Posts Tagged ‘World Series 2011’

Bill Gilbert’s Observations of the World Series

October 29, 2011

Arlington may be Mudville today, but it could be Joyville again in 2012. - Photo compliments of Lance Carter.

Now that the World Series is in the books with probably the most dramatic Game Six in Seven Game Series history, we all have about forty-eight hours max to linger in denial before we go into our annual withdrawal from the expectation of exciting daily baseball as we move into the fall and winter months and start our universally embraced staring out the windows in our collective wait for spring and the 2012 baseball season. Fans in St. Louis are exempted for a few hours beyond the rest of us as they ride out the joy of another self-inflicted  delusion that winning the World Series is tantamount to finding eternal ecstasy and establishing that anything that feels that good is our guarantee of eternal life beyond the grave.

We gotta believe. And we do. It just helps your faith when your club wins the World Series and you get to dance through the rain of unbridled joy that reinforces the hope that hard work, right behavior, and some kind of eternal scoreboard shall eventually reward us by oiling open the Gates of Heaven, where the baseball fans of St. Louis are living temporarily this morning.

Now it’s on to our annual withdrawal from baseball for the off-season. Friend and fellow SABR member and researcher Lance Carter sent me a reminder of the baseball figure who best describes the heartbreaking relationship that many non-Cardinal fans and the Texas Rangers have with baseball this morning:

“It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.” … A. Bartlett (Bart) Giamatti, late Commissioner of Baseball.

In the end, there is only room for joy in the clubhouse of the one playoff team that doesn’t lose its last game. And this year, that happy club is the St. Louis Cardinals, who twice survived in Game Six from being one pitch away from giving that place of joy over to the Texas Rangers. I have to own the fact that my family loves the Cardinals, second only to the Astros, so we enjoyed watching their comeback from disaster and we also loved watching Lance Berkman finally get the ring that he never would have seen, had he remained an Astro.

Bill Gilbert, Rogers Hornsby Chapter, Society for American Baseball Research.

Former Larry Dierker Chapter leader of SABR (before his retirement move to the Austin area) and good friend Bill Gilbert published some general post World Series notes that I’m sure he won’t mind me sharing with readers here at The Pecan Park Eagle. Bill has a keen analytical eye for everything from the most central to the biggest peripheral when it comes to baseball – and, I’m sure, that sharp and often funny capacity carries over to many other areas of life as well.

Here’s what Bill Gilbert wrote into a broadcast e-mail over night. I shall leave it with you, along with my own wishes to all of you on your own paths of withdrawal from everyday baseball for another year. This much I can guarantee: We shall continue to often talk baseball here through the off-season months.

Now, here’s what Bill Gilbert had to say:

World Series 2011 Observations

 By Bill Gilbert

 (1) The 2011 World Series will be remembered as a great one despite an anti-climactic Game 7.  Before that there were 4 nail-biters plus Albert Pujols epic game and an unforgettable game 6.

(2)  If ever there was a team of destiny, it’s the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals. Future regular season and World Series comebacks will be measured against what the Cardinals did this year.

(3) The only time the Cardinals were ahead in game 6 was at the end.

(4) Game 6 had 6 home runs and 5 errors and the Rangers had 3 pitchers charged with blown saves.  None of their 7 relievers escaped unscathed.

(5) Hunter Pence would have caught the ball that Nelson Cruz should have had on David Freese’s game tying triple.

(6) Where would the Cardinals be without Lance Berkman?  He could possibly join Albert Pujols (and former teammates Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell) in the Hall of Fame.

(7) Aside from his 5-hit game, Pujols had only 1 hit in the other 6 games.

(8) I can’t recall seeing so many right-handed batters hit to right field as in the post season this year.

(9) In game 6, Joe Buck talked about Jaime Garcia as a potential pinch-hitter for two innings before he realized Garcia had been the starting pitcher.

(10) Michael Young is a better designated hitter than a first baseman.

(11) Will Ruth Ryan still be this pretty when she is 75?

