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Radke, Rogers and Tigers, Oh My

Warning: (yet) another baseball post – skip it if you’re so inclined.

Like Alex, the Tigers’ victory in the ALDS surprised me. The old adage (cliche) that good pitching beats good hitting was obviously in effect, but I frankly didn’t think the Tigers pitching was that good. I guess I should have; the Tigers had the best ERA in the league and the most shutouts, but the fact is that they stumbled badly down the stretch – with yesterday’s winning pitcher Jeremy Bonderman blowing a 6 run lead on the last day of the season to the lowly Kansas City Royals.

But win they did. And the man who perhaps came up biggest was 97 year old Kenny Rogers (not the singer). His performance on Friday night was nothing short of remarkable. Watching the game, I don’t think I saw him throw a pitch down the middle all night. Just goes to show that pitching is as much about location as it is about velocity because Rogers can’t break a pane of glass with his fastball. Thin glass. My hat is off to Rogers and the rest of the Tigers staff, because what they did to that lineup, no one predicted. Did I mention that I love baseball, especially the playoffs?

From here on out, with the Yankees successfully vanquished, the Tigers are my team. Apologies to the A’s, Mets and either Cardinals or Padres fans respectively. I just can’t root against these guys.

As for the Yankees, I’ve had three different random people stop me and ask me – presumably because I wear a Sox hat – whether or not I’m happy that the Yankees lost. The answer should be obvious to anyone who knows me, but lest you convict me of shaudenfraude let me remind you that Yankees fans give as good as they get.

One final note: while the Twins ended up being swept, I’d like to pay my respects to their starter Brad Radke. Having watched him pitch against the Sox over the years, I grew to respect him for making the most of his limited abilities. And what a changeup. But while he couldn’t get it done one last time this week, he’ll have my respect for what he tried to do. For those of you who don’t follow baseball, Radke pitched the tail end of the season and into the playoffs with a torn labrum and stress fracture in his pitching shoulder. You could see it in his delivery. I won’t use the term courageous – I think that word should not be used in the context of sports, but reserved instead for firefighters, people fighting terminal illnesses and so on – but his taking the ball took a lot of heart. Like Pedro Martinez in ’99, Radke gave his teammates everything he had left. It didn’t prove to be enough – unlike in Pedro’s case – but you have to respect the effort.

P.S. If this is true, the Yankees are foolish. It’s no secret that I don’t like the Yankees, but there are few managers I have more respect for than Joe Torre. His uses his relievers like I use rental cars – you wouldn’t want either after we’re done with them – but he’s handled the immense pressure of NY baseball with poise and class. Holding him accountable for his hitters failures and the lack of a true ace would be the height of folly. And actually, given that it’s the Yankees, I should be all for that. But I’m not: Torre is a good man, and deserves to go out on his own terms – not to be dismissed in one of fellow Williams alum (unfortunately) Steinbrenner’s temper tantrums.

Categories: Baseball.

  • http://gfmorris.net/ Geof F. Morris

    I don’t get why you two are surprised. The World Series champion is just that—a champion, and not necessarily the best team in baseball that year. [For example, I'll take the argument that can easily be made that Alex's Mariners were the best team in baseball in 2001, what with the 116 wins.]

    The postseason is a crap shoot, fellas—what more do you need to see than the Tigers going on a three-game losing streak to the ROYALS to end their regular season, then going on a modest three-game winning streak to beat the Yankees? Sure, in the postseason, you pull out all the stops to win each individual game, which makes winning any game slightly harder than it is in the regular season, but the lesson of statistics is fairly true: a .300 team will beat a .700 team every so often. When you consider that you’re usually pitting .550 teams against .650 teams, well, the binomial distributions kinda solve themselves, don’t they?

    After all, Queen wrote “We Are the Champions”, not “We Are the Best Team”.

  • http://www.redmonk.com/sogrady stephen o’grady

    Geof: did i hear a binomial in there? ;)

  • http://gfmorris.net/ Geof F. Morris

    You did! ;) [God help me, I should have been an industrial engineer instead of studying aerospace.]