Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Signs Are All Around Us

As if it wasn't already a foregone conclusion that the Yankees are going to put a stranglehold on the Series this weekend, consider these juicy tidbits:

* The Phillies are throwing who has been arguably their worst postseason pitcher thus far, Cole Hamels, against the newly crowned King of postseason victories, Andy Pettitte.

* The Yankees are getting their 2 best pitchers, who have good track records throwing on short rest, to pitch in Games 4 and 5, while the Phillies have announced the immortal Joe Blanton as their Game 4 starter.

* A-Rod is actually a centaur, and we all know how dangerous those things can be, so it's only a matter of time before he relaxes at the plate, stops expanding his own strike zone, and gets back to the short, compact swing that did so much damage in the first 2 series.

* The Phillies still have this guy... their manager.

I haven't agreed with a lot of Joe's decisions this postseason, but I would rather take his meddling and binder checking than Uncle Charlie's "gee willikers," mindless babbling.  He sounds like a fucking confused NASCAR crew chief.

Everything is coming together exactly as it was predicted by the Mayans 40 bajillion years ago, or whenever the hell they thought up all that crap.  Don't be surprised if tonight kicks off the series of events that ensures the only reason this series makes it back to New York is for the parade.

Friday, October 30, 2009

That's More Like It. Game 2 Thoughts and Afterthoughts

* I know Joe and Tim were in love with Pedro last night, but COME ON!! Just to recap in case you missed it, Pedro is a crafty, wily, creative, tough, smart, intelligent pitcher who thinks out on the mound and has 219 wins to just 100 losses in his career. His stuff isn't what it used to be, but he's a crafty veteran who thinks during each at-bat and isn't afraid to throw any pitch at any point in the count. He has 219 wins and a 2.93 career ERA mainly due to his toughness and creativity and craftiness on the mound. He's the greatest pitcher of this generation because he's so intelligent and tough on the mound and that's why he has 219 career wins. And he also lost the fucking game.

* I can't be too hard on Pedro, though, because I honestly did not expect him to throw even close to as well as he threw last night. For the most part he had the Yankees completely off balance, but he fell victim to the same disease CC had in Game 1 and got in trouble on a few bad pitches. With his high pitch count early, I expected him to be out after the 5th, so it shows there's still gas in the tank, even if it is leaded gas.

* There just aren't enough ways to explain how great a play Jose Molina made in the 4th inning throwing out Werth at 1st. He slide to his right to backhand a curveball in the dirt, caught it cleanly, stepped into the batter in the left-handed batter's box and still fired a strike to Teix for the out. Not a chance in Hell Jorge makes that play; Christ, there probably isn't a chance in Hell he even catches the curveball cleanly. It's plays like that that make Joe look like a genius for sticking with Molina as A.J.'s catcher.

* The Teixeira homer in the 4th couldn't have worked out any better for him. He was looking changeup all the way and as luck would have it, Pedro happened to throw his worst changeup of the night; it wasn't even a batting practice pitch, it was a Home Run Derby pitch. He would have been better off setting it up on a tee and then getting out of the way.

* He came in just as hot as A-Rod, but since his first at-bat in Game 1, the Yankees have owned Ryan Howard. They're doing a great job of working both sides of the plate against him, getting him behind in the count, and keeping him off-balance with the mix of pitches. His golden sombrero last night was a thing of beauty; when 3 of your 4 K's come looking, that's undeniable proof that you have no clue what's going on at the plate.

* Hitting only slightly better than Howard right now is A-Rod. After being completely locked in and then some against the Twins and Angels, A-Rod has resorted back to reaching for the off-speed stuff on the outside corner that he was laying off of earlier. To his credit, he has put some good swings on fastballs and just missed at least 2 potential homers or doubles, and to the Phillies' credit they have done an excellent job executing the gameplan against him that Minnesota and Anaheim failed to, but it still doesn't look good when you're 0-8 with 6 K's to start the series. Because he's still seeing the ball well, I say he breaks out of it in Game 3 against Hamels.

* In case you haven't noticed, opposing catchers have been killing Yankee pitching this postseason. Mauer had his share of hits in the division series, Jeff Mathis was almost impossible to get out, and now Carlos Ruiz is knocking the ball around the yard. I don't know how or why this is happening, but it's the kind of quirky occurrence that gives Tim Kurkjian a woody under the BBTN desk.

* The "DJ Hero" highlight remix before the bottom of the 7th was hands down the gayest thing I have seen in a long time. It made Adam Lambert look like Charles Bronson by comparison.

* The bottom of the 7th was a defining inning for both managers. Girardi made a great call to pinch run Gardner and then hit-and-run with him and Melky, and Manuel made an equally bad one allowing Pedro to start the inning when he was clearly tired and then take him out when Posada pinch hit for Molina in favor of Chan Ho Park when Pedro has owned Jorge over their careers.

* One questionable call by Joe was the Jeter sacrifice bunt. I'm all for moving the runners over in that situation, it's the smart play. But when the guy on-deck is Johnny Damon, who had not looked good at all at the plate so far in the game, I would take my chances letting Jeter try to move them over swinging the bat or just let him get a hit.

* Worse than the bunt call was Jeter taking it upon himself to try to get one down with 2 strikes. Like McCarver said, it's not often you look at a play and say it was a bad play by Jeter, but that was. He's one of the best 2-strike hitters in the game and down 0-2 was going to see some junk. Stay in there and see a few more pitches.

* The Rasheed Wallace "Ball Don't Lie" theory was in full effect on the inning-ending double play in the 7th. Howard obviously knew he caught the ball on a hop, otherwise he wouldn't have stopped dead in his tracks and thrown to second to get the out. The throw was way wide, pulled Rollins off the bag, and should have resulted in everybody being safe because no bases were touched. Howard knew it, the ball knew it, and only the umps didn't know it.

* My first look at the Philly pen was like my first look at a set of tits, it made me feel warm and funny inside. Chan Ho Park sucks, Ryan Madson was nothing special, and Yankees hit lefties so well that Scott Eyre doesn't even make me think once, let alone twice about pinch hitting for somebody in that situation.

* Jeter's turn of the double play to end the 8th was a thing of sheer beauty. Sure replay showed that Utley was actually safe, but you can't hang in any longer and make a better throw than Jeter did in that situation. He knew he was going to take a shot and he stood and delivered. As James Lipton would say, "simply stunning."

* After a shaky 8th inning, Mo was Mo in the 9th to get the save, and what better way than to do it by striking out Matt "Getting' Your Ass Hammered By Guys" Stairs? He threw 39 pitches in 2 innings, which is a bit of a concern even with a day off, and Girardi should definitely not use him for more than 3 outs tomorrow, but it was the smart play in a game that you had to win and in which you were holding a slim lead.

* When you factor in the situation and the opponent, last night was definitely the best game A.J. has thrown in a Yankee uniform. They needed at least 7 innings of shutdown ball last night and that was exactly what he delivered. His command was on point from the first inning and his curveball seemed to get better as each inning passed. His only speed bumps were in the 2nd and 3rd but he buckled down and got out of it, and really should have had a shutout because A-Rod should have knocked down the Stairs grounder in the 2nd.

This was the A.J. Burnett Yankee fans remember from all his victories against the Bombers and the one they were hoping to see all season. His back-to-back strikeouts on backdoor curves in the bottom of the 7th were beautiful to watch and the biggest evidence of his command and confidence on the mound last night. After that performance and with his history of working on short rest, I would have no problem throwing him out there for Game 5.

Joe still has a lot of big decisions to make regarding the staff for the rest of this series, and they all hinge on Andy's performance in Game 3 tomorrow, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. Andy has to go out and do his thing and the Yankee bats still have to wake up. If they win Game 3, though, you give serious consideration to turning to CC and A.J. on short rest to lock the rear naked choke on the Phils.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Well That Sucked. Game 1 Thoughts and Afterthoughts

* After breezing through his first 3 starts, CC hit a bit of a bump in the road last night to start the game. He was clearly a little too jacked up as he couldn't establish command of his pitches and was overthrowing badly in the first inning. He settled down by the time the 3rd rolled around, but by that point he had already thrown 40 pitches.

* Cliff Lee, on the other hand, was an absolute meast last night. I honestly didn't expect him to throw a fraction of a percentage as well as he did last night and it didn't look like the Yankees did either. Lee threw the first-pitch fastball for strike 1 all night and then resorted to his array of off-speed stuff to get most of his outs. The Yankees never seemed to pick up on his strategy the 2nd or 3rd times through the lineup and were pretty much relegated to guessing by the middle innings because Lee could hit any part of the strike zone with any pitch whenever he wanted. There were maybe 3 or 4 hard hit balls off him all night and 2 of them were off the bat of Jeter. A-Rod and Teix looked helpless and Jorge continues to be the easiest Yankee to strike out on a curveball in the dirt this side of Shelley Duncan.

