Hit and run: playoff tidbits

Just a few tidbits from the 2002 Major League Baseball playoffs:

Two underdogs meet: The Anaheim Angels will face the Minnesota Twins in the American League Championship Series. But it’s tough to say which team had the bigger victory.

Minnesota won the decisive game five against the heavily favored Oakland Athletics, but their biggest victory of the year is surviving serious contraction threats from commissioner Bud Selig (and Twins owner Carl Pohlad).

Anaheim, meanwhile, defeated the Yankees, whose 103 regular season wins tied Oakland to top the league, in just four games.

The heavens switch sides: During the past six years, many Yankees fans and haters alike referred to New York as “God’s team” to explain their numerous and seemingly improbable postseason wins. Apparently the baseball deities had to change alliances when the Yankees took the field against the Angels, who moved on to the American League Championship Series by defeating the Yankees three games to one.

Picture this: Selig sitting in the front row of seats at the Metrodome in Minneapolis for Game One of the World Series, flanked by an enormous security entourage amidst the thousands of fans whose hearts he tried to rip out last winter. The Twins’ franchise should distribute free “CONTRACT THIS” placards to all in attendance.

Praising the expected: Yankee first baseman Jason Giambi, in a television interview at the conclusion of the Anaheim series, opined that the Angels should be praised for never letting up, grinding out every at bat, and playing extremely hard from the start of the series.

Agreed.

Not to take anything away from the Angels, but isn’t this how all professional athletes playing postseason baseball are supposed to approach the game? Giambi’s comments suggest the Yankees did not exactly play as hard as Anaheim.

Bombs away: The principal culprit for the Yankees’ loss was their abominable starting pitching — no Yankee starter pitched more than 5.2 innings, let alone a quality start. In a year when New York bats notched a whopping 223 home runs during the regular season, it was the Yankee pitching staff that best earned the nickname “Bronx Bombers.”

Big names, no wins: It was a terrible week for the big-name pitchers. Tom Glavine, Mike Mussina, David Wells, Andy Pettitte, Curt Schilling, Randy Johnson and others all came out on the wrong end of the final score in their respective games. Imagine telling the Braves before the series they would lose both of Glavine’s games, 8-5 and 8-3? Meanwhile, the three teams said to have the most “inferior” pitching, Minnesota, Anaheim and St. Louis, all have advanced to the next round.

Too much air time: As you may have already heard, an Arizona talk radio host thought it was amusing to call the widow of Cardinals’ pitcher Darryl Kile last week and ask her if she had a date to the game.

This idiot is lower than low even in today’s world of “shock jocks” and a flat-out disgrace to the human race. But as of yesterday, nothing has happened to him. The Federal Communications Commission has stringent regulations on what can and cannot be broadcast on the airwaves.

Such blatant insensitivity should be condemned, and he should never be allowed on radio again.

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