Mark Armour and Dan Levitt have written a book: In Pursuit of Pennants, which examines how front offices have historically found innovative ways to build winning teams. In support of that, they are counting down the top-25 GMs of all time over at their blog. Since it’s slow season, I’m going to continue linking to the countdown as it’s great stuff we rarely read about in the normal course.
Walt Jocketty could add at the deadline. And pick up a veteran bargain in the offseason. You think you knew that already, but man, I was surprised at how many of these kinds of deals Jocketty made while in St. Louis. Mark McGwire, Will Clark, Mike Timlin, Woody Williams, Chuck Finley, Scott Rolen, Sterling Hitchcock, Larry Walker and Jeff Weaver all made their bones elsewhere, but were brought to St. Louis and shined.
Makes you wonder if Marlon Byrd still has one last big year in him in Cincinnati.
Cardinals await conclusion of ALCS as World Series will be a rematch of 2004 or 2006
With a thorough 9-0 drubbing of the Dodgers in Game 6 of the NLCS, the Cardinals clinched a World Series appearance for the first time since, uh, last week. At least it feels that way, anyway. They won the World Series in 2011 against the Texas Rangers in seven games.
The Cardinals are anxiously waiting for the ALCS to wrap up to find out where they’ll go and who they’ll play on Wednesday in Game 1 of the World Series. They’ll open up either in Boston or Detroit.
If it’s the Red Sox, who are up three games to two, it will be a rematch of the 2004 World Series. The Red Sox swept the Cardinals in four games, breaking the 86-year-old “Curse of the Bambino”. That World Series featured players such as Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, and Derek Lowe for Boston. For the Cardinals, they had Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds, Scott Rolen, and Dan Haren. It was a long time ago.
If it’s the Tigers, it will be a rematch of the 2006 World Series, which the Cardinals took in five games. That World Series featured players such as Curtis Granderson, Magglio Ordonez, and Kenny Rogers for Detroit. The Cardinals had David Eckstein, Jeff Weaver, and Anthony Reyes. Ah, memories.
The Cardinals will have four whole days of rest, meaning they’ll be able to set up their rotation exactly the way they want. In fact, Michael Wacha would be on schedule if he were to start Game 1. It will be interesting to see in exactly which order the Cardinals line up their starters.
First off, I have a tremendous respect for your franchise. I’m young enough to not remember my favorite team getting bludgeoned by the Big Red Machine, but old enough to remember what it was like to watch Eric Davis with complete awe … the Reds are a quality organization with a long, storied history. And I respect the heck out of you.
So this isn’t easy to write. I love the uncertainty of the playoffs, the surprises. The best part of the postseason is to find out who the Jeff Weaver or Mark Lemke is going to be. The randomness of it all is what keeps the baseball playoffs so danged interesting. I’m looking forward to watching it all develop.
But me and some of the other folks have been talking, and, well, we need you to lose.
His reasoning is sound. I mean, really, it is. Gotta go read it for it to truly make sense to you though.
Personally: I find the Reds a pretty likable bunch. But I do believe that most everyone is gonna be rooting for Pittsburgh tonight and I get it. I wish it was the Cardinals facing the Pirates now because they’re way easier to root against. But that’s not how it is, so we’re gonna have to just accept this.
But … if everyone is rooting for the Pirates, doesn’t that make the Reds the outcasts? And don’t prickly jerks like me tend to root for the outcasts? The hated? Does this not compel me to root for the Reds?
Darn, this is confusing.
And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights
Dodgers 6, Phillies 4: Six straight wins for the Dodgers as Yasiel Puig singled home the tying and go-ahead runs in the seventh inning. Puig also smacked into the scoreboard in right field, so he’s basically Bryce Harper in multiple respects. That seventh inning rally was occasioned by the bases being loaded on a walk, a bunt which Ryan Howard muffed to allow the bunter to reach and then another walk. Then Puig did his stuff.
Cubs 7, Brewers 2: Series like Cubs-Brewers are, at this point, primarily scouting combines in anticipation of the trade deadline. And Matt Garza was the equivalent of that defensive end wearing Under Armor spandex while creepy dudes like Mel Kiper talk about their “long-bodies” and “great wingspan.” He struck out ten in seven innings while allowing one run on eight hits with a walk.
Diamondbacks 3, Nationals 2: Remember that scene in “The Natural” where Roy Hobbs’ winning blast caused the light tower to explode in spark and flame? Well, that happened at Nats park yesterday except (a) the road team won; and (b) the winning hit in the ninth 11th was a bunt. Two bunts actually won it. Miguel Montero hit a ground rule double, Cody Ross bunted his pinch runner to third and Didi Gregorius “knocked” in the go-ahead run with a bunt single. Then he was transported to a wheat field where he played catch with his illegitimate son as Glen Close watched over them lovingly. Or something.
