Sunday, November 29, 2009

NFL Hyperbolic Statements-Week 12

Another comeback from... guess who? From pariah to golden boy. Cool threads. And a couple more dummies need to close their pie holes.

Clearly the Best Team in the League:
The Colts spotted the Texans leads of 17-0 and 20-7. Then two pass interference calls: one legit, the other... not so much, aided an Indy drive that culminated in a Reggie Wayne TD that put the Colts right back in it. Blood in the water. After taking a one point lead on a Dallas Clark TD catch in the fourth, the Colts D made a couple of huge plays that just buried the Texans. Clint Sessions returned an int for for six. Then Matt Schaub got stripped to set up a Chad Simpson (who?) TD run. All of a sudden, the Colts were blowing out the Texans. This is the fifth consecutive game that the Colts have won after trailing in the fourth quarter. I don't know how that bodes for their playoff chances. What it does mean is that they don't care what situation they're in because they're better than you. Oh, and btw... this is the Colts' 20th straight regular season win spanning the last two years.

Coolest Redemption Ever: Vince Young. Who knows how long this will really last, but I think it's great to see Vince Young back and making plays. It seems like he's figured out something out from the mental side of things. Last Monday he looked great and the Titans were brilliant with their play calling mixing runs and passes for him. He also looked like he's vastly improved his accuracy (which is why the called runs work). Then with this 18 play drive to win the game Sunday, he looks like a completely different player.

You Need a Slap in the Mouth: Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes. Both players have publicly questioned Ben Roethlisberger's toughness (in a very oblique way) after he sat out Sunday's game with post-concussion symptoms. Really? Do you guys want to let Big Ben live in your place and wipe his drool when he's 60 and can't remember his own name? It's his life. He has to deal with the consequences, not you. No one has a right to question someone else's manhood after a head injury. But why would you trust a neurologist anyway?

My Aesthetic Sensibilities: Is there any earthly reason that the Buffalo Bills shouldn't permanently return to their retro threads? I mean c'mon! Those are far superior to the hot mess of stripes, piping, and three different shades of blue that they wear now.

File This One Under WTF: When did our society become so germophobic? People in my office building have been opening door handles with paper towels and slathering themselves with Purel every five minutes. My company now has strategically placed sterilization outposts stocked with wipes, Kleenex, and anit-bacterial goo. Guess what? No matter what you do you're going to get a cold. As long as your not licking the restroom floors, I think you'll be fine.

Monday, November 23, 2009

NFL Hyperbolic Statements-Week 11

Two so-called contenders punk out. The city of Baltimore holds a grudge. And looking forward to watching the Lions? Since we've got a short week, think of this as the Cliff's Notes version of "Statements."

Don't Rest On Your Laurels, Ever: Bengals and Steelers. Following a man-sized win against the Steelers, the Bengals turned into tabbies vs. the pathetic Raiders. The eyepatches did have one advantage; Demarcus Russell was on the bench. But still, if Cincinnatti wanted to think of itself as a contender, they needed to take care of biznass against the Faders. (Wow, two disparaging nicknames for Oakland in one paragraph). Meanwhile, halfway across the country, the Steelers were yacking it up against another AFC West ne'er-do-well. You would think they would come out pissed off and ready to kill the Chiefs after losing an important divisional game to the Bengals last week. I guess that's the difference between these two clubs and the Colts who seem to win under all kinds of circumstances, even when it appears they really don't deserve to win.

State Line of the Week: Robert Meachem, Saints. 2 catches, 10 yards, 2 TD's. Just don't confuse him with Robert Mitchum.
Cosmic Forces At Work: Two games ago, the Baltimore Ravens played the team that replaced them after they left Cleveland and changed names, the "new" Browns. Last Sunday, the Ravens played the team that they replaced in Baltimore, the Colts. Let that one marinate in your skull for a bit. Think of it as a football koan. By the way, the Colts are never referred to by name in Baltimore. The PA announcer introduces them as the Indianapolis professional football team. Bitter, anyone?

