Thursday, October 15, 2009

Miami University football

It isn't bad enough that Miami University is 0-6 this year with all of the losses this year by double digits, but to have a 1st year coach who refuses to try and win games is really disheartening. Sure the *talent level on this team is bad, which we all knew going into the season since last year's team went 2-10. Also, true is that the team is starting a 19 year old freshmen, so growing pains would be expected. Still I can't help but come to the conclusion that first year coach Mike Haywood is terrible.

*Was it only 5-6 years ago that NFL level talent was going through Oxford, OH? I mean Ben Roethlisberger is the big name who has obviously done very well for himself after leaving Miami, but there was also quality players like Jacob Bell (2004 - 5th round pick), Ryne Robinson (2007 - 4th round pick), Terna Nande (2006 - 5th round pick) and Alphonso Hodge (2005 - 5th round pick)

Why would I pick on a coach who is only halfway finished with his first year? Besides the fact that he is *0-6 (did I mention that?) and in charge of the 4th worst team according to ESPN's Bottom 10 that just happens to be last in the FBS in scoring offense. There is a simple reason that I pick on Mike Haywood and that is because he was the culprit on what has to be one of the dumbest tactical decisions in football this year. Let us set up the scenario after the asterisk.

*11 straight losses for the Redhawks. That is the 2nd longest streak in the country. Everyone in Oxford can now ironically look down at the Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky.

Scenario 1
Miami is down 16-0 a little over 10 minutes to go in the game. 4th and 3 yards to go from their own 48 yard line. Why punt it? You are down two touchdowns and two two point conversations and you are near midfield. Does he realize that you need to try and score to win the game?

Scenario 2
Miami is still down 16-0, but now there is 5 minutes to go in the game. It is 4th and 13 yards to go from Miami's 19 yard line. Again, why would you punt it? You need to score at least two times and to do that you have to keep your offense on the field. There is a much better chance of you getting 4th and 13 than having Northwestern fumble the punt, which is pretty much what you are hoping to happen. This makes zero sense. It is almost like he is punting in hopes of keeping the final score close. As a Miami alum I don't care about the final score....all I care about is trying to win. I know the situation is bleak, but by punting there you are taking a 3% chance of winning the game and reducing it to 1%. That makes no sense.

After Scenario 2 happened Miami got the ball (after a Northwestern 3 and out) back with only 2 minutes and 49 seconds left. The fact that they were able to drive the ball down and score with a little over a minute left meant practically nothing since there was almost no time left on the clock. They tried an onside kick, which Northwestern recovered and quickly ran out the clock. Now if Coach Haywood would have gone for it on 4th down on one of the scenarios then maybe there would have been a chance to win the game. I certainly think 4th and 3 and 4th and 13 are much easier options than trying to get an onside kick. Basically Haywood was telling his offense that he didn't trust them to get any yards and it was best to try and just make the score respectable instead of actually trying to win. Maybe some Miami fans saw a 16-6 loss to a Big Ten opponent as an improvement? All I saw was a coach that was telling his team through his play calling that he didn't believe that they could win the game.

Coach Haywood try to win games.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Game 163

I have been meaning to write this post for a couple of days and finally I have a little bit of time to recap what an amazing game.   Just to refresh your memory the Twins beat the Tigers 6-5 in 12 innings on Tuesday to win the AL Central and complete one of the most improbable comebacks in baseball history.     You know it is a good game when you don't want to leave the ballpark after nearly 5 hours of being there.  Also, after that I went home and watched highlights of the game and then watched the complete game on DVR the next day.  There wasn't a highlight that could be shown or an article that could be written that I wouldn't want to watch or read.   

