Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
It was truly a fantastic game, with AJ pitching like he did and Pedro Martinez reliving his glory days. I thought the Yankee bats were going to hammer Pedro tonight. He did give up homers to Mark Teixeira and Hideki Matsui, but the Yanks had trouble connecting for most of the game. It was truly a vintage performance from the man Derek Jeter called "probably the smartest pitcher I've faced in 15 years." Martinez gave the Phillies every chance to win, but AJ was too much for the Philly offense.
I've never been the biggest AJ Burnett fan as his erratic pitching drives me crazy, but tonight he set the Yankee ship sailing in the right direction again. With Andy Pettitte set to pitch Game 3, the Yanks have the opportunity to gain a lot of momentum and another win before having to face Cliff Lee again.
I don't think the Yanks are in trouble despite being shut out by the unhittable Cliff Lee last night. But they do need to win Games 2 and 3 since they probably get Lee again in Game 4. Lee can only start three games at the most so the Yanks can win the World Series if they take the other four games. But to do that, they need the offense to recover from last night, they need to avoid the bullpen except for Mo at all costs, but most importantly, they need AJ Burnett tonight. Step up AJ!!! Earn your stripes!!!
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Though it wasn't as easy for him this time around, CC Sabathia pitched well, allowing only the two home runs to Chase Utley in 7 innings. But the Yankee bats were just no match for Lee.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Jimmy Rollins is known as a guy who's not afraid to voice an opinion. And he's been right a lot of times. Rollins is now predicting that his Phillies will close out the World Series at home in five games (or six games, if he's being nice and predicting the Yankees will put up a decent fight). But Rollins is confusing the Yankees with the other New York team. He was right in 2007 when he predicted the Phillies would overtake the Mets for the division title. But the Yankees won't be that easy.
The Yanks aren't going to lie down for the Phillies, especially not with their bulldog CC Sabathia and the the top winning pitcher in postseason history in Andy Pettitte. Not with the best closer in baseball history in Mariano Rivera. Not with the toughest shortstop in baseball in Derek Jeter (yes, that includes you, Jimmy).
Rollins could be trying to motivate his team, which I have absolutely no problem with. But boy is he setting himself up for some trouble if his team doesn't come through. NY fans will be riding him for the rest of his life. For the most part, the Yanks seemed to have blown off his comments, except for Jorge Posada, who might have been more irritated at having to answer questions about his comments than about Rollins actually saying it. But the Yanks will privately use that as motivation, not that they need any more motivation to win the World Series.
I don't believe either team is going to win in 5 games because they are pretty evenly balanced. I'm predicting the Yanks will eventually win in 6 or 7 games, with superior starting performances and Mo being the difference-maker. Of course, my opinion doesn't count as much as Rollins, but if Philly fans want to use it as motivation, so be it!
By the way, these bets between politicians are just plain silly. The Pennsylvania senators will send Philly cheesesteaks to the Empire state if the Yankees win while the NY senators will send NY cheesecakes to the Keystone state if the Phillies win. Not exactly a Weight Watchers-friendly bet.
Thanks to Googie man via Wikipedia for the photo.
A lot of Yankee fans, including myself, miss the Boss, who was always a big part of the fun of being a Yankee fan. I always enjoyed Steinbrenner's rants, even if they were off the mark, like when he criticized Derek Jeter for partying too much, on his birthday no less! The fallout from that remark led to one of the few true controversies that Jeter has ever found himself immersed in. But it also showed the sense of humor and close relationship of both men after they turned it into that hilarious VISA commercial.
But I'm glad to see that the Steinbrenner kids inherited his desire to win and his competitive nature, even if they do show a composure that their father lacked. They could have easily reined in Brian Cashman last offseason when he wanted to acquire CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Mark Teixeira. They had a lot of salary money coming off the books and they could have looked at the last few years of futility and decided that out-spending every other team in baseball was getting them nowhere. But they didn't. Instead, they took up their father's mantle and reinvested the savings into three quality players, who all played a large role in getting them back to the World Series.
While his kids are doing a great job, there is no one like George Steinbrenner. I personally can't wait until tomorrow night, when the Boss will be back in the Bronx where he belongs.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
"There's no other guy we want on the mound," said CC Sabathia.
Mariano Rivera, after a stumble in the 8th inning, came back to close the game for his record-extending 37th postseason save.