File This One Under WTF: Ah, Thanksgiving, that magical time of year that exists only to indulge in copious amounts of food and football. I was even looking forward to the Lions game this year. I was very curious to watch heralded rookie Matthew Stafford, especially in light of his heroic play last Sunday. But now he's injured, out for a couple of weeks at least with a separated shoulder. Now, I've got to deal with the likes of a washed up Daunte Culpepper. Damn! Oh well, the Packers will probably win 35-3 anyway.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Treatise on Changing Allegiance

Following the post by Dan about considering changing football teams here are a few guidelines that helped me change teams (from the 49ers to the Giants) in 2006.

First of all, here are some reasons when it is NOT a mortal sin to drop your team:
a) The team leaves your city. (i.e. Hartford Whalers to Carolina)
b) The team is really bad and it doesn't even seem it they are trying to win. (i.e. the Pittsburgh Pirates or Kansas City Royals)
c) The team becomes difficult to follow because of your geographical location. (This issue was more of a problem about 10 years ago but even today it is tough to follow a West Coast team in the Northeast)
d) The owner is incompetent. ( i.e. Washington Redskins or Oakland Raiders)

Here are a few rules that need to be followed:
1) You cannot abandon a team if they have won a championship within the past five years

2) You should take a mourning period of half the period of time you were a fan of the team. ( I liked the 49ers from the age of 7 to 17 so that is 10 years of fandom then I waited 5 years before starting to support the Giants.) It is important to clear your head.

3) If you move to a new city you can adopt their team.

4) You can never change your allegiance to a rival of your 1st team. (If you like the Sox you can NEVER cheer for the Yanks) Dan if you decide to leave the Skins you have to leave the NFC East FOREVER.

5) You cannot hop on a bandwagon. (In my defense started to like the Giants in 2006 and they won a completely unexpected Superbowl in 2007 and the Giants were only 10-6 that year.

6) You must commit a minimum of 5 years once you decide to support a new team.

It will probably happen to most fans at least once in their lives and I believe you shouldn't be penalized your entire adult life for a decision you made when you were 7 or 8 years old. The important thing is to consider your opinions and make a choice you will be proud of for many years to come.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Court Rules 'Skins Can Keep Moniker

As It was reported earlier this week, the Supreme Court ruled that the Washington Redskins can keep their nickname after a 20 year long battle with a Native American group who deemed the nickname offensive. More precisely, the Justices won't review a lower court ruling allowing the same.

When I decided that Washington was my favorite team, I was probably 9 or 10. These issues never entered my thinking. As an adult, I can understand why some Native Americans are offended by the name. My attitude about these types of things is; if a person is offended then it's offensive. The intent is important, but not as important as how it makes the offended party feel. The Redskins' assertion that the name is honorific and pays tribute to their coach in 1933 William "Loan Star" Dietz, a Native American, doesn't seem to hold water to me. They were already called the Braves at the time.

If there's a right way to do it, the Florida State Seminoles are the example to follow. The university has a close relationship with the Seminole people. It also requires students to take coursework educating them on the tribe. That is paying tribute and being respectful.

Quite frankly, the nickname has given me pause to even wearing my Redskins garb in public. As an adult, I find it a little embarrassing. (To be honest, I'm not a big sports paraphernalia guy anyway.) I've even been considering changing team loyalty. I know that's a mortal sin among sports fans, especially at 31 years old, but am giving it serious thought. The main reason they won't change the name is pure and simple, money. It would cost too much to change everything now. But we live in a new age. Just because something has been one way for a long time doesn't make it right.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sale of the Century

We should have pooled our money and bought this for the new Brothers at Arms LLC offices. Seriously, I feel bad for everyone in Michigan.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

NFL Hyperbolic Statements-Week 10

Perennial doormat makes a statement. An absolutely soporific late Sunday match up. And the most important game in the history of history.

The Big Fat Brass Ones Award: Cincinnati Bengals. They are the Bungles no more. At least for now. In a defensive struggle with reigning champ Pittsburgh, the Bengals won and took control of the AFC North. What they have done this season is staggering, considering where they once were. They are 7-2 with the tie breaker over both the Steelers and Ravens having swept both. Their record is 5-0 in the division. The win total for all of 2008 was a mere four games. After going 11-5 in '05, the Bengals followed two mediocre seasons with the fugly performance that was last year. Presently there are eight games remaining. Beware the second half yack, but the striped-ones' schedule from here consists of such compost heaps as the Browns, Lions, Raiders and Chiefs. Except for a December 13th game against the Vikings they would be favored in just about every remaining game. Don't look now, but Cincinnati could end up with a first round bye.

