Talking Strategy

For the third time this year, I’ll be appearing on a Fox Strategy Room webcast. I’ll be part of the “Clubhouse Report” show hosted by Brian Kilmeade today at 1 PM at this link. It looks as though the panel will feature a few other recognizable names:

Rick Cerrone – Sr. Director of Media Relations for NY Yankees 1996-2006, RickCerrone.com

Jay Jaffe – Baseball Prospectus

Geno Bisconte – Comedian, Youtube.com/GenosPicks, GenoBisconte.com

Marty Appel – PR Director NY Yankees 1968-1976, Author of 17 books, including the best-selling baseball book: “Munson: The Life and Death of a Yankee Captain.”

Not sure how I wind up with second billing in that group. Appel and Cerrone always used to pop up in newspaper reports regarding the Yankees and baseball in general; I really enjoyed Appel’s Now Pitching For the Yankees book from several years back. Bisconte is the yukster who’s animated the other two appearances I’ve made on the Strategy Room. Should be plenty of baseball talk about the Yankees and day one of the playoffs.

It sure was a long day. I spent at least 10 hours on my couch watching the tripleheader, though I’d be lying if I said I had an easy time following Phillies-Rockies during my BP chat. The Yankees’ win over the Twins was satisfying, with Derek Jeter’s towering home run, CC Sabathia’s gritty performance, and Alex Rodriguez’s two RBI hits helping them pull away slowly in the later innings.

The Dodgers’ win over the Cardinals was much more nerve-wracking, as Randy Wolf loaded the bases in the first inning before recording a single out, and Ronnie Belliard collaborated with Matt Kemp on missing a blooper into shallow center that scored the game’s first run. Luckily, the Dodgers escaped that jam without further damage and Kemp bopped a two-run homer off Cardinal ace and Cy Young candidate Chris Carpenter in the bottom of the first. Neither Carpenter nor Wolf were on their games. Wolf gave up six hits, five walks (two intentional, both to Albert Pujols, and with good cause) and a hit-by-pitch in 3.2 innings before Joe Torre pulled him for… Jeff F’ing Weaver! Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve already gotten the course credit for Jeff Weaver 101, Jeff Weaver 201, and Jeff Weaver 301 courses, and I’m not really going for my master’s degree there. Torre appeared to mistake ol’ Wevo, who admittedly did a credible job on mop-and-bucket duty this year for the Dodgers to resurrect his career, for David Cone c. the 2000 World Series, and I nearly had to cover my eyes. Luckily it didn’t blow up in his face, as Weaver extricated them from another bases-loaded jam with a weak grounder by Ryan Ludwick.

Men left on base were the theme of the game; the two teams set a postseason record by stranding 30 men, 16 by the Dodgers, who chipped away at Carpenter for four runs in five innings but could never really break the game open. Meanwhile, both managers battled for every single out with their corps of relievers, each using five of them. The Dodger bullpen — Weaver, Ronald Belisario, Hong-Chih Kuo, George Sherrill and Jonathan Broxton — gave Torre 5.1 of five-hit ball, striking out five without walking anybody, and surrendering just one garbage-time run. The Cardinal bullpen looked like a shakier proposition, yielding four walks in four frames. Portly lefty specialist Dennis Reyes yielded a double to Andre Ethier, the only Dodger really worth the trouble of manager Tony LaRussa’s incessant bullpen machinations, and came around to score on a bases-loaded HBP when Kyle McClelland drilled Russell Martin. He was the only Dodger starter who failed to collect at least one hit, with Rafael Furcal looking like the guy in the catalog by collecting three, including a triple that went for naught.

How big a win was that for the Dodgers? I no longer can count the number of postseason victories they’ve accumulated since my freshman year of college on one hand. Huge.

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