Tagged: Orioles

Number 27

Well, the World Series is over, and the New York Yankees are once again the champions. New York celebrated with a parade yesterday and the presentation of the key to the city.

Congratulations to the Yankees…you were the best team in baseball this year, and you truly deserve this.

ws_trophy.jpegAnyone who has bothered to read about me, or who has read some of the first few posts in this blog, knows that I became a Yankees fan — actually a baseball fan — because of former Orioles and Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina. In the last paragraph of this post, I stated that I knew the Yankees would win because had Mussina retired one year too soon. I was right.

I’ve been thinking about Mussina through the entire postseason, as well as through much of the latter half of the regular season. Earlier in the season, when the Yankees were 0-8 vs. Boston and lost 2 out of 3 games to the 19-46 Nationals, including their only shutout at Yankee Stadium, I admit that I had a few doubts about how this season might turn out! But then I reminded myself that Moose had retired, which meant that the Yankees would, in fact, pull it out and somehow and win it all. I’m pleased that the Yankees won. I didn’t particularly want the Phillies to beat them, nor did I want the Phillies to win the World Series two years in a row regardless of who their opponent was. I’m happy for the “old guys” — Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada — for getting ring #5. I’m happy for Alex Rodriguez, because even though I can’t stand the little fart, he managed to shut out all the distractions and all the crap (self-inflicted, of course), and he just played the game…quite well, in fact. (If he could just learn to simply play ball and keep his mouth shut, he’d be far less insufferable.) And I’m especially happy for Hideki Matsui, who has dealt with his share if injury issues in recent years. His knees may be shot, but his bat was more than enough in Game 6, and his MVP Award is well-deserved. If this turns out to be his final performance for the Yankees, it was one hell of a way to make an exit.

And yet………

I can’t help but feel some pangs of sadness, disappointment, and even some anger over this win…a year too late…actually, eight years too late. The Yankees should have won #27 eight years ago Wednesday night…that horse was long since been bludgeoned to death on my message board, so I don’t really want go there in depth again. In all honesty, those feelings do temper my happiness about Wednesday night’s win. I can’t help it, I won’t make excuses for it, and I won’t apologize for it…that’s just the way it is.

I have no doubt whatsoever that Mussina remains happy and at peace with his decision to retire. But I also remember his comments on WFAN back in February, when he mentioned his disappointment at never having gotten a World Series ring. This just seems to be his lot, considering how many “almosts” he’s had in his career. I’m sure Mike is happy for his former teammates, but I can’t help wondering if he’s feeling a bit of disappointment that #27 came a year too late for him. I know I’m certainly disappointed. I’m sure that it bothers me far more than it bothers him. But I do wonder what he might have been thinking the other night after the Yankees won Game 6. I was thinking, Just his luck…he got there a year too late and left a year too early…….

What can I say…I’m definitely NOT a typical Yankees fan! LOL

More thoughts on the Yankees trying to “buy” a World Series title

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
just right.

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)
  • teamwork
  • 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:

ws_trophy.jpegNope. 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.

0-7 at the beginning, 7-0 at the end

The season is over for the Washington Nationals. In many ways, I agree with this Mets fan about the end of the season finally being here.

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Photo Credit: yahoo.com

It’s been a difficult, frustrating, infuriating, and downright painful season, which began with 7 straight losses. For the second year in a row, the Nationals lost over 100 games. They actually won the same number of games in 2009 as in 2008 (59) but lost one more game (103) this year because their final home game of 2008 was rained out and not rescheduled. (Ironically, the Yankees 2009 regular season record was 103-59.) Needless to say, my prediction of a 75-87 record was way off! So many things went wrong for the Nats in 2009…dreadful pitching (mostly by the bullpen but also by some of the starters)…non-existent offense at times…poor defense and too many errors…even a wardrobe malfunction.

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Photo Credit: DC Sports Bog
Losing Jordan Zimmermann (Tommy John surgery) and Nyjer Morgan (broken hand) were tough blows to deal with as well.

But despite the intense suckitude displayed by the Nationals for most of the 2009 season, there were also some good things that happened this year. In no particular order, some of 2009’s highlights include:

  • Bidding adieu to Jim Bowden and Manny Acta. Bowden was a moron; Acta was not. Acta seemed like a very nice guy, but, quite frankly, he sucked as a manager. Granted, he didn’t have a lot to work with, but that doesn’t change the fact that he was horrednous.
  • A 33-42 (.440) record under interim manager Jim Riggleman
  • Josh Willingham’s 2 grand slams in the 7/27 game vs. Milwaukee.
  • Adam Dunn hitting his 300th career home run (I was at that game).
  • Drafting, and then signing, Stephen Strasburg…and not breaking the bank in the process.