* Chase Utley's at-bat in the 3rd inning was Jeteresque in its greatness. He worked Sabathia, constantly fouling off the pitches he couldn't handle to get himself a better one to hit until finally Sabathia dared him to hit the heat and he obliged. The walk he drew in the 1st inning set up the rest of the night perfectly for him as Sabathia did not want to walk him again.

* I don't know what was better about Jimmy Rollins' play in the bottom of the 5th, the fact that he had the smarts to catch the ball, step on 2nd, and tell Howard to tag Matsui, in effect guaranteeing the Phillies a double play no matter what the call was, or the fact that the umpires got together, conversed, deferred to the guys who had the good looks at the play, and got the call right. Way to go, fellas, 1 out of 100 ain't bad!

* I do, however, know what was terrible about that play and it was Matsui's running or lack of running decision. Dude, you see the ball up in the air, get your fucking ass back to first base!! Or if you think it was a trap and he tagged second, at least try to run to second!! Matsui did the worst thing a baserunner could do in that situation, nothing. At that point it was the first time the Yanks had gotten the lead runner on and it was wiped out by a combination of stupidity/laziness. It's shit like that that will have Matsui wearing another jersey next year; the guy is a liability everywhere except at the plate and one-dimensional baseball players are about as useful as an Etch-A-Sketch for Michael J. Fox.

* As great as hit at-bat against CC was in the 3rd, Utley's homer off of him in the 6th was all on CC. It was an awful pitch thrown after an awful decision by CC to shake off Jorge's call for a slider in favor of the fastball. CC was ahead 0-2 and just had Utley take a hideous swing at an off-speed offering on the outside. Utley punished his fastball last time so why revert back to what didn't work before? Once again, Yankee pitchers' thinking they're smarter than their catcher comes back to bite them in the ass. Why bother having Jorge even put down signs if you already know what you want to throw? Just set up a pitch back with a fucking glove taped to it.

* FOX's constant dugout camera shots afforded us viewers multiple looks at Utley's Jimmy Conway/Henry Hill slick-back look like night and I have to say I was impressed. Rick Pitino himself couldn't have pulled that off any better last night. I was half expecting to see Utley talking to Cliff Lee between innings telling him he insulted the Yankees "a lil bit" after his nonchalant pop-up catch.

* Speaking of which, that catch summed up Lee's performance last night. The Yankees out there flailing away and Lee just being Joe Cool out there mowing them down. Sure he had every right to be cool about it as well as he was pitching, and we all know it provided Tim McCarver with great amounts of enjoyment in the broadcast booth and in his hotel room late at night after the game, but that play shouldn't be forgotten by the Yankees tonight or the next time they face Lee in the series. Something that borderline cocky is something teams don't forget.

* I was surprised to see CC back on the mound for the 7th inning after racking up 100 pitches through 6, but it ended up being the right move by Joe to keep them in the game at the time and showed how little confidence he has in the pen right now. 2-0 after 6 is not insurmountable, and Joe felt more comfortable with a tired CC than a well-rested pen.

* Once the bullpen did get their paws on the game, it was all over but the crying. Phil Hughes is officially useless now. He probably pitched his way out of consideration for any big moments for the remainder of the series last night and we can all start calling him "Phillip" again because that's what he's pitching like. He can bark at the ump all he wants, but the fact is he wasn't hitting his spots with his fastball AGAIN and his 2 walks were the nail in the Yankees' coffin last night. Clearly the moment is too big for him and that's why we'll most likely see Phillip back as the number 4 or 5 starter next season.

* Between Hughes' implosion, Joba's inconsistency, Coke and Robertson's lack of innings, and the new season of "The Brian Bruney Batting Practice Show," I now have visions of Tom Gordon, Paul Quantrill, Kyle Farnsworth, Mike Myers, Steve Karsay, Ron Villone, and Luis Vizcaino running through my head. I can't get on Coke and Robertson too bad for last night since they haven't been used since Jon and Kate were still together, but somebody needs to step up and get 3 fucking outs.

* It's sad when CC throws 7 innings, gives up 4 hits and 2 runs, strikes out 6, and it looks like a bad outing. 60% of the time, that stat line wins every time, but not when Cliff Lee is doing his Cy Young impression against him. His stuff and command got better in every inning and he really only threw 2 bad pitches so there's no need to worry about him throwing Game 4 on short rest. Maybe the extra rest before this start got him out of rhythm.

*It's even more sad when the best part of a World Series game is the promo for the new season of "24." That minute was the only thing that snapped me out of my beer-induced funk after it became crystal clear the Yankees weren't doing anything against Lee.

* As good as Lee was, and he was fucking amazing, I think the fact that Charlie left him out there to throw 120 pitches to finish the game shows not only how little faith he has in his bullpen, but also how little faith he has in the rest of his rotation. Charlie knew his best chance to win the game was to keep his best pitched on the mound as long as possible. He could sense how important that first win was knowing he's got an old Pedro, shaky Hamels, and an even shakier Blanton for the next 3 games. And if he knows that, you know the Yankees know that too so there's no need to panic over last night. Not even the real Murderer's Row would have scored a run off Lee last night.

Everyone just needs to forget about this one and hope we see the good A.J. and bad Pedro tonight.  Let's how influential he is at the new Stadium with his 85-MPH fastball in the colder weather.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Exhibit Q for Why The Phillies Will Get Reamed in This Series

Awww, look at that. The Yankees let the old dude who got fired and claimed age discrimination back to the Stadium for the World Series. What a heart-warming moment; who said the Yankees were a heartless organization?

What's that you say? That's Charlie Manuel? The manager of the Phillies? Bullshit, that guy looks fucking older and more clueless than George, and with a bigger a dump in his pants.

That's REALLY the manager of the Phillies? The team that everybody and their mother thinks is going to give the Yankees all they can handle and maybe even beat in this series? BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! That old bag of shit there looks like he needs to be in a wheelchair having green Jell-O spoon fed to him. Even Joe can't screw anything up from a managerial perspective when this corpse is the guy with whom he's going to be matching wits.

And to make matters worse for Philly fans, he's already showing how out of his mind he is by starting Pedro in Game 2. Somebody better tell Grandpa Charlie here that it isn't 1999 and he won't have Steve Carlton available out of the pen when Pedro gets lit the fuck up and they limp home down 2-0. Somebody get this guy a LifeAlert and a hospital bed, STAT!
This series is fucking over.  People might as well start clearing their schedules so they can get a good view in the Canyon of Heroes now.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Logical Yanks-Phils World Series Preview

There has been nothing but constant talk since Sunday night about how well the Phillies match up against the Yankees and how they might even be better than the Yanks. When it comes from John Kruk saying it, nobody can get too upset; Kruk saying he thinks the Phillies are going to win the World Series is about as shocking as Michele Obama saying she was rooting for Barack to win the election last fall. But when guys like Joel Sherman start suggesting that the Phillies lineup is better than the Yankees, that's where I draw the line. Nothing like a little statistical analysis to end this madness and prove the Yankees are head and shoulders above their supposed "competition."

Offensively, the teams appear even across the board in terms of lineup depth, power, and situational hitting. But one key factor getting overlooked is how each team hits lefties. The Yanks boast the formidable combo of CC and Pettitte while the Phils counter with Lee and Hamels, so how each team has fared against lefties should be a good indicator of success in the series. Here's how the 2 teams compare:

Regular Season- Avg. OBP SLG AB

Yankees- .286 .365 .480 1714

Phillies .248 .335 .452 1518


Yankees- .276 .384 .441 127

Phillies- .189 .355 .432 74

Clearly the Yankees are the better team when it comes to hitting left-handed pitching. The trend has been consistent throughout the regular and postseason and guys like Jeter, Cano, and Teix have abused lefties from Day 1 to Game 6 of the ALCS. But if that isn't convincing enough, try this on for size:

In a combined 66 at-bats so far this postseason, the combination of Jeter, A-Rod, Cano, Teix, and Melky has totaled 23 hits for a .348 average with 4 homers and 15 RBIs. A-Rod and Jeter have also worked 13 combined walks off of lefties just by themselves.

For the sake of comparison, the combo of Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Jayson Werth (otherwise known as the heart of the Phillies) is 6-35 off of lefties. Sure there are 2 homers and 7 RBIs built into that smaller sample size, but if you extrapolate that out to 70 at-bats, they still fall an RBI short of the Yankees' output and are hitting 177 points lower off of lefties in the playoffs.

When you factor in that CC and Pettitte have been all but shutdown-quality effective in the postseason and Cole Hamels has been every bit as bad as Cliff Lee has good, the trends and signs point to CC and Pettitte continuing their dominance against Philly while Lee and Hamels should get hit harder, give up more walks, and be less effective against the lefty-killing Yankee lineup. John Kruk can think what he wants to think, but the numbers don't lie.

