It was pretty weird when the first rain delay in New York rearranged the postseason schedule such that the ALCS was basically decided before any of the NLCS games had even been played, but this is getting ridiculous. Since the Tigers don't have anybody who's hurt, except for Sean Casey, who arguably makes them better by not playing, and they don't have a weak spot in their four-man rotation to avoid with sneaky juggle combos, is this layoff hurting them? Boy, do I hope so. I'm past rooting against the Tigers at this point. It sure hasn't done any good thus far. I just want the World Series to be somewhat interesting and to go more than five games, and I don't think that's too much to ask. I don't have strong feelings either way about whether the Cardinals or the Mets are the team better prepared now to give Detroit a series. Going into the playoffs my NL favorite was New York because I picked them for the pennant in the preseason. On the rare occasion one of my preseason picks comes true it's cause for special celebration. Like everybody else, I kind of overlooked the Cardinals all season, until it appeared they were going to complete an artful choke job more suited to their namesakes in Glendale, AZ. They didn't finish the job and they kind of rolled over into the playoffs bearing the enmity of all those of us who weren't St. Louis fans particularly but just wanted to see the spectacle of a team blowing a ten-game lead with eleven games to go, or whatever it was. But I don't know. This team has demonstrated new charm. Like I was telling a Cardinal fan friend of mine this morning, St. Louis has a unique weapon who can change the face of a series with a single swing: Scott Spiezio. I mean, he's no Alexis Gomez. But dude, Scott Spiezio. Spiezio and Yadier Molina have nine combined RBI in this series and Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen have zero. That is fruity frackin' pebbles, dude.
The tone of inevitably regarding the Tigers' forthcoming victory in the 2006 World Series (weather permitting) is beginning to sound chillingly universal. Let's put it like this: there is absolutely no way anyone in a Detroit uniform can play the "no one gave us a chance" card win or lose in this next best-of-seven. It's foolish to guarantee a victory by anybody over anybody in any sport at any time, unless you are Joe Namath or Rasheed Wallace before last year. You'd think of all these instant historians might have been chastised by the way these very Tigers buried the Yankees against all published prognostications to the contrary. Does the fact that they were a lock to lose two weeks ago and didn't make them a lock to win now? That's stupid. It's not two wrongs making a right, exactly, but it's some other fallacy the Latin name of which I can't precisely recall at this early hour. I did however look up the name of the one under which all of these Jim-Leyland-for-sainthood campaigns labor. Post hoc ergo propter hoc.
I know I have been over this before, perhaps many times, so today I am going to bring in an outside source. As far as I know Total Ballclubs doesn't have any particular axe to grind with Jim Leyland. At least they have nice things to say about him under the Pirates and Marlins headings. But as for Colorado, I refer you to page 245, regarding the 1999 season: "The situation was only aggravated by Leyland's passionless piloting. Only weeks into the season, he was confiding to intimates he had made a mistake in not simply retiring after his previous post as Marlins manager, and his lassitude infected the entire clubhouse. He finally announced his retirement on September 1, by which time the club had a firm grip on its first basement finish." Waltzing out of a job that didn't immediately go the way he wanted, Leyland quit after one year of a three-year, $6 million deal that at the time was the largest ever given a manager. He also vowed never to manage professionally again. You want this liar as a role model for your kids? I hear he smokes, too!
If Leyland had been hired by the Yankees, Cubs, Dodgers, Red Sox (well, maybe not the Red Sox, you have to be practically fall down drunk on the field, and repeatedly, to stand out as a notably incompetent Boston manager), or in any event one of the glamour teams, all of the stories (and there have been stories) about his messianic reign in Motown would have at least a footnote about That Year He Lost His Passion. But no. It's okay to punk out on Colorado. Nobody cares about them. Well, we haven't forgotten. You suck, Jim Leyland.
A few drive-by comments on the comings and goings in the whirlabout world of MLB managerial jobs. The Cubs' hire of Lou Piniella is unwise. Lou Piniella is old and impatient and has not worked in a city with a real firestarting media in a long time. If they don't get him his players and they lose, he will cause trouble. If they do get him his players and they lose, he will cause trouble. I suppose it could work out if they get him his players and they win, but how is that going to happen? Chicago doesn't have enough pitching nor enough hitting, and they can't improve one without sacrificing what little they have left of the other. Even if they do scuffle to a somewhat respectable finish in 2007, what if the Yankees job becomes available? Joe Torre's contract will be up. Who doesn't see this becoming a problem even from a year away? I guess Jim Hendry. I'm a little surprised about Ken Macha's firing after the rather unusual little musical chairs game the A's front office played with him last year. Hearing what the Oakland players had to say about him after the axe fell, I am less surprised. You know what sticks out to me most about this story? The unsuspected class of the wild 'n' crazy Oakland clubhouse. The players apparently had issues with Macha all year long, but they kept it to themselves. They took it upon themselves to motivate each other, and they got farther than Oakland had since my middle school days. With some health luck here and a Daric Barton there, this A's team is not going away next year.
I can't believe I am writing about football two days in a row, but I cannot let the morning after that surreal Cardinals-Bears contest to pass without comment. For some time after Devin Hester's punt return touchdown, I was literally hysterical. The game had taken what little reserves of rationality I had left to me. I sat there giggling incoherently and at an inappropriate volume through to the last play. By the time Neil Rackers missed his potential game-winning field goal, I had no energy left to be surprised. After the game I watched Denny Green's spectacular postgame meltdown over and over again on ESPNews. It kept getting funnier and funnier. I believe it peaked around the sixth viewing, although in my altered mental state my ability to maintain a precise count may have been compromised. It is fortunate that Chicago has a bye week coming up, because it will take some time for the team spaceships to return from the distant reaches of outer space (normal laws of physics and logic do not apply) where this game obviously took place.