(12) I thought it was great that no Eastern Division team, including the three biggest spenders were not in the World Series.

(13) In the 17 years of Divisional Play, 10 wild card teams have played in the World Series and the Cardinals are the 5th team to win it.

(14) How drunk do you have to be to get tattoos on your neck?

(15) The state of Texas came within one pitch (twice) of having the best and worst teams in major league baseball this year.


A Sports Record Overload Night

October 28, 2011

Compliments of Lance Carter, 10/24/11.

Compliments of a shot in the dark by Bill McCurdy, 10/27/11.


By this time Friday morning, the big news from the sports world is old news. The St. Louis Cardinals got off the deck twice from 2-run deficits in the 9th and 10th innings of Game Six last night, each time when they were one strike away from losing the whole World Series, and coming through with the big hit to tie the game and set things up for the game-winning home run blast to deep center field by David Freese, the lead-off man in the bottom of the 11th. With the 10-9 Cardinal win over the Rangers now in the books, we move with speedy anticipation to tonight’s Game Seven, knowing full well that it’s going to be hard to match Game Six for baseball greatness, no matter which team wins it all.

I only got to see innings nine through eleven because of an earlier commitment and loyalty to my alma mater, the University of Houston Cougars and a desire to see Case Keenum extend and settle some new records as a Division I NCAA quarterback, which he did just fine against Rice in spite of the wind and rain. Keenum’s nine touchdown passes pushed him into first place by four in that category while he also extended his records for total yardage and passing yardage by  bunch as well. On the night, Case Keenum rolled up   534 passing yards on 24 completions in 40 attempts with one interception, only his third of the season. WIth Keenum leaving the game in the 4th quarter, the Cougars only scored one TD for that period, but till ended up winning the game 73-28 without really trying to rub it in against the Game, but undermanned Rice Owls. The Owls simply could not defend the deep pass against UH’s speedy, sure-handed receivers and Keenum could not pass up that major chink in their defensive armor. He just hammered ’em.

Now, for the first time in school history, the UH Cougars are 8-0-0 with four games to play from their current number 17 ranking in the BCS poll. They are also the only school among eight remaining undefeated clubs that is not ranked among the top ten. Chalk that one up to part strength of schedule because few big name programs have the courage of UCLA to play UH; part the fact that UH resides in a non-BCS conference; and part due to the fact that UH lacks the empire status that makes it a little easier to get pollster support.

All right things n time, but in the meanwhile, it doesn’t matter to me what the UH haters say. This was the place that gave me my chance a long time ago, and, win or lose, the Cougars shall  hold my heart and get my support as long as I am able to bring it.

I got home in time to watch the rest of Game Six of the World Series from the bottom of the 9th through the walk off homer by Freese in the 11th. I was happy to see Lance Berkman handle the second of the Cards’ one-strike-away from total defeat situations with his two-out single in the 10th. Lance is now hitting .435 in the Series, the only man hitting over .400 on either club. Depending upon what happens in Game Seven, Berkman has to be in the running for Series MVP with Freese and Pujols because of his lights out three home run game. Prince Albert’s presence in the Cardinal lineup makes him the intimidating threat that helps his teammates get heroic opportunities they might otherwise never see.

At any rate, Thursday night was fun for me. I can’t imagine living anywhere away from America. I’m too much a junkie for the things that so many us think are fun. Chilling out on a mountain top – or spending each day on the beaches of some tropical isle where no one had ever heard of American baseball or football would not be my cup of tea for very long – especially during the World Series time.

What Drives the Momentum Mojo in Baseball?

October 26, 2011

World Series Photo from Rangers Park by Lance Carter.

