The League Championship Series
Friday, October 15 2021 @ 01:00 AM EDT
Contributed by: Magpie
And then there were four.
The ALCS gets started tonight at Enron Memorial, with two teams that have richly deserved every bit of disdain we can muster. Unfortunately, they can't both lose. What to do? Well, the Astros don't play in the AL East, which goes a long way in their favour. I figure Dusty Baker had no part in the past shenanigans and I wouldn't be at all unhappy to see him finally get a championship as a manager (he won once as a player with the 1981 Dodgers.) This is his fifth managerial job and he's finished first in every one of the places he's been. Only eleven men have managed more Wins in the game's history than Dusty's 1987 and if he comes back for a 25th season in 2022 he should cruise past several of them - Bruce Bochy, Leo Durocher, Walter Alston. But Baker's teams have only made it to one World Series and they lost that one in seven games.
Zack Greinke wasn't in Houston in 2017 either, and Zack has given us years of fun without ever winning a championship. In fact, I believe that just five of the current Astros were part of the 2017 team. Those five are pretty prominent parts of this year's team, though - it's the entire starting infield and one rotation starter.
But mostly... they're not Red Sox.
In the other league, Milwaukee's outstanding pitching held Atlanta to just 12 runs in four games. But that was twice as many as the punchless Brewers were able to manage - a pair of homers from our old pal Rowdy Tellez accounted for both of their runs in the first game and two of their four runs in the finale. They didn't score at all in the other two.
Meanwhile those ancient rivals, the Giants and Dodgers, gave everyone their money's worth and then some. They swapped victories in the first four games - Giants shutout, Dodgers blowout, Giants shutout, Dodgers blowout - and then provided an absolute classic on the finale. In the top of the ninth, Cody Bellinger broke up a 1-1 tie with an RBI single to score Justin Turner. Mad Max Scherzer then pitched around Turner's error for the first Save of his professional career, with more than a little help from a truly terrible - awful, horrendous, mind-boggling when you consider the game situation - check swing call from first base umpire Gabe Morales, a call so terrible that even Dodgers fans were apologetic afterwards, though some managed to recall an even worse checked swing call - Ed Hickox on what should have been a game ending third strike - that cost the Dodgers a mid-season win against these very same Giants. Yeah, stakes weren't quite the same. Giants manager Gabe Kapler behaved with remarkable class and restraint in the aftermath, saying it was a tough way for it to end but there were other reasons they lost the game.
In other news... managers have started to fall.
First, in the least surprising development of the entire season, Jayce Tingler walked the plank in San Diego.
Then the Mets cashiered Luis Rojas, which may been a little surprising except that nothing the Mets do should ever surprise anyone.
But St.Louis dismissing Mike Shildt for "philosophical differences" seems to have caught everyone off guard. Cardinals watchers suspect that Shildt wasn't entirely on board with GM Mozeliak's desire to build an organization that is driven more by data and analytics than it is at the moment. Possible conflict between Shildt and hitting coach Jeff Albert, widely viewed as Mozeliak's man in the dugout, has also been suggested. This is all just gossip, of course.
And the Yankees fired their hitting coach - not too surprising the way they swing the bats this year. Someone had to take the fall. They also fired third base coach Phil Nevin. We all saw that send of Aaron Judge in the deciding game. Nevin is Aaron Boone's buddy, and while Boone is believed to be safe, he may have other options. Us old folks might remember the exact same thing happening in the 1980 ALCS - George Steinbrenner wanted to fire third base coach Mike Ferraro after an ill-fated send of Willie Randolph in the third game. Manager Dick Howser refused and resigned after the season was over (oddly enough, Ferraro ended up keeping his job.)