Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems: The Cliff Lee Story

December 15, 2010

Remember when he was on Cleveland? 4 teams ago.

So, Cliff Lee signed with the Phillies much to the dismay of the Yankees and Rangers.  It seems that in the dying seconds, the Phils swept in and grabbed Lee with a 5 year deal.  Despite the fact that Lee took less years from Philadelphia in the offer that he accepted, he took what was the best deal overall.

Most of the articles written about this signing and many of the sports radio guys down here in the DFW (everyone but the Ticket) are groaning about the fact that Lee is giving up astronomical amounts of money to go to Philly.  The fact of the matter is, he isn’t.  Lee is still getting $24 mil a year for five years.  A sixth year is either going to be a vested $27 mil or a $12.5 mil buyout, so he basically has 6 years for at least $132 mil, if not $147 mil.  The Yankees offered him about $22.5 a year, the Rangers offered about $23 mil a year, but would not guarantee a seventh.  So…. In conclusion, they all offered roughly the same thing.  The seventh year did not matter, and Lee wanted to create a monster rotation for the Phillies.  Which brings us to….

Are the Phillies now the World Series favorites?

I am usually wrong in my predictions.  By that I mean, I have never been right, but I do not think Philadelphia is the strongest team in the Majors for 3 reasons:

1. Their Offense.
The Phils were 12th in the majors in batting avg. (which I take very little stock in), 13th in OBP, and 12th in slugging.  It is important to note that all of those numbers were good enough to be tops in the NL East.  In what is a big name offense who led the Phillies in OBP last year?  Carlos Ruiz.  OPS? Jayson Werth.

Ryan Howard’s walk numbers have plummeted since being named MVP in 2006, and his power numbers have fallen off as well (most likely a direct result using Dick’s Sporting Goods shit gear).  Jimmy Rollins hit .243 in fairly limited time.  If this offense stays healthy and returns to old form it is the best in the NL East, but with that rotation it is not about the East.  It is about a pennant… Which brings us to October and reason #2.

2. Recent Playoff History.

Projected top 4 in the Phillies rotation next year: Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, Hamels. 
Anyone watch the playoffs last year?
NLCS- Giants beat the Phils in 6 games beating Halladay, Hamels, and Oswalt in the process, but they didn’t have Lee.

hmmm…
World Series- The Giants beat the Rangers in 5 games beating one Clifton Phifer Lee not once, but twice in the process.

Maybe it was a team of destiny or some such nonsense, but they knocked around this dream staff pretty good.  No pennant for the Phillies.

Does adding Lee make them the team to beat in the NL?  Yes, probably, but….

3. There is a monster in the AL, too.

The Red Sox are the best team in baseball.  I was actually saying this before the acquisitions of Crawford and Gonzalez, but they just furthered the point.  Prior to the signing of Cliff Lee by Philly, the Sox had far and away the best staff in baseball.  Bucholz and Lester both had Cy Young caliber years last year.  Josh Beckett is a stud, and he is only 30, and John Lackey won 14 games in his 1st season with the Sox.  Say what you want about Dice K, but that is a pretty solid option at #5 (if ever healthy).

The Sox have a complete lineup, and a solid defense.  With that staff and those bats they have to be the preseason favorite.

With the Sox being so deep, and Cliff Lee (and his spit coated wife) going elsewhere, what are the boys in Bronx supposed to do?

Well, first thing’s first. Don’t shit your pants, Cashman.

Who knew George Costanza still worked for the Yanks?

Here’s to hoping that Brian Cashman does not feel a need to go out and flex his pinstriped nuts on the trade market.  The Yankees have actually been semi- prudent in holding onto prospects in the last couple of years, and it could pay dividends.  Their catching prospect, Jesus Montero has shown promise, and is poised to get time in throughout 2011.  Today’s acquisition of Russell Martin is hopefully not a sign that they are trying to make Montero expendable, but that would not surprise me in the least.

There are still a few guys available that could help the Yankees out a bit, but this might be a situation where they have to offer about 10 guys deals and have them compete.  They just signed Mark Prior to a minor league deal.  This is extremely low risk, but it would be nice to see him and Kerry Wood back together again.  Wood is someone they have to sign as he was invaluable down the stretch.

