Results tagged ‘ Chicago ’

Bad Day for Baseball…

 

The Pride of the Red Sox…

I am sure that there are Yankee fans rejoicing tonight at the news the Boston Red Sox and manager Terry “Tito” Francona have mutually decided to part way.  There is no rejoicing on this Blog.  I have a great deal of respect for Tito and he was/is arguably one of the best managers in baseball.

When Joe Girardi was named manager of the Yankees, I was a bit disappointed.  Of course, I’ve been a huge fan of Don Mattingly since he came up through the Yankees farm system and he was my favorite choice for manager despite his lack of managerial experience.  I liked Girardi the player, but he was never one that I was able to fully embrace.  I was concerned about the red flags that he exhibited during his year of managing the Florida Marlins and didn’t think that he’d be able to make the transition to the ‘Bright Lights, Big City’.  I was envious of the Red Sox and their manager because he was the standard that I wanted Girardi to achieve.  To Joe’s defense, he has but he is still not quite on the same level as Tito.

When the Red Sox first hired Tito, I simply viewed him as a Philadelphia Phillies reject.  To me, he hadn’t proven himself as a manager and it was hard for me to take him seriously (kind of reminds me what I felt when the Yankees named Joe Torre as their manager).  For years, the Red Sox had brought in guys that I just viewed as the manager of THAT team.  None were able to capture my respect and admiration, and that includes Don Zimmer who I didn’t develop respect for until years later as a Yankees coach.  But Tito was different.  In 2003, the Red Sox lost a heartbreaker in the ALCS, thanks to Aaron Boone’s home run.  Yet, the following year, the Sox were back.  Even though his team fell down 3 games to none, they stayed calm and persevered toward the AL Championship, and the first World Series Championship since 1918.  He was responsible for the end of the phrase “Curse of the Bambino”.  He followed up with another World Series Championship in 2007, making him the most successful manager in the modern history of the Red Sox.

When I look at the 2011 Red Sox, it is a team that should have prevailed.  They had a superior pitching staff, and the additions of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford made it a much better team than the 2010 version.  But the injuries, most notably, starting with starting pitcher Clay Buchholz and later Kevin Youkilis, were devastating.  That’s really beyond the control of the manager.  He has to play with the hand he has been dealt.  The Red Sox recognized the flaws in the starting rotation, yet the best they could do was former Seattle pitcher Erik Bedard.  Nothing against Bedard, but it has been years since he was considered a stopper due to injuries.  So, if there is any blame, it has to reside with GM Theo Epstein for failing to make the right move.  While Epstein made the unsuccessful Bedard deal, the Detroit Tigers made a deal with the same Mariners team to bring them a starting pitcher (Doug Fister) that is as responsible as any for the Tigers’ late season success.  Epstein was clearly outdone by Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski, and had he made the right move, the Red Sox would be playing Game 1 of the AL play-offs tonight and Tito would still be manager.

If I am Jerry Reinsdorf, I am already on the phone calling Tito’s agent.  He is the perfect choice to follow the highly volatile Ozzie Guillen for the Chicago White Sox.  Chicago has a sound and supportive ownership group and the team is willing to make the necessary moves for success.  I think it would be a great fit, although it would probably be better as a Yankees fan to see Tito in the National League.  Another option would be the Los Angeles Dodgers.  It’s not that I want to see Don Mattingly fired, but I think any change in ownership will also result in a change at the managerial level.  Regardless of where Tito goes, some team is going to  benefit greatly.  If he doesn’t take a managerial job and becomes an ESPN analyst, we still win because we’ll get a first-hand view of his wisdom and insight.

Tito, you were a worthy opponent and a great champion.  I wish you nothing but the absolute best in whatever the future holds for you.  We look forward to your next adventure!

–Scott

Time to look to October…

The 2011 AL East Division Champions…

 

Most importantly, congratulations to the New York Yankees for their AL East Division Championship.  They should have been AL East Champions last season but stumbled in the final days of the season to allow them to be eclipsed by the Tampa Bay Rays.  So, fortunately, the Yankees have returned to their rightful throne!  Well, at least for September.  Come October, nothing less than a World Series Championship is acceptable!

