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Padre Steve’s MLB LCS Picks

The Vicar of the Church of Baseball Harbor Park Parish makes his LCS Predictions

Well baseball fans it is time to pick who I think will be in the 2010 World Series.  This year we have the heavyweights, the New York Yankees the defending World Series Champions and the Philadelphia Phillies who won the Series in 2008. The Yankees will be facing the upstart Texas Rangers who are fresh off their first playoff series victory in franchise history while the Phillies face the irrepressible collection of unknown underdogs the San Francisco Giants.

The NLCS

“The main idea is to win.” John McGraw

Roy Halladay no-hit the Reds has his worst record against the Giants of any team that he has faced more than 3 times

Both of these series will be fascinating to watch and should provide baseball fans with some memorable moments. The teams took different paths to get the LCS.  The Phillies as expected took the NL East in a convincing manner going 97-65 in the regular season and having one of the best trios of starting pitchers seen in the Majors for a long time.  The Phillies defeated the Cincinnati Reds sweeping the Big Red Machine in the NLDS.  Despite this the Phillies, apart from the great pitching of Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels were not impressive hitting only .212 against a rather lackluster Reds pitching staff. The Phillies scored only 13 runs on 16 hits in that series, just a fraction above 4 runs a game but only 7 of those 13 runs were earned runs, the rest came as a result of the Reds abdication of something that is known as defense. To skew the numbers even more 4 of those earned runs came in a 1.2 inning period against Reds game one starter Edinson Volquez. Remove those 4 runs and the Phillies scored just 3 earned runs in 25 innings. The Phillies had a .301 OBP and an anemic .273 SLG against the Reds. In the series the Phillies had just one home run, that coming from Chase Utley who led the team in RBIs with 4 in the series. Only one other player had more than 1 RBI and that was Shane Victorino with three. Ryan Howard and Chase Utley led the team’s position players tied with a .273 batting average. Phillies starters had a 1.17 ERA while the team staff had a collection 1.00 ERA.

Jonathan Sanchez beat the Phillies twice in 2010 in a convincing manner (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The Giants are the dark horse of the playoffs in fact if you look at all of the “expert” predictions no one had the Giants finishing better than 4th in the NL West behind the Padres, Dodgers and Rockies. The team was a collection of no-names at the start of the season save their starting pitching rotation of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Barry Zito and Jonathan Sanchez.  During the regular season and at the trading deadline the Giants went and picked up a bunch of journeymen rejected by other teams leading Padres ace Matt Latos to call them a team made up of “mercenaries.” Since the Giants have gotten little respect most of the year why should they now? The Giants went 92-70 in the NL West taking the division on the last day of the season from their nemesis the San Diego Padres.  The Giants get to the NLCS after gutting it out in four one run games against the Atlanta Braves, a team so evenly matched in most departments in a series that was arguably one of the most filled with tension and exciting in recent divisional series history.  Like the Phillies the Giants hitting was weak hitting .212 and scoring 11 runs 7 of which were earned on 23 hits. Rookie Buster Posey led the team in hitting with a .375 batting average followed by Cody Ross at .286 and Aubrey Huff at .267.  The Giants had a .288 OBP and .295 SLG against the Braves. Giants starting pitchers had a .089 ERA in the series and the team staff had a collective 1.66 ERA.

In the Regular season the Phillies went 97-65 but there is a caveat 25 of those 97 wins came against the Nationals and Marlins. Remove those two teams stats out of the equation and the Phillies are 72-54 against the rest of the league.  The undoubtedly a great record but over a quarter of Phillies wins came against two bad opponents. Now I am not dissing the Phillies in any way as it would have been criminal if they even were close to having a .500 record against them. The Giants went 92-70 and like the Phillies they beat up on their division’s cellar dweller the Arizona Diamondbacks with a 13-5 record.  The only team in the league that had the Giants’ number was the Padres who the Giants edged out on the last day of the season for the Division title.

