Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Playoff Time!

-OK. Everyone who predicted, before the season, that the final four would be the Dodgers, Phillies, Red Sox and Rays raise your hand. Anyone? How about at the All-Star break? September 1st? Last Thursday? Gotta love playoff time.

-So, I’ve got it. When the runners are safe you’re aggressive. When they’re out, you’re reckless? Is Mike Scioscia a genius or an idiot? I can’t keep track. Personally, I like the squeeze. I’ll give Scioscia the benefit of the doubt that Aybar should have been expected to get the bunt down. If it was Guerrero or Teixeira I may have questioned it more. I like the idea of pushing the envelope. I like the idea of forcing the other team into mistakes. My only problem with the move is that it was in Fenway. If the game’s in Anaheim, and the Angels get the last ups, I don’t mind a potential tie score. But, they had to know that if it didn’t work, it would ruin their scoring chance and give the Sox a golden opportunity in the bottom of the ninth. The question is one that really only someone who follows the Angels can answer. Were Aybar’s chances of hitting a flyball better than his chances of getting the bunt down? With my season riding on it, I’m not sure I would have done it. Which, of course, is exactly why Scioscia did it.

-I’m happy for Jason Bay. I’m glad he’s having a solid series. I know that if he struggled, people such as myself would by screaming that he’s no Manny. The fact that he’s keeping pace with Man-Ram is keeping the focus on the team and not what could have been. He’s still not Manny, but it hasn’t mattered yet.

-On a related note, if you haven’t read Bill Simmons’s article on ESPN.com about the Manny saga, you should. You can agree or disagree, but you should read it either way.

-Once again, a team that won 100 games during the regular season will not win the World Series. Since the introduction of the wild card, only the 1998 Yankees won both 100 games, and the title. Why exactly? It’s what everybody always says. The playoffs are different. In the regular season, depth is rewarded. Teams with five quality starters, deep benches and solid bullpens are well built for the long haul. In the playoffs, you don’t always need any of that. A fourth and fifth started hardly pitch. You may never use the long man out of your bullpen in a short series. Generally teams stick to the best guy or two out of the pen, and run them into the ground. Heck, the Sox didn’t even see the need to bring Mike Timlin along in the ALDS. Derek Jeter once said that the best teams make the playoffs, and the hottest teams win the playoffs. I don’t know whether that’s good or bad. It seems to me there should be a way for the same team to be good in both seasons.

-The Sox are off to Tampa for game 1 at the Trop. Which team will show up? Which Beckett will pitch in this series? Will the line-up remember how to hit? So many questions, so few answers. Once again, the two teams look about even. Once again, Beckett’s the huge x-factor. With ’07 Beckett and ’08 Lester, the Rays don’t stand a chance. Without them? Flip a coin.

Sox in 6.

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