Are You Still Awake?: Packers 17, Cowboys 7. There have been many memorable match ups between these teams throughout the years. The Ice Bowl of course comes to mind, as does a few hotly contested playoff games in the '90's. This was not one. The game was 3-0 Pack through three quarters. This was not because of a hard-hitting defensive battle on a cold day in Lambeau. This was because of penalties, turnovers, and downright sloppiness. No other game to turn to. Heeelp!

The Most Titanical Clash of the History: After trading three-and-outs, Manning and Brady traded quick touch downs. Running game? We don't need no F-ing running game (the biggest misconception in sports in the necessity for a power running game in the NFL). Screw that! We're here to see the quarterbacks, you know, the guys who bag girls who wouldn't even spit on you if you were on fire. This game had everything. But the one thing people can't stop talking about is Belichick's fourth down call on his own 28. What precipitated this inexplicable decision? Arrogance? Absolute faith in Brady? Absolute fear of Manning? No confidence in the defense? Or something else? I think Belichick just wanted to put an end to it. Pick up two yards and the game is over. These Colts/Pats match ups are so physically and emotionally taxing that he just wanted to go all-in. For once, he acted on emotion instead of intellect. For the record, I think he was wrong. As Dwight Freeney said, I would have punted even if I were playing Madden. There are only a few regular season games that ever get remembered for the ages; Brett Favre's Monday Nighter after his father died, Giants 7, 49ers 3 in 1990. This one should be right up there. Side Note: Reggie Wayne is one of the best receivers in football. He does everything well. He runs good routs. He can burn past anybody, and has hands like velcro. I would choose him over just about anyone in the league right now.

File This One Under WTF: Titans Owner, Bud Adams. You are too hilarious for me to be outraged.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Jeter and Tex Bring Home Gold

The trophies just keep coming for the Yankees. This time it is in the shape of a glove, as Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter each won the Gold Glove at their respective positions. For Jeter it is his fourth and Teixeira his third. Jeter should honestly give his to Teixeira too. I mean anyone who watched the Yankees this year noticed Jeter's improved range, but it is a lot easier for him to win the Gold Glove when you consider the fact he is throwing to a Gold Glove first baseman.

And honestly why do pitchers have a Gold Glove category too. Yea some of them are much better at fielding their position than others, but still, They have some many fewer opportunities to be judged on it that bias slips in deeper there than anywhere else. That's part of the reason that of the 104 Gold Gloves in both leagues there have only been 26 different winners among pitchers... the fewest of any position.

Think about that.

Monday, November 9, 2009

NFL Hyperbolic Statements-Week 9

Ugly uni's inspire a win. From heroes to zeros. A piece of human garbage gets what he deserves. And I have a better chance of playing a 16 game NFL schedule than this guy...

Most Useless Player Ever: Bob Sanders, Colts. Don't get me wrong. I love the way this guy plays. He's a human missile and a real difference maker... on the rare occasion that he's actually on the field. After missing five games with a knee injury, Sanders tore his bicep against the 49ers in the seventh. He's even more useless than the 52nd guy on the team. At least you know he isn't going to play and no one really cares. It's not going to effect anything. When an integral piece like Sanders is in and out, in and out, it creates havoc. I actually think his injuries have been a distraction. The Colts build their defense around him, and his absence seems to effect the Colts D psychologically at times. Sanders games played over the years: 6, 14, 4, 15, 6, 2. In 2007, when he played 15 games, he won Defensive Player of the Year. Shame.

The Universe Finds Balance: Wearing their old orange eyesore uni's in which they once lost 26 straight, the Tampa Bay Bucs broke their seven game losing streak that started this season. I'm sure there's some cosmic significance to this. I just don't know what... yet.