Playing against common NL opponents the Phillies went 84-54 against the Giants went 82-57 and the teams were 3 and 3 against each other in 2010.  In those 6 games the Phillies had 28 runs to the Giants 27, 45 hits compared to 60 for the Giants and 2 errors against the Giants 4.  But I think the real key is how the starting pitchers did in head to head matchups against the opposing team and I find these numbers to be interesting.

W-L             IP       H         ER      BB      SO      HR         ERA

Hamels     Phi      0-1             20        11        9        5        15         1         4.05

Sanchez    SF        2-0            13       5         2        6         8         0             1.38

Cain           SF        0-1           6        7        5        1          4         1               7.50

Blanton     Phi      1-0           6.1     8        2         2         7         2              2.95

Zito            SF        0-1          5          8        4         4         0         0             7.20

Oswalt      Phi       1-0          7           6        3          3        7        2             3.86

Lincecum   SF       0-0          8.1        3         2         2        1       11           2.22

Moyer        Phi      0-1          6          10        4         4        1        2            6.00

Wellmeyer  SF      1-0          7           3          2         2        4        0           5.27

Halladay      Phi      0-1        7           10        5         5         0        1           6.43

“The only thing that matters is what happens on the little hump out in the middle of the field.” Earl Weaver

In the coming series the pitching rotations tentatively have Lincecum against Hallady in game one, Sanchez against Oswalt in game 2, Cain against Hamels in game 3 and Bumgarner against Blanton in game 4. Both managers have not ruled out pitching either Halladay or Lincecum on short rest. The Giants have a stronger bullpen but Giants closer was banged around by the Phillies worse than any of his other opponents.

Padre Steve’s NLCS Pick

I think this series goes 7 games and I hate to try to pick a winner based on these numbers. All the experts are picking the Phillies in 5 or 6 games but I don’t know if they will manage that based on the statistics. My heart lies with the Giants but the Phillies do have more pop in their bats. In the starting pitching it looks like the Giants have the edge in the head to head match ups.  Also the Giants did not have a good number of new players in their first two games against the Phillies. I am going to be the odd guy out and I will probably be wrong but I am going with the Giants to upset the Phillies in seven simply because the Giants have nothing to lose in this series, none of the real experts expects them to win. I expect Lincecum and Sanchez to be the difference and for Hamels and Halladay not to do as well against the Giants as they have the Reds and their own division. If the Giants lose the series then people will say that I didn’t know what I was talking about and forget these picks by game one of the World Series. If not people will say that I am a genius or incredibly luck. Either way I’m okay with this pick.

The ALCS

“You got to get twenty-seven outs to win.” Casey Stengel

Cliff Lee Owns the Yankees (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

In the ALCS we have the Yankees (95-67) looking to secure their chance to get in the World Series and win in for the 28th time going up against the playoff novice Texas Rangers (90-72).  The Rangers walked away in a weak AL West race and the Yankees finished as the Wild Card winner just behind the Division champs, the now eliminated Tampa Bay Rays. The Yankees rolled by the Minnesota Twins in the ALDS humiliating the Twinkies again proving as I said in my ALDS prediction that the Twins can’t beat the Yankees with a stick.  The Rangers defeated the Rays in a close series that went the full five games with their ace, Cliff Lee being the difference maker. The Yankees swept the Twins in a one sided series where they outscored the Twins 17-7 and outhit them 36-21 with their pitching staff having a 1.73 ERA against the Twinkies.  Phil Hughes was dominate in 7 innings work in game three while Andy Pettitte showed that he had recovered from injury and was effective in game two. C.C. Sabathia was banged around in game one but had the good fortune to have Yankees hitters come on strong. Mariano Rivera was simply lights out.

The Rangers won the AL West and faced the AL East champion the Tampa Bay Rays. This was the only series to go five games and the first division series to do so since 2005.  It was also a series where no home team won a game on its own field, so much for home field advantage.  In the series the 21 runs on 44 hits and committed 5 errors against the Rays 13 runs on 37 hits and 5 errors.  The Rangers pitching staff had a 2.40 ERA and was led by Cliff Lee and C. J. Wilson.  Lee was 2-0 in the series going 16 innings giving up 2 runs on 11 hits with a 1.13 ERA.

