Friday, October 29, 2010

I'm Not Saying... Just saying.

I don't want to rain on Josh Hamilton's parade, believe me. His story is inspirational. Overcoming addiction and staying clean is one of the most difficult things a person can do. I applaud him for his efforts and his MVP caliber season this year. His teammates' ginger ale showers after the divisional round and LCS got me a little farklempt to be honest. But methinks he is being treated differently than some other famous athletes who have overcome similar personal demons.

Take Ricky Williams for example. After his suspension for pot and subsequent temporary retirement due to social anxiety, the jokes on talk radio etc. came by the dump truck full. Every Joe Lunchpail in America called him a disgrace and said he should be banned for life. He was a be-dredded, ganja smoking, Rasta punch line. Pause for a moment. Take a breath. Try to imagine a world where Josh Hamiliton is likened to Barney Gumble from the Simpsons in some ham-fisted radio parody. "Throw his drunk ass out the league!" Hard to imagine, right? Why is that? Before you answer, let's look at another comparison.

Ben Roethlisberger rapes two women... ok so they can't prove it and those bitches were probably just looking for money (insert symbol for sarcasm here in case the reader in a nitwit). Perhaps there wasn't enough evidence, but the court of public opinion has convicted celebs for much less. At the very least it reeks of impropriety. As I write he's back after a month long suspension and basically no one gives a crap. Michael Vick comes back from his suspension (if I have to tell you why I don't know why you're reading a sports blog) and every move is scrutinized, every word dissected as if the media were looking for a code word that tells you where the dog fight is going to be.

Now I'm going to just get right to it and if I were Peter King or someone who actually had readers other than my friends I might get crucified. Roethlisberger and Hamiliton are white. Williams and Vick are black. Let's just admit that this type of veiled racism still exists. Perhaps people are doing it subconsciously. Maybe they don't realize why they think the way they think. Personally I hope all four of the athletes I mentioned have learned from their mistakes. As for the media, I don't think they will learn from theirs.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Moving On...

I might linger more on 2010 if I thought this Yankee squad was truly good enough to win the World Series, but honestly they haven't played like a World Series contender for the better parts of three months. They had the talent, but they just never seemed to have the same pitching as last year.

A.J. Burnett was a shell of his 2009 self and despite the arrival of Phil Hughes, the rotation was never as stable as it was last year.

Changes will be coming to the Yankees this off season as they do for every team. With the regime they have though, New York will avoid any kind of over reaction to six games in October. Really there is no need for drastic changes anyway, also, you really couldn't even if you wanted to.

With that in mind and a lack of desire from myself to rehash everything Cliff Lee, let's look at the Yankees position players for next season.

The starting eight are pretty much locked in. Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira are locked up for the foreseeable future in the infield. And you know that Derek Jeter will be back as well.

The outfield is also locked up and, unlike the infield, all three are locked into affordable contracts for the next few seasons. Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher all provide valuable offensive production and above-average defense at two of three positions.

The biggest questions for the Yankees and their position players is catcher and DH. Nick Johnson will be given his pay check and told to move along and Lance Berkman was never intended to be a solution beyond this season. Marcus Thames will return and rightly so considering he wont get much of a pay bump and he will remain in a limited roll as a right-handed power bat off the bench.

Catcher is really where the debate begins. Jorge Posada has one year left on his deal and the Yanks will also have the option of bringing back Fransisco Cervelli as the back up. Posada's defense continued to regress and Cervelli received way more at bats than he had a right to. There is a solution to the Posada/Cervelli problem waiting in the minors in the form of man-child Jesus Montero. The 20-year-old destroyed Triple-A pitching in the second half of the season and will rank as a top five prospect in all of baseball.

While Montero's bat will pair well within the frame of a Posada-Montero DH/Catcher platoon, his defense will not remind anyone of a young Johnny Bench, but the Yankees have survived a long time without a good defensive catcher and it stands to reason they wont mind Montero back there if they can put up with Posada.

We could see a Yankee squad with three catchers for a period of time if the Yankees desire to keep someone on hand for the occasional bumps and bruises that might force a catcher from the game and result in the loss of the DH.

Of course everyone knows the Yankees will hit and with the arrival of Montero they may even hit more. The lineup will again be a tremendous strength for the Yankees in 2011.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

End of the Road

Substandard starting pitching. A lack of pop in the bats and no timely hitting. That will do you in just about every time. The Yankees 2010 season ended with a whimper on Friday night as the defending champs were dethroned by Texas.

The Yankees were never really in the series. The lack their normal hitting prowess and fell prey to hunger young pitchers from the Lone Star state. They were outplayed in just about every aspect of the game in five out of six games.

