Friday, October 10, 2008

NLCS Game 1 Quasi-Live Blog

This isn't technically a liveblog in that I didn't post my entries as I wrote them. That's because I was about a half hour behind live action, watching the game on DVR. That's the sort of thing you do when you have kids who don't have the decency to go to bed until after the game starts. But, as always, I assure you that this was not edited to make me sound smarter or clairvoyant or anything. Aside from a quick spellcheck and a very superficial once-over, this was how I was writing it as it happened.


Welcome back to playoff baseball on FOX! Here's the rule: take a drink every time an extreme closeup of a fan or a player in the dugout (a) catches a nose hair; or (b) causes viewers to actually miss a pitch.

Kevin Kennedy had better watch his back: Mark Grace's fu-manchu is catching up!

I think they need a bigger American flag in the outfield. The one they're using for the pregame ceremonies just isn't doing enough to express the concept of patriotism.

Kennedy almost called Manny Ramirez a clubhouse "leader," obviously caught himself and said "presence" instead. It was nice of Kevin to keep Boston fans' heads from exploding like that.

You know, I sort of like the DirectTV commercials that recreate famous movie scenes, but I gotta tell ya, I don't like the Poltergeist one because it just reminds me that the little blonde girl who played Carol Anne died a horrible young death. Bummer.

Joe Buck has the same kind of hair I had when I was in my early 20s. Wispy. Swoopy. Temporarily covering up the fact that he will soon be as bald as a cueball.

Larry Bowa managed to announce the lineup without dropping an F-bomb. The meds must be working.

Top of the 1st

Ryan Howard beats Rafael Furcal in a looong footrace to the bag. He's probably gassed for the night now.

Joe Torre's watch has more gold than many Incan cities.

The crowd was probably over-cheering strike one on Manny, but man did he shut 'em up with that double. That's out if he hits it anywhere else in the park.

You know, I love me some Manny, but the Dodger uniform has always seemed crisper and neater than any other team's, and he really sloppies it up.

Charlie Manual's gin blossoms really pop out at you in HD, don't they?

Loney's flyout to right gives us a great shot of the out-of-town scoreboard which, along with the very similar one in Pittsburgh, is the best in any stadium.

Bottom of the 1st
Harry Kalas' voice is soooooo freaakkinn cooool. I wish he were doing this game for FOX instead of just reading lineups.

What is this theme music they're playing over the advertiser IDs? It sounds like something I've heard on an Oscar telecast, so I'm assuming it's from a movie, but I can't place it.

As I mentioned yesterday, Derek Lowe is about six weeks older than me, and he was born in Dearborn, Michigan, which is where my grandmother lived when I was a kid. I wonder if I ever played with him in Hemlock Park when I was down visiting her. I think I'm going to start telling people that I did.

Slick play by DeWitt.

Top of the 2nd

Casey Blake is about six weeks younger than me. He was born in Des Moines. I've never been there. Maybe I met him that summer I was on the traveling league, though. Ah, probably not. Blake doesn't look like he was ever much of a bowler.

Derek Lowe is up and Rosenthal and McCarver make a good point regarding how much timing plays into free agent contracts. Lowe had a walk year in 2004 and again this year, each time posting seasons that will end up having made him a lot of money. Somewhere Ben Sheets is throwing beer cans at the TV. Well, he would be if he didn't hurt his arm at the tail end of his walk year.

Bottom of the 2nd

McCarver is talking about that sinkerballers-can't-have-too-much-rest thing. Hasn't that been debunked? At least negatively in that the idea that short rest is good for a sinkerballer has been discredited? I need an intern to track this stuff down.

I always wonder how guys like Milt Thompson get gigs as hitting coaches. He was a career below-average hitter with no power stroke. If he had some insights on hitting, wouldn't he have used them on himself? Gerald Perry is another one.

Top of the 3rd

Cole Hamels' changeup causes Rafael Furcal's helmet to fly off. That's a pretty good changeup.

