Welcome to the final edition of the Addison Recorder’s (sporadically) running series “MLB Postseason Coverage 2013”. I apologize for dropping off the face of the earth over the past few days/four games, in part because of a trip home with unreliable Internet connections, and in part because I became very invested in watching the World Series.
I mean, after all, it was kind of exciting.
By now, everyone’s read about the aftermath of the Series, about Boston’s 3 game run to end the Series, about key role players coming through in clutch moments at just the right time for the Red Sox, about the Cardinals not having quite the same measure of success, about how David Ortiz eats planets. (More on Big Papi later) Because of my time away from here, it would be a disservice to you, our faithful readers, to recap an endless series of games that happened anywhere from two to seven days ago. Consequently, I’m doing something a little different and looking at the overarching storylines that have run with the World Series, specifically whether they are validated by the games or simply media concoctions trying to boost interest. (Basically, I’m looking at whether or not we should care about what the Series showed us; let’s face it, everyone’s read all the analysis of what went wrong for the Cardinals and what went right for Boston, so who wants to read that again?)
In the following days (over the course of the next two weeks), I’ll be keeping up the pace with columns regarding predictions for the 2014 season (where so many of you have asked questions – keep them coming!), as well as bidding farewell to retiring players, of whom there were several notables this year.
For now, my thoughts on the Series:
1. Defensive and mental mistakes are magnified in the October spotlight…but not all the time.
By my count, four of the six games in the series were essentially decided by errors, with a fifth being decided by managerial errors (in this case, I’m referring to Mike Matheny leaving Adam Wainwright in for at least one hitter/inning too long in Game Five, a game the Cardinals had every chance to win). As I mentioned while covering Games One and Two, defensive mistakes hurt, especially when the two teams are as evenly matched as Boston and St. Louis were. (With one outlying factor, but we’ll get there) In Game One, you had Pete Kozma’s defensive meltdown, followed by Boston matching par with Craig Breslow’s error in Game Two. Game Three ended on a
riotously stupid unusual obstruction call (which was the right call) by Wil Middlebrooks, while in Game Four, we witnessed a lack of concentration on the basepaths that resulted in Boston ending the game on a pickoff.
(Sidenote #1: Much was made of the endings of Games 3 and 4 being the first time in history that a game had ended on either type of call. While interesting, I feel that this is more of a trivia stat than something that should be headline news. Sadly, this is what you get when you have two amazingly pitched baseball games with sterling defensive plays – a lack of a headline. The art of baseball is in the beauty and grace of heightened play, which is what you have with these two teams. They’d have been better off going with something like “David Ortiz Eats Planets”.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p>David Ortiz, Planet Eater</p>— Jonah Keri (@jonahkeri) <a href=”https://twitter.com/jonahkeri/statuses/394980268060069888″>October 29, 2013</a></blockquote>
<script async src=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>
Thank you, Jonah Keri.)
Game Five was setting up to be a solid pitcher’s duel between Jon Lester and Adam Wainwright, particularly after Wainwright recorded six strikeouts after two innings. (You do the math) Unfortunately, he ran up a huge pitch count and should have been taken out after six innings. So naturally, Matheny left him in. With two outs and two on, there was no reason for him to keep struggling against Jacoby Ellsbury, so naturally Matheny left him in. I half expected him to come up again in the 8th inning, for some ungodly reason.
It was before Game Six, when the Series shifted back to Boston, that the following conversation started getting dredged up…
2. This was the first World Series clinched at Fenway Park since 1918….
Which led yours truly to come to the following realization:
2A. Fox was extremely desperate for a storyline for Game 6.
I mean, kudos to those who have stuck around long enough to see another clincher at Fenway Park, or have been anxiously waiting to see the Red Sox clinch at home. By the way, how was WWI? Thoughts on the New Deal? What do you think of all that nonsense with the forward pass?
