the tournament gets underway

let's get this thing underway. typically i won't feature tournament results in the main morning post; i'll post most of them as afternoon add-ons. but it's a holiday, and there isn't much else to write about; the post-dispatch has an interesting article on mulder's arm (of which, more to say at some point) and another one about troy cate's heart; i also recommend derrick goold's blog entry about the competition for the rotation. also, the kip wells community projection is still pending; post your figures if you haven't already.

but it has taken more than two weeks to get this tournament organized and set up, and now that there finally are results to report it seems only fitting to give them some prominent play. i'll only post a few results at a time; gotta draw things out, have a little suspense. today we feature a couple of series with very familiar, mostly popular players. let the games begin.

lankford (7) v ozzie (10)
here's an interesting pairing. lankford came up in 1990, the swan song of the whiteyball cardinals; it was the last of 6 seasons in which ozzie, pendleton, mcgee, and vince coleman played together as a group. ozzie was past 30 by the time lankford arrived and in decline as a fielder, but his hitting was better than ever; half the players on this team of ozzies were ray lankford's teammate. they played together through a lean half-decade, finally collaborating on a playoff team in 1996, ozzie's last season. a quick word about the lineups: rather than be accused of mismanaging, i decided to delegate lineup construction for the whole tournament to a computer application: david pinto's lineup toy. i used whatever sequence the toy designated as optimum. the lineups for this series are:

ozzie '87 lankford '99
ozzie '91 lankford '97
ozzie '92 lankford '96
ozzie '96 lankford '00
ozzie '85 lankford '98
ozzie '89 lankford '95
ozzie '93 lankford '01
ozzie '88 lankford '94
ozzie '86 lankford '92

GAME 1
ozzie strikes first, bunching two doubles, a single, and a steal in the top of the 3d to plate a couple. he makes at 3-0 in the next frame with a two-out walk, stolen base, and rbi single. lankford reclaims a pair in the 5th inning (double, double, error, single) but whiffs with the tying run at 3d base and only one out; he still trails after five. ozzie extends the lead to 4-2 with another manufactured run in the 6th: walk, steal, two-out hit. the lankfords answer with muscle in the bottom of the frame: a solo homer leading off from lankford '00; a two-run double by lankford '94 to give the team its first lead at 5-4; and a three-run shot off the bat of lankford '99 to blow the game open. it's a six-run inning and an 8-4 lead for the lankfords. they lead 10-4 by the time the ozzies come to bat in the 9th; with two out and nobody on, they rally for 3 runs and bring the tying run to the plate. ozzie '89 uncoils an uppercut, going for the tie; the ensuing fly ball travels 275 feet, and game 1 goes to the lankfords 10-7.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
ozzie 0 0 2 1 0 1 0 0 3 7 12 1
lankford 0 0 0 0 2 6 0 2 x 10 13 1
2B: ozzie 4, lankford 4     3B: lankford 1     HR: lankford 2
BB: ozzie 4, lankford 5     SO: ozzie 2, lankford 9
SB: ozzie 7     CS: ozzie 2, lankford 1

GAME 2
ozzie jumps out to the lead again with a run in the first; an unsuccessful steal keeps the rally from being more damaging. in the 3d ozzies '86 and '87 lead off with walks, then execute a perfect double steal; alas, ozzies '91 and '92 fail to get the ball out of the infield, and the runners remain stalled with two out. another walk loads the bases, bringing ozzie '85 to the plate; he blasts a double into the corner and clears the bases. that makes it 4-0, and the lankfords are still hitless; they loft a couple of homers (by '98 and '97) to close to within 5-3 after five, but the last 10 lankfords go in order. it's a win for the ozzies; series knotted at 1-1.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
ozzie 1 0 3 0 1 0 1 0 0 6 9 2
lankford 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 3 4 2
2B: ozzie 2     HR: lankford 2
BB: ozzie 6, lankford 4     SO: lankford 8
SB: ozzie 8, lankford 2     CS: ozzie 3

GAME 3
lankford plays small-ball in the 1st: three walks, a stolen base, and a three-run double vault him to a 4-0 advantage. the ozzies rally with three in the 3d (walk, error, hit, two-out, two-run double), but they run themselves right out of an inning in the 4th, when ozzies '93 and '86 are both caught stealing. the lankfords come up in the 6th inning, hitless since the opening frame; '00 doubles, and '95 follows one out later with a majestic home run to extend the lead to 6-3. the ozzies refuse to go quietly; they load the bases with two out in the 8th (a groundout ends the threat) and put the first two men on leading off the 9th. ozzie '96 comes up with men at first and third and one out, representing the tying run; he taps into a double play, and the lankfords take a 2-1 series lead.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
lankford 4 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 6 5 1
ozzie 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 7 0
2B: ozzie 2, lankford 3     HR: lankford 1
BB: ozzie 6, lankford 8     SO: ozzie 4, lankford 11
SB: ozzie 5, lankford 2     CS: ozzie 2

hitting stars so far in the series: ozzie '87 has a .600 obp (5 for 11 with four walks) with 4 runs scored and 4 sbs; ozzie '85 is hitting .364 (4 for 11) with 6 rbis. the lankfords don't really have any stars; true to form, they have more strikeouts in the series (28) than hits (22), yet are scoring runs aplenty. their composite line is .227 / .342 / .474. ozzie's team line so far is .292 / .393 / .375. ozzie has 20 steals to lankford's 4; the rays have 5 homers vs the ozzies' nil.

