Saw an interesting stat today. Over their last couple of seasons, the Vikings are in the range of 3-23 outside. These are players who play in Minnesota, and they can't take the elements, and you know why? Because they play in a dome. Sheltered from the rain, and the snow, and the cold. Everything just happens in the climate controled interior.
And that's a problem. Most teams, they can put up with a little snow. Look at where they have open air fields. Green Bay, Buffalo, New Jersey, New England, Pennsylvania. None of these teams decided they needed to hide from the snow and the ice, and why? Because it's part of the game! Who doesn't love watching football games taking place in the driving snow?
Here's how to fix it. Rip the roofs off the domes in Minneapolis and Detroit. Tell them to suck it up. Then...dome in all the stadiums south of, say, 40 degrees latitude. But, for the exact opposite reason that the Vikings and Lions hide in domes. Oh yes, these new southern domes...will all be outfitted with snow machines! During the winter, the machines would be turned on at random, say a 1 in 3 chance of being on, and set randomly to either flurries, snowstorm, or blizzard.
Because football is best in the snow.
The Sox and Early Withdrawl
What the White Sox did was not just win the World Series. Saying so somehow just doesn't describe what they did. The White Sox just pulled off a complete and total domination of the post season, the likes of which probably aren't even topped by the 11-1 run that the Yankees had in '99. They swept the defending champs. They threw four complete games after their only stumble against the Angels. Then, just for good measure, they swept the Astros. Only shame? They won every series on the road, because part of what I loved about watching the Sox were those South Side fans. They deserved a home series victory.
And, amazingly enough, they made domination FUN TO WATCH! There was the schadenfreude of watching Red Sox Nation get crushed so completely. There was the jaw dropping amazement at watching their pitchers mow through the Angels without so much as batting an eyelid at the bull pen. And the World Series. Swept series should not be as good as that one, but with the Astros in each game, they were each, individually, great games to watch. The fact that all four ended with the ChiSox on top should not be seen as a weakness of the series, but as the strength of that Chicago team.
...do pitchers and catchers report yet?
After what's been my most active year following baseball since my childhood, this is going to be a loooong winter. Sure there's all the Nats ownership drama and stadium angst to follow, but I want games! Thank god for the World Baseball Classic, which I'll be blogging about heavily. Check this space soon for my picks.
With the baseball season ending, this blog won't go dormant, but updates might be a little more widely spaced than they are now. Sure I'll talk football (when I'm not too depressed about the Packers), college gridiron action (when I'm not spitting in rage about people spitting in rage about the BCS), and might even talk about the NBA even though, well, yawn. Don't really follow that until the post season.
God. I miss baseball already.
Shortest post season runs...
What with the ChiSox currently sitting on an amazing 10-1 record this post season, I wanted to do some research, see how few games teams had played since the wild card created a third series that had to be won to win it all. Playoffs games don't count. Of course, there's a limited window of 11-19.
Maybe if I get bored, I'll break it down by each extension of the post season...
1995: Braves 4+4+6 = 14
1996: Yankees 4+5+6 = 15
1997: Marlins 3+6+7 = 16
1998: Yankees 3+6+4 = 13
1999: Yankees 3+5+4 = 12
2000: (blech) Yankees 5+6+5 = 16
2001: Diamondbacks 5+5+7 = 17
2002: Angels 4+6+7 = 17
2003: Marlins 4+7+6 = 17
2004: Red Sox 3+7+4 = 14
Right now the Sox will win in anything from 12-15 games. Astros in 16-17.
I don't know what any of this shows. I was just curious and bored.
Bad to worse in Green Bay
Earlier this season, when Ahman Green was out, the Packers lost their backup running back for the season. Now...they've lost Green. So now a team that's having a bad enough time of it is stuck with a third string RB. Outside one huge week against the Saints, the Pack just cannot catch a break this season!
What team in their right mind starts a new advertising campaign during the World Series? A team that has nowhere to go but up. And a team that has a lot of places to go from here. Thus it is that the Devil Rays have kicked off their Under Construction
campaign. Other than the garish yellow colors, it's a nice campaign so far. Commercials are being aired where various bits of construction equipment are compared to baseball equipment. It looks like the new managing owner is serious as hell about turning things around, and about getting people behind this team. Great job, thus far. Looking forward to seeing what else they trot out.
