Can't shut up
Okay, okay, I should be working on my novel. But I must get a few things out.
The terrorists killed Halloween. Damn them! A few trick or treaters at Mayor Richard Daley's house in Chicago don't count (which makes me wonder what would happen if I could trick or treat at Bill Gates house, in his gated community--I'd probably get a copy of Windows XP professional).
I was at Dan's house for a Halloween party last night and was able to catch the end of the game yesterday. Bob Brenly screwed the pooch on that one, and Yankee haters across the nation let out a groan. Two things. Why start Curt Schilling on 3 days rest if you're going to then pull him after only 88 pitches and 7 innings? He should have been out there in the eighth inning to pitch to Spencer, Brosius, Soriano. The whole idea of starting him on 3 days rest is to try and press your advantage and win the series sooner, not later. If you hold him back to start game 7, you might as well give him 4 days rest and let him try to win the game by pitching it all the way through to the 9th. Brenly made a gutsy call to commit to start him on 3 days rest, and then backed off. I'm sure everyone's experienced that before--commit to a strategy, then back off halfway into it and switch courses, and end up worse off than if you'd committed one way or the other.
The other thing I would have done differently--Byung Hyun Kim is a side-arm submarine style pitcher. Lefties have a much easier time hitting right-handed pitchers who through that way. Granted, Kim is tough on all batters, but in 156 AB's against Kim this year he gave up 8 home runs, while in 179 AB's against Kim righties only hit 2 home runs. Swindell, the lefty, should've been in in the 9th inning. Swindell isn't exactly Steve Carlton, but at least then you force Torre's hand. He either leaves his lefties like Williams, Posada, O'Neill, and Martinez in, or he goes to his bench for a right-handed pinch hitter, of which he has no good ones. If Torre has one managerial flawy, it's his unwavering loyalty to old veterans like Luis Sojo, who he'd already used in a crucial situation, to his disadvantage, earlier in the series. Tino batted .257 against lefties this year, and .290 against righties. I suspect Torre might have gone to his bench in that case.
Well, I guess that point's debatable. Kim is their best reliever in a thin bullpen. I would lean towards trying to force Torre to use righties in that situation just b/c the righties on his bench had less power. Force them to beat you with a series of hits instead of one swing. But if Kim had retired all three lefties in the 9th we wouldn't be questioning the move. Kim scares me because he seems to survive on great movement and stuff, but not really on pinpoint control. That is, there's a much greater chance he'll serve up a fat one by mistake than someone like Rivera, who moves the ball in and out and doesn't let you beat him with the long ball. You have to hit cut fastballs off of him, either off your fists or off the plate, and that usually means you have to dink him to death. Relievers who just rely on dominant stuff are more susceptible to the long ball.
The other thing which any roto player knows is silly is to bat Mark Grace eighth. He hadn't batted there in ages. Putting a fast guy as your leadoff man is one of the most overrated baseball myths of all time. On-base-percentage is so much more important in a leadoff guy. Any decent mathematician could tell you that you should put your best hitters at the top of your lineup to maximize long-term run potential. I even saw it in my summer rec softball league, how teams would bat their best power hitters later in the lineup to let some small guys lead off (it's a more egregious error in softball since you can't steal and so few runs are scored on speed anyway). Gracie hit a homer of El Duque and should have gotten more at bats. And Womack, the speedster they put at the top of the lineup for his ability to steal bases? He got bunted over by the #2 batter in the order twice. If he's so fast, let him steal the damn base. Your number two batter in your lineup shouldn't be bunting in the first five innings.
The one thing you can't take away from the Yankees is that Jeter hit a homer off Kim, who is murder on righties. And that was Jeter's first time facing him. And Rivera is still the best post-season reliver of all time and once again he just shut people down. It sure seems like you have to manage perfectly, and be lucky, to beat the Yankees.