Sunday, October 28, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 10/27/18: Mom Lives in Our House, Debriefing at the Lounge, You Just Never Know

1. I spent much of the day, before shifting my into my World Series gear, working on two of the four Sibling Assignments I have not completed over the last month. One of them I'm very pleased with, but I am going to rewrite the assignment Christy gave us remembering Mom. I'm trying to convey what it's like to live in Mom and Dad's house, a house that really, in every way, became Mom's house after Dad died in 1996. For me, Mom's presence, her ghost, is always here and that means that I always live with both the ways we got along and with the recurring tensions that existed between us. Those tensions didn't pass away when Mom did. I've made one attempt to write about this, but it's time to revise, go at it from another angle, maybe lighten up my post a bit. I am caught between wanting to write both honestly and respectfully about living with Mom's continuing presence in this house.

2. Three o'clock rolled around and I'd been writing most of the day, listening to the Miles Davis station on Pandora, and wanted to talk, not just text, about last night's epic World Series game, the one that lasted eighteen innings. I sauntered into the Inland Lounge and only Cas was in the house. I decided to have a couple Rolling Rocks on tap and some chips and pretzels and Cas and I had a good time going over last night's game and both agreed that we were eager for Game 4 to get underway to see how both teams would play after going at it for about 7 1/2 hours on Friday night.

I am very slow to criticize baseball managers. But, today Cas listened to me when I went on a short rant explaining how I didn't like it when, in the 10th inning, Red Sox manager Alex Cora pulled the powerful J. D. Martinez after a walk and put in Ian Kinsler to pinch run. Maybe Cora made this move because Martinez is playing with a tender ankle, but all I could think of was that the Red Sox no longer had one of their most potent hitters in their lineup. Kinsler nearly got picked off first base, later overslid coming into third base and nearly got tagged out, and then did get tagged out at home when he attempted to score on fly ball to Cody Bellinger. His subsequent plate appearances were lousy and he made a very costly error in the 13th inning that allowed the Dodgers to score.

I likened the decision to pull Martinez for Kinsler to Joe Maddon's decision in the extra inning wild card game between the Cubs and the Brewers to pull power hitter Anthony Rizzo and insert the speedy Terrence Gore in his place. Now, admittedly, Gore's base running helped the Cubs. He stole a base and scored a run upon entering the game. But as that game stretched into a 13 inning contest, Gore was helpless at the plate, was a hitter the Brewers dispatched easily, and he was hitting in Rizzo's number three slot in the offense, a slot always occupied by very productive hitters.

Kinsler, by the way, became the Red Sox cleanup hitter when he took Martinez's place. He possessed some home run pop as a younger player, but at thirty-six years old, he's lost a lot of that power and filled this spot in the lineup poorly.

Having criticized both Alex Cora and Joe Maddon, I have to say that I also understand these moves. Both moves made sense as short term strategies, but both moves backfired because the two games extended into a lot of extra innings and, in the long run, both moves hurt the Cubs and the Red Sox.

Still, it was fun to mildly rant about them and to address the larger question of whether we old men at the bar in the Lounge in Kellogg, Idaho think managers over manage certain games.

3. This is the first time in many, many years I have watched or listened to nearly every inning of every game of a World Series. I have deeply enjoyed my re-entry back into the world of you just never know. In baseball, you just never know.

Take tonight's game, for example. Going into the the top of the 7th inning, the Dodgers held a 4-0 lead.

Why did this lead seem insurmountable?  Check this out:

* In the 2018 season, including the postseason, the Dodgers won 54 games and lost 0 when they held a four run lead at any point in every game they played this year.

Let that sink in. Fifty-four times in 2018, the Dodgers went ahead by four runs and won every won of those games.

* Not only that, in the last ten World Series, only once had a team blown a four run lead to lose a game. But, get this: it just so happens that one team was the 2017 Dodgers in Game 5 of last year's World Series against the Astros.

Still, history and maybe even justice seemed to be on the side of the Dodgers as the Red Sox got the 7th inning underway.

But, in baseball, you just never know.

With one out in the seventh and a runner on first, Dodger starting pitcher Rich Hill struck out Eduardo Nunez for out number two. He had allowed the Sox one hit up to this point and had struck out seven.

But, manager Dave Roberts decided he had thrown enough pitches and relieved him with Scott Alexander and then Ryan Madson.

Alexander walked Brock Holt. Pinch hitter Mitch Moreland homered off of Madson and suddenly the Dodgers' four run lead shrunk to one.

The Red Sox then scored six more runs, one in the eighth and five in the ninth thanks in large part to thirty-five year old journeyman Steve Pearce, a guy who has bounced around between six different teams since 2007. He hit a solo homer in the 8th and cleared the bases with a bases loaded double in the 9th. He was a most unlikely star of this game, as was Mitch Moreland.

But, in baseball, you just never know.

The Red Sox won Game 4, 9-6.

Game 5 starts shortly after 5 tonight. The Dodgers are in deep trouble and it will be interesting to see how their ace pitcher, Clayton Kershaw performs today. History is haunting him. He's been a Hall of Fame level pitcher for many years, but, in the playoffs and World Series, he's struggled. His postseason record is 9-9. He's lost one game already in this series. He will face Red Sox pitcher David Price who has a long history of postseason futility, but has reversed his fortune in the 2018 playoffs.

These are two of baseball's best pitchers. Kershaw will be trying to help the Dodgers survive. Price will try to help the Red Sox win the World Series outright.

Anything can happen.

In baseball, you just never know.

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