Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

Game 6 Between the Yankees and the Phillies

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

Tonight is the sixth game of the World Series between the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies, and I am torn on what the outcome could be.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not nor would be a fan of the Yanks winning, but I don’t want to be too optimistic that the Phills can pull it off.  Yet with just a three-man rotation for New York, it might be the linchpin that could make the whole thing fall apart.

My friend Mike and I were talking during game five about the wisdom of Joe Girardi starting A.J. Burnett on three days of rest.2009 World Series_250x188

He said that Girardi should have started Chad Gaudin in game five.  This would have allowed full rest to Burnett and could still have C.C. Sabathia in case for game seven with Andy Pettitte (think 2001 World Series with Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling to combine to win in game seven).  They could have seen how far Gaudin took them into the game and start using the bullpen to get through the rest.  Why waste the game in a National League park where they would have to have the pitcher in the batting order when strategy at some point down the line would have him leaving the game for a pinch batter.

I agreed with Mike for the most part.  My logic was, being up three-games-to-one, waste a whatever pitcher, and get home with your best lineup.  Sabathia may be able to pitch a few games in a row on short-rest, but Burnett and Andy Pettitte might not.  Now with the way it is setup, a fully-rested Pedro Martinez will go against Pettitte and and even more tired Sabathia against a fully-rested Cole Hamels.

Mike’s point, being a Yankee fan, was that it was all rationalized because of fears from the 2004 Red Sox-Yankees ALCS, where the Yankees just needed to win one more game but couldn’t.  Girardi is managing to win this game and worrying about the next one later, because it is all over if they do just win this game.

Another interesting comparison, at least to me, is the 2007 ALCS between the Sox and the Cleveland Indians.  Ace C.C. Sabathia lost game one against ace Josh Beckett looking like the Sox were going to run away with it.  The Sox then went on to lose the next three games (one at Fenway and the first two at the Jake). So being down 3-1 in the series, it looked as if the Indians were the ones who were going to win.  That was followed by Manny Ramirez making noise in the news by saying it didn’t bother him that they were down 3-1, adding that losing wouldn’t be the end of the world.  The Sox then won game five behind their ace Josh Beckett, and went on to win games six and seven.

Yes, the home-field advantage was reversed compared to the 2009 World Series, but it still seems like an interesting look at the past to see if something might be repeated.  (This is my hope of using the Pats/Rams Super Bowl outcome when New Yorkers used it in comparison to the Pats/Giants a few years later.)

(And no, I looked it up, and Cliff Lee was not on the 25-man roster at that point.  He had been sent down to Triple-A in the middle of the season because he wasn’t performing well.)

In the end, the Yankees don’t want to lose this game six, because game sevens, especially in the World Series, are a complete unknown.  There is nobody on that 25-man roster that isn’t available since there literally isn’t a next game for which to plan.  Yes it would line up to be Sabathia (another 3-days rest, but certainly a better option than Chad Gaudin or Kevin Brown (sorry), and they’re going to ride him like the Marlins did with Beckett in 2003) versus Cole Hamels (full-rest, but mentally checked out), which on paper would go the Yankees way.  But the “what-ifs” become more intriguing.

What if Sabathia pitches 3 2/3 innings giving up 5 runs.  What if Hamels gets his pitches to actually work.  What if Ryan Howard starts hitting pitches?

Too many questions.

But, chances are Pedro will have issues tonight, and the Yankees will unfortunately win and end up with their 27th title.  And I will have to catch slack from all around.  Really looking forward to it.

Maybe the Beginning of the End

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

I always wondered when the end would come to the Boston sports scene, and I think this past weekend would be a good chunk of it.

Since a nice surprising Super Bowl victory with a young, second-string quarterback in Tom Brady at the beginning of 2002, Boston has pretty much dominated the sports world (well, at least here in the States).  Three Super Bowls (no titles before), two World Series (first in a really long time), and an NBA title (a model franchise that hasn’t been relevant in 15 years).

