Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fun With Chip and Ron

By now, saying that Chip Caray and Ron Darling have made the first 2 games of the series borderline unwatchable would be a waste of breath and finger use.  So instead, let's just document their idiocy from last night and make fun of them.  Cool?  Cool.

*"Minnesota has lead every game against the Yankees this year."

I think the TBS production crew deserves just as much blame here as Chip and Ron for flashing the graphic showing how late in each game Minnesota had held the lead.  But when one of those games shows "Lead Game in 1st," that hardly constitutes leading the game.  It was in the May series at Yankee Stadium which means the Yankees hadn't even had a chance to hit yet when the Twins held the lead.  That's like saying Jeff Gordon is leading the Daytona 500 during the pace laps just because he's starting from the pole.  You would think one of them would have had the intelligence to point out that the game in which the Twins led in the first inning lead hardly matters, but no, they lumped that game in with the rest to keep hammering home the point that Minnesota can't hold leads against the Yankees.

* "He's a championship-caliber player for New York and he's won a few with the Yankees."- Ron Darling, talking about Hideki Matsui during his 2nd-inning at-bat last night.

Ron, Ron, Ron.  If you're going to discuss things as fact, you could at least double check them before blindly blurting them out on national television.  It took me all of 13 seconds to log onto Wikipedia and bring up Matsui's page, which you can check out here.  A quick once over of this page will show that since joining the Yankees in 2003, Matsui has not won any titles because the Yankees have not won any titles.

If you don't have the time to check the facts, then just do a little critical thinking.  The Yankees' last WS appearance was in 2003, but they lost to Florida.  Before that, they lost to Arizona in 2001, and before THAT, they beat the Mets, the team you do color commentary for all season on SNY, in the Subway Series in 2000.  I didn't even need a computer for that.

Worse than Darling blabbing this nonsense was Chip, a long-time announcer and someone who should know something about who won which championships when, not stepping in to correct him.  It's almost like they're both oblivious to the fact that other is in the booth.

*"It's hard to judge Nick Punto by the numbers."- Caray in the 3rd inning during Punto's first at-bat.

No it isn't.  Numbers and statistics are there for that exact reason, to document just how good or bad a player is to take the subjectivity out of it.  Another quick search on can bring you to Nick Punto's page, where one can clearly see that it is quite easy to judge him by the numbers.  His career OPS, the simplest and most accurate way to determine how good a hitter is, is .646, almost 100 points below the league average.  This season it was .621 and in 2007, the season in which Punto played a career high 150 games, it was .562.  Punto has never hit more than 4 home runs in a season, has never driven in more than 45 runs in a season, has never scored more than 73 runs in a season, and has never slugged higher than .382.

And these are just the basic numbers.  Sabermetrics that can compare Punto to all other players in baseball would show that he is statistically amongst the lowest-rated infielders offensively.  He is a lifetime jobber, a player out there merely for his ability to play more than one position and yes, it is actually very easy to judge Nick Punto by the numbers and have those numbers reflect just how mediocre a player he is.

*"In, out.  In, out.  Soft, hard.  Up, down."- Darling in the top of the 5th discussing Nick Blackburn's strategy of working both sides of the plate against the Yankee batters.

This was just damn funny.  If a blind man walked in while Ron said this, he would have throught you were watching porn.  At the moment it was said, I was at the fridge grabbing myself a beer and I hustled back to the TV to see just what he was describing.

It was actually a legitimate point and a point worth pointing out by Darling because at that point in the game, Blackburn had been shutting out the Yankees, but anytime an older dude says "in, out, in, out, soft, hard, up, down," it's fucking funny.  If Viagra were smart, they would sign Darling as a spokesman and just run a 15-second ad of him repeating that slogan while a voiceover discussed the benefits of Viagra and reminded you to seek medical attention if your boner lasts longer than 4 hours.

*"I think they had that written down in highlighted marker pen."- Caray in the top of the 7th, describing how determined the Yankees were to not let Joe Mauer beat them.

OK, Chip, let's review this.  There are highlighters...

There are markers...

And there are pens...

I don't know where you shop for office supplies, but I have never seen a highlighted marker pen anywhere and don't know exactly how one would look or what you would use it for if one did exist.

After last night, I'm thinking these 2 need to make like Champ Kind and just stop talking for a while.

Excuses Are Like Assholes...

... And so is Joe Nathan.