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Photo by me

  • Adam Dunn’s surprising improvement at 1B. He’s definitely not gold-glove caliber (and probably never will be), but his defense has improved. And, if nothing else, he’s a big target at first. His defense at first base is certainly better than it was in left field.
  • The acquistion of Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett. Morgan (a/k/a Tony Plush) in particular provided a tremendous spark, and his presence in the lineup as well as in center field was greatly missed after he went on the DL.
  • Justin Maxwell, who provided two of the greatest moments of the season: stealing a home run away from Baltimore Orioles’ Adam Jones with a phenomenal over-the-wall catch at Nationals Park back in May, and his walk-off home run off of Francisco Rodríguez in the final home game of the season to defeat the Mets, and complete the sweep.
  • Jordan Zimmermann’s MLB debut, and first win, in April. I was there…it was a rainy night, and a lot of people left early, so sticking around for the final out and the win was especially fun. (I hope Zimm2 makes a full recovery from Tommy John surgery and comes back stronger than ever.)
  • John Lannan and Craig Stammen beating the Yankees in June. I felt very conflicted about that series at the time, but in retrospect, that series definitely ended up being one of the most memorable series of the season.
  • Not getting swept by the Red Sox. It’s the little things that mean a lot in a 103-loss season.
  • The 8-game winning streak in August.
  • The 7-game winning streak to end the season.
  • The emergence of John Lannan as the leader of the Nationals pitching staff. People believed that he would fall apart because he doesn’t get a lot of strikeouts and just isn’t dominant enough. His first few starts of the season weren’t good, and he hit a rough patch in August, but came back for a strong finish in September.

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Photo by me

  • Ryan Zimmerman — his 30-game hit streak was easily the biggest highlight of the season…despite some throwing issues early in the season, his defense was gold-glove caliber…and signing him to a 5-year deal ensures that the “face of the franchise” will wear a Nationals uniform for a long time.

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Photo by me

And now, even though the postseason is in full swing, I’m feeling a bit of sadness and withdrawal. Despite another 100+ loss season and all of the agony that went along with it, I’m sad that the Nationals’ season is over. Maybe it’s just the residual good feelings from the end-of-the-season 7-game winning
streak…or maybe it’s the fact that I upgraded the seats in my season
ticket plan (I’ll be behind home plate instead of near the right field
corner)…or perhaps a combination of both. I attended the Nats’ final home game — in which Justin Maxwell hit the walk-off home run — and it was such an incredible way to end the home schedule. But it left me wanting more…more improvement, more wins. If only the Nationals could have played like that more often during the course of the season and had more incredible comebacks like that.

I am full of hope for next year. The 7-game winning streak at the end of the season was a very exciting way to end a miserable season. Granted, those 7 wins came against an awful Mets team and a deflated Braves team that had just been knocked out of wild card contention…it’s not like we swept the Phillies and the Dodgers. Nevertheless, I am very hopeful that 2010 will be better. I’m hopeful that the Nats can get the starting pitcher that they need. I’m hopeful that the Nationals can settle their situation at second base. I’m hopeful that Ian Desmond can continue his maturation process and become a bona fide MLB shortstop. I’m hopeful that Drew Storen can make a successful leap from the minors to the majors next season to help ease the Nationals’ bullpen woes. I’m hopeful that Stephen Strasburg makes it to the big leagues — sooner rather than later — and lives up to the hype surrounding him. I am looking forward to seeing what moves the Nationals make during the offseason, including who the manager will be. I know that whatever the Nats do, they’re not going to go from worst to first in one season…but I am hopeful that there will be a significant improvement. I have to be hopeful…hope is what will keep me reasonably sane between now and next February.

Speaking of February…when do pitchers and catchers report??

Today’s Games

Phillies 6, Nationals 5

I’m actually surprised that the Nationals were able to score that many runs against former Cy Young winner Cliff Lee. Unfortunately, they just didn’t score enough. The Nats made a run late in the game, but it was too little, too late. Basically, it was just more of the usual where the Nats are concerned.

Yankees 4, Rays 2

It was a historic night, as Derek Jeter got three hits to tie Lou Gehrig’s team record of 2,721 career hits. Congrats, Derek! Jorge Posada pinch hit in the 8th inning and got a 3-run home run to lead his team to the victory. Derek will attempt to break Gehrig’s record on Friday against the Orioles, after a day off tomorrow.

