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"Winter Has Come And I Do Wish Tampa Bay Had Hit A Little More" (corrected version) + Ups and Downs of Wisconsin Badger Football

The end of a baseball season, even one as short as this one, always brings melancholy. With Daylight Saving Time ending at Sun at 2AM, the days will grow short, too. For a half-filled-glass kinda guy, it will be suck-it-up, hope-for-better-days time.  

 

There is no doubt that the LA Dodgers deserved to win the Series. Smooth shortstop Corey Seager was a worthy MVP for his offensive production and fine defense.  

 

LA hit and pitched more consistently than the Rays whose lack of offense except for the rookie Randy Azorarena was disappointing if not appalling. Randy was also handled fairly easily with men on base.

 

For a season to end with shortstop Willy Adames taking the last two strikes in a three-pitch punchout from the nearly-flawless Julio Urias was tough to handle.  Highly touted prospect Wander Franco may be replacing Adames in 2021. I would have liked Willy to have gone down swinging. 

 

Or manager Kevin Cash use a pinch-hitter for him.  It was Cash's first World Series as a skipper and he didn't seem to manage with urgency. He could have pinch-hit more often for great defender/weak-hitting catcher Mike Zunino. 

 

I was glad Zunino got his first World Series hit in his last AB in the Series.  And gotta love a guy whose parents were both catchers - they met when father Greg, now a Cincinnati scout, was playing in Italy and his mother Paola was playing for the Italian national softball team.

 

Props to Mike for thanking his wife when interviewed after a big game earlier in the playoffs. But backup Michael Perez might have been used more.  I know during the regular season every time he came up against the Orioles he seemed to deliver a big hit.

 

The classic game was the fourth one, a back and forth affair that ended on a game-tying single by reserve Brett Phillips and two rare errors by Chris Taylor bobbling a single in center field and Will Smith muffing a relay throw not realizing that Arozarena had fallen down between third and home.

 

The real turning point int he Series came in game 5 when the Dodgers immediately scored two runs in the top of the first to wrest whatever momentum the Rays might have had from the previous night's victory.  

 

The old cliche came true again:  "Momentum in baseball is the next game's starting pitcher."

Tyler Glasnost simply did not rise to the occasion in game 5.  After Manuel Margot was caught stealing home to end the bottom of the 4th after the Rays scored two runs, it was up to Glasnow to pitch a shutdown top of 5th.

 

He couldn't do it. He gave up a solo home run to Max Muncy to give LA breathing room.

Props to the Dodgers for scoring so many runs with two outs. More than I've ever seen. 

 

Where Kevin Cash is really being roasted is for yanking Blake Snell in the final game after the 2018 Cy Young-winner had thrown only 73 pitches with nine strikeouts in 5 1/3 superb innings.

 

Snell deserved to face Mookie Betts for a third time despite the infuriating "advanced metric" that said it is a no-no. Even Betts said after the game he was glad Snell was gone.

 

Somewhere in this land and in baseball-loving nations around the world, here's a hope that young pitchers are growing up dreaming of pitching in big games and embracing the challenge of going through an order three times or even more.  It is called pitching.

 

Lord knows what kind of season and what kind of country we face in the weeks and months ahead.  As a Wisconsin Badger fan, I first suffered the loss of a basketball season where Greg Gard's unheralded squad won the last eight games of the season and a share of Big Ten title when the pandemic hit.

 

Football got off to a flying start last Friday with Grahem Mertz's nearly-perfect five touchdown game against Illinois.  And then he tested positive for covid-19 as did his backup QB and coach Paul Chryst and several other players and staff.  The game against Nebraska has been canceled with no makeup planned and Mertz will be out for at least two more games.

 

I haven't even mentioned that the Dodgers' leader and big run-producer Justin Turner tested positive, a result known in the 2nd inning of the last game.  But he wasn't removed until the 8th inning. He was then allowed, unmasked, to join the post-game celebration.

 

In a country where our POTUS is behaving similarly, I worry about the validity of polls showing his likely defeat.  We've been through that before. "We're all in this together" doesn't apply for at least 40% of the country and probably a majority of athletes. 

 

So let me return to my half-filled-glass state and hope for the best in our country and also for some kind of satisfying regular season in 2021.  With also fewer minor league teams axed. Alas, there is no indication that any reasonable solution is at hand.

 

Nevertheless, always remember:  Take it easy but take it!       

 

 

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Let's Hope The World Series Will Match The Drama of the Playoffs

Baseball fans have to feel blessed that we've had gripping games to fill our October nights during this pandemic and the immense uncertainty about our future as a republic. It was only the third time since MLB went to seven-game championship series that both leagues came down to Game 7 dramas.

 

For six innings, the Braves-Dodgers NLCS final game looked like a classic in the making. Braves took early lead, Dodgers tied it in the third on clutch two-out single by young catcher Will Smith from University of Louisville. 

 

To me Smith was one of the unsung heroes of the Dodgers victory.  He hit a game-turning three-run homer against Braves southpaw reliever Will Smith to win a previous game. 

 

It was quickly announced that it was the first time in the playoffs that a player hit a homer against a pitcher with the same name.  What I want to know:  WHEN DID IT HAPPEN IN THE REGULAR SEASON?  No word at press time. 

 

Smith also made the key defensive play thwarting a big Braves rally when they gained the lead again.  He ran Dansby Swanson back to third base when he broke too soon for the plate on a grounder to third. Justin Turner made a great tag on Swanson heading home and then threw out young Austin Riley who delayed going to third from second.

 

The Dodger bullpen then shut down the Braves totally for the rest of the game.  You just knew that sooner or later they would score and that they did on a Cody Bellinger home run

in the bottom of the 7th.

 

A 2018 NL MVP, Bellinger has not had a good year but if he gets on a hot streak that Dodger lineup will be hard to beat. But don't count out the newly crowned AL titleists Tampa Bay Rays.

 

Rays fans told me that I wouldn't jinx them by my ode last week to their beating the Yankees.  It allowed us to celebrate YED, Yankee Elimination Day, that special holiday that should but doesn't teach humility to the outrageous entitlement of too many Yankee fans.

 

The Houston Astros under Dusty Baker's quietly passionate leadership did throw a major scare into Tampa Bay. They won three close games in a row after losing the first three.

But a first inning home run by Randy Arozarena, the sensation from Cuba who now lives in Mexico, gave the Rays a two-run lead in the first inning.

 

Talk about the little things that determine close games.  The TV camera caught Houston starter Lance McCullers Jr. hesitating before he threw the fateful pitch to Arozarena.

He kept the team in the game afterwards, giving up just a solo homer to another unsung star catcher Mike Zunino.

 

But former Astro and Pirate Charlie Morton was on his game and pitched nearly flawlessly.

In this age of the annoying mantra, "Don't dare let a pitcher go through a lineup three times", Morton left with two on and two out in top of sixth after only 66 pitches.  But the Rays bullpen sealed the deal in the 4-2 victory.

 

The odds-makers and TV people love LA and Hollywood and the Dodgers certainly have a lot to prove after winning eight NL West division titles in a row with no World Series wins.

But I'll be rooting for the Rays and their scrappy defense and their "Stable of Horses" in the bullpen who are seemingly interchangeable.  Just hope Randy A. gets more help at bat.

 

Always remember not only "Take it easy but take it!" but also, "The only reason to play baseball is to keep winter away." 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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