Saturday, September 29, 2007

Some Important Things

The LSATs are over, hopefully forever!

Congrats to Boston on winning the division. Certainly something to be proud of. We'll see what happens in October.

After the performances of each in the last two days, I might be flip-flopping on who I want starting a potential Game 4 from Mike Mussina to Phil Hughes. Hughes had his best outing of the year two nights ago, and for the first time mixed that slider and the change effectively with fastball/curve. Phil Hughes could be a pretty good Major League pitcher with just two plus pitches. Nothing outstanding, but good. With four pitches, he could be amongst the best in baseball. Simply put, he has more stuff than Mussina (a lot more) if he can use slider/change, and I want that electricity on the mound in October. If not starting, definitely out of the pen.

Things are outrageous in the NL East. Never seen anything like this. The Mets are on their backs and then John "I haven't had my fastball since sometime in May" Maine comes out and hurls 7.2 no-hit innings before giving up a bleeder to break it up. Mets win 13-0. Phillies currently down 2-0. If the Phillies come back and win, I like them to win tomorrow and wrap up the division. If they lose today, its anybody's guess.

I'm heading to the city for a bigtime night out post-LSAT. DV is on vacation visiting his girlfriend. One or both of us back Monday for some serious Yankees/Indians, Red Sox/Angels previews.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Red Sox Playoff Pitching, the NL East, and a few other things

If you aren't paying attention to the NL East, start. No team has ever given away a 7 game lead entering September, and as of this moment, the Mets have done that. They have the same record as the Phillies, and the Phillies won the season series. So the Mets are technically down a game, in that they have to finish one game better to not let the tiebreaker come into play. The Mets have the Marlins at home. The Phillies have the Nationals at home. The Wild Card can't be counted on as a safety net either, as it is more likely that a team from the West will get it (though not impossible for both NL East teams to get in).

I'm a Yankees fan, but I know the Mets inside and out. I know both the Mets and the Red Sox almost as well as I know the Yankees, although I don't know their farm systems as well. But have no idea what to say about this team. When they hit, they don't pitch. When they pitch, they don't hit. Their bullpen is abysmal. Reminds me a lot of the Yankees in April and May. No consistency.

The Mets can't complain though. They had ample opportunity all year, and always played "just good enough", which often isn't good enough. They would follow up four game winning streaks with three game losing streaks, and then win a few in a row again. This has finally caught up to them. It is also largely a product of their players. Outside of David Wright and Tom Glavine to an extent, no player on that team has been consistent. Reyes has followed up a good first half with a miserable second half, and is providing no spark, which they feed off of. John Maine and Oliver Perez, who can't be expected to keep up how good they were early, have fallen below what you would ever expect. Delgado doesn't hit. Beltran has been great lately, but has been streaky too. Wagner gets all the low pressure outs, never seems to get the big outs. Nobody in the bullpen can be trusted. It's not good stuff.

Now the Phillies control their own NL East destiny. If they sweep Washington, they are in, even if the Mets sweep Florida. And the Wild Card is messy. This is as good a playoff race as you can have, unless you are a Mets fan, so tune in if you get the chance.

Phil Hughes had probably his best outing since coming off the DL. Seven strong innings, showing a good change and slider together for the first time in addition to fastball/curve. Best fastball I've seen from him too. Not only is it encouraging in general, but it will be a big plus in the playoffs if he can give us multiple innings like that out of the pen.

Red Sox playoff pitching. I'll let DV and the Boston guys have their say on this when DV gets a chance to chime in on it. From my perspective, the biggest thing they have going for them is that they have a guy in Beckett that is more likely than any Yankee to deliver a gem (8 innings, 1 run, 9 strikeouts). That can be huge in a series, especially if you get two of them, which I don't think Beckett is incapable of. After that, you like Schilling's experience. He's a lot like Clemens. You don't know what you are going to get from start to start, and in this sense the Yankees have a big advantage not having a guy like this need to start Game 2.

After Schilling, the Red Sox have some decisions to make, especailly if they need four starters. Who knows what Matsuzaka will give you. Wakefield is totally hit or miss. Lester has been good and bad, so that is a lot to put on him.

All said, my starters:
Game 1: Beckett
Game 2: Schilling
Game 3: Wakefield
Game 4: Matsuzaka
Game 5: Beckett

The bullpen isn't pretty either. Papelbon is phenomenal at the back, obviously. Delcarmen has looked very good both in terms of stuff and results, and I think we can classify him as reliable at this point. Outside of that? Tons of question marks. Gagne has the stuff, but can he get results (hasn't yet). Okajima was great early, but as a lot of non-Red Sox fans (and maybe some Sox fans) predicted, the league has caught up with him. His stuff isn't good enough to be as good as he was. Timlin has the experience, but I don't know how in love anybody is with him in a big spot. Lopez might get some work, I don't know about him. Kyle Snyder will probably make the roster, but he's not going to get big innings.

The X Factor here could be Buchholz. I don't know that they would do it at this point because of his innings limit, but like Joba, he has late innings stuff, so he could probably do the job, and do it well. Even if you could only use him once a twice a series for two innings each, that could mean a win or two, which is huge.

I don't know enough to be an expert on this, but here is my postseason bullpen:
Papelbon
Delcarmen
Gagne
Okajima
Timlin
Lopez
Buchholz/Snyder

It's funny how baseball goes. At the beginning of the season, everybody talked about the Red Sox pitching being its strength, and the Yankees' pitching being a major weakness. Now for the Red Sox, it's Beckett and Papelbon and hope for the best, while the Yankees have a lot of stability, quality, and depth in both their rotation and pen.

13 Strait

Once again, as always, as never fails, for the 13th strait time, there will be baseball in October for the New York Yankees.

As a fan base, it is always easy to be negative on your team when things aren't going well. It is a natural reaction, fans of every team do it. It wasn't a smooth ride for the Yankees this year, and I know that I, as well as many, many other fans, got on them a lot. But deep down very few of us actually thought there wasn't a chance they would do this (if you didn't think they had a chance, you haven't been paying much attention). Even the most optimistic fan would have had a tough time conjuring up the run they made, but they made it. It wasn't likely, but I knew, at my worst moment, it was a possibility, and told DV such in an online conversation right before the All-Star break (talking about "The Stretch"). I think a lot of Yankees fans were in my boat, and I think most fans of a lot of team would have been in my exact boat under the same circumstances. You get on them, but you root, and you know they have a chance.

On the other hand, there were a lot of haters and non-fans who said there was no chance. They believed it. They wanted it. Maybe some needed it. A Yankee-less October. In their eyes, no matter who they root for, what could be better? If your team is going (Red Sox-definitely; Mets-maybe!) it is icing on the cake. If your team isn't going, the Yankees missing the playoffs can save your season from being a total loss. A Yankee-less October. How beautiful.

Except last night Melky and Robbie and Joba were dumping champagne on everyone's head chanting "Energy! Energy!", the catch phrase this team has taken on due to Torre's relentless reminder that it is most important. The veteran Mike Mussina, after so many celebrations in years past and after everything he has been through this year, grabbed a beer and went into the coaches' office to celebrate with them after a more brief celebration (relative to the youngsters) with his teammates. Derek Jeter tried to avoid being drenched in champagne after he had already cleaned up. Shelley Duncan was trying to injure people. 21-29 on May 29. Clinching a playoff spot, the same one the other 7 teams going will get, with four days left of the season. Not even any dramatics.

Once again, they were celebrating an October birth. They haven't won anything yet, and you could tell that they were celebrating not the birth itself, but the chance to actually win something. Energy, and October baseball for the New York Yankees, as always. Beautiful baby.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Bank At Sovereign, Buy Your Lexus and Clothing In Watertown, Buy My Merchandise, Vote For Me, and Drink My Kool-Aid

Thanks to Jerry Remy acting like a complete idiot last night, the record for longest title in HYD Baseball history has been tripled.

The night of the most recent Eric Gagne implosion (last Tuesday), Red Sox manager Jerry Remy was unhappy about Terry Francona's insistence on touching the electrically-charged cupcake for the umpteenth time this season. In that case, Papelbon should have been brought in to get a four-out save. The AL East was at hand that night, and it's important to win the AL East. That's the way everyone, including Remy, felt.

The next night, Remy changed his mind, which I attribute to the fact that the Red Sox told him to drink their "The East Isn't Important, Let's Play For Second Place" Kool-Aid. Apparently everyone in the franchise's propaganda machine has to be on the same page. That first night, I told myself, whatever. How many more times is the issue of Gagne sucking in the eighth inning of a close game vs. Papelbon coming in going to come up before the decision is decided?

Of course, last night, exactly that happened. Gagne came in for the eighth inning of a close game and put two guys on base. Same story, different day. Except this time, in a 4-1 game, Francona made the decision that he wanted to bring in Papelbon. Wow. Could you imagine a manager who wants to win a baseball game? So Papelbon came in, threw one pitch, and Remy talked trash the entire time. He shouldn't be pitching right now, he shouldn't be overworked and should be saved for the playoffs, Gagne should have remained in the game to continue to get lit up. Give me a friggin break, Remy. You're quickly becoming a hack and a Red Sox yes-man. It's a shame.

Meanwhile, in the baseball game, Papelbon threw one pitch, got the guy out, the Red Sox blew the game open (always a possibility in the case of a four-out save), and he didn't have to work anymore. That was a great thing for Remy to get worked up about.

My dad and I talked about this a few nights ago: When he's still talking about baseball (hardly ever anymore), he's still pretty good. But he's sold out more than Krusty the Klown. He's in more commercials than Peyton Manning, he won't shut up about his Red Sox Propaganda Nation campaign, he won't shut up about Sox Appeal, and he isn't talking about baseball anymore.

Now that he's flip-flopping (probably at the Red Sox' request) when he actually is talking about baseball, it's crossed the line to the point that I have to blog about my frustration. Last night he was about 0.8% as bad as Tim McCarver. And that's pretty friggin bad.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Yankees Playoff Pitching

With the Yankees' loss tonight, we can actually, finally, after so many ups and downs, put the division to rest. Three back with five to go just isn't happening. And like I've said, I prefer it this way.

