Rays-Phillies: Iwamura Is Awesome, Bartlett Picks Own Nose with Tongue

Ian DevineContributor IOctober 23, 2008

This is a live blog of Game Two of the World Series. I may write one note each inning or a host of things as they occur to me. There is no plan. Basically, I will spew the contents of my mind reflexively across the page.

It’s kind of like reading tea leaves, I guess. There’s a big mess on your plate, and somehow you see meaning in it. I’ll have an article on the game up tomorrow. In the meantime, here’re 3,000 words on the subject.

Top of the First

-          Shields has three pitches working well in the first.  He is spotting his fastball, he showed a slider to Werth, and his changeup is diving like a splitter.  This could be a good night for the Rays unless the Phillies can take some deep at bats.  The changeup in particular is devastating, completely fooling Rollins, Utley, and Werth at least once in each of their at bats.

-          Changing the name of the Devil Rays was the stupidest PR move in recent memory.  How many people boycotted their games because they were afraid of the devil?  I mean, seriously, what did they think?  Was the team possessed?  Were they in danger by association?  I don’t care about the “change of attitude,” either.  Before they were a fish, now they’re a ray of light.  That is a step backwards.  Aside from which, they still have devil rays on their left sleeves.  Can they not make up their minds?  I will respect that they don’t want to be called the Devil Rays, but I refuse to call them the Rays.  Join me in rooting on your Tampa Bay Demon Rays!

Bottom of the First

-          I love Akinori Iwamura.  I cannot say just how much I love him.  In Game One, he had outstanding at bats.  His approach was practiced and disciplined, and every at bat was productive.  He’s sneaky fast, and plays hard, and he has that casual nonchalance when he fields pop flies.  “Oh, I don’t care, I’ll just lay my glove out and it will land in the pocket.  I don’t even need to look.”  He turns his head away each time.  And for all that, he’s an outstanding defensive player.

-          As much as I love Iwamura, I hate Myers just as much.  I hope Pena lines a ball off his forehead and knocks him into the middle of next season.  The man is a wife-beating bastard and belongs in prison.  If for no other reason than this, I want the Demon Rays to win.

-          Upton looks no better than last night.  His swing is still looping; this needs to be addressed.  But the results are better, so who knows?  Good base running puts two men in scoring position with nobody out.  Go Beezlebubrays!

-          At the end of one, it’s two to nothing.  Now these are the Mephistopherays I remember!

Top of the Second

-          So it turns out Ryan Howard can’t hit any sort of breaking ball, regardless of what side the pitcher throws from.  His swing is atrocious; he is pulling his head out and turning his front shoulder.  I have no idea why anyone would throw him a fastball right now.  When he misses, he looks the way Griffey does when he’s cold.  Griffey bails with his shoulder and his chin follows, and he finishes with his eyes pointed out and up into foul territory in left.  You cannot hit a breaking ball this way.

-          Sure enough, Shields throws him a fastball.  Howard tattoos it.  I know not what to say.  I do know if I were Joe Maddon, Howard wouldn’t see any hard stuff until he hits a curve ball out.

-          Joe Buck and Tim McCarver get a lot of flack, but I have to admit that I don’t mind listening to them.  I’d rather hear Jon Miller and Joe Morgan, or Gary Cohen, Ron Darling, and Keith Hernandez, but these guys aren’t that bad.  McCarver says some stupid things once in awhile, but you try talking for three hours and see what happens.  I’ll bet I stick my foot in my mouth at least a few times here, if I haven’t already.  I’m just saying….Buck has a good voice and McCarver knows a lot.  Just forget they’ve never heard of VORP.  I really wish I could hear Jon Miller do every game, but the TV has a lag, so the radio doesn’t match up, and really, Buck and McCarver aren’t that bad.  I’m just saying.

-          Shields has good command, his changeup is diving, and he’s made the Phillies put some bad swings on the ball.  But he’s thrown 38 pitches and Utley, Howard, and Feliz have all hit the ball hard.  It’s been an odd first two innings for him.

Bottom of the Second

-          My wife is in the kitchen making chili.  If there’s one thing better than a smoking hot wife, it’s a smoking hot wife who makes me smoking hot chili for the big game.  I like me some chili!

-          I’ve been impressed with Dioner Navarro’s play behind the plate.  Plus, he looks like Genghis Khan.  That’s just frightening.  You can’t run from Genghis Khan!  (Or run on him, apparently.)  On the other hand, I don’t like the way Ruiz leaves his leg out when there’s no one on base.  That’s just lazy.  Parents, make your ten year olds learning to catch so they have a fast track to the Majors avert their eyes lest they learn a despicable, horrible habit that is anathema to all that is right in the world.  Amen.