 

So, I was only half right…

 

Admittedly, I am surprised the way this season has played out.  At the beginning of the season, I had picked the Boston Red Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies as the World Series participants.  The Phillies still look like the odds-on favorite at this point given their stellar starting pitching, but the Red Sox have faded oh so quickly.  I remember listening to Sox fans who were predicting at least 114 wins or more for their revamped Red Sox, and while I openly scoffed at the notion, there was a part of me that was concerned that the Red Sox did have the necessary personnel to pull off a magical season.  The chances for the magical season faded quickly when pitcher Clay Buchholz was lost for the season, but the Red Sox had charged back after a sluggish start and were in the thick of things at the end of August.  Up to that point, the Red Sox had played the Yankees very aggressively with a significant advantage in the season series.  They showed they had the offense to destroy virtually any pitcher on any given night, and there is no doubt that Adrian Gonzalez is perfectly suited for Fenway Park.  But sadly for the Sox, the calendar turned to September and the deteriorated pitching staff started to show the stress and strain of the long season.  Still, I didn’t expect the free fall that has currently left the Sox tied with the Tampa Bay Rays for the Wild Card slot, while the Yankees have wrapped up the division championship and best record in the AL.  I never dreamed that the Yankees would be in position to walk to the finish line.

 

Pitching, pitching, pitching…

 

My lack of faith in the Yankees at the beginning of the season was due primarily to the pitching staff.  I was concerned about A.J. Burnett and his ability to bounce back from a disastrous season (and rightfully so).  I did not think the Yankees could replace Andy Pettitte with two scrapheap pitchers in Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon.  Plus, the Yankees were placing much emphasis on Phil Hughes who, despite his 18-win season, had not proven that he was a reliable and dependable starter.  Rounding out the rotation was a rookie pitcher (Ivan Nova), who had not even been mentioned in the same breath with Yankees prospects Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances.   With CC Sabathia followed by a cast of characters, I did not see how the Yankees could compete with the Red Sox and felt that the Wild Card was the team’s best hope.  Now, I am very delighted that I was wrong.  While Burnett and Hughes have been disappointments, Ivan Nova has been huge and is now the second best pitcher in the rotation.  Garcia and Colon have been terrific even if Colon seems to be wearing down at this point in the season.  Garcia is definitely a play-off caliber starting pitcher.  If the Yanks go with a four man rotation, then the 4th man should be Burnett.  But he’ll have a very short leash with Colon and Hughes potentially in the bullpen.

 

Don’t play Poker with Brian Cashman…

 

If I had been the GM, I am sure that I would have made some impulsive and regrettable move at the trading deadline.  GM Brian Cashman, on the other hand, stood pat and played with the hand he was dealt.  In retrospect, he looks like a hero (which includes his anti-Rafael Soriano stance in the spring).  I hope the Yankees do whatever it takes to ensure Cash’s return to the Bronx.  I am sure that there would be significantly less stress in Chicago with the Cubs or some other major league team, but nobody understands New York better than Cash.  I definitely think the Steinbrenners need Cashman more than he needs them.  Hopefully, they’ll recognize it and make sure that Cashman is re-signed.

 

Passing of the Guard…

 

If the Yankees have learned anything in September (aside from the importance of quality starting pitching in watching the Sox freefall), it’s that Jesus Montero is ready for The Show.  This does not bode well for Jorge Posada who is most likely playing his final year in Yankee pinstripes.  If he continues his career season, it will be tough to see him play in different team colors.  My only request would be for him not to go to Boston or Tampa.  It’s always tough to see players cross those lines, and if it were me, I’d retain the respect for the Yankees and walk away from the AL East.

