Monday, October 26, 2009

Is 40 The New 27 For The Yankees?

In the end, it was Mariano Rivera on the mound as his teammates rushed after him to celebrate the Yankees' 2009 Pennant. Rivera pitching to Posada in the ninth inning of a series clincher. How fitting. The scene was reminiscent of the glory days. A decade ago when it seem legit that Derek Jeter may someday have 10 rings.

And there was Rivera, Posada, Jeter and Andy Pettitte, the "Core 4." Flashbacks of the late '90s, when they were all much younger. Wow! Has it been that long? Was I really 24 years old the last time the Yankees won a World Series. At the time, a Yankees Championship was taken for granted. It was another page in the calender. When Halloween rolled around, the Yankees had just finished another parade down 5th Avenue.

But nearly 10 years later, the Core 4 are still performing like champions. And last night, they got one final step closer.

The ALCS against the Angles, the Yankees got the monkey off their back, in so many ways. The Angels had owned the Yankees since 2002, both in the regular season and again in the postseason. The Yankees haven't been to the World Series since 2003.

The Yankees defeated the Angels 4-2 in a drama filled series with Games 2 and 3 going extra innings. But what will be remembered most, was how Joe Girardi managed games. But now it's all said and done, and Girardi in his first postseason as a manager, is 7-2. Not too shabby considering the Yankees swept the hottest team in baseball going into the playoffs, the Twins, and needed only 6 games to finish off one of the best teams in baseball, the Angels.

It's the postseason, it's New York, every move is greatly dissected by people who hadn't played the game for at least 20 years, or probably never of played the game at all. Girardi never panic button. He managed every game of the series like he did every game of the year. He managed the way that won his team 103 games.

Nobody criticized Girardi until after the fact. The middle relief, which was a huge part of the team's success, failed a couple of times against the Angels. You're in a championship series. You're playing a great team, you can't win em all. After Game 3, Girardi said if a manager never made a mistake, his team would win a 162 games.

Everytime Girardi went to the bullpen, he was criticized. He was criticized when he didn't go to the bullpen. It's the Playoffs, what manager doesn't dig deep into his bullpen for the best possible matchup?

He was first questioned in last night's game during the bottome of the 4th. And yet this was the inning the Yankees came to life and scored 3 runs to take over the game. With runners on first and second, no one out and the 9 hole hitter at the plate. Conventional wisdom calls for a bunt in this situation. That's exactly what Girardi did with Melky Cabrera, and it worked perfectly. The Yankees had the tying and go ahead runs in scoring position with one out and the leadoff hitter coming to the plate.

Yes, Melky was batting over .400 for the series, but if anything, that just meant he wasn't due for a hit. No one would have been surprised to seem him hit into a double play in and kill the inning. Girardi did what every other professional manager would have done. And it paid off.

By the time the 8th inning came around, the NY media were praising Girardi. He went with his best weapon, Rivera, to seal the deal, and that paid off. The bottom of the 8th, he called two sacrifice bunts on consecutive batters. How did that turn out? Pure genius, huh.

And don't forget it was Girardi's call to go with a 3 man rotation. Does anyone praise that move? No.

And Joe Torre will be watching from home.

So now it's on! The 2 best teams in baseball will play for all the marbles. The way it should be.

It's cheesecake vs. cheese steak. Broadway vs. Broad Street. C.C. Sabathia vs. Cliff Lee, that's gotta hurt Cleveland.

Some notes for the World Series.

Derek Jeter has played in 132 postseason games, the entire Phillies franchised has played a total of 83 postseason games.

The Yankees led the league with 244 homeruns. The Phillies were tied for second with 224 homeruns. So expect the long ball.

The Yankees batted .283 for the season, the Phillies .258.

I'm taking the Yankees in 6.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Girardi Criticized, Angels Cut Series 2-1

Joe Girardi faced the biggest game of his young managerial career, and everyone claims he failed miserably. Girardi had a lot of questionable moves, but this was just his 6th career game as a manager in the postseason, people are suppose to make some mistakes. And in the playoffs, every move is under a microscope.

