White Hat Sports Headlines

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Monkey see, monkey.....You're a monkey!!!!

I was planning on writing this, I really was. I have just been handed though an urgent and more substantial reason to write this column. I am a lot of things, long winded, wordy, verbose, never truncated, gregarious and ever the raconteur. However, above all else, I am one thing and that is competitive. So when I saw my compatriot Aaron Jackson wrote a recent column (which I didn't read, but I've heard it's quite good) I knew without a shadow of a doubt, I had to release one as well. Without further adu, here are my thoughts heading into the American League Championship Series tomorrow night, written however, under the influence of the Phillies-Dodgers NLCS.

(First a tangent, which I just mentioned to my buddy Sam while watching Game 1. I am predicting the Phillies beat the Dodgers in this series, I'll say six games and it'll be over. The reason for this is that the Phillies are starting to remind me of the Rockies from last season, a seemingly tough line up, but only at home, and their rotation is built around the left hander that seems to be on a run right now. Playing the Rays, I think this Phillies team could win the World Series, playing the Red Sox, I don't see it happening. Perhaps that's why I'm picking them, atleast I'm honest about it.)

~ I feel very strangely at ease with Daisuke going in game one tomorrow night. It won't be easy, it will be down right tough to watch I can guarantee you that, but he seems to win those games. (Speaking of tough, the last two season's I've had to listen to Daisuke's game 2 starts of the ALDS the last two season. Forget the 4 minute mile or Wilt's 100 point game, this might be the most difficult thing in sports.) He will get a lead, he will threaten to give up the lead, his pitch count will rise as will my blood pressure during every home half of the inning, but he will escape and when he departs after 5 or 6 inning the Red Sox will be holding a lead. I keep thinking that Daisuke isn't a very good postseason pitcher, but off the top of my head I can only remember one playoff game that the Red Sox have lost in which Matsuzaka started. That's for good reason, as it's only happened once, to Cleveland in last year's ALCS. The loss was also perhaps the best game that Daisuke pitched in his playoff career.

~ I full expect James Shields to be tough tomorrow night, but also very pumped up. The people that said all season that the Rays would cave in the second half, (me included) are the same people that are saying the Rays will cave underneath the pressure of the postseason. One thing that they definitely have in their favor is that they have home field advantage and get to start the series at home where they have been the best in baseball.

~ Going in the Angels series, I was on the Moneyball Bandwagon that said you have to match up your starting pitchers if you're the Red Sox so that you have your best home/road pitchers pitching where they have their best record. Matsuzaka is lights out on the road, Lester is lights out at Fenway and Josh Beckett has to be one of the top two starters and he has actually be better this season on the road than at home. Well going into this ALCS the Red Sox have their starters set up in just such a way, mostly because this year's Jim Lonborg (Jon Lester in case you couldn't figure it out fromt he next few words) had to pitch an extra game and best the Angels in the clinching game 3 Monday night. Even having to play the extra game in the first round (look at the Red Sox recent playoff history and playing more than 3 games in the ALDS hasn't happened since 2003, so I consider anything more than 3 extra) the Sox still have their proverbial ducks in a row and ready to take Tampa by storm starting tomorrow night.

(Side note from the NLCS: it's amazing in the NL and more specifically being personified by the Dodgers right now, that on these teams there is one guy on good teams that strikes fear in the other team. Right now Manny Ramirez is doing that at the scale that few have ever seen before. So when Manny (yes we're still on a first name basis since he left) lined out to Pedro Feliz moments ago in a one run game, the crowd cheered like Chase Utley had been rescued from cannibals. They know they just dodged a bases empty bullet, because a solo shot from Manny right now is happening more frequently than some people's bodily functions. Scary comparison, but its playoff time and all of the drug advertisement's are telling me that people are missing things and using too many restrooms or not enough restrooms. They all sort of run together, I can never really tell anymore.)

~ The bullpens will probably be the deciding factor in this series. There is a formula to the playoffs, there won' t be many if any blow outs in this series, but there will be a blown save, there will be a tide turning error at some point and somebody is going to get blamed for a loss and as always a hero will emerge. The Red Sox already saw these things happen, THIS YEAR!! (Talk about playoff experience, they're buying it in bulk now apparently.) Against the Angels, all of the aforementioned things happened, K-Rod blew a tied game at home, the tide turning error was the botched squeeze play that shifted all of the momentum of the series and Vlad will be the player blamed for the loss in game one, which is strange because I feel Erick Aybar should get much more credit for losing the series. Without a doubt the hero that emerged in the series was from Boston and to me Jed Lowrie should get more credit than he does as should JD Drew, but Jason Bay was Mr. First Week of October.

Look, I'm a complete homer and I know this. So if you're looking for objectivity, you won't find it here when talking about the remaining playoff games this year. If you want objectivity, read Aaron Jackson talk about politics. Whoops! That might be the one person and one topic that is less objective than me about the Sox.

~Sterling Pingree

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