Mariano Rivera and the Yankees look to down the Rangers and try for their 28th World Series Title (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

In the regular season the Yankees went 84-60 and the Rangers went 76-68 against common AL opponents.  The teams went head to head 8 times splitting 4 games each. The Yankees swept the Rangers in mid-April and split a pair in mid August with the Rangers sweeping the Yankees at home in September. The Yankees pitching staff gave up 33 earned runs on 51 hits in those 8 games with a 4.23 ERA against the Rangers.  The Rangers pitching staff gave up 37 earned runs on 63 hits with a 4.62 ERA. The only pitcher to completely dominate the Yankees was Cliff Lee just as he did in the 2009 World Series when he was with the Phillies.

The Rangers had a regular season team ERA of 3.93 giving up 636 earned runs, 163 home runs and 551 walks.  In the hitting department the Rangers had a .276 team batting average, a .338 OBP and .491 SLG driving in 787 runs on 1556 hits of which 455 were extra base hits including 162 home runs.

The Yankees pitching staff had a team ERA of 4.06 giving up 651 earned runs and 179 home runs.  The Yankees hitters had a .267 team batting average, a .350 OBP (the best in the AL) and a .436 SLG producing 859 runs on 1485 hits including 508 extra base hits of which 201 were home runs.

Padre Steve’s ALCS pick

All things considered the teams match up well but no matter how well Cliff Lee pitches I see the Rangers losing in 6 games. However if the Series goes to 7 games and the Rangers can pitch Cliff Lee a third time I think that they will steal the AL Pennant from the Yankees, but they have to get to game 7 or they will not will the series.  My pick is the Yankees in 7 setting up an old fashioned World Series between two historic franchises the San Francisco Giants and the New York Yankees. What baseball fan besides Phillies and Rangers fans wouldn’t want to see that?  The last time the Giants and Yankees faced off in the World Series was 1951 when the Giants were still in New York which the Yankees won as well as 1936 and 1937 both of which were captured by the Yankees. One has to go back to 1921 and 1922 for the last times that the Giants defeat the Yankees in the Series, the last time that the Giants won a series was 1954 against the Indians.  A Giants and Yankees series might even bring back the ghosts of baseball past who will float into the New Yankee Stadium and AT&T Park remembering the old Yankee Stadium and the Polo Grounds with great fondness while those still living from the 1951 series like Willie Mays and Yogi Berra see their successors battle it our.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Pennant Races: Padre Steve Picks the Winners…Maybe

I love all things baseball as the Deity tends to speak to me through this most spiritual of games.  I can’t get around it I am mesmerized by the diamond and the nuances of the game, the sights, sounds, smells, which make up the experience as well as the games within the game.  I live for opening day and the call of Spring Training is my first indication of life returning after the cold desolation of winter and the All-Star Game triggers memories of the past greats and my interaction with the various legends of Baseball.  Tell me if I’m strange but I even get excited about trading deadlines and call-ups of Minor Leaguers in September.  Speaking of September I love the pennant races and this year there are a couple of note.  These are my predictions regarding the teams that I think that will make the playoffs.  Since I am neither the Prophet nor the Son of the Prophet I could be wrong, but I was pretty accurate last year. So here I go again, at least if I get this wrong I won’t be taken outside the city gate and crushed to death with heavy stones, unless someone is actually wagering on games based on my picks.  If that is the case I don’t even want to think about it.

Starting in the American League we have the New York Yankees and the Durham Bulls South, or as they are better known the Tampa Bay Rays.  These are such contrasting franchises; one built around veterans and several future Hall of Fame members and the other full of young raw talent and experienced young players.  They have been in a fight for the division most of the year but especially over the past month. The Yankees are a half game up on the Rays as of today.  With 13 games left for the Yankees and 14 for the Rays this is a tossup. The Yankees and Rays meet this week in a four game series at Yankee Stadium and followed by three games with the Yankees meeting their hated rival Boston Red Sox for a three game set.  The Yankees then travel to Toronto for three against the Blue Jays and finish the season at Fenway Park against the Red Sox.  This is no easy schedule and I expect all three opponents to challenge the Yankees.  The Rays have the easier schedule and this may prove to be the difference if they avoid a sweep at the “House that George Built.” I expect at least a split against the Yankees but they then go home to play three with the Mariners and three with the Orioles at the Trop. I don’t see much trouble with the Mariners but the Orioles under Buck “play to win every game” Showalter could play the spoiler if the Rays are not careful. They then travel west to Kansas City where they should do well and end the regular season.