After Anaheim's 5-4 Game 3 win, no one remembers that Girardi had been a perfect 5-0 in his first post season stint as manager of the NY Yankees. No one remembers how he was 2-0 in extra inning games in these playoffs.

Girardi's biggest blunder was when Brett Gardner was caught stealing with no one out in the top of the 8th. Gardner was put in the game as a pitch runner for Hideki Matsui. Everyone knew there was a high probability that Gardner would attempt to steal second. Girardi sent Gardner on a 0-1 pitch. Mike Sciosia called a pitch out. Gardner was easily thrown out. Score a huge one for the veteran manager.

Then Jorge Posada hit a shot over the centerfield wall. Game tied 4-4, when it could have very easily been Yankees up 5-4.

As for Girardi's micro managing in extra innings? Doesn't every manager do this in extra innings with the season on the line? Jeff Mathis batted .211 for the season. The Angels batted .285 as a team for the season! This should have been the easiest out in the lineup. That's playoff baseball in a nutshell for you. It doesn't matter what kind of regular season you had, anyone can be a hero or a goat come postseason.

Another thing, this game should never had went extra innings, just like Game 2. The Yankees were 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position in both Game 2 and 3! You just went 0-16 with RISP in two straight playoff games! But then you look and the Yankees went 1-1 in those two games. I think if anything, the Angels are under more pressure because it should be them up 2-1.

As for Joba Chamberlain...I don't know where to begin. But it's obvious the Yankees didn't handle the kid correctly. I always thought he was best off in the bullpen. The guy could pitch 1 to 3 innings in relief. And he would be the closer in waiting for when Rivera was done.

Now, you try to make him a starter, he gets injured and has to visit Dr. James Andrews. Then you set up these "Joba Rules" and that just hasn't worked out. I heard someone actually criticize Girardi for bringing Joba into the an inning with one out and saying Joba's more comfortable beginning an inning. How do you buy that? I'm sure a pitcher is more comfortable having to get only 2 outs instead of 3.

Another thing I heard was that people wanted Mike Scioscia to take Vladimir Guerrero out of the cleanup spot or out of the lineup completely. WTF?! Honestly?! All Vlad has done was give the Angels two of their biggest hits in the post season. In the improbable come from behind Game 3 win in Boston, it was Guerrero who came up with the 2 out game winning hit of Jonathan Papelbon to clinch the AlDS. And then down 3-1 in the bottom of the 6th last night, it was Vlad who saved the season for his team with the two run shot to tie the game off of Andy Pettitte. Yeah, he might actually be slower than Matsui, but the guy has always been a gamer.

One other thought...You know I had to mention Mariano Rivera's performance last night. With the game on the line, Rivera got out of a jam with runners on the corners and no one out! Wow! Building on his legacy, Rivera's postseason ERA is now 0.72!

It would have been nice to go up 3-0 and pretty much march to the World Series, but the Yankees basically need to split the next 2 in Anaheim. They have their ace available for two games. They have possibly two home games left. And both A.J. Burnett and Pettitte pitched solid against the Angels. The Yankees are still in control of this series, but now Game 4 is that much more bigger.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Week 5 Fantasy Football Studs/Duds


QB-Matt Hasselbeck (Seattle)-No, not Manning or McNabb, but it was Hasselbeck who led all QB's in scoring for Week 5.
His line-18/30/241 yards and 4 TDs-27 points

RB-Ahmad Bradshaw (NY Giants)-Last I checked, about 30 minutes till kickoff, Bradshaw was listed as out. So of course I didn't start him. Yeah, I was pissed.
11/110/2 TDs, 1 reception for 55 yards-28 points

RB-Michael Turner (Atlanta)-A top 5 pick in most drafts, Turner is finally getting started after a somewhat slow start.
22/97/3 TDs-27 points

WR-Miles Austin (Monmouth College, Dallas)-I needed to pick up a wide receiver for Week 5. I looked at Austin hard, but thought, Tony Romo is so over rated. I already had failed with Roy Williams, I couldn't take my chances on another one of Romo's targets. I went with Tory Holt instead, hoping for a return to glory weekend.
10/250/2 TDs-37 points

