Oct 21

TALKIN’ BASEBALL: Dodgers try to stay alive in NLCS.

Two nights ago the Dodgers were one out away from tying their NLCS at two games each with Philadelphia until Jimmy Rollins did what money players do.

Down by a run in the ninth with two outs, Rollins lined a two-run double off All-Star closer Jonathan Broxton into the right-center gap to push the Dodgers onto the brink of winter.

Hamels vs. Padilla

Hamels vs. Padilla


“This is big,” Rollins said. “The pressure’s all on them. … We understand we still have a job to do. We look forward to trying to close it out.”

With a win tonight, Dodgers manager Joe Torre said the pressure reverts back to Philadelphia because the series would return to Los Angeles. Torre knows it is possible. While managing the Yankees in 2001, New York lost its first two games against Oakland in the ALDS, but ran the table to advance. Then, in 2004, his Yankees blew a 3-0 series lead and lost to Boston in the ALCS.

Game 6 Friday in LA is contingent on the Dodgers beating Cole Hamels, who has given up eight runs in 10 1/3 innings this postseason.

“Any time you hand him the ball, I think he’s capable of going out there and shutting the other team out,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said of Hamels, who is 5-0 with a 2.19 ERA in seven career starts against Los Angeles.

Vicente Padilla starts for Los Angeles, and his biggest obstacle is Ryan Howard, who has driven in at least one run in eight straight postseason games, and is 5-for-13 (.385) with two home runs, eight RBI in this series.

Oct 21

Umpires hit new low ….

Just when you think it can’t get any worse, Major League umpires show they really are minor league. Although their ineptitude didn’t factor in the outcome of the game, what happened last night in Anaheim can’t be dismissed much longer.

Time for more widespread use of instant replay.

FIRST SWISHER PLAY: Not even close.

FIRST SWISHER PLAY: Not even close.

There were three more blown calls last night in the Yankees’ rout of the Angels. These calls were so bad you have to wonder what these guys were thinking, much less seeing.

“I’m just out there trying to do my job, and I’m doing the best that I can,” third base umpire Tim McClelland said after the game. “Unfortunately, on instant replay, it was two missed calls (by me).”

At least, McClelland was standup about it.

In the fourth inning, replays clearly showed Nick Swisher was picked off at second base, but Dale Scott, who had to have been no more than six feet from the play, ruled him safe. The phrase “out by a mile,” could apply here.

Later that inning, in what would seem to be a classic make up call, McClelland ruled Swisher left the bag early on a what would have been a sacrifice fly hit by Johnny Damon. Again, not even close on the replay, which also showed McClelland out of position.

FIASCO AT THIRD: I still can't believe it.

FIASCO AT THIRD: I still can't believe it.


The next inning, McClelland blew it big time on a play at third when Angels catcher Mike Napoli tagged both Jorge Posada and Robinson Cano, with neither on the bag. McClelland unbelievably called Cano safe.

It’s not as if these guys have an agenda, but you have to wonder when you see calls such as those last night. Maybe, it will take such a bad call that will cost a team the Series before something is done and instant replay is used more widespread.

The Yankees are on the road to another World Series, and they dominated last night. We should be talking about them, and a potential meeting with powerful Philadelphia. Instead, we are talking about the umpires.

That’s not right.

Oct 20

TALKIN’ BASEBALL: We have a series in the AL.

There is nothing quite like the drama that is playoff baseball, where seasons fade and stay alive with a swing of the bat. There is an ebb and flow of emotions in baseball unlike any other sport and we saw them all last night when the complexion of both series changed on the game’s final play.

The Dodgers, one pitch away from tying their series at Philadelphia, are now in life support and face elimination tomorrow night. The Angels, who stared at the end of their season at the beginning of last night’s game, have fresh life.

SABATHIA: Going on three days rest.

SABATHIA: Going on three days rest.

Last night Jimmy Rollins sent the Dodgers closer to winter, and hours earlier the Angels turned the ALCS from a blowout to a series that could be for the ages. After gift-wrapping two victories to the Yankees, the Angels are alive and in position where they could knot that ALCS at two games apiece tonight after Jeff Mathis’ two-out double in extra innings Monday.

The Yankees could regain control and send Los Angeles to the brink of elimination with CC Sabathia on the mound or the Angels can get us back to square one behind Scott Kazmir.

“This is the type of series we expected it to be,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

KAZMIR: Pitching to keep Angels alive.

KAZMIR: Pitching to keep Angels alive.


Sabathia, who will be going on three days rest, is 6-7 with a 4.42 ERA in 15 career starts against the Angels. The Yankees are going with a three-man rotation in the ALCS meaning if there is a Game 7 in New York, Sabathia will get the ball.

Kazmir, who represents one of the worst trades made by the Mets, is in position to be a postseason hero for the Angels. Kazmir, who gave up five runs in six innings against Boston in the ALDS, was acquired from Tampa, Aug. 28, and went 2-2 with a 1.73 ERA in six starts for Los Angeles. He is 6-5 with a 2.66 ERA in 14 career starts against the Yankees.

Regardless of what happens tonight, Game 5 is Thursday at Anaheim.

Oct 20

The Jacket finds a closet in Milwaukee.

Former Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson – known as The Jacket to readers of this blog – was given a two-year contract by the Milwaukee Brewers, where he becomes part of the staff that includes Willie Randolph.

Evidently, if there was a rift between Peterson and Randolph, there is no more as Willie had to have been asked for a reference.

THE JACKET: Rejoins Willie in Milwaukee.

THE JACKET: Rejoins Willie in Milwaukee.


“When I walked out of the interview, I was so pleasantly surprised and excited,” said Peterson, who has a unique coaching style steeped in biomechanics.

Peterson was axed along with Randolph during the 2008 season. Peterson helped some members of the Mets staff, notably John Maine and Mike Pelfrey to a degree, but is known for the development of Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito while with Oakland.

Said Brewers GM Doug Melvin: “Rick brings a number of years of experience as a pitching coach and an extensive background in the study of motion analysis. He is a high-energy individual and a forward thinker with a comprehensive program of motivation and instruction that is in tune with our current pitching philosophy.”

Oct 20

Gotta say no to Vlad ….

The Angels’ Vladimir Guerrero will be a free-agent after this season, the last year of a five-year, $70 million contract. Five years ago, cautious about his back, the Mets passed. Of course, Guerrero went on to have some fabulous years with the Angels, including hitting at least 27 homers with 90 RBI in the 2007-8 seasons.

GUERRERO: Too risky for Mets?

GUERRERO: Too risky for Mets?


This year, however, because of a torn pectoral muscle and strained muscle behind his left knee, Guerrero, 33, hit .295 – a good average – but only 15 homers and 50 RBI in 100 games. The question of Guerrero’s durability is now an issue. The Mets, and any other team, would be foolish to ignore his health.

And, being a favorite of Omar Minaya’s is no guarantee, either. Minaya’s job security and the Mets’ finances, along with their other priorities, are all variables.

The Mets are a rebuilding organization that can’t afford to make mistakes. Guerrero won’t go to that kind of team, but one that can afford to take the hit should he flame out. Given that, and all else on the Mets’ shopping list, they should pass of Guerrero this time, too.