Monday, July 30, 2012

Tail between my legs, so to speak…

To the delight of Red Sox fans all over, including on the road from California, this was a bad weekend for the Yankees vs. the Red Sox. It could have been a sweep by NY after game one but two last inning scores in tie games cooked the Yankee goose. I was  hoping it would be a “see my taillights” moment and felt good about it after Friday’s win but it wasn’t to be. What could have been a 12.5 game lead has shrunk to 9.5 games, with the Sox still in last place. Can they recover and make a race out of it?

Absolutely. You see, with their outstanding pitching (plenty of Josh Beckett trade rumors but no one seems interested in “white trash” for 17 million,  all they need to do is figure out whether Carl Crawford can (a) play every day, (b) only play 4 games in a row unless the manager does not listen to the front office which he promises to never do again, (c) listen to Carl because he says he needs surgery or (d) listen to the manager who has never heard that he needed surgery. You know when I was growing up I used to love the Three Stooges. Who would have thought we would see them in real life, right there in Boston, yuk, yuk yuk… Even the 1962 Mets think the Red Sox season is done. The best way to tell they are toast  is to listen to what the typical Red Sox fan says. It used to be things like “we’ll get it together” or “wait until so and so comes back”. Now they just say “Yankees suck) Right Fred?

 So we move on now to the rest of the season and drive to the playoffs. The Yankees meet Baltimore tonight to play the fading Orioles and the Red Sox go home to face the “fighting for the lead” Detroit Tigers. The next few games should be interesting…


Only one today, a quote by Brian Heyman, directed to the Red Sox fan who bemoans all the injuries: “  The Yankees sure have done a better job getting past their injuries than the Red Sox. They have more talent and more depth than the Red Sox have, too. The pitching is much better.
Couldn’t have said it any better myself…

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Well, I still hate West Coast road trips but the trade for Ichiro Suzuki has now softened this one that ended 2 up 5 down. The GM, Brian Cashman, as has become his fashion, made the trade without even the sniff of a rumor leaking out. Damn near impossible but he does it/ He gave up a couple of minor leaguers, neither of which is an “A” prospect so some are calling this a steal. Amazingly the Yankees are going to bat him lower in the order, even though he led off in the third game of the series when Jeter got some rest. This lengthens the lineup and puts some speed down there. In his first game he had a hit and stolen base, hopefully a foreshadowing of what is to come.

And as if I didn’t have enough reasons to hate these trips, another reason was added to the list when ARod was hit with a pitch that broke his finger. This has been a weird year for injuries for the NYY. First they lost newly acquired Michael Pineda before he threw a pitch for them. Then Joba, who was already recovering from TJ surgery, dislocated his ankle playing on a trampoline. Joba is a lot of things but smart does not come to mind. Brett Gardner goes down after nine games with a “minor” injury diving for a ball and three setbacks later, we hear the words “Dr. Andrews” and he has season ending surgery. Next up, the rock, Mariano Rivera tears up a knee shagging fly balls, Andy Pettitte gets hit with a comebacker and breaks one of his 40 year old bones and the ARod bought the farm last night. He could be back in 5-6 weeks. He is a hard worker in great shape. We’ll see.

-The Mariner fans showed a lot more class then those in Kansas City when they gave Ichiro a standing ovation before his first at bat. Many in the park only heard the news when they arrived for the game, beer and hot dog in hand, but they cheered him, thanked him with signs and even applauded when he got his first hit.

-A lot was made of the pitching match up between Freddy Garcia and Felix Fernandez. I guess Garcia was somewhat of a mentor for Hernandez when they pitched together in Seattle. However, on paper it looked like a big tilt toward Seattle and on the field, it was a Yankee loss.

