Hello and welcome to another Wednesday of deep thoughts. Tuesday night marked the beginning of the World Series. As much as I love baseball, the season should already be over. This has been a great season, with a terrific postseason, but I remain hopeful that the commish will follow through with his idea of shortening the season. Truly, the October Classic…should end in October.
The Royals vs the Mets is a very interesting match-up. The obvious advantage would seem to be the great young starting pitchers of the Mets. I think that given the way that they disposed of the Cubs…it is only natural to like them against the Royals…but I do not. I think the Mets are a great team. They have power arms and bats in their lineup. But, what I see in the Royals that has me leaning their way is the same thing I have watched when I saw the Cardinals and Giants win it all. The Royals are a team that is well put together. Their lineup offers no advantage to left handed or right handed pitchers. They have a nice balance of left and right handed bats, with a couple of switch hitters in the mix. Hell, they have Alex Gordon hitting in the 8 hole…which of course came in handy in game one. They have capable starting pitching with a more than capable bullpen. Finally…they catch the ball. The old baseball adage of great teams are strong up the middle, very much describes KC.
Baseball is a very mental game. The biggest moments have a way of being too big for an inexperienced player or team. The advantage I see for KC is that they have been here before. In game 4 against Houston, we were all reminded just how determined the Royals are. In a word, they are unflappable. They just do not give up. In this first game of the series, many teams would have given up, but Alex Gordon hit an improbable HR to tie the game. The Royals understand that a game is 27 outs…and they just play so damn hard. A couple of other things that I wonder about…with the young arms of the Mets, will the extended season have an effect? Also, it pains me to say it…but David Wright is not what he was at 3rd. The dribbler that Orlando beat out would have been cake for Wright back in the day. Wright’s back clearly is not what it was, and has impacted his ability to throw. This could be an issue with the speedsters of the Royals. Oh…and what the hell was Cespedes doing in center field on the inside the park HR? This is what I was talking about earlier. That was a moment that was just too big for Cespedes. He is a great player, but this is his first World Series…and I think this makes a big difference.
If game one is any indication, this will be a terrific series…this game had a little bit of everything: A power outage in the video truck, an inside the park HR, great pitching, great defense, stolen bases and even a 9th inning bomb to push the game into extra innings. Although both of these teams are incredibly talented, there are two Royals that stand out for me…Ben Zobrist and Chris Young. Zobrist is a professional hitter that always seems to come up with the big hit. Chris Young is a valuable arm out of the bullpen and his experience and flexibility are vital to the Royals. With the power arms in this series, it is fun to see a guy have great success throwing 88. Young gets by because of his great control and his ability to pitch. Because he is 6’10”, Young pitches with great tilt, which makes it very difficult for hitters to get on top of the ball. In this age of radar detectors, it is awesome to see Young getting it done differently.
This series is far from over. The Mets have too much talent and fight to let the Royals run away with the title. I look for the Mets to bounce back in game two behind DeGrom…but there is one thing that is certain. That HR by Alex Gordon off Familia will not be forgotten by either team. That big hit may ultimately prove more important than being the run that tied game 1. It is the mental stuff that makes this game so much fun.
I caught a bit of local sports talk on the radio on Monday. One of the hosts is a former Texas Longhorn football player by the name of Rod Babers. He has made it clear many times that he is not a baseball fan. He says that baseball is boring and needs more drama. I am perfectly okay with Babers not liking baseball, but to say that it needs drama to improve the game chaps my ass. The drama that Babers likes about the NBA and NFL drives me crazy. In fact, I would say that it is precisely the lack of drama in baseball that has made me watch the game more. How about this Rod…don’t try to change what you don’t know. Go ahead and watch the Kardashians and soak up the drama in other sports, but leave baseball alone.