There isn't much to complain about. Anything can happen in a seven game series and while the Yankees had the superior team on paper, the Rangers showed why the games are played and how they should be played.

Yankee fans will make a swift transition to the hot stove now and will ogle Cliff Lee in his Game 1 start of the World Series.

Aside from a poor ALCS the Yankees were thoroughly entertaining this season and they'll be back at it again come February and March.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Is the End Near?

Since it is my constitutional right as a Red Sox fan to rub salt into Yankee wounds, I think it is fair to say that the Evil Empire is worried. The tension in Manhattan is palatable today and things could become tragic tonight.

Though many pundits have been praising Cliff Lee (who was terrific in Game 3) as the savior who has single-handedly beaten the Yankees; the reality is that the Chuck Norris All-Stars (Walker Texas Rangers) have outplayed the Yanks for four games. I know I may be tempting fate, but I don't see the Yankees pulling a Red Soxeque comeback circa 2007. Cliff Lee will make at least one more appearance, Mark Teixiera is out for the rest of the series if not the remainder of the playoffs, and two of the final three games are back in Arlington. The Yankee bats have become dormant and the bullpen has imploded.

Though it would be nice for the bombers to win the World Series in Memoriam of "The Boss" it doesn't seem likely. I, personally, am pulling for the Giants.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Yanks Snatch Game 1 in Texas

I heard commentators talking earlier in the season about how the Yankees didn't have as many walk-off wins as last year. While that is true, the general attitude of that statement was to imply that the Yankees didn't come back on teams like they had the year before.

If anything this one thoroughly proves that the Yankees are never out of a game. The Rangers blew a 5-0 lead and New York survived a CC Sabathia implosion to take Game 1 of the ALCS 6-5.

The Rangers really have to be hurting in the locker room after this one. They had beat on the Yankee ace and had forced the Yankees into using Dustin Moseley. Yet they failed to tack on runs against the mop up man and when Brett Gardner sparked a rally with a huge hustle play to start the eighth, you could see things start to slide downhill for the Rangers and their bullpen.

Ron Washington brought in Darren Oliver and the veteran walked two straight Yankees to load the bases. That forced the Texas manager to go to his second Darren, Darren O'Day. O'Day fluttered one of his side arm offerings down the inner third of the plate and Alex Rodriguez destroyed the ball past Michael Young at third to score tow more and pull the Yanks to within 5-4.

So, after one pitch Washington decided to bring in another lefty, this one being Clay Rapada. Rapada only threw nine innings in the majors this year and really Washington should have taken his chances with a hard thrower like Alexi Ogando, because Cano doesn't care who is throwing the ball, he will destroy it.

Cano led the AL with 13 homer against lefty pitching this season and had just homered off of C.J. Wilson who hadn't allowed a dinger to a same-sided batter all year. Rapada stood no chance and Cano tied the game with a hard single up the middle on the first pitch he saw.

After another pitching change Marcus Thames continued to be an unsung hero for New York this year and gave the Yanks the lead with a broken bat single.

The win is big for New York. Strike that, it's HUGE. They could have found themselves in a bad spot if they didn't rally to save Sabathia's bacon. Texas would have been rolling and licking their chops at the prospect of being up 1-0 in the series with Phil Hughes on the mound versus Colby Lewis and Cliff Lee still lurking in the shadows of Game 3. Now the Yankees have to be feeling like they are never out of the game, even on e where their ace is inept and teh opposing pitch is dealing deep into the game.

Tomorrow brings the previously mentioned match up of Phil Hughes vs. Colby Lewis. Hughes has been great in Texas for his career, throwing 15.1 scoreless innings over four seasons, including his aborted no-hitter in 2007. Plus Hughes has been better on the road in general this season.

Lewis has been solid since returning to the Majors from Japan. Lewis strikes out a lot of guys, but can also have bouts of wildness. The Yankees haven't seen Lewis this year, which usually is a bad omen for them. In this case though, they can probably at least elevate Lewis's pitch count and get into that Rangers bullpen early, much like the Rays did in Game 3 of the ALDS.

Back at it tomorrow at 4 p.m.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The 32 Greatest Sports Calls of All Time

This is pretty cool to just poke through when you have some time. If you only watch one, watch Maradona in Argentina vs. England 1986.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Rays Get Hosed

I'm back baby. The playoffs started and now I'm completely enthralled again. I have to admit (and I know it sounds like sour grapes) but I really enjoy the fact that the Rays are down 2-0. The fact that they got jobbed on Michael Young's check swing is making even more fun for me.

I hope the Rays fans (all 10 of them) have enjoyed this little run. Crawford is gone after this year and perhaps after this next game as well as punk ass B.J. Upton for whatever that's worth. All that will be left in three years will be a 70-win team with Evan Longoria demanding a trade because he was dumb enough to sign a long term deal with this putrid organization.