Now as far as pitcher-batter histories, the key Yankee bats have had great success against what will be the Phillies' rotation. For his career against Lee, Hamels, Pedro, Joe Blanton, and closer Brad Lidge, A-Rod is 27-84 for a .321 average with 4 doubles, 6 homers, 17 RBIs, and 14 walks. The only pitcher he has not murdered is Hamels, who surprisingly enough he is 0-4 lifetime against with 4Ks, but in limited at-bats A-Rod has rocked Lee, Blanton, and Lidge. No doubt these guys are aware of that history, as are Girardi and Charlie Manuel. If these clowns are even thinking of pitching to A-Rod with how perfectly he's locked in right now, they aren't just flirting with disaster, they're jerking it off under the table at dinner.

And if there's anything that can get Teix out of his playoff half-slump, it's Philly pitching. During his short stint in the NL and over the course of his career in interleague play, Teixeira has dominated Lee, Blanton, and Hamels to the tune of .343, 6 HR, 5 2B, and 18 RBIs in just 67 at-bats. The fact that he hits right in front of A-Rod means they are both going to be protecting each other through their numbers.

The true key is going to be Jeter and Damon continuing to set the table as they did in the ALCS. If they can get at least one runner on, that almost forces Philly to try to pitch to Teix and A-Rod, which history shows they have gotten hammered in doing so, but if the Phils staff can navigate through Jeter-Damon sea, they can pitch the next 2 more carefully and try to avoid the Teix-riguez tidal wave. In case you were wondering, Jeter has been successful in his career against the Philly starters too so once again all signs point to the Yankee offense punishing the Philly pitching staff.

Speaking of pitching, everybody knows it's what wins championships and every Yankee fan knows it's what has killed them in the last few playoff series. This year has been a completely different story. The rotation has been ridiculously dominant, even with A.J. Burnett's ALCS Game 5 stinker thrown in. Here's how the numbers look so far:


5-0 2.55 1.07 60 48 16 17 48 in 9 starts

The Phillies rotational breakdown, for sake of comparison, looks like this:

3-1 3.11 1.02 55 47 9 19 41 in 9 starts.

What you see there is the Philly rotation being good, but not as good as the Yankees. And their numbers are inflated even more than the Yankees by Cliff Lee's insane numbers in his 3 starts. Lee has been great, and Pedro was surprisingly dominant in his one start, but on the other side you have Blanton who had been marginal at best, and Hamels, who has been a complete disaster. Basically the Yankee staff has been more consistent and has allowed fewer runs and only one more hit in more innings of work with more strikeouts over the same number of games started. The Yankees rotation is better across the board, period.

The bullpens, though, are a different story. Before the playoffs started the Yanks pen was talked about as being their secret weapon while the Phils was talked about as being their potential downfall. After the first 2 series, the Yankees pen has proven to be awful while the Phils pen is suddenly a strength, right? WRONG!!

Comparison-  W-L ERA WHIP IP H BB ER K

Yankees-        2-2 2.28 1.55 27.2 32 11 7 24

Phillies-          4-1 3.24 1.52   25   25 13 9 19

What that tells you right there is the despite their "struggles," the Yankees still have the better-performing pen than the Phillies. 13 of the hits, 5 of the walks, and 5 of the 7 earned runs allowed have come from Hughes and Aceves alone, so without that you're looking at an overall shutdown staff. The Phils pen has racked up wins, but has done it in games where they had commanding leads against teams that were clearly inferior to the Yankees and could not take full advantage of their propensity for giving up walks. The Yankees have shown time and time again this postseason what they do to pitchers who give up leadoff walks and there will be no skating by for the Philly pen in this series because they won't have the benefit of 4, 5, 6, or 7 run leads like they had against the Dodgers.

Despite their high WHIP, the Yankee pen has consistently gotten itself out of trouble and gotten the job done in close games, something the Phillies pen has not shown they can do yet. Once again, all signs point to Yankee supremacy in this always-important department.

So there you have it, all the talk of Philly being equal to or greater than the Yankees squashed with a simple look at the stats. Everybody at FOX and ESPN can stop trying to hype this series up because it's going to end up being a carbon copy of the ALCS: A great team beating a very good one. 3 more bonus tidbits for Yankee fans or just logical people in general that speak to the Yankees chances looking good:

* Despite not having great numbers over a long history of facing the Phillies during his time in the AL East, nobody on the Phillies roster has owned A.J. Burnett, certainly not to the degree that A-Rod and Teix own the Philly rotation

* Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino were noticeably sore and banged up after the NLCS celebration was over. You haven't heard a peep about A-Rod's hip, Hideki's knees, Robertson's elbow, or Mo's groin at all so far this postseason.

* Accuscore simulations over 1,000 games resulted in the Yankees winning 66% of the time and the Phillies 34%, a roughly 2-1 ratio.

World Series Prediction: Yankees in 6 games, what would equate to a 2-1 win ratio.

Monday, October 26, 2009

More Game 6/ALCS Thoughts

* Beyond just winning the series, Andy's performance last night allowed the Yankees to keep their rotation intact for the World Series, namely starting CC in Game 1.  The one less off-day in the Series schedule means the Yankees will most likely have to use Chad Gaudin as the Game 4 starter, but by not having the ALCS go to a Game 7, they still have the option, albeit an unappetizing one, of using 3 starters and guaranteeing Sabathia pitches 3 times.

* While guys like Damon and Melky hit much better in this series, the offense is still pretty much Jeter & A-Rod and hope for the best.  Teix still hasn't put it together, Jorge is hot-and-cold, Cano isn't locked in, Matsui looks old, and Swish is just about useless.  Logic would dictate the Yankees will hit better next series against pitching that is no better than what the Angels offered, but don't forget the Yankees won't have the luxury of the DH for 3 of the 7 games.  That fact makes it all the more important that guys like Teix and Cano get it together to strengthen up what will be a thinner middle of the lineup when the series shifts to Philly.

* Who the hell was that old bag who was serving as the Honorary American League President?  And more importantly, why is there a fucking Honoray American League President??  How did she get to that position?  Do you have to apply for it?  What's the age and experience requirements?  Was it some sort of MLB promotional program?  This is the kind of shit that Ken Rosenthal needs to be reporting on.

* And speaking of that lifeless suit, are Ken Rosenthal and the FOX NFL Robot the same thing?  They're both equally useless and annoying and add nothing to FOX's broadcast of baseball or football.  Not to mention that Rosenthal delivers his reports that are always either already known by everybody watching the game or were newsworthy 3 weeks ago in his monotone, over-rehearsed voice, a voice that one could call...robotic.  I'm not one for conspiracy theories, but I'm just sayin'.  If you still aren't convinced, here's a visual comparison...

* I'm not going to argue CC as the ALCS MVP pick.  The guy was brilliant in both of his outings, rendering the Angels' offense a non-factor, the struggling Yankee bullpen an even bigger non-factor, and giving the Yankee offense time to find itself.  But the argument could certainly be made for A-Rod.  Check the stat line:

.429 avg., 3 HR, 6 RBI, 6 R, 8 BB, 20TB, and an absolutely insane 1.519 OPS.  And that doesn't even factor in the flawless play in the field, smart, agressive baserunning, and the little communications with his teammates that helped set up some run-scoring opportunities in the series.

There's no denying the guy has been head and shoulders above his peers right now.  He's doing everything right and doesn't show any signs of slowing down.  He's had very few bad at-bats and looks smoother in the field than he ever has.  Making an out no longer seems to bother him, and he's more willing to let his teammates pick up the slack.  You can pretty much throw all his past failures out the window with the way he's played so far.  It will be interesting to see how the Phillies approach A-Rod, especially in the games at their place, but my money would be on A-Rod continuing this blazing hot streak if Philly chooses to pitch to him.

World Series preview tomorrow...

AB4AR's Week 7 NFL Wrap-Up

Week 7 Recap

New England 35 Tampa Bay 7

After rudely routing the pathetic Bucs for 308 yards and 3 TDs, one of them to Sam Aiken (yeah, I don't know who the hell he is either), Brady and company made like the Pilgrims and quickly left the motherland to head back to the good old U.S. of A. Not surprisingly, some of the Bucs considered staying in England for their off-week next week out of fear that their fans would boo them back to England upon their return anyway.

Houston 24 San Francisco 21

Owen Daniels moved up in the "Premiere White Tight End in the NFL" rankings with a 7-catch, 123-yard, 1 TD performance against a Niner defense that had been shutting down opposing tight ends all season. Alex Smith and his freakishly small hands made their season debut but just fell short in a comeback attempt. Interesting side note: Michael Crabtree's 5 catches for 56 yards in just one game give him almost the same numbers as Darrius Heyward-Bey has all season, just more proof that Crabtree deserved the money he was asking for and that Al Davis is completely senile.

