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I get a lot of e-mail, and I don’t answer nearly as much of it as I should. That’s not a reflection of the quality of the feedback, but more a reflection of my sloth.


“The Astros may have their backs up against the wall, but they also
have Roy Oswalt, who is their best pitcher right now, and they are
going back to a place where they’ve won eight straight postseason games.”


In fact, the Astros are going back to a place where they’ve lost
one straight postseason game–have you forgotten about Pujols already?



J.Y.

Yeah, I appear to be running out of steam
as we head down the stretch.

That’s a bad one…thanks, J.Y., and the many others who e-mailed me about that.


I’ve tried to restrain myself from ranting about this too much, but
it’s starting to get to me. While a few commentators have touched
on this, I’m struck by how much attention has been paid
to ‘Bagwell and Biggio finally getting to the WS’ while almost no
attention at all has been paid to Frank Thomas. Obviously I don’t
expect the same level of hype for Thomas, especially given that
he’s unable to play in the Series. He hasn’t even qualified as an
afterthought in the eyes of many commentators discussing the
Series, and for the life of me, I can’t understand why. Is
it because he’s surly? Not a team player? Because he isn’t a
‘clutch player?’ Or because mentioning Frank Thomas as being the
best White Sox player since 1959 would go against the ‘This is a
Smallball team’ mantra that’s being drilled into our skulls?


It’s just always upsetting when a guy that I was always a
fan of, and who always produced whether hurt or healthy, is
actively discarded because ‘it’s a better story’ or some such crap
like that.



J.R.

I think the simplest explanation–Thomas
barely played this year, and not at all
in the playoffs–is the most likely one.

There are, of course, other factors. Biggio
and Bagwell are media favorites, and you’re
welcome to examine the reasons for that.
Neither player retains the stench of the
machinations that cost Dierker his job,
to their discredit, whereas Thomas still
seems to suffer from the perception that
he was difficult during his peak.

Thomas is a fascinating player who is going
to be a very interesting Hall of Fame
case. For people like me, he’s a first-
ballot, inner-circle guy, based on his
staggering peak. I can’t shake the notion,
though, that the electorate doesn’t hold
him in that regard. I don’t doubt he’ll
be voted in, but perhaps not in as easy
a fashion as he deserves.


I live in England and am only able to watch occasional baseball
these days, so I rely on writers like you to inform me of what’s
happening in the game.


One of your continuing narratives regarding the White Sox has been
how small ball has hurt them rather than helped them. Fair enough;
I haven’t seen the games. But if you wish to remain credible on
this theme I think you should cite plays that contradict your
viewpoint as well as ones which support it, and then make some
attempt to weigh the evidence.


I stayed up to watch Game 1 and I read your column about it. Yes,
Lamb made a mistake that probably ended up costing the Astros two
runs. But the reason that the Sox had runners at first and third
in the first place was because of a small ball play that worked,
the hit-and-run single that Rowand bumped into right after Biggio
went to cover second base. One could argue that Lamb should still
have made the play, but that’s missing the point: one of the
reasons people play aggressively on the basepaths is to put
pressure on the fielders because then they occasionally make
mistakes. I’m sure that Guillen felt that that inning was a
vindication of his aggressive tactics, and in this particular case
I’m inclined to agree.



D.W.

That’s an excellent point, and I think
Pierzynski’s getting from first to third
was a key in both of the first two games.

Honestly, though, the Sox don’t have great
speed, and don’t run the bases all that
well. It’s one of the things that keeps
them from being the Angels, who actually
are fast. The Sox have one legitimately
fast guy in Podsednik, and some average
to average-plus runners in Rowand, Uribe
and Iguchi. The rest of the team is
pretty slow.

Aggression on the bases affecting fielders
has never been proven. I think legitimate
speed can have an impact, but just running
willy-nilly with so-so baserunners doesn’t
get you far.


Just wondering if you think the cool Chicago weather has resulted
in the starters not being as sharp at the beginning of Game 1. The
six combined runs are more than most people would predict for an
entire game.

Jeff Cavett

My recollection is that cold weather is
supposed to help pitchers, rather than
hitters. Given the starting pitching
we’ve seen so far–12 runs in 24 IP,
not horrible but below par for the month
for these teams–I guess it’s possible
that the weather is a reason.

Sox starters haven’t walked a batter
yet, though. They’ve walked 12 in their
last seven starts, total. Color me
impressed.


Do you really think the umpire was out of position on the
Molina call? I never umpired past Little League, so I don’t know,
but I’m not sure where else he COULD have been. Sadly for the
Cards, the place he WAS was the ONE place where he COULDN’T see what
he needed.

M.W.

I think he was in position for the play
that was supposed to happen, and
unfortunately, blocked for the one that
developed.

I had a number of e-mails from people
insisting that the first-base umpire
had a clear view of the play, and
disappointed that he didn’t interject
himself into the decision. I’m the
last person to praise the NFL relative
to MLB, but I think they do a much
better job of getting the call right
in consultation than MLB umpires do.

I also think I couldn’t name five NFL
officials at gunpoint, and if you think
there’s no connection between those
two thoughts, you’re wrong.


Joe, I’ve spent the last few weeks comparing this year’s White Sox
team to the 1969 Mets: Both are average (at best) offensive teams
with strong defense and superb starting pitching. The difference,
as I see it, is that the ChiSox put the division away in June, while the Miracle Mets won going away in September. Now the Astros
have made it with almost precisely the same model (although they
snuck into the playoffs as wildcards). What do you think of this
1969/2005 analogy? If you agree with me at all, which 2005 team do
you think is the ‘true’ heir to the Tom Seaver/Jerry Koosman Mets?
(Or do we have to see who wins?)

Dan Rosenbaum

This is interesting…if we’re going to
grant the premise, it’s clear that the
White Sox–the much younger of the two
staffs–are the better comparison.

Now, I don’t know how well things hold
beyond that. No current White Sox
pitcher looks like Tom Seaver or
anything close, so that’s a problem,
and I don’t think even those people
related to Bobby Jenks would line
him up next to Nolan Ryan.

Mark Buehrle and Jerry Koosman match
up reasonably well, now and into the
future, and if you squint, you can
see Jon Garland and Gary Gentry as
a match. Guillen’s lack of a true
closer pairs up nicely with that
Mets team, which had a number of
good relievers but no single relief
ace.

I like the parallel for one season,
though, given the relative strengths
and weaknesses of the team. Great
e-mail, Dan.

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