In accepting the American League Championship Series trophy, Joe Girardi seemed very emotional, particularly when he was thanking George Steinbrenner for giving him the opportunity to be the Yankee manager. "We're trying to do this for Pops," he said.
In his first playoff tour with the Yanks, CC went 2-0 to pick up a well-deserved Most Valuable Player award. It could have gone to Alex Rodriguez, but it seems right to give it to their bulldog starting pitcher.
The Yanks really let loose during the post-game party. Even Derek Jeter, normally quite composed, looked like he was having a lot of fun tonight. The Yanks deserve to enjoy this celebration. They'll think about what comes next tomorrow. Bring on the Phillies, baby!
In baseball, there is a lot of talk about how former catchers make great managers. But former Yankee catcher and current YES Network broadcaster John Flaherty is showing why they also make great broadcasters too, both during his pre and post-game appearances as well as his in-game calling during the regular season.I love listening to Flaherty, namely because he is not afraid to call out underperforming Yankees. On tonight's pre-game show, he talked about Joba Chamberlain's bad body language and sagging confidence. While he said Joe Girardi would still be quick to call on Phil Hughes in a tight spot, he said the Yankees manager wouldn't be as eager to call on Joba.
"If you're Joe Girardi, it's hard to have confidence in this guy right now," he said.
A lot of former players, especially ones who have retired relatively recently, are unwilling to criticize current players because they have played with many of them. But Flaherty is not one of those guys. Last week, he was asked about Girardi's decision to pull Damaso Marte in favor of Phil Coke, which seemed strange because it replaced one lefthander with another. But Flaherty quickly called out Marte, saying he has had no confidence in Marte since last year's trade that brought him to the Yanks from the Pirates.
Speaking of Hughes, MLB Network tried to make a big deal about the fact that he didn't show up for Friday's optional workout, noting that Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher all showed up, among others. They even quoted Posada as saying, "Optional is not a word you use in the playoffs." But Hughes is a young kid and maybe he just needed a day to clear his head after his troubles in Anaheim. I have absolutely no problem with that.
Game 7 should be avoided at all costs, but I would feel pretty good about our chances with CC Sabathia on the mound. I was a little concerned during the offseason when the Yankees were pursuing him because I didn't think he was enthusiastic about coming to New York. I had no problem with him holding out for as much money as he could get from the Yanks, but I was worried that he didn't really want to pitch in NY and we don't need guys like that. But he has thrived in his first postseason with the Yanks, carrying the team on his big back and putting them in a great position to win.
Even against Lackey, I have a lot of confidence that CC could pitch the Yanks to the World Series and a date with Philly. But I really don't think it will get that far. The Yanks will close it out tonight in a game that's going to be a must-see. Sorry, football Giants, can't pay attention to you until after the World Series.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
You would hate to have a situation where you start the game and have to postpone 3 or 4 innings in, wasting both starters. Worse, you don't want to risk the chance of someone getting hurt on a sloppy field.
Joe Girardi was asked in a pre-game conference how he would handle it if the game was started and then postponed after 3 innings. He said he would not start CC Sabathia in a resumed Game 6, that he would try to piece together 6 innings from his bullpen, which is amazing to me given the struggles of the pen outside of Mariano Rivera.
I would have tried to finish off the Angels by putting CC in, if not for the rest of the game, then at least to get the ball to Mo. You're going to have pitch CC anyway, why wait until Game 7 when you can try to crush the Angels in Game 6? Maybe Girardi would be as nervous starting AJ Burnett in a Game 7 as I would be so he's saving CC for that, but it's a moot point if you can close out the Angels in Game 6.
But no matter. Now Andy Pettitte and Joe Saunders will start in Game 6 tomorrow night. Pettitte said it was frustrating to have to wait another day after a long day today. But Pettitte's numbers with an extra day's rest are great this year: 6-1 with a 3.63 ERA with a higher-than-normal walk total, although that doesn't seem to have affected his performance. Pettitte is such a tough guy, the MLB Network just showed a live shot at the stadium of him playing toss in pouring rain.
Yankee fans just have to be patient for one more day. Pettitte will clinch it tomorrow night. At least we have a couple of good football games tomorrow afternoon to distract us until then.
"The only guy (in the bullpen) they trust is Mo," he said.
