Nov 01

Welcome to November ….

It is November and tonight is Game 4 of the World Series. There are so many things wrong with that picture.

We know this is all because of greed and MLB prostituting itself for the bucks. We also know that as long as Bud Selig remains commissioner things will not change. Hell, regardless of who is commissioner things will not change.

That’s because the owners are running the game in all capacity, and the Players Association, once powerful, doesn’t stand up anymore because they are getting their share.

Yes, the World Series scheduling is dictated by the network, but so are the earlier rounds. With both FOX and TBS broadcasting, MLB will not schedule conflicting games as to interfere with each other’s ratings. That also necessitates spreading out the scheduling. God forbid they broadcast in the afternoon (there were some, but not nearly enough).

There is another solution, but it is doubtful MLB will go in that direction because it makes too much sense.

MLB can cut a week off the season – and STILL keep it at 162 games – if it implemented day-night doubleheaders throughout the season for division games. Interleague play and the unbalanced schedule has provided enough opportunities because teams within the division play each other up to 19 times.

We know MLB won’t go for the traditional doubleheader because of its insistence of not wanting to lose a gate. So, schedule the day-night variety once a month. In doing so, over the six-month season you’ll free up six days. That means starting the postseason a week earlier.

Even better, would be doing it every other week. That could free up to 12 days.

MLB says the Players Association won’t go for it, but they never asked. I’ve spoken to numerous players and they like the idea because it would mean more off days during the season.

Returning to the old way of starting the World Series on a Saturday would be a prudent thing to do. IT’S THE WORLD SERIES!!!! People will watch on the weekend, and they’ll watch during the day, too.

MLB, in capitulating to the networks, says the ratings will go down. Who’s to say? Will the drop be that significant? We won’t know unless they try it.

Instead, MLB doesn’t want to compete with college and pro football. In taking that approach, the sport is saying it isn’t good enough. Nonsense. Baseball is plenty good enough to compete, and if the match-up is good, it will win. If the match-up is bad – and MLB defines that as anything without the Yankees – they won’t watch anyway.

This weekend, the games are in the National League city. Had Colorado made it, we’d still be stuck on Game 2.

MLB should say, “this is when we’re playing, if you want to broadcast the games, show up. … If this isn’t good enough for you we’ll get somebody else to televise the games.”

Instead, MLB just takes the money and rolls over.

Oct 31

TALKIN’ BASEBALL: Game #3 starts with news of Game #4.

GAME 3: Pettitte vs. Hamels.

GAME 3: Pettitte vs. Hamels.

Joe Torre used to say Game 3 was the pivotal game, that it is the game where the momentum swings one way or another. Nine of the last 10 teams to win a Game 3 when the Series was tied went on to win the title.

The Phillies are home tonight, but the Yankees’ might have psychologically off-set that advantage with the announcement CC Sabathia will be the Game 4 starter on three days rest. Joe Blanton is scheduled to go for the Phillies in Game 4, but will manager Charlie Manuel reverse course and go with Cliff Lee?

If he does, the argument would be, and it wouldn’t be wrong, that the Yankees are now dictating what the Phillies will do. Should the Phillies lose tonight, absolutely it wouldn’t be surprising for Lee to be moved up in the rotation. Lee has never pitched on short rest.

SABATHIA: Starts tomorrow on short rest.

SABATHIA: Starts tomorrow on short rest.


That puts the pressure on the Phillies, who obviously can’t relish the idea of facing Sabathia to stay alive in the Series. Let’s face it, if they lose tonight, they are looking at falling down 3-1 and needing to run the table, including two games in New York.

Yes, they do play those kinds of mental gymnastics.

Sabathia has been a horse during the playoffs, going 3-1 with a 1.52 ERA in four starts, including beating the Angels in Game 4 on three days rest.

“CC has pitched extremely well for us this year,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said today. “We wanted to see how he came out today, how physically he came out today, and he physically feels good.”

HAMELS: Needs to get back in form.

HAMELS: Needs to get back in form.


Should the Yankees lose tonight they would’ve gone with Sabathia on three days rest anyway. This just takes the doubt out of it, which is probably good for Sabathia’s mental preparation.

If the Yankees lose one of the next two games, count on them also going with AJ Burnett and Andy Pettitte on short rest, with Sabathia pitching again on three days rest in a Game 7.

