Thursday, September 02, 2004

A Thursday Mornin' Blog

This morning was cold. Too cold for the shorts and t-shirt I was wearing, and cold enough to close the windows. The first cold morning since early May or late April. Somewhere in the low 50s. And it felt great, reminding me that it is September and there is so much to do.

Baseball has been on the periphery for me of late. I'm still tuning for a few innings here, or a highlight there. Faithfully reading the baseball section of my daily. I've had so much on my daily agenda and so much on my mind of late, that baseball has taken a back seat. As it should from time to time. It's the engine that keeps the summer going, but it doesn't keep you on the road.

From my vantage point, the month of August absolutely flew by. Which is great, actually. Not a favorite month of mine, as I mentioned in a post about 10 days ago. It's nice to be seriously thinking about the post-season, and have football waiting in the wings to begin its seasons.

At one point in the month I bemoaned the fact that the interest factor had gone downhill, with five division races already decided. While those division races are not necessarily more interesting now than they were a month ago, certainly the AL East has gotten more interesting. And the Wild Card races have only wavered over the last few days with Boston further distancing themselves from Texas and Anaheim.

The Astros have sparked the NL Wild Card race by joining the fray, going 9-1 in their last 10 games, and 14-3 in their last 17. I hadn't given the Astros a thought in about four weeks. And in those 14 wins, their run totals have been: 5, 5, 9, 12, 4, 8, 4, 7, 15, 7, 10, 11, 8, 9.

Then there are the Marlins who won't go away, and are still within striking distance of the extra playoff spot...

Other things:

Last Friday night I wrote about the Yankees and Red Sox and how the two teams compared in the previous 20 games. The storyline of Boston's resurgence in the AL East race came to a crescendo after Tuesday night when the Yankees 22-0 (loss? beheading? mauling? mutilation?) whatever-you-want-to-call-it and Boston's convincing win in Fenway against the Angels cut the Yankee lead to 3.5. It was the closest Boston had been to NY in the standings since mid-June.

For the record, I never doubted 1) The Red Sox's ability 2) The fact that they would win the Wild Card. But of course, I'm not a Red Sox fan so that should explain my confidence in their potential success. However, I never thought they would make up so much ground in such a short amount of time. Of course, who would/could predict that?

It's actually nice to envision the six games this month (September 17-19 at New York, September 24-26 at Boston) as having some juice. Winning the division could mean the difference between playing Minnesota and Oakland the first round. I know the Twinkies will be a more formidable opponent then they were in last year's post-season, thanks to Santana alone. However, I'd still rather face them than the A's.

I don't think home field is that big a deal between the Yankees and Sox. In fact, off the top of my head, I'd venture that over the last two seasons or so the road team has actually fared better in the match-ups. In last year's ALCS, they split the four games in New York, and the Yanks took two out of three in Fenway.

It's a bonus to this baseball month that the Yankees are actually being forced to play meaningful games, and it could play into their post-season chances. If Torre has to over-over-over extend QuanGoMo as he has done all year in order to stave off the Red Sox, the arms could be a-draggin' on those chilly nights at the Stadium next month.

I'm not as excited about tuning in to watch a player hit his 700th home run as I should be.

August Numbers

Teams With ERAs Under Four in August
Florida, St. Louis, Los Angeles, Oakland, Boston

Teams With 200+ Ks by Pitchers
Chicago, Anaheim, Boston, Houston, San Francisco, Minnesota, Baltimore, San Diego

Most Home Runs Allowed
Chicago White Sox: 53. No other team allowed more than 45.

Best/Worst SLG Against
Florida and Oakland .372
Chicago White Sox .518

Best/Worst OBP Against
Boston .288 (Boston's four previous monthly opponents OBP numbers: .309, .322, .329, .339)
Toronto .389

Teams that Scored < 100 Runs
Milwaukee (94)
Arizona (87)

Best Team OPS
Boston .871

Fewest Strikeouts

Worst Stolen Base %
Kansas City: 25 attempts, 8 steals (Ughh...)

Oakland: 31
Kansas City was second with 30. Coupled with that number above, it must have felt like Royal baserunners were evaporating on the basepaths in August.


From time to time, I'm going to steer this ship clear of baseball a bit, and talk about other interests, passsions, hobbies, distractions, etc.

One such example is music. I still have to pick up the new Guided by Voices record. Shame on me that it's been over a week, and I still don't have it... Very soon. I picked up my copy of Robert Shelton's biography on Dylan recently, and started reading it for the first time. I haven't read it in a few days, not out of disinterest, but out of being freetimeless. I'm definitely looking forward to the autobiography, which will be out soon. Looks like a cool, simple cover.

Although I'm still the novice, I've been trying to frequent some of the excellent music/mp3 blogs that frequent the Net. Here are a couple you might find interesting. It's a great way to hear new music and find out what's happenin' in the "underground." Or at least away from the antennae of the major label/corporate radio rodeo.

I've also been fooling with one of my infamous lists. This one: my Top 50 albums of all-time. A work in progress, but stay tuned. Will start posting bits and pieces of the list shortly.

My son is a-stirrin' out of his nap and my coffee's getting cold. Time to regroup. Enjoy the games.

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