“I wasn’t the only one who blew one tonight." (talking about Phil Cuzzi's blown call)

Yeah you were, dude.  Bottom line.  Cuzzi never gets the chance to blow that call in the 11th inning if you do what your job title implies and close the game out in the 9th inning.  But you shit the bed as soon as you hit the mound and gave up the game-tying, 2-run home run in the bottom of the 9th.

“Hopefully, [Cuzzi] gets better,” Nathan said. “Hopefully, that umpire realizes he has to do something to get better.”

Yeah, hopefully that umpire realizes that it's not acceptable to be human and make mistakes some times because nobody has ever done that before.  He should donate his body to science immediately so they can turn him into some sort of human-cybertronic robot that never makes a single mistake ever, and certainly would never make a mistake as big as swinging at 2 consecutive first pitches with the bases loaded or giving up a game-tying, 2-run home run in the bottom of the 9th.

In the mean time, why don't you take a look in the mirror and figure out why you can't seem to close out games against the Yankees, close out games in the playoffs, or close out games against the Yankees in the playoffs.  Those all seem like pretty big mistakes to me, especially when one of them involves giving up a game-tying, 2-run home run in the bottom of the 9th.

“There’s really nothing we can do about a terrible call. And that’s exactly what it was. It was an awful call at the wrong time.”

You're right, Joe.  There is nothing you or your teammates can do about a terrible call.  But you could do something about leaving 17 men on base last night, 14 of them before the 11th inning.  You could also do something about coming into the game to close out a win and giving up a leadoff single and then a game-tying, 2-run home in the bottom of the 9th.  Phil Cuzzi can't do anything about that, but you could because it wasn't acutally his awful call that lost the game for your team.  It was actually you giving up a game-tying, 2-run home run in the bottom of the 9th.

Game 2 Thoughts

* Carlos Gomez may "love to swing," as Chip Caray put it, but he certainly doesn't love to hit; 0-4 last night and 0-the series so far.  His half-swing chopper to Teixeira with the bases loaded in the top of the 11th would have been an inning-ending double play with most other people running to first.  I'm starting to see why the Mets traded him away.

*** Check back later today for another column dedicated to the insanity that was Caray and Darling's calling of the game last night***

* The Yankees made no secret about what their gameplan was against Blackburn last night.  8 of the first 9 batters took the first pitch and 5 more of them took until they saw a strike.  They weren't going to swing freely against Blackburn, even though he had the 2nd-fewest swings and misses in the league coming into last night.

* That being said, the Yankees couldn't seem to put any good swings on Blackburn's pitches last night.  The guy threw decent last night, but he wasn't overpowering and he didn't seem to be fooling anybody.  It was almost as if the Yanks became rushed after being patient to get a strike and didn't focus on putting a good swing on the ball, just a swing.  There were more than a few Blackburn pitches that should have ended up in the gaps or over the fence instead of popped up into Twins' gloves.

* While first glance at the numbers shows A.J. Burnett threw a great game last night, anybody who watched the game knew it was a typical A.J. performance: brilliant first few innings, great bite on the slider, but too picky with runners on, too many trips to the mound to talk things over when it should be clear what the gameplan is, and maddeningly inconsistent.  He went from 2 strikeouts in a row to 2 hit batters in a row to 2 walks in a row without warning.  While one run in 6 innings is the important thing and helped keep the Yankees in the game while their offense found itself, 10 baserunners in 6 innings is just plain not good.

It's an effective strikeout pitch, but Burnett's slider is a double-edged sword.  It was so good early, that A.J. became too focused on using it to strike guys out with 2 strikes that he started overthrowing it, another A.J. Burnett staple (see the 3-2 pitch to Orlando Cabrera in the 5th inning).  This led to more pitches being thrown, more walks, more baserunners, and more people at home like me chewing their fingernails down to nothing.

By the 6th inning, it was clear that all the effort he had put into all those sliders had taken it's toll on A.J.'s gas tank.  He lost velocity on the fastball and movement on the slider and he was basically done.  Looking at how the game played out, it would have been nice to get another inning out of him, but at least it made Joe's decision on when to take him out and when to pinch hit Jorge for Molina a no-brainer.

* Was I the only one having visions of Bobby Abreu running through my head when Johnny Damon jumped/spazzed into the left field wall in the 6th inning?  For a guy who looked back twice as he was tracking the ball, Damon timed his jump so poorly that he made it look more like he was trying to avoid hitting the wall and less like he was trying to catch the ball.  Terrible.

* A-Rod woke the crowd up again with his hit in the bottom of the 6th.  It was another textbook "Locked In" swing by A-Rod, where he stayed back on the ball and shifted his weight forward perfectly in sync with his swing.  I didn't think he would hit a home run in the 9th inning, but after watching his swing in the 6th, I knew he would at least get another hit off of Nathan.