Hell, it's better than following the Nationals right now. Rays not only have an owner, but an owner that actually seems to care
about the team. And how much love for the game do you need to care for the lowly Devil Rays?
One strike away
I can't imagine what last night must have been like for Astros fans. Just watching it from the viewpoint of being a wellwisher (in that I thought that it would be cooler for them rather than the Cards to make the WS) it was painful to see. Top of the 9th, 2 outs, 2 strikes, no one on, two run lead. That's the point where you've got a game won. But it's also that mythic last strike.
Of course, the last strike of what would have been the series winning game is when Bill Buckner dribbled one through his legs.
Hit, walk, homer. Welcome to Buckner territory, Lidge.
Now, I still hope that the Cards can pull it off. The odds are painfully against them, as they still have to pull off two wins against one of the best pitching stats in the Majors, including having to pull it off against Clemens. But if they don't? This is the kind of thing that can just haunt a franchise, especially one that's already been waiting for over 40 years for just a WS appearance, much less win.
The stripes! They burn!!
I know that throwback uniforms are for the regular season, and not for World Series play. However, a thought I can't resist. Since it looks like it's going to be the White Sox vs the Astros, they really need to do a game with these uniforms
Hey, the Packers won, and he's not blogged about it yet.
Okay, yeah, that was remiss of me, but yesterday was such a huge sports day that I was watching it transfixed, and didn't want to stop to write a blog entry because...DAMN! Got to watch the 1pm football games, switch over to a baseball game in the 9th inning, and still got a full length baseball game!
So. Packers. They tore through the Saints like Katrina tore through the Superd--I'm sorry, I've been informed it's Too Soon for that joke. Yesterday was an example of a team that was just playing PISSED. No other way to explain that kind of whooping that includes two defensive touchdowns, and Favre showing why he's still Brett Favre, no matter how old he gets.
So, what's going to happen to that division? It's a total of 5-12. Calling it the NLW of football is actually an insult to the NLWest. Someone is going to Padre themselves into the playoffs...so why not the Packers? I think yesterday could provide them some momentum, and they'll have Green back for their next game, which is good, since their backup RB is now out for the season with a broken ankle. And that's the hell of it. The Packers do well, but lose another tool in the process. Still, in a division where 7-9 might win it, they seem to have as good of a shot as anyone. Especially with two games ahead against Daunte Culpepper. It's just too much of a tossup, but I really have a hard time believing that the Pack is out of it, even at 1-4. Because it is the North. And because he is Favre.
Devil Rays Emergent?
Probably one of the bigger shames in major league baseball is that there is a team who, last year, celebrated a 4th place finish in their division. Because it was the best finish in their history. While watching the other 3 of the 4 most recent expansion teams make at least one post-season run in their first 7 seasons, and two of them win it all, the Rays have finished 5th, 5th, 5th, 5th, 5th, 4th, 5th.
After moving into a market that everyone thought would embrace baseball...where everyone kept threatening to move (including the potential future Nats owner when he was mismanaging the Mariners), the only way you can describe the Devil Rays is "failure". They're not even really the lovable losers, as attendence has been miserable, and not even 40% of the baseball fans in the Tampa Bay area self identify as Devil Rays fans.
Okay, yes, they are in one of the most cut throat divisions in baseball. They have to play a total of 38 games a year against the two largest payroll in the game, while fielding the cheapest payroll. The payroll that the owner has said he can afford with the number of fans they have coming into the games. It creates a pathetic Catch-22 situation. The payroll doesn't grow because the fans don't come because the team loses because the payroll doesn't grow.
Now. My grandmother lived in St. Pete until she died. She always loved sports. She was always thrilled to sit and talk about how the Buccaneers were doing, and for years, was always willing to give her opinion of the latest rumor that baseball might be coming to Tampa Bay. Because of that, I always hoped for baseball there, and I've always hoped it would flourish. For those reasons, I've always been sort of a closeted Devil Rays fan, and with the recent way that I've been treated by the ownership of my previous AL team, I'd probably call them my AL team for the time being.