Indianapolis 42 St. Louis 6

The Rams kept this one close for the first 3 minutes of the first quarter and then their ineptitude took over in this lopsided embarrassment. Stevie Spags is already contacting the Giants to see if he can get a job, any job, back with the organization. Peyton Manning was on auto-pilot for the whole game and it showed: ONLY 235 yards??? What the hell?

Pittsburgh 27 Minnesota 17

I'm not going to trash Favre for throwing that late-game pick because Taylor should have caught it. But I will trash him for that half-assed, all-pussy attempt to take out the Pittsburgh defender instead of trying to stop the guy with the ball. For God's sakes, man, that's the ballgame heading down the sideline and you're flopping to the turf like one of the people in "The Happening!!" On the bright side, Pittsburgh's relentless D and it's 2 touchdowns allowed Favre to keep padding his TD-pass record. Oh wait, he doesn't get credited with a TD for the pick 6? Bummer.

Green Bay 31 Cleveland 3

Move along folks, nothing to see here, nothing at all. Just arguably the worst team in football getting their asses reamed again. Add "tackling" to the ever-growing list of things the Browns suck at and put another big check mark next to "coaching" on the list of things Eric Mangini sucks at. The Packers' offense this season has been just like my sex life: inconsistent with protection but always with the potential to score quickly. HIYOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

San Diego 37 Kansas City 7

Kansas City is slowly learning that they may have traded for the wrong New England quarterback last offseason as their offense continues to be only slightly less awful than Cleveland's. It also didn't help that Phillip Rivers torched their D to the tune of 268 yards and 3 TDs, and did it all without screaming at, throwing the ball at, or giving the D-X crotch chop to anybody.

NY Jets 38 Oakland 0

Man, look at all these close scores, huh?! It was nothing but nail-biters across the league yesterday. The Raiders proved to be the perfect antidote for the ailing Jets offense, who turned Mark Sanchez into a Pee-Wee quarterback yesterday and just had him hand off to Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene, who combined for 265 yards and 3 TDs after Leon Washington's leg injury got him a nomination to the Joe Theismann Hall of Fame.

Buffalo 20 Carolina 9

This just in: The Bills are undefeated with Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm. The kid just can't be stopped, especially when he's up against the "Human Turnover," Jake Delhomme, who added to his legend with 3 more picks yesterday. You would have thought that the Panthers learned their lesson last week; just give the ball to Williams and Stewart and you'll win. I know they were playing from behind yesterday, but that rule should still apply. When you're counting on Jake Delhomme to lead you back you might as well forfeit.

Cincinnati 45 Chicago 10

Cedric Benson backed up his trash talk of the Bears all week with 189 yards on the ground and 1 TD. After the game he called Jay Cutler AND Brian Urlacher pussies, gave Lovie Smith a wet willy, and cock-smacked the Bears cheerleaders. Carson Palmer and his 5 TD passes are playing almost as well in real life right now as he does for my Madden franchise.

Dallas 37 Atlanta 21

Matt Ryan got Romo'd yesterday as Tony threw for 311, 3TDs, and no completions to the Falcons. The Atlanta O could never get in a groove, mainly due to their inability to establish the run. Miles Austin's 6 catches, 171 yards, and 1 TD has apparently inspired Spike TV to have another Cowboy-themed reality show in which Patrick Crayton and Roy Williams each compete in a series of football events to determine who doesn't end up being cut in the offseason.

New Orleans 46 Miami 34

After playing the first half like a drunk Clark Kent, Drew Brees remembered to jump in the phone booth before the 2nd half to lead the Saints back to a victory over the Dolphins. Brees' 2 rushing TDs for a combined 3 yards now establishes him as a dual-threat on offense, making the Saints more dangerous and rendering Reggie Bush pretty much useless. Don't be surprised to see Brees cure cancer on a 3rd and Goal play next week. The Dolphins continues to show that the Wildcat offense can be effective, but if they really want to contend, they might want to think about formulating a Wildcat defense.

Arizona 24 NY Giants 17

The hangover from last week's beatdown was still present for the Giants yesterday, as they couldn't hold leads or get stops when they needed to. Mario Manningham and Eli Manning did their best Howie Kendrick-Scott Kazmir impression, with Manningham dropping a sure TD pass late in the 4th and then Eli floating a pass into double coverage for the game-clinching interception.

MNF Prediction

Philadelphia 30 Washington 10

Whatever new wrinkles Sherm Lewis is going to cook up for the Redskins' offense, the smart money is going to be on them not working against Philly's D. Expect at least one interception return for a touchdown, multiple big pass pays to DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, and enough McNabb-Westbrooky-goodness to make this game a snoozer early.

MNF Predictions for the Season (Winners): 4-3

Game 6 Thoughts and Afterthoughts

* FOX tipped their hand early about whose corner they were in with the focus solely on the Angels during the lead up to the first pitch. I'll give them a little bit of leniency for playing up the Game 7 aspect because the rest of the playoff series have been so one-sided this far. But it still wouldn't have killed them to mention once in their opening that the Yankees were looking to clinch.

* Am the only one who thinks Artie Moreno looks like Jerry Stiller? I have expected him to stand up and adjust his mansierre when they had him on camera in the 2nd inning.

* Absolutely horrible play by Vlad running the bases in the 2nd inning? After a second or two he should have realized Swish was going to catch the ball and got back to first, instead he stood in the baseline like someone mesmerized by a UFO and got himself picked off.

* When the hell did Jeff Mathis become Pudge Rodriguez in his prime? Thank God the Yankees don't have to deal with him anymore because he was almost a guaranteed double every time he stepped up to the plate.

* The top of the 3rd was another example of what makes the Angels go as Abreu got a big two-out hit with RISP. At the same time, it showed why the Angels lost as their 2 table setters did next to nothing in the series.

* Fuck Balloon Boy!! The most surprising thing I saw in the last week was Bobby Abreu hitting a wall on a catch in the bottom of the 3rd. Bobby, I'm glad to see you've overcome your fear of padded, immobile walls but I think I speak for lots of Yankee fans when I say "FUCK YOU!!"

* Jeter's at-bat in the bottom of the 4th was classic Jeter. He worked the count, giving Damon a look at all of Saunders' pitches in the process, and ended up loading the bases and sealing Saunders' fate. Just the best in the business continuing to be the best.

* What was up with Kate Hudson sitting down during A-Rod's at-bat in the 4th inning? That's your boy toy up there with the bases loaded, honey, stand the hell up!!!

* No matter how much Buck and McCarver tried to convince you early that Joe Saunders was on his game, the numbers don't lie; he flat out sucked. In 3 1/3 innings he put 12 guys on base with just 83 pitches before getting the hook. His sinker was terrible and his fastball command was hit-or-miss. Most telling was that Saunders had no strikeouts and got just 1 swing-and-miss strike all night. To quote Chris Russo, "That's a bad job in a big spot there by Saunders."

* Andy was the exact opposite of Saunders, showing great command of all his pitches and pounding the strike zone (as gay as that sounds) all night. He looked good in the 5th after sitting on the bench for an extended period of time through the bottom of the 4th inning and got a big out that he needed with 2 on and 2 out in the bottom of the 6th. Another masterful performance by Pettitte.

* How badly was FOX rooting for the Angels last night? Let me count the ways...

1) Buck and McCarver gushing about how calm and relaxed Saunders looked after only facing 4 batters. As previously mentioned, Saunders didn't make it out of the 4th inning.

2) Joe Buck screaming "HERE COME THE ANGELS!!" after a leadoff single in the top of the 5th inning that led to absolutely nothing for Anaheim. Buck sounded like he was watching a public execution when Damon singled in 2 to give the Yanks the lead in the previous half-inning.

3) Buck and McCarver openly discussing how big a play the Posada double play would be if the Angels come back to win in the bottom of the 5th.

4) Darren Oliver getting talked about as if he were the reincarnation of Satchel Paige after his 2+ innings of relief. Umm guys, you're forgetting that he was called into the game in the 4th inning because the Angels' starter was so pathetically ineffective and his team is still losing. Put your pants back on and talk about Andy a little bit.

5) Buck taking a minute or two to talk about what a "great ALCS" Vlad Guerrero had in the bottom of the 8th as the Yankees were tacking on insurance runs. Joe, you do realize you're talking about the guy who ran his team out of a potential run-scoring inning in the 2nd with his bonehead baserunning play, right? Bite the bullet and talk about how good the Yankees are for a change.

* Can somebody please remind Joe that he has Dave Robertson and Phil Coke in the bullpen? There was no reason Damaso Marte should have even been thinking about warming up yesterday and yet there he was in the bottom of the 7th, throwing pitches in case Joba got in trouble.

* It gets overshadowed because they won, but Jorge was downright putrid at the plate last night. His 2 GIDPs killed rallies and the Yankees' opportunities to seal the deal. But hey, at least he remembered how many outs there were in all the innings.

