Monday, October 30, 2006

The Big Bam

I just picked up the recent Babe Ruth biography The Big Bam by Leigh Montville. I'm only 50 pages into it, but I'm loving it already. I'll report back with a full review when I'm done reading it. Meanwhile, enjoy this classic photo of the Babe:

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Cards Win World Series

Tony LaRussa's Cardinals took care of business and closed out their first world championship in 24 years last night. The predication I made before the Series (in my head, not on this blog) was the Tigers in 5 games. Well, I was right about the number of games, but not the winner.

The Cards went 83-79 in 2006. I don't think anyone believed they'd even be a factor this post season. But they accomplished what the big money teams (Yanks and Mets), and the low-budget, moneyball youngsters (Tigers, A's) failed to do: Bring home a World Championship. Overall it was the Cardinals' 10th World Series win, second only to you know who. The Yankees are first with 26.

Earlier in the week, the Mets Carlos Delgado said something along the lines of feeling cheated that the Mets weren't in the Series, that they were the best team in the NL. I know what he means. The Yanks should have been there. And Fox felt the same way, with the ratings lower than expected. If you were Fox, who would you want in the Series? A bunch of no-names from Detroit vs. a barely .500 team with one true superstar (Albert Pujols)? Or an All-Star team (Yanks) vs. a near All-Star team (Mets)? But the Yanks and Mets choked when it counted, and the Cards and Tigers played hard when it counted. Something has to be said about that.

Jeff Weaver pitched the game of his life, going 8 innings and giving up only 4 hits and 2 runs, while striking out 9. Why couldn't he do this in NY? Another guy who sucked for the Yanks and pitched well in the post season for another team.
One more thing. Jeannie Zelasko of Fox gave Joe Buck a run for his money last night in the Most Annoying category. While presenting the World Series trophy (with Bud Selig) to the St. Louis execs, she kept trying to get them to say "the 2006 World Champion St. Louis Cardinals!" to get the crowd going. She kept repeating the phrase and when they weren't repeating it like parrots, she came right out and asked them to. They still didn't. Good for them.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

No Strike till 2012!

The owners and the players union did something very uncharacteristic this week. They came to a new labor agreement without the threat of a strike or lockout first. The last agreement was reached in August 2002, just hours before the players were set to strike. This new agreement runs through the 2011 season.

The last strike, of course, wiped out the last third of the 1994 season including the playoffs and World Series, and continued into the Spring of '95, when the owners trotted out their fat, old, and decrepit replacement players as some sort of threat to the players union. I vaguely remember a story of an obese replacement player sitting on and breaking a stool in the Yankees clubhouse.

It took a lot for MLB to recover from that fiasco. Steriods. Juiced balls. Smaller ballparks. Now that baseball is drawing more fans than ever before, both sides are finally wise enough to divvy up the millions and spread the wealth around without a work stoppage. It's good to see the millionaires play nice with each other.

"I think you always have a better relationship when both sides are making money," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said as he attempted to close his overstuffed wallet.

In other MLB news:
Derek Jeter
and Ryan Howard won the Hank Aaron Award, as the best hitters in each league. These two guys most likely will be the MVPs, too.

Gary Sheffield was pissed all season that the Yankees didn't pick up his $13 million option for 2007. Now he's angry that they are. He was hoping to become a free agent, and land a 3-year deal with someone. He also doesn't want to play first base. "I don't want to play first base a year for them. I will not do that." Also, "I don't know what they're (Yankees) going to do," Sheffield said. "Maybe they picked it up just to trade me. If they do that, if I just (go) to a team for one year, there's going to be a problem. A big problem. I will not do this." Strong words from the Sheff.

Rain in St. Louis washed out Game 4 of the World Series. They try again tonight with Bonderman facing Suppan. Cards up 2 games to 1 over the Tigers.

Monday, October 23, 2006

World Series tied 1-1

Kenny "Couldn't-Get-Anyone-Out-When-He-Pitched-In-NY" Rogers continued his 2006 post-season dominance by tossing a two-hitter through 8 innings against the Cardinals. How come when he pitched for the Yankees—and briefly the Mets—he sucked ass so badly he was run out of town—twice? Why is he so dominant all of a sudden? Does it have something to do with that blob of shit the umpires spotted on his pitching hand last night, and made him wash off? Was he cheating, applying something to the ball to give it an unnatural movement?

