Tag:World Series
Posted on: October 25, 2011 1:14 am
Edited on: October 25, 2011 2:33 am

Napoli's defense proving doubters wrong

By Matt Snyder

ARLINGTON, Texas -- That Mike Napoli is sure a good hitter, maybe even a really good hitter, but he can't handle the catcher position from a defensive standpoint.

At least that was the sentiment that filtered out of Los Angeles for years as Napoli was either splitting time with weak-hitting Jeff Mathis behind the plate for the Angels or even relegated to either first base or designated hitter. In the offseason, the Angels further slapped Napoli in the face by trading him for the gawdawful Vernon Wells contract. The Blue Jays then spun Napoli to the Rangers, who most surmised was either first base or designated hitter insurance. After all, Mike Scioscia, Angels manager and former All-Star backstop, just didn't like using Napoli behind the plate. One of the reasons that was made known through the media was Scioscia's affinity for "catcher's ERA" -- that is, what the pitching staff's ERA is with certain catchers behind home plate.

Well, in the World Series, Napoli's catcher's ERA is now 1.29 (five earned runs in 35 innings with Napoli catching). I'm guessing Scioscia would be OK with that, right? Did Ron Washington see something Scioscia didn't?

World Series Game 5
“Our personal observations, everything we thought we saw in him, we were correct," said Washington. "He hasn’t proven me wrong.”

Maybe it wasn't Scioscia's fault directly, so maybe Napoli just really needed to work hard and get a chance to catch regularly.

“I can’t really say anything about over at Anaheim, I don’t know how it was when he was there," Game 4 hero Derek Holland said. “I think Napoli’s worked really hard on (his defense).”

“I think he just needed the opportunity to get comfortable, to catch a lot of games, and the pitchers love throwing to him," reliever Scott Feldman added.

Lots of praise will rightfully be heaped upon Napoli after his big-time performance in Game 5, a 4-2 Rangers' win. He had the big blow offensively but also cut down Allen Craig on stolen base attempts twice. The Rangers' pitching staff, who kind of know Napoli-the-catcher, joined in on the love-fest.

“He can do it all, he’s a good receiver, he can call a great game, he can throw -- we saw tonight he threw out a couple guys," said Feldman. "He’s an all-around good catcher.”

“I feel like me and him on are the same page all the time, I feel like we have good chemistry on and off the field," Holland said. "We’re like brothers the way we hang out.”

“I think we all know that Mike Napoli has been one of the best players in all of baseball since the All-Star Game," said Game 5 starter C.J. Wilson.

And if Napoli has aspirations beyond the baseball field, Wilson supports those, too:

“He’s been amazing throwing, behind the plate, calling games, too, so I don’t know if he’s running for President in 2012, but I’ll vote for him.”

First things first, though, as Napoli and the Rangers are just one win away from taking their first World Series championship. If they do so, Napoli will likely be the MVP of the series. And, even if that doesn't make him the commander in chief, he'll surely take it.

Not too shabby for a player who can't catch and is only offensive insurance.

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Posted on: October 24, 2011 11:40 pm
Edited on: October 25, 2011 2:34 am

Napoli's double puts Texas one win from title

By Matt Snyder

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers beat the Cardinals, 4-2, to take Game 5 of the World Series and a 3-2 lead overall.

Hero: Mike Napoli gave the Cardinals a huge scare in the bottom of the sixth inning, hitting what had a chance to be a three-run homer, but it nestled into Skip Schumaker's glove on the warning track. Disaster was averted, but only temporarily. In the bottom of the eight, Napoli came to the plate with the bases loaded and delivered a two-RBI double, putting the Rangers on top for the first time all game. Let us not forget that Napoli also gunned down Allen Craig on a stolen base attempt in the top of the seventh with Albert Pujols at the plate

World Series Game 5
Goat: Several choices here, but let's go with Tony La Russa. He said it himself earlier in the series when he was getting heaps of credit for his tinkering, that praise and blame is based upon the players. So it's only fair to note that he left in a left-handed pitcher -- Marc Rzepcyznski -- to face Napoli in that pivotal eighth-inning at-bat. La Russa is so in love with matchups he brought in a right-handed Ryan Theriot to bunt against left-handed Darren Oliver the previous inning.