Worst Slide Ever: New York Football Giants (just in case you confused them with the New York Kickball Giants). Once upon a time (30 days ago) the Giants were rolling along, taking care of business and sitting pretty at 5-0. Four games later, they're 5-4, ahead only of the Deadskins in the NFC East. Now they must likely go 5-2 the rest of the way to even consider the playoffs. And what's worse, since the Eagles laid an egg Sunday (rim shot), the #@!* Cowboys are first in the division. Thanks a bunch (superfluous use of parenthesis).

Restoring My Faith In Humanity: Kansas City Chiefs. In a season when everything is wrong, they finally did something right. They cut woman-abusing cretin Larry Johnson. I know in reality Johnson's release is more because of his 2.7 yard average and off-color comments regarding the Chiefs and the fans, but I can't stand any sub-human who would lay his hands on a woman, least of all a 250 pound pro football player. You're a real winner, Larry. I hope you never see a football field again. What's even more satisfying is that the Chiefs cut Johnson just 75 yards short of Priest Holmes' team rushing record.

File This One Under WTF: Sammy Sosa, what the crap is this?!

So Long Jason: The Red Sox declined Jason Varitek's option and it appears that this is the last we've seen of Jason in Boston. It's been a great career for Varitek, which included two rings. He is also the only man to catch four no-hitters. It is time; however, as it is clear that 'Tek's skills have abandoned him. It will be very strange not to see him out there. I wish him all the best.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Some Parade Photos

So here are a couple of shots I took while taking in the ticker-tape parade down Broadway. I might have gotten more except it is difficult to take a good shot when you are only 5'5" tall and in a sea of three million people. Here are some of the better ones including some of what might be the overzealous moron who actually tossed real documents and paperwork out of his office window when he ran out of shredded paper.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Hot Stove Already Burning Strong

The Yankees hadn't even had their parade before some of baseball's teams began wheeling and dealing. We have already mentioned the Rays and their dumping of Akinori Iwamura for a prospect in order to save cash, but there were a lot more notable names on the move with Iwamura.

The first was Jeremy Hermida who was dealt to Boston for prospects Hunter Jones and Jose Alvarez. The Sox didn't really give up anything that they would feel. Jones and Alvarez are not top of the line prospects. The reality is Hermida is no longer an up and coming star. He still has time to be a solid player, but he is a long way away from the potential he showed in his first major league at bat when he jacked a grand slam off of Al Reyes.

After a solid 2007 season when he had an OPS of .870, he began a steady decline. Last season he hit .259 but the real decline was shown in his slugging percentage which dipped under .400 to .392.

I'm not sure what the Sox plan on using Hermida for. My initial thoughts drifted to the Sox walking away from Jason Bay and replacing him with the younger and cheaper Hermida. Then I realized that Theo Epstein is not that dumb. At this point Hermida might be best used as a fourth outfielder who could easily step in for J.D. Drew when he misses his standard 25 games per season or simply as a bargaining chip with any potential outfield free agents.

The other big move to take place was a deal between two small market teams exchanging underachieving players. The Brewers gave up on J.J. Hardy and sent him to the Twins for Carlos Gomez.

I would say that the Brewers got fleeced because Gomez is nothing more than a glorified Joey Gathright: All speed and no bat. The reality is the Brewers had to move Hardy while they could still get something for him since Alcides Escobar was easily going to take the job from Hardy who had an off 2009. Hardy will be big for the Twins and if he can return to his 2007-2008 form then that Twins lineup will be solid.

If Hardy is successful in Minnesota then Twins GM Bill Smith will look a little better for his dealing of Johan Santana in 2008. Even with Santana's resent surgery, Smith looked like all he got for the talented lefty was a bag of peanuts. Hardy could change all of that.

So far the hot stove is looking like it wont disappoint. With limited talent in the free agent class we could see a lot more deals going down and that's always a good way to keep baseball at the forefront throughout the off season.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Girardi makes a Difference off the Field

Even I admit this is an awesome story. Good work Joe.

Shut Up Haters

I hate the Yankees. But not for all the reasons you may think. I hate the Yankees because they are the Red Sox rival and rivalries are fun. I am entirely sick of corn-fed Midwesterners, fans sad sack baseball teams with skinflint owners, moaning and crying that the Yankees win because they spend the most money. This of course is a fallacy. Their wealth and spending certainly keeps them and the Red Sox in contention every year. But let's look at the real reason some teams have money and some don't.

