Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Yankees Beat Erick Aybar and the Angels in the ALCS

On Sunday night the Yankees beat the Angels, 5-2, in Game Six of the American League Championship Series, to win the series four games to two. The Yankees now play the Phillies in the World Series, which starts tonight in New York.

I really enjoyed following the Yankees/Angels series. It was by far the most baseball I'd watched in years, and it brought home, for me, why baseball captures the imagination: it's a really nice mix of mental and physical challenges. I guess this is what people like George Will, Thomas Boswell (and G. E. White!) always say, but it's hard to "get" unless you sit and watch a pitcher work his way through the line-up or a batter come to the plate multiple times during a game and tweak his approach depending on the circumstances.

It helps that Tim McCarver was the color commentator for the games - in terms of helping to understand the strategy and details of what's going on, McCarver is the best current announcer, hands-down. For football games, Troy Aikman and Cris Collinsworth bring some of that perspective (and Madden used to, before he became a caricature of himself a la Dick Vitale), but McCarver is tops.

In terms of the players, C. C. Sabathia took MVP honors for his masterful pitching in games 1 and 4, but Alex Rodriguez got even more praise for having broken out of his past habit of underperforming in the postseason (Rodriguez hit .429 with 3 home runs). Derek Jeter clearly remains the emotional leader of the team (though I guess Rivera also fills that role - I never actually made it to the 9th inning of a game to see him pitch!).

For the Angels, I really liked watching them persevere in the underdog role: John Lackey's intensity was awesome (I wanted to see him pitch in a Game 7), and Bobby Abreu and Vladimir Guerrero brought the veteran leadership (though Abreu unfortunately did not hit well in any of the games). My favorite, though, was Erick Aybar (the photo is of him). Aybar let a pop-up drop at his feet during Game 1, and after that I was rooting for him all the way (he did manage to get a couple of key hits and turned an outstanding double play in Game 5).

Football-wise, it was another truly rough weekend for the Cavs and the Redskins. Georgia Tech beat Virginia in the rain on Saturday (Tech's running game is awesome), and the Redskins' offense was meager again last night as they lost to the Eagles 27-17. It will be interesting to see if Jason Campbell remains the starting QB after the bye week.

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