Amongst the other available names, Brandon Webb and Chris Young are the two that stick out, but neither is a proven commodity.  Jeff Francis might be a low risk lefthander to take a chance on, but only because there are no other lefty starters out there.

I would not be surprised to see them go out and grab Magglio Ordonez now that they have been snakebit by the other free agents.

There is still hope in the East for the Bombers as Tampa liquidated, but I don’t think a trade for an arm (Greinke) would be the answer right now.  Get Andy to come back and play one more year, something inside me wants to see the Yankees win(or lose) with their own guys for once.


2010 Blue Duck MLB Awards Spectacular

November 12, 2010

2010 Blue Duck Major League Baseball Awards

I wrote most of this about a month ago.  All the picks were done before the playoffs.  Without further bullshit:

AL Rookie of the Year-
Neftali Feliz

22 years old

The only real no brainer of the postseason awards.  Feliz breaking the rookie saves record isn’t what impresses me.  Feliz throws hard, but more importantly has balls.  He has filthy stuff, but his out pitch is predominantly his fastball, and a closer who doesn’t have to rely on a secondary pitch, is deadly.  Here’s hoping he doesn’t turn into a Father-in-law beating slop thrower like the guy his career most notably mirrors right now.

NL Rookie of the Year-
Buster Posey
Jason Heyward will win this award.  I don’t know if Posey is even eligible, but Posey has meant more to his team than maybe any rookie in recent years.  The only stat Heyward has him on is OBP.  Posey plays in a bigger yard, at a more important position, on a team with less weapons.  Posey was the best catcher in the National League this season.

AL MVP-
Miguel Cabrera.

Miguel being Miguel

Another pick that I doubt gets the award.  I picked Miggy last year as my MVP, and he sobered up and had another solid season.  All of his numbers got better this year, but the Tigers faded and this is what will ultimately kill Cabrera’s chances.  What worries me is this guy is arguably the best overall hitter in baseball (yeah, I said it, better than Pujols.) and he may never win an MVP.

Last year, I showed a comparison of striking similarity between Cabrera statistics up to age 26, and Ken Griffey’s to the same age.  He stayed on that Griffey pace.  The reason Cabrera is the MVP, though, is the lack of help in his lineup.  Hamilton had Nelson Cruz, Vladi, Michael Young, and Ian Kinsler at different times of the year.  Cano had the Yankees.  Cabrera’s lineup is among the deepest if all healthy, but Carlos Guillen played less than 70 games, and Magglio Ordonez played right around half the year.  No one else had more than 15 hr’s for the Tigers.

Further proof:  Cabrera had 32 intentional walks, Hamilton 5, Bautista 2, Cano 14.

The Rangers win a closer West without Hamilton, the Yankees finish third without Cano, Tigers finish 20 games below .500 without Miggy.  He had the biggest impact on his team.  He should be the MVP.

2nd- Josh Hamilton
3rd- Paul Konerko
4th- Robinson Cano
5th- Beltre/Bautista

NL MVP-
Carlos Gonzalez.
This is a tough call.  The late surge by Troy Tulowitkzi and the late fade of the Rockies hurt him at the end, but his numbers are staggering.  CarGo (terrible nickname) finished first in the league in hits, total bases, and batting average, 2nd in RBI’s and slugging, and 3rd in OPS.  All this while swiping 26 bags, and playing well at all 3 outfield positions in a rather expansive Coors Field outfield.

Pujols and Votto sort of cancel eachother out, but I think Votto will get the award.

It should be a Venezuelan clean sweep for MVP.

2nd- Votto
3rd- Pujols
4th- Aubrey Huff.  He’s the fuckin’ man.
5th- Tulowitzki’s numbers in 122 games would’ve made him a favorite if he played say, 20 more.  Also, would’ve made the Rockies a playoff team.