Even at my age, there are days in which I still wake up with more ambition than others. I guess this is one of those times because today I woke up wanting to writing about stirs momentum, for better or worse, in baseball. It has occurred to me that I have been working with “Old Man Mo” for years as a mental health professional and that I long ago stumbled upon this universal truth: People don’t always change for the better, but when they do, they generate old different flow of human energy in a positive directions when it happens. Writer/thinker/guru types from Norman Vincent Peale and Napoleon Hill in the 1930s to Tony Roberts in the 1990s have been feasting upon that phenomenon through their lectures and books for at least the past eighty years. Countless others have portrayed that momentum-building character in movies and literature forever too. Rember Robin WIlliams as the inspirational teacher in that movies of the late 1980z, “The Dead Poets Society?”

So what is this thing we call the Mojo? And what makes its presence so transparent on baseball’s biggest stage at the World Series? For simplicity’s sake, I’m going to describe it this way, even though that neurologically, psychologically, and spiritually, there’s so much else going on whenever it is present in positive form on the field. In baseball, momentum represents the presence of either confidence or doubt in one’s ability to perform well in a given situation that drives what happens next, even to the point of generating a similar reaction in other members of the same team.

In Saturday’s Game Three, Albert Pujols had the ability to ride the Mojo of confidence to a record night at the plate, infecting several other hitters  on  the Cardinal team with the same self-belief, if only for the night, that they too were bound for the Hall of Fame someday. Sunday’s Game Four found the Rangers riding the Mojo-pitching-confidence of their young Mr. Holland to a 4-0 shutout of the Cardinals. The new Cardinal doubt apparently carried over into Game Five on Monday. The Cards had their ace, Mr. Carpenter, going for them, but doubt kept them from scoring runs from numerous opportunities. Cardinal doubt just seemed to feed Ranger confidence in the home team idea that they could come back and win the game late.

Now it’s back to St. Louis, where the teeter-totter balance of confidence and doubt can easily swing either way agin. Both of these teams have the ability to win this World Series. WHich one will have the confidence to do so when the umpire cries “Play Ball” tonight?

In a way, baseball is tailor-made for shifts in momentum because there’s so much time to observe and analyze what is going on between plays. Just look at the exercise that launched from Craig’s abortive steal of second in the seventh inning of Game Five. – All it could do was add to the doubt card that already had fallen upon the Cardinals that night. And it did. Look at the negative momentum that unfolded simply from the first bonehead steal attempt by Craig in the seventh. If you favored St. Louis, you could almost see the Rangers’ winning hit coming before it ever  happened.

In a way, last place clubs are those who seldom if ever recover from doubt. Pennant winners are clubs whose confidence in their abilities seldom wanes.

Superstitions are not so crazy either when we view momentum in this light. You see, baseball players intuitively understand what “Mr. Mojo” is all about. If a guy doesn’t want to change his underwear after throwing a two-hit complete game shutout, it’s probably just because he’s trying to hold in place anything that seemed to precede and kick into motion the self-confidence that guided him through his remarkable achievement.

We can’t get very far without ability in baseball, but we can’t even harvest the fruit of our ability if we have no confidence in ourselves. That’s where Old Man Mo needs to show up on the positive side, more often than not.

Have a great day, everybody. Believe it so. And make it so.

It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over

October 25, 2011

Is Lance's chance for a World Series ring slipping away?

Let’s go straight to the easy part first. On eighteen separate occasions in the World Series, teams have comeback back from a 3-2 deficit to win the whole thing with victroies in Games Six and Seven. Here’s the legendary list of those who’ve done it, according to MLB.COM:

Year Team Opponent
1924 Senators Giants
1925 Pirates Senators
1926 Cardinals Yankees
1934 Cardinals Tigers
1940 Reds Tigers
1946 Cardinals Red Sox
1952 Yankees Dodgers
1958 Yankees Braves
1968 Tigers Cardinals
1973 A’s Mets
1979 Pirates Orioles
1982 Cardinals Brewers
1985 Royals Cardinals
1986 Mets Red Sox
1987 Twins Cardinals
1991 Twins Braves
2001 D-backs Yankees
2002 Angels Giants

Also according to MLB.COM, we must note that the 2-3-2 home game format yields this further data from past results: In the 28 times that a club has gone home with 3-2 deficit in games won on their shoulders, 12 have rallied to win both Games 6 and 7 to take the World Series. That works out to be a 42.9 per cent success rate. On the other hand, the Texas Rangers have not lost two games in a row to anyone since late August.Now it’s “something’s got to give” time.