Sox and Yankees fans just care more. Rabid fans spend more money. That money translates to resources and eventually rings. This type of disparity is true in ALL sports except the NFL. Example: University of Texas has fans who are crazed for college football. They want to win. They spend mountains money on merch and devoutly attend games. College football is king in Texas, but not so in Connecticut, where we are. UConn couldn't even fill a 40,000 seat stadium the first game after poor Jasper Howard died! A player died and people don't even come to show support.

Admittedly, it's a bit of a chicken and egg thing. Were the Yankees not so successful for about 90 years would the fan base be so passionate? Hard to say. But let's look at two examples that contradict that theory. The Red Sox, of course, went 86 years with no titles and only three World Series appearances. Yet the Red Sox fans continued to come back year after year and sell out games, buy caps and shirts, and watch faithfully every night on TV (ad revenue).

Conversely, the Tampa Bay Rays, perennial AL East whipping boys, finally broke through and made it all the way to the World Series, and they were having trouble selling out ALCS games! Believe me. When contracts for B.J. Upton and Evan Longoria come up, you can bet your Yankees World Series hat that the Tampa front office will tighten their purse strings. The Rays will be back in the basement before long. Someone needs to hold these owners accountable for running teams into the ground while turning a profit, but thats a different story.

Except for the NFL, all sports are largely regional. On the East Coast it's baseball. On the West Coast it's the NBA. The South and Midwest drool over college football and NASCAR. It's about culture and tradition that's all. You care more and you get what you want for a sports product.

A Little Short on Space?

Not sure where 2009 goes, but I'm sure they'll sqeeze it in there somewhere.

World Series Goes to Yanks; Matsui MVP

Well it took longer than you would expect from a team spending $200 million every season, but the Yankees finally got back to the promised land, defeating the defending champion Phillies in six games for title number 27.

It wasn't quite the exciting seven game nail biting World Series that people were hoping for. I'm sure some wanted that seventh game and I'm sure they would have preferred that the Yankees have to work a little harder to put the Phillies away in Game 6, but that's just how it goes.

The Yankees were the superior team on paper compared to the Phillies. Sure the Phillies could go blow for blow with the Yankees in terms of bats, but the Phillies had no where near the pitching depth the Yankees did. Cliff Lee could match or beat anything the Yankees threw out, but after that they didn't have much. Perhaps in a different season when Cole Hamels is in a groove they may have fought harder, but they literally had no answer in the rotation or the bullpen for the Yankee bats.

The Yankees on the other hand had multiple starters who matched up well against the Phillies. CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte were the left-handers who could hold down the Phillies lefty-heavy lineup (except for Chase Utley) and the enigma that is A.J. Burnett showed that he can shine for at least one big game when the Yankees needed him most. Beyond the starters the Yankees always had Mariano Rivera waiting to close out ball games and despite their early postseason ineffectiveness, the bullpen was better in the World Series.

Joba Chamberlain, Damaso Marte, Dave Robertson and Alfredo Aceves combined to pitch 10 innings and only allow one run. Marte, in particular, was huge for the Yankees. After he disappeared for most of the season due to injury he came back with a vengence in the playoffs to neutralize Utley and Ryan Howard late in ball games.

With that in came down to pitching and in Game 6 the Yankees showed why it wasn't a good idea to start Pedro Martinez in Yankee Stadium. Well, actually Hideki Matsui showed why it wasn't a good idea to throw Pedro in Yankee Stadium. The lefty pounded Martinez, hitting yet another home run and then a bases loaded RBI single. He would add another two-run hit when he doubled off of J.A. Happ to finish the scoring for the Yankees.

Matsui's massive Game 6 performance grabbed him MVP honors and if it is his final game with the Yankees then it belongs in the Yankees Classics archives. Matsui has been huge in his career for the Yankees and in particular the postseason.

It seems the off season will cost the Yankees either Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui and in all likelihood the Yankees will choose the player who can still run and play some defense. That would leave Matsui on the outside looking in.

