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Friday, October 20, 2006

Playing to Win

- Been without internet access since yesterday evening, and I'll be back with the horsey stuff shortly, but just gotta mention the ballgame last night; wow, what a game. The starting pitching that was such a question mark for the Metsies came through - John Maine and Oliver Perez gave up 1 run in 11 1/3 innings. But the offense, particularly David Wright, let the team down. Still, did there seem like they could possibly lose after the catch by Endy Chavez? That was certainly amongst the greatest postseason catches ever, but I wonder if the loss will prevent it from becoming part of New York baseball lore, other than for the 57,000 people at the game, and Yankee fans, anyway.

The discussion on talk radio today is about Willie Randolph's decision to pinch-hit Cliff Floyd with first and second and nobody out, instead of using someone to sacrifice. That seemed like the sensible move, especially with hitters like Reyes and LoDuca due up. Whatsmore, Floyd is hobbled with an injury, and if he hit the ball on the ground, it could have been a double, or even triple play. I can't argue with any Met fan who is critical of the move.

Now, maybe this is because I was watching the game without an emotional stake, but personally, I absolutely loved the move. Adam Wainwright looked tight against the first two batters; he was up in the strike zone, and surrendered hits to Valentin and Chavez, two guys who didn't hit all postseason. With Floyd, a guy with a classic uppercut swing, it was unlikely that he would hit the ball on the ground if he was swinging for the fences.

And there's no doubt that's exactly what he was doing. I would guess that when Willie called him back to the dugout before he came to the plate, he told him to swing at pitches he thinks he can drive in the air, or don't swing at all. He was trying to win the game with a three-run homerun right then and there, and I loved it just for its audacity. At a moment when some managers get tight and go conservative or get away from the things that got his team to that spot, Willie just let it fly. It's like a former New York coach once said: You play to win the game!

Indeed, Floyd had his chance, getting two mean rips at fastballs that would have made him, and Wainwright, baseball legends had he connected. But he got his shot, and what more can you ask for? And they still had their chance after all, and were a single away from tying the game after loading the bases. Wainwright's final pitch curved into the strike zone against a frozen Carlos Beltran as sharply as the twists and turns that brought the Mets' season to a devastating conclusion.


Tote Board Brad said...

Yeah, what a great game!


Walter said...

This out of Europe on Thursday, from trainer Aiden O'Brien:

"It is looking as if he (George Washington) will run in the Classic. That's what we are training him for, unless there is a change of plan."

"All being well, Hurricane Run will go for the Breeders Cup Turf. That is the plan."

"Shirocco might also go to America for the Turf. Entries are on Monday, and he would have to be supplemented, so we must decide by then."

alan said...

Shirocco is said to be 50/50 for the Turf. They're concerned that the turf has been firm for four out of the five Breeders Cups at Churchill.

It seems as if GW is pretty definite for the Classic from reading the UK papers.

Anonymous said...

Tigers in 3.

-Bank Check