This week I return to football after sitting out for four weeks for really no good reason, which sounds oddly familiar. But before I go back to my picks (which I did week 1 for some reason), some closure to the baseball season from an Orioles fan.
- The Orioles lineup has long had the flaw of just having mashers and not hitters. By that, I mean there isn’t anyone who consistently works counts and has good at bats, with the notable exception of Hyun Soo-Kim who isn’t allowed to even look at left handed pitchers. In a one game playoff, it really stands out. Despite all the home runs, the Orioles didn’t score with any consistency after July 1. Their bullpen and slightly better starting pitching bailed them out.
- I suppose Buck Showalter is getting better at managing his pitching in winner take all games. This time he had the good sense to remove Chris Tillman in the 5th rather than let him rot on the vine. Last time he was in this situation, he let David Cone go out for the 8th inning at 118 pitches to face the heart of the ’95 Mariners order which included Ken Griffey Jr. and Edgar Martinez. Cone retired Joey Cora, then gave up a home run to Griffey to cut the Yankees lead to 4-3. Meanwhile, Mariano Rivera warmed as Cone did retire Martinez and followed with this: Walk, single, walk, walk and the game is tied. At 147 pitches, Cone was removed.
- Rivera pitched into the 9th, and with runners on 1st and 2nd Buck went to…not ace closer John Wetteland but Jack McDowell, a former Cy Young winner but also someone who had a very troubled year in New York that included flipping off the Yankee Stadium crowd. To be fair, Wetteland wasn’t very good in the series but was still probably better than McDowell in his first relief appearance.
- In fact Wetteland gave up more runs in that series (7) than Zach Britton gave up ALL SEASON in 2016 (4).
- As for Tuesday’s game, I spent much of the game digitizing a tape and mining it for commercials to post on YouTube. That tape contained….game 6 of the 1986 World Series. Nothing haunting there, right?
- Buck did a great job managing the bullpen up to the 11th inning. He maximized Mychal Givens (who has really come into his own) and Darren O’Day, and got what he could have expected out of Brad Brach. When friends asked me when Britton would be in, I figured Buck was saving him for the heart of the Jays order to give him the best shot to extend to game, buying time for the Orioles to score a run.
- When I saw Brian Duensing in the 11th to face Carrera, I was puzzled. Alright, maybe this is one hitter (who was unlikely to homer and end it) and then we get Britton after that. Nope.
- I like what Ubaldo Jimenez did in September, but COME ON. A starting pitcher like him is a 14th inning, break glass in case of emergency type. Dylan Bundy was available and notably pitched in these type of spots in the first half of the year. Still, using Britton against the best hitters made sense. I would have used him for as many as 12 hitters in a game like this.
I’ve learned one thing about YouTube: people LOVE Larry Bird videos. Granted, putting up commercials isn’t very interesting but the Celtics video yearbook from 1986 is by far the most viewed thing I’ve posted.
Oh right, the NFL picks. Here is the five for week 5:
Minnesota (-6.5) vs Houston
In both NFL wins pools I drafted in this year, I got “stuck” with Minnesota. With 10 teams in the top group and five people drafting, one person will get forced into a given team and that happened to me with the Vikings. It’s obvious why that happened: the QB situation isn’t ideal between Shaun Hill then Sam Bradford. I look for good QB/coach combinations and while the QBs aren’t all-world, it seems like Mike Zimmer might be a really good coach. Their defense, knowing that a lot of pressure is on them, is playing great so far. Or so I’m told. I didn’t watch for four weeks. Between this and Ring of Honor, it’s been a banner week for me blogging on stuff I haven’t been watching.
In any event, I don’t trust Houston in this spot.
Washington (+4) at Baltimore
That wild card game loss cost Charm City an amazing sports Sunday. The Orioles would have hosted game 3 that night against Texas after this regional battle. The stadiums are very close to each other so it would be a tight window to get the football crowd out to make room for baseball.
Washington will probably have some support at this one since it beats the hell out of going to FedEx Field, which has a reputation as something of a dystopia. Still wish I had seen Springsteen there in 2003 so I could have seen for myself. Also, the Ravens only seem to play in very close games dating to the start of 2015 so I’ll grab 4 points.
Los Angeles (pick) vs Buffalo
Very confused about this. How did the Rams suck so bad to get shut out in the first game of the year, then win three straight? This is more of an anti-Buffalo pick. They must feel pretty good after beating the alleged Patriots last week under THE most mitigating circumstances. Probably should have scored more than 16 points though.
I’m going to regret picking the Jeff Fisher team, but I can probably count on the Rex Ryan team to implode just when prosperity is around the corner.
San Diego (+3.5) at Oakland
This is a very good matchup for the Chargers since they always move the ball going against the Oakland defense. Or so I’m told. Winner gets to move to Los Angeles? Or are the Raiders going to Las Vegas?
Dear Las Vegas: You don’t need an NFL team. You don’t need to spend $1 billion+ to build a stadium to that end. People are going to come to Vegas no matter what, especially if it’s to see the Las Vegas NHL Whatevers in 2017-2018. And hell yeah, that’s what I am doing.
Green Bay (-7) vs NY Giants
It seems that Ben McAdoo got into a tiff with Mike Francesa on WFAN the other day when talking about Odell Beckham Jr. This is how I learned that the coach of the Giants is named Ben McAdoo, who I will now probably get confused and call Bob McAdoo at some point.
We are going to miss Mike Francesa when he retires because his show is my kind of sports radio show where they talk like normal people, albeit in thick NY accents. There isn’t any of the current “hot takez” culture or the general fakeness that comes out in most sports media these days. Cherish it while you can. I know I’ll be listening to his national NFL show Sunday morning.
Season: 11-5 (really!)
I’ll close with the YT of the MegaBucks drawing from October 25, 1986. The banality of life!