Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tex, Cano; Men With the Golden Glove

Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano collect their 2010 Gold Glove Awards
Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano would rather forget how the season ended, especially Cano who went from red hot to freezing cold at the plate in a matter of days.

Both players added to their trophy cases though this evening with the announcement that they had won Gold Glove Awards at their respective positions.

Teixeira won his fifth Gold Glove and third as a Yankee. He's the first Yankees first baseman to win at least three awards since Don Mattingly won from 1991-1994 (Donnie Baseball also won from 1985-1989).

Cano, who had his contract option picked up for 2013 yesterday, won his second Gold Glove, with his previous hardware coming in 2010. The only other Yankees second baseman to win a GG, was Bobby Richardson, who earned the award from 1961-1965. (Personally, I believe Willie Randolph got screwed out of some.)

Arthur the Beagle Missing in NYC During Storm

Anyone who reads this blog knows I am a lover off all things Beagles, especially our Tinker and our recently passed Virginia. I can't imagine if either had ever gone missing.

That is what happened to the owner of Arthur the Beagle in downtown Manhattan yesterday (10/29). His new owner had him only a week when Arthur slipped his collar during Hurricane Sandy and ran off.

He has a microchip, which could be under the owner's name or the rescue, Badass Brooklyn Rescue in NY. If you see this dog or have him, please contact owner's friend Sophie Pauze  at 212-221-0127.

Thank you!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Con Man Loria Deals Away Another Contract

"Don't get too comfortable here."
When it comes to dirty dealings that are baseball related, it's hard to find anyone lower than Jeffrey "pond scum" Loria. The soon-to-be 72-year old was estimated to be worth a half-billion dollars two years ago, but like most owners of teams, it's never enough.

Loria ditched more salary today when he traded closer/free agent flop Heath Bell, who signed a three year, $27MM deal  prior to the '12 season, to Arizona for infielder Yordy Cabrera.  It further showed the Marlins (few) fans and voters that now that he has his stadium, Loria really doesn't care what product he puts out there.

Of course, Loria was counting on the team to succeed which (he thought) would draw fans. The end game would be to sell the team at an exorbitant price to continue the con. But let's see how it all started.

First, Loria was part of the triumvirate con run by Major League Baseball (check with Sawyer from Lost as to whether this qualifies as a short or long con) that had Florida Marlins owner John Henry take over the Boston Red Sox, while Loria, then owner of the Montreal Expos took over the fish. MLB, under the auspices of used car dealer/Milwaukee stadium con artist Bud Selig (I would trust Larry "Bud" Melman more), then took over the Expos.

The league did nothing with the Expos except eventually move them to Washington, D.C. There they still did nothing until finding a buyer in Ted Lerner (who showed some class the other day by putting a big ad in The Washington Post thanking the fans for a great season).

Henry, meanwhile has enjoyed the fruits of his money up in Boston, while Loria conned the citizens of Florida into building a new ball park in Miami. (Thinking of the way Floridians have handled things the last decade or so makes me think that maybe they deserved it...apologies to all relatives and friends). I'm not going to get into the details again, but you can at least get a recap from Wikipedia.

Most teams get a big bump when a ball park opens, but the Marlins were the exception to the rule. They drew 27,401 per game, which landed them 18th out of 30 teams. It was still an improvement from last season's 19494 per game, which was dead last in the National League/ Most of the time it looked like there were 100 people in attendance.

Prior to the season the Marlins fans must have been thinking, finally we're getting a team with some valuable veterans.  Jose Reyes came over from the Mets on a six year, $106MM  free agent deal. There was Bell of course and pitcher Mark Buehrle, who departed the Chicago White Sox for four years and $58MM.

The Marlins were said to be in negotiations with Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson as well before both signed with the LA Angels.

This past season was barely halfway through when Loria started the latest fire sale of Marlins players (Former con man owner of the Marlins, Wayne Huizenga paved the way years before after the Marlins captured the '97 World Series.). Pitcher, and free agent after the season, Anibal Sanchez was the first to go, along with infielder Omar Infante, to the Detroit Tigers. Those two must be doing cartwheels right about now. Next was Hanley Ramirez, owed $31.5MM for 2013-2014, who was sent to the LA Dodgers.

Loria entertained offers for Josh Johnson, but held off. That will likely change before or during the season. Johnson will be in the final year of his deal in 2013 and is owed $13.75MM. Reyes and Buehrle could both be dealt as well, esp. Buehrle since he has the shorter, cheaper deal of the two.

All of this dumping, makes the rumored/gossip/joking deal for Alex Rodriguez seem highly improbable (what? A-Rod will bring in maybe another 500 people per game?). Pretty soon the Marlins will be back to over the hill veterans and young prospects that don't belong in the majors yet. And before you know it Giancarlo Stanton will get shipped out of town too.

That's how the con works.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Yankees Go Gentle Into That Crappy Night

Wonder if A-Rod hit on her? - photo courtesy of Kansas City Star

The Yankees exited the playoffs on Thursday with the expected whimper. The only bang heard was ball meeting bat whenever CC Sabathia threw said ball. The Yankees best pitcher saved his worst for last and was the Yankees starter of the post-season to get truly hammered. The end result was an 8-1 Detroit Tigers pasting that put them in the World Series vs. either St. Louis or San Fran.

