The Book of Mike

"This is no junior college. This is the notorious University of Miami.” -- Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis, after getting knocked around for six runs in 2 1/3 innings by the Canes.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Larry King Style

I’m assuming by now that if you’re actually reading this that you know what happened in the games this weekend, or at least you know where else to look to find out about the games (if not, check out the links on the right). So, in the interest of being brief today, I’ll give you my Larry King style rants (there will be no bulletpoints):

Am I the only person who is disturbed by Larry Walker’s batting helmet? He’s new to the Cardinals, but his navy batting helmet is as faded and worn out as anyone’s on the team. Did he inherit someone else’s when he joined the club? Can’t the Cards spring for a new helmet for the guy? It’s not like he wears it every game even – the Cards wear red helmets at home.

During last night’s broadcast, the announcers mentioned that this Cardinals club is the tenth that Tony LaRussa has taken to the post-season. For managers not named Cox and for folks who didn’t manage the Yankees back in the day, that’s a pretty heady total. If I ever had the chance, I’d like to ask LaRussa who would be on his all-time team of players he’s managed. Some obvious names like McGwire, Eckersley, Baines, and Pujols come to mind, but I’d have to ask Tony if he’d rather have the late-80s version of McGwire in his dugout – the version where you knew the potential was there and you could play a role in developing it – or the late-90s version of McGwire – when everything had come together and you were simply witnessing greatness. LaRussa – in Oakland and St. Louis – was fortunate enough to see both sides of McGwire’s Hall of Fame career.

The Red Sox have their pitching rotation set – assuming Schilling is healthy – as well as it possibly could be. If there’s ever a year when the Red Sox can take down the Yankees in the ALCS, this is the year. We’ll see…

Ron Gardenhire has done tremendous things with his Twins team. They simply win in the regular season and the team’s three consecutive division titles only prove that. However, questionable decisions – most notably pulling Johan Santana from Saturday night’s game after five innings – could cost him his job this offseason. If Santana was capable of starting Saturday’s game on three-days rest, he should have been capable of 6 or 7 innings or 100 pitches – totals he did not reach. Instead he was removed after five innings and less than 90 pitches. Although he left with a lead, the Twins lost the game and thus their season ended. If that was all Gardenhire thought he could have gotten out of Santana, he would have been better of saving him for game five, if the Twins had been able to pull the game out on Sunday. The Twins needed two long, strong outings from Santana to win that series, and Gardenhire robbed the team of Johan’s ability to provide that. Gardenhire did not put his club in the best possible position to win the series.

Jose Lima – it was fun while it lasted, but your fifteen minutes of fun, fame, and song are up. Enjoy the offseason.

I’m still trying to piece together the truth about the tragedy that struck Mariano Rivera’s family this weekend, but if some published reports are to be believed, it’s difficult to imagine that Mariano’s head will be completely on the ALCS when he returns to New York for the series. Not only did two family members – including one child – die at his home in Panama this weekend, but the circumstances surrounding the death appear to be bizarre and, likely, preventable. In no way am I asserting that the deaths are Mariano’s fault or that he is in anyway to blame, but these types of horrible things have to weigh on a person.

Printed reports (that I can find) aren’t discussing it like what I heard on the radio this morning, but it sounds as-if the rod that may have caused the electrocution was kept in the pool to keep dogs out of the pool. It isn’t clear if Mariano knew of this and/or if the folks who were in the pool knew that there was an electrical source in the pool.

If the Astros lose today’s game against the Braves we’ll have to start hearing talk that the ‘Stros are cursed much like the Red Sox and Cubs. Not that there’s any truth to it, but if there ever was a winnable playoff series for the Astros, this was it. It’s probably all for naught though. Despite the tear they were on coming into the playoffs, the difficult tests they’ve come up against in the LDS will likely make it difficult to overcome the clicking Cardinals in the LCS should they advance today.

Since I know think my predictions from last week were way off, I’ll reforecast my World Series teams even before the LCS match-ups are completely set: Cardinals versus Red Sox, with the Red Sox winning the Series in seven games. Both teams bring great offenses to the table, but the Red Sox have a little more starting pitching. We’ll likely hear a little bit too much about the importance of having two starting pitchers like Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez for the rest of October, but this year it could really turn out to be a difference maker.

Friday Night Lights is a great movie. It's not just a sports movie either. If you see it twice, try to catch the things that just didn't exist in 1988 (like the Oakley visors that many players wear on their helmets). Well, no I sound old - so I'm signing off. Until tomorrow...


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