AL Cy Young-
Felix Hernandez
CC is the pick right now, but King Felix has all the numbers.  Well, all the numbers except a clear lack of wins.  The debate will always rage on over whether MVP and Cy Young award winners can come from bottom of the barrel teams.  It tends to factor in more for offensive players than pitchers, but Felix will get knocked for this.  Anyone who picks someone else for this reason alone didn’t look at the stats.

Hernandez had 13 wins on the season.  This wouldn’t be all that impressive if his wins were against teams from the lowly AL West, but he actually struggled within the division.  11 of his wins were against teams with winning records, and he pitched the Yankees better than any other starter in the league.

His season line against the Yanks.  3-0….2 Complete games, 1 Shutout, 0.35 ERA, a WHIP under 1 and 31 K’s in 26 innings.

Hail Venezuela.

2nd- Clay Buchholz
3rd- David Price
4th- CC Sabathia

NL Cy Young-
Roy Halladay.
Just better than everyone else.  Pitching names come and go and Halladay puts up the same stats every year.  Why is he the Cy Young, though?  Well, the Phillies were falling apart midseason.  The shit was hitting the fan, and their one steady performer took the hill every 5 days.  The pickup and performance of Roy Oswalt at the deadline ended the NL East race, but Halladay kept his team in position for much of the year.

2nd- Josh Johnson
3rd- Adam Wainright
4th- Roy Oswalt

Too bad Carlos Zambrano didn’t have a good year.  Would have been a banner year for the land of Hugo Chavez.

Throw in Awards:

Hit the Showers, Wife Beater.

Closer of the Year-
AL- Mariano Rivera- still got unbelievable numbers, still only has one pitch.
NL- Carlos Marmol- not the best, but unbelievable year for K’s.  16K’s per 9 innings.

Comeback player of the Year-
AL- I don’t care.
NL- Don’t care either.

Manager of the Year-
AL- Ron Gardenhire- The Twins have no pitching, and a thrown together lineup.  Ron did a lot with this squad.
NL- Bobby Cox- Give the old guy a good send off.


Blue Duck Masters Preview

April 8, 2010

O THE AZALEAS

A tradition unlike any other…. Georgia Pines, Pimento Cheese, Undulating Greens, Magnolia Lane, yellow flagsticks, tight lies, and rich middle-aged white men in khakis and gay hats… did we mention the Azaleas.

There is nothing better than tuning into the Masters and listening to Mike Tirico and/or Jim Nantz’ opening monologues that make Shakespeare sound like a cold-hearted prick.  If there is a time for “over the top”, the Masters is the event.

Contenders– Westwood, Els, Paddy, Furyk- We hope he doesn’t contend bc its so damn boring, Goosen- great “fast green” putter, Poulter, Cabrera, Mickelson, Allenby- Augusta is known as a “second-shot” golf course and nobody hits mid irons better, Kenny Perry- I still cry thinking about last year, and- speaking of crying, Steve Stricker has to be a favorite.  Also, Ross Fisher-  who collectively, played better than anyone last year in the Majors.

Luke Donald has put on about 20 lbs in the last year and quietly become relevant again.  3 top 10’s in 8 events this year for the Brit who hasn’t 3 putted since 7th grade, literally.

Staying with the British theme, Ian Poulter’s loud pants and eye makeup should contend.

Sleeper Picks—Couples, Schwartzel/Oosthuizen, Duval, Ryan Moore, Jason Dufner…


I love Freddy, and the dirtbag has been lights out on the senior circuit shooting nothing above 68, and winning 3 of 4 events, but there will be one major element missing at Augusta that has been present for all his victories this year.  A golf cart.  I don’t see him contending for four days.

Brian Gay has had a pretty quiet season following up a breakout year in ’09, but has made 8 of 9 cuts and rarely misses a fairway.  On a second shot course, I always favor Mizunos hitting into slick greens.

Only one person has this wallpaper on their desktop, Brian Gay.

Its hard to call Sergio a sleeper, but, with his history in Majors, Ray Romano may be more of a favorite than the pouty Spaniard.  I just have a bad feeling that he will have a good week.