Speaking of Damon, I'm sure everyone knows that he won the 2004 World Series with the Red Sox, but can you name the player on that 2004 team who was last player to win a title with the Red Sox and the Yankees? Dan can't answer since he knows already. Bonus question: There is one other player on the Yankee roster this season who also has the distinction of playing on both a Red Sox and Yankee world championship team. Let's see who can name him.

Enough trivia. It has taken 15 games over an excurciating 29 days, but the World Series has finally come and gone and for the first time in nine years the Yankees have walked away with a championship. It's sweet to have that feeling again.

2009 World Champions!

It has been a while, but the trophy is back. #27!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Vincente Padilla Lightens the Mood

In the midst of the World Series some sports headlines may fall to the wayside. Like how some people might have missed the trade between the Pirates and the Rays that sent Akinori Iwamura to Pittsburgh.

But the best story cames from Nicaragua where Vincente Padilla did his best Plaxico Burress impersonation.

Sometimes you just wonder: What the hell were they thinking?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

NFL Hyperbolic Statements-Week 8

Could a defense featuring man/beast Jared Allen be overrated? What do Steven Jackson and Barry Sanders have in common? Sadly Steve Slaton has a horrible disease. And Tecmo Super Bowl is personified.

Most Overrated Defense Ever: Minnesota Vikings. Sure this team is formidable. Jared Allen has been playing like the Norse god, Thor, lately. But how good is this defense really? They let the Packers close within four on Sunday after posting a 24-3 lead. In fact this ballyhooed defense has allowed 20 plus points in every game this season but two. Those games were against the hapless Lions and the hopeless Rams. Is this D as good as everyone says? Just something to think about.

Best Barry Sanders Impersonation: Steven Jackson. Obviously, Sanders has a much better resume. Jackson is also a completely different runner. But the parallel that I find interesting is that they're both excellent backs who play for crappy teams and rack up tons of yards without scoring many touchdowns, relatively speaking. Jackson is second in the NFL in rushing and just scored his first touchdown Sunday in week 8. In 1994 Sanders rushed for 1883 yards with a 5.7 ypc and caught 44 passes, while only scoring only 8 TD's. Just sayin'. Perhaps this is only interesting to me.

Craziest Sat Line Ever: Maurice Jones-Drew. The hyphenated one had 8 carries for 177 yards Sunday. Is this Bo Jackson in Tecmo Super Bowl?!

File This One Under WTF: Steve Slaton, my second pick in my fantasy draft, has been killing me with his inconsistency all year. Not only that but he's fumbling like the ball has a patina of bacon fat. Fumblitis, some running backs can overcome it (Tiki Barber). If you don't, you'll be grabbing some pine. That's just what happened to Slaton Sunday. One carry, one yard, one fumble, -1.26 fantasy points. And here's the real kick in the crotch, I lost my fantasy match up by 0.07! KAAAAHN!

Burnett Slips Against Phils

Everything was lining up to allow A.J. Burnett to become a World Series hero for the Yankees. He had already saved the Yankees from an 0-2 hole after Cliff Lee embarrassed them at Yankee Stadium and now he was on the bump with a chance to give the Yankees their first title in nine seasons.

Then he actually took the mound and started to pitch and things just fell apart. Burnett couldn't record an out in the third inning and the Yankees were down 6-1 after three innings. The bats battled back, but a standard Derek Jeter double play ended a possible ninth inning relay and now the series turns back to New York.

Prior to Game 5 there was much debate about throwing Burnett in three days rest. A lot of opinions were of the fact that throwing anybody against Cliff Lee was suicide because of his new god-like status. Some advocated the idea of throwing the game away by pitching Chad Gaudin and conceding a World Series game. The argument was that you could then have Burnett on full rest to go for the kill on Wednesday at the stadium and that the Yankees had no chance of winning Game 5. Luckily Joe Girardi is smarter than that.

The reality is Burnett could have very well blown up in Game 6 anyway. Then where would the Yankees be? The Yankees had to drop the hammer on the Phils and while the Phillies won a game at home the Yankees are still going home with a 3-2 lead in the series with two lefties going against a lineup that struggles against left-handers. Much like in the ALCS, if the Yankees had lost Game 4 and won Game 5 there would be no worries. Instead it is the other way around and people are looking for a reason to panic to create interest on an off day.