* Who invited Xavier Nady and Chien-Ming Wang to hang out in the dugout with the team?  Go away, fuckers!  Nobody wants your walking-wounded bad vibes around the guys who actually earn their paycheck.  Take some of that money and buy a ticket if you want to be a part of the playoffs.

* I don't know what's worse about President Obama doing a commercial with George Lopez for his new late-night talk show: the fact that he's promoting something done by George Lopez or the fact that he's on TV doing commercials for stuff completely unrelated to government.  I will admit, though, this is a change from the past few Presidencies.  You didn't see Bill Clinton doing guest spots on "Mad TV" did you?

I'm glad you're having fun yukking it up with George Lopez and traveling to Denmark to plug your home city for the Olympics, Barry, but now it's time to get back in the Oval Office and make a decision on something.

* Phil Hughes suffered from the same disease that has plagued A.J. and Joba all year for the second straight outing last night.  He got too cute with batters that had 2 strikes and too careful with runners on base.  It ended up getting him in trouble and giving up 2 runs and once again both he and Mo threw 20+ pitches in their appearances.  When the best guys can do is foul your fastball off with 2 strikes, then stick with the fastball.  It ain't rocket science.

* I could write an entire column about the A-Rod home run, but like I already said, I absolutely knew he was going to get a hit in that situation.  His swing since the middle of game 1 has been on point, he was seeing the ball perfectly out of Nathan's hand, and after giving up a leadoff hit to Teixeira, Nathan was showing all the signs of blowing up already.  Once he got to 3-1 on A-Rod, you could bet your life savings that he was going to groove one and you just aren't going to get away with that when A-Rod is on his game.  Simply the biggest hit in his Yankee career so far, but hopefully not the last big one he has this postseason.

* Minnesota's 8-9 hitters were 4-9 last night with 2 RBIs, 2 walks, and 1 run scored.  I wouldn't know Matt Tolbert, Nick Punto, or Brendan Harris if they walked into my apartment and punched me in the face, but those guys were a thorn in the Yankee staff's side all night last night.

* Damaso Marte is the Hispanic version of Ron Villone: a lefty reliever with a funky delivery who can't get lefty hitters out.  If you're going to come out and pitch away to the lefty hitters instead of busting them inside, then why fucking bother pitching to them at all?  Just come out, intentionally walk Mauer and Kubel and let Joe come get you next time.  Don't leave something out over the plate where they can extend their arms and get a good swing on it.

* I'll admit it, Phil Cuzzi's call was one of, if not the worst call in playoff baseball history.  The guy was in perfect position with an un-obstructed view and he flat out blew an obvious call. 

Mauer obviously scores if he's awarded second base like he should have been, but that still doesn't mean the Twins win the game.  That could have been the only run they scored and with Mijares out there starting the bottom of the 11th pitching to Teix and A-Rod, the Yankees could have gone back-to-back and still won it.

And the Twins didn't do themselves any favors by having Delmon Young and Carlos Gomez both swing at the first pitch with the bases loaded.  Dave Robertson didn't have his A-level stuff and the few curveballs he did throw were right over the plate.  Logic would dictate you take a few pitches, see if you can get ahead in the count and see if you can get to a count where he grooves one.  Plus, with Jorge behind the plate every ball in the dirt is an adventure, so the Twins could have scored a cheap run without even taking the bat off their shoulders.

The blame for the Twins not scoring at least one run in the top of the 11th breaks down like this: 40% Phil Cuzzi for making the worst call in history, 50% Twins for swinging themselves out of a rally, and 10% Yankees for playing the infield in.  If Teix is playing at regular depth, that chopper off of Gomez's bat is at least a bang-bang play at the plate so good call there by Joe.

* I know they didn't have a lot of arms left in their pen either, but leaving Mijares out there in the bottom of the 11th was a terrible decision by Ron Gardenhire.  In 71 appearances this season the guy has only thrown 61.1 innings.  He's a lefty specialist and was clearly out of his element pitching to righties.  His long, looping delivery carried the ball right into Teix's wheelhouse and Teix did what any good hitter does against pitches down the middle of the plate.  Even if Teix ended up with a double off of that swing, A-Rod batting next would have had equal success against Mijares.  If I'm Gardenhire, I'm going Jesse Crain or Scott Baker or anybody who throws right-handed before I go Mijares in that situation.  But Gardie didn't and this was the result: