Tag:World Series
Posted on: November 3, 2009 5:03 pm
Edited on: November 3, 2009 5:13 pm

The magic of Game 6

NEW YORK -- Nobody writes books about Game 5.

Nobody even remembers Game 5.

So what is it about Game 6?

Or Game Six , as Mark Frost titled his fine book about the sixth game of the 1975 World Series. The Carlton Fisk game.

As opposed to Game 6 in 1991, the Kirby Puckett game. Or Game 6 in 1986, the Bill Buckner game. Or Game 6 in 1985, the Don Denkinger game. Or even Game 6 in 2002, the Russ Ortiz game.

We remember every one of those, and there’s no need to even remind you why those players were associated with those games.

We remember Joe Carter and Mitch Williams (Game 6, 1993). We remember Josh Beckett (Game 6, 2003). We remember David Justice and Tom Glavine (Game 6, 1995), and Dave Winfield (Game 6, 1992).

That's nine truly memorable Game 6's, and that's just in the last 35 years.

Heck, if we were all old enough -- or if we had all read Mike Vaccaro’s excellent book, The First Fall Classic -- we’d remember Game 6 of the 1912 World Series. That was the one where the owner of the Red Sox demanded that manager Jake Stahl not start ace Smoky Joe Wood, and instead start Buck O’Brien, who had been drinking all night the night before.

It’s been a great month for baseball books, with Vaccaro, Frost and Joe Posnanski (The Machine ) carrying us through this long postseason.

And Game 6 figures prominently in all of them.

It’s always Game 6, just as it was when Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera (and Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada and Joe Girardi) won their first World Series in 1996. That night at Yankee Stadium, Jimmy Key beat Greg Maddux, with Girardi driving in the game’s first run with a third-inning triple.

The game itself wasn’t memorable that night, nothing that would cause anyone to write a book.

Maybe this Game 6 will live up to the name.

Posted on: November 3, 2009 1:21 am

On second thought, Hamels can wait

PHILADELPHIA -- Just to make things clear, Cole Hamels said Monday that he can wait for the season to end.

He told Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. He told the rest of us, too.

He wants the World Series to go seven games. He wants to start Game 7.

“Of course,” Hamels said, after the Phillies forced Game 6 with an 8-6 win over the Yankees. “Who wouldn’t want the ball in Game 7?”

The Phillies had to have questions about how much Hamels wanted it, first because he fell apart in the fifth inning of Game 3, and then because his comments after the game included the seven words he now regrets:

“I can’t wait for it to end,” Hamels said then, in response to my question about how he would feel if Game 3 was the final start of his disappointing season.

I wrote that night that I didn’t believe Hamels meant those words literally, that he didn’t mean them to sound the way they did. But over the last two days, plenty of people in Philadelphia took those seven words at face value, and took Hamels to task for saying them.

“I wasn’t able to sleep the last couple of nights because of that,” Hamels said. “I didn’t know what I said until I read it -- well, I didn’t read it, but I was told about it.”

Right after Monday’s game, Hamels went to speak to Manuel. The Phillies manager still hasn’t committed to a Game 7 starter, but if Hamels’ mental state weren’t in question, he would be the obvious candidate.

“I just wanted to tell him my true thoughts, that I’ll never quit,” Hamels said. “I think Charlie knows me. I think the only doubt it left was with the fans, and that hurts. I love the city of Philadelphia.”

And, he said again, he’d love to have a chance to start Game 7, a chance to pitch the Phillies to a second straight World Series title.

First, he got a chance to try again to say what he means.

“It’s hard,” Hamels said. “It’s hard to play baseball and talk at the same time.”

Category: MLB
Posted on: November 2, 2009 6:52 pm

Concerned about sign-stealing? Don't use signs

PHILADELPHIA -- And so the postseason comes full circle.

When it began, we were just getting over the allegation that the Twins' Joe Mauer was stealing signs while on second base, and relaying them to the hitter. This afternoon, before Game 5 of the World Series, the Phillies' Shane Victorino was asked repeatedly whether sign-stealing by his team is causing so many mound visits by Yankee catchers.

It's all kind of silly, especially the latest one. Jorge Posada goes to the mound more than any other catcher in the big leagues, whether or not there's any chance of an opponent stealing signs.

The other thing is, every team in the big leagues tries to steal signs. The Phillies were so concerned about the Dodgers stealing their signs in the National League Championship Series that for one crucial at-bat, they gave no signs at all.

It was in the fifth inning of Game 5. The Phillies led 6-3, but Manny Ramirez came to the plate representing the tying run. Rafael Furcal, who the Phillies suspected of sign-stealing, was on second base.

When reliever Chad Durbin came into the game to face Ramirez, he and catcher Carlos Ruiz scripted the entire at-bat before it began. For the entire five-pitch at-bat, which ended with Ramirez bouncing back to the mound, Ruiz never gave one sign.

