Look what people have to say about Larry Mahnken's commentary!
"Larry, can you be any more of a Yankee apologist?.... Just look past your Yankee myopia and try some objectivity." - Bernal Diaz
"Mr. Mahnken is enlightened." - cordially, as always,
"Wow, Larry. You've produced 25% of the comments on this thread and
said nothing meaningful. That's impressive, even for you." - Anonymous
"After reading all your postings and daily weblog...I believe you have truly become the Phil Pepe of this generation. Now this is not necessarily a good thing." - Repoz
"you blog sucks, it reeds as it was written by the queer son of mike lupica and roids clemens. i could write a better column by letting a monkey fuk a typewriter. i dont need no 181 million dollar team to write a blog fukkk the spankeees" - yan
"i think his followers have a different sexual preference than most men" - bob
"Boring and predictable." - No Guru No Method
"Are you the biggest idiot ever?" - Randal
"I'm not qualified to write for online media, let alone mainstream
media." - Larry Mahnken
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October 28, 2004
Burying the Bambino by Larry Mahnken
There, that wasn't so bad, was it? The world didn't end, it was just a baseball game. For the first time in 86 years, the Boston Red Sox are World Champions. And it's really not that bad.
Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm not happy about it, but I'm not miserable. But I have a great many friends who are Red Sox fans, a large number of family members who are Red Sox fans, and for them, I am genuinely happy. It was time, they had suffered long enough.
There's a part of me that's relieved, too.
For as long as I can remember, it hasn't been that the Yankees beat the Red Sox (though they had), but rather that they had to beat the Red Sox. Beating Boston became more important than beating any other team, even to the point where last season I was so happy that they won the ALCS, not because they were going back to the World Series, but because they hadn't lost to Boston.
Now, the Red Sox are just another team, and while the Yankees have to beat them, they don't have to beat them more than any other team. They don't have to be the team to stop the Red Sox, because they've already gotten where they needed to go.
So, congratulations Red Sox fans, enjoy your offseason. We're gonna kick your asses next year.
I moved my Yankees banner into the window facing the street. I stuck a pin on my jacket that says "I'm a Yankees Fan". There's nothing more that I can do. --posted at 1:52 AM by Larry Mahnken / |
This is not a tragedy by SG
Sure, this is a huge disappointment, but it's baseball. I am frustrated and angry, but the team that played better won this series. Just realize that there is no reason to be sad, and there's no reason to feel depressed. Feel sad about things that happen to you, your family, and your friends. Don't feel sad about a sporting event, no matter how emotionally attached you may get at times.
As Yankee fans, we've been spoiled, and we are the luckiest sports fans on earth. As tough as this ending is, remember the great games this team gave us this year, and all the great games in the last 10 years. Let the Red Sox fans have their moment, wish them well in the next round, and move on with your lives. Rest assured, George Steinbrenner will pull out all the stops this offseason to put this team in a position to compete for the World Series again.
There'll be a lot of talk about the Yankees choking, but that denigrates a heroic effort by the Boston Red Sox, who accomplished something that no other team in any major sport has ever accomplished (no, hockey doesn't count). Congratulations to the Boston Red Sox, and to their loyal fans. All sports teams have fans that are dicks, the Red Sox are no exception, but don't paint them all with the same brush. For the most part, they are among the most die-hard, loyal, and passionate fans in sports, and they deserve this night.
And there is no damn curse. Let's not dwell in the past anymore. What happened in 1978 doesn't matter. What happened in 1999 doesn't matter. What happened in 2003 doesn't matter. And in 181 days, when pitchers and catchers report, what happened in 2004 won't matter.
I really don't want to post and boot SG's nicely worded entry off the top. Please don't forget to scroll down after my post and read his - it's a better read than mine. (I changed the post time and moved this below SG's - Larry)
Yankee fans, save this feeling. Nurture it. Only lows like this make the dizzying highs worth it. The 1996 World Series wouldn't have been anywhere near as wonderful if they didn't lose the first two games easily. And it wouldn't have been as meaningful if they didn't lose excruciatingly in Game 5 in 1995.
Why am I bringing up old history, particularly when I could be writing about the Red Sox right now, or the failings of the 2004 Yankees, or expressing my frustration? Because this result will make the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry all the stronger. Instead of Beantown being the Washington Generals, they now have a track history of beating their neighbors when it counts. The 19 clashes next year, plus the possible postseason matchup (we can only hope) will be more meaningful, more suspenseful, and could even be better than this year and last year. No longer will the Yankees have everything to lose while the Sox have everything to gain.
Finally, I can't take that high road. Color me an NL fan for the next two weeks.
I'm not watching the end of this. I'm going to clean my apartment, and try to find one thing in my life to not be miserable about. What a lousy week.
I'm taking some time off. SG, tverik and sjohnny should be able to pick up the slack.
As for Boston, just go win the damn series already, so everyone will shut up. --posted at 11:32 PM by Larry Mahnken / |
HOW JOE TORRE LOST THIS SERIES by sj
Saturday, October 16, 2004
With the Yankees leading by only 11 runs, Joe Torre calls Tom Gordon out of the pen to pitch the ninth.He throws 17 pitches.
Sunday, October 17, 2004
In a much closer game, Tom Gordon is summoned to throw 26 pitches over 2 innings.
Monday, October 18, 2004
Having thrown in back to back games, Gordon is asked to a third and has nothing.He threw a bunch of fat pitches Manny Ramirez, and Manny, feeling sorry for lil’ Tom, decided to ground into a DP.Ortiz then hit a homer.IT IS AT THIS POINT THAT TORRE SHOULD HAVE BROUGHT IN RIVERA.Gordon gives up another walk and single and Rivera is brought into a near impossible situation.Varitek hits a fly ball, runs scores, and Rivera gets an undeserved Blown Save.
Doesn’t matter what happened after that. Doesn’t matter that he pulled Brown with the bases loaded, doesn’t matter that he let Sierra play too much. Torre has been terrible this series.Clearly he trusts no one.He wouldn’t use Karsay, he wouldn’t Giambi.He wouldn’t use Halsey, or Padilla, or anyone.He just trotted Gordon and Rivera out for inning after inning.
Joe Torre didn’t lose this series, but for the first time in a long time, he did not put his team in the best possible position to win.
Oh, and enjoy this year Sox fans.Next year George is taking NO PRISONERS.
Eventually, probability was going to have to catch up. Eventually, a team would come back from 0-3. Eventually, the Yankees wouldn't get the big break. Eventually, the Red Sox would win.
You know, it took me an hour to get over the loss last night and try to show some measure of objectivity. What does that get me? Hate mail from both Yankees fans and Red Sox fans.
Don't ever become a writer. --posted at 1:07 PM by Larry Mahnken / |
Nightmare Scenario by Larry Mahnken
Well, at least it wasn't Torre's fault.
After frittering away his bullpen the previous two days trying deperately to win games they could afford to lose, Joe -- and Jon Lieber -- gave pretty much everyone who matters a day off, making pretty much everyone that matters acceptably rested to go one or two innings in Game Seven.
I knew from the moment Al Leiter commented on Schilling's mechanics that the Yankees were in trouble last night. Then Jeter swung at the first pitch, and I realized that they were counting on beating up on him, rather than working the pitch count to get into the bullpen, and I knew they were going to lose. Lieber would pitch fine, and he did, but I knew that he wasn't going to be quite good enough. And he was fine. But not good enough.
So now the collapse is complete, and all that's left is redemption or utter failure. Redemption for Kevin Brown and Javier Vazquez, redemption for Mariano Rivera and Tom Gordon, redemption for every Yankees hitter who failed to get the hit that mattered the last three days. Ironic, isn't it, that it's not been the Yankees' pitching that's failed them, but their hitting?
I look at Game Seven and I see a game they can win. At first, I felt calm, as though having lost the lead was the completion of my worst fears, but I guess I just put that aside so I could write something. Now I am brought back down by the realization that the Yankees are the only team on the field tomorrow facing a must win. The Red Sox will head back to Boston tomorrow heroes, either as the AL Champs, or the team that didn't quit. They have no fear of losing, because there is no consequence to them losing. For the Yankees, losing is the completion of the greatest collapse in the history of baseball, perhaps the history of sports.
They can win. Derek Lowe was solid on Sunday, but there's always the possibility of a meltdown. Of course, at the first sign of trouble Tim Wakefield will come in, as will Bronson Arroyo, a rested Mike Timlin and Alan Embree, and maybe even Keith Foulke. The Yankees will have a fairly rested 'pen, too, but they'll need as good an outing from Kevin Brown as they've ever gotten. If the Yankees fall behind early, they're done for.
According to ESPN Radio this morning, the Yankees are allegedly planning to bunt, over and over again, in an effort to make the hobbled Curt Schilling field balls on wet grass, and cover first.
With Schilling's ankle already tenuous at best (he'll be wearing a special sneaker-boot designed to keep his tendon from snapping against bone), this is a devious plan worthy of Snidely Whiplash, Darth Vader, or name your favorite villain.
Evil empire, indeed.
When you are relying on your opponent to get hurt, you must be getting desperate.
Does this idea make New York fans proud? (It's more worthy of Ed Hillel, the "objective Yankee fan" in the stands near the right field pole in Yankee Stadium, who lied through his teeth on national television by claiming Todd Walker's home run was foul -- despite replays showing the exact opposite.)