- In what may be a gift from the baseball gods, the wife is off on a whirlwind tour to see some family and friends and I get to watch Yanks vs. Boston the whole weekend. Yep, my kind of TV watching for sure. This has the makings of a make or break weekend for both these clubs, an opportunity to bury someone or to revive some semblance of a pennant race. With no ARod to bother, Sox fan could turn their vengeance onto Ichiro. Of course there still is the baseball Jesus (thanks JHop) Derek Jeter for them to antagonize. Remember the cheer “No-Mar is Bet-ter, No-Mar is Bet-ter) How’d that work out for you. Will have a post about this weekend sometime during this weekend. Funny how that works out.

Monday, July 23, 2012

I Hate the West Coast

For as long as I remember, I have hated the West Coast. Hang in there Left Coast lovers or inhabitants; I am speaking in baseball terms about road trips. There is usually 2 long trips and perhaps a short one each summer. Living on the East Coast originally, this meant 10 or 11 pm starts, even when on TV most of the time. There is nothing I hate more then falling asleep during a game with the Yankees ahead and waking up to find they have lost. A second problem for me has been the fact that the Yankees seem to have some difficulty in these games, even when better than there opponent, so it is not unusual for them to 3 and 6 on a trip.

Now, I wrote that last paragraph on Thursday, knowing the Bombers opened a 4 game set with the Oakland A’s that night. I am writing THIS paragraph on Sunday morning with the Yankees having dropped 3 consecutive one run games out there. I am not happy

So, 3 losses by one run each – this exposes the problem of a team depending on homeruns. If they face good pitching, or in the Yankees case, pitchers they have not seen much before, they simply get screwed. This is not the end for Yankees but they have to work on grinding out some runs sometime even if it means losing games. They can’t wait on a “bloop and a blast” to win long term and by I mean in the playoffs and World Series.

So far on this trip they have wasted great starts by Nova and Hughes, quality starts but nothing to show for it. That must be tough on a pitcher. With CC going on Sunday, he had the opportunity to be the stopper. THAT is what he gets the big bucks for. But it wasn’t meant to be, the Yankees got swept in 4 games in Oakland, with all games decided bt one run and two of them won in walk off fashion to boot. Yea, there was a game tying homerun too. I bet they can’t wait to get out of Oakland and get to Seattle. They will probably run there.

Pinch hits
-There was an interesting blog post today on The Yankee Analyst blog about Bret Gardner and upper body injuries and head first slides. Basically said he is convinced it gets him to bag quicker but testing at UK show it does not. Can you tell a ballplayer he cannot slide head first? Can you make him not slide head first? Will you screw him up if you do?

-Just found out that the Yankees open next season at home against the Red Sox. Just how EPIC would it be to pass out Championship rings to the Yankees and raise their 27th pennant that day.  Oooooh I got goosebumps!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

To come back or not comeback, that is the question

This has been an interesting past week to 10m days for the guys from the Bronx. The title of this post reflects the injury situations for CC Sabathia and Bret Gardner. On the positive side of the ledger, CC returned from his groin (I love how we have learned to refer to these things with one word and everyone seems to know what you mean – he has a knee, he has a groin, he has a steroid) and pitched very, very well. What to me, that was even better, was the fact that he talked about how much the time off helped his arm (didn’t know he had an arm). He said he felt rested, stronger and I am or at least my fantasy team is expecting a big second half. There is part of me that thinks this type of thing may end up being a wave of the future in terms of managing pitching staffs. Take your big gun(s) and shut them down just before the All Star break, have them miss only one start, get the 5 day break for the game and return rested and revitalized. This could also be a boon for older starters or the guys that throw a lot of pitches. Watch for this, you heard it here first.

On the negative side of the ledger, it seems that Brett Gardner is destines to play only 9 games for the Bombers in 2012. Everyone who calls themselves a fan knows the story – hurt his arm in a game, DL, rehab starts, still hurts, keep him on the DL, rehab starts, still hurts, keep him on the DL, rehab starts, still hurts, go see Dr. Andrews, have surgery, wait until next year. This I think is the reason the Yankees have been more dependent on home runs as Gardner’s absence affects the entire line up. This whole injury thing for him has been a pain in the …elbow.

