October 2009

We are ALL tied!…

I knew it!…


Jim McIsaac/Getty Images


I was afraid that Cliff Lee would dominate the Yankees in Game 1 of the World Series.  He has always pitched very well against the Yanks, and he won the very first game in the new Yankee Stadium in April while a member of the Cleveland Indians.


Associated Press


Lee’s performance was masterful and he deserves all accolades for a job well done.  Of course, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have Chase Utley as your second baseman.


Jim McIsaac/Getty Images


The Phillies’ 6-1 victory took away home field advantage from the Yankees and leveled and the playing field.

I was stunned at the trading deadline when the Phillies acquired Lee from the Indians.  Everybody had been talking about Roy Halladay of the Toronto Blue Jays and the Phillies quietly dropped an ace into their starting rotation.  I had wanted the Yankees to upgrade the #5 pitching slot.  They did acquire the San Diego Padres’ Chad Gaudin but I’d hardly call that a major move.  Even the Los Angeles Angels were able to acquire a stud for their rotation with the acquisition of the Tampa Bay Rays’ Scott Kazmir.  The Philles had signed free agent Pedro Martinez a few days earlier.  Pedro was another pitcher that I felt the Yankees should have pursued, but they were never a player.  I can so clearly remember hoping that the moves wouldn’t come back to haunt the Yankees.  Well, it is now October, and the moves are staring us straight in the face…


Cat-CatStaringFirstToBlinkLoses.jpg Cat - Cat Staring, First To Blink Loses image by Fredcat


Fortunately, Game 2 was a reversal of fortune.  Early on, it was a great pitching duel between the Yankees’ A.J. Burnett and the Phillies’ Pedro Martinez.  It had the “feel” of an old Yankees-Red Sox game.  Hmmm, I wonder what my friend Julia is doing these days?  Probably watching Celtic basketball.  Nevertheless, Burnett was stellar, while Pedro gave up homers to Mark Teixeira and later Hideki Matsui.


Chris McGrath/Getty Images


The Yankees added a run in the 7th inning before a botched call by the umpires cost the Yanks the possibility for more runs.  With one out (why the heck was Derek Jeter bunting with two strikes???!!!), Johnny Damon hit a liner at Ryan Howard.  The runner at first (Jorge Posada) had broken for second and would have made it safely on an errant throw.  However, the ump called it a double play when Posada was tagged since they ruled Damon had lined out to Howard.  Subsequently, replays showed that the ball had one-hopped into Howard’s glove so the runners should have been safe at first and second.  I hate it when the umpires are in position to decide a game…


Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images


Burnett was pulled after 7 magnificent innings.  Manager Joe Girardi wasted no time in going with legendary closer Mariano Rivera.  I thought it was a bit premature, but after a few bumps and bruises but no runs, the Yankees had emerged with a 3-1 victory.  The win tied the Series at one game apiece.

The Series now heads for Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia on Saturday.  Andy Pettitte versus last year’s post-season ace Cole Hamels.



For the record, sitting Nick Swisher was an excellent move even if Swish didn’t agree.  His bat could be likened to the Artic Front.  He was replaced by Jerry Hairston, Jr.

I am glad that George Steinbrenner has been able to watch the games at Yankee Stadium.  Given the decline in his health, you never know if this will be his final World Series appearance.  I hope not…


Kathy Willens/AP


“It’s great to see Pedro Martinez on the stage again” – ESPN Analyst Chris Berman


Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

I don’t disagree, but I am still glad that he didn’t get the win…

In the post game press conference, Pedro said, “If I played for the Yankees, I’d be the King”.  The comment was made in response to the boos he received as he walked off the field, but he’s probably right…

For All The Marbles…

Friend or Foe?…



Unfortunately, when Cliff Lee faces CC Sabathia on Wednesday night, they’ll have to put their close friendship aside and wage a battle of Champions.  Lee and Sabathia were teammates in Cleveland and are very close. 




When the new Yankee Stadium opened on April 16th, the winning pitcher was Lee in a matchup against Sabathia.  On that day, Sabathia struggled with his command and was gone long before the bullpen imploded by allowing 9 runs in the 7th inning.  Lee wiggled in and out of trouble but avoided any damage in the 9-2 victory by the Cleveland Indians.  Jose Veras (remember him?) was the loser, so there are no chances of a repeat performance by the same guys.  But note to Joe Girardi, stay away from Damaso Marte…far away!


Jason Szenes/EPA


So, Cliff Lee gets the honor of being the starting pitcher for the opposing team in the new Yankee Stadium for both the first regular season and first World Series.  This will definitely be a future trivia question on Julia‘s website!

This will be a very tough World Series.  The Philadelphia Phillies have a very strong rotation, led by mid-season acquisition Lee.  The staff also features former Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez, last year’s ace performer Cole Hamels, and former A’s pitcher Joe Blanton.  And, oh yeah, there’s a young guy in the pen who’s not too bad, J.A. Happ.  So, clearly, the Phillies are loaded with starting pitching and long relief.  Fortunately, the bullpen is vulnerable so they do have an Achilles heel.




The bats, up and down the lineup, are strong.  I like the way you can mention Jimmy Rollins as an after-thought…um, not really.  That’s scary to think that if you managed to get by Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, you still have guys like Rollins, Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth, Raul Ibanez, and others ready to do damage.   There aren’t really any weaknesses in the lineup, and if the Yankees had trouble trying to get the Angels’ Jeff Mathis out…



The Yankees will see former adversary Pedro Martinez in Game 2.  The decision apparently came about given the history that Martinez has in New York against the Yankees, whereas Cole Hamels, the Game 3 starter, has been better at home this year.  Still, at the beginning of the year, I never dreamed that Pedro would be starting the second game of the World Series…of course, I sure that he didn’t either.  Nevertheless, this is no longer Pedro in his prime, but the question will be which A.J. Burnett shows up.  Hopefully, we’ll have a classic pitcher’s duel, with the game decided in late inning, walk-off, pie-in-your-face fashion!