 

He surprised me yet again…

 

Count me as one of the skeptics in Ozzie Guillen’s decision to orchestrate his departure from the Chicago White Sox so that he could join the Florida Marlins.  While I realize that Guillen will sell tickets in Miami, I don’t see it as a good fit with ownership.  I am still not quite sure how someone could have issues with Joe Girardi, but fortunately, Miami did and he’s the highly successful manager of the Yankees.  But Joe is far less out-spoken than Guillen, so if Joe’s comments got him into trouble, what’s going to happen with Guillen who always openly and freely speaks whatever is on his mind.  I had always heard that White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf loved Ozzie like a son, so there’s no way the relationship in Miami will be anything comparable.  His on the field performance had better outweigh the baggage that comes with Ozzie as your manager.  He may regret taking the money and running…

 

Two game sabbatical from ‘Red Sox Suck!’…

 

With the Red Sox and Rays tied for the Wild Card tonight, I’ll have to go with the Red Sox as my preferred team to advance.  I don’t think the Sox will be the easier opponent in the play-offs but that doesn’t concern me.  I’ve always believed that you have to ‘beat the best to be the best’.  This comes down to respect and I simply respect the Red Sox more…

 

–Scott

Right on Target…

 

The weather is Minnesota was beautiful…

Last Sunday, I attend a simply great baseball game.  Well, outside of a few harmless errors and miscues.  As a resident of Minneapolis, Minnesota, I went to Target Field and saw the Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins, 3-0.  It was a great afternoon for baseball (temperature in the upper 70’s, with lots of sun).

The game was a pitcher’s duel in the early going.  I was surprised when the Twins pulled starter Nick Blackburn in the second inning despite not giving up any runs, but later heard that he had been injured.  The Twins bullpen did a good job until the 7th inning when Curtis Granderson hit an inside-the-park home run.  I was watching him run between second and third, and his stride is so long that he almost looks like he is going slow motion.  There wasn’t much hesitation as he rounded third and headed home.  I always cringe when players go in for headfirst slides but Curtis slide his hand across home plate before the ball arrived and the Yanks were up 2-0.  In retrospect, the Twins outfielders blew the play when both the right and center fielders went to the wall on Granderson’s hit ball which bounced off the wall.  One of the outfielders should have backed up the other, but that’s the hazard of fielding a young, inexperienced outfield.

Mark Teixeira followed with one of those line drive shots that never drop as the ball was deposited in the left field stands.

The Twins definitely had their chances.  At one point, they had men on second and third with no outs and couldn’t score.  David Robertson worked out of a jam in the 8th when the bases were loaded despite no balls leaving the infield.  There were miscues, like when a ball dropped between Nick Swisher and Curtis Granderson (you get it, no, you get it…) or A-Rod’s bobble of what should have been a routine fielding play.  Fortunately, the Twins couldn’t do anything with the opportunities, so the Yankees emerged the victor.  I had a decent seat (lower level, left field) but for the 9th inning, I moved over to the standing area behind the home plate lower level seats.  I had a perfect line to watch Mariano Rivera throw his cutter to catcher Russell Martin, and it was great to catch that view.  It was also nice to see Mariano walk off the field with another save…

I am always amazed at how many Yankees fans are in attendance on road games.  Not that I’d feel threatened in Minnesota, but it’s nice having “support” nearby!

So close yet so far away…

Monday night’s game was a disappointment.  After the Yanks fell behind 6-0, I wrote the game off.  But then, in the final two innings, the Yanks brought it to within one at 6-5, with the bases loaded.  I started to get excited about the potential huge comeback, but Nick Swisher hit a fly ball that was caught near the fence to end the game.  That was harder to accept than if the Yanks had just lost 6-0.  Then, of course, every time I looked at the TV, the loss was scrolling across the ticker on ESPN.  While A.J. Burnett is my personal favorite to be yanked (no pun intended) from the rotation, I realize that there are financial reasons for why that move won’t be made.  Therefore, the next to go would be Bartolo Colon.  I’d definitely take Freddy Garcia over Colon, and there is no way that Phil Hughes or Ivan Nova will be coming out of the rotation anytime soon.

