ALCS 2009. Little Insight, Lots of Opinion.

The four best teams in baseball have risen to the top. While only one series extended to a fourth game in round one of the playoffs, there was still plenty of excitement. Let’s recap the American League Division Series before we continue. Celebrities looking to attend the ALCS, get yourselves caught up here.

Twins vs. Yankees

  • After extensive research, scientists have discovered that you can fit three Ryan Madsons in CC Sabathia’s pants.
  • Mr. Alex Rodriquez’s play has certainly fertilized his “love fern” with Kate Hudson. His numbers after the Division Series: .455 AVG., 2 HR, 6 RBI in three games. (Oh crap, did I just reference “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” on my sports blog? I’m ruined.)
  • Game 2 was a classic. First, Twins closer Joe Nathan uncharacteristically blew a two run lead as ARod belted a two-run shot to center. (ARod kept the Yankees in the game with 3 RBI.) Then, the left field umpire whiffed on a call from 15 feet away while staring directly at the play as it unfolded. “Whiffed” is actually quite generous. He clearly bet on the Yankees is a better way to describe how badly he blew the call. After that, the Twins couldn’t score one lousy run with zero outs (ZERO!!!!), AND the bases loaded. ZERO! Twins Manager Rod Gardenhire paced the dugout like a caged lion at feeding time. I feared he was going to bite someone. I’m pretty sure he sized up Orlando Cabrera a few times before talking himself out of it. Finally, the very first batter (Mark Teixeira) of the bottom half of that same inning bounced a liner off the top of the wall just a few feet from the foul pole. Without a doubt, the absolute quickest walk-off home run you will probably ever see. The ball went from bat to stands in what seemed like half a second. The only thing that could have possibly made the night worse for Minnesota fans was if they learned Brett Favre would miss his week 6 contest against the Ravens due to a previously scheduled colonoscopy. Hey Minnesota, at least you have Ricky Rubio, or not. Wuhhaahahah.
  • In the final game of the series, Twins second baseman, Nick Punto, almost went all “Adam Morrison” on us. After two solo shots by ARod (so clutch thus far) and Jorge Posada gave the Yankees a one run lead, the Twins desperately needed baserunners in the bottom of the eighth. Punto answered the call by leading off the inning with a double. Unfortunately, Punto got too aggressive rounding third on the subsequent infield single, again with zero outs (ZERO!!!!!), and was gunned down scrambling back to the bag. TV cameras showed him, at least in my opinion, on the verge of breaking down into tears, and rightfully so. Instead of first and third with no outs, it was man on first with one out. Check mate. Series over. The Twins were defeated by the Yankees (51% responsible), the Twins (47% responsible), and the umpire who wagered on the Yankees (2% responsible). Hey, if you’re gonna lose, it’s always best to lose in such heartbreaking fashion that your fans hate you for the next 6-12 months (depending on how you perform the following year). While this doesn’t facilitate the healing process, it is totally enjoyable for the rest of the sports world.
Red Sox vs. Angels
  • In case you didn’t get the memo, Angles CF Tori Hunter is not messing around. He wants to win. You’ll rarely see a baseball player as fired up as Hunter was last Thursday after his three run home run.
  • On the other hand, the Red Sox didn’t show much of a pulse in this series. This is my biggest fear for the Phillies. Win a World Series every few years and then lose that passion for winning. It’s happened in Boston, and especially to their fans. This is also part of the reason I didn’t enjoy my time at Citizens Bank Ballpark this year. The 2008 championship attracted the “I love Phillies baseball, Eric Lindros was my favorite of all time,” fans to the BANK this year. Clueless and annoying are the two worst attributes in any fan, friend, roommate, spouse, dog, colleague, blogger, or neighbor. This made me actually miss the days at the VET when my friends/family and I needed binoculars to locate the fan sitting closest to us. In addition to the annoying, pretend fan, the 2008 championship has affected the lifelong Phillies fans as well. They’re softer, more lenient, and less hungry. If Phillies fans continue to act spoiled and stop being irrational, delusional fans; then I’m out. I didn’t sign up at age three to be rational and content. Win now, win tomorrow, win always, or else. I’m sorry. Where was I? Oh yes, Sox, Angels.
  • Game three was certainly a doozy. I only caught the latter innings as I was indulged in football, but those final two innings were full of excitement. My boy, Bobby Abreu, started the two inning rally with a leadoff double in the eighth. He, along with Vladimir Guerrero, later scored on a huge two out single by Juan Rivera that cut the Red Sox lead to one. I should also mention that the same knucklehead who ruined the Angel’s chances of tying up the 2008 Division Series with the Red Sox at 2-2 (Reggie Willits), got picked off at first, after being inserted as a pinch runner. You’re a pinch runner! Your job is to run the bases quickly and effectively. Instead, you record the last out of the inning before even running the bases. Dealing with this insanity is why managers make the big bucks. I couldn’t do it without hurting someone. Seriously though, is there a more embarrassing thing in sports? I could only think of two. 1. The short yardage running back that is brought in at the goal line and subsequently fumbles. 2. Nothing. The pinch runner getting picked off is downright bad. Now back to the game… The Red Sox added a run in their half of the eighth to stretch the lead to two. Boston closer, Jonathan Papelbon, retired the first two batters he faced and had the Angels down to their final out. After a single and walk, Bobby Abreu delivered the first blow. He cranked a double off the Green Monster that scored the runner from second and moved the game tying and winning runs into scoring position. In the at bat, Abreu battled to extend the game. The elation on his face as he watched the ball jump of his bat into the Monster was priceless. It was the second loudest I cheered all day. (The loudest I cheered was when JaMarcus Russell finally took a sack without fumbling. He’s clearly developing.) After an intentional walk, Vlad, “Tree Trunks for Legs,” smacked what would ultimately be the game winning single to center. Bye, Bye, Boston.
  • Apparently Brad Lidge passed the, “I can’t close right now. I’m as reliable as Mitch Williams,” swine flu to half of the closers in the playoffs. Of the eight closers in the playoffs, four of them, and one left fielder (Matt Holliday), blew a save. Brad Lidge was not one of them.
Looking ahead to the American League Championship Series

