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Championship series

Friday 10/16/20

I watched quite a lot of the Rays v. Astros game last night with interest. What one notices in almost every game is the reliance on home runs and their frequency. There's little in the way of station-to-station baseball, and people actually running around the bases. It does feel like softball. But I think this series is interesting with the whole down 3-0 zip thing, and also that you have a sub-.500 team that is nationally disliked after their cheating scandal. I like seeing unlikely things happen. Especially if I don't have a rooting interest, and I don't. The Rays are efficacious in every way. How they identify talent, develop it, keep down their expenses, position their fielders, stock a bullpen in the bullpen era. It's flavorless, I suppose, in a way. But they do max out on their team. The Astros' roster is made up of guys who underachieved this year, but who still have, presumably, their talent. I can't believe that Jose Altuve is now what he was in this past regular season. Dusty Baker strikes me as having the right kind of temperament to manage a club for one of these comebacks. He appears to have a steadying effect.

I didn't expect them to win yesterday. And when the Rays tied that game, I felt close to certain that the Astros would be knocked out. A game like that, the longer it goes on late, if you will, when it is close or tied, favors the Rays. Of course, part of me doesn't want to see another team overcome a 3-0 deficit because I like that only the Red Sox have done that. But I do root for the team in that hole. If you're going to pull off that comeback, this is the season to do it, when you have a neutral field, none of the feel of a postseason game in terms of the crowd getting on you, that kind of thing. I think you play a little freer, maybe stay out of your head a bit more, in a productive way. Grip the bat less tight. Game 6 in Yankee Stadium was a different enchilada to me.

Meanwhile, Mookie Betts. Look at that stat line. I wasn't massively aggrieved when the Sox didn't pay him because I don't think he is worth close to that--even by insane professional sports standards--and he is a godawful postseason performer. He might be the worst postseason performer of any major star in baseball history. I've been saying that for a while--he's a front runner who performs best in meaningless June games with lopsided scores--and people would be like, "he has a small sample size." No he doesn't. He's been in the postseason a lot. What's he hitting now, .143, with a sub .500 OPS? The Sox won in 2018 despite Betts in the playoffs, and with nothing at all to do with him. A replacement player would have offered you more. Maybe he'll turn it around, and the Dodgers, too, but it's not looking that way. I think that Sox team, incidentally, was so overrated, the weakest of their championship teams this century despite the gaudy 108 wins. A bunch of teams were winning just about that number of games, it wasn't some eye-popping total.

I think the game starts in an hour. It's pouring out but I think I have just enough on my last Starbucks gift card to get a steamed apple juice, so I will do that and sit and mull a bit by the harbor as the fog rolls in. Air myself out.

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