Covering a World Series game is … different


We covered the baseball action of last night’s game pretty thoroughly already, so now some of the less important stuff.

It was my first ever World Series game and I can’t say I’ve experienced anything like it. Not that it was better than any other baseball game of course — on the merits it wasn’t — but it was definitely a far more intense experience than other games I’ve attended and/or covered.

I’ve talked about the crowd already — amped from beginning until end — but the whole scene is like that, really. The media stuff affected me most directly. So many people cover the World Series. Almost as many as go to the Winter Meetings each year. Except at the Winter Meetings all of those reporters and broadcasters spread out around a gigantic hotel whereas here they are split into a couple of rooms and spaces that are a fraction of the size of the smallest Winter Meetings work space.

There’s a media workroom off a hallway running behind the luxury boxes. It’s not big, but it’s where the reporters who don’t get a spot in the regular press box (which is most of the reporters) set up to write and prepare and whatnot. By the middle of the afternoon there were no chairs left and people spread out onto the floor or stood up and typed at tables. As the game got going many of us moved to the auxiliary press box up in sections 335 and 336 out in left field where there are temporary desktops, WiFi and TV monitors, but many — maybe most — of the press stayed in the workroom.

And I can see why, actually. For one thing it’s warmer. For another, more important thing it may be easier to follow the game action via TV than it is from out there in East Jesus Upper Deck Land.  I perched up there because I wanted to hear the crowd and feel like I was watching a game more than I was covering it, but I bet my colleagues down in the workroom were more on top of what was happening as it happened than I was up in the clouds.  I had some advantages — you can tell more about defensive positioning and the like better from up top — but those are pretty minor things.

Another crowded place: the field during the couple of hours before game time. Camera crews, VIPs, ex-ballpalyers, P.R. people and just about anyone else you can think of, crammed on the track behind home plate and between the dugouts. I did a brief on-field segment for NBC Sports Talk last night — look for me again tonight between 6pm and 7pm Eastern — and it was a battle just to get over to the tiny bit of real estate where my camera crew was set up. I squeezed myself in there and did my little chitchat. A few minutes later my brother called me. He was watching it at home and said that as I was talking Willie Mays was behind me talking to someone else. I had no idea. It’s so crowded and crazy down there that you can miss WILLIE FREAKIN’ MAYS.

I know most of you don’t care about these media things, but the whole experience does have me thinking about game coverage and what it means in the age of 100 TV cameras and the super slo-mo replay. The ballpark is great, but as I walked back to my hotel last night I had this rather unsatisfying feeling that, despite the fact I was there, I missed a whole lot. That I really do see more things — and more things better — at home while watching on TV and following on the Internet than I do in person.

Maybe it’s so big a spectacle that it’s hard to get your bearings after just one game. Maybe it’s just a matter of someone like me having a different kind of focus than other people who are covering the thing. I’m not sure. But just like the Tigers, I’m glad I have more games this series to figure it all out.

Clayton Kershaw can win in the postseason! Who knew?

Clayton Kershaw
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Sometime after their Game 2 loss to the Rangers last week, the Blue Jays decided they trusted Marcus Stroman more than Cy Young candidate David Price in a potential Game 5 start. Such is the power of a postseason slump.

It can lead to one of the best hitters in the world being dropped to the eighth spot in the lineup. It can lead to quality regulars sitting at highly irregular times. In the postseason, what you did yesterday matters 10 times as much as what you did last month, usually not for the better.

Fortunately, Clayton Kershaw never had to worry about being skipped because of his postseason struggles. Even calling them struggles overstate the reality. In his previous three postseason starts, Kershaw had:

  • Allowed two runs over six innings in Game 1 of the 2014 NLDS against the Cardinals before being left in to give up a whopping six runs in the seventh
  • Pitched six scoreless innings on three days’ rest in Game 4 of the 2014 NLDS before giving up a three-run homer in the seventh
  • Allowed one run over 6 2/3 innings in Game 1 against the Mets before his two inherited runners came around to score off the pen
So, yes, Kershaw entered Tuesday’s outing against the Mets with a 4.99 postseason ERA, but he had turned in six quality starts in nine tries, allowing one earned run or fewer three times. It wasn’t nearly regular-season Kershaw, but it also wasn’t as bad as the ERA suggests, not when he’d been the victim of slow hooks and lousy bullpen support.

And, really, Tuesday’s win over the Mets didn’t seem much different at all than Kershaw previous couple of postseason starts, at least through six innings. Maybe the fastball was amped a bit. The real difference this time was that he made it through the seventh. Best of all, since he was on three days’ rest, Don Mattingly wasn’t tempted to send him back out for the eighth at 94 pitches, as he probably would have done had Kershaw been on normal rest. The bullpen took over and turned in two hitless innings in the 3-1 win, sending the NLDS back to Los Angeles for a decisive Game 5 on Thursday.

It’s completely unnecessary redemption for Kershaw, who had nothing in need of redeeming. But it’ll keep the trolls quiet for now and also all winter if Kershaw doesn’t get the chance to pitch again. He’d surely prefer to risk the chance of failure again next week in the NLCS.

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers top Mets in Game 4 of NLDS to force a Game 5

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

There will be a decisive NLDS Game 5 on Thursday evening in Los Angeles.

Clayton Kershaw yielded just three hits and struck out eight batters over seven innings of one-run ball and Justin Turner hit his fourth double of the series — a two-run poke down the left field line in the top of the third inning — as the Dodgers defeated the Mets 3-1 in Game 4 of the National League Division Series on Tuesday night at Citi Field.

Kershaw’s past postseason demons peaked their head out when Yoenis Cespedes reached on an infield single to lead off the bottom of the seventh, but there was no Matt Adams or Matt Carpenter to make him pay this time around. Kershaw retired the next three batters in order and then gave way to reliever Chris Hatcher for the eighth inning having thrown 94 pitches on short rest.

The only run Kershaw allowed was on a Daniel Murphy solo shot in the fourth inning. The other two hits he surrendered were singles.

Los Angeles’ bullpen answered the call after Kershaw’s departure, with Hatcher and closer Kenley Jansen combining to post two big zeroes on the scoreboard in Queens. Jansen secured the final four outs, earning his fifth career postseason save and second this October.

Jacob deGrom is lined up for the Mets and Zack Greinke will be on the hill for Los Angeles in the loser-goes-home tilt Thursday at Dodger Stadium. This series is shaping up to be a classic.

The winner Thursday will face the Cubs in the National League Championship Series.

Video: Justin Turner gives Dodgers early Game 4 lead with two-run double

AP Photo/Julie Jacobson
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Clayton Kershaw has looked sharp on the mound and at the plate so far in this must-win NLDS Game 4 at New York’s Citi Field.

After no-hitting the Mets in the first two frames, Kershaw smacked a one-out single to left-center field in the top of third inning. Howie Kendrick followed soon after with a two-out single to left and then Adrian Gonzalez blooped a ball to shallow center that drove in Enrique Hernandez, who had reached earlier on a fielder’s choice grounder to second base.

That all set up this Justin Turner two-run double down the left field line that put Los Angeles up 3-0

That’s now four doubles this postseason for Turner, which is a Dodgers franchise record for the Division Series. Los Angeles is trying to force a Game 5.