Sunday, October 22, 2017

Cora a good choice for Sox Manager

Alex Cora named the 47th Manager of the Red Sox.

They had to wait until the ALCS ended to make it official, as MLB does not want major announcements made during the playoffs. I guess the 3-day layoff before the World Series starts on Tuesday night is a safe respite. It is a little like the Bill Parcells announcement about going to the New Jersey Jets while still coaching the Patriots in the 1997 Superbowl. But that wound up working out okay in the long haul.

Cora played for 14 years in the Majors.

7 years with the Dodgers, half a season with the Indians, three and a half with the Red Sox, two with the Mets, one each with the Rangers and Nationals. The Dodgers finished 2nd or 3rd every year he played there, except for 2004 when they finished 1st, but we all know who won that year.

In 2005 Cora came to the Sox at the trading deadline and the team won the Wild Card and went to the playoffs for the 3rd year in a row, but suffered from the World Series Hangover and were swept by the White Sox, who went on to end their own 88-year drought (1917-2005). Around that time I often wondered why there was so much attention on the Red Sox "Curse of the Bambino" 86-year curse when there were two teams - both from Chicago - that had gone longer. In the case of the White Sox I guess it's because people don't really care about them that much. Just ask Chris Sale.

Other than 2010, when the Rangers finished first, Cora was never on a team that went to the playoffs.

Except for the Red Sox.

They won the Wild Card in 2005, the AL East and the World Series in 2007, and the Wild Card in 2008.

He was there for the sweep by the White Sox in 2005, got a ring for the World Championship in 2007 and was there for the season-ending JD Drew called third off David Price in Tampa Bay in 2008.

So he'll get the Boston media thing.

Which many people from elsewhere do not. Cora has been here a world championship and for almost-but-not-quite-enough flop endings. He'll get it.

He's bilingual.

Alex is from Puerto Rico, meaning he's fluent in Spanish as well as English. This is a good thing for almost anyone, but should be especially helpful given the increasing number of Latin players on the Red Sox roster and in their system.

So let's go get a slugger for 2018.

In the meantime, my #2 World Series Preference has come true. Yep. #1 was the Red Sox, of course, and #2 was Anybody but the Yankees. And that's what it will be.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Not going the way I hoped

Yankees pounding the Astros.


Oh well.

It's only one game.

But the Damn Yankees look pretty formidable.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Down to four now. Preferences recalculated.

World Series winner preferences 1, 3, 4 and 8 are out,

The Red Sox were #1, of course. #2 was Anybody but the Yankees, #3 was the Nationals, #4 was the Indians, #5 was the Cubs, #6 was the Astros, #7 was the Dodgers, #8 was the D'Backs.

With the Wild Card and the Division Series in the books, we need to recalculate.

How's it look now?

The Astros have taken a 2-0 ALCS lead over the Yankees, which keeps former preference #2, now #1, alive. New York has come back from being down 2 games to none to win a 7-game series before, but they've also been up 2-0...yes, even 3-0...and lost - as we all remember. So #1 is still #1. The new #2 would be the Astros, who could deliver #1 with a Yankee Elimination night in New York on Tuesday or Wednesday. Sure, it's tough to knock them off at Yankee Stadium, but the 2004 Red Sox did it with the Yankees up 3 games to 2. A challenge, but do-able.

The Dodgers beat the Cubs 5-2 in NLCS game 1, with game 2 tonight in La La Land. When Cody Bellinger and not Adrian Gonzalez is at 1st base, they're a very good team. That's why Gonzo was on the bench for game 1 and will be for game 2 tonight as well.

The Cubs won in 2016 - you may have heard something about that - and the Dodgers have gone 29 years. That famous fist-pumping, ankle-hobbling Kirk Gibson home run off Dennis Eckersley in 1988 was the last Series LA won. That was when Eck coined the term "walkoff." When you hear someone say "walkoff" today, obviously they're talking about the batter who hit it. When he was interviewed after giving up the game-winning shot, Eck, known for his colorful turn-of-phrase, said, "I threw some cheese with hair on it, but he jacked it into the porch. At the point there was nothing for me to do but walk off." So Eck was talking about the pitcher walking off the mound, not the batter jumping in a pig pile at home plate. Dodgers are now #3.

At this point #4 is obviously the Cubs, although in a straight ranking the Yankees would be #4. But putting them at #4 would mean they are my 4th preference to win, and they're not. They're #1 preference to lose.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

World Series Preference...updated.

Three teams down...time for an update.

My preferences for a World Series winner went like this:

1. Red Sox

2: Anyone but the Yankees

3: Nationals

4: Indians

5: Cubs

6: Astros

7: Dodgers

8: Diamondbacks.

We’re down to 5 now.

The Red Sox, Diamondbacks and Indians are all out, so my #1, 4 and 8 preferences are done. That makes #2...anybody but the new #1. I’m feeling less and less comfortable about that after tonight’s Cleveland fold. Washington staved off elimination tonight and might actually knock off Chicago in Game 5, so we’ll stick with the Nats as they move up to #2. But the Cubbies are still right behind at #3, with the Astros at #4 and the Dodgers at #5.