-          I would like to see Rocco Baldelli in a Mets uniform next year.  I know he has the mitochondrial disorder, but they really need an outfielder, and on a low-base deal with incentives based on at bats, say $2 million plus incentives that could make it worth $10 million for 500 at bats and $12 million for 600, could really work for both sides.  Who else is there?  Manny?  Ibanez?  That’s all they need – another overpaid, immobile left fielder who can’t talk to the media.

-          Bases loaded, one out for my man crush!  It’s Akinori Iwamura.  EEEEEEEEEE-waMURa!  Ladies and gentlemen, your Tampa Bay Lucifer Rays!

-          I will say this about Ruiz:  he’s an excellent, fundamentally sound catcher.  I really didn’t like watching Russell Martin in the first round. He continually gloved balls in the dirt instead of blocking them, but Ruiz squared up on a curve ball and smothered it.  It’s a play that goes unnoticed, but if a catcher doesn’t do it, it can really hurt a team.

-          Ok, I take it back.  Upton looks good.  I am wrong.  If Rory’s smart, he’ll dock my pay.  The difference is that he’s dropping the bat head now, instead of yanking his shoulder and trying to pull it.  He looks like he got overexcited and tried to hit homers.  Now he’s back to normal, looking for line drives to right.

Top of the Third

-          EEEEEEEwamura! makes a sensational play at second.  The Dome turns an otherwise fairly routine play into a Web Gem as the ball catches the lip of the carpet and jumps up.  Iwamura adjusts nicely.  He’s really an immensely valuable player, and as a second baseman, he’s well above league average.  While his bat doesn’t profile at third, the versatility has value.  I’d love to have him on my team.  The Iwamuras of the world will never lead your team to the title, but no team will win a title without at least one or two.

-          Werth kills lefties, but he just looked silly there.  Shields sent in a changeup and Werth looked as if he’d never seen a breaking ball.  Shields is giving up some hits and hard-hit balls, but he really looks to be in control.

Bottom of the Third

-          I know the guy from the Taco Bell Triple Steak Burrito commercial from somewhere.  Can anyone place him?  It bugs me every time I see him because I just can’t figure it out.

-          Rollins and Feliz just wandered in circles under a pop up like they were dancing.  Is there a breeze in the Dome, or did they just lose it in the roof?

-          There’s a hot woman in the stands waving an “I love Evan” sign.  I have to say, I’m inclined to agree.  He’s like Sir David the Wrighteous, only younger.  Alas and alack, the Wife Beater gets him to pop out to second.  Evil cannot be vanquished every time, but fear not!  We will be avenged!  Go Satan Rays!

Top of the Fourth

-          How the hell long does it take to make chili, anyway?  I’m getting hungry here.

-          The announcers are raving about Howard’s at bat, but it still looked like a ground ball to second to me.  When Howard is right, he goes opposite field.  That hit was luck.

-          I loathe Pat Burrell.  Pat Burrell is the AntiMet.  Also, Chipper Jones is the AntiMet, but Larry is sitting out this October.  Burrell is the most mediocre hitter in the league against every team other than the Mets.  Without the Mets in the league, he’d go .235/.300/.425 every year.  Against the Mets he goes .789/.987/3.872.  I’m not even lying.  He has literally a bazillion home runs against the Mets, just in the last two years.  They don’t make numbers to count how many he had before that.

-          Shane Victorino is awesome.  At the end of last year, I told my brother to keep him in his fantasy league.  I told him he’d score 100 runs, hit 15 hr, swipe 30 bases, and generally be altogether scrumptious.  He’s the Flyin’ Hawaiian.  Then he went out and became the catalyst, the substance, the soul, of the City of Brotherly Love.  He teamed with Burrell to become the UberAntiMet, and now I hate him.  Stupid Victorino.  But remembering the election, it’s looking like a good October for Hawaiians.  If he weren’t in the National League East, he’d be among my favorite players.  Win the pennant!  Yes we can!

-          With that beard, Pedro Feliz is reminding me a lot of Pedro Guerrero, circa 1980 or so.  I’m just saying.

Bottom of the Fourth

-          Two quick singles to start the fourth.  Cliff Floyd is on second and Genghis Khan on first, as the 2009 New York Mets’ right fielder steps in.  The Wife Beater does not look happy.  A ground ball to third, Feliz makes the turn, Baldelli running hard, and SAFE at first.  I just hope his mitochondria can handle it.  It’d be a shame if we only see Baldelli once this series.

