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HumpLinks: Pinstripes yanked from playoffs

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Single game eliminations bring the drama. The Astros bring the pitching. And the bats. And the plane tickets to Kansas City. Next up: Pirates host the Cubs.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Uh oh. Wasn't the whole point of adding a second Wild Card slot to make sure that MLB got both the Yankees AND the Red Sox in the playoffs each year? Well, the Law of Unintended Consequences has kicked in. Having TWO Wild Cards with THREE Division winners means that we need to have a WC play-in game so that we can end up with 4 teams and then start the playoffs in the usual and customary manner.

So here are the Yankees, in that very WC play-in game, and the whole plan goes awry in 3 hours flat. The Houston Astros cut right through the Northeastern cockiness and the upstart AL West shuts down millions and millions of advertising man-hours pre-programmed for Pinstriped Entitlement Nation. Bounced in the blink of an eye. Turns out, those fans spent more time waiting in the security lines to get inside than they did to watch their team lose. But, hey, Yankee fans got themselves 3 whole hits to cheer over!

Houston 3. Yankees 0. And in the morning the New York press will be re-born as Mets fans.

Here's to Mike Trout, and all the notes I hope he took watching the Astros swinging at first pitches. Enjoy the links!

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Angels Baseball

Picking at the Bones: Huffington Post puts up a list of the Ten Worst LAA Losses of 2015. I cannot disagree. Good list. I did happen to notice a theme hidden inside there. Did you?.............

Using the Bones for Toothpicks: But if you are a glutton for punishment and want to do an even more thorough autopsy on the season, dive in to the Crazy Games That Made All The Difference in Baseball's Tightest Races. Yeah, the Angels feature prominently.............

Words to Live By. Words to Die By: I put this in the Halo section because...well...bacause we ned to own it.  Hardball Times takes some time to review how the playoff teams got themselves there. The Houston Astros took a radical approach. They used information. "We might be in the middle of a potentially larger revolution. The impact of technology, particularly the marriage between sophisticated and multiple video feeds and high-speed computing, is revolutionizing how players and game situations can be evaluated. As with analytics, Astros GM Jeff Luhnow and his staff are at the forefront. Two years ago, the Astros claimed Collin McHugh — who had a record of 0-8 and an ERA of nearly 9.00 over 47 innings in two years — off waivers from the Rockies. Despite his dismal record, the Astros liked the spin rate on his curveball as measured by TrackMan (the product of a Danish radar company based on the Doppler effect), suggesting it was a better pitch than his results indicated. The Astros advised him to throw it more, and McHugh has developed into a quality starter." Over here in Anaheim, we run our GM out of the clubhouse. And just throw more sliders.............

Mike Scioscia: Sosh might not really have been able to get a job anywhere, but he could have gotten himself a job somewhere. They were really looking forward to him in Washington.............

Trout Porn: Trout gets a nod for MVP. "All of the arguments for Donaldson seem to require the splitting of hairs, while Trout simply is the better player and was the better player this season. It might be boring, but last year’s MVP deserves to win it again."..............

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Elsewhere in Baseball


History: Did you notice? ESPN was running three people in the broadcast booth for last night's AL WC game (always one person too many, IMHO). But the game analyst was Jessica Mendoza, making her the first woman in a nationally broadcast MLB playoff game. Not just stuck on the sidelines doing human interest decoration anymore, people...............

Chippy: The Mets are in the playoffs (for the first time since 2006) and they are about to take on the Dodgers, opening in LA on Friday night. Therefore, after 7 months of daily grind and daily workout, they need to practice. Mandatory. Even guys not going to LA. Everybody. Except that Matt Harvey forgot to get there on time. Harvey stepped right up and took full responsibility for his mistake, and apologized all around. But since this is the same Matt Harvey in the center of all kinds of inning count controversy, everybody gets suspicious. Even team captain David Wright: "I'm concerned about the guys that are here. The guys that are here, we had a great workout." Yeah, Wright, sure. I've seen mid-season MLB workouts in my lifetime. They remind me of 10th grade PE............

I Hate Hambone: Yeah, I admit it. So what? That asshat was an absolute menace to his own teammates last year, putting his own butt back onto his familiar DL and being a complete embarrassment to Major League Baseball at the plate. And, oh yeah, always happy to cash the paycheck. So here he is, back in the playoffs but with a different uniform, a different attitude, and a much different expected outcome.  Oh, about last year? Going 0 for 13? That's YOUR problem, not his: "I really don't think about that kind of stuff..." Meanwhile, he remains happy to keep cashing Arte's checks...............

Fishy Business: Bronson Arroyo is a really, really bad judge of character. That, and how the heck did he earn a $100K lien on a boat in the first place?..............

Nice Catch: The legendary Brooks Robinson hits one of his rare home runs. After building up his own nest egg and parsing out his memorabilia to his children, he is taking advantage of the collector mob and auctioning off everything else for charity................

Stick 'em up, Cowboy!: MLB got some people's undies all in a wad because they feature the Dallas skyline. And the Rangers play in Arlington. And people make a big deal of Los Angels of Anaheim? Hey, people, at least we here in Southern California get along. Not so much in Arlington............

Hold on a minute, there, Nancy: Does baseball have an alcohol problem? Sure. Because baseball is part of our society and shares the same alcohol problem as the society in which it exists. But does baseball have a unique alcohol problem? No. Nick Adenhart did not die because the St. Louis Cardinals toast a title with champagne. And C.C. Sabathia did not check himself into rehab because Budweiser sponsors MLB. The vast majority of us are capable of enjoying alcohol responsibly and do. And a large number of those who are incapable manage to gain control and learn to avoid alcohol altogether. But we are not perfect, not the individual nor society nor baseball. To call out baseball is an overreach...........

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