AL East Winner

My prediction: Rays win 9 of 14 to finish at 98-64, while the Yankees will win just 7 of 13 to finish at 97-65 to give the Rays the East by a game. The Yankees will be in the playoffs but as the Wild Card. The Orioles extra innings win on Sunday in Baltimore will prove to be more significant than most would expect. The Yankees need to take 3 of 4 from the Rays to give them the edge down the final stretch, if they can do this they have a chance to tie or win the division outright. The Rays have to split in New York and not allow any of the bottom dwellers that they face to surprise them and I think that the O’s just may play spoiler.

AL Central Winner

AL West Winner

In the AL Central the Twins have the division all but won with a magic number of just 4 over the seconds place White Sox who trail them by 10 games. In the West the same is true of the Rangers who have a magic number of 6 over the second place Athletics who sit 9 games behind the Twinkies.

AL East Spoiler?

Going on the senior circuit we begin in the National League East where the Phillies and the Braves have been going at it all year.  In the Phillies lead the East by 3 games over the Braves and have a magic number of 10.  The Phillies are hot and the Braves have struggled the last few weeks. The Phillies have 12 games left of which 6 are against the Braves.  The Braves have to take 4 of those 6 games to stay in the race.  The Phillies face the Braves beginning tonight at home for a three game set and then face the rather pathetic excuse for a team called the New York Minaya’s I mean New York Mets.  However the Mets are blood rivals of the Phillies so I don’t expect them to go down easily nor do I give them much of a chance.  The Phillies then hit the road for 3 games against the rather hapless Nationals in Washington before travelling to Atlanta to face the Braves in the in final three games of the season.

NL East Winner

My prediction: I see Philly winning 8 of 12, splitting with the Braves and taking 5 of 6 from the Minaya’s and the Nats. The Braves as I said need to take at least 4 of six to stay in the race and win out against both Washington and the Florida Marlins and even then they need help in order for the Phillies to lose at least 6 of their last 12 games. I don’t see that happening. In fact if the Phillies dominate the Braves and the Braves split their games with the Nats and the Marlins then they may not even reach the Wild Card. Bobby Cox and crew have their job cut out over the next two weeks.

NL Central Winner

In the National League Central the “who are those guys?” Cincinnati Reds hold a 6 game lead over the perennial NL Central leader St Louis Cardinals and have a magic number of 8 to clinch the Division.  The Cardinals have been unable to buy wins of late and their August collapse totally surprised me as it has everyone else. The Reds have 6 games against the Brewers, 3 against the Astros and 3 against the floundering Padres.  The Cardinals actually have the easier schedule with 6 against the perpetual owners of the MLB Marianas Trench, the Pittsburg Pirates and 3 games against their rival the Chicago “we ain’t ever going to win the World Series” Cubs and 3 against the red hot Colorado Rockies.  They did not help matters losing a make-up game to the Marlins today. This made the Reds magic number 7 and that much harder for the Cardinals to get back in the race.