Every team goes through cycles, a few good years and then lean years in between.  So it stands to reason that with all the collective success of the teams in the past few years there is going to be a decline in production followed by “rebuilding” seasons.

I think the apex was Super Bowl XLII.  The Red Sox just won the World Series a few months before, and the Celtics would go on to win the Championship months later beating their archrivals, LA Lakers.  But that Super Bowl had possibly one of the greatest NFL teams in history, entering the game at 18-0, and they lost it in the way they have been known to win them: by allowing Eli Manning to march down the field in under two minutes to get the go-ahead touchdown.

Not only did a New York team beat a Boston/New England team, but it was maybe one of the greatest upsets in Super Bowl history (better than XXXVI with the Pats over St. Louis).  Thankfully, the Celtics were able to help remove some of the sting in June.  And let’s not forget the Bruins having a surprisingly good first-round exit against the Montreal Canadiens, by taking them to a game seven after it looked as though the Habs were going to just run right though them.

Then the Red Sox looked to repeat their World Series win, and finally dealt away Manny Ramirez at the trading deadline to get Jason Bay.  Instead of making the World Series though, they lost in game seven of the ALCS to the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays.  It was easy to say that it was a somewhat-successful series, with an injured Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to get that far, and give hope for 2009.

Then there was the 2008 New England Patriots: about eight minutes in the the first game of the season, reigning MVP (with 50 regular season touchdowns the previous) Tom Brady has his knee explode, and Pats season was over.  The one player who everyone states they can’t lose is gone.  And then a 230-draft pick replaced a 199-draft pick, and Matt Cassel learned to be a pro-quarterback taking them to an 11-5 season.  Usually that would have been good enough to get into the postseason, and it looked promising with the team getting better as the season continued. But in a fluke year, the record wasn’t good enough, and so the Pats missed the playoffs after reaching the Super Bowl the year before..

The Red Sox lost to Tampa Bay, and then later on the Celtics lost Kevin Garnett to major leg issues.  The Cs barely beat a young and athletic Chicago Bulls, and took the eventual Eastern conference champs Orlando Magic to seven games before losing.  There was also the number-one seed Bruins who cruised through the first round of the playoffs by sweeping the Habs, only the have a seven-game crushing defeat in the second round to the former Hartford Whalers (the Carolina Hurricanes).

The 2009 Red Sox started of red hot; killing the Yankees in eight games and building a nice lead, only to have it dwindle by the All-Star break.  Then they couldn’t get anything done, losing bad games, and just getting manhandled by the Yankees only getting one win in their remaining games.  The 2009 Patriots started off 3-1, with a fluky win against Buffalo, tough wins against Atlanta and Baltimore (all at home).  The lone loss was on the road against the Jets, after their coach called each and every season ticket holder to make noise and help them to get the win; and it worked.

Which finally brings us to this weekend.

First off for the heck of it, let’s look at the Boston College Eagles: ouch.  Sure Virginia Tech is ranked fifth in the nation, but it would have been nice to put up a good game against them.  The score was 0-34… at halftime.  Finally getting a pair of touchdown in the fourth quarter, they would go on to lose 14-48.

Next on the list and in no particular order, the Pats went out to Denver have Bill Belichick go against another former assistant coach in Josh McDaniels (the problem with winning so often is that the coaching staff will be picked apart by other franchises).  For all the luck that the Patriots had in all their runs in the past few years, there isn’t much left.  After Denver would drive to get a game-tying touchdown, Tom Brady couldn’t drive the field, going 3-and-out, and then fumbling on the next possession.  In overtime, the defense that held Denver to not getting close to the red zone in their final possessions let Denver walk to field goal range and win the game.  Luck wasn’t on the Pats side to call the right side of a flipped coin.

If I was going to use excuses, losing Matt Light and new-favorite-target Ben Watson were injured during the game, but hey, everyone has injuries.

But, one loss on the road against a potential-playoff team is probably not the end of the world.  My buddy Gregg also pointed out that going 2-1 against Baltimore, Atlanta and Denver is pretty good.

