Wednesday, Oct. 24 at 2 p.m. ET
Major League Baseball
Wednesday, October 24, 2007; 2:00 PM
Washington Post baseball writers Dave Sheinin and Barry Svrluga were online Wednesday, Oct. 24 at 2 p.m. ET to take your questions and comments about the baseball postseason.
A transcript follows.
Barry Svrluga: Greetings from Boston, where there's still not that normal October nip in the air -- though it's getting there. Both Sheinin and I -- along with Thomas Boswell -- will be on hand at Fenway for tonight's Game 1 of the World Series. We can talk about that, but we sure as heck can talk Nationals as well.
Plenty of baseball in the paper this morning. Check it out -- as well as David Nakamura's story on the parking situation at RFK/Nationals Park.
Dave Sheinin: What's shakin', people? Thanks for stopping by our baseball chat. Predictions? I'm on record (thanks to Svrluga's latest post at Nationals Journal) as picking the Red Sox in four -- something I may or may not have said during dinner last night. But I'll stick with it. Sox in four. What do you think?
Silver Spring, Md.: What's up with the Nats promising free parking at RFK? Sounds like not everybody at the District Building thinks this is a done deal. Did Stan jump the gun?
Barry Svrluga: Mentioned this above. The Nationals sent out an email at around 5 p.m. yesterday saying that was their plan. Our own Nakamura made the calls to the city, and it's clear they have not signed off. Doesn't mean it won't happen, just means it's not a done deal.
But the whole thing is just the latest indication of how crucial the parking situation is. The Nationals can't afford to have potential ticket buyers turned off/away because they're worried about getting to and from the stadium. They're working on all options, but the reality is they don't own the new ballpark or the land around it, nor do they own RFK. They are tenants. It's a tough situation.
Canton, Ohio: Was the money spent on Dice-K really a good investment? He's decent -- maybe even better than decent -- but, geez, he hardly seems like a phenom ...
Dave Sheinin: Great question, Canton. The Red Sox will tell you, emphatically, yes. They will say he has added to the team's bottom line, thanks to marketing deals in Japan, etc. And let's face it: he also won 15 games, pitched 200 innings and struck out 200 batters -- which is a lot of production from someone who is, essentially, a No. 3 starter. On the other hand, the more teams have seen him, the worse he has done. I tend to look at that as a sign he may struggle more in future years. However, the Red Sox firmly believe he will be better now that he has had a year to adjust to the new culture, new league, etc.
Barry Svrluga: One thing Theo Epstein said the other day, and it will be worth watching in his start in Game 3, is that Matsuzaka somehow got away from his changeup during the year. Theo believes it was a crucial pitch for him in Japan, and it was a good pitch for him earlier in the year. Against the Indians, his final strikeout was on a changeup. Will he throw it more?
Also: I would really worry about the impact of his spring training bullpen sessions (long) and his general fatigue. It seems to me he might prepare for next season differently, with the idea of saving his arm.
Pittsburgh: Jim Leyland's been successful everywhere he's managing except at Colorado. I've never understood why he failed there so badly that he simply threw in the towel ... thoughts?
Dave Sheinin: A couple of things... First, we simply don't know what was going on with Leyland's personal life and emotional state at the time. But also -- and I know a little about this, because I covered Leyland's 1998 Marlins team -- he always hated Coors Field, and felt strongly that it was a bastardized form of baseball that is played there. I remember he used to complain that teams should be given a 10th defensive player -- like the "short" fielder in softball -- because there's so much territory to cover. This is just a theory, but I think it's possible he decided to take the Rockies job against his better judgment, then realized after he took it that he hated it. To his credit, Leyland fully admits that he quit on his team and always points out how awful he feels about it.
Silver Spring, Md.: What do you think of Kevin Millar throwing out the first pitch in Boston on Sunday? I think he is a traitor and the Orioles as an organization should be very ashamed.
Barry Svrluga: I have to say I really thought it was odd. No, he didn't wear a Sox jersey -- as Bill Mueller did the night before. But I asked Millar about it before hand, whether he thought any of his Orioles teammates would have a bad reaction. He basically said he lives to have fun and doesn't worry about what others think.
We had this debate at dinner last night. Dave, thoughts?