But who wouldn't be happy with the Yankees situation? And really, what pitchers are the Phillies throwing that the Yankees should be worried about? Pedro Martinez, a pitcher who is hasn't thrown with fewer than 13 days rest in a month and a half and Cole Hamels who can't make it out of the fifth.

The Yankees are still in a good spot going into Game 6 tomorrow and even still, in Game 7 if necessary.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Yankees Jump on Phils; Take 3-1 Lead

If the Phillies feared any scenario after they split in New York it has to be this one. The match ups favored the Yankees and while the Phillies had their chances to swing momentum in their favor they could not capitalize.

On Sunday night the Phillies decided it would be wise to throw Joe Blanton instead of Cliff Lee. Their logic? Lee has never had to throw on three days rest. Well, while there is an unknown factor as to what you can expect from Lee doing something he had never done there is also the fact that this is the World Series and your team is in a 2-1 hole. If there ever was a time to start on three days rest Sunday night would have been the night to find out if Lee could handle it or not. I would rather have Lee at 80 percent against the Yanks than a 100 percent Joe Blanton any day of the week.

But Charlie Manuel went with Blanton with the hope he could stifle the Yankees as he had the Rays in 2008. The plan didn't quite work out that way. Blanton pitched well enough, but not well enough to match CC Sabathia on three days rest. Sabathia struggled through the Phillie lineup for the second straight start. He had trouble with his command and each inning seemed like a battle for him, but if it wasn't for Chase Utley he might have walked away with an easy victory.

After the Yankees jumped out to a quick two-run lead in the top of the first, Shane Victorino blooped a double to shallow left and the Utley ripped a bullet off of the right centerfield wall. Sabathia would give up the tying run in the fourth when Ryan Howard singled and stole second with no throw. Pedro Feliz would tie the game for the first time when he ripped a bullet at Johnny Damon. Initially it looked as though Howard touched the plate, but further replays showed that all 6'4" 203 lbs. of him missed the plate.

The Yankees responded the next inning. Swisher worked a four pitch walk and when Melky Cabrera grounded a ball up the middle Chase Utley attempted a highlight reel double play by flipping the ball to Jimmy Rollins with his glove. He could have easily got the force out at second, cutting of a potential big inning for the Yankees, but instead he flipped the ball ten feet in the air and the Yankees had first and second and nobody out.

Jeter and Damon followed with RBI singles and the Yankees were again in control. The game stayed stable until Chase Utley went to work on Sabathia again. It looked as though Sabathia would work his way through an easy seventh until Utley strode to the plate again. Again Sabathia got ahead of Utley and again Utley crushed a ball to deep right. That was the end of Sabathia and in came Damaso Marte who's postseason resurgence continued as he retired Howard for the second consecutive night.

In the eighth Joba Chamberlain looked good in relief for the first time since early 2008. He struck out Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez in convincing fashion and had Pedro Feliz set up before leaving a 3-2 fastball down the middle. Feliz crushed it to tie the game and while he made Carlos Ruiz look foolish on a slider to end the inning, the game was tied and things did not look good for the Yankees.

Brad Lidge came on and for the first two batters he looked like vintage Brad Lidge. He had Johnny Damon down 1-2. Damon worked the count full then slapped a 3-2 fastball to left. Damon took off for second on the first pitch and when Feliz stepped in front of the bag to field the throw Damon took advantage and stole an unattended third base. From that point on Brad Lidge circa 2005 showed up. Scared to throw his slider he plunked Mark Teixeira before A-Rod ripped a double to give the Yankees the lead. Jorge tacked on two more with a single and Mo slammed the door with eight pitches.

Now with a 3-1 lead the Yankees will face Cliff Lee who will battle with A.J. Burnett. Burnett has always been solid on three days rest. In four starts he is 4-0 with a 2.33 ERA. He was also dominant in his Game 2 start with seven solid innings. Lee will be on full rest and is still in the midst of one of the most dominating starting performances in postseason history. The Yankees go for the series, and they will need just 27 outs for their 27th title. This is what the season is all about.