The funny thing is that before the game, I told my girlfriend, who thinks I become psychotic when it comes to my teams’ losses, that whenever the Red Sox lose in a day the Pats seem to win, and vice versa.

And this brings us to the most disappointing of all the Boston showings this weekend, starting with Thursday night.  After limping at the end of the season (before a four-game sweep of a Cleveland team in limbo at Fenway once the wildcard was clinched, the Sox went 2-for-10) and backing into the postseason (thanks to Texas shanking some games at the end), the Red Sox were swept by the Anaheim Angels of Los Angeles, or whatever they’re called now.

For postseasons in recent history (during the Boston-awesome years), the Red Sox have dominated the Angels.  Setting aside the 1986 ALCS, the ALDS series in 2004 (3-0), 2007 (3-0), and 2008 (3-1) have been all Boston.  Sweeps are great; when your team is the winner.  And when they are the swept party, it isn’t as much fun.

In the first two games, the offense was anemic scoring one run total in both games.  The pitching wasn’t that bad in either game (and I’m not going to complain too much about the umpiring, since it was horrible and inconsistent for both teams; and I would say for the other ALDS as well).  The worst thing is that my friend Tyrone said that Boston wouldn’t go far without Manny Ramirez (a dominate hitter), and I said that they did pretty well without him in 2008 and for the most part in 2009.  And just looking at their postseason lineup on paper (J.D. Drew hitting eighth) seemed like a pretty good chance to produce runs.

Through the first two games, there were 8 hits, 1 run and 4 walks.

Then game three.  Up 6 runs to 4, going into the top of the ninth, usually sure-handed (especially in the postseason) Papelbon entered the game.  While he only had three blown-saves in the season, it seemed as a lot of his appearances have been anything be easy.  It always seemed  like he gave up a home run, or loaded the bases, but usually finding a way to get out of them.  I guess he went to the well one too many times; eventually it would catch up to him, especially against a team like the Angels.  Three runs.

I didn’t expect them to beat Anaheim this postseason, limping into the postseason and definitely after not showing up for the first two games, but avoiding the sweep would have shown a little pride.

And to compound the misery of the Sox fandom, the New York Yankees are showing they are the most dominate team in the playoffs.  After a lackluster start, the Yankees went on an impressive regular season run to finish up with 103 wins.  Even worse is the people producing for them: Jeter (as usual), Teixeira (the guy who the Sox could have signed), and A-Rod.  Rodriguez known for putting up bagels in the postseason, especially when it matters the most (Mr. Unclutch), has been unbelievable (mostly because I can’t believe it).  Six RBIs, game-tying home runs, and all-around clutch hitting.  Is it freedom from his steroids-secret?  Dating Kate Hudson (why Kate, why?)?  Whatever it is, I’m not a fan.

So, maybe this is it.  New York is going to become good while the Boston teams are going to slide.  Giants are good (especially against Oakland’s JV team), the Jets beat the Pats with their screaming fans.  The Sox can’t score a run, the Yankees can’t lose.  The Celtics have one more year with the Big Three, and the Knicks will have enough money to sign LeBron for the 2010 off-season.

Maybe there is something to this Mayan calendar doomsday of 2012.

A-Rod getting screwed by the Players Association, again

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

I just remembered something this morning reading and listening to various outlets discuss Alex Rodriguez’ recent revelation and eventual admittance to using performance-enhancing drugs: The Players Association has screwed over A-Rod.  Again.

First off, the MLBPA did not make A-Rod put the needle into his body, go on cycles, or whatever he did with steroids.  That was completely his own act, and cannot blame anyone for that aspect of this whole issue.

But, that aside, the test and results were supposed to be concealed and kept quiet.  Heck, the list of the 104 culprits was supposed to be used to start the next fire in Donald Fehr’s house.  Instead, something that should have been destroyed by the MLBPA has completely burned Alex’s legacy and name.

The same organization that he had to completely succumb to their wishes for the betterment of all players in that same union.

When the Boston Red Sox were in talks with the Texas Rangers in the 2003-04 offseason, the trade of Manny Ramirez for A-Rod was very close to completion, with Alex agreeing to take a pay cut to the liking of the Red Sox.  That’s how badly he wanted out of Texas: he was willing to lose money.

