MLB Playoffs: A Little Something for Everyone

It’s not very often that you have four playoff games in a single day. Yesterday was an instance where you had roughly 10 straight hours of baseball on TV so if you happened to be unemployed, or bored with your job, Tuesday served as an excellent opportunity to kill valuable brain cells.

Yankees 10 Tigers 1 – Heading into last night, I was surprisingly confident that the much maligned AJ Burnett would help the Yankees force a game 5 in their series against the Detroit Tigers. All thanks and praise should go to Curtis Granderson who made two PHENOMENAL run saving catches. Now, as they had back to the Bronx, smart money moves back to the Bombers. However, should the Tigers win Thursday night, expect New York sports radio to be filled with all kinds of “fire Joe Girardi and ARod” talk.

Rangers 4 Rays 3 – Rays manager Joe Maddon is a pretty enlightened dude. From the horned rim glasses to the flowing white locks, throw a black turtleneck on him and he becomes something out of a Kerouak autobiography. Wouldn’t Maddon fit in perfectly alongside Dean Moriarty and Sal Paradise cruising through the Salton Sea? Unfortunately, “the Dude” couldn’t help the Rays overcome Adrian Beltre and the Rangers who move on to the ALCS to face the winner of Yankees/Tigers.

Diamondbacks 8 Brewers 1 – The Diamond Dogs live to fight another day in the desert. Very rarely do sideline reporters say anything newsworthy, however, last night was an exception. Sam Ryan, reporting from the dugout, mentioned how Arizona pitcher Josh Collmenter developed his strange “ferris-wheel” like pitching mechanics by throwing a small axe at a tree stump. As I joked last night, if the Coen brothers were watching the game, Collmenter should expect a phone call soon to star in their next movie, Fargo 2: What Lies Below Paul Bunyan’s Beard.

Phillies 3 Cardinals 2 – My favorite opening round series is the matchup between the Cardinals and Phillies. Two great baseball cities with boat loads of marketable stars and two iconic managers. Unfortunately for St. Louis, most of their players seem to be walking around the diamond with some sort of limp or in the case of Lance Berkman, a pretty sweet mullet.

view from Busch Stadium courtesy of @JNW218

Monday Musings: Baseball Swan Song Edition

This will be the last baseball centric Musings for 2011. With the playoffs around the corner, you can expect a little post season preview sometime later this week. Until then, enjoy your quick trip around the bases, it’ll be a while until the next.

A Quick Around the Bases

1B – With the MLB playoffs set to begin this Friday, now feels like as good a time as any for baseball to consider adding 2 wild card teams to the post season. In this new plan, each league would hold a one game play in game between the two wild card teams with the idea being that this extra “series” would compel teams to compete for division titles rather than settle for the wild card. Anyway you slice it, the Baltimore Orioles are getting no closer to their first post season appearance in nearly two decades.

2B – Moneyball the movie opened in theaters this weekend and finished second at the box office behind Lion King 3-D with roughly $20 million. Reviews are incredibly positive and I myself look forward to seeing the film, just as soon as I read the book. And before you sabermetricians begin to judge, most of my nightly reading consists of stories that involve a cow jumping over the moon so it could be some time before Moneyball makes its way to my nightstand.

3B – After a historically inept season, Adam Dunn Chicago has got to do some serious brainstorming to do this offseason. I can personally attest to the notion that hitting a baseball is in fact the most difficult thing to do in sports, well ahead of running a ten yard out pattern or taking a charge against LeBron James. However, when you’re given $56 million and end up hitting roughly .160, you are going to open yourself up for some extra criticism.

HR – The new Miami Marlins logo leaked  this past week and nearly everyone is appalled. The new design will make the team look like a bunch of jai alai players. Quick note, when betting on jai alai, always put money on the heavier set player with a name like Garapudo or Romeo. Those guys always know how to use a cesta.

view from Busch Stadium courtesy of @ColdAsFire_Baby

Monday Morning Musings: Morning after McIlroy Edition

There was very little science to watching Rory McIlroy dominate the 111th U.S. Open. With every twirl of the club, viewers at home knew the shot was pure. He took control of the tournament on Thursday and didn’t bother to look back. The most impressive aspect of McIlroy’s performance was how effortless he made everything look. Perhaps this will all change with age but for right now at least, he does not look like a golfer consumed by the “process”.

Other golfers, like Tiger Woods, are consumed by their “swing plane” and “hip rotation” that they stop trusting their instincts. Rory is blessed with so much natural ability that he can just see it, hit it and and believe in the results. In this the day and age of the swing coach, it’s refreshing to watch a golfer believing in himself like McIlroy did at the U.S. Open. Perhaps a lesson to all aspiring major champions.

A Quick Trip Around the Bases

1B – Injuries. Injuries. Injuries. First Carl Crawford. Then Clay Buchholz. And now Albert Pujols. I’m sure the Red Sox can survive for a short while without the services of Crawford and Buchholz but what in the wide wide world of sports are the Cardinals supposed to do without King Albert if his sprained wrist keeps him on the sidelines for any extended period of time? I’m sure manager Tony La Russa will come up with something “inventive” like perhaps batting the pitcher 3rd or playing with two first basemen.

2B – I would feel much worse for the Florida Marlins and their fans if they actually had any fans. How dysfunctional is a team when their manager, Edwin Rodriguez, resigns after 71 games? Los Fish are losers of 10 in a row and have know slipped to last place in the NL East while their owner, Jeffrey Loria sounds about as fun to work for as Bill Lundberg. And now, the Marlins are poised to hire 80 year old Jack McKeon as interim manager to finish out the season. Question is, why would McKeon be interested in the job? At his advanced age he ought to more concerned with counting the lumps in his oatmeal than thinking about filling out a lineup card.

3B – Interleague play continues Monday with several marquee matchups including the Baltimore Orioles visiting the Pittsburgh Pirates. Well, maybe not this particular series, unless we were somehow miraculously transported back to the mid ’70s, but there are several other intriguing pairings this week like Rays/Brewers and Twins/Giants. I for one can do without Rockies/Indians, Angels/Marlins, A’s/Mets, and Astros/Rangers. Price you pay for interleague play.

HR – Justin Verlander really is a throwback to the days where there were no bullpen specialists to speak of and starting pitchers were expected to go deep, if not finish ballgames. Including yesterday, Verlander has thrown 4 complete games this year, matching his total for the entire 2010 season. Pretty impressive stuff for a guy who is still bringing triple digits in the 9th inning.

Fielder’s Choice – And lastly, in regards to the season 1 finale of The Killing on AMC, what the heck was that? After last night it feels like I wasted 13 hours of my life on this show. Following the web this morning, it’s clear that I am not the only one who felt betrayed by the season finale. Who killed Rosie Larson? As of this morning we don’t know and frankly, don’t care.

view from atop the St. Louis Gateway Arch courtesy of @mattwettersten