Friday, October 13, 2006

LCS Mania:
Mets Strike First

(You can find the usual daily Quickie-style analysis of all the day's other sports news in the post directly below this one.)

Here's the morning's top debate:
Who was the bigger NLCS Game 1 hero?

Tom Glavine, ageless in throwing 7 shutout innings and limiting the Cards to 4 hits, knowing the rest of the rotation behind him is slop?

Or Carlos Beltran, accounting for all of the Mets' runs with a 2-run HR and evoking memories of his breakout 2004 postseason?

My vote is for Glavine, who recently has been argued to be the most clutch playoff pitcher of our era. And he helped his cause last night.

Beltran's HR was great (and certainly necessary), but on any given night, the Mets' O can come from a half-dozen spots in the lineup.

But amazing starting pitching? That's the vastly more rare commodity for this team.

Meanwhile, Game 2 intrigue: Tony LaRussa has moved Chris Carpenter up to start tonight on 4 days' rest, rather than Game 3 tomorrow on 5 days' rest.

Here's the most interesting stat, which you'll probably hear 100 times today:

4 Days' Rest: 9-6, 3.64 ERA (23 GS)
5 Days' Rest: 4-1, .97 ERA (6 GS)

The context is set: If Carpenter doesn't win, the Genius will find himself with a severe case of the second-guessers.

ALCS Game 3: Weather or Not? There's nothing more intriguing than the weather being the biggest X-factor in a baseball playoff game.

The conditions in Detroit are supposed to be so spotty (temp in the 40s, wind at 20 mph, ominous rainclouds) that they moved the game to 4:30 to try to avoid a "weather-out."

The more brutal the weather, the better: Baseball fans in Michigan might have forgotten what October baseball is like; this football weather will help ease their transition.

Finally, I absolutely love this emerging controversy over the questionable radar-gun clocking of the pitchers -- particularly the ones showing triple-digits.

Is juicing the radar-gun numbers so terrible for the sport, given that fans WANT to see that 100 mark? Will Joel Zumaya's performance demand an asterisk?

It's misleading, sure, but in this case, I think fans WANT to be misled. It's not like batters are using the radar gun to make their decisions about whether to swing.

(Particularly versus Zumaya. Just ask the heart of the Yankees' order.)

-- D.S.

16 comments:

mkud said...

It's got to be Glavine. Knowing the pressure on him considering the arms stacked behind him in the rotation, for him to perform theb way he did was spectacular (though not altogether surprising...he's been through the ringer once or twice). Beltran's amazing, but Glavine was scintillating last night.

As for the guns, how can fans not look at those numbers with some skepticism? Personally, I want to believe Zumaya throws that hard...I certainly refer to him as "Zumaya, the guy with the crazy right eye who hits 103". So whether or not they are accurate isn't as important as our belief that they are. Besides, if Jeter, Giambi and A-Rod all whiff at ridiculous heat, does it matter if the ball travels 98, 100, or 103 mph?

jhawkjjm said...

Here's one for the conspiracy theorist:

The Oak-Det game was moved up so that MLB could have both games on TV without them overlapping and splitting ratings. But wanted to make sure to keep the StL-NY game in prime time because its New York. Even though it makes more sense to move the NL game up because those teams need to travel tonight in order to play tomorrow. Oak-Det doesn't need to travel.

This is the real reason the game was moved up.

nyc-steelers fan said...

the thing with that radar gun controversy; has it always been that way? Did Ryan really routinely hit 100? And if he did, how fast would his pitches be on today's guns? 110?
If they're gonna tweak the guns, maybe they can make the slow pitches seem even slower; nothing like a 105 mph heater followed by a 12 mph changeup. It's all a bit cockamamie if you ask me. Give me movement and location over speed.

Speaking of movement and location, you're right that glavine was money last night. I don't question Willie's decisions, but a part of me was really wishing Glavine could have stayed in for the shut-out. Hell of a game all around for the Mets, though; defense, pitching, the homerun.

Brian in Oxford said...

So they're able on MLB.com's Gameday to show the projectory of pitches. Well, how hard would it be, with the time coding on the film image, to compute the distance and divide by the time the ball's in the air, to get an ACCURATE speed reading? I bet this could be done almost instanteously, AND it would give us an idea of what stadiums are, indeed, guilty of juicing their numbers.

(And, I want to see Zumaya develop a knuckleball to go with the 100-mph heater....you wanna freak out a batter?)

Liberal Arts Majors said...

Now that Zumaya's hurt, I wonder if this throws off the Tigers mojo.
Either way, I still say they're gonna keep rolling (especially at home in the cold against a Cali team).

GuyInTheCorner said...

As fast as Zumaya is, my grandfather said that it was not quite Walter Johnson.

Supposedly, there some guys tried to measure The Big Train's fastball and it was between 107-109.

Some would say this is riduculous but on the other hand the man did pitch 110 shutouts and had a career ERA of 2.17 and still holds the record by not giving up a homer in 369 consecutive inning (to put that in perspective that's like if you pitched more inning a season than anyone else in baseball, not giving a homer up for a season and a half)

The famous story is also told of the time where they were in the late innings of a game and it was getting dark, there were two strikes on the batter and the catcher went out to talk to him. he handed the catcher the ball, went into his windup and made his delivery motion as the catcher slapped his mit and then rolled the ball back towards the mound as they walked off the diamond. The Ump called strike 3 and the batter argued that the ball was outside and got thrown out.

The story proves a couple of things.
1. Umpires often couldn't acually see his fastball.
2. Batters often couldn't see the fastball.
3. Somehow this was a known fact to the point that they tried this in an acual game.

so i'll save "fastest ever" for the Big Train

oh yeah he in 1925 he won 20 games and batted .433

just thought i'd throw that in

Anonymous said...

i worked with a guy who was a pitcher for the A's in the 80's and he told me years ago that the guns were innacurate. he said to subtract at least 8 mph from anything you see.

Jake C said...

I agree with it having to be Glavine. Knowing you are the anchor of a pitching staff after losing your #1 and arguably the #2 (postseason success included for El Duque) and stepping up AGAIN...clutch performance.

As for the radar guns...I KNOW they're off. Fact is, Wagner has not thrown over 96-97 all year. He doesn't have the triple digit fastball anymore. Then last night, he's all of a sudden gassing 99-100. Baloney!!! Plus, Zumaya can't throw 103 - don't buy it. Maybe 100 (which if you take off 3 mph, that drops Wagner back to realism).

And, I HOPE it snows...that would be tre-sweet to see baseball in snow.

Generik said...

Guyinthecorner.. that is some great stories that I had never heard. I am definitely going to do some searching to learn more about Walter Johnson. Honestly I am not familiar with the name.

Didn't catch the game last night, but anytime you can shut down guys like Pujols, I am going to go with the pitching as being the star of the game. It sounds like the difference in this game boils down to one pitch that Beltran got ahold of. So you have to give the nod to Glavine for not being the one to throw the homerun ball.

Ben said...

The guns are ridiculous. Todd Jones hitting 96 consistently the other night? Robertson in the mid- to high-90s? That just doesn't happen. And I think the last time Wagner hit 100 was two seasons ago in Philly. Gimme a break.

As for the weather excuse, considering how bad the weather will be all day in Detroit, that's just Fox's way of making sure the better-rated NYM/STL series gets to be in primetime while the "no one oustide of Oakland or Detroit cares" series will be on in the afternoon.

ChrTh said...

The fun part is, today the pundits will say 'The Mets did the right thing to challenge Pujols' and then tomorrow if Pujols has a couple big hits they'll say 'The Mets never should've challenged Pujols'. God I hate sportswriters.

Ben said...

generik

Actually, I'd say the defense for the Mets trumped the pitching. Glavine was ok but not great. He got some calls off the plate, but the Cards hit a few hard balls that, if they had fallen for hits, would have changed the tenor of the game. Bad baserunning didn't help them either.

Richard said...

Brian in Oxford said:

"Well, how hard would it be, with the time coding on the film image, to compute the distance and divide by the time the ball's in the air, to get an ACCURATE speed reading?"

Don't forget that this would actually be VERY hard. It's not simply the distance from mound to catcher. It's distance traveled. That means you'd have to account for the location of the releace point and the curving motion of the ball.

I'm personally more concerned that juiced radar guns might be used by cops to catch speeders.

Brian in Oxford said...

I'm not so sure that you couldn't measure speed from a fixed point (10 feet in front of the rubber okay?) to the plate. You don't have to measure the speed over the entire time the ball's in the air. The gun is measuring only over a fixed time that it takes the radar to bounce from the gun to the ball and back. You could do a 50-foot sample, rather than complete hand-to-mitt.

I bet it could be done from a fixed, dugout-level camera.

Dan Mega said...

As a fan, I do NOT want the guns "juiced". Show the actual speed of the ball.

I am still going with Mets in 6 and then Tigers over Mets in 4.

The heroin sheik said...

Sure pitch speed is a sexy stat but give me a maddux 80 mph heater anyday of the week. His pitches were so slow I think most fans could make contact. Of course all we would be able to do is ground out to short. Of course compare him with the rocket and my argument goes out the window. Both have similar win totals but the rocket has way more K's so I guess it could go either way. Im a braves fan so you know which way my bread is buttered.