Just because the Spankees have been rocked and shocked for two games by the resurgent Ortiz, Foulke & Co. is no excuse to promote injuries.
It's just unsportsmanlike, from a team which is always claiming it has more "class" than others.
Puh-lease. Is it unsportsmanlike to take pitches from pitcher who is wild? It is unsportsmanlike to run on a pitcher who is slow to the plate, or a catcher who can't throw well? If Schilling can't field a bunt, or if doing so could force him out of the game, the Yankees shouldn't be afraid, or attacked, for bunting.
This comment by the Columbia-Union is, in fact, exactly the type of myopic ignorance practiced by Ed Hillel that the author derisively compares the Yankees' possible strategy to.
This is excruciating. If George Steinbrenner knows what's good for his team, he'll tell the grounds crew to slack off this afternoon so the field will be unplayable tonight, regardless of how much it rains. Yeah, that gets Boston's bullpen off the ropes, but the Yankees are wholly lacking a bullpen right now. Rivera is out, Gordon is out, Sturtze is probably no good for more than an inning, Quantrill is hurt. Loazia's out, for what it's worth, but I think he used up all his magic dust last night. Heredia sucks.
Lieber needs to pitch at least seven or eight innings tonight, and they really, really need to get to Curt Schilling. I don't mean knock him out of the game early -- I have no faith in their ability to get to Boston's relievers anymore -- but rather, beat the crap out of him, score six or seven runs.
If the Yankees lose tonight because they blow the lead in the eighth or ninth, Joe Torre should be fired. Even if they win the series. He wasted his bullpen on a game they didn't need to win on Sunday, he should have put Loaiza into Game Four and saved Gordon, he should have saved Rivera for the ninth. If they lost, they were up 3-1, but they'd still have Rivera and Gordon at more or less full strength. Torre's managed like these games were must-win, and that the consequences of losing were worth it. Now he's paying for it.
Well, I guess we knew it wasn't going to be that easy to finish off Boston. For three games I was cautiously optimistic about the Yankees' chances of winning the pennant, last night I dropped the "cautious" part.
Nothing that happened last night should convince anyone that the Yankees are going to blow this lead, of course. Don't get that impression from my last article, my pessimistic nature has a sinking feeling that they're going to do just that, but that's just my psyche preparing me for the worst. My sense is that now a Boston comeback is plausible, which is more than anybody would have been willing to say the day before. And you know, sometimes the worst thing happens.
But, for the Red Sox to lose, the following things need to happen:
- Boston needs to beat Mike Mussina
- Pedro Martinez needs to shut down the Yankees
- Pedro Martinez needs to go deep into Game Five
- Boston needs to beat Jon Lieber
- Curt Schilling needs to pitch well despite having a ruptured tendon sheath
- Boston needs to beat Kevin Brown/Javier Vazquez
- Boston's pitching staff needs to stop the Yankees' lineup for three more games.
It could happen, it's unlikely. If the Yankees were entering a three-game weekend series at Fenway with these pitching matchups, I'd like the Yankees' chances of taking at least one of the games, probably two considering Schilling's ankle. Two of the games will be at Yankee Stadium should this go 7, where the Yankees are 7-4 against Boston this season (compared to 4-8 at Fenway).
The Yankees got a solid starting performance from Orlando Hernandez, though his command got a little shaky in the fifth. Tanyon Sturtze was solid again, and considering that he's added a cutter (learned from Rivera) since coming to New York, and that it obviously took time to master, it is entirely plausible that his solid relief performances of the past month are not entirely a fluke, and that he can be a reliable middle reliever, at least in the David Weathers ca. 1996 sense.
Rivera didn't pitch badly, he just wasn't good enough. If Posada's throw was to the right field side of second, we're talking about the AL Champions right now. Gordon pitched well.
Foulke pitched three innings, using him up for anything more than a single inning in Game Five, if that. Leskanic stopped the Yankees, but that shouldn't be expected to happen again. Embree and Timlin probably can't go too long today, so it's almost all on Pedro.
Anyway, I'm cautiously optimistic again. The Yankees are probably going to win, but it's still not going to be easy. We were reminded of that last night. Because of that reminder, I won't talk about the NLCS until this thing is finished. So hopefully I'll be talking about that tonight.
Well, okay, because, one, right now they're talking about the intentional walk to Posada, which evidently supposedly was filtered down by the Bill James book, the intentional walk to Posada and then pitching to Sierra because THE BOOK says that Posada has a better record against Wakefield than does Sierra. However, that negates the fact that obviously they haven't been watching Posada in this series.
Yeah, Bill James advocates intentional walks ALL the time.
You stupid moron, you have no idea what you're talking about. You're so afraid of the possibility that someone might POSSIBLY know more than you that you mock them for a decision that THEY WOULD OPPOSE.
Intentional walks are STUPID. Just like sac bunts, there are times when they are the right decision, but they are few and far between. Giving a team a free baserunner when you're down by three runs, and there's two outs, is always a stupid move. The book doesn't say walk Posada, the book says pitch to Posada. The book says pitch to Sierra. The book says if you can't get guys out, you're not going to be any better off by not getting guys out and putting more guys on base.
Read Bill James just once, don't guess what it's about becuase you skimmed Moneyball, or because you see some stat line that says Ruben Sierra is 1 for 13 against Wakefield. 13 at-bats??? You SERIOUSLY think that Bill James advocates making a tactical decision on 13 fucking at-bats?
Don't gloat. It feels good to be up 3-0, on the verge of beating our arch-rivals. It feels good to be on the verge of going to the World Series for the seventh time in nine years, a ridiculous number of times when you really think about it. It feels good. It feels REALLY good.
But don't gloat. Celebrate all you want, but don't make it personal. That just makes you a jackass. I'm not going to harp on the "it's not even close" remark from early September beyond this reminder of it, nor am I going to try to exact revenge for the schadenfraude a lot of BoSox fans displayed when the division lead was shrinking. I'm just going to be happy that my team is doing so well.
I am quite frankly as shocked as any Red Sox fan is that Boston is going down so meekly, I could see the Yankees winning, but I didn't see them winning easily. I thought that either way this would go six or seven (well, it still could...), and from the tone of some other Yankees bloggers, you had to know that a lot of us thought that it would be Boston on the winning end. Even SG didn't make an outright prediction here, I imagine because he couldn't allow himself to be dishonest, and he couldn't bring himself to predict a Boston victory (well, seriously, anyway).
Of course this series isn't over yet. In theory, Boston could win tonight, win Monday behind Pedro, and get a win from Curt Schilling to force Game Seven. And then the surging Sox win it behind Bronson Arroyo or Tim Wakefield. It could happen, I suppose, but everything would have to go perfectly for Boston -- they'd need six or seven innings from all their starters, they'd need to get to all the Yankees' starters. It's just not plausible.
I wonder, do the Sox fans out there want to hold out that hope that it can happen? Are they going to sit back and enjoy however many games they get to see their team in the rest of the way? Or do they want this to end quickly and mercifully, so they can move on the the Patriots (which, I assume, is a much happier thing to focus on)? I just wonder.
As for me, I'm half looking toward the World Series. No matter who wins the NLCS, this is going to be a great, great series. Both the Cardinals and Astros are great teams, and no matter who wins the Series, there will be no upsets -- unlike last season. I like how the Yankees match up, especially if their lineup keeps hitting like this, but I don't see them having an easy time of it.
Of course, I just said I had seen the ALCS going to six or seven games, and the Yankees maybe losing. So just disregard everything I say from now on.
Except this: be happy. There are few better feelings as a baseball fan than you'll have right now.
I lost my job this week. It's a tight spot, but I'll manage. Get a couple of part time jobs to pay the bills, and I'm better off than I was before -- at least I'll be away from Wegmans.
I might be able to get a job at a newspaper part-time, and get my foot in the door of the industry, but I'm going to need a car -- which I don't have. Anyway, if any of you had been thinking about chipping in a couple of bucks to support the site, I'd really appreciate it now more than ever. Sorry to beg, especially after I promised not to.
Thanks so much to SG, David Peng, Darren Munk, Derron Blakely, Ira Kotel, Scott Lange, Phil Coorey, RB in the UK, Jon Vrecsics, Joe Friesen, Chrystal Smith, Jonathan Kay, Adam Rashid, Aaron Gleeman, and NYYfans.com for helping out so far. If anyone else wants to, you can chip in through the PayPal link on the left. Thanks to everyone who even thinks about it.
Two days ago it seemed the Yankees' task was to avoid heading to Boston 0-2, now they've got a chance to put the Red Sox away quickly.
I don't think they will. Boston's lineup hasn't shut itself down like they arguably did in last year's ALCS, they've been dominated by great pitching. If the Yankees slip just a little bit Boston is ready to pound them. They need a strong start by Brown on Friday night to get a real stranglehold on this series.
But that's just me being realistic. There's no reason to not feel estatic about things right now, so far things have gone New York's favor, they've beaten the two best starters Boston has, and might not have to face Schilling again -- and certainly not twice more.
Rivera last night was outstanding. He seemed a little off on Tuesday night, but from the moment I saw his first pitch last night -- a cutter that missed just inside -- I knew that he was going to be okay.
This has been a tremendously entertaining series so far, though very hard on the nerves. I definitely need this off day.
After watching Mike Mussina dominate the Boston Red Sox lineup in Game one, you had to figure that would be the best pitching performance the Yankees would get in this series. You would've been wrong. Jon Lieber pitched one of the best games of his life, in the most important game of his career.
