By Joe Christensen
A few quick notes on World Series eve:
(*) The Twins drafted Gophers WR Eric Decker in the 27th round this year but no longer have his rights. The deadline to sign him was Aug. 17, and Decker had committed to playing football. Now, Decker is out for the season and might need surgery to repair a sprained foot. Though Decker hadn’t planned to play baseball for the Gophers next spring, the Twins or one of the other 29 MLB clubs could still draft him, hoping he reconsiders a baseball career.
(*) The Astros and Indians reportedly both made managerial offers to Manny Acta on Saturday, and he chose the Indians, who offered a third year guaranteed, while the Astros offered two years with an option. This makes it look like the Astros had to settle for Red Sox bench coach Brad Mills. But I think both of these hires are solid.
I first met Acta in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic during the 2004 Caribbean Series. I was covering the Orioles, and they had just signed Miguel Tejada, who was playing for Acta on the Dominican squad along with David Ortiz. It always stuck with me, how much passion Acta, Tejada and Ortiz showed in winning that tournament.
Acta received good reviews during his first year managing the Nationals, in 2007, when they went 73-89. Some questioned Acta’s passion before the Nationals fired him this year, after a 26-61 start, but the team’s talent was so thin, it was a hard situation to assess. I felt he deserved another chance somewhere else.
I don’t know Mills personally, but I’ve heard terrific things from people in the game I really respect. My hunch is both of these managers will help steer their clubs in the right direction.
(*) I don’t remember the last time I got a World Series prediction right, but I am looking forward to this Yankees/Phillies matchup and believe it has promise for a long, captivating series. I’d like the Phillies’ chances more if they were starting LHPs Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels in the first two games at Yankee Stadium. Manager Charlie Manuel’s decision to start Pedro Martinez over Hamels in Game 2 is an easy first guess, but Manuel knows this situation far better than me, and it would be great theater to see Pedro prove him right Thursday (weather permitting).
The Yankees have looked unstoppable this month, but all the numbers change to zero again. This is A-Rod’s first Fall Classic, so no matter what kind of zone he’s been in, he has to prove himself yet again. The bullpen edge seems to favor the Yankees, especially with Mariano. Then again, Brad Lidge said he’s finally feeling healthy again for the Phillies, and that can make all the difference.
Almost all my instincts tell me to pick the Yankees in 5, but I’m taking the Phillies in 6.