I am extremely excited about this matchup. These are the two best teams in baseball and I have very high hopes for a seven game series. You can peruse the internet for all the ins and outs of this series. I’m not a baseball guru, so I’ll leave that analysis to the experts. Here’s what I think you can expect from this series:

  • Bobby Abreu will walk 10 times. No one milks the count like Bobby does.
  • Kate Hudson will be shown three times that amount.
  • The Playoff hats with ear coverings will make an appearance.
  • No player from either team will strike out 9 times in three games as Twins DH Jason Kubel did in the Division Series against the Yankees.
  • Yankees RF Johnny Damon will awkwardly run into the wall while chasing a ball at least once. While he’s an offensive threat, his defense has never been stellar. Boston fans can help here with their insight. They reference Damon with the following, “Looks like Jesus, throws like Mary, acts like Judas.” Well put.
  • You will get chills from at least one of the 7th inning renditions of “God Bless America.” I always do. It’s especially moving when you can hear the crowd singing along in unison. My wife laughs at my appreciation for this. I think she may be an Antarctic spy, but I have no proof.
  • The dugout cam is the greatest addition to playoff baseball, ever. I’ll watch any game just for the 90 seconds worth of footage they show throughout a telecast. Teams like the Angels and Yankees make the dugout cam even greater because they seem like fun teams who enjoy the moment as much as the fans. I’ve asked my wife about installing one of these next to my couch so everyone can see my reactions as I watch the games. I’m pretty exciting, and I’m almost positive that people would thoroughly enjoy the show. Look for this addition to circa 2011. I’m pumped.
  • Billy Crystal and countless other celebrities will make their way to the thousand dollar seats around the field. “Hey look at me! I love baseball! The Yankees are great!” Celebrities ruin sports. Every spring, prior to the NBA playoffs, I pray that San Antonio Spurs coach, Gregg Popovich will get so upset that he cold clocks Jack Nicholson for intruding on his coaching space. He’ll then stand over Nicholson and yell, “The-e-e-e-e-er’s Jacky!”
  • The speed of Chone Figgins, Erick Aybar, and Bobby Abreu will win a tight game in the late innings for the Angels. Speed on the basepaths in a close game is my favorite aspect of playoff baseball.
  • Derek Jeter will hit .350+ and have 2-3 clutch hits for the Yankees. Of all the athletes of my generation, he is one of the most impressive.
  • If at any point in time, the Angels need a momentum shift or a little inspiration, you can be sure that I will stand on my coffee table and do the “Angel wings flap” that I mentioned in my first baseball post. This time of the year, it’s all about doing it for your teammates. I’m here for you, Angels.
  • The Yankees rely on power, the Angels on manufacturing runs. I’ll take the latter in the playoffs any day. That’s why I think the Angels advance.
  • I hope there are no beanball fiascos, bench clearing brawls, or take out slides in this series. They just ruin the ga……just kidding. I would love to see all three…every game. Can the Yankees bring back Don Zimmer for one more run? Who throws him to the ground if the benches/bullpens empty? My money is on Vlad, but only because he couldn’t outrun anyone else.

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