First things first, looks like we'll be going to the Arizona Fall League next Friday night, at Phoenix Municipal Stadium to see the Scottsdale Scorpions (including some D-back prospects) take on the Phoenix Devil Dogs. Over on DBBP, shoewizard independently suggested a get-together, so it seemed to make sense to go for that evening. It should be a lot of fun. Will likely be getting there a bit early, with the aim of doing some tail-gating in the parking lot, so can either meet you there, or somewhere inside the stadium. That shouldn't be a problem: just yell "Snake Pit!" and in all likelihood, we'll hear you, turn round and wave. The rest of the stadium - and probably, a few of the players - may well do so too. :-)
The Rockies now find themselves with - appropriately enough - a mountain to climb, having gone down three games to zero in the World Series after going down again, 10-5 to Boston. They did at least make a fight of this one...for about one-half of an inning, getting the tying run on base in the bottom of the seventh, before the Red Sox pulled away again, scoring three runs in the top of the eighth. Is this the most lop-sided World Series ever? It certainly deserves to be ranked among them: thus far, Colorado has been badly outscored, and have an OPS which is 370 points below the Red Sox. Here's how those figures to date compare to the sweeps in World Series history since World War II:
- 2007: Red Sox 25, Rockies 7 (OPS: .970/.600) [through three games]
- 2005: White Sox 20, Astros 14 (OPS: .836/.624)
- 2004: Red Sox 24, Cardinals 12 (OPS: .882/.563)
- 1999: Yankees 21, Braves 9 (OPS: .749/.560)
- 1998: Yankees 26, Padres 14 (OPS: .873/.670)
- 1990: Reds 22, A's 8 (OPS: .856/.574)
- 1989: A's 32, Giants 14 (OPS: .964/.595)
- 1976: Reds 23, Yankees 8 (OPS: .901/.570)
- 1966: Orioles 13, Dodgers 2 (OPS: .609/.418)
- 1963: Dodgers 12, Yankees 4 (OPS: .629/.447)
- 1954: Giants 21, Indians 9 (OPS: .659/.586)
Yes, it's been more than forty years since the winning team in a World Series swept the opposition, scoring three times as many runs as them: the Rockies will have to pull their socks up if they are to avoid setting some unwanted records in this area. Thus far, Colorado's offense has mustered only six extra-base hits through three games: in particular, Brad Hawpe, who killed the Diamondbacks, is 3-for-13 with eight strikeouts (more than he had at Chase through the entire regular season), failing miserably to catch up with a steady diet of fastballs. This is the man who batted .348 versus Arizona in 2007: our advance scouts apparently failed to notice this gaping hole in his performance.
Equally ineffective has been the Rockies' pitching staff, who have walked more Boston hitters than they've struck out (18:16), and have "held" them to a .352 average. Now, I know the Sox lineup is fearsome, but they only hit .279 during the regular season, and it seems that the limitations, of the Colorado rotation, in particular are being cruelly exposed. Jimenez, Francis and Fogg thus far have thrown a total of 11.1 innings, and allowed 23 hits, ten walks and 14 earned runs for an ERA of 11.18. Against Arizona, they threw 17.2 innings with an ERA of 1.02. Again: the Boston lineup is, unquestionably, superior to Arizona's. But ten times as good? I think not. Are the Rockies really this bad? No. But I'm pretty sure they know how we felt in the NLCS, when we failed miserably to play up to our potential - though unlike Colorado, we actually outhit the team that swept us, by more than thirty points.
I really hope MLB takes a hard look at the new playoff schedule, and switches it back to the way it was, regardless of the demands from TBS and FOX. The short series [one game over the minimum in the four division match-ups and a sweep in the National League Championship Series] really exposed the problems with stretching things out. Why did the Boston/Anaheim series have a day off after the first game? According to MLB, "The additional off-days throughout the postseason will give us greater flexibility to facilitate travel and protect against poor weather." But neither team was exactly going anywhere between Games One and Two. And the "weather" excuse surely applies just as much during the rest of the year: let's cut the season to 81 games, and have an off-day after every one. Y'know, just in case...
They also said, "Starting the World Series in the middle of the week, when television viewership is historically higher, will provide more fans with the opportunity to watch the games." Er...no. Actually, it will provide less fans with the opportunity to watch them. On the weekend, you can schedule day games, which can easily be watched by fans on both coasts, instead of starting games at times like 10:17 pm in New York, as happened with some of our games against Colorado. Yes, it's true that ratings are generally lower on the weekend. But that's not due to any lack of "opportunity", as MLB claims. Now, we get the ridiculous situation where one team gets two days off before the first game of the World Series, the other gets eight. While it's arguable who that's hurt, it certainly is not a level playing-field.
Through the first two games, ratings are up about ten percent on the first two games last season. Though it seems that's more due to the Red Sox being involved, than the change of schedule: comparing Game Two with the Thursday night game in 2006 (which would filter out the change in schedule effect, though that was Game Four), viewing was up 7%. Always difficult to compare these things, because of the changes in the teams involved, but it's certainly a long way down on the last time the Red Sox were there. In 2004, the average rating was 15.8, the highest since Fox got exclusive rights: this year, it's pulling only 10.8, on course for the second-lowest in history.
Charmer has already caught up on most of the news affecting the Diamondbacks of late: not much to report there. Things outside of Colorado and Boston should kick up a notch upon completion of the World Series, as we then have an exclusive window to negotiate with the free agents on our roster. Not that this should take much time: there are only four potential ones, in Cirillo, Clark, Hernandez 2.0 and Wickman. I doubt we'll see Cirillo and Wickman back, and Livan will be thanked for his services and freed to go elsewhere. It wouldn't surprise me if Clark is renewed, especially as the other potential candidate for the backup role at first, Chris Carter, is no longer with the franchise. [Jamie D'Antona was the other 1B for Tucson, hitting .308 there and at 3B. He'll likely be joined at first by Javier Brito, who was the everyday first-baseman for Double-A Mobile in 2007.] I suspect we may see Jackson traded, Tracy move back to first and Reynolds take over full time at third.
Okay, time to see if the Rockies can avoid the 2007 World Series from becoming a total humiliation and save the National League from becoming a laughing stock. This could be the last day of the major-league baseball season, so let's enjoy it while we can...