How about a little love for the tandem of Ibanez and Jones. Yes, the defense suffers, especially when Ibanez puts on a glove, but the bats are a real bonus, a REAL bonus. Jones almost singlehandedly took apart the Red Sox a couple weeks ago and it seems as if Ibanez picks perfect times to go yard. Hopefully this continues well into October

Finally a few words about ARod. Believe me, I am no ARod apologist. He was a dumb HGH user, he showed what not to do when you talk to the media by bringing down teammates and much of the time he looks more interested in how he appears in the media rather than performing on the field. But to me, the fans need to take a chill pill or they are going to have to defend that “greatest fans in the world” moniker. In the series against the Angels, Alex Rodriguez homered in the first inning of yesterday’s 10-8 loss versus the Angels, and the crowd cheered. With the winning run on first base in the bottom of the ninth, he popped out to end the game. This time, the crowd let out boos. The Yankees’ fan base likes to pride itself on being knowledgeable, but too many from among the team’s legion of followers are unworthy of that distinction. Those are the fans who incessantly boo Alex Rodriguez. Although just about every player has been treated harshly by the home crowd at some point in their career, but the abuse of Arod by Yankees’ fans has gone beyond the point of being rational. Look, Red Sox fan can ignore their own skeletons in the closet and boo and taunt him for his HGH mistake but Yankee fan needs to look at just what they arte doing and why. Perhaps their memory is better than Jeter, who felt the ARod stupidity but please, you guys know better.

-Old nemesis, Kevin Youkilis, hit a game winning homerun for the Chicago White Sox to beat the Boston Red Sox. Or should I say, my new best friend, Kevin Youkilis. BFF! You can tell the state of Red Sox Nation by the comments on their bulletin board. Comments like even Stevie Wonder could see that coming, Lester (who gave up the bomb) is finished. Not an Ace, not even a good pitcher anymore. Whose fault is that Sox fan? Josh Beckett of course, the fried chicken and beer king. He made no comment because he was out on the golf course again today, not his day to pitch. Plus Sox fan is now Garciaparring Youkilis/. Several people commented that he was jaking it his last few weeks as a Red Sox to get out of town. THAT would be Bobby Valentine’s fault. There is nothing, NOTHING as good as watching Sox fan self-destruct. I may have to listen to Boston sports radio to get the FULL effect. Thanks Youk! And the sound in the stands after his big homerun was not Yoouuuuk. That was Booooooo…

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The The Angels Angels

My favorite scientist, astrophysicist and Director of the Haden Planetarium, Neil deGrasse Tyson noted on his twitter this past week that The Los Angeles Angels translates as The The Angels Angels. That just in from the Department of Redundancy Department. Well, maybe they deserve to be named twice because after the first month of the season, they were 9-15 and in last place in the AL West and now at the start of action after the All Star break, they were 10 games over .500 and only 4 games behind Texas. It just seems that Mike Scioscia gets the most out of the ball players he has. Of course it helps that he has Albert Pujols.

Pujols may be the Webster’s Dictionary definition of “over-yeared” ball players. ARod is another prime example, a player whose contract runs way longer than the time they will be a productive hitter. It used to be that baseball owners with money simply over paid their superstars but now that everyone has some money and there is revenue sharing, money is less of an issue and the length of the contracts have continued to grow. Five years became 7 became 10 and now these guys will be in retirement villages and still be getting paid for playing ball for someone.

I have to say I am quite impressed with the two Angel’s outfielders Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo. Both have hit long, long bombs against the Yankees. Trout is playing left but has centerfielder skills and is hitting almost .350. I am pretty sure that my friend JHop has a crush on both of them. That’s good enough for me.

After taking the first two games of the Angels series, they tried everything they could to give away game three. The bullpen, so reliable in the past, collapsed late giving up 8 runs in the final 4 innings. They made a run in the ninth but too little, too late. Oh well…..