Cal Ripken Jr. statue stolen from outside Oriole Park

Some people deserve to be arrested just for being stupid……..

The large statue of Cal Ripken Jr.’s No. 8 was stolen overnight from in
front of the Camden Yards baseball stadium, and Baltimore police said
they have arrested four men who were spotted driving with the statue in
the open bed of a pickup truck on a downtown street….

Police discovered that the theft had been captured on surveillance
video and a lookout was broadcast for a pickup truck….

I don’t claim to be a genius by any stretch of the imagination. But it
doesn’t take a genius to realize that there are probably going to be
security cameras in front of and all around the ballpark.

…About an hour
later, police responded to a call for men acting disorderly at Lombard
and Elwood streets in East Baltimore. When officers arrived, [Baltimore police spokesman Anthony] Guglielmi
said they saw the pickup truck and the No. 8 statue in the back.

“They saw the big No. 8 and knew that was the property,” Guglielmi said….

LINK TO STORY

Yes, of course…by all means, steal a large statue, and then
engage in disorderly conduct in public, with the stolen item in plain
view…in your truck…parked nearby.

Idiots.

Cleaning out the dust and the cobwebs

It’s been a while…over two months, in fact…but I’m back. Real life intruded upon my online time — work issues and personal issues kept my online time limited to just my message board for the most part, but I’m hoping that everything is resolved now, and I’ll be able to make regular contributions to this blog once again.

Let’s see…what has happened since my last blog entry? Well, starting with the Yankees:

With a sweep of the Twins in early July, the Yankees tied the Red Sox for the lead in the AL East for one game, surrendering the lead the very next day with the first of three losses to the Angels. Less than two weeks later, a win over the Orioles pushed the Yankees into another tie for first in the AL East with the Red Sox. The Yankees have been in first place ever since, and despite losing their first eight games against Boston this season, they now hold a 9-game lead over the Red Sox. Since my last blog post, the Yankees have had winning streaks of 7 games three times and an 8 game winning streak, with no losing streaks longer than 3 games.

As for the Nationals:

Joel Suckrahan Hanrahan and Lastings Milledge were traded to the Pirates for Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett, giving the Nationals the centerfielder they’ve needed all season. Manager Manny Acta got the boot just before the All-Star game and was replaced by bench coach Jim Riggleman. Shortly thereafter, the Nationals front office sent a “We admit that we suck, but we’re trying not to suck quite so much” email to all season ticket holders and all fans who purchased Nationals tickets or merchandise online. The Nationals were 6-10 in July after Riggleman took over for Acta, and were 14-15 in August, including an 8-game winning streak in early August. The Nats traded Nick Johnson — the last remaining connection to the Montreal Expos — to the Marlins for minor league pitcher Aaron Thompson. Starting pitchers Scott Olsen, Jordan Zimmermann, Craig Stammen, and Collin Balester were lost for the season to injuries (shoulder surgery for Olsen, Tommy John surgery for Zimmernann, arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone spur int he elbow for Stammen, and an intercostal strain of his left
side for Balester). In need of an innings eater, and/or overtaken by nostalgia, the Nats signed pitcher (and former National) Livan Hernandez after he was released by the Mets. Oh, and the Nationals signed their number 1 draft choice — perhaps you’ve heard of him? — some guy named Stephen Strasburg.

Yep, that about covers it.

Yankees rout Rangers

Outstanding performances from Phil Hughes (3 hits, no runs, 1 walk, and 6 strikeouts over 8 innings) and Alex Rodriguez (5-5, with 4 RBI and 2 runs scored) highlighted the Yankees 11-1 win over the Rangers. A-Rod was booed before each at bat, though the boos obviously didn’t bother him…perhaps they actually motivated him to perform so well. His performance raised his batting average from .189 to .259.

As for Hughes, he pitched a gem. I can’t figure out why Joe Girardi didn’t let him finish the game, since he was obviously pitching so well. I realize that managers tend to limit their young pitchers to about 100 pitches, and Hughes had thrown 101 when he was replaced by Alfredo Aceves for the 9th inning. But he was dealing, and his team was up by 11 runs. It’s not as if the Yankees were ahead by just a run or two, and a possibly tiring Hughes would have given up the lead.

An 11-1 rout is a great way to start a road trip, especially after the nail-biters in the last two games. And this win, combined with the Blue Jays loss to the Orioles, has moved the Yankees past the Blue Jays into second place in the AL East.