NLCS Game 1: Might Want to Mute Your TV

Hey, remember yesterday when I talked about how awful out-of-touch broadcaster Tim McCarver slammed Manny as being “despicable”, which bothered me less because of what Manny did and more because of how bad Tim McCarver is at his job? Right. Well, I love it when people who are better at this than I am step up to completely eviscerate ol’ Timmy. Will Carroll Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus comes through in the clutch to write one of the best responses I’ve ever read, and while it’s too long to post the whole thing here, believe me when I say that this taste is just the tip of the iceburg of truth. 

When he played, Ramirez killed the league. He hit .347/.473/.587 in July. His OBP led the team, and his SLG led all Red Sox with at least 25 AB. The Sox, somewhat famously, went 11-13 in July. Lots of people want you to believe that was because Manny Ramirez is a bad guy. I’ll throw out the wildly implausible idea that the Sox went 11-13 because Ortiz played in six games and because veterans Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek has sub-600 OPSs for the month.

Four days before he was traded, Manny Ramirez just about single-handedly saved the Red Sox from getting swept by the Yankees, with doubles in the first and third innings that helped the Sox get out to a 5-0 lead in a game they had to win to stay ahead of the Yankees in the wild-card race.

If all of the above is “refusing to play,” I would sincerely like to see what “trying” looks like. It would be entertaining to see a player post a .600 OBP or .800 SLG.

Sheehan goes on to refute McCarver’s claim that Manny is now “doing things that even Manny doesn’t do, like scoring on a double to right field from first base.” Thanks to the wonderment of stats, we’ve reached the point in human achievement where we can know these things for sure! And as Sheehan points out… Manny was on first when a double was hit to right field twice as a Dodger this year. He scored once. With the Red Sox? The identical two opportunities, with one run scored. So not only is McCarver factually wrong…

Of course, Tim McCarver doesn’t care, and that’s why this is important. See, come Thursday night, Tim McCarver is going to look into a camera and tell tens of millions of people what he thinks about Manny Ramirez. He’s probably going to revisit this theme any number of times over the following couple of weeks, especially if the Dodgers reach the World Series. When he does, there isn’t going to be a graphic showing Ramirez’s stats during the timeframe when he was supposedly being such a detriment to his team. There won’t be a cutaway to Joe Sheehan in the studio pointing out that Ramirez outplayed most of his teammates and carried two or three of their carcasses while not getting the three-day paid vacation they got. We won’t hear Joe Buck come over the top of McCarver and point out that Ramirez played nearly every day in July.

It will just be McCarver making fact-free assertions, and America listening. That’s wrong.

I apologize to BP for copying and pasting more of that than I really should have, but I couldn’t help myself. The combination of “Tim McCarver is awful” + “actual facts proving McCarver is awful” = MSTI being giddy.

* On to actual news! To no one’s surprise, Hong-Chih Kuo has replaced Takashi Saito on the playoff roster. Losing Saito is a bummer, to be sure, but if he’s not going to be any more effective than he was in the NLDS it makes sense. I hate to think about it right now, with the NLCS looming… but there has to be a good chance that his appearance against the Cubs was the last time we’ll ever see him, isn’t it? We’ll get to that in the offseason. As for Kuo, we’ve been over how important he is numerous times here so I won’t rehash it again. Glad to see he’s back – he’s going to be a huge part of this series.

* Bitter Angels fan Randy Youngman of the OC Register wonders if the Dodgers would be the worst team to ever win a World Series, thanks to their lousy record. Randy, I don’t deny that the mediocre NL West played a large part in getting here – I’ve said that many times. But come on, have you been watching this team at all? You really think that the team you’re watching in the playoffs – the team with Manny, Furcal, Blake, etc – is in any way similar to the team that was giving so much playing time to Pierre, Jones, Berroa, a fading DeWitt and an injured Penny in May? I like to think that if this team hadn’t lost its Opening Day pitcher, All-Star closer, All-Star shortstop, and two third basemen in the same spring training game, things might have been a little different. The 2008 Dodgers won fewer regular season games than, say, the 1988 Dodgers. But I don’t think I even need to go into the stats to say that the postseason 2008 Dodgers would destroy the ’88 crew, who rightly could have been called one of the worst teams ever to win.

* Quick and dirty NLCS Game 1 preview: both pitchers come in on a helluva roll. We all know that Lowe’s last 9 regular season starts involved only an 0.84 ERA, but Cole Hamels was good too with a 2.37. They each won their only NLDS start, and Hamels was phenomenal: 2 hits over 8 scoreless innings. Career, both have been tough on the opposition (Lowe vs. Phillies batters, just a .598 OPS against in 151 at-bats; Hamels vs. Dodgers hitters, just a .497 OPS in 61 at-bats). In the Phillies’ favor is this: Lowe gave up 3 runs in 6.1 innings in his only start against Philly this season, while Hamels allowed just 4 runs in 14 innings against LA. Also, for all of the talk about the bandbox of Citizens Bank Park, Hamels has almost no appreciable home/road split – his stats are nearly identical. Oddly for a lefty, fellow southpaws hit him harder than righties do, to the tune of 163 points of OPS. I suppose that’d explain why Loney and DeWitt are each getting the start, rather than giving righties Nomar and Kent a shot.

* Hey, got an extra $25,000 lying around? Buy Manny’s 1967 Lincoln Continental! Only 73 miles, and it looks like Dodger Blue to me.

- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness msti-face.jpg

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