Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Little Things

Its been a couple of weeks now, but I am still glowing from the Yankees World Series victory. As you listen to the commentators and analysts, you would think the Yankees dominated this series from start to finish.

But honestly, think about how close this series really was. We won every game not started by Cliff Lee. But there were so many key moments when the momentum of the series hung in the balance and things broke our way.

In game 3, the Yanks are down 3-0 and things are looking bleak. Teixeira works a walk, but ball 4 would probably be called a strike about 80% of the time. If A-Rod comes up with no one on, does he still hit the home run? Does the home run change the momentum as much as it does?

The home run hit the camera. If the original ruling of double is upheld, do the runs score?

Pettitte gets a hit to tie the game. Pettitte.

In game 4, the Yankees looked as if they were going to let this one get away when Joba comes in and gives up the game-tying home run to Feliz. Then, in the top of the 9th, Damon works his magic with the nine-pitch single that seemed to rattle Lidge.

Then, Damon steals second and goes to third because no one was covering. (Inexcusable). Ever seen a play like that? Now, Lidge is scared to throw his dynamite slider, for fear of a wild pitch. He hits Teixeira then grooves one to A-Rod.

In every baseball game there are so many key moments. A ball/strike call. A hard line drive that is just foul.

I love the Yankees and the win was fun. But it could have so easily gone the other way. We won the series with solid starting pitching, timely hitting, and several breaks at turning-point moments.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

How One At-Bat Can Change a Game

I have to admit that I lost faith tonight. The Yanks hadn't been hitting and when the Phillies tied it up in the 8th with that home run (by Feliz???? - you HAVE to be kidding me!) I kind of felt like we might not get it done tonight. If we didn't score in the 9th, who thinks someone wouldn't have hit one out for the Phils?

Matsui-san starts it off with a weak popup in the infield. Then, Jeter works a fairly good at-bat to a full count. Then, he swings at BALL FOUR! I was discouraged. Then Johnny Damon stepped up and had one of the great at-bats anyone will ever see.

Lidge was looking pretty good, but Johnny worked him like a pro. He took a ball inside that almost hit him. Then, he fouled off two good pitches to go to 1-2. Looked bleak. But then he got busy. He fouled off a pitch to stay alive (barely tipped), then took a pitch up (close) and one away to run the count full. He then fouled off two more pitches to stay alive for the ninth pitch he had seen.

He slapped that pitch into left field for a single. He stole second and third (on the same play) then scored on A-Rod's double. Yankees win.

A-Rod and Posada are the heroes, but they would not have had the chance to shine if Damon had not worked one of the great at-bats you will see. A professional hitter who changed the outcome of a game.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A-Rod for MVP

I haven't been writing at this blog for several reasons. I have been sick. I have been busy. And after the Yankee games, I have been so worn out and stressed out I couldn't handle it.

But, if the Yankees go on to win this series (and that's a big "if"), A-Rod should get the MVP even if doesn't get another hit the rest of the series.

Things were going poorly and the Yankees were lethargic. They just looked listless. Couldn't hit. Swinging at bad pitches. I was not encouraged. Andy Pettitte was not sharp and the Yankees were down 3-0 in the fourth inning. It looked like the makings of a Phillies blowout.

Then, Teixeira worked a walk (if I was a Phillie fan, I'd be mad about ball 4). That's when A-Rod stepped up and slapped one down the right field line. It was originally ruled a double, then after the replay, it was ruled (rightly so) a home run. Suddenly, the Yankees come alive.

If the Yankees lose today, they would really have a tough time winning the series. A-Rod turned things around. He is a World Series hero, regardless of what happened in games 1 and 2 or what happens from here.

Friday, October 9, 2009

I'm Having a Coronary

That was one of the most amazing games I have ever watched. If you are a Twins fan (stop reading here, pal), you have to feel like that was one you should have won.

AJ Burnett was wonderful, if wild. He matched Nick Blackburn inning for inning, although his innings were a little more interesting that Blackburn's. Fantastic!

While Jorge didn't like it, Burnett's performance leaves Girardi's decision looking good. Burnett pitches better when Molina catches. He pitched well enough that you have to support the decision that was made. Vindicated!

The umpires were AWFUL in this game. Unless pitch-trak was malfunctioning, these guys should be demoted to Single A ball. Home plate ump was so erratic, no one knew what the strike zone way. And the call on Mauer's hit in the 11th was one of the worst I have ever seen. It was nearly a foot inside the line and he called it foul. I'm glad for the call, but goodness gracious. Pathetic!

A-Rod is hot in the clutch. He got a single with two out in the sixth to tie the game at one. Then, after Teixeira led off the ninth with a single, he tied it again with a long, long home run. He is hitting with both cylinders and is silencing all the critics. Impressive!

Brett Gardner should be shot. He subbed for Jorge in the tenth, after he got a single. He went to second on a steal and third on an error, so they walked Jeter. That brought up Damon. It was first and third with one out. Damon lines a hard shot up the middle. Little leaguers know you hold at third to see the ball go through. If it goes through, you still have plenty of time to score. It didn't. Gardner breaks from third on the contact and the shortstop snagged the line drive and doubled him off third. Inexusable!

