September 2010

How About Leaving A.J. in Toronto?…


After losing 2 of 3 to the Boston Red Sox and
ensuring the mail delivery of a Red Sox cap to my home (ugh!), the Yankees went
to Toronto with a chance to clinch a play-off spot.  What happened?  A.J. Burnett started, so the rest is
self-explanatory.  Instead of smelling
blood and delivering a season high performance, A.J. did what he often does
this season, he stuck his head in the sand. 



 


The situation was a perfect set-up.  Going back into his former home stadium to
face his former teammates with a golden opportunity to right the earlier wrong’s
of the season and propel his current mates into baseball’s promised land.  Instead, A.J. was long gone by the end of the
third inning as he put the team in a hole they could not climb out of.  The pitching line was horrific…2 ½ innings, 7
hits and 7 runs.  For $82.5 million, we
got this and a 5.33 ERA in 2010. 



 


Meanwhile, the Boston Red Sox won so the RSN
continues its belief that the Red Sox can win all their remaining games, while
the Yankees get swept in Toronto and Boston. 
Burnett could have ended all of that tonight…



 


It sucks that at this stage of the season, I have
to root for the Chicago White Sox.  The
Yankees need to re-group, think about what Tony Dungy said the other day, and
come out to play like a play-off contender on Tuesday night.  Win to get in, don’t back in…



 


I was saddened to hear the passing of former
Oakland Raiders great George Blanda.  I
remember first becoming aware of him as an aging kicker for the Raiders when I
was a kid.  I also remember being shocked
when I learned that he had been a quarterback earlier in his career.  His 26-year career contained several careers
within a career.   Anyone who grew up in
the 70’s will always remember #16 trotting onto the field to line up for a
game-winning kick regardless of whether or not you were a Raiders fan (I wasn’t
but I certainly had great respect for Blanda). 



 


On the bright side, the Minnesota Vikings did
finally win on Sunday…



Vikings running back Adrian Peterson ran for 160 yards and two touchdowns Sunday against the Lions.   (AP)

AP


–Scott


Adrian Peterson rushed for 160 yards against the Lions on Sunday, including a career-best 80-yard run in the third quarter.Adrian Peterson rushed for 160 yards against the Lions on Sunday, including a career-best 80-yard run in the third quarter.

A September To Forget…


The going gets tough, the Yankees decide to bail…



 


The Yankees should be able to clinch the Wild Card
slot at some point, but I’ve given up hope of taking the AL East unless things
change very quickly.  The Tampa Bay Rays
have great momentum right now, and the Yankees don’t.  So far this month (going into Saturday’s
game), the Yankees are 10-12.  When you’re
racing for the pennant, that kind of record is not going to get it done
(obviously).  The Yankees’ magic number
remains at 3.  With a single win against
the Red Sox, they could reduce the number to 1 but at this point, the Red Sox
are playing like the superior team and they certainly have not given up
hope.  After the end of the home stand
against Boston, the Yankees take to the road to play the Blue Jays and the Red
Sox (both challenging places to play). 



 


This month, the Philadelphia Phillies have definitely
shown they are ‘in it to win it’.  They’ve
clearly distanced themselves from the Atlanta Braves and they’ll head into the
play-offs as the hottest team in the National League.  It’s been a great season for the Cincinnati
Reds, but I think the Phillies, even with their injuries, are the better
team.  The trading deadline pick-up of
Roy Oswalt was huge and it gave the Phillies pitching superiority (even against
the likes of the San Francisco Giants who boast a very strong rotation).  Speaking of the Giants, they’ve also been
playing good baseball and currently lead the NL West by a slim margin.  I like the Giants as an underdog if they can
stay on top against the San Diego Padres, but I don’t think anyone is going to
beat the Phillies and they’ll head to the World Series for the third straight
year.



Shane Victorino is congratulated by Placido Polanco after giving the Phillies an early lead with a leadoff home run. (Michael Bryant/Staff Photographer)

Michael Bryant, Philly.com, Staff Photographer

 


Back to the American League, the Tampa Bay Rays and
the Minnesota Twins are playing the best baseball.  As much as I would like to say “Rays suck!”
or “Twins suck!” or “Yankees are going to win it again!”, the truth is that the
AL Championship Series will most likely feature the Rays and the Twins.  The Rangers are fading and of course so are
the Yankees.  If the Yankees’ freefall
results in a miraculous achievement of the play-offs by the Boston Red Sox, it
will definitely rank as one of the greatest September flops in recent
memory. 



