Not sure just why, but I love all those autopsy shows.
There are basically 2 kinds of cases that are shown:
- where there is a dead body or skeleton and no one knows who they are or how they could have died and they have to find out;
- where they bring in what looks like a duh case and when they look closer, there’s some interesting and surprising results. Like this one I saw where it looks like this guy shot hisself in the head, but there’s blood in too many places that don’t make sense and there’s TWO casings.
But anyhow, back to the Astros.
- I want to leave out the roof business and the psychological effect of that on the team.
- I ALSO want to leave out the problem of the umpires because I can’t point directly to any call (especially balls/strikes) and say THAT caused us to lose a game. Although I watched replays of pitches and as best I can tell from the camera angle, the umpires called the same pitch a strike for the Sox about 3 times more often than they did for us. But, as I said, I don’t want to go there.
Now, the question of WHY the HP umpire refused to examine the ball that hit Dye’s bat and why the umpires didn’t confer like they did last year about the Slappy McBlue Lips business (BTW – anyone know why A-Rod wears purple lipstick? It don’t look good on him…) is a VERY good question, but again, it wasn’t the direct cause of death, even though it sure was a part of it.
- I will also not discuss the fact that MLB and Fox insisted that Game 2 be played in the driving rain in 40 degree temp instead of postponing it to the next day, because I would be protesting this decision even if the Astros had won.
But I believe that the first blow was struck BEFORE the Series even started.
And that blow was caused by Brad Lidge losing, all by his lonesome, Game 5 of the NLCS. Not because it hurt the team psychologically, but because it caused us to
1 – have to waste energy winning another game while the Sox were resting and recovering from 6 1/2 months of VERY hard work
2 – cause Roy Oswalt to have to throw another 7 innings AND make him unavailable to start Game 1 Up There, which meant that tired, 43 year old Roger Clemens and his sore legs and groin would be stressed by having to pitch in the cold – and it’s easier to strain and stress muscles when they cold.
- I’m gonna say flat out that I think that Lidge’s future problems can NOT be traced to the “Pujols Moment” as he was CLEARLY having trouble well before that, as I’ve pointed out before. I certainly didn’t expect him to lose 2 games in the Series all by himself, that’s fer sher.
So, contributing factors:
1 – Roger pitching in the cold, pulling a hammy, leaving after 2 innings. I don’t think, no matteer WHAT spin I’m hearing, that Clemens was peachy keen from the get-go. And the fielding was el-stinko in the second inning. The Sox ran wild on everybody except Andy Pettitte. I’m not blaming Wandy Rodriguez, did quite well, considering – 1 solo HR over 3.1 IP with that the only ER – was better than what Clemens did – whoda thunk it?
2 – Let’s not forget the decision (don’t know whether or not it was Phil or McLane here so I’ll give Phil the benefit of the doubt) to DH Bagwell against the righty when Lamb was available. It is NOT relevant what Baggy did in the past because the fact is that he was simply NOT the same guy after surgery that he was even last year – was hitting 4 fer 18 as a PH with a BB and a SF and a RBI FC. Lamb was CLEARLY better at this point.
3 – And the killer – not getting the leadoff guy on base with NO outs home in the 6th, 7th and 8th innings when we were only behind by 1 run. Note that in the 6th, after Willy doubles to lead off, Berkman, Ensberg and Lamb are gotten out on just 8 pitches; in the 7th, Contreras got out 5 guys on 7 pitches. Not good, is it. So, yall think that with Everett not hitting at ALL, he shoulda bunted his way on with 1 out and men at second and third? Remember, he’s GREAT bunter and very fast. In the 8th, Taveras doubles, then Berkman singles, then Ensberg, Lamb and Baggy all K. Yeccch.
1 – Well, Andy pitched great. Wasn’t his fault.
2 – He shouldn’t have given up ANY runs, but his fielders let him down. Chris Burke shoulda had Pierzynski’s FB to left, except he really isn’t a left fielder, even though he’s better than last year’s second baseman did out there. And Biggio had NO business calling for or dropping Uribe’s popup.
3 – Hitters a little better with RISP.
4 – Goat deluxe, the bullpen. Wheeler not being able to get the 3rd out in the 7th (let’s leave out the foul ball called HBP – the point is that Wheeler didn’t get him out on the previous 5 pitches). Then, of course, Qualls giving up a grand slam on the first pitch. And of course, Brad Lidge giving up a HR to, of ALL people, Podsednik to lose the game.
5 – as for Phil, you ask?
Well, I CERTAINLY have no complaints with him putting Wheeler in in the 7th – absolutely the right move in my mind, no question. I assumed he was gonna pitch 2 innings and Brad was gonna close. Qualls had pitched 1.1 innings the day before and there is NO reason to insist that the same guys do the 7th, 8th and 9th every time. I also had NO problem with him using Qualls to relieve Wheeler. Qualls hadn’t given up so much as a hit in 8.1 innings – since game 1 against Atlanta, in fact. I had NO problem with him sending Brad Lidge out for the 9th in a tie game. He had had plenty of rest since the Pujols HR and I didn’t believe that it was gonna scar him for the rest of his life like all the baseball “experts” kept saying. But he did a bad job anyhow. Podsednik is the guy who should be waving weakly at sliders in the dirt.
6 – but I DO think that putting in Viz to face Jenks was questionable, even though it happened to work out – Jenks throws a LOT of pitches out of the strike zone and Vis does NOT have good plate discipline.