Ezra Shaw/Getty Images


I am glad that the Yankees have home field advantage for this one.  I guess I’ve never been so glad that the American League won the All-Star Game as I have this year.  I never dreamed when I moved from Wilmington, DE to the Bay Area in California in July that the Yankees would be facing the “local” team in the World Series.  It would be a very exciting time in Wilmington at the local sports bars.  I was there last year when the Phillies won the World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays, and it was a very exciting time for the Philly fans.  But this is a new year and it’s time for the Yankees’ 27th World Championship!


Why was former Washington Nationals manager Manny Acta in such demand?  Granted, I don’t know much about Acta, however, his record in Washington wasn’t exactly stellar and of course, he lost his job for a reason.  However, that didn’t stop the Houston Astros and Cleveland Indians from actively pursuing his services.  The winner, ultimately, was the Cleveland Indians.  The Astros, in turn, went with their second choice, Boston Red Sox bench coach Brad Mills.  No offense but I think the Astros got the better end of the deal.  Plus, it’s always a good thing to see Red Sox losses!  J



Brett Comer/Houston Chronicle


If 2010 is truly the final year for Dodgers manager Joe Torre (the end of his contract), I wonder if he’ll move hitting coach Don Mattingly to the bench or at least third base if he is the likely successor.




Well, how many hours until the first pitch?…😉




2009 American League Champions…

Good pitching beats good hitting…



Kathy Willens/AP



So goes the old adage, but clearly, the Yankees are headed for the World Series because of their pitching.  Carsten Charles Sabathia is probably the one who is most responsible, although Mark Teixeira’s defense is not too far behind.



Kathy Willens/AP


The Yankees eliminated the Los Angeles Angels 5-2 on Sunday night to win Game 6 and capture the American League Championship. 


It was vintage Andy Pettitte, and he showed why he’ll be fondly remembered as one of the great lefty pitchers in Yankee history.  He’ll be making his 8th World Series appearance (7th as a Yankee). 


There were a few in-game decisions by manager Joe Girardi that did surprise me…


I didn’t expect to see Andy Pettitte come back out to pitch the 7th inning.  He retired the first hitter, Howie Kendrick, on a line out, but departed after the next batter, Juan Rivera, singled.  Joba Chamberlain finished the inning unscathed. 


I was also surprised when Girardi went with Mariano Rivera in the 8th rather than Phil Hughes.  I realize that Hughes was partly responsible for the Angels’ comeback in Game 5, but I still think that was because of the momentum given to them by the previous pitcher in that game, Damaso Marte.  My only concern was the availability of Rivera to pitch in a possible Game 7.  Nevertheless, Mo showed why he’ll be a first ballot Hall of Famer at the end of the day.  The punch out of Gary Matthews, Jr. to propel the Yankees to the World Series was classic.


Finally, I thought playing Nick Swisher was risky.  Swish has been ice cold, and I was ready to see if an outfield of Johnny Damon, Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera was more productive…or Jerry Hairston, Jr. in right at the very least. 


For all of the moves, Girardi made the right call.  Andy deserved the opportunity to leave the field with a tip of the cap to the crowd.  Mo clearly had the right stuff, and Girardi was obviously playing to win.  But I thought that Swisher’s throw to first to double off Vladimir Guerrero at first base following a fly out by Kendry Morales in the second inning was huge.  As Swish caught the fly ball, he immediately fired the ball to Teixeira, who stepped on the bag as he was falling back, just ahead of the sliding Guerrero.  In my opinion, that was one of the keys to the game.  A great play.



Elise Amendola/AP 


So, Girardi was right and I was wrong.  I am okay with it, because the Yankees will soon be playing for their 27th World Championship!  After several years trying to escape Joe Torre’s shadow, Girardi has emerged as the true leader of the Yankees.  Best of luck to the Yankees as they open the World Series on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium against the defending champion Philadelphia Phillies.


A couple of other side notes unrelated to the Yankees.  I am glad that ESPN fired Steve Phillips for the alleged sex scandal, and if true, congratulations to Tony LaRussa for bringing Mark McGwire back into baseball as hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals.  Say what you will about McGwire, but I do think he deserves an opportunity to redeem himself for the fans.


P.S.  Was it just me or did it look strange seeing Hal Steinbrenner in the locker room celebration instead of his dad?  I know that it’s now Hal’s team, but there is still some sadness that George Steinbrenner is no longer able to be at the forefront of Yankee success.


Calling All Ghosts from Championships Past…


It’s a different team now…


Andy Pettitte

Mark J. Terrill/AP


So says Derek Jeter when asked to compare the 2009 Yankees to the 2004 team that lost the ALCS to the Boston Red Sox.  Yankee confidence seems to be very high based on the comments that I’ve read by a number of players.  Of course, the confidence on the other side is equally high despite the 3-2 series advantage for the Yanks.  Torii Hunter, in particular, intends to “shock the world”.  Nevertheless, tonight’s game should be a classic regardless of the outcome. 

I have felt all along that this series would go the full seven games.  There is a reason that the Angels are one of the best teams in the American League and they certainly showed it in their elimination of the Boston Red Sox in quick order.  Hi Julia, how are you doing?  😉


Elise Amendola/AP


There seems to be significant criticism of manager Joe Girardi and his pitching decisions late in games.  Some have even called for his head if the Yankees lose the ALCS.  While I do not agree with the decision to use the ineffective Damaso Marte to relieve A.J. Burnett in Game 5 or some of the other moves involving Alfredo Aceves or even why Burnett was even brought back into the game after the Yankees dropped 6 runs on the Angels the other night, I am not ready to say that he should lose his job if he doesn’t advance to or win the World Series. 

