I'm telling ya, couch potato-ing the Division series gets no respect
Updated: Thursday October 7, 2004 2:24AM
It seemed all hope was lost as Hideki Matsui struck out in this at-bat, but later he delivered the game-winning sac fly for the Yankees.
ST. LOUIS -- So I have this idea for a new reality TV show. Kind of a Survivor/Apprentice/Benefactor/Wife Swap thing, except without the competition part. And the cheesiness. Or without so much apparent cheesiness, anyway.
How about taking a guy -- just some regular moke -- sticking him in a St. Louis hotel room with nothing but a TV tuned to a postseason baseball tripleheader, a high-speed Internet connection, a pizza in a box and a 20-ounce soda, and see what happens. Hilarity is sure to ensue.
The Midwestern sun pounds the parking lot outside my hotel room window. The bed is freshly made, the laptop is fired up, the "Do Not Disturb" sign is hanging off the doorknob. The pizza is ordered.
I wonder: Will a fastball to Carlos Beltran's ribs finally cool off the Astros?
Beltran did it all in Game 1 of this National League Division Series. He stole a base (he was 28-for-28 in the regular season since coming to the Astros in June). He had a couple of singles. And, in the fifth inning, after pulling a fastball from Jaret Wright long and foul down the right-field line, Beltran went the other way with a fastball, blasting a two-run homer to put the Astros up, 6-1.
The next time he came to the plate, reliever Juan Cruz nailed Beltran in the chest. Was it an accident? Beltran later came around to score, one of his three runs, but he left the game after that. We'll have to see how he is for Thursday afternoon's game.
(Surfing the Web a little bit while watching the game -- hey, I can multitask -- it occurs to me that we haven't done nearly enough to honor the memory of the late, great Rodney Dangerfield.)
The big story of this game was a sickly Roger Clemens treating the Braves like a used Kleenex. The Braves scrapped out an early run, and Andruw Jones touched the Rocket for a homer. But even sick and walking an uncharacteristic six hitters, Clemens was Cy Young-like.
A couple of other points, while I remember: Two broadcasters are plenty in any broadcast booth. We were into the third inning before I realized Jeff Brantley was there. Dave Justice needs to hand over the microphone once in a while.
Also: Braves pitchers better learn to get out of the way of those comebackers. Wright was nailed on the ankle a few starts ago, and the Astros got him on the shin with one in this game. And, when Cruz came in, the Astros got him with a legshot, too.
And a note to neophyte Atlanta fans: When you throw a home run ball back on the field, make sure it hits the field. Some dope in the left-field stands popped Braves left fielder Charles Thomas from behind in returning Beltran's home run ball.
I'm telling ya, the Braves get no respect.
("During sex, my wife always wants to talk to me. Just the other night she called me from a hotel.")
Do you think Ron Gardenhire will get the Grady Little treatment in Minnesota for leaving his closer, Joe Nathan, in for a third inning?
How could I have eaten that whole pizza?
What a great game for the Twins. Except, I mean, for the end. Still, you have to love how Minnesota's Corey Koskie was choking up in the eighth when he tied the score with a double down the line off Mariano Rivera. He had to be three inches up from the knob, at least. That's what Luis Gonzalez did, if you'll remember, when he beat Rivera in the 2001 World Series. Rivera has blown three games in 33 postseason chances. Two of them were on bloop hits.
And you have to love, if you're a baseball fan, how the Twins play the game. Cristian Guzman, running from first, took third on Gary Sheffield early in the game -- and nobody takes third on Sheffield. Guzman then scored when the next hitter, Henry Blanco, lofted a little fly ball down the right-field line. Blanco did a good job of just punching the ball out there, knowing that Guzman was going no matter what.
But the Yankees came back, relying on their hired guns, Alex Rodriguez and Hideki Matsui, in the 12th. It was another of those classic, corny Yankee scripted finishes that tear the guts out of other teams.
(Really, Caddyshack is a classic, and Back to School had its moments, but Dangerfield in the glare of a spotlight onstage, solo -- sweating, tugging at his collar, all bug-eyed -- well, he was one in a million.)
("When we got married my wife told me I was one in a million. I found out she was right!")
Extra points: Jon Miller and Joe Morgan -- two guys, see? -- are great. Funny. Morgan puts up with a goofy Miller. Miller puts up with a stoic Morgan. Perfect.
I've also come to realize that, even if you're a Yankee hater, you have to appreciate Derek Jeter. He plays hard. He's always active. He crushed that ball in the first off Brad Radke. And he scored the game-winner by tagging up on a ball that many players wouldn't even have thought about going on.
One more: Love Torii Hunter, too. Exciting player. But he flipped the bat on that would-be game-winner. The Yankees might get him for that.
("I could tell that my parents hated me. My bath toys were a toaster and a radio.")
I am channeling Joe Nathan. It's past midnight, CT, and I am on fumes. After that second game -- and after six-plus hours in a hotel-chain room -- this last game has proven hard to watch.
It's been a struggle for these two teams, too. Bartolo Colon huffed and puffed through 56 pitches in the first two innings, walked in a run in the second and then was bailed out when Jose Molina threw a strike to David Eckstein to catch Mark Bellhorn sleeping off second base. With the bases loaded, for heaven's sake.
Molina played a key role in the fifth, too, blooping in a single to left that shortstop Orlando Cabrera should have had. At least it looked like that way from here.
Weirdest thing: David Ortiz got an infield single in the sixth.
("I'll tell you one thing, I know how to satisfy my wife in bed. Yeah, I leave.")
Anyway, the Angels are in trouble. In a lot of ways, they were lucky to make it to the postseason. And when you write down a lineup with Chone Figgins, Jeff DaVanon, Dallas McPherson and one of the catching Molina boys in it ... well, it's difficult.
Still, they hung in there in this one until the eighth and ninth. And now they have to try to win two in Fenway Park over the weekend.
Well, good luck with that.
I gotta hit the rack. It's been a rough day.
("I'm telling ya, it's been a rough day. I got up this morning, put on a shirt and a button fell off. I picked up my briefcase and the handle came off. I'm afraid to go to the bathroom.")