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Sunday, June 16
The Indiana Daily Student

sports

Hitting back in postseason

As the Anaheim Angels smacked hit after hit in the seventh inning of the ALCS's game five, I watched in awe and excitement. Every time Barry Bonds has been up to bat in the postseason, the intensity grows exponentially, as so often he has either come through himself or seen those behind him get the big hit.\nI have giddily watched this postseason, realizing that, finally, the bats are back. Sure, for years people have complained that hitting has gotten too easy, and that baseball is trying to increase scoring. But for too long, pitching has dominated the postseason. With the likes of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling and others, powerful hitters have only starred in the regular season spotlight. Too often in the last dozen years, postseason baseball has provided us with low scoring pitchers' duels that eliminated an exciting element of the game.\nIt's not that I don't appreciate solid pitching and the importance of dominant hurlers, but the change of pace is what I will enjoy. This year, the strategy won't be so much of "should the reliever come in now, or wait until the next inning," as it will be "should they pitch to Bonds here, considering how well Benito Santiago has hit behind him in the lineup."\nNow, the reemergence of hitting to the postseason has brought a forgotten pleasure. Finally, the dominant pitcher is out of sight. Those pitchers who defined October baseball have all passed their peaks, and no one has risen to replace them. Hitters have taken advantage of this, and are swinging the bats with the confidence and ability that they need to take the crown. The two remaining teams, Anaheim and San Francisco, have reached the promised land with hitting, not pitching.\nThe Angels are hitting .328 through the first two rounds. In each of their series-clinging games, they managed to bat around the entire order in one inning. In nine games, they have hit seventeen home runs.\nThe Giants scored 23 runs in each of their first two series, both of which went five games -- that's over four runs per game against St. Louis and Atlanta, both teams with strong pitching staffs. The lowest postseason ERA in either remaining teams' starting rotation is 2.84, belonging to Jarrod Washburn of Anaheim. In fact, only one pitcher on either of the remaining teams, reliever Rob Nen of the Giants, was an All-Star this year.\nFor the first time since "Bash Brothers," Jose Canseco and Mark McGuire, appeared in three straight World Series from 1988-1990, the hitters are the focus of the World Series, and that is a welcome change.\nSo bring on the long innings, and the back-to-back homers. Make centerfielders throw out runners at the plate, rather than pitchers forcing double plays. The style of play this year has not necessarily been better, but different, and baseball fans can finally gain a fresh World Series experience.

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