Anyway in honor of that game I will go through the top 20 moments from the game:
  1. The lineups being introduced and seeing 54,000 Twins fans waving their homer hankies.   I had been to big games (including 2 playoff games) before at the Metrodome, but I had never seen what looked like an entire stadium full of the familiar white hankies that had been first introduced in 1987 when the Twins won their first World Series.
  2. On Miguel Cabrera's 2nd at-bat the Twins fans chanted "al-coh-lic"  (in reference to his previous Friday night activities, which I have written about) and all he did was take an 0-2 pitch and crush it high and long to dead center to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead.   As loud as the Metrodome was during the introductions it was just as quiet after that home run.
  3. Matt Tolbert starting the comeback with an infield single and eventually scoring on a missed pickoff play.   I don't know if the new crew is like the 2006 team, but that definitely  was a piranha like run.   
  4. Jason Kubel's home run that cut the lead to 3-2 Tigers in the 6th inning and almost started a fight in section 224.   Somebody had walked in front of a group of fans right as Kubel hit his moon shot and the fans that missed the play took exception.   I agree with the aggrieved fans that the proper baseball etiquette is to wait till the end of an at-bat or inning before walking across your row.  
  5. Nick Punto's 9 pitch at bat that resulted in a single and led to the below.
  6. Orlando Cabrera's home run in the bottom of the 7th to give the Twins a 4-3 lead.   This caused a crazy celebration that led me to high five and hug both my friends to the left and the random people to the right.  This is the first time I thought the Twins might actually win the game.   
  7. Magglio Ordonez's home run in the next half inning to tie the game 4-4.   As long and as tough as it was for the Twins to come back and get the lead it took the Tigers two pitches to tie the game back.  
  8. Joe Nathan strikes out Placido Polanco with runners on 1st and 3rd and nobody out in the 9th inning.  Polanco only struck out 7% of the time this year, so to say that was a surprise is an understatement.   All Polanco had to do was get bat on ball and he would off almost guaranteed scored  a run.
  9. Orlando Cabrera's double play on the very next batter.  I don't know what Granderson was thinking, but it was a great play by Cabrera to take advantage of that mistake.
  10. Brandon Inge's double with 2 outs in the 10th inning that scores a run and gives the Tigers a 5-4 lead.  The most frustrating thing about this run was that the runner was only on base because Jesse Crain hit Aubrey Huff on an 0-2 pitch.  
  11. Michael Cuddyer's lead off single turned triple thanks to the alligator arms of Ryan Rayburn in the 10th inning.
  12. Matt Tolbert's bleeder of a single through the middle that was thisclose to a double play, but instead resulted in a tie game and and runners on 1st and 3rd with only one out.
  13. Nick Punto was the next batter and needing only a sac fly to win the game he lined a ball that turned into a double play when Alexi Casilla was thrown out at home.   The two  frustrating things about this play was that Punto hit the ball very well (not a common occurance) and that Casilla hesitated before tagging up at 3rd.   He was thrown out by 6 inches and might have been safe if he would have made shown some basic baserunning logic.  
  14. Nick Punto's defensive play at the plate.   In the 12th inning with bases loaded and only 1 out Brandon Inge hit a ground ball in the middle of the infield and Punto made the decision that he was not going to get a double play and instead made a tough throw home to get the runner on force out.   This was a huge play because Punto had to be thinking about getting a double play and he changed his mind in mid play because he knew (correctly) that the ball was hit too slow for him to try and get both the runner at 2nd and Inge.   This one play justified Gardy's decision to keep playing Punto and Bill Smith's decision to pay a below average batter $4M this year.  
  15. Bobby Keppel strikes out Gerald Laird on a 3-2 pitch that would probably have been a ball if Laird wouldn't have swung and missed.   One of the truly overlooked heroes of the game for the Twins was Laird.   He went 0-6 with 2 strikeouts and one double play and included in those numbers was his 0-4 with runners in scoring position.   If Laird would have had even a below average game the Tigers would have won the game.   
  16. Carlos Gomez starts off the 12th with a single between the 3rd baseman and shortstop. Huge hit considering it was the leadoff batter for the inning and the fact that Gomez is Usain Bolt fast.  
  17. Michael Cuddyer moves Gomez over in an unconventional way by hitting a high chopper of a ground ball to Inge at 3rd base.  
  18. Delmon Young gets intentionally walked.   This was no a top moment because I never thought I would see the day that Delmon Young of all players would be intenionally walked.  I guess that shows you how much Jim Leyland thought of Alexi Casilla.
  19. The top moment from the game had to be the last one where Casilla hits a ground ball through hole in the right side of the infield and Carlos Gomez easily scores from 2nd.
  20. There wasn't much better than the celebration after the game.   Everyone from the fans to the players absolutely lost it in a moment of pure glee.  We stayed and cheered and sang along to "New York, New York" and  "Ain't No Stopping Us Now."   We watched the Twins players give victory laps around the field.   It was a special moment for the Twins and one that will be forever stamped in my memory.
Here are some other articles from what I consider the greatest game I have ever seen.

Jim Souhan "The Dome would not go quietly" including this great line "In a building known for pop-ups that never come down, the Twins won their final game in typically improbable fashion, with two benched best friends finally producing the game-winning run to give the victor to a journeyman reliever who contemplated retirement last winter."  
Pictures and video from the game are here.  

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Greatest. Game. Ever.

First pitch....54K+ cheering on on the Twins at a little past 4pm

Punto's big at bat with runners on 1st and 3rd and one out. What looked like a game winning hit ended up being a double play when Casilla was tagged out at home.

Twins win. Casilla and Gomez (who would have thought) were the heros at the end.

Very, very happy.