The Yankees were held to just two hits by Tigers' starter Max Scherzer, who like the other Orioles and Tigers pitched like Sandy Koufax in his prime. Let me rephrase that- the Yankees made Scherzer look like Koufax in his prime. And that's not to take anything away from Scherzer. The Yankees were just incredibly horrendous in this post-season.

Sabathia, who had pitched so well in the ALDS clincher, didn't make it out of the 4th inning. He had already thrown 93 pitches and was charged with six runs. Miguel Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta smashed 2-run home runs off him in the 4th inning. Peralta would add another off of David Robertson and Austin Jackson took Derek Lowe deep as well.

The Yankees only base hits came from Eduardo Nunez, and Nick Swisher, who drove in the lone Yankees run in the 6th inning. Alex Rodriguez (0-2) and Curtis Granderson (0-1, K) entered the game as pinch-hitters after Jim Leyland pulled Scherzer after 5.2 innings, 10 strikeouts, and 98 pitches thrown, in favor of lefty Drew Smyly.

And now begins the arduous task of making this franchise back into something. More on that later.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Jeter to Undergo Ankle Surgery; Cashman Denies Trade Talk

Brian Cashman held an impromptu press conference Wednesday afternoon to announce that Derek Jeter will undergo surgery to repair his fractured right ankle. His original recovery was estimated to be three months, but now a four to five month recovery is more likely.   Jeter is expected to be ready for next season's opener.

Cashman also denied a rumor started by Keith Olbermann Wednesday afternoon that the Yankees and Miami Marlins were already having trade discussions concerning Alex Rodriguez.  Marlins closer Heath Bell was the name thrown about the most. Bell signed a free agent deal prior to the season with Miami and was a total bust.

The Yankees GM denied having any contact with other team's GM's outside of receiving congratulatory texts and meetings with Orioles GM Dan Duquette and Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski (and the umpires) prior to each playoff series.

He also confirmed that the idea of sitting Rodriguez was discussed within the organization (presumably at least Randy Levine and Hal Steinbrenner, in addition to Cashman and Joe Girardi.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tigers Near Pennant Behind Verlander Domination

Joe Girardi's "Make-a-Wish" lineup actually did worse than when Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher were a part of it. Then again the Yankees had the unenviable task of facing reigning AL Cy Young/MVP Justin Verlander in the third game of the ALCS.

Though Verlander wasn't at his best, he was good enough to pick up the win in Detroit's 2-1 victory over the Yankees in Game 3. The Yankees made it exciting in the 9th when Eduardo Nunez homered off Verlander and Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano reached on 2-out hits against Phil Coke. But magic man Raul Ibanez had no magic this time around and struck out when he chased a 3-2 pitch out of the zone to end the game.

Delmon Young, who has excelled in the last two post-seasons against the Yankees, hit a solo home run off Phil Hughes in the 4th to snap the scoreless tie. After Hughes followed the gopher ball with a walk to Andy Dirks, the right-hander had to leave the game with a stiff back.

The Tigers doubled their lead thanks in part thanks to an Eric Chavez error that allowed Quentin Berry to reach safely to start the bottom of the 5th. Chavez got the start at the third base in place of the benched Rodriguez. Berry stole second base and scored easily on Miguel Cabrera's double off of David Phelps.

The Yankees pitching, as it has all post-season, did very well in Game 3. But with a punch-less lineup as soon as the opponent scores one run, the night was pretty much over. Slumps continued - Robinson Cano 1-30 (thought that is an improvement), Curtis Granderson 3-29, Eric Chavez 0-14.  The only hits the Yankees had on the night were a pair of singles by Ichiro Suzuki, who is one of the few batters left with some hits in him.

Verlander wasn't his sharpest, but was still better than most pitchers on their best nights. He allowed just three hits in 8.1 innings, hit 99 mph on the radar gun, and allowed just his second earned run in 24.1 post-season innings.

The Yankees will send CC Sabathia out Wednesday in hopes of putting off the end of the season one more day. The Tigers will go with right-hander Max Scherzer and Joe Girardi will try and figure out some lineup that might make some magic.  Otherwise, the Yankees will be hitting the golf courses sooner than they had hoped.

A-Rod, Swisher Take a Seat

The radio was a buzz this afternoon when the Yankees lineup came out and Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher were not a part of it.

Needless to say sitting Swisher didn't have much impact on sports radio discussions, but both Michael Kay (ESPN) and Mike Francesa (WFAN) blasted the idea of sitting down a $30MM a year superstar. Even if that star's glow has faded.  A-Rod has been terrible, there is no question about it, but neither felt putting Eric Chavez in was the answer. (Chavez is 0-11 thus far with six strikeouts.)

Brett Gardner, who hasn't started a game since April, is leading off and playing left field, while Ichiro Suzuki will slide over to right field.  Joe Girardi, in search of any offense, will take a hit defensively tonight with Eduardo Nunez getting the start at shortstop.

But all of those changes paled in comparison to Rodriguez sitting on the bench for the second time in three games. The relationship between Girardi and Rodriguez may have already been strained from the manager's decision to pinch-hit for him twice in the ALCS, but the benchings are even more embarrassing for the 37-year old.

Rodriguez is 4-7 against tonight's starter Justin Verlander, with a pair of home runs. No one thinks A-Rod's past success with impact his game tonight, but Kay and Francesa both felt you need to go with the one-time superstar in the biggest game of the post-season.