After the blob of shit was removed, though, the Cards still couldn't buy a hit. So maybe he finally has just learned how to pitch this season. Or maybe the Cards offense was spent after scoring 7 runs in the first game.

Kenny Rogers wipes his hand clean on the back of umpire Alfonso Marquez

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Back From Hiatus!

I know, it's been a while. After the Yankees stunning and unexpected quick exit from this year's post-season, I needed a break. Their loss and the death of Cory Lidle sent me into a deep depression that only got worse with the Mets' success in the NLDS. Talk about kicking a guy when he's down. But things are looking up: the Mets lost Game 7 to the St. Louis Cardinals. And as soon as we get this World Series out of the way, Fox will be able to broadcast the new Simpsons Halloween special.

Here a rundown of what went on in MLB, in case you, too, were on a sabbatical:
Joe Torre did not get fired by the Yankees, and again will manage the team in 2007.
A-Rod's plane went off the runway, but no one was injured. The fans blamed the incident on A-Rod.
David Wright did his best A-Rod impersonation this post-season, hitting .216 with 1 HR and 6 RBI in 10 games
• The Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals will face off in this year's World Series.
Jason Giambi (The Giambino) had successful wrist surgery to repair a torn tendon.
Joe Girardi was fired by the Florida Marlins after an excellent job as a rookie manager.
Lou Piniella was hired by the Chicago Cubs, which means George Steinbrenner will have to hire someone else after he fires Torre mid-season. Note to Girardi: keep your cell phone on and fully charged.
Sal Fasano, who some believed was the heart and soul of the 2006 Yankees, became a free agent after refusing a demotion to AAA Scranton. He is currently growing back his fu manchu.

I'll be back soon, with updates on the World Series.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Yankees' Cory Lidle Dies in Plane Crash

The news came this afternoon around 3 p.m. A small plane had hit a building in Manhattan. The news was eerily reminiscent of another event for New Yorkers. Exactly five years and one month ago 9/11 happened. When the news of that was first trickling out, all people knew was that a plane hit the World Trade Center. Most people first assumed it was a light aircraft. Of course, it wasn't. So when today's story broke, people followed it closely.

I was at work and read the sketchy early reports about it online. Then I found a TV and watched for a while. The building was on fire, the FDNY was putting it out, no other details. Right before I left work at 5:30, I saw the headline online that it was Cory Lidle's plane. Still nothing definite about who may have died. Reports at that time differed, some said 4 were dead, some said 2. No one was going on record that one of them was Lidle. By the time I left at 5:45, Newsday had reported that Lidle was indeed one of the dead, and that he had been piloting the plane. His flight instructor also perished.

Cory Lidle, dead at 34. R.I.P.

Fans observe a moment of silence before Game 2 of the ALCS in Oakland. Lidle pitched for Oakland in 2001 and 2002.

Lidle's final career stats:
82-72, 4.57 ERA, 1322.2 IP, 838 K, 11 CG, 5 SHO

Joe Stays; A-Rod Suicide Watch Continues

The Will Joe Torre Get The Ax? Watch has come to an abrupt end. At a press conference at Yankee Stadium yesterday, Joe Torre announced that he would be back to manage the Yankees in 2007, the last year of his contract. Of course, a 12-20 start next season can change things quickly. Expect George Steinbrenner to keep his ax sharp and Lou Piniella in his speed dial.

Meanwhile, the A-Rod Suicide Watch is in full swing (pun intended). Booed relentlessly at the Stadium this year, and dropped to the 8th spot in the batting order for Game 4 of the ALDS, Rodriguez is no favorite of the fans nor the Yankee management. He is New York's current public enemy #1, and after a shitty season and even shittier post-season, fears abound that A-Rod made take his own life. If anyone has an A-Rod sighting—proof that he's still alive—please take a photo and post a link here. Thank you.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Letterman's Top Ten New York Yankees Excuses

Pinch hitting for the Designated Blogger—David Letterman!