Turning point: Napoli's double in the gap.

It was over when ... The final out was recorded. It was a two-run lead heading into the ninth, sure, but Rangers' closer Neftali Feliz had to deal with the Cardinals' 2-3-4 hitters. So by no means was the ballgame over until it was officially over.

Next: We shift back to St. Louis for Game 6 -- where the weather is supposed to suck (sigh). We'll be treated to a rematch of what was a brilliant pitcher's duel, and defensive display for that matter, between Jaime Garcia of St. Louis and Colby Lewis of Texas. The next Rangers win will be a championship, while the Cardinals need to win both to take the crown.

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Posted on: October 24, 2011 9:25 pm
Edited on: October 24, 2011 11:00 pm

Derek Holland does Will Ferrell doing Harry Caray

By C. Trent Rosecrans

So much for reverence… in the World Series we now get bad impressions of Will Ferrell as Harry Caray from Rangers pitcher Derek Holland. But hey, anything that keeps Tim McCarver from talking can't be all bad.

Still, it was pretty not good -- even though he appears to be getting a lot of mileage out of it. Holland was the in-game guest of McCarver and Joe Buck, as the two regurgitated a tidbit they'd read in a tweet or blog post in the last 12 hours in some sort of Chirs Farley Show interview stylings.

Here's Holland channelling Ferrell:

Holland was 11 when Caray died, but does have a dog named "Wrigley" so perhaps he has actually heard Caray call a game. He also closed out his inning of national television doing a bad impression of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Even if his Caray and Schwarzenegger skills are a little subpar, his Ron Washington is pretty entertaining. Check it out:

The one thing Holland has done has solidified his future as a go-to guy for broadcasts -- and the next postseason without the Rangers, expect to see him employed, even with the creeper mustache. But hey, the mustache is still better than A.J. Pierzynski's highlights. That said, Rich Little's job is safe.

For the record, here's the real Caray:

And here's what Holland -- and Ryan Dempster (video), Johnny Bench and tons of others do -- is actually imitating:

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Posted on: October 24, 2011 8:44 pm
Edited on: October 24, 2011 8:51 pm

Cardinals jump out to early lead

Matt Holliday

By Matt Snyder

ARLINGTON, Texas -- That Rangers' bullpen that received almost a full game's break in Game 4 is going to be needed in Game 5, maybe even soon. Through two innings, C.J. Wilson has already piled up 38 pitches, due to walking two hitters and running up deep counts to many hitters he's retired. The defense could have limited the damage to one run, but a David Murphy error gave Lance Berkman and extra base and Mitch Moreland botched a possible double-play ball at first.

The result is the Rangers trailing 2-0 through 1 1/2 innings, against Chris Carpenter -- who they only managed two runs against in Game 1. Of course, Rangers Ballpark is much more conducive to runs. It's a long game, so ...

Follow along live on CBSportscom's GameTracker

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 24, 2011 6:20 pm
Edited on: October 24, 2011 6:47 pm

Game 4 beats NFL in TV ratings

Mike NapoliBy C. Trent Rosecrans

There's nothing like baseball ratings to get people all worked up over nothing, so how about we turn the tables?

The NFL is dead!

That's right, because Game 4 of the World Series pulled a bigger national rating than the Sunday night game of the Colts and Saints, it must mean the NFL is dead, nobody cares about the NFL and Roger Goodell is an idiot and must be fired, right? That's usually the way the discussion goes anytime the ratings of World Series game or baseball game in general are compared to an NFL game, so it's only fair to overreact the other way.

Of course, I'm kidding -- sort of. The point Matt made the other day about not caring about the ratings is still dead-on. However, we've pointed out the doom and gloom of baseball ratings so many times, I think it's germane to bring up Game 4's boffo ratings. Derek Holland's gem brought in 15.2 million viewers, a 9.2/14 television rating for Fox. Meanwhile, on NBC, the Saints' 62-7 thrashing of the Colts brought in an 8.2/13 overnight rating.

There are plenty of reasons why the Saints-Colts game didn't get the high ratings -- no Peyton Manning, a 21-0 Saints lead after the first quarter, the fact that Indianapolis and New Orleans are small markets (the NFL has those too, don't they?) But it's still a Sunday night game in primetime, featuring two teams that have won the Super Bowl in the last five seasons.

