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(transferred; posted Oct. 27)

The most unlikely thing happened Saturday night after Dusty Baker gave Russ Ortiz the game ball, which is probably worth more now to collectors. The Angels won. If you missed the play-by-play, or you just want to read his description, Gammons correctly elevates this classic to '75 and '86 status on ESPN.

Barry Bonds is the series MVP no matter what happens tonight, but Troy Glaus stepped up with a magnificent performance when it mattered most. Garret Anderson, "Mr. Calm" according to Joe Buck, was (of course) a key player in the Disney victory script.
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(transferred; posted Oct. 27)

A glance at the time stamps of the preceding posts will confirm that my stream-of-consciousness commentary during Game Six ended as abruptly as Bonds' "decisive" home run left the yard. Lest anyone think I fell asleep, or changed channels, let me explain.

I was about to write "too little, too late," or words to that effect, when the Angels got their second runner on in the seventh, but I held my breath (and ignored the keyboard) during Spiezio's at-bat. That obviously worked, so my continued electronic silence became "necessary" to allow the miraculous comeback. It was my version of a rally cap.
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Barry just threw the knockout punch. What was Molina thinking, after sneaking a pork chop past a hungry wolf for strike one, by challenging Bonds? Anything off speed, a slider inside or a back-door job, but another fastball? The kid should have shaken it off; both are to blame.

By the way, Commissioner, that homer was a moment. A season is longer than a moment. The 'Shot Heard Round The World' was a Moment, sadly omitted from your sponsor's tedious top ten. So were Carter's and Mazeroski's blasts.

(transferred; posted Oct. 26 9:49 pm)
The skipper's quick hook was necessary, yet Appier's fit of temper is understandable. With fantastic control, he was abused by an incompetent official whose strike zone is ridiculous. After keeping his emotions under wraps to avoid provoking the hostile ump, an explosion was inevitable.

It's not looking good; that run Lofton manufactured with his feet is huge.

(transferred; posted Oct. 26 9:30 pm)
My friend and I are of a certain vintage. We got our baseball on the radio as kids, and a Game of the Week on TV was a big deal. For us to adjust at all to the computer age has been a stretch. Until now we've been amused by the premise that one can "watch" a game while surfing the Internet, or posting observations to a baseball Blog. Tonight I've crossed the line.

I love a 0-0 game, and am really ticked that this umpire doesn't. Another horrible non-call this inning (the fifth) on an inside-edge slider that should have been bronzed, and Scioscia's making faces. It was inevitable that Appier would have to groove a fastball or two, and he deserves better. Again.

Dunston seems like a nice fellow; I enjoyed the Fox guys showing us his pre-game stretches with his son, but he's an unlikely hero. Too bad you're not allowed to pitch to the corners tonight. Bring on the phee-nom.

(transferred; posted Oct. 26 9:09 pm)
I leave it to the gurus of statistical analysis to "prove" the wisdom of challenging Barry in any situation. The quasi-intentional walk is less harmful than a double or a homer. Appier aiming at his feet with ball four wasn't necessary, and might make the big guy even more dangerous next time.

Man, when this ump calls a strike, which is rarely, he sure is slow. You know he wasn't a pitcher when he played, and I bet he was a lousy hitter. Again forced to make an additional great pitch, Kevin gets the 5-4-3; Glaus looking like a giant shortstop. Rally time, but spare us the damn monkey.

(transferred; posted Oct. 26 8:57 pm)
OK, that's enough. Home plate "umpire" Tim Mcclelland did everything he could to get Jeff Kent a fat pitch. He's been consistent: doesn't call the low strike, the inside strike or the outside strike.

Appier has thrown so many pitches that just missed (in the biased eyes of the masked man) in three innings; not all were perfect, but he's being squeezed.

Ortiz and Santiago are living by the high heat, and second time through the order they might just die by it. Appier must owe this ump money; he's held them scoreless this far despite the 15-inch wide plate and high knees. That, and Glaus' defensive miracle on a perfect Lofton bunt, should inspire the red team.

(transferred; posted Oct. 26 8:42 pm)
(transferred; posted Oct. 26 7:01 pm)

The difference between Jarrod Washburn winning two games (as I thought he might) and losing two (as it turns out) is the difference between winning the series in five games and not winning at all. It's not that Jason Schmidt was brilliant, but in both their matchups, Washburn didn't have the control or the confidence he displayed against the Yankees and the Twins. This is written in anticipation of a must-win game for the Angels; as long as the season goes that extra day, I'll be happy.

I thought that Anaheim "deserved" to win because they are a more harmonious team, all of whom seem content to sacrifice individual notoriety for the common cause. Now, I've realized that the Giants have, despite some volatile elements, pretty good chemistry. I am in awe of Barry's talent, but decidedly out of awe in regard to his character; he's still more likeable than Kenny Lofton or Jeff Kent. The manager suits his team perfectly, nothing upsets him. Kids in uniform suggest a "family" resemblance to the Stargell-era Pirates.
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(transferred; posted Oct. 23)

I didn't have much to say after Game Two, because the World Serious was all even going to the NL park, and the 11-10 game was hardly the kind of decisive performance we have come to expect from Anaheim. I felt, as many Angels probably did, that they were fortunate to have pulled out one win.