-          Bartlett hits like my little brother.  Let me tell you a story about my little brother.  Brendan was playing left field in little league and someone hit a pop fly.  My brother camped under the ball, waited for it, watched it into his glove, and kept watching it as it kicked off the heel of his glove and hit him in the mouth.  He lost his front two teeth, then refused to wear his dentures because he liked being able to pick his nose with his tongue by sticking it out through the gap in front.  Yes.  You read that right.  So anyway, he finally grew up, hit puberty, and refused to wear his dentures because the girls thought it was cute.  THEN he finally figured girls out, and refused to wear his dentures because they liked the fact that he made out weirdly without any teeth.  Anyway, he’s eighteen now and finished second at nationals in track last year, but he’s still a moron.  What I’m trying to say is that I’m in favor of the squeeze with Bartlett at the plate.  Basically, having him hit is about as sensible as Brendan picking his nose with his tongue.

Top of the Fifth

-          The chili’s ready.  The posts might be light this inning.

-          Me:  “Shields has a better changeup than you, baby.”

My wife:  “Aw…”

Me:  “You have a better butt, though.”

Her:  “Thanks, baby!”

It’s nice to have a supportive spouse.  That’s all.

-          Oh my.  Rocco Baldelli has an arm that is somewhat impressive.  There was a fly ball to right, which he caught with his body behind it.  He unleashed a rocket to first that seemed to fool Pena at first, a strike, not like an outfielder’s throw, but like a pitcher, and nailed Werth at first.  That was an impressive double play.

Bottom of the Fifth

-          Still eating chili.  And cornbread.

-          Just saw a replay of Baldelli’s throw.  Wow.  It’s even better the second time around.  On the subject, double plays are severely underrepresented in Web Gems.  There is no play on the field more beautiful or poetic or graceful than a well-turned double play.  No more of these home run robbing catches, no more leaping catches of line drives.  Give me Alomar and Vizquel.  Give me Ordonez and Alfonzo.  Give me 6-4-3 and 4-6-3 and once in awhile 6u-3.  Nobody ever says “Puckett unassisted!”  They say “Tinkers to Evers to Chance.”

-          This is some gooooood chili.  You should all be jealous.

-          The Wife Beater seems to have learned a splitter.  I wonder if he learned that in prison.  Oh, no wait, that’s right.  He didn’t go to prison.  What a disgrace….he publically beat his wife repeatedly, in full view of witnesses, and didn’t serve any time.

Top of the Sixth

-          Still eating chili.  Still good.

-          My wife is giggling during the commercials and reading during the game.  Oh well.  At least she’s here.  Maybe she’ll absorb something through osmosis.

-          They’re forecasting rain in Philadelphia for Game Three.  If that game gets rained out, we’ll definitely see Cole Hamels in Game Four, on normal rest.  I doubt they’d eliminate the travel day, so with things pushed back, we could see Hamels on full rest in games One, Four, and Seven.  I think that’s the only realistic, non-miraculous scenario in which the Phillies have a legitimate shot to win.  The rain could set the tone of the series.

-          That’s the first time Howard’s made an out, and I know they’re saying he’s hitting the ball hard, but he’s hitting straight into the shift.  If he can’t go opposite field, it doesn’t matter how hard he grounds out to second.

-          Pitching change, and Big Game James is gone.  A lot has been made of the nickname, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this.  You create a name and a player lives up to it.  It creates expectation and eliminates pressure.  Instead of having this huge game to pitch, you just have to be you and show up to work.  Anyway, Dan Wheeler is coming in.  All bets are off.

-          Sure enough, Wheeler leaves a breaking ball up.  Feliz takes it for a strike.  By my count, the Phillies have left exactly seven thousand, four hundred and thirty-two runners on base tonight.  This is a good chance for them.  How many more do they think they’re going to get?  (5-4 putout to end the inning.  Go Afritrays!)

Bottom of the Sixth

-          They just showed a replay of Joe Carter’s walk off home run off Mitch Williams to end the World Series.  I heard Carter talk on the radio earlier today, and I have to say, he seems like one of the happiest, well-adjusted ex-ballplayers you’ll find.  You can practically hear him smile when he talks about his kids.  It’s good to see.  Incidentally, Carter played on that team with Robbie Alomar, one of my all time favorite players.

-          They keep showing these House commercials where it looks like House and Cuddy are going to kiss.  I bet they don’t do it.  You can quote me next week.  There’s no way that happens.

Top of the Seventh

-          David Price was warming up last inning. I didn’t expect him this early, but it’s nice to see Maddon using his best relievers flexibly, instead of sticking them in prescribed seventh-eighth-ninth inning roles.  Of course, it’s always possible he’ll send Wheeler back out there and make Price warm up eight times.  Oh wait!  He’s NOT Willie Randolph.

-          Never mind.  It turns out he IS Willie Randolph.  Price is still warming up.

-          Rollins and Crawford are both alumni of the RBI program.  If you don’t know what it is, take a minute and look up Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities.  It’s a good thing.