* Jeter's bobble of a sure double play ball in the 7th was terrible, but Cano's play was equally good. I would have expected Cano to be staring off into center field, blowing bubbles, but instead he was right where he should have been and saved Jeter's ass.

*On the other side of the "bad fielding" card was Howie Kendrick and Scott Kazmir. It's hard to decide which play was worse, Kendrick's drop or Kazmir's airmailing of the throw to first on Melky's bunt in the 8th. Even Eli Manning was laughing at that duck. Just the story of the series: the Yankees' mistakes did not kill them; the Angels' mistakes raped, killed, dismembered, and buried them.

* I can't say I blame Mike Scioscia, but when you're bringing in Scott Kazmir to try to hold a team down with your season on the line instead of your closer, that shows you have absolutely no faith in your bullpen. Jepsen, Bulger, and Fuentes didn’t even sniff the mound last night as Scioscia elected to roll out the back end of his rotation instead. In retrospect, probably not the best move.

* Can we ban people hitting the padding down the baselines during big moments? It's doesn’t create any more noise than yelling or clapping and it makes you look like you have Tourette's. Let's hose those things down and electrify them for the World Series to try and discourage this stupid activity.

* I was checking to see if I had pubes in the top of the 8th when Mo came out because I thought it was 1999 all over again. A great call by Girardi and a great performance by Mo, 8th inning run aside. The Angels were Scatman Crothers wandering through the Overlook Hotel and Mo was Jack Torrance swinging the axe into their chest, killing their season. Simply beautiful.

* A quick look at how my 5 keys to the game played out:

1) Andy's ability to throw strike 1.
-Got strike 1 across to 20 of the 25 batters he faced on his way to 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball and 6Ks. Check.

2) Getting to Saunders and the pen early.
-Saunders out after 3 1/3 innings, 7 hits, and 5 walks. Insurance runs off of Kazmir in the 8th. Check.

3) Hitting with RISP.
-Only went 2-8, but the big one was Damon's 2-run single in the 4th and A-Rod tacked one on with his bases loaded walk. Half-check.

4) Running the bases.
-No steals by either team, but Vlad gets doubled off in the 2nd and the Yankees ran clean all night. Check.

5) Managerial decisions.
-Girardi let Andy go as long as he could, then redeemed his questionable Joba decision by going for the kill with Mo for 6 outs. Scioscia thought more of the shaky Scott Kazmir than his usual bullpen guys and it cost him 2 runs in the 8th. Check.

So there you have it. Once again I was right on point with what I called and the Yankees won almost all of those important facets in winning the game. If only Baseball Tonight could provide this level of meaningful insight? When the hell can I start getting paid for this shit??

Cue the awkward man love!...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

That's More Like It!

Pettitte was brilliant, A-Rod is no longer human, Joba managed to not fuck anything up, the offense bled the Angels' pitching like a stuck pig, and Joe reverted back to the late 90s-early 2000s strategy with Mo, letting him get the final 6 outs to make sure no bullshit happened.

I hope the Phillies enjoyed their rest because their going to need it.

Full Game 6 recap tomorrow morning...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The 5 Most Important Factors for Game 6

1) Andy Pettitte's ability to throw strike 1.

The Angels showed a great approach against Burnett by taking what he gave them and not being afraid to swing at early strikes.  Andy can't fall into the same trap of lobbing one over the plate just to throw a strike, but he also can't be passive and try to pick corners because pitching from behind in the count will get you into trouble against the Angel lineup.

2) Yankees ability to work counts against Saunders and get to the Angels' bullpen as early as possible.

Angels' starters, with the exception of Scott Kazmir, have been relatively effective in neutralizing the Yankee offense in this series, but have not been able to work into the 7th and 8th innings.  The Yankees stand a much better chance of winning if they can knock Saunders out in the 5th or 6th and get to the soft underbelly of the Angel's pen.

3) Hitting with runners in scoring position.

Neither team has done it very well at all this series.  The Yankees had a flash of it in the 7th inning of Game 5 but then couldn't get it done in the 9th.  With the weather sure to have an effect on hitting and running the bases, getting a clutch hit or two could make the difference.

4) Which team runs the bases better.

See comments above.  With scoring opportunities potentially being at a premium tonight, a stolen base one way or a misguided attempt to take an extra base the other way could have a huge factor in a close game.

5) Which manager will blink first.

For all the talk of how he's the best in the business, Mike Scioscia hasn't exactly written the book on how to win a series with his decision-making so far this series.  But Joe Girardi has been more than up to the task of matching Scioscia's bad calls step for step.  If the game is close in the late innings, the manager who makes the first bad bullpen call or questionable pinch hitting or pinch running change could end up losing it for his team.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Game 5 Thoughts and Afterthoughts

* For all the talk about how the Angels love to steal bases and sac bunt and hit and run, they haven't done any of it this series. And that's mainly because their 2 table setters, Figgins and Abreu, have done nothing. Last night in the first they both get on with a leadoff walk and a double and look what happens. If you can stop those 2, you can cripple the Angels' offense, it's that simple.

* I don't know how he threw the ball in his warmups, but A.J. was flat out garbage in the first inning last night. His fastball had no movement, his curve was flat, and the leadoff walk to Figgins in which he couldn't throw the fastball for a strike made him timid and no doubt contributed to him heaving the ball right over the heart of the plate for the Angels to tee off on.

* The bad umpiring continues. Top 3rd, Damon clearly safe at first and another instance where the ump was in perfect position to make the right call. You almost have to start wondering if there's something fishy going on at this point.

* Through the first 5-6 innings last night, the Yankees showed absolutely no sense of urgency or that they even cared to be playing. It was as if that first inning sucked the life right out of them, which was atypical of how they played from behind all season. Strange to see that creep up in the playoffs.

* I know he plays for the opposing team, but how can fans anywhere ever boo Derek Jeter? The guy plays the game hard all the time, is pretty good with the media, has never been in trouble off the field, never bad mouths anybody, what more do you want? In this day and age of steroids, DUIs, dog-fighting charges, and domestic assaults being almost as common to professional sports as wins and losses, you would think Jeter would be celebrated by all as the consummate professional he is, not booed because he's wearing an "NY" logo. He and Albert Pujols should be officially off-limits to all heckling, booing, and taunting.

* After being successful against him in Game 1, the Yanks' strategy against Lackey was awful last night. They watched way too many hittable fastballs go right by, got themselves behind in the count, and then fell victim to his curveball, which was much more effective in the California heat.

* On the other side, the Angels strategy against Burnett was perfect. If he threw something over the plate on the first pitch just for the sake of throwing a strike, they pounded him. If he didn't, they waited him out, got ahead in the count, and forced him to throw another meatball that they could handle. There were very few swings and misses off of A.J. last night and even fewer balls that weren't hit hard. A typical A.J. off-night that came at the worst time.

* When are the Yankees going to sit Andy Phillips and put Mark Teixeira back at first base? I also remember why I wanted Ramiro Pena on the roster; so the Yankees could have somebody to pinch hit for Cano in clutch situations and not lose any defensive strength.

* Sure the hit in the top of the 7th was huge, but Hideki Matsui has looked awful at the plate this series. He's swinging like David Carradine in a hotel closet: slowly and awkwardly. I said before the game last night that I would have sat Matsui and DH'd Posada. Looking back on it, that would have been the way to go as Posada is more threatening in the 5-hole than Hideki and you could have pinch hit Matsui for Molina in the 5th and used Cervelli as the catcher for the rest of the game.

* His 3-run double was clutch, but Teix is a mess at the plate right now. There's always mention of how he doesn't shift his weight from back to front when he swings, but right now it doesn't even look like he's shifting his hips through the zone and he's leaning too far back in swing. He's seen a lot of hittable pitches this series and he always seems to pop them up, which says to me he isn't getting any drive on his swing and is losing all his power, causing the ball to lift instead of carry into the outfield. Dude needs to get his ass in the cage before tomorrow night because one big 3-4 with 4 RBI game from him could be the difference.

* Mike Scioscia and Joe Girardi must have a side bet on who can mismanage their pitching staff worse in this series. Scioscia pulled the "reverse-Girardi" last night in the top of the 7th, taking out Lackey after he had seemingly recovered from the bad ball 4 call and subsequent Jeter walk, only to watch Darren Oliver and Kevin Jepsen gag on it.

* Not to be outdone, Joe pulled the very rare "double-reverse Girardi" in the bottom of the 7th by leaving A.J. in too long. Sure his pitch count was low, but he had started to show signs of tiring in the 6th and had just sat on the bench for 20 minutes while the Yanks scored 6 runs. When you're running a mentally fragile pitcher out in a clutch spot late in the game, he has to be on a short leash, and when that pitcher is A.J. Burnett the leash needs to be even shorter. Joe let the leash go and A.J. ran across the street to dig up the neighbors' flowers by giving up a leadoff walk and a single.