Nobel prize for David Robertson. He came in with two on and no out in the top of the 11th. (I will admit that had the inning started with a double as it should have, it would have been a different inning.) He gave up a hit, but Mauer did not try to score, probably figuring with one out, why risk it? Bases loaded with no out - looks pretty bad for the good guys. The next batter lined a bullet, but it was right at Teixeira. One out. The next guy bounces one to Teixera, who goes home for the force. Two out. Third out was a fly ball to Nick Swisher and the Yankees got out of it without a run scoring. Amazing!

I felt that might break the Twins' will. Teixeira took care on that. He lined a shot down the left field line that hit the top of the wall and bounced into the seats. Yankees win and go up 2-0. Incredible!

I don't remember too many games this tense or amazing. It was big, too. The last three years (in the playoffs), the Yankees won the first game then lost the next three. Now, they are up 2-0 and have Pettitte going against Pavano. We should not be as intimidated going into the dome as the Tigers were. We've done pretty well there. Optimistic!

If they get Pettitte, they will have to beat Sabathia next. Then they will have to go back to Yankee stadium and face Burnett again. We've got a good chance to get to the second round. Angels are up 2-0 and looking good.

By the way, are there any teams that do not have a player named Cabrera?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Postseason Pinstripes: The Unique Nature of the Baseball Playoffs

It can hardly be argued that the Yankees are the best team in Major League Baseball this year. Many would have argued for the Dodgers or Red Sox in the first half of the season, but the Yanks rendered those arguments moot with a dominating second half. We have a ten game lead on the Sox. Our record is eight games better than California and nine games better than the Dodgers, who play in the inferior National League.

The Yankees are the best team in baseball. Big Whoop! Baseball is a unique game. In basketball, over a 7-game series, the best team almost always wins. In football, the dominant teams usually make it to the Super Bowl and take home the trophy. I don't know about hockey - who really cares, right?

But the baseball playoffs are unique. Very seldom does the team with the best regular season record win the World Series. A Wild Card team has won several times - they couldn't win their own division in the regular season, but won it all in the playoffs. A couple of years back, St Louis stunk up the league in September and October, and squeaked into the playoffs looking horrible. They won the World Series.

There is a reason for this. Playoff basketball is essentially the same as regular season basketball, just more intense. Same with football. But the nature of baseball changes dramatically in the postseason.

The difference is starting pitching and days off. To win a lot of games in the regular season, you need to have three, four, or five starting pitchers. If you have two dominant pitchers , that is nice, but you still have to run somebody out there three times between their starts. But in the playoffs, two dominant pitchers can win it all (ie Randy Johnson and Curt Shilling on the 2001 Diamondbacks). There are enough days off that the two dominant pitchers can lead the team to victory. Smith wins game 1, Jones wins game two, then Smith wins game 5 (or 6) and Jones wins game 6 (or 7). In the opening series, you can do the same thing if you get the extended series.

In recent years, the Yankees have had a team better suited to win lots of regular season games, but have not done well in the playoffs. I hope this year will be different, of course, but you never know.

Baseball is a quirky game. In a five games series, one team can get hot while another goes cold. The Washington Nationals could beat the Yankees in a five-game series. Not likely, but it could happen.

I am more optimistic this year. The Yankees have some of the best pitchers in the AL playoffs. all the other Cy Young contestants are on teams that missed the playoffs - Halladay (Toronto), Grienke (KC - likely Cy Young), Hernandez (Seattle). CC Sabathia is as good as any of them and better than any other playoff pitcher. Pettitte and Burnett are just about as good as the other pitchers on the teams we will play.

The Yankees have been hitting consistently - we have even beaten some of the really good pitchers.

I'm optimistic about the Yankees' chances this year. We are the best team going in. I am also realistic. Baseball is a strange sport - the best regular-season team does not always win.

But this seems like a GREAT year for #27!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Yankees Tie...The-e-e-e Yankees Tie!

By skunking the Roid Sox 3-0 today, the Yankees clinched at least a tie in both their division, the AL East (best in baseball) and for the best record in baseball and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

The Yankees were AWFUL today with runners on base. Finally, in the 6th, Cano parked one and then Damon got a two-out bases-loaded hit in the bottom of the eighth. Mariano got his 43rd save and the Yankees lead both Boston and California by 7 games with 7 games left.

Yanks have taken 8 of 9 from Boston and tomorrow will go for the remarkable feat of tying the season series with the Evils, after going down 0-8 in the first couple of months.

Folks, if CC Sabathia does not get the Cy Young, its a rip. This guy has been an absolute stud the second half. The Sox only got one hit against him. Absolute domination.

And there is good hope that CC might still have some strength for the playoffs. Last year, the Brewers rode him like draft horse down the stretch, pitching him long innings on short rest. By the time the playoffs came around, he wasn't sharp.

CC hasn't been going more than 100 pitches or so for his last few starts and has been pitching on 5 days rest (sometimes 6).

The AL playoffs are almost set. The Yankees will play either Detroit or Minnesota - whichever one of them gets out of the woeful AL Central. Boston will go to California for the first round. The Angels should win that, but Boston seems to have their number. The Yanks should have no problem in the first round, but we have to break our bad playoff mojo. We will see.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Pass in the Song Books

The good guys beat the bad guys 9-5 tonight, putting the Yankees up 6 games in the loss column and pretty much finishing any chances the Sox have to win the AL East (magic number is 3 with 8 games left).