Tiger Returns–  After many weeks of in-patient therapy, aka A Build-Your-Own-Fleshlight-Kit and a Hooters Calendar, Tiger Woods is returning to professional golf at the Masters.  The Masters is THE week for golfers and golf fans.   There are roars for great shots, ovations for great men, and more fast food joints than you can shake your dick at  (If you shake your dick at fast food joints like we do).

Tiger has to be the favorite.  He plays his best when everything is on the line.  While most of us can barely even get the club back if more than 4 people are watching us tee off, Tiger will tee off on Thursday knowing everyone will be watching.  ESPN is showing his tee shot live more than two hours before their coverage even starts at 4pm.

Best Threesome of the Thursday/Friday lineups other than Tiger, Elin, and Jamie Jungers of course-

9:51am and 12:03pm are both open tee times.  I tried like hell to hook that up on golfnow.com, but that bastard Michael Breed was wrong about how easy it is to book.  I ended up calling Augusta direct, and getting a foursome on at 9:51 under the name ‘Donohue.’  I hope Chad Campbell, Francesco Molinari, and Paul Casey don’t mind slow play.

What the fuck is a Yonex? Even if its the worst club on earth, its better than Wilson Staff.

The Ernie Els, Anthony Kim, Ryo Ishikawa is one of about 3 good tee times.  Kim and Els are coming off recent victories, and Ryo has a press following that rivals Tiger’s.

What to Expect. Augusta is a monster now (7,400 yards) and is not the wide open course that could really be played multiple different ways like it once was.  Don’t get me wrong, it is still the most beautiful, best put together course in the country, but it has lost some of what made it unique.

Tiger coming back is the biggest thing to happen to golf since Jesse Ortiz unveiled the Orlimar Trimetal.  And the return will take much of the attention off what could be the best event on tour.  No doubt, if you weren’t sick of the Tiger scandal already, you will be by Sunday.

Luke Donald wins after Sergio double bogeys on the first playoff hole.  Quiros third.


Howard and the Schmuck: Phillies Sued for 200th HR Ball

October 12, 2009

On July 16th, Ryan Howard hit the 200th homerun of his young career.  He became the quickest player to reach the milestone, doing so in just 658 games.  It took Alex Rodriguez 826 games to reach the same mark (ARod was 25 when he hit his, though, Howard is 29).  As has been the case in recent years where milestone homeruns are hit seemingly every night, not a whole lot was made of the round tripper, but more than a month later the story lingered for more selfish reasons.

Howard will have many more Homeruns, but if he wants to keep them, he better slim down and keep them in the park.

Howard will have many more Homeruns, but if he wants to keep them, he better slim down and keep them in the park.

It was a packed house in Miami that day, 39% full.  About 15,000 fans showed up to watch a division rivalry.  The ball was “caught” by 12-year-old Jennifer Valdivia.  She was sitting in one of the quarter-full sections of LandShark (A crappy beer, a crappier stadium) Stadium, and when the ball ended up under a seat a couple to the left of her own, Valdivia moved briskly, but did not face much competition in her quest to procure the ball.  Then she simply went back to her seat.

A Phillies representative was sent out to get Jennifer and her 16 year old brother.  They were brought down to the clubhouse and given cotton candy and a different ball signed by Ryan Howard in exchange for the historic homerun ball.  They took the exchange, and all parties seemed to be content.

Now I do not know if Miami area attorney Norm Kent approached them or they approached Kent, but this guy was born for this case.  Kent is a Brooklyn-born former talk show host and political advocate whose office is riddled with Brooklyn Dodgers memorabilia (Read up on Norm Kent here).  Kent seems like the type of guy who loves to be in the spotlight, and was waiting for an opportunity to attach himself to baseball somehow.

Norm Kent as Dodgers Fantasy Camp.  Click to read his fantasy baseball blog.

Norm Kent at Dodger's Fantasy Camp. Click to read his fantasy baseball blog.

The famous Valdivia vs. The Philadelphia Phillies case will be known for giving fans the ultimate right to a baseball caught in the stands.  That’s right, Kent sued the Phillies so Jennifer could get her baseball back.

