Tuesday, September 29, 2009


So the Sox magic number for the wild card is down to one, but will they ever get there? And what will actually come of it really? Boston is limping their way into the post season, content to watch the Rangers eventually lose enough games rather than take charge of their own destiny and win a couple. I don't see how the Red Sox can make any type of post season run with all of the lackadaisical play recently. It's extremely difficult to turn the intensity on and off on a whim. I just see them developing a real lack of focus, and they have shown no sense of urgency the entire month of September.

The Sox have just grown lazy, having been muscled out of the divisional race long ago and having all but clinched the AL wild card for quite some time as well. That leaves them in no man's land with no significant team goal to shoot for. I know they had no realistic shot at the division, but their performance against the Yankees over the weekend was utterly pathetic and uninspiring. I will be very surprised if they make it out of the first round of the playoffs.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Yankees Lock Up East and Homefield

In one fail swoop the Yankees reached several of their goals for the season. Sunday's victory was number 100 on the season, it locked up both the AL East title and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs and it also evened the season series at nine with the Red Sox.

While insignificant in the grand scheme of the season it will do much to boost the moral of Yankee fans in their ever going battle with Red Sox fans for bragging rights. It is the first time in MLB history that a team began the season 8-0 against a team and failed to win the season series. What does that mean? Absolutely nothing, but coming from where the Yankees were after CC Sabathia lost in Fenway on June 11 this team has to feel good about themselves.

The game was mostly uneventful as the Yankees seemed to forget that Paul Byrd was on the mound and the Red Sox could not break Andy Pettitte during his first few shaky innings.

One subplot to the game that may go unnoticed under all the champagne is that of Brian Bruney. Bruney faced five batters and retired five batters. Considering Bruney has thrown 17.1 innings since he re-injured his arm after spending two separate stints on the disabled list and in those innings he has allowed and absurd 33 baserunners, this perfect outing against the heart of the Sox order is a revelation.

Bruney is on the borderline when it comes to the playoff roster. Girardi likes the hard throwing right-hander as is demonstrated by his numerous attempts to right Bruney by inserting hiim into meaningful situations late in games. There are six games left for Bruney to show he can be trusted in the playoffs.

Those six games will also be a time for Dave Robertson to show that his arm is where it was earlier in the year. Having those two pitchers to jump in the game in either the sixth or seventh in front of Phil Hughes will dramatically improve the Yankee relief core. It may also give Girardi the dilemma of deciding if he wants the inconsistent right-hander in Bruney or the inconsistent left-hander in Damaso Marte.

These will be the biggest questions that face the Yankees over the final week of the season. And if your only things to worry about going into the last week of the season is which middle reliever you should take to the first round, then you've had a pretty good season.

Dice-K Good, Sabathia Better

Matsuzaka was his old self last night as he pitched around five walks en route to allowing just one run in seven innings. Unfortunately for the Sox, C.C. Sabathia looked masterful again. If he's finally learned how to pitch to the Sox, we're dead. In spite of it all, Dice-K looks more than adequate to serve as the Sox fourth starter in the playoffs considering how well Lester, Buchholz, and Beckett have pitched lately.

I was hoping the Sox could make things a little tougher on the Yanks and delay the inevitable a bit longer. I at least wanted NY to have to work to clinch the division and expend just a bit more energy prior to the post season, but it was not to be.

This may be the last time we see Sox and Yanks this season, and to tell the truth, I'm not sure if I care to see another match up in the ALCS. I can't stay up for five hour games that don't start until 9 PM. I can't stomach the Fox coverage and the Bucky Dent/Aaron Boone/Big Papi/ Curt Schilling mini feature film montage at the outset of every game. When you watch that, it's no wonder why the rest of the country can't stand either team.

Tonight we've got two old, crafty pitchers on the mound in the form of Paul Byrd and Andy Pettttitttte. I predict that they will both be out by the fourth inning. Final score: Sox 12, Yanks 10. It will be over just before I go to work tomorrow on account of four or five rain delays.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Considering the Playoff Rotation

Obviously the Yankee playoff rotation begins and ends with CC Sabathia. He will need to be an ace if the Yankees expect to go anywhere beyond the first round. But Sabathia has been remarkably consistent in the second half so really the question marks begin with spot number two. Right now the debate rages over whether A.J. or Andy deserves that honor.