This would have been a better storyline had the Sox not won, you know, two prior championships in the last 9 years, instead of continuing to go 86 years without a championship. This is a byproduct of every New England sportswriter wanting to write about elegant fall days, the Sox being miserable for much of the year, the Curse of the Bambino, how terrible the Sox were last year, blah blah blah. We get it. There’s a lot of writers with a profound passion for the Sox. Even Doris Kearns Goodwin and Stephen King get in on the action from time to time. But the Red Sox beat “the Curse” in 2004 with a lovable bunch of misfits, about whom roughly 12,000 books were written. They proved it wasn’t a fluke in 2007. If anything, the fact that the Red Sox have undergone an extreme makeover over the last two years should have been the storyline – I would have pushed “Worst to First” over and over again, because few people seem to remember how utterly fucking terrible things went for Boston last year. Instead, we got to talk about Fenway being “the cathedral of baseball” again, and how it was about time that the Red Sox got to celebrate on their home field. Guess what? The White Sox haven’t clinched at home since the 1910’s. The Cubs haven’t for even longer. More so, they haven’t even won a title in over 100 years. It’s hard to feel over-enthusiastically happy for Fenway Fanatics or Royal Rooters when most of them can remember what things were like before 2004 (the year where shit actually mattered). I realize this is a rant about a storyline that doesn’t matter, but it really started to grind on me as Joe Buck reminded us that “the Sox haven’t won here since DERP DERP DERP”.
I just needed to get that out of my system.
The point is – the only time you should care about a team clinching at home is when it’s your team and you’re actually there, or if you’re going on a drought that lasts longer than you’ve been alive. If you still have receipts for your last World Series victory stashed away somewhere, you don’t get to whine about not winning at home. Suck it up.
Speaking of those last two world series…
3. David Ortiz is __________ (insert your superlative here)
- David Ortiz has the highest batting average of any player in World Series history with a minimum of 50 AB’s. That’s not an insignificant stat, as he’s now had three trips to accumulate those numbers. 14 games is still a small sample size, but it’s telling that those are World Series wins, of which he had a MAJOR part in one.
- Papi hit .688/.760/1.188 for the Series with 11 hits in 16 AB’s, 2 HR’s, 6 RBI, 8 BB, and 1 K. Take a look at that, because that’s a postseason line that’s not been seen since You-Know-Who played in 2002. It’s absolutely absurd how good Ortiz played in this Series, and it’s even more absurd that St. Louis didn’t start to pitch around him until Game 6. He nearly missed out on a 3rd home run and 2nd Grand Slam of the Postseason in Game 1 as well. Holy pants, indeed.
- David Ortiz is the only player alive, current or retired, with three World Championship rings from the Boston Red Sox. The only one.
There’s no doubting that this is the year that David Ortiz became the face of the Red Sox franchise for years to come. His speech at the Opening Game of Fenway, following the Boston Marathon bombing, is iconic. The players on the team call him “Cooperstown”. The fans have embraced him like they have for nobody since Larry Bird, even over Tom Brady it appears. Some day, there will be a statue of Big Papi outside Fenway Park, a statue that he earned with everything he did this postseason. I don’t think this will happen, but if Boston decided to name him Captain before next season, it wouldn’t surprise me. There are few players active today who mean more to their franchise than Ortiz does to the Red Sox. His number should be retired. He should never have to pay for a drink in the Boston metro area ever again.
David Ortiz Eats Planets, Indeed.
4. Hall of Fame chances were boosted for several players this postseason.
Much has been made of the case for David Ortiz and Carlos Beltran for the Hall of Fame as this postseason has progressed. As a writer with no truly weighted vote, no history of journalism, and a case of hero worship (LARKIN!!!!!!!!), I’d say that both Beltran and Ortiz deserve to make the Hall of Fame, particularly Ortiz. There are others from this series, who I intend to bring up in my annual Hall of Fame discussion later this year/next year, including Yadier Molina, but for now, let’s just give this a rest and revel at the marvelous World Series we just witnessed.
I mean, it was a success if only for this picture:
You’re welcome, Earth.