Before the World Series starts, let’s look at A-Rod’s new career postseason numbers.
.307 / .408 / .570 / .977
Asshole. Choker. Head-case. Whose numbers, by the way, are now better than David Ortiz’s and Reggie Jackson’s in every single column.
Big Small Father: .283 / .388 / .520 / .908
Dr. October: .278 / .358 / .527 / .885
Sir Chokes-a-lot: .307 / .408 / .570 / .977
Who wants to bet A-Rod bats into a triple play every PA of the World Series?
Let’s look at the way he’s progressed this postseason. Remember, these are all his career numbers (his single-series numbers are make-believe fairy shit that can’t possibly exist).
Pre-ALDS: .279 / .361 / .483 / .844
Post-ALDS: .291 / .381 / .519 / .900
Post-ALCS: .307 / .408 / .570 / .977
This tells us two things. First: small sample size, regression to the mean, blah blah blah. Second: holy fucking shit A-Rod’s dumb, but, man is he good at baseball.
The following numbers are too outrageous to exist:
Easter Bunny series: .455 / .500 / 1.000 / 1.500
Tooth Fairy series: .429 / .567 / .952 / 1.519
What? I know, I know: small sample size the other way now. But the fact remains: what?
It’s pretty excellent. It’s also only $20, so you should probably just get it instead of listening to me rabbit on about it. But, if you insist.
First off: yes, it will run on your computer. The requirements are hilariously low — 800 MHz or better x86-compatible processor, 512 MB RAM, GeForce 2 or better video card. Despite running on ten-year-old hardware, though, it doesn’t really look like a ten-year-old game; the visuals have style to spare, and the effects are vibrant and pleasing. The models are large enough onscreen that it’s fairly easy to differentiate among them, so you don’t have that annoying issue where you can’t tell what the hell mobs you’re fighting without reading the tooltip. "Special" mobs are usually huge and have an aura, so they’re pretty easy to pick out from the crowd. The sounds are good on a whole, but the voice announcements when you raise a level or whatnot are a bit odd. Also the game suffers from rather a lack of damage-taking grunts; often I don’t even notice I’m getting hit until I get the "about to die" warning.
Playwise, the game is basically Diablo++. It’s obviously very strongly inspired by the original Diablo, and features the same structure of dungeon-below-the-town that game (and, yes, I know; many many MUDs before it) used. You have basically the same classes: Destroyer (Warrior), Vanquisher (Rogue), or Alchemist (Sorcerer), though they’re more versatile. The game features both random spell books like Diablo and skill trees like Diablo II, meaning you’ll always have access to important abilities that improve your class, but you’ll also still have the fun of discovering a powerful new spell. Loot is basically the same as Diablo, but magic items drop much more frequently (and, in return, sell for much less money).
Almost every annoyance from Diablo was ironed out in Torchlight. Durability is gone. Tetris inventory is gone. Gold taking up space is gone. Items being hard to pick up is gone. Constant trips back to town to sell things are no more; you now get a pet who can take loads of items back to vendor for you. The game plays like a really streamlined Diablo, with all the fun bits, like the horde of mobs and treasure, and none of the boring bits, like the walking back and forth to town every three minutes. The difficulty curve is somewhat kinder, also, and it doesn’t look at this point (though I have a long way to go) like it’ll pull the famous Diablo trick where the dungeon’s too hard for you to go any farther, so you need to go through again and powerlevel.
The visual style is bright and colourful, and really really fun to look at. The dungeon also has vertical elements, so you’ll be able to see where you’re going (or, sometimes, where you’ve been) from other areas, which is a neat effect. You can also see mobs scurrying along down below you on the next level, which is cool. The sound is fine though unremarkable, except for the town music; it’s very very clearly a reimagining of the music that plays in Tristram in the first Diablo, and that’s pretty funny.
I’m told they’re releasing a full editing suite shortly, so you can design new everythings for Torchlight — levels, mobs, items, classes, what-have-you. If that’s up your alley — and lord knows it is mine — then that’s a major plus right there. Runic is also planning to run its own mod database, so if they do a decent job you won’t have to crawl around shitholes like IGN and GameSpy trying to find them.
In all, it seems like Runic and I are completely on the same page. We both agree about what makes a game fun — maximise the fun bits, minimise the bullshit. It’s light, it’s quick, it’s action-packed, there aren’t very many cutscenes. You should probably get it. Oh, also: it’s twenty bucks. And it’s on Steam. And I guess there’s a demo, too. So, really, just get it. It’s good.