10. Wanted Columbus Day off to get to all the sales

9. Thought series was best 6 out of 11

8. We've already missed the first three episodes of "Grey's Anatomy" -- enough is enough

7. Thought Joe Torre told us to give 10 percent

6. Players distracted by erotic text messages from Mark Foley

5. Shouldn't have switched to the cheaper generic steroids

4. Clubhouse caterer replaced E. coli-tainted spinach with E. coli-tainted lettuce

3. Uh, global warming?

2. More focused on how they're going to get by on a lousy $16 million a year

1. What's the point? North Korea's gonna nuke us at any moment

Monday, October 09, 2006

Day 2 of the Torre/ARod Watch

It's the second full day of the Will Joe Torre Get The Ax? Watch. After a stunning defeat in four games to the Detroit Tigers in the ALDS, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner is reportedly ready to fire his long-time manager. I'm sure George is sharpening the ax right now, as he tries to speed dial Lou Piniella with the other hand. The ax will fall, the only question is when. Maybe when the Mets win the pennant, to steal some of their back page thunder?

We're also concluding the second full day of the ARod Suicide Watch. His post-season numbers have been atrocious for two straight years. His regular season was half-assed. The fans hate him and want to run him out of town. His teammates hate him and want to run him out of town. The Yankee brass hate him and want to run him out of town. Will he take the hint and accept a trade? There are rumors Yankee GM Brian Cashman removed ARod's belts and shoelaces from his locker, for his own protection—and to preserve his trade value.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Yankees Fire Joe Torre, Name Billy Martin Manager

Armed with a ouija board and a staff of psychics, NY Yankees owner George Steinbrenner is prepared to enter the 2007 season with the spirit of Billy Martin guiding the team.

"I've always thought Billy was the best man to manage the Yankees," Steinbrenner said from his Tampa mansion. "It's good to have him back."

This will be the sixth time Martin has managed the team. This reporter couldn't contact Martin for a comment, but when I asked for a sign on if the Yankees would win the World Series in '07, my framed autographed picture of Reggie Jackson fell off the wall.

I'm not sure if that means "yes" or "no."

It's Over

Yanks discuss off-season plans during fifth inning

The worst part about the Yankees losing the ALDS to Detroit—aside from wasting an otherwise great season—was the way they rolled over and died without a fight. What happened to this team? Up until Game 1, this group displayed a hunger and fight that reminded me of the old Paul O'Neill-led teams. The chemistry was there this year. The bench was deep, deep, deep. Young players (Wang, Cano, Cabrera, Phillips) were blended into the team. A key veteran was brought over mid-season (Bobby Abreu). Where did it all go wrong?

I'm pissed. Losing is one thing, going down without a fight is another. Note to all the players besides Jeter: The Captain can't do it all. He needs your help. Remember when Steinbrenner called Dave Winfield "Mr. May" (in contrast to Reggie Jackson's clutch "Mr. October" moniker) after his horrible performance in the '81 World Series? Well, this team is full of Mr. Mays. And I'm not talking about Willie Mays.

The 2006 LVP (Least Valuable Player)

The Game 1 8-4 win was terrific. The team displayed everything that was right about the team this year. Game 2 they lost 4-3, but it was exciting. They were in it till the end. They fought, made some mistakes, but the fans were never out of the game because we still had a chance to win. In Games 3 and 4, the Yankees gave the fans absolutely zero to cheer about. They were never in the game, never had a chance to win. That's inexusable. The Yankees deserved to lose this series.

All the planning, the resting of players in September that an 11-game lead afforded the Yanks, the preparation, the setting up of the first-round rotation was all for naught. The Yanks had one good game in them this post season. I hope you enjoyed it.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Yankees on brink

The face of futility

After last night's pathetic loss to the Tigers in Game 3 of the ALDS, the Yanks are on the brink of wasting their terrific 97-win 2006 campaign. My worst nightmare came true, when the pitcher formerly known as the Gutless Post-season Choke Artist (Kenny Rogers) shut down the "best lineup in baseball history" like they were a bunch of nerdy, myopic little leaguers. (And it's not just ARod's fault, folks.)

I actually shut the game off in the 6th inning and went to sleep. Why torture myself further? Now the whole season rides on the performance of number four starter Jaret Wright (11-7, 4.49) in Game 4. 23-year old Jeremy Bonderman (14-8, 4.08) goes for the Tigers.

Side note that has nothing to do with the Yanks being down 2 games to 1. I've said this before the series started, and I've said this in past seasons: The LDS should be seven games, just like the LCS and the World Series. Why should the whole 162-game season ride on a short series? What is the point of having a short series? Wouldn't MLB want the revenue from two extra games, anyway?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Yankees lose Game 2 of ALDS, 4-3


Game 2 became a day game after the rain out Wednesday night. Since I have a full-time job, I couldn't watch the game. So I followed it the new-fangled way: the internet.