Nelson also said that Joe Girardi's frequent trips to the bullpen were hurting the confidence of his relievers, which is problematic because "you need the other guys." But he noted that it's Girardi's job to try to win games and he doesn't have the luxury of experimenting by leaving guys in the game to try to get out of jams.
Latest weather report says heavy rain will start around 10pm so hopefully the Yanks will get at least half the game in tonight. Per Bud Selig's new official rules (he did it on his own during the World Series last year), there are no rain-shortened games in the postseason. So if tonight's game started and rain forced a postponement, play would resume on Sunday from the exact point the game was halted.
But that leads to a host of problems, namely that you lose both starting pitchers, creating a situation where Andy Pettitte and Joe Saunders could be replaced in Sunday's continued Game 6 by CC Sabathia and Jered Weaver. The Yanks don't want to see that scenario, especially if they only manage to get 3 or 4 innings in tonight. Because then you have to use Sabathia to finish Game 6 and that would make it a must-win for the Yanks because a loss means AJ Burnett in Game 7, probably against John Lackey again. That would be a nightmare. I would not trust the biggest game of the year to AJ Burnett.
Please rain go away!
BTW, this whole notion that Andy could be skipped over in favor of CC if tonight's game is rained out is just silly. First of all, Andy's tied for the most wins in postseason all-time. Second, if CC were to pitch Game 6 and lose, Andy would have to come back in Game 7 anyway.
Friday, October 23, 2009
It is remarkable that the four have managed to play together so long, given free agency and the Yankees' propensity to pull the trigger on trades involving their young players in the late 80s and early 90s. The hiccup was Pettitte's choice to leave for Houston via free agency after 2003, a decision the Yankees team shared the blame for after not aggressively pursuing him during that offseason. But when Andy made the decision to return to the Yanks, it seemed like the quartet had never been apart.
The sportswriters are correct in pointing out the valuable contributions of the Core 4 this postseason. While Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia are quite deservedly getting a lot of the attention and credit, the old-guard has played a tremendous role in helping the team get to this point. Mo has been amazing, closing out the Yankee wins and keeping them in the games during their two losses. Jeter has hit some crucial home runs. Posada has had some key hits. And of course, Andy has had two good starts already and the Yankees will be counting on him for a third to close out the ALCS tomorrow night.
Andy's not an 8-inning pitcher, but I'll be looking for him to throw long enough to narrow the gap to Mo and minimize any possibility of a bullpen meltdown or mismanagement by Joe Girardi. Pettitte has been clutch in so many of these situations, I expect him to bear down on the Angels and pitch the Yanks into the World Series so that the Core 4 can go after Ring 5.
Hughes could have lost his composure after Game 2, when the Yankees defense collapsed behind him. Instead, he stood in front of his locker and resisted any urge to take shots at his teammates. His mature responses stand in sharp contrast to John Lackey's tantrums during this postseason. Yes, he should not have been taken out of the game, but he also didn't have to pout like a four-year old after his team's comeback. Hughes is behaving more like the veteran than Lackey.
Joe Girardi has been under intense criticism for several days about his questionable handling of the bullpen and I wonder if he felt skittish about going to his bullpen last night because of it. But I doubt many people would have taken him to task for taking AJ Burnett out after six innings and a long wait on the bench while the Yankee offense came back to life in the 7th inning.
If it's CC Sabathia or Andy Pettitte you're taking out of the game with only 80-odd pitches, then it's a bad move. But no one would have faulted him for taking AJ out of the game, knowing how erratic he is and how prone he is to putting people on base via walks and HBPs.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
I wish I could say AJ Burnett's first-inning meltdown was a surprise, but in truth, I had been expecting it for a while. You can't walk or hit that many batters without it coming back to bite you. He obviously had nothing early on, but he rebounded well in the next few innings and kept the Yanks in the game until losing it again in the 7th inning.
What was more disturbing was the regression of the Yankees offense, that one huge inning aside. I was feeling pretty good after Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon got on to start the game. But then Mark Teixeira struck out, Alex Rodriguez popped out and Matsui weakly grounded out. I thought Joe Girardi was going to make the right move and DH Jorge Posada. He went with Matsui because he has more experience DHing, but you can't let that be the deciding factor when a hitter is swinging the bat that poorly.
Home run aside, Nick Swisher continues to struggle. He had a chance to erase all the bad karma from the previous 7 playoff games with one good swing or even a walk in the 9th inning and he couldn't come through.