Significant happenings:

  • Joba looked Very good, for the first time since the Joba rules were imposed. He gave up home runs to Martinez and Ortiz, but he looked in command.

  • Lester got hit in the knee by a line drive. Looks like he's going to be okay, and it is so wrong to cheer for injuries. But if Lester were out of the rotation, Boston's goose would be cooked.

  • The bats were booming. A-rod is hot, Teixeira is going good - lots of Yankees are hitting. We scored 9 runs and probably should have had more.

  • What a comeback in the second half. The Yankees lost the first 8 games of the season to the Red Sox. They are now 7-9. If we win the next two games, we will be even for the season. Not many people would have predicted a split series for the year. We have a chance to make it a reality.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

An ANGELic Series

The Yankees did exactly what we needed to do - we got two wins in our three games in Anaheim - first Yankees series win in Anaheim since 2004. Boston has lost two of three to KC (they are playing now - no score), allowing the Yankees to get back to a five game lead in the loss column. We've got 9 regular season games left. Our "magic" number is 5 (any combination of 5 Yankees wins and Evils losses gives us the division). Shouldn't be too hard.

Perhaps the biggest thing is that AJ Burnett looked good for the second game in a row. We need him on a roll in the playoffs.

Biggest problem is Joba. The "Joba Rules" have messed him up royally, at least for this year. His start against the Evils tomorrow night is a big deal.

Yanks need to win one of the games against the Sox. Two would be great. Three would be heavenly - and clinch the AL East.

Let's go Yankees.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Three Big Outs

Yankees got a sac fly in the top of the ninth (by A-rod) to take a 6-5 lead. Mariano is coming in to get three outs in the ninth. If we win, we will have a 6 game lead (5 in the loss column) with 10 games left. I think it will all be over.

The bigger thing is two-fold. 1) We really need to beat the Angels in Anaheim - just for confidence.
2) Mariano needs to get back on track after the fiasco in Seattle.

A-rod has a home run, a sac fly and a great play with the bases loaded to stop the Angels from taking the lead. Let's go Yankees - finish it off!

First up - Morales, who is 5 for his last 5 at-bats. Full Count. Morales swung at ball four. Walked him. Tying run on with no outs. We can't get this Morales guy out.

Juan Rivera - ball one. Mariano does not look sharp tonight. WOW! A strike-em-out throw-em-out double play. Two outs and no one on.

Erick Aybar - grounds out on first pitch.

Yankees Win! Yankees Win! The-e-e-e Yankees Win.

A big day for the Yankees! I am going to breath a little easier now.

Baseball is a WEIRD Game

The Red Sox have been almost unbeatable recently, and I was actually starting to be afraid that they might catch the Yankees for the AL East title. Then, they go into KC to play one of the truly bad teams in baseball. Low and behold, the Evils lose two straight to the Royals - my new second favorite team.

The Yankees are stinking it up again tonight in Anaheim. They had runners at first and third in the first, so A-rod struck out and we stranded the runners. Then, Cano led off the second with a double and we stranded him at third.

If we could somehow win tonight in Anaheim, the magic number will be 6. It stands at 7 now.

Another weird thing: I mentioned above how bad the Yankees are doing, and within a minute or two of publishing that, both A-rod and Jorge have hit 2-run home runs. Now, Chad Gaudin has got to keep throwing blanks!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Gotta LOVE the Royals!

I'm now a huge Royals fan. Tonight was looking pretty depressing. The Yankees are down 3-0 in the 6th inning and they just aren't hitting (haven't been since they flew to the West Coast.) The Boston Evils were up 6-0 against the Kansas City Royals, one of the worst teams in baseball. It was looking bleak. The Yankees lead is down to 5 games, 4 in the loss column. Another Yankees lose, Evils win night would suddenly make this thing a race.

Then, KC's bats came alive. They started scoring and just kept on going. They beat Boston 12-9 and took the pressure off a little. The magic number is now 8.

If only the Yankees can come back and win tonight! If only...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I LOVE CC Sabathia!

After a difficult loss yesterday, and another win by the Red Evils today, we really needed a win tonight. We got it. CC was masterful. Texeira brought the bat (2 HR's, a triple and a single). It was a much needed win.

Our magic number is now 9. Any combination of Yankee wins or Evil losses totaling 9 and we win the AL East. We have 13 games left. So, if we go 9-4, we are in. If the Red Evils lose 2 games, then we have to go 7-6.

Let's go, Joba! A win tomorrow in Seattle would be great. And, for Pete's sake, couldn't you Evils lose one tomorrow?

Friday, September 18, 2009

That One Stung a Little

Mariano struck out the first two batters.
Then, in two pitches the game was lost. Sweeney double. Ichiro home run.

That Ichiro is amazing. AAARRRGGGHHH!

Boston picks up a game.

The Irrelevance of ERA

A pitcher's ERA (earned run average) is one of the key statistics used to judge a pitcher's quality. It is probably that CC Sabathia will lose the Cy Young this year to Zach Grienke because of the difference in their ERA's, even though CC has more wins.

But, watching the Yanks in Seattle tonight, I thought about how skewed that statistic can be. The Yankees have only gotten 2 runs so far (lead 2-1 at this point in the seventh). But if this game was being played at Yankee stadium they would have 5 or 6 runs. They have hit several balls that would have been out of the park at New Yankee Stadium , which went for harmless outs in Seattle. Swisher crushed one that was caught at the wall.

