Dave’s Free Play, Thursday 10/30/14

  • October 30, 2014

Congratulations to the Giants on their third World Series championship in only five years. That’s a remarkable achievement, and while the players have to get the job done, the work of Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy certainly can’t be overstated. As for Madison Bumgarner, Pablo Sandoval, Hunter Pence et al, nothing short of tremendous.

No hot dogging, little flash, great fundamental baseball. The Giants didn’t have the best roster in baseball this season. In fact, I think one can make a good argument that the Giants haven’t had the best talent in any of their title runs. But this outfit is pure money when it matters, and that’s all that counts.

The Royals put together an amazing run and they were a blast to watch in this post-season. Hopefully, it won’t be another generation until they return to the playoffs.

And now for one final time this season, the dreaded misuse of the sacrifice bunt, or more accurately, the intentional out. Ned Yost did some great work with his pitching staff in the playoffs. But his obsession with bunting nearly prevented the Royals from getting this far, and his complete misuse of this strategy reared its ugly head once more in Game Seven.

Bottom fifth, and Madison Bumgarner gives up a hit to the first batter he faces, as Omar Infante singles sharply to start the frame. Next up, Alcides Escobar. No question, Escobar is a good bunter and under the right conditions, having him move Infante up 90 feet while possibly beating out the bunt might be acceptable. In this instance, it was brutal strategy and the results were predictable.

First off, the best chance the Royals were going to have against MadBum figured to be right when he entered the game. As great as the lefty has been, this was still an unfamiliar scenario for him, and sure enough, his velocity when he first entered the game was down a couple of ticks. So giving up an intentional out here was not a great decision to begin with.

Here’s where it got way worse. I fully expected that since Yost was willing to give up Escobar, he was naturally going to pinch hit Josh Willingham for Nori Aoki. Aoki had a terrible World Series. He didn’t hit a lick, and that’s not all. Aoki is 0/for his career against MadBum. He was 0/16 coming into the game. There is simply no acceptable rationale for giving up a hot hitter like Escobar and then letting your coldest hitter step in against a guy who completely owns him.

Never mind that Aoki got good wood on the ball and nearly got a hit. He made an out, and that was basically the ball game, at least until the Blanco misadventure in the bottom of the ninth.

There’s no way of knowing what might have been had Yost not gone the route he did. The way Bumgarner was throwing, he probably gets the Royals out anyway. But as I’ve relentlessly stated so many times, the idea is for the manager to put his team in the best position to win. Yost did the opposite by giving away Escobar and then letting Aoki bat, and that’s all there is to it.

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I made just one play on Wednesday and lost it, as the late surge by the Hawks fell short in NBA action. I almost stole this one, as Atlanta had cut the Toronto to lead to four inside the final 30 seconds. The Raptors then clanked two free throws…but no one boxed out the shooter and he got his own rebound. That was curtains, and I’m now 1-1 to start the new NBA campaign.

Lots of possible plays on the Thursday night ice, I’m playing both college games, and I’m going to have a big Saturday card.

Here’s the November special. It’s simple enough. Buy one month at the regular $750 rate, and I’ll include a bonus month free. In other words, buy November and December is on the house. That’s a nice discount and I’ve had a really good run over the last five months. All plays are included and are emailed with analysis as soon as they’re decided upon. More into available by emailing me directly at cokin@cox.net.

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Several good spots in the NHL tonight, and here’s a look at one of the games very likely to be on my final card. I always like to wait for goalie confirmations and any morning info that comes across the wire, but I’m pretty well set on this play.

10/30 5:05 PM   NHL  (13) ANAHEIM DUCKS  at  (14) ST. LOUIS BLUES

Take: (13) ANAHEIM DUCKS +105

I wasn’t sure what to make of the Ducks entering the new season. But if the early indicators are accurate, this team has a chance to contend and could be sticking around for awhile come springtime.

Anaheim appears to have what could be a dynamic goaltending duo in Andersen and Gibson. But what I really like about this team is how sound they’ve been as far as a the basics are concerned. The Ducks are playing very close attention to the details, and they’re executing Bruce Boudreau’s game plans to a tee.

Boudreau was probably a little hamstrung coaching the Capitals, as he had a few guys on that roster who were ultra-talented but not regarded as great team players. That problem doesn’t appear to exist with the Ducks, who are not flashy but are very effective at doing the little things that win hockey games.

There’s no knocks here on the Blues. They’re a good team and making the playoffs should be a mere formality for this squad. But in breaking down the early season analytics, the Ducks are simply the better outfit right now. Maybe that changes as the season progresses, but I’m only interested in what happens this evening.

I want to ride the hot hand and that’s the Anaheim side. This team is 4-1 both at home and on the road, and they’re a very impressive +12 in goal differential right now. That’s a team worth considering at any kind of plus money, and they’re my side here. Look to grab the best price with the Ducks tonight.