Oct 14

Can Yankees Recover Without Jeter?

Regardless of your stance on the Yankees, there had to be a twinge of sadness seeing Derek Jeter helped off the field with a fractured ankle. Say what you will about Jeter, but the man always plays hard and carries himself with dignity on the field.

He’s milquetoast in an interview, but always Tabasco between the lines. To do what he did this season at his age, at the plate and on defense, was remarkable. You have to admire the way he plays the game. He never gives an inch.

Andy Pettitte was right in that you knew something was wrong the way Jeter tried to flip the ball to Robinson Cano despite his obvious pain and stayed on the ground. Funny, the first thing I thought of when I saw it was how Santanio Holmes threw the ball in the air when he was injured. The difference is in football the opposing team can recover and take it in for a touchdown.

Here, Jeter had the presence of mind to try to continue the play while Holmes, well, he is what he is. Jeter will go into the Hall of Fame when he’s done; Holmes will disappear and won’t be missed.

Can the Yankees win without him? Sure they can, but it will be extremely difficult. While others around him falter, Jeter keeps on going, hit after hit, play after play.

The Yankees looked dead in the water last night until Raul Ibanez’s game-tying homer in the ninth. While he’s been a stunning playoff story, trying to win without Jeter makes the odds more difficult.

The Yankees can still win because their starting pitching has been superb and the bullpen has been solid, enough to compensate for the lack of offense. The Yankees aren’t getting anything from Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher. Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson have also underperformed, and for that matter, so has Cano.

All that marquee talent and they can’t score. It’s like how the Mets’ offense was in the second half, only this time the whole country is watching instead of a handful at Citi Field.

I don’t like their chances because of how they’ve been hitting, Jeter’s injury and that the Tigers are pretty good and can smell it after last night. Many teams can be devastated after blowing a four-run lead in the ninth, but the Tigers regrouped.

One thing working in the Yankees’ favor is Detroit’s porous bullen. The Yankees, when clicking, can win a slugfest.

However, I don’t see it any more for them.

 

 

Jul 10

Thought On All-Star Home Run Derby

Another year, another Home Run Derby. The only thing with edge last night was Kansas City booing Robinson Cano for bypassing the local hero. Of course, it didn’t have the from-the-heart venom of NBA fans booing the Miami Heat.

Initially, I watched the Derby with interest, if not fascination, the way I did the NBA slam dunk. But, there’s no real challenge if the pitch is lobbed over the play, so it became boring. Then, after the steroid issue, you knew what fueled all those upper deck shots.

So, I’m not a big fan of the Derby. I’d rather watch Criminal MInds reruns.

But, the paying public in the host city still loves it. I heard on talk radio yesterday saying how it Derby should be tweaked, ranging from celebrities (PLEASE, NO) to retired sluggers (not a bad idea).

I don’t care for the Derby because it is staged and not real competition – even though in a million swings I could never clear the wall – but as long as they are selling out the stadium, just leave it alone.

Jun 25

Mets Matters: Where’s Tim Byrdak?

For the second straight game, Mets manager did not go to lefty specialist Tim Byrdak against a left-handed hitter in Robinson Cano with the game on the line. I realize the Mets had only one lefty reliever at the time (today they brought up Justin Hampson).

BYRDAK: Not used when it counted.

It’s a nine-inning game, and where is it written the moment-of-decision must come in the ninth inning? It very well could have come down to the ninth inning without a lefty reliever, but I don’t want Miguel Batista to pitch to Robinson Cano.

The Mets have lost two straight games because they withheld using their left specialist. Hoping Terry Collins picks up on that.

Here’s more Mets notes:

* To make room on the roster for Hampson. the Mets designated for assignment Vinny Rottino. No comment from Rottino, but if you’re him and you know you’re the 25th man on the roster you couldn’t feel comfortable seeing the bullpen and knowing they needed to add.

* Frank Francisco’s strained left oblique landed him on the disabled list. I reiterate it is possible he was injured because he was overthrowing Friday night, perhaps to back up his “chickens” comments. Again, so stupid. Why antagonize a team like the Yankees who have the ability to pulverize you without any added incentive?

* Thank goodness the Mets got somebody to take that chicken off their hands. Now I can sleep nights.