I still remember 1980 when the Yankees fired the late Dick Howser after he had won 103 games in the regular season but lost the ALCS to the Kansas City Royals.  That was one of the worst decisions of the George Steinbrenner era, and Howser went on to enjoy a highly successful managerial career with the Royals before his untimely demise.  I do not expect Hal Steinbrenner to follow his father’s decision-making pattern, and I am convinced that Joe will be the manager of the 2010 Yankees.




I think the decision to leave Eric Hinske off the ALCS roster was a mistake.  The team opted for the speed of Freddy Guzman, but I think a pinch hit appearance by Hinske in the 9th inning of Game 5 with the bases loaded could have yielded a different outcome than allowing the ice cold Nick Swisher to hit (or lack thereof!). 

If the team is able to advance to the World Series, I am hopeful that they’ll add Hinske for some pop off the bench.


Kathy Willens/AP 


It’s crazy to think that Pedro Martinez will be a potential Game 3 starter in the World Series for the defending champion Phillies.  Of course, the staff is led by Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, and includes the impressive young J.A. Happ.  But Martinez has revitalized his career and is now in position to significantly contribute for another championship. 

I was surprised it took so long for anyone to sign Martinez this year, but the Phillies did a great job in solidifying both the front and back ends of the rotation with the acquisitions of Martinez and ace Cliff Lee.  At the time, I thought that Martinez would have made a great #5 starter for the Yanks but they were never players for his services. 

So, should the Yankees advance, they’ll be facing a former foe who was one of those players responsible for the end of the Curse in Boston.  If the Angels advance to the Series, I’ll root for Martinez…despite the past history…and the Phillies.


Pedro Martinez

Harry How/Getty Images


The Yankees should have ended the ALCS in Anaheim, but of course, the celebration would have been muted.  So, maybe it was meant to be for the series to return to the Bronx.  We’re home…we’re ready…and it’s time to succeed!  Let’s Go Yankees!


Richard Perry/NY Times



Back to New York…

Unfortunately, the ALCS is far from over…

If I learned anything in 2004, it is to never take anything for granted.  At the moment, the Yankees lead the Los Angeles Angels 3 games to 1 in the 2009 American League Championship Series.  However, they are losing tonight, so far, as they’ve been dominated by Angels starter John Lackey.

The Angels started the game very abruptly by scoring 4 runs with no outs in the bottom of the first inning.  A.J. Burnett was able to keep his pitches down, but they were too far over the plate and the Angel hitters were teeing off him.  After the 4 runs were scored, Burnett settled down and has not allowed any runs through six innings. 

At the present time, the Angels still lead 4-0 in the top of the 7th inning.  However, the Yankees have loaded the bases, and the tying run is at home plate for the first time in the game. 

The Yankees have had their opportunities to chip away at the Angels’ lead, however, Lackey has successfully managed to avoid any damage.  The 7th is looking like more of the same as Johnny Damon just flied out so there are two outs with the bases still loaded.  John Lackey just exited the game so perhaps the Yankees can get a rally going against the Angels bullpen.

For the record, Robinson Cano has looked dreadful at the plate tonight…

If the Angels hang on for the win, the Yankees will head to New York with a 3-2 series advantage.  They play Game 6 on Saturday night in the Bronx (Joe Saunders versus Andy Pettitte).

If there is a positive to a potential Yankees loss tonight, it’s that they’ll have the chance to close it out at Yankee Stadium.

Nevertheless, Mark Teixeira just came through with a huge double to bring the Yankees within one run, 4-3.  So, perhaps a little champagne spilled on Angel Stadium turf is not out of the question. 

The downside to an Angels win in Games 5 and 6 is that Game 7 is ‘winner take all’.  In that situation, of course, anything can happen…and it often does!  I am hopeful that the series will be decided before then, but it is up to hitters like Cano to come through.

Hideki Matsui just tied the game with a single to score Mark Teixeira from second. 

Speaking of Matsui, it is going to be hard to see him leave after the season.  Time and again, he has delivered the clutch hit for the Yanks.  His numbers aren’t flashy, but he quietly delivers, day in and day out.  If he does leave the Yankees, I’d like to see him come to San Francisco but that would really depend upon the health of his knees. 

Redemption for Cano.  He just delivered a triple to score two runs to give the Yanks a 6-4 lead.  Swisher just flied out to end the inning but it was a hugely successful one for the Yanks as they scored 6 runs with 2 outs.  A tremendous performance by John Lackey…wasted…and I am okay with that!  J

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Phillies sit back and wait.  Will they hop on the New Jersey Turnpike for the drive to New York or will they head to Philly International for the cross-country trip to continue their terrorism of the Los Angeles/Orange County Area?  Time will tell, but I like the Yanks’ chances…at the moment.  Phillies-Angels is simply too much red!  We need a nice mixture of red, white, and blue!  Yeah, blue baby! 

Damaso Marte?  Seriously?  The Yanks lead is down to one, 6-5. 

Phil Hughes is on now, but he just walked a batter so there are runners at the corner. 

Ugh!  The Angels just tied the game on a hit by Vladimir Guerrero.  Joe Girardi’s decision to go with Damaso Marte to relieve A.J. Burnett was a huge mistake.

Kendry Morales singled to score Vlad the Great…bummer…the Angels have a 7-6 lead.

Jered Weaver, who started the inning, just struck out Derek Jeter to end the top of the 8th.  The Yanks have three outs left.  The game will be in the hands of Alex Rodriguez, assuming that the bullpen holds the Angels in the 8th.

