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 01

TALKIN’ BASEBALL: Game #4; Sabathia trying to put Phils in hole.

Game 4: Sabathia vs. Blanton.

Game 4: Sabathia vs. Blanton.

The New York Yankees made CC Sabathia the richest pitcher in history for moments like tonight.
Working on three days rest for the second time in the playoffs, Sabathia, who signed a seven-year, $161-million free-agent deal last winter, has an opportunity to pitch the Yankees to a 3-1 edge in the World Series.
Sabathia was 19-8 with a 3.37 ERA this summer and the heavy favorite to win his second Cy Young Award. He is 3-1 with a 1.52 ERA in the playoffs, and was the ALCS MVP.

Sabathia is a horse. He is 5-3 with a 3.16 ERA in eight starts throwing on short rest. The Phillies decided not to start Cliff Lee on three days rest, instead opting for Joe Blanton. Lee has never worked on short rest.

SABATHIA: Trying to put the hammer down.

SABATHIA: Trying to put the hammer down.

“It feels good for them to have confidence in you, especially in these situations,’’ Sabathia said about working on short rest. “It gives you confidence when your team has confidence and the guys want you out there and everybody is asking: ‘Are you pitching today?’ and ‘Are you pitching tomorrow?’ ’’

Should the Phillies extend this to a seventh game, Sabathia would get that start in New York.

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 30

Mets vs. World Series teams match-ups

Sure, it might be piling on, but with today being an off-day in the World Series, I think its a good time to see where our heroes rate in comparison to the Phillies and Yankees. If Omar Minaya and Jeff Wilpon are watching they can’t be happy how the talent yardstick is measuring their team.

If you were to select a starting team between the Mets, Phillies and Yankees, I believe the Mets would place only two players, Carlos Beltran and Johan Santana among the starters with perhaps a few bench players.

Here’s how I look at that team:

C: Jorge Posada, Yankees.
Mets note: Omir Santos would be a distant third.

1B: Ryan Howard, Phillies.
Mets note: Daniel Murphy would be a distant third.

2B: Chase Utley, Phillies.
Mets note: Luis Castillo would be a distant third.

SS Derek Jeter, Yankees.
Mets note: Right now I’d have to go with Jose Reyes third.

3B: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees.
Mets note: David Wright would be second.

LF: Raul Ibanez, Phillies.
Mets note: Whomever the Mets throw out there would be third. That’s how weak they are at the position.

CF: Carlos Beltran, Mets.
Mets note: When healthy Beltran is clear cut, because of his power potential.

RF: Jayson Werth, Phillies.
Mets note: Jeff Francoeur would be third.

Johan Santana, Mets
Cliff Lee, Phillies
CC Sabathia, Yankees
AJ Burnett, Yankees
Cole Hamels, Phillies.
Mets note: Right now, I’d have to place Andy Pettitte, Joe Blanton and JA Happ ahead of any Met candidate. That’s a pretty good indictment about what is wrong.

Mariano Rivera, Yankees.
Mets note: I’d put Francisco Rodriguez second.

Of course, the team the Mets need to immediately concern themselves with are the Phillies. Being healthy would close the gap a bit, and going crazy in the free-agent market would close it even more, but not enough to where you can say the Mets are close to their level.

So, if Minaya and Wilpon are watching and making comparisons to where they rate, they can’t be pleased. Let’s just hope it prompts them to follow through on their words at the season ending press conference.

Oct 28

TALKIN’ BASEBALL: World Series, Game #1, CC vs. Lee.

Match-up of aces.

Match-up of aces.

Following tradition, the Yankees and Phillies will play their aces in Game 1 of the World Series tonight at Yankee Stadium with Cliff Lee going against CC Sabathia in a match-up of former Cleveland teammates and the last two AL Cy Young Award winners.

Game 1 sets the tone for the World Series, which is why both managers are going with their best tonight. You always throw your ace first because holding him back for Game 2 is a tacit admission their ace is better. You also throw your ace first because that gives you a chance to use him three times, with the last time on three days rest.

LEE: Phillies' Game 1 starter.

LEE: Phillies' Game 1 starter.

For example, should Charlie Manuel have held Lee back in anticipation of Sabathia winning Game 1, and then have him get lit up in Game 2, then the Phillies would have been in a huge hole even with the Series heading back to Philadelphia.

“This matchup couldn’t have been better,” said Manuel. “This is a big, premier game. I’m looking forward to it.”

This could be a special World Series featuring the two aces – a combined 5-0 this postseason by Lee and Sabathia – and two potent offenses.

“We’re going to see a lot of runs,” said Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte.

In Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez, the Phillies have four players with at least 30 homers. Meanwhile, the Yankees had seven players with at least 20.

There are so many players from either team who could find themselves on fate’s doorstep as possible heroes. Derek Jeter, for example, owns this time of year. With the game on the line, I’d want him at the plate as much as anybody when all I need is a single or sacrifice fly.

Would anybody be surprised if this went seven?