I didn’t cast my own All-Star vote until this past Thursday, but I’d like to think that I applied a little more intelligence and a lot less up yours to the exercise than seems to have been applied by those determined to stuff the American League’s starting lineup with Kansas City Royals whether or not said Royals (I’ll get to that shortly) actually deserve starting berths.
J.J. Hardy’s two-out, down-to-the-Orioles-last-strike hopper caught Mike Moustakas right where Moustakas wanted it on the third base line. Moustakas’s high throw across the infield caught first baseman Eric Hosmer right where he wanted it. OK, a little bit high, but nothing to it. We do this kinda stuff to ‘em all throughout the picture.
Just like the only two runs the Royals would need to put on the board all day long scored on a pair of grounders and a sacrifice. Big deal. We do this kinda stuff to ‘em all throughout the picture.
Have you noticed the same two things I’m noticing about the Kansas City Royals? Thing one: They seem to have positioned themselves as giant killers. (And who knows that they won’t get a chance to be Giant killers, too?) Thing two: Contrary to swelling popular opinion, they don’t always need extra innings to make a postseason statement.
It might have shocked enough people that they dispatched the Baltimore Orioles, 6-4, in Game Two of the American League Championship Series in nine regulation innings. It probably has shocked enough people that they’re halfway toward a second consecutive sweep of a regular season powerhouse.
If you learn Buck Showalter asked the Oriole front office for a team cardiologist after Friday night’s American League Championship Series opener, try not to be too surprised. You might, too, if you were the manager whose closer opened the ninth of a tie game by walking the bases loaded before getting a run-erasing force at the plate.
The one thing Detroit Tigers fans probably fear more than anything else happened Thursday night. The Baltimore Orioles got into the Tigers’ bullpen at all, never mind while holding a one-run lead.
The one thing Orioles fans knew above all else going in was that their power game was probably their most obvious asset, assuming they didn’t run into pitchers who could tie them up. Who knew the Orioles could perform any impression of the Kansas City Royals, never mind the one they performed in the bottom of the eighth, after homering their way for the most part to that one-run lead?
So what to make of the Jhonny Peralta signing with the St. Louis Cardinals, in the wake of his having been one of the Biogenesis 13? Among other things:
1) A four year deal at $52 million dollars isn’t exactly what anyone expected to see for a player bagged over actual or alleged performance-enhancing substances. Without that issue, however, it’s a questionable deal considering Peralta’s age (32), his faltering defensive range, and his batting average-dependent on-base percentage.
Vicente Padilla still doesn’t get it. He didn’t get it as a starter; he doesn’t get it as a reliever. The problem is that one of his teammates is probably going to get it. Maybe in the back, maybe upside the head, certainly on Padilla’s dime, sooner or later. It’s happened before, to other teammates on other teams. It’ll happen again. And if it isn’t because of his propensity to hit batters, it might be because of his big mouth.
The designated hitter rule keeps Padilla from standing in at the plate, but if he should have to cover first base on a play don’t be surprised if the next Yankee to face him decides to plow him under the pad.
Now, this is more like it.
Less than a full day after the Texas Rangers lost a World Series they came to within a strike of winning twice in two innings, Nelson Cruz–who promised to sign autographs at a Mesquite, Texas sporting goods establishment after the Series, no matter whether the Rangers won or lost–was slightly stunned to see four hundred people show up, none of whom had murder in their hearts.
“I was shocked to see all the people. It made me feel happy and it made the pain go away quickly,” the right fielder told reporters. “It definitely shows how good they are as fans. They support us all year. They’re behind us whatever happens.”
Nelson Cruz’s walkoff grand slam in Game Two of the American League Championship Series? Gone with his other eight postseason record-tying bombs. Ian Kinsler’s theft of second, channeling Dave Roberts, to spark a World Series-tying rally in the first place? You won’t even find it on the police blotter now. The Rally Squirrel? Who the hell needed him?
Albert Pujols channeling Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson in Game Three? Fuggedabouddit. Derek Holland’s masterpiece pitching in Game Four of the World Series? Prove it. (And those were the two events that helped turn this World Series from good to great in the first place.)
Who could have imagined this kind of World Series game—Yogi Berra, or Rube Goldberg? How many times have you heard Berra’s Law—it ain’t over until it’s over—cited and quoted, and how many times have you seen it proven only too true?
That many? Well, you didn’t really see it until you saw it, and if you were watching Game Six of this World Series Thursday night, oh, brother, did you saw it.
“If that’s not the best postseason game of all time,” Lance Berkman huffed and puffed, when it was over in a 10-9 St. Louis Cardinals win that not even the Cardinals, never mind the Texas Rangers, can quite believe happened, “I don’t know what is.”