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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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On The Inevitable Manny Machado Trade (updated) + In Memory of Ken Ravizza

My take on the now-official trade of Manny Machado to the Dodgers is that I hope he realizes the microscope will now be grinding 24/7. (That's not the best metaphor I know but I never was very good in science classes despite attending Bronx HS of Science.)

Some of his last comments to MASNSports.com reporter Roch Kubatko indicated that the enormity of the change was only now beginning to dawn on him. Players are not robots or simply vessels of stats that can be transferred from one team to another as easily as the click on a computer.

Still, the Dodgers offense will likely get an uptick with him hitting in the middle of the lineup. I am sure Dodgers management will deal with the issue of what happens when incumbent shortstop Corey Seager returns from injury next spring. And what about Justin Turner the incumbent third baseman?

I rarely make predictions since I've always loved the baseball adage - "the farther away from the clubhouse the less you know what you are talking about." (A sanitized version of the adage!)

But I did say that the pre-season injury to Justin Turner would be a big blow to the Dodgers and they indeed got off to an awful start until he returned somewhat to form recently. Turner has been a versatile player in past so they'll find a spot for him.

Whether Machado is shortstop or third baseman of future for LA is an intriguing question. Manny will have many suitors as a free agent come November.

As for my Orioles, it remains to be seen if 21-year-old Cuban-born Double A outfielder Yusniel Diaz, the most heralded of the five minor leaguers received from LA, ultimately becomes a core piece of a rebuilt team. I am also curious to see if homegrown outfielders Cedric Mullins and currently injured Austin Hays can make the grade.

I expect another big trade chip to be sent away shortly when closer Zach Britton finds a new home. I think the Indians want him badly because of health issues and free agency looming for fellow left-handed reliever Andrew Miller. But I also think the Orioles would prefer sending Britton to National League.

I still watch the Orioles out of habit and a love that borders on - who am I kidding? -that actually overflows into addiction. They enter post-All-Star-Game play on a two-game winning streak after a 4-4 home stand that featured splitting four games with the hated Yankees (who trail Boston by 4 1/2 games but only 3 in the A-ILC (All-Important Lost Column).

The lineup without the powerful productive Machado batting third could be even more embarrassing than the one WITH Manny that is 41 games under .500. But call me a cockeyed optimist - I think they will be surpass the Mets 1962 debut of 40-120 and even the Tigers 1999 43-119.

The key always remains in baseball pitching. "Without pitching you got nothin'," Sparky Anderson wisely said. And if they are to become the real Orioles again and not the 2018 version I call sadly Woerioles, the starters must step up and not be Five Jokers and No Aces.

Before I close, I want to say goodbye to someone who left us recently, much too early of a heart attack at age 70. KEN RAVIZZA was a pioneering sports psychologist - born in Connecticut, graduate of the renowned physical education program at Springfield College in Massachusetts. He got his doctorate at USC, studying with among others Howard Slusher, a sports philosophy professor who later became a sports agent.

Ken rose to become both a widely published academic author and an applied sports psychologist in great demand by sports teams like Joe Maddon's Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago Cubs and individual competitors like figure skater Gracie Gold.

Some of Ken's aphorisms that are indelibly etched in my mind include:
"Attitude is a decision."
"Never let the pressure of a situation exceed the pleasure you get from it."
"Learning to be comfortable while being uncomfortable" is a big key to success.

That's all for now - always remember: Take it easy but take it!
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