* Dickey’s ERA rose to 2.31 after giving up five runs. He’s still a favorite to start the All-Star Game. Another candidate is Washington’s Stephen Strasburg. It is interesting to compare the two. Strasburg is the All-World talent with a golden future, while Dickey is the inspirational underdog.

ON DECK: Wrigley Field.

 

 

Oct 28

World Series Keys ….

I suppose it was going to come down to this all along, the Phillies against the Yankees in the World Series.

The Yankees, with the home field advantage because of the ridiculous All-Star Game gimmick, are considered the favorites. Would they be if the Phillies had the home field? I’m not so sure.

Looking at the match-ups, both teams are riding a hot ace and scorching bat, with the Phillies’ Cliff Lee and Ryan Howard against the Yankees’ CC Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez.

KEYS TO THE WORLD SERIES

KEYS TO THE WORLD SERIES


In looking at the match-ups, I’ll give the edge to the Yankees at catcher (only when Jorge Posada plays), shortstop (Derek Jeter lives for these moments and third base (Rodriguez seems to have shaken the October blues).

I’ll give the edge to the Phillies at first (I recognize the year Mark Teixeira had, but Howard is a monster), second (Chase Utley, for my money is one of the best players in the game), and all three outfield positions.

The starting rotations and bullpens are relatively even. Mariano Rivera is better than Brad Lidge, but Rivera can be negated because the bridge to him is tenuous. The Phillies’ offense is superior to that of Minnesota and the Angels, and once in the Yankees’ bullpen there’s no guarantee we’ll see Rivera.

Here are some of the more notable keys to this World Series:

1. KEY: Is Brad Lidge back from the dark side?
BREAKDOWN: Lidge blew 11 save opportunities this summer, but has been perfect in the postseason. If he’s regained his touch this is a huge factor to the Phillies.

2. KEY: Which superstar will have the bigger series?
BREAKDOWN: Both Ryan Howard and Alex Rodriguez tied Lou Gehrig’s record with RBI in eight straight postseason games. Rodriguez appears to have shaken his October blues, but there is one more round. Both have the ability to carry a team.

3. KEY: Will the Phillies be able to run on the Yankees’ catching?
BREAKDOWN: Philadelphia led the majors with an 81 percent success rate in stole bases. Once Chase Utley gets on, if he wants second it is his (23-for-23). The Phillies also like to run with Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins. Surprisingly, the Yankees were second. The Phillies can run on anybody, but they haven’t seen a move as good as Andy Pettitte’s.

4. KEY: Will the Phillies limit Mariano Rivera’s appearances?
BREAKDOWN: If Rivera gets four save opportunities, it’s a good bet the Yankees will win their 27th World Series title. However, Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes, the bridge to Rivera, has been rickety. Therefore, it is essential the Yankees will get innings from their starters to limit the bullpen exposure.

5. KEY: Will Cole Hamels return to prominence?
BREAKDOWN: Hamels, last year’s World Series MVP, had a miserable season. He’s pitched well in spots, but too often is vulnerable to the big inning.

6. KEY: Does Pedro Martinez have an encore in him?
BREAKDOWN: Assume for a moment CC Sabathia continues his roll in Game 1 and beats Cliff Lee. The Phillies would then need Martinez big time in Game 2 as falling down by two games would make defending their title difficult.

7. KEY: Will CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee continue to roll?
BREAKDOWN: Both have been virtually untouchable in the postseason and rightfully assume their roles as a No. 1. The Series could turn on who stumbles first.

8. KEY: Is there a rebound series for Mark Teixeira?
BREAKDOWN: Teixeira carried the Yankees for much of the season and had a hot ALDS against Minnesota. The Angels handcuffed him, but gave away that edge with their faulty defense. A hot Teixeira gives the Yankees another superstar bat.

9. KEY: Whose second level stars perform best?
BREAKDOWN: Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez vs. Johnny Damon, Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher. Both teams are loaded and both have the marquee names, but those on the undercard are also vitally important.

10. KEY: What happens in the AJ Burnett and Joe Blanton games?
BREAKDOWN: Both starters have the capacity to pitch big and small. To win a series, a team needs a solid start from its No. 3 and No. 4 starters.

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.