Here we are in the 9th inning.  Bases loaded but two outs.  The ice cold Nick Swisher at the plate.  7-6 Angels.  This is Nick’s defining moment.  Two fouls, two strikes.  Personality or not, this is the moment that he can prove he is a Yankee.  This is definitely a tense moment.  Is the game over or does it go to the Bronx for Game 6?  The count is full at 3-2.  Ugh!  The suspense!  So much for that, a popout ends it.  Off to New York we go.  Note to Cashman, look for a new right fielder…

NY Marathon – November 1st or October 17th?…

Wow, what an exciting game!…



NYC Marathon.JPG



The Yankees took a 2-game lead in the American League Championship Series with a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday night.  It was a marathon 5-hour affair that extended into the early hours of the morning (thanks to the 7:57 pm Eastern starting time). 



It's another windy night in the Bronx. Game time temperature is a blustery 47 degrees.

Theodorakis/NY Daily News



It was the fifth longest game in LCS history.  The only surprise is that it didn’t involve the Boston Red Sox, who have played three of those long running games.  Hey Julia, it couldn’t have involved the Red Sox “with the Red Sox season over”! 





Sorry my friend!  Okay, maybe not… 😉


It was definitely a long day for me.  I started my morning in San Jose, and I drove to San Francisco to catch a flight to New York.  Arriving at JFK Airport around 6 pm Eastern, I got a rental car and drove down to my former home city of Wilmington, DE.  I listened to the Yankees game on WCBS (John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman) until I was out of range and had to switch over to ESPN Radio (Jon Miller and Joe Morgan).  I was surprised that the rain didn’t appear at Yankee Stadium until the late innings, because I drove through rain throughout my drive down the New Jersey Turnpike, and it continued to rain as I made my way through Pennsylvania to Delaware.  I stopped at a sports bar to watch game, but I finally decided to check into the hotel in the 10th inning.  So, I finished watching the game in the cozy confines of my hotel room.  In all my life, I don’t think I’ve ever watched/listened to a single baseball game through so many different sources!  Oh well, as the saying goes, all’s well that ends well!


Hairston cheers after scoring the winning run as a dejected Angels catcher walks off the field.

Simmons/NY Daily News



I thought that A.J. Burnett pitched a great game.  I was disappointed that a potential victory was aborted by his wild pitch in the 5th inning that allowed the Angels to tie the score.  Had they not scored, it’s possible that the Yankees could have won, 2-1, in regulation with the way their bullpen performed.  Nevertheless, baseball is a game of ‘ifs and buts’ so it didn’t happen so this one was earmarked for extra innings. 



Elise Amendola/AP




Before I proceed to the latter innings, I do want to congratulate Joba Chamberlain for the job he did in the 7th inning.  He inherited two runners when he relieved Phil Coke.  After allowing an infield single to Torii Hunter to load the bases, he struck out Vladimir Guerrero to end the inning.  That was a huge moment in the game.  Clearly, had they scored any runs, they most likely would have won the game. 



Julie Jacobson/AP



Mariano Rivera also did a tremendous job for 2 1/3 innings.  Anything beyond an inning was almost unheard of during the Joe Torre days as they sought to protect Mo.  I understand that, but these are the days of ‘no tomorrow’.  Every game is critical.  I know that it has been difficult for closers to get into the Hall of Fame, but I think that both Rivera and Trevor Hoffman deserve first ballot consideration when their playing days are over.



Mariano Rivera comes out in the eighth and does a good job at keeping the Angels quiet on the offensive front for 25 pitches.

Antonelli/NY Daily News


I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the stellar defensive play of first baseman Mark Teixeira.  He continues to save runs game in and game out.  I am always amazed at how far he can reach to save errant throws, and there is no doubt that the Yankees stayed in last night’s game because of Tex.  There is no way that Jason Giambi could have gotten to many of these throws (sorry G!).



And he does it again! It's close, but Teix gets Torii Hunter out in the fourth in the same Stretch Armstrong style as before.

Antonelli/NY Daily News


I was bit frustrated in the 11th inning when Alfredo Aceves opened the inning by walking Gary Matthews, Jr.  He scored on a single by the previously ice-cold Chone Figgins after a sacrifice had moved him to second.  Nevertheless, I really didn’t feel like the Yankees would lose the game at that point, despite the Angels’ 3-2 lead. 



The dry spell is over for Figgins in the 11th inning after his RBI single gives Angels the lead, 3-2, for the first time in this series.

Antonelli/NY Daily News


My faith was vindicated in the bottom of the 11th when Alex Rodriguez hit a game-tying home run just out of the reach of a leaping Bobby Abreu.  The ball bounced back onto the field, so for a moment, there was a thought about whether or not was a home run.  Even A-Rod had to slow around second to look at the umpire for the home run signal.  But replays clearly showed the ball hit the stands and ricochet back onto the playing field.  A-Rod, finally, is playing to expectations in the post-season and it has been great.  If the Yanks win it all, the MVP, at this moment, has to be A-Rod.



Bobby Abreu jumps, but the ball sails into the stands, hitting an unfortunate fan before popping back onto the field.

Antonelli/NY Daily News



I understand why the Yankees placed Freddy Guzman on the play-off roster (at the expense of Eric Hinske), however, it was frustrating to see Guzman (who had earlier pinch run for DH Hideki Matsui) bat following A-Rod’s homer.  You could almost feel the air deflate out of the Yanks’ momentum when Guzman struck out.  The Angels retired the next two batters to get out of the inning.  Guzman is here because of his Brett Gardner-like speed.  However, I would have felt so much better with Eric Hinske coming off the bench to bat in that situation. 