There was also speculation that A-Rod's supposed behavior during Game 1, as reported by the NY Post, had an influence on Girardi. Witness said that Rodriguez continually flirted with two women that sat behind the Yankees dugout, at one point sending them baseballs that he wrote on asking for their numbers.  One of the two obliged. It was only when Derek Jeter was injured that Rodriguez shut down the American Gigolo show. (Surprised A-Rod didn't go with a Joey Tribbiani, "How youuu doing?")

Kay was livid, for lack of a better word, that Curtis Granderson continued to be in the starting lineup despite the fact that he is just 3-26 (.115).

No matter who is in the Yankees starting lineup, they are going to have a hard time hitting, arguably, the best pitcher in baseball. Verlander won the AL Cy Young and MVP awards last season and was 17-8, 2.64 this year. Prior to this season, Verlander didn't pitch well in his previous post-season starts. But he was dominant in beating the Oakland A's in Game 1 and the decisive Game 5 of the ALDS. (16 IP 7 H 1 ER 5 BB 22 K)

He'll be opposed tonight by Phil Hughes, who pitches the biggest game of his career (supplanting last week's game against Baltimore) tonight.  Hughes allowed just a run on four hits and struck out eight in 6.1 innings against the Orioles in Game 4 of the ALDS, which the Orioles won in 13 innings.

It's doubtful tomorrow, no matter the outcome of tonight's game, that tonight's pitchers will be the topic of tomorrow's talk shows.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Swisher and Fans No Longer Best Buds

I've been highly critical of Nick Swisher's play the last few days and obviously I was not the only ones. Swisher's beloved Bleacher Creatures and fans throughout Yankee Stadium serenaded him with boos on Sunday just as they have done with Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, and Curtis Granderson.

And you know there are fans who get out of line, usually fueled by alcohol and start getting personal with their insults. There's never any excuse for that. If you want to boo, do so, but leave ethnicity, race, religion, family, and all other personal items out of it. You only make yourselves sound like idiots.

Marc Carig, now of Newsday, reported that the fans sang "Na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye."1 as Swisher batted for what may very well be his last at-bat as a member of the Yankees. He's scheduled to be a free agent at the season's conclusion.  Swisher was also annoyed at the inference that his misplay in right field led to Jeter's injury.

Swisher usually warms up near the outfield wall, but stayed away today and barely acknowledged the Bleacher Creatures during roll call. Swisher's 1-3 performance left him 4-26 (.231) in this post-season and 20-126 (.164) in his four playoff years as with the Yankees.

Swisher's hit was just one of four the Yankees had on the day and he did make a good defensive play when he threw behind Omar Infante at second base after an Austin Jackson single. Robinson Cano clearly applied the tag before Infante could get back to the bag, but umpire Jeff Nelson called Infante safe.  Joe Girardi argued and then argued some more when the Tigers got RBI hits off of Boone Logan and Joba Chamberlain for a 3-0 lead,which turned out ot be the final. Nelson gave him the rest of the day, Girardi's 48th birthday, off.

The game overshadowed another magnificent starting performance by a Yankees pitcher. Hiroki Kuroda threw five perfect innings before Jhonnny Peralta started the 6th inning with a single. He struck out 11 and was charged with all three runs in 7.2 innings pitched.

Unlike Saturday's series opener, the Yankees didn't have many chances to score off Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez. Mark Teixeira reached on a 2-out double in the 1st and Raul Ibanez followed with a walk. Sanchez then made a nifty behind the back play to snare Russell Martin's comebacker for the final out of the inning.

Martin left two more on in the 6th when the hit an inning ending ground out after Ichiro Suzuki reached on a Sanchez error and Ibanez drew an intentional walk. Those were the only two innings the Yankees had more than a runner on base.

Jayson Nix got the start in place of Derek Jeter and went 0-3.

1- Newsday

The Jeter-less, Swishful Game 2 lineup

I had to see it with my own two eyes, but indeed Derek Jeter is not in the post-season lineup for the first time...EVER. And unfortunately Nick Swisher still is.

LF Ichiro Suzuki
2B Robinson Cano
1B Mark Teixeira
DH Raul Ibanez
   C Russell Martin
3B Alex Rodriguez
CF Curtis Granderson
RF Nick Swisher
SS Jayson Nix

Hiroki Kuroda will be on the hill and has to be at his best. There's no room for error when your team doesn't hit.

As expected, Eduardo Nunez was placed on the roster to replace Jeter.

Yankees Get All the Bad Breaks in Game 1 Loss

Photo courtesy of CNN.com

The Yankees post-season went from the real to the surreal last night and I am still trying to get my head wrapped around it. Game 1 of the ALCS went from low to high to rock bottom in a manner of hours. It's been a rough year for the remaining members of the "Core Four" (Mariano Rivera's season ending ACL injury; Andy Pettitte's broken ankle; at least Jorge Posada was having fun last night at his wife's bff's wedding in Puerto Rico) and last night it got worse when the Yankees dropped the ALCS opener, 6-4 to the Tigers.

Raul Ibanez, amazingly, hit another desperation home run in the bottom of the 9th to send the game into extra innings. But in the 12th and final inning, the Yankees suffered a truly painful loss. Delmon Young had already put Detroit ahead with an RBI double off of David Phelps when Jhonny Peralta hit a bouncer up the middle.

