good.

Maybe if the Angels were playing in the National League, their style could work. But right now they look like a running team built around one and a half big bats. They can't run, however, if they don't get on base. I suppose most of the credit has to go to Josh Beckett for that, as much as I loathe admitting it. That said, it seemed like the Angels gave him a hell of a lot of help.

I can appreciate the notion that you have to take pitches and work the count to try to tire out an opposing starter. However, as the Michael Douglas character in the Ghost and the Darkness said about prize fighting, every one has a plan until they get hit. Tonight, Beckett was throwing first pitch strikes at an alarming rate. And worse, he was throwing second pitch strikes. It seemed like he was throwing nothing but strikes. The Angels just seemed content to follow the game plan all the way to quick and, for me at any rate, painful defeat.

It makes we wonder about Mike Scoccia. I know he has a World Series ring, and his team has beaten the Yankees in a couple of big postseason series. These Angels have no luck, no plan, no mojo when they face the Red Sox. They just seem to roll over. For a guy who is supposed to be a phenomenal manager, it's a situation that I can't reconcile. I think he's suffering from the after effects of radiation poison from the time he spent working for C. Montgomery Burns in the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant 15 years ago.

Does any one know if John Lackey secretly grew up a Red Sox fan? The guy has to have a 1.50 ERA against the rest of the league to overcome his abysmal numbers against the Sox. Was there any pitcher slated to start in this first round that had his team's fans less confident in his chances? I think even Cubs fans with the erratic, volatile and always prepared to come up small in big moments Carlos Zambrano due to take the mound in Arizona have to be thrilled compared to Angels fans.

It is entirely possible that I have overlooked the Indians in all of this. I am reminded of last season when the Tigers destroyed the Yankees. But that Tigers team had better pitching. It's hard to argue against Sabathia and Carmona, they are pitching very well right now.

They might need to throw complete games like the 2005 White Sox, though, with their bullpen. They certainly don't have a fireballer like Zumaya prior to his Guitar Hero incapacitation. That's what killed the Yankees last season. They just couldn't catch up to his pitches. And the Tigers were hot offensively. I'm not too worried about this Cleveland lineup, even with Trot Nixon.

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