Arlington–Arlington Alice (not as fun as Dallas Alice). Not to infringe on the Public Professor’s Profession, but this will be the third year in a row I’ve done one of these, which practically makes it a (Matt) Holiday for me. It’s the last chance I get to write about baseball this season, so get ready to try and change those Fs into Bs and minuses to plusses before the parents see these…
ALBERT PUJOLS: B. Now now, Mr. and Mrs. Pujols, I know your son equaled Reggie Jackson’s three home runs in one game trick (though I’m pretty sure nobody’s going to market a Poo-holes candy bar), and you think he deserves an A for that, but the Cards could’ve been up three games to none had he not muffed that cut-off throw in the ninth of game 2 (and then ducked out of the clubhouse before getting grilled by the press about it). Take away game three and he’s hitless…but there’s still time to bring that grade up.
ALLEN CRAIG: A. In the first two games, all the second year right fielder did was come cold off the bench to collect two neat, clutch, opposite field RBI singles off of hard throwing voodoo zombie Alexei Ogando, enough to start whispers of the WS MVP going to a pinch hitter for the first time. In game three he eased that talk by getting the start, and promptly started the fireworks with a first inning home run (pulled this time). Since then he’s gone 0-7, but this being a mid-series report card, and because I like his surname, he gets a top grade.
FAT ELVIS: B. Lance Berkman was insignificant as a Yankee last year, at best, but perhaps he just needed to reach the World Series. His 2005 WS line (4 games): 5 for 13, a .385 avg and 1.065 OPS. 2011 (4 games so far): 7 for 15, .467 avg and 1.033 OPS.
SKINNY ELVIS: B. Elvis Andrus isn’t a good #2 hitter, he seems better suited as the speedy guy near the end of the line-up–he’s hitting .313 but with a fairly weak .688 OPS and four Ks to zero walks–but he doesn’t fill out the line-up card (more on the guy who does in a minute). He did practically win Game 2 by himself with two incredible plays at shortstop (including this “jai alai” reel play), then making that heads up scramble into second on the aforementioned Pujols gaffe, eventually scoring the winning run.
DEREK HOLLAND: A. Why can’t he be the Texas lefty that the Yankees go after this off-season?
RANGER OUTFIELDERS: D. Nelson Cruz has a home run, but otherwise he’s been effectively shut down. Josh Hamilton has been phoning in his performance as “Holden McGroin,” and while he has two key RBIs (one, however, has to be on Tony LaRussa, more on that in a minute), this series might already be over if he was anywhere near healthy. David Murphy and Craig Gentry (despite the agreeable first name) are 0-10.
TONY LARUSSA: C. LaRussa has made a career of turning over-managing into an art form, but when it works out he’s hailed as a genius (see Allen Craig). Endless pitching changes, however, are just tedious…and as the Professor pointed out the other day, taking out Jason Motte (who indeed has looked good in the playoffs, but anybody who saw him over the regular season knows he’s an explosion waiting to happen) for Arthur Lee Rhodes, thus giving the hobbled Hamilton an easy soft-toss drill to just put it in the outfield, was a lousy move. Still, it’s a best of three series now, and I guess you have to like LaRussa in that situation (with two coming at home) over his counterpart…
RON WASHINGTON: D. He’s already lost one WS to an inferior club last year, out-managed by Bruce Bochy of all people, and now that he’s going up against “the Chessmaster” he’s stumbling over himself to keep up with the in-game moves…and yet he continues to trot out the same order each night, with Andrus and the ineffective Hamilton guaranteed more at-bats than the real threats, Beltre, Cruz, and Napoli. The Rangers have the look of a team that was very good all season, expected to get here, and now expect themselves to win against a team that were pretty much the opposite in all three respects…but Washington just looks scared to death.
JOE BUCK AND TIM McCARVER: F. Can’t I get these guys expelled already?