Quick Reversals Easier to Manage in Modern Baseball; LSU to Face Florida in 2 of 3 College World Series Final

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball on this Sunday, June 25.

The Astros have 51 wins following yesterday’s 5-2 win over Seattle.  Just 4 years ago in 2013 they had 51 wins all season long.

It used to take a lot longer to go from chumps to champs.  The  Mets’ transformation was considered nothing short of miraculous, going from 40-120 in 1962 to World Series winner in 7 short years.  It’s still not easy to do what Houston has done, but free agency makes it a whole lot easier than it was in the days when teams would be horrible for decades-Boston and Philadelphia come to mind. Look at the 2013 Astros’ roster and Jose Altuve, Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh, Brad Peacock and Marwin Gonzalez are among the very few holdouts you’ll find.  Some are playing elsewhere-Robbie Grossman in Minnesota, Jordan Lyles in Colorado, Matt Albers in Washington, Dexter Fowler in St. Louis, Scott Feldman in Cincinnati.  These and others have kept Allied Van Lines busy while others have replaced them and rebuilt the Astros’ franchise from its alltime low in 2013. This is wonderful, but not unheard of.  In 2003 the Tigers nearly broke the Mets’ record of 120 losses-they lost 119. They broke one record, that of the 1916 Athletics who lost 117 games. Only by winning 5 of their last 6 did the Tigers shock the world and not pass up the ’62 Mets for futility. Amazingly, pitcher Steve Sparks played on that team and_ broadcast for the 2013 Astros-a position he still holds working beside Robert Ford. And who should be manager of the 2017 Astros but the Tigers’ 2003 catcher A.J. Hinch.  Just 3 years later, in 2006 the Tigers were in the World Series. Some of the parts from 2003 were still there-notably that year’s 19-game loser Jeremy Bonderman who was a different man in 2006 while the starting staff were buttressed by a newby named Justin Verlander.

It’s a lot easier and quicker to take a good team and ruin it.  Sometimes only one or two players lost by injury, stupidity or injury caused by stupidity can ruin a team’s year if not its whole future. Last year’s Giants were in the playoffs and are now more than 20 games under .500 thanks to Madison Bumgarner putting a dirt bike ahead of his team.  The Mets after 2015 thought they had the pitching staff of the future, and now it looks like they’re about to dump salaries.  Why?  Matt Harvey needed an operation in 2016 and did not bounce back off it.  Noah Syndergaard’s idiocy has been well chronicled here along with that of Jeurys Familia who needed shoulder surgery after beating a domestic violence rap.  Getting those last 3 outs, which was Familia’s skill-isn’t something just every pitcher can do.  The Mets have tried it withoug Familia and the only team they’ve been able to beat recently has been the Giants.  If they trade enough people and can’t find pitching somewhere they could be in full rebuild mode. It seems like the Reds have been awful forever, but in truth they won the Central Division in 2012 and made the postseason, as did the Yankees. The Reds won 97 games that year. By 2014 they only won 76 and have gone down the drain since. Houston is the first team to reach 50 wins in the majors this year and it will be the most exciting year that city has known in some time no matter the result.

After a week of play in two brackets the College World Series final will begin tomorrow night.  It’s a two out of 3 series between the two bracket winners, LSU and Florida.  LSU in particular had a difficult road to get where they are now.  For one thinh they lost a starting pitcher to an apparent arm injury almost immediately. They nearly lost their opener to Florida State but got 2 8th-inning runs to beat the Seminoles.   LSU lost their second game to Oregon State 13–1 making OSU appear unbeatable with what was then a 55-4 record. But somehow the Bayou Bengals managed to win 3 consecutive games, 2 of them over the Beavers of OSU causing considerable unhappiness on the part of Beavers’ broadcaster Mike Parker.  Meantime, Mick Hubert at the Florida Gators’ microphone has been the consummate pro, reporting the game whether the Gators are winning as they mostly did or when they lost Friday night to TCU.  Florida bounced back to beat TCU 3-0 to propel themselves into the final series.  Here’s the snapper-they had to use their best starter, future pro Alex Faedo last night.  Barring an unlikely rainout there’s little chance he could come back for more than an inning or two. If the Florida coach uses him for more than that he’s liable to hear something from the Tigers who drafted Faedo in the first round of the recent draft.  So Florida probably has to work with the rest of their pitchers and pray for rain so Faedo might get into a game Thursday. That happened in last year’s final when Coastal Carolina won the title.  Meantime LSU has been frantically mixing and matching all series long, so the starting pitching should be equally iffy.  The x-factor is LSU’s closer Zach Hess.  From what we’ve seen and heard up to now, the man with the Rick Vaughn hairdo can bring serious gas from the bull pen.  If the Gators can match him we haven’t seen it as of now.  Hess can be neutralized if the Gators get a big lead early on.  If they don’t, they could see an oncoming Hess truck before they make their way back to Gainesville.

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