Dave Sheinin: Honestly, I thought the worst part was the Fox intro he taped for Game 1, in which he implored Red Sox fans to come out and support the team, and -- I could be mistaken here -- dropped a couple of "we's" in there. I don't begrudge Millar his whole "Cowboy Up" persona, and any fame and fortune he accumulates because of it. But I know this: If I'm Miguel Tejada or Erik Bedard or Nick Markakis, I'm not very happy about seeing one of my teammates cheerleading for a division rival.
Rockville, Md.: Barry: very interesting
Barry Svrluga: Thanks Rockville. You know, I was unaware of that as well. In fact, it was only put on the books this year with guys like Doug Davis and Steve Trachsel in mind. Get the ball and pitch!
The problem, though, is that it doesn't -- and perhaps can't -- address the issue of guys taking so much time when there are runners on base. They step off, they throw over, they stare, the batter steps out, etc. And the other factor in the postseason is the fact that some of these teams (hello, Red Sox) just take pitch after pitch after pitch. They're not going to chase, so if you nibble, there are going to be long at-bats.
Boston: What do you think of adding Snyder to the bullpen and leaving Gagne in the lineup? Long relief was what they needed in the last series so where is Tavarez? No one up here can think of a game situation where they would expect to see Gagne instead of Snyder or Tavarez if everyone was available. Is it possible Gagne got it written into his deal for approving the trade that he would be left on the post season rosters?
Barry Svrluga: I really don't think that could be a possibility, and I think, had Wakefield stayed healthy, you might have seen a Snyder for Gagne swap. I was wondering about Tavarez, too, but his September ERA was 7.27.
Not having Wakefield is a significant blow, I think. I might be in the minority, but I thought he pitched well in his (brief) Game 4 start in the ALCS -- solo homer, potential double play ball that he got his glove in the way of, etc. Having Snyder is not the same.
Dave Sheinin: I doubt you'll see either Snyder or Gagne in important situations. Francona has been using his top bullpen guys (Papelbon, Okajima, Timlin, and even Delcarmen) for two innings at a time throughout the postseason. I figure Gagne only pitches in garbage time and Snyder if one of the starters gets knocked out early -- or in the event of extra innings. As for Tavarez, he's completely off the radar screen here.
Silver Spring, Md.: A Nationals-related inquiry, if you please.
Why doesn't your newspaper post stories like today's by David Nakamura about the stadium parking situation on their Nationals's web page?
If I'm not wrong, Nationals fans - and nearby residents - are going to be the ones most affected by the parking situation, so why not keep us informed in one convenient place rather than having to hop scotch throughout the print and Internet versions to find and be updated with this pertinent information?
washingtonpost.com: washingtonpost.com sports editor Jon DeNunzio says: "That's a very good point. Someone must have missed it in the Metro-Sports communication process. We'll get it up on the Nats page ... "
Barry Svrluga: There's an answer there from Mr. DeNunzio. A great idea/point, and I think that all those parking stories should be funneled there. (Maybe they'll even get rid of that Dmitri Young photo, which has been up there a few weeks.)
Fairfax, Va.:"If I'm Miguel Tejada or Erik Bedard or Nick Markakis, I'm not very happy about seeing one of my teammates cheerleading for a division rival."
Considering all the times he's asked to traded and/or quit on the O's down the stretch, do you think Tejada has the right to be upset?
Dave Sheinin: OK, that may have been a poor choice on my part. Change that to Brian Roberts.
Jacksonville, Fla.: Can someone finally admit that Fenway Park is probably the most overrated ballpark in the majors? Unless you're lucky enough to have one of the 10,000 seats there with unobstructed views, the place is horrible! Course, ya'll get those nice press box views, doncha? I'm all for nostalgia and history, but I'd also like to be able to follow the flight of a pop-up or a throw from third to first.
Barry Svrluga: You have a reasonable point, but as someone who grew up up here, I have to say -- blasphemy! How could you?!
Seriously, the park is not without its flaws. But it's not without its charm, either. As for press box views, they ain't what you're thinking. Sheinin will be in a very high perch tonight with no chance of seeing whether a pitch is a ball or a strike. I'll be tucked in the right field corner in the "auxiliary" press box (used for the postseason).
We are both, however, lucky to be in the building.
Dave Sheinin: I do love Fenway. I'm not ashamed to say it. Outside of Wrigley Field, it's probably the worst stadium in baseball in terms of working environment for the media. But I'll take a World Series there every time.
Bratislava, Slovakia: While I expect the Red Sox will beat Colorado in four or five games, I'm a life-long National League fan and would love to see the Rockies take the series. What do you two view as the key elements of any potential Rockies win?