Of course, as I sit here typing this blog, Nick Swisher has just hit a home run to put the Yanks up 2-1 over the Oakland A’s in the 6th inning.  Dude, where was that shot last night?…

Wasn’t he a Yankee for about 5 minutes a few years ago…

I saw the blurb today that the Yankees had claimed Chicago Cubs first baseman Carlos Pena on waivers.  Listening to comments from GM Brian Cashman, it doesn’t sound like the Yanks will do anything, but it would be nice to acquire Pena as an option at DH and a backup to Mark Teixeira.  He is definitely familiar with the AL East having played with the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays.  I don’t like Pena’s batting average, but his other stats are respectable.  The Yanks clearly need a clutch bat on the bench and perhaps Pena could be the guy if the Yanks and Cubs can work out a trade.

Fat, dumb, and happy…

Entering play tonight, the Yankees held an 8 ½ game lead over the Los Angeles Angels and Tampa Bay Rays.  While that’s certainly not insurmountable, it’s nice to have such a large cushion as we enter the final days of August.  Granted, I’d prefer to win the AL East, but then again, with the current play-off structure, it doesn’t really matter.  If the Yanks can keep the lead in the WC standings, they should be able to rest some guys in September to allow the team to head into October at full strength.  At this point, my biggest concern is getting a healthy Alex Rodriguez on the field.

Have a good night!

–Scott

Time To Step It Up…

 

Whew, a series win!…



 


The Yankees were able to pull out a series win over
the Chicago White Sox, thanks to the great pitching of rookie Ivan Nova.  Nova, who won his first major league game,
went 5 2/3 innings, giving up only one run and give hits.  He walked one and struck out 7 White Sox
batters, and got help from the bullpen as the Yankees defeated the White Sox
2-1 on Sunday.



New York Yankees starter Ivan Nova shuts down the White Sox as the Bombers and Curtis Granderson (below) upend Chicago.

Huh/AP

 

The series started with a loss on Friday night, as
Chicago drubbed the Yanks, 9-4.  It was
another pathetic performance by A.J. Burnett, who is making the remaining years
on his contract look very painful for the Yanks at this point.  It’s a difficult situation because the
Yankees do need him to win in October, so it is imperative for A.J. to put
August behind him and return to pitching like he did late last year.



New York Yankees pitcher A.J. Burnett is 0-9 combined in the months of June and August.

Arbogast/AP

 


In Saturday’s game, CC Sabathia didn’t have his
best stuff but didn’t need it as the Yanks put their bats on display in the
12-9 win.  They had a big lead and had to
hold on late, but it still went in the win column. 

 

The series MVP was clearly Marcus Thames, who
homered three times in the series including two on Saturday and once on
Sunday.  He struck out in his only
appearance on Friday night, but clearly made up for it as he figured heavily
into both Yankee wins.  At a time when
Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Lance Berkman are on the sidelines, you need
for others to step up and Thames certainly answered the call.  



0828thames.JPG

Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/MCT



Other heroes of the past three days include Nova for his great pitching on
Sunday, Mariano Rivera for just being himself in picking up two saves, and 
Eduardo Nunez who had 4 RBI’s on Saturday. 



New York Yankees third baseman Eduardo Nunez gives thanks after hitting a two-run homer against the Chicago White Sox. Mark Teixeira (b.) is not sure whether he'll play Sunday with a bruised thumb.

Smierciak/AP

 


I wasn’t pleased to hear that Major League Baseball
is investigating Ivan Nova and pitcher Wilkin De La Rosa for allegedly
injecting each other B-12 shots at Double AA Trenton last season.  Hopefully, the investigation will prove no
wrongdoing on Nova’s part and the substance was purely B-12, which is not a
banned substance. 

 

It will be interesting to see what changes in the
rotation manager Joe Girardi makes upon the impending return of Andy
Pettitte.  Javier Vazquez and A.J.
Burnett are clearly the more accomplished and experienced starters, however,
they have been unable to match the recent consistency of Dustin Moseley and
Ivan Nova.   I remain hopeful that Vazquez and Burnett will
return to the success they achieved earlier in the season, but for now, it is
good to know that others are there to help the team during times of
trouble. 