Derek Jeter fielded the ball, lost his footing and hit the dirt. With no play, he quickly flipped the ball in the direction of Robinson Cano to keep the runners from advancing and roared in pain. And then he didn't get up. I truly believe every Yankees fan gasped at that moment. We all have seen Derek Jeter not get up once before and that's when he had his shoulder destroyed on opening day in 2003. (The dive in the stands he was able to get to his feet with assistance, even he was not quite sure where he was at that moment).

The next image of Jeter being helped off the field with no weight being put on his left leg told us all we needed to know. There was big trouble in the Bronx and after the game it was confirmed- Jeter had fractured his left ankle and is done for the post-season. A three month recovery period is expected, and hopefully, after further testing, no surgery will be needed. Ironically, it came on the 11th anniversary of the "Flip Play" in the 2001 playoffs.

There were a few factors that played into the gruesome ending of the evening. First, the Yankees could do nothing on offense for eight innings, leaving the bases loaded three times. They also did nothing after scoring four runs in the 9th inning. (Ichiro Suzuki delivered a 2-run home run prior  to Ibanez's blast.) A combo of Major League Baseball's scheduling with the Yankees propensity for long, extra inning games can lead to issues for a 38-year old with already beat up ankles and feet. And finally, had Nick Swisher not screwed up another play in the outfield, perhaps none of the aftermath would have taken place.

Outfielder or turtle? You decide. Photo courtesy of NY Post

David Phelps entered the game in the 12th (I believe a major mistake by Joe Girardi not staying with David Robertson for a second inning) inning and walked Miguel Cabrera. Though I hate walking batters I had no problem with that since I don't want Cabrera having a chance to beat me.

Prince Fielder hit a tapper to move to Cabrera into scoring position, which brought up Young. The DH, who killed the Yankees last season's ALDS (.316 3 HR 3 RBI), hit a laser to right field. Swisher appeared ready to make a running catch, but the next thing you knew the ball shot past him to the wall to score Cabrera. And of course, Swisher, the clown that he is (Have you noticed how I have totally had it with this guy?) then had to go into a roll as well. The Tigers added an insurance run when Andy Dirks' comebacker couldn't be handled by Phelps for a ribbie single.

Drew Smyly allowed a single to Suzuki in the 11th, but retired the final six men he faced to earn his first post-season win. His fellow rookie Phelps lost for the second time, after he had been on the wrong end of a 13-inning, 2-1 loss in Game 4 of the ALDS.

For most of the game it looked like the Yankees would be dispatched rather easily as they threatened against Tigers starter Doug Fister, but couldn't push a run across.

Yankees starter Andy Pettitte made the mistake of having one bad inning, the 6th, when he allowed a pair of runs and things got worse when Derek Lowe was charged with two more in the 8th for a seemingly insurmountable 4-0 deficit.

Tigers closer Jose Valverde had a pretty miserable year and it continued when he came on in the 9th to close things out. He gave up a lead off single to Russell Martin and two batters later Suzuki his first career post-season home run to halve the lead.

Photo courtesy of LA Times
It appeared Valverde would still come out with a save when he retired Robinson Cano (now 2-28 in the post-season) and had two strikes on Mark Teixeira. But the Yankees first baseman worked a walk and a chant of Rauuuuuuuuuuuuuuul greeted Ibanez as he stepped into the batter's box. Ahead 0-1 in the count, Valverde hung a slider and Ibanez deposited it into the right field seats. A sullen Yankee Stadium crowd erupted into a joyous frenzy.

But the Bombers went back to being the Bombless in extra innings. Curtis Granderson drew a one out walk from Octavio Dotel in the 10th inning and pinch-runner Brett Gardner stole second.  But Dotel got Martin on a weak fly to center, and after Gardner stole third, he retired Jeter on a routine fly out to right. It was all downhill after that.

The game started out with such promise when the Yankees put Fister on the ropes in the 1st inning. With the bases loaded on walks, Alex Rodriguez hit a hard smash to the left side that shortstop Jhonny Peralta made a diving stop on and threw to second just in time to force Ibanez.

The Yankees mounted another two out, bases loaded rally in the 2nd inning on consecutive singles by Martin, Jeter, and Suzuki. Cano hit a comebacker off the right wrist of Fister and the ball ricocheted to Peralta who threw Cano out at first to end the inning (though replays showed that Cano was clearly safe.)

Pettitte meanwhile was cruising along. He struck out four and used a double play to get out of some trouble through the first five innings. But his luck ran out in the 6th when Austin Jackson led off with a scorcher that got trapped in the cutout on the right side by the ball boy. It was the one time a fan should have reached out and grabbed the ball for a ground rule double.

Pettitte retired Omar Infante and then intentionally walked Cabrera set up a double play possibility. But Fielder lined an RBI single to center to get the Tigers on the board. Young followed with a bloop to right that Swisher played on a hop rather than aggressively try to dive for it (which you have to do when your team isn't scoring). Cabrera took off immediately when bat met ball and scored easily. Down 2-0, Pettitte bore down and escaped further trouble.

Remarkably, the Yankees put Fister on the ropes again in the bottom of the 6th when Teixeira singled and Ibanez doubled to right. But Fister struck out A-Rod, and after a walk to Swisher to load the bases, K'ed Granderson and Martin. (Daniel Day-Lewis will soon be starring in "There Will Be Booing").


CC Sabathia could have come back on three days rest and pitched Game 3 of the ALCS, but at the moment Joe Girardi has him slated for Game 4. I think it's a mistake, but we will all see how things play out. The outcome of Game 2 could changes things.