It is no wonder, with half his starts at Yankee stadium that CC's ERA is a little higher than pitchers like Felix Hernandez (pitching against us tonight) who pitches half his games in the cavern they call Safeco field.

I am not saying that ERA is insignificant. I'm just saying that since ballparks are so different, it is a statistic that will be skewed, like hitting stats in Colorado.

(One more thing, while I'm at it - the Yankees hit into more double plays than any team in the history of baseball - it is FRUSTRATING!!)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Big Win for the Angels!

I haven't been writing much, because I have been busy and because I haven't felt much distress about the state of the Yankees. But the last couple of days have made me just a touch nervous. Boston won seven in a row, and the Yankees were in a minor funk (winning one, losing one, etc) and the Evils had cut a once nine game lead down to 6.5 games (only 5 in the loss column).

Last night, the umpire cheated the Angels out of a win that would have made things a little more comfortable, but tonight, the Angels squeaked out a 4-3 win. The Yanks are now up 7 games (6 in the loss column) and things are a little more comfortable.

The Yankees are 94-53. The Evils are now 86-59. That means that the Yankees have to win 6 games the rest of the way (6 wins, 9 losses) to reach 100 wins. If we do that, Boston has to go 14-3 to tie. They now embark on a 10 game road trip. The first two series are against two of the worst teams in baseball. They will go to Baltimore for three and to Kansas City for 4. The good news is that Grienke should be pitching one of those games, unless that line drive yesterday messed him up. The Yankees are headed to the West Coast to play Seattle and LA three games apiece. Then we are home to play the Red Sox and KC. Then, we go to Tampa Bay for our last three games.

  • Someone has to tell me why on EARTH the Yankees have two trips to LA this year! The next nine games are the last big stretch of the season. We need to win two of three in every series.

  • We seldom play well on the West Coast, so winning a good percentage of the next 6 games is big.

  • We may play LA in the playoffs, so we need to establish that we can win out there. That is a crucial series psychologically.

  • We need to beat Boston two of three to stop their momentum. They have really been hot recently.

In the last 24 hours, two good things have happened. First, we came back last night from being down 2 in the eighth to beat Toronto. Then, Boston blew a 2 run lead tonight to lose. Had those games gone wrong, thing could be way too tense right now.

I wouldn't be surprised to see the Yankees play about 500 ball from here on out. We are pretty much guaranteed to be in the playoffs, and have a good lead on the home field advantage. We are resting pitchers and players, getting ready for the postseason.

I just hope we can do that without losing our edge.

I'm going out on a limb, here. We are going to go (at least) 8-7 the rest of the way to finish at 102-60. (That is 3 of 6 on the West coast, 1 of three with Boston, then two of three with each KC and Tampa Bay.) Boston may well win 12 of their remaining 17 games to finish the season at 98-64. That means that we get Detroit (or Minnesota if a miracle occurs) in the first round and Boston and LA will go back at. Boston wins that, setting up what will probably be another Empire/Nation Pennant series.

NOTE: The best thing would be more simple. The Yanks get hot this week, win 5 of 6 on the West Coast, win 2 or 3 against the Sox and make the last week of the season absolutely meaningless. Tough to imagine the Sox losing many to Baltimore or KC, even on the road.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Nick Swisher Can Hit .250 for My Team EVERY Year

Nick is not a good fielder, often turning routine fly balls into adventures. He bats .250 when he's hot, strikes out a lot and hits some weak ground balls.

And I love him. He is such a great guy to have on a team. He gets big hits (walk-off home run tonight). He brings fun to the clubhouse. The Yankees can probably go out in the off season and pay 15 million for another outfielder (Matt Holliday or someone like that). But I like having Nick Swisher up there. He's my kind of Yankee!

FYI - Yankees are 90-50 with 22 games left. We will probably end up with around 100 wins, up to 105. We are resting guys and playing a different lineup every night. Just got to keep the pitching staff sharp.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Today's Most Important Event

The Yanks have pretty much wrapped up the AL East, forging a 9 game lead with 23 games left by sweeping the Bay Rays. Lots of good things happened today. Good pitching (1 run allowed in both games) good hitting (2 HR for Tex) and other stuff.

But the most important thing that happened was the game pitched by AJ Burnett. In the postseason, we need to have three dominant pitchers (four would be nice). CC and Andy have been consistently good. AJ has not. He looked pretty good tonight. Now, we just need to get these stupid Joba Rules nullified and get him back on track.

Stick a Fork in the Red Sox

The Yankees won the first of a double header today. We are 88-50 with an 8.5 game lead with 24 games to go. Using the calculation we used before, if the Yankees go 12-12, they will will 100 games. To catch us, the Red Sox have to go 21-4. That's if we just keep on splitting games.

Update: We won both, and are 89-50 with a 9 game lead. "See ya!"

The AL East is over.

Unfortunately, Texas can't seem to get it going (losing Young and Hamilton dI idn't help) and so the Evils still have a lead in the Wild Card. I'm hoping that they get hot and push the Evils out of the playoffs completely.