 

Mark Teixeira has missed some playing time the past
few days with a bruised hand, but hopefully, he’ll be back when the Yankees
return to the Bronx on Monday night to face the Oakland A’s.  With A-Rod (and Lance Berkman) still
sidelined, the Yankees definitely need Teixeira’s bat in the lineup.  As the calendar prepares to change to
September, it’s time for the team to get on a roll and Tex is obviously a key
ingredient.

 

Congratulations to Albert Pujols for his 400th
home run last night.  He is definitely
moving into the land of Legends, and we’ll look back one day and be very
appreciative that we were able to see him play. 
As much as the media would love to see Albert play in New York, I feel
that it is only right for the St. Louis Cardinals to find a way to ink their
superstar to a long-term deal.  I
remember attending my first major league game as a kid at the old Busch Stadium
and running into former Cardinal great Stan Musial.  Musial means so much to the Cardinals
organization, and of course, Pujols is in the same category.  It would be wrong to see him wear anything
other than a Cardinals uniform.



Hitting .321 with 45 homers and 120 RBI through Wednesday's action, Albert Pujols is once again in the middle of the NL MVP race.

Scott Rovak/US Presswire

 


I can’t believe that I am actually pulling for the
Tampa Bay Rays to win tonight’s game against the Boston Red Sox (which would
keep the Yankees in a first place tie with the Rays).  But then again, there is simply no way to
pull for the Red Sox…

 



–Scott


 

Yes, Ozzie, It Was ‘Very Nice’…

 

A “very nice” weekend…

Weekend.JPG

 

Asked about the weekend in New York City following the three game sweep by the Yankees, Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen would only say that Yankee Stadium is a very nice ballpark and that they had stayed in a very nice hotel.  Very nice, if I say so myself!  ;)

 

Kathy Willens/AP

 

I doubt it was too much fun to be on the White Sox’ plane as they flew to Minneapolis following Sunday’s game.  The trip to Boston and New York was not a fun experience for the White Sox, who were once considered play-off contenders.

 

Ozzie Guillen argues a close play at second base with umpire Mark Wegner, who called Derek Jeter safe at second on a fielder's choice in the first inning. 

Paul J. Bereswill/AP

 

Mathematically, the White Sox are still in it as they are only 6 games behind the Detroit Tigers.  However, the past week, with only 1 win in 7 games against Boston and New York, showed that they are pretenders at this point. 

 

Yankees 8, White Sox 3

Kathy Willens/AP 

 

It was good to see the Yankees complete the three-game sweep, particularly considering the disappointment o f the prior series they lost to the Texas Rangers.  As it stands, the Yankees need every victory because the Boston Red Sox just keep on winning.  The Yankees’ lead in the AL East remains at 6 games.  Unlike Chicago, Boston does have the ability to win the division so the Yankees need to keep winning to stay ahead.

 

Winslow Townson/AP 

 

Yesterday’s one-hit shutout in the Yankees’ 10-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox was very satisfying.  Sergio Mitre was pitching a great game, his finest in pinstripes, but he suffered a forearm contusion off a liner hit by A.J. Pierzynski in the 7th inning and departed the game.  Chad Gaudin closed out the one-hit masterpiece.  My biggest fear is that Mitre’s gem came at the last opportunity for the Yankees to secure a reliable #5 starter for September.  If Mitre’s performance causes the Yankees to end their quest for an upgrade and he reverts to his usual mediocre ways, it will be a frustrating September.

 

Paul J. Bereswill/AP 

 

I think it is important for the Yankees to play for home field advantage in the play-offs, and that’s why I am so concerned about the #5 spot in the rotation.  I agree that by the time the play-offs start, the #5 starter becomes a long man out of the pen.  But given the Yankees’ struggles against the Los Angeles Angels, they need every advantage they can get between now and when they’ll have to face their nemesis with the chips on the line.  I was surprised that the Tampa Bay Rays traded Scott Kazmir, but it was tough to see him go to the Angels.  The Yankees have not done well against Kazmir and he solidifies the Angels’ rotation.  The Yankees were able to reverse their fortunes against the Red Sox; I only hope they’ll be able to do the same with the Angels when the time comes.