The Angels had their chances.  With two outs in the top of the 12th, the Angels defensive catcher Jeff Mathis (not known for his bat) ripped a double off David Robertson who had just entered the game.  After the next batter was intentionally walked, Robertson struck out Matthews to end the inning. 


In the bottom of the 12th, I thought the Yankees missed a golden opportunity when A-Rod flied out to end the inning with the bases loaded.  At that point, I started to turn a bit pessimistic.  David Robertson was still on the mound and Chad Gaudin was the last man standing in the bullpen so I knew time was running out. 



Last Man Standing.JPG





The Angels got the 13th inning going when an error by Robinson Cano allowed Erick Aybar to safely reach base.  He advanced to second on a sacrifice.  After Bobby Abreu was intentionally walked, an infield groundout by Torii Hunter moved the runners to second and third.  That brought Vlad the Great to the plate.  Of course, memories of his game winning hit in Boston swirled in my head.  But, in keeping in sync with the Angels penchant for leaving men on base…at least in this game, Vlad hit into a groundout to end the inning. 


To the bottom of the 13th it was!  Instead of allowing Freddy Guzman to hit, manager Joe Girardi brought Jerry Hairston, Jr. off the bench to bat in the DH slot.  Hard to believe that it was the first play-off appearance for Hairston, but he didn’t disappoint as he reached base on a single to center.  After Brett Gardner sacrificed Hairston to second, Robinson Cano was intentionally walked.  That brought Melky Cabrera to the plate.  In a play that made absolutely no sense to me, Angels second baseman Macer Izturis fielded a ball hit by Cabrera and threw wildly to second base rather than going for the sure out at first. 


Erick Aybar, Robinson Cano

Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger



At this point in the game, the only runner that mattered was the lead runner (Hairston).  He was already advancing to third, so Cano was an irrelevant runner.  The ball sailed past Angels shortstop Erick Aybar and it allowed Hairston to race home with the winning run. 



Jerry Hairston Jr. Yankees ALCS

John Munson/The Star Ledger



The first two games of the ALCS have been very un-Angel like, given the multiple errors and men left on base.  I suspect that we’ll see a very different Angels squad at Angels Stadium as the series shifts to Anaheim for three games.  This makes me glad that the Yankees will be taking a 2-0 series lead to the West Coast rather than heading out West tied.  I still fully expect this series to go seven games as it is far from over.  However, I am hopeful for a few more endings like this…



Yanks take Game 2, 4-3, in a grueling five hours and 10 minutes. 

The Bombers now lead the ALCS, 2-0, and play the Halos in Game 3 in Anaheim on Monday.

Antonelli/NY Daily News



On a final note, it was great to see Tino Martinez throw out the first pitch, but he definitely looked better hitting game-winning home runs at the old stadium!  



Former Yanks first baseman Tino Martinez throws out the ceremonial first pitch to Jorge Posada.  

Antonelli/NY Daily News



I am planning to watch tonight’s game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Los Angeles Dodgers in a Philly sports bar.  I guess I’ll just remain a closet supporter of the Dodgers and smile whenever the Phillies do something good even though inside I will be cheering wildly for Joe Torre, Don Mattingly and company.  Hey, I need to survive the night so that I can head back to New York on Monday morning! 🙂





One (more) final note…good luck to Dodgers Assistant GM Kim Ng.  She interviewed for the GM job with the San Diego Padres.  It’s strange to think that Kevin Towers will no longer be there, but Kim deserves the opportunity to be the first woman GM in major league history.  She did a great job with the Yankees, and for the past 8 years, she’s been magnificent as Ned Colletti’s top adviser.  I hated to see her leave New York, but I knew that there were bigger and better things in her future.  Kim Ng, General Manager of the San Diego Padres.  It has a great ring to it.  Good luck, Kim! 



It’s Amazing What $160 Million Will Buy!…

It’s great to have an Ace, even if it came with a steep price tag…





Behind the stellar pitching of CC Sabathia and a few Angels miscues, the Yanks took Game 1 of the American League Championship Series from Los Angeles.



Kathy Willens/AP



CC went 8 innings to eliminate any bridges between himself and Mariano Rivera.  He only allowed 4 hits in the 4-1 victory, and struck out 7.  Mo picked up the save.  These types of performances will certainly allow Sabathia to shed the stigma of his past play-off failures, and re-invent himself as a big game pitcher.



CC Sabathia Yankees

William Perlman/The Star Ledger



Going into the series, I felt one of the keys was to get Johnny Damon going.  He had been ice cold during the Twins series.  Despite the cold NY temperatures last night, Johnny was warmed up with two hits.  He also scored two runs.  His play is instrumental to the Yanks’ chances of returning to the World Series.



Julie Jacobson/AP



I am headed to New York (on business, not pleasure, unfortunately), so I have to keep this post short.  I guess I had better take a coat…


Kathy Willens/AP



When I saw that the Los Angeles Dodgers had beaten the Philadelphia Phillies on a walk by Andre Ethier, it brought to mind the formula that Joe Torre had used against Phillies starter Pedro Martinez so many times when he was in Boston (right, Julia?).  Let Pedro pitch his game, keep it close, wait for his exit, then strike.  That formula worked to perfection last night as the Dodgers scored two runs in the bottom of the 8th inning to win, 2-1.



Jae C. Hong/AP



The NLCS is now tied at 2, and headed for Philly.  I am thinking that I might spend Sunday night on South Street in Philly.  I wonder if the place might be rockin’?  😉



South Street.JPG 




The Yankees made a minor move this week when they signed a free agent first baseman.  They picked up Trent Lockwood of the independent Amarillo Dillas.  I don’t know much about the guy or if he is considered a prospect or not, but he did hit 14 home runs and is known for his defense.  Hey, what a Dilla!