Hiroki Kuroda goes against Anibal Sanchez in Game 2, and then Phil Hughes starts Game 3 in Detroit against Justin Verlander. Sabathia would go against Max Scherzer in the 4th game.

Girardi chose to pinch-hit for A-Rod once again, with Eric Chavez. The move made no sense since A-Rod was leading off the 8th and the Yankees were down four.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

ALCS, Hmmm

Opponents are in trouble when the Big Man roars.

Due to extenuating circumstances I missed almost the entire game yesterday.  Caught a couple of innings on ESPN radio (so nice listening to Dave O'Brien and Orel Hershiser instead of Cornball and Screechy) and a 1/2 inning on TBS, but missed the last six innings. Just followed it up on my phone.

Some quick thoughts:

.Love how the same people who shred CC Sabathia, rip him about his weight, etc., when he has a bad outing, shower him with praise when he does well. CC's one of the best pitchers in all of baseball, a tic below the level of a pitcher like Verlander, but there aren't too many at either level.

He pitched a spectacular game and when the big man roars, as he did after getting out of an 8th inning jam, you know you are in good shape. It was a smart move by Joe Girardi to let him pitch the 9th.

.Curtis Granderson hit the baseball; that was no small feat the way he has been chasing pitches out of the strike zone and making no or weak contact. Hopefully he can go on a tear.

.It was one of the best series for Yankees pitching that I can remember. Perhaps it was a matter of two cold lineups running into each other, but the pitching was tremendous in the series and even more so for the Yankees since they blew no leads late.

.I wrote about it earlier today and I will say it again tonight. Nick Swisher needs to be benched, he brings nothing to the table, which in this case is the batter's box.

.Andy Pettitte pitching game one of a big series; seems like old times. Hopefully, Pettitte pitches like he did in the '09 post-season.

.Alex Rodriguez is hitting sixth in Game 1 against Tigers right-hander Doug Fister. Let's hope he finds some way to make contact, and decent contact. The Yankees need him.

That's it..let's go Yankees!

Time to Bench This Clown

Swisher can have a post-season career in MTV's Jackass series - Photo Courtesy of NJ.com

Nick Swisher is beloved by many fans and has become a bit of a mascot/hero to the right field Bleacher Creatures.  He's a very good regular season player that has helped the Yankees to three AL East division crowns and four straight post-season appearances.  But when it's time to play under the bright lights of October, Swisher begins his winter hibernation early.

When Swisher is going good his outlook on life/act is fine, but it gets a little old when he's not. The fawning and preening, the tongue with the hook-'em-horns, the "gad durnit" speech, etc. just makes him look like a clown/asshat.

Most of all Swisher needs to take a seat on the bench right now. Alex Rodriguez has been vilified by the fans, pinch-hit for (twice) and then benched by his manager, yet Swisher continues to play despite NEVER contributing in the post-season.

His post-season resume in pinstripes:

2009 ALDS 1-12 (.083)
2009 ALCS 3-20 (.150)
2009 WS  2-15 (.133)

2010 ALDS 4-12 (.333; ok his one minor contribution in which he had one solo home run)
2010 ALCS 2-22 (.091)

2011 ALDS 4-19 (.211)

2012 ALDS 2-18 (.111)

Overall that comes out to 18-118 (.153) and while he has been solid in the outfield, there were a pair of plays in this year's ALDS that had me scratching my non-dandruff head.

A liner off the bat of  Manny Machado to right field saw Swisher slide to stop the ball. The result was an easy double for the semi-speedy Machado. No telling if Swisher, who has an average arm, could have held him to a single.

Worse was a play to right-center (I believe McLouth was the batter; caffeine hasn't quite kicked in yet) that Swisher basically did a stop-drop-and-roll to field, again giving him no shot to stop the batter from taking an extra base. In both cases there was no reason for Swisher to go to the ground.

Even though it would hurt a bit defensively it's time to start Raul Ibanez in LF, Ichiro Suzuki in right and use Swisher and/or Brett Gardner as defensive replacements late.

Swisher's contract is up after the season and he'll be eligible for free agency. Brian Cashman and the Yankees must let him walk. He'll help get to you to Fall season, but forget it beyone that.

Joe Girardi did what he felt he needed to do with  A-Rod and now it's time for him to help the team again by putting Swisher on the bench.

Friday, October 12, 2012

A-Rod Highest Paid Scrub in History

I'm not playing?
Joe Girardi has taken things one step further for today's ALDS Game 5 by benching Alex Rodriguez. If he were able to, Girardi might bench all but a couple of players for the decisive contest.

Rodriguez was fine with Girardi's choice to pinch Raul Ibanez for him in Game 3, but didn't feel the same way when Girardi again called on Ibanez to hit for his third baseman in extra innings. You can imagine how A-Rod must be feeling  now as he prepares to watch Eric Chavez start at third base and Ibanez at DH.

The Yankees, as a whole, are in a bad slump, but it's Rodriguez that has had a pair of goat ears firmly planted on him. Robinson Cano, who hit over .600 for the last week of the season is just 2-18 in the division series.  Curtis Granderson is 1-16 with 9 K's (apparently he has been inhabited by the ghost of the 2002-2003 Alfonso Soriano). Nick Swisher is 2-15 and has looked like a clown on a couple of plays in the outfield.  Ichiro Suzuki, in his first playoff series in 11 years, is 4-20.  Russell Martin has just three hits in 14 at-bats, but he did hit the go ahead home run in Game 1.