I feel bad for the players. Upton and Matt Garza aside I kind of like the Rays. Crawford is one of the most exciting players in the game and Joe Maddon's persona and hipster glasses amuse me. As I've said before, it's their fans that I find so lame. It's just bad for the game when a team like the Rays, a novelty to the Tampa area, can't even sell out ALCS games while traditional baseball cities like Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and up until now, Cincinnati, who have suffered so long, would give anything to be in the playoffs. Those people would pack the stands, make a ton of noise and make you feel like it was 1979 again.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Yanks Beat Pavano; Take 2-0 Lead

For Yankee fans Thursday night couldn't have been much better. Sure they might have been able to score a few more runs and Pettitte was shaky early, but they won and they did it by slapping around Carl Pavano a little bit and that's all New York needed.

There were several questions about Pettitte coming into this game and his seven inning two-run performance was impressive, especially after the second inning when he really settled in and mowed down Twins. After Danny Valencia's second inning sac fly, the veteran lefty set down the next 11 batters before surrendering a solo homer to Orlando Hudson.

By that point the Yankees had started to figure out Pavano and although they only had two runs, they were scorching balls of the Twins starter.

But the story of the game will be the non-strike call on Lance Berkman in the seventh. The pitch was strike on the inside corner, but really home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt wasn't giving that pitch most of the night and was giving a generous amount on the outside part of the plate. It shouldn't be a big issue, but like the non-call against Michael Young in Tampa Bay earlier in the day, it will stand out as the next pitch in each at bat cost the home team.

The Yankees will focus on what they did though and not the calls the umpires made. Tonight two players stand out besides Pettitte and those two are Lance Berkman and Curtis Granderson.

Berkman finally showed some of that power that the Yankees were hoping to get when they traded for him at the Deadline in July. Since his days in Houston Berkman has always shown huge power to the opposite field from the left side of the plate, and that finally came out tonight. Both his home run and his double were absolutely scorched to left-center.

Joining Berkman in the on hot-hitters club, is Curtis Granderson who is in full-on beast mode right now. Granderson banged out three more hits tonight including one that drove in an insurance run in the night. Granderson is really playing to his potential since Kevin Long adjusted his stance and swing in Texas back in August and now the Yankees are reaping the benefits of the patience they've had with him.

Granderson has four hits in the first two games of the series and he has the biggest one of the series so far with his two-run triple off of Fransisco Liriano in Game 1. If there was an MVP for the LDS, Granderson would be the front runner so far.

Now it's a day off and then back to New York with two chances to close out the series for the Yanks.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Some End of Season News

The Sox aren't in the playoffs, so I will leave the playoff preview to a yankee fan. I watched the ESPN 30 for 30 Series documentary on the 2004 ALCS and needless to say it will be saved on the DVR and watched repeatedly throughout the winter.

With that being said, the news of the day out of Red Sox Nation is that New England Sports Ventures (NESV), the group (John Henry, Larry Luccino, Tom Werner) that owns the Sox, Fenway, and NESN, is making a bid to buy English Premiere League club Liverpool. Liverpool has been struggling financially and in the standings for the past 2 years and are ripe for a takeover. The bid is rumored to be in the neighborhood of $477 million. The current owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, are hated in Liverpool and the fans are eager for a change as Liverpool is currently in danger being relegated out of the Premiere League. If this means Liverpool on NESN every weekend and choruses of "You'll Never Walk Alone" count me in.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

End of the Road

It is somewhat fitting that the marathon baseball season will end on the same day that one of our bloggers will be hitting the road for his first marathon. Yea that's right our own bro Joey is running his first marathon in New York today and while we wish him well, today will be the last day his Sox take the field in 2010.

The Yankees will be looking for where their next destination is based on today's results. But I'm not too concerned with that. There are pluses and minuses for both opponents the Yankees might face and the reality is they could beat either of them if they decide they want to hit with runners in scoring position and pitch halfway decent they will beat anybody.

Aside from that today is a day to enjoy the game. There isn'y anything of consequence riding on the game so treat it like the last game of spring training when all the starters are finally playing together. Well except for Dustin Moseley.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Sox and... Eh Who Cares?

I can't remember a Sox and Yanks series that has begun with so little anticipation as this one has. For me at least. The Sox are out of it and have been for quite some time. The Yanks will probably rest up their stars and try to get their rotation set up for the playoffs. The Sox can't even play spoiler. At this point there's virtually no difference to the Yankees whether they sweep or get swept or something in the middle. I suppose I'll tune in to watch the Sox one last time before they pack it in for the year. Maybe Daniel Nava will jack one out for me.