After the embarrassing walk-off home run induced loss, there is also no better time to talk about the Yankees postseason pitching, because two areas of concern were highlighted (expect Yankees/Red Sox installments from both DV and I and offense, pitching, overall before the ALDS). 1. Is Roger Clemens going to be able to pitch? 2. Outside of Rivera, Chamberlain, and Vizcaino, who makes the postseason pen and can actually be expected to be effective?

We'll start with Clemens and the rotation. Both Cleveland and Anaheim have indicated that they will choose the 8 game series, so we will deal from that perspective. I fully expect Clemens will be able to pitch, and think that he will be better served coming off this long rest, much like he was against Boston last week. He is going to get one start in the division series, and him being the 6 inning pitcher he is, it may as well be an overly rested, empty-the-tank type start (again, much like it appeared to be in Boston last week).

If for some reason he isn't able, I think Mussina pitches against Cleveland, and I'd go with Kennedy against the Angels. Mussina can probably still lock down power teams like the Indians, but contact and speed offenses like the Angels will give him fits, because, well, he allows too much contact. Kennedy's stuff is more suited to handle that type of team than Mussina at this point. Also, while I think Hughes is the better pitcher long term, right now Kennedy is more polished, having pitched Friday night games in the Pac-10 at USC for two seasons (for anybody who doesn't follow college baseball, this is as big a deal as there is in the regular season). I know he has back spasms right now, but that should be cleared up, and he is a better option than Hughes to replace Clemens if need be.

Since they are going to be in the 8 game series, two pitchers are going to start twice. This puts the Yankees in a predicament. Obviously, their two best starters are Pettitte and Wang, so you would think they would automatically get them. Those starts are on the road, though, where Wang has a 5.05 ERA as oppossed to a 2.75 ERA at home. Something could be said, since Game 3's are often the most important in a 5 game series (See: New York Yankees '05 and '06 LOSSES), to save Wang for that likely critical Game 3 in New York, where he will probably be aces.

I'm not going with that, because if you start him Game 1 on the road, in the 8 game series you get him again in Game 4, in New York. So my Yankees ALDS rotation:
Game 1: Wang
Game 2: Pettitte
Game 3: Clemens/Kennedy(Anaheim)/Mussina(Cleveland)
Game 4: Wang
Game 5: Pettitte

Of the five potential games, the least pressure is actually on the Game 1 starter, so I like Wang there. I think he steps up. Pettitte has been a lockdown Game 2 pitcher his entire Yankee career. I like Clemens in the Bronx as oppossed to on the road, and also like a big game start from him in Game 3. I like Wang in New York for Game 4. There is nobody I'd rather have in a Game 5 than Pettitte.

As I was talking to DV online last night, I think I sort of suprised him when I said the Yankees biggest question mark in the postseason is the offense (we'll get to this in another post in a more detailed fashion). Obviously, the offense is better than the pitching, but that isn't the point. Unlike the offense, at least with the pitching you have a good idea what you are going to get. It probably won't be lockdown (8 shutout), but it will be professional (6-7 innings, 2-4 runs). If the offense delivers a lead to Joba and Mo in the 7th, those games are over. Vizcaino will hold a lead in versatile middle-inning roles, too.

After that, the bullpen...yikes. I don't even know who I want on the roster. Middle relief isn't nearly as important in the postseason as it is during the regular season, because you pitch your best guys every day, but they can factor in. In this respect, this is EASILY the Yankees biggest weakness. They will have a tough time winning tie games that go extras, and the like.

I guess Farnsworth is definitely going to make it. He has been working out of the wind-up lately, and looks good. But I can't trust him. Ross Ohlendorf (Randy Johnson deal) looks outstanding out of the pen, but has very little experience either out of the pen or in a big league game at all. Ron Villone probably makes it too. Professional, can give you some good innings. Then Phil Hughes has to be back there as a long man, that's a no-brainer. Bruney, no. Ramirez, no. Henn, no. Britton, no. Bruney, Ramirez, and Henn, probably no for 2008 too the way they have looked lately. Ramirez and Bruney were disgusting tonight, and cost the Yankees their playoff clinch. 5-0 lead and they each gave up two walks, a hit, and 3 earned runs, for a total of 6, while only recording an out each. 5-0 to 6-5 with only two outs obtained. DISGUSTING.

So my Yankees ALDS bullpen:
Rivera
Chamberlain
Vizcaino
Farnsworth
Ohlendorf
Villone
Hughes

That's 11 pitchers. I don't see them carrying more than that needing only 3-4 starters, especially because pinch-runners can be so important in October, so the extra roster spot is better used there.

How do I feel about the Yankees pitching? Pretty good, much better than in any year since 2003. Pettitte and Clemens are upgrades over Randy Johnson and Jaret Wright, mark that down, and that makes all the difference in the world. Bumping Mussina back from a Game 2 starter to Game 4 or not at all in the ALDS is also a good thing. I think they will get good, but not great, starting pitching. Easily good enough to win if the offense shows. The bullpen will be outstanding with a lead, probably the best since 1996, which says something considering how good it was in every year until 2002. Joba Chamberlain just adds another dimension, much like Rivera in 1996. Guys like him don't stay relievers long, and if they do, definitely aren't set-up men. But he is, and he can give you two explosive innings. Having him there now though, in front of a guy with a postseason ledger like Rivera, is a huge plus, and a huge opportunity. Shortens the game maybe like no other team playing in October can. You have 6 innings to get to the Yankees starter. If you don't, and they get to yours and have a lead in the 7th, goodnight.

If A-Rod and the offense come to play, the pitching is good enough to win a World Series. Period.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Six More Games: Six ROB Questions (Part 1)

By ROB, I mean "Rest Of Baseball." It's too bad that we haven't been able to keep up much about the rest of baseball this year. I know my boy JB out in St. Louis has been dying for some Cardinals stuff, but I think both Pat and I have learned this season that it's a hell of an undertaking just keeping track of what's going on in the AL East. Maybe this season's not a typical season--with the Yankees sucking so badly and then coming back in the way they have--but it's been crazy. Some questions about the ROB as we come into the last game of the season:

1. Who will win the NL East? More importantly, perhaps, will we see a comeback from Big Ticket here on the blog? That's been a pretty good race/collapse in its own right. I think the Mets are a team better equipped for the playoffs as their pitching is better. John Maine and Oliver Perez have returned to earth a little bit, Glavine is still Glavine (the best #2 starter in the history of baseball, I've called him that for a decade now), and Pedro should be a good guy to come to the rescue--or at least the best upper-30s pitcher who just had his shoulder rebuilt available to come to the rescue. Reyes is slumping in a big, big, big way lately. Del-I-Got-Out -Again is hitting .250. Wright and Beltran have amassed really good season-long stats as I've been watching the American League.

Good for the Phillies to come back, though. This is a team that had like six blown saves in six games at the beginning of the season. But, as the Yankees were, they were a beneficiary of baseball evening itself out over the course of 162, and got back into the race. It's obviously pretty surprising that Brett Myers became the closer, and more surprising that Cole Hamels and 23-year-old Kyle Kendrick have become pretty much the 1-2 punch, both posting ERAs under 4. Poor Tom Gordon sucks, enough said. Adam Eaton and Jamie Moyer don't scare me either.

Aaron Rowand finally became the player that PF has drooled over for so many years. They have two legit MVP candidates in Howard and especially Rollins, who has 18 triples. Eighteen triples. That's awesome. Howard's chasing history, and by striking out one more time, he will be making history at 196. Okay. That'll make it a little bit harder for Wily Mo Pena to break the record next year with the Nats. The thing that makes me wonder about the Phillies the most is the fact that JC Romero has been the guy who (with Myers) has turned it around for the bullpen. His ERA is well under 2. This is where Pat goes into a rant about how much the NL sucks.

2. How much does Pat want to see the Padres in the playoffs? We got Peavy, who succeeded in a big way in his make-or-break 2007 season. Then there's Chris Young, who's another future ace as long as he doesn't screw it up. Those two are among the league's best pitchers, and they're on the same team. This team is a really good playoff sleeper pick, just because of the Padres' ability to have two front-line starters in short series. If they make it.

3. How much does the NL Central suck? They were writing off the Cubs about 10% of the amount of times they wrote off the Yankees this year (which is still a lot of times). On June 3rd, they were 8 games under .500 and 7.5 games out. Then they surged, but Alfonso Soriano went down. Their season was done at that point, according to many. During his absence, they went 9-11. And gained three games in the NL Central, catapulting them into first place. The Brewers have a good pitcher in Sheets, two good hitters in Braun and Fielder, and a good closer in Cordero. Let's just say they're about as deep as Lil Jon lyrics.

It's getting late, I'll work on the AL tomorrow.

Red Sox as "America's Team"

In the past month or so a number of publicatons have run stories talking about the Red Sox as "America's Team", because of the way they draw on the road. I guess these writers/publications/media outlets think it is a big deal because it is the first time in a long time the Yankees aren't leading the league "overall" (very important) in road attendance.

Let me just say that I don't care in the least about who "America's Team" is. In fact, that is one of the dumbest things I have ever come across in baseball. "America's Team"? Find something to write about.

There is something that bothers me about this dumb idea though, and that is how dumb the various authors/publications/media outlets are, one of which is USA Today, who more should be expected of. They write this big article about the Red Sox trumping the Yankees as "America's Team", citing as their main evidence the fact that the Red Sox have outdrawn the Yankees on the road.

I don't have all the math, like many NY publications have had recently, but two problems. 1) This edge was beyond minute. About 1,000 per game or so. Hardly substantial enough to make a big fuss over. 2) How can you spend all this time and energy writing a big feature article, with the goal of making some sort of groundbreaking proclomation, and overlook the ultra-significant fact that Yankee Stadium holds just over 20,000 more fans than Fenway Park? The Sox get 9 road games, or 11% of their total road schedule, with 20,000+ extra fans per game in comparison to the Yankees in those same 9 games at Fenway. That is more than 180,000 extra fans the Red Sox gain and the Yankees lose on the road because of their head-to-head games at each other's parks.

Like I said, I don't have the numbers, but the NY media did, and when you factor this in the Yankees have a substantial edge in road attendancem, far morso than the Red Sox before you factor this in. This means they outdraw the Red Sox at non-head-to-head road games across baseball. Which pretty much nullifies the ENTIRE point of the articles like the one in USA Today. How do you make an oversight like this? Doing so is even dumber than the subject matter of "America's Team" to begin with.

