Szwaja's Sports Blog

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Yo, what's up, people? Keeping this thing up and starting a new job haven't meshed too well, but I'm going to start updating a little more now that I've kind of found my comfort zone. Amazingly, it really hasn't been that I haven't had the time to write. It's more that the job has forced me to miss what were once important cogs in my sporting fandom. Around the Horn, PTI and the 5 o'clock SportsCenter are now all things of the past. For those of you who don't know, I'm now an office manager at the Liposuction and Cosmetic Surgery Institute, based in Arlington Heights, with offices in Naperville, Oakbrook and Gold Coast Chicago as well. I work for Dr. Leon Forrester Tcheupdjian M.D., now one of the coolest, most driven and ambitious guys I know. You may have heard his commercials on the radio. Please come in for a free consultation if you're considering BOTOX, Restalyne, microderm abrasion, breast augmentation, liposuction, tattoo removal, or treating any other skin defect. And tell them Michael (only because that's what everyone calls me) sent you.

Cheap plugs aside, we can't ignore what happened last night in the ALCS. For those who do not know, I'm a dropped third strike freak. It's my favorite loophole rule in sports, better than the tuck rule, better than phantom diving in soccer, better than calling a timeout while falling out of bounds in basketball, better than freezing the puck on the half-boards in hockey. It's just an awesome rule; it penalizes the opposing pitcher for making a pitch so great even the catcher couldn't handle it. I can just see a bunch of drunk American immigrants sitting around in a pub somewhere writing the rules: "If the bleeping catcher can't catch it, the guy deserves first!"

Okay, back to Wednesday night. Let me admit this, for the first hour after the game ended, I thought the White Sox got an absolute gift. There was no doubt in my mind Josh Paul caught that ball. Then I tuned into Comcast Sports Net, which showed the replay about as many times as I've heard "Get your game on ... Comcast Sports Net!" during the last year. Now let me admit this, I was wrong. There's no doubt in my mind now that Paul trapped that ball. The ball clearly bounces and goes up into the palm of Paul's glove. Anyone who says different hasn't seen the light yet. There's no debate. The replay shows it. Watch it close enough, and you'll join the club.

Now, that said, that ump was in no position to see what the replay showed. Nobody could have seen that. He said he heard two noises: 1) ball to dirt then 2) ball to glove. If that's true, he's got some great hearing. Hold your breath: it might have been the best call I've seen an official of any kind make ... even if he was lucky to get it right. Plus, Paul, a lifetime Ben Davis of a catcher, made matters worse by not laying the leather on AJ. He does that and the Sox win it in the 12th instead of the 9th.

No, seriously, the Sox got a break, one they needed after the Angels poked, slapped and punched balls around the diamond on Tuesday. They too got lucky, as AJ so eloquently pointed out after the game. And lost in the shuffle was the brilliant game Mark Buerhle threw. For as average as he'd been in the 2nd half, he was the Cy Young contender we expected him to be all season in Game 2. Show me an easier ninth inning in a complete game, and I'll stand on my head for the duration of Game 3. Hey, I can suck down a PBR upside down any day.

And nobody is talking about the crappy 0-2 pitch Kelvim "Don't call me overpaid" Escobar threw to Joe Crede. After getting ahead of every hitter prior to Crede, then blowing them away with low fastballs, why throw a breaking ball up-and-in there? Just think of the ball he got AJ on. Low fastball, right? I rest my case. That pitch, not the questionable, which really wasn't questionable, call on AJ lost the game for the Angels.

And, after all is said and done, it will end with another Buerhle gem in Game 6. For now, sit back and chill. See ya in the World Series.

4 Comments:

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    By Blogger Monavie, at 10:32 PM  

  • Your column in the DI was stupid.

    For instance, the Sox won in spite of Scott Posednick. As a corner OF, he was woefully unproductive. While he got on base at a slightly above average clip, he wasn't so great once he got there. You see, people love to give him credit for his 59 SBs, but let's not forget the 23 CS. That's a 72% rate for those scoring at home, and that's not breaking even (it's been estimated that the lowest break even point is about 75%...some place it closer to 80%.)

    The reason for this is that outs are more precious than an additional base in all situations. Look up some of the Markov tables out there, and see if it ever makes sense to trade an out for a base.

    Additionally, Posednick's slugging was awful for a corner OF. Sure, if he played SS, he might be a nifty player. But he doesn't - and more precisely, he can't do all the defensive tasks required of a SS - so he plays an easier corner OF position. His offense ranks up there with Jay Payton and Reed Johnson. He scores runs simply by batting ahead of productive players. That's all.

    And Iguchi better than Durham? Who are you kidding? Iguchi posted an OPS+ of 104 this year. Durham's career OPS+ is 104, and that includes those first three growing pains seasons. Since 1998, only one of his seasons have failed to outproduce that. Durham is headed to the Hall of Fame. Iguchi is headed to an Applebee's wall.

    Anyway, there's more. Sufficed to say, however, you're a retard. My guess is you didn't follow this discussion anyways ("what's OPS+???"), even when I tried to dumb it down.

    By Blogger J, at 9:21 AM  

  • Hey, J, first of all, thanks for reading in the DI. Second of all, thanks for reading the blog. Third, I can't take into account the OPS for Iguchi compared to Durham. Half the OPS stat relies on slugging, and Iguchi didn't give himself the freedom to "slug" the baseball. He had one thing in mind the majority of the times he was at the plate: getting runners over, whether it was a double off the wall or a ground ball to the second basemen. I know the OBP stat takes into account sacrifices, but when half the OPS stat relies on slugging, I can't appropriately apply it to Iguchi. And Ray Durham in the HOF? Are you serious? If you think Ray Ray is a HOF player, then that right there shows just how much YOU, my friend, don't have a clue. There are currently 262 players in the Baseball Hall of Fame, and they've been playing professional baseball since the late 1800s. If you mean to tell me Durham belongs in that group, you're crazy. Ray Durham will never sneeze in Cooperstown.

    By Blogger Mike Szwaja, at 12:22 AM  

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