Dave Sheinin: Hi Bratislava. This is an obvious point, I suppose: but if the Rockies can somehow manage to beat Beckett tonight, I think the whole thing tips overwhelmingly in their favor. Really, if they win EITHER game at Fenway, they're in pretty good shape -- but beating Beckett would be a crushing blow to the Red Sox, who all of a sudden are depending on 40-year-old Curt Schilling, shaky Dice-K and youngster Jon Lester in the next three games.
Barry Svrluga: Keep in mind, too, that the Rockies beat Beckett when he was 9-0 this year, and the six runs they scored off him were the most he allowed in any season.
I saw all of the Rockies' playoff games live, and was very impressed, particularly with their pitching. But a scout said yesterday that one reason their pitching was so good was because Arizona took particularly bad at-bats, flailing at pitches out of the strike zone. The Red Sox rarely do that.
All that said, who had St. Louis over Detroit last year?
RE: Parking: When the Nats figure out how to have "Speedy" shuttle service from RFK to the new ballpark at 6 p.m. on weekdays, they should sell that secret route to commuters and then they'll have plenty of money to buy whatever free agents they want!
Barry Svrluga: An excellent point. Perhaps they know of an old tunnel system constructed from East Capitol St. to near Southeast, and they'll unearth it come spring.
Parking: Barry, why then did the Nationals send out an e-mail to us season ticket holders telling us that parking would be made available for sale for all season ticket holders. Why would I possibly pay for it if they are later going to say non-season ticket holders get free parking? This whole thing seems totally jacked.
Barry Svrluga: I don't think non-season ticket holders are going to suddenly get free parking right next to the ballpark. The Nationals' idea -- again, apparently not approved by the DCSEC -- is to provide free parking and shuttle service from RFK for anybody, season ticket holder or not. Their idea is to give season ticket holders the right to buy parking near the park.
Cheese State, USA: Baseball in the snow: Yay or Nay?
Barry Svrluga: Doubt it's going to happen. Forecast for Denver seems decent, I believe.
But how about that Broncos-Packers Monday Night Football game in Denver the night of Game 5. Rarely has a city had a bigger sports night.
J. Beckett: Dave-
Once again, nice call on picking Sabathia over me for Cy Young. As I said before the Cleveland series, I'm big time and he's not. Head to head post-season:
Me: 2-0, 1.93 ERA
Sabathia: 0-2, 10.45 ERA.
Yes, I know, Cy Young isn't determined by post-season. So, let's look at our road pitching records for a fair analysis:
Me: 11-2, 2.18
Sabathia: 8-3, 3.32
Dave Sheinin: Hi Josh. Thanks for chiming in on the day of your Game 1 start....
Listen, there's no doubt you're the better postseason pitcher -- heck, you're clearly the best of your generation and one of the best of all-time. But you answered your own question: it's a regular season award. And since you and Sabathia have very similar stats in the wins, strikeouts and ERA categories, what swayed me was the 40 additional innings Sabathia pitched this season. As you know, that's roughly one extra inning per start.
Perhaps you are pitching the way you are in October precisely because the Red Sox backed you off during the regular season. If so, that's fabulous. But it's probably going to cost you the Cy Young, Josh.
Ellicott City: Will you both be at the all the WS games or will you be dividing up the games? I like having articles from both of you.
Being a big Red Sox fan I have been a nervous wreck since I don't remember when. Sunday night I thought for sure I was going to have the police knock on my condo door with my screaming after 11 p.m.
Oh, and if you guys see Joe and Tim, please ask them, politely, to try to shut up for a few seconds during the games.
Barry Svrluga: We will both be at all the games, as will Boswell. So you'll get plenty whether you want it or not.
Saw McCarver yesterday. Forgot to mention to pipe down.
George Mason University: Hi guys,
I was pleasantly surprised to read Barry's
Barry Svrluga: That's not a bad call. Sheinin, any thoughts on how to speed these babies up?
Dave Sheinin: Well, this is the equivalent of beating one's head against a wall, but I would start by taking back those extra 30 seconds between innings from TV. When you play the game one way all season long, with two minutes and change between innings for commercials, I don't think it's right to change the rules in October.
Arlington, Va.: Did you know that the Nationals/Expos are now the only NL franchise that has never been to a World Series? (Technically the Brewers went when they were in the AL). Just thought folks might want to keep that in mind as we wait for "The Plan" to take us there in 5-10 years!