Blue versus Red…

Blue meet Red, Red meet Blue…




The American League and National League Championship Series will feature Blue versus Red albeit different shades of blue…and red.  My choices for the World Series reside exclusively in the land of Blue…






Of course I am going to pull for the Yankees.  I’ve been doing it for 35 years, so there’s no reason to change now!



Old Dog.JPG 



FOX Sports released the ALCS Schedule today:


American League Championship Series


Angels vs. Yankees
Series tied 0-0

Game 1: Angels at Yankees, Friday, Oct. 16, 7:57 p.m. ET, FOX

Game 2: Angels at Yankees, Saturday, Oct. 17, 7:57 p.m. ET, FOX

Game 3: Yankees at Angels, Monday, Oct. 19, 4:13 p.m. ET, FOX

Game 4: Yankees at Angels, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 7:57 p.m. ET, FOX

Game 5: Yankees at Angels (if nec.), Thursday, Oct. 22, 7:57 p.m. ET, FOX

Game 6: Angels at Yankees (if nec.), Saturday, Oct. 24, 4:13 p.m. ET, FOX

Game 7: Angels at Yankees (if nec.), Sunday, Oct. 25, 8:20 p.m. ET, FOX


Courtesy http://www.foxsports.com


Game 6 would move to 7:57 pm ET if the NLCS is over.


I will be in New York City on Saturday, but unfortunately, I won’t get there in time to go the Bronx.  It’s a business trip so no pleasure, but it will still be fun to watch Game 2 highlights from a New York perspective.



The Yankees are considering a three-man rotation, which would be CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Andy Pettitte.  The 7th through 9th innings would belong to the trio of Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes and Mariano Rivera.  Chad Gaudin and Alfredo Aceves would be available for long relief if necessary.  I feel better with Chamberlain in the bullpen, so naturally I am in favor of the shortened rotation.




Courtesy silive.com



I am hoping that this is the year the Yankees finally avenge their ouster from the 2002 ALDS at the hands of the eventual champion Angels.



Courtesy sportnews.com 


By the way, I heard Derek Jeter call the Angels “Anaheim” so it’s good to know that I am not the only one that has trouble saying Los Angeles Angels.  Heck, I think they should go back to California Angels.  It’s not like LA is going to claim anything in Orange County as their own…





In the National League Championship Series, I have to side with Joe Torre and Don Mattingly.  I understand Julia’s reluctance to pull for any team that has Manny Ramirez on its roster, but the other guys in blue are a deserving crew.  It’s not that I don’t think the Phillies deserve to be where they are, but I’d prefer to see a Dodgers-Yankees World Series. 


National League Championship Series


Phillies vs. Dodgers
Series tied 0-0

Game 1: Phillies at Dodgers, Thursday, Oct. 15, 8:07 p.m. ET, TBS

Game 2: Phillies at Dodgers, Friday, Oct. 16, 4:07 p.m. ET, TBS

Game 3: Dodgers at Phillies, Sunday, Oct. 18, 8:07 p.m. ET, TBS

Game 4: Dodgers at Phillies, Monday, Oct. 19, 8:07 p.m. ET, TBS

Game 5: Dodgers at Phillies (if nec.), Wednesday, Oct. 21, 8:07 p.m. ET, TBS

Game 6: Phillies at Dodgers (if nec.), Friday, Oct. 23, 8:07 p.m. ET, TBS

Game 7: Phillies at Dodgers (if nec.), Saturday, Oct. 24, 8:07 p.m. ET, TBS


Courtesy http://www.foxsports.com



Here is my order of preference for World Champions:


1.   New York Yankees

2.    Los Angeles Dodgers

3.    Philadelphia Phillies

4.    Los Angeles Angels


I’m sorry, Julia, there seems to be a team missing.  I know, that’s mean.  But c’mon, she did, after all, burn the ‘Yankees are better!’ sign…



fire1.jpgCourtesy Julia’s Rants 


This year’s World Series Champion will feature at least one past (or hopefully present) Yankee.  The Angels include Juan Rivera and Bobby Abreu, the Dodgers include Jeff Weaver (aside from the aforementioned Torre and Mattingly), and the Phillies include Miguel Cairo.  Interesting.  But of course, you could say the same thing about Julia’s team.  The ex-Red Sox include Pedro Martinez (Phillies), Manny Ramirez (Dodgers), Johnny Damon (Yankees), and Darren Oliver (Angels).  I am sure that there are plenty of other variations, but any way you slice it, this is a great year for the AL and NL Championship Series.  In my mind, baseball got it right.  The four best teams in the league this year meet to decide the ultimate champion.  It doesn’t get any better than that…





Good luck to all the teams, but I’ll close with GO BLUE!



Farewell to the Metrodome…




The play of the game was courtesy of Derek Jeter…



Kathy Willens/AP



The Yankees emerged victorious, winning the ALDS against the Minnesota Twins, three games to none.  Thanks to a 4-1 victory tonight, the Yankees will head home for a Friday meeting against the Los Angeles Angels and old friends Bobby Abreu and Juan Rivera.


Elise Amendola/AP



I really didn’t want to see Carl Pavano pitch the game of his life against his former teammates.  He had the strikeouts (9), but in the end, he was done in by 7th inning home runs from Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada.


Kathy Willens/AP



The Yankees added a couple of insurance runs in the 9th inning, but in my mind, the play of the game was courtesy of Derek Jeter with an assist by Jorge Posada.  In the 8th, Nick Punto led off with a double.  The next batter, Denard Span, hit the ball to Derek Jeter after a hop.  Seeing that he had no play at first, Derek fired the ball to Jorge Posada when he saw that Punto was running past third despite the stop sign.  Posada quickly made a perfect throw to third baseman Alex Rodriguez to erase Punto who was diving back to third.  So, instead of runners on the corners with no outs, the Twins only had a runner at first with one out.  The Yankees escaped the inning without allowing any runs, and the Twins’ last threat of the 2009 season was eliminated.



