Boy has Sabathia struggled this postseason. After turning in his third successive poor start, you wonder what kind of confidence he would have if he would be needed in relief in a game seven. Often those games of “all hands on deck” use great starting pitchers in relief roles, but Sabathia has been anything but great. And game five’s four earned runs through six innings was incredible from the fact that it wasn’t worse.
Do you know how hard it is for a pitcher to go six innings, walk two, hit two, give up ten hits including two doubles a triple and a homer and only give up four runs? Look at it this way, Sabathia faced 29 batters, 15 made outs, 14 reached safely. That’s awful. Combine that with what he did in game one and you wonder what he will give the Tribe the next time he takes the mound, assuming there is a next time in ’07.
Now, onto game six, which will be fascinating for two reasons. Number one, does Francona stay with the same line-up? Defensively he likes Lugo and Crisp. While many people thought of Lugo as all stick, no glove when he arrived in Boston, he has been just the opposite, while Crisp has been touted by his manager as the gold glove winner in centerfield. The problem is, these two have broken up more rallies than tear gas. Can Francona afford to go with a line-up where half of the guys aren’t producing?
Number two, what do we see from Schilling and Carmona. I think much of the same from game two. I don’t think either will be great. While they both may figure out a way to get through the sixth inning, I say this thing has a better chance of being 4-3 when the starters come out than it does being 2-1.
One more thing. In baseball history, fourteen teams have rallied from 3-1 deficits to force a game seven. Once they do that, the rallying team (which would be the Red Sox if it would happen this year) is 10-4 in the deciding game seven.
Now, on to the NFL. As my record fell to 15-13, I became seriously depressed about my prognostication abilities. It wasn’t too long ago that I was picking games at over a 75% clip, but now my percentage had cooled to 53.6%. Then I listened to a national radio show and the guy talked about how he was two games over .500 and touting himself as a genius. Heck, I’m two games over .500 and I’m not on 340 affiliates. Then I picked up a NY Post to read about Joe Torre, and in leafing through I saw how their experts were doing. They have ten guys picking games and my percentage is better than nine of the ten. As a matter of fact, my percentage is also better than nine out of ten in their best bests column. With this information at hand, I am reinvigorated! I can’t be stopped! And since all of my picks are either the late games or the Sunday night game, I say enjoy the Ravens game, then it’s skyrockets in flight, late Sunday afternoon delight!
Minnesota +9 ½ over DALLAS: I’m not a Cowboys fan jumping off of the bandwagon. I’m a realistic fan looking at what’s happening right now. The Cowboys lost to New England and should have lost to Buffalo. That’s two bad games in a row. Also, Romo has struggled lately, and his offensive coordinator is in his first season on the job. That might not be a great combination right now. On the other side, Minnesota is 2-3, but when you look at their results, they haven’t played a bad game yet. They still don’t have a quarterback, but they can run the ball. I just think 9 ½ is too many.
Kansas City +2 ½ over OAKLAND: I don’t think Oakland is awful. They are much better than last year. Much better. But remember, while the Chiefs aren’t getting any national love, they did make the playoffs last year, and they were better in ’06 when Trent Green was hurt. (I never understood why his contract or lack there of was suck a big story last spring.) Larry Johnson just got going last week and now he runs into a Raiders team that only tackled LT about three times last week. I like Herm Edwards. If the Chiefs are going to hang around for the wild card battle, they have to win games like this. I think they win this one.
Kansas City/OAKLAND over 37: The Raiders haven’t played a game yet this year where there has been less than 42 points scored. They will find a way, whether through good offense or bad defense, to get this thing in the 40s.
Chicago +5 ½ over PHILY: I picked the Eagles to win at least ten games when the season started, but they aren’t very good. Right now, I’m not sure they can win eight games. The offense has no weapons, McNabb is not playing well at all, and Andy Reid has two kids in jail. (this last part may not be gospel, but I think it’s true. I read something this week about parole violations and the sort. Whatever the case, their legal problems are far from over) At some point, these problems at home have to be a distraction. As a matter of fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if Andy Reid, who I think is a great coach, takes a leave of absence in the middle of the season a la Coach K. If the team is 4-6 and going nowhere, I think he goes home and tries to straighten out Brittany and Lindsay … I mean his kids. I know the Bears are struggling, but the Eagles just beat the Jets by seven and the Bears are two points better than the Jets.
Chicago/PHILY under 41½: The Eagles defense is pretty good and Lito Sheppard is supposed to be back this week. There offense just can’t score. They had one touchdown last week and it was a 75 yard slant pass that looked very much like Shannon Sharpe in Oakland. It was much more of a freak thing than an explosive offensive display. They have no weapons on the outside.. I love Westbrook, but he can’t be the feature back and the best wideout at the same time. Unless Hester returns three kicks for touchdowns for the Bears, this thing is not going over.
Pittsburgh –3 ½ over DENVER: It’s usually hard picking road favorites in Mile High. Heck, there usually aren’t road favorites in Mile High. I just think this Denver team stinks. I mean awful. They just lost Javon Walker for the season and Champ Bailey is nursing a quad strain. The Steelers though are getting healthy. Hines ward returns, and boy does that offense need him. I know that the Steelers have not played the greatest schedule so far and they lost as a road favorite in Arizona, but they were winning that game at half time before Troy Puuallammmalooo got hurt and didn’t play a down in the second half. I think this line of only 3½ reflects a common belief that Mike Shanahan teams are always good. While I think Mr. Shanahan has had some great teams, but this isn’t one of them. Somewhere Jake Plummer is laughing.
There you go. Enjoy the rest of the weekend.