Tagged: Phillies

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

A conflict of interests?

A Yankees fan friend of mine said something the other day about TV commentators that absolutely cracked me up. I’m curious to know if anyone else agrees with her opinion.

My friend was talking about a discussion between John Kruk and Bobby Valentine on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight, in which they were making their predictions on who would win the World Series. Kruk said the Phillies would win, while Valentine predicted that the Yankees would win. My friend then stated that ESPN should not allow Kruk to comment on the World Series because “he played for one of the teams in contention.” She said that it is a “conflict of interests.”

Huh? Players who used to play for teams currently involved in the World Series should not be allowed to comment on the series? Seriously? If that’s the case, then ESPN should also not alow Orestes Destrade, Buck Showalter, and Dave Winfield (all former Yankees) to comment on the World Series this year. And MLB Network should not allow former Yankees Al Leiter and Tony Clark, and former Phillies Dan Plesac and Mitch Williams to comment on the World Series either. After all, there might be a “conflict of interests” for those guys too. Oh, and while we’re trying to prevent a so-called conflict of interests, ESPN should prohibit former Yankees beat writer Buster Olney and former Phillies beat writer and Jayson Stark from commenting on this World Series as well. Similarly, MLB Network shouldn’t allow Jon Heyman (former Yankees beat writer), Matt Yallof (who used to work at Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia), and Tom Verducci (co-author of The Yankee Years) to comment on the World Series.

I suppose MLB Network’s Jim Kaat would get a pass and be allowed to comment on this season’s World Series, since he played for both the Yankees and the Phillies. Ditto for Fox’s Tim McCarver. He played for the Phillies and was a Phillies broadcaster, but I’ve been told that he used to be a Yankees broadcaster too. So I guess Fox should continue to allow him to do commentary for the World Series. Or maybe they should both be banned from 2009 World Series commentary, just like the other gentlemen I mentioned above?

What do you think? Should former players be prohibited by national networks (i.e., ESPN, Fox and/or MLB Network) from commenting on the World Series if their former team is currently playing in it? Do you think it’s a conflict of interests if these players offer their thoughts about the World Series? Or…do you think that some fans should stop being paranoid just and let these guys just do their jobs?

The Bronx vs. Broad Street

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For the record, my prediction is the Yankees in 7.

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.

whoa.gifThis should be quite an interesting series.

Oh, by the way:
 
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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.

One more win…and buying championships?

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.

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.

Today’s games

Yankees 3, Rays 2

Nick Swisher’s 2 home runs helped the Yankees beat the Rays…particularly the second home run, which came at the bottom of the 9th with one out and the score tied at 2.

swish.jpg[sarcasm]Don’t you just love Nick’s calm personality?[/sarcasm]

Derek Jeter was hitless, remaining three hits shy of tying Lou Gehrig’s club record of 2,721 career hits.

Phillies 5, Nationals 3

John Lannan pitched 6 strong innings for the Nats, allowing just 1 run on 3 hits. Unfortunately, his 7th inning wasn’t so good; he gave up 2 home runs in the top of the 7th, which gave the Phillies at 4-2 lead. The inning got off to a great start for the Nats with another brilliant defensive play by Ryan Zimmerman on a ground ball from Ryan Howard. Playing near second base on the shift, Zimm dove to make the catch and threw the ball to Adam Dunn in time to get the out at first. But then Lannan gave up those 2 home runs, and the game went downhill from there for the Nats. Another night, another loss. *sigh*

Yankees vs. Nationals — the rubber match

Some ramblings while I’m watching the game…

A couple of weeks ago, I looked into getting a ticket for this game. Since it was scheduled to be a day game, I thought it would be cool to get a ticket, take an early train up to NY from DC, go to the game, and take the train back home at about 6:30-7:00. That would have gotten me back home sometime between midnight and 1 a.m. But I wasn’t able to find an affordable ticket on the Yankees web site, so I gave up on that idea. Fortunately for me, I didn’t think to check StubHub at that time, where I probably would have been able to find something affordable. Why is that fortunate? Because of the 5-hour 26-minute rain delay! By the time this game got underway at about 6:30, I would have been back at Penn Station, either boarding a train or getting ready to board one soon.

Right now, it’s the bottom of the 7th, and the Nationals are leading 3-0. The Yankees have 2 on with 1 out, and Hideki Matsui is at bat. This will be where the Yankees rally and take the lead…not necessarily this inning, but it’ll happen. This is, after all, the Nationals bullpen we’re talking about.

More later…..

Update: Tavarez coming into the game? Get ready, Yankees fans…here comes the rally……

Update: OMG…I hope Brett Gardner will be OK. The MASN commentators are talking about his lower back, but it looked to me like hit his head. Ouch!! Hell of a catch too….

Update: I probably shouldn’t be so negative where the Nationals are concerned, but I’m a realist. I know how bad this team — specifically the bullpen — is. It’s the bottom of the 9th, and they only need 3 outs for a win, but they will find a way to blow it…or the defense will blow it. Not that this would be a bad thing, because the Yankees need to win tonight…..

Update: Umm…WHAT?!?! The Nationals won, 3-0? The Nationals WON??

OMG_shocked.jpgAre you kidding me?!?!?

