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!...