The Yankees must be hoping that A.J. Burnett has pretty much gotten out of his funk with two start solid starts. I honestly don't understand why people were freaking out about him. Burnett is a Jekyll and Hyde pitcher. Everyone who knows anything about baseball knows that he has the stuff to be amazing, but his inconsistency has always kept him from being one of the better pitchers in baseball. I guess it just makes good copy to worry about something when the team has every conceivable objective virtually locked up.

Burnett was slow out of the gate in April and passable in May. In June and July he was the best pitcher on the team and we all know about his August trials and tribulations. Now it seems that he has found his stride again in September, which of course makes the Yankees feel better about their October rotation.

Burnett really should be the number two starter no matter how he was pitching during this stretch run. He is a far better pitcher at home where he seems to be more comfortable and Andy Pettitte also seems to be a better pitcher on the road. It also splits up the two lefties and your two power pitchers. The question also arises of who you would rather have pitching in certain situations.

If Sabathia and Pettitte were your first two starters and both falter at home, leaving you in an 0-2 hole, do you really want someone as volatile as Burnett making his first playoff start on the road? Conversely if Sabathia and Burnett both go down you have your playoff hardened veteran lefty to face a hostile road crowd in a situation where he tends to thrive.

Thankfully Burnett is starting to make the decision easy for Joe Girardi. With those three at the top the Yankees will have the ability to match up with any front three in the league.

Now any four in the league is an entirely different question. The Yankees have huge questions about who would start game four. It is possible that they could avoid such a dilemma during the first round but if they were to make it to the ALCS then a fourth starter is a must. So far it can't be Joba Chamberlain. While the ability is there the execution is nowhere to be found. After getting bombed by the Mariners on Sunday it would seem that unless Joba shuts down the Sox and the Royals/Rays he may be watching the first round from the pen.

If that is the case then clearly Chad Gaudin is the number four for the Yankees. Though he leaves much to be desired in terms of pitching deep into games, he has been very effective of late and right now the Yankees have to have far more confidence in his ability to keep them in a game than Joba's.

The Yanks will begin the playoffs at home. The rotation should stack up as Sabathia in Game 1, Burnett in Game 2 and Pettitte in Game 3. Then repeat. At least that's the way it should be.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Yankees Chop Down Magic Number; Win in Anaheim

It only took five tries, but the Yankees finally jumped the last hurtle they had waiting for them this season when they defeated the Angels in Angel Stadium. It wasn't exactly a text book win and there where plenty of things that they did wrong, but in the end the Yankees jumped on the Angels, blew the lead and then rallied again for the victory.

The last part is the most important part of the equation. A week and a half ago we saw Brett Gardner come in to pinch run for Mark Teixeira. Gardner then Scioscia'd the Angels by stealing third and scoring on the subsequent Mike Napoli throwing error. The Angels, not to be shown up by their own style of play, did almost the exact same thing last night after Robinson Cano's fielding error allowed the tying run on base.

Howie Kendrick then stole second and moved to third when Jorge Posada threw the ball into center field. Phil Hughes recovered enough to keep the game tied and in the top half of the ninth, the Yankees were able to unleash Brett Gardner again. Gardner has a weapon the Yankees have lacked for years: legs. Gardner's ability to steal bases virtually at will is something that could change their fortunes in any game.

Last night is the perfect example. After his lead-off single in the ninth Gardner took larger and larger leads off of first base. The Angels knew he was going. Everyone in the ballpark knew he was going and Gardner still stole the base easily. That allowed Jeter to walk and then Johnny Damon dropped a perfect two-strike bunt. And of course A-Rod came through with a clutch sacrifice fly, but if not for Gardner running Torii Hunter would have had a shot at throwing out the runner at the plate.

So for the second time in two week the Yankees have hurt the Angels at their own game. In other news from last night, Chad Gaudin was serviceable again and has been solid in his four September starts. Despite that solid effort, I would have to say that discussions of his exploits have been a tad overblown. Sure he is a far better option than Joba Chamberlain at the moment, but Gaudin has only made it past the fifth twice in those four starts and while the Yankees have the depth right now to pick him up, they will be in trouble if the have to worry about covering him or Joba in a playoff series.

Either way it will be nice that these will be the questions discussed over the next two weeks as last night's victory dropped the divisional and homefield advantage magic number down to six. The Yankees can start to get their ducks in a row and prepare to make a mark on the playoffs for the 14 time in 15 seasons.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


With all of the division and wild card races pretty much wrapped up (except maybe the AL Central), there's nothing really exciting going on in MLB these days. Now we're supposed to sit around for the next two weeks of meaningless games and then somehow get all amped up and rabid for the playoffs. I think I'll make it and get enthused again, but the way the end of the season has played out is really hurting the game. I think MLB playoff ratings will be way down as the NFL starts to gain a stranglehold on the American sports consciousness (and me). For me the NFL is the shiney new toy. MLB goes back on the shelf because I've been playing with it all summer and feels like it should be over by now.