* Did anybody else find the David Spade DirecTV commercial a little creepy? The dude practically owes his entire career to Chris Farley and the few movies they did together and now he's shooting commercials with images of Farley, making fun of his dead friend to make a quick buck? Bad karma right there...

* The bullpen made the switch from strength back to liability complete last night with their collective awful performance. It doesn't help that Joe manages them like a Little League team with his "everybody gets to pitch" philosophy, but the bottom line is you have to come in and throw strikes and get outs and outside of Mo there's nobody doing that right now.

* Being converted starters, it should have been obvious to Joe by now that Joba and Hughes are not the types of guys to be brought into the game in the middle of an inning with runners on base. Their mindset is more suited to start an inning and get 3 outs because that's what the goal of every starting pitcher is each inning. They're not "stoppers," and their continuing shitting of the bed in these mid-inning situations is proof of that and more evidence that Joe needs to stop this "you pitch to a batter, you pitch to a batter, and you pitch to a batter" mentality.

* And what the fuck is with Joba and Hughes still shaking of every sign Jorge puts down? The guy has caught Major League pitchers for 14 years, fellas, he's knows what he's doing. Hughes shook off Jorge at least twice last night in the Guerrero at-bat to get to the fastball, the pitch he wanted to throw. Based on Guerrero's vomit-inducing swing on the previous curveball, Jorge wanted to go off-speed again, but Hughes shook him off, threw a fastball right down the middle, and the rest is history.

I don’t know where Hughes gets the gall to shake off Jorge for a fastball when he's shown throughout the postseason so far that he can't get his fastball over the plate. Before you start shaking off your veteran catcher, why not try growing a set of balls, get a little hair on them, and make a fucking pitch to get an out?

* One guy in the Yankee pen who has shown he can be a "stopper" guy is Dave Robertson and yet Joe continues to let him sit on the bench in big situations. What did Robertson do to piss off Joe? Did he bang his wife? Because something must be up for him to not be getting used, especially after he showed he has the stones that Joba and Hughes lack when he got out of the bases-loaded, nobody out situation in Minnesota.

The path should be clear now: use Joba and Hughes to start innings in relief, and use Robertson and Coke as your mid-inning, runners on-base, matchup "stopper" guys if the situation starts getting hairy.

* It's 20/20 hindsight, but Joe should have gone to Mo right after Marte got the 2nd out of the 7th inning. It's unconventional, but that moment right there was the situation where the game could be won or lost and logic dictates that you should have your best pitcher out there in that situation. Mo, more than anybody, is well-suited to come in and get one out; you bring him in, he gets out of the jam in the 7th with the lead intact, then works through the 8th. If his pitch count is low, maybe you let him start the 9th, if not, then you go to Hughes, Coke, Robertson, whoever, to get the job done in the 9th.

He wouldn't be credited with a save, but he would have been the one to "save" the game by getting a key out that preserves the lead. It's the same argument Max Kellerman always used in discussing closers; they have that title because they are the best relief pitcher in the bullpen, and when you have a situation where the game and the lead is on the line, you should want to bring in your best pitcher, regardless of what inning it is.

Too many managers focus on what inning they bring their guys in instead of thinking in the moment. The Yankees lost the game in the bottom of the 7th, but could have won it if they held that one-run lead they still had with 2 outs. Bring in your best guy to put out the fire in that pressure situation and then worry about the 9th when you get to it. Once the lead is blown, using Mo after the fact is a waste of time and a waste of Mo.

* Final blame breakdown for the loss: 60% Joe, 35% Hughes, 5% A.J.

* I hate to even bring it up, but Game 6 is no sure thing, even being back at the Stadium. The stats show that Andy has not pitched well at home this season, and of all the starting pitchers has been the one least able to adapt to the way the new Stadium plays. Hopefully he can get a quick B12 shot tomorrow to give him that little extra because after last night's meltdown Joe is going to need 7 from him to feel comfortable about getting to Mo to close it out.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Here Come the...YANKEES!

About fucking time for Teix, Matsui, and Cano.  All they needed was a little dose of Angels bullpen.

20 bucks says John Lackey is on the phone with Brian Cashman right now laying the ground work for his 5-year deal to sign with the Yanks in the offseason.

Is Barstool NY Ripping Off My Material?

Last Wednesday I posted a story about some Boston Globe blogger trying to take a shot at the Yankees because it was all he had left after the Sox were eliminated.  That fanstically-written blog can be found


Included in that post was a reference to D-Generation X (yeah, yeah, cue the fucking jokes about using the WWE), which explained my feelings towards the previously-mentioned blogger.

Today on Barstool NY, there's a post by JimmyD talking about tonight's game and looking ahead to the World Series against the Phillies.  That post can be found


Notice any similarities???

Now I'll admit that using D-X and the phrase "suck it" is the perfect counter-argument to anybody who doubts or tries to bad mouth the Bombers, and normally could be considered coincidental.  But when it's being used by a dude who has shown himself to be a pretty weak source of Yankee information, that shows up as a blip on my radar.

It's bad enough that the guys at Barstool NY and El Pres chose JimmyD as their resident Yankee blogger.  The dude has nothing interesting, valuable, or original to say.  His humor and analysis of Yankee games basically consists of stating the obvious and using the word "fuck" a lot.  But it's even worse when his lack of originality includes stealing gimmicks and bits used on a much smaller, much less-read blog like my own.

I used screen shots of the bad calls made in Game 4 for my blog the other day that I took directly from Barstool NY, and  as you can clearly see here I gave them their due for a job well done.  Don't get me wrong, I'm honored that people want to come to me for inspiration.  But when you're working for a site that gets hundreds upon thousands of pageviews a year and you're resorting to picking on the little guy and the new kid on the blog block like myself, that's just sad. 

I'm not saying he did, I'm not saying he didn't, but I am saying it's curious.  In any case, if you want to come to a place to get legit Yankee analysis and original humor with the occassional f-word mixed in, come here.  If you want to get 2 to 3 paragraphs of bumbling, poorly-written garbage that you could overhear any overweight Guido Yankee fan say live in the stands at the Stadium, stick with JimmyD.

And if you're not down with that, I got 2 words for ya...!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Are These The 3 Worst Calls Ever?

1) Top 4th- Nick Swisher called safe on a pickoff attempt at 2nd base when he's clearly out by half a furlong.

Photo Courtesy of Barstool Sports NY

Now normally plays on pickoff attempts are blown because the umpire is out of position on a call, usually behind the play, thus allowing himself no clear view of the tag being made or the hands being on the base.  Last night that was not the case, as the ump at 2nd was in perfect position and had absolutely nothing blocking his view of both the tag and the hands other than his own stupidity.  Clearly a major fuck-up that deserves 4 out of 5 on the scale of 1-to-"You Gotta Be Fucking Kidding Me."

2) Top 4th- Nick Swisher called out at home for the final out of the inning after being ruled he left 3rd base before Torii Hunter made the catch in center field despite replays showing him being more on the base than previously thought possible.

Photo Courtesy of Barstool Sports NY

This was the worst kind of bad call, an obvious make-up call by Tim McClelland to cover for his buddy at 2nd base.  Typically make-up calls are more common in the NBA and NFL, but because they are so rare in baseball they are almost always important because they pop up in situations where runs either get put on or taken off the board.

Now Timmy was remorseful after the game saying that he "believed in his heart" that Swisher left 3rd base early.  I respect the guy for facing the music after the game and explaining his logic, that's what he should do.  But when you're reasoning for making the call was you "believed in your heart" that somebody did something, I have to call bull- and horseshit.  This isn't Disney World, dude; nobody's asking you wish upon a shooting star or click your heels together 3 times; this is Major League Baseball umpiring, a job that heart should never ever factor into.  Fuck your heart!!!  Use your fucking eyes!!!  Nick Swisher is standing 5 feet from you, clearly on 3rd base.  You've got 19 other umpires on your staff watching for the catch, which everybody and their mother knew Hunter was going to make, so take a fucking glance at Swish leaving 3rd before you decide to blindly call him out.

I would have a little more respect for McClelland if he would have just said "I believed in my heart and my eyes that Nick Swisher was out at second base earlier in the inning, so I decided to give that out back to the Angels and not allow the Yankees to score a run that they rightfully should not have if the 2nd base umpire made the correct call."  Don't give us this shit about hearts and dreams and fairies and rainbows, fess up to what you did and don't insult our intelligence.

A solid 5 out of 5 on the 1-to-"You Gotta Be Fucking Kidding Me" scale.

3) Top 5th- McClelland rules Robinson Cano safe and Jorge Posada out at 3rd on another play that took place within pissing distance of him even though the live play and subsequent replays showed Cano and Posada were clearly off the base when tagged by Angels' catcher Mike Napoli.