The practice of returning milestone homerun balls to the player that hit them became very prevalent around the time of Mark McGwire’s run.  At that time, people were excited to catch one and get driven down to the clubhouse to meet with the Larger than Life slugger.  Things seem to have changed since McGwire’s 70th sold for a cool million.

The market has slowed to a halt since then, and Norm Kent’s appraisal of the ball as being worth $1,000 is probably correct.  Someone would pay that much for the ball right now.  This is a ball that could be worth a lot of money in maybe 50 years, or the week that Ryan Howard gets enshrined in the Hall of Fame.   It all depends on the first basemen’s consistency over the rest of his career.

Maybe Kent is trying to drive the price of the ball up with all of this publicity.  I do not know, but I do know that there is something wrong with this whole thing.  The fans at the games are looking for payouts.

The price was a bit steep for Matt Carson, but he will treasure the bat instead.

The price was a bit steep for Matt Carson, but he will treasure the bat instead.

Earlier this season, Matt Carson, a 28-year old career minor leaguer playing for Oakland, hit his first career Major League homerun.  When the team inquired about the ball, the fan said he could have it, for $10,000.  Just another sign that people do not know how much Minor League baseball players make.  Carson said no, and got his bat authenticated instead.

Part of me does not blame the girl.  She is just a kid at a game.  She probably is barely paying attention, dragged there by her older brother.  She most likely had no idea who Ryan Howard was before she grabbed the ball.  So for her to feel swindled is normal because she was told by Norm Kent that she was swindled.

I am disappointed in Norm Kent.  This is a baseball fan claiming to be an advocate of baseball fans, but for a real fan, going into the Phillies’ clubhouse after the game, and getting a signed ball would be better than having that homerun ball.

Seth McFarlane, creator of the Comic book character, Spawn, paid 3 million bucks for the Mark McGwire 70th homerun ball.  I think its worth $9 now.

Seth McFarlane, creator of the Comic book character, Spawn, paid 3 million bucks for the Mark McGwire 70th homerun ball. I think its worth $9 now.

Obviously, the Phillies could have handled this better.  Ryan Howard should have reached out more and given the fan more than just a signed baseball.  Maybe sent a personal letter and memorabilia.  I doubt this would appease Norm Kent, but it may have made the fan’s experience better.  Also, giving cotton candy to a kid to get something away from them makes the whole situation sketchy.

This is just a sad representation of what sports have come to.  In an interview, an NPR journalist asked Norm Kent if he were Ryan Howard, wouldn’t he want the ball back?  His response:

“There was a time, and day, and era, when that argument might have had some merit…, but this is an age when that ball has more than just historic significance.  There’s nothing to say that Ryan Howard, would not, years from now, auction off that ball as other professional athletes auction off their rings and jewelry to generate money for themselves.”

I’d say, “Go to hell,” but I think you’re well on your way.  Just do me a favor, and don’t take baseball with you.

Norm Kent’s Interview with NPR
Video of the Homerun


Cuzzi’s Call Has Fans Crying Foul

October 10, 2009
You be the judge.  Not a tough call (Getty Images)

You be the judge. Not a tough call (Getty Images)

The New York Yankees took down the Minnesota Twins to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the ALDS on Friday night.  The Yankees won in dramatic fashion with a walk off homerun in the 11th by 2009 acquisition, Mark Teixiera.  The dramatic winning effort was overshadowed, though by an absolutely horrible call that took place in the top of the 11th.

Joe Mauer was leading off the top of the eleventh with Damaso Marte (how did this guy make the postseason roster?) on the hill.  Joe hit a flair down the left field line that, off the bat, looked as if it would be well foul.  Melky Cabera gave chase and nearly caught up to it in the left field corner.  The leftfielder got a piece of it, it hit the ground, and bounced into the seats by the foul pole.

Phil Cuzzi was literally 20 feet from the spot of this soon-to-be mess.  He is staring directly at the occurrence, and as the ball bounced away, Cuzzi emphatically motions that the ball was foul.