RETURN FRIGHT: Javier Vazquez (above) was battered around in his return to the Yankees, allowing eight runs in 5 2/3 innings in a 9-3 loss last night at Tropicana Field. Reuters

Reuters

 


In the NL, the Atlanta Braves and the Colorado
Rockies are fading, and the Padres aren’t far behind.  For a time this season, I thought the Padres
were the team to beat, but now they’re fighting to make the play-offs. 



Miguel Tejada and first base coach Rick Renteria after Tejada's 2-rbi single in the 7th.

John R. McCutchen/San Diego Union-Tribune

 


At this point, it is hard to visualize the 2010
World Series involving any teams other than the Tampa Bay Rays and the
Philadelphia Phillies (a repeat of the Phillies’ championship year in
2008).  More than likely, the outcome
will be the same.



 


Congratulations to my friend, Julia (of Julia’s
Rants
), for winning the latest wager between she and I.  With today’s 7-2 victory, the Boston Red Sox
have ensured that they will take at least two of the three games in the Bronx
and they’ll go for a sweep on Sunday.  I
guess the Yanks could have used those 6 home runs today instead of yesterday.  The Yankees, now 10-13 for September,
continue to give the Red Sox hope that they can reach high enough to eclipse
the Yanks for the Wild Card slot.  The
Sox are now just 5 ½ games behind the Yankees. 
I guess there’s a Red Sox cap on its way to my home in CA… 
L



0925berkman.JPG

Noah K. Murray/The Star-Ledger 



Maybe I think a motivational pep talk by Tony
Dungy.  Then again, it didn’t seem to
help the Yankees.  Let’s hope that next
weekend is more exciting than this weekend is turning out to be…





–Scott


The Dog Days Extended…

 

 

So far, September has not been kind…



 


The month started with so much promise when the
Yankees won from September 1st through 4th, but since
then, wins have been hard to come by. 
They won only one game during the second week of the month, and so far,
have only two wins this week pending the outcome of Saturday night’s game.  A few weeks ago, the question was whether the
Yankees would win the AL East with the Tampa Bay Rays taking the Wild
Card.  At a time they should have been
able to put away the Boston Red Sox, the Sox still have hope, only 7 games
behind the Yankees (6 ½ behind the Rays). 

 

Sure, the Yankees are in first place, with a very
thin lead.  However, the schedule the
rest of the way is brutal.  After the
Yankees leave Baltimore (the Orioles have certainly not been a slouch by any
stretch of the imagination, particularly since former Yankees manager Buck
Showalter took over), they face a Murderer’s Row-like lineup of Tampa Bay,
Boston, and Toronto.  The Rays and Red
Sox are the obvious rivals, but the Blue Jays have played the Yanks very tough
this year.  It is a schedule that will
prove what the 2010 Yankees are made of.

 

Last night’s game was very exciting.  Hopefully, it will be one that the team can
build upon.  In the 9th inning
with two outs and two runs down, it looked like it would be another loss.  Fortunately, Alex Rodriguez saved the day
with his second home run of the day, a three-run shot that gave the Yankees the
margin of victory, 4-3. 

 

In looking ahead, the Yankees play a three-game
series against the Boston Red Sox next weekend in the Bronx.  For the series, Julia (of Julia’s Rants) and
I will hold another wager.  For this
series, the loser must wear the opposing team’s hat for a photo on his/her
blog.  Also, through previous wagers,
Julia has acquired a Yankees t-shirt and I have a Red Sox t-shirt so we’d have
to include those shirts.  I know this is
a tame wager, but the Yankees and Red Sox close out the regular season with a
three-game series in Boston so we’ll be looking to close out the year with a
bang.  As long as the Yankees win both
series, I am cool with it! 
J

 

I have to admit that I had very mixed feelings when
I first heard that Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre had decided to step
down at the end of the season, and was handing the reins to one of my all-time
favorite Yankees, Don Mattingly.  I had
quietly harbored hopes that Donnie Baseball could find his way back to the
Bronx, perhaps as a potential replacement for manager Joe Girardi if Joe
decides to go to Chicago.  Realistically,
it would probably never happen because Don does not have any major or minor
league managerial experience and that’s a pre-requisite in New York. 