The only regulars worth their salt have been Derek Jeter (8-19) and Mark Teixeira (5-15), the latter of which came into this post-season with a poor track record as a Yankee.

The Yankees .216 team batting average is actually nearly 20 points higher than Baltimore's .197 mark. So while the Yankees pitchers have done their job, the Yankees offense has fallen well short of helping the effort.

The question that remains, besides who will win Game 5, is will Yankees blame A-Rod if the team loses, even he's riding the pines?

Yankees Flail and Fail to Decisive Game

Phil Hughes did everything the Yankees asked of him, Joe Girardi moved Alex Rodriguez down in the lineup, the bullpen was solid, and the Yankees still lost. The 13 inning, 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles forced a fifth and decisive game Friday afternoon. CC Sabathia and Jason Hammel will face off just as they did in Game 1 when the Yankees used a 5-run 9th inning to win 7-2.

Thursday night, however, the Yankees lineup couldn't take of any opportunities presented to it. The O's fared no better until Manny Machado doubled off David Phelps and scored the game winner when J.J. Hardy doubled to left-center.

The Yankees best opportunity came in the 8th inning when Ichiro Suzuki and Mark Teixeira opened the inning with back to back singles. Robinson Cano could only manage a weak grounder that basically worked like a bunt. As I have said before, no matter where you are in the field the ball will find you and no matter where you are in the order you'll bat in a big situation.

Sure enough A-Rod stepped to the plate with runners on second and third with one out. Buck Showalter quickly went to submariner/side-armer/over-the-top Darren O'Day, who has baffled the Yankees all series. Joe Girardi decided not to go to a pinch-hitter, figuring that Raul Ibanez or Eric Chavez would be intentionally walked  The boo birds were flying once again when O'Day struck out A-Rod and Nick Swisher meekly flied out to right.

Hughes looked to be in trouble when he walked the game's lead off man Nick McLouth and Hardy reached first on a bunt. But in just his fourth post-season start, Hughes worked his way out of it with three fly outs. He struck out nine through 6.2 innings and allowed just four hits, with the lone run coming on a McLouth solo home run.

The Yankees struggled against lefty Joe Saunders, with their only run coming in the 6th when Derek Jeter doubled and eventually scored on a Cano ground out.


Joba Chamberlain had off-season Tommy John surgery, then wrecked his ankle in a trampoline accident. Last night, bad luck struck again when Matt Wieters broken bat nailed Chamberlain in his right elbow. He threw a few warm up pitches, but the elbow began to swell and Girardi went to the pen. His status for Game 5 is up in the air.

Ibanez did hit for Rodriguez in extra innings, but Rodriguez wasn't okay with the move this time aroundl, mainly because everyone else had struggled and not been pulled.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Girardi's Greatest Loss

Baseball games are won and lost, and when it comes right down to it, don't mean all that much in life. Especially when you've lost a loved one.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi has a delicate balancing act to deal with after the passing of his father Jerry this past Saturday. Girardi notified the media this afternoon that his Dad had lost a long the battle with Alzheimer's Disease.

Girardi was extremely close to his Dad and visited him as often as possible, especially after his diagnosis more than a decade ago. While the decision to manage the playoffs was a tough one, Girardi knew what his Dad would want him to do -"to finish the job at hand."1 Girardi has been part of championship teams that had the manager or players go through similar odysseys.

Joe Torre learned of the passing of his brother Rocco in 1996 while managing a doubleheader in Cleveland. The Yankees captured their first World Series title in 18 years that Fall, while another of Torre's brothers, Frank, underwent a heart transplant.

The 1999 championship team saw Luis Sojo, Scott Brosius, and Paul O'Neill all lose their fathers during the season, with O'Neill's Dad passing away during the World Series.

Playing the game is usually what an athlete will choose to do in times of crisis, much as the average person's use their job as a distraction from tough times.

My condolences go out to Joe, his Kim, and three children, as well as the entire Girardi family.

To find out how you can help support research into Alzheimer's Disease, go to alz.org.

1- Quote from ESPN.com

Girardi is a Genius; Bats A-Rod 3rd, Yankees Win

If you listen closely you can still hear John Sterling yelling Rauuuuuuuuuul

When the starting lineups were announced for Wednesday night's Yankees-Baltimore Orioles game, there was a sense of anger across much of Yankees fandom. Alex Rodriguez was indeed still in the 3rd spot in the order despite a 1-9, five strikeout start through the first two games.

But as it turned out, the non-move was a thing of genius. Down 2-1 in the 9th, Joe Girardi sent Raul Ibanez up to pinch-hit for A-Rod (0-3, 2 K's) against Orioles' closer Jim Johnson.  Just as he had done on the next to last day of the season against Boston, Ibanez delivered a game tying home run into the right field seats.

Just as he had won Game 161 in extra innings, Ibanez came through again. Still tied in the 12th, Ibanez swung at the first pitch of the inning from lefty Brian Matusz' and drilled it into the right field seats for a 3-2 win. The Yankees can close out the best of five ALDS when they send Phil Hughes to the mound Thursday night.

The Yankees kept the game close behind stellar pitching from starter Hiroki Kuroda, who allowed solo home runs to Ryan Flaherty and Manny Machado, but only three other hits in an 8.1 inning performance. Boone Logan, Rafael Soriano, and David Robertson worked the final 3.2 frames to set up Ibanez's game winner.