WR-Roddy White (UAB, Atlanta)-Another Falcon who put up big numbers in their blowout win at San Fran.
8/210/2 TDs-33 points

TE-Kellen Winslow (Tampa)-The lone bright spot for the Buccaneers.
9/102/2 TDs-22 points

Defense-Seahawks-In their 41-0 beatdown on Jacksonville, Seattle's defense had a touchdown return while posting a shutout-25 points


QB-David Garrard
(Jacksonville)-A fantasy hero a week ago, Garrard finally fell back to earth with a dismal performance at Seattle.
18/31/188 yards, 2 fumbles-3 points

RB-Chris Johnson (Tennessee)-Nothing has gone remotely right for the winless Titans.
9/34, 2 rec/9 yards-3 points. This guy went for 45 points in Week 2.

RB-DeAngelo Williams (Carolina)-Another top 5 picks in most drafts has been a weekly dud.
18/40-3 points

RB-Maurice Jones-Drew (Jacksonville)-MJD was a number one overall pick in a lot of drafts. The guy has been a total bust so far. He had 9 points last week, and this week:
12/34, 5 rec/23 yards-5 points

WR-Randy Moss (New England)-A huge disappointment this year as everyone thought the Patriots would get their 2007 swagger back. Not so much.
1/36-3 points. 3 points kind of seems generous.

WR-Terrell Owens (Buffalo)-I think it's safe to say this guy's reputation as a big time receiver is over. He's been a dud basically every week. Through 5 games, TO has 12 receptions, 202 yards and 1 TD. Yeah, Roddy White and Austin Miles had better numbers for a receiver in one week than TO has in 5 games!
4/44-4 points

Defense-Jacksonville-Are we seeing a trend here? This was a terrible week to start anyone on the Jaguars. I know, they had a solid week last week, but that shows just how bad the Titans are.
Their defense gave up 41 points for -6 points.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Joba vs. Hughes

In just a few hours, the NY Yankees will play their first postseason game since 2007. That seems like 15 years ago.

The last time the Yankees were in the postseason, Paul Byrd was shutting down the Bronx Bombers as Cleveland won the ALDS 3-1. That's right, Paul freakin Byrd!

The Yankees lost Game 4, 6-4. This was also Joe Torre's last game as NY's manager. They had 12 hits, 3 walks and only mustered 4 runs, a typical Torre managed Yankees team.

Chien Ming-Wang lasted 1 inning, giving up 4 runs. A sign of things to come?

This was also the series featuring Joba Chamberlain and the "bug game." This was Joba's sensational rookie season as he was dominate coming out of the bullpen as the perfect setup man for the great Mariano Rivera.

The Yankees had another hot prospect rookie pitcher in Phil Hughes. Hughes was considered to be the starting pitcher of the future for the Yankees.

Well, two years later the roles are reversed. Since the middle of last season, the Yankees have moved Joba to the starting role. They've monitored his pitch count, gave him a visit to Dr. James Andrews and even put into effect the "Joba Rules."

Joba has shown flashes of brilliance as a starter, but he's also been wild and inconsistent.

This season, Hughes was shaky again as a starter thus making Joe Girardi move Hughes to the bullpen. It may have been one Girardi's smartest moves of the season.

A look at Joba vs. Hughes as relievers:

2007-08 Joba: 50 games, 3-2, 60 innings, 1.50 ERA, 79 K's, 20 BB, 39 hits, 10 ER,
opponents batting average-.182
2009 Hughes: 44games, 5-1, 51.1 innings, 1.40 ERA, 65 K's, 13 BB, 31 hits, 8 ER,

Wow! Pretty similar. So what's this mean?

1. The Yankees are stacked in the bullpen.
2. It's a good thing Brian Cashman didn't pull the trigger on the Hughes/Cano/Melky trade for Johan Santana.
3. Joba probably has lost his job in the bullpen.
4. Joba really better have a couple of solid starts in the postseason or Cashman may have second thoughts of not trading Joba for Roy Halladay.