The pitching matchup was, on paper, a classic mismatch. Pedro Martinez, the best pitcher of the last six seasons, versus Jon Lieber, in his first full season coming off of ligament replacement surgery. However, Lieber attacked the Red Sox aggressively, pounding the strike zone with all his pitches. Meanwhile, Pedro struggled in the first, allowing a walk to Derek Jeter, hitting Alex Rodriguez, allowing a single to Gary Sheffield, before finally recovering to retire Hideki Matsui, Bernie Williams, and Jorge Posada.
Despite only allowing one run, the tone of the game was set. Lieber threw nine pitches in the first, Martinez threw 26 pitches. Although Pedro had very good velocity, the first and second innings took a lot out of him, and he was only able to go six innings, and showed visible signs of fatigue in the sixth, when he gave up a two run HR to John Olerud after walking Posada, giving the Yankees a 3-0 lead.
Meanwhile, Lieber absolutely picked apart the Boston Red Sox. A leadoff walk to Ortiz in the second and a single by Orlando Cabrera in the third were the only baserunners he allowed through six. There was a classic 16 pitch confrontation with Johnny Damon in the sixth which probably cost Lieber his shot at a complete game.
Although he got the out, at this point his was 1/4 of all the pitches he had thrown in the game. This AB took a lot out of Lieber in my opinion, and probably caused him to tire.
Lieber entered the eight at 79 pitches, but gave up a leadoff single to Trot Nixon. He was pulled at this point for Flash Gordon, who's been a bit shaky in the postseason. A ringing double from Jason 'Tough Guy' Varitek put runners at second and third with no outs, but Flash did manage to get two ground outs, with one of the runs scoring. With Johnny Damon up, Torre went to the amazing Mariano Rivera. Mo has to be both physically and mentally exhausted, but he came in and did a great job of getting the last four outs, and giving the Yankees a commanding 2-0 lead in the best of seven ALCS.
Obviously, this is the best-case scenario for the Yankees, but this series is far from over. Boston hits much better at home, and it's safe to say that Brown and either El Duque or Vazquez are big question marks. You'd think that Game 5, with Mussina vs. a gimpy Schilling or his replacement heavily favors the Yankees, so if they are able to steal Game 3 or 4, they have a chance to clinch at Fenway. I still expect the series to come back to the Stadium, probably with the Yankees up 3-2, with two chances to close it out.
That's all stuff to worry about for later. Kudos to Jon Lieber once again, for an absolute gem of a pitching performance. --posted at 1:02 AM by SG / |
You certainly don’t see that everyday.A win is a win, especially in the postseason, but what would have been a statement win, became a “thank God they didn’t blow it” win.In game one, a lot of good things happened, but a lot of flaws were exposed.
The first double was impressive only in that “he got that pitch in the air?” kind of way.The second and third doubles were crushed.He is becoming a feared hitter in a lineup full of feared hitters.After the game, Sheff said Hideki has “the best plate coverage on the team.”
Bad: Matsui’s Glove.
What in the hell?The first one was hard, but he didn’t take a great angle on a pretty hard hit ball, and it hit the edge of his glove.It could have been made, but it wasn’t a terrible mistake.At that point in the game, all it really did was screw up Moose’s line.The Ortiz triple (triple!) absolutely should have been caught, no exceptions.He overran it and it hit his glove, again.Not just his hit his glove, hit inside the creamy the center of his glove, a major league outfielder must catch that ball, no exceptions.
He was fantastic, the knuckle curve was biting, his fastball was live, and his control was outstanding.He looked, for a while, like the Moose on the hill in Cleveland in 1997.
Unacceptable.The strike zone was inconsistent all night, it made no sense.The Yanks got the benefit of the doubt on most of the calls.From the gift strike to Mueller on 1-0, to the gift ball call to Sheffield in the ninth, the Yanks can’t expect those all series.Questec will probably have some data to show Randy Marsh tonight.
He had some big hits, and scored a couple runs.He has never had big postseasons before, in fact, he had something of a Bonds pre-2002 reputation.That is fading now.
Bad:Varitek woke up.
He had been historically bad Yankee Stadium lately.He looked lost at the plate all season in the Bronx.Even though it was Sturtze, it was still a homer.
Bad: Jorge Posada
I love Jorge, but he always wears down in the postseason, and he is 4-21 this postseason. With Pedro going tomorrow, expect another collar.
I think Sturtze has been adequate in his spot starter mop-up role this year.For some reason, Crazy Joe has upped that role to third man out of the bullpen.Call it the major league equivalent of the Peter Principle. Sturtze can throw hard but he rarely locates his pitches well.Even at 96 mph, missing over the plate means hard hit balls.I know Quantrill has been bad, but when everything in Sturtze’s history would indicate he is not the best option at Joe’s disposal.
It is hard to overstate how difficult today was for Rivera.He didn’t just bury two relatives; he buried two relatives, on another continent.Then he got on a plane and flew to NYC, and got 4 outs in a game he should have never had to pitch in. This was much more than an ordinary save.
He isn’t dead.
Good: Enweakque Wilson
Didn’t play, and that is never a bad thing.
Good: A Win.
Winning in the postseason is always huge.But even more, it was a win against Schilling.I know Schilling is banged up, but he was brought to Boston to win this game, Game One at Yankee Stadium.I am sure extended negotiations this winter, Theo or Henry brought up this very start, winning this game would have been very big for them.The Sox loss means the Sox must get four wins with three starts left from Pedro and Schilling.
Apparently, when Mariano Rivera arrived in the bullpen, Boston centerfielder Johnny Damon, playing in center, turned and made a gesture (clasped hands, apparently) of support to him. To do that in the middle of a ballgame to show love for a guy whose team you're desperately trying to beat, that's the epitome of class. Kudos to Johnny Damon, one of the few Sox I like.
Man, what a game last night. After three, I was euphoric. After six, I was nervous about the perfect game. After seven, I was nervous about the win, after eight I was panicking, after the ninth I was relieved.
My thoughts are over at THT, I just don't have the energy to write even more about it tonight. Maybe in the afternoon I'll think of something new and say it. Hopefully sjohnny or SG will stop by and give their view of this great and terrible game.
The Sound and the Fury: Looking at the ALCS by Sean McNally
Sean and John bicker about minor points relating to the ALCS, even though they agree on most things. They'll be doing this after a couple of the games as they happen.
SJohnny: First of all, worst week ever to quit smoking.
Sean McNally: See John have the DTs at www.softjohnnyquits.com
SJ: I am going through about $40 of nicotine gum a day.
SJ: That doesn't seem healthier.
SM: Your lungs thank you (as do the Primates planning to attend this year's World Series Meetup at Founders).
SM: OK, New York hasn't made any changes to its roster, how big a mistake is that?
SJ: It is somewhat of a mistake, but Torre has shown he wasn't going to pinch hit for Cairo. So really, the only mistake is when he pinch runs for Olerud, Clark plays not Giambi.
SM: Right, the core question is this: Is X% of Giambi better than Heredia or Loaiza?
SM: Sub-question: Is the devil we don't know (Halsey) suckier than the the devils we do know, the aforementioned Heredia and Loaiza?
SJ: It would be nice if the postseason had 8 man rosters, I am convinced the Yankees would win in a walk.
SM: The answer to both questions is, of course, yes.
SM: No pitchers? Just tees? How about Javy Vasquez as all-time pitcher?
SJ: Jeter could play short and all three outfield positions, and they could carry 3 pitchers
SM: The terrible replacement for Mr. Tony on ESPN Radio has taken to playing "Halleujah" music whenever talking about Jeter -- I kind of dig that.I think I shall call him St. Skeets from now on.
SJ: I can't believe you listen to that show.He should just start talking to you directly.
SM: Not my fault, my radio was on it when I got in the car.
SM: Any-hoo, Game One...
SJ: Right, Game One preview, Moose vs. Schilling.
SM: Here's my feeling, if Boston loses, they are cooked. If New York loses, eh, no big deal.
SJ: Really? I don't think Game One means all that much.
SM: Yeah, Boston has so much invested in Schilling (and his ability to make 55,000 people shut up) that if they lose, its all over but the Shaughnessy column.
SJ: Well, it does mean something, but Boston is good enough that they can win behind Pedro or Arroyo.
SJ: I see game one as a rather large victory for Boston, something in the Range of 8-1.
SM: Pedro has nothing for New York, except a Fathers Day card
SM: I think the Series will probably go seven, only because I don't see New York winning Game One.
SJ: So we both have Boston up 1-0?
SM: But, New York's gonna get four wins by five runs and Boston's going to win their three games by about 50 runs, meaning their fans at least will have the Pythagorean World Series to look forward to.
SM: I think New York has a chance, but if I were you (READ: a betting man) I'd take Boston.
SJ: Boston is actually the favorite.
SM: That's insane.
SM: Wait, for this game or the series?
SJ: I don't think the Yankees have been dogs in a playoff series since the 2001 ALCS . . .
SM: And look what happened there.
SJ: For the series.
SM: I say again, that's insane.
SM: Are certain Primates now setting Vegas lines? I thought they worked for pharmacutical companies.
SJ: Yeah but the Seattle overacheieved that year, this Boston squad played 60 games below their expected level
SM: So sayteh Pythagoras.