But then the MLBPA stepped in and practically told Alex that he could not accept a decrease in pay on the current contract, he sided with the union for the sake of all the other players.  (Of course, a short time later, he was traded to the New York Yankees.)

The same union that in recent years has not listened to the players that wanted to have drug testing in place, and protected those that wanted something that would eventually tarnish the name of the game and anyone who plays.

And instead of protecting one of its own, it has now destroyed him.

On a tangent: I feel like this will be the straw that broke the camel’s back on how the union will operate under the current regime.  I think that there could be a new director before the current CBA expires (December of 2011).  The fact that the union can’t protect its players from itself, as well as the whole negative press that is coming from the greats of the past 25 years going down in public flames from steroid usage when they adamantly were against drug testing many years ago is proof enough that changes are coming.

Why Siena’s got a Puncher’s Chance

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

With a respectable 13th seed for a MAAC team, Siena College is pitted against Vanderbilt for a first round match up on Friday.

Of course they’re not supposed to win, and as of now they are a seven point underdog.

But they’re a 13-seed; and sometimes you have to pick one of those weird upsets, right? Since 1985, of the 92 4-against-13 games, 18 of those games have been won by the 13. Twenty percent shot.

Luck aside, Siena’s actually got a decent shot with their speed and ability to convert turnovers into fast break points. If it turns into a running match, I think they’ve got the speed.

And when it comes having a smaller team beat one of the big guys; the “great equalizer” can make a difference.  Maybe Vandy doesn’t have a great night behind the arc while Siena’s drilling them all night.  And yes, there’s going to be a lot of maybes, but that’s how it’s got to be in order for this thing to down.

Sure Vandy is a much better team. Better athletes, better conference, better competition. But their record doesn’t really impress me all that much. Out of conference, they were 15-0 (very good) against some decent teams, and only three away games (plus two neutral-site games).  They never play on the road. And when they do, it’s not that good at 2-6 in conference.

And there are some people out there that seem to like this upset as well: Joe Lunardi of ESPN, and Seth Davis for SI and Clark Kellogg of CBS Sports.

All those reasons, and I’m just a homer.

And I’m hoping that Phil’s Mom picks them; I mean, she’s got to right?  And sure enough, she has them losing in the Elite 8 to Gonzaga.

Siena on ESPN.com

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

Siena on ESPN.com

In the department of “things that only a few people will think it’s cool, but I’m one of them,” I noticed that my alma mater had it’s own tab on the “spotlight” on ESPN.com’s Champ Week page.

Sure, it’ll probably last for an hour or so, and there probably isn’t anyone else besides the alumni of Siena College who would click through to read the story about Tay Fisher. But, man, it’s still kind of cool to me.

The Next Yankee Manager

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

I was listening to a segment of the Mike and Mike in the Morning a few days ago, and Dick Vital, I thought, brought up a pretty interesting point about the firing/handling of Joe Torre by the New York Yankees.  Paraphrasing, he said that it would be interesting if the manager that they choose to replace Torre will get more than a guaranteed-one-year contract.

That would be an interesting twist in the whole matter.

Initially, my take on the offer, which I believe was one year, with an option for a second, at $5MM and an additional $1MM for each round that is made in the playoffs.  The $5MM, alone, is way more than the next manager.  And while it is still a pay cut, which Joe Torre has every right to feel disrespected about based on that fact alone, it’s still a lot of money.  That does show that the Yankees were “serious” about retaining his services, at least for another year.

Here’s the kicker, though: If the Yankees were “serious” about retaining his services, then how come they didn’t negotiate at all.  This can’t be the first time that the New York Yankees have negotiated a contract, is it?  Did they really say that if this is the guy, no matter what, we’re not going to budge an inch.  H-E-double-hockey-sticks, all the guy wanted was one more guaranteed year.  And if you didn’t like his services at the end of the year, they are only out $5MM.

I never knew the Yankees to be so frugal with their cash.