As much as everyone in America and every other civilized baseball country hates them, Houston is one game away from going back to the World Series for the third time in four years.
Game 7 today is merely filling out the paperwork.
This American League Championship Series is Old School versus New School. And it’s reassuring to see Old School taking New School to school.
It’s Dusty Baker, a manager who manages by an instinct that’s been honed by nineteen years as an accomplished major league player and twenty-three years as an accomplished major league manager, versus Kevin Cash, a manager who manages by the dictates of fantasy baseball nerds.
No matter how much one might hate the Astros—which is understandable because their 2017 championship was won by cheating—you have to love Dusty Baker. He’s a baseball man who manages by baseball.
Kevin Cash manages by math.
Last night, and for the third night in a row, baseball beat math.
With his best pitcher on the mound who also happens to be one of the top ten pitchers in the American League, the Rays manager, or more aptly the Rays over-manager, flinched. He pulled his ace in the fifth inning with his team winning 1-0 because he committed the unpardonable sin of not being perfect.
Within three minutes and five batters, the game was lost. And, Tampa Bay’s chance to go to the World Series was lost as well. This is a team that looks and acts shellshocked.
They will say it’s that a small market team cannot compete against a team with a massive payroll.
But the reality is, the Rays are a team that doesn’t believe in baseball. The Astros do.