remainder of the series later this week. click the "read more" link for the opening games of the brock-torre series.

torre/cepeda (8) v brock (9)
speed v power; El Birdo v El Birdo. brock won 2 pennants with cepeda while playing on a grass field, then anchored some explosive offenses with torre while playing in the same stadium on astroturf. all three guys will eventually end up in the hall of fame (torre as a manager). brock was my very favorite player growing up, in no small part because he threw left-handed; i'm a lefty, and he was the only left-throwing starter on the team in 1969, the year i got hooked on baseball. plus, i went to camp with his kid (lou jr) at a very early age, and got introduced to him one day after school at his flower shop on clayton road. so i'm rooting for brock to win the whole tournament; never happen, but that's where my heart lies. the torres' lineup features mvp players in the first two spots in the order; not a bad team:

brock '71 torre '71
brock '64 cepeda '67
brock '73 torre '74
brock '67 cepeda '66
brock '70 torre '70
brock '65 torre '69
brock '69 torre '72
brock '75 cepeda '68
brock '74 torre '73

GAME 1
the power-speed dichotomy couldn't be more stark than it is in this game. brock scores without a hit in the 2d (walk, steal, error, groundout) and manufactures another run in textbook fashion in the 7th (single, stolen base, single). the torres, meanwhile, are playing leadfooted station-to-station baseball. in the 6th, with the score tied 1-1, torre '74 can't score from second on a single by cepeda '66; two subsequent flyouts leave him stranded at 3d. same thing happens in the 7th, with the brocks now leading 2-1: torre '73 has to hit the brakes at 3d on a single by cepeda '67 and ends up stranded there. the brocks go for the throat in the top of the 9th but only end up bloodying themselves: '65 is caught stealing after a one-out walk, and'69 ends the inning by getting tossed out at the plate trying to score from 2d on a single by brock '75. two men lost on the basepaths; speed kills, alright. in the bottom of the 9th the torres finally score a runner from 2d base; '73 lumbers around on a two-out, do-or-die single by cha-cha '67 to tie it up at 2s and send the game into extras. annoyed, brock '74 takes matters into his own hands; he steals 2d and 3d after reaching on an error and trots home on a single by brock '64. that's the ballgame --- a sloppy start, but the brocks hold a 1-0 series lead.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 R H E
brock 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 3 7 0
torre 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 2 10 3
2B: torre 2     3B: torre 1     HR: none
BB: brock 2, torre 2     SO: brock 3, torre 9
SB: brock 9     CS: brock 2

GAME 2
through five innings, the brocks have only one baserunner --- and he's caught stealing. the torres lurch to two runs apiece in the 4th and 5th innings; three of them score on two-out singles. in the 8th inning they finally hit their first homer of the series, in their 82d plate appearance --- cepeda '66 does the honors. by then it's 8-1, and the brocks still haven't got untracked; they muster three hits and another run in the 9th inning, but the seats are largely empty by then. the series is even at 1s.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
brock 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 2 8 2
torre 0 0 0 2 2 1 0 3 x 8 12 0
2B: brock 2, torre 1     3B: torre 1     HR: torre 1
BB: torre 7     SO: brock 7, torre 5
SB: brock 3     CS: brock 2

GAME 3
the brocks go crazy in the first three innings of this game: eight hits, eight steals, a triple, and five runs. but the torres keep it close with a three-run rally in the 2d inning. it's still 5-3 after 7 innings; in the 8th the rump of the torre order forges a tie, bunching three singles and a double. brock '65 singles with one out in the bottom of the frame and steals both 2d and 3d; but brock '69 strikes out and brock '75 can't pick the runner up. a costly lapse in execution: torre '74 leads off the top of the 9th with a single and moves to 3d on torre '70's one-out double; they both score on a hit by torre '69. down to their final three outs, the brocks get one-out hits from '71 and '64; the latter promptly steals 2d base to get the tying run into scoring position. but brock '73 strikes out, and '67 flies out to the track to end the ballgame. the brocks seem to have dominated the game --- they've stolen 12 bags, whacked two triples and a double. but the torres slowpoke their way to 15 hits by the end of the game (including seven in the last two frames). they lead the series, 2-1.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
torre 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 7 15 0
brock 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 10 2
2B: torre 4, brock 1     3B: brock 2     HR: none
BB: torre 2, brock 2     SO: torre 6, brock 3
SB: brock 12     CS: brock 1

the brocks have 24 steals in the series, but the more telling number is 5 --- the number of guys caught. those failed steals have erased more than 15 percent of their baserunners (the team has had only 29 men on base so far). the torres have piled up at least 10 hits in all three games and ought to be leading the set 3-0. composite lines: torres .311 / .369 / .420, brocks .229 / .257 / .294.

tune in later this week for the series conclusion.

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