Results tagged ‘ Ozzie Guillen ’

You had me at ‘Yankees win!’…

 

For away games, I prefer to see a Yankees pitcher on the mound for the last out…

Finally, the first win of the year has arrived.  It was a bit delayed in coming, but alas, the victory came with the Yankees’ first game away from Tropicana Field.  Hopefully, the Tampa Bay Rays’ home won’t become a house of horrors for the Yankees this season but it was clear for the first three games of the year that the Rays were the better team.

Still, despite the Yankees’ 0-3 record as they departed Florida (the same mark as the Boston Red Sox at the time of their departure from Detroit), I never felt the sense of doom and despair that usually accompanies losses.  Sometimes, for whatever reason, the momentum of a series goes with one team.  Sure, you can say better hitting and pitching will do it every time, but the Yankees could easily take the series they play against the Rays…or not.  I don’t think the Yankees will sweep their latest opponent, the Baltimore Orioles, even though they’ve won something like 40 out of the last 55 games against them.  But there is no doubt that the Yankees rotation will right the ship.  In Minnesota, where the Twins also lost their opening series by sweep (to the Orioles) and now stand at 0-4 after a home opening loss to the Los Angeles Angels in Minneapolis, there is a sense of dread and gloom already.

While Boston matched the Yankees loss-for-loss, and finally last night, win-for-win, I haven’t sense of feeling of desperation from the Sox fans yet either.  So, it’s clear in both New York and Boston that the fans expect their respective teams to perform (unlike those in the Gopher state).  The main thing I hear from Boston fans is the overwhelming belief that Daniel Bard should be the team’s closer, not former Yankee Alfredo Aceves.  I tend to agree as I’ve always felt that Aceves is better suited for long relief and spot starts.

Back to the Yankees, if you asked me who would pick up the first win among the quartet of CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova, there’s no question that I would not have picked Nova.  I wasn’t crazy about the 10 hits he allowed, but he kept the O’s from scoring as they were only able to push 2 across home plate.  I would never be foolish enough to expect Nova to be a front-of-the-rotation starter, but he is perfectly cast in the back of the rotation and I don’t care what he has to do as long as it produces W’s.  With both Andy Pettitte and Michael Pineda looming on the horizon within the next couple of months, there are two starters who won’t be starting.  If Nova can continue to produce, he increases the possibility that Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes are the odd men out.

Please tell me more about the medical insurance…

With so many closers on the DL (Drew Storen, Andrew Bailey, and Ryan Madson to name a few), it amazes me that not only has Mariano Rivera thrived at such a high level for so long, he’s done it without too much down time.  It reinforces to me that he should be a first ballot Hall of Famer despite the Hall’s reluctance to bring closers into the fold.  I am still amazed when I think that I was once disappointed that Mariano had been named closer after the departure of John Wetteland (I didn’t want Wetteland to leave via free agency).  Instead, Mo has rewarded me by allowing me to witness one of the all-time Yankee greats.  As a big fan of Lou Gehrig, I love the history and the tradition of the Yankees, and it’s reassuring to know that my grandchildren and their children will hear the name of Mariano Rivera.

A 5-day sabbatical and an apology is fine, but learn from the experience…

I am not quite sure what I think about the Ozzie Guillen fiasco in Miami with his pro-Fidel Castro comments.  I do know that I do not feel he should lose his job so long as he shows remorse and learns from the situation.  We all know that Ozzie is going to say whatever is on his mind and he’s not going to edit it first.  He speaks to provoke reactions and I am not convinced that he always believes what he says.  I know that’s no excuse for making insensitive comments in one of our country’s top Cuban communities.  He needs to realize that his words can and will hurt.  He now has a 5-game suspension to think about what he said.  I don’t think it will put a muzzle on him as he is, after all, Ozzie and there’s no changing that.  But I hope that he embraces Miami’s Cuban community and can show them he is on their side.

I know, sports history is littered with ruined careers thanks to misguided words.  But I hope that we can find forgiveness for Ozzie so long as he doesn’t later give us a reason to regret it.  I know that I will not always agree with Ozzie, but I respect him for being his own man.  So, for those who say fire him, I say keep him.

I am glad that baseball is finally underway.  Now, if just a few more wins could follow….

 

–Scott

 

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

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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