SJ: World Series Odds:
SJ: Boston 2.10!
SJ: Cards 3.25.
SJ: Yankees 4.0.
SJ: Astros 6.5.
SJ: That is crazy. CRAZY!!
SM: Bah! That's just people betting on the Sox for sentimentality, like the guy who bought 20,000 $2 bets on Smarty Jones to win the Belmont.
SJ: As for the series, Boston is 1.61, which is an incredibly heavy favorite.
SM: Same reason.
SM: If you want to make that bet, just come over to my house and I'll light your $20 on fire, it will be just as entertaining.
SJ: I have not made a bet since the Joe Gibbs redskins cut my September profits by two-thirds.
SM: Quitting smoking and betting? Did you secretly get married?
SJ: No, I am focusing my energy on poker.
SJ: I have found it it better to lose all my money in one place, rather than slowly.
SM: Fair enough.
SM: So back to the series, we both agree that the Yanks will win in the end?
SJ: Yeah, seven games
SM: I really think this Game One is the X factor.
SJ: But I think the Red Sox will take the Pythagorean title.
SM: If Boston loses, the Yanks could be setting their World Series rotation by Monday.
SJ: Game Four could be huge. I think, if the Yanks find themselves up 2-1 and El Duque can pitch, that would be HUGE. I think it is a good sign that Duque was not dropped from the postseason roster.
SM: I think if things break exactly right, which they won't under any circumstances Schilling loses Game One, Pedro turns in a non-vintage start in Game Two and then you have Bronson Arroyo alternating between crapping his pants and going to the rosin bag in a virtual elimination game in front of a cranky Fenway crowd. That could be fun for the whole family.
SJ: I think the odds of a sweep are roughly the same as me starting Game Three.
SM: My friend the Red Sox fan told me he was the Yankees' number three starter.
SJ: Your friend is a Red Sox fan?
SM: I have a friend, who despite my better judgement, I allow to be a Red Sox fan.
SM: Anyway, he only said that after I reminded him his team hasn't won a World Series in 86 years.
SJ: Red Sox fans aren't bad people, I have some friends who are Sox fans.
SM: That sounds so condescending
SM: "Some of my best friends are _____________ (fill-in group you were just slagging)"
SJ: I almost wish they could win this year.
SM: Funny, I wish they could almost win this year.
SJ: Yeah, I am probably just saying that.
SM: I know you are, you try to be such a nice guy, but its pretty transparent.
SJ: No actually, my mentor is a Sox fan, and he is not doing so well now. There is a Tuesdays with Morrie kinda thing.
SM: Ahhh, well thanks for taking us the Chick Flick Zone... Larry's two female readers will appreciate that.
SJ: I am sure you are not the only married reader.
SM: Yeah, yeah yeah... Alright, to wrap up we go to the Lightning Round:
SM: More pressure: Schilling or ARod?
SM: Bigger ass: Schilling or Varitek's?
SM: Worse hair: Arroyo or Millar?
SM: Word association - Kevin Millar?
SM: Sorry, scab was the right answer, and you were doing so well.
SJ: I choose to go another direction
SM: Alright Robert Frost, you can choose all you want, but he's still a scab.
SJ: Series MVP?
SM: St. Skeets
SJ: Kevin Brown
SJ: Two wins, including Game Seven.
SM: Wow, that's bold.
SJ: That is a series MVP
SM: Alright, your surpising hero?
SJ: Hmmmm ... Who would suprise you from the yanks if they did well?
SJ: Lofton wont get any ABs
SM: An all righty Boston rotation means lots of ABs for Kenny and very little Sierra
SJ: If someone wasn't managing on autopilot maybe
SM: Yeah yeah yeah, speaking of...Player I'm most likely to curse at Joe Torre for using in a key situation?
SM: Ooooh, close but wrong again.... Wilson.
SJ: Wilson will only get used if he pinch hits for cairo, or if ARod or Jeter gets hurt. Really, the Wilson era is over.
SM: And there was much rejoicing.
SJ: Torre has buried him.
SM: Speaking of 'Holy Grail' references, has anyone ever gone through a "But I'm not dead yet" rejuvenation like Bernie did during the ALDS?
SJ: He has always been streaky, it is just the cold streaks are longer than the hot streaks now.
SM: True. But the hot ones are fun to watch.
SM: So are we done?
SJ: I gotta go to work, but we should wrap it up with final predictions.
SM: OK, in the form of haiku. Go!
SJ: Yankees take it in seven
Brown the MVP
Affleck cries on the TV
SM: Nice one, here's mine:
SM: Yankees swing big bats against Sox
Pedro, Schill not enough
Dan S. recycles column
SM: And there we go.
SJ: Excellent. --posted at 2:38 PM by Sean McNally / |
Love Letters by Larry Mahnken
Some people just don't get satire. Here's an actual email I got this morning:
You complete moron. I can understand the fact that you like the Yankees, but EVEN WRITING that Miguel Cairo, a scrub who should start for Columbus, is BETTER than the fourth best second baseman in the MLB is fucking insane. Rating JON LIEBER, WHO WENT 6-17 WHEN HE LAST PITCHED, ahead of THE best pitcher of our era is the most amazingly idiotic statement that a person can make. I know why you even write for an internet publication. You were a mistake who has a hole through his chest from the coathanger your mother tried to stab you with when you were unborn. I believe that you are the WORST writer in the HISTORY of the sports world, and nobody loves you because of your closed-minded statements, such as HIDEKI MATSUI is better than MANNY RAMIREZ? YOU LIVE IN A SHITTY APARTMENT IN THE BRONX AND SNEAK INTO YANKEE GAMES YOU GIGANTIC FAGGOT. PLEASE DO US ALL A FAVOR AND KILL YOURSELF BY HANGING YOURSELF FROM THE LIGHT IN YOUR SHITTY CLOSET. YOU HOMO.
YOU FAIRY. I DONT EVEN KNOW YOU, AND I HOPE THAT EVERYTHING BAD IN THE WORLD HAPPENS TO YOU AND YOU ALONE. I HATE YOU. YOU DESERVE TO BE PISSED UPON.
SIGNED, THE PERSON WHO THINKS YOu'RE A GIGANTIC FAGGOT
The dumbest thing said in the eighth inning Saturday was, surprisingly, not said by Steve Lyons.
For those of you that missed it, with the Yankees trailing 5-1 in the eighth inning, with Sheffield on second and Matsui on first and Bernie at the plate, Lyons said:
Even the Yankees would rather not see a Home Run right here; I really feel that in order to keep this rally alive you need to keep runners on the bases.... I really believe that with the 5-1 lead that the Twins have right now, the Yankees are far better off keeping guys on base. If Bernie hits a double, it's probably better than if he hits a Home Run. Keep guys on base, keep the pitcher in the stretch, keep the rally going. Hit a three-run homer right now, you're back in the game, but you have to start over. In order to tie or win this game, someone's going to have to come up behind Bernie and drive him in anyway.
That's one of those things that, when you first hear it, it sounds pretty good. Then you think about it a little more, and you realize it's an incredibly stupid idea, and something that you'd expect from a guy nicknamed "Psycho" (a nickname he accquired when he stabbed a woman to death in the shower, after which he pulled down his pants to wipe the blood off his legs...). There are no circumstances where you would prefer to score fewer runs, even if theoretically it could make it easier to score more.
Then you realize that Juan Rincon is a relief pitcher, and he's always throwing from the stretch, and you realize why Elvis used to shoot televisions.
But anyway, that wasn't the dumbest thing said in the eighth inning.
I was watching the game in the break room at work, and after Bernie singled home Sheffield and moved Matsui to third, Posada came up. While he batted, they showed Ruben Sierra on deck. I turned to the guy sitting next to me in the break room and said:
Posada better hit a home run here, because Sierra sure as hell ain't gonna do anything.
Well, Jorge didn't homer. He struck out, and the pitch that Rincon gave him to drive, he looked at it. Then up came Sierra. On the first pitch he took a pitch that was actually four inches outside for a called strike. He then took a pitch high, and fouled the next one back. Another pitch high, another foul ball to the left side. The next pitch was belt high over the outside part of the plate. Sierra swung.
Silence. The ball hit twenty feet over the baggie in right, and the game was tied, and all the advantages previously enjoyed in Game Four by the Twins were no more. The Yankees were back in the game -- they were suddenly favorites to win the game. The tiny amount of doubt that had crept in about the Yankees' hanging on to win the series was erased. Even if they didn't win this game, they were going to win this series.
All people make mistakes, and often they are aware of the mistakes they've made. Wise men will admit their mistakes, take responsibility, not make excuses. And I guess I can do that, too.
Joe Torre has a lot of merits as a manager, particularly his ability to handle volatile personalities in the clubhouse, and keep the wrath of George Steinbrenner away from his players. As an in-game strategist, he has many flaws, and many of the moves he makes in game, or in constructing the roster and lineup are highly questionable.
That's not to say that Joe Torre is responsible for the Yankees' woes. He's made some decisions that may or may not have made it harder for the Yankees to win a few games, but he's done nothing that specifically cost the team a game. However, some of his most egregious mistakes this season have to include:
- Leaving Ruben Sierra in to bat in the ninth inning on April 22 against Chicago, with the tying run on base and Jason Giambi on the bench.
- Putting Ruben Sierra in the starting lineup several times instead of Tony Clark, Travis Lee or Don Mattingly.