Honestly, the Red Sox keep on scaring me. Beckett can't keep getting beat forever. They have good starting pitching and a good bullpen. If they make the playoffs, they can win it all. That is evil beyond consideration. We must not let that thought cross our minds, folks.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Not Loving the Joba Rules

After the All-Star break, Joba Chamberlain was firing blanks. He was amazing, solid, consistent. Then, the Yankees started monkeying with his innings, to "save" his arm. There may be good reason in the long run to do that, but they have royally messed him up right now. He can't throw strikes and his fastball is 6-8 mph slower than it was. If they are going to do this kind of stuff, they should just put him in the bullpen for the rest of the season.

One more thing - why did Halladay have to choose tonight to break out of his slump? Why couldn't he have shut the Red Sox out last time?

The only bright note of the evening is that the Red Sox are down 12-1 right now in Chicago.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Something to Think About

The Yankees are 86-48 (38 games over .500). If we go 14-14 in our remaining games, we will finish 100-62.

If we finish 100-62, then Boston has to finish 22-7 to tie us (and win the division). They have 15 games at home and 14 on the road, including three at Yankee Stadium.

In other words, it will take a massive collapse by the New York Yankees to give the Evils a chance to win the division.

However, stick a fork in the Rays. They are done! We need to cheer for the Texas Rangers to get hot and knock the Evils out of the playoffs.

I Have a Problem with Robinson Cano

I think he is a remarkably good second baseman and hitter. But he does something I have observed a couple of times that bothers me. Just a moment ago, he hit into an inning ending double play in the first inning. He hit the ball, then looked at it for a second, then headed to first, getting thrown out by a hair. Had he just lit out for first base, perhaps he could have beaten the throw and the inning would have continued. Its not the first time I have observed him doing that. He hits the ball, watches it for a bit, then starts running. Its not a good habit.

Anyone else observed that?

Update: I hope it won't matter, but Romero came back to strike out the side in the second inning. The break seemed to help him regain his bearing. We should have blown his doors off in the first inning. Cano's lack of hustle hindered that.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I (Almost) Feel Sorry for the Red Sox

If I didn't find the failure of the Red Sox to be one of the great joys of life, I would be moved to compassion for them over the last couple of weeks. First, they blew a 5 game lead over the Yankees and now trail by 7.5 games. That's strike one. Second, they once were rejoicing that they had beaten the good guys 8 straight games. Now, we have taken 6 of 7. Strike two.

But what makes me feel sorry for them is what dominating baseball they have been playing over the last 10 games. They have been fantastic. Good pitching. Great hitting. And in the at time they have picked up exactly ZERO games on the Yankees. We were up 7.5 then, we are up 7.5 now. It must be discouraging to play that well and gain NO ground.

I think I'm about to call it. I will have a massive amount of mud on my face if I'm wrong, but the New York Yankees are the American League East Champions.

However, if we are going to go on and win the World Series, there are a couple of things that we need to do.

1) We need to get AJ Burnett straightened out.

2) We need to stay healthy and get rested without letting guys go cold.

3) We need to Joba back on form.

4) It wouldn't hurt if Josh Beckett kept stinking and if the Red Sox got a couple of key season-ending injuries.

Something to think about:

Yankees are 85-48 (37 games over .500). If we go 15-14 in our remaining games, we will finish 100-62. If we finish 100-62, then Boston has to finish 23-7 to tie us (and win the division).

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Best There Ever Was!

Mariano Rivera hasn't had a lot of chances to pitch recently. The Yankees have been winning their games by large scores. Today, Brian Bruney walked a guy and gave up a hit in the ninth inning, so Mariano got in and got us the last two outs.

Simple. Not one of his bigger, pressure-packed saves. Baltimore isn't Boston, for sure. But I just got to thinking as I watched him mow down two hitters:


I know that "closer" is a relatively new position in baseball, but he has no peer. Sure, Trevor Hoffman has more saves than Mariano (though that may change before Mo retires), but he has not played under New York pressure.

Ask 100 baseball experts who they would want on the mound if they needed 3 outs to win the Series. The Sandman would get 75 votes.

No one has ever walked to the mound in big games and produced like Mariano Rivera.

And while I'm at it, Andy Pettitte was amazing tonight. If Hairston snags the ground ball in the seventh, Andy goes into the eighth with a perfect game. Who knows what would have happened?

I followed the stats on ESPN Gameday. Andy was blowing 86 mile an hour fastballs by hitters. That is not a misprint. I'm not sure he topped 90 all day. High school pitchers throw harder and Baltimore was baffled.

Now, the good guys have a 6.5 game lead one game into another road trip, this one to Baltimore and Toronto. Boston heads out to Tampa and Chicago. Hopefully, their road woes will continue and the Yanks can hold or even increase their lead.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sergio Mitre: 2009 Cy Young?

Sergio Mitre and Chad Gaudin combined to shut out the White Sox - who played a genuinely awful game. Yankees hit the ball hard for a 10-0 win.

Sergio Mitre? Chad Gaudin?

Baseball is a weird game. Mitre has been awful, and then he shows up today and looks like Nolan Ryan.

Who are the Fools at Fox Sports?

I am SO frustrated. The local Fox affiliate is showing the New York-Chicago game today. The NEW YORK METS against the CHICAGO CUBS! These are two great teams having great years, right?

Why not show the Yankees game? Because the local Fox Sports people are stupid. When there are Yankees/Boston games available, they will show us some meaningless game with the Twins and Kansas City, or something useless like that.