Let's go Yankees!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Week 4 Fantasy Studs and Duds

These points are from ESPN Fantasy Football


49ers Defense-39 points
-2 defensive TDs, INT, 2 fumble recovery

Aaron Rodgers-30.6
-26/37, 384 yards, 2 TDs, 1 Int

Ronnie Brown-27.5
-20 rushes, 115 yards, 2 TDs

Rashard Menhenhall-35.1
-29 rushes, 165 yards, 2 TDs

Steve Smith (Giants)-29.4
-11 rec, 134 yards, 2 TDs

Jermichael Finley (Packers/Texas Longhorns)-27.8
-6 rec, 128 yards, 1 TD


Braylon Edwards-0

Terrell Owens-6 points
-3 receptions, 60 yards

Reggie Bush-2.4
-6 rushes, 37 yards

Darren McFadden-.2
-6 rushes, -3 yards, 1 reception, 5 yards

Titans Defense- -3 points
-gave up 37 points

Michael Bush (Raiders) -.6
-3 rushes, 10 yards, 1 reception, 4 yards, 1 fumble

Yes, the Raiders are horrible.

Monday, October 5, 2009

NFL Week 4 Recap

Let's start with the two best games of the day:

Ravens at Patriots

This game lived up to the hype. Joe Flacco actually outplayed Tom Brady, but it was a dropped ball on fourth down by Mark Clayton that decided the game. Down 27-21 with time running out, the Ravens had no trouble driving the ball against the Patriots. Flacco hit Clayton right between the numbers which would have given Baltimore a first and goal.

It's safe to say that this is not your 2007 New England Patriots.

The Ravens defense has now gone 39 straight games without allowing a 100 yard rusher.

Jets at Saints
A lot has been said of New Orleans' high flying offense. But it was their defense that outscored the offense 14-10. Darren Sharper had 2 interceptions, returning one for 99 yards and putting a dagger in the Jets.

Enough with the Mark Sanchez/Joe Namath comparisons. Sanchez was awful, committing 4 turnovers. Sanchez has benefited from a solid Jets defense.

Drew Brees was held for under 200 yards for the second consecutive game.

New Orleans is for real.

Bengals at Cleveland

Cincinnati blew a 14-0 lead and were down 20-14 late the fourth quarter. Carson Palmer hit Chad OchoCinco for what seemed to be the winning touchdown. However the Browns blocked the extra point and the game went to overtime tied 20-20. You had the feeling that the Bengals were going to come up with every way imaginable to lose a game.

The Bengals are a freak play deflected pass to Brandon Stokley from being 4-0.

Cleveland has lost 10 straight games. Braylon Edwards failed to catch a pass for the first time in his career. He had gone 61 straight games with a pass reception.

Lions at Bears
Matt Stafford is actually a pretty good quarterback. Stafford was 24-36 for 296 yards and 1 TD. Not bad numbers for a rookie QB on the road against the Bears defense. Detroit can score some points, but their defense is miserable.

This game was actually tied 21-21 at half. But Johnny Knox returned the opening kickoff of the second half 101 yards to the house. Detroit could only muster 3 second half points. The Lions leading rusher was Kevin Smith. His line: 19 rushes for 30 yards and 2 TDs.

Jay Cutler is not everything the Bears hoped for. Cutler was 18-28 for 141 yards and 2 TDs. If he had actually thrown the ball his receivers instead of Green Bay's defense, the Bears could be 4-0. And let's not forget Chicago's defense biting on a play action bomb to the Packers in Week 1.

Seahawks at Colts
Yes, Peyton Manning is the best quarterback in the NFL. No Marvin Harrison, no Alex Gonzalez, no problem. Manning was 31-41 for 353 yards and 3 TDs.

Indianapolis has now won 13 straight regular season games.

Titans at Jaguars
Rumors started last week of Jacksonville moving the team to Orlando. There's been talk of their home games being blackout. But here the Jags sit at 2-2. David Garrard was a fantasy stud, 27-37 for 323 yards and 3 TDs. Who started Mike Sims-Walker (Central Florida)? MSW caught 7 passes for 91 yards and 2 TDs.

