And Alex Rodriguez’s hit was definitely a home run. Considering what a crappy job the umpires have been doing in the postseason, I’m surprised that they got this call right.
Anyway…it’s been an entertaining series so far. The story of the series so far, IMO, has been the pitching. The battle of the former Indians in Game 1 was a beauty. CC Sabathia pitched well; Cliff Lee, however, was brilliant. And his behind-the-back catch in the 8th inning was incredible! Game 2 was a bit of a surprise…I definitely didn’t expect A.J. Burnett to outpitch Pedro Martinez. I can’t stand Pedro. He’s an arrogant, obnoxious a-hole. (He’s also a coward who thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to grab the head of a man who is more than twice his age and throw him to the ground…but I digress….) I must admit, however, that Pedro’s resurgence has been quite amazing, considering that his right arm seemed like it was going to fall off just a few years ago. The Yankees may have been Pedro’s daddy in 2004, but I didn’t think that would be the case again. And it wasn’t at first…after all, Pedro did shut up the “who’s your daddy” chants early in the game, and he did strike out 8 Yankees. But Burnett pitched a gem. Tonight’s game has been a good one so far, with the Phillies taking the initial lead and then the Yankees going ahead. Jayson Werth just hit his second home run of the night. Exciting stuff!
Many years ago, I read some comments about New York sports fans compared to Philadelphia sports fans in (I believe) Sports Illustrated. I don’t recall the context of the article itself, just the following comparison of New York and Philadelphia sports fans: New York sports fans will boo anything, including funerals. Philadelphia sports fans don’t boo funerals…they cheer them.
This should be quite an interesting series.
Oh, by the way:
I mentioned here that I’m already hearing comments about the Yankees “buying” (or, at least, trying to “buy”) a World Series title. And if you look at it objectively, just from the point of view of total payroll and revenues, then you should be able to understand why some people feel that way. Of course, understanding is not the same thing as agreeing. The reality is that it takes more than just money to win the World Series. Yes, a high payroll team like the Yankees can afford to sign the Sabathias and the Teixeiras. But that doesn’t mean that those expensive players will be the right pieces to the puzzle. Randy Johnson had a much lower postseason ERA when he signed with the Yankees than CC Sabathia did when he came to New York, but so far this postseason, CC has performed far better than the Big Unit did in his postseason starts in pinstripes. An expensive puzzle is just junk if the pieces don’t fit together, but
an inexpensive puzzle can be a work of art when all of the pieces fit
I’ve been thinking about this a bit more, and I’ve done a bit of research. Take a look at the World Series winners since the Yankees last won, and their total payrolls for those years*:
2001 Diamondbacks – 8th highest payroll
2002 Angels – 15th highest payroll
2003 Marlins – 6th lowest payroll (only the Indians, Padres, Brewers, Royals, and Rays had a lower payroll)**
2005 White Sox – 13th highest payroll
2006 Cardinals – 11th highest payroll
2008 Phillies – 12th highest payroll
Look at that list…only one of those teams was in the top ten for highest payrolls in the year that they won the World Series. By contrast, the 2004 and 2007 Red Sox had the 2nd highest payrolls behind the Yankees.
The Yankees have had MLB’s highest payroll every season except one since their mid-90’s “dynasty” began in 1996. The only season they didn’t have the highest payroll was, ironically, in 1998 when they had one of their best seasons ever. (The Baltimore Orioles had MLB’s highest payroll in 1998…and finished 4th in the AL East, 35 games out of first place.)
What does this prove? Money (i.e., one of the top payrolls in MLB) can help a team to sign the players it may need to be successful, but it doesn’t necessarily help to “buy” a World Series title. Winning takes more than money…that’s a fact that the Yankees have certainly proven for the last 8 years. It takes:
- good players (some of whom do make the most money, and some of whom do not)
- team chemistry (some people roll their eyes at that…I think those people are fools)
- and often, a little bit of luck
By the way, it should be noted that the 1997 Florida Marlins — whom many people (including me) have used as an example of a team that “bought” its World Series title — had the 7th highest total payroll in 1997. The Marlins did bring in a lot of players from outside the organization (free agency, trades, whatever) for the sole purpose of winning a World Series, and then gutted the team over the next two seasons because they could no longer afford to keep their best players. But even they did not have the highest payroll in baseball that season…nor were they even ranked in the top 5 as far as total team payrolls were concerned in 1997.