It is because of the stupidity of Fox Sports that I have to pay for MLB.TV to see Yankees games.

Cano, Don'tcha Know!

The Pinstripes got another walk-off win last night, after CC squandered a dominating pitching performance with a hiccup in the seventh. Yanks couldn't get much going against Buehrle, or it wouldn't have mattered. So, the game went into 10th and Cano got a pie in the face, compliments of AJ Burnett.

Its been a frustrating week for the good guys. We lost two of three to Texas, and the two losses just seemed like games we should have won.

On Tuesday, we were down 10-5 going into the bottom of the ninth, after a bad start by Joba that made the Yankees revise their "Joba Rules" again. A few hitters later, the Yankees were down 10-9 with runners on 1st and 2nd and NO ONE OUT. Looked like we were going to have a dramatic win. That was before Nick Swisher popped trying to bunt. Pathetic. Then, Melky hit a hard liner to shortstop and doubled off Hairston at second. The-e-e-e Yankees lose.

Pettitte was on his game on Wednesday.

Burnett was firing blanks on Thursday. I thought for a couple of innings that he was gonna throw a no-hitter or something. He was unbelievable. The Yankees were cruising with a 2-0 lead when AJ walked a couple of guys and Kinsler got a fastball down the middle. No hitter gone. Lead gone. Game gone. Yanks never got anything going against the Rangers.

The only upside of all this is that there is still an outside chance that the Rangers could overtake Boston and eliminate them from the playoffs. I am a little afraid of the baseball Boston is playing right now. Sure, we have beaten them 6 of 7, but in a short series, anything could happen.

Last night, CC looked great for six innings, then got lucky in the seventh. He gave us a double, a walk and another double. That made it 2-1 with runners on 2nd and 3rd and no one out. A-rod made a nice play on a ground ball, throwing a guy out at home. After another out, A-rod made another great play, snagging a ground ball down the line and preventing a double. That meant that the bases were loaded. Next guy singled to right and Yankees threw the second runner out at the plate. Two of the three outs in the inning were guys thrown out at the plate. How often do you see that?

Had A-rod not made two nice plays and had we not gotten the final out at home, that could have ended up being CC's first loss in August since the Hoover administration. No decision, but a great Yankee win in the 10th on a Cano home run.

Boston has won 4 of 5 (at home, of course) to narrow the lead to 6 games. That is why that Sunday win by CC at Boston was so big. If that game goes the wrong way, the Yankees might now have only a 4 game lead and things would be way too interesting.

Today will be an adventure. We have Mitre (or Gaudin?) going. Probably will need the bats today. Most likely an 11-8 win. Just hope we have the 11.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

How Sweet It Is!

This was the biggest game of the season for the Yankees. Had we lost, the Red Sox would only be 5 games out in the loss column and they would have momentum. But we took 2 out of 3, have a 7.5 game lead and are looking pretty good to win the AL East.

CC Sabathia is worth every penny the Yankees paid him. He was a MAN tonight. He may not have had his best stuff, but he battled and got big outs. Watch the Yankees over the next month to limit his work. He threw 118 pitches tonight, but since we won and now have the cushion, I'll best he doesn't pitch over a 100 pitch limit much the rest of the way. Last year, he was throwing big games on short rest as the season came to an end, and he got shelled in the playoffs. Yanks will want him to be fresh and will limit his innings, just as they are doing with Joba.

Beating Josh Beckett always feels good. Five home runs against Beckett is a big deal.

I think one of the big things that happened this weekend is A-rod's hitting. Some big hits on Friday - in fact, a couple of home runs in most parks. Then, tonight, after the Evils got a run on a terrible play by Cano to get back to 5-3, A-rod went deep for a 7-3 lead. We need A-rod hitting. This weekend, he didn't just hit, he got BIG hits.

It's weird with A-rod. He's having his worst season as a Yankee, and yet I think he is being accepted more this year than in previous years. First of all, fans can see that he is working hard with an injury that is slowing him down. The hip injury is hurting him, but he keeps playing through it. Plus, the Yankees are just plain having fun - and you can see it with A-rod. I think he is more human this year. Anyway, he will likely finish with the worst stats since he was a rookie, certainly his worst as a Yankee. Yet, somehow, he seems more like "one of us" this year.
Of course, if he bats .135 in the playoffs, all bets are off.

Dennis Gallagher told me tonight at church that I am a pessimist. He's right. But somehow, I just had this feeling that this game tonight really mattered. With the Yankees and the Red Sox, mindset matters. Early in the season, the Evils were feeling it. Recently, the Good Guys have had the edge. Even though we would have still had a big lead, I was afraid that if we lost tonight, especially if we got shelled again, the momentum could shift back to the dark side.

I have one question for Terry Francona, who coaches the Sox. Why on earth did David Ortiz sit out? Sure, Sabathia is tough, but Ortiz has been knocking the cover off the ball for the last couple of weeks. Is he tired? Hurt? He has hit lefties in the past. How does Francona keep him on the bench?

Stupid Terry. Good for the good guys.

Phil Hughes looked great. Mariano was on. He seems to have righted the ship. The rest he has gotten recently has been good for him. He walked the first guy he faced, but then he shut them down pretty hard.

Its a good day to be a Yankee.