There are a few things that are just really bad here.  First of all, this ball was fair by a foot.  I am not even exaggerating there.  The foul line is actually as fair line, and this ball was probably eight inches inside the line.  So, seeing that as foul is about as bad a call as I have ever witnessed.

Second, this would have been a ground rule double or a foul ball.  Either way the play is dead.  So, if Cuzzi saw this as fair and just called foul by instinct, he had ample time to change his decision.  Cuzzi would have gotten booed a little for this, but further review by everyone would have shown he was correct.

Third, this ball nicked off of Melky Cabrera’s glove.  Melky was well in fair territory when it hit off of him, and that alone, even if Cuzzi saw the ball land foul, should merit a fair call.  The only thing I can think of was that he was waiting to see chalk, and when he did not see it, Cuzzi called the ball foul.

Phil Cuzzi has a track record of controversy in the MLB, but this wasnt about ego like usual.  This was a case of either dyslxia or blindness.

Phil Cuzzi has a track record of controversy in the MLB, but this wasn't about ego like usual. This was a case of either dyslxia or blindness.

Really the worst part about this call is that the third base umpire would have gotten it right.  I do not see the need for the extra two umpires in the playoffs.  Now that you have instant replay for homerun/non homerun calls, the outfield is pretty much covered.

There are very few situations that the umpire further down the line will get a better view of a catch or a boundary call.  I understand it gives the base umpires a better opportunity to watch the bags, and see if runners tag up, etc, but you are asking an umpire to do something he has not done all year.

Phil Cuzzi really blew this call.  He saw down for up, left for right, fair for foul.  It was his one call of the night.  Chuck Meriweather blew numerous calls behind the dish, but he was allowed instant redemption by the next pitch.   Cuzzi got one chance, and made a mockery of Abner Doubleday and the rules of baseball.

If you want to see what fans are saying, here are a few reactions from Twitter and comment boxes from various articles (just know that I didn’t edit these people, and apparently, no one can spell):

Umpire Phil Cuzzi are U buddies with Tim Donaghy?”

I really believe that Phil Cuzzi might have made the worst officiating call in history. How did he miss it?”

Umpire Phil Cuzzi was the MVP for the Yankees last night”

Phil Cuzzi you don’t need to make the trip to the Metrodome. Watch from home. Broadcast in HD maybe you will see the White Foul Line.”

Umpire’s ugly mistake costly to Twins: Phil Cuzzi might want to register under a pseudonym at his hotel in Minn”

Dear Phil Cuzzi, I’ll pay for your lasik surgery… You should feel horrible”

Phil Cuzzi Stinks, And I Don’t like him”

Then the Ones that Think the Fix is In:

Calling for the head of Phil Cuzzi…what a joke of a call last night…no way can someone unintentionally make that big of a mistake”

Phil Cuzzi is paid off with Steinbrenner money.”

“come on people…this is how the mob works…they own these umpires…remember the n.b.a. ref….all the money that is on a yankees trip to the world series…MONEY TALKS”

“Lets really investigate Cuzzi. His calls to vegas? his friends? All of it. If it isnt him, Its MLB, One of the 2 is guilfy. Im so disgusted with the game now. I used to be a true fan of it.”

“Just another case of Bud Selig and MLB doing whatever they can to guarantee that the Yankees get to the World Series.”

“Get some glasses and then get a brain. That call was blown on purpose. GO buy that ump a drink. I’m sure he has plenty of them today. I hope he made enough to retire on with that call.”

“That call ruined a great game. Rigged.”

Some Said it was Karma:

“Brandon inge got hit by the ball that would have scored a run!!!! quit all your crying the twins are there too by bad calls so everbody just zipp it it done!!”

“Wee, hey twins fans…remember that blown call when inge got hit? I’m sure you do. Maybe this was super obvious, but what goes around comes around.”

Who was happiest with this call?

You may think it was the Yankees or Yankees fans or even the National Association for the Defamation of Umpires (NAfDU for short) but no, it was Joe Nathan.  Nathan’s complete collapse gets pushed back a page because of an umpire’s blindness.  Nathan, who was sweating like he was in withdrawal, gave up two missiles to start he ninth inning and knot up the score.  Nathan said after the game, “I wasn’t the only one who blew one tonight.”