- Pinch-hitting Ruben Sierra for anyone other than Enrique Wilson or Miguel Cairo.
- Keeping Ruben Sierra on the roster after Spring Training.
- Not taking Ruben Sierra out to the woods and putting him out of our misery when he had the chance.
Ruben Sierra is what he is: he can't run, he can't field, and his bat speed is gone. He can only hit a fastball over the middle of the plate, and when he gets that, he can crush it almost to the wall. If your other pinch-hitting options are replacement-level middle infielders, he's got some value, but with two first basemen who can play the outfield at least as well as he can on the roster, he's worthless.
To be fair, he did stroke the game-winning double against Oakland last night, but ultimately that should do the team more harm than good, as it will ensure many more at-bats for him.
Sierra would be a waste of a roster space if the Yankees had any options to fill that roster space. Whether he should be on the bench is debatable, but he shouldn't come off of it very often.
Maybe that was funny, but in all honesty, it was very much my view at the time. Sierra had several hits immediately after that to make me look stupid as he won some games for the Yankees, and in general he proved himself a solid pinch-hitter. Overall, he wasn't really that terrible. He didn't get on base, but he showed himself to still have some pop in his bat, and is an adequate fill-in at DH, though certainly less than ideal.
I've been personally critical (though not openly) of his playing DH in the ALDS, as it resulted in Bernie "Plays It On A Hop" Williams being in Center for all the games (which, regardless of what Josh Lewin said Saturday, you really can't do much worse than, and most of the ways you could involve me playing out there). If Bernie's going to be in center anyway, I'd rather see Giambi DH. If Kenny Lofton's going to play, it's just plain dumb to be sticking Bernie out in the field.
But anyway, I was wrong about Sierra, he came through and made all those outs earlier a worthy trade-off. I still don't think he should be, as he will be, a regular player in the ALCS, and that he's best-suited to pinch-hitting, but I can live with it.
Now the Yankees have two days off to get ready for the Red Sox. Boston was able to set their rotation, but the Yankees, not having to play a Game Five, could set their's, too. Kevin Brown is obviously the best matchup with Pedro Martinez, but Jon Lieber has a much better line at home than away this year, so starting him in Game Two (and a potential Game Six) keeps him out of Fenway. It also lines Kevin Brown up to start Game Seven instead of Lieber, which I'd say is better.
I'm feeling pretty good about the Yankees' chances. I have no idea which games they're going to win, I think they can win them all -- except Game Four with Vazquez, of course. It should be a great series.
* * *
Some Quick Ramblings:
- Esteban Loaiza pitched in 10 games for the Yankees before Saturday, giving up a run in every single outing. He sure picked a good time to end that streak, huh?
- Whose brilliant fucking idea was it to build a baseball stadium with a white roof? Did they not see that being a problem? "Hey, it'll be fun!" Jesus, how about blue? That would work for both the baseball games and the football games.
- Ron Gardenhire is being criticized for pulling Santana so quickly on Saturday. He said after the game that Santana was spent after 87 pitches going on three days rest for the first time in his career. That's surprising considering that he didn't break 100 pitches in Game One, and averaged over 100 pitches/start over the season, but since Santana didn't dispute it, to my knowledge, I can't criticize him.
Besides, it wouldn't have mattered. Santana wouldn't have done better than Balfour, who retired all six batters he faced on 28 pitches. That would have brought Santana up to 115 pitches after seven, assuming he didn't throw more or fewer, and he wouldn't have come out for the eighth. Rincon, not Balfour, would have been in, and the result would have been the same. The Yankees might have scored off Santana as he tired, too.
If Gardenhire had pushed Santana seven, he would have had Balfour for extra innings instead of Lohse. But Lohse, surprisingly, didn't lose it, A-Rod won it.
Gardenhire's mistake was being too slow to get Nathan warming, but perhaps just three days removed for him throwing 53 pitches, he was a little wary of going to him too quickly. I can understand that.
- Had the Twins pulled the game out, Nathan wouldn't have been available for Game Five. Balfour certainly would have relieved Radke, but neither Rincon nor Romero were particularly frightening to the Yankees. Minnesota was going to have to hit Moose, and it wasn't going to happen. Ruben's homer won the series, even if it didn't win the game.
- Seriously, did nobody involved with building the ballpark stop and think, "Hey, baseballs are white, right? They're going to play baseball here, too!" No, let's just make it some kind of evil, twisted Home Field Advantage! But for the first few years, of course, everyone's screwed!
First and foremost, my thoughts and prayers are with Mariano Rivera and his family after the terrible tragedy that occurred last night. Let's hope his faith and strength can help him and his family get through this.
Two teams enter, one team leaves. After 162 regular season games, and the AL Division series, to the surprise of few, the Yankees and Red Sox are set to duke it out in another ALCS. With last year's classic series still fresh in everyone's mind, and with the additional bad blood from the fallout of the Alex Rodriguez acquisition, as well as Boston's picking up of 2001 Yankee killer Curt Schilling, the scene is set for another knock-down brawl to decide who represents the American League in the World Series. It will be tough to duplicate the drama and tension of last year's series, won on a walk-off HR from a basketball player named Boone, but the intensity of the rivalry and talent of the two teams gives the potential of another great series.
I decided to look at how the two teams stack up using some of Baseball Prospectus's advanced statistics. I am speculating that Jason Giambi will not be on the ALCS roster due to the still uncertain status of El Duque. I also think Steve Karsay has no chance of making the roster. I'd love to see Brad Halsey sneak on instead of Two Time All-Star Esteban Loaiza or the Notorious TRF™, but knowing Joe Torre, that ain't happening.
For hitters, I'll be using the following offensive and defensive stats:
EQA FRAA VORP MLVr
Catcher Boston Jason Varitek (EQA: .288, FRAA: 8, VORP: 47.3, MLVr: 0.167)
A tough, hard-nosed player, and the leader of the Red Sox. Beloved in Boston, and despised in New York. Look for him to be "escorting" plunked Yankees to first all series.
Yankees Jorge Posada (EQA: .299, FRAA: -2, VORP: 49.7, MLVr: 0.191)
The best catcher in the American League over the last few seasons, he has been a disappointment in the postseason at times, most likely due to his heavy workload during the regular season. A patient hitter with good power, he's done a better job of throwing out runners this season, but still has a propensity for passed balls.
Edge: Slight edge to the Yankees
First Base Boston Kevin Millar (EQA: .284, FRAA: 1, VORP: 38.8, MLVr: 0.146)
An annoying personality to non-Red Sox fans, but a dangerous fastball hitter and another important clubhouse guy for Boston. Not a very good defensive first baseman, so expect Francona to use Doug Mientkiewicz for late inning defense when they are leading.
Yankees John Olerud (EQA: .268, FRAA: -3, VORP: 7.6, MLVr: 0.020) *Yankee stats only
Olerud has lost his power, but remains a decent OBP guy and a solid defensive player.
Second Base Boston Mark Bellhorn (EQA: .274, FRAA: -9, VORP: 39.1, MLVr: 0.059)
Not the most handsome of players, but a patient, disciplined hitter who will work deep counts and draw walks. A slightly below average defensive player.
Yankees Miguel Cairo (EQA: .266, FRAA: -8, VORP: 22.4, MLVr: 0.008)
A mediocre player before this season, but had a solid season once he wrested the starting job from Enrique Wilson. A seemingly solid fielder despite a slightly below average arm (although Prospectus's FRAA seems to disagree), and a tough hitter to strike out. Doesn't walk a lot, but will foul pitches off and work counts.
Third Base Boston Bill Mueller (EQA: .270, FRAA: 6, VORP: 23.1, MLVr: 0.070)
Last year's batting champion, he's had an injury-plagued season. A decent defensive third baseman with occasional scattershot throwing tendencies, and a notorious Yankee killer.
Yankees Alex Rodriguez (EQA: .301, FRAA: 7, VORP: 63.0, MLVr: 0.205)
The best shortstop on either team, but stuck at third base. After a somewhat disappointing season(by his standards), had a monster series against the Twins in the ALDS. Has really gotten into the Boston/New York rivalry. Not particularly popular in Boston, for some reason.
Shortstop Boston Orlando Cabrera (EQA: .259, FRAA: -6, VORP: 15.2, MLVr: 0.026) *Boston stats only
Cabrera has a reputation as a good fielder, although the Prospectus fielding numbers for his time in Boston seem to disagree with that. A low OBP guy, but with good power for a SS.
Yankees Derek Jeter (EQA: .281, FRAA: 2, VORP: 60.3, MLVr: 0.100)
The greatest postseason player of all time. I am kidding, of course. After a horrible start, Jeter had a very solid season, hitting for good power. In addition, he had his best fielding season in years, rating as slightly above average using the FRAA numbers. He will need to get on base and set up Rodriguez, Sheffield and Matsui if the Yankees hope to win this series. Expect plenty of fawning from Tim McCarver, and plenty of hatred from non-Yankee fans.
Left Field Boston Manny Ramirez (EQA: .315, FRAA: -0, VORP: 70.0, MLVr: 0.363)
The most dangerous right-handed hitter in the only league that matters. His defensive missteps are overblown, and he does a decent job of playing the Green Monster.