Last night, Tim McCarver promised us that with no DH, the cool weather and the park effect, it was all going to be different; a National League game. He forgot to inform the Angels. In the second inning, trailing 1-0 on a tainted run -- Lofton looked out at first on two great Molina pickoff attempts, but he was out at second; ump Mike Reilly blew an easy call -- a clutch two-out Scott Spezio walk gave Adam Kennedy another chance to play hero. His double, on which Mr. Bonds didn't look very nimble, would have tied the score had it not taken a San Fran bounce into the stands. The "logical" intentional pass to 8-hitter Molina was followed by a feeble Ramon Ortiz whiff, so the Giants escaped trouble. Temporarily.
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(transferred; posted Oct. 20)

This is where I'm supposed to eat a morsel or two of humble pie. My admiration for Jason Schmidt has grown. I love him in fantasy ball; got him on waivers in the second half of 2001 and traded for him this year, just in time for the 13-K blowout of the Yankees. But I wasn't sure he could blow that ol' speedball by the Angels on his most glorious day, and I questioned his poise. Wrong, Coach. Both counts.

Barry Bonds singlehandedly changed my mind about interleague play this year. The show he put on in the game (fans booed the home team for trying to win; does this happen only in Toronto?) included a ninth-inning, opposite-field rope off a high Cliff Politte heater. (Halladay repaid Barry for the two intentional walks a couple of weeks later in Milwaukee.) I got more than my money's worth that night watching Bonds take batting practice, an awesome display by an almost superhuman talent. An interleague game, I am sorry to admit, now ranks among my most memorable "moments" in four decades of baseball. It does not surprise me that Barry, a vastly superior hitter these last two years, has already given the Series a defining moment. J.T. Snow shocked the hell out of me; he is in quite a groove.
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(transferred; posted Oct. 19)

You know me, Al.

I like baseball stats as points of reference, or conversation starters, but I do not revere them enough to be considered an acolyte in the Church of Beane. I prefer to think my pedigree goes back to Casey, through Whitey. My team wouldn't try to outslug an Earl Weaver team, or play little ball against Billy Martin. We would adapt our game to the opponent, to each situation, each at-bat, each pitch.

This team would hack away sometimes, but be patient when it counted. Guys would step up with spectacular catches and timely hits, winning most of the critical duels. This team would have a common goal with no individual agendas. Call them the Anaheim Angels.

It's obvious to me; the big, mean Giants wear black hats and the Disney team wears white. No further analysis should be necessary, but why stop here?
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I don't mean Carlos Delgado, but the Toronto Star, which must have a hidden agenda to keep so many writers busy spreading misinformation and unwarranted criticism of the Blue Jays. The chief curmudgeons have been columnists Richard Griffin and Dave Perkins, but Geoff Baker's fact average normally hovers near the Mendoza line, and he cribbed his recent Keith Law essay from the New Yorker like a high schooler facing a deadline. Today it's Allan Ryan, whose "by the numbers" pieces are usually recycled from Jayson Stark's work on ESPN, telling us about catastrophic financial losses suffered by the team.

I got as far as the second paragraph, in which Rogers Communications is described as a "minority" owner -- wishful thinking? -- before choking on my breakfast. (Though not all his shareholders are pleased, Ted owns 80%.) Ryan, supposedly a journalist, accepts the MLB party line (teams are all on the brink of collapse because of those greedy players) and reports it as news. I suppose he buys cars from Bud Selig and art from Jeffrey Loria, because they're so trustworthy.
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It's too bad about Griff. He used to be a funny guy. Dennis Martinez once strained his shoulder carrying his suitcase through a lobby; Richard (then Expos' PR wit) told the media it was "Samsonitis." Here's the link to his column about LaRussa, who has now lost more playoff series than he's won, and was embarrassed by Dusty Baker.

Re "the loud, but underachieving centrefielder" -- many GMs and most sabermetricians failed Baseball Chemistry 101. The often-bickering Giants may have won because they are less dysfunctional than the Cards, but that's not only Edmonds' fault; Vina's been a saboteur with his feet and his glove, and is a bit of a jerk. I think St. Loo honoured #57 sufficiently by getting this far. They're a #2 starter and a slugging 1B away from winning it all, and maybe it's time for a less "cerebral" manager. Tony's massive brain is getting tired. How does a PH on the bench feel watching Morris hit in the ninth? He'd be saying "c'mon, Matty" while contemplating managericide. What's that? No pinch-hitters because TLR carries three catchers and umpteen pitchers? Oh. Never mind...
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I see in today's Toronto Star where Richard Griffin, than whom, many are more constructive in respect of the local team, nevertheless finds LaRussa's "moves" refreshing. Griffin must have some strange places in need of refreshment if the Card's manager's wussy elixir will trickle down there. Leaving a tanked Morris in the game, not only to pitch, but to hit for himself in a tie game! And pitching to Bonds! Jeez, if you're gonna put him on, at least hit him in the ass. Excuse me. Do you suppose Pinella would consider a stop-off on the way back to Jersey? And what do you suppose he could get for the loud, but underachieving centrefielder?

(transferred; posted Oct. 15)
(transferred; posted Oct. 14)

Adam Kennedy was named MVP for his spectacular 3-homer game in the ALCS clincher, but the contribution of Troy Glaus was enormous throughout both series. David Eckstein was the catalyst all year, making anyone's playoff heroics possible, and Scott Spezio, emerging as a Gold Glove candidate who can hit, was the biggest surprise of the Angels' miraculous season.

All four members of the AL (soon to be World) Champions' infield are not household names, in part because of the time zone bias, in part because of the team's history of mediocrity. But they have matured at the same time, and like every member of Mike Scioscia's squad, have no interest in individual stats or honours. Unlike the more spectacular, headline-producing Miguel Tejada or Alfonso Soriano, both of whom are prone to making costly mistakes at the most critical moments, the Anaheim quartet play steady, reliable, winning baseball, and take turns providing heroics.
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