Jaguars dominated the Titans despite Maurice Jones Drew rushing the ball 6 times for 14 yards! Wow!

And what the hell happened to the Titans. Tennessee is now 0-4! after going 13-3 last year.

Giants at Chiefs

This Kansas City team could actually go 0-16. Steve Smith has emerged as a prime time performer. He's even overshadowed Carolina's Steve Smith. NY's Steve Smith caught 11 passes for 134 yards and 2 TDs. The Giants will be tough to beat. Not only has Eli Manning looked just as good as his brother, but their defense is tough and the backfield of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw is deadly.

Eli did leave the game in the second half with a non contact heel injury. David Carr is the Giants backup QB. The Manning brothers are now 8-0.

Peyton Manning 97-137, 1336 yards, 9 TD, 3 Int
Eli Manning 79-125, 1039 yards, 8 TD, 2 Int

NY Giants Steve Smith 34 receptions, 411 yards, 12.1 avg, 4TD (4 games)
Carolina's Steve Smith 15 receptions, 190 yards, 12.7 avg, 0TD (3 games)

One bright note for the Cheifs. Apparently they brought their mascot "Warpaint" back in the mix as a tribute to the 50 year anniversary of the AFL. I only saw it for a second, but after the Cheifs score a touchdown, a girl dressed up in Chief paraphernalia rides across the field on a horse. That's a pretty good idea, but the girl is definitely wearing too much clothing. She'll more likely be a rare occurrence considering just how dismal Kansas City is this year.

Raiders at Texans
Not much on this game. Oakland is flat out horrible and JaMarcus Russell doesn't seem to have the making of an NFL quarterback. Steve Slaton had 1 rushing TD and 1 receiving.

Buccaneers at Redskins
Same with this game. If there was a Toilet Bowl in the NFL, this was it. For how bad the Redskins are, they're 2-2. Hey, so are the Cowboys.

Cowboys at Broncos
I think it's safe to say that Tony Romo is the most overrated QB in the NFL. He loses Jessica Simpson, loses TO and he's still mediocre at best. Dallas came into this game averaging 193.7 yards rushing. They finished this game with 74 yards on 25 attempts.

Romo continued to go after Champ Bailey all game. Bailey intercepted Romo inside the 5 and knocked down the would be tying touchdown pass at the end of the game.

Is Denver's defense that good!? The 4-0! Broncos have only allowed 26 points through 4 games!

For Dallas, will Roy Williams please show up! After 4 games, Williams has 11 receptions for 214 yards and 1 TD.

Bills at Dolphins
Miami finally got in the win column and for now salvaged their season. It was Chad Henne's first career NFL start and the former Michigan QB looked decent, 14-22, 115 yards and 1 TD. However, when your offense rushes for 250 yards, it's kind of hard not to look good. Ronnie Brown carried the ball 20 times for 115 yards and 2 TDs. Ricky Williams had 85 yards on 16 rushes.

Trouble continues for TO. He caught just 3 passes for 60 yards. Trent Edwards threw 3 picks.

Rams at 49ers
35-0. Need I say more. The second time this season the Rams have been blanked. They were shut out by Seattle in Week 1 28-0. Mike Singletary has his defense playing his style of ball. The 49ers allowed 177 total yards including 5 sacks and scored 2 defensive touchdowns.

The 49ers are a Brett Favre miracle TD away from being 4-0.

Chargers at Steelers
This game was a route at halftime. Unfortunately no one saw the final quarter. Pittsburgh went up 28-0 in third quarter before the Chargers woke up. The Chargers got a TD on a punt where Jacob Hester ripped the ball away from the returner and took it to the house. Throw in an onside kick and San Diego had made it a 35-28 game! But the Chargers defense was atrocious and just could not stop the Steelers. Pittsburgh held on 38-28.

Rashard Mendenhall rushed 29 times for 165 yards and 2 TDs.

Misery in Missouri. The Chiefs and Rams are 0-8. Both teams look horrendous.

Cleveland's Maohamed Massaquoi (Georgia) led all NFL receivers with 148 yards.