Sifting through the nonsense: Quick Division Series thoughts

Four guys in the playoffs

I don’t write about baseball very often here, which I admit is strange, since my day job requires me to watch what I estimate to be about 250-300 games a year. I figure, leave the analysis up to experts like Tom Tango, who have the time and energy to invent new statistics and stuff. Plus, I prefer other sports, such as high school basketball, boxing and Jay-Z.

Besides, I can’t stand the amount of nonsense analysis that goes into something like the baseball playoffs. You get stories that go position-by-position and determine who has an edge, as if it matters somehow that Alex Rodriguez is better than Danny Valencia in particular. You want a page devoted entirely to Ross Gload’s October exploits? Well, here you go.

Baseball, more than other sports, seems to lend itself to throwing loads of information out there indiscriminately. Why take the time to decide what’s actually important when you can lump it in with a bunch of other junk? I have no idea who’s reading all this stuff, but if you checked out the Gload page before I linked it here, you need to get out even more than I do. You’re officially invited to join me at a St. Patrick-St. Benedict’s game at Kean College.

One relevant statistic I saw out there, by the way, came from Tom Verducci, who points out that the winner of Game 1 in the Division Series is 12-0 in the last three postseasons, and 21-3 since 2004. Which, well, does make sense in a five-game series.

Regardless, here are some quick – emphasis on quick – thoughts on the division series:

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Master of puppets: Mayweather massacring Manny with mind games

The biggest surprise with the Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather drug testing argument is that I actually at one time hoped this fight would come off without a hitch. I guess that plays into my desire to have a big fight happen for once with none of the nonsense and posturing that usually goes into this sport. But that’s unrealistic.

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Signing of The Savior a huge step in the right direction for Nationals

The Savior was 13–1 with a 1.32 ERA for San Diego State this year

The Nationals were one minute and 17 seconds away from disaster on signing deadline night. But right before the witching hour, they signed Stephen Strasburg, who we’re going to dub “The Savior” around these parts.  

And you know what? Suddenly, the prospects for one of the biggest laughing-stock franchises in sports aren’t looking that bad anymore. And it all starts with Strasburg. I haven’t seen much of him, but from what I have seen during the Olympics and his senior year at San Diego State, he has a nasty hook and has a 100-mph burner.

Not only that, but Strasburg has the It Factor. He’s not the household name that a LeBron or Sid the Kid is – he logically should be, which warrants future investigation of baseball’s marketing tendencies on this site, so keep your eyes peeled – but fans of the sport know exactly who he is.

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Future shock: Feliz causing happy thoughts in Arlington

I have seen the future of pitching, and it is Neftali Feliz.

You can keep your Strasburg, if you can sign him. Give me Rangers rookie right-hander Feliz, whose Major League debut was more like a coronation. I’ve seen some dominant pitcheNeftali Feliz at -- appropriately -- the Futures Gamers make an instant impact the past few years – Cole Hamels, Tim Lincecum, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer come to mind – but I don’t think I’ve seen anything like Feliz’s stuff. The guy is a force of nature.

Basic baseball physics is like this: The bigger difference between your fastball and off-speed stuff, the harder you are to hit. Johan Santana remains great despite the fact that he no longer throws in the mid-upper 90s. He can work down around 89-91 mph, as long as his motion is the same and that magnificent changeup comes in around 80-84. 

Now what if I told you that Neftali brings his fastball right around 100 every time? While watching his debut on Monday night, when he came on in relief against the A’s, I was impressed when he hit 99 on the gun no fewer than eight times. Fangraphs has the whole thing mapped out – check it out, impressive stuff.

I was even more awed when Neftali hit 101 on his final pitch. But listen, you can’t just throw fast in this game. Bobby Parnell threw 100 this year but has no out pitch. Joel Zumaya, I believe, got up close to 104, but he couldn’t really pitch, and he couldn’t stay healthy. He was a gimmick. Neftali is the real deal.

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