Once Clint Eastwood turned into his character from “Gran Torino” I haven’t paid as much attention to the Hollywood legend’s movies. So forgive me, I just saw “Trouble with the Curve,” and aside from more evidence that Justin Timberlake isn’t an actor, I walked away pleasantly surprised. It was a pretty harmless baseball movie, and I didn’t hate the baseball scenes.
Long story short, Clint plays a longtime scout who picks up various tips that new-fangled scouts miss with their technology and stats. Anyway, at the start of the film, a player that Clint vouched for was in a slump, so he advised the team to send the prospect’s parents to visit him. Everyone has a good laugh, including the smug analytics asshole. As Eastwood is racking up wins in the conference room during the big payoff, someone mentions that mom and dad’s visit worked, and home dude is hitting like .450 or something.
Being a cynic, I rolled my eyes at the notion of a tactic like that ever working in real life. Then, no more than a couple weeks after scoffing, I turn on the Houston-Seattle series to find Yordan Alvarez in another big spot, down a run with two outs and a man on in the bottom of the sixth.
For the second straight game, Alvarez hit a go-ahead home run with just enough men on base to put the Astros in front. It wasn’t a walk-off, three-run shot that looked like it was still going up when it landed in the upper deck like in Game 1, but flipping the lead from 2-1 to 3-2 that late in the game will suffice.
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The other similarity to Wednesday was Alvarez’s family was in the stands watching their offspring/sibling in person for the first time since 2014. After a long, arduous trip to the states from Cuba by way of the Dominican Republic and Mexico, they arrived in late August. Father Agustín Eduardo Alvarez, mother Marilyn Cadogan Reyes Salazar, and brother Yonder Alvarez Cadogan are TBS’s favorite reaction shots, and for good reason. Their son/brother has been to two World Series, and they couldn’t attend either.
In the 32 contests since his family’s arrival, Yordan has been one of the hotter hitters in MLB, batting around .350, with 40 hits — eight of them homers — and 25 RBI. If you extrapolate those stats for the full 2022 season, outside of batting average, it’s slightly above where he would’ve ended up had he not missed 27 games.
For any player, hitting above .300, with 40 home runs and 125 RBI — he finished with 37 and 97 in 135 games — would be MVP territory (in any season when Aaron Judge doesn’t have a career year). It’s not as if he needed the extra motivation, though if you can push a guy like that over the top, it’s never a bad thing.
When the Astros’ biggest candidate to obliterate any pitch you try to throw by him is destroying everything you try to get past him, the best hope of beating Houston is to pray for good fortune from the god of your preference.
When Yordan stepped to the plate again in the bottom of the eighth with a man on first, Seattle manager Scott Servais finally walked the slugger. Of course, Alex Bregman came up and immediately drove in the insurance run to make it 4-2, which is where Game 2 ended, giving Houston a 2-0 series lead.
I know it seems like any switch the M’s skipper toggles starts the self-destruct countdown. However, there are certain variables you can’t account for. A guy going off because he’s finally enjoying the playoffs with family members in the friends-and-family box? That’s something only scouts without computers factor in.
Please tell me you watched something other than Commanders-Bears
Here’s the first-half drive summary from the Thursday night NFL game that you were better off forgetting ever happened: Punt, punt, interception, punt, downs, punt, punt, punt, punt, field goal, end of half.
The scoring really picked up in the final two quarters, with two whole touchdowns, and a field goal. (Washington won, 12-7, if anybody cares). [Editor’s note: I’m sure not many outside of Chicago and D.C.]
Justin Fields’ third-quarter touchdown pass was the first TD in a Thursday night game in more than six quarters. The last was a fourth-quarter pass by the Bengals in Week 4, aka the Tua Tagovailoa game. Amazon’s past four broadcasts have gone like this: Browns blow out the Steelers in Cleveland four days after their fans add rape jokes to their tailgate, Tua almost dies on the field four days after probably getting concussed, Matt Ryan and Russell Wilson battle to see who’s more washed, and then last night’s offering to the meme gods eight hours after Dan Snyder kind of threatens to blackmail the league.
But, hey, if TNF goes anything like the first half of Washington-Chicago, there are only four more punts and a turnover on downs before something worth watching happens.