NL West Winner

We go now to the NL West where the San Francisco Giants lead their rivals the San Diego Padres by a half a game and the red hot Colorado Rockies by a game and a half.  The Giants have a magic number of 13 but in a race this close that will change day to day. The Rockies schedule provides them opportunity should they stay hot and their opponents cooperate.  They play the Arizona Diamondbacks in Arizona for a three game set and go home to play three against San Francisco followed by three against the Evil Dodgers before finishing the season in St. Louis against the Cardinals. My guess is that the should take two of three or sweep the Diamondbacks, split their series against the Giants and probably sweep the Evil Dodgers even though right now I would prefer that the Dodgers sweep them. I guess I am like Winston Churchill in saying that he would become an ally of the Devil if the Devil was against Hitler. The final three games against the Cardinals could spoil the hopes of the Rockies because I think that the Cardinals have far too much organizational pride to go down easy. As a result I think that the Rockies go 7 of 12 to end the season.  The Padres have struggled of late and I think this will continue.  The Friars play the Evil Dodgers and I think that this series is a tossup with the Dodgers possibly taking 2 of 3 games. They then go home to face the Reds and I think that the Big Red Machine will take 2 of 3 at Petco Park. The Padres then play against the Cubs who just might take 1 of 3 from the Padres. The Padres finish their season against the Giants in PacBell Park and I think that the Giants take 2 of 3 at home.  As a result I think that the Padres go 5 of 12 to end the season.  The Giants face the Cubs for a three game set which they should sweep or take 2 of 3. They then go against the Rockies where I think they will go 1 and 2. The then face the Diamondbacks and I believe that they go 2 of 3 against them before ending the season in San Francisco against the Padres where they take 2 of 3. T believe that the Giants go 7 of 12 and take the West by 1 and a half games above the Rockies with the Padres fading to third two and a half games back.

My prediction is that the Giants take the west by a game and a half over the Rockies with the Padres fading back to third.  Despite this the division could go to any of the three teams as none have any margin for error and it is likely that the team that remains hot will win the division. My prediction which is primarily based on how the teams are doing right now coupled with their schedule is that the Giants will win, but I could be wrong on this as a grounder with eyes, a bloop single or a booted ground ball could be the difference in a critical game that could decide the race. Id the Braves falter I believe that whatever team finished second in the NL West will be the Wild Card in the NL. I do not think this will happen based on the schedules but stranger things have happened.

Now here are my predictions:

AL Wild Card

American League: AL West- Rangers, AL Central- Twins, AL East Rays, Wild Card- Yankees.

NL Wild Card

National League: NL West Giants, NL Central- Reds, NL East- Phillies, Wild Card- Braves

We’ll see if I am as good as I was last year, but wait I didn’t start making predictions until the playoffs last year. Even if I’m wrong about these I can redeem myself by doing what I did last year in the playoffs and World Series.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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World Series Game Six: Yankees Win it All

Part Two: Written after the game

matsuiHideki Matsui World Series MVP

Yankees Pitchers against Phillies Batters: Andy Pettitte had very good stuff in the first five innings giving up one run on a sacrifice fly by Jimmy Rollins following a 1 out triple by Carlos Ruiz.  In the sixth Ryan Howard hit a one out two run homer driving in Chase Utley off of Pettitte who then stuck out Jayson Wirth.  With 2 outs Raul Ibanez doubled down the line to right. Joba Chamberlain came in to get the final out of the Phillies sixth. Ruiz singled and Jimmy Rollins hit into a fielder’s choice and then Chamberlain walked Shane Victorino.  Joe Girardi then pulled Chamberlain for Damaso Marte who came in to face Chase Utley who he struck out to end the inning. Marte struck out Ryan Howard who with the “K” set a new World Series record of 13 strike outs.  The Yankees then brought in Mariano Rivera who struck out Jayson Wirth for the second out. Raul Ibanez doubled to center after battling Rivera at the plate.  Pedro Feliz then popped out to Posada in foul territory to end the inning. Rivera faced pinch hitter Matt Stair to lead off the ninth getting him to line out to Jeter at short. Carlos Ruiz came up next and worked the count full before drawing a one out walk.  Jimmy Rollins flew out to Swisher in right bringing up Shane Victorino.  Ruiz took second on a strike to Victorino who after a battle with Rivera where he worked the count full grounded out to Cano at second to begin the celebration for the Yankees and their fans.