Martin Levison/Star Tribune



Mariano Rivera recorded the final four outs to save the game, and propel the Yankees into the American League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. 


Jim Mone/AP



The game represented the final baseball game held at the Metrodome.  The Twins will move to their new ballpark, Target Field, next season.  The Vikings are now the sole tenant of the Metrodome (at least until they find a new stadium).



Charlie Niebergall/AP




Alex Rodriguez has eliminated any doubt that he is not a post-season performer, and Jorge Posada has proved once again that he is a man to be counted on when it counts.  It was a great victory for the Yanks, and a nice sweep to give them a few days off before they face their nemesis in the Bronx.






It’s hard to believe that 3 of 4 play-off series were decided by sweeps.  I am surprised that the powerful Philadelphia Phillies are the only team that is engaged in a difficult battle.  They are clearly more talented than the Colorado Rockies, but they are tied in the NLDS with the Rockies, but leading 4-3 in the early stages of the very cold game tonight..



David Zalubowski/AP




Congratulations to Joe Torre and the Los Angeles Dodgers for advancing to the National League Championship Series.  I have to admit that it was a little bittersweet watching Donnie Baseball wrapping his arms around Dodgers players in celebration of their series sweep over the St. Louis Cardinals.



Tom Gannam/AP



It was tough to watch the Boston Red Sox exit the 2009 play-offs.  I was really hoping for a final Yankees-Red Sox showdown.  I thought the Red Sox were going to win today’s game, and didn’t really think that the Angels would rally against closer Jonathan Papelbon.  Had the Sox won today, they would have re-captured some momentum in the series, and they’d have a good chance to even things up in Game 4.  Alas, it was not meant to be as Bobby Abreu and Vladimir Guerrero came up with key hits in the 9th to score a total of 3 runs to overtake Boston, 7-6.  Still, I thought the Red Sox had a chance in the bottom of the 9th but they just couldn’t get it going.



Elise Amendola/AP



I have enjoyed my season-long wagers with Julia of Julia’s Rants.  Early in the season, it was all-Red Sox.  Julia was living a charmed life.  Then, the Yankees picked up a win on August 6th and they haven’t looked back.  It has been a fun and exciting year for the Yankees and Red Sox.  “The Rivalry” is great for baseball, and I think I learned to better understand Red Sox fans with my battles against Julia.  They are passionate, and they care about their team.  They are supportive through the end, and they walk away with their heads held high.  They know, not just hope, that they will be back next year…stronger and hungrier than ever before.  Congratulations Julia to you and your team on a fine season!  Of course, that doesn’t mean I won’t be anxious to see photos of you wearing your pink Yankees cap and Lou Gehrig t-shirt holding a sign proclaiming that the Yankees ARE BETTER!  Life is good!




As for my favorite football team, the Minnesota Vikings were victorious against the St. Louis Rams, 38-10.  I was a bit worried that the Vikings would have a letdown after the emotions of facing the Green Bay Packers last week, but then again, they were only facing the Rams. That team has certainly fallen on hard times.



Jeff Roberson/AP 



Percy Harvin is quickly becoming my favorite player.  He caught four passes for 66 yards, but no TD’s.  Another personal favorite is DE Jared Allen.  A week after his repeated “hugs” of Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, Allen recovered two fumbles and returned one 52 yards for a touchdown.  I gotta admit that I enjoyed Allen’s quote after the game.  “We think we’re a good football team”, Allen said.  “The worst we can finish now is 5-11”.  I like his perspective as he isn’t taking anything for granted.



Michael Conroy/AP



Brett Favre is 1-0 as a 40-year-old QB.  I have to admit that I was surprised when I heard that this was Favre’s first 5-0 start.  Congrats to Brett and the Vikings on a great game!



Tom Gannam/AP



This is my 200th blog since joining MLB.com.  Very appropriate!  MLB.com Bloggers, one and all, are the best!





Late Inning Magic Resides at 161st and River…

Merry Teix-mas!…



Barton Silverman/The New York Times



As the saying goes, “All’s well that ends well”!  Friday night certainly proved the point as the Yankees defeated the Minnesota Twins 4-3 in Game 2 of the ALDS.


The game featured a pitching duel between A.J. Burnett and Nick Blackburn.  It was scoreless until the 6th inning.  The Twins broke out first in the top of the frame on a run-scoring triple by Brendan Harris.



Julie Jacobson/AP


The Yankees countered in the bottom of the inning when Alex Rodriguez singled to score Derek Jeter from second.



Kathy Willens/AP


At that point, the Yankees went to the pen.  Joba Chamberlain retired the first two batters in the top of the 7th, but surrendered a single to Joe Mauer.  He was relieved by Phil Coke who struck out Jason Kubel to end the inning.


After a ‘3-up, 3-down’ bottom of the 7th, Phil Hughes was on the mound to start the 8th.  Like Chamberlain, he retired the first two batters but then got into trouble.  After walking Carlos Gomez, Brendan Harris singled to move Gomez to third.  Nick Punto followed with a single that scored Gomez, and Hughes headed for the showers at Joe Girardi’s “suggestion”.



failure.jpg failure image by mistichic18



Mariano Rivera entered the game but he promptly gave up a single to Denard Span that scored Harris.  Mo struck out the next batter, Orlando Cabrera, to end the inning but the damage had been done as the Twins had taken a 3-1 lead.