The Phillies can go back dictating their terms, which would include staying with Blanton tomorrow, if last year’s World Series MVP, Cole Hamels, wins tonight. A slamdunk last October, Hamels is 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA in three playoff starts this year. Manuel waited to start him at home because he was reluctant to go with him on the road.

“It’s been a growing process,” said Hamels, who grew up admiring Pettitte. “It’s just coming back and delivering, and I still have an opportunity to help this team out and win some big games.”

Pettitte is underrated as a big-game pitcher, but he shouldn’t be. He won his record 16th playoff game when the won Game 6 of the ALCS against the Angels. He’s 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA in these playoffs.

“He doesn’t seem fazed by anything,” teammate Derek Jeter said. “He’s pitched in every kind of big game you can think of.”

Oct 31

Rodriguez off to slow Series start ….

He sizzled against the Twins and Angels, but has come up cold against the Phillies. However, in the interest of fairness, so too, have most of the hitters – from both teams – in the first two games of the World Series.

A-Rod: Six strikeouts in eight at-bats.

A-Rod: Six strikeouts in eight at-bats.


Chase Utley and Ryan Howard were on in Game 1, but stifled in Game 2. Rodriguez is hitless in eight at-bats with six strikeouts. Horrible at any time, but this is Rodriguez we’re talking about, and afterall, weren’t we just talking a couple of days ago how he shed his October label?

“It’s eight at-bats,” Rodriguez said. “I’m not concerned at all. … Everything right now is magnified.”

The Yankees, of course, will keep him in the line-up. It’s not like benching Hideki Matsui or Nick Swisher. Rodriguez carried the Yankees during the first two rounds with a combined 14 hits, .438 average, five home runs, 12 RBI and 10 runs in the first two rounds. He’s strong enough, and streaky enough, to do it again.

There was no way the Yankees were going to beat Cliff Lee, and maybe they got lucky against Pedro Martinez. The Phillies are happy with the split, that was their goal. The Yankees will take the split because they know it could have been worse.

Truer words were never spoken when Rodriguez said: “The fact that I’m oh-for-the-Series and we’re 1-1 and the guys picked me up makes me feel really good about going into Game 3.”

Oct 31

Crawford could be available ….

In this lusting over Matt Holliday, who could still stay in St. Louis as Albert Pujols desires, let’s not forget Tampa Bay’s Carl Crawford, whose speed skills would come into play in every aspect of the game.

CRAWFORD: Good glove in left; solid bat.

CRAWFORD: Good glove in left; solid bat.


Crawford has a $10 million option for 2010 with a $1.25 million buyout. That’s reasonable, so the assumption must be made they way to get him would be in a trade. The Rays, like everybody else, want young talent. Would you be surprised to see them ask for Fernando Martinez? I wouldn’t, as everybody asks for him.

That’s a tough call, but Crawford’s production (four 50-steal seasons and six years with 180 hits) is what the Mets would hope for from Martinez.

I like Crawford for his speed, defense and ability to be a table setter on offense. There’s no question he plugs the left field hole, and he, Reyes, and Carlos Beltran bunched at the top of the order will create many RBI opportunities for Beltran, David Wright and Jeff Francoeur.

No, he doesn’t have the power potential of Holliday, but he helps the Mets in other areas. He’s not going to be a one-year pick-up, either. So, if the Mets could obtain Crawford without giving up Martinez, then having him would give the team the flexibility to deal him for pitching or power.

Oct 30

Thoughts on Pedro the teacher ….

Watching Pedro Martinez last night got me to thinking about his tenure with the Mets. He was brought in for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is his supposed influence on the younger pitchers. Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez and John Maine all have physical skills to be good, but something is lacking.

1 + 1 = 3 to some Mets pitchers.

1 + 1 = 3 to some Mets pitchers.


I know Martinez worked hard with Perez, as has Johan Santana the past two seasons, but nothing has sunk in. At least it sure doesn’t look like it. If you can’t learn from those two, who can you learn from? In this case, I’m more inclined to think the student has a learning disability than I am a problem with the teachers.

I’m not sure Perez is ever going to get it. I’d like to unload his contract, but who would be crazy enough to pay him that much money? Ooops, never mind.

Pelfrey’s erratic nature has me leaning in that direction, too. In comparison to some of the other young pitchers in the game, Pelfrey is way behind in his mound make-up. All too often this season Pelfrey unraveled after several good innings. He doesn’t have the ability to command his secondary pitches and adjust under pressure.

Of the three, Maine appears to me to have taken a step back from his 15-win season, but that’s more attributable to injuries than anything else.