joegirardiYankees Manager Joe Girardi Led the Yankees back to the Top

Phillies Pitchers against Yankees Batters: Pedro Martinez struggled and was hit hard by Hideki Matsui who homered in the second with Alex Rodriguez on base and who singled with the bases load in the bottom of the third to drive in two more. By the end of the fourth he had pitched 62 pitches, giving up 4 runs on 3 hits with 2 walks and hitting Mark Teixeira with a pitch. Pedro was pulled by Charlie Manuel at the end of the fourth for reliever Chad Durbin who gave up a double to Derek Jeter to lead off the bottom of the 5th.  Jeter was advanced by a sacrifice bunt by Jerry Hairston who Mark Teixeira hit an RBI single to drive in Jeter.  After walking Alex Rodriguez Durbin was relieved by J.A. Happ who gave up a double to left to Matsui scoring Teixeira and Rodriguez.  By the end of the inning the Yankees were up 7-1. With one out and one on the Phillies sent in Chan Ho Park who got Derek Jeter to hit into a fielder’s choice and Jerry Hairston to fly out.  In the bottom of the seventh Park got Mark Teixeira on a strike out but gave up a grounder with eyes which got through for a base hit to Alex Rodriguez.  Park left the game as Scott Eyre came in to face Matsui. Rodriguez stole 2nd as Eyre struck out Matsui.  Eyre then walked Posada and stuck out Cano to end the inning.  In the 8th Eyre remained in the game getting Nick Swisher to ground out to third for the first out and Brett Gardner to ground out to second. With two outs Brett Myers came in to face Jeter who singled to right for his 175th career playoff hit and got Jerry Hairston to fly out on a soft fly to left.

With the win the Yankees won their 27th World Series and their first in the new Yankee Stadium.  In a historic sense it was fitting. In 1923 the Yankees won their first World Series title in the inaugural year of the original Yankee Stadium which sat silently in the dark next to the new ballpark. Hideki Matsui was the Series Most Valuable Player and the Yankees won their first series since they beat the Mets in the “Subway Series of 2000.  For the Yankees it was the end of a long streak of frustration in post season play.  The Yankee “old guard” of Jeter, Posada, Pettitte and Rivera returned to glory, additions since the last series win  including  Alex Rodriguez, C.C. Sabathia, Matsui and Johnny Damon got their rings as Yankees while Sabathia and Rodriguez shook off years of frustration.

In my next post I will give my analysis and reflections on the Series, the playoffs and the 2009 season.

yankees celebrateWorld Champion Yankees

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A Winter Epic in New York: 13 Innings of Drama in Horrible Conditions

Last night the Yankees and the Angels placed an epic game in the New Yankee Stadium.  It was the kind of game that only can happen in baseball because of its nature. The drama kept me glued to the television once I returned from patient visits during my on-call duty earlier in the evening.  I have seen these types of games before and when they get to extra innings they take on a life of their own.

The weather conditions in New York were terrible.  If it was the regular season the game would have been postponed.  With temperatures which started at 47 degrees they dropped into the lower 40s as the game went on with a stiff wind and mist and drizzle, which turned worse as the rain became steady with the wind blowing rain into player’s faces as they attempted to catch fly balls.  The conditions were some of the worst that I have ever watched with the exception of the 2005 home opener for the Norfolk Tides at Harbor Park where the temperature was 38 degrees at game time with a 25-40 knot wind coming out of left center.  Thank God for global warming or we would have really frozen our asses off that night.

The Yankees got out to a 2-0 lead with one of the runs coming off of a Derek Jeter home run in the 3rd. In the top of the 5th the Angels tied the game using some small ball as well as a wild pitch which scored the tying run.  The game would remain knotted at 2 each another 6 innings until the 11th inning.   With the weather getting worse and both teams beginning to scrape the bottom of their bullpens the Angels scored when Chone Figgins singled to drive in Gary Matthews Junior with 1 out.  The Yankees gave the intentional walk to Bobby Abreu to load the bases and Tory Hunter grounded into a double play to end the inning.  Had Hunter gotten a hit the Angels might well have gone back to Anaheim with a split in the City.

