Finally – The World Series…

The World Series starts tonight. Back in Spring Training, folks could have imagined seeing the Royals appear here for a second year in a row. They were surprises last year but made it to the Series and showed well there; an encore performance was not out of the question. The Mets, on the other hand, were not considered seriously in any World Series discussions outside of Queens, Brooklyn and towns along the Long Island Expressway. Nevertheless, here they are. One of the wonderful things about the World Series is that teams that make it to the Series are not “flukes”. Grinding through a 162-game season followed by at least two elimination usually assures that the teams there are worthy of their status.

The Mets’ young pitching staff will face a challenge in the Royals – the team that struck out the fewest times last season. The Mets’ pitchers have averaged 10 strikeouts per game in the playoffs this year; the Royals as a team only struck out 15.5% of the time for the season. In a game with 40 plate appearances, that equates to only 6 strikeouts. Just watching that will be interesting.

When we left Las Vegas, the oddsmakers had the Series as a “pick ‘em” proposition. Here are two key questions:

    Assuming the Daniel Murphy will revert to mild-mannered Clark Kent and become a newspaper reporter in place of a superhero, is there another Met who will assume the mantle of superhero?

    With regard to Johnny Cueto, will Johnny be good or will Johnny be bad?

I have no particular rooting interest in this Series and did not make a wager on it last weekend. My prediction is that the Royals will win in the end.

Since the World Series will end the baseball season, let me insert a Quick Quiz here that relates to MLB. What is more inconsistently called?

    A. The strike zone in MLB …

    B. Pass interference in the NFL.

Fifty words or less…

The NBA regular season also starts tonight. Three games are on the schedule and TNT will air two of them. I do love to watch basketball, but the only moments of those games that I will watch will be when the World Series game is between innings or when a relief pitcher is responding to a summons – from the manager and not a judge. Here are some predictions regarding what we will see from the NBA next April when the interesting part of their season begins:

    The Cleveland Cavaliers will dominate the Eastern Conference. They made it to the NBA Finals last year with two of their three best players on the injured list. Assuming they are back and uninjured, the Cavs will dominate again.

    The only serious competition for the Cavaliers in the East will be the Chicago Bulls and the Miami Heat. The Bulls need Derrick Rose to play most of the year and not to be in street clothes when the playoffs come around. The Heat need to be “rested and ready” once the playoffs begin. Even if those things come to pass, the Cavaliers ought to prevail.

    The Knicks will be significantly improved this year. They might even be on the fringe of making the playoffs.

    The Orlando Magic and the Philadelphia 76ers will both stink.

    The far superior Western Conference will not be dominated by anyone; there are too many good teams there. I like the San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder to play for the championship of the West.

    Las Vegas had the LA Lakers’ win total at 24.5 for the season. I do not think the Lakers are nearly a playoff team, but I think they will do better than that.

    I think the New Orleans Pelicans with Anthony Davis may be the most fun team to watch this year.

    The Minnesota Timberwolves and the Portland Trail Blazers will have the worst records in the West but will not be nearly as bad as the Magic or the Sixers. Their bad records will be more a function of the fact that they have to play a lot more games against the large number of very good teams in the West as opposed to the mediocre teams in the East.

So let it be written; so let it be done… [/ Pharaoh Yul Brynner]

After Clemson disemboweled Miami 58-0 last weekend, Miami Coach, Al Golden got the axe. Golden arrived at Miami just as the NCAA dropped the hammer on the program in the wake of the Nevin Shapiro “untidiness”. He lived under the punishments imposed because of the actions of others. Obviously, Miami’s football fortunes are not what they were in the 80s and 90s, but to say that Al Golden is the reason for that retreat is unfair and incorrect. Nevertheless, 57-0 is an embarrassment normally reserved for second-rate football programs and/or homecoming patsy opponents.

According to this morning, Ed Reed says that he and other former Miami players would like to be involved in the search for Golden’s permanent replacement at Miami. That is not a bad idea except that Reed seems to think that getting someone from the “Miami family tree” is important. Getting a competent coach and a good recruiter – now that the scholarship limitations from the NCAA are over – is far more important than being part of the “Miami family tree”.