For the first time, it's looking like that might actually be a good decision. I feel like we're at the ground level of something, which is exciting. BOTH of my teams are really starting at the ground floor with the potential of exploding. The managing ownership of the Devil Rays has transferred a year earlier than expected, and the first thing the new owner is doing is cleaning house. Most of the head office has been canned, which is fine, because there has been a cancer in this team that goes so much beyond just what's going on the field. He's declared parking will be free next year in a move to get more people to come to the games.
The official slogan for the DRays 2006 campaign? Under Construction.
There are a lot of problems, and they won't all be fixed at once. In fact, the new owner is basically considering next year entirely a growing year, and will promise nothing out of the team. I'm not sure if he's honestly expecting the DRays to follow suit and end up in the sellar of the ALE again next year, or if he's tempering expectations so that any success is seen as unexpected, and might pull people to the games.
Because that's the ultimate goal. People need to start coming to the games.
And one of the hurdles? Tropicana Field. A dome built years before a team was ever announced for Tampa Bay, it was thrown up in the hopes that baseball would see a ready-built stadium that allowed for the same kind of immediate move that RFK allowed for the 'Spos. However, and I'm going from the second hand experience of my grandmother and parents as I've never been in town when the DRays are, the stadium just is not a good place to see baseball. It's a joke. It's an ugly, cavernous, concrete box that doesn't offer any real reason to show up and attend a game. Okay, there's the Columbia Restaurant there, so you can get the best Cuban sammiches on the planet, but this is a stadium where there's even only one souvineer stand.
The new owner has announced yesterday that he will never say the team needs
a new stadium. However, at the same time, he made it clear that the team needs a new stadium. His promise is to never ever use the word "need", but he also said he's willing to work with city officials if they, by any chance, happen to want
to build the team a new stadium. Now, in Tampa Bay, you need a roof. I know a lot of people have problems with baseball being played indoors, however, there's the new paradigm of stadiums. Look at Minute Maid Field in Houston, or the new stadium that HOK has designed for the Marlins. Retractable roofs can now work
, and they can make a stadium not FEEL like an indoor stadium, while still providing protection from St. Petersburg weather. The era of the baseball dome is past. Yeah, when Houston built the Astrodome, it seemed like the wave of the future, but it's sort of retro-future. It's like Epcot center. The way people in the 60s thought people in the 80s would live.
Do the Devil Rays need a new stadium? It's really hard to economically justify one right now...but yes. Build it and they will come? I hope.
I'm really hoping the DRays are on the verge of something big. They deserve it. They've been lost in the wilderness too long. Hopefully a day will come in the not-to-distant future where DRays fans will come out of the closet, and be happy to wear TB caps.
ALE fall down...go boom...
Okay. I don't like the ALE. Not necessarily top to bottom, but I mean, come on, let's look at the teams:
Yankees. You love them or you hate them. I think very few people are indifferent about the Yankees (or, at least, no one who follows baseball is indifferent about the Bombers).
BoSox. I'll admit that I was right there on the bandwagon last season. I loved that they won it all, and thought it was great for the city of Boston that they finally undid the "curse". But I'm also one of the ones that got completely turned off by them this year, starting about two days after they won it all, and Schilling thought we cared about his bestest friend George Bush.
Orioles. Come on. I'm a Nats fan. Until they're no longer owned by Peter Angelos...I just can't separate the team and the owner.
Blue Jays. It's still 2005, so they're still officially the dreaded natural rival of the Nationals. Grrrr. Darn those Blue Jays and their Canadian...ness. Okay, I'm indifferent about the Blue Jays.
Devil Rays. I hope they do well. Just because Tampa deserves to finally win some games (I was a big proponent of TB getting a team...my grandmother lived there until she died, and was a big sports fan. She was so happy when they got the expansion team.) They're probably the closest thing I have to an AL team right now. I might be the one Nationals fan looking forward to them coming to town next season.
But, in spite of that, that's 60% of the ALE that I can't stand right now. And 40% of the ALE made it to the playoffs. So today is just a happy happy day. The Wrong Chicago Team knocked the Idiots out of the playoffs, and right now, Lacaoa has forced the Big Unit out of the game after three innings, and is sitting on a lead over the Bombers. If the Bombers turn into the Bombs today...well...how can you not love watching the ALE fall apart?
Oh yeah. World Series pick...
Any competant sports blogger would have already posted his pick for the World Series champion before the taint of posting it after games have been played. However, the Yudites can confirm that I made this prediction yesterday, just never put it in here.
I'm following the ChiSox. Mostly cause I think it'd be interesting to see what would happen if Chicago won it all, but with the "wrong" team.
The Green Bay Fan's Lament
My poor Pack.
My poor, poor Pack.
I am, against all logic, a Packers fan. Mostly because my dad, against all logic, was a Packers fan. Both of us started following the NFL at a time in our lives when we lived in a city without a team. He in the pre-Bucs St. Pete, I in San Antonio. So each of us, in our way, became Packers fans. And yes, I was a Pack fan well before Favre lead them to the Super Bowl and glory. A fan of the shell of a former team.
And, from shell they came, and to shell they have returned. For just the fourth time in their long and illustrious history, the Pack is 0-4. And why? Favre might not be having his best season, but he's far from turning into Culpepper. Hell, last night was brilliance, Favre at his best, but it just wasn't enough to overcome the Cats. Yeah, it might be time for him to retire, but it's unfair, those who are saying that he's past his prime. He's still going to go down as one of the top 5 QBs of all time, and probably the best of his era, spanning the distance between Marino and Manning.
But they're still 0-4, and no amount of talk about the brilliance of Favre is going to change that. Who knows where they'll go from here. They do get to play the Vikings twice, and have three games left against what might be the weakest conference in football this season. They may even still Padre their way into the playoffs, but I really doubt that at this point. I'd be, frankly, happy with 6-10, which'd mean playing .500 ball from here out.
They're on bye week now. Maybe that'll let them figure out what's still going right, and catalogue the numerous things that seem to be going wrong.
Only upside? Vikings fans can't touch us. Usually Viks fans would be just downright GIDDY about the Pack falling apart like it has this year. Yet, all one has to say is "so how about Culpepper" and that's that.
Least I can take comfort in the Wombats now being 4-0.
It was hard to leave RFK today. I was sitting in section 131, right down the left foul line. Last seat in the row, all the way against the wall. Great place to sit.
The game ended. The game itself doesn't really matter. Both teams were eliminated from the playoffs, one a week ago, and one today by the Astros victory. So it was a game, and it was played, and it ended. The heat had been brutal all game, and I even took an inning off in the team store to do some shopping and to get out of the heat, as I was worried that I was starting to have some heat-related problems. But I didn't leave. I didn't want to leave. Not during the game, not after the game. I just wanted to be there in RFK, just to breath it in, just to realize that it all happened. It all really happened.
It seemed like a dream, the whole season. I've not been waiting for baseball as long as some people have. Some were waiting since Bob Short broke DC's heart so many years ago. I've just been waiting since I moved to the area around 13 years ago, so less than half of the dark period between the Senators leaving town, and the Expos coming in. And there's not been any point this season where I wasn't sure I'd wake up, say to someone "how about them Nats" and they respond with a confused look. Baseball came so close, just to shy away so many times, even during the short time that I've been waiting for a team to come here...I was certain that it was all just a dream.
Well, I think today, somewhere around the point that the last Philly out of the game was recorded, I finally, and fully woke up, and realized that this has all been real, and that it's been just a beautiful thing. 81-81. It's disappointing when considering that we were 50-31 at one point, but so what, damnit. That's 162 more games than a DC baseball team has played in three decades. I'm not going to say that baseball being here excuses any of the sins of the season, but for this night, it's all I ask of a team. For the next few hours, nothing that the Nats did matters, cause they did it in DC.
The post game ceremony was just havoc. The team had recorded messages to the fans, but they were drowned out by a stadium that didn't go home, and just kept applauding a team that just lost as though they had won the World Series. There's just one thing that everyone cared about: DC Baseball. It was fan appreciation day, and they said a lot of stuff about DC fans being the best in baseball...and there was a time that I ignored the cliche, and actually thought it might be true. Sticking with a team to the bitter end, and showing up 35,000 strong for no reason other than to take in those last nine innings.
And a magical season has now come to a close. Tomorrow a rather major postseason starts, filled with stadium plans, owners, and the question of who is in and out in the front office. But for now. DC Baseball. That's all it's about. DC Baseball.