If you are going to write about a dumb topic, at least get your facts strait. You look like a joke when you are USA Today and you don't. Really. Your only job is to research, report, and write accurately. You're not suppossed to get the small stuff wrong, let along the big stuff. This was big stuff. Bad spot by these guys.

HYD to Break it Down

I can't wait for next Sunday for two reasons. 1) The LSATs are on Saturday, meaning on Sunday they will be over, hopefully forever. 2) The end of the regular season and the beginning of the most exciting time of my sports year, October baseball.

This is going to be a week of pretty meaningless baseball games in my book. Really, anything could happen amongst the Yankees, Red Sox, Indians, and Angels in terms of seeding and matchups, but as I said last week, I just don't care. What I care about is lining up Pettitte, Wang, Clemens, and Mussina/Kennedy the way Torre wants them (which hopefully will coincide with the way I want them), and giving Rivera, Chamberlain, Vizcaino, Jeter, A-Rod, Posada, Matsui, Abreu, and Cano the rest that they need.

Boston, Cleveland, and Anaheim probably care a lot about that as well. But Boston has to win the division. Winning the Wild Card is not an option. Cleveland and Anaheim probably care a lot about the top seed too.

Either way, I'm going to try to get the postseason breakdowns, predictions, etc. started on the blog this week so we can have ample time to discuss everything going on, especially Yankees/Red Sox-wise. Hopefully DV has the time to get it going with me. Going to be good.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Weekend Update

If you couldn't tell, this was originally supposed to be a comment, but it got too long and I have the power to make it into a post.

The worst part is that DV is still slightly upset that he was wrong, as opposed to being happy that the Sox won and the Yanks lost a heart breaker in 14.
-John.

Thanks for putting thoughts into my head. For the record, by the way the Yankees have been playing, there's no such thing as a "heartbreaker." They won in dramatic fashion in extra innings today. I got to watch it on YES Network here in Saratoga Springs. Wonderful.

I was actually quite impressed with last night's pitching matchup in Boston. Didn't see anything about what happened in New York, but it looked like a pretty sick start by Halladay. Of course, his boys couldn't hold the lead, forcing the extra-inning business.

Beckett pitched very well after recovering from a horrible first inning. In the first inning, I was very scared that we'd see "the bad Beckett" from 2006--the one who has one really, really bad inning before getting it back together for the rest.

A lot like Matsuzaka in 2007.

Only thing you can really say was that his bad first inning made the Red Sox reliant on dudes like Gagne earlier in the game instead of...well...not at all. It's also worth noting that Gagne did record his second 1-2-3 inning since July 26, and his second in the last week. Too bad in the middle of those two, he pitched the way he did on Tuesday.

Kazmir pitched the worst I've ever seen him pitch against the Red Sox last night. When he could find the plate, he pitched quite well. He made Lowell look stupid repeatedly. Fortunately for Boston, he couldn't find the plate. He walked guys and let them get into the hands of Dioner Navarro (in other words, those baserunners scored). He racked up his pitch count so their bullpen studs with 9+ ERAs would also have to pitch early instead of not at all.

Last night was a big relief. It's funny how 2.5 games makes me feel better now. And tonight should be a bigger relief barring two disasters: A Red Sox choke AND a Tigers comeback. I can't watch it because there's no NESN in Albany and the ESPN tickers are only featuring college football scores. All I'm going to be able to do is check the scores in the morning.

But I'm hoping when I wake up, I don't see any televised celebrations about the Red Sox clinching a playoff spot. Because they should be playing to win the division.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Beckett vs. Kazmir and Wang vs. Halladay

While I am not concerned with who wins the division (and if I am, it is unorthodox...see post below), I am following it closely, and have looked into it heavily. Based on what I see for pitching matchups the rest of the way, tonight is important.

If the Yankees somehow come out of tonight gaining ground, they will probably win the division.

If the Red Sox gain a game on the Yankees, they will probably win the division.

If the come out even, I'd say it's a toss up. The Yankees have a tougher schedule for the rest of the weekend, and the Red Sox have a harder go the rest of the way, especially matchup wise. So tonight could sway it one way or the other.

Wang is always tough at home. Halladay is always tough on the Yankees. Wash. Kazmir owns the Red Sox, but I see Beckett coming up huge tonight to get his 20th win. This team does have 90 wins, they aren't just going to keep losing, and I don't see them losing behind Beckett tonight.

And since winning the division is ultimately very important to the Red Sox (much moreso than the Yankees) in every way (mostly psychologically), they would do well not to lose behind Beckett tonight. With the Yankees facing Halladay, it is a big opportunity to give a cushion. At the very least, it is a chance for Boston to stabalize themselves, and not lose ground, on a night when the Yankees have their ace going. At this point in the season, little things like not losing ground when the team chasing you has their ace going really counts. But if the Yankees even it off in the loss column in about 7 hours, while Boston has their ace going, the Red Sox will have a tough time winning the AL East.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Go Red Sox!

Yup, that's right. I'm as big a Yankees fan as you will find, and with the Yankees 1 back in the loss column and 10 games to go, I want the Red Sox to start winning.

Why?

I only care about one thing: winning the World Series.

The Yankees are starting to make it look too easy again. Way too easy. Combine that sense of complacency with the the sense of achievement that they would derive from erasing a 14.5 game deficit and winning their 10th strait division, handing their biggest rival one of, if not the biggest regular season embarassments of all time, and what do you get? A team that is NOT playing with a chip on its shoulder.

I've been down that road before. That road, the one of complacency and entitlement, leads to first round playoff exits. Winning this division, while it would be hilarious and spiteful at the same time for so many reasons, is going to lead to the biggest sense of complacency and entitlement of all time. That might mean a first round sweep, and the Yankees wouldn't be the ones doing the sweeping.

I was at the Stadium tonight. You can just feel it. The players, the fans, maybe even the coaches. The Yankees are making it look easy. Winning 12-0, winning 2-1, Mo getting out of bases loaded jams whenever he wants, its all too easy and its all going the Yankees way. And since the Wild Card is all but locked up, everybody is playing with house money in terms of Boston and the division, and this makes everything even easier. When the Boston score went 6-1, everybody went nuts. But it wasn't a "YES! Boston lost and maybe we have a chance to finally win a division!" cheer like the Phillies might have, or Boston if it was the other way around. It was a "HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA I can't believe this is happening again" cheer.

I don't like that attittude. I like the team that had a chip on their shoulder because they played terrible baseball early and had to play great baseball late just to scratch out the Wild Card. I liked that team that looked at Boston with disdain because they were ahead in the standings and on their way to taking the division from the Yankees for the first time in 10 years. I liked that team that wasn't going to get a chance, for the first time in a long time, to prove ANYTHING until October.

Now it looks like they might prove something during the regular season, again, and this time it will be bigger than anything they've proven during the regular season before. By my theory, this is not a good thing. Erasing a 14.5 game lead would be a huge accomplishment, but it would also be a joke because of the circumstances. No team should have a 14.5 game lead erased. The fact that it is the Yankees catching Boston in historic fashion, again, makes it almost silly.

And what does catching Boston get you, especially if you don't end up with a better record than Cleveland or Anaheim, besides a sense of complacency, achievement, and entitlement? Nothing. Historically, homefield advantage in a 5 game series matters zilch, and it certainly hasn't for the Yankees recently.

So I don't even want the division. I want that team with the chip I saw on it's shoulder in July and August and September prior to the last three days. The one that doesn't care if it has to play Anaheim in Anaheim on October 2. The one that not only wants, but needs to win the World Series to prove something, not just win another almost meaningless division and lose again in the First Round of the playoffs. Go Red Sox, take the East. I want the chip. The Yankees need it in October.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Francona: I Don't Want To Win

So manager Terry Francona justified his leaving in of embattled/ineffective reliever Eric Gagne instead of warming up/bringing in Papelbon last night. His excuse was that he wanted to see how Gagne would do in a pressure situation. It was a barometer of how much he was going to be trusted in the postseason, so Francona left him out there to see if he could work through it.

That's actually not a bad idea. It's good to judge whether a guy is totally wrecked versus whether he'd be a playoff asset. And if it means losing a game, it's not that big of a deal...

IF YOU'RE WINNING THE DIVISION BY MORE THAN THREE AND A HALF GAMES!

The Red Sox are now in the "lose it all in one weekend" mode, and that's an absolute embarrassment considering all the opportunities they had to bury the Yankees. They're putting a seasoned veteran of three major league appearances to be the stopper and the guy to prevent a sweep. I feel no better than I felt last night. Because the Red Sox still don't deserve to win the division.

The division is reserved for people who prioritize winning baseball games.

Save Him For Later

You might want to sit down for a while, because here comes the bus. Jon Lester does not get the privilege of getting thrown under it, because he actually pitched a hell of a game tonight. Pretty much everyone else does, though. To sum up my thoughts (and to prove that I'm not a 20/20 hindsighter--though I don't think anyone is in this case because you could see it coming from a mile away), I'll reprint what I said Sunday afternoon:

The previously-linked Lynn Daily Item article asked why Francona didn't put in Eric Gagne. That's mostly because Eric is a bad, bad man. The last time he had a 1-2-3 inning was July 26th. He's terrible, and should not be trusted in a 5-run game or closer.

Ironically, Sunday he had his first 1-2-3 inning since July 26th. By comparison, Hideki Okajima (who's been awful) has had five. Manny Delcarmen has had four. Even the much-maligned, horrid, abysmal Kyle Farnsworth had eight in this span. Granted, it helps when you pitch everyday and you're facing the evening out process after a deplorable first half, but still! Eight!

But no, Terry Francona decided that with a three-and-a-half-game lead in the American League East, and the Yankees winning by 7 runs on the scoreboard, to put in Gagne anyway. And hey, Gagne got a 1-2 inning.

Papelbon has had nine 1-2-3 innings since July 26th. And where was he? Tossing in the bullpen, getting ready at a pace with absolutely no urgency. There are telephones between the dugout and the bullpen, but it looks like nobody wanted to make the call and tell him to hurry the hell up. Gagne surrendered a walk, overthrowing every ball and hideously missing the strike zone...well, not all the time, but more than 4/7 of the time, which is enough to walk a guy.

Then came a single. This is when most people with a brain would think "oh crap, Gagne doesn't have it. Seeing that he's sucked since Independence Day, it might be a good time to start thinking about Papelbon getting a 4-out save." Papelbon, by the way, has nine 1-2-3 innings since July 26.

