We're not here to analyze, scout, predict, project or proclaim Derek Jeter a "winner." (Well, not this season, anyway; not any longer.) We're here to Second Guess. Hey, isn't that half the fun of baseball's postseason? So let's start Second Guessing the World Series.
Saturday, October 23
Just sitting here at Page 2 and second-guessing if Red Sox fans had a little slip of faith there in the eighth inning when Manny bumbled, stumbled and botched his way to that dropped flyball
Twenty runs? Twenty-four hits? Five errors? We're certainly not second-guessing those who said to expect lots of offense in this World Series.
We can, however, find 10 things to Second Guess about Game 1:
1. Those who might call this 11-9 game a "World Series Classic."
Question: When is a two-run World Series game, featuring a five-run comeback, a late-inning second comeback, big home runs from guys on both sides of the aisle, and some shut-the-door strikeouts from the home team's gritty, gutty closer not actually a good game? Answer: When the left fielder plants his foot in the lawn the way Sergei Bubka planted his pole in the pit, takes a pratfall like Dick Van Dyke going over the ottoman, and his team wins anyway.
2. Not replacing Ramirez defensively.
Experts everywhere will now suggest the Red Sox replace Ramirez in the late innings. Terry Francona hasn't been doing this, instead electing to use Gabe Kapler in right field to replace Trot Nixon. Dave Roberts is a solid defensive outfielder, but is also Boston's primary pinch-runner. Don't look for Francona to start subbing for Ramirez, especially since you don't want to lose his bat.
3. St. Louis starting So Taguchi in left field.
Tony La Russa's other option would have been to use Reggie Sanders in left instead of DH and use John Mabry as his DH. Taguchi hit .296 this season, but he's not really a .296 hitter and Mabry hit for much more power. But La Russa went for better defense in left field. (And while Taguchi did start a two-run rally with his one hit, it was a lucky swinging-bunt hit. While Earl Weaver used to often do this - start his best defensive players and then go to offense if needed - it seems a little odd not to get Mabry's bat in the lineup at Fenway, since Sanders is adequate defensively in left.
4. No Mabry off the bench.
When La Russa did hit for Taguchi in the eighth inning while trailing 9-7, he used Roger Cedeno instead of Mabry. Which made some sense, since the Red Sox would have brought in left-handed Alan Embree to face the lefty-hitting Mabry. But La Russa did miss a chance to hit Mabry in the ninth after Marlon Anderson doubled with one ...except La Russa had pinch-run for Mike Matheny in the eighth, while trailing by two runs.
A curious decision, running for your starting with one out, trailing 9-7? St. Louis scored twice that inning, although it had nothing to do with pinch-running. And with Matheny out, backup Yadier Molina had to hit in the ninth, so Mabry - La Russa's best bat on the bench - never got in the game.
5. Was Woody Williams left in the game too long?
Williams pitched 2 2/3, giving up eight hits and seven runs. (And it could have been worse had Kevin Millar not grounded out with the bases loaded to end the third.) It's not often a World Series starter is left in to give up seven runs, even in Game 1. Granted, runs are going to be scored, and granted, St. Louis did come back to tie after Williams left, but
6. How St. Louis can get four errors and still lose?
No team had made four errors in a World Series game and won since 1952. The main reason: Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen went a combined 0-for-8 and left nine guys on between them. In the eighth, after Manny's two errors helped tie the game, Rolen popped to third with one out and the bases loaded.
7. Ed Montague's called third strike on Jim Edmonds in the eighth.
After Rolen's popup, Foulke struck out Edmonds on 1-2 fastball that was at least five inches off the plate.
La Russa bunts with his No. 7 hitter while trailing 4-0. Orlando Cabrera attempts to bunt in the first after Johnny Damon's leadoff single. Both of these made no sense at all. La Russa's one-run strategy paid off in that he got ... one run. The Red Sox, who had 12 sacrifice bunts all year, inexpicably tried to do what they didn't do all season. Hey, Terry, you led the majors in runs scored - don't change now.
9. No Al Leiter in the announcing booth.
Let's just say we missed Leiter, who was superb throughout the ALCS.
10. Those who are second-guessing Matt Morris starting Game 2.
Morris will go on three days' rest, but it really seems like the only logical move for La Russa. In order to get Jeff Suppan two potential starts in the World Series, he would have to go in Games 3 and 7. So La Russa had to decide between a rested Jason Marquis for 2 and 6 or Morris. Since Marquis has pitched poorly in his two postseason starts (7.1 IP, 9 H, 6 BB, 2 SO), Morris, who has pitched better in his three starts, is the logical choice.
-- David Schoenfield and Eric Neel
Previous editions of Second Guessing
Oct. 23: World Series, Game 1
Oct. 21: World Series preview
Oct. 20: Damons and Demons
Oct. 19: Curt Schilling's legacy
Oct. 18: ALCS Game 5 as it happened
Oct. 17: First-guessing NLCS Game 5
Oct. 16: Another Scrap Iron stinker
Oct. 14: Another Scrap Iron stinker
Oct. 13: The ALCS & NLCS are already over
Oct. 11: Phil Garner got away with one
Oct. 10: Phil Garner wears the dunce cap
Oct. 9: Ten things on Twins-Yankees