In the bottom of the 11th with the Angels leading 3-3 Alex Ramirez led off for the Yankees.  Angels pitcher Brian Fuentes got ahead of Rodriguez quickly and with a 0-2 count served up a fastball low and outside that Rodriguez lined into the right field bleachers about 18 inches over the outstretched glove of Tory Hunter.  Fuentes got out of the inning but blew the save.  The 12th inning saw the Angels with another chance to move ahead but could not get a runner across the plate.  The Yankees now left the bases loaded in the bottom of the 12th allowing the Angels another shot at them.  They got runners to second and third but Vladimir Guerrero grounded out to the pitcher.  Once again a great scoring opportunity was lost.

In the bottom of the 13th the Yankees got their leadoff hitter, Jerry Hairston on base and he was advanced on a sacrifice grounder.   The Angels intentionally walked Robinson Cano to set up a chance at a double play.  Melky Cabrera hit a ground ball to Angels 2nd Baseman Maicer Izturis who attempted to get the runner at second but threw the ball away skipping it past Erick Aybar and Chone Figgins who could not get the ball to make the play at the plate which allowed Hairston to score the winning run. The game was a marathon lasting over 5 hours and will go down as a memorable game.

The hero of the game was Alex Rodriguez.  His 11th inning home run kept the Yankees in the game and was his third home run in clutch situations this post season.

I picked the Angles in 6 figuring a split in New York.  I have the feeling that this series could quickly go south for the Halo’s if they are unable to get things back together in Anaheim.  Though I picked the Angels, largely due to the “X” factor of Nick Adenhart, the Yankees in my view are the best team in baseball, something that I have said for months.  They are playing with an attitude and there is not a player on the team who is not hungry to bring the World Series Championship back to New York.  Rodriguez and C.C. Sabathia are shedding their reputations as players who “choke” in the playoffs.  The Yankees are for real and I do not know if the Angels can come back.  It is true that they have owned the Yankees in Anaheim this year but these Yankees do not look like they will be at all intimidated by what happened in the regular season in Anaheim.

More commentary in the coming days my friends, so until then stay safe, be blessed and take care.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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MLB League Championship Series so Far, I will wear Short Pants until the World Series is Over and Learning that I am a “Wounded Healer”

So far things appear to be working out the way that I thought that they would in the MLC League Championship Series between the Phillies and Dodgers. I predicted that the teams would split at Chavez Ravine and go back to Philly knotted.  The Phillies took game one and looked like they had game two in the bag with Pedro Martinez shutting the Dodgers out through seven giving up only two hits.  Then the Phillies problematic bullpen took over in the eighth and it went down from there with the Dodgers coming back to win.

The ALCS has been played at the new Yankee Stadium amid the din of a Nor’easter.  The Yankees took game one 4-1 as the Angels quite literally “froze” in the cold and damp weather.  Game two played in even worse conditions has been influenced by the weather and was a superb pitcher’s duel.  The game went into extra innings tied at two and though the Angels went ahead in the top of the 11th as the rain started coming down harder only to have Alex Rodriguez come up big again for the Yankees in the bottom of the 11th with a home run to tie the game.  The game went to the bottom of the 13th when with one out the Yankees scored on a throwing error to win the game 4-3.  It was an amazing game that I could not pull myself away from but will write more about later.

On another note, the weather here in Hampton Roads has been miserable as we also have had some of the residue of the Nor’easter with cold rain, fog and drizzle that has not let up.  Amid this positively crappy weather I am maintaining my vow to wear short pants as long as I can with the exceptions being my uniform and going to church.  This means that I am bundling up from the belt up while keeping my legs bare.  I have never done this before which means either I’m nuts or I’m nuts, but nonetheless I am in this until the World Series is over at the minimum.  Since with the exception of church, work and one social event where shorts were unacceptable I have not worn long pants since sometime in April.  Tonight I had a Norfolk Tides jacket and sweatshirt on.  We’ll see how this goes…

