August 29, 2003

Laura, my partner of more than 16 years, is a life-long Yankees fan. We both got hooked on our respective teams in the volatile mid-to-late 1970s. This summer, thanks to a second TV and MLB's Extra Innings, we now watch our teams in separate rooms, occasionally flipping over to the other's game (usually right after overhearing a woo-hoo or a curse). It works out pretty nicely. Tonight, though, I'll come out of the office and we'll watch together into the living room. One thing is certain: at no point during the evening will we be cheering at the same time. ... Even though I'll have to contend with the YES-men due to the regional blackout, the next 6 hours can't go by fast enough.

Boston starts the three-game series 4½ games behind New York (down from a season-high of 7½ on August 21) and ½ game up on Seattle for the wild card. People might call these games "must wins" for the Red Sox, but they are not (at least mathematically speaking); however, it would be exceedingly helpful if Boston could win at least 2 of 3.

Derek Lowe has been pitching very well lately (3 runs and 12 hits in 18.1 innings in 3 starts against Oakland and Seattle) and his blister (which shortened his start on August 19) will not be a problem. He's also at home, where his ERA is much more attractive (3.13 to 6.78). ... Damian Jackson must start at second base. Todd Walker has minimal range and trouble with the DP pivot seemingly more times than not. Which isn’t Walker’s fault; he is what he is. It’s up to Grady Gump to have the best infield defense for a groundball pitcher. Sitting Walker will also allow Huckleberry Happytalk to put Bill Mueller in the #2 spot. ... (And in the future, Walker ought to play deeper, back near the outfield grass like Soriano does. It allows more time to get to the ball and gives the impression of having average range. So Walker can try that out on Saturday. Tonight, I want him in the clubhouse playing cards with David McCarty.) ... Top hitters against Lowe: Giambi (8-27, 3 HR, 7BB), Posada (8-28, 6 BB), Jeter (11-37, all singles) and Matsui (5-9).

Jose Contreras threw a dandy against Baltimore last time out (7 IP, 3 H, 0 R), but he has yet to start against a decent team, working against Detroit, Cincinnati and the Orioles. I'm curious how he begins against a (hopefully) patient team with a .498 slugging percentage. ... No Red Sox batter has more than 1 at-bat against Contreras; Nomar and Ortiz are both 1-1 with a double; Damon and Varitek are 0-1; Walker, Manny and Mueller all walked in their only plate appearances.

Some Gotham Media: Bob Klapisch writes that "the northeast's annual apocalypse has officially arrived" (he also wants to see how Clemens adjusts to Ortiz on Sunday); the NY Post on the Yankees' baggage; the Sox are confident; my first Yankees Magic Number sighting (it's 26); and the obligatory 1978 story. Links to all the New York and Boston papers here.

David Halberstam reports on the State of the Nation. ... Tony Kornheiser of the Washington Post says we are lucky to have Pedro, who has a 97-27 (!!) record in Boston. ... Angels reliever Brendan Donnelly’s career ERA is 1.73 -- the lowest in history for a pitcher with a minimum of 100 innings. ... Derek Zumsteg looks at the AL Cy Young race, as does Jim Caple. ... Obey Pedro’s Mystery Link. ... I've also added links to a few more blogs (Sox and non-Sox).

Finally: If those who can't do, teach, then shouldn't those who can do never teach? Joe Morgan must be one of the dumbest men alive when it comes to baseball analysis. In the very first answer in his latest ESPN Chat Wrap, Morgan writes: "You don't send a pitcher out to the mound and say 'get a good ERA.' You want him to win games." Wrong. Run prevention is a pitcher's goal. A pitcher who wins an 8-7 game did not perform better than one who lost 2-1. Morgan writes (regarding ERA) that "If the team makes mental mistakes, the pitcher still pays for it," but in his final comment turns 180 degrees: "ERA is like a batting average ... just a personal thing. In the case of a pitcher, the only way you can truly judge a pitcher is his wins and losses." Sheesh. Other amusing comments like how Ponson (who has never been in the playoffs) will give the Giants the necessary post-season experience are discussed here. Boy of Summer often nitpicks Joe's chats; here's an older one. It's mind-boggling that someone this clueless has what is likely the plum regular season baseball announcing gig: Sunday Night Baseball.

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