Saturday, October 17, 2009

Oh yeah, the ALCS (and some Husky hockey)

Yes, I realize I haven't talked about the ALCS at all. And there's actually a good reason for that. My goals for any team before the season are pretty clear, and generally all I ask for is improvement. When I started watching in earnest at the beginning of '06, I wanted to learn about baseball, and results were mostly unimportant. In '07, I wanted to see them reach the playoffs. In '08, I wanted them to reach the ALCS. Following that schedule, this would have been the year I wanted them to win the World Series*.

But after the Angels lost last season, they fell off schedule, and all I wanted to see this season was a trip to the ALCS. Beating the Red Sox was a relatively major footnote after the complex the Angels developed over the last four playoff series, but getting to the Championship series was a big step, both from a baseball perspective and a mental perspective.

But Marcus, shouldn't you want your team to win the title every year, and don't you think settling for anything less is a sign of poor fandom?

Well, yes and no. I'd love to see the Angels bring home that trophy every season, but I'm not greedy and I'm not an idiot. Some fans will never see a World Series title in their lifetime, and I've been fortunate enough to see one of my teams win a title in my first few years of avid sports interest. I would absolutely love to crush the Yankees and roll through the NL champions in 4 games to bring a parade back to Disneyland. I would love to see Vlad's hall of fame status secured, John Lackey decide to give a hometown discount to a team that brought him two titles, and force Red Sox fans to acknowledge that the Angels are the decided team of the decade.

But I don't think that's the only way to measure success. Every time I watch the Royals, I feel for those fans. And frankly, there's no shame in a playoff system in which the best team wins, and that team is the Yankees.

With all that said, the Angels can beat the Yankees. AJ Burnett has been two pitchers this season, and if Bad AJ shows up, the Yankees are vulnerable. Andy Pettite has been solid this season, but the Angels have seen him more than they've seen Sabathia or Burnett, so that experience might play into their favor. The biggest problem might come down to weather, because the rain is likely going to cancel the game tonight, and New York is trying to run a three-man rotation. That's easy when you have 15 off days during a 7 game series.

No more off days in the playoffs. Imagine how much more relevant it is to have to pitch your guys on 3 days rest or use a real rotation, the rotation that got you to the playoffs in the first place.

Finally, it's been said many times before, but the Angels have played the Yankees twice before, beaten them twice before, and lost the first game in each of those series' both times.

*Frankly, once any team from the AL makes it out of the AL, they really should be beating whoever comes out of the NL. Obviously it hasn't worked that way in recent years ('06, '08), but with the AL's huge edge in interleague play and, by most accounts, overall talent, the Angels need to win the World Series should they get there. All apologies to Cardinals and Phillies fans, of course.

Northeastern 3, Bentley 2

First of all, Matthews Arena has never had as many students in attendance as it did last night. Although the game was pretty boring and the crowd noise died out a little towards the end of the game, the first five minutes were the loudest I've ever heard the place. I got to the Arena an hour early and still had to sit on the opposite side of the rink because the entire balcony was full an hour before game time.

The game itself was relatively morning, but it included some things never before seen at Matthews: Disallowed goals courtesy of instant replay.

It was weird, actually, and terrible luck for the Falcons, who had two goals waved off and a third also under review which stood. Supposedly, both disallowed goals were kicked into the net, but the replays they show on the video board don't include the above-net camera which typically shows the best information. The goal they allowed to stand looked like it was scored on a deflection off a high stick, but the Bentley parents in attendance looked like they were about ready to jump over the glass already anyway.

Northeastern pretty much dominated play, but it wasn't a pretty win by any means. Chris Rawlings still looks so nervous in the crease, and I think that's where Husky fans have been spoiled by Brad Thiessen. The first time any of us saw Thiessen in Matthews, we were all shocked to see a goalie who wasn't in a state of constant emotional flux. He was calm, in control, and while he wouldn't make the extraordinary saves he became known for in his last season, he exuded an air of confidence that calmed the defense and the fans. I was telling Mark that in every game of hockey, I cringe a little bit on every shot taken. Thiessen was the only goalie who I could watch without getting that little cringe on every shot, and that's the part of his game I miss most.

Of course, Rawlings and Thiessen put up nearly identical numbers in the BCHL, so you'd think they'd have similar numbers in Hockey East. His only real hurdle is the mental side of the game, but I'm hoping he gets that squared away as he gets a few more games under his belt.

Husky miscellany:
  • The ice crew at Matthews is awful. At the start of the second and third periods, there were large amounts of standing water on the ice because they didn't finish their Zamboni runs until less than two minutes remained before the start of the period. Use cold water, or clean the ice sooner, because goalies are going to start getting stuck to the crease and pucks will start hitting puddles and stopping.
  • I don't really understand why the instant replays have to be so crappy. We have cameras in the goals and above the goals, but the only angle they show is some feed with Mr. Shaky Hands at the camera and angled obliquely from behind the glass. You can't ever see the puck.
  • The building has major echo issues, and that's good for fans. It's not good for long discussions and interviews on the video board. Add subtitles or put speakers directly above the fans.
  • Steve Quailer is done for the season, and possibly his NU career, after having ACL surgery earlier this week.
  • Brad Thiessen may get his first professional start of his career tonight with the WBS Penguins. John Curry made 38 saves in a 6-3 win last night, so they might want to get Brad in there tonight. Joe Vitale is still with the team, of course, and Louis Liotti and Dennis McCauley both made their starts for the Worcester Sharks, with both picking up some time in the box.

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