One of the benefits of joining the SBN gang is a ridiculously mammoth road per diem allotment. I mean, these folks fling the funds even more enthusiastically than Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower used to fling the woo. So, while to the untrained eye it might seem like I was just out-of-town for a few days, loping around and neglecting the 30-share drama that is the Adjusted Postseason, let me fill you in with the truth:
I was actually on the road, scouting our adjusted competitors from the American League. And, lest you think I was just slumming it outside Oakland-Alameda County Stadium (the retroactively-adjusted name for one of the more maladjusted venues in sport), no way, Jose. Thanks to that sweet, sweet per diem, I was living it up in saucy Sausalito; I hired a water taxi to make it across the Bay for Adjusted ALCS Games Three, Four, and Five.
As it happened, five games were all the AALCS required. The ANLCS is still ongoing, so I'll get to it next time. Fortunately so, for I don't have to contemplate an "age before beauty" conundrum---as the Adjusted NL is older, but the Adjusted AL (like its real-life counterpart) isn't exactly beautiful.
Okay, on to the adjusted action!
Oakland Athletics (Adjusted AL West champions; third-order W/L: 91-71) versus Cleveland Indians (Adjusted AL Central champions; third-order W/L: 98-64), Best-of-Seven
Game One: Oakland 6, Cleveland 2
Rich Harden, fresh from adjustments to a frail pitching arm, hurled six innings of shutout ball, leading the Athletics to victory in the opening game. Harden was masterfully lifted from the game by manager Ken Macha exactly at the point the former reached his PAP danger zone, thus saving another career from inevitable arm explosion or decomposition. Macha's presence at the game was something of a surprise, as he had days before resigned in a fit of anger when general manager Billy Beane, in a cost-cutting maneuver aimed at enhancing the club's efficiency, replaced the Pepsi machine with a satchel of oranges and a juicer circa 1885. However, five minutes before the team plane (spared with the money saved by the orange juice initiative) was to take off for Cleveland, Macha came back, pretending nothing had happened.
Game Two: Cleveland 4, Oakland 3 (12 innings)
A cold, dreary Cleveland night, in what would become an otherwise forgettable series (well, except for maybe the events leading up to Game Four; see below), will forever be remembered for the "Fourth Strike Play." With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Oakland relief ace Huston Street built an 0-2 count against third baseman Aaron Boone, Cleveland's last hope. Street's fastball caught the inside corner of the plate, freezing Boone. Home plate umpire Doug Eddings called strike three, but Boone refused to leave the batter's box. Duly convinced by Boone's inaction, Eddings did not call Boone out. Over the protestations of the Oakland bench, the at-bat continued, and on the next pitch ("strike four"), Boone launced a big fly over the left field wall. Cleveland won in some manner in the twelfth, but nobody really cared how days later.
Game Three: Oakland 14, Clevand 5
The scene shifted to Oakland for the middle set of games, which would prove to be the gravesite for this otherwise well-adjusted Tribe team, which had captured the regular season MLB adjusted record crown. In Game Three, the Moneyball A's were led by Dan Johnson and other guys that look like Dan Johnson on a homer binge, which is another way of saying Scott Elarton made an appearance.
Game Four: Oakland 8, Cleveland 4
Barry Zito lent one of his spare guitars to Shane Stant, who had been hiding in wait in the Cleveland locker room. Upon the Indians' arrival, Stant carried out his suicidal mission, clubbing Ben Broussard and Jhonny ("Misplaced 'H'") Peralta in the knee, before accomplishing the real objective, being beaten to death by the left arm of C.C. Sabathia, the 18th-most abused pitcher in 2003. The continued punching motion aggravated Sabathia's latent arm problems, and he was ineffective in the subsequent four inning outing that night.
Game Five: Oakland 4, Cleveland 2
Danny Haren, in control all night, pitched a complete game and sent the Oakland Athletics to the Adjusted World Series. Haren, frustrated by being confused with Rich Harden, announced after the game that he would be changing his name to Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, effective immediately.
Congratulations to the Adjusted Athletics! (Tomorrow: The ANLCS.)