First I tried to listen through WCBS's web site. I registered, launched the player, and heard...the news! That's right, the news! Where was the game? Was I doing something wrong? So, I then went to Yahoo sports and loaded the in-game box score. This is great because the page refreshes automatically every 30 seconds. It tells you the score, who is at-bat and pitching, even the count.

Even watching it in this manner, I could still tell what a sloppy game the Yanks played. Missed bunts, errors, a passed ball, ARot (that's NOT a typo) striking out with the bases loaded. In fact, ARot went 0-4 and struck out 3 times. To be fair, Sheffield also took an 0-4 and whiffed twice. Overall the Yanks left 20 men on base. This is unacceptable. We should be stomping the Tigers, especially after the way Detroit played over the last six weeks or so.

Some random, bitter, emotional thoughts after a Yankees loss:
* The rain out halted the Yanks momentum from the big Game 1 victory.
* Torre should bench ARot in favor of Cairo for Game 3.
* Yanks should trade ARot after the season.
* At least Farnsworth and Mariano will have 2 days rest for tomorrow's game.
* No word from my roving reporter. Hope she's OK.

Game 2 of ALDS Rained Out

The radar last night showed two storms moving in, and there was no way the game was going to be played. Yet 56,000 fans were allowed to sit around in a light rain for two hours until the game was officially called. Bet they didn't get the 26 bucks they paid for parking back.

My onsite reporter, Karen, gave me the lowdown: "...I have sat through entire games that it rained harder than it ever did last night during the delay...but my friend bought me an awesome Jeter rain poncho so im happy! Also, they played cool music 'who'll stop the rain' and things like that which was fun. I would say it was a heavy drizzle but never drenching rain."

Game 2 will be played today at 1PM. Mussina vs. Verlander. The weather is sunny and warm now, the storms moving through overnight.
(Photo by my roving reporter, Karen Barletta.)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Yankees win Game 1 of ALDS, 8-4

The Yankees, led by Captain Derek Jeter, came out swinging and took the first game of the ALDS 8-4. Jeter continued his MVP season with a sick 5-5 performance, including a homerun to center in the 8th to give NY an important insurance run.

Overall the Yanks banged out 14 hits. Besides Jeter, Bobby Abreu, Jorge Posada, and Johnny Damon also had a multi-hit game.

Chien-Ming Wang held up into the 7th, and was replaced by a shaky Mike Myers, followed by a shakier Scott Proctor. Kyle Farnsworth came on for the 8th and immediately threw six straight balls. I wanted someone to run into the clubhouse and get Farnsworth's fancy new eyeglasses so he could see the plate. I was too nervous to watch, so I went outside to put my recyclables by the curb. I came back in to see him settle down and get out of the inning.

Mariano Rivera came on for the 9th, gave up his usual cheap flare hit, then locked up the win for Wang. He threw 12 pitches, 7 for strikes.
(Photo of Mariano pitching by my roving reporter, Karen Barletta.)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Yanks up 5-0 over Detroit, bottom of 3rd

We're under way with Game 1 of the ALDS. Thanks to clutch hits from Jeter, Abreu, Sheffield, and a HR by Giambi, the Yanks have built a five run lead at the end of the third inning.
(Photo above thanks to my roving reporter, Karen Barletta.)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Yankees Lineup For Game 1 of ALDS

Borrowed from Peter Abraham's blog.

Johnny Damon CF
Derek Jeter SS
Bobby Abreu RF
Gary Sheffield 1B
Jason Giambi DH
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Hideki Matsui LF
Jorge Posada C
Robinson Cano 2B

What an incredibly deep lineup. 2005 A.L. MVP ARod hitting sixth! A .342 hitter batting ninth! Literally an All-Star at every position. The Yankees need to pour it on this post-season. No pussyfooting around. Bury their opponents from the get-go.

Final Stats

Here are some final stats to chew on over your morning coffee.

