The Rangers' bullpen implodes and the Giants get a step closer to an elusive world championship.
SAN FRANCISCO—Relief pitchers have a special bond. Not only do they belong to the same team, but they are also a team within a team. In most ballparks, they spend the game apart from their teammates, often sitting as far as 450 feet away from the dugout.
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Why stick with the classics when there's a messy brawl to be had?
As Coca-Cola executives learned back in the day, one of the problems with packaging something old as something new is that it ain't necessarily classic, whatever else you call it. With as much build up Game One of the World Series got—from parties as guilty as I am, among so many others—because there was Cliff Lee, and there was Tim Lincecum, there just had to be some new bit of history made, right? And what we got was indeed classic—Keystone Kops classic.
It's a series that will feature superb pitching staffs, and one team will come away with a long-awaited title.
In baseball as in literature, archetypes tend to be formulaic, proof that fiction falls short of reality when it comes to the power to describe any one thing in shorthand. The need, indeed one of the great benefits of the human mind is to identify patterns, and to peg things that fall within those patterns, or to re-evaluate the pattern as a whole to create some new rubric, some new way of explaining things. Take our current post-season slate: instead of a much-anticipated rematch between the Evil Empire and the Phillies' a-bornin' senior-circuit dynasty, last week we got the pleasure of witnessing imperial ambitions utterly overthrown in both leagues.
Manager Ron Washington has gotten the Rangers to buy into his style of play, along with other news and notes from around the major leagues.
Ron Washington has the chance to make history in the next two nights. The Rangers lead the Yankees 3-2 in the American League Championship Series and need only one win in the next two games to qualify for the first World Series appearance in the franchise' 50-year history.
Television ratings for the postseason are up, or at least they were for Game Three of the ALCS. You can wonder what that really means, of course. Maybe folks like TBS, and maybe the games and the matchups are a lot more interesting. And maybe, just maybe, what America is tuning to is baseball's answer to the WWE. That's because if they're dialing up diamond drama, they've been getting one Yankee smackdown after another.
Cliff Lee continued his post-season dominance as he silenced the Yankees' lumber.
This may not be my first post-season game, or my first NuYankee Stadium, or even my first Yankees-Rangers game in the Bronx of 2010. Still, if one of the games' older adages is that you never forget your first, there's no harm in having it be something well worth remembering. This was a game that simultaneously fulfilled expectations, yet also left many analysts flabbergasted. It was both a tremendous pitching duel, and a rout of humiliating dimensions. And it was also a game in which both managers managed to hurt their team's chances of winning the series in Monday night's ninth inning.
The Yankees look to get back to yet another World Series while the Rangers are in uncharted territory.
From 1996 through 1999, the Joe Torre-led Yankees and the Johnny Oates-piloted Rangers faced off in three American League Division Series, the first three times the latter franchise had ever reached the postseason. The Yankees won nine of those 10 games, holding the Rangers to a lone run apiece in their 1998 and 1999 sweeps. Times have changed, however, and while the Yankee machine has simply kept rolling, racking up four pennants and two world championships while missing the playoffs just once since their last meeting, the Rangers endured a dark decade before reemerging as AL West champions thanks to the shrewd deal making of general manager Jon Daniels and the fruits of their well-stocked farm system.
Braves closer Billy Wagner may have pitched his last game, along with other news and notes from around the major leagues.
The most endearing thing about Billy Wagner is that he has had a special career yet never considered himself special. Now that the Braves closer's career might be over, Wagner still isn't all that impressed with himself.
The Bombers blast their way back into the ALCS, while the Rays live to play another day.
When you're down 2-0, everything is a matter of last-chance sweepstakes. Do or die, theirs to reason why—curse you, Jim Wolf—with nothing to do but try and rally from it, because in a five-game series, you just need to set everything else aside and recognize that there are no tomorrows, not if you don't create them yourself. One of the two teams down to their very last game in every game left in the round, one did exactly that, one less so.
One of the beasts of the East takes on the Rangers in a first-round clash of division winners.
In hindsight, the titans of the East were what we thought they were, even if a rash of injuries ensured that the Red Sox weren’t always whom we thought they were. As expected, eastern teams have called dibs on two of the AL’s four coveted tickets to the promised land, though no asses were crowned until the season’s final weekend, when the Rays nabbed the title by taking two out of three in Kansas City while the Yankees dropped a pair in Boston. Tampa Bay’s second division championship was won with an even smaller margin of error than the first, but the small-market-team-that-could again proved that it belonged in a bracket formerly dominated by high-payroll organizations—though this year’s Rays had to expend significantly more salary than the 2008 model in the process.
Without Stephen Strasburg until 2012, starting pitching becomes the priority.
Kiss 'Em Goodbye is a series focusing on MLB teams as their postseason dreams fade—whether in September (or before), the League Division Series, League Championship Series or World Series. It combines a broad overview of this season from Buster Olney, a take from Baseball Prospectus, a look toward an immediate 2011 move courtesy of Rumor Central and Kevin Goldstein's farm system overview. You can find all the teams on one page by going here.