Joe Nathan is pumped that everyone forgot about him blowing this one, and turned their attention to a call.

Joe Nathan is pumped that everyone forgot about him blowing this one, and turned their attention to a call.

No, you weren’t Joe, but giving up a 440 ft bomb to ARod kept the game going long enough to allow Phil Cuzzi his opportunity. So don’t deflect criticism because you have gotten off extremely easy.  You owe Phil Cuzzi a thank you card.

If Twins fans really think the fix is in, then I suggest you investigate your closer before you start suggesting that the mob paid a guy standing in the left field corner to blow a critical call in game two of the ALDS.


The Ghosts have Crossed the Street

October 10, 2009

On Friday night, the Yankees came back from two runs down in the ninth, and then overcame a bases loaded, nobody out jam in the eleventh en route to a Mark Teixiera homer, and a 2-0 lead in the series against the Twins.  The victory makes one wonder if the mystique of old Yankee Stadium has jumped the short distance into the Bronx Bomber’s new stomping grounds.

The Yankees caught a few big breaks in this one.  Terrible umpiring was prevalent from the first pitch, but in the eleventh, Joe Mauer hit what appeared to be a leadoff ground rule double.  The umpire called the ball foul, though replays proved it to be fair by at least a foot (Words cannot describe how bad this call was.  The umpire was standing on top of it, and staring right at it.  Melky Cabrera touched it in fair territory.  Bad call).  Mauer would later single, but was forced out at the plate in an epic escape by Yankee’s reliever David Robertson.

Earlier on in the game, with the game still tied at zip, Matt Tolbert singled with two outs and Delmon Young at second.  Carlos Gomez took a wide turn rounding second, and Nick Swisher quickly got the ball into Derek Jeter.  Jeter who is seemingly, always in the right place at the right time in the month of October, applied the tag to Gomez just before Delmon Young reached homeplate.  Inning over, game still tied.

A more blatant example of pimping a homerun. At Least Mannys went out.

A more blatant example of pimping a homerun. At Least Manny's went out.

Also, a moment no one touched on during the coverage.  Brendan Harris hit a key rbi triple for the Twins.  While watching, the first thing I thought when Johnny Damon whiffed on it was, “that will be an inside the park homer,” but replays show Harris pimping it (definition: verb. admiring a batted ball that you think will reach the stands.) and getting off to a slow start.  He had a stand up triple and slowed down into third.  If he busts it out of the box, Harris may have had a rare homerun without leaving the yard.

A third break for the Yankees is that in his last two outings, Joe Nathan has looked pathetic.  Tuesday, against the Tigers, he pulled a Houdini on a ball smoked at Orlando Cabrera that caught Curtis Granderson napping at first, and tonight, he came in and could not throw a strike.  Nathan looked shook on the mound.  He was sweating like a pig.  When Nathan did find the zone, he found a bit too much of it, and paid the price.  Teixiera got a hard single off of Joe, and Alex Rodriguez followed with an absolute blast that made New York fans forget about the past, until tomorrow.

Jose Mijares dodged a bullet in the tenth, a runner inherited from Joe Nathan, Brett Gardner took off from third on a line drive to Orlando Cabrera and was doubled off to end a very promising threat.  (In Gardner’s defense, if he froze and got back to third, Derek Jeter was halfway to second base, and would have been thrown out anyways.)

Francisco Cervelli was the last person that thought Francisco Cervelli would play tonight.

Francisco Cervelli was the last person that thought Francisco Cervelli would play tonight.

This whole situation led to the very surprising use of Francsico Cervelli in the game.  When Posada was pulled for a pinch runner Francisco was actually at the bar in centerfield with his spikes on.  Cervelli came in and handled David Robertson effectively to get out of a huge jam.

After the first two games of the series the Steinbrenner Plan is working to perfection.  C.C. got a win, AJ Burnett pitched wildly effective, and Mark Teixiera collected the walkoff “wallscraper.”  Yankees fans are just hoping the Plan works in the House that Kirby Built.


