February 28, 2021

Around the horn

This archived article was written by: Travis Clemens

One year after splitting the sports editor responsibilities at The Eagle, I’ve changed schools but I’m still a sports editor. However, now I’m hanging out in the cold basement of the Union Building at Weber State University and writing for The Signpost.
So in order to continue to contribute to the College of Eastern Utah, I was asked to write a guest column and take you around the horn one more time.
This year’s Major League Baseball postseason has been one of the most watched in recent history with both the American League Championship Series and National League Championship Series going the maximum seven games.
Mostly because a World Series matchup between the Boston Red Sox, who haven’t won a title since 1918, and the Chicago Cubs, who haven’t won one since 1908, was possible with both teams playing for their league’s pennant. The Cubs were looking for the crown in the NL and the Sox in the AL. Both choked.
The Cubs took a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series over the Florida Marlins, but failed to win even one of the last three games and the Marlins took the pennant. The last two games were played at Wrigley Field in Chicago to make the loss even more bitter for the Cubbies and their fans.
And if that’s not enough to haunt the Cubs, then the fact that their top two pitchers, Mark Prior and Kerry Wood, took the mound in games six and seven for Chicago. Prior surrendered a three-run, eighth-inning lead to Florida and the Cubs went on to lose 8-3. In that inning, a Chicago fan robbed Moises Alou of a foul ball that would have all but ended the Marlins’ scoring chance in the eventual eight-run eighth and routine double-play grounder to sure-handed shortstop Alex Gonzalez that he booted.
Many fans were blaming the loss on a curse. Not so says I. Poor decision-making is the reason the Cubs went golfing and the Marlins went to New York to take on the Yankees. Dusty Baker just left his starters on the mound too long. Prior should have been out of there at the first sign of trouble that late in game six. When Baker did make the change, the Marlins already had too much momentum and the winning run on base.
The Red Sox also should have been playing in the World Series but manager Grady Little left in starting pitcher Pedro Martinez too long in the eighth inning of game seven. After a one-out run by Derek Jeter, the Sox held a 5-3 lead, but Little decided to go against conventional baseball wisdom and left Martinez in to face the heart of New York’s order and three lefties. Posada hit a run-scoring double and Matsui singled in Posada to tie the game and dissolve a three-run lead before the Sox could even think of cursing the Babe.
That’s right, the curse of the Bambino reared its ugly head again. However, both the Cubs and Red Sox suffered from poor decision-making and not the supernatural.
Joe Torre, the manager for the Yanks and the winner of six straight division titles, wins in the playoffs because he does not allow his starters to pitch out of trouble when they are getting shelled. In possibly his final start of his career, Roger Clemens was serving up meatballs in the third inning of the final ALCS game, but Torre did not hesitate in lifting Clemens for Mike Mussina.
The change paid off and Mussina shut down the Sox for four innings, keeping the game in hand, and giving the Yanks the chance to make their eighth-inning comeback.
Are Baker and Little bad managers because of two decisions in title-starved towns? No, but this time it was no curse.
The change to WSU has been an interesting one. As far as sports writing, it has been very nice to work with an actual sports information department. Sure, the football team is mediocre and the volleyball team would give the Lady Eagles a close game, but as far as working with the media it’s a lot easier.
Mostly it comes down to money. WSU has more than CEU. But if the school ever wants to be covered by the state media for topics other than a fight club, then it needs to find the money to pay someone to supervise the sports information full-time. Athletics director Dave Paur does not have the time to coach women’s basketball, direct athletics and make sure press releases get to the media.

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