Does having lots of revenue and a high payroll help a team to be successful? It can. Does it guarantee that a team will win this:
Nope. There are no guarantees. Even a commanding lead in a LCS doesn’t guarantee that a team will get to the World Series, much less win it. Just ask the 2004 Yankees.
* Source: USA Today Baseball Salaries Database
** Note: one other source — baseballchronolgy.com — ranked the 2003 Marlins as having the 5th lowest payroll; the Indians were ranked higher.
The Yankees are one win away from facing the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series.
I’m not getting too excited just yet…I still remember 2004…so I will refrain from any hearty celebrating until after the Yankees have win #4.But Tuesday’s 10-1 win had to have been pretty demoralizing for the Angels. I’m not sure if they can come back from the 3 games to 1 deficit after a loss like that.
I’ve already started hearing comments about how the Yankees have bought a(nother) World Series title. Never mind the fact that the Yankees haven’t won the ALCS yet. If CC Sabathia continues pitching the way he’s been pitching, and especially if
Mark Teixeira gets hot and contributes towards an ALCS, or World Series, win,
I expect those comments to get louder and more frequent.
In all honesty, I can understand where those comments are coming from.
Only a few other teams can approach the revenue coming in to the Yankees. And the Yankees are obviously not shy about spending those millions to improve their team. The reality is that no other team could have spent over $420 dollars on three free agents last offseason.
There’s a lot of whining and complaining about the Yankees payroll. Yes, it’s massive…but the Yankees have done nothing illegal by spending so much money. They operate within the guidelines of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. And the fact is that if other teams had similar amounts of revenue, they would do exactly as the Yankees have done, which is spend as much money as necessary to build a winner.
Does the Yankees revenue give them an unfair advantage? Of course it does. To claim otherwise is just naive. Other teams can’t compete with that kind of money. But if you look at some of the World Series winners in the last 9 years — since the Yankees’ last World Series title — you would see that some of the winners have payrolls considerably lower than the Yankees. Money definitely helps when a team is trying to build a winner, but it doesn’t guarantee success.
If the Yankees do manage to win the World Series, then Yankees fans need to prepare themselves for the barrage of claims that the Yankees had bought yet another World Title. Such claims are understandable. Wrong, but understandable.
Another long gap between blog posts. I really didn’t intend to let a month pass between mylast post and this one…but life happens.
The regular season is over, and the Yankees are once again the AL East champions. The irony of this title is the fact that it was clinched with a sweep of the Red Sox, against whom the Yankees were 0-8 at one point this season. The Yankees ended up splitting the season series with Boston.
The ALDS had the potential to be a fierce battle.
The Twins had made a ferocious comeback against the Tigers at the end of the season, winning 5 of their last 8 games against Detroit, including a wild one-game playoff, to win the AL Central title. But that last game may have been a bit too much for the Twins…or maybe it’s just the Yankees that are too much for the Twins. The Yankees are up 2 games to none in the ALDS, thanks to a 9th inning home run by Alex Rodriguez to tie Game 2 and an 11th inning home run by Mark (The $180,000,000 Man) Teixeira in Friday’s game.
So much for a fierce battle. Now it looks like the only “battle” will be to see which Yankee ends the ALDS with the most RBIs — Derek Jeter, Teixeira or Rodriguez.
I must admit that I had some concerns about the Yankees, going into the ALDS. With the exception of the 2004 ALDS — ironically enough, vs. the Twins — A-Rod’s postseason performances as a Yankee had been pretty horrendous. CC Sabathia’s recent postseason performances had been less than stellar as well. Both have eased my concerns…in a big way.