Howard oles a grounder from Either, but they score it a hit. Doesn't it seem like official scorers are giving out way too many infield hits on balls like that? A decade or two ago that play was always called an error, and now it's a hit two out of three times.

Joe Buck is talking about the 1996 Yankees and Joe Torre, and as he does this, a sharp director down in the truck gets a shot of Mariano Duncan coaching first base. Buck says "Mariano Duncan . . . longtime Dodger coaching first . . ." apparently missing the fact that Duncan was on the 1996 Yankees himself.

Bottom of the 3rd

A promo for the new season of "24," subtitled "Redemption." So, what, are the producers going to have the Jack Bauer character apologize for helping to desensitize our nation to torture, thereby legitimizing it in the minds of our policymakers for the past six years? Because I'd watch that.

Hamels out, Rollins out, Victorino given the big Dusty Rhodes elbow splash by Derek Lowe down at first base to end the inning.

Top of the Fourth

Matt Kemp doubles on a ball that bounces into the seats on the rightfield line. Jayson Werth mighta coulda slid and caught that one, but he looked like he was feeling the wall from 30 feet away.

Buck says "Casey Blake is in battle mode as the count evens 2 and 2." How you can tell if Blake is in "battle mode?" Does he slightly arch an eyebrow, and then quickly return to to his normal placid self?

Blake gets Kemp to third on a fielder's choice to bring DeWitt up. McCarver notes that this might be a squeeze situation. Somewhere Mike Scioscia is jumping up off a couch yelling "you're goddamn right it is!!!!"

DeWitt flies out and the run scores. It's 2-0 Dodgers. Erick Aybar turns to the guy at the bar next to him and says "I coulda done that."

Bottom of the Fourth

DeWitt has looked pretty good at second. He's not a good enough hitter to stick at third. Actually, he's really isn't good enough to hit at second either, but at least that's a closer call. In other news, Ryan Howard still isn't hitting.

Top of the Fifth

A 1-2 changeup from Hamels to Furcal was about as perfect as it gets. It was like one of those pitches in The Naked Gun when Leslie Neilsen is umping, but it's called a ball.

They're playing this game in Citizens Bank Park. There are an awful lot of parks, stadiums, and arenas named after financial institutions out there. Now that we seem to be on course to nationalize the entire financial sector, I wonder if someone could sneak a provision into one of those multi-billion dollar bills requiring that all of the ballparks shall henceforth be named after leading citizens, sports figures, or historical events. I mean, if we're going to go socialist, let's have some good to go along with the bad, right? That and some WPA art projects. I love WPA art.

The Manny-leaving-Boston saga is finally brought up. I'm surprised it took five innings to get there. Joe Buck: "Manny didn't just fall from the sky and into a Los Angeles Dodgers uniform for no reason. Manny Ramirez was traded away by the Boston Red Sox because they were tired of the way he was acting." McCarver remains mysteriously silent for a time, then brings up the Manny-knocking-the-traveling-secretary incident, but refrains from editorializing. No use of the word "despicable." I wonder if FOX forbade McCarver from offering his honest opinion on that stuff. If so, it's a shame. Not that I totally agree with his opinion on Ramirez. I just think broadcasts would be more enjoyable if broadcasters shared their honest opinions more often instead of pretending that this is some kind of political show that demanded balance and equal time or something. We're grownups, we can take it. We hear so much of McCarver's muddled baseball opinions, I'd love to hear some of his sharper personal ones.

Bottom of the Fifth

Joe Torre interviewed between innings, and gives Don Mattingly lots of credit for the turnaround at midseason, particularly as it relates to Kemp and Ethier. Manny didn't do everything, you know.

I'm sitting and watching Hamels swing and thinking "man, he looks like a real hitter up there." Then he goes and laces a hit into right center.