"It was weird to go without a sign and just go into the stretch," Durbin said later. "It's like throwing a ball without your glove on."
Posted on: November 2, 2009 4:00 am
Edited on: November 2, 2009 9:40 am

Damon was aware, and the Phillies weren't

PHILADELPHIA -- Johnny Damon was as heads-up as could be.

The Phillies were as heads-down as could be.

Johnny Damon was on first base with two out in the ninth. And then, as Brad Lidge said, "all of a sudden he's on third."

It was without doubt the strangest play of this World Series, maybe the strangest of any recent World Series. It was also one of the most important, since it came in the ninth inning and led to Damon scoring the tie-breaking run in what became a 7-4 Yankees Game 4 win.

And here's how it happened:

The Phillies, as they always do when Mark Teixeira is batting left-handed, had the shift on. Shortstop Jimmy Rollins was well on the right side of second base, and third baseman Pedro Felix was closer to the second-base bag than Rollins.

Lidge, notoriously bad at controlling the running game, was pitching. Damon, who stole 12 bases this year, took off for second on the first pitch to Teixeira. Catcher Carlos Ruiz threw through to second base (he probably shouldn't have, since he had no chance at Damon). Feliz took the throw, and it took him a little bit behind Damon.

Damon saw no Phillie covering third, and took off. He was easily safe.

Lidge hit Teixeira with a pitch, then gave up the tie-breaking double to Alex Rodriguez.

Damon said the Yankees talked about the possibility at various times during the year, because so many teams shift on Teixeira. He said it was more possible Sunday because Feliz isn't that fast (he said he wouldn't have done it if Chone Figgins were the third baseman), and desirable because Lidge relies on a slider that often breaks in the dirt.

Lidge insisted that Damon's presence at third didn't keep him from throwing the slider, and in fact he did throw one to Teixeira on the very next pitch. But he followed that slider with three straight fastballs, including the one A-Rod connected on for the double.

The bigger question is why third base was uncovered, and who should have been there?

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said it should have been either Lidge or Ruiz. Rollins said it was his mistake, because when he told Feliz to cover second base on a steal attempt, he should have also reminded Lidge that third base would be his responsibility.

Lidge said, "I don't really know who's supposed to cover third. That's a weird play."

Somebody should have been at third, somebody in Phillies red. Nobody was, and Damon was alert enough to notice that. And quick enough to get there.

"I felt like, man, I hope I'm Johnny Damon at 25 instead of Johnny Damon in his 30s," Damon said.

The Phillies were impressed.

"Just a heads-up play by a smart baserunner," reliever Scott Eyre said.

"Usually, we're the ones doing it to the other teams," Rollins said.

This time, they were the ones with their heads down. Damon was the one with his head up.

And now the Yankees are the ones with a three games to one advantage in the World Series

Posted on: November 1, 2009 11:52 pm

A-Rod gets comfortable, sends Yanks to Game 4 win

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies tried to stop Alex Rodriguez by making him uncomfortable.

Now, thanks in large part to A-Rod, it’s the Phillies who are in the most uncomfortable position possible.

Rodriguez’s ninth-inning double put the Yankees ahead in Game 4, and their 7-4 win put them ahead three games to one in the World Series. Game 5 is Monday night, and a Yankees win would give them their 27th championship, and their first in nine years.

The defending champion Phillies are that close to seeing their season end.

Heading to the ninth inning, the Phillies seemed to be the ones who had the Game 4 momentum. Pedro Feliz tied the game with a two-out eighth-inning home run off Joba Chamberlain.

But the Phils went to closer Brad Lidge in the ninth, and with two out he allowed a Johnny Damon single. Damon was able to steal second and third on the same pitch, and after Lidge hit Mark Teixeira, A-Rod ripped a double to left to put the Yankees ahead.

It’s been an interesting World Series for Rodriguez, and an interesting two nights in Philadelphia. The Phillies have hit him with three pitches, attempting to keep the hottest hitter in the playoffs from getting too comfortable at the plate.

For a while, it seemed to work. Rodriguez was 0 for 3 heading to the ninth inning, and Feliz’s home run had the Phillies thinking this was their night.

A Phillies win would have been huge, especially with Game 1 winner Cliff Lee ready to start Game 5.

But there was no Phillies win. In the ninth inning, A-Rod was plenty comfortable.

And now the Phillies aren’t.

Posted on: November 1, 2009 5:07 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2009 5:15 pm

Sabathia -- not Lee -- is bucking the trend

PHILADELPHIA -- Somehow, Cliff Lee is supposed to feel bad that he isn't doing what CC Sabathia is doing.

Sabathia started Game 1 of the World Series, and he's coming back on three days' rest to start Game 4 tonight. Lee, who beat Sabathia in Game 1, is starting Game 5 on normal rest Monday night.