Barry Svrluga: Another interesting point -- the franchises that have not been to the World Series are the Nationals/Expos, Tampa Bay, the Rangers/Senators and the Mariners. Half of them have DC ties. (The Twins/Senators, of course, won one title in Washington and two in Minnesota.)
Dave Sheinin: Wow... Do I see a curse-related book proposal here? The Curse of Walter Johnson? The Curse of Frank Howard? The Curse of Shirley Povich?
Glen Echo: Dave/Barry
Is there a chance, any chance at all, that MLB will one day return to a schedule that will allow the season to begin in mid-April and end early October??
Dave Sheinin: No. I don't know how you could do that, practically speaking, without shortening the season by a whole bunch -- which ain't going to happen.
Columbia, Md.: I have been checking the weather reports for Boston all day, what is it like first hand. Is it going to be a wet and cold game? What are the chances it gets rained out?
Barry Svrluga: Forecast is for temps in the 50s and showers, but it says that right now and we were just walking around out to lunch, and it had stopped drizzling. It hasn't really rained all day, that I can tell.
But it's been really wacky weather up here -- like in the 70s and close to 80. Crazy.
Cleveland: So, what are the chances the Red Sox DON'T win this in four? I'd love to see the Colorado story continue, especially after the Sox broke my heart in the ALCS, but I'd say it's better than 50-50 that Boston sweeps.
Barry Svrluga: Did you read the lede to Sheinin's story this morning? "Win, win, win, win, win, win, win, win, win, win, win, loss. Win, win, win, win, win, win, win, win, win, win."
That's the best reason to think the Rockies will win at least once. Twenty-one out of 22? That's absurd.
But I still have Sox in five.
Dave Sheinin: I'll tell you this: Once the games move to Coors Field, the Red Sox's overall superiority (which I believe is real) dwindles to next-to-nothing. Think about what happens to the Red Sox in Denver -- they lose one of their best hitters (Ortiz, Lowell or Youkilis), they have to rely on Manny Ramirez to patrol a vast area in left field and (if he plays first base) they have to pray Ortiz's knee holds up.
Washington, D.C.: This l - o - n - g postseason is the pits. I consider myself a pretty good fan and I've pretty much forgotten there is still baseball being played. Does anyone outside of Colorado or New England even care about these games? Not to mention it's likely to snow in both venues.
Barry Svrluga: You're right. We're talking about a situation in which, should there be a Game 7, it will be played on Nov. 1. The only November World Series to this point was in 2001, when 9/11 pushed everything back.
It's an interesting point you make about losing interest over time. I do think if the NLCS had lasted longer and been in prime time more, people would be more riveted on the Rockies. But they're largely a group of guys that people don't know, they won their series quickly, they haven't played in nine days -- so it's easy to see why people's interest isn't up.
Dave Sheinin: If you think nobody cares about this one, imagine a Cleveland/Colorado World Series.
Troy, N.Y.: What happened to Gagne? I don't follow baseball outside the playoffs really, but do remember he had some consecutive saves streak.
Barry Svrluga: He was traded from Texas to Boston in a trade deadline deal meant to give the Sox some help in the eighth inning, where impressive Japanese rookie/lefty Hideki Okajima was tremendous in the first half but was tiring. And when Gagne arrived, he completely imploded. He personally cost the Sox four games, and it got to the point that he simply can't be trusted in tight situations.
Aren't the Red Sox "your" team? If I recall that right, good luck to ya (your team). I'll be rooting for them, in support of my favorite beat writer.
Regarding the Nationals and parking............ugh. I don't really see the upside to the announcement that they have made, especially if it's not even true. But I don't want to buy a space, after they up'd my prices and I surely don't want to shuttle over from RFK.
Barry Svrluga: I indeed grew up in Massachusetts and spent many a day/night at Fenway. So covering a World Series at the old park is a special opportunity to me, no question.
Parking: I think you said it best, and both the Nationals and the city would second it. "Ugh."
Cleveland: Have you ever seen a complete and total meltdown comparable to this one? Long suffering Clevelanders may have to wait another 60 years for baseball glory, and most of us will no longer be around by then.
Dave Sheinin: Believe me, Cleveland, there have been worse meltdowns than the Indians'. You should be proud of what your team did. Don't let that ugly 30-5 stretch over the last three games obscure the fact this was an excellent team that has nothing to be ashamed of. Of those three ugly losses, only Game 6 was an early blowout. The others could have gone either way for the first six or seven innings. The game they needed to win was Game 5 -- because you don't want to let the Red Sox get back home to Fenway, where everything tilts back in their favor. But of course that was the game Beckett pitched -- so fuggedaboutit.
