I like people watching, and I suspect I’m not alone. People watching is the only reason anyone likes going to IKEA, and the reason you want to leave IKEA as quickly as possible. It turns out folks can be terrible in small but significant ways when parenting while picking out furniture. People, when they don’t know they are being observed, do all sorts of funny, kind, and awful things. Often they just do human things, like take soda refills they didn’t pay for, or pick up things for a stranger who has dropped them without being asked, or suddenly smirk when they’ve remembered something funny but private. Other people are just like us.
Indians ace Corey Kluber was masterful in his first career World Series start, giving the Cubs no chance to beat him.
There are certain games in the postseason, particularly in the World Series, whose results seem scripted from the first pitch. I’m not trying to suggest that the postseason is rigged or anything fishy, of course; it’s more that some games have a feeling of inevitability about them. Baseball is a sport that, if nothing else, is wont to punish feelings of inevitability with wild upsets, but even here, there are those games that, in the third inning, make you sit back and say “Yeah, I think I see where this one is going.”
Did the Indians ride Andrew Miller too hard? Did the Cubs use the right hitters? Game 1 offered plenty of chances to second-guess.
There was a wealth of strategic intrigue surrounding Game 1 of the World Series before it even began. Jon Lester started for the Cubs, so there was the now-familiar chatter about how the Indians planned to use his difficulty in controlling the running (if it can even be fairly called that) against him. Kyle Schwarber returned to the Cubs’ lineup after a sojourn of some six months, from an operating table to a grueling rehabilitation process to the Arizona Fall League, but there was some uncertainty as to how ready to return he really was, and where Joe Maddon could place him in his lineup in order to maximize Schwarber’s impact.
It’s finally here! The World Series kicks off tonight with Game 1, and two long-storied franchises with histories of futility and new-school front offices will face off. There’s narrative aplenty here--if you want more on that, check out Aaron Gleeman’s overall, seven-game series preview, breaking things down from every angle--but now it’s time to talk up the primary actors for Game 1. That starts with the two ace starting pitchers: Corey Kluber and Jon Lester.
Notes on Anthony Alford, Brent Honeywell, Nick Gordon, Lew Ford (!?) and, yes, Tim Tebow.
Hitter of the Day:
Anthony Alford, OF, Toronto Blue Jays (AFL Mesa Solar Sox): 2-3, BB, 2 R, 2B, HR, 3 RBI. Alford’s tantalizing tools were stuck in the garage for big chunks of this season, but he’s built quite the foundation in Arizona thus far. Seventy-grade speed and potentially plus defense in center set a nice floor for his profile, and his advanced approach for a player who is still relatively baseball-raw is encouraging given the physical gifts. He has the talent to emerge as one of the breakout stars of this year’s AFL if he can keep up anything close to his early pace.
In one corner, the immovable object that is the Chicago Cubs’ 108-year championship drought. In the other corner, the unstoppable force that is the Cleveland Indians’ 68-year title-less streak. Something’s got to give!
Why haven't opposing teams and managers, including the Indians and Terry Francona, done more to exploit Jon Lester's throwing problesm?
The last time he faced his former manager, Jon Lester spun an old-fashioned gem, in an old-fashioned Monday afternoon game at Wrigley Field. It was August of 2015, and the Cubs were hosting the Indians in a wrong-footed getaway-day game, forced into the schedule on what had been an off day for both teams after rain washed out a contest in June.
Lester pitched 8 ⅔ innings and nearly beat the Tribe 1-0, but ended up allowing the tying run before departing. Kris Bryant won the game with an opposite-field walk-off home run in the next half inning. The character of Lester’s effort was strange, though. He scattered six hits, a walk, and two hit batsmen over his long outing. It’s not normal, in today’s MLB, for a pitcher to allow nine baserunners in a start and still nearly complete the outing with just a single tally on the board.
And suddenly, Andrew Miller is the toast of the baseball world. Miller, whose previous claims to fame included being “the guy picked right before Clayton Kershaw”, won the ALCS MVP award by turning the clock back to the 1970s and (get this!) pitching multiple innings in relief, and coming into the game in the (gasp!) fifth and sixth inning.