Here's a question:
Did it matter that the Rockies had eight days off before facing the Red Sox in the World Series? Did it matter a little, a lot or not at all? Oh sure, the Rockies players will say that the vacation in between the NLCS and the World Series didn't matter because they got beat by a better team, but that doesn't really answer the question, does it?
Did it make a bit of difference?
Rockies' manager Clint Hurdle told the Fox sideline boy after his team was broomed out of the World Series that there was no way to quantify how an eight-day layoff affected his team and kind of threw aside the question in order to give the Red Sox credit for winning the series.
But Hurdle did not say that the layoff didn't have an effect on his team. Why not? Because it did.
Since Cactus League games began during the end of February, the Rockies played nearly every day. In fact, the Rockies, like every other Major League team played 162 regular-season games in 180 days, plus a wild-card playoff the day after the season, plus three games of the NLDS against the Phillies with just two days off, plus four games of the NLCS with just one day off.
That's 170 games and the longest break some of the players on the team got was the three days for the All-Star Break. Though three days doesn't seem like much to some, that break is like an oasis in the middle of a desert to guys who are used to going to work every single day of the week. And it's not just baseball either. Research shows that runners and endurance athletes start to lose some fitness in as little as 48 hours of inactivity.
Some rest is good to help the body recover, but imagine taking eight days off after playing every game for a month as if it were do-or-die only to be given eight days off before being told to go out there to play in the biggest set of games in your life.
Worse it's kind of rude... the Rockies got all worked up and became the biggest story in baseball by winning 21 of 22 games. But then, because the Indians nor Red Sox could figure things out, Hurdle and the guys were left to wait. It was like... vasocongestion. Yeah, that's what it was. After a heroic and historic run, the Rockies could never shake the lingering sensation of heaviness, aching, or discomfort when the Series finally came around like an old man trying to figure out what to order in a deli.
It just wasn't fair.
With the aid of hindsight, there's no question that the Rockies this season and the Tigers in 2006 were penalized for doing their jobs too efficiently. I'm not saying the Tigers or the Rockies would have beaten the Cardinals or the Red Sox to win the World Series, but the fact that both clubs breezed through their respective league playoffs so easily proved to be a determent while the winners of the last two World Series were aided by playing seven-game series in the league championships.
The Tigers in '06 and the Rockies in '07 were penalized for being too successful.
How can this be fixed? Is there anything Bud Selig and his gang can do to make it so teams that win with ease can have a fair shot in the World Series? I don't know. It seems as if the baseball playoffs are full of imperfections and everyone seems to appreciate the quirkiness for it. In other words, the Rockies and Tigers just have to take their beatings and enjoy them.
But how about this:
In the instance where a team like the Rockies and Tigers rip through the league championship only to wait a week or more for their future opponent to take care of business, allow the team that's waiting for it all to be sorted out to get home-field advantage in the World Series. I don't know if it will solve anything, but it's better than giving the home-field advantage to the league that wins a meaningless, midseason exhibition that features players that will be at a Sandals resort when the playoffs roll around.
No, having the last at-bat in the first two games of the Series won't be significant - after all, it didn't help the Tigers too much last year - but at least it's a gesture or a reward. It might not be much, but if a team has to sit around like the rest of us and listen to those dudes from Fox, they ought to get something out of it.
The latest issue of The New Yorker features a very riveting story on Scott Boras and Alex Rodriguez. It's written by Ben McGrath and is another sprawling, erudite pieces that the magazine always seems to run, but it's definitely worth the time and effort.
The Extortionist: Scott Boras, the Yankees' bête noire, has changed baseball forever.
Meanwhile, ESPN's Peter Gammons calls out Boras and A-Rod for the timing of the announcement that they had chosen to opt out of the deal with the Yankees:
One of the late, great Tug McGraw’s funnier lines was regarding the 1980 World Champion Phillies, when he quipped that if the FDA ever checked out the team’s clubhouse they would “Shut down baseball.” Certainly, behind the scenes that club must have been a wild dichotomy of personalities, quirks and egos. Think about it: Tug, Steve Carlton, Mike Schmidt, Larry Bowa and Pete Rose all in the same room at the same time…
It’s a wonder there was any oxygen left.
But here’s one I never heard and it’s equally entertaining if not something to pique one’s interest about the only championship team in the Phillies’ 124 years.
Peter Gammons, the great baseball writer, was on the Dan Patrick radio show yesterday talking about the resurgence of Sammy Sosa and his snub from the All-Star Game when he dropped a little throwaway line about the ’80 Phillies:
“Two years ago he looked like he was 63-years old and done. But he’s come back and he’s had a terrific year and yet he’s never flunked a drug test in his life. Yeah, he got caught with a corked bat – Ted Williams used a corked bat… the entire 1980 Phillies team used corked bats – that doesn’t get me morally upset. Whatever you believe you have to surmise that it’s circumstantial evidence on Sammy Sosa.”
Wait… the Phillies corked their bats? Did I hear that correctly? Ted Williams, too? Wow. Cool… I guess.
For the record, from my experience corking a bat takes a lot of patience and skill.
The Phillies hit Denver tonight, which is the Gateway to the Rockies. Interestingly, Denver is a city that is a lot like Philadelphia except for the fact that Denver is cool. They love the Broncos there, too. In fact, it seems as if the entire state shuts down whenever the NFL team plays.
Anyway, if I were in Denver watching the Phillies I would head up to the Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park, Colo. the first chance I got. Short of that, I’d go hang in nearby Boulder along Pearl Street.
Or, if I were the gambling type, I take the hour-long drive to Black Hawk and Central City, two abandoned mining towns, that have limited stakes blackjack, poker and slots.
Then again, maybe I’d just sit there at Coors Field and read the words on my laptop.
The Internets are abuzz with word that a verdict in the Floyd arbitration hearing is imminent. What better time to talk about the case than on the eve of the Tour de France’s prologue in London?
Nevertheless, here’s an update from my end: The publishers of David Walsh’s book, “From Lance to Landis…” sent me a copy of the book. Kudos to them.
I haven’t read the entire book yet (it just arrived less than an hour ago), but I read several chapters (I took speed reading classes in high school and practiced a lot in college) and my knee-jerk reaction is that the book reads like the trashy conversations that sportswriters have in press boxes and media rooms anywhere in the world. Some of the tall tales may be based in truth, but there would be no chance that a self-respecting writer would even consider actually sitting down and writing about the crap that gets tossed around in those bull sessions.
Trust me on this: every writer worth a damn knows hundreds and hundreds of salacious stories regarding the teams/sports they cover that would make the typical fans' hair stand up straight. Yet at the same time any writer worth a damn would never write those stories for public consumption because they are based in hearsay, circumstantial evidence and -- get this -- MIGHT NOT BE TRUE.
The aim of journalism is truth. After the truth has been proven comes the story.
Nevertheless, there are always a few who think it’s OK to write about gossip and circumstantial tall tales. Perhaps David Walsh is one of them? Either way, it will be interesting to see what is in the rest of his book and expect a review on these pages by this time next week.
For the record, I must admit that the trashy side of me enjoys those Kitty Kelly novels/biographies, too. Perhaps Walsh is equally as entertaining?
On another note, USADA still hasn't returned my calls or e-mails.