Yeah, the Intercontinental Blogging is over. So is the Yanks' season. I'm going to have to review the ALDS by MLB.tv (if they still have condensed games for the off-season) later on, but I can't say I'm too surprised that in the end, good pitching stopped good hitting. In one of my few in-Stadium games this year, I got to see the pitching matchup we wound up with, Mike Mussina against Earvin Santana. I said back then the kid had some good stuff, and it looks like that held up.
Looking out at the big hitters of Yankee Blogging--the Bronx Banters, Futility Infielders, and Pinstriped Blogs of the world--it looks like they've done a great job analyzing the Yankee postseason. Most of them have come out against the apparent scapegoating of Alex Rodriguez, and have started looking to the future.
Right now, I'm not even ready to think about the future. I'm jet-lagged and confronted with a playoff doubleheader on FOX, Astros/Cardinals followed by Angels/White Sox. This season, virtually every game I've seen has featured the Yankees, or has had some angle to my work at Baseball Prospectus--researching this team or that, watching a particular player.
Watching baseball's postseason just as a fan, the question becomes who am I rooting for? Neutrality's difficult to manage, and I've always been the kind of guy to pick sides in baseball's postseason, particularly when the Yanks are out of the running. Here's how the Championship Series' stack up this time around:
White Sox--Pros: they're already up 3-1 in the ALCS, so cheering for the other team could be a short-lived affair; they have history going for them, since the Sox (White) haven't won a big one since 1917. Cons: Ozzie Guillen is annoying. He's the AL's manager of the year, but I've always found the guy annoying. Can't root for Ozzie Guillen.
Angels--No pros and cons about this one, I can't cheer for the guys that knocked the Yanks out of the playoffs, either. Between this and 2002, I just don't have much room in my heart for the Halos, who've made up for all those years of Yankee fans shouting them out of the house in Anaheim--er, Los Angeles, whatever--during the regular season for their entire existence. Only thing worth liking about the Angels is Vlad Guerrero.
Cardinals--Pros: Classy team, missed last year's title, so they have something to prove. Albert Pujols is one of the unique talents in the game, and I've been a fan of Larry Walker for a long time. Cons: Other than the big three hitters (they're missing Scott Rolen this time out) and Chris Carpenter, the rest of the team is bland. Tony LaRussa is a different kind of annoying from Ozzie Guillen--I liked TLR once upon a time, but it seems like the guy believes all that stuff that George Will wrote about him. As I write this, he's getting himself thrown out of a playoff game.
Astros--Pros: World Series drought? Check, the Astros haven't won a championship, ever, and have only won one playoff series in their history. Something to prove? Check, this NLCS is a rematch from last season's NLCS, which they lost to the Cards. Former Yankees? Check. Other longtime favorites? I've been a Craig Biggio guy since back in the day when I used to play Strat-o-Matic, and Biggio was a catcher, who could run, and play second base. Pure gold. The Houston Astros are the only MLB team other than the Yanks whose lid I've worn (another Strat-o-Matic thing, back in High School). Yeah, these guys are the pick. Cons: it would be bittersweet to see the Rocket and Andy Pettitte win a World Series in another team's uniform.
So Let's Go Astros!
I mentioned jet lag. I'm coming off a transAtlantic flight right now, and I was really thankful for KLM's in-flight on-demand movies on both of my 6+ hour flights. On the way to Europe I caught Sin City, which was just an amazing job of converting a comic book to the screen, and I'd gotten to see the beginning of Troy (Troy was selected using criteria for in-flight movies: is this something I would bother to see if I wasn't on an airplane? If it is, I might decide to sleep or do something else, knowing that I will see the movie eventually. If not, I'm catching it on the plane rather than paying to see it later). The return flight allowed me to finish business with Troy, and make it a Brad Pitt doubleheader with Mr. & Mrs. Smith.
Much to my surprise, Smith was a fun little movie. Not the next Godfather or anything, but a competent film, despite some plot problems. The basic story is pretty simple: Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie play spies, who get married after a not-so-chance meeting in South America. Now, as a married couple, neither knows what the other really does for a living, and both are feeling the doldrums of a typical suburban marriage. Obviously, this situation does not persist, or you wouldn't have much of a movie.
The problem that Mr. & Mrs. Smith faces is that it falls between the cracks of the action/adventure and romantic comedy genres. Overall, the film is closer to the latter, but was marketed as being the former. It's a shame, because the leads can actually carry the romance part of a romantic comedy, and Pitt has pretty good comic timing. Because the film sells the action portion so hard, this film has one of the harsher soundtracks I've heard in a while, all loud music and deafening explosions.
I know, somewhere out there there are movie execs who figure that anyone my age or younger has permanent ear damage from listening to too much loud music on our headphones, and that we need even more ear-splitting audio at the cineplex to get out attention. I ask those movie execs to get stuffed, and lower the volume.
While I was writing this, the Official 2005 Playoff Team of the Weblog that Derek Built beat the Cards, to take a 3-1 lead in their series. Look like a big front-runner now, don't I?