Photo Courtesy of Barstool Sports NY

Just look.  LOOK!!! FUCKING LOOK!!!!  Cano stood there like a jackass and Jorge never even tried to touch 3rd after running back.  They're standing right there, plain as printer paper, not on the base.  How does one fail to see this, especially when one's eyes are looking directly at the play and not at Torii Hunter in center field like one was the previous inning?  It's a clear 8.5/5 on the "You Gotta Be Fucking Kidding Me" scale.

I don't even know how to try to explain this one other than just saying that Tim McClelland is obviously part of Major League Baseball's and the Illuminati's worldwide conspiracy to ensure the Yankees win the 2009 World Series.  That's the only thing that makes any sense here.  Even though they were already up 5-0 and in complete command of the game, McClelland must have sensed that there was trouble afoot and wanted to give the Yankees a chance to score another insurance run.  Luckily for him, the Yankees managed to somehow scrap together another 5 to squeak by 10-1 and keep the plan in motion, exactly as it was predicted by the Mayans over 400 billion years ago.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!  THERE IT IS, FUCKFACES, READ IT AND WHEEP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Everyone can just stop playing now because when the Yanks have CC cruising, A-Rod smashing home runs, and Tim McClelland in their back pocket, nothing can stop them and nothing will stop them.

Hit the fucking music...

Game 4 Thoughts and Afterthoughts

* Strange to see the Yankees running early last night with both Jeter and A-Rod running on first movement in consecutive innings to start the game. They ran themselves out of a potential big inning in the first and even though it didn't affect the outcome of the game, it will interesting to see if they keep up the aggressive baserunning against Lackey in Game 5.

* Before finally breaking out, the top of the 2nd looked like a typical wasted inning by the Yankee bats: 2 on, no outs, and no runs score as Posada, Cano, and Swisher put bad swings on good pitches to hit.

* All the talk of past playoff failures, not being clutch, getting divorced, hanging out with strippers, Madonna, taking steroids, and Kate Hudson has overshadowed A-Rod since he first put on the pinstripes, but last night was a reminder to the world just how great an all-around baseball player he is.

In the top of the 2nd, he walks to lead off the inning and steals second easily before being stranded. In the 4th, he has a great at-bat that ends in a sharp single up the middle then scores the first Yankee run on nothing more than hustle as he bolted from home on contact on Cano's chopper. More than that, he communicated his intentions to Jorge before the play which put Jorge in motion on contact and allowed him to end up at 3rd. Then you add in the home run, the good plays at 3rd base and it becomes a 5-tool night for a guy who has had his identity as a 5-tool player almost forgotten.

* 2 actual text messages I received from my uncle during Nick Swisher's second at-bat:


2) "Oh my nana & pop pop raised me, I'm just a free spirit, HEY SHUT DA FUCK UP & PRODUCE!"

When you're pre-pitch ritual of looking up to the sky to honor your dead grandparents who raise you is starting to piss off your fans, you know you're struggling pretty bat at the plate.

* Kazmir flat out sucked last night. He had no stuff and wasn't aggressive at all against the Yankee lineup. His slider was beyond awful and the game slowed to an almost complete stop in the 2nd and 3rd as he kept stepping off the mound and having multiple visits to the mound from his catcher. We can officially retire the "Scott Kazmir owns the Yankees" theory because right now he doesn't even own his pitches.

* A major contributing factor to Kazmir's suckiness was a vintage exhibition in Yankee patience by the lineup last night. They got ahead in the count early and then fouled off pitches constantly, which drove his pitch count up to 100 in just 4+ innings. If you can't get strike 1 across and can't get swings and misses against this lineup, then you don't have a snowball's chance of making it past the 5th inning.

* The top of the 4th was just one more example of how baseball needs instant replay for every call. It's sad that so many obvious calls get missed, and even more sad that umpires take it upon themselves to issue make up calls to cover for their partners' mistakes (see: Nick Swisher getting called out for leaving 3rd base early). I'll cover this subplot of the game/series in greater detail in a separate post tonight.

* I wish there was a way to measure what percentage of Yankee fans were screaming "WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING??!!!!" at their TVs last night when Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada performed their Marx Brothers routine at 3rd in the top of the 5th last night. It's moments like that that still have to make Yankee fans wary of Cano and just how much attention he's actually paying when he's on the field.

* Another example of how lame Cali fans are: fireworks after the Kendry Morales solo home run in the bottom of the 5th. Really, guys? Fireworks for a solo home run that still had your team down 4 runs with less than half the game to play? It's a meaningless run, not the 4th of July, and if you need cheap stunts like that to get your fans to stand up and cheer then you shouldn't be in the playoffs. That's like trying to use a cute little animal to inspire crowd noise. Oh, wait...

* I know it's a downright filthy pitch, but isn't Tim McCarver referring to CC's change as a "power changeup" an oxymoron?

* The bottom of the 7th was the kind of killer instinct moment that Yankee starting pitching has lacked for the better part of 4 years. CC sensed if he could get out of that inning without allowing any more runs then the game was over and he ratcheted the intensity up a notch by striking out 2 in what was his best inning of the night, showing velocity and command that was just as fast and sharp as it was in the first inning of Game 1.

* And right after that slitting of the Angels' collective throats, Johnny Damon follows up in the top of the 8th with what equates to having your dick cut off and stuck in your mouth, post-mortem with the 2-run homer. Glad to see the Damonic one waking up in this series and realizing he needs to show something to get a new contract next year after stumbling to the finish line in the regular season.

* Hey, a Chad Gaudin sighting!!! And he looked pretty damn good in the 9th after having not pitched in a game situation for who knows how long. There were rumors after the game that the Angels offered the Yanks Ervin Santana and a minor league prospect for Gaudin to boost their bullpen depth for Game 5.

* Funny how you always see Tim Kurkjian on SportsCenter before the game talking about how Jon Lester, John Lackey, Scott Kazmir, Vida Blue, Rick James, and Chef Gordon Ramsay all own the Yankees but after the game on Baseball Tonight, he's nowhere to be found to give the Yankees credit for their destruction of these pitchers and the Triple-A lineup of Chris Singleton and John Kruk has to pick up the slack.

* Exactly as I predicted, the offense finally broke out last night, CC shut the door on the Angels and the Yankees got the beatdown game they needed to kill any hope the Angels had of making this a series.

Melky and Damon each looked good at the plate, Teix and Cano had better swings than they had in the first 3 games and looked to be seeing the ball better. Sure Matsui and Swisher look lost, but that's why we could see Brett Gardner in the lineup for Game 5 and Swish on the pine.

When CC pitches like he has his last 2 outings, nobody is going to beat the Yankees. Much like A-Rod, he has shed his "can't get it done in the playoffs" label and is pitching so well right now that he might want to think about re-negotiating his deal and try to get 170 million out of the Yankees.

Game 5 is tomorrow night, but don't let anybody at FOX or ESPN fool you, this series is fucking over. Now where's Jeter's ass?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Another fucking A-Bomb!!  The dude should just marry Kate now and be done with it.

So much for Scott Kazmir owning the Yankees.  Suck it, Kurkjian, and blow me, Mark Grace.  Go feed banana slices to the Rally Monkey and shut the fuck up.

Let the ass grabbing commence!!

Really, Halos Heaven? Really??

Really, guys? Doctoring the ball? Visual proof? Get fucking real.

You just stole a game last night that if you didn't win you would have been dead in the water tonight and you can't just be happy with that? You have to try to stir up more shit for this series and make a weak attempt at knocking arguably the greatest baseball player at doing what he's paid to do off his game? Everybody at Halos Heaven needs to re-fucking-lax for a second and stop blasting images all over the place like they just uncovered the location of the second shooter on the Zapruder Film. Baseball players spit, whopdee-damn-do! Doesn't mean they're spitting on the ball, doesn't mean they're trying to doctor the ball.

And why is Major League Baseball wasting their time getting involved here and investigating this? Guys, it's Mariano Rivera!! The guy who's been doing the same thing looking the same way for the last 15 years. He's the least suspicious player in professional sports. And if you look back through his history, there are actually a few speed bumps in the road (see: 1997 ALCS, 2001 World Series). That's the sign of a natural career playing out, so why would Mo suddenly decide to start doctoring the ball in the playoffs when there are more umps and more cameras around and when he's shown signs of being just as good, if not better, this year than he was 1, 2, 5, or 10 years ago?

And if you want to go down the "Well maybe he's been doing this the whole time and that's the secret to his success" road, don't waste your time. If Mo had been throwing a spitter his whole career, then he would have never given up a run or a hit ever. The guy is 99% unhittable as it is with just the cutter; throw some spit in there and we're talking about 7 Yankee titles since '96 and not 4.

I expect this kind of bush-league stuff from Red Sox fans and ESPN (and really, what's the difference between them?) but coming from ho-hum fans like the Angels' faithful is a shock, and so is MLB's response to investigate. I figured at least Major League Baseball would be rooting for the Yankees so they could get more revenue sharing money to keep teams like the Royals and Nationals afloat.