You can never guarantee long-term success in this game anymore, but the Indians are pretty well set-up for the next few years. They need to find a longer-term solution at closer, and they could use one more big bat (preferably at third base) -- especially if the 2007 Travis Hafner is the real Travis Hafner -- but other than that, I like how they're set up for the next few years. They should have virtually everybody back next year.
D.C. - Columbia Heights: Dave/Barry,
Your take on the impact of the Rockies off time? The potential for snow at Coors Field? The potential of having to spell Tulowitzki multiple times through the Series?
Barry Svrluga: Let me make clear that I have to spell Svrluga every day, so Tulowitzki is nothing.
Time off: I really don't think it's an advantage. The Rockies talk about healing their "aches and pains," but they really didn't have anyone hurting too badly. We saw what six days off did to the Tigers last year. Ouch.
San Diego: Who has a better chance to beat the Red Sox.... the Padres or the Rockies?
ps...we'll trade you Hoffman for Cordero
Barry Svrluga: We were chatting about this at dinner last night. (Note to self: Maybe we talk too much baseball over food.)
But if Trevor Hoffman had saved a game against the Brewers on the last Saturday of the regular season, or if he had saved a two-run lead in the 163rd game of the year against Colorado, we wouldn't be talking about this historic Rockies' run. It's quite amazing that this happened.
As for Chad Cordero, keep in mind that one of the Padres' most important wins in 2005 was a huge comeback, capped by Khalil Greene's grand slam, off Cordero in San Diego in September. An amazing game, but a devastating loss for the Nationals.
Dave Sheinin: I don't know what Barry was talking about at his end of the table last night, but I was talking about how sorry I am I'm going to have to miss the Drive-By Truckers show in Baltimore on Sunday night.
Arlington, Va.: Can you believe Rudy Guiliani saying he was rooting for the Red Sox? What's next? Fenty rooting for the Cowboys in the Super Bowl because they are representing the NFC East?
Barry Svrluga: Wow. Hadn't seen that. Maybe he's so upset about his buddy Joe Torre going away.
Dave Sheinin: Hmmm. A politician fudging his allegiances during a campaign? Naaaaaaaah. That would never happen.
Worcester, Mass. - Another Dice-K comment: WELCOME to Boston guys! Great to have you.
For me, I've been worried about his arm all year and it just baffles me the media is not outwardly questioning his conditioning. On one hand we hear how much he throws between starts and how much long toss he does - and will Tim McCarver ever shut up about his 250 pitch game in high school? How many times do we need to hear that?
But on the other hand, we cant get over how much he seems to have lost over the course of the season. Why is no one calling the Sox/Theo to the mat over this?
Barry Svrluga: Hello, Worcester! We're glad to be here.
Maybe I'm mis-reading things, but it seems to me there has been a lot of questioning about Matsuzaka up here. Was he worth it? What's his future? And as I mentioned above, I really think that both Epstein and Matsuzaka's agent, Scott Boras, will meticulously come up with a plan for preparation next year. This pitching-every-five-days thing clearly wore him down some.
When he starts Game 3, though, he'll have had five days' rest.
Olney, Md.: Non Series question here, but must ask your opinion --
Who replaces Torre as Yankees manager?
Dave Sheinin: Sounds like it's Mattingly, unless someone (like Girardi) blows them away. One of the Steinbrenner sons said the other day that there is a "slight favorite" already identified, and I have to believe that's Mattingly. He's been groomed for this for the past three years.
Washington, D.C.: What is it about Boston and New England that make the area suck hotbeds for sports nuts? Why do so many sports writers come from that region? Why are the fans so ruthlessly loyal? I grew up in Virginia, and I never knew what it was like to have a home team until recently.
Barry Svrluga: As someone who grew up in New England and later worked here, I would say that the passion is real, it comes from having families who were born and raised and stayed here, etc. But I think you could say the same thing about Philly or New York or Chicago, even.
Towns like DC and Atlanta, where lots of people come from elsewhere, are a different mix.
As for the sports writer thing: Is that really the case? Are there more from New England? Sheinin, for instance, grew up in Georgia.