Finally, here is a comment from Greg Cote of the Miami Herald that is peripherally related to a competent college football coach:

“There is a new book out about Nick Saban by author Monte Burke. It is called Saban: The Making Of A Coach. Because, evidently, all of the even worse book titles already were taken.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

10 thoughts on “Finally – The World Series…”

  1. I officiated basketball after college, so my inclination is to say pass interference is called with less consistency. But the reason is that the foul is frequently hidden between players moving very rapidly past the back judge. His view is rarely perfect, even if there is nothing else in his line of vision that diverts his attention for even a second. The plate umpire ought to have a pretty good idea about the strike zone and the location of the pitch. Granted, there are close calls that many might disagree about, but most of the ball/strike calls are defensible.

    Another thing. Baseball umpires are professional umpires. They rarely have other jobs during the season competing for their time. Unless it’s changed, even in the NFL, all game officials are part timers. There is some justification for a bit of degradation in the accuracy of the calls versus baseball.

    1. Doug:

      I officiated basketball too for 37 years; I understand your point about positioning of the official to see the play and the speed at which pass interference happens or does not happen. Given all of that, the calls are inconsistent…

      Baseball umpires almost have to be full-time employees since they have to do 162 games plus Spring Training and maybe playoffs. I have never seen the benefit of full-time officials for the NFL. What are they supposed to do for 6 days a week when there are no games? They can do film study and rule-book study in those 6 days but that is not necessarily going to change their ability to make the calls “on the fly”.

  2. No Golden State Warriors in the mix for the West? They only had the best record in the league last year, beat Cleveland 4 – 2 after winning three straight to close it out and the core of their team returns intact. They also had at least even records against everyone else in the league, including OKC and SA.

    I’ll have to disagree about the Lakers, unless Kobe is back on form and reasonably happy. He is not used to the fetid stench of the cellar, so I would expect that once the Lakers start having problems he will engineer a way out to a playoff team.

    1. rugger9:

      I like the Warriors a lot – but I like the Spurs and Thunder a bit more. If the Pelicans are not the most entertaining team to watch this year, then the Warriors will be.

      The Lakers are not going to be near the playoffs this year with or without Kobe returning to his uninjured form. But if he is healthy enough to play more than a handful of games, I think that he and the addition of TWO young players – Russell and Randle – will make them a 30-win team at least.

  3. I think PI is more inconsistent – IF you allow for baseball umpire styles. Some are “pitcher’s umpires” with larger zones, some are hitter’s ump with smaller ones. Some call the low pitch a strike, some go higher. Almost ZERO call the book. But if Ump A calls a certain pitch a strike (or a ball) in NY in April and KC in August, in the second inning or the ninth, for both teams… I’d say he is more consistent than the NFL refs.

    1. Ed:

      Under the conditions you have here, I would agree with you. I do see a greater variation from umpire to umpire in baseball with regard to the strike zone than I do from official to official in the NFL. In the NFL, it often seems to me that the official throws the flag and then figures out on whom to call the penalty. In the NFL, it is the call that is inconsistent; in MLB it is the practice from umpire to umpire that is inconsistent.

  4. It’s the same in rugby, the ref will have their hot-button issues, but like umpires with a consistent zone (even if skewed from the rule book) players can adjust to it and do. What’s bad is the umpire with a zone all over the place in the same game, those are the ones that drive players and managers nuts.

    I’m wondering if the electronic strike zone monitors improved the consistency between umpires, since it does get mentioned frequently on the radio regarding whether the call was on target.

    1. rugger9:

      Consistency from official to official – in almost any sport – is a noble objective but unlikely to be obtained. Consistency from the beginning of a game to the end of a game by a given officiating crew is not something so outrageous that it cannot be demanded in all circumstances. And when that consistency does not happen, officials should be held accountable for the lack of said consistency.

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