One thing that needs to give is how things are communicated from the manager to the bullpen. Either update the technology on the phones or get all the bullpen coach communicators tested on their hearing. It came out after the game that LaRussa had called down to the pen to have Motte ready to pitch to Napoli in the eighth, but that message got heard as “Lynn” and Tony’s choice wasn’t available when the time came. As a result, the Cardinals had to leave the lefty Rzepczynski in there to pitch to Napoli, who, of course, then delivered the two-rbi double that decided the game at 4-2.

How could “Motte” have sounded like “Lynn” over the phone? Was there something wrong with the hand crank on the dugout line? Who was taking the call in the Cardinal pen, Helen Keller? Why don’t they either use high-tech phones or visual HD screens that show the manager’s lips moving as he speaks the names of those he wants or even shows color coded cards for different choices? Hearing “I thought you wanted Lynn” could not have set well with Tony LaRussa once he learned that Jason Motte would not be ready for his rendezvous with destiny.

All those ducks left on the pond killed the cardinals in Game Five. And they sure weren’t helped by those two abortive hit and run plays late in the game either. As Tim McCarver kept explaining on TV, ad nauseum, sending Craig from first to second on either a hit and run or steal attempt with Albert Pujols batting was really unnecessary. With Pujols batting, the runner is already in scoring position at first. If the guy runs and is thrown out, that out may kill the rally or end the inning. If he makes it in safely, he simply takes the bat out of Albert’s hands, allowing the other club to walk Pujols and play for a force out.

Add all the 11 ducks left on the pond last night by St. Louis and the whole thing totals up to a deserved loss by the Cardinals. Now it’s back to Missouri to see if one more blink at home cooking makes any difference in Game Six and, hopefully, Game Seven. If not, then it will be the Texas Rangers, not the Houston Astros, that shall be forever remembered as the first club to bring baseball’s biggest prize back to the Lone Star State.

OK, Houston temporary Ranger fans, are you ready for all those Dallas egos blinking at us down here in MLB’s tent city of hope over the next decade or so? Because that’s exactly what’s coming our way from the Metroplex Area, if the Rangers win the World Series. To that possibility, I say, give the Rangers credit for finishing the job as champions. Nolan Ryan and his crew just did a much better job of building their team and getting the job done better than the Astros. If the Rangers win out, what other conclusion could we possibly draw?

If the Rangers win it all, luck and destiny will figure into the final outcome as well. And, as per usual, we will not be able to explain the presence of either. Just be ready for whatever is about to happen. That’s all we can ever do – in baseball in particular – or in life in general.

Who Will Take The World Serious?

October 17, 2011

Time to get World Serious again.


A Pre-World Series Inquiry

1. What’s stronger? Your National League Cardinal roots – or your allegiance to the State of Texas vis-a-vis the Rangers?

2. Who would you be most happy to see picking up a World Series ring? Nolan Ryan? Or Lance Berkman?

3. Can you be a real Houston Astros fan and still pull for a team that makes its home in the Greater Dallas area?

4. Since the Astros are currently as far away from the World Series as Pluto is from the Sun, do you even care who wins this one?

5.Who wins this year and how many games does it go? Get your guesses in before Game One starts on Wednesday?

6. What are the odds that each team will post a Series ERA exceeding 6.00?

7. Who will hit the most individual player Series home runs?

8. Who will pick up the most individual player Series hits?

9. Who will collect the most individual player Series RBI?

10. Who will win the Series MVP Award?

I’m sticking with the big question (#5). I think this Series is going to be a real hit banger on the days that Carpenter doesn’t pitch. Because St. Louis has the home field advantage and the chance to possibly use Carpenter three times,  I’m picking the Cardinals in seven games.

What do you guys think about the Series outcome – or any of the other questions raised here?