Anarchists Brunch - The Small Moments

I was talking with a friend the other day, and I've written about this before, about how to try and feel about the MLB playoffs. It's clear to everyone now, after a while without it, just how different it is from the regular season. It's like the 10 teams graduated from the regular season to participate in a different competition, one that resembles baseball as we know it but isn't quite. It's like Champions League soccer, where sometimes a loss is enough but that would never work in a league season.

I thought about this again last night as I trudged back home after Game 1. 162 times, or maybe less, I wouldn't be so focused on tiny moments from one baseball game. I wouldn't focus on Starlin taking a half-moment to stare at his liner, costing him third base and eventually the Cubs run (I'm more focused on that than I am Gary Jones's send on Baez's single. Amazing how these dominoes fall, no?) One two-strike pitch to Curtis Granderson wouldn't be bouncing around my skull in June. Montero behind the plate instead of in front of it (A word on this: I wonder if with the new rules about a path to the plate if this isn't how catchers are going to do it more often, to avoid having to reach to the back of the plate. They don't have to be four feet behind it like Montero was, but maybe this is where catchers are going to decide they have to be to reach more runners. I've heard it talked about).

But all these things come together in a playoff game, moments that would be dismissed in the avalanche of ones over 162 games, and you can't get past them. And you can't get past wondering what they might mean in four or five days' or a week's time. It can swing wildly. After Dexter Fowler missed a homer in Game 1 in St. Louis by a foot or two, we wondered if that would stick out. When was the last time you thought about it? Certainly not after Soler's homer in Game 2 you didn't. But at the time it seemed really important.

I had forgotten that playoff baseball can be over in a blink. With hockey and basketball you at least get one day between each game. That Cardinals' series? Five days. It was a work week. It could be a whole new series or the Cubs could really be up against it barely in the span of 24 hours. This is the rhythm of baseball, but it seems at odds with the pressure-packed, frantic nature of playoff baseball. During the season baseball is a constant companion, something that's just there. And then October hits and it's a constant inebriation/hangover. It's not just a companion, it's basically everything. I feel awful most of the time now. But hey, that's what we graduated to with the Cubs winning 97 games.

-I can't tell you how disappointed I am in TBS's coverage of baseball. First, they do a great job on TNT (aside from Reggie Miller, obviously) of covering the NBA. And I'm not even really a basketball fan. But they've constantly packed their studio show and broadcast booth with good analysts who can show you things you didn't see and be entertaining about it. TNT's coverage of the NBA treats their viewers like adults, rare in this shout-it-louder era of sports coverage. They also had a pretty plain, what-not-to-do blueprint from Fox. Namely, hiring Harold Reynolds.

Instead, we're given Cal Ripken, who despite his name has nothing to say. Ernie Johnson is just not a play-by-play guy. There's a decent booth to be fashioned out of Brian Anderson, Ron Darling (who is real good), and Dennis Eckersley who isn't bad and is certainly entertaining. But Eck and Anderson has to carry around Joe Simpson. The studio show is a mess, as Pedro Martinez is an outsized personality but doesn't have much to analyze. Gary Sheffield? Whatever. And the less said about Dusty Baker the better.

One day we'll get it right, I hope.

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  • Yep. Call Ripen barely says anything. I don't get why they would even bother with him in the booth. I liked Eck last series. I would like Darling better, but as a resident of TN, his accent grates my nerves at times. I can't help it :)

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    Funny....I hit the mute button just as Baker starts to talk. I fill in my own commentary much to the chagrin of my wife. The announcers are annoying to say the least. It's as if they get paid more the more they talk up the Cubs competitors.

    As for balls and strikes from behind the plate....grossly inconsistent. Having watched every pitch this post season it feels like the outside of the strike zone has been expanded by 6 inches to certain batter pitcher combinations and in my opinion not in the favor of the Cubs but my opinion would be somewhat slighted.

  • Did anyone else notice this...

    In the dugout, after Castro was thrown out, Castro was explaining it to some other players. Soler gave Castro some serious shade. I think sometimes the other players get exasperated with Castro's brain farts.

  • In reply to jacare:

    was Castro not sent by Jones. how is that a brain fart?

  • In reply to CubfanInUT:

    Wrong again Jones did send Castro and Maddon did say so in his
    press conference. I would have sent him also Cepedes does not have that accurate of an arm. Sometimes you wiin and sometimes you don't that's baseball period. Plus we were not exactly pounding
    Harvey!!!!

  • In reply to CubfanInUT:

    I think Castro is a good player, and he has good at bats. He is skilled in the field. But he has mental lapses. And this is the NLCS, where everything is magnified.

    Castro stood in the box admiring his line drive, thinking it would be caught. He should have been running hard on contact, and maybe standing at third base. Then he went into home standing up.

    Whatever though.

    I believe the Cubs have a great team, they either need to start slugging, or tightening up their game. I would love to see a World Series in Wrigley.

  • In reply to jacare:

    I agree with you here, Castro has a bad habit of not running hard right out of the box. He has been playing well for some time now and I give him a lot of credit for turning his season around. I like Castro a lot. But he needs to hustle at all times running out of the batters box.

  • In reply to CubfanInUT:

    Probably his poor jump and wide turn and failure to perform an inside fade slide--hell other than that he got a star from Gunter--again.

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    Here we go again with the Castro negativity. He watched a line drive for a split second. I've seen quite a few of those from other Cubs this postseason also. I'm sure saying they shouldn't hustle, but don't magnify Castro in the magnified playoffs when it's not just him. And who else besides him & Shwarber got anything off Harvey?

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    In reply to Antman:

    Spell check. I'm not saying they shouldn't hustle. For some reason it says 'sure'.