For the second or third time tonight, Buck calls Jimmy Rollins "the reigning MVP." Technically that's right, but the votes have all been cast for the 2008 MVP award, and are presumably sitting tallied somewhere. Someone else is the MVP-elect, as it were. We just don't know who it is.

Top of the 6th

McCarver "this double play is good." Sharp insight there, Timmy.

Hamels makes quick work of L.A. in the 6th.

Bottom of the 6th

Furcal needlessly rushes a throw and Victorino winds up on second base. I feel like I'm watching a Braves game circa 2003.

Um, I think we can say that Chase Utley is out of his slump. 2-2.

Howard rolls out to first and the, bammo! Pat the Bat jacks one to left! I wonder if something happened to Lowe in the 5th, because he's been a totally different pitcher in the past two innings than he was in the first four. Phillies up 3-2. Torre walks to the mound. Buck says "and the great Derek Lowe is done." That's a bit much, I'd say, but it does sound better than "the above average Derek Lowe is done."

Top of the 7th

Greg Maddux is warming up in the pen. I never thought he'd hang around long enough to be a middle reliever, but there you are. Hamels sets DeWitt down, and that's seven Ks for the minivan driver.

Make it eight, as Jeff Kent -- a man who has underwear older than Hamels -- goes down swinging.

Hamels puts them away in order, and now that he's north of 100 pitchers, I'm assuming he's done for the night.

But the inning isn't over yet! It's "God Bless America" time! We've been over this before, but I'm way partial to "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" at this juncture of a ballgame.

Bottom of the 7th

McCarver calls Maddux's 355 career wins "startling." Usually things that are "startling" don't take 22 years to unfold, but McCarver is old so we'll allow for him being more easily startled than most.

Furcal screws up another one. Maddux is having 2003 flashbacks too.

After taking the lead by mashing homers, Charlie Manuel decides to start playing small ball. Tagughi can't get the bunt down and the residents of Angryville let him hear about it.

Another gem by Blake DeWitt at second, turning a double play that I didn't think had a chance. Sweet.

Top of the 8th

Ryan Madsen strikes out Andre Ethier, and then Charlie Manuel jogs out to the mound to talk to Madsen about how to go after Manny. The jog was something to behold, all bouncy and wobbly as it was. If someone with video skills can take that jog, loop it over some fun music, and post it on YouTube I'd be forever in their debt.

Bottom of the 8th

Buck says that Hong-Chih Kuo has had four elbow surgeries, two of which were Tommy John jobs. Where are they gettin' the donor ligaments from at this point?

Two quick outs. This game really has been humming along. Furcal's blunders notwithstanding, it's been a crisp little affair with mostly good pitching but enough baserunners to keep it interesting. This has to be killing FOX, which is used to 3.5 hour turgid-a-thons when they have the ALCS.

Top of the 9th

Lidge is in and Albert Pujols is probably in Missouri or the D.R. or something right now, so I like the Phillies' odds.

Kemp flies out.

Blake flies out.

Buck notes that if DeWitt reaches, "Nomar Garciaparra would step to the plate." Since it's not 1999, I'm guessing that Phillies fans aren't nervous about that prospect.
DeWitt doesn't reach. Ballgame.

Well, I suppose I might have to up my prediction from Dodgers in 6 to Dodgers in 7, huh?


Marcel said...

"McCarver "this double play is good." Sharp insight there, Timmy."

I nearly fell out of chair I was laughing so hard when he said that.

Chadillac said...

Craig, your comment about Manny in his Dodger's uniform reminded me of how bad David Wells made a Yankees uniform look.

Anonymous said...

your prediction of dodgers in six assumed a substantial probability of the dodgers beating hamels in philly? the dodgers are down about 40% of a win compared to their expectation yesterday, so i think dodgers in six might still be plausible.

Daniel said...

The guy at the bar turns to Aybar and says, "Like hell you could have."

Aybar, looking ashamed, calls for another triple of Patron.