Major Leagues: Schmidt likes Angels to win it all
By Mike Schmidt
It’s that time again. Every night a game worth watching, every morning a game worth discussing. Every game has a moment that provides 24 hours of discussion, from water coolers to radio talk shows to ESPN.
So let’s get it started.
There are four clear-cut favorites to win it all ó the Los Angeles Angels, Tampa Bay, Boston, and the Chicago Cubs.
The best pitching, on both ends, hitters who understand close-game situational hitting, great defense and leadership from managers and tested players.
Tampa brings a scary element: Youthful, never-say-die, yes-we-can, young confidence and exuberance. “Go ahead and try to beat us,” they say. Watch out for them with the home-field advantage.
Philly and Milwaukee, both on a high. They live by the home run, are not great at doing the little things that breed consistency, but can heat up in a short series if their hitters are hot.
Think about what wins a postseason series. The Angels are the template, with the Red Sox and Cubs a close second. Heck, Josh Beckett is pitching Game 3.
Pitching, pitching and more pitching. Forget hitting, it’s unpredictable. Few, if any, World Series champions hit their way to the title.
It’s guys like Catfish Hunter, Jack Morris, Roger Clemens, John Smoltz, Josh Beckett and the Mariano Riveras. Stud starters and automatic closers, and who has both? The Angels, Red Sox and Cubs.
The Rays, Phils, Dodgers all have decent starters with a good No. 1 and 2 and good bullpens, but not in the elite class. I’m talking four guys who can throw a shutout for seven innings and a closer who is automatic.
Philly has an automatic closer in Brad Lidge and one guy who can throw zeros for nine. The Dodgers could make some noise with the best bullpen ERA in the NL, and a closer that has the stuff, but no experience.
The Rays and Brewers and the AL Central champ are good, not stellar. Pitching is king in the postseason. You cannot win in today’s postseason, due to the number of games, without dominant pitching.
There’s another reason dominant pitching wins in the postseason ó it keeps the hitters in the right frame of mind.
Close-game hitting is so much different than come-from-behind hitting. In close-game hitting, you are thinking small: move a runner, draw a walk, drop a bunt, make contact, hit a single. Something small can lead to a win. Hitters with that mind-set are dangerous and tough to pitch to.
Hitters trying to do it all with every swing get overanxious, failure multiplies and becomes magnified on the big stage and frustration sets in.
You’ve seen it ó I went 1-for-20 in the 1983 World Series, I’ve experienced it.
Mike Schmidt was the MVP of the 1980 World Series as a member of the Phillies.