Five Cuts (Cont.)
3. The ALCS is not officially over, but it certainly turned when Angels closer Brian Fuentes, three outs from evening the series at one game each, decided on an 0-and-2 count to "elevate a fastball" to Rodriguez. Hello? Hand, meet stove. You should know the darn thing is hot. It was evident then and more so now that Rodriguez is the playoff monster that was Barry Bonds in 2002, a guy who knew something himself about erasing a bad postseason reputation. Enjoy the show folks, because you're looking at an all-time great at the very top of his game. Want proof? Try this body of evidence:
Angels manager Mike Scioscia intentionally walked Rodriguez in a tie game in the ninth inning of Game 2 with nobody on base. Only five players have ever been intentionally walked with no one on base in the postseason: Greg Luzinski (1978), Bonds (four times in 2002 and 2003), Albert Pujols (2006), Frank Thomas (2006) and Rodriguez. Bonds (by the Marlins in 2003) and Rodriguez are the only players to be intentionally walked in the ninth inning with the bases empty.
Rodriguez has made contact on 41 of his 46 swings this postseason, an 89 percent contact rate. In the regular season he made contact 78 percent of the time.
Dating to his last two at-bats of the regular season, Rodriguez has put the ball in play 26 times. He has homered on seven of those 26 times. That means that one out of every three or four balls he hits fair is going out of the park. He is batting .500 on balls he puts in play in that span.
Rodriguez has not gone more than seven at-bats this postseason without hitting a home run.
Rodriguez is outhomering the competition by himself. He has five home runs in 27 at-bats this postseason. Opposing hitters against the Yankees this postseason have combined for three home runs in 262 at-bats.
4. Red Sox president Larry Lucchino has a term for playing in the intense conditions of the Northeast: East Coast Baseball. He is on to something. In Philadelphia, Boston and New York, almost every home game carries an intensity (from fans and media) that is a close facsimile to playoff baseball. And when you do get to October, the frequently cold, wet, blustery weather provides something else to battle, too.
I started thinking about East Coast Baseball as I watched the Dodgers and Angels go 0-4 in Philadelphia and New York in the LCS, all the while looking like they were not up to the challenges of the crowd and the weather. And then I thought, is there something to West Coast teams not measuring up to East Coast Baseball in October?
So I looked at all the West Coast teams -- the Dodgers, Angels, Athletics, Padres, Giants, Mariners and, because they fit the criteria except for a nearby beach, the Diamondbacks -- who have played East Coast Baseball in the postseason in the wild-card era, since 1995. In addition to New York and Philadelphia, other cities that fit the definition of East Coast Baseball at the time they hosted West Coast teams in the playoffs were Boston, Detroit and Baltimore.
It turns out there have been 22 playoff matchups when a West Coast team ventured into East Coast Baseball. The result: the West Coast teams are 10-36 in East Coast Baseball venues, a .217 winning percentage. In other words, get them out of their laid-back, warm environment and into the nasty conditions in the East, and they're not even the 1962 Mets.
And it is not getting any easier. Since 2003 the West Coast teams are 3-17 in East Coast Baseball playoff environments. That's the kind of history the Dodgers are up against tonight when they play NLCS Game 5 in Philadelphia. Bundle up, Dodgers.
5. Happy birthday to Yankees public address announcer Bob Sheppard, one of the great treasures of the game who celebrated his birthday on Tuesday. Sheppard is believed to be 99 years old, though he enjoys leaving his age unconfirmed. He announced his first game in 1951 and has not worked since 2007 due to health issues. In a most noble and fitting gesture, a recording of Sheppard's introduction of Derek Jeter is used every time Jeter bats at Yankee Stadium -- at the captain's request.
MLB Truth & Rumors