Matt Holliday… It’s Not Your Fault..

October 9, 2009

Here’s a quick video of Tony La Russa and Matt Holliday talking it out after last night’s game…

Matt Holliday made one of the more memorable plays in recent history last night in the Cardinal’s last inning loss to the Dodgers.  In a play more fitting for America’s Funniest Home Videos than Baseball Tonight, Holliday got hit in the balls, fell over, and then chomped on sunflower seeds while getting harassed by America’s prettiest in SoCal.  It was as if the opposing team’s Leftfielder was channeling Holliday from the bench.  To put it bluntly, Matt Holliday pulled a Manny.

Sorry Ryan, you were called on to get 2 outs, then needed to get an extra one because of Holliday, but, isnt getting 3 outs your job?

Sorry Ryan, you were called on to get 2 outs, then needed to get an extra one because of Holliday, but, isn't getting 3 outs your job?

Moving on, I realize that Holliday’s catch would have ended the game.  It would have been a one, two, three inning, and Cardinals fans would have gone and listened to books on tape read by Jack Buck, and wandered off to dreams of Mark McGwire hitting dingers into Big Mac Land (or whatever it is Cards fans do after victories… Budweiser?).  But, in his defense, Ryan Franklin still has to close this game out.  Lets take a look at Franklin’s line:


R. Franklin   0.1 IP,  2H, 2R, 0ER, 2BB,  0SO, 0.00 ERA  L, BSv

James Loney would have been Franklin’s second out in his appearance.  You are telling me a closer can’t get three outs for a save?  The problem I have with Ryan Franklin is that he doesn’t have overpowering stuff.  He had a WHIP of 1.20 for the season (meaning he gave up 1.2 walks or hits per inning he pitched, meaning, basically, he allowed at least a base runner in every appearance he made.).

A good closer has to be nearer to 1.  Also, with a WHIP of 1.2, Franklin is used to pitching with a runner on base.   He did not have anything to put away Casey Blake in a long battle that ended with a walk of Blake.  He then sacrificed the game tying single to Ronnie “Belisario” Belliard.  Then, the one that really throws me for a loop, he walked Russell Martin on four pitches, none of which, made Martin even contemplate swinging.

Once Manny and Ethier were out, this was not the heart of the Dodger lineup.  One must question Tony La Russa’s taking out of Adam Wainwright as well.  Wainwright had thrown 109 pitches, but he had allowed only 3 hits.  Wainwright did run into a bit of trouble in the bottom of the 8th, but it ended without anyone hitting anything too hard off of him.

A closer has to have the ability to get a strikeout.  Unless you are a popup producing machine, you need to be able to get a K to limit damage with runners on.  Franklin struck out 44 guys in 61 innings this season.  For some perspective (Mo, 72K- 66IP, Pap, 76-68, Hoff, 48-54, and Broxton, 114-76).  My esteemed colleague picked him as closer of the year in the NL.  WHIP is why I disagreed.

I am not placing the blame squarely on Franklin, but he is due a fair share, and I am sure he is kicking himself as much as Holliday is today.  You want to spread it around some more?

Here we go, nobody out in the 7th, Mark DeRosa singles, Colby Rasmus follows him with a double that scores DeRosa, but is thrown out at third.  Cardinals take the lead, but the rally is dead.  Could have been a big inning, instead of runner on third nobody out, it is nobody on, one out.

With his contract up, its sad that Holliday will probably be remembered in ST. Louis as, That guy that got hit in the balls.

With his contract up, its sad that Holliday will probably be remembered in St. Louis as, "That guy that got hit in the balls."

Here is another fun fact, the Cardinals scored two runs in this game.  The second was on the double by Rasmus.  The first run was on a homerun by none other than public enemy #1 in St. Louis right now, Matt Holliday.  How soon we forget.

There is no worse feeling for a baseball player than making an error, and just waiting in the field to see if it will result in runs.  A closer has to have the balls to pick up his teammates.  Holliday screwed up, but this loss was a team effort, just as the win was a team effort for the Dodgers.