October 11, 2006 [LINK / comment]

Lidle dies in N.Y. plane crash

This is one of those times when fact is stranger than fiction. Like most people, I feared the worst when I heard on the radio that a small plane had crashed into a high-rise building in Manhattan this afternoon. I was on my way to a Red Cross blood drive, and after I was done I learned that the plane belonged to Yankee pitcher Corey Lidle, and that he and his flight instructor were confirmed dead a short while later. See CNN.com. To Yankee fans, this was a chilling reminder of catcher Thurman Munson's fatal airplane accident in 1979. Today's tragedy cast a pall over New York, and it's probably a good thing that the Mets-Cards game was rained out, to give New Yorkers a chance to release the stress and compose themselves. I hope all baseball fans say a prayer for Corey Lidle's widowed wife and son.

Tigers pounce on Athletics

If Oakland couldn't win with Barry Zito pitching at home, it's hard to see how they can win this series. They wasted many run-scoring opportunities in the first game, as Nate Robertson and the Detroit relief pitchers kept their cool and held off comeback attempts by the A's in the late innings. Brandon Inge was the batting hero for the Tigers, quite an unexpected role for someone batting ninth! Tonight Justin Verlander outshone Esteban Loaiza (a former Washington National!) on the mound. None of the previous eight teams that lost the first two games at home in a league championship series went on to the World Series. Detroit is on "cruise control" and will have the advantage of extra rest, whether they face the Mets or the Cardinals. It looks like Pudge Rodriguez will get another chance to go to the World Series; he was with the world champion Marlins in 2003.

Attendance at Tuesday night's game was 35,655, which was above the nominal capacity of 34,179 but well below the full capacity of 50,000+ if they opened up the upper deck of the main grandstand and the upper deck of the center field addition built in 1996. I think it is stupid to keep those sections closed during a postseason game, artificially reducing the number of fans. The Raiders played in Oakland (McAfee) Coliseum on October 1, so the stadium crew went to some trouble to cover the upper deck seats -- but why??? I'd bet the extra crowd noise might have helped the A's win.