OK, the Yankees and the Dodgers are out of the playoffs. Yankee and Dodger fans make up, what, about 97% of our readership here at Baseball Toaster? Why am I even bothering to post this morning?
I was thinking last night about what I was going to write about the Yankees and Dodgers. What can you say? I think piling on the Yankees would be unfair. I do think it's curious that the same thing that felled the Yankees (old and ineffective starting pitching) was the reason a lot of people thought the Dodgers had a good chance to beat the Mets. In the Mets' case, the hitting attack came through and the pitching was good enough. In the Yankees' case, the combination of career-best performances from several Tigers starters and the ridiculous pressure that started out on Alex Rodriguez but spread to the rest of the team proved too much to overcome. In a way, it took going down in defeat in such a spectacular manner for me to be able to feel any sort of sensitivity for the Yankees and their fans. There's no such thing as an invincible lineup. As unfair an advantage as it may seem to a fan of a team with a $40 million payroll, a $200 million roster presents its own special set of problems. I would rather the Rockies had the Yankees' problems and vice versa, but I do understand that there are no shortcuts for anybody no matter the size of their local TV market.
I suppose to the audience to whom I'm addressing this it won't come as any kind of original sentiment, but can we please make Thom Brennaman and Tim McCarver go away? During the Dodgers-Mets game last night they spent two full innings harping on how the Paul Lo Duca trade had ruined Los Angeles, possibly forever. Other than a few random uninformed mentions of the Dodgers' crazy-good farm system, the only good things they had to say about the Dodgers involved 38-year-old Jeff Kent and 40-year-old Greg Maddux, who didn't even pitch well. And they spent more time talking about the Lo Duca trade than both of those dudes combined! There were graphics! I thought for a while I had accidentally tuned into an ESPN Classic special co-presented by Bill Plaschke and Tommy Lasorda: "Why Paul DePodesta Is the Devil." They called Guillermo Mota a quality reliever, Brennaman and McCarver did. This trade happened two years ago. Brad Penny had a good year for the Dodgers in 2006, and so did Russell Martin, who plays Lo Duca's position. This was completely absurd. There was nothing else to talk about in the Dodgers' and Mets' third game of the postseason? They even failed to mention, going into the bottom of the ninth, that the score was 9-5, a recently significant tally for Los Angeles. I cannot believe we are stuck with these two clowns (and Joe Buck, no better) for most of the rest of the balance of the postseason schedule. I can't wait to hear them explain how the secret to the A's success is not actually having any good hitters, or how Jim Leyland's secondhand smoke gives the young Tigers superpowers. Nothing they could say from here on out would surprise me.
There's another bit of random in-game research from yesterday I thought you might like if I shared. You know that commercial with Lasorda and the Indians fans? Didn't it strike you as weird that one of them was wearing what appeared to be a Reds hat? It did the research department and I. We looked it up; Cleveland did indeed have hats like that at one point. As a matter of fact they wore them the last time they won the World Series. Good to know. I don't know why the Reds elected to steal that look. Not that it surprises me. I've come to expect that sort of thing over the years from the franchise of Marge Schott, Rob Dibble, and Paul O'Neill.
I can't explain why the Dodgers, who were my pick to win the NL West from the preseason onward, made such a meek exit from the playoffs this year. I can say that unlike the Fox TV guys, I am aware of what talent they have in the system and the expanded roles we can expect many of their part-time contributors from this year to play in the near future. It's a good thing that Kenny Lofton and J.D. Drew had such poor series. It's time to let the young guys take over. The Dodgers are lucky that they have enough money to spring for temporary solutions and make the playoffs in years that would be for flat-out rebuilding for clubs with less cash and in better divisions. I don't think there's much doubt after the first clutch of playoff games that teams like Toronto, Boston, and the White Sox that finished out of the money in the American League would easily be favorites to make the World Series were they only in the NL.
"Favorites" doesn't mean that much, though, does it? It's like our man Eric Chavez said, the playoffs are a crapshoot. Look, 19 out of 19 ESPN "experts" had the Yankees beating the Tigers in their ALDS matchup.
Couple links you should look at. First of all, ESPN is reporting this morning that Joe Torre is going to lose his job as New York's manager. Well, you can't say that he didn't know what his job was, and you also can't say that since 2000 he's gotten it done. I think that Torre's skills as a game manager are overrated. How hard is it, really, to manage that roster? Also, the past few seasons Joe has done a less than satisfactory job of parceling out the workload in his bullpen so that his top relievers weren't totally fried come October. There was absolutely nothing he could have done differently to win this series with Detroit. New York just got smoked in all phases of the game there. The whole shuffling of A-Rod around the lineup I guess was supposed to be some sort of motivational technique that completely backfired. Torre ended up only making the rest of the team besides Jeter and Posada as tense as Rodriguez was. The fact of the matter is teams get tired of managers. It can happen sooner or it can happen later, but it happens, and Torre's failure to reach Alex Rodriguez is probably what ultimately cost him his job. The whole convoluted scheme involving the Sports Illustrated article sure didn't do the trick. Regardless of his failings, I'd have to think that the Cubs would be foolish not to try and hire Joe Torre. Lou Piniella apparently is going to take the Yankees job (which he's wanted for years). I suppose the Cubs could still go after Joe Girardi, but Girardi learned everything he knows from Torre anyway. Torre also has demonstrated an ability to deal with meddling and frequently self-contradictory bosses with grace. It's his top skill, even. In the interests of making themselves look slightly less like incompetent jokers, the Cubs would do well to bring him on board. He'd be the classiest manager they'd had in decades. In fact, have the Cubs ever had a classy manager? Dusty, Don Baylor, Jim Riggleman, Lee Elia, Don Zimmer, Leo Durocher, the College of Coaches...this bears further research.
And, just to remind you that we're still a Rockies page (or, as I like to say in the vain hopes of attracting more readership than the Rockies' 12 devoted fans, a baseball page written by a Colorado fan), here's the obligatory Todd Helton end-of-season article where he admits he's been playing hurt all year and promises next year will be better. Fool me once, Todd...well, you know how it goes. Dave Krieger implies that no one would want to trade for Helton without the Rockies paying so much of his remaining salary that it would be pointless, but I am not sure if that is true. In any event, last year Helton had enough of a specific complaint that you wanted to believe him when he said the next year would be better. This time around he has more trouble pinpointing what the problem was and convincing us that it won't bother him again. Besides, last year Helton was awesome down the stretch; this year he was merely good (and still without any power). There's a huge difference between good and awesome.
I have been deliberately avoiding linking to Troy E. Renck stories for the last couple of weeks ever since he mentioned Purple Row instead of me in a column where he wanted to make a point about obsessive Internet Rockies fans. To hell with you, Troy E.! Anyway, he writes in advance of the Rockies' organizational meetings that Coco Crisp will indeed be a trade target this offseason. I'm down with that.