I am very confident that the Yankees will win the World Series this year. My confidence is based partly on how the team itself has performed this season, and partly on the fact that Mike Mussina retired. Stay with me here, people…if you have read my profile here at MLBlogs, then you know I became a Yankees fan when Mussina signed with the Yankees on November 30, 2000. After Mariano Rivera’s blown save ended the 2001 World Series, I wondered if Mussina had joined the Yankees a year too late to be a part of the “Dynasty.” When Moose retired without having gotten a World Series ring, I wondered if he left a year too early. It would be just Mike’s luck to retire the year before the Yankees not only return to the postseason but also the year before they finally win another World Series.
The Yankees lost to the Marlins on Sunday, 6-5, and more importantly, lost starter CC Sabathia when he left the game in the 2nd inning with tightness in his left biceps.He didn’t seem to think it was anything serious, saying that he’d felt tightness between starts before.
Joe Girardi filed an official protest with the commissioners office on Monday over a Marlins a double switch substitution mix-up in the 8th inning. We’ll see what, if anything, comes from that protest.
Alex Rodriguez had reserved approximately 100 tickets for family and friends in his return to his hometown, but he didn’t give them much to see, going 1-4 with two strikeouts. He did hit a 2-run single in the 3rd inning, but he also struck out to lead off the 9th inning.
I’m betting that the Yankees will be thrilled to see the end of interleague play for this season.
EDIT: I forgot to include the standings last night…must’ve been too sleepy! LOL
Current AL East Standings:
W L Pct GB
Boston Red Sox 42 27 .609 —
New York Yankees 38 31 .551 4.0
Toronto Blue Jays 38 38 .535 5.0
Tampa Bay Rays 37 34 .521 6.0
Baltimore Orioles 32 37 .464 10.0
OK, I wore my Mussina Yankees jersey and my Nationals cap for this game. I was ready for whatever would happen tonight!
My prediction about the score of tonight’s game was wrong…and CC Sabathia didn’t pitch a complete game…and it wasn’t Kip Wells who replaced Shairon Martis. But I was right about Martis pitching well — I certainly didn’t expect him to leave the game with a lead. And I was definitely right about his effort being wasted when the Nats bullpen entered the game. Ironically, Ron Villone was the last pitcher I expected to give up the lead, since he has pitched quite well for the Nationals this season. Oh, and I absolutely did not expect Anderson Hernandez to hit that home run — just the second of his MLB career — off of Sabathia. My jaw nearly hit the floor when that thing left the park! I knew that 1-run lead wouldn’t last…and I was right.
Overall, this game turned out better than I thought it would. I really expected a blowout, so I’m pleased that the Nationals were not humiliated, and I’m pleased that the Yankees won to keep pace with the Red Sox, who defeated the Marlins.
One down…two to go………
OK…this is it…well, almost it…one more day until the Yankees/Nationals 3 game interleague series at Yankee Stadium. I’m still going slightly bonkers over this series, trying to decide if I should root for one team over the other, or just cheer for both teams and not care about the outcome. Should I happen to take leave of my senses and root for the Nationals over the Yankees in this series, it would be completely irrelevant. Why? Because I am 99.9 percent sure that the Yankees will easily sweep this series, and at least one of the games will closely resemble yesterday’s Yankees/Mets blowout for the Yankees. I suspect this series will be quite an(other) ugly one for the Nationals.
Without further ado, here are my predictions for this series.
Tuesday, June 16 — CC Sabathia vs. Shairon Martis
My prediction: Yankees 12, Nationals 1.
While with the Brewers, Sabathia shut out the Nats last August, 5-0. Either Ryan Zimmerman or Adam Dunn will hit a solo home run early in the game for the Nationals, and then Sabathia will shut down the Nats offense and pitch a complete game. Martis will pitch well for 5 innings, keeping the score fairly close. With the Yankees leading, Martis will be replaced by Kip Wells, who will give up 5 or 6 runs…and the rout will be on.
Wednesday, June 17 — Chien-Ming Wang vs. John Lannan
My predicition: Yankees 7, Nationals 4.
This could be the final test for Wang. If he pitches poorly against the Nationals, his future in pinstripes could be in serious jeopardy. If the Nationals manage to win a game in this series, this wwould be the game they win. But it’s not gonna happen. Wang will miraculously pitch well for a full 7 innings. Lannan will pitch very well for 6 innings but get very little run support, and then the Nationals bullpen will once again implode, allowing the Yankees to cruise to a victory.