-while batting under .200, Russell Martin better throw out potential base stealers. In the first game of the series, Martin threw out 3 players stealing AND drove in the winning run in the 8th inning. It would be so nice if he went on a hot streak now.

- On Saturday, after taking 2 in a row from the Angels, as unusual as that is, I am beginning to wonder if this is the hot streak we have been waiting for. Up next is Toronto. Hopefully, the streak continues.

-Do you suppose that Red Sox fan is teetering on the edge of cashing in the season? Friends of mine, who are Sox fans, were wearing Sox caps until the team got out of the basement. The way the Sox are flirting with the AL East basement, the caps have been on and off more times than a light on a Broadway billboard.

 See you in a few days, Toronto waits in the wings…

Thursday, July 12, 2012

All Star Break or The Longest 5 Days of the Year

I hate this time of the year. Pennant races are heating up, player slow starts are a thing of the past and the trade deadline looms. Then right in the middle of all this excitement, baseball takes 5 days off for a couple of exhibitions and a contest. These are the longest 5 days of my life.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I like the All Star Game. It meant more to me as a kid because you got to see players from the other league that you might never see. However now with interleague baseball, that shine is gone. It messes up the flow of the season. They play a futures game, with minor league prospects, which has potential but has not caught my interest yet. The home-run hitting contest had a chance but is ruined by two things. It is too long with little action and Chris Berman (ESPN) announces it. If I hear “back, back, back, gone” one more time I will puke. I am willing to entertain any and all suggestions on how to improve the homer contest. By the way, how could MLB put Robbie Cano in a position to be booed during his entire at bat? The obvious solution would be an automatic berth for the hometown hitter most deserving of being in the home run derby.

The game itself, boring I’m afraid. This whole “now the game counts” is ridiculous. Give the home field to the league champion who has the better record, if they tie then maybe go to interleague play or play against their divisional rivals. The thought that an All Star game decides home field is the equivalent of a shootout deciding the soccer World Cup Champion. Nope, dumb ideas, both.

Is it Friday yet?

I thought I would mention a few All Star moments that stick in my mind…

- Fenway Park, 1999 - in the first round, Mark McGwire hit a 488-foot shot beyond the Green Monster clearing the street, soared over a parking garage and hit a billboard above the train tracks, right next to the never-reached Massachusetts Turnpike. BusinessBoy and I watched in amazement and yelled louder than the fans present

-2002 Twins center fielder Torii Hunter made an incredible catch to rob single-season home run champ Barry Bonds of a homer in the bottom of the first inning. I had turned on the TV just in time to see this catch

-The 2002 MLB All-Star Game resulted in a 7-7 tie after 11 innings, and both teams had run out of players and pitchers. I chanted Bud Selig must go from then on.

-1983, Comiskey Park highlighted by the only grand-slam home run in the history of the All-Star Game, hit by California Angels center fielder Fred Lynn. When we played ball at home, my brother was always Lynn because of his glove. This made it even better.

-1993, John Kruk had an at-bat against Randy Johnson of the Seattle Mariners and Kruk reacted like all of us would have facing a 6'10" pitcher throwing 99 miles an hour. I remember some people feeling that Kruk made a farce of the game. I figured he was just scared shitless.

-1989 game when  Bo Jackson took a Rick Reuschel pitch and deposited it 448 feet away for a mammoth home run. I can still hear the bat hit that ball, very, very cool.

-1971 Reggie Jackson came to bat as a pinch-hitter for Oakland A’s starter Vida Blue and hit it on the roof of Tigers Stadium into a light tower estimated at 520 feet. I missed this one live but remember seeing a replay somewhere else later on and just marveling at how far that ball went.

-1999 MLB Boston Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez struck out 5 of the six men he faced with the other being thrown out stealing on K number 5. I hated the Red Sox then, hate them now but realize just what kind of history was being made here.

-Yankee Stadium, 2008 Josh Hamilton hit 28 home runs in one round of the home run derby, each one seeming longer than the last. Again, a mesmerizing performance even if he didn’t win the derby.