This situation allows me to express a couple of things that are on my Sports Wish List of Things That Will Never Happen. Number one: shorten the baseball season back down to 154 games. It would accomplish a number of things. First, it would make each game more valuable and more meaningful, adding to each game's excitement. Second, the World Series would be over before Thanksgiving.
The other thing I would like is for MLB to go back to two divisions in each league instead of three. Keep the number of teams in the playoffs the same, though. That way there would be more quality teams in each division making division races tighter and more hotly contested. Then you could avoid the problem of a crappy division winner at 82-80 getting into the playoffs, while a 90 win team finishes a game out of the wild card.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Sad Day For the Yankee Fans

I suppose it is fairly obvious that the most breaking news I post about regarding the Yankees comes from Peter Abraham of the Journal News. Peter has been the best source for breaking news regarding the Yankees since he started up his blog in 2006. I practically live on that blog during Yankee games and whenever I'm curious as to what is new with the Bombers.

Unfortunately I will not be able to get my Yankees fix from Pete anymore. What makes it hurt even more is that now Red Sox fans will be the ones getting some of the best baseball coverage in the game.

Enjoy him Sox fans. He's one of the best. Congrats Pete, best of luck.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


I don't know what they've been doing with Dice-K for the last two months, but it appears to have worked. Last night he pitched 6 innings of shutout ball giving up just 3 hits and -- this is the important part-- just 3 walks. For once he was around the strike zone all night. As we all know, the problem has never been his stuff (which looked nasty by the way) but his control. If he's finally learned to throw strikes consistently, look out.

Assuming we get Good Dice-K for the playoffs --a big assumption-- the Sox starting rotation looks pretty good for the playoffs. Beckett seems to have recovered from his mini-slump. Lester is a model of consistency. Buchholz continues to improve with each outing, and now we have a rejuvenated Dice-K in the mix.

The Yankees on the other hand have a lot of questions after C.C. Sabathia, who doesn't have a good post season track record anyway in spite of regular season success. Now Andy Pettitte is hurt and A.J. Burnett continues his Jekyll-and-Hyde ways. But you never know how these things will shape up and who will get hot and who will go cold.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Pack it In

The Sox, all but guaranteed a spot in October baseball with their sweep of the Rays this Saturday and Sunday. For that matter, all 8 playoff spots were basically sewn up this weekend. I would imagine the Sox will take it easy over the next 3 weeks, especially with the doughy part of the schedule coming up, before going out west to face the Angels. Francona will take care to see everyone gets some rest and the rotation is firing on all 5 cylinders. (or at least 3 cylinders i.e. Beckett, Lester, Buchholz) If these 3 guys pitch like they are capable they could be trouble for anyone in a 7 game series, including the Yankees.

I must mention the start of the NFL season. The Giants looked very comfortable offensively against a good defense in the Redskins. Defensively, they looked as strong as ever with Osi and Justin on the ends and Blake Blackburn playing well. The big question were the receivers. While no one had a stand out game, Eli looked comfortable and spread the ball around to Nicks, Manningham, Smith, and Hixon. I would love to have a Larry Fitzgerald, but the receiving core seems to have the talent and maturity to be successful. It is a long season and with baseball packing it in for 3 weeks before the playoffs, it is great to have football back.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Michael Jordan

Another deviation... Michael Jordan was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame yesterday. I am not the biggest basketball fan. I was earlier in life, but no more. But if you asked me, who was the most exciting athlete you've ever seen, the answer would be Michael Jordan. I would answer without hesitation. In my relatively short life, I've never seen anyone deliver the goods more consistently than him; in the regular season, in the playoffs, in championships, and against the best of his era. He was deserving of all the hype and all the accolades. In a sports world where expectations are seldom met, he always exceeded them. When I watched a Bulls game, I didn't follow the ball; I followed him. Congrats MJ.

Unfortunately, David Robinson, another great player, is playing second fiddle to Jordan being inducted at the same time. He is perhaps the most underrated player of his generation. What he had in common with MJ was that he was not boastful, obnoxious, or a jerk off the court, just a great player.

John Stockton on the other hand... eh. I never thought he was that great. His best basketball move was an elbow to the groin from what I can tell.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Terrible Joba Plan

So Joba Chamberlain had yet another three inning start on Wednesday. While the overall numbers for this start were bad (3IP 3H 2R 1BB 3K) the sort of hide the improvement of this performance from the last two.