Then came another walk, loading the bases. Almost hit the guy. Still no Papelbon. Then Gagne almost throws a wild pitch and almost hits another guy. Tie game. Still no Papelbon, and I wouldn't count on the Red Sox without Manny, Youkilis, AND Crisp (or "with Moss" if you don't want to give Coco any offensive credit...or "with Drew" if you're me) to break this tie.

Then Gagne gave up the game-breaker. 4-2 Blue Jays. Game pretty much over. DV pretty much furious. So here comes the bus. Sometimes I will write in the second person. Sometimes I will write in the third person. I'm not going to be consistent, but right now I'm so mad that I don't care. I just talked to Pat on the phone for 37 minutes, and he said I was as heated as I've ever been except for Anibal Sanchez Day.

Gagne: You can't throw 102 miles an hour anymore. It's 2007, Eric, not 2004. Blowing it by hitters isn't going to work. If you try to do it and miss the strike zone by three feet consistently, it doesn't mean "try harder and you'll get a strike next time."

Captain Intangible*: The fastball is not working. He's missing by three feet every single time he's throwing it. Don't go with the fastball. I could start about Matsuzaka's pitch calls or the pitch calls during Schilling's one-hitter, but it's not even necessary. Tonight was abysmal. The excuse of "he brings a lot of intangibles to the team" may still work for other people, but as everyone who reads this blog knows, it only goes so far with me. The excuse of "he calls great games" was stealthily creeping out the window with Matsuzaka and Schilling, then coming back in the window with Buchholz's no hitter, but tonight it leaped right through the pane. "Let's almost hit guys and walk runs in until a 1-run game is a tie game" is not a good game plan. There is no longer any excuse for the fact that you are hitting .251 again. (P.S. Huge props to both my boy Matt and PF for helping me with this one.)

*It has been brought to my attention that Red Sox fans, including Sons of Sam Horn, have referred to Derek Jeter as "Captain Intangibles," and this practice has probably gone on for longer than I've used the nickname for Varitek. The thing about Jeter is that he's about a lot more than intangibles. You know I hate the guy--if you don't, go ahead and look at my last posts--but he does lots of tangible things. 200 hits a year is a tangible thing. All those home runs against the Red Sox are tangible things. Hitting .340 and .320 in back-to-back years is a tangible thing. I wrote last fall (before the days of this blog) that Jeter deserved to win MVP for the things he did on the field in 2006. He's been almost just as good this year--and all these things he's done have been tangible.

Hitting .236 and .251 in back-to-back years is not bringing a lot of "tangibles" to the team. Not to mention the fact that he has fewer than 30 extra-base hits. So the real "Captain Intangible" is Jason Varitek. As Bill Simmons would say, back to the column.

Manny Ramirez: People gave Nomar heat for sitting out the big games against the Yankees in 2004. I've always come to your sore back, but at some point, enough is enough. Last year may have been different, because the rest of the team shut it down, too. Now it's a pennant race. You take swings in BP. That means you can swing. If it means you get hurt while belting a home run, so be it. You have the rest of the season to walk it off. Shut the hell up and get back into the lineup. Brandon Moss is not going to help the Red Sox win games.

Nancy Drew: You've gotten singles and walked lately, which is different from the last...well...few months. But you came advertised as "JD Drew not only has a great bat, but he's awesome in the field. He has great field instincts. He has great speed. He has great range. He's going to get to a lot of fly balls out there." These advertisements have not stopped, even though the hitting has. But what the hell was that tonight? Russ Adams hits one deep down the right field line, and you run in the wrong direction, take the wrong angle, and let the ball go over your head. Absolutely pathetic. You are by far the most frustrating baseball player I have ever seen in my entire life. Mark Bellhorn and Wily Mo Pena may have been chasing history (and by history, I mean the single-season strikeout record), but the frustration brought by their presence in the Red Sox lineup pales in comparison to the fact that you're in that lineup.

The fact that you will continue to do that--and continue to make 14 million dollars a year to suck as much as you do--until October 2, 2011, is too much for me to swallow right now.

In Little League, you put guys in right field because they suck. 85% of Little Leaguers are right-handed, and the vast majority are righty pull hitters. Therefore, Little League right fielders are put in right field because they are not going to get the ball hit to them. When the ball is hit to them, they probably won't catch it. It might hit them in the head because they have no coordination to get the glove up there. They might misjudge it and let it get by them.

Meanwhile, in the Major Leagues, you don't expect that to happen. Tonight, it looked like Nancy Drew was watching the dandelions grow out in right field at Rotary Park. Because he misjudged that ball like a 12-year-old right fielder.

Terry Francona: I am generally not a Francona-hater; my dad fills that role plenty here at home. I applauded him earlier in the season for going to Papelbon for a couple of four-out saves. I applauded him earlier in the season for not burning out Papelbon by Joe Torre'ing the crap out of him. I refrained from throwing him under the bus on Friday night. But tonight he made two egregious errors.

1. As previously mentioned, Eric Gagne was brought into a game where he was protecting a one-run lead. There have been absolutely no indications in the last sixty days that Eric Gagne is even remotely capable of protecting a one-run lead. "Oh, we have to restore his confidence," Francona might say. Let me pull out a Yellowcard reference here: "Not tonight, not here, not now." You do not do this kind of crap when a loss means you are now 2.5 games ahead of the Yankees in the American League East. You can restore all the confidence you want once you clinch 1) a playoff spot, 2) the East, and 3) the best record in the American League. Right now is not the time to dick around; it's the time to panic and win some freaking ball games. And if you're trying to win ballgames, you don't put your second-worst pitcher in there with the game on the line.

2. Papelbon threw in the bullpen while all these things were going on. There were plenty of opportunities to stall. There were plenty of opportunities to make the move. Are we still prioritizing Eric Gagne's confidence over securing this game by bringing in Papelbon after the first walk? The first hit? The second walk? The third walk? The second hit? The two-run deficit? Apparently we are, because apparently we're retarded.

You play to win the game, not to restore confidence.

And you play to win the game, not to save Papelbon's arm for "more important" games. Francona could use that excuse for not giving Papelbon four-out save opportunities when they had a 14.5-game lead. There is a time to save Papelbon's arm, but again--as Yellowcard sang--"not tonight, not here, not now." Right now, THERE ARE NO "MORE IMPORTANT GAMES!" THERE ARE TEN GAMES LEFT IN THE SEASON! Those "more important games" are currently right in front of you. And, like Dennis Green, you let them get away while a stiff got lit up and while the star closer continued to play soft-toss in the bullpen. That's absolutely pathetic.

I am well aware that this is my second implosion in the last three weeks. But by the way this team's playing, I'm very much entitled to this. As Pat said, facing Kazmir, Santana, and Blanton, 4-6 is not out of the question for the Red Sox in the last ten games. Especially without Manny. The Yankees have Baltimore, Tampa Bay, and Toronto, and if the Sox go 4-6, all they need is 7-4. You may say "Baltimore has the Yankees' number all year," but, as my boy says, those three teams are a big reason the Yankees got back into the race during the infamous "stretch." Two and a half games is nothing.

And frankly, the Yankees deserve to win this division a hell of a lot more than the Red Sox do.

Here Comes DV

I just talked to DV, and I can say with a lot of confidence that he is probably going to light this blog on fire with his next post. I had a big explosion back in June, but I can't explode like DV can. Watch out.

All I will say before this gets buried (as it should), is that Mike Mussina appears to be back. He was outstanding tonight. I'd like to see him against a better offense before the playoffs, but it doesn't look like I'll get that. Either way, him pitching like this, with his experience, is big for the Yankes in October.

Also, 2 in the loss column. Just outrageous. It doesn't matter what happens the rest of the way. Red Sox hold on. Yankees overtake the division. The Tigers are done, so who wins the division is not the story. The story is the fact that it is this close after a 14.5 game lead, when the Red Sox had so many opportunities to bury the Yankees. Weather the Yankees didn't let them or the Sox just didn't do it, it didn't happen, and that is incredible.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

It Wants to Stay Interesting

As John noted in the comments section of a post earlier today, the Sox do have a playoff spot locked up. Conventional wisdom would tell you they have the East in hand, but even if they don't, they are 7 games up on Detroit in terms of the Wild Card, and ultimately that is going to be good enough for the playoffs, which is what is most important

But the AL East race just will not go away, and that is important on some level too. Everytime it looks like "okay, now it's over", like it looked on Saturday, the Yankees pick up a few quick games. While it is still a long shot, it just isn't out of the question yet. I have talked about it for the Yankees, and more than one guy has mentioned it for the Sox. Resting your guys for October is very important, especially in the last week. But winning the AL East does have advantages over the Wild Card, obviously, so as long as it stays just close enough, neither team is likely to do this. The Sox don't want to lose it and the Yankees want to win it, so they will keep playing until it is a mathamatical done deal.

Both teams entered tonight's action 1-4 in games following their first five series finales against each other. That in itself shows how seriously they take each and every one of those games, regardless of standings.

The Sox went to 1-5 on a tough loss. Dustin McGowan is a good young pitcher with some serious stuff. Wakefield is going to have problems against power hitters with total upper body swings like Frank Thomas. They can react late and still swing hard, all with the arms, which is a good equation for success against a knuckleball. Pretty much sums the game up it looked like, other than I'm sure getting Manny back can't come soon enough.

The Yankeens went to 2-4, with a quality, energetic win. Phil Hughes got down 2-0 early, struggling in the first inning like he always does, then settling in to locdown mode like he always does. YES showed a stat that he has something like a 10.80 ERA through his first 30 pitches, and a 2.40 ERA pitches 31 and on. Be nice if he could get that figured out, but at least he really settles down. Flashed the first consistently good series of changeups since returning from injury, which is a good sign. We'll talk a lot about playoff previews for both teams soon (and pitching is very interesting for both sides), but I would think Hughes is the favorite to be the Yankees' fourth starter, so monitoring him the last two weeks is big. Nice to see Matsui break out of a 30-something game homerless streak with an absolute missle.

I want it to be over and don't want it to be over at the same time. Either way, it just won't go away, as the AL East stays interesting.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Schilling in too Long? Should the Sox have pitched to Jeter?

Those are two topics that got a lot of play in New York today. A few guys already touched on Schilling in the comments sections, with people on both sides. Nobody talked about the Jeter issue yet I don't think.