The postseason struggles of Phil Hughes are really surprising. He was so dominant as Mariano Rivera's set-up man in the regular season, but he struggled in the division series and he looked awful tonight. Joba Chamberlain is having a hard time in the playoffs too, although that's less surprising because the Yankees completely screwed with his head in the regular season. Again, they had to bring in Mo to keep from falling further behind and that shouldn't be happening.Best I can say for the Yankees is that they're coming home to Yankee Stadium for two games with Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia scheduled to start. But they will have to hear about the 2004 ALCS collapse for the next two days. I hope the doubt doesn't start to creep into their heads.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
I also think Nick Swisher has one more game to regain his swing. If the Yankees clinch a World Series berth tomorrow and Swish has another fruitless night, then Girardi will have to add Eric Hinske back to the roster. While everyone else has shown some signs of life (except maybe Robinson Cano), Swisher continues to struggle and may have to take a seat on the bench. You can't let one player drag down your entire offense.
The Yankees also finally remembered how to hit with runners in scoring position. Melky Cabrera, king of the regular-season walkoffs, got a clutch hit to drive in a couple of runs and give CC a good cushion before the Yanks starting piling it on. Johnny Damon's consecutive home run days is another positive sign, but Nick Swisher's ongoing struggles are still an issue and may require a seat on the bench.
Of course, this being the Yanks, there were causes for concern. Jorge Posada and Robby Cano should have both been called out on that play at third. Posada is famous for bone-headed moves on the bases, but both of them being off the bag is inexcusable. The Angels made a heads-up play tagging them and should have had a double play, but the ump blew the call. The Yankees were the receipients of two bad calls although another call went against them with Swisher being called out after tagging from third.
CC kept Girardi on the bench, but with AJ Burnett on the mound in Game 5 and unlikely to give more than 6 innings, you really have to worry about how the manager will handle the bullpen, especially since Girardi still seems to believe he made the right calls on Monday. He may be the only person in New York who thinks he got all of them right. That makes him prone to continue his bullpen manipulations and that is something to worry about.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
On the offensive side, Alex Rodriguez continued his postseason resurgence. Things didn't look promising for the Yankees at first as they blew a prime run-scoring situation in the second inning, failing to score after starting the inning with runners on first and second. But Melky Cabrera finally came through with runners in scoring position, eventually driving in 4 runs tonight. And then ARod again took control of the game with another well-timed blast. In two series this year, he has surpassed his playoff performance of the previous four years combined.
With CC 3-0 in the playoffs and ARod with five homers and 11 ribbies so far, looks like talk of their postseason struggles has been vanquished for good.
Scott Boras needs to stop talking about Johnny Damon's impending free agency. That's not a priority right now for Yankee fans. We generally like Damon, Red Sox history aside, but there's no need to talk about his future with the Yanks when the team is fighting to stave off an Angels team that has a little momentum on their side.
I also don't want to hear about the Yankees pursuit of the next Kei Igawa. If this kid Yusei Kikuchi is as good as they say he is, there will be plenty of time and fighting over him in the offseason. But the head of every Yankees player and official needs to be focused on beating the Halos.
Luckily for the Yankees they play again today and they can quickly erase the sting of Game 3 with a winning performance. But even that is problematic. They have their stud pitcher CC Sabathia, but he's going on 3 days rest. Pitchers going on short rest in the playoffs have not done well in the past, including Sabathia with the Brewers last year. The Yanks desperately need a good outing from the big guy. They don't want to go into Game 5 tied with the Angels with the erratic AJ Burnett on the mound and the Halos brimming with confidence.
I hope CC can pull a repeat of his Game 1 performance where he serves as his own set-up man for Mariano Rivera. Take the decision out of Joe Girardi's hands because he clearly can not stop himself from micromanaging his bullpen.
Monday, October 19, 2009
I'm watching the post-game interview and Girardi hasn't given a good explanation of the move. He said he was comfortable with the matchup with Ace, but he didn't say why exactly that was the case. Robertson has better stuff, it doesn't make any sense.
His bullpen manuevering might have lost him the game in the previous inning when Phil Hughes gave up a double and then he brought Mariano Rivera into the game. If you're bringing in Mo, why wait until Hughes gives up the run? Why not bring Mo in to start the inning? Then maybe you don't have the drama of the Angels getting first and third, requiring Mo to perform a magic act to get out of the inning.