So it's a seeming mismatch, Sabathia vs. Joe Blanton, and with the Yankees already leading the World Series two games to one, everyone wants to blame Lee and/or Phillies manager Charlie Manuel.

"I think I could do it," Lee said. "But he makes the calls."

Here's the thing: Nearly every World Series manager in recent history has made the exact same call that Manuel did. It's Sabathia and Yankees manager Joe Girardi who are going against the trend, not Lee and Manuel.

In the last 15 World Series, only two Game 1 starters -- San Diego's Kevin Brown in 1998 and Arizona's Curt Schilling in 2001 -- have come back to start Game 4. That's two, out of a possible 30.

Put another way, 93 percent of Game 1 starters don't start Game 4.

I'm not saying Girardi is making a mistake, not at all. Sabathia is the rare pitcher who has proven he can not only pitch on three days' rest, but pitch effectively on three days.

Lee, on the other hand, has never pitched on three days' rest in his entire career.

Manuel asked him that question before the World Series began. Lee said no.

"You're asking Cliff Lee to do something that he has never done before," Manuel said. "You're also asking him to do it in a very big, important place, and that's in the World Series. I didn't have to think very long at all about that, and neither did [pitching coach Rich] Dubee."

The whole concept of a three-man postseason rotation is interesting. It made perfect sense when teams regularly used four-man rotations in the regular season. The postseason three-man rotation even outlasted the regular-season four-man rotation by about two decades. All the way through the 1970s and through much of the 1980s, teams routinely asked pitchers to work on three days' rest in October.

But it's extremely rare now. In the last 23 best-of-7 series played (every World Series and LCS since the start of 2002), only three pitchers have been asked to start Games 1 and 4.

The Red Sox had Tim Wakefield do it in the 2003 ALCS. The Dodgers had Derek Lowe do it in the 2008 NLCS. And the Yankees had Sabathia do it in this year's ALCS.

That's three out of 23, which means -- again -- that 87 percent of the Game 1 starters didn't do it.

More power to Sabathia for being able to. But let's not crush Lee and Manuel too much for not trying it.


Someone asked Lee today about back-to-back starts against the same opponent, as if it was something unusual.

Actually, Lee has made back-to-back starts against the same opponent 16 times in his career, including twice in the 2009 regular season and again in the first round against the Rockies. The last five times he has done it, Lee is 3-1 in the repeat start, with a 1.55 ERA.
Posted on: October 30, 2009 5:21 pm
Edited on: October 30, 2009 5:52 pm

Jeter on bunt: 'That's how you win'

PHILADELPHIA -- The stat guys won't like this.

Heck, I'm not a stat guy, and I don't like it.

I don't see any reason that Derek Jeter should have been bunting with runners on first and second and nobody out in the seventh inning of Game 2 -- let alone trying to bunt with two strikes.

After the game, Jeter described the two-strike bunt attempt (his own decision, by the way) as "stupid." But today he insisted it was only stupid because he bunted foul, for a strikeout.

"It's kind of like stealing third with two out," Jeter said. "Afterwards, the idea was stupid."

But why try to bunt in the first place. Jeter is one of the great postseason players in baseball history. He's one of the hotter Yankee hitters in this postseason. The Yankees led the game 3-1 at the time. Why not give Jeter a chance to drive in the run and turn it into a big inning?

Jeter still believes in the bunt.

"That's how you win," he said. "You win by moving guys over, and getting them in. I've always done that."

Jeter seemed amused by the number of questions about the bunt.

"Imagine if we'd lost," he said.


Jeter was less amused by Jimmy Rollins' shot at the Yankee Stadium fans. The Phillies shortstop said Thursday night that the New York fans were "tame and civilized," and that the World Series would really begin when it moved to Citizens Bank Park.

"He's entitled to his opinion," Jeter said. "I enjoy the atmosphere at Yankee Stadium."

One Phillies player said Friday that many of the Phils had the same reaction as Rollins. They were looking forward to playing in a World Series at Yankee Stadium, and were underwhelmed by the atmosphere.

Posted on: October 30, 2009 2:58 pm
Edited on: October 30, 2009 3:10 pm

Blanton to start Game 4 for Phils

PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has settled on Joe Blanton as his Game 4 starter.

Manuel decided against using Game 1 starter Cliff Lee on short rest, explaining that Lee has had a heavy workload this year and hasn't pitched on short rest. Lee will start Game 5, and with an off day between Games 5 and 6, Manuel said Lee could be available out of the bullpen in a possible Game 7.

The Phillies also went with a four-man rotation in the World Series last year. Blanton started and won Game 4, and also hit a home run in that game.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Thursday that he doesn't plan to name a Game 4 starter until after Game 3. The Yankees went with CC Sabathia in Games 1 and 4 in the American League Championship Series against the Angels, and it's been expected that they'll do the same in the World Series.

Unlike Sabathia, Lee has never pitched on three days' rest in his big-league career.
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