I have one more thing on this…the bat flip in baseball. I am really torn on how I feel about players flipping the bat after a HR. Yeah, I get that the pitcher should have thrown a better pitch, but here is my concern. The thing that many of us take issue with in other sports is the look at me syndrome in basketball and football. In baseball, players have always policed this activity as one of baseball unwritten rules. If you are against players doing the look at me in other sports, how can you like the bat flip in baseball? I realize that players should be able to be spontaneous and to celebrate a home run…but is this really any different than what many of us despise in other sports? You can celebrate a home run after you cross the plate and head to the dugout. By celebrating in this manner, you are including your teammates in the achievement…otherwise, you might as well just flip off the pitcher. Which of course, is a very bad thing to do to a guy that can hit you with a baseball.
Given the great game I just watched, I hate to touch on this, but it so stunned me that it was something that I had to write about today. If you have followed baseball for a while, you remember the name of Lenny Dykstra. During the steroid era, we constantly heard how steroids were terrible because they provided some players with a competitive advantage. This time period was a tremendous stain on the game and I think that we are just now moving past this dark time. So what does this have to do with Lenny Dykstra? I watched part of an interview with Dykstra and Colin Cowherd. In the interview, Dykstra drops this bomb…during his playing days; he spent $500,000 to have PI’s follow umpires around to get the dirt on different umpires. For some, it was women…others it was drinking or gambling. He maintains that this is why he led the league in walks the next two years. He would come to the plate and look at the umpire and say…”so, did you cover last night.” Strike one…he would look back at the umpire and say, “no seriously…did you cover last night?” He let the umps know that he knew…and they responded. I have never been a big fan of “Nails”. Besides the criminal charges he has battled after baseball, I have a tough time forgetting my Stros losing to the Phillies in 1980.
So what is your take on this admission by Dykstra? Apparently, he has written a book and that is what this interview was about. I am not sure if I am impressed by how badly Dykstra wanted to win or disgusted with what he was willing to do. Nah, it is not even close. If this is true, Dykstra is an even bigger bawbag than I thought he was…and that is saying something.
Here is a link to the interview if you want to check it out:
I have listened for weeks to the comments that Texas fans want to be rid of Charlie Strong. Since I live in Austin, I have a pretty good idea of what is being said about Strong. Of course, the loss to Notre Dame and TCU were difficult for many fans to accept. But, victories over OU and K State have changed the vibe. Here is the deal; Mack Brown was a very popular coach. He was a great recruiter; he was great with Texas high school coaches. He will be remembered as the guy that restored a winning tradition to the 40 acres. I will respect Coach Brown for what he did at the University of Texas. But the truth is that in the last few years in Austin, Mack was pretty well removed from the operations of the team. He delegated much of the coaching and recruiting responsibilities to his assistant coaches. I am not saying that Coach Brown was not working, but I will say that he was not working in the same way that he did in his first 10 years in Austin. The problem with Charlie Strong is that he is not Mack Brown. There are fans everywhere that have unrealistic expectations…but there are probably more in Austin. Some fans don’t want to hear that the talent level on the team was depleted. They do not want to hear that many of the players were spoiled and had a sense of entitlement. They simply want the team to win. When the team does not win, they look to place blame.
I would say that the true Longhorn fans realized the task of rebuilding Texas football. The process does not happen overnight. The issue Texas had last year, was the same problem that Texas had in Mack’s last couple of years…the QB position. In high school, you can often win without a good QB. In college football, if you don’t have a guy under center that can throw the ball, you are going to have a tough time winning games. Unless you have an offense like Georgia Tech, you need a QB that has the ability to pass enough to keep the defense honest. This problem is not completely fixed, but Jerrod Heard is a big upgrade over Tyrone Swoopes. The team is improving each week and the confidence being displayed is obvious.
So…where is the noise about Charlie Strong coming from? Let me ask you…where does most of the noise come from? Here is a quote from an article on ESPN:
The U is in search of a new head coach and now that it’s out of the shadow of NCAA sanctions, it’s in position to potentially make a big splash. ESPN’s Brett McMurphy reported Monday morning that Texas head coach Charlie Strong “would listen” if contacted by Miami.
Did Brett say that Charlie Strong was interested in the job or that he had even talked to Strong? No, he did not. By saying that Strong would listen to an offer from Miami, he created a story where there was none. Strong makes twice what Golden made at Miami and with the limited funds at Miami; they don’t have the budget to hire Charlie Strong. It makes no sense, but of course…that does not make any difference. Even though Strong did not indicate an interest in the Miami job, he was still being asked questions about the Miami job on Monday. For the record…Strong said he had no interest in the Miami job and that he had the best job in the country.
