Sunday, October 09, 2005

Out like suckas II

The expected happened last night when the Padres took a thumping from the Cardinals in San Diego. The ultimate ignominy, the Padres are not only the worst team ever to make the playoffs but the only one to end up under .500 after the playoffs: 82-83 after the sweep.

The other teams closest to the Padres in relative infamy, the '73 Mess (82-79) and the '84 Royals (84-78), put forth a fight. The Mess beat the Reds in five contentious games to win the NLCS (the Mess won three games by big scores, lost two close ones) and gave the defending WS champion A's all that team could handle in a seven-game World Series (the Mess had Seaver on the mound for game 6, up 3 games to 2, but Catfish Hunter outpitched him and Ken Holtzman won the finale).

The Royals were completely overmatched by the second-best team of The Monk's lifetime, the '84 Tigers (the first was the '98 Yankees -- deal with it Reds fans). The Tigers whacked the Royals in 3, but at least had to fight through games 2 and 3 (5-3 in 11, 1-0 with dueling three-hitters). The Pads went out without even a whimper -- their smallest deficit before putting a run on the board in any of the three games was 4-0. They got to the playoffs, they could have at least played a bit.

As for the Braves, I was ready to write Out Like Suckas III for them, but have to reserve that for a potential (probable?) Yankees honk. Tim Hudson did a fine job, the Braves took a huge lead . . . and Kyle Farnsworth collapsed. Pathetic job by him, but a fine job by the rest of the (fairly) maligned relievers for going zero-for-zero with the Astros' bullpen from innings 10-17. Credit the 'Stros (and light-hitting utilityman Chris Burke, the new Todd Pratt), don't debit the Braves.

Finally, as I write this about 35 minutes before the Yanks either take an attempt to resurrect their playoff hopes or watch the season go into the trash bucket, I have to note just how the four LDS have exposed the various teams' weaknesses. This is in contrast to last year, when the Yanks dodged the implications of their cruddy pitching and a wobbly Gordon and the Twins hit fairly well despite their reputation otherwise, the RedSawx masked a hit-and-miss rotation, while blasting the Angels' superior pitching, the Cards bonked the Dodgers despite looking lost against Jose Lima and the Astros beat the Braves' balanced rotation with good hitting and the strength of Clemens-Oswalt-Lidge.

In the '05 LDS, however, the Padres' substandard hitting and rotation were never offset; the RedSawx questionable rotation, poor fielding and lack of timely hitting in September led directly to a sweep loss; the Braves' up and down rotation, inexperience and terrible bullpen caused a four-game loss; and the Yanks' defense and middle relief have been horrid to date. None of those teams are overcoming their weaknesses nor their opponents' strengths. Indeed, the only team that has played above and beyond its usual capacity is the Astros . . . but The Monk previously noted that with Berkman (grand slam today), Lane and Ensberg (7 RBI in the NLDS), the 'Stros were healthier and their offense deadlier than it has been all year.

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