Steve Henson did. He thinks the Angels are terrible, thinks the Yankees are awful, and thinks the Phillies will roll over either one of them, and all because of this one game. Let’s take a look:
The resistible force met the movable object.
Good. Good beginning. It’s a metaphor, it’s a pun, it’s a hammer, it’s everything. Except insightful baseball analysis.
A mediocre fastball by an unsteady closer produced a feeble swing by a slumping hitter, and another in this postseason of taut, brow-mopping ballgames was in the books.
Allow me to rewrite this paragraph to reflect what was surely Steve’s vision before his editor had its way:
A mediocre fastball by a mediocre closer mediocrely produced a mediocre swing by a mediocre mediocre, and another mediocre mediocrity in this mediocre mediocreseason of mediocre, mediocre mediocre mediocre mediocre mediocre mediocre. GO PHILLIES!
Curled up on couches, the National League champion Philadelphia Phillies must have broken into Cheshire cat grins.
Note that Steve has yet to mention any reason why the Phillies would care about this.
These New York Yankees are powerful, but not so perfect after all. These Los Angeles Angels are plucky, but they’ll undo themselves as often as not.
Really, Steve, nobody thinks the Yankees are perfect. Pretty much everybody acknowledges that their pitching is stunningly average. And the Angels may be "plucky," but their pitching is also pretty average, and they’re managed by an insane crazy man who likes nothing more than making outs on the basepaths. The Angels lead MLB in caught stealing. They’re two CS ahead of Tampa Bay, and the Rays have fifty more successful steals. And this is just one stat — it doesn’t account for how many outs they make via hit-and-run or trying to stretch a single into a double or anything. Mike Scioscia absolutely loves making outs on the basepaths.
Manager of the Year, amirite?
The only thing more promising to the Phillies than watching Angels closer Brian Fuentes try to retire Yankees batter Nick Swisher with the bases loaded and two out in the ninth was watching Swisher try to square up one of Fuentes’ eminently hittable offerings.
Well, I mean, maybe. Is their whole World Series plan predicated on getting Nick Swisher out 108 times?
It was like capping a spectacular meal with stale cake and lukewarm coffee.
You know what else it was like? Capping a dumb baseball article with a terrible metaphor.
The 7-6 victory Thursday night that kept the Angels alive in the American League Championship Series and forced a Game 6 on Saturday in New York was rife with heroics. It just didn’t end with any.
For example, the game was rife with the five scoreless innings of heroism between the Angels’ four-run first and the Yankees’ six-run seventh. It was rife with a heroic blown call that led to that six-run inning. It was rife with the highly questionable — but still heroic! — choice to pull Alex Rodriguez for a pinch-runner. It was rife with a wild pitch, a hit-by-pitch, and the Yankees’ totally strange decision to pinch-hit for their catcher in the fourth inning, thereby leaving themselves entirely fucked should something happen to George Inn at any point during the rest of the game. All of which was heroic.
The Angels scored four runs in their first inning before an out was recorded.
Due mainly to heroically bad pitching from Carol Burnett.
John Lackey dominated until a bad call (yes, another one) unraveled him in the seventh.
John Lackey gave up six hits and three walks. He was not dominating shit.
The Yankees’ struggling Mark Teixeira came through with a big hit, driving in three runs with a double moments after Lackey begrudgingly handed over the ball to the bullpen.
My first instinct was to say that this is because Mark Teixeira is really good at baseball, but then I checked, and it turns out he’s a giant postseason choker. So fuck him. Must have cheated.
The Yankees scored six in the inning, but the Angels roared back with three runs seemingly before fans sat back down after the singing of "God Bless America."
In the process of the Angels scoring their three runs, there were two walks and two pitching changes. It took like ten minutes. The fans in LA must sit down pretty damn slowly.
That epic inning deserved a worthy encore. Instead, the game devolved from aggressive to tentative, from players outdoing one another to players desperately trying not to make a final, fatal mistake.
I dunno; that sounds like a pretty good baseball game to me. Isn’t that what late innings are always like?
Fuentes entered in the ninth and recorded two quick outs, bringing up Alex Rodriguez. Manager Mike Scioscia has zero confidence in Fuentes’ ability to retire the Yankees slugger since their 11th-inning matchup in Game 2 resulted in a home run, so A-Rod was walked intentionally.
According to The Baseball Cube, A-Rod and B-Fuent have met exactly once in the regular season, and the result was a grand slam. So on the one hand OMG FUENTES CAN’T GET RODIMUS OUT, but on the other hand… sample size of two. Walking him was probably a bad idea.
