Welcome to day two of the snoozefest that is the Major League Baseball Playoff Schedule. Remind me again why Game 1 of the World Series doesn’t start until Wednesday? Even if the Phillies and the Giants had played a game seven yesterday, why couldn’t the WS start tomorrow? Wait, I forgot. Television. Silly me.
When Tim Lincecum came out of the bullpen for the Giants in game six, was anyone else reminded of Pedro coming into game seven of the 2004 ALCS? I’m not sure there was much of a reason for either of them to be pitching. I’ve mentioned before that I have no idea how “throw days” work when it come to a major league pitcher. But, I’d imagine that using a regular reliever would have made more sense than putting a starting pitcher out of his element. In the case of both Pedro and Lincecum, they didn’t fare very well. Pedro allowed the crowd, if not the Yankees, to get back into the game. And Lincecum actually got into a jam that could have spelled disaster if an actual bullpen guy wasn’t there to put out the fire. Those moves really bring one recurring misconception right into the open. No matter what Yankees fans would lead you to believe, pitchers are in the bullpen because they’re not as good as starting pitchers. Otherwise, the Giants would have used one of the 36 relievers they had ready and waiting, and not squeezed in Lincecum on short rest. Otherwise, teams wouldn’t make a big deal about their starters being available during a game seven. If the best way to get three outs is to use a reliever, that wouldn’t matter. But, teams feel that the best option is to use the more skilled starting pitcher…even without any rest.
Is there a more depressing way to lose a playoff series than to have your biggest slugger look at strike three? It actually happened to both loses this year. Watching the Phillies battle in the ninth inning, I could just feel it all clicking. They had the guy they wanted at the plate with the runners they needed on the bases. I was ready to see the walk-off hit. There’s nothing like the punchout to swing the emotion from super-high to super low in an instant. Did anyone else notice that when Fox went through the pitch-by-pitch for Howard’s last at-bat, they left off the last pitch? Think they were double-checking the graphic to make sure it showed it as a strike? After a couple minutes, they finally showed the last pitch, with the very tippity top of the ball grazing the very bottom of the strike zone. Were I a conspiracy theorist, I’d call foul. If it were the NBA, I’d say they made Fox wait a minute until the computer guys could make the line thickness of the baseball and the strikezone thick enough to touch each other. Hate to have the series deciding strike be shown as a ball on TV, right? Thankfully, this wasn’t the NBA. So, I’m sure that there was no funny business going on.
Besides, they wouldn’t have rigged it to eliminate Philladelphia anyway.