As for Schilling, he pitched great. His pitch count was obscenely low. But this is the 8th inning, he is getting hit, and he is being asked to go through the Yankees lineup a fourth time. I would have thought about taking him out after the Douggie M. single, because I am a big fan of pitchers being on a "1-2-3 inning or get yanked" program that late in tight games like that. After the Giambi double, he is definitely out in my book. But there are different schools of thought on that.

As for Jeter, I hadn't really thought about it myself until I heard so much about it today. A lot of people are killing the Red Sox for pitching to him with first base open. He crushes the Red Sox, leads the majors in AVG. with two outs and runners in scoring position, he is in a slump so he is even more due, etc. I'm not sure how in or out I am on it. Bobby Abreu, who has great career numbers vs. Schilling and is built for Fenway Park with his penchant to go the other way, especially for doubles, is on deck. It is sort of a pick your poison in my eyes. But the argument could be made, much like Ortiz against the Yankees, make somebody else beat you.

This is what all the Yankee haters were going bananas about today on the radio anyway. Get Schilling out and don't pitch to Jeter. Thoughts?

Pat F Apologizes

I already wrote this in one of the comments, but the more I think about it, the more unecessary me gettig on Dustin Pedroia was last night. I was frustrated and vented mid-game, with a 1-1 score, and the possibility of that sort of emotional finish looming. The Yankees ended up winning the game, and it burned me, and looks bad on my part for commenting in a complaining way mid-game, in a game my team won. If it had been the other way around, I probably would not have been happy either.

We have largely stayed away from in-game chatter on this blog, and judging from how that goes on other blogs, particularly during Yankees/Red Sox, this is a good thing. So I'm sorry for using my priveledge as a poster to take us down that path.

The baseball discussion we have had on this blog has been at a very high level since we started it in January. I was just thinking yesterday, with the commentary we had going before the game, how much fun this as been for me (and I know the same goes for DV), because I love baseball, and intelligent baseball conversation so much, and we have a group of readers/commentors who are the exact same way. Every one of the 12-15 regulars we have all bring a lot to the table in the way of really good baseball discussion, and that is what this is all about for DV and I. High quality baseball talk.

And I think by me getting after Pedroia the way I have the last two weeks has probably diminished that a bit. Listen, the guy annoys me, as do a bunch of other Red Sox. A million Yankees annoy the Sox fans. We could spend all day every day listing the things we don't like about the other teams' players, but that wouldn't be any good. Everything we love about our players are the things we loathe about the other teams' players, and Jeter/Pedroia is a prime example. A reasonable amount is expected, but I probably took it a little over the top, especially mid-game. The last thing I want to do is annoy the Sox readers we have, much like DV wouldn't want to annoy our Yankees readers.

Anyway, I don't want to take us down a chippy or overly chirpy road. This blog has been awesome because of the good baseball discussion, and I'm going to get back to it.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Just a Regular Yankees/Red Sox Game

Two great pitchers giving big efforts. Drama swinging one way, drama swinging the other way, drama every way. And it wouldn't be a game if it didn't come down to Rivera and Ortiz.

Big win for the Yankees, especially considering the way it ended. Losing on a Rivera blown save would have been devastating, not only for the Wild Card, but for the psyche of a team that would have been trying to protect a 1.5 game lead over a surging team. DV and I exchanged a few texts late in the game, at 4-1. I didn't say it to him, but I was thinking it. It would get interesting in the bottom of the 9th. You never want to doubt Rivera as a Yankees fan, but it wasn't really about him. It was just a feeling that the Red Sox would rally and make it interesting, which they did and then some.

Derek Jeter has hit 11 home runs in 149 games. 6 of them have come in 18 games vs. the Red Sox, averaging one per series. He has hit 5 in the remaining 131 games, 2 of which came in 6 games against the Mets. So 8 home runs in 24 games against the Yankees two biggest rivals, 3 in 125 games against everybody else in baseball. Just like a lot of things with him, there is no one way to describe or explain it. He just has that "it" factor, always did, always will. If he could play all 162 games against the Red Sox, he'd hit 54 home runs.

Clemens and Schilling were both on their game, and showed that they can be effective for their teams in big spots in October (if the Yankees get there, of course). Clemens had a little extra giddy up tonight, and at 45, it appeared that 13 days off helped. Unfortunately, you can't get that inbetween every start. Schilling looks very relaxed and fluid out there, and is really locating everything. He isn't just pounding the strike zone with four-seamers like he used to. Now it's two-seamer, cutter, curve, slider, change, pretty much everything but the split for a strike at any time. Questionable decision by Francona to leave Schilling in after the Giambi double. I don't think it had as much to do with pitch count (which was low) or fatigue (though it could have factored in), as much as it did asking him to go through the Yankees lineup for a fourth time. Sure enough Jeter got him.

At some point, the Yankees will scout Mike Lowell and realize he has no power to the opposite field, but tremendous power to left. He is a pull hitter as true as they come, with very little lower body movement, and really quick and strong wrists. I'd rather him bat 1.000 against us with single after single to center or right than watch him continue to drill homer over The Monster after double down the line after groundball through third and short. And seriously, if you are going to pitch him in, put a shift on. If he can catch up to a Joba fastball and park it, he can park most anything.

Speaking of Joba Chamberlain, no, I'm not concerned he gave up his first earned run. It was going to happen, and he needs to live and learn. No matter how fast you throw, you can't throw a first pitch fastball to a great fastball hitter like Lowell and expect to get away with it. I'm more impressed by the fact that he came back and struck out J.D. Drew looking right after. The strikeout to Drew, much like Pedroia, was on the curve, both looking. He only threw two curves, the second and third he has thrown all season on my count, and they were both nasty. 78 mph, located. 98 mph fastball, 88 mph slider, 78 mph curve, and a change we haven't seen, but I'd imagine it is around 80 mph. 20 mph difference from fastest to slowest with that kind of movement is a lot to handle. Even though he gave up his first earned run and first bomb, to the Red Sox no less, Joba is still the thing. That curve is silly.

I get the feeling the Red Sox are generally unaffected mentally, at least outwardly, by this loss. They seemed to play relaxed and with confidence all weekend. It is probably a good disposition to have. They have a relatively comfortable lead, and have earned that right. But somewhere inside it has to tick that they started 3-0 and 5-1 vs. the Yankees on the season and finished it 3-9 to go 8-10 overall. The Yankees handed them 10 of their 60 losses. It speaks to the way they played against everybody else though, and at the end of the day, Yankees/Red Sox is not as important as the best record in baseball, which they have.

The Yankees are 8-2 in their last 10 and have still somehow lost two games to Detroit, who has won 5 in a row, over that stretch. You can look at that two ways. 1) Oh no. Or 2) It could have easily been worse, thankfully the Yankees are playing very well while they are this hot. You just have to hope they don't stay this hot for the next two weeks, or the Yankees are going to have their hands full.

Is the division over? It is tough to say it is or isn't. The Yankees would have to play out of their minds the last two weeks and the Red Sox would have to go on a losing streak. The better question is do I care, to which the answer is no. I am much more concerned with locking up the Wild Card soon, so that you can rest the guys you need to rest, and lineup your rotation for October. I may not get that, but it is what I want, because it makes a big difference in the playoffs. A lot of Yankees position players have played a lot of games, and even young guys like Cano could benefit from a few days, let alone older guys that are banged up like Jeter and Matsui.

Finally, it isn't lost on me, and shouldn't be lost on any Yankees fan, that Manny Ramirez didn't play this weekend. If we are going to talk about our pitching staff being injured the first two series, Ramirez being out is more than legitimate here, because they rely on Ramirez as much as we rely on any of our pitchers. Still, a series win is a series win, and one more step toward October baseball.

Pedroia Makes Unnecessary Diving Plays

Dustin Pedroia continues to do more things to annoy me. That ball he dove for to throw out Melky was the second in as many days he could have walked to, stood for a few seconds, ordered a steak, then bent down and picked up, and still get the runner. But Dustin Pedroia has Napoleonic Complex and needs to act intense to make up for his lack of height, so he dove for it.

-Pat F, September 16, 2007, "Between The Umpires and Dustin Pedroia."

Pat, usually we can accept each other's dislike for each other's team's players, but this is a little bit too far. Maybe it's because I just watched the game with frequent posters Matt and John, but shut up about this "Pedroia dives for balls he shouldn't dive for" nonsense.

July 1, 2004 was the date of the most drama-queen, unnecessary diving play perhaps in the history of baseball. You know exactly which one it was, and just in case you forgot, you can refer to the photo to the right of this text. Saying that Pedroia dives for balls he doesn't have to dive for and he does it just to keep up his image of a hard worker while being as in love with Derek Jeter as you are is just like saying that Barry Bonds is a scumbag at the same time you say Jason Giambi or Rick Ankiel deserve the Comeback Player of the Year award. Give me a freaking break.

Honestly, I steered relatively clear of the most recent "Pedroia sucks because of his attitude" discussion because I can see quite clearly why Pat (and other Yankee fans) don't like him or Youkilis. But you know that the Yankees (especially Jeter) do the same friggin thing. Jeter tells Torre he wants to play...and the entire New York media writes all about how he's a model citizen and the best Yankee ever and he plays so hard and can do no wrong. Jeter does his little cute fist-pump thing and, whoa, whoa, he's such a champion, he's so intense. Jeter throws A-Rod under the bus and for some reason, he's a true Yankee for doing it. Shut up.

A-Rod tries really hard to cultivate his image (a no-nonsense, hard-working kinda guy, just like every other Yankee), too. He writes books about how a (good-looking, biracial) kid named Alex got up before sunrise to practice baseball before school. He tells the reporter how he's running stairs at 6:30 AM while everyone else in baseball is driving their kids to school or sleeping. Only thing about A-Rod is that he sucks at cultivating his image. All I gotta say is--good thing he's good at baseball.

I could go on forever about Jeter. Tied for second place in the most annoying things Jeter has done would include the Play Against Oakland (where Jeremy Giambi was safe...but the umps obviously have it out for the Yankees, right Pat) and the Play Crashing Into Cano. Considering that Giambi was safe, neither of those plays were overly impressive.