But rather than attack the left-handed Hideki Matsui, Fuentes picked around the strike zone, walking him. Then he hit Robinson Cano, loading the bases.
Yep, that was pretty awful. But the Phillies, if you’ll recall, have had some closer problems of their own lately. So I think it might be a bit early to hand the championship to them just yet.
Scioscia had already burned through his beleaguered bullpen. He needed relief, and fortunately for the Angels, it was standing in the Yankees’ on-deck circle. Swisher approached the plate, dragging along a .107 postseason batting average.
Yeah, Swish has been pretty awful this series. In 21 PA. He’s still walked three times, though, which means he has a .286 OBP even though his BA is only .118, which is a good example of why small sample sizes are super-misleading. Not sure where Steve got the .107 from.
All Fuentes had to do was not walk him.
Well, no, also he had to avoid hitting him, like he’d done with Bobinson Cano. And he had to avoid throwing a wild pitch and scoring the man his Manager-of-the-Year manager intentionally put on base. And he had to avoid — and I know tihs may sound strange — giving up a hit.
Yet after Swisher beat the first two pitches into the ground foul with off-balance, defensive swings, he nearly did. Ball one was outside and in the dirt. Ball two was high. Ball three was away.
Brian Fuentes: the only pitcher in MLB who tries to get dudes to bite on 0-2. Fire that asshole.
Fuentes had a thought: "I gotta make my pitch."
Swisher had a thought: "Calm down and line it up the middle."
Fuentes made a pitch, an 89-mph fastball that split the plate in half.
Swisher had a swing, popping the ball up to shortstop Erick Aybar.
Steve Henson wrote a baseball article, a turdy smelly mess of nonsense-words arguing an irrational point with flowery literary tropes.
"It was the biggest stage and I wanted to come up clutch, but it didn’t happen," Swisher said. "I got a fastball to hit. I wanted to be the guy who comes through. If I hit it a half-inch above where I did, it’s a line drive."
Asshole. You’re fired.
Fuentes led the major leagues with 48 saves, yet he’s become progressively less reliable as the leaves have turned. He created the mess by walking Matsui, hitting Cano and going to a full count on Swisher. He had to throw a big, fat strike and hope for the best.
And by being instructed by the best manager ever to walk A-Rod. Don’t forget that. It still counts.
Also, has Brian Fuentes gotten worse? Looks to me like his regular-season stats include a 1.400 WHIP, and I’m seeing 0.600 in the LDS and 1.333 in the LCS. That’s better, isn’t it? I mean, you do know he’s given up just one hit so far in the postseason, right, Steve? That’s one-fifth as many hits as Mariano Rivera has allowed so far. Is Mo five times the notorious postseason choker that Fuentes is?
Also: saves are stupid. Fuentes is a pretty mediocre pitcher who got a lot of save chances. Taa-daa.
Swisher might have been the only player on three teams disappointed.
Yeah? I’m thinking probably there are 24 other players who were disappointed. Coincidentally, they all play for the Yankees, who were one run behind with the bases loaded in a game that would have sent them to the World Series. But, you’re right; they’re all just obsessed with their personal stats, and, hey, none of them made that out. Not their fault, not their problem!
Maybe happiest of all, though, were the Phillies.
… Or the Angels, right? Who won the game?
The Angels don’t scare them, not with Chone Figgins unable to reach base, not with that bullpen.
Desmond DeChone Figgins got on base like a crazy man during the regular season, over a much larger sample size. If the Phillies aren’t worried about him getting on base, they’re going to be sorely disappointed. And the Angels don’t have a very good bullpen, but, then, neither to the Phillies. Advantage: nobody.
The Yankees are scary but not infallible.
They all wear fright masks at the plate. Except that asshole A-Rod, who isn’t a team player and dresses up like a princess instead. He’s even a choker when it comes to Halloween costumes!
Young relievers Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes are proving vulnerable.
It’s not their fault! They’re being abused! Somebody call the ASPCP.
Manager Joe Girardi is being second-guessed.
Unique to him. Never happens to managers.
And if the Yankees need a fourth starter in the World Series behind CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte, who would it be?
Joba Chamberlain. I mean, he may not be a total stopper, but that’s… who it would be. For what it’s worth.
Two teams with questions will go at it at least once more in the ALCS. The team that had all the answers in the NLCS will relax and enjoy watching. Especially if weaknesses continue to be revealed the way they were by Fuentes and Swisher.
"Two teams with questions?" I realise you had a literary parallel to set up there, Steve, but that does not mean anything.
The point of Steve’s article: GO PHILLIES!
The point of my article: unclear.