Joba had a bad first inning. He surrendered a lead-off home run to Jason Bartlett and then followed that with a Carl Crawford single. He managed to strike out Evan Longoria before walking Ben Zobrist and then allowing another single to Pat Burrell.

Then it seemed that Joba got mad. He struck out the next two batters and breezed through the next two innings with just 23 total pitches, including a very quick third inning with just nine pitches. His velocity also saw a jump, going from 91-92 in the first to 94-95 in the second and third innings.

I am a supporter of keeping Chamberlain as a starter. I believe that since he has always been a starter, he has the ability to succeed for 200 innings in that role every season. I also support the Yankees theory that his arm needs to be protected and that they should carefully watch his innings limit. Where I do not agree with the Yankees is in their methods to achieve this goal. It has not been fair to Chamberlain. He has lacked a structured schedule and to expect him to perform to the best of his abilities is just unfair.

The Yankees should have devised a better plan than what is in place now. The reality is that Chamberlain belonged in the minor leagues at the start of last season. He should of had his innings controlled at that level before he was brought to the majors for a full work load in June.

But the Yankees felt Chamberlain could handle the transition and were pressured by the knowledge that the bullpen would be much weaker without him. The same should have been the case this year. The plan should have been to limit his innings early in the season in the minors and then turn him loose in the second half.

They would have avoided all of these ridiculous discussions about him and his role if they had taken an even harder line when it came to his development.

The Yankees have been rightfully cautious with their young arms, they have merely been inefficient with the plans to protect those arms. Hopefully they have learned from their mistakes with Joba and Phil Hughes so they can apply those lessons to future arms like Zach McAllister and Manny Banuelos.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Stop, Just Stop.

For the moment, allow me a deviation into football...

As I write, I'm sitting here on my couch awaiting the first NFL game of the season. My mouth is agape, because I expected some kind of inane pre-game show. Instead I'm being subjected to the "musical" stylings of the Black-Eyed Peas and an inoffensive but boring performance by Tim McGraw. Do they know something I don't? Should I have drafted Will.i.am to my fantasy team?

This is where the NFL completely loses me. I still like the games, but I'm over the ostentation, the endless commercials, the know-it-all analysts, the product tie-ins, and the hype. I really need to get DVR, like my friend, Dennis, so I can watch each game in about 30 minutes.

Basically, show the games, and shut the hell up!

Wait a second. Now I've seen everything. Al Michaels got hair plugs during the offseason. Oh, well. At least Madden and his tightly packed nostrils are gone. I love the choice of Chris Collinsworth to replace him. In the balance, I guess no matter what they do, I'm going to watch the games. You win, oh mighty and omnipotent NFL!

Jeter Ties Gehrig, Yanks Continue to Roll

So after struggling for three straight games against the best and worse the Rays had to offer, Derek Jeter finally broke through against Jeff Neimann with three hits, tying the franchise record for hits held by Lou Gehrig since 1939.

It is remarkable when you think about the long line of great Yankee players; Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio and Mantle, that they have never had a player collect 3,000 hits with the team. They all had their reasons for falling short. Ruth didn't play his entire career as a hitter or Yankee. Gehrig contracted ALS. DiMaggio fought injuries and a World War. Mantle walked a lot and never took care of his body.

Now, though, it seems inevitable that Jeter will total 3,000 hits and possibly even many more on top of that.

I'm glad Jeter took care of all three hits in one night to tie the record and hopefully he breaks the record in AB number one on Friday night.

I'm happy for the Captain and everything, and his accomplishments are second to none for any Yankee in this century or the second half of the 20th century, but this stuff weighs on me as a fan. The constant asking of the same questions that know they will get the same answers from the taciturn Captain.

After Jeter tied the record the Yankees seemed to remember that there was indeed a game to be won. A-Rod and Hideki Matsui led off the eighth with singles before an error scored a run. After a Robinson Cano strike out Jorge Posada deposited a 3-2 pitch into the right field seats.

This team has a lot of the late '90s Yanks in them. Very rarely do you get the impression the will lose a game. If it is a pitchers duel late you expect them to win in walk-off fashion. They can win one-run games and slugfests. Hell, they even have a winning record when Sergio Mitre starts a game.

This team is on an incredible roll in the second half of the season. Every part of the team is clicking (except Joba who had yet another clunker another post on him will come soon). Right now they seem unstoppable.

