Thursday, October 30, 2008

Phinally Phinished

The Common Man is man enough to admit when he's wrong (though not man enough to admit when he's lost driving through rural northern Wisconsin at 10:30 at night). So he would like to heartily congratulate the Philadelphia Phillies and their fans in the wake of their stunningly decisive World Series Championship over the Tampa Bay Rays. The Phillies were calm and commanding throughout the series, while the Rays looked young, panicky, and over-eager. Like The Common Man's cat, the Phillies played with their mouse, letting it stay in each game, convincing it they could escape, only to make them whiff on another changeupon the outside corner.

For the record, The Common Man's predictions, other than the onewhere he chose the winner, look pretty good. The running game was about equal, with both teams stealing 7 bases, getting caught once, and picked off once. Jamie Moyer pitched a solid ball game. Hamels won both his starts. And Ryan Howard hit .286/.375/.762 with 3 homers and 6 RBI.

Sadly, the Series was not a rousing success. It was sloppy, seemed one-sided despite 4 close games out of 5, sported terrible umpiring, and had a debacle of a game 5, which was first played in a monsoon and then suspended for 48 hours. Pundits have gone over the top, however, in their condemnation of it. Dean of baseball reporters, Peter Gammons posited that, "There are a lot of questions that will be weighed after this, the worst World Series in memory" and ESPN touted it as the "worst ever."

Frankly, that's ridiculous. Maybe it was a little sloppy and one-sided (11 errors in 5 games, 2 pick offs, baserunning mistakes). In 2007, the Red Sox swept the Rockies and outscored them 29-10; there was virtually no drama in that series. In 2006, the 82-80 Cardinals beat the Tigers in five games, in a series featured 12 errors. The Red Sox swept the Cardinals in 2004 despite committing 8 errors in the first 2 games. In fact, the losing team hasn't won 2 games in a World Series since 2003. We've been seeing one-sided series for half a decade now, many of them sloppy. And other World Series have been halted in the middle. Famously, the 1989 Series was postponed for a week following the San Francisco earthquake. And several other games have either been rained out or suspended.

Frankly, the only criteria that should matter for a World Series are the drama it produces and the quality of the baseball played. In that regard, the 2008 World Series did ok. Not great, but ok. Though he's sure everyone in Philly enjoyed it immensely.

And one programming note: The Common Man realizes that things have been very sports-heavy around here lately. He's looking forward to once again branching out a little starting tomorrow.

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