Thursday, June 18 — Joba Chamberlain vs. Craig Stammen
My prediction: Yankees 8, Nationals 5.
For some reason, I have a feeling there will be some hit batters on both sides, and a bench clearing push-and-shove (as opposed to a bench clearing brawl — no punches thrown, just some pushing snd shoving). Someone on the Nationals will have a hissy fit over Chamberlain’s post-strikeout gesticulations, batters will be hit, and minor mayhem will follow. The umpires will shoo everyone back to their respective dugouts, and the Yankees will complete the sweep.
As Forrest Gump would say, that’s all I have to say about that.
Phillies 9, Nationals 6
Once again, the Nationals took the early lead over the Phillies, when Josh Willingham and Alberto Gonzalez scored on a Wil Nieves double, and then Nieves scored on an Anderson Hernandez single. But Ryan Howard hit two home runs, including a grand slam, to lead the Phillies over the Nats. Shairon Martis got his first loss of the season, after a poor performance in which he surrendered 7 runs on 7 hits, including the 2 homers to Howard, in just 4 innings. Shockingly, the 6 Nationals relievers who followed Martis did not give up any earned runs; Mike MacDougal — recently called up from Triple A Syracuse — had two unearned runs thanks to an error from Anderson Hernandez. How ironic and frustrating that when the bullpen finally seems to be pitching a bit better, the starting pitching falls apart!
As if ANOTHER loss isn’t bad enough, it looks like Jesus Flores will be out for a lot longer than expected. He had been scheduled to return from the disabled list this weekend, but he has suffered a setback in his recovery from a shoulder injury. Jesus experienced some pain in his shoulder. His shoulder has been examined by the Nationals team physician, and he’ll be examined by orthopedist James Andrews on Monday. This does not sound good at all…I am worried.
Yankees 10, Indians 5
There were 4 home runs hit in this game…and it wasn’t even played at Yankee Stadium!
Jorge Posada (HIP HIP JORGE!) and Nick Swisher hit home runs for the Yankees, while Grady Sizemore and Shin-Soo Choo hit home runs for the Indians. Jorge had just one hit for the night, but he made it count!
CC Sabathia had a no-hitter going into the 5 inning against his former team. Choo broke up that no-no with a single in the bottom of the 5th. For the night, CC allowed 3 runs on five hits, with 3 walks and 8 strikeouts in 7 innings of work. Even without a no-hitter, it was a pretty good way to return to Cleveland. Good job, big guy!
Oh, and it should be noted that this was the 16th consecutive errorless game for the Yankees. That is one short of the MLB record set by the Red Sox in June 2006. That deserves another thumbs up……
Is interleague play really necessary anymore? In my opinion, the novelty has worn off. It was fun at first, but it’s just not as interesting as it initially was. This weekend, in particular — with some of the so-called “rivalries” games — was just…well, boring. Was anyone other than the fans of the respective teams really interested in the result of the series between the last place Nationals and the last place Orioles, or the result of the series between the last place A’s and the next-to-last place Diamondbacks? Of course, last place teams in each league do play other last place teams within their own leagues, but those aren’t hyped the way interleague series are hyped.
Another reason why I’m no longer a big fan of interleague play is because it creates a major, and possibly dangerous, disadvantage for AL teams when they play in NL ballparks. Thanks to the lack of a DH in the AL, pitchers don’t normally have to bat, and therefore aren’t used to running the bases. At best, they risk tiring sooner than they normally would; at worst, they risk injury. Remember, it was during interleague play last year when Chien-Ming Wang’s season ended due to a foot injury suffered while running the bases.
Fans generally still seem to enjoy interleague play, as evidenced by the fact that attendence rises for it. I googled “interleague play” tonight out of curiosity, and I found an article showing that ballplayers apparently are far less fond of interleague play than fans. According to Jayson Stark at ESPN.com:
Players we surveyed this week told Rumblings they would estimate the number of players who dislike interleague play is somewhere in the neighborhood of 70-75 percent.
