Last night we were so close to finalizing a Rays-Phillies World Series. So what went wrong? My thoughts:
* I think Joe Maddon is a good manager and I feel bad second guessing him, partly because everyone will be. But I think he got over confident last night. In the playoffs, you have to treat every game like game 7. If that was game 7, does Kazmir come out for the 7th? I think he does. If that was game 7, does a lefty come in to face Ortiz after Balfour struggled? Or at least againt J.D. Drew? Again, I think so. Maddon’s moves would have made sense if it were August. When you have a chance to close out your opponent, you have to pull out all the stops.
* Mark Kotsay’s peformance at first base for Boston last night got me to thinking: as long as his demands aren’t unreasonable, he could be a great short term sign for the Yankees if they don’t sign Tex. Kotsay could play some first and also split time with Gardner at center.
* I was all ready to write up a post on the demise of David Ortiz today. I still think the same thing – I mean last night’s homerun was the defnition of “running into one” – but perhaps I should wait. Let’s just say I always refer to him as Mo Vaughn whenever my Red Sox fan friends are around.
* Last night’s game is the type of game I think of when someone uses the term “choke” in sports. I always kind of laugh when I see shirts or other reference to the 2004 Yankees being “chokers.” There is a big difference between losing a lead in a game versus a series. Just because you’re up 3-0 or 3-1 in a series, the score of each game still starts at zero each time. You still have to actually outplay your opponent, not just play well enough to hold onto a lead. Hey, I’m also a Knicks fan. I’ve seen my favorite team choke.
* And on the topic of choking, Dan Wheeler looked completely terrified last night. Again, I know it’s easy to criticize Maddon in hindsight, but he had to know things were going to go badly as soon as Wheeler came out looking stunned and missing the strike zone. Doesn’t all of it make you appreciate Mariano Rivera that much more?
* And speaking of closers: smart move by Francona going to his closer at the moment he knew his season was about to end. One thing I always hated about Torre-era was all the time’s the Yankees would lose without ever using their greatest bullpen weapon (obviously, Mo). Papelbon still let 2 runners score, but it actually could have been much worse.