Let's go Phillies.
Coming back from a 3-1 hole isn't unprecedented...11 teams of the 69 who have been a game away from elimination have come back to win the series. The odds aren't great, and with the way the Angels have been playing in the ALCS, it's probably less likely than the 15.94% statistic above.
But what the Angels can do is play with some pride. Allowing an admitted steroid user* to hit home runs at will isn't something you should put up with in an elimination game. Back him off the plate. Hit him. Do something, because the team is missing the spark it had for those mid-summer months.
Drop Guerrero to 5th, move Kendrick to 4th (yes, Kendrick), replace Rivera with Gary Matthews Jr., and-wait, did I just suggest playing Gary Matthews Junior?
Yup. If you look at offense, the Angels have gotten nothing out of Rivera in the playoffs. And the defense he provides is substantially reduced from GMJ. Moreover, if Rivera's going to keep hitting into double plays, you might as well have a guy at the plate who might be able to beat out a few of them.
You might as well start Jeff Mathis as well. His last three hits have been doubles, which is more than I can say about ice-cold Mike Napoli.
Mike Scioscia is criticized as being a little too nonchalant with his in-game management during the playoffs, and I'm inclined to agree. With MLB's stupidly short playoffs, managing a series the way you manage a season doesn't work. You can't let a struggling starter give up runs in the early innings. You can't leave runs on second and third when all you need is a guy to hit a sac fly. You can't leave a struggling, aging cleanup hitter in the cleanup spot when he leaves 8 men on base.
*I don't really have a problem with Rodriguez, a point I've outlined before. But hey, we're down 3-1, I'm allowed to be a bit of a hypocrite.
- It's disappointing, despite none of the calls truly affecting the score of the games, that the umpiring in this series has been so horrendous. I still can't believe an umpire can call a player safe despite the fact that he was tagged while off a base...it's one of those things that doesn't even happen in little league. Something needs to be done.
- The Dodgers had a terrible showing this season. The Angels/Yankees series has been close, and the series might have been 3-1 the other way with a couple different bounces. The Dodgers, though, really weren't in it, and I think the weaknesses in their starting rotation were exposed. It's a shame that there's so many off days during the playoffs, otherwise the Yankees would be similarly disadvantaged. Also, it's ridiculous that Orlando Hudson wasn''t starting every game. Joe Torre is an idiot.
- Yeah, I'm going to whine about the playoff format again. No more off days without travel. It's stupid. It's not what happens in the regular season, so why does it happen in the playoffs? It allows teams with severe problems with their starting rotations to succeed. Baseball is a team game...if you can't throw out 5 starters who give you a chance to win, then why is the regular season so long?
- CC Sabathia's arm will fall off next season if there is any justice in this world. It's going to be awesome when he needs TJ surgery and his contract becomes a drag on the suddenly poor Steinbrenner family, the fans abandon the Yankees for the Orioles, and the Blue Jays start a ten-year run of AL East domination. A kid can dream.