But it's not all Girardi's fault. The Yankee offense, mostly notably Nick Swisher, could not get a base hit with runners in scoring position. The four solo home runs were great, but you need to be able to play small ball in the postseason and the Yankees didn't do it.
Michael Kay dropped terrific news for Yankee fans during today's pre-game show on YES when he mentioned that Mariano Rivera was open to pitching beyond the expiration of his contract after the 2010 season. Mo previously had stated that he would retire after next year, but he is apparently having second thoughts. And he should since he continues to be so dominating. I'd like to see him go after baseball's all-time saves record, although he certaintly does not need it for validation as the best closer in baseball history. But it would be a nice record for him to hold. He has 526 saves in the regular season right now, second only to Trevor Hoffman's 591 saves.
As for today's game, Mo is said to be available despite having pitched 2 1/3 innings Saturday night. Seems like it's all hands on deck today, which makes sense since most of the other relievers only pitched to one or two batters in Game 2. Except, of course, Dave Robertson, who is winning the hearts of Yankee fans and his manager and teammates with his Houdini-like performances in the postseason.
Chad Gaudin will stay in the bullpen after Joe Girardi confirmed that CC Sabathia would start Game 4 tomorrow night. Like I said the other day, it's the right move regardless of whether the Yanks go up 3-0 or are 2-1 in the American League Championship Series. If you have the opportunity to finish the Angels, you go with your best guy. And you have to go with CC if the Angels are in a position to tie the series.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Robinson Cano also had a rough game defensively, missing an easy out in one inning and booting a potential double-play grounder later in the game. It seems he was most affected by the elements as he was the only Yankee fielder with the full protective headgear. Convinced that wearing the headgear was the reason for the miscues, the Yankee fans in my section were begging him to take it off by the end of the night. He didn't, but hopefully he won't have these same problems playing in the more pleasant California climate.
Mark Teixeira is the human Gumby. I'm constantly amazed by his ability to stretch and split to reach balls from his infielders, keeping his foot on the base long enough to get the out. He made a nice stretch into foul territory to get an out from a ball thrown by Jose Molina. Great defense that was much appreciated by AJ Burnett.
It was great to see Jerry Hairston Jr. get a well-deserved pie in the face after scoring the winning run last night. Hairston came off the bench on a cold night and got the rally started with a leadoff hit. He has been such a great addition for the Yankees and he reminds me of the old-school role players that were so integral to key victories during the Yankees dynasty. Hope the Yankees do everything they can to keep him.
Jose Molina deserves a lot of credit for guiding AJ through another critical start. Perhaps Jorge Posada should be grateful that he doesn't have to catch AJ when he's like this. Posada doesn't have the patience for erratic pitchers. That's probably why he and AJ don't work well together. But all Posada has to do is wait until AJ is done for the night and then he can pitch hit for Molina and play the rest of the game, so he doesn't have to sit an entire game out.
The sense of camaraderie among the fans at the stadium last night warmed my heart. I was sitting next to this family with their little boy (an adorable blue-eyed, smiling kid who easily won the hearts of all the female Yankee fans around him). By the time the game was over, it was like we were all family. I even got a huge hug from the mom when the Yanks finally won it. I think we all floated out of the stadium last night.
Another sign that the Yanks were going to beat the Halos: Mariano Rivera pitching 2 1/3 innings to keep the game tied, helped out by solid plays by Johnny Damon and Robinson Cano. It reminded me of his clutch performance in the 2003 ALCS against the Red Sox, a game that ended with Mo collapsing on the mound in utter joy after Aaron Boone won the game with a home run.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
It was really great to see Johnny Damon get back in the swing of things with a couple of hits and a nice sliding catch. I was worried about his hitting after the division series because he looked so terrible, but last night he looked pretty solid, particularly on the double. It's important that he and Nick Swisher get back into a hitting groove as Joe Girardi doesn't have many options with Eric Hinske not on the roster for the American League Championship Series.
Despite how overpowering CC was last night, I was a little surprised that Girardi let him go 8 innings, given his desire to use him for 3 ALCS starts (weather permitting, of course!). But can't blame him for wanting to use CC to get the ball to Mo, particularly given how Phil Hughes struggled in the ALDS. When you have a Game 1 victory in your sights, you do whatever you have to do to lock it down. And that's just what Girardi did.