Once again, the Yankees made a young, unknown pitcher look like Cy Young. Rookie Craig Stammen got his first major league win, pitching a solid 6 and 1/3 innings of shutout baseball, giving up 6 hits with 2 strikeouts. The usually horrendous Nationals bullpen not only protected the lead by not giving up any runs, but Ron Villone, Julian Tavarez, and Joe Biemel didn’t even give up a hit. Mike MacDougal allowed 1 hit. Ryan Zimmerman and Cristian Guzman were 3-5 with 2 and 1 RBI, respectively. Adam Dunn, DH’ing again tonight, was 2-2 with 2 walks. Even the Nationals usually weak defense played well, with a diving catch by Willie Harris that robbed Alex Rodriguez of a hit, and a perfect throw by Austin Kearns from right field to second to get Nick Swisher out.

For the Yankees, Joba Chamberlain surrendered 3 runs in 6 innings, with 6 strikeouts and 3 walks. Alfredo Aceves, Phil Coke, and David Robertson combined to give up just 1 hit and no runs, but the damage was already done. Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher were 2-4; Swisher also grounded into a double play in the 9th inning. Derek Jeter pinch hit for Ramiro Pena with the bases loaded, but the Yankees best threat of the game ended when he grounded into a fielder’s choice. Brett Garner made an excellent catch at the wall to rob Austin Kearns of a hit, crashing into the wall and crumbling to the ground in the process. Considering how his head snapped back and hit the plexiglas wall, he was lucky that he didn’t lose consciousness. I hope he will be OK.

Tonight’s game was the first at Yankee Stadium this season in which no home runs were hit. I guess the baseballs were too wet to leave the park!

I officially suck at making predictions. As I mentioned earlier, I know I shouldn’t be so negative where the Nats are concerned, but I honestly believed that they would not win any of these games. Prior to the series, I thought they might have a slim chance to beat Chien-Ming Wang, but I didn’t expect even two wins, much less a sweep.

(Here goes my split personality again…..)

OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG!!!!! I’m freaking out here…I can’t believe the Nationals — the “lowly Nationals” — beat the Yankees TWICE. Going back to the 2006 Yankees/Nationals interleague series, the Nats are 4-2 vs. the Yankees! Chien-Ming Wang is 0-2 vs. the Nationals. WOW!! Unfreakingbelieveable! Maybe this will be a turning point for the team, and they will play more respectably for the rest of the season. If nothing else, it’s got to be a confidence builder!

WTF is wrong with the Yankees?! How is it possible that they lost this series to the worst team in baseball…one of the worst teams EVER?! It’s pathetic. A-Rod was 0-the series. The entire team is in a slump — great timing, to be slumping against a team that hasn’t even won 20 games by mid-June. If the Red Sox win again tonight, the Yankees will fall 4 games back in the division. Hell, the Blue Jays have swept the Phillies, so they’re breathing down our necks. This sucks!!! SNAP OUT OF IT, YANKEES!!

Jeez…what a series.yanksnatsbigapple.gif

Saturday, 5/30

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!

ugly.gifAs 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.

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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!
thumbs_up.gifOh, 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……
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Friday’s action

Phillies 5, Nationals 4

Despite taking an early 1-0 lead over the Phillies on Josh Willingham’s solo home run in the second inning, the Nationals lost their 34th game of the season, 5-4, on Friday night. Ross Detweiler had a rough night, giving up 5 runs on 10 hits in 4 innings. To their credit (and my shock!), the 5 members of the Nationals bullpen who pitched in relief of Detweiler did not give up any additional runs. Too bad Detweiler himself happened to pitch like crap.

A lot of Nationals fans have complained in blogs and on message boards that manager Manny Acta doesn’t care about winning…that losing doesn’t seem to bother him. I’m not a mind-reader, so I can’t get into his head to know what he’s really thinking. I’m sure the losing bothers him…he just doesn’t show it. I wish he would show it…I wish he’d get angry now and then. I’m not talking about an Earl Weaver-esque rant or rampage, but just show some fire. Maybe the team might pick up on it and show some fire themselves.

Frankly, even if Acta does start to show some fire and sparks, it will be too little, too late. The time has come for Acta to go. I realize that it’s not Acta who is leaving those runners on base, giving up those walks and home runs, and committing those errors. But the entire team cannot be fired, so someone has to take the blame when a team performs as poorly as the Nationals have performed. Unfortunately, the manager is the one to take the blame.

The Diamondbacks fired Bob Melvin on May 7th, when their record was 12-17. After they had played 29 games, the Nationals record was 10-19. The Rockies fired Clint Hurdle yesterday, when their record was 18-28. After they had played 46 games, the Nationals record was 13-33. I’m guessing that the only reason why Acta still has a job is because the Nationals still just have an acting GM. And I’ve heard talk on Nationals blogs and message boards that the Nats will not make a decision about their GM until after the June draft. So for the near future, we Nationals fans will just have to continue dealing with Acta’s mismanagement of his pitching staff and bullpen, and his seemingly lackidasical attitude towards all of the errors, poor pitching, and losing.


Yankees 3, Indians 1

On the other hand, the Yankees defeated the Indians yesterday, 3-1. The good news is that the win moved the Yankees into sole posession of first place in the AL East; the bad news is that Andy Pettitte was taken out of the game in the 6th inning because of a strained back. It doesn’t appear to be anything serious, and he’ll probably be able to make his next start. But Andy isn’t as young as he used to be, and those aches and pains do come along more easily and more often.

Jorge Posada came off the DL and re-joined the Yankees lineup. He was 2-3 with a walk and a strikeout. Hip hip Jorge!