The Futility Infielder

A Baseball Journal by Jay Jaffe I'm a baseball fan living in New York City. In between long tirades about the New York Yankees and the national pastime in general, I'm a graphic designer.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


The Circus Has Left Town

How apathetic am I about the outcome of the 2006 World Series? Well, it's Wednesday, and the Series ended last Friday, with the Cardinals defeating the Tigers, four games to one. World Champeens, and I'm only just now getting around to blogging it. I guess I missed the parade.

This was kind of like 2004, except I actually turned the TV on. Not that I'll remember it any better.

Despite having watched my teams, the Dodgers and Yankees suffer first-round eliminations, and then feeling a good bit of disappointment at the Mets falling to the Cardinals in the NLCS, I had a good deal of enthusiasm entering the World Series, particularly for the Tigers. While I'd grown a little tired of hearing about that 119-loss season three years ago, manager Jim Leyland, pitchers Justin Verlander, Jeremy Bonderman, Joel Zumaya and Francisco Rodney, and shortstop Carlos Guillen made for a likeable and compelling cast of characters to follow deep into October.

But my enthusiasm, which peaked with my Game Two diary for Baseball Prospectus, was quickly siphoned off by a combination of bad weather, bad play, and a visit from my parents. Beyond Game Two, the Tigers' mistakes -- particularly those brutally bad fielding plays by their pitchers and short at-bats by their hacktastic hitters -- quickly became too painful to watch. Via TiVo, having come home from a fantastic dinner out with my folks, my patience quickly grew thin. I found myself fast-forwarding through the ineffective performances of their ballyhooed relievers while the Cardinals landed the knockout punches.

In all, the Tigers made eight errors in five games: five of them by pitchers, one in each game, plus three by Brandon Inge, who's now the anti-Graig Nettles. Eight of the 22 runs they allowed were unearned. And the offense was just brutal. Curtis Granderson 2-for-21, Placido Polanco 0-for-17, Magglio Ordonez 2-for-19, Pudge Rodriguez 3-for-19, Craig Monroe 3-for-20. That's a combined 10-for-96 from more than half the offense, with just three walks and 19 Ks. Meanwhile, Leyland couldn't find a way to get Marcus Thames, who hit .256/.333/.549 with 26 homers more than a single at-bat in the series. When, after the bubbly was flowing in the other locker room he took the blame for not preparing the Tigers to win, he wasn't just whistling Dixie.

As for the Cardinals, well, I have little love for them. Albert Pujols spent the postseason showing off his surly, Barry Bonds side, to which I say, keep doing that and America's juvenile, scatalogical tendencies will take over your name, buddy. Ronnie Belliard grossed everybody out with his tongue and his morbid obesity. Jeff Suppan interjected right-wing politics into the series. I hope he's hit by a bus. Or two. Tony La Russa... don't even get me started. Worst Champions Ever isn't quite the slight it should be -- they call the guy at the bottom of his med school class doctor, right? -- and so congratulations to the team and the fans are in order. But that title about sum up my distaste for this particuar bunch at this point in time.

I will say that I enjoyed the vindication of Scott Rolen, who's long been a favorite of mine; he hit .421/.476/.737 and probably deserved the MVP award that they gave to David "Little Timmy" Eckstein for hitting a couple of fly balls that shouldawouldacoulda been caught. And while Jeff Weaver spent three and a half years disappointing me while wearing Yankee pinstripes and Dodger blue, I wasn't able to work up a good head of steam rooting against him. He pitched the game of his life last Friday, and stuck it to the team who developed him and then traded him some cause for regret.

But really, I had neither the time nor the desire to break the Series down, seek out the best commentary or links. My fellow BP colleague Steven Goldman summed it all up in one sentence: "I'm not ready for the end of the season, but I'm desperately eager for the end of this Series." The only thing I have to add to that is that the real problem with this World Series was that there were too many soulpatches on both sides. Weaver, Inge, Chris Carpenter, and Scott Spiezio, with that stupid dye job. Thank you, Fox, for those disgusting closeups. No wonder this was the lowest-rated series ever. Serves those assclowns right for canceling Arrested Development.

Anyway, the circus has left town, and as we stare into the baseball-free void known as winter, things might get a bit sparse around here (as if they hadn't already?), my enthusiasm for the Hot Stove League notwithstanding. I've got a ton of writing on my plate this winter, involved in a few exciting -- and paid! -- projects that I hope to share with you in time. Stay tuned...

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