Nov 03

About Last Night: We have a Series.

There’s a chance I could get my wish and this thing will go seven games. Those that know me understand that the only rooting interest I have is for a playoff round go seven games.

UTLEY: Two more bombs last night.

UTLEY: Two more bombs last night.


Last night was about the resiliency of the Phillies which was something the Mets have seen the last three seasons. With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, a play here or there the other way and the Phillies could have won already as they held leads in the games they lost.

The Yankees got to Cliff Lee for five runs, but it took them until the eighth to do it. We could see him again in Game 7 as a reliever, as that is his throw day. Lee has thrown well north of 200 innings this season and maybe they are catching up to him. The Phillies won because he pitched deep into the game to keep the Yankees out of their bullpen.

Last night, we also saw Chase Utley, who I’ve said several times throughout the season that he’s one of the top position players in the game. If I were starting a team, Albert Pujols would be my first choice and Utley probably my second. Maybe A-Rod.

I’m looking forward to Game 6, which is often the most intense of the playoff games because of the sense of urgency. The key tomorrow night will be Andy Pettitte, who has pitched well this postseason, but not well over his career on three days rest.

Joe Girardi gambled by going with a three-man rotation. It could still work out for the Yankees, but Burnett was hammered and Pettitte has a losing record on three days.

Nov 02

TALKIN’ BASEBALL: Game #5; will the bubbly flow?

Game 5: Burnett vs. Lee.

Game 5: Burnett vs. Lee.

The Philadelphia Inquirer printed an ad congratulating the Phillies on winning the World Series. It was a three-quarter page ad that said “Back To Back World Champions.”

Down 3-1, it will take a monumental Yankees’ collapse for that to happen. The Phillies would have to win tonight with Cliff Lee and then win two in New York. The 2004 Red Sox overcame a 3-0 deficit to win, including Games 6 and 7 at Yankee Stadium.

It’s possible, but who is running to their bookie? I didn’t think so.

The Yankees’ approach is simply to score early to deflate the Phillies even further and take the crowd out of the game. The Phillies have had leads in this Series but have been unable to put the Yankees away.

These are tough games to watch because most everybody has written off the Phillies and believe the suspense is gone.

Nov 02

About Last Night …. Yankees imposing their will.

They have the money and they have the star galaxy, but the Yankees are showing grit and resiliency. They are winning this World Series, with a 27th title within their grasp, despite Mark Teixeira not hitting; despite CC Sabathia not winning a game (all right, that’s semantics because he’s pitched very well); and despite Alex Rodriguez’s miserable start.

Many thought, myself included, this would go seven. Two potent offenses and aces on both teams, how could it not? The Yankees can wrap it up in five games tonight.

Bearing down on title 27

Bearing down on title 27


Rodriguez got the game winning hit last night, but wasn’t the game really won on Johnny Damon’s hustle when he stole two bases on one play? With the Phillies in a shift against Teixeira, who only has one hit in the Series, they neglected to cover third. That was closer Brad Lidge’s responsibility.

Rattled, Lidge hit Teixeira and Rodriguez delivered.

“There’s no question I’ve never had a bigger hit,” Rodriguez said.

It really is amazing how the momentum of the Series shifted so suddenly. It didn’t take much, either. After losing the first game, the Yankees were behind in Game 2 when Hideki Matsui tied it with a homer. You knew then the Series was going to be tied.

Down in Game 3, Andy Pettitte’s hit off a Cole Hamels curveball, tied that game and set up a big inning. The Series was now slipping away. Then, there was Damon’s play last night, after which you know what would happen next, and now the Yankees are 27 outs away from their 27th title.

That the Yankees came back last night after the Phillies tied the game in the eighth tells you what you need to know about them.

Like them or hate them, and there’s no middle ground, you must respect them. And, fear them.

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.”