Stark mentions several of the players’ complaints regarding interleague play, most of which make a lot of sense, IMO.
One suggestion made by a ballplayer caught my attention in that ESPN.com article.
Phillies pitcher Chad Durbin proposed an idea we’ve campaigned for forever: “Use the visiting team’s league rules,” he said. “Show the fans something unique.”
I think that’s pretty interesting. It would definitely be unique.
What do you think? Do you still find interleague play fun and/or interesting?
Yankees vs. Phillies
The home run total at the Bronx Bandbox increased by 12 during the weekend interleague series between the Yankees and the Phillies — 6 by each team — as the Yankees lost 2 of 3 games to the Phillies. There have been 87 home runs already at Yankee Stadium, and it’s not even at the end of May. Just imagine how the home runs will be flying out of the park once the temperature and humidity go up later in the season!
Friday: the Yankees lost, 7-3, in a game that included a total of 7 home runs. The testosterone level on the field skyrocketed on the field in the 1st inning when Brett Myers threw a pitch behind Derek Jeter, in obvious retaliation after A.J. Burnett hit Chase Utley in the shoulder. The plate umpire then warned both dugouts. Personally, I think it’s ridiculous to throw a pitch at a batter. If you hit him, you give the opposing team a baserunner, and you risk injuring him. Why not just have the pitcher and hitter drop their pants, whip it out to see which one is bigger, and then get on with the game.
Chien-Ming Wang was activated before the game, replaced Burnett in the 7th inning. He threw 51 pitches, giving up 2 runs (including a home run) on 6 hits. His pitches had more velocity, but his location was off a bit. Maybe he’s just rusty?
Saturday: the Yankees were victorious in a 5-4 come from behind win. Those 9th inning comebacks seem to be becoming a Yankees trademark this season. Oh, and “only” 4 home runs were hit in that game.
Sunday: the Yankees lost, 4-3, in 11 innings, before a crowd of 46,986. That’s the largest Yankee Stadium crowd since opening day. Melky Cabrera did his best to be the hero for the second night in a row, hitting a game-tying single in the 9th inning. But it wasn’t meant to be…no wild celebration for the Yankees after this game. CC Sabathia pitched very well, allowing just 3 runs on 9 hits over 8 innings. But with two outs and the score tied in the 11th inning, Brett Tomko walked Chase Utley, and after Utley stole second, Carlos Ruiz doubled to score Utley. The Yankees were unable to score in the bottom of the 11th.
Interleague play resumes for the Yankees on June 12th, vs. the Mets at Yankee Stadium.
Nationals vs. Orioles
The Battle of the Beltways — i.e., the interleague series between the Nationals and the Orioles — wasn’t quite as much of a snoozer as I thought it would be. Yes, both teams stink, and the games probably held very little interest for anyone other than Nats or O’s fans. But the Nationals starting pitchers had very good games on Friday and Saturday, although the usually prolific offense fell asleep on those nights in losses to the Orioles. However, the offense woke up in time to bail out a less than spectacular effort from Sunday’s starter to prevent a sweep.
Friday: the Nationals lost, 4-2 in 12 innings. Jordan Zimmermann had the longest start of his young career, allowing 2 runs on 6 hits over 7 innings. Zimm2 walked 1, struck out 7, and gave up a home run. But the Nationals offense took the night off, scoring just 2 runs (on Ryan Zimmerman’s 4th inning homer, with Nick Johnson on 1st). It would be easy to blame the bullpen again for this loss…but if the offense had not fallen asleep, the game’s outcome might have been different.
Saturday: I was at this game, a 2-1 loss, getting to see Ross Detweiler for myself. He did not disappoint, with a 6 inning, 1 hit and 1 run performance. Justin Maxwell sparkled on defense with an outstanding catch above and over the wall in centerfield, robbing Brian Roberts of a home run. Julian Tavarez gave up a run in the 7th to give the Orioles a lead that they never lost. The Nats’ normally porous bullpen prevented the Orioles from scoring additional runs, but for the second night in a row, the Nationals offense took the night off. Another game…another loss. Ho hum.