  • In reply to Antman:

    He should have been on 3rd base on that play. Not sure how that is bashing Castro. It cost them a run in a tight game.

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    In reply to MoneyBall:

    You can't even assume that. What if he got thrown out at 3rd? Then you would hear that he should've stopped at 2nd. Either way, he is scrutinized. Castro is doing more than Bryant and Rizzo so far.

  • In reply to Antman:

    I have already said that I like Castro and am very happy with is performance the past couple of months. This is what I am assuming - Castro and everyone else needs to run hard at all times. Remember respect 90? Typically when a ball goes over a CF on a play like that the player is on 3rd base. We will never know if the player does not adequately hustle right away. This is not anything new with Castro.

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    In reply to MoneyBall:

    To me, the line drive looked low til it was about 10 ft past 2nd base. And the ball was a few inches above Lagares glove.

  • In reply to Antman:

    It's just that he so often costs the team a valuable run. Seems to have a knack for making key mistakes that really hurt.

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    To the poster jacare, I'm not calling you out. I had the same exact thought for a little bit until I processed the whole game in my view. I could be wrong. What if in game 3 of NLDS, Schwarber's HR missed the basket? He paused to admire his hit that barely made it out of LF.

  • In reply to Antman:

    Antman, I want the Cubs to win so bad I'm overanalyzing everything. Castro is one guy we can count on to make consistent contact.

    I attribute last nights loss to Lester being merely above average, and Harvey putting the first couple of pitches over the plate, to get ahead of most Cub hitters in the count. This made them hack at breaking balls mid to late count.

    A variation of Game 1 against the Cards, when Lackey was getting ahead of everybody thanks to a generous strike zone of umpire Cuzzi.

    This is a good strategy against the Cubs, who want to be patient, but strike out a lot. The Cubs should have adjusted and started swinging early in the count (maybe, again, over analyzing....)

    Cubs win tonight we are 1-1 going to Wrigley for 3 games, and all is right with the world until the next Cubs loss....

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    In reply to Antman:

    I just wonder why he didn't take 3rd on the throw. I don't think there was a cut off man involved. Did anyone else see what happened ?

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    This comment is probably based on being down about one loss, but the playoffs definitely are different. Teams like the Mets that are built on young pitching seem to do well when the weather gets cold. And teams like the Royals who don't strike out and put pressure on the defense do well against the good pitching in the playoffs. The Giants were built on both. The Cubs: a team that walks a lot and hits a lot of home runs, is that the right formula for Octobet success? I hope so. I hope Jake deals tonight and the Cubs explode offensively. Go Cubs!

  • I was reading a mets board and most of their fans are extremely confident they think the cubs will be lucky to win a game,and keep talking about the mets pitching is too good for the cubs yet the cubs just beat the best pitching in mlb and the pirates were right up there too.I honestly feel like the momentum will swing in the cubs favor after tonight

  • In reply to bolla:

    Yea, it is funny how fans are so confident after winning one game. Kind of like Cardinal fans after winning the 1st game. The Mets are a good team. But they still have to beat the Cubs 3 more times.

  • Are we back to blaming castro for everything again? What about soler with a runner on second and nobody out not moving him over by hitting to the right side then he would have been on third with one out. Or gary jones sending him with one out against one of the best throwing outfielders in baseball what about kris Bryant not begin able to complete a double play.

  • In reply to larry the cubs fan:

    All valid points. Soler does need to get the runner over. But I see a little difference in that the Castro play is just hustle. You can always control that. The Soler at bat is not hustle, it is execution which is not an exact science.

  • I am probably way out of the majority here, but I don't think Castro gets a triple even if he busts it out of the box. Lagares got that ball in fast, and fast is what Castro isn't. And even though the relay throw was air mailed, it was backed up by Harvey, who caught it cleanly. Then, I feel Gary Jones had to send him with who was coming up, a nasty wind, Harvey was dominating so runs were at a premium, and just simply, 'make the defense make a play'...which they did.

  • A few observations:

    1) this is the second time Baez has stolen 2B with the pitcher on deck. So, what happens? Intentional walk to #8 hitter to face pitcher; out #3 and out of the inning. Is this good baseball? I'm not sure. I see positives in it but I also see the obvious negatives. But, am I showing outcome bias? I mean, in the end it turns the lineup over and that's a good thing; it puts pressure on the defense; with a runner on 1B with two outs and Ross at the plate, the odds of scoring are certainly small, but are they less than a RISP, two outs, and the pitcher up? Can anybody answer this for me? Am I nit-picking?

    2) I have absolutely no problem with Jones sending Castro. It was a good opportunity to score, and perhaps (maybe likely) the best one they'd have that inning with who was coming up. Interesting to see what unfolded next (see above). It may show some of why the coaches would allow Baez to steal 2B.

    3) I am supremely confident in a Cubs win tonight. For reasons I have, I'm confident in the Cubs getting to Syndegaard and, therefore, the Mets bullpen much earlier than last night. And the Mets bullpen doesn't invoke fear in me.

    4) it's a shame they lost last night, but I thought they had some good at bats and hit some hard balls. Mets made more plays than the Cubs, and they simply beat the Cubs. It's one game. It goes to the other side. Move on. Don't overreact. Now, if they lose Game 2, on the other hand....

    5) I so much would have rather the Cubs faced the Dodgers....

  • In reply to RizzowiththeStick:

    I agree with a lot in our post but number 5? Kershaw and Greinke are pretty good.

  • In reply to MoneyBall:

    Games 2 and 3, though. They also seem to have little fire as a team. And Lester and Arrieta are no slouches themselves. I just prefer how the Cubs lined up against the Dodgers.

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