Joe Torre Don Mattingly L.A. Dodgers

Gene J. Puskar/AP

 

None of this means that I want Joe Girardi to
leave.  I am just bracing for the possibility.  There is no telling how strong his Chicago
roots might be pulling him to return home. 
It would be very intriguing to be the guy who brought the World Series
to Wrigley Field.  Winning World
Championship #28 for the Yankees wouldn’t forever etch Girardi’s name into
baseball legend like winning one for the Cubs would.  Hopefully, the Steinbrenner Family will do
what it takes to lock up Joe long-term so that there is no possibility for a
managerial search after the season.

 

As for Joe Torre, I am not convinced he is
finished.  None of his words have implied
that he is ready to hang it up.  I am not
sure that he’d be a good fit for the Cubs, but perhaps the Mets if they fire
Jerry Manuel.  I’ve wondered if the
Yankees would try to bring him back if Girardi leaves, but outside of George
Steinbrenner’s departure, the senior executives who were against Torre in his
latter years with the team are still in place. 
Plus, there’s always the issue with the book Torre wrote.   Whatever happens, I don’t want to see Bobby
Valentine in the Bronx…

 

Since I started writing this post, the Yankees have
defeated the Baltimore Orioles, 11-3, for their second consecutive
victory.  It is a much-needed win and
hopefully they’ll begin gaining momentum for the challenging late month series
coming up.   Congratulations to CC
Sabathia (20-6) for his first 20-win season! 
I am very happy to see CC finally nab the elusive victory (it was his
third attempt at 20).  



sabathia.JPG

US Presswire


A late Rays rally
against the Los Angeles Angels prevented the Yankees from gaining any ground,
but the Boston Red Sox did lose to fall 8 games back. 

 

On Sunday, Andy Pettitte will make his
much-anticipated return from the DL.  Clearly,
he is a key for the post-season so hopefully he can pick up where he left off
as he was pitching brilliantly prior to the injury.  A Pettitte win on Sunday would make it a
terrific weekend!

 

–Scott


Pick Up The Pieces, Chin Up High, and Move On…


So, after an 8-game win streak, the Yankees have
failed against the Baltimore Orioles in the Bronx and the Texas Rangers in
Arlington, Texas.  For the last six
games, they have a 1-5 record to show for it. 
That’s not exactly the way to win friends and influence enemies.  Now the Yanks head for St. Petersburg, FL, to
face the second place Tampa Bay Rays who stand only .5 games behind the Yankees
in the AL East Standings.  The Rays are
confident, and even the Boston Red Sox have to have a renewed sense they can
catch the Yankees.



8d8c8fdd5d03980ed40e6a706700031e.jpg

Boston Globe


 

GM Brian Cashman knew that the starting pitching
would be the Yankees’ Achilles Heel, and of course, had he been successful in
capturing Cliff Lee from the Seattle Mariners, things would look very
differently in the AL East standings. 
Even Ted Lilly could have made a difference.  So, the Yanks prepare for their AL East
showdown with the Rays, who figure to have the advantage due to their starting
pitching. 



James Shields, with a 25-inning jump from 2007, was one of several Rays pitchers forced to work harder than ever.

James Borchuk/St. Petersburg Times

 


Game 1 will feature CC Sabathia against fellow Cy
Young candidate David Price in what should be a marquee pitching duel.  The Yankees need a victory, and this game is probably
the single most important game of the season if the Yanks want to win the
division.  It is not the end of the world
if they lose, but the Rays have a chance to make a huge statement in this
series.  They are a very good team, no
doubt, and they do have the horses to capture the AL East flag.  Watching the Rockies win their 10th
in a row tonight thanks to ex-Yankee Jason Giambi is proof positive that
someone, anyone, can stand up and deliver. 
Now is the time for those unsung heroes of the 2010 Yankees to shine.



Lance Berkman Yankees file

Kim Klement/US Presswire

 


Of all the missed opportunities this weekend, the
one that sticks out most in my mind is when the Yankees had the bases loaded in
the top of the 13th inning on Saturday night.  The Yankees catcher was Chad Moeller and he
ended the inning with no runs in a game that the Rangers won in the bottom of
the inning.  A healthy Jorge Posada could
have made such a difference, but it really exposed that the Yankees don’t have
anything behind Francisco Cervelli until Jesus Montero and/or Austin Romine are
ready for the major leagues. 

 

Oh well, all things considered, the Yankees are in
great shape on September 12th. 
Regardless of whether they go into the play-offs as AL East Champions or
the Wild Card, they’ll be ready for October baseball.  Andy Pettitte should be back in the rotation
and even if he’s not in the starting rotation, Javier Vazquez should be a high
quality long man. 