I have the duty this weekend and have been in and out of the hospital a number of times.  One of the visits called to mind just how much I am like the people I serve and what it means to have to ask the same questions about God, faith and what it is to be human and a Christian. What got me tonight was a gentleman struggling with his faith, much as I have after returning from Iraq and battling PTSD and other nagging injuries.  Having him ask the same questions that I have wrestled with and having him ask me directly what I thought.  I have learned that I don’t have to “fake it” and try to give the man some textbook answer of how he needed to believe more, read his Bible more, go to church more, pray more or harder.  Instead I was able to be honest that I have wrestled with the same question but somehow the words of the 23rd Psalm speak to me.  “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me.”  The Psalm is very reassuring for me as it is so honest.  Reality is that we do walk through the valley of the shadow of death.  In fact it is a difficult and pain filled world.  That I will fear no evil means that evil is in fact very real but in the middle of this there is an understanding that God is still with us.  It is an understanding that even when life is more like Good Friday than Easter, that God as far away as he may seem is still there.  Maybe that is actually the miracle that most people need, the miracle to know that no matter how bad things suck, and I do use the word “suck” because that is how it is sometimes, especially when there is no “miracle” to be had otherwise.  When I told the man that I had spent the past 18 months wrestling with those questions he opened up and we had a wonderful discussion and prayer.   I am totally okay with this somehow God uses me in my weakness more than when I had all the answers.

Tonight I discovered that  Bishop John Holloway, the medically retired former Ordinary of the Charismatic Episcopal Church Diocese of the Mid-South and one of the early leaders of the Church, his wife Elaine and two youngest children have to leave their home in Thomaston Georgia.  They moved there as a missionary bishop giving up pension and medical from the Methodist Church to follow God’s call into the CEC.  The home is being foreclosed on after the church, which has no pension or insurance plan in most dioceses for clergy and had provided a great deal of money to help pay off debts in the past has had to reduce the money they were providing by half and now according it the Holloways’ son Jared to nothing.  Their home is being foreclosed on and they have to be out by December 1st and if you want to read more go to his blog: http://jzholloway.wordpress.com/  If there is a question as to how the CEC currently handles finaces go to www.cechome.com where the budgets and expenses of every diocese are posted.  There had been great problems in the past in the finacial management of the CEC largely done by people no longer associated with the church, including some former bishops.  I think this is getting better under Archbishop Bates unfotunately the residue and distaste of that era is still out there.

I really don’t know what to think about that except that I did talk to a CEC Bishop about it and hear that there are other parts to the story.  That aside, when the CEC was formed and one of the things that drew me to it was that the CEC was to would be more personal and relational than churches where the bishops did not really know their clergy. I think that is still the ideal in the Church but what Jared is reporting and what I hear from Elaine on Facebook gives me some cause for concern because it deals with a bishop who can no longer function and is completely disabled. Additionally Elaine is a cancer survivor who has exeeded her life expectancy with the disease.  Obiviously things are not good for them and I have to trust that the situation will be resolved in a spirit of love and reconcilliation and that ultimately the Holloways will be taken care of by the church and God’s people.  I cannot say anything else because I do not know anything else, but to say how this grieves me as Bishop Holloway was and I’m sure, even in his greatly de-habilitated and totally dependent state is a gracious and giving man.  I always felt comfortable and safe around him.  He ordained my friend Father Stu King back in 2001.  Stu has left the CEC having been accepted into Seminary and in now working to become a Roman Catholic Priest.  I’m sure that Bishop John would approve and give his blessing.  Please keep the Holloways in your prayers. I have no idea if there is anything that can be done to help them, if there is Jared may know or one could contact the Mid South Diocese of the CEC.

I also found that a friend, the sister of our dear friend Dr Helen Linkey who taught at Marshall University who battled breast cancer for two years before succumbing to it in 2005 has found a lump in her breast. She is going in for a biopsy which is expected to find cancer. Maryellen occasionally comments on my website and her news was included in her comment to my post from last night at https://padresteve.wordpress.com/2009/10/16/war-remembrance-and-healing-a-chaplain-officer-and-historian-makes-his-way-home/

Please keep Maryellen in your prayers also. Anyway, it is time for me to try to get to sleep.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Filed under Baseball, healthcare, Pastoral Care, philosophy, PTSD