Or maybe I move the Astros up to #3. Yeah. They’ve never won - neither has either of their football teams (former Oilers or current Texans) - and they had a horrible time with Harvey. Plus the Cubs did just win in 2016 and their Billy Goat curse was just a lame attempt at copying the Curse of the Bambino, which was definitely for real. So as the late Casey Kassem would say, the Cubs drop one notch to #4. Dodgers still at #5 because people in LA don’t care that much. They show up in the 3rd inning and leave at the 7th inning stretch.

On Friday either the Cubs or Nationals will be out.

We’ll recalculate. But the new #1 will not change.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

World Series 2017...My Preferences for a Champion

These are not predictions, just my hopes and dreams, ranked.

Of the 10 teams that made the playoffs, the Twins and Rockies were tied for 9th on my list, mostly because there was no expectation that either would advance. And neither did.

That said, here's your top 8:

I'm debating here whether to count down or up.

Counting up is more dramatic, and works well on the radio and on TV. Or on a Thrillist ranking where all 50 states are ranked on something and you have to scroll down a lot to get to #1, which you probably disagree with anyway. But 8 is a short list with little if any scrolling required, so we'll go with counting from 1-8.

#1: Red Sox (of course).

So what if they're already down by two games to Houston...the Sox came back from 0-2 to win the ALDS in 1999 (v. Cleveland), 2003 (v. A's) and down 0-3 to win the ALCS (v. Yankees) in 2004. As Monty Python would say, they're not completely dead yet. They pounded the Astros on Sunday, 10-3, to keep the series alive.

#2: Anybody but the Yankees.

Not much argument there other than folks from NY, NJ and the part of Connecticut south of Hartford. It's well-known that the real New England is 5-1/2 states.

#3: Washington Nationals.

People think of the droughts in Boston (86 years) and Chicago (88 years), but DC has gone longer than any market without a World Series Champion. 93 years, to be exact. It was in 1924. Prohibition was the law of the land. No beer vendors in the stands at Griffith Stadium (where I actually saw a game in 1958-Opening Day, Red Sox @ Senators. President Eisenhower threw out the first pitch). Back in '24 Calvin Coolidge was President and threw out the first pitch of Game 1. Star pitcher Walter "The Big Train" Johnson was the starter, 8th inning guy, and closer. He pitched all 12 innings, giving up 14 hits and 4 runs in a 4-3 loss to the New York Giants.

(Side note: in case you've ever wondered why people still refer to the "New York Football Giants"'s because the baseball Giants were around in New York a long time before the football ones. When the baseball ones moved to San Francisco in 1958 the Football Giants name just stuck.)

Johnson also started and finished Game 5, going the distance and giving up 13 hits and 6 runs in a 6-2 loss. In Game 7, with the series tied 3-3, Johnson came in as the closer in the 9th and threw four scoreless innings to lead the Senators to the championship in the 12th. 9 years later DC had one more World Series appearance, in 1933 against the same New York Giants...this time losing in 5 games. Nothing since then.

As years and bad seasons dragged on, the slogan "Washington...first in war, first in peace, last in the American League" was oft repeated by local sports scribes. The original Senators blew town in 1961 and became the Minnesota Twins. They were immediately replaced by a new Washington Senators that was worse than the original and also blew town, moving to Dallas in 1972 to become the Texas Rangers. Then the good folks of DC suffered through 33 years with no team. Better to have a lousy one than none, right? Finally, in 2005, the Montreal Expos gave up and moved to DC to become the Nationals (a nickname the original Senators used in the 50's). The Expos were a bad team when they moved to DC, but have morphed into a very good team. They were the first to clinch their division in 2017. So yeah, Go Nats!

#4: Indians.

Cleveland has gone 69 years without winning. I was three weeks old the last time it happened, which was at Braves Field in Boston, just 6 blocks down Comm Ave. from Fenway. There was almost a Boston-Boston World Series that year, but the Red Sox blew a one-game pennant playoff against the Tribe. The Indians are a very good team. They have Tito, who broke the curse in Boston. They have Corey Kluber, the likely Cy Young Award winner. Cleveland is a much better place than the urban legends would lead you to believe.

#5: Cubs.

They've got Theo, who broke two long curses. (the Babe Ruth curse made some sense, but the Billy Goat curse was just stupid.) A repeat win after waiting 108 years would be cool. I haven't heard this mentioned, but when the Cubbies won in 1908 it was a repeat of 1907. They beat the Detroit Tigers in back-to-back years.

#6: Houston.

They're an awfully good team this year after decades of mediocrity. The Astrodome was horrible, but Minute Maid Park is really nice. They got rid of the ugly pajama uniforms. Jose Altuve is probably your MVP. No Texas team has ever won the World Series, so maybe it's time.

#7: Dodgers.

A Dodgers-Yankees matchup is the least interesting possibility this year, but the team had an amazing run. Especially when Adrian Gonzalez ("The Cooler") was on the DL. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is enshrined in Red Sox history for the steal of the century in 2004. Plus, the Dodgers took Carl Crawford and Gonzo off our hands.

#8: Diamondbacks.

Ugly uniforms, but a nice ballpark. Their manager is Tory Lovullo, who filled in for John Farrell at the end of 2016 and is probably the reason the Red Sox won the AL East last year.

So that's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

Then again, there's Monday.

It will be a possible elimination night for the Red Sox, Yankees and D'Backs. Which would move Washington up to #1 on the list.