See you in a few days!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Ballgame. Over.

Welcome to the second coming of my attempted baseball blog. I used to do the “Borg Baseball Blog” but got caught up in retirement and things more important but always missed the thrill of baseball commentary. It came back this past week as the dad of a baseballplayer living with us came to visit. We went to games together and talked about baseball and suddenly the urge was back. My son, BusinessBoy would be proud as I used his mantra “reduce, reuse, rebrand’ in putting together “Baseball. Over”. This name comes from the infamous Yankee radio voice, John Sterling, who ends every winning game with the phrase “Ballgame over. Yankees win. The Yankees win” in his exaggerated radio voice. I cannot think of anything better than sitting watching and talking about a game in which your team wins. Thus “Ballgame, Over”.  I hope to write at least one post during or after each Yankees series, which will ultimately conclude with a World Series post about the Champion New York Yankees. Hey, it’s my blog, you get my dreams. So we begin.

Understand that I am a life long Yankee fan, having rooted for them for the past 53 years. However, after ling in NYC for almost 30n years, the next chapter of my life was spent in the heart of Boston baseball and I was never allowed to forget that fact. I figured I would retire to a place where I could live out my baseball watching time in peace only to find myself again in the den of vipers, Red Sox fan. I just can’t win.

This past weekend, the Yankees took on a hated rival. A rivalry that has paled a bit the past few years as the Boston Red Sox have moved away from their magic 2004 season in which they broke an 87-year-old curse (my fault, I will explain one day) by winning the World Series. Currently in last place, this year’s Sox have continued the tone of last September when they totally collapsed in the last month of the season in a celebrated (by Yankee fans) debacle of egos, alcohol and gluttony. The management of the club “fixed the problem” by forcing out the general manager and the manager, as if they were the ones drinking and eating fried chicken on the bench during the games. It is possible they may never recover from this (again, my blog, my dreams).

The Yankees just won 3 of 4 up in Beantown, totally outplaying the Sox through hitting, pitching and bullpen use. The Sox were behind in the first inning in all 4 games,, a hole the Sox could scarcely crawl out of. Boston fans will point to their injuries as if the Yankees loss of starting outfielder, two starting pitchers and the best closer in baseball doesn’t count. But what hurts them the most is that they did it on hollowed grounds, Fenway Park at a time when the Sox foolishly felt that they could get right back in this American League race. Instead they are shackled to the basement, a shell of their former selves.

PINCH HITS (a few short comments about observations this series)
- I hate to admit it but I am flustered by the fact that even with their injuries, the Sox seem to have a never-ending supply of youngsters to step in. On the plus side, they play well and have kept the Sox from sinking fast but they are inexperienced and I as sure will show that in the second half of the season

- Jarrod Saltalamacchia has been a messed up player since coming to the majors. When the Sox got him, I suspected that trend would continue and it did last year with a season of awful statistics and defense. Then this year he started out hot, with power to spare. This raises two flags. The first is HGH. ‘Nuf  said. The other is, is this trend at the start of this season, his coming into his own as a player or is it an aberration that will fade like bleached wash jeans. I think it is the latter.

-When the Sox signed Adrian Gonzalez, my first thought was “small market player, will not handle the pressure.” And everyone knows the kind of pressure the Sox media provides. Just ask the fried chicken twins, Beckett and Lackey. Although Gonzo had a good statistical year last year. When the going got tough in September, he disappeared faster then a cold beer on a hot day. This past series, with the sox down in game 4, he took himself out due to "illness"> Is there ant doubt in your mind that Big Papi or Dustin Pedroia or Derek Jeter would have wanted to be in there even if missing an arm or leg? When we began to hear comments about how it was god’s will that they struggle and lose kast year,  I knew it was all over. He is a talented ballplayer but I don’t think he has the Chutzpah to do it in Boston. History will be the judge of that.

Well, that’s it, post one is done. Tell your friends, let me know your thoughts and see you in a few days during the All Star break!