Kathy Willens/AP


The Yankees were retired easily in the 8th, and Mo had no difficulty with the Twins in the top of the 9th despite a Michael Cuddyer single.  So, the stage was set for the bottom of the 9th inning.  Enter Twins closer Joe Nathan…






Mark Teixeira was up first and he lined a solid single to right.  That brought the much criticized post-season “underperformer” to the plate.  A-Rod silenced his critics by coming up big.  His home run off Nathan tied the game, and the Yanks were back in business.



Julie Jacobson/AP


Nathan retired the next 3 batters so the game moved to extra innings.  The Twins had a chance in the top of the 10th against Alfredo Aceves but they left runners stranded at the corners.


The Yankees followed with what I thought was going to be the victorious moment.  After Melky Cabrera grounded out, Jorge Posada singled.  Of course, that brought Mr. “Make It Happen” (Brett Gardner) into the game as a pinch runner.  When you talk about certainties in life, Brett getting his jersey dirty when he is on the base paths is a given.  As expected, he stole second with a huge burst of speed.  An errant pick off throw by Nathan sent Gardner to third although he did stumble to make it close.  So, with just one out, the speedy Gardner stood at third.  It wouldn’t take much to bring him home.  With Gardner on third, the Twins opted to intentionally walk Derek Jeter.  Nathan was relieved by Jose Mijares.  The stage was set for Johnny Damon to be the hero.  If he couldn’t get the job done, Mark Teixeira was on deck.  Much to my chagrin, Damon hit a smash right at Orlando Cabrera.  Brett Gardner had already broken for home, so the Twins were able to easily record the double play to end the threat.






The next inning would prove to be very memorable.  Joe Mauer opened with a double to left off Damaso Marte except there was a small problem.  The umpire (Phil Cuzzi) ruled the ball foul, however, replays clearly showed that the ball landed a foot inside of the foul line. 



Jared Wickerham/Getty Images



Nevertheless, Joe Mauer was still able to reach base with a single.  But his placement at first instead of second would prove to be very significant.  Jason Kubel singled to move Mauer to second (he should have been on third if the double had stood).  David Robertson, boyish face and all, entered the game in relief of Marte but gave up a single to Michael Cuddyer which loaded the bases.  Had Mauer been on third, the Twins would have taken a 4-3 lead.  Robertson proved to be a magician with the next 3 batters.  Delmon Young lined out.  Carlos Gomez hit a fielder’s choice to Mark Teixeira who threw Mauer out at home.  Brendan Harris, with several key hits earlier in the game, came up with a chance to save the day for the Twins.  But his weak fly ball was caught by Nick Swisher and the Twins had failed to score despite loading the bases with no outs.



Julie Jacobson/AP


With Jose Mijares still pitching for the Twins, Mark Teixeira came to the plate.  As great as Teixeira has been this year, it is hard to believe that he didn’t have any walk-off hits during the course of the season…well, at least until Friday night.  He connected on what appeared to be an extremely hard liner but the ball never dropped until it reached the left field stands.  After the game, Teixeira called the ball a “wall scraper”.  Whatever it was, it gave the Yankees the 4-3 victory and a 2-0 lead in the series.



Julie Jacobson/AP


Have a pie, Mr. Teixeira!  You deserve it…



Kathy Willens/AP


I have to admit that I do empathize with Twins fans.  During football season, the majority of those fans share my passion for all things purple and gold.  We cheer together when Adrian Peterson breaks a long run for a TD, Percy Harvin makes a key catch, Brett Favre zips a pass for a game winning touchdown or Jared Allen getting up from sacking yet another quarterback.  The Twins had every opportunity to win Game 2, but the ghosts of Yankee Stadium ensured that it didn’t happen.



Mark Teixeira Yankees Twins

Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger 



The series now moves to Minnesota for Game 3 at the Metrodome on Sunday.  Andy Pettitte and the Yankees will face former teammate Carl Pavano.  I remember the comparisons of Pavano to Pettitte when he joined the Yankees, as they are both similar physically.  But clearly Pavano does not have Pettitte’s heart.  The Yanks have a chance to close out the series and it wouldn’t get any better than a victory against the former American Idle.





A funny thing happened last night watching the Angels-Red Sox game.  I have been giving Julia (of Julia’s Rants) a hard time and repeatedly telling her “Go Angels!”.  But truth be told, I really do not like the Angels.  I have never cared for the team.  It’s not to say that I have found new love for the Red Sox, but I found myself cheering for Boston and rooting for a late inning comeback.  It was not meant to be as the Angels emerged with a 4-1 victory against Josh Beckett and the Red Sox to take a 2-0 advantage in the series.  I will pull for the Red Sox when the series resumes in Boston.  I really want to see the Red Sox and Yankees in the American League Championship Series.  I have no desire to see a team that couldn’t win 90 games in the World Series, so I wouldn’t pull for the Twins if they are able to successfully overcome the Yankees in the ALDS.  My dislike for the Angels would prevent me from cheering for them, so the only two choices in my mind are Yankees and Red Sox.  As a member of the AL Eastern Division, the Red Sox would be my second choice for AL representatives in the World Series if the Yankees cannot be there.  I hope that doesn’t happen, believe me, as I am hoping to see the 27th World Championship for the Yankees…and nothing would be better than beating the Red Sox to advance.  So, Julia, I’ll say this for you, Go Red Sox! (statement expires at the conclusion of the Angels-Red Sox series).



Mark J. Terrill/AP


Speaking of the Minnesota Vikings, I’d like to say Happy Birthday to quarterback Brett Favre!  The graybeard is now 40 years old.  For your birthday, we’d like to give you a Super Bowl Championship!  J





































Courtesy Star Tribune