Thursday, October 20, 2005

Good-Guys & Ghosts

It’s the little things that make the best stories in the post-season. Little things like:

1) Before he gave up the homerun to Albert Pujols, closer Brad Lidge had been voted-in as NLCS MVP. Two days later, Roy Oswalt accepted the honour.

2) Brad Ausmus played the part of Prank Monkey on the flight home after game five, directing the pilot to announce after takeoff: “We've reached our cruising altitude of 35,000 feet. I’ve turned off the fasten seatbelt sign and turned off the cabin lights. If you look to the left of the aircraft, in the next two or three minutes you might be able to catch a glimpse of Albert Pujols’ home run ball.”

3) There is class-act lurking under the dour face-mask that is Tony La Russa. Scott Miller reports that Craig Biggio was “standing off to one corner of the clubhouse, clutching a handwritten note…on Cardinals stationery: Craig: Congratulations. Tony La Russa.”

Okay, Scott Miller gets credit for digging up all of the above, although he breezed past #1 without exploring the full Goat Potential that lurked behind Lidge’s brainfreeze, or the audacity of his original selection. The post-season Lidge has truly been a Buckner-in-Waiting.

In each of his four NLCS save opportunities Lidge allowed runners into scoring position. He gave up a walk and a double before finishing game three. In game four he benefited from a poor (or as some see it, aggressive) baserunning decision by Pujols, after allowing the first two baserunners. In game five he got into trouble again, and this time couldn’t get out.

In 9 innings of post-season work Lidge has allowed 4 runs, 6 walks, and a WHIP of 1.56 (compared to 1.14 in the regular season). His record is 0-1 with 3 SV in 4 SVO. His 12 K’s compensate somewhat, but so far he’s looked more like the 2005 Danny Kolb than golden-era Mariano Rivera. Even before the game five outcome, I find it hard to imagine why this was an MVP-worthy performance.

In other news, many will write odes to Biggio & Bagwell’s collective 33-year wait for a World Series shot, not to mention their devotion to a hapless franchise, and other worthy causes like caring for sick infants and puppy dogs. They are, after all, officially-sanctioned “good guys”: Biggio was named a Sporting News’ Good Guy in 2004 for his charitable efforts, and won the 1997 Branch Rickey Award for Community Service; Bagwell’s honours include being the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce’s Role Model of the Year in 1999, and the host for more than 5,000 kids and parents for 2002’s “DK57-day” honouring Darryl Kile. (Had Derek Jeter hosted a “DK57-day” it would have been to launch a new Donna Karan fragrance.)

To the extent an outsider can judge a celebrity’s personality, B&B really do seem to live up to the billing. Not every athlete could spend their whole career working for a championship-berth, have it apparently taken away, then turn around and congratulate the man who did the deed. Reported Biggio: “Honest to God, when I got to first tonight, I told him, ‘Albert, if someone was going to rip my heart out, I'm glad it's you.’”

So let those writers have their good-guy stories for a day or two. There’s nothing wrong with that. But then we need them back on the beat investigating the bizarre ramble of Thom Brennaman at the end of last night’s game.

According to Brennaman, the dying Bess Clemens-Booher did two things: she correctly predicted the score of that night’s game pitched by Clemens (a 10 – 2 win on September 14), and she uttered the words “Shoeless Joe,” which Brennaman takes as a foreshadowing of the World Series match-up.

Brennaman finds the 10-2 synchronicity remarkable on two fronts: because Clemens had received such poor run support in earlier starts, and because the final run that produced the score was unearned. Presumable 12 runs earned the good and decent way would have been less noteworthy.

If his report is true, I think Bess’s words sound much more ominous for Roger – an indication from the spirit world that Shoeless Joe is going to be comforted by a White Sox win against her son. But as with all fortune-telling, there is a great deal more credibility when the prediction is publicized before the event it claims to foreshadow.

At the end of the day, I’m not sure whether Bess entered some higher plane of consciousness in her final hours, or whether Brennaman was knocking back a few too many whiskey sours. It’s time to get Encyclopedia Brown on the case.


Post a Comment

<< Home