The rain in St. Louis has given back an off-day to the Mets, who sorely need it to rest their "pitching" "staff". Much is being made about Glavine getting an extra day, based on his age and his poor track record pitching on short rest in the playoffs – the Mets are favored largely due to this fact. The reality is, in terms of predictions, that in a single baseball game anything can happen, and that’s really the beauty of the game. Sure, Glavine might go out there and shut the Cardinals down, give the Mets 7-8 good innings and save further wear on the bullpen. He also might go out and throw a stinker, forcing Willie Randolph to pull him in the 2nd inning. Or maybe he gets hit by a line drive in the first inning and has to come out, or he pulls a hamstring running out a ground ball in his first at bat. What if these things happen? Does it mean the Mets will certainly lose the game and the series?
Of course it doesn’t. Maybe Heilman comes in from the pen and throws 6 shutout innings in long relief, allowing the Mets to get back in the game and win it. Maybe the Mets relief is just good enough to contain the ravaged Cardinals lineup, while the offense pummels the horrid St. Louis pitching. You really can’t predict what will happen in one game, which is why all that is being made of Glavine’s extra day is really no more than a way to fill newspaper space on a day with no game.
To take that one step further – does the winner of this series have a chance against Detroit? Detroit comes out of the bigger/badder American League, will be completely rested & healed, will be able to set up its pitching, and looks dominant. Again, of course the NL team has a chance. It’s harder to win a 7-game series than 1 game, but the games are played one at a time, and you never know what will happen. I personally believe at this point that the Tigers will win it all, but to say that the Mets/Cards have no chance in the World Series is preposterous. Detroit could suddenly fall apart – remember their sweep at the hands of Kansas City at the end of the regular season, where they gave up 2 leads of 5+ runs and lost the division title? If Zumaya is too injured to go, it alters the handling of the starting pitching and the rest of the bullpen, and puts some extra pressure on the starters. That in turn puts some more pressure on the hitters, who might start gripping the bat a little tighter and pressing a little more. Who knows?
I realize this type of conjecture doesn’t make for the most interesting reading. It’s much more interesting to make picks and lay out the reasoning for them, particularly if one’s statements are controversial or mean-spirited. There’s a place for that; in fact, it’s right on the front page of the newspaper and every sport website. I guess I was feeling in the mood to go the other way today, and talk about what everyone else is NOT talking about, namely that in the NLCS there are 2 depleted teams not playing their best baseball, anything can happen, and anyone can win.