First place, of course, would be that play against Boston. Jeter made the catch at a reasonably fast speed. He then took five steps before launching himself into the left field stands. In those five steps, he probably could have slowed himself down and stopped himself by putting his hands against the wall. He could have slid to slow himself down. But no. He had to bust his face open like an absolute idiot, just so he could get his name in the papers. Pokey Reese, by the way, made a more difficult, more impressive catch on a similar play. Only differences were 1) Reese's catch was actually made in foul ground and at least two steps closer to the stands and 2) Reese didn't launch himself into the stands as much as Jeter did.

I know that this post will be buried quickly, as we both have much to say about this baseball game. But Pat saying that Pedroia dives after balls he doesn't have to dive for--and he does it just to elevate his image--is one of the most absurd things ever written on this blog.

Between the Umpires and Dustin Pedroia...

I don't know how much more of this game I can take. The umpiring has been terrible for all 30 teams all season, and that is just another example. It is one thing to miss close plays, it is another to miss ones that aren't close. The ball was in the dirt when his foot hit the bag. Cost the Yankees a run.

Dustin Pedroia continues to do more things to annoy me. That ball he dove for to throw out Melky was the second in as many days he could have walked to, stood for a few seconds, ordered a steak, then bent down and picked up, and still get the runner. But Dustin Pedroia has Napoleonic Complex and needs to act intense to make up for his lack of height, so he dove for it.

This game has the feeling of a Yankees loss. We will see.

38 Bitches (Volume 12)

Okay, lots of different things to touch base on so far in this series. Time for 38 Bitches.

1. The Nashua Pride won the Can-Am League Championship on Friday. Therefore, I didn't get to see any of the abomination that was Friday night's Red Sox game. But I heard that it had something to do with Francona leaving in Okajima, who has been thoroughly Joe Torre'd for the season. Not a good thing to know with the postseason looming. I heard it also involved Papelbon getting lit up. Yuck. If I had written this before Game 2, I would have been more angry. I would have sent another copy of the memo: Don't get swept.

2. Obviously, they did not get swept. Beckett pitched another impressive performance on Saturday, and the Red Sox got to a very human Wang. He was not inducing many ground outs at all, so he was clearly not on his game. The fact that each reliever that went in walked a guy also doesn't help. And as Tim McCarver says, walks are just as good as home runs.

3. Boston Dirt Dogs is on Nancy Watch right now, linking to a few articles in his defense. An interesting one is from Seth Mnookin's blog, where he says that Nancy is the key to the Red Sox offense. I absolutely agree. It seems that whenever the guy hits, the Red Sox win. Whenever he chokes, they lose. His ability to get a big hit in a big spot has to have affected the outcome of Red Sox games at least twenty times this year. Unfortunately, about 65% of those games were games where he failed to get the big hit, instead grounding weakly to second base.

Mnookin writes that Drew's .305 June was "fantastic." A .404 OBP is somewhat admirable, but he's come close to having ENTIRE SEASONS at .404 for an OBP. He went .305/4/15. On that pace, he'd have 24 home runs and 90 RBI over the course of the season, which still isn't worth 14 million a year. Far from "fantastic." It should be interesting to see how Nancy finishes this season, as he's been somewhat hot all September, too.

4. I was just talking to frequent poster JB and I told him that tonight is the Red Sox' chance to finally bury the Yankees. He asked me how many times I've said that this year. The answer's a lot. But that's largely because every time they've had the chance to finally bury the Yankees, they don't do it. Schilling's been consistently good lately, and Clemens has been inconsistent all season.

5. You can't intangible first base. Varitek is hitting .197 since August 5th. I know it's a crime to say anything negative about this guy because of the intangibles he brings to the team, but ouch babe. In this stretch, he has struck out in 31% of his plate appearances. Right now he seems to be Mirabelli-esque at the plate. I'd rather have Nancy up with two on and two out. And that's saying a lot.

6. I can't wait until this upcoming off-season. The Keep Lowell vs. Get A-Rod discussions will be nonstop. The Trade Coco vs. Trade Nancy discussions will be nonstop.

7. The previously-linked Lynn Daily Item article asked why Francona didn't put in Eric Gagne. That's mostly because Eric is a bad, bad man. The last time he had a 1-2-3 inning was July 26th. He's terrible, and should not be trusted in a 5-run game or closer. If the Red Sox win tonight, maybe then it will be time to "restore his confidence," as the AL East will be over.

8. Tonight's a must-win for the Yankees. Obviously. And for such a short post, this post took me way too long to write.

Game 1/2 Recap, Game 3 Preview

Friday night was awesome. After letting Matsuzaka off the hook all game long, the Yankees jumped all over the Sox two best relievers. Papelbon is, obviously, still one of the elite relievers in the game. When you get to him like the Yankees got to him Friday, you have to be thankful for it, because you know it isn't going to happen often. Okajima, on the other hand, who is totally responsible for starting that rally, absolutely stinks. You have no idea how happy this makes me. Lately it had been the Red Sox starters who were getting abused by the Yankees offense, and I think it was important for the Yankees that they got the bullpen involved in the act too. The Red Sox bullpen outside of Papelbon is now a major concern. Meanwhile, in an event that went totally unoticed, after the comeback Vizcaino and Mo absolutely slammed the door on Boston, working two totally uneventful innings.

Saturday was not as fun. Beckett, who has a 7.49 ERA against the Yankees in a Boston uniform, finally had the type of game against them he has had against most every other team this year. This really bothers me. But I have to tip my hat, it was as good as I have seen him all year, period. Great location on the fastball with superior movement, and for the first time against the Yankees, a consistently effective changeup. He had success with the curve as well, but the change, which he must have thrown 15-18 times (which is probably 12-15 times more than usual), was the story of his outing.

The Red Sox in Fenway park continue to be the most interesting opponent for Wang. If you look at it, lefties did most of the damage against him yesterday, and I think having The Monster there lends to lefties focusing on taking Wang's sinker up the middle or the other way, which is the approach a team should have against him. Wang has adjusted by throwing more sliders and changeups against them, and has had success with it his last few outings vs. Boston. It was obvious yesterday they were aware of that, and adjusted themselves. All said, each of the five runs they scored against him came with two outs, so he was one pitch away from getting out of an inning every time, and didn't. The way Beckett was throwing yesterday, they needed him to.

Tonight's game has big implications for both teams. Detroit is as hot as you can be, and the Yankees need to win tonight to keep the lead at 2.5 minimum. You can't afford to lose series in a Wild Card race this tight this late in the season. At the same time, there is no way the Red Sox want to lose their fourth consecutive series to the Yankees, and second consecutive rubber game at Fenway Park to them. The pregame advantage between the starters goes to Boston. Although the Yankees have owned Schilling, particularly at Fenway, he was very good against them last time out, and the Yankees bats seem a little tired. Clemens hasn't pitched in 12 days an has an elbow injury of generally undisclosed severity. That could go either way. However the Yankees bullpen, which has suddenly become a big team strength, especially in comparison to the Red Sox, is fully loaded. If Clemens can keep them in the game through 5, a fully rested Vizcaino, Joba, and Mo can take the game the rest of the way. Big advantage Yankees. I'd say the game is a toss up on paper, I'm looking forward to it.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Rivalry Pitching Matchups

DV and I both wrote a lot in the pre-season about our two teams pitching staffs. It has been a rollercoaster for the Yankees since then, but they have arrived in mid-September with a rotation that is very strong at the top, and has a lot of depth and potential after that. But lately that depth and potential has been nothing but quality. The Red Sox staff dominated early, and I'm not exactly sure how I would classify it since then. I'll leave that to DV. To get a feel for the rotation, you have to see more than box scores, so I don't have a total feel for their rotation.

I do know how these rotations have matched up against each other all season. If you take out just that first series in Fenway when the Yankees started Jeff Karstens and Chase Wright in back-to-back games and Chase Wright gave up back-to-back-to-back-to-back home runs, it has been a pretty clear domination by one side. Joel Sherman has a great article about this in today's Post. In the 15 starts the Red Sox have had against the Yankees this year, only one has fallen under that category "quality", and that was Schilling's last outing. Andy Pettitte has three quality starts against the Red Sox by himself, and Chien-Ming Wang is 3-1 with a 3.24 against them, a lower ERA than he has on the season. The Boston starter with the lowest ERA against the Yankees is Julian Tavarez, with a 4.22. After that is Beckett(5.49), Schilling(5.76), Matsuzaka(6.98), and Wakefield(10.93).

I don't think this is insignificant. Pitchers and batters and teams care about their biggest games more than others (they are lying through their teeth when they say they don't), and for the Red Sox and Yankees, the biggest regular season games they play are generally the 18-19 they play against each other. So far, the Yankees have been the ones that have shown up big, especially on the pitching side. That is suppossed to be Boston's strength. With their top three going again this weekend after getting swept with those same three starting games two weeks ago, at the very least it is a statement series for the "strength" of their team.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

IPK

Bad loss for the Yankees tonight, but I'd rather lose like that than burn the bullpen the day before the Red Sox series, especially when they have an off day.

Either way, Ian Patrick Kennedy, who has been coined IPK, is a lot to handle. What you love about him is that he doesn't have blow away stuff. When you don't have blow away stuff and you are getting hitters out, especially on the strikeout, at the rate he is (15 in a row at one point tonight, 1.89 ERA overall), you know you have someone who knows how to pitch. And that isn't easy to come by in this day and age. He reminds me of an early 90s Greg Maddux on a remarkable level. Moving fastball, sinking change, quality breaking ball. Incredible repition of delivery every time. Impeccable control. Just a lot of fun to watch. The Rangers wanted him for Gagne. Imagine if the Yankees made that trade?

Big series starts tomorrow. I'll be bouncing around all weekend (The apartment search in the city has begun in the middle of my final LSAT push because my boys that I'm living with have to be on their desk at 7:30 and 8:00 in the morning respectively, and are tired of the hour commute from Jersey. Not exactly ideal timing, but since I'm not working yet and they are, take one guess who is heading the operation. Not fun.) but rest assured I'll see every pitch, and blog when I can. I'm sure DV will have some great things to say too, he is always priceless during these series.

Marlins/Nationals Attendance: 375 People!

Peter Abraham is reporting on his blog that the attendance at last night's Marlins/Nationals game in Florida was 375. Not tickets bought, but people who actually showed up.

375! If you get a chance check out the pictures at ESPN. Maybe DV can link it. It is embarrassing.