Now, what really matters. We need to start cheering that either Tampa Bay or Texas gets hot and that the Sox go back into a funk. Honestly, this could be a tough team in the playoffs. Better that they don't even get there. Go Rays. Go Texas (except this week in New York).

And, just for fun, let's note that Smoltz looked really good in San Diego today. After the Yankees bombed him, the Sox released him and he went to St. Louis. I just think its funny that he goes to St. Louis and gets the win. Priceless.

So, now its back to Yankee stadium. Good to be home. But the 10 game road trip was all we could hope for. Seven wins in ten games. Two of three against the Evils. I was concerned when we started the trip that we could lose ground to the Sox, perhaps a lot of ground. But actually, over the trip, we gained a game. We came in up 6.5 and left up 7.5. I know Oakland and Seattle are hardly the most fearsome teams in baseball, but we have not done well on the West coast and in Boston. We went to three troublesome places and got 7 wins.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Ugly? Beating Boston is ALWAYS Pretty!

The Yankees beat Boston 20-11. Its always fun when the good guys win big and evil is defeated. But it was far from a pretty game.

Yankees pitchers did not exactly shine tonight. Andy Pettitte was rolling until the long break during the top half of the fifth (we scored 6 runs) and he just couldn't get it going after that. Frankly, the Yankees owed him one like this. He has had a couple of no-decisions when he pitched very well recently and a walk-over like this is a little justice. Brian Bruney and Sergio Mitre had a little problem with control and gave up some runs. Its hard to judge them too harshly. When you come in the game up 11 runs, its probably hard to get into it.

The bright note on the pitching staff was Damaso Marte, back off a long pull on the DL. He looked really good in his inning of relief.

The Bombers were back tonight. After the second inning, the game was never really in doubt. You might point out that Boston got 11 runs, but we did not exactly put our best bullpen foot forward in the later innings. Would they have gotten these runs against our best? Who knows?

I am scared of the Red Sox. They are starting to hit the ball (Ortiz must be back on the steroids). If they get Matsuzaka and Wakefield back, they could be dangerous in the playoffs.

We are now 6-2 on the road trip. If we win one of the next two, I think it is pretty safe to say the AL East pennant is going back where it belongs. Tomorrow is our best shot. We have Burnett going against that new Japanese pitcher (Kazawa?). Sunday should be a barn-burner. CC Sabbathia against Josh Beckett, a great matchup on the hill.

All is well with the Empire right now. I just hope that the bats are gonna stay, not just appearing for one night. If only Brad Penny could pitch every day!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The-e-e-e Yankees Win

The Yankees won their second series on this road trip by beating the Oakland A's 3-2. Now, its time to head to Boston for the big series. We are 5-2 on this road trip, and we really need to win at least 1 and preferably 2 at Boston.

Its not going to be easy. Boston is hot - hitting like the old days. And the Yankees won another game looking not so good.

A-rod CANNOT hit. That's a problem. This has gone on long enough that I am beginning to wonder if his skills are on the decline. We really need him hitting.

Matsui is hurting and we need him too.

We have our three top pitchers (Pettitte, Burnett, Sabbathia) going. We just have to win one. Two wins in Boston probably puts the pennant in our hands.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Its a Miracle!!

The Yankees brought their bats!

And Oakland forgot their gloves.

We did not pay CC enough.

(We are now 4-2 on the road trip. If we win tomorrow night, we have to win once this weekend at Boston to keep a good lead. If we lose tomorrow night, we probably need 2 at Boston. A sweep - priceless!)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Not Looking Good!

The Yanks are heading into a little funk here. Hope they can pull out quickly. We took it on the chin last night from Seattle (still won 3 of 4) and tonight, AJ Burnett is looking pretty hittable. And frankly, the Yankees just aren't scoring runs. We've been winning with pitching, and if the pitching isn't there, we are in trouble.

Maybe things will turn around. We have come back a lot this year. But we are making BRETT TOMKO, who couldn't hardly get anyone out earlier this year when he pitched for us, look like Bob Gibson! How can we make mediocre pitchers look so good?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Who'd a Thunk It?

Texas just beat Boston for the second straight day. I was absolutely sure after they gave away the game Friday that Texas would lay down and Boston would sweep. I was joyfully wrong!

If the Yanks win (ahead 3-2 in fourth right now), they will be 8.5 games up.

Too Real

2009 Yankees: A Model for Winning Baseball

The current Yankees, on a 23-6 tear, are demonstrating pretty clearly what it takes for a team to play winning baseball.

Fact: With few exceptions, the Yankees are not hitting that well. I think I could warm my arm up and throw some past A-rod. Matsui, Swisher, Posada - none of them are hitting for high average. We have had a lot of games in which we leave a lot of runners stranded and we are not scoring runs in bunches (except in rare games).

Fact: The Yankees do not make many spectacular plays on defense. Watch ESPN Web-gems and see how often a Yankee is featured in it.

But, what we are playing is winning baseball. Here's what it takes to win:

(I know, I know - the Yankees have a huge payroll. But we had a big payroll last year and didn't win. These are things I think we are doing differently.)

1) Pitching, Pitching, Pitching. Our starters have been consistently good. Not only do we have some good pitchers, but some guys who battle when they do not have their good stuff (Pettitte on Friday night). Our relievers have been awesome. Robertson, Bruney, Aceves, Hughes, Coke (most of the time) and Mariano are shutting teams down.