I'm completely psyched for tonight, as I have a ticket for Game 2. I'm obviously worried about the weather, but will wear multiple layers and take my poncho or umbrella. Hopefully, the Yankees will give me a lot to cheer about so I can stay warm. =)
Friday, October 16, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
I do think Davidoff glossed over some of the reasons why the Angels will be a tough opponent for the Yankees. Their running game is going to give the Yankees' pitching staff fits. With the exception of Andy Pettitte, none of the starters is great at keeping runners on base. Having Jose Molina catch AJ Burnett will help a little, but AJ tends to walk a lot of runners so the bases should be full of Angels.
The Angels also have the better manager in Mike Scioscia. He has a lot more experience, including managing his team to a World Series win, than Joe Girardi. I bet Angels fans don't worry about their manager blowing out their bullpen. The Yankee bullpen, despite Phil Hughes' struggles in the American League Division Series, should be a strength if bullpen moves are properly managed. In contrast, the Angels are really missing K-Rod.
That being said, I still believe the Yankees will win what should be an awesome series. I think they have the stronger lineup and bullpen and their starting pitching matches up pretty well. Yanks in seven, baby!
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
It is truly amazing when you think about Rivera and how he has managed to dominate for more than a decade. It always shocks me when he gives up a lead (like the game against Seattle when Ichiro hit that home run, I was falling asleep as soon as I saw Mo coming in because I thought the game was over right then).
Funny thing about Rivera, apparently he was sick last week during the American League Division Series. Couldn't tell from the way he pitched, going 3.2 innings and closing out the series for the Yanks.
Great omen for the Yankees: When Papelbum won the award in 2007, the Saux won the World Series. When Brad Lidge won the award in 2008, his Phillies won the World Series. Guess that means the Yanks are winning it all this year!
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
As usual, the Yankees old-guard of Derek Jeter (sorry Derek, know you don't like the nickname, but it works), Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte performed reliably well in the first round of the American League Division Series. Jeter hit .400, including his clutch 2-run home run to break the Twins in Game 1. Mo closed out yesterday's win and pitched relatively well in the three games despite giving up a few hits. Andy matched John Smoltz for the most playoff wins at 15. And Jorge emerged from a disappointing, and probably motivating, benching to drive in the winning run in Game 3.
Alex Rodriguez surpassed even my expectations with an incomparable performance in the ALDS. Every time the Yankees needed a big hit, there was ARod. Driving in Jeter twice with 2-out clutch hits in Game 1, tying Game 2 in the 9th with a 2-run blast and knocking in the tying run with another mammoth shot in Game 3, permanently deflating any hopes of momentum for the Twins.
But like I said, the Yankees do have some things to worry about, namely the lack of hitting by anyone not named ARod, Jeter or Posada. The biggest concerns for me were Johnny Damon and Nick Swisher, who both had one futile at-bat after another against the Twins. Damon was struggling at the end of the regular season and it looks like he has not been able to get his groove back. Joe Girardi seems to have a lot of confidence in both of them, but at some point he has to think about shifting the batting order or benching one or both of them because the Yankees will need all the offense they can get against a tough Angels pitching staff.
Girardi made some strange decisions with his bullpen this series. Taking Andy Pettitte out after he threw only 81 pitches in a typically strong postseason performance in favor of the struggling Joba Chamberlain was perplexing to say the least. Taking Yankee bulldog Alfredo Aceves out after one inning in a tie game didn't make any sense. Trusting Damaso Marte in a tight game after his struggles this year was bizarre. Girardi was quite lucky that none of these moves blew up in his face. I don't think he'll be that lucky against the Angels, particularly with Mike Scioscia managing the other team.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Once again, Andy Pettitte came up with another huge postseason start. He started most of my favorite games during the Yankees dynasty years and I felt like I was watching a vintage Andy Pettitte start tonight. He got a lot of help from his surrounding cast, particularly his catcher. Jorge Posada played a fantastic game, both offensively and defensively. His home run proved to be the game winner and he added another insurance ribbie later, but his perfect throw to get Punto after receiving a heads-up throw from Derek Jeter was my favorite moment of the game.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Pavano looked particularly bad playing on the same team as Derek Jeter, who flew headfirst into the seats to catch a ball not once but twice and still played on as if nothing happened. Even now, when Jeter is questioned about injuries, he always says he's fine, even though everyone knows better. I remember watching a game last year when Reggie Jackson was talking with the ESPN team and was telling them how Jeter's numbers were down because he played hurt all year and refused to sit out.