Major League Baseball has to do somethig about this. For a game so loved in so many markets, there is no need for this. Either move these teams to actual markets, like building a Stadium for the Marlins in Miami or the Devil Rays in Tampa Bay (they both play a long way from those cities), or move them to a new city altogether, like Orlando, San Antonio, or Sacramento.

The other option is contraction. That would make for more competitevness and excitement for the fans than there already is in major markets, and more money for the teams and most importantly the league.

Even if it is another resolution, the point is there is a problem that needs to be solved. 375 fans at an American sports game is almsot unfathomable. I'd have to get the stat off DV, but I'd be willing to bet a lot that the Nashua Pride draw more than that.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Our Long National Nightmare is Over (Sort of)

Joba Chamerlain gave up a run, ending his scoreless inning streak at 15.2. It was unearned however, thanks to an A-Rod error, so his ERA remains at 0.00 after 16 innings. Just to keep track of our amusing Eric Gagne comparison, he has given up 11 runs (all earned) in 11 innings, for a crisp 9.00 ERA. He hasn't pitched in a game with anything less than a 7 run lead since August 22. Remember how that trade was suppossed to put the Sox over the top? And Yankees fans were suppossed to feel like they really lost out on something? Yeah.

Meanwhile, the Yankees have won 7 in a row. Mike Mussina had a very encouraging outing, going 5.2 scoreless innings. He had a little extra velocity (touching 91 mph), with some sharp late running action to his 2-seamer, which is what he usually has when he is effective. The curveball had more air again, and he also reintroduced his splitty to his arsenal, and had goood results with it tonight. In general, he just sort of looked like Mike Mussina again, at least the one from the last few years. With Clemens' status uncertain, and the other two options very talented kids (but still only kids), getting him back to servicability or more would be big for the Yankees as we move towards October. Having more options is better than having less.

In other news, David Ortiz kept things from getting real interesting in the AL East. A Yankee win tomorrow would still make it interesting, but a Red Sox loss tonight would have had people in Boston swinging from the chandaleers, because it would have been 3 in the loss column. But Tampa Bay. My word. They blow an 8-1 lead last night, and a one run lead in the 9th tonight. And how do you pitch to David Ortiz there? How do you do that? With Manny out? Oh, because it would have put a runner in scoring position. Wrong. I don't care if it would have loaded the bases, if Manny is out, you still don't pitch to him there. If it were somebody, anybody else, you might pitch to him or at least be careful with him there, depending on who it is. But Al Reyes? Let's get the arm out and give him first base. Somebody in that organization needs to get their head checked. Pitching to him there was as dumb as it gets.

All that said I'm just not that concerned with the East. Winning it would have a real advantage because you probably avoid the Angels in the first round. But I know how that goes. You ask for Cleveland, you get them, and they beat you. I wanted Detroit instead of Minnesota last year, and look how that turned out.

Winning it would have a really fun aspect in that it would erase a 14.5 game deficit to Boston, which would be priceless. But that isn't important at all in real terms. What is important is continuing to play good baseball, win games, and get to October, which the Yankees are on track to do. Once you get there, you have to beat good teams no matter who you face.

Still, freaking David Ortiz.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Pimpin Ain't Easy

Boston's favorite pimp (and by pimp, I mean someone who facilitates someone else's employment), Daisuke Matsuzaka, is having a really rough go of it lately. Of course, #1 hater Steve Buckley has written about it again, but Daisuke's struggles have been detailed by other New England media. He might miss his next start. He might lose his spot in the playoff rotation. He's tired. He's burned out. He's been figured out. He's been a disappointment this season. He's afraid of the better hitters in the league, but pitches flawlessly against teams like the Royals.

These are just some of the rumors circling around Pimp Daddy Matsuzaka, especially after his horrific start against Baltimore, where he couldn't find the strike zone, and when he did, he gave up a grand slam to Scott Moore. Saturday was probably Matsuzaka's worst outing of the season--a season that's going in the same direction as the White Sox' last three years. I was watching the game with a few people on Saturday. They were groaning as Matsuzaka walked the bases loaded. I'm a fan of the guy, so I said not to worry. He doesn't suck that bad.

Then they showed his ERA for September which was in double digits. "I stand corrected," I said. Then he gave up the slam. It's too bad, because I don't want to jump off this guy's bandwagon quite yet.

Matsuzaka was heralded (most notably by Pat) as a guy with an unlimited repertoire. Nine serviceable and deceiving pitches. But how many of them have been used lately? I've read that he's been throwing more fastballs in the last two months than he ever has before, and that many of these pitches have been generally discarded. Either Matsuzaka or Varitek might be losing faith in some of those pitches, but the way he mixes them was really the key to his success at the beginning of the season.

Pat wrote this in that March post:

Most scouts see him with 6-7 plus pitches and others have him as high as nine (2-seam, curve, slider, change, forkball...at least). He locates. He attacks hitters in all counts with all of his pitches. He strikes guys out with regularity and doesn't walk anyone (200:34 in '06).

In the United States, especially lately, he has become more and more and more dependent on the fastball (as Pat also noticed in the Yankees series). He seems to be overthrowing the ball, and--as we've learned from Josh Beckett's worse starts--you can't blow pitches by these American League hitters. Especially if your fastest stuff is 92-95 miles an hour. And also especially if you can't get the ball over the plate when you're trying to blow it by people. The second half of that last italicized sentence seems inconceivable right now.

Note to Matsuzaka and to Captain Intangible. If Matsuzaka is not fatigued/injured, use the entire repertoire. That's what made him a sensation in Japan, and he will not succeed in the major leagues if he tries to blow 93 MPH fastballs by hitters.

Whatever happens with Matsuzaka, he had better get it all together by the time the postseason starts (if it does start for the Red Sox). The Red Sox didn't pay all this money for this guy to be marginally better than Kei Igawa. They didn't give in to his pimping out JD Drew (Pat deserves all the credit for this term) for them to both suck.

And while we're on it, if Drew continues to be worse than the Portland Sea Dogs' Opening Day center fielder (which is likely), I am not afraid to throw everyone with connections to this shady deal under the bus (figuratively) like Jimmy Conway took care of everyone connected to the Lufthansa heist at the end of Goodfellas.

Matsuzaka is no exception.

Wang vs. Beckett on Saturday: Pitching for Cy Young

These are relatively big series for both the Yankees and the Red Sox. Toronto has given the Yankees a pretty hard time all year, and while the Red Sox should handle Tampa these last two games (especially because The Rays make Wakefield look like Juan Marichal), the last thing Boston wants to do is give the Yankees a glimmer of hope that there is a division to be had this weekend (ie. letting the lead get, to say, 2.5, which is a possibility if the Yanks sweep and the Sox get swept. Highly improbable, but possible. While we are on the topic, I doubt the Sox would like to see it at 3.5 or 4.5 either).

After these series we will get another big weekend of Yankees-Red Sox with marquee pitchig matchups, the most prominent of which will come on Saturday when Wang faces Beckett. At worst each will come in tied for the Major League lead with 18 wins. At the end of the day one will come out with 19 or both will be stuck on 18. If one comes out with 19, look for them to be the favorite to win the Cy Young.

If Wang wins he will have two more chances to get 20 or 21 wins against Toronto and Tampa Bay. If Beckett wins, he will have two more chances to get to 20 or 21 against Tampa and Minnesota. I'm not sure how many more starts and against whom Sabathia has, but he is a win behind already and will have work to do to end up with more wins than both Wang and Beckett.

I bring this point up about Saturday because it is very unlikely that, being that the Yankees, Red Sox, and Indians are all appear headed for the playoffs, and Wang, Beckett, and Sabathia are all their staff's aces, that the pitcher with the most wins would not win the award. That makes Saturday very significant.

Some people would say that Wang still is a leg behind Beckett and Sabathia becauase his ERA is .4 and .5 higher than theirs, respectively, and has lower strikeout totals than both. But I think this will only come into play if Wang is tied with one or both, in which case I think he would almost certainly lose out to either. If he has more wins, however, and keeps his ERA at the very respectable level it is at (3.69), oir betters it, he will win the award. 20-6 with a 3.60 spells Cy Young more than 19-7 with a 3.20, no?

I'd love to get some of your opinions on this, as it appears the Cy Young race is really boiling down to these three. Should be fun to watch.

Monday, September 10, 2007

A Little Football

I am burying a great DV post below, where he hits the issues about performane enhancing drugs right on the money, per-usual. It is more important than what I am going to write here, so give it a read. With the first full weekend of college and NFL football together, I wanted to throw a few quick things out there. I know this is a baseball blog, but I like (and need) the diversion from time to time.

I was at the Rutgers game Friday night vs. Navy with my boys. I was beyond intrigued in the week leading up to the game. As a big sports fan from Jersey, it is hard not to be. This program has taken the state by storm behind the dynamic Greg Schiano and incredible (incredible) Ray Rice. They have quenched the thirst of a University and Alumni base who craves to be in the bigtime college spotlight. Suddenly there are "R" bumper stickers everywhere. Out of nowhere Ray Rice has a huge Heisman promotional billboard in Manhattan. They aren't totally there yet, but if Schiano stays long enough they will be, that much was evident on Friday night. The place was packed, and the energy was almost at the ultimate level. I've been to games at places like Notre Dame, and it wasn't there yet, but almost. I don't care at all about Rutgers, but I was impressed.

Notre Dame is not going to be a good football team this year. But Jimmy Claussen is going to get the chance to develop under the most difficult circumstances, and you can already see he is going to be a very good quarterback. I'm not in love with the way he throws the football, but I am in love with the results when he does. Great feet and tremendous natural instincts for a teenager.

I don't like Boston College. At all. Along with UConn and USC, they are my least favorite colleges in America, and I wouldn't mind if any of these dumps went under water tomorrow (assuming no human or animal injuries, of course). So I was obviously rooting for their old coach an NC State to stick it to them on Saturday. DV would call that a "spite" win. But you have to give BC credit, it was them who got the "spite" win.