Through four games, the ratings are down just one percent from last season, as the 2011 World Series is averaging 8.2/13 rating as compared to 8.3/14 through four games for last year's Rangers-Giants World Series. The predictions and pre-Series screams of woe had many expecting much lower numbers. 

The bottom line, even for what has become a football nation, baseball was a better game on Sunday and the numbers reflect that people chose to watch baseball. And no matter what the numbers are for one game, we're a big enough country to support both and be able to enjoy both. The people who find baseball entertaining watched a highly entertaining baseball game. The people who don't enjoy baseball, probably didn't watch. But to pronounce one sport dead because of one night of ratings is silly -- no matter which sport has the bad night.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 24, 2011 4:18 pm

Game 5 weather: Carbon copy

By Matt Snyder

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Fortunately there's one game left in Rangers Ballpark, because the weather here has been amazing. Shockingly, Game 6 in St. Louis has rain in the forecast, but that's in the future. Let's concentrate on Game 5 and procrastinate on the gloom and doom for as long as we can. That's my plan, at least.

The picture above was taken at about 2:45 local time, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CT. According to the Weather.com hourly forecast, we're set to have nearly identical weather to what we had in Game 4. We start with 79 degrees and a 10 percent chance of rain and by 10:00 it's still 72 degrees with a zero percent chance of rain.

So it's pretty safe to say the travel day Tuesday will remain intact. And then our focus will turn to how much weather will affect Game 6 (and maybe Game 7, should it be necessary).

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Posted on: October 24, 2011 2:46 am
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Posted on: October 24, 2011 2:31 am
Edited on: October 24, 2011 4:06 pm

Overheard: Notes, quotes from World Series Game 4

By Matt Snyder

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The story was Derek Holland, but the Rangers gave a full team effort Sunday night in evening up the World Series at two wins apiece. Here are some of the post-game notes and quotes from Rangers Ballpark.

Mike Napoli will get plenty of credit for his offense this series, and rightfully so. But I was thinking ... back in Los Angeles, Angels manager Mike Scioscia used to justify playing Jeff Mathis over Napoli on a regular basis because of "catcher's ERA." You know, the ERA of the pitching staff with a certain catcher behind the plate. It's one of the main reasons the Angels let Napoli's bat go. Napoli's catcher's ERA this World Series? 1.38. Yorvit Torrealba's? 13.00. Of course it's a small sample, but it's worth noting: The Rangers pitchers don't exactly seem to get worse with Napoli behind the plate.

World Series
Something you didn't see on TV: The Rangers took the field in the top of the ninth inning without a pitcher for a while. Eventually, Holland emerged from the dugout and the crowd erupted.

• "I've seen it before, this was not the first dominant outing that Derek Holland had," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. Fellow starter Colby Lewis expressed the same sentiment in the locker room to a reporter who asked if it was the best Holland's ever pitched. People seem to be either forgetting or just ignorant to the fact that Holland threw four shutouts this year, including three in July. This wasn't the worst pitcher ever finding some magic out of the blue. It was just Holland digging deep and pitching to his potential.

• "If you wanna stay out here, you get on your knees." - Washington, on what he said to Holland when removing him from the game in the ninth. A complete-game shutout from Holland would have marked the first World Series shutout from an AL pitcher since Jack Morris in 1991.

• It's no secret Lance Berkman is a much better hitter from the left side of the plate, but it's been a different story in the World Series. He's evidently locked in from both sides of the plate. going 4-for-8 as a right-hander and 3-for-7 as a left-hander.

• "He worked us over, give him credit." - Cardinals manager Tony La Russa on Holland's performance.

• The 51,539 in attendance were a Rangers Ballpark season high, and the seventh-most in stadium history.

• "I wanted to execute all my pitches, that was the main thing," said Holland. "I wanted to go after these hitters. I wanted to show that I belong here. That was the main thing, I wanna make a name for myself. At the same time, I wanna get momentum back on our side."

• "I was looking up, and I got a pitch up that I could handle," Napoli said of his three-run shot.

• "I thought it was a double play waiting to happen," La Russa said of bringing in Mitchell Boggs to face Napoli.

• Napoli became the first catcher with a multi-homer World Series since Mike Piazza of the Mets did so in 2000.

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