All this anti-Yankee sentiment from every angle is just more proof that the Yanks are the team to beat this year and everybody knows it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

ALCS: Yankees-2 Angels-0; Angels-1 Joe Girardi-0

Sure, the argument can be made that the Yankees didn't deserve to win tonight's game; Andy Pettitte had nothing and it was a miracle the Angels only scored 3 runs off of him in his 6+ innings, they didn't take advantage of bad starting pitching and shaky bullpen pitching by Anaheim to put the Angels out after putting them down 3-0, Mark Teixeira has been abysmal at the plate all series, and Nick Swisher is a walking strikeout.  But the fact is Joe Girardi lost the game for the Yankees tonight, plain and fucking simple.

Case in point:

Bottom 7th: Joe removes Andy for Joba Chamberlain and proceeds to watch Joba get knocked all over the field as he allows the Angels to take the lead, 4-3.  I know he's a better fit in the pen than in the rotation, but Joba hasn't pitched THAT well so far in the playoffs, certainly not well enough to earn as much confidence as Joe has in him.  The smart play, if he was going to take Andy out, would have been to bring in Dave Robertson or Alfredo Aceves, but Joe has fallen in love with the bullpen rotation he has set and it bit him in the ass in this instance.

Top 8th: After a leadoff walk, Joe removes Matsui for Brett Gardner, the smart move to make down by one with your worst baserunner on at first.  But Joe doesn't give Gardner enough time to get loose or to get Kevin Jepsen's move down before sending him to steal second, effectively taking the bat out of Jorge's hands.  Gardner is thrown out on a pitch out and Jorge's following home run turns out to be a solo instead of a two-run shot that would have given the Yankees the lead.

Now I'm all for sending Gardner, that's what he's on the roster to do.  But give him a few chances to time up Jepsen and give Jorge a few chances to put the ball in play before risking an out.  Jepsen had thrown over to first once, stepped off the mound twice, and thrown only one pitch before Gardner was off and running. When you've got a lefty power hitter at the plate against an inexperienced righty who throws the ball relatively straight, it makes more sense to give your hitter a few chances to get a hit than it does to put all your faith in a cold pinch runner who hasn't had a good look at the pitcher's move and timing to the plate.  Joe tried to micro-manage and play for one run instead of letting the at-bat play out a little more and giving both his runner and hitter a better chance at setting up a steal or a hit and run or what would have been a 2-run homer, and it ends up resulting in a tie instead of a one-run lead.

Top 9th: Jerry Hairston pinch hits for Brett Gardner with 1 on and 2 out.  When your bench is relatively thin and the game looks like it's destined to go to extra innings, you have to leave yourself with more moves to make as the game gets older, and by taking Gardner out an inning after putting him in, Joe left himself with one less move to make when he needed it late.

Gardner is no power hitter, but he's good at making contact and his speed puts pressure on the defense.  It made more sense to leave him in and give him a chance to get a hit with Jorge on deck than it did to gamble on Hairston getting a big hit that gives your team the lead.  Not to mention Gardner is a better fielder and Joe should have put him in for Damon in the bottom of the 9th instead of sacrificing the DH in the bottom of the 10th, thereby leaving Joe with just Freddy Guzman as his only remaining position player.

The move to bring in Mo for Hughes in the top of the 10th and pinch hit Cervelli for Mo in the bottom of the inning weren't great moves, but they were moves that Girardi had to make after making the ones he already had.  He had left himself no choice but to pinch hit for Mo, even though he was good to go for at least another batter or 2, because he had wasted Gardner in the 9th inning and needed a defensive replacement for Damon now that Gardner was out of the game.  Again, if Joe lets Gardner hit in the 9th, he immediately replaces Damon and still leaves himself with Hairston on the bench to work with.

Bottom 11th: Joe removes Dave Robertson with 2 out and nobody on in favor of Aceves despite Robertson having good stuff, a low pitch count, and showing no signs of being hurt.

This was the worst move and was made at the worst time.  Robertson was the last short-inning guy left in the pen so it would make sense to get as much out of him as you can and then have your 2 long men for up to 3-4 innings apiece if the game played out that long.  Joe overthought the situation and elected to go with Aceves, which turned out to be the ultimate losing decision.  If Robertson finishes the inning and gets through the 12th, the Yankees are set to throw to the 19-20th inning with Aceves and Gaudin whereas the Angels are working towards using John Lackey, Game 5's starter.  Instead, Joe removes Robertson and Aceves gives up the game-winning hit.

Girardi was criticized last season for being too passive at times and appearing to almost be trying to mimic Joe Torre.  This year he shed that image and was himself and it helped get the Yankees the great results they've had.  Tonight, Joe reverted back to playing copycat and tried to be Mike Scioscia, over-thinking and over-managing the game instead of showing confidence in his players and letting them play the game the way they have all year.  Brett Gardner deserved a chance to hit and Dave Robertson more than deserved to stay in the game and get the 3rd out of the 11th inning and Joe denied them that chance.  If he's going to put them on the roster, he should let them play, period.  Stop trying to compete with other managers, Joe, and let your team do their thing.

And Joe's botched decisions didn't just affect tonight's game.  Since it's already known that CC is pitching tomorrow on short rest, if he doesn't have it and the Yanks lose again, Joe will be questioned for that decision AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAND all these managerial errors from tonight become even more glaring when the Angels even the series.  Joe breathed life back into the Angels' playoff lungs tonight and he better be saying his prayers that CC is on his game tomorrow.

AB4AR's Week 6 NFL Wrap-Up (The "I'm Too Busy at Work So I Had to Make This Quick" Edition)

Week 6 Recap

Houston 28 Cincinnati 17

No big comeback for Cincy this week. More insane fantasy numbers for Matt Schaub. Hey, Steve Slaton is alive!

Green Bay 26 Detroit 0

Daunte Culpepper is officially done as a football player. Drew Stanton showed why he's a 3rd-string quarterback. Packers got exactly what they needed coming off a bye week.

Jacksonville 23 St. Louis 20 (OT)

Maurice Jones-Drew backed up his calling out of the team and coach with 133 yards and 3 TDs, and Mike Sims-Walker managed to not bang any random chicks after team curfew.

Minnesota 33 Baltimore 31

Favre almost got the Aaron Rodgers treatment as the Vikes' D imploded in the 4th quarter. In true Ray Lewis fashion, Ray started dancing maniacally on the field after Hauschka's miss and couldn't be stopped for 5 minutes to be informed that the Ravens had actually lost.

New Orleans 48 NY Giants 27

Here's a recipe for a guaranteed loss: dynamic offense coming off a bye week against an overrated, banged up defense that has grown complacent by beating up on shitty teams for 4 straight weeks.

Pittsburgh 27 Cleveland 14

While the Steelers officially won the game by scoring more points, Browns coaches and team officials awarded themselves 1/2 of a win for scoring 2 TDs and gave all the players gold stars after the game for trying their best.

Carolina 28 Tampa Bay 21

Williams and Stewart combine for 250+ yards rushing and 3 TDs as Carolina discovers a new winning formula: keep the ball out of Jake Delhomme's hands as much as possible.

Kansas City 14 Washington 6

............................ That moment of silence was in remembrance of the Redskins' season. Congrats to Todd Haley for getting his first win as an NFL head coach and his parking spot back at the Chiefs' facility.

Oakland 13 Philadelphia 9

Jamarcus Russell shows flashes of competence and Oakland does just enough to win a game that the Eagles should have dominated. This game tells you everything you need to know about the Eagles' chances of being a serious competitor this year.

Arizona 27 Seattle 3

After their Dr. Jekyll performance last week, the Seahawks turned back into Mr. Hyde as the offense sputtered against one of the worst D's in the league. Arizona manages to keep themselves relevant for one more week.

New England 59 Tennessee 0

He's BAAAAAAAaaaaaaack! Brady and company set 164 NFL records in the 2nd quarter on way to a destruction of the lame duck Titans. Steve McNair showed more life yesterday than the Titans (BAM!!! 3 McNair jokes in a row).

Buffalo 16 NY Jets 13

In 3 weeks the Jets have gone from the belle of the ball to the ugly, lesbian-looking chick at the school dance who nobody wants to go near. Can somebody get Mark Sanchez some hand warmers and a cup of cocoa? I haven't seen a pussy that big since I watched the Pam Anderson-Tommy Lee honeymoon tape.

Atlanta 21 Chicago 14

The Falcons make it official that they are for real and could very well be the best team in the NFC behind the Saints. Ryan wasn't great, Michael Turner did next to nothing, and they still managed to squeak out a win against a game Chicago team. That kind of win is not something you typically see from young teams, or NFC South teams for that matter.

MNF Prediction

San Diego 30 Denver 24

The glass slipper falls off tonight as the Chargers finally solve the Broncos' defense and Antonio Gates has the monster night I need to finally get a win in fantasy.

MNF Predictions for the Season (Winners): 4-2