There is another aspect of Charlie Strong as the Longhorn head coach. He is black. While it is difficult to get anyone to say they do not like Strong because of his race, I know that there are some that believe this. There are ignorant people everywhere, but I believe that this is changing. Have you ever heard the name Jerry LeVias? LeVias was the first black player to play in the old SWC. The year was 1966 and SMU coach Hayden Fry violated the unspoken rule of the conference by signing LeVias. While some may silently disapprove of Strong, what LeVias had to endure was anything but silent. As bad as the four years were for Jery LeVias, there is a reason he stayed…to bring change. Do you remember when black athletes were not allowed to play QB? Yeah…it has not been all that long ago. Now, there are black QBs playing everywhere. Times do change and when Charlie Strong wins a national championship at Texas, there will be nothing left to say… silently or otherwise.
Jerry LeVias was a 5’7″ and 140. Those that saw him play would tell you he played much larger. Like Jackie Robinson in MLB…LeVias should be remembered for being a big part of bringing significant change to our country.
Texas announced the signing of a DE/TE named Kelvin Lucky. This young man from Alabama has been described as a “raw” talent, but is the kind of player that Charlie Strong and his staff can coach up into a very special player. Here is a video of Lucky…remember, he has only be playing football for one year.
There is something else that has been bothering me…Johnny Manziel. I have written many times over the past several years about the immaturity of Johnny Football. I understand that many will always see this kid as he was in college. I have no idea if Manziel will ever be a good professional QB, but I do see that he is making an effort to change his work habits. Last week, we all heard that Manziel had a traffic incident with his girlfriend. While admittedly, it is troubling to learn that Manziel is drinking again, but is there more to this story? Did Manziel hit his girlfriend? The police dash-cam has a recording of Manziel’s girl-friend telling police officers that Manziel hit her. She can also be heard saying she did not want to press charges. Of course, Manziel was immediately found guilty by the public court of opinion. Because of Johnny’s past behavior, everyone seems perfectly willing to believe that he hit his girlfriend. But I am not convinced.
I read today that the Browns want Manziel to dump his girlfriend. Many fans have gone off on the Browns and suggest the Brown’s would be better off dumping Manziel. Admittedly, I do not know anything about Manziel’s girlfriend, but I do know this…she threw his wallet and cell phone out of the car and tried to exit the same car while it was traveling down the highway. Also, police examined her and the only marks they found on her were red marks on her neck. These marks were reportedly where Manziel grabbed her to prevent her from jumping out of the car. Does this sound odd to anyone but me? I remember another athlete a few months back that was accused of rape. The same court of public opinion was quick to react to this news and demand the head of Patrick Kane. A funny thing happened with that incident. Many facts did not add up. Tim wrote several excellent blogs about Kane’s situation and it was obvious that Kane’s guilt was in question.
I am not saying that Johnny Manziel is a good QB. I am not saying that he is a good guy. But, I see enough change in his behavior to have doubt about him punching his girlfriend. Perhaps the Browns have a reason to urge Manziel to change his bed partner? I also suspect if the Browns did not see a change with Manziel that he would have been cut when this incident happened. Let’s not forget that in the one game when Cleveland needed Johnny Manziel that he produced a win for the team. Or to put it another way…he did his job.
Back in May, I wrote about a diver (Martin Sholl) finding skeletons while diving in the Colorado River. The funny part is the skeletons were plastic and were put in the river as a joke. Apparently, Sholl felt the police department diver got too much credit in the media and has decided to take his skeletons and go home. The police and fire department divers are hoping that Sholl puts them back after Halloween.
That’s all I have today, but I will leave you with a bit of Jack Handey…
Instead of a trap door, what about a trap window? The guy looks out it, and if he leans too far, he falls out. Wait. I guess that is like a regular window.
When you go ice-skating, try not to swing your arms too much, because that really annoys me.
Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a few deep thoughts of your own…