Miguel Gonzalez was outstanding for the Orioles; he allowed just five hits in seven innings, and struck out eight. The only real trouble he got into was when the Yankees scored their first run in the 3rd inning. Russell Martin reached on a one-out double and came home on Derek Jeter's triple over the head of centerfielder Adam Jones. The remainder of the lineup took weak hacks at the rookie, who had been discovered in the Mexican League and was called up in May to be the long man out of the pen.


Rodriguez was the DH with Eric Chavez taking over at third base.

Jeter had to leave the game in favor of Jayson Nix after he batted in the 8th. He had fouled a ball off his foot early in the game and was badly hobbled for the remainder of the game.

Wearing his Yankees uniform, Mariano Rivera  threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Good News and Bad About A-Rod

Well no wonder, he's holding the bat upside down.

First the bad news; Joe Girardi didn't listen to me and kept Alex Rodriguez in the number three spot in the batting order.

The good news? He's only struck out one of two times up so far.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

YCN: Girardi Must Discard Loyalty and Drop A-Rod in the Lineup: A Fan's Plea

After watching last night's 3-2 Yankees loss to the Orioles, I knew it was time to write up a piece on the need to drop Alex Rodriguez out of the 3 spot in the order.

I also had a good laugh this afternoon when WFAN's Mike Francesa said A-Rod has to bat third because no one is suited for it. Apparently he's never heard the name Robinson Cano.

But I have so click here to read what Joe Girardi should do for Game 3.

Monday, October 8, 2012

1 Inning Martin-izing Lifts Yankees

Photo courtesy of USA Today
There was the usual moaning, groaning, and grousing last night by Yankees' fans on Facebook, Twitter, and the more traditional bars and living rooms.

Why can't the Yankees get a hit with men on? Why are they bunting? Why are they..whatever?

When it came right down to it, the difference in the Yankees 7-2 ALDS Game 1 win over the Baltimore Orioles was the 2012 standby, the home run. It came off the bat of catcher Russell Martin, who hit a career high 21 home runs in the regular season, and ignited a five-run 9th inning that game the Yankees a 1-0 advantage in the best of five series.

It also made a winner of CC Sabathia, who pitched a stellar 8.2 innings to pick up his first post-season victory since Game 5 of the 2010 ALCS against Texas. Ironically, that game finished with a 7-2 score as well.

Sabathia had given up a pair of runs in the 3rd inning, but scattered eight hits and pitched out of any additional trouble he had on the night. He came within one out of a complete game, but his 120th pitch was a two-out double by Lew Ford in the 9th. That prompted Joe Girardi to call on David Robertson to close things out and the right-hander did just that when he blew a fastball past Ryan Flaherty for a third strike.

Both teams had shots to take the lead throughout the game, but the Yankees added to their woes with a couple of base running gaffes. Ichiro Suzuki followed Derek Jeter's game starting single with a gapper to left-center that scoring the Yankees captain for a quick 1-0 lead. With Alex Rodriguez at the plate, Ichiro felt he could steal off O's starter Jason Hammel, but didn't get a good jump and was easily gunned out by catcher Matt Wieters.

With two aboard in the 4th, Mark Teixeira ripped a line drive off the scoreboard in right to tie the game (2-2), but he then tried to stretch a single into a double. Presumably said attempt took place because Chris Davis, normally a corner infielder, was playing right field for the injured Nick Markakis. Teixeira would likely not have run on Markakis' arm, but was still easily thrown out at second base by Davis.

Buck Showalter elected to intentionally walk Curtis Granderson and it paid off when Hammel got Martin to fly out to end the inning.  The Orioles had a great chance to take the lead when they put runners on the corners against Sabathia in the 5th, but the lefty struck out Nate McLouth and got J.J. Hardy to bounce out. Sabathia also picked up his shortstop an inning later, after Jeter's error put two on with two outs, when he got Davis to fly out to center for the third out.

The Yankees finally took control in the 9th against Orioles closer Jim Johnson. After Martin's home run, Raul Ibanez singled through the right side and went to third on Jeter's hit-and-run single. Ichiro Suzuki then cued a ball that died in the grass near the first base line to score pinch-runner Eduardo Nunez for 4-2 advantage.

Alex Rodriguez continued to struggle and struck out for the third time on the night, but red-hot Robinson Cano delivered both base runners with a double to left. The Yankees added one more run on a Nick Swisher sacrifice fly against Tommy Hunter.


Game 2 will see Andy Pettitte on the mound in October for the first time since he allowed two runs over seven innings in a Game 3 loss to Texas in the ALCS two years ago. Cliff Lee and Neftali Feliz combined on  a shutout and the Yankees pen put the game out of reach when they allowed six  runs in the top of the 9th for an 8-0 final.  Overall, Pettitte is 19-10, 3.83 in 42 career post-season appearances, all starts. He'll be opposed by Wei-Yin Chen this evening.

Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira both know that for the Yankees to succeed they need to break out of the dual slump that has plagued them in post-season baseball in Pinstripes. Last night was a good start as both reached base three times (Swisher, 2 walks, 1 hit, Teixeira, 2 hits, 1 walk) and drove in a run each.

Many Yankees fans were not pleased that Orioles legend Cal Ripken Jr. was part of the TBS broadcast booth (along with Ernie Johnson and John Smoltz) last night and for the series. But the man who broke Lou Gehrig's iron man streak showed no bias, and it's absolutely ridiculous if anyone thinks his being part of the broadcast has an affect on the game.

