Here are the lineups for tonight’s tilt:
1. Gregor Blanco CF
2. Joe Panik 2B
3. Buster Posey C
4. Pablo Sandoval 3B
5. Hunter Pence RF
6. Brandon Belt 1B
7. Brandon Crawford SS
8. Travis Ishikawa LF
9. Madison Bumgarner LHP
Not any surprises here. Crawford and Ishikawa have been flip-flopped in the past, but who cares?
1. Josh Harrison 3B
2. Jordy Mercer SS
3. Andrew McCutchen CF
4. Russell Martin C
5. Starling Marte LF
6. Neil Walker 2B
7. Gaby Sanchez 1B
8. Travis Snider RF
9. Edinson Volquez P
Gaby Sanchez gets the start over Ike Davis because of the lefty Bumgarner on the mound. Travis Snider is a lefty, but this season he’s actually had a reverse platoon split. Let’s chalk that up to solar flairs or something. Starling Marte has hit lefties well this year so he’s pretty key tonight.
Here’s hoping we get a matchup as fun as last night’s.
Remember 2010 and the Giants’ “Rally Thong?” Man, those were crazy times. Former Giants player Aubrey Huff remembers 2010 and the Rally Thong. And he’s gonna relive old times tonight while watching his former teammates take on the Pirates:
Thanks for sharing, Aubrey.
As I mentioned this morning, the reflexive “I guess the Athletics’ ‘Moneyball’ approach sucks after all!” schadenfreude was pretty strong after last night’s game. In addition to the examples of Bill Plaschke and Tom Boswell I linked to, I was on six different radio shows today during my usual Wednesday radio marathon, and at least three of the hosts asked me if it wasn’t the case that “small ball trumped Moneyball.” And they weren’t really asking me. They were inviting me to confirm their assertions on the matter.
All of which is dumb for the reason I mentioned this morning: a book written in 2002 about exploiting inefficiencies in a market has no real bearing on how a baseball team performed in a single game 12 years later. And that’s still the case even if Billy Beane is involved in both of them. It’s the equivalent of watching De Niro in “Meet the Fockers” and then saying “see, I told you ‘Goodfellas was overrated!'” They’re entirely different things.
But it’s dumb for another reason: the Royals are not a team that eschews analytics. Sure, they’re not exactly the Tampa Bay Rays and, no, Ned Yost is not likely to give you a lecture on WPA, but the team does have an analytics department. Indeed, if this story is accurate, they set it up a couple of years ago.
Which means one could quite easily tell a story about how the Royals sucked for nearly 30 years but then, when they finally started to integrate analytics, they finally broke through. Of course, that sort of thing doesn’t jibe with the preconceptions of the Bill Plaschkes and Tom Boswells of the world, so don’t expect to hear that.
One of the weirdest things from last night’s Wild Card Game was the shot of the woman in the crowd holding the sign that said the man she was with was going to buy her a puppy if the Royals won:
Before we go any further, how does that even go?
Woman: “Will you get me a puppy?”
Man: “I will, my darling. But . . . only if 25 men we do not know personally prevail in a mostly random contest!”
Woman: “Really? Why do you have to be so weird about this? Either get me a puppy or don’t. And if you won’t, cool, whatever, I’ll get my own puppy.”
Man: “No! Let us make this a wager!”
Woman: “Um, OK.”
When I saw that I sort of hoped that the sign was an effort in subtle mockery of the guy, showing a national television audience that he’s really complicated and manipulative. Turns out it’s not quite like that. It was really a bribe. Yahoo tracked them down. The woman is Katie Castan, and here’s what she said:
“My boyfriend Joe made the bet with me in the middle of the summer – we were sitting on the couch and I think I was frustrated with the Royals (they were struggling around the end of June) and wanted to change the channel,” Castan said in an email to Yahoo Sports. “He basically said if we won the division or made it past the wild card game, and if I paid attention to the games when we watched and could name at least 10 players on the team by the end of the year, he’d get me a puppy. I think it was his way of keeping me watching the games … but I just really wanted that puppy!”
One hopes that her love of baseball outlasts the delivery of the puppy and that Boyfriend Joe, whatever his methods, did manage to convert someone who sounds like she was a casual fan into a serious baseball lover. But hey, a puppy is getting adopted from a shelter either way, so I guess it’s a win.