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(transferred; posted Oct. 7)

I was going to call this "Al Newman & Squandered Opportunities" but decided on a less obscure title. I know the Twins won Game Five anyway, but when their third base coach, shaped like his Seinfeld namesake (hello, NEWman) didn't allow his best athlete to score from second on a two-out single, it could have been the ball game.

If you prevent the other team from taking advantage of all their opportunities to score, and if you make the most of your chances, you will win more games. The smaller the sample, the more vague that statement. In one inning, you can survive a mistake, maybe two. Over an entire game, the law of averages can still be skewed. Even a five game series proves less about the relative merits of two teams than a seven game set; I would prefer the World Series to be a best of nine over nine straight days on a neutral site, but I digress.
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(transferred; posted Oct. 7)

How about Livan Hernandez last night? The big fella isn't always motivated during the regular season, which makes him frustrating to fantasy owners, but he's never lost a postseason game, and with the Giants facing elimination, the former NLCS and World Series MVP showed his best stuff. But it was a fielding play that mattered more than any of his pitches, and sent his team to tonight's deciding game.

When a harmless infield popup fell in for a "hit" (see my next post about "team errors") and the next batter bounced one up the middle that deflected off Jeff Kent's glove, the emotional Cuban was visibly upset. So on the next ball in play, a grounder to the right side, neatly fielded by J.T. Snow and fired to second, where was Livan? Hauling ass (for him it takes two trips) over to first in time to make an athletic catch-and-step at full speed (insert your own clever remark) and complete a brilliant, critical 3-6-1 double play. I want to play the video for my high school pitchers next spring; it was a great example of putting the team, and your responsibilities, ahead of personal frustration.
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(transferred; posted Oct. 6)

The dust has settled. Nobody's going to miss the Yankees and D-backs more than Fox, whose TV ratings will suffer. The rest of us will enjoy seeing new and exciting teams in the World Series for a change. I'm on record as the biggest detractor of Arizona management's irresponsibility, and predict not only a competitive slide, but bankruptcy in Phoenix by 2004. It's harder to assess Mr. Steinbrenner's empire.

They are stuck with another year of Raul Mondesi showing off his RF cannon in between whiffing on curves in the dirt and getting thrown out at third or home. They can't intend to keep all three of El Duque, Rocket and Boomer; it's not just a waste of money, these guys are well past their "best before" dates. Unless football hero Drew Henson suddenly develops pitch recognition skills and patience, the same applies to 3B, where the fine career of Robin Ventura, never a speedster, is slowing to a crawl.
[More] (917 words)
The fifth inning of the Angels-Yanks game was a season unto itself. First you had umpire Joe West making a gutsy and correct call as Troy Glaus' throw pulled Scott Spezio off the bag. West's counterpart Mike Winters had blown the easiest of calls at the plate on what would have been the 12th run of the Twins' romp, failing to notice Dustan Mohr's great slide, so it was good to see an ump with post-season chops.

Young Mr. Soriano, as undeserving as Miguel Tejada of MVP buzz, delivered a clutch double, advancing Rivera (aboard on the Glaus error) to third. Derek Jeter, whose reputation was made in such spots, delivered a sac fly RBI but a superb running catch by GA saved the Angels another run, and an out. The determined Washburn, with 1B open, pitched to and got Giambi, then overwhelmed Bernie, so you almost knew what was coming. My boy Woot made the Yankee lead moot with a leadoff HR, my $1.00 9th-round hitter Benji Gil got on, the little pest Ecks-ecuted a perfect hit-and-run, and Darrin Erstad, looking pressure in the eye, delivered the go-ahead run, with Soriano lost on the shallow flare. Then the Kingfish ripped Boomer for an RBI, and the crowd, like the Angels, smelled blood. Wooten and Gil added their second hits of the inning before the rout was over, and Anaheim, winners of their first playoff series -- ever -- can scout the A's Twins rubber match with confidence.

(transferred; posted Oct. 5)

That's not what an MVP does! Oakland SS Miguel Tejada made a horrible throw in the fourth inning, allowing the Minnesota Twins to take control of Game Four and get back into the AL Division Series.

Unlike the Angels' quiet, efficient leader Garret Anderson, who contributes with textbook play in LF and brilliant baserunning, in addition to his timely hitting, Tejada is a talented athlete who frequently plays out of control. The same goes for MVP "candidate" Alfonso Soriano; occasional brilliance merely balances all the mental and physical errors. A real MVP shows up every day and maintains a consistent level of excellence, like A-Rod.

Miguel's panicky toss over the head of Eric Chavez into the dugout gave the Twins their first lead, and as so often happens, opened the floodgates. A Tim Hudson wild pitch let another run score, then Scott Hatteberg's brutal throw to the plate turned what had been a 2-2 nailbiter into a 5-2 rout, and Hudson didn't survive the inning.

Warning to Oakland: when you open the door to a "team of destiny" through sloppy play, you deserve whatever happens.

(transferred; posted Oct. 5)
A great day for baseball; the irresponsible, overspending Diamondbacks face extinction, and the over-exposed Yankees have their backs to the wall. I am hoping for the same World Series matchup as I imagine the Pope is -- Angels vs. Cardinals.

(transferred; posted Oct. 5)
My trusted dugout advisor was generous enough to lend us space on his store's Web server (thanks, Billy) so this site can use the Greymatter engine. It's interactive -- anyone can post comments -- and we expect stimulating discussions. Play nice, people. To register as an Author and post your own articles, e-mail me. It is my pleasure to publish "pinch-hitters" in the Batter's Box; you'll enjoy Jordan Furlong's excellent 2002 Jays analysis.