For a guy who highly prefers a masterful pitching performance over an inartistic slugfest Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and who has a pair of Tim Lincecum jerseys in his closet Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the first two days of the baseball playoffs were truly a treat.
I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 GloadÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s actually important when you can lump it in with a bunch of other junk? I have no idea whoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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. YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re officially invited to join me at a St. Patrick-St. BenedictÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ emphasis on quick Ã¢â‚¬â€œ thoughts on the division series:
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 thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s unrealistic.
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 weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re going to dub Ã¢â‚¬Å“The SaviorÃ¢â‚¬Â around these parts.
And you know what? Suddenly, the prospects for one of the biggest laughing-stock franchises in sports arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t looking that bad anymore. And it all starts with Strasburg. I havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not the household name that a LeBron or Sid the Kid is Ã¢â‚¬â€œ he logically should be, which warrants future investigation of baseballÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s marketing tendencies on this site, so keep your eyes peeled Ã¢â‚¬â€œ but fans of the sport know exactly who he is.
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. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve seen some dominant pitchers make an instant impact the past few years Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Cole Hamels, Tim Lincecum, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer come to mind Ã¢â‚¬â€œ but I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve seen anything like FelizÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 AÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s, I was impressed when he hit 99 on the gun no fewer than eight times. Fangraphs has the whole thing mapped out Ã¢â‚¬â€œ check it out, impressive stuff.
I was even more awed when Neftali hit 101 on his final pitch. But listen, you canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t really pitch, and he couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t stay healthy. He was a gimmick. Neftali is the real deal.