The Maier Thing

As soon as I saw the Yankees would be playing the Baltimore Orioles in the ALDS,  I knew (and everyone else did too) that Jeffrey Maier's name would be brought up..again...and again...and again. In fact Yahoo Sports interviewed him and a number of Orioles' fans about that fateful October, 16 years ago.

Some observations right off the bat (no pun intended), if you consider 16 years later right off the bat (I feel exactly now as I did then): Maier should not have reached over for the ball. Granted he was just 12-years old at the time, so you have to give him somewhat of a pass for that. But his parents made a big mistake the following morning when they paraded him around all the local television networks and did countless interviews with the print media.

They should not have celebrated the fact that the kid clearly interfered with the baseball. In today's game, instant replay would have had the call overruled and perhaps Maier might have been vilified (though likely Tony Tarasco catches Derek Jeter's drive had he not been interfered with) in the same manner as Steve Bartman n Chicago.

As for the Orioles fans, it's totally understandable that they were upset then and still are upset today. However, the one fan is wrong in saying the Yankees, or actually Maier, stole the World Series from them. There's no telling what might happened in the remainder of the game (Remember, Armando Benitez was pitching) or the rest of the series.

Also, the dude with the goatee, earrings, nose ring, and a splotch of orange paint across his face really gave me the creeps.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Replacement NFL Refs Ump Wild Card Game

Left field ump Sam Holbrook raises his hand in the air like he just don't care.

Wait, what? They didn't. My bad. I thought for sure that the call that was made in last night's St. Louis-Atlanta "play-in" wild card game had to be done by a NFL replacement ref.

Now I get it. It was just the usual pitiful Major League Baseball umpiring, which year in and year out makes horrendous calls in the post-season. And these guys are supposed to be the best and brightest among MLB umps.

With the Yankees playing the Orioles, we'll all get to see plenty of replays of little Jeffrey Maier interfering with Derek Jeter's 1996 ALCS home run. Richie Garcia was the ump in question on that one; wonder if O's right fielder (and later Yankee) Tony Tarrasco has gotten over that.

There was the Phil Cuzzi, who called Joe Mauer's clear double a foul ball in the 2009 ALDS between the Twins and Yankees. I won't go back to the Don Deckinger fiasco that cost the Cardinals a World Series championship in 1985. That's just a small sampling of the horrible job umpires have done in the playoffs. And as everyone knows the regular season sees more than it share of bad calls and bad strike zones.

This year Jerry Meals possibly cost the Yankees a game agains the Orioles when he called Mark Teixeira out on a game ending play at first base. The tying run would have scored on the play; fortunately for the Yankees the loss didn't cost them the division.  Meals also made a horrible call in extra innings between the Pirates and Braves last year. Jim Joyce cost Armando Galarraga a perfect game back in 2010 when he blew an out call at first base.

But back to last night's Cardinals-Braves game; the call in question may not have changed the outcome of game, but we'll never know.

The Braves were down 6-3 and had two aboard when Andrelton Simmons lifted a pop up to shallow left field. Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma and left fielder Matt Holliday converged on the ball and both gave up (mainly Kozma) on it. The ball dropped to the ground and the Braves had the bases loaded...but then they didn't.
An INFIELD FLY is a fair fly ball (not including a line drive nor an attempted bunt) which can be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort, when first and second, or first, second and third bases are occupied, before two are out. The pitcher, catcher and any outfielder who stations himself in the infield on the play shall be considered infielders for the purpose of this rule.
When it seems apparent that a batted ball will be an Infield Fly, the umpire shall immediately declare “Infield Fly” for the benefit of the runners. If the ball is near the baselines, the umpire shall declare “Infield Fly, if Fair.”
The ball is alive and runners may advance at the risk of the ball being caught, or retouch and advance after the ball is touched, the same as on any fly ball. If the hit becomes a foul ball, it is treated the same as any foul.
If a declared Infield Fly is allowed to fall untouched to the ground, and bounces foul before passing first or third base, it is a foul ball. If a declared Infield Fly falls untouched to the ground outside the baseline, and bounces fair before passing first or third base, it is an Infield Fly.
Rule 2.00 (Infield Fly) Comment: On the infield fly rule the umpire is to rule whether the ball could ordinarily have been handled by an infielder—not by some arbitrary limitation such as the grass, or the base lines. The umpire must rule also that a ball is an infield fly, even if handled by an outfielder, if, in the umpire’s judgment, the ball could have been as easily handled by an infielder. The infield fly is in no sense to be considered an appeal play. The umpire’s judgment must govern, and the decision should be made immediately.
When an infield fly rule is called, runners may advance at their own risk. If on an infield fly rule, the infielder intentionally drops a fair ball, the ball remains in play despite the provisions of Rule 6.05 (L). The infield fly rule takes precedence.
Left field umpire Sam Holbrook had raised his arm for an infield fly and an automatic out. But Holbrook raised his arm too late and the location of the baseball was also "iffy" to even call the infield fly.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez argued vehemently, protested the game, and the Braves' fans littered the field with garbage (which was asinine no matter how bad the call was). The fiasco led to a 19-minute delay and the Braves were, for all intents and purposes, done.  (The protest was, of course, overturned.)

It's a shame that calls like this happen year after year, especially when it's in the post-season. Perhaps instead of finding more revenue streams, Bud Selig could find a method to ensure that today's umpires aren't total screw ups.