Sunday: I was at this game as well, an 8-5 victory to avoid the sweep. Shairon Martis did not have his A-game, but his offense finally woke up and let him off the hook. His defense helped him out as well…in particular, a leaping catch in front of the out-of-town scoreboard in right field by Austin Kearns, robbing Nick Markakis of a hit in the first inning. Martis also helped himself out with an RBI single in the 5th inning, scoring Wil Nieves to tie the score at 3. Adam Dunn got it done with 2 homers, including a grand slam in the 7th inning after the Orioles intentionally walked Ryan Zimmerman to get to Dunn. Anderson Hernandez added to the defensive highlights with a spectacular diving catch of a Brian Roberts line drive in the 8th inning. Wonder of wonders, Ron Villone, Joe Beimel, and Joel Hanrahan combined to shut down the Orioles over the last 3 innings — no hits, no walks, no runs. Amazing!!
Interleague play resumes for the Nationals on June 12th at Tampa Bay.
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again…I am not a typical Yankee fan by any means, and I truly enjoy a Yankees victory over the Orioles more than a Yankees victory over the Red Sox. Tonight, the Yankees made me very happy by routing the Orioles, 9-1, for their 7th straight win. CC Sabathia’s third start of the season vs. the Orioles wasn’t quite as dominating as his second start (complete game shutout on May 8th), but it was still very good. The big fella pitched 7 strong innings, giving up just 1 run on 3 hits, with a walk and 7 strikeouts. Brian Bruney and Brett Tomko each pitched 1 perfect inning to close out the win.
Just as he did in his first game of the season, also against the Orioles, Alex Rodriguez had only one hit — a home run. This was the fourth straight game in which he hit a home run. Mark Teixeira also hit a home run. I guess he figured that since Orioles fans insist on booing him, he might as well give them a real reason to do so!
Orioles’ rookie pitcher Brad Bergesen had been wearing jersey number 64, but he changed his number ro 35 before the game. Not surprisingly, considering the way my mind works, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was any significance in the Orioles giving Bergesen the number 35 before the Yankees game; former Orioles and Yankees pitch Mike Mussina wore the number 35. (I doubt that there was any significance at all to this change…I think I’m just paranoid.)
All in all, and great game and a great win!
Now that the Orioles have come to Yankee Stadium, it will be interesting to see what happens on Thursday, when they will face Joba Chamberlain. Back on the 10th in Baltimore, Aubrey Huff hit a home run off of Chamberlain and set off a firestorm of criticism from Yankees fans when he pretty much mocked Joba Chamberlain’s post strikeout gesticulations as he ran the bases. Huff emphatically pumped his fist after rounding first base and pumped it even more emphatically after crossing home plate. I’ve seen Yankees fans comment in blogs and on message boards that Huff went over the line and was showing up Chamberlain. Apparently, Chamberlain’s enthusiastic post strikeout antics get on opponents’ nerves, so Huff seemed to decide that Chamberlain deserved a taste of his own medicine.
I think Huff is an idiot in general, but I must admit to being amused by (a) what he did, and (b) the fact that so many Yankees fans are so ticked off about it. While I do like Chamberlain’s enthusiasm as much as anyone, I can also understand why some players feel that he’s “showing up” the opposition when he does that stuff on the mound. I suspect that Huff’s fist pumps are something that a lot of other players would like to do…he just had the chutzpah to actually do it. Was Huff over the line? Yep. Was he trying to make a statement with what he did? You betcha. I do think that he (or a teammate) will pay for it with a fastball in the ribs at some point during this series. After all, these guys may be grown men, but they’re making a living playing a child’s game, and therefore often act like children.
I can’t help but wonder how Yankee fans would react if it was Josh Beckett rather than Joba Chamberlain who got so animated after his strikeouts, and if it was Nick Swisher who put on a Huff-like display following a HR off Beckett, I guarantee that most Yankee fans would be singing a different tune about it. I bet Swish would have gotten a standing ovation at Yankee Stadium! It’s OK for OUR GUY do this but it’s but not OK if YOUR GUY does it. Sports fans in general are pretty hypocritical that way…it’s really rather amusing.