before game 1 of the nlds, scott at cardnilly predicted: "we might well get an upset in this round." the deciding factor, in his mind? none other than the manager:
I think that Tony's only got that one motivational tool, though -- crank up the pressure. When the next round of the playoffs comes, Tony gives the "This is what you've been working for, so go out there and don't piss it away!" pitch. The players tip over the line, and instead of playing with focus and determination, they start pressing and playing with fear. The pressure causes a negative release, and when things don't go the way they should, everyone tightens up all that much more. This is true of Tony personally, too -- his boneheaded managerial decisions, where he outthinks himself about eight different ways, don't come in the NLDS; they come in the NLCS. Because he wants to win so much, he creates an environment where it's hard to relax and play the game with a mindset that's conducive to winning.
For me, this makes Tony a sympathetic figure -- it's a tragic flaw, where the thing that makes him great is the thing that denies him his ultimate goal. And since it's fundamentally part of his nature, it can't be changed -- it just is.
joe sheehan of baseball prospectus thinks the series sets up extremely well for la russa, thanks to the poor personnel selections made by his opposite number, bruce bochy:
Bochy's roster is set up for La Russa to absolutely drill him from the sixth inning on in any game. I fully expect Bochy to end up having to pinch-hit with Park, or put Russ Branyan at shortstop, or insert himself into the game. Had I any idea Bochy would leave himself such a worthless bench--Johnson, Sledge and Alexander [all excluded from the roster] all at least do things--I would have rethought my prediction [ie, padres in 4]. This is a horrible bench, and it could end up being the difference in the series.
Given what we know about Bellhorn, it came as no surprise to see him strike out in that at-bat. It's easy to get down on the guy, but we shouldn't -- he was doing what he does. The thing that boggles the imagination is that Bellhorn was brought into that situation at all.
ducksnorts shares my weariness (though he's considerably less grouchy about it) of fans' indignation over perceived slights at the hands of ESPN and other national commentators. substitute "cardinals" for "padres" in this passage, taken from the same post cited above:
The other reason we need to stop complaining about "lack of respect" (you knew I'd get back to that, right?) is simple and goes a little like this: Who cares what anyone else thinks? We know that our Padres are a solid ballclub and that's good enough for me -- at least until they do something a little more worthy like, I dunno, win the World Series. For now, though, the focus should be on watching these guys battle and not on what some yahoos in Connecticut think about our team.
and if they do get you worked up, don't vent your frustrations here.
ken arneson wrote some smashing nlds prediction limericks over at the eccentric blog Humbug Journal (a treasure to all baseball fans, if you've never read it). here's the verse he wrote about the card-padre series:
With Woody, Wells, Young after Peavy
And a 'pen that is very releavy,
The Padres are deep.
So maybe a sweep
Is something not too unbeleavy.
heading into game 2, maybe it ought to read like so:
With Pujols and Carp as big gunners
The Cards made themselves the front-runners
Should Weaves pitch a gritty'un
And Suppan a pretty'un
The Cardinals may be 1st-round stunners.
or like this, perhaps:
In Game 1, Carpenter and Pujols
Brought cheer back to Cardinal fans' blue souls
Win one more today
And the pundits will say,
"Teams rarely come back from 0-2 holes."
nipsey russell, eat your heart out.