Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Still One Win Away

Well, we lost Game 3 of the American League Divisional Series.

I went over to my friend Lauren's to watch the game -- or attempt to watch the game, as the case may be -- and so before I get into the nitty gritty of what turned out to be a stellar nine innings of baseball, I have to gripe about these games being "blacked out" by services like MLB-TV.  Like, guys, it's right there in your name:  YOU ARE MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL.  YOU ARE MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL TELEVISION.  Why in the name of all that is good and holy do you not stream playoff games??? These are arguably the most important, desired-to-be-watched games of the season and they aren't available through your service?  Even when you offer a Postseason Package?  It's bananas!  I love listening to Hammy and Rosie call the game and use the televised visual as a nifty instant replay (since the video feed often lags a few seconds behind the radio broadcast), but I am not happy that it's made impossible to watch my team in the playoffs, even when I am willing to pay for it.

Lauren had run into this issue in 2015 when her beloved Mets had a killer postseason run right to the World Series (only to lose to the Royals) and MLBTV had let her down, but she'd gotten herself a single month subscription to Sling TV which let her tune in, no problem.  So she suggested I come over and we try this option out.


It was beyond frustrating....  But luckily, Lauren is a true baseball fan and a good sport, so we did it up like I do at home:  MLB Radio streaming Hammy and Rosie with GameDay on the computer showing the pitch by pitch.

And what we got to enjoy was one helluva game that turned out to be an epic pitchers' duel:  Carlos "Cookie" Carrasco vs Mashahiro Tanaka.  These two dudes came to win and they walked right in stride with each other, each working into the sixth inning and beyond (Carrasco was lifted in the 6th with the bases loaded and two out for reliever Andrew Miller while Tanaka remained in until the 7th).  Both pitchers struck out seven, both gave up only three hits, both left the game without giving up a run.

In fact, there was only one run in the entire ballgame:  a 7th inning home run by Greg Bird off Andrew Miller, who had worked out of that bases loaded jam in the 6th only to start things off in the next inning by giving up what turned out to the winning run.

The Indians did have chances:  early on, Kip hit a triple with one out and we couldn't get him home.  Frankie Lindor skied a ball to center field that rookie sensation Aaron Judge leaped up right at the wall and grabbed, straight up robbing our shortstop of a two-run homer.  And even in the 9th inning, we managed to get two on before Carlos Santana (who put up a fantastic at-bat) popped out to end the game.

This was a game about the pitchers -- it was another shining example of what the sport is all about.

Yeah, my team lost this particular rumble, but I am proud of how hard they played, especially now at Yankee Stadium where the fans are horrific examples of sportsmanship -- even booing manager Joe Girardi when his named was announced with the starting lineup.  

OK, this is a sidenote, but let's get into this for a hot second...  Why did the Yankee fans boo him?  Because it turned out there was a controversy regarding the Lonnie Chisenhall hit-by-a-pitch scenario in that insane Game 2 eventual win for my guys.  In case you need a refresher:  picture it -- 6th inning at Progressive Field, Indians trailing the Yankees 8-3.  There were already two men aboard for reliever Chad Green when Chisenhall's pinch hit at-bat ended when it was ruled he was HBP.  Listening to this call on the radio, I had no idea it was controversial or anything but a "routine" take-yer-base.  The next batter up was Frankie Lindor who cranked a grand slam that brought the Tribe within one run of the Yankees and undoubtably changed the tide for the team.  What I learned later was that there seemed to be some question if Chisenhall had been hit or if he had foul tipped it into the catcher's glove for out number three.  Had Girardi challenged the call, the inning might have ended right there, no grand slam, no Cleveland comeback.

But the simple fact is that he didn't challenge the call, the game moved on, and Frankie did what he did.  Splitting hairs over shoulda-coulda-woulda in a situation like this is a tough road to walk and Girardi should focus on other things.  Yeah, he could have challenged the call, but maybe it wouldn't have been overturned.  I, myself, haven't seen this footage and since my team was on the benefitting side of this HBP call, I see no reason to delve into it, personally.  I'm sure Yankeefans feel differently and have poured over it in excruciating detail.  But here's the other thing:  Green gave Frankie a ball he could hit outta there.  Girardi didn't challenge the call or make a big deal about it because he looked at the information and saw that his pitcher should be able to record an out with this guy and let him do his job.  Green couldn't get the job done -- just like Miller couldn't get the job done last night for my team.  It happens.  I'm certainly not going to lambast my players or my manager for making an educated guess or for making a mistake.  

Of course, I am not a spoiled Yankeefan.  I see the game very differently.  It made me sad and a little angry to hear that Girardi had been booed by the at-capacity Yankee Stadium when he'd gotten this squad to the postseason and to this position in the first place.  Late in the radio broadcast, Hammy was talking about this situation and also how a fan tweeted something unfavorable about Girardi that Yankee closer Aroldis Chapman had "liked" only to "unlike," so Hammy reported, clearly unfamiliar with this social media business, and apologized to his skipper for drawing attention that way.  That does show some humanity on Chapman's part and I'm glad to hear he recognized how unprofessional that behavior was, but even so.  I can't imagine being part of a chorus of booing someone from my team, especially during the playoffs.  The fact that Joe Girardi had to prepare his children for the fans' predictable contempt against him is disturbing.  But I guess that's what it's like to be part of the New York Yankees legacy.

Digression over.

So here's where we stand:  the Indians lead the series 2-1 and are one win away from moving on to the American League Championship Series.  The Astros/Red Sox series is in the same boat, with the Astros up 2-1.  Both the Yankees and the Red Sox are very capable of tying their respective series up, especially since both clubs are now playing at home, so it's really anyone's guess as to how this will all shake out.  It's rainy here in the Northeast today, so it'll be a wait-and-see if either game can be played.  Things are scheduled to get underway in Boston at 1pm today and at 7pm tonight in New York.  According to my weather app, at 1pm, there's a 15% chance of rain but by 2pm, it's 55% and climbing all the way through until 9pm.  In New York, there's a 65% chance of rain at 7pm that holds through also until 9pm.  So will there be Game 4's today?  Wait and see, baseball fans...  Wait and see.

May the best team win.  May that team be from Cleveland.  Amen.

Originally posted on the Inspired in 2017 blog on October 9, 2017.

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