I always thought Pavano could have bucked up and insisted on pitching more than he did. I'm generally not a fan who loves to boo former Yankee players, but for Pavano I'll make an exception.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
I couldn't have said it any better than Twins manager Ron Gardenhire: "Jeter did what he does best. He got his team right back in it."
"That's Derek Jeter this time of the year," his own manager Joe Girardi said.
Jeter always wants to win, but I get the sense that there is a special urgency to the Yanks' title run this year for him with the Boss being in failing health. Jeter is incredibly fond of George Steinbrenner and they have a pretty close relationship for an owner and a player. It's unusual for Jeter to openly share these thoughts so you know he is gunning for another ring for the Boss.
With the World Series scheduled to go into November this year, it's time to dust off the Mr. November nickname for Mr. Jeter!
BTW, ARod is making me look like a genius. When I said he would have a good postseason, I had no idea it was going to happen this quickly. ARod came through with not one, but two clutch 2-out ribbie hits. Keep it going, ARod!
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
In hindsight, being outed as a steroids user and conducting that painful press conference may have been just what he needed. Maybe the weight of that secret was on him too much. ARod's insatiable need to be liked has been well known. Perhaps he knew deep down that the steroids use would hurt him with a lot of fans and even some of his own teammates. But in unburdening himself of that secret, maybe he finally realized that you can't rely on other people to validate who you are as a player or a human being. So he stopped trying so hard to get people to like him. And in a strange way, I think it made his teammates actually like him.
Physically, he seems to be in a good shape too, as shown by his historic inning in Tampa on Sunday. And the Yankees choosing the series with three off days really helps him. He played so much better when the team finally realized he couldn't play baseball every day.
I'm predicting ARod is going to have a good postseason, batting close to .300 and coming through in one or two key spots with runners in scoring position. And that will be enough. It will be enough to help his team, which has proven this year that they don't rely on one guy to be the hero. It will be enough for the media, who will finally write the positive stories that ARod once craved. It will be enough for Yankee fans, who really do want to like ARod.
Here's hoping that when ARod finally does come through in the playoffs, he doesn't give a damn what any of us think!
With the Twinkies still celebrating in their clubhouse, you can only imagine how exhausted they'll be for the series with the Yanks. They may be able to go on adrenaline in Game 1, but I wouldn't want to bet on that against CC. Plus, think about the energy it took for them to get to this point. They came back from being 3 games down with 4 to play to beat the Tigers. Hope they run out of steam soon!
I do feel badly for the Tigers to lose such a memorable game, but they did squander a healthy lead in the last few weeks of the season, something they'll spend the offseason agonizing about.
Anyway, back to the Yanks, who as expected chose to start their series on Wednesday, giving them the extra off days and allowing them to stick with CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Andy Pettitte and skip over Joba Chamberlain. I hate all the extra days in the postseason after months of watching games on an almost daily basis. But given the age of some of the Yankee players, an extra day here and there can't hurt.
Monday, October 5, 2009
If the road to victory is paved by good starting pitching, then it’s clear that Molina needs to catch AJ. I know that the whole idea of a personal catcher is repugnant to many baseball fans, but the Yankees have to give themselves the best chance of winning and that is clearly with Molina behind the plate when AJ starts. It does weaken the lineup a bit at the end, with either Posada or Hideki Matsui having to take a seat, but a lineup led by Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez should be able to provide plenty of offense.
It was fun seeing Posada act as manager during Sunday’s game, although it didn’t look like he got to make many decisions. Jorge was the manager by default as most of the other regulars were going to play the last game of the regular season with two full days off before postseason play begins. But it was clear Joe Girardi had a plan for bringing in as many relievers as he could to check out those on the bubble and get Mariano Rivera and Phil Hughes some work to try to keep them sharp for Wednesday’s Game 1. Jorge did get to make the calls to the bullpen—wonder what was said during those conversations! Jorge didn’t even get to do the manager’s postgame interview, which Joe Torre routinely let the acting manager do. It was always comical watching the players sit in their manager’s chair and try to deal with the media.