Friday, September 4, 2009

This Just in: Derek Jeter is Great

If you're a Yankee fan then you'll enjoy reading Jerry Crasnick's most recent article.

If you're a Sox fan or any other kind of fan then it might give you a little more respect and perspective for Jeter and his place in history.

Red Sox Continue to Flaunt Rules

Watching baseball through the steroid-era I have seen some pretty low stuff, but Jonathan Papelbon takes the cake with this newest infraction. Apparently the Sox pitcher has been skirting the rules and taking to long to commence pitching when he comes into from the bullpen.

Frankly I'm shocked he hasn't been suspended.

Seriously, the MLB needs to get their heads on straight. I understand the need for games to move in an efficeint manner. Hell, as Yankee and Red Sox fans, we here at Brothers at Arms know better than anyone else the pain of a four and a half hour 9-8 baseball game. The reality is that games tend to slow down due to advertisement inbetween innings and during pitching changes, especially when games are nationally televised.

So continues the vexing rule of Bud Selig.

The Tale of Two Leagues

If ever there was a case of the AL being a superior league to the NL Brad Penny and John Smoltz would be witnesses #1 and #2. These two clowns couldn't seem to pitch their way out of a paper bag in Boston, but send them to San Francisco or St. Louis and they look like Bob Gibson. Just look at their splits. Smoltz had an ERA north of 8 when he left Boston with his tail between his legs. Now, it is south of 3.00?!?!? Similarly, Penny had an ERA approaching his weight of 5.61 and in his first start with an inferior offensive team he goes 8 shutout innings? REALLY? I can only hope one or both of these two-faced pitchers can help their teams into the playoffs to give the Sox a meatball dinner during Game 3 or 4 of the World Series.

The Sox were not asking either of these guys to be lights out, only be a back-end starter who could eat some innings, save the bullpen, and keep the Sox in the game. I think Terry would have been appreciative of 6 innings 4 runs from either of these guys. The part that is most frustrating is almost everyone thought that this would happen.

On a positive note, Clay Buchholz is starting to make me eat my words in which I said they should have traded him for Roy Halladay. Buchholz stuff is nasty, it's that 1 square foot of real estate above his shoulders that has given him the most trouble. Hopefully, the Sox will continue to play well into the playoffs and it seems inevitable, meet the Yankees in the ALCS, for 6 or 7 long drawn out games that will make every Sox and Yankee age about 10 years in two weeks.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Yankees Continue to Roll O's

It's always nice when the Yankees get to ease out of a homestand by going to their secondary digs just south of the Mason-Dixon Line. It is a perpetual joke among Yankees and Sox fans that Baltimore is either Yankee Stadium South or Fenway South when each team roles into town.

Now it is becoming downright sad. Now I despise competitive balance, but with certain teams I always feel bad because at one point they used to be good and due to incompetent leadership they have continued to falter.

The Yankees can have little sympathy for the O's right now and they were unrelenting against an awful bullpen. After A-Rod's clutch single in the seventh to give Sabathia the lead, the bats went to task on the Baltimore bullpen, scoring seven in the ninth.

Speaking of Sabathia, the big man continued his unmitigated dominance of opposing bats. Over his past six starts Sabathia has an ERA of 1.83 and has struck out 53 batters in 44 innings of work. Opponents are hitting a minuscule .206 off him. It is the performance Yankee fans have been hoping for since the big man signed his name on the dotted line last off-season.

With Sabathia on point and Andy Pettitte looking like the Andy Pettitte of 10 years ago the Yankees appear to have their top two lined up for the playoffs. Now they just need A.J. Burnett to come around, and while things might not look good right now, everyone knows that he can be streaky. Personally I would rather he suck right now than a month from now. He still has at least four starts to straighten things out.

It is off to Toronto now and a series of unfortunate pitching match ups. The Yankees may just be hoping for a split as they toss out Chad Gaudin, Joba Chamberlain, Andy Pettitte and Mitre against the Jays.

Beckett Forgets How To Pitch

The struggles continued for Josh Beckett last night. I knew it was going to be a long night when Carl Crawford took Beckett yard in the first inning. Beckett's last handful of starts have been abysmal. A potential 20-win season is quickly coming unglued. The homeruns he's allowing are unbelievable; 12, I think, in his last five starts. He had 10 total on the season previous to that.

Where does that leave the Sox? The fans consolation to this point was that at least we had Beckett and Lester. If we don't have the two of them, it will be an early exit in the playoffs or maybe even no playoffs at all. Josh needs to get himself right and quick.