Yankees Hideki Matsui (EQA: .306, FRAA: -7, VORP: 58.1, MLVr: 0.253)
Godzilla had the season the Yankees hoped for when they signed him, as opposed to his overly hyped mediocre season last year. A patient, disciplined hitter, with solid power. His defense is erratic, and he's had trouble playing the big wall in Fenway before, so that will bear watching.
Center Field Boston Johnny Damon (EQA: .282, FRAA: 8, VORP: 52.4, MLVr: 0.151)
A very good defensive player, whose only weakness is a below-average arm. A tough out who always seems to find way to get on base. Michael Kay can make fun of his appearance all he wants, but this guy could play for my team anyday.
Yankees Bernie Williams (EQA: .271, FRAA: -4, VORP: 31.3, MLVr: 0.050)
Although he had a very disappointing season, he hit for an .883 OPS in September and had an HR against Minnesota in the ALDS. Probably the worst defensive CF in baseball at this point, but Joe Torre seems to have committed to playing him in center every day, with Sierra entrenched at DH, leaving the better defensive player in Lofton sitting on the bench.
Right Field Boston Trot Nixon (EQA: .289, FRAA: -1, VORP: 13.7, MLVr: 0.210)
Despite the love of Jesus, Christopher had a disappointing and injury plagued season. Formerly a good defensive OF, some added weight and his leg injuries have dropped him into the class of below average defensively. Still a dangerous lefty bat who has had success against the Yankees before, and they don't have any left-handers to neutralize him (no, TRF™ doesn't count).
Yankees Sheffield (EQA: .307, FRAA: 0, VORP: 63.8, MLVr: 0.296)
A borderline MVP candidate, although he slipped behind Guerrero, Ramirez and Ortiz in September, Sheffield is the Yankees' most dangerous hitter. Although he had a mediocre series against Minnesota, he is capable of carrying the Yankee offense. Not a good defensive OF, but has a strong arm.
DH Boston David Ortiz (EQA: .315, VORP: 73.1, MLVr: 0.318)
A huge, scary man who had a tremendous season. He is strictly a DH at this point, and will benefit from an all right-handed Yankee rotation.
Yankees Ruben Sierra (EQA: .253, VORP: 10.2, MLVr: -0.043)
Despite his big HR against Juan Rincon, Sierra is not a good hitter. Torre seems enamored with him, so expect him to get the bulk of the DH AB. He does have good power, and can hit mistakes a long way, so he can be dangerous.
Edge: Boston, in a landslide
Boston Curt Schilling (SNVA/G: 0.128, RA+: 156)
He's got a bit of an ego, loves to talk, and enjoys Dunkin' Donuts a bit too much, but is one hell of a pitcher. Featuring a 95 MPH fastball and pinpoint control, he is capable of shutting anyone down. He tends to tire late in games and Francona is reticent to pull him, so it'll be up to the Yankees to try and work the count against him, and get him out of there early. He is apparently suffering inflammation of his peroneal tendons in his ankle. It shouldn't affect his pitching too much, but will probably preclude him from pitching on three days rest.
Yankees Mike Mussina (SNVA/G: 0.002, RA+: 98)
His season numbers leave a lot to be desired, but Moose has been great since coming off the DL in mid-August. Has historically pitched well against Boston.
Boston Pedro Martinez (SNVA/G: 0.064, RA+: 127)
Despite acknowledging the Yankees as his "daddies", Pedro is still a great pitcher, and one who can give any team fits. Fears of his struggles in September seem to have been overblown, as he pitched a solid game against Anaheim in the ALDS. He is suffering from a balky knee, which may hamper his effectiveness. The Yankees' "success" against him is a misnomer. They haven't really hit him all that well, they've just outlasted him and featured solid pitching from their own starters. That will be up to....
Yankees Jon Lieber (SNVA/G: 0.007, RA+: 100)
Lieber had a strong second half, but is still a bit iffy as a #2. Slotting him as the #2 starter let's him pitch both his potential games at home, where he was much better this season.
Boston Bronson Arroyo (SNVA/G: 0.013, RA+: 104)
Named after one of the great vigilante movie actors of all time, Arroyo has developed into a solid pitcher. Tough on righties with nasty breaking stuff, but he can be inconsistent at times.
Yankees Kevin Brown (SNVA/G: 0.041, RA+: 110)
Brown is a wild-card. Although he pitched six innings of one run ball against Minnesota, he had trouble finishing hitters off, and is still working his way back from a month of missed starts. In addition, he is still suffering from lingering back pain which shows no sign of letting up. He is certainly capable of pitching a great game against anyone, but Boston teed off on him in his first start back from his broken hand. Regardless, he deserves credit for coming back from a stupid injury and giving the Yankees what they needed against Minnesota.
Edge: Even, perhaps slight edge to Boston.
Boston Tim Wakefield (SNVA/G: -0.042, RA+: 90)
Wakefield had a down year, but has been better of late. His knuckleball can give any team fits at any time, and as the fourth starter he could also be a weapon out of the bullpen when he doesn't start. He pitched two great games against the Yankees last year in the ALCS, and could certainly come up big again.
Yankees Javier Vazquez (SNVA/G: -0.003, RA+: 94) or Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez (SNVA/G: 0.106, RA+: 148)
Obviously, the Yankees would prefer El Duque in this spot, if he's healthy. Even if he feels ok, a lot of time off could adversely affect him. Regardless, he's a big game pitcher and is capable of baffling any team for six or seven innings, even a potent Boston team.
Vazquez has been very poor in the second half of the season, and struggled against Boston in four starts this season, putting up a 5.56 ERA against them. He still has the talent to come up big against them, and he pitched fairly well against Minnesota although his final line wasn't great. If Hernandez can go, Vazquez will pitch out of the bullpen.
Edge: Yankees (more so if Hernandez can start)
Relievers ARP Relief Staff
Boston Mike Myers (ARP: 0.1) *Boston stats only
Alan Embree (ARP: 7.4)
Mike Timlin (ARP: -0.7)
Curtis Leskanic (ARP: 2.3) *Boston stats only
Derek Loweno relief stats Boston's middle relief is not great, although Embree and Timlin have been solid in the past. Lowe was once on of the best relievers in the game, but at this point is probably restricted to mop up duty. Expect Embree and Timlin to get the bulk of the work in any meaningful situations, with Myers being used in a strict LOOGY manner, probably for Matsui or Olerud.
Yankees Tanyon Sturtze (ARP: -4.4)
Paul Quantrill (ARP: -3.8)
TRF™ (ARP: -3.9)
Tom "Flash" Gordon (ARP: 41.9)
Esteban Loaiza (ARP: -11.3) *relief stats only
Vazquez or El Duque no relief stats Loaiza and TRF™ flat out suck, but I expect them both to be on the roster. Quantrill had a poor second half after Torre worked him ridiculously hard, but some rest in the last few weeks appears to have rejuvenated him somewhat. Sturtze had a big game against Minnesota in Game 2, and was solid in relief in September, but he's Tanyon Sturtze, and he stinks, and to count on him to continue like this could be dangerous. I think he gets one shot in a key situation, if he does the job he'll get another, but if he tanks then expect him to get buried behind Quantrill. Gordon had a decent division series against Minnesota, with one bad game then two shutout innings in the clincher. There was a bizarre incident in the post-game of Game Four against Minnesota, where someone accidentally shot a cork directly into Gordon's left eye. The trainers tended to the injury and he appears to be fine, but a little angry about it. I hope it's not an issue.
Edge: Yankees, because Gordon+Quantrill > Embree + Timlin
Closer Boston Keith Foulke (ARP: 29.7)
Foulke is a tough reliever who throws a baffling changeup, and has the ability to pitch multiple innings. Expect him to be used extensively in this series, even in non-save situations.
Yankees Mariano Rivera (ARP: 30.5)
The guy who makes Joe Torre look like a genius. Has worked a lot this year, and has had some spots of Wetteland-style shakiness (including just his third career blown post-season save), but is still the best postseason reliever in history. Boston has had some regular-season success against him, so he may not have the same aura about him that he would against another team. It remains to be seen if his availability will be impacted by the terrible tragedy that has befallen his family.
Edge: Very slight edge to the Yankees
Yankees Enrique Wilson Bubba Crosby John "Bad Flash"
Flaherty Kenny Lofton Tony Clark Worst. Bench. Ever. Wilson will probably start over Cairo in Pedro's starts, due to his career luck against him. Crosby will see some action pinch-running for Olerud or subbing in for Sheffield on defense. Lofton could snag a start or two if Sierra starts the series 0 for 15 or so. Flaherty will do a fine job of charting pitches on the bench. Clark could see some action if Olerud gets pinch-run for.
I decided to compare the two lineups using MLVr and FRAA/Games played to see how they stacked up.
Ps Name MLVr Defense Total
CF Johnny Damon .151 .054 .205
2B Mark Bellhorn .059 -.073 -.014
LF Manny Ramirez .363 -.069 .294
DH David Ortiz .318 --- .318
RF Trot Nixon .210 -.026 .184
1B Kevin Millar .146 .015 .161
C Jason Varitek .167 .031 .198
SS Orlando Cabrera .026 -.105 -.079
3B Bill Mueller .070 .063 .133
Total 1.510 -.109 1.401
Ps Name MLVr Defense Total
SS Derek Jeter .100 .013 .113
3B Alex Rodriguez .205 .045 .250
RF Gary Sheffield .296 .000 .296
LF Hideki Matsui .253 -.044 .209
CF Bernie Williams .050 -.042 .008
C Jorge Posada .191 -.015 .176
DH Ruben Sierra -.043 --- -.043
1B John Olerud .020 -.065 -.045
2B Miguel Cairo .002 -.071 .069
Total 1.074 -.179 .895
Factoring in offense and defense, the Red Sox are about 1/2 run a game better than the Yankees. Boston also took the season series 11-8. The only clear edge I see for the Yankees is in the bullpen, where the Red Sox don't have a match for Flash Gordon.
One thing to bear in mind, Boston hits much better at home. Therefore, home-field advantage could turn out to be very important. The raw runs scored values for both teams are skewed by Boston playing in a hitters' park, and the Yankees playing in a pitchers' park. The Yankees led the majors in team EQA, and team EQR. However, those are the totals for the entire roster, which are less signficant in a series where the front-line talent will get the vast majority of the playing time.
I won't make a prediction, because anything can happen in a short series. If Boston is going to win the World Series, they should have to beat the Yankees to do it. I just hope it's close to as entertaining as last year's series was. I also hope the Yankees win, but if they don't, I'll tip my hat to the better team. May the best team win. --posted at 1:05 AM by SG / |
October 10, 2004
'I'm in the Sierra Club!' by Sean McNally
There's not really a lot to say about Game Four, or the impending potentially apocalyptic ALCS against Boston, and quite honestly, I just don't have it in me (and apparently neither does Larry or SG or anyone else for that matter).
I watched most of the game, then had an obligation to attend to when I basically put it on mute and resigned myself to the fact there would be a Game Five and someone would quote Jack Buck: "And we'll see you all tomorrow night!"
Then a funny thing happened, as I sat down to a nice bone-in rib eye and more wine than is usually advised: Johan Santana sat down. I'm told that he was not happy about the decision, but at first it looked like it would work, the Yanks fell in order during the seventh, and as usual, and Minnesota setup man Juan Rincon sauntered to the bump… and predictably, in this unpredictable season, all hell broke loose.
Gary Sheffield beat out an infield hit, moved to second on a wild pitch and Godzilla worked a walk, bringing Bernie Williams to the plate.
Now, if this were May, Bernie most like would have bounced into a 4-6-3 double play, but this is Rejuvenated Bernie, zombie centerfielder. Williams was left for dead by Yankee fans, myself included, who already had secretly wondered: Would the Yanks unretire 15 for Carlos Beltran?
But Bernabe Figueroa Williams, the elder statesman of the Yankees, will not go quietly into that good night. No, Williams is hitting a sizzling .429/.529/.857 this postseason and probably had the key at-bat in the eighth inning rally. An unproductive out, or worse even, a double play would have likely buried the Yanks, but Bernie smoked the ball into scoring Sheffield and moving Matsui to third.
Posada whiffed, as he is prone to do, then another Yankee elder strode to the plate: Ruben Sierra.
Sierra, who once famously got himself run out of New York because "all they care about is winning," represented the tying run.
Now, Ruben has had a renaissance in the Bronx this year, slugging 17 homers in just a shade over 300 at-bats, mostly in a pinch-hitting/DH/fifth outfielder role, but importantly, he’s had several big swings for the Yanks this season in situations just like this.
Most Yankee fans probably expected Sierra to fail in this situation, after all, he’d been dismal to this point in the series, but there was magic in his bat and his big 39-year-old butt and with one deeeeeep drive to right center:
I AM IN THE SIERRA CLUB!
After that, it sounds very conceited, very "Yankee" to say that I knew they would win, but honestly, I had no doubt.
This Division Series was a microcosm of the Yankees season: moments of doubt and terror, triumphant comebacks, big power hitting and stars being stars, and Yankee (and Twin) fans can hold their heads high after a great battle.
Now the series that most expected: Boston vs. New York, Hatfield vs. McCoy, Us vs. Them.
I, for one, am not sure what I think about the series. I think its good for baseball, because these clearly were the best two teams in the American League, but as a Yankee fan, I've never been more, I don't know if apprehensive is the word, going into a series.
I think the Yanks probably will win, but I expect the series, if not all the games, to be close.
A lot more will be written about the upcoming series, so I'll keep it short: I'd like to see Giambi on the roster and The Run Fairy or Loaiza off, but either way - Let's Go Yanks! --posted at 1:12 AM by Sean McNally / |
October 9, 2004
Game Three by Larry Mahnken
The first thing I saw as I turned on the TV after coming home from work was Jacque Jones rounding the bases after hitting his home run. Well, that wasn't very good.
But, it was only a solo shot, and Shadowboxer Brown got out of the inning without giving up anything else, and I figured that they could score a run off of Silva, and if they didn't they didn't deserve to win anyway.
With two outs in the top of the second I figured that they would make another out and take another shot at it next inning. But they got a base hit... then another... and another... and another... and another. I kept waiting for the out to come, and when it finally did -- when A-Rod decided that he liked being the Inanimate Carbon-Rod and wanted to do something to preserve that nickname, and so popped up -- the Yankees had pushed three runs across and were in control of the game.
Of course, we saw Wednesday that a 3-1 lead ain't that secure, but Kevin Brown pitched very well and kept the Yankees in control until Bernie put the Yankees even more in control with a high homer in the sixth and Matsui put the game away with a super lucky wish shot off of Torii Hunter's glove in the seventh, when he gave way to the bullpen -- and The Run Fairy did his best to give it away. But even though they had to use Rivera, the Yankees came away with an absolutely crucial win, and took control of the series 2-1.
I got some flak in my email for calling last night's game a must-win. Yes, technically it's not a must-win, because it's not an elimination game. But with Santana going today, and having pitched the way he had this year (and really, pretty much always except this spring, but the world just found out this year), I really don't see many scenarios in which the Yankees win today, and most of the ones in which they do involve snipers, unfortunately-placed meteorites or alien abduction (and let's make it clear, I don't want to see the Yankees win that way, so put away your rifle and anal probe).
That's not a jaded viewpoint or an overdramatic one, but one based upon my opinion of Johan Santana, having watched him pitch, marvelled at his numbers, and listened to my friend/boss Aaron Gleeman fawn over him from Minnesota. The Yankees have won a lot of games I didn't expect them too before, and they've done it in unexpected ways, and I know I'm a "bit" of a pessimist about the Yanks, but I just don't see it happening. I'll be giddy if it does, but I'm already looking forward to Game Five.
But I'll still be watching today. It should be a good game.
Past Pinstriped Playoff Performances: The 1950 World Series -- It Just Whizzed By by Mad Mike
It really wasn’t all that surprising that the Yankees made the World Series in 1950. All of their question marks coming into the 1949 season including a manager whose reputation was that of a clown--and a National League one at that--in Casey Stengel were answered. Shortstop Phil Rizzuto had come back from a miserable 1948 campaign where he had hit just .252/.340/.328 to post better numbers in 1949 and was all-world in 1950 where he copped the American League Most Valuable Player Award. Rizzuto batted .324/.418/.439 with 200 hits, 125 runs and along with second baseman Jerry Coleman (another question mark) provided superlative defense up the middle aided and abetted by Joe DiMaggio in centerfield and Yogi Berra--who had undergone intensive tutoring under predecessor Bill Dickey--whose glove had finally caught up his considerable bat. Young outfielders Gene Woodling and Hank Bauer had finally proven that they were worthy to don the fabled Yankee pinstripes. So nobody was overly surprised that the Bronx Bombers had earned their seventeenth invitation to the Fall Classic since 1921.
However, the Phillies were another matter.
The Philadelphia Phillies had been synonymous with National League ineptitude for longer than anyone could really remember. They’d made it to the World Series once, over 30 years ago and had lost to the Boston Red Sox who ironically had a hotshot sophomore pitcher who had won 18 games that year but wasn’t needed to upend the Phillies as Rube Foster, Dutch Leonard and Ernie Shore had dispatched them in five games. In the ensuing years, that unused lefty went on to shatter all hitting standards and was considered the greatest Yankee of them all--Babe Ruth.
The Phillies had their moments, they enjoyed the exploits of a player who had used their tiny Baker Bowl home to carve a Hall of Fame career: Chuck Klein. That little stadium once had a “Lifebuoy” soap ad on the outfield wall that said proudly: “The Phillies use Lifebuoy” to which a wag graffiti artist added: “and they still stink.” Such was the lot of Phillies fans. Oh sure, they’d seen a number of Fall Classics but they were generally held at Shibe Park under the watchful eye of Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics. Shibe Park -- later renamed after the Athletics’ skipper to the moniker: “Connie Mack Stadium” -- would see one last World Series, surprisingly enough as the Phillies played there beginning in 1938.
1950 was a season of offense. The Red Sox had hit over .300 as a team and had scored over 1000 runs. The American League as a whole posted a collective OPS of .757. In the midst of all this the Yankees had pitching galore. Right handed ace Vic Raschi was fresh off his second straight season of 21 wins finishing 21-8. Southpaw ace, junkballing Eddie Lopat had thrived as well going 18-8. The second righty in the rotation was fireballing Allie “Superchief” Reynolds who was a solid 16-12 while the second lefty -- erratic, but hard throwing -- Tommy Byrne was enjoying his second consecutive 15-win campaign. Added to this embarrassment of riches was a baby faced 22 year old southpaw named Eddie Ford; who not only went 9-1 but posted an ERA of 2.81 when the American League average in that department was a stratospherically high 4.58. Although the Red Sox bats got most of the press insofar as run production went, the Yankees finished just behind them in both batting average (.282) and runs scored (914).