The Patriots. Yikes. Flipped back and forth a between the Yankees and this game yesterday, and yikes. Bill Bellichek and Tom Brady upset about an embarrassing playoff exit in which they blew a huge lead + a much improved team talent level (off one that was already very good) = PERFECT STORM. This team is going to run all over everybody this year (you don't have to like it Bandi, but it's true). Nobody is going to be more amped up to beat them than the Jets at home on opening day, and they manhandled them. Abused. Smacked. Toyed with. Absolutely crushed. It will come down to them and the Colts again, but don't look for Bellicek to lose two of those games in a row. Also, looks like taking both Brady and Moss one round earlier than would be expected is going to work out beautifully for my fantasy team. In a few weeks it will look like I got them each four rounds late if they keep this up.

The Giants showed more offensively than I thought they would in Dallas last night. A lot more. Somehow, and I don't know how, because I was expecting nothing, they showed less defensively than I thought they would. Really, Tony Romo is that good? He can just pick you apart whenever he wants in any big spot? If Dustin Pedroia played football, he would say he sucks. But not when the Giants are lined up across from him. Then he looks like Peyton Manning. The offense looked great, and Eli looked better than ever, but he always looks good weeks 1-8. Maybe this will be the year he turns in a full season. And of course there are injuries, already, because it wouldn't be a Giants early season game without mass injuries. Osi Umenyoira (our best defensive player), Eli Manning (out most important offensive player) and Brandon Jacobs (a very important offensive player) are all hurt. Awesome. What a frustration.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Ron Mexico Is Smarter Than You

I got a lot of things I'd like to write about right now, including the retaliatory atomic bomb being dropped on Boston from Japan right now. But I just read on the old ticker that yet another guy (Jay Gibbons) was busted in this Signature Pharmacy steroids/HGH case.

Honestly, how stupid can you be? All these guys (Gibbons, Rick Ankiel, Troy Glaus, John Rocker, Kurt Angle, Rodney Harrison, and everyone else who has recently been tied to the Signature case have had prescriptions written TO THEIR NAMES! Are you friggin kidding me? I believe that writing phony prescriptions is probably an illegal thing, and it can get both the doctor and the patient in some serious trouble. I'm pretty sure that growth hormone is banned in both the MLB and the NFL (though, as I wrote in an earlier comment, the testing procedure is cowardly). Oh, wait a second, I'm pretty sure than anabolic steroids and growth hormone are ILLEGAL IN THE UNITED STATES!

Everyone who is soft on these steroid users conveniently like to forget that these guys are all breaking the law. If Victor Conte is right in saying that 50% of this year's MLB All-Star Game participants are on one thing or another, that means that 50% of this year's All-Stars are breaking the law. And illegal drugs aren't exactly the same thing as jaywalking, you know what I mean?

To paraphrase Office Space, how can neanderthal Mafia guys be so good at crime and these guys suck so bad at it? I'm not positive, but I'm pretty sure if you are a millionaire, you can get credit cards with another name pretty easily. You can have your illegal drugs sent to a name other than yours. You can get them sent to an address other than yours. Especially considering that BALCO had already been raided at the time of these orders, you'd think these guys wouldn't want to leave a paper trail with their names attached to these illegal shipments.

I mean, Michael Vick used a fake name (Ookie) during his dogfighting adventures. He used a different fake name (Ron Mexico) to get a herpes test. Obviously, Vick didn't want his name so obviously tied to two potentially scandalous activities. And these players decided it wasn't important enough to get fake names. Michael Vick is absolutely idiotic, we learned this summer, but perhaps some people in this drug ring (Evander "Evan Fields" Holyfield not included) are stupider.

An afterthought: WEEI was analyzing Rodney Harrison's role in the performance-enhancing drug ring, and bringing up this point, when they raised this question: If so many people are getting caught using their own names, how many athletes in other sports are less retarded? They've only caught the most obvious people--perhaps the tip of the iceberg. How many steroid users actually have enough brain cells left to have the stuff delivered to another name or another address?

I'd say a lot. Signature Pharmacy is going to get worse before it gets better.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Dustin "Albert Pujols" Pedroia

"The guy's an idiot. I dropped my bat. It kind of freaked me out."

"I was upset they took him out of the game. He's good to hit. He's 9-15. The guy [stinks]."

"I don't know what he was thinking. I don't think too many of his teammates thought much about what he was thinking, either. It just made him look even more stupid for doing that." -Dustin Pedroia

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Listen, I don't like Dustin Pedroia. And I say that in a lighthearted way. I don't like him for the same reasons I don't like Kevin Youkilis. Much like Trot Nixon before them, for whatever reason some Boston players take on this "I'm so intense, I'm so hard nosed, I'm so scruffy and unkept, I'm so down and dirty, and I'm going to wear it on my sleeve every day" mentality. It is so unecessary, and it drives me crazy in the "You look so stupid in the field I want to laugh at you every time I see you" kind of way. Also, I'm a Yankees fan. I don't like the Red Sox in general. Much like Red Sox fans don't like the Yankees or most of their players. But let's put all this aside for a second.

Have we heard enough from Dustin Pedroia? I mean seriously. This kid is a rookie, and he has been flapping his mouth since the day he made the big league club. He was flapping when he was batting below the Mendoza line back in May. Now that he is batting .324? He is obviously the best player in the game and can say anything he wants about any other player in the game, demeaning their ability, because he is so good at this game.

You don't know what he was thinking throwing at you? Try this on for size. You're teammate Coco Crisp just made a great play for you're team. While I'm sure it made you happier than when you have your postgame lolipop, it frustrated the oppossing pitcher. Since his team never wins, something like that might frustrate him even more. So he threw at you. This type of thing has been going on in baseball for 100 years. Oh, sorry, I forgot. Nobody throws at Dustin Pedroia. He is way to intense, scruffy, and unkept, just like his buddy Youkilis, who people also shouldn't throw at.

Give me a break. You don't have to like it, but it makes perfect sense you got thrown at there. That was a classic baseball spot for a pitcher to throw at someone.

More importanly, Dustin Pujols, if you keep acting like you have acted all season, people are going to throw at you ALL THE TIME. Much like people don't like A-Rod for saying dumb things and making a lot of money, or Jeter for winning so much so young and seeming so perfect, people also don't like an annoying 5'7" rookies who acts like they are the most intense thing to ever hit the baseball field and shoots his mouth off like he has accomplished something. So get used to it. You are going to get hit A LOT for the rest of your career. And you obviously don't think so, because you said it in your moronic quote, but whatever pitchers throw at you, their teams are going to LOVE it, because their pitcher is doing something they all wish they could do. Throw at you. (I could write a novel about that one quote. "I don't think too many of his teammates thought much about what he was thinking, either." Is he serious with this? What are his teammates going to put him in timeout? All of a sudden teams don't like it when their pitcher thorws at the other team? Grow up Dustin. Just because you think you're so bigtime doesn't meant that, for probably the first time in baseball history, the other team is going to sympathize with the batter when their pitcher hits him. They don't feel bad for you, even though you are 5'7". Nobody does. Act like a grown up.)

But I guess, Dustin Pedroia, it is okay with you if people keep throwing at you. It just gives you an opportunity to act like a clown in your postgame, and belittle the talents of those who throw at you. Because no pitcher can hold you down. Daniel Cabrera? Please. Bring on Cy Young. You're Dustin Pedroia, you bat .324 with 6 homers and 48 RBI. You're the best there is and the best there ever was! Did I mention how intense, down and dirty, scruffy and unkept, and hard-nosed you are? What a loser.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Maybe Nancy Can Pitch

When Rick Ankiel figured out he couldn't keep the ball over the plate anymore and could no longer pitch, he took up hitting. It's really been an unbelievable story, as everyone and their mother has already written. It's one of the few stories that only really has one side. The guy was so promising, he flamed out, and totally changed his game. Now he's back and he's successful.

I'd compare it to the adjustments Lance Armstrong had to make, going from a shorter-distance power biker to the way he is now...but then people would be on my back because I compared a case of the "yips" to cancer. I hope my readers understand my point, though. It was tragic when we all saw that footage of him launching his pitches over the backstop. People's careers weren't supposed to end like that.

But now he's back, and then some. And it's the feel-good story of the summer, if not for the last several years. How could anyone possibly root against this guy? It would be like rooting against Henry Rowengartner.

Actually, don't answer that question. Because it has been noticed, by ESPN and by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, that he has surpassed the number of home runs hit by Nancy Drew in just 79 at-bats.

Another superb night of at-bats for this guy, after being blasted on WEEI all day even worse than he gets blasted by me on this blog. Strikeout, weak ground ball to first, and bases-loaded inning-ending double play in a tie game. Good thing he got bailed out by Coco Crisp and Jason Varitek. People around Boston are starting to call him Nancy now. Welcome to the bandwagon.

Sean McAdam has jumped on, for sure. Chalk up another media member who wants to see him and his contract sit on the bench while Ellsbury swings the bat and gets hits. He raises an interesting point: The Red Sox aren't afraid to bench this guy. If they were, they wouldn't have been shopping around for a replacement right fielder in Jermaine Dye.

If my statistical comparison of Nancy and Coco with my Craig in the ticket office today didn't convince me that only one of the incumbent outfielders should be competing for his job against Ellsbury (the slap hitter has more extra-base hits than the #5 hitter), tonight also helps. Great night for the Fastest Member of Red Sox Nation. To paraphrase last year's ubiquitous NESN commercial...

Did you see those three hits Coco had?
Did you see that base Coco stole?
Did you see those 3 RBIs Coco had?
Did you see those three runs Coco scored?
Did you see that home run Coco hit?
Did you see that catch Coco made?

(Boston Dirt Dogs celebrated tonight's performance by suggesting for the second straight night that he'll be replaced by Ellsbury...and comparing him to Johnny Damon. Sweet deal, guys.)

Also reading around, it's somewhat comical what St. Louis and LA fans think about Nancy. Between the Ankiel thread and this R-rated Dodgers blog, mixed with the Bill Simmons mailbag I offered in my last post, it should come as no surprise that this guy is a total disappointment. He's also universally hated in Philadelphia, and his manager in St. Louis threw him under the bus. You'd think the team that employed him would at least do a bit of a background check.

If Nancy does indeed lose his starting job to Ellsbury (which is looking better to me every day), he should learn from the Ankiel story. Take up pitching. With enough hard work, he might become an American Chien-Ming Wang.

After all, he'd definitely be a ground-ball pitcher.

[Edit, Friday, 1:02 PM: In the light of the Rick Ankiel/HGH saga that broke hours after this post, and a pretty good steroid discussion in the comment, I am adding the "steroids" label to this post.]