 

The Yankees just need to keep doing what they’ve
been doing since April.  The team is good
and they need to understand that and continue to persevere.  This is the time that makes champions…



perseverance

 

–Scott

Buck’s Statement Series Against the Yanks…

 

Revenge is best served cold…

 

 

Gail Burton/AP

 

 

Unfortunately, the last laugh belongs to former Yankees manager Buck Showalter.  A funny thing happened to the Yankees on their way to the AL East Championship; they were derailed by Showalter’s Baltimore Orioles.  Following an 8-game winning streak, the Yanks have now lost three games in a row including the first two of their latest series with the O’s.  As the O’s were pounding the Yankees tonight, the Tampa Bay Rays were thumping the Boston Red Sox to move closer to first.

 

 

Daisuke Matsuzaka

The Boston Globe

 

In a dead heat, it is hard not to give the Rays the advantage due to their superior pitching staff.   Frankly, I am not so sure that the Yankees have the pitching to advance very deep into the play-offs regardless of whether they win the AL East or get in as the Wild Card.  I want the Yankees to win, of course, but when the O’s can pummel your ace like a batting practice pitcher, and the next pitcher in line, A.J. Burnett, no longer trusts his stuff, how can you get excited about your team’s chances?  No one knows how Andy Pettitte will perform, and there is a very good chance he’ll have some rust to shake at a time when there is no time.  Javier Vazquez is finished as a frontline starter in New York at least, and Phil Hughes is about done as he nears his innings ceiling.  The second best starter on the staff right now is rookie Ivan Nova.  The missed opportunities to get either Cliff Lee (regardless of his recent health issues) or Ted Lilly will haunt the Yanks in October.  I realize that it wasn’t necessarily Brian Cashman’s fault, but looking back, I was so surprised last off-season when the decision was made to bring future ex-Yankee Vazquez back to New York.  I thought it was a mistake at the time, and now it appears to be a catastrophic error. 

 

 

 

 

When the Yankees win, things are fantastic, but when they lose, it’s doom and gloom, I know.  But realistically speaking, win or lose, the Yankees simply do not have the horses in the starting rotation beyond CC Sabathia to excel in the play-offs when clearly good pitching beats good hitting.

 

The Yankees have a great offense, but without top line pitching, their hitters can’t power their way to October wins.  The injury issues with Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher have hurt, as has Derek Jeter’s slump.  Lance Berkman is starting to figure out AL pitching but is it too little too late?  Time will tell. 

 

This off-season will be one of transition for the Yanks.  They’ll have to make some hard decisions, and they’ll need to look at replacing some of the old guard.  The Boston Red Sox have proven that no team should get too attached to any player.  I know the Sox will most likely miss the play-offs but that’s only because of the toll the injuries have had on the team (which is beyond Theo Epstein’s control).  Otherwise, it is not outside of the realm of possibility that the Yanks could be in third chasing the Rays and the Sox. 

 

 

 

 

It’s hard to believe that the NFL season is now upon us.  My team, the Minnesota Vikings, open the season on Thursday night against the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints.  Brett Favre will get the chance to prove that he should have run instead of attempting to pass, but it will be hard to re-capture last year’s magic.  Favre’s favorite target, Sidney Rice, is on the sidelines thanks to hip surgery.  In reading many Minnesota news reports, you come to the conclusion that the media feels strongly this is the final year of the Vikings’ window of opportunity.  I know so much rides on Brett Favre’s arm, but the rest of the team does have some talent.  I was sad to see fellow Iowa native Sage Rosenfels traded to the New York Giants, but something had to give to protect QB prospect Joe Webb.  I am not a fan of backup QB Tavaris Jackson, but I am also not so sure that Webb will be ready to take over at QB when Favre retires (for good) at the end of the year.  I was quietly hoping the Vikings would make a play on free agent QB Matt Leinart before he signed with the Houston Texans.  I know that Leinart failed in Arizona, but I do believe that he has the talent to succeed in the right system.  He is signed to just a one-year deal so hopefully he’ll be one of the options the Vikings look at when trying to replace Favre for next season.

 

 

Matt York/AP

 

I guess this is a ‘glass is half empty’ kind of night…

 

 

 

 

–Scott

 

A BIG Part of the Rotation…


Nineteen and counting…


 



After a season of overusing words like stellar and
incredible when trying to describe CC Sabathia, he continued with more of the
same in one of his best pitching performances of the year in defeating the
Oakland A’s 5-0 this afternoon in the Bronx. 
The win moved CC’s record to 19-5, and put him in outstanding position
to win 20 games in his second year with the Yanks.