2) Solid defense. We do not make spectacular plays, but we make just about every routine play. We do not give up a lot of errors. No one will ever mistake Nick Swisher for a Golden Glove outfielder (sometimes, you wonder if his glove is metal), but we are making solid plays and making teams earn their runs.

3) Timely hitting. Look at the last couple of weeks - how often have we scored in the 8th or 9th innings of close games. We haven't been knocking the cover off of it, but when we need a hit, we get a hit (usually a home run). On home stands, the pie in the face is pretty common (for a walk-off hit). If we were hitting really well, a lot of those games would be blowouts, but we are winning close games with clutch hitting.

4) Multiple options. This is what sets the Yankees apart. Many teams have four hitters better than our four best. But, imagine if you are the opposing pitcher and for the bottom of the order, you get to face Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher and Melky Cabrera? Look at the bottom of Boston's order (hitters around .200 to .230). Melky is not hitting that well, but he has had some key clutch hits. So has Swisher.

5) A Fun Clubhouse. I watch the Yankees a lot (surprised?). In years past, the Yankees were quiet and dignified under Torre. They were professional, but you never saw them cutting up much. But this Yankee group is having fun. Things are light. I know, winning makes things fun. But the presence of Nick Swisher and AJ Burnett (pie-in-the-face AJ) has made a lot of difference.

A-rod seems to be having fun, though he is having his worst season since he was a rookie.

There are other things, like staying healthy. But these are the big ones I see about this team.

Who Would Have Thought?

If, at the All-Star break, you had made the following true statements, you would have been ridiculed.

  • At the end of play on August 15, the Yankees will have a 7.5 game lead on the Boston Red Soxs.
  • Boston would be fading, holding a small lead over Texas for the wild card.
  • The Yankees would have a four game lead over LA Dodgers for best record in baseball.
  • The Yankees would be 23-6 out of the break.
No one would have believed any of these. I watched the men on Baseball Tonight definitively state that there was no way the Yankees would be able to catch the Red Sox. No way.

It has been a dream month for a Yankees fan.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Yankees Play Lethargic, Uninspired Baseball - And WIN!

It wasn't pretty tonight in Seattle. Pettitte didn't have his best stuff, at least early. He battled and managed to get 6 innings in and leave tied 2-2. He gave up hits to the first 3 batters, then settled down. The bats were quiet. We made Rowland-Smith look like Sandy Koufax. Bruney looked good. Hughes looked good when he wasn't walking batters. Walked two, then went to a full count to load the bases. He blew a fastball down the middle and struck the guy out.

Then, in the ninth - bingo. Teixeira starts the inning with a long home run. That was followed by a bloop double by Cano, a bloop single by Swisher just over the second baseman's glove, then another bloop by Hairston.

Mariano came in and got three quick ground balls. He is not himself right now. Yankees win 4-2.

That was big because of the stupid Texas Rangers. Down to one strike to beat the Boston Satans, they gave up a double to Martinez and then the gates opened. I suspect that Texas will fold now, go into a funk and Boston will sweep them. Hope not, but Boston is a front running team. They beat up on weak opponents like Texas. Hope Texas can get a win, but I am expecting a sweep.

That makes the Yankees win tonight a big deal. We are still up 6 1/2 after two games of the 10 game road trip.

Now, it gets interesting. Our next two starters are not exactly Sabbathia and Burnett. Sergio Mitre and Chad Gaudin. Wow! I am afraid the bats are going to have to engage if we are going to get these games and hold steady on the lead.

By the way: Sabbathia, Burnett and Teixeira - MONEY WELL SPENT!!

Present Concerns: injuries

Arod has elbow swelling and back problems. I think I could outrun Hideki Matsui (his knees seem to be hurting) and Mariano Rivera is obviously NOT himself (though still getting the job done - 80% of Mariano is still pretty good). We need these guys healthy and doing their stuff down the stretch.

I suspect that since we won the first two, Arod will sit another out tomorrow.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Next Ten Days

The Yankees head out for a ten day road trip, starting tonight in Seattle. They have a 5.5 game lead (though Boston lost this afternoon, so technically, its 6 right now). Boston is on the road for 6 games while the Yanks play four at Seattle and three at Oakland. Then, the Yankees head to the matrix of Evil in all of America, Fenway Park, the gateway to you-know-where (no, not heaven).

The next ten days will decide if the Yankees cruise to the AL East crown or if they are going to make a race out of it after all. If we go into a funk and Boston gets close again, it could get interesting. If we keep playing well, win say 6 of 10 (including at least 2 in Boston), we probably have things in hand. If we go 2-8 or 3-7, especially if we get swept at Fenway, it could get Boston's juices flowing.

I am concerned about the Yankees right now. Our pitching has been great and we have been getting timely hitting. But we have a number of guys in a funk. Arod seems to be hurting. It seems to me that we are sitting back and waiting for the home run instead of manufacturing runs and getting two-out hits.

I guess since we just won 9 of 10 and are something like 20-6 since the break, we shouldn't be too harsh. But I see some problems that could come back to haunt us.

I Know, I Know - One more blog for Dave??????

I already get made fun of for having 4 blogs. Each has its own purpose. One is devotional. One is for SBC Issues. ONe is for family. ONe is a personal weight-loss diary.

This one has a unique purpose. I will write about the New York Yankees! I know you will enjoy!