7 – and I DO think that leaving Lamb in to face lefty Cotts was probably better than sending in Bruntlett, his only other real choice of rightys. Lamb isn’t THAT bad against leftys and in fact, had pretty decent splits until he was pretty strictly platooned.
Cursed by the open roof.
The HP umpire called outside pitches for strikes with Garland and didn’t for Oswalt. I checked the replays FOUR times.
Oswalt clearly didn’t have the same FB that he had had the week before in St. Louis, HP ump or not. He was clearly all upset about this, as well. It is the job of the manager, pitching coach and catcher to calm him down and redirect a new game plan. Didn’t happen.
1 – Now, Roy DID cough up FIVE runs in the 5th. He faced a WS record ELEVEN hitters and threw a record (as best I can find) 46 pitches. Not ONCE did he get visited by the catcher or the infielders or the hitting coach – anything to give him a breather, re-adjust his approach, nothing. No one even warmed up in the bullpen until the 39th pitch. Inexcusable. I can’t really blame fielders except Willy, who as usual, can’t come forward to catch and didn’t get Dye’s looper to center. Phil just sat in the dugout like a #### stone. He planned to leave Roy in there HOW long? Roy got sent back out there in the 6th after getting about a 8 minute breather while the Astros got themselves out on 10 pitches – good thing we had 3 minute commercials. And I could HARDLY believe it when he got sent back out there in the 7th after having already thrown 110 pitches, when he had another 8 minutes of rest while the Astros got themselves out on 8 pitches. Sorry. Bad managing.
2 – We managed to tie the game in the 8th and Ausmus was called out on an INCREDIBLY bad called strike (and by the way, Phil showing up Ausmus was NOT cool.)
I guess it gets bad here, don’t it. First, the bullpen did great until Astacio, and I’ll go there later.
OK, it’s like this – you HAFTA get the runners home. Unless your hitters are Barry and Pujols and David Ortiz, you MUST look at who they are and how they’ve been doing.
3 – For example, Mo Ensberg. Now I KNOW what he did all year. I follow this team. Yes, I know he might could have gotten himself more seriously hurt than he let on when he was HBP in the wrist on Sept 5 and Real Men (Tm) never admit they hurt, unlike, say, JD Drew or Nick Johnson. But the fact is that he OBVIOUSLY looked lost – heck, even McCarver noticed him monkeying with his stance with every pitch of the AB. You just can’t be waiting IN THE WORLD FREAKING SERIES to work his way out of it. Either make him do something unexpected, like, say, BUNT for a hit or even sac bunt, since he getting himself out anyhow, or bench him or pinch hit for him. BAD mistake to just figger he just might could be “due.” In the regular season, yes. Now, it’s different.
4 – Phil had Willy Taveras swinging for the fences with every AB. I don’t CARE what he did in Chicago to lead off, I KNOW he can’t hit worth a plugged nickel with runners on. MUCH better to have him try to bunt his way on – at the least, it will be a sac bunt or even a squeeze. The point of a squeeze is that even when the other side KNOWS it is coming, they can’t defend against a properly executed squeeze.
Here we go – it’s the 9th, Burke on 3rd. Biggio won’t squeeze. Taveras swings away and Ks. Berkman, of course, is IBB. Heck, I wouldn’t pitch to him neither. Of course, Ensberg is out. In the 10th, Palmeiro walks. Luis Vizcaino, not exactly a great pitcher, manages to then get out Lane, Ausmus and Burke. No one tries to go the other way, no one tries to move the runner. In the 10th, Taveras (nobody on, of course) gets HBP, they walk Berkman (I’m gonna re-name him Barrykman) with the usual “non intentional” IBB, Ensberg and Palmeiro do nothing. Of course, it IS true that 2 called strikes to Ensberg were NOT in the strike zone, but I DID say we wouldn’t go there. Oh yeah, and in the 14th, with 2 on, you can’t pinch hit for Adam Everett, having used up everyone but Chavez, who can’t hit.
And I didn’t appreciate Phil throwing chairs and bad mouthing the players after the game, neither. Real bush league. To be too nice about it.
Game 4 -
Brandon Backe ROOLZ!!!!! (I would say that that game should get him a little extra in arbitration)
Phil should NOT have pulled him after the 7th – not with him cruising and plenty left in the tank. At this point in his career, unfortunately, Baggy is NOT a better hitter. BAD mistake.
Ensberg has made it clear that for WHATEVER reason, he is not hitting. He shoulda been benched – Berkman at first, Lamb on third and Burke in left. I don’t CARE what happened before Ensberg lost his swing. Expecting him to find it right this minute is a BAD bet. And not pinch hitting for him, if you INSIST on starting him, with 2 on and 1 out in the 6th or the 8th was BAD managing.
Goat #1 - Jason Lane for swinging at a very high and inside pitch for strike 3 with bases loaded.
Goat #2 – Brad Lidge for losing this game.
I DID think that the guys did well in the 9th – Palmeiro almost beat that grounder out.
Conclusion of cause of death:
1) Phil’s poor decisions when the chips were down
2) Severe bat anemia
3) Brad Lidge LOSING 2 games
4) Mo Ensberg not hitting and Phil not pinch hitting for him or benching him
ADDENDUM: please read EXCELLENT discussion by Austin and Steve in the comments section.