Final scoreboard. Notice the time (8:51pm) which is only 4 hours and 45 minutes since the first pitch.

I have to write more about the game will be hard to get all of what I am thinking into one post especiallly when the Twins play today at 5pm against the Yankees.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Game Time

From a team that was so average for so long and was known more for their crushing losses it is nice to see such a remarkable turnaround. This team has provided some signature wins and this late stretch has given them the opportunity to win the division by beating the rival Detroit Tigers at the Metrodome today. Today's game would be the signature win of the season and make this season a success regardless of what would happen against the Yankees. I am excited, but nervous. In 3.5 hours I will be sitting in the upper club cheering, yelling, praying for the Twins. After 162 games there will be one more game. Just like last year, but hopefully now with a different ending. Go Twins.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Miguel Cabrera's Blood Alcohol Content

Coming to you live from the "capital of the sports world" (according to Tony Kornheiser) I am getting ready for the big Monday Night Football game between the Vikings and Packers.   It will be nice to this game sandwiched in between two huge Twins games that yours truly has either attended or will be attending.   There will be plenty of talk by others about the Vikings-Packers game (something about some Mississippian named Favre) and plenty of talk by me on the Twins tiebreaker and possibly playoff games.   This post is not about that because an amazing story just came up this morning that needs to be discussed.

On Friday night I was watching the Twins-Royals game and was cheering against the Tigers as they eventually lost to the White Sox.   On Saturday night it was pretty much the same thing as the Twins won and the Tigers lost again to the White Sox.   Both of those events were enough for the Twins to tie the Tigers and ultimately led the tiebreaker at the Metrodome tomorrow. Both of those games for the Tigers were of ultimate importance because if the Tigers would have won just one of those games they would have been celebrating an AL Central title after yesterday's victory.   During those games the Tigers star player Miguel Cabrera went 0-8 with a key double play in Saturday's game.   Nothing much to report there since all players have had 2 straight bad games.   

And then this story broke this morning.  To recap the main points:
  • After the game on Friday Cabrera went out partying with members of the White Sox.   
  • He came home at night and got into some type of altercation with his wife.
  • His wife had to call the police at 6am and the police picked up and gave him a blood alcohol test. 
  • Cabrera blew a .26 BAC.  A .26 BAC!   This Tigers blogger wrote it best when he wrote - wrote "A .26 BAC?  That's not just buzzed.  Thats not just drunk.  That's pretty smashed."
  • I looked up a BAC chart to see how many drinks a 240 pound guy would have to drink to get a .26 BAC.  Not counting the alcohol that you "burn up" over the course of time you have been drinking Cabrerra would have had 17 drinks.  17 drinks!  At absolute minimum. That is amazing.
Why would the star player and MVP candidate have at least 17 drinks before one of the biggest games of the year?   A game that he helped proceed to lose with his lack of production in the middle of the lineup.  Not to mention the fact that .26 is in the red on the BAC chart with words "death possible" in bold.   Or the not so minor detail that he had a physical altercation so severe with his wife that his wife had to call the police on her own husband.    There are a lot of unknowns with this story (degree of the fight between the Cabrera's?  how did Cabrera get home? etc), but what is unknown is crazy enough.   17 drinks.   At a minimum.   Then he called the Tigers GM to pick up from jail.  What was he thinking?    In what other job could you get so drunk, got in a fight with your wife and be picked up by your boss on the same day as your most important meeting and still keep your job.   I thought athletes couldn't surprise me anymore until I heard this story.  Really what was Miguel Cabrera thinking?  

Friday, October 2, 2009

Ode to the Metrodome

Considering the name of this blog and my on going reviews of baseball stadiums it seems strange that I have never reviewed the Hubert Humphrey Metrodome. It isn't like the place hasn't meant much to me. In fact it might be the opposite since the place has meant so much to me during my time up in the frozen tundra. Since this weekend is the final regular season home series it is about time I wrote something about a much loathed park.

I love the Metrodome. That doesn't mean I love everything about it or that I don't understand the many complaints about the place. I do. I know the aisles are long and the seats were apparently made for jockeys for who don't want to be facing home plate. There are some things I love that other people hate (a *Metrodome double) and some things I hate that other people love (the Dome Dog). Regardless the best things about the Metrodome are that the Twins play there and the tickets are cheap. That and the fond memories of games past.

*When a player loses a fly ball in the white background of the Dome usually the batter can make it to 2nd base for a double that in any other ballpark would have been an easy out. This is most common in the day time when the sun makes the Dome's roof even more tough on outfielders. The last Metrodome double I saw was a huge Orlando Cabrera double against the Tigers two weeks ago.

