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Three counts bad ... moves, games and picks

October 03, 2002|by DAN KAUFFMAN

It took all of 17 innings of playoff baseball for me to start screaming at the TV, about the time Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams took Angels reliever Brendan Donnelly - who? - deep for the winning three-run homer in the eighth inning of Game 1 of their divisional series.

I mean, really, what was Mike Scioscia thinking?

Put yourself in the position of Anaheim's manager. With the game tied 5-5 after your lefty vs. lefty experiment with Scott Schoenoenoenoenoeneweis vs. Jason Giambi failed, you've got three options: Allow Schoeno-whatever to face Williams, keeping Williams from batting left-handed and taking aim at Yankee Stadium's famous short porch in right; bring in closer Troy Percival, he of 40-plus saves who's been your best reliever this season; or call on Donnelly.

A rational man breaks this down to ...

Thought One: Percival's our best. If we get beat, we're gonna get beat with our best.

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Thought Two: Perhaps I should leave the lefty in there and have Williams bat right-handed without the threat of a popup turning into a 320-foot homer.

Thought Three: Who is that other right-hander warming up? I think I'll go with him.

Good one, Mike.

n Arizona manager Bob Brenly told reporters as the regular season wound down he was concerned his team was starting to hit the wall. Watching the Big Unit pitch Game 1 against St. Louis may have confirmed his fears.

Johnson's key weapon is his slider. When it's working - which is pretty much every start nowadays - righthanders are doomed. Two players struck out on the pitch as it hit them on the ankle this year. Ouch.

But on Tuesday, Johnson's slider not only wasn't biting, it wasn't so much as breaking. The Cardinals proceeded to crush Johnson and Arizona.

Curt Schilling is a proven big-game pitcher, and he'll have to be today if the D'Backs are to have any chance at winning the series.

n In lambasting Scioscia earlier, I forgot to mention I don't have much of a brain, either.

In my infinite wisdom, I bragged up South Hagerstown's football team all last weekend. Having seen them play twice (against Smithsburg and Boonsboro), I've been impressed with the Rebels' size up front and the ability of backs Mike Campbell and Jamel Smith to run the ball between the tackles, especially late in games. Plus, David Miner gives South an explosive athletic threat when he's under center.

Having done all this bragging, one of my co-workers looked at last week's Fearless Forecasters predictions and said, "You do know you picked Brunswick to beat them, right?"

Uh ... right. Which helps in part to explain why I'm a combined 8-16 in the Forecasters the last two weeks, prompting my grandfather, a huge Irish fan, to ask me, "So, are you gonna keep picking against Notre Dame?"

He should hope so.

Dan Kauffman is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2311, or by e-mail at mailto:kauffman@herald-mail.com

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