Tuesday, October 25, 2011

World Series 2011, Game 5: Three Good, Three Bad

by Jason Wojciechowski

Close baseball!



First. Nick Punto hit a bloopy liner thing to left in the top of the second. I think David Murphy broke the wrong way initially, but then started in the right direction and wound up making a diving catch to end the inning. For some reason, Punto carried the bat with him all the way down to first. Upon seeing the Murphy catch, he Hulked out and smash-- no, I'm sorry, he Bruce Bannered out and tried to break his bat across his knee, only to fail miserably and grump his way back to the dugout.

I would recommend that any other middle infielders out there harboring illusions of being Bo Jackson work those issues out at home / on the couch. Just talk it out, guys, and go do what you do best: scrap.

Second. Mitch Moreland hit a shot to the second deck in right in the bottom of the third to cut the Cardinals' lead to 2-1. Here's the thing about the Texas second deck: it comes all the way out to the same place where the first deck is, basically. "Shots" to the second deck in Texas may or may not have reached the second deck in many other stadiums. Still, a significant part of the joy of baseball is aesthetic -- the ball soaring through the night against a backdrop of ecstatic fans is one of the pleasures of the game, especially in the World Series. Does it matter that perhaps Moreland's homer wasn't a Ruthian shot but merely a very solid homer? Of course not. Because it looked awesome.

Third. Adrian Beltre hit a home run in the bottom of the sixth while corkscrewing himself into the ground, falling to a knee as he took a wild hack at the ball. This would be awesome enough had the broadcast not decided to discuss this very thing happening during Beltre's last time at the plate. They even showed a clip of him launching a ball over the Green Monster in 2010 on a very similar type of play.

It's just like the Moreland homer, really. In the end, it's just a homer into the first row in left field. But the aesthetics of it, the hilarity of seeing a major-league player knocking himself over like an overexcited five-year-old at tee-ball combined with the majesty and wonderment contained in Beltre's wrists and forearms -- that's baseball!


First. Managers! I'm not going to mark these all separately because there are too many. Here is a list of my grievances: Mike Napoli is still batting eighth; Allen Craig sacrificing Rafael Furcal from second to third with nobody out in the third inning; Ron Washington intentionally walking Albert Pujols in that same inning, and then again with the bases empty and two out in the seventh, which latter walk was followed by a Matt Holliday hit on which he took second on the throw to the plate, leading to another intentional walk, thus resulting in three men on base for St. Louis, two of whom were placed there entirely electively by the opposing manager; worst of all, it worked -- St. Louis was unable to score in the inning; Octavio Dotel intentionally walking Nelson Cruz in the bottom of the eighth; Allen Craig being thrown out on a hit-and-run strike 'em out throw 'em out double play to end the St. Louis threat in the top of the ninth, not only costing a base runner but having Pujols swing at a pitch about two feet outside.

Remember, this is the World Series. This isn't Bob Geren vs. Ron Gardenhire in July. These are supposed to be good managers. I despair, my friends, I despair.

Second. The slippery balls. David Murphy dropped a ball in left twice on one play in the top of the second, C.J. Wilson made a weirdly back backhand throw attempt on a bunt in the top of the third, and Chris Carpenter looked like a professional bowler more than a professional baseball player in the bottom of the fifth, stumbling and bumbling his way into dropping a swinging bunt, letting Kinsler reach base in about as cheap fashion as you'll ever see. Someone wipe down those baseballs!

Third. Nick Punto's existence on a World Series team.


David said...

I was hoping you'd remark on my least favorite moment. The announcing. Yikes. Even within that large category, I had a least favorite moment. Poz posted earlier this week that the announcing was driving him crazy. Specifically, one of the things he mentioned was that Tim McCarver always talks about bunts when there's someone on and no one out. Well, the worst one was when Michael Young hit a leadoff double, bringing up Adrian Beltre. McCarver says, "Now, a bunt is not very likely here." REALLY?!?!?!? That's your analysis? A great hitter with awesome power isn't going to sacrifice? How does that dude have a job? Yikes.

William Tasker - Caribou, ME said...

I loved your first "good." Hilarious. And yeah, the managing was...uh...questionable.

My dislike for the intentional walk is for the fans. Some people may only get to watch Pujols in a setting such as this. They are deprived of that thrill by the free passes. I hate them strategically, but I also hate them aesthetically.

Jason Wojciechowski said...

David, yeah, I considered bringing up McCarver talking about the possibility of an Adrian Beltre bunt ... except I wasn't so sure that Washington didn't actually contemplate having him lay one down there. I won't put anything past Ol' Wash.

As a general matter, I've mostly tuned out the announcing at this point. Well, tuned out / flat-out can't hear it. I was born with about 50% hearing loss (though how it's "loss" when I never had it in the first place is beyond me), so I can just sit there and blissfully let Buck/McCarver be vaguely human noises without really understanding much of what they're actually intoning.

William, yeah, even when the intentional walk is good strategy, it's frustrating to see. It's just not fun. I'm not in favor of any of the reform strategies I've seen (notably from Joe Posnanski) because I think the distortion they'd create is far too great, but I still don't actually like the "strategy."

Theo said...

I think it's funny when people try and defend La Russa and Washington by saying "they made the World Series, so obviously whatever they do works". Last night was a perfect example of over-managing; it almost felt like both managers were trying to give the game away.

Also, I find it hard to believe that one team pulled off FOUR intentional walks without a single one backfiring. I guess that's what happens when La Russa gives away five outs. And I'm not even going to start on his pitching disaster in the eighth inning.

Theo said...

I just re-read my comment and realized it sounded really negative. Outside of last night, I've loved this Series so far. Even when the Cardinals lost their first two, it felt like they simply got outplayed. I can live with that. It's the bizarre managerial decisions that drive me nuts.