Alexandria, Va.: Within the next 5 years, is there any chance of getting (1) the AL to drop the DH, or (2) the NL to adopt it? This annual silliness of playing the World Series under two sets of rules is ridiculous. The Red Sox used the same basic line-up for all but 8 or 9 games (those played in NL parks) this season, and now they will probably have to play 3 of the first 5 games without one of their better hitters (Ortiz, Youkilis, or Lowell). You're essentially robbing the AL champion of one of its starters.
Plus, it gives the NL team an advantage in every single game:
Games in Boston are Boston's normal line-up against Colorado's normal line-up, minus the pitcher (their worst hitter) and plus another hitter. Upgrade for Colorado.
Games in Colorado are Colorado's normal line-up against Boston's normal line-up, minus one of its better hitters and plus a pitcher who had perhaps 10 at-bats all season. Downgrade for Boston.
Only in a sport as constrained by history and tradition as baseball would something this absurd be allowed to survive in a contest for the "world championship."
Dave Sheinin: I agree, it's ridiculous to have separate rules. I think MLB would love to do away with the DH. The problem is that the union would never allow it. DHs are typically veteran players making big money, and the 13th pitcher (who would otherwise replace a DH on the roster) is usually a kid making the minimum. So the union has an interest in keeping the DH alive. It's been suggested that the owners could agree to add a 26th player to the roster as an appeasement for getting the union to agree to dropping the DH, but that has never really gone anywhere.
Barry Svrluga: As an aside, speaking as someone who grew up watching AL ball but now covers the NL, I really prefer the NL game. I'm always struck when I cover games under AL rules by how much less you have to think ahead.
Arlington, Va.: Hello, gentlemen. Thanks for taking my question. This morning my husband told me that Rudy Guiliani is slated to throw out the first pitch in tonight's World Series game. I think my husband is a brilliant and fine man, but I find this hard to believe. Can you verify, please?
Dave Sheinin: I believe I heard that Yaz is throwing out the first pitch tonight.
Barry Svrluga: Yaz, who is, by the way, from Long Island.
National anthem performed by John Williams conducting the Boston Pops. James Taylor with the Game 2 anthem. Let's just hope the 25th of October isn't covered with snow, including the turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston.
Bethesda, Md.: As part of our preparation for watching the Series, should we mentally prepare ourselves for endless FOX closeups of fans praying in the stands and holding up 'believe' signs?
Dave Sheinin: Among the many fringe benefits of covering the playoffs: middle seat 21E on that four-hour flight between Games 2 and 3, young kids in the room next to you screaming at each other at 7 a.m., and not having to watch Fox's telecast.
Olney, Md.: I'm thinking tonight's Game 1 is waay more important than most Series openers. If Beckett is Beckett, that is bad news for the Rox. If Colorado chases Josh, that means they are still hotter than Hades. Agree?
Dave Sheinin: I do agree, and I sort of pointed that out a little earlier. I don't think Game 1 is that important if Beckett wins -- he's supposed to win, and the Rockies could still win the series without beating him. But if Beckett loses, it's a huge win for the Rockies.
Barry Svrluga: And a win over Beckett -- imagine how unexpected that would seem -- would put a huge, huge amount of pressure on Curt Schilling. How many times can this guy go to the well? He did it in Game 6 against the Indians -- to an extent. But I just don't see him, against a very good Colorado lineup, being able to throw seven shutout, lockdown innings.
A Colorado win tonight takes the Series in a direction few would foresee.
RE: November baseball: Do either of you remember these weird off days in the middle of games 4 and 5?
It's like a former NBA playoff schedule maker is creating the schedule for MLB playoffs now.
Why in the world does baseball need a day off inbetween playoff games when they aren't traveling. It is silly.
Don't get me wrong, I love Tuesday night on FOX with Bones and House and I'm glad they won't be pre-empted, but still, it's silly.
Dave Sheinin: Yeah, believe me, we all felt pretty silly sitting around in Cleveland on the off-day betweens Games 4 and 5. Here's what happened, in a nutshell: By allowing Fox to shift Game 1 of the World Series to mid-week, as opposed to Saturday night, MLB and Fox had to come up four additional off-days in the schedule, and one of those turned out to be between Games 4 and 5 of the LCS's. That's what happens when you sell your soul to the networks.
Arlington, Va.: These Coco Crisp to the Nats rumors keep popping up. Any truth to this and if so who in the world would the Nats have that the Sox would want to begin with if Bowden is committed to not trading away the future?
Barry Svrluga: Sheinin and I wrote about this the other day. It was merely a way of saying, "Hey, the Red Sox appear to have a very good young CF in Jacoby Ellsbury, they can't play both he and Crisp, the Nationals need a center fielder, maybe there's a fit there."
This is an example of the kind of thing the Nats will be looking to do -- find potentially valuable pieces in trades from clubs that have a logjam at a certain position. Certainly doesn't mean it's going to happen. But expect the Nats to be creative in their offseason dealings.
Can you believe Rudy Guiliani saying he was rooting for the Red Sox: oh come on, Rudy was only saying what many baseball fans do anyway, root for the team in their league. I'm a Yankee fan and I always root for the AL over the NL during interleague play and the same goes for in the World Series, whether it is the Red Sox or Tigers or whoever. Or maybe that is just an old school way of thinking about baseball...
Barry Svrluga: I do think that's old-school. Doesn't mean it's not legit. Just old-school, back to the days when the leagues didn't play each other during the year.
The Nationals City: Svrluga said: "The reality is they don't own the new ballpark
or the land around it, nor do they own RFK. They are
tenants. It's a tough situation."
um, yeah it's tough: WE built them a stadium FOR FREE and
as I recall MLB refused the other locations.....poor little
baseball team owners....
Barry Svrluga: Your point is absolutely correct. Didn't mean to be trying to stir up pity. Just saying that, given the arrangement, there are difficult negotiations b/w the city and the team.
Washington, D.C.: Why would the Yanks bring in somebody like Mattingly? He's clearly not a "True Yankee" since, just like A-Rod, he's never won a World Series with them!
Barry Svrluga: It's amazing. (Again, something we talked about at dinner at some point.) But Mattingly seems to get a free pass on this whole thing. His rookie year came after a World Series title. His last season, 1995, preceded a World Series title. There was a gap in between that spanned his entire career. Yet he's still Donnie Baseball.
I think Girardi's resume stacks up better (worked with pitching staffs all his career, managed before, more than one year as a bench coach, etc.). But I still think Mattingly gets the job.
RE: No. 1 pitchers: See what you guys think about this theory.
If I'm managing a seven game playoff series as the home team, with today's pitcher, I put my No. 1 ace in Games 2 and 6 as opposed to 1 and 5.
Say you are the Red Sox. Beckett has to win. Say he wins Game 1. Then your next guy loses Game 2, you go on the road with momentum from Game 1 gone. Then you come back for Game 6 and as Boswell so clearly pointed out, Game 6 is THE game a series has swung on every year but one (2006).
SO since guys can't go Games 1,4,7 anymore, I say if you are the home team, you need your ace throwing 2 and 6.
Dave Sheinin: I disagree. I think Game 5 is the huge one for the team with home field advantage at the start. Look at what happened in the ALCS. Red Sox win Game 1 behind Beckett, lose the next three. All of a sudden, Game 5 is desperation -- you're on the road, facing elimination, with all the momentum on the other side. If you could just get the series back to your home park, you like your chances. But you still have to win Game 5 on the road. And if you're the Red Sox, you have Beckett in that game. Case closed.
Barry Svrluga: I actually kind of like your idea -- but not in this case. Keep in mind that in 2003, Beckett pitched four innings of one-run ball in Game 7 of the NLCS against the Cubs (when he was with the Marlins). He was prepared to come in in Game 7 against the Indians. Because he'll pitch Games 1 and 5 against the Rockies, he could be ready to pitch in Game 7 out of the bullpen. I think it's the right way to go because it maximizes the number of times you can get him into a game.
Washington, DC: I think that Fenway gets an undue bad rap. Since the Henry ownership took over, they have poured millions into improving the ballpark experience, adding seats, improving concessions and rest rooms, closing off Yawkey Way and adding vendors. I go up there every year and it seems like they improve it as best they can every off season. Compare 100-year old Fenway to the 45-year old dumpster that is/was RFK!!
Barry Svrluga: It's true. The Henry ownership group has, indeed, found a way to put a seat in every possible spot and has milked every last dollar from the park. They even charge money for tours, another unexpected revenue stream.
I love the place. I love Wrigley, too. It's hard to recreate that kind of feel.
Arlington, Va.: Dave,
Why do you keep writing that Johnny Damon could be the Nats' CF in 2008? Doesn't he still have two more years at $13 million per year on his contract, and hasn't his OBP declined each year, from .366 in 2005 to .359 in 2006 to .351 in 2007? Throw in that he's established that he is breaking down, missing more and more games each year, and that he can't throw anymore.
So, why would the Nats want him? And, for that matter, why would they want Coco Crisp, who has a career .329 OBP?
Dave Sheinin: A few things about Damon: The Yankees are likely to try to dump him, since they're locked in with Matsui in left and Melky Cabrera in center (and they'll probably pick up Abreu's option in right). To do so, they'd likely eat some of the contract, making Damon much more affordable (for fewer years) than a free agent like Andruw Jones or Torii Hunter. And yes, Damon's production has dropped. But he also played hurt for much of the year, and as he got healthier his production shot up (.798 OPS in August, .833 in September). He's no longer a good (or even average) center fielder, defensively, but for a team looking for a two-year stopgap who is good in the clubhouse and could sell some tickets (well, maybe to 16-year-old girls), he wouldn't be a bad option.
I'm not saying the Nationals will get him, or even that it's likely. I'm just saying it makes sense on several levels.
Barry Svrluga: Which goes back to my point on the Crisp thing -- this is the kind of thing the Nationals could explore. As Kasten and Bowden constantly say, "We look for opportunities." And one possibility for an opportunities is to find a team that wants to unload an expensive player, but have that team eat some of the contract.
Rooting for Red Sox: I'm a confirmed Yankee hater, but as a Mets fan I would never root against the NL in the World Series, so I don't really blame Guiliani...you stick with your respective League, or at least that is how I was brought up. Rooting for the AL would make me a traitor
Barry Svrluga: But what if the Mets had made the Series? Could Rudy really root against them?
Washington, D.C.: Is it a cliche, insult, or insight to say that the Rockies line up resembles an AL team? I see that a lot (Gordon Edes quotes Varitek today). Certainly 3-7 is about as tough as any line-up except the NYY. Is "like an AL team" code for "they can produce runs and extra bases from almost any stretch in the order"? If this is an AL team, which team are they most like? In one sense, it may be the Red Sox, except their deadly 5 hitters are 1-5 and their speed is at the bottom of the order (Lugo and Crisp/Ellsbury).
Dave Sheinin: When I hear that, I assume it means the Rockies have a deep lineup and don't use small-ball tactics very often. But in the case of the Rockies, that's not true -- they actually led the NL in sacrifice bunts, with 83. So I think it's fair to say that notion is misguided.
Sec 515: Washington suffers from the curse of Joe Cronin due to his sale by Clark Griffith to the Red Sox.
On parking, I mostly take Metro, but as my now one year old daughter gets older, I am going to want to take her to games. Putting a toddler, or any kid who is supposed to get plenty of sleep, on a Metro train back to a parking lot at 10 PM, or later, does not seem like a good idea. I'd like to be able to walk her to the car and let her sleep on the way home.
Again, if MLB wants to develop fans, it needs to think about children and parents of children.
(cutting the time between innings would definitely help... but not possible, I know)
Barry Svrluga: Will there be any more watched traffic situation than on the night of the first game next year? Wow.
I still don't like JD Drew: But I will tolerate him through the next 4-7 games.
Dave Sheinin: I guess that grand slam in Game 6 of the ALCS bought him another couple of weeks of love from Red Sox fans.
Unknown (As Of Yet) Section In Nationals Park: Copied without comment from the Reliable Source's discussion earlier today on this same Internet:
Which Of You Is Training Barry Svrluga?: You're doing semi-well. This is from Post baseball beat writer Svrluga's earlier-today post on the Nationals Journal blog that has for now become a blog about the World Series between the Colorado Rockies and Boston Red Sox:
"We dined last night at this place in Boston's South End. It was superb. We hadn't ordered yet when current Celtic Scot Pollard walked in and sat two tables over. Then, at the table next to us, came Sox owners John Henry and Tom Werner. (If this was the Reliable Source, I'd tell you that Henry ordered a thin-crust tomato and mozzarella pizza and used a tiny bottle of hand sanitizer at the table before he ate. But it's not the Reliable Source, so I'll keep that to myself.)"
Roxanne Roberts: Awesome, isn't it? Love the hand sanitizer detail!
Barry Svrluga: One word: synergy.
Dave Sheinin: OK, folks, we're about out of time. Thanks again for dropping in. Enjoy the Series.
Barry Svrluga: Thanks for joining us, folks. Time to pack up and get over to the yard. Lots of unanswered questions, but if the Series continues next week, I'm sure we'll have another chat.
And I'm also sure we'll have a Nationals chat or two in the early part of the offseason. Take care and enjoy the games.
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