Baseball BeatOctober 19, 2004
Home Sweep Home
By Rich Lederer

  • Idle Thought: Did anyone watch Monday Night Football last night? I have a strong suspicion that St. Louis fans didn't view the Rams victory and the Cardinals loss as a wash.

  • Who says the home field advantage in baseball is overrated? The home teams in the league championship series are now 9-1. Although the Red Sox and the Astros have the momentum, the Yankees and the Cardinals are returning to the comforts of home where both ballclubs swept the opening two games of the championship series.

  • The Yankees win the first three. The Red Sox win the next two. The Cardinals win two straight. The Astros come roaring back and win three consecutive games. I haven't seen such streakin' since the 1970s.

  • After back-to-back-to-back four, five, and six hour games, I can no longer say that I have never watched a Boston Marathon.

  • The Impossible Dream, Part Two? Everyone knows that no team has ever come back from being down 3-0 to win a series. The Red Sox, as one of only three teams to lose the first three and extend the series to six games, would love to be the first to have a shot at bouncing back from such a deficit and sweeping the final four.

  • If it rains Tuesday night in New York, who does that help more--the Yankees or the Red Sox? The pitching staffs of both teams could sure use the rest. However, an extra day would allow manager Terry Francona to use Pedro Martinez in relief if a Game Seven were held on Thursday.

  • If Roger Clemens shuts down the Cardinals in Game Six, he will end up facing either the Yankees or the Red Sox in the World Series. If you don't think baseball can get much better than what we've seen the past few days, picture the Rocket on the mound in Game Six or Seven of the World Series in Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park with all the marbles on the line.

  • A Brown Out? St. Louis right-hander Julian Tavarez breaks his left hand during a dugout tantrum in Game 4 of the N.L. Championship Series and may not be able to pitch . . . And I thought the Red Sox were the idiots.

  • Does anyone else have the feeling that the Astros are this year's Angels or Marlins? All three teams were wild card entries and came into the postseason as the hottest team in baseball. The Marlins and Astros also changed managers during the season. The Angels and Astros were expansion teams in 1961 and 1962, respectively. Just as it took Anaheim 42 years to make an appearance in the World Series, it will have been 43 years in the making should Houston get there.

  • If, and when, the Astros return home to represent the National League in the World Series, they will have only lost one game at Minute Maid Park the past two months.

  • The top two teams in Rob Neyer's Beane Count in the A.L. are still battling it out while the number one team in the N.L. is trying to hold off the challenge from the number five-ranked ballclub. Significantly, the Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks finished last in their respective leagues in the Beane Count while ranking among the bottom three teams in wins in the majors. (Going forward, a look at the Beane Count suggests that if the Phillies can reduce the number of home runs allowed, it would not be inconceivable to see Philadelphia still playing a year from now.)

    In the meantime, there is no correlation between teams that ranked high in productive outs and those that made the postseason. In fact, the Montreal Expos wound up number one in the highest percentage of productive outs on offense and the lowest percentage of productive outs on defense.

    The moral of the story? Give me home runs and walks and you can have all the productive outs you'd like.