 

Shazam.JPG

 

Sunday, “Joba Rules 2.0″ were in effect so it was an abbreviated start for Joba Chamberlain who only went 3 innings (2 runs on 4 hits).  Alfredo Aceves, in the role perfectly suited for him, relieved Chamberlain and picked up his 9th win of the season.  The game had been tight until the 7th inning when the Yankees scored 5 runs (primarily on the strength of Mark Teixeira’s three-run homer, his 32nd of the season).  Teixeira, in picking up his 101st RBI of the season, now has hit 30 home runs and 100 RBI’s for the sixth consecutive season.

 

Kathy Willens/AP 

 

The game also saw Johnny Damon hit the 200th home run at the new Yankee Stadium since it opened in April.

 

Johnny Damon is congratulated by Derek Jeter after hitting a two-run homer in the third inning off of starter Freddy Garcia.

Chris McGrath/Getty Images 

The Yankees now head to Baltimore.  The Orioles have generally played very well against the Yankees, so it should be a challenging series.  Meanwhile, their chief rival heads to Tampa for a three-game series against the Rays.  Normally, I’d like the Rays’ chances in the match-up, but I have to believe that for a team still in contention, the trade of Scott Kazmir had t be somewhat demoralizing.  Therefore, the Red Sox are probably getting to Tampa at just the right time…not to mention that they’ve been on fire since they played the Yankees earlier this month.  The beginning of September should be interesting in the AL East…well, at least for the Yankees and Red Sox…

 

 

Standings as of 8/30/09:

TEAM

W

L

%

GB

Yankees

82

48

.631

Red Sox

76

54

.585

6.0

Rays

70

59

.543

11.5

Blue Jays

58

70

.453

23.0

Orioles

54

77

.412

28.5

 

I saw that Kansas City Chiefs QB Matt Cassell was hurt this weekend.  I know the Chiefs are awaiting tests to determine the extent of the injury, but hopefully, the news will be good and he’ll return soon.  Even though he didn’t end up with the Vikings, I had been looking forward to see if Cassell could continue his success in Kansas City.

 

It was a painful sack for Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel on the third play from scrimmage in Saturday's game against the Seattle  Seahawks at Arrowhead Stadium. Cassel left the game because of a leg injury and did not return to the sideline.

The Kansas City Star 

 

I was very surprised that the New England Patriots have chosen to cut backup QB Kevin O’Connell.  Granted, I am not too close to the scene so I don’t know all the details, but I hope the Pats have a plan for a safety net behind Tom Brady.  I am sure they’ll be scouring the waiver wire and calling other teams looking for possible replacements.  The Pats do need more than Andrew Walter or Brian Hoyer should Brady go down for any extended period of time.  Maybe the Pats should have opted for Michael Vick…

 

Kevin O'Connell #5 of the New England Patriots shouts instructions against the Baltimore Ravens during a preseason game at Gillette Stadium on August 7, 2008 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

Getty Images North America

 

I am anxious to see what Brett Favre is able to do when he plays the first half against the Houston Texans in tomorrow night’s exhibition game.  Last week, he was outplayed by Tavaris Jackson as he only went 1-for-4 for 4 yards.   I am sure that the word “schism” will be heard more than once on the telecast Monday night. 

 

 

Tuesday night, I will be going to my first Nickelback concert.  They’re my favorite band, and I am excited to finally see them in person.  Over the years, I’ve used different lyrics as a mantra, and these are some of my favorite lines from the song, If Today Was Your Last Day…

So do whatever it takes

‘Cause you can’t rewind a moment in this life

Let nothing stand in your way

‘Cause the hands of time are never on your side

 

 

Hopefully, Tuesday night will find the Yankees 7 ½ games up on the Red Sox!  J

–Scott

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