Angels 3, Tigers 1: Albert Pujols with an RBI double in the tenth that provided the winning margin. The Angels have beat the Tigers for the ninth straight time. Guys Tigers fans love to hate did well. Jeff Weaver — who got all plunky with Tigers hitters last year — allowed one run in seven innings. Mike Trout — who many Tigers fans have decided to hate because how dare someone suggest Miguel Cabrera have competition for the MVP last year?! — was 4 for 5 yesterday and 8 for 16 in the series with a homer, two doubles and five RBI.
Orioles 7, Indians 3: Down 3-2 in the fifth the O’s scored five of their own. Manny Machado was ejected arguing that a third strike was really a foul ball. That ended a streak of 1,206 innings played, which was the longest active streak in the bigs. Lonnie Chisenhall on the O’s quick strike for five:
“It happened so fast, same thing last night,” said Chisenhall. “It’s the way the AL East plays. Runs just show up on the board.”
Damndest thing, that.
Mets 3, Rockies 2: The makeup game from a snow-out back in April. Marlon Byrd hit a go-ahead homer in the eighth inning and threw out a runner from right field in the ninth. The guy he nailed on the base paths? Michael Cuddyer, who was trying to stretch a single into a double. He still had three hits on the day, though, and extended his hitting streak to 24 games. That’s a Rockies record.
Rangers 2, Yankees 0: Derek Holland with the Maddux, shutting out the Bombers — if we can call this lineup the “Bombers” — on 92 pitches.
Red Sox 7, Blue Jays 4: John Lester got a much-needed win — only his second in eight starts — but left the game in the eighth when he jammed his hip. A seven-run second inning for the Sox pretty much sewed this game up early, however.
Twins 3, Royals 1: Samuel Deduno allowed one run over seven innings, walking only one. Which is a big deal for him, because he’s usually walktastic.
The best (and worst) bench-clearing brawls of all time
I was not at all pleased to see Carlos Quentin and Zack Greinke go at it last night. And I am on record as saying that throwing at guys is dumb. And that charging the mound is dumb. I am glad that fights are fewer and more far between now than they used to be back in the day, but I’d like to see them eliminated totally.
That said: some of these brawls can be kind of fun to watch if you put your hangups about such things aside.
Here are some of the more memorable ones, in no particular order:
Nolan Ryan vs. Robin Ventura, 1993:
This one needs no introduction, for we’ve seen it a zillion times. It’s often called an epic beatdown by the elder, just-about-to-retire Ryan on the poor young Ventura. But in reality Ventura fought back fairly decently after weathering Ryan’s initial, famous assault:
OK, maybe Ventura still got totally owned, but history would have you believe that Ryan knocked him into next Tuesday. It was next Sunday at best.
Braves vs. Padres, 1984
Pascual Perez hit Alan Wiggins and it led to not just one, but multiple fights throughout the game. If this happend today the Internt would break:
Juan Marichal vs. John Roseboro, 1965
This one was scary. Marichal had thrown inside to two Dodgers hitters early. When he came to bat later in the game, the Dodgers catcher made a point to throw the ball back to pitcher Sandy Koufax in such a way as to have it sail close to Marichal’s head. Marichal flipped out, clubbed Roseboro with his bat and then a lengthy brawl ensured. Roseboro needed 14 stitches. Marichal was suspended for eight games. It coulda been way, way worse:
Orioles vs. Yankees, 1998
Armando Benitez threw one in Tino Martinez’s back. All hell broke loose:
Kevin Youkilis vs. Rick Porcello, 2009
First pitch plunk, a mound charge, a helmet throw and then a skinny ground ball pitcher does what he does best: buries Youkilis into the ground with a nice takedown. My girlfriend, a Tiger fan, has a picture from this one framed and displays it in our home.
This one was more notable for the timing of it than the actual fisticuffs. You just don’t see fights like this in league championship series, as no one wants to risk a suspension or injury with so much at stake. But then again, when Pete Rose is involved, all bets are off:
Don Zimmer vs. Pedro Martinez, 2003 ALCS
Another LCS fight, this one with a much greater age difference than the Ryan-Ventura fight. Since it occurred, Pedro has said that he really had no idea what to do with the then-72 year-old coach charging him — Pedro also claims Zimmer was going to punch him and was insulting his mother — so he sort of did an ole-job. Zimmer’s response to that in 2009? “Pedro is full of crap … It’s what, six years later? If Pedro wants to be a big man, I don’t care what he says.” Let’s just agree to disagree, gentlemen, and agree that this was hilarious:
Tigers vs. White Sox, 2000
I couldn’t find video of this one but I remember it well from the SportsCenter clips that night. Tigers starter Jeff Weaver hit Carlos Lee with a pitch. The next inning Jim Parque hit Dean Palmer. Palmer charged the mound, threw his helmet, and the fight was on. Unlike today’s pushing and shoving, guys were really punching each other. There was blood and guts and everything.
Hey, not all of these get their own category. Sometimes you just gotta listen to some bad music and watch baseball fights in montage form:
Got a favorite I missed? Let’s talk about them in the comments. But please: let’s keep it civil. I don’t want to have to eject anyone.