On top of everything else, they were sound defensively everywhere but at third base.
Philadelphia was remarkable in its own right. Almost unthinkably, the National League Most Valuable Player award would go to a relief pitcher, in this case, 33 year old veteran named Jim Konstanty who logged almost unheard of numbers for a reliever out of the Phillies’ bullpen. Konstanty appeared in 74 games, threw 152 innings, saved 22 games, won 16 more, lost only seven and posted an ERA of 2.66 (152 ERA+). Other notables on the Phillies roster included two future Hall of Famers: Robin Roberts who won 20 games--beginning a streak of six consecutive 20 win seasons--for the first time, throwing over 300 innings, finishing 20-11 with a solid ERA of 3.02 (135 ERA+), impressive numbers for somebody who had just turned 24 at the end of September. The other was Richie Ashburn, centerfielder par excellence. Although often lost in the shadows of Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays and Duke Snider in later years, Ashburn was a fresh faced 23 year old with a knack for getting on base and nabbing any flyball in the area code. Another youngster, southpaw Curt Simmons who was all of 21, finished the 1950 season at 17-8. Del Ennis was a slugging outfielder, who despite being all of 25 years old was a five year veteran of big league play and had averaged 29 home runs and 110 RBI over his last three seasons. Of interest on this young squad was veteran slick fielding first baseman Eddie Waitkus (in the AL, the Yankees were known for “beaver shooting.” In the NL, it was the other way around) who was semi-immortalized in the movie: “The Natural” by being shot by a deranged female fan.
Both squads, although different, had to struggle to make it this far. The Yankees--who had acquired future Hall of Famer Johnny Mize from the New York Giants for the stretch run--had both the Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox to contend with. In late September the Yankees had a two game set against the Red Sox in Yankee Stadium. In the first game, wily southpaw Eddie Lopat twirled a shutout and in the following contest a gritty Vic Raschi, aided by his defense and the hitting heroics of catcher Yogi Berra and shortstop Phil Rizzuto shut down the Beantowners 9-5. Meanwhile, the Cleveland Indians took three straight off the Detroit Tigers which all but sealed the 1950 American League pennant for the Bronx Bombers. The young Phillies had it in tough against the defending National League champion Brooklyn Dodgers but finally prevailed copping the National League flag by two games.
The 1950 World Series opened at Shibe Park and in a bit of an oddity, the soon to be crowned National League Most Valuable Player Jim Konstanty (who had pitched exclusively out the bullpen in 1950) was given the nod to start the series for the Phillies. The Yankees would counter with the “Springfield Rifle” -- Vic Raschi. For making his first start of the season Konstanty did quite well considering that he hadn’t started a game since 1946 when he was with the Boston Braves. Konstanty logged eight sparkling innings surrendering a single run on Jerry Coleman’s sacrifice fly in the fourth inning. Raschi however gave a powerful testimonial to his reputation of being a “big game pitcher.” Raschi mowed down the Phillies lineup allowing just three baserunners, and no runs in a complete game whitewash.
Game Two was another thriller as Allie Reynolds faced Robin Roberts. Much like the first game; it was a pitching clinic. For nine innings both hurlers were masterful. Roberts surrendered a run in the second and Allie Reynolds--who was shooting for Babe Ruth’s record of consecutive shutout innings in World Series play--gave up one in the fifth halting his streak at 27 [innings] three shy of Ruth’s mark. There the score remained as both pitchers put up goose eggs on the scoreboard in the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth frames. In the top of the tenth Reynolds snuck back into the visitors’ clubhouse to smoke a cigarette to help him relax and focus. Roberts was pitching every bit as well as he was and there was no telling how long the game might go.
Reynolds didn’t have to wait long.
A loud groan brought Reynolds back from his reverie and he headed up the hallway to the Yankees dugout to see what the commotion was about.
DiMaggio had homered.
Roberts, who was known for giving up a great number of gopher balls throughout his career, albeit generally with no one on, had done just that. Roberts--whose fastball had lost an inch or two since the first few innings--tried to get one past the “Yankee Clipper” in the tenth and paid dearly. Apprised of this, Reynolds went back to the clubhouse, finished his cigarette and readied himself to pitch the tenth. However things quickly became tense as Reynolds committed the cardinal sin of pitching: he walked the leadoff hitter--his fourth free pass of the game. Reynolds took a moment on the hill and composed himself and quickly got the final three outs. The Yankees would be heading back to “The House That Ruth Built” with two games in their back pocket.
Over 64,000 patrons turned up at Yankee Stadium to see if the Yankees could put a stranglehold on the series. Stengel, aware that he just force fed the Phillies lineup two right handed fireballers decided to throw a changeup of his own. Now the National Leaguers from the “City of Brotherly Love” would be facing the crafty, junkballing Eddie Lopat -- a lefty. The Phillies manager, Ed Sawyer, countered with a surprise. Hoping to take advantage of Yankee Stadium’s generous dimensions, Sawyer trotted out a 35 year old southpaw, Ken Heintzelman, who had pitched the year out of both the bullpen and the rotation, enjoying little success in either role as he finished the 1950 season at 3-9, an abysmal total on a pennant winning club. However Sawyer’s hunch appeared to work. Despite Heintzelman’s usual control problems (over his career he walked more than he struck out) he managed to pitch well into the eighth surrendering a single run despite issuing six walks. With two outs in the eighth inning leading 2-1, Sawyer brought in Game One starter Jim Konstanty. Then disaster struck, two Phillies’ errors lead to an unearned run knotting the score at two apiece. Sawyer brought in Russ “The Mad Monk” Meyer to pitch the ninth. It was his second ninth inning appearance of the series as he relieved Konstanty in Game One. Despite allowing two infield hits, Meyer appeared to have gotten himself out of danger as he got two outs in the inning. With the runners going on contact, Yankee second baseman Jerry Coleman blooped a single over the infield and the Yankees had the Phillies in dire straits down 0-3.
Now it was time for Casey Stengel to pull a surprise of his own.
Stengel bypassed his number four starter and fireballing southpaw Tommy Byrne. Although Byrne had won 15 games and started the season on an 8-1 hot streak, he was decidedly mediocre in the second half finishing the campaign 7-8. Like Sawyer, Stengel wanted to maximize his “homefield advantage” by starting a southpaw. So he gave the ball to rookie Eddie Ford later known as “Whitey.”
It wasn’t close. Through eight innings the Phillies couldn’t touch him as he allowed five hits and striking out seven. The Yankees had provided a nice five run cushion for Ford to work with which included a moonshot off the bat of batterymate Yogi Berra. In the ninth, Ford allowed a hit and a hit batsman while registering two outs. Ford got the final hitter to loft a high lazy fly ball to left, the proverbial “can of corn” signed sealed and delivered for outfielder Gene Woodling. Ford turned to left pounding his glove in satisfaction, watching the ball’s descent knowing he had just pitched a shutout in the deciding game of his first World Series.
Woodling lost the ball as it drifted from the late afternoon shadows of Yankee Stadium to the bright fall sunshine. It bounced off his leg and a run scored making it 5-1. Rattled, Ford allowed a second hit, another run came in, 5-2 with two men on. Stengel quickly brought in Game Two winner Allie Reynolds into the game. Taking advantage of throwing from the bright sunlight into the shadows Reynolds threw three fastballs, all for called strikes.
Youth was served that day, for the Yankees anyway.
Nothing to whiz on….
The win against the Phillies was the second of five consecutive World Championships (1949-1953).
Pitching wins championships. New York’s top three starters over that span (1949-1953) were Vic Raschi, Allie Reynolds and Eddie Lopat. Over that championship stretch: Raschi was 92-40, 3.36 ERA, Reynolds was 83-41, 3.18 ERA and Lopat was 80-36, 2.97 ERA
Raschi, Reynolds and Lopat were all top notch Fall Classic performers. From 1949-1953 in World Series play, Raschi was 5-3, 2.14 ERA, Reynolds went 6-2, 2.45 ERA and Lopat’s record was 4-1, 2.58 ERA.
Jim Konstanty found World Series glory elusive. Acquired by the Yankees in 1954 to bolster the bullpen, they still fell short, being beaten for the American League flag by the Cleveland Indians. He pitched all of 1955 for the Bronx Bombers and they lost the Fall Classic to the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Yankees won the World Series in 1956 but Konstanty was released mid season.
Although Allie Reynolds bid to beat Babe Ruth’s consecutive shutout innings in World Series play record in 1950, Game Four winner that same year -- Whitey Ford -- would break it in 1961.
Whitey Ford’s Game Four victory in the 1950 World Series was his last win until 1953 due to military service.
Eight Hall of Famers appeared in the 1950 World Series: Casey Stengel, Phil Rizzuto, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Johnny Mize, Robin Roberts and Richie Ashburn.
The first at bat of the 1950 World Series involved both Most Valuable Player award winners as Jim Konstanty pitched to Phil Rizzuto at Shibe Park.
Prior to 1950 the Philadelphia Phillies hadn’t made a World Series appearance in 35 years. It took them another 30 to reach it again (1980).
Over that same stretch (1950-1980) the Yankees appeared in 15 World Series (1951-53, 55-58, 1960-64, 1976-78) winning nine (1951-53, 56, 58, 1960, 61, 1977, 78)