Johnny Damon .285, 115 R, 24 HR, 80 RBI, 25 steals
Derek Jeter .344, 214 hits, 97 RBI, 118 R, 34 steals, .417 OBP
Robinson Cano .342, 78 RBI, 41 doubles
Jason Giambi 37 HR, 113 RBI, 110 BB, .413 OBP
ARod .290, 35 HR, 121 RBI, 113 R, 15 steals, 24 Errors
Bobby Abreu .297, 15 HR, 107 RBI, 98 R, 30 steals
Jorge Posada .277, 27 doubles, 23 HR, 93 RBI, 3 steals
Melky Cabrera .280, 26 doubles, 7 HR, 50 RBI, 12 steals
Bernie Williams .281, 29 doubles, 12 HR
Sal Fasano .217, 5 HR, 15 RBI, 0 steals

Chien-Ming Wang 19-6, 3.63, 218 innings, 1 Save
Mike Mussina 15-7, 3.51, 197 innings, 172 K
Randy Johnson 17-11, 5.00, 205 innings, 172 K
Jaret Wright 11-7, 4.49, 140 innings, 84 K
Carl Pavano 0-0, 0.00, 0 innings, 0 K

Mariano Rivera 5-5, 1.80, 75 innings, 55 K, 34 Saves
Scott Proctor 6-4, 1.80, 102 innings, 89 K, 1 Save
Kyle Farnsworth 3-6, 4.36, 66 innings, 75 K, 6 Saves
Brian Bruney 1-1, 0.87, 20.2 innings, 25 K
Mike Myers 1-2, 3.23, 30.2 innings, 22 K

The New York Yankees and the New York Mets finished in a tie for the best record in baseball: 97-65 .599. Some see this as a sign that the two teams are destined to meet in the World Series. Personally, the Mets still have some provin' to do for me. They have to face some hot N.L. teams (like first-round opponents the L.A. Dodgers) before they make it to the Series.

Finally, here are the A.L. batting race results:
Joe Mauer MIN .347
Derek Jeter NYY .344
Robinson Cano NYY .342

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Running the Bases

On this last day of the regular season, there is much to talk about.

• The A.L. and the N.L. still have two teams tied for first: The Tigers and Twins in the A. L. Central Divison are both 95-66. Loser faces the Yankees in the ALDS as the wild card. The Dodgers and Padres in the N.L. West are both 87-74. Winner plays the Cardinals, loser takes the wild card to New York to play the Mets. This whole wild card thing seems to be working out.

• The A.L. batting championship will be determined today. This is how it currently stands:
Joe Mauer MIN .346
Derek Jeter NYY .345
Robinson Cano NYY .341

Mauer will face righthander Javier Vázquez on Sunday, Cano and Jeter face righthander Dustin McGowan.

• On a day that the focus should be on an exciting finish to the season, the ugly steroids monster has resurfaced. The continuing investigation of cheater Jason Grimsley has yielded more suspects. Grimsley has fingered some name players and former teammates, including Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Miguel Tejada, Brian Roberts, and Jay Gibbons. Are his accusations true? We'll see. It should be an interesting off season. Jose Canseco's book Juiced doesn't seem so far-fetched any more, does it? (I never thought it was.)

Frank Robinson got the boot as manager of the Washington Nationals. The announcement came before the season ended so he'd have a chance to say goodbye to his players and coaches and fans.

Pedro Martinez has bigger problems than a torn calf muscle. Turns out he will have right rotator cuff surgery next week, and is not expected back until after next year's All-Star break.

Randy Johnson, the Yankees 17-game winner and expected starter for Game 3 of the ALDS has a herniated disk in his lower back. He was given an epidural, and the Yanks hold out hope that he can still make his scheduled start in first round of the playoffs.

This is a gamble for NY, and I hope it works out. Would it be wiser to not include him on the ALDS roster, and give his slot outright to Jaret Wright or Corey Lidle? If Johnson starts, lasts one inning and has to be replaced, his roster spot is wasted. It reminds me of David Wells start in Game 5 of the 2003 World Series. He left after the first inning due to back spasms (that he hadn't bothered to tell anyone about beforehand) and was replaced by Jose Contreras, who took the loss.

I'm a Randy fan. But we Yankees fans need to have faith in guys like Wright and Lidle. Without Johnson, the staff still looks good: Wang, Mussina, Wright, and Lidle (depending on which Lidle shows up that day, of course). The Yanks have a lot of firepower, and bats on the bench that would be starting on any other team. If it comes down to it, we'll have to out-slug the other teams. The Yanks bullpen is deep (Proctor, Farnsworth, Mariano, Bruney, Villone, Myers), and that might be the deciding factor.

• The New York Yankees are assured of finishing with the best record in MLB.

Carl Pavano, still injured.

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