I'm about to begin the seemingly endless travel process between Tokyo and O'Hare, and I feel totally disconnected from American baseball. But some bullet points while I pack:
- Can I say, as an unrepentant baseball-card watcher, that I love C.C. Sabathia? This is one of my least favorite things about the Rick Ankiel saga: we were deprived of the chance to watch him begin a career as a 20-year-old pitcher with double-digit victories and a high strikeout total. Sabathia won 17 games at 20, which is great; he stayed above .500 during the leaner years, always winning at least ten games, which is crucial; and now he's working on a nice-looking peak. Albert aside—just look at it—he's probably got the most aesthetically pleasing baseball card of any active player. Things to work on: don't get traded midseason again, because it always looks messy, and use the MLB-leading win total in 2009 to begin racking up the black ink, because right now it's a little sparse.
- Having started there, on more neutral ground, can I also say that I don't mind if the Yankees win this World Series? Call it residual, retroactive angst from a certain World Series in 2004, but I don't think I've ever minded the Yankees all that much; they are, if nothing else, totally forthright in their ability and intentions to use their financial capabilities as often as possible, and columnists don't have to chew up inches whining about failures to open up the Steinbillfold. It's also made my postseason to watch said columnists backtrack on their long-standing hypothesis that Alex Rodriguez's bat contains all the universe's known reserves of anticlutch.
- That said, the Phillies do play in the National League, and they also have my favorite non-Cardinal, Chase Utley. While I'm on the subject of baseball card aesthetics, how about Chase Utley's 2009? .280 average, 31 home runs, 150 games, and 23 stolen bases in 23 attempts. Your better sets will also bold his third league-leading HBP total in a row. The only thing that's missing are the seven RBI that kept him from driving in 100 runners for a fifth straight year; for that I will cast a stern glance in the direction of the Jimmy Rollins card.
- Finally, I saw Yu Darvish pitch last night in the second game of the Japan Series. Watching an NPB playoff game on Japanese TV is a decidedly different experience from watching it on FOX; for a country whose glossy TV tarento include the likes of Razor Ramon Hard Gay and this fish-hatted man, baseball broadcasting seems rooted, for better and for worse, in the late eighties. So I didn't get a million camera angles, but I came away impressed by what was apparently his first game appearance in a month and a half. Without the upper-nineties velocity he sometimes flashes, he looked something like Adam Wainwright, huge curve and all.
I should have a full-size post for Tuesday, and I'll be back on a regular basis by Thursday. Thanks for waiting things out in this compounded off-season lull, and thanks to the red baron, tom, and vep for doing their usual excellent work.