We're not here to analyze, scout, predict, project or proclaim Derek Jeter a "winner." We're here to Second Guess. Hey, isn't that half the fun of baseball's postseason?
Wednesday, October 13
Eric Neel: All right, guys, I'm reading our buddy Rob Neyer tonight over at The Show and he says both championship series are over. You agree?
David Schoenfield: E, our friend Rob isn't one to speak in hyperlatives, but I can't second-guess that statement. These things are more over than Howard Dean's political career. Fox executives are already trying to figure out what to plug in next Tuesday for the 8 p.m. time slot. Pete Munro was seen at Macy's in downtown St. Louis shopping for more underwear. Albert Pujols has reportedly made dinner reservations for next Friday night at Mickey Mantle's restaurant. (He's just wondering what the big deal about the Mick was, because some old-time pitchers have told him, "Albert, the Mick was amazing, no doubt 'bout it, but he wasn't as scary as you at the plate.")
Scott Ridge: Get your tickets now. It will be Cardinals vs. Yankees in the Fall Classic. How do I know? The Red Sox's two aces are 0-2 with their designated "Yankee Killer" unable to hit 90 mph and currently wearing a protective immobilizing boot. The Astros' two aces won't see action until Games 3 and 4, which virtually guarantees Houston will be down 0-2 by the end of Thursday night.
Eric: Come on now, Matt Morris goes for St. Louis in Game 2. You telling me the Killer B's can't lay some wood on Matt? The last time I heard people talking like this they were talking about the Dodgers in '88 ... "There's no way they can handle the Mets," "They've got no chance against the A's." This thing is setting up for some drama. I don't mean that I'm sure there will be drama, I'm just saying, like a bunch of talking heads spinning and tweaking the presidential debates, we're creating an environment in which an upset will be pretty exciting if it happens, and I'm not sure, given the way Houston hits the ball, that it can't happen.
David: Nice Dodgers reference there, Eric. Now, it's time to move past that date. Put away your old Duran Duran records, slip some Wilco into your iPod, and tune into 2004. Because Orel Hershiser isn't in the majors anymore, Roger Clemens is 42 years old, Roy Oswalt isn't pitching until Game 4, Curt Schilling is hobbling around like Willis Reed (sorry, spiritual leadership ain't going anywhere in baseball) and Pedro Martinez may as well just sign on that dotted line and join Daddy's business for next year, since he's pitched his last game for the Red Sox.
Scott: And Pete Munro? Don't think so. These guys are filler. We're talkin' Walker, Pujols, Edmonds, Rolen, Jeter, A-Rod, Sheffield. Historically great offenses. Juggernauts.
Eric: I'm just saying this: If Jon Lieber can be this good, and he can do it by being aggressive, so can Bronson Arroyo.
David: But will he? Can he pitch more than six innings? If he doesn't, do you have faith that Timlin/Embree/Foulke can hold down the fort? Or that the Sox can actually drop a number on the GPPOAT (that's Greatest Postseason Pitcher Of All Time)?
Eric: Offensively, for Boston, we're talking about a two-game sample, against two very good pitching performances (from Mussina and Lieber). That just doesn't tell us much. They put up seven runs in Game 1. Who's to say that kind of production (which certainly is a possibility for a lineup of this quality, playing at home, and going against the on-again/off-again Kevin Brown) won't be enough for Arroyo in Game 3?
And as for Houston, they didn't look overmatched by the Cards' pen tonight. They need a huge performance out of Munro, sure, and that seems unlikely, but who knows, and if I'm Scrap Iron, I'm telling him, "Get me five innings," and then I'm bringing in Lidge if I have to, for two or three innings, maybe. If they make Matt Morris work, the 'Stros can put up a crooked number, they can be in it.
Scott: Eric, you're forgetting an old Las Vegas axoim ... never bet on a Curse to end.
David: OK, E, I'll grant you this: the St. Louis pitching staff doesn't scare me, either. This isn't the same Matt Morris who so memorably dueled Curt Schilling for two games in the 2001 NLDS. And Beltran, Berkman and friends are bashing right now. And even if they lose Game 2, you get Clemens and Oswalt and suddenly you could be 2-2 and anything can happen, especially with Rolen in a funk and Clemens still capable of putting everybody in a funk. So, yes, that series could still surprise us.
And as much I'd like the Red Sox to surprise, I don't know. I do know that the last 13 teams to go down 2-0 in an LCS have lost, so the odds are it's time for a team to make a comeback from that deficit.
Eric: First off, it wasn't Duran Duran for me, it was X. And they're still in my iPod, right alongside Wilco, smarty boy. Second, you guys are right, I'm stretching just to imagine a scenario (can Carlos Beltran pitch? Do we know for sure that he can't? He can do everything else. Has anyone asked him?) in which the Astros and Sox stay alive in these series. I'm not doing it because I care so much one way or the other, though. I'm doing it because so far things have gone so according to the script: The Cards will pummel everyone (Houston AND LA) and the Yankees, come the postseason, just can't be beat. Maybe these things are immutable truths. But maybe they just look like they are. Maybe the Cards bats go cold in Game 2. Maybe Kevin Brown slams his hand into a wall ... Oh, right, that one's already happened. OK, I give. These series are over ... But I'm still watching, just in case they aren't.
Second Guessing, Second Helpings ...
Previous editions of Second Guessing
Oct. 11: Phil Garner got away with one
Oct. 10: Phil Garner wears the dunce cap
Oct. 9: Ten things on Twins-Yankees