 

Over the years, the Yankees have had some great
free agent signings and some not so great. 
CC has clearly put himself in the Top 5 best signings in just under two
years in New York.  Then there’s A.J.
Burnett.  Oh well, nobody’s perfect…except
maybe CC!  ;)



CC Sabathia ties career high with win No. 19 as ace throws one-hit ball over eight innings as Yankees sweep Oakland A's at the Stadium, 5-0.

Sipkin/NY Daily News

 

CC’s game today was a one-hit shutout.  Fortunately, the hit occurred early in the
game on a legitimate hit (single in the second inning).  It would have been much worse had the hit
happened late in the game.  September 1st
call-up, Jonathan Albaladejo pitched the 9th to secure the win and
shutout for CC. 

 

The game also featured two home runs by the
recently rejuvenated Curtis Granderson. 
He has definitely found his sea legs in New York, and is starting to
play like the player the Yanks thought they were getting when they acquired him
from the Tigers.  I am sure that New York
City is starting to look much better through Grandy’s eyes now that his bat is
starting to catch up with his reputation. 

 

With the win, the Yanks moved to 1 ½ games up on
the Tampa Bay Rays, who had the day off. 
They remained 8 games ahead of the Boston Red Sox, who defeated Buck
Showalter and Baltimore Orioles 6-4.  I
would never count the Red Sox out, but on September 2nd, I certainly
feel much better about an 8 game lead than I would if it were only 2 or 3 games
(okay, that’s a statement of the obvious…sorry).  This has been a tough year for the Sox, and I
would never seek to found glory in their injuries.  The latest word has Dustin Pedroia seeking
season-ending foot surgery in an attempt to avoid any setbacks that would cause
him to miss time in 2011.  Pedey is a
gamer so I am sure that whatever decision he makes will be in the best
interests of both he and the Red Sox organization.



David Ortiz (left) and Dustin Pedroia (right) celebrated Pedroia's first inning homer.

Jim Davis/Boston Globe

 

Off-topic
stuff…

 

It’s hard to believe the NFL season is upon us once
again.  My team, the Minnesota Vikings,
will once again be quarterbacked by 20-year vet Brett Favre.  I have my doubts if Favre will be able to
last the entire season so hopefully Tavaris Jackson has grown during his time
as a backup to Favre.  The team may not
have needed T-Jack in 2009, but he’ll see plenty of the pigskin in 2010. 

 

My hockey team, the San Jose Sharks, now have the
reigning Stanley Cup goalie in the fold. 
Antti Niemi won salary arbitration against the Chicago Blackhawks and as
a result forced himself out of Chicago’s budget.  They subsequently severed ties with Niemi and
signed former Dallas Stars goalie Marty Turco. 
The Sharks signed Niemi on a one-year, $2 million deal.  He’ll join another free-agent signee and
fellow countryman Antero Niittymaki plus Thomas Greiss in net.  Former goalie Evgeni Nabakov, who the team
cut ties with earlier in the off-season, signed to play in Russia.  Will this be the year the Sharks finally make
the Stanley Cup?  Well, I certainly hope
so.

 

Roger Clemens deserves jail time…

 

Aroldis Chapman is the real deal.  The Cincinnati Reds are having a terrific
season and they’ve just added an ace arm to the bullpen for the stretch
run.  There must have been collective
groans in St. Louis when the Reds called Chapman up from the minors.  Here’s hoping that he has a much better run
than fellow rookie pitcher Stephen Strasburg who is now on the shelf for 12-18
months due to Tommy John surgery.  I
still wonder why the Yankees never entered into the bidding for Chapman.  I hope they don’t make the same mistake
when/if Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish comes available.

 

I was really surprised to see Andy Roddick make
such an early exit from the US Open in Flushing Meadow, NY (second round).  I’ve been to the US Open a number of times,
and Roddick has always been a fixture in the later rounds.  This year, he’ll be watching from the stands
like the rest of us.

 

Manny Ramirez looks pathetic in a White Sox
uniform.  It wasn’t that long ago that I
admired Manny the Hitter, but I have to admit that I’ve been turned off by his
ugly departures from both Boston and Los Angeles.  Chicago may be excited for now, but it is
inevitable that they’ll be glad to see Manny leave town.

 

Is it really September?…

 

–Scott

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