-          I’m seeing rumors that Manny will be offered a two year deal by LA, at $27-28 million per year.  I think that’s fair.  Manny for two years would be an acceptable commitment for several large-market teams looking to win in the next couple years.  If his deal goes longer than three years, a GM will get fired.  The Mets should throw $30 million for one year at him, or $54 for two and see if he takes it.  They only have four places where they could reasonably upgrade:  back of the rotation, bullpen, second base, and corner outfield.  The available starting pitchers are all overrated, injury risks, or both; buying a bullpen is stupid because performance is so volatile from year to year; and second base is thin.  Short of signing Hudson, there’s not a lot there.  I happen to think they should make a run at Hudson, too, but the fact of the matter is, they’re not upgrading their rotation significantly without hurting themselves somewhere else.  So if they’re going to improve, it’ll have to be in run scoring instead of run prevention.  Enter Manny.  He can play left field for 140 games, DH in interleague, take a two week vacation like Pedro did every year, and hold down an outfield slot until Fernando Martinez is ready, which regardless of what the New York papers say, will not be for another two years at least.  Manny for two years makes sense for the Mets.  Especially with the new stadium opening.  Where else could they improve so much?

-          Price looks like he’s overthrowing a bit.  The last time we saw him he was fluid and just sort of whipped the ball toward home, the way Randy Johnson used to do.  Tonight he looks to be using his arm a bit more, but there goes Howard, so I guess it’s working alright.

Bottom of the Seventh

-          I hate this jingoistic crap.  After 9/11, sure, it was nice to hear Ronan Tynan sing “God Bless America” with 50,000 New Yorkers crying their eyes out and singing along with him.  But seriously, it’s been seven years and they’re doing it at every game.  I hate it.  I went to mute this guy before he started and the wife says she wants to listen.  Right.  Commercials and gimmicks, but not the game itself.  That said, the guy sounded good.  What can you do?

-          Bartlett lines a single to center.  Everyone gets lucky sometimes.  Heck, I hear my brother has a girlfriend.  I’ll bet he’s picking his nose with his tongue right now.  I don’t want to think about that.  Instead I’ll think about EEEEEEwaMURa!

Top of the Eighth

-          Eric Bruntlett comes to the plate and the wife says “Hey, with long hair he could be a Viking!”  Then he mashes a home run to left.  Sigh.  At least she makes good chili.

-          Price is a lot of fun to watch, but his command is not where it should be yet.  He missed his spot with Bruntlett batting by about a foot.  His stuff is just so insanely good he can make it work, but think how good he’ll be when he knows where the ball’s going.

Bottom of the Eighth

-          I finally convinced the wife to root for the Beezlebubrays.  She doesn’t like Wife Beaters, either.  Of course, at this point, Romero’s pitching, so her reason to root against the Phillies isn’t actually on the field.  But still.  It’s progress.

-          I don’t know if the innings are going faster or if I hit a wall.  I worked eleven hours yesterday and had to get up at 6:00 this morning for work, so I’m thinking probably the second.  The ninth inning may be short on posts as well.

Top of the Ninth

-          Whoah.  David Price just threw a 112mph fastball and followed it up with a 50mph slider.  Poor Carlos Ruiz.  What do you do with that?  The answer, apparently, is to lash it down the line for your second double.  Ruiz has looked good tonight, and as we saw earlier, he’s something of a speed demon.  Don’t be surprised to see him take third.  (And if you believe that, there are probably illegal substances in your system.)

-          Price hit Jimmy Rollins but the umpire didn’t see it.  Replays were conclusive; you can clearly see him get hit.  I was hit by a 95mph fastball in high school.  Twice.  The first time was actually on purpose.  My manager told me we needed a base runner, so I kicked the ball.  Then I stole second.  The next time we saw the pitcher he beaned me in the back.  Felt good.  Anyway, Rollins steps back in, but Price is rattled and lets the count go full before getting Rollins to pop out.  Rollins isn’t hitting anything lately.  He should have played up the bean ball.

-          Ruiz scores from second on a routine ground ball to third base that Longoria botches.  He may be a catcher, but Ruiz is a good player.  He runs well, he’s a good base runner, he plays sound defense; I’m impressed.  And the play is rightly scored an error.  The ball was hard hit, but a major league third baseman needs to have that.  And now we’ll see what sort of composure Price has:  tying run on first and Chase Utley at the plate.  One out.  Lefty power on lefty power.  Rattled rookie against seasoned star.  STRIKE THREE!  A nasty slider that Utley bails on.

-          The game is down to Howard, who can’t hit lefties, can’t hit breaking balls, and can’t hit opposite field. Ground all to second, and Iwamura has it. Mephistopherays salvage a split in St. Pete’s and we’ll see you in Philadelphia.

Moral of the story: Don’t pick your nose with your tongue unless you have a three run lead.


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