I have been to at least 63 games at the Metrodome. I can say this with complete confidence because I have the ticket stubs to back it up. There have been 51 Twins games, 5 NCAA tournament game, 4 Vikings games, 2 Gophers football games and 1 Gophers-Ohio St. baseball game. I didn't see the Rolling Stones play there, but I am as aware of that fact as I am that the Metrodome is the only place that has hosted a World Series, MLB All Star Game, Super Bowl and Final Four. I didn't meet my wife there, but I have gone on many dates with my future wife there. In fact the year (2006) I fell in love with her was the year I fell in the love with the Twins. That was the year of the tapas (not topless as my Mom initially thought) restaurant and the Piranhas.

My most memorable memories of the Metrdome:
  • White Sox - Twins - 2008 - Twins sweep and take the AL Central lead with 3 games left on a dramatic comeback. I can still vividly remember Span chasing Gomez around the bases for his game tying triple.
  • Orioles - Twins - 2009 - A what at the time seemed like a pretty meaningless game ends on a Delmon Young single.
  • A's - Twins - Game 1 - 2006 - Frank Thomas. And then Frank Thomas again. Zito should give Frank Thomas part of his $126M contract that he got in part for beating Johan Santana in this game.
  • A's - Twins - Game 2 - 2006 - Tori Hunter might have won a lot of Gold Gloves, but I always remember him diving and missing what ended up being a game losing inside the park home run.
  • Yankees - Twins - 2008 - ***Long Twins/Stats tangent...feel free to skip***I am not into hyperbole, so take that into account when I write that I saw what might be the most statistically improbable event that I will ever see in my baseball watching life. Here is the situation: Twins down 3 runs with runners on 1st and 2nd and a 0 balls 2 strikes count to Delmon Young in the bottom of the 8th inning. The pitcher for the Yankees is none other than Mariano Rivera. The same Mariano Rivera who has a career 2.26 era and has given up only 60 home runs (11 in his first year) in 1089 innings pitched. In fact in 2006, 2007 and 2008 he gave up only 3, 4, 4 home runs respectively all year. That means there is about a 50 times more likely chance of Rivera getting an out than giving up a home run. Delmon Young through his career has hit 35 home runs in 1723 at bats, which means there is about a 2% chance of him hitting a home run in any one his at bats. However, remember that it is an 0-2 count, which takes all of those odds down a little bit. Anyway, Young hit an opposite field home run to tie a game that the Twins would eventually lose on an Alex Rodriguez extra inning home run.
  • Kansas - Dayton - 2009 - Cole Aldrich dominates the Fliers by recording triple double.
  • Tigers - Twins - 2009 - As previously mentioned Cabrera hits a Metrodome double that leads to a victory over Verlander that makes the AL Central race a little bit closer.
I started this post on Friday when it looked like the Twins wouldn't have much of chance of making it to the playoffs. They were 2 games behind the Tigers with only 3 games left. There was still a little hope, but a betting man would have placed a large wager on the fact that Sunday's game against the Royals would be the last Twins game at the Metrodome. Well a lot of things happened (The White Sox won 2 against the Tigers and the Twins won 2 against the Royals including beating the eventual Cy Young winner Zach Greinke) and coming in this morning the Twins were tied for first the White Sox with one game to go. A lot had changed since the beginning of this post.

My friend Brian and I joined 51,000 people at the Metrodome and we were greeted with homer hankies and also a commemorative diploma celebrating the final regular season game. At the game there was the familiar sign in the home run porch counting down the remaining games at the Metrodome. All weekend was a celebration of the last games at the Metrodome. It turns out the only 1 game left countdown and the commemorative diploma were all for the second to last regular season game. The reason being is the Twins crushed the Royals and the Tigers beat the White Sox. That means for the second straight year the Twins will play in game 163 with the winner going to the playoffs to face the Yankees.

There is still a little more magic in the Metrodome. I will be in the upper club behind home plate for the game on Tuesday. I had made my peace with the Metrodome and was thankful that my last game there was a victory over the Tigers. The Metrodome wouldn't let go. The Twins did their best and with a lot of help the season will keep going for one more day. For such a much maligned ballpark it is appropriate that it ends this way. Let the record show that the final regular season game at Yankee Stadium was a pointless 7-3 victory over Baltimore. The final regular season game at the Metrodome was a very important Twins victory that forced a tiebreaker game against the division rival Tigers at of course the Metrodome.

This final series against the Royals combined with the Monday Night Football game between the Packers and Vikings and the tiebreaker on Tuesday with the Tigers helps serve as an example my final point on this long post. While the Metrodome might not have the best looking baseball stadium (partly because it is a football stadium), but for all its faults it can never be considered irrelevant.

If you are interested below are some other articles on the Metrodome: