Saturday, August 23rd, 2014

Day after thoughts

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Baseball playoffs are not the same as football playoffs.

Social Media has become what message boards and sports talk radio used to be – an avenue for fans to express their feelings about their team.  Facebook and Twitter allows instant reaction which can be a good and a bad thing. Reading the overreaction on social media last night led me to come to the conclusion that after 15 years, Baltimore fans forgot how the baseball playoffs work.  We have adopted the football mentality of win-or go-home after all these years, but baseball doesn’t work that way.

Just take a look at the playoffs this year.  The San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s were both down 2-0 and have climbed back to tie the series. The Orioles are in an elimination game tonight, but to compare last night’s loss to the AFC Championship loss just shows how out of touch the fan base has been from playoff baseball.

I will say this though; the passion for baseball is back and I love it. I would rather feel the pain of last night any day of the week over the misery that has been Orioles baseball since 1998.

Stat of the Day:

Since August 1st, the Orioles have lost back-to-back games four times.

Buck Showalter again goes with the veteran Joe Saunders:

Buck is again trusting Joe Saunders to deliver in a win-or-go-home scenario.  Saunders delivered the last time against the Texas Rangers by holding the potent Rangers lineup to one earned run in 5 2/3 innings.  He will have to be on his game again in order to force a Game 5. The decision was between Saunders and Chris Tillman, but as always, Showalter will trust a veteran player over a young inexperienced player.

The pitching provides hope for the future:

Over the last few years, fans and baseball experts have said that in order for the Orioles to return to prominence, their young pitching has to step up.  Well, they were right.

It just happens to be a different group of guys than the ones predicted.

Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta, Zach Britton, and the rest of the predicted “cavalry” aren’t leading this team. Rookies Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez are.

Lost in the shuffle of last night’s defeat was another exceptional performance by Gonzalez.  Gonzalez kept the Yankees’ lineup off balance for 7 innings.  He only allowed 5 hits and struck out 8.  Nothing seems to faze this guy.  In the biggest game of his life in a hostile environment, he steps up and makes a power hitting lineup look weak.  If not for Adam Jones getting a bad jump on a Derek Jeter triple, Gonzalez wouldn’t have allowed a run.

Chen, Gonzalez, and Game 1 starter Jason Hammel are all young and stepped up when the team needed them the most.  This could play huge dividends in years to come.

Jim Johnson will get the blame, but the offense needs to wake up:

Adam Jones joked after Game 2 that him and Matt Wieters were on vacation and they needed to come home.  Game 4 would be a great time for that to happen.

The Orioles are batting .208 in the first three games.  The O’s have relied on a player who was released by the Pittsburgh Pirates (Nate McLouth), a Rule V draft pick (Ryan Flaherty), and a 20-year-old (Manny Machado) to help them this series.  Jones, Wieters, J.J. Hardy, and Jim Thome have combined for…4 hits! The slump started in Tampa and has continued in the playoffs. If the bats don’t break out, that will be the reason why this team does not advance to the ALCS.

Jim Johnson will get the brunt of the blame.  I am not saying he shouldn’t. He couldn’t keep a tie in Game 1 and blew a one-run lead in Game 3.  It is his job to come through and he hasn’t, but getting the last three outs in Yankee Stadium in October might be one of the hardest tasks anyone is asked to do.  His homerun to Raul Ibanez made Joe Girardi a genius and saved him from being asked why he would sit a Hall of Famer in the most crucial spot of the game.

However, the offense has looked lost, and with CC Sabathia waiting in the wings on Friday, tonight would be a great start in getting their confidence back.

TBS put Cal Ripken in a no-win situation:

Poor Cal Ripken.

Your first playoff game as an announcer and you drop the line that Adrian Beltre is a better defensive third baseman than Brooks Robinson.  This happened to be in the game that the team you rooted for and played for your entire career was playing in.

It gets better.

Your first playoff series you are announcing happens to be the team you played for against the team that everyone in your city despises.  If you say one little thing that sounds positive in favor of the Yankees, you were going to get crushed by your hometown fans.  If you say one little thing that makes you sound like a homer, you were going to get crushed by the baseball world.  Cal decided to take the approach of not sounding like a homer and it has made the Baltimore fan base lash out.

I blame TBS. Cal was in a no-win situation. His knowledge of baseball is getting lost in the telecast.  TBS was better off having him announce another series where he wouldn’t be judged so carefully.

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