God’s Team, Jobu, Matt Holliday and Drayton McLane

Here are a few baseball notes I thought I’d share.

Leading off: 21 of 22. No, that’s not the number of Frank TV commercials aired an hour during the TBS playoff games. That’s now the number of games the Rockies have won in the past month, including a stretch of 14 of 15 to end the season, a three-game sweep of the Cubs, and the just concluded four-game sweep of the D-Backs. This is the best streak for a baseball team since the Oakland A’s went 23 for 24 in a midseason stretch in 2002. And it’s the best stretch of winning to end a season since the 1936 New York Giants went 22 for 23. The Rockies have also tied a record set by the 1976 Cincinnati Reds for consecutive wins in one post-season.

I guess the national media didn’t read Jose de Jesus Ortiz, because they awarded the NLCS MVP to Rockies’ outfielder Matt Holliday (in what should be the first of several MVP awards he gets this season) and not to Willy Taveras, despite Ortiz telling us it was all due to Willy T’s play. I know, I don’t understand either. After all, Willy T. hit .167 with 3 hits while Holliday only hit .333 with 5 hits, 2 HR, and 4 RBI.

Either the national media doesn’t understand baseball, or Ortiz doesn’t.

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Yes, I picked the D-Backs, but I guess The Flying Spaghetti Monster just had more important issues with which to deal. But this Rockies team is fun to watch. And this streak that they’re on is incredible. They now have to wait seven days until they play again, so you’ve kind of got to wonder if the time off is going to dull the momentum.

And since the NL playoffs are over, that means no more TBS baseball coverage. That also means no more commercials for Frank TV. But be careful what you ask for, because while you’re losing out on those commercials, you’re now stuck with FOX for the rest of the post-season. That means Joe Buck going at full volume and Tim McCarver treating everyone like they’re five. You know, Joe’s dad Jack Buck was one of the great sports broadcasters of all-time (he’s the one responsible for “I don’t believe what I just saw” after Kirk Gibson’s pinch-hit two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth of Game One of the 1988 World Series). And when McCarver worked at ABC with Al Michaels and CBS with Jack Buck, he actually said some intelligent things. Is it just working for FOX that makes announcers turn into idiots? Sure, Madden already had his shtick – which was tired in 1983 – but it’s worsened since he got to FOX.

FOX coverage will also mean lots of close-ups up the nostrils of the pitchers. Lots of commercials for crummy FOX programming which will be canceled in November. And as bad as the TBS pre-game show was (and I’m betting TBS will have that thing fixed next season. Ernie Johnson’s good on those things, he just didn’t click with Cal Ripken like he does with Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley), but TBS’s pre-game show is Oscar quality compared to what FOX does. I wonder if they’re going to trot Eric Byrnes and his bad hair back out to sit at the desk with Kevin Kennedy and Jeanne Zelasko. Man, does anyone remember that short period when Keith Olbermann still worked for FOX and he did the pre-game show? Good times.

Trust me, come the second inning of World Series Game One you’re going to be longing for Chip Caray. And that’s enough to tell you how bad FOX is.

And I’ve got to say, it’s nice to see my buddy Richard Justice agreeing with me about something. Richard happens to believe that the ‘Stros need to do like the Indians, Rockies, and D-Backs and build the team by way of the farm system. Which seems to be something I said last month. It’s also a strategy that the Twins, Tigers, White Sox, Phillies, and Angels have followed. And, believe it or not, so have the Yankees and the BoSox – sure, they’ve got lots of free agents, but both teams also have lots of key players, and lots of youngsters, who have come up through the farm system.

But does anyone think this is Drayton’s plan? I don’t. I kind of think the Astros are in the process of following in the footsteps of the Baltimore Orioles. A few big free agent signings. A front office in turmoil. Lots of managerial changes. A depleted farm system. An owner who thinks he knows it all. A few aging veterans who have seen better days, and a bunch of so-so average guys who just couldn’t cut it with better teams and came to the Astros for playing time.

And Richard, it’s nice we agree and all, but would you make up your mind: was it Ed Wade who’s responsible for building this current Phillies team, or Pat Gillick? You’ve said both.

Speaking of the Angels and farm systems, I see that Angels GM Bill Stoneman has retired. Yep, the guy responsible for building the Angels 2002 World Series Champion team, and the team that made the playoffs in 2004, 2005 and 2007. But, Drayton, I’m not going to get on you for rushing your hire this time. Sure, he built a consistent play-off team, just like Terry Ryan, and Walt Jocketty and John Schuerholz, but the guy had the reputation for not being able to make a trade when it counted. And really, the Astros didn’t need another Tim Purpura running things.

Sure, Stoneman built a farm system that produced Garret Anderson and Chone Figgins and Howie Kendrick and Casey Kotchman and Reggie Willits and John Lackey and Francisco Rodriguez and Jered Weaver, but he couldn’t make the big trade. So, yeah, Drayton, good thing you didn’t wait around for Stoneman to possibly become available because we sure don’t want a guy known for building a playoff roster from his minor league system.

Oh, and not this has anything to do with baseball, but if any of you out there are professional lacrosse fans, well forget about it. The season has been cancelled. Something about labor unrest.

And watching the Indians play, it sure looks like Cerrano’s been making sure Jobu gets his rum. So it’s looking like it’s going to be God’s Team versus Jobu in the World Series – if the Indians can win one of the next three games.

This could be fun. – John Royal

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