Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Gameday: USC At Oregon

On Saturday, the game of the week was USC at Oregon. Could Oregon break USC's reign as Pac 10 Champions and have the inside track for the Rose Bowl? Well yes, the Ducks won in convincing fashion.

This game proved 2 things. 1. Neither team will play for the National Championship. Although both are far better than Iowa. This Oregon team is for real and might be playing the best football in the country.

2. Oregon's opening game loss to Boise St. only bolsters Boise's BCS resume.

But enough about the game.

Eugene, Oregon is a great college town! If it wasn't for the weather, it might be worth attending. I've been to Eugene 3 times now and I think I saw the sun for a combined total of 45 minutes. No wonder weed is so popular in the Northwest. Well, weed is popular everywhere.

But the best thing about Eugene and the University of Oregon? The cheerleaders/dance team. Incredible! The stories you've heard are all true. Yes, the squad consists of countless hot girls, but what really makes them stand out is there dance moves. The choreography is amazing! It's so great that it makes me wonder if the coaches frequent the local night clubs.

I've been to just about every major college football stadium. I've been on the field for some of the biggest college football games in the past 10 years. The Oregon cheer squad ranks up there with the best. In fact, they might be the best. It's a toss up between Oregon and Texas.

USC has the Song Girls, very rich in respect and tradition. UCLA's girls don't get enough credit because they always seem to be in the shadows of USC. But UCLA is solid when it comes to cheerleaders. The last few years, I think the Texas Longhorns' squad has been the best, because honestly, you can't beat those uniforms with the chaps.

But the Oregon squad is greatly underrated. There must be 50 of them, and they're all smoking, lovable and overall just seem to be up for a great time. I'm sorry Austin, but after last weekend, the Oregon girls get the slight edge. But not by much.

I had a great view from the sideline of Saturday's USC/Oregon at Autzen Stadium. How great was the view? Let's just say it was sometime in the second quarter when I realized there was an actual football game going on, between two top 10 teams nonetheless.

I mean, you the throw the Song Girls and the Oregon Cheer Squad together in the same stadium and who cares about football. But after I picked my jaw up from the ground to take a look back at the screaming crowd, not one person was staring in awe of the real treat for this Halloween. I'm thinking, "What a waste!" Nearly 60,000 crazy college football fans and not one was concerned about where the real action was, the sidelines.

I never thought I'd be a fan of a Mariah Carey song, but that "Obsessed With Me" song, total lap dance song.

Hold The Champagne

It just wasn't going to happen in Philadelphia.

The baseball season will go at least one more game. Chase Utley was once again the spark for the Phillies as he set the tone in the bottom of the first inning with a 3 run homer off A.J. Burnett. Before that ball reached the leftfield stands, you just knew tonight would not be the night for the Yankees or A.J. Burnett.

Now it's Utley who's auditioning for the role of "Mr. November" over Alex Rodriquez. Utley went on to hit a solo shot in the 7th inning giving him a record tying 5 round trippers in a World Series.

Burnett had pitched lights out in Game 2, the Yankees' first win of the Series which greatly changed the momentum of the Series. But with the season Burnett had, you just had the feeling that he would not get 2 quality starts in a row on the game's biggest stage.

Joe Girardi could have started Chad Gaudin and used Game 5 as a throw away game. Going against Cliff Lee neither really stood a chance. But that's all hindsight now.

As much as Girardi has been criticized this postseason, what about Charlie Manuel. So far Girardi's decision to go with a 3 man rotation has been brilliant. All 13 of the Yankees postseason games, their starter had gone 6 or more innings. And the Yankees are 1 win away from a World Series title.

Why wouldn't Manuel give his best pitcher and, besides Utley, his best player a chance to start 3 games? Throwing Joe Blanton out in Game 4 was almost like giving that game away. Why not Lee in Game 4 and then a possible Game 7. If Manuel went with Lee in Game 4, Philadelphia could very easily be up 3-2 in this series.

Throwing Blanton in Game 5 would have made much more sense. You knew the Phillies were set to explode. With Burnett pitching, that means you have Jose Molina and Burnett batting 8 and 9 in the lineup, 2 for sure outs. Last night was a wasted start for Lee.

Even worse, Manuel was determined to leave his ace in for the entire game. The Phillies led 6-2 after 6 innings. They led 8-2 after 7 innings. And Manuel left Cliff Lee in the game! What does that tell you about Manuel's confidence in his bullpen. Like Game 1, you could see Lee start to wear out around the 100 pitch count. And as Lee stayed in to start the 8th, the Yankees's bats awoke and jumped on Lee for 3 runs in the 8th.

So Lee went 7+ and threw 112 pitches. Now, he definitely won't start a Game 7 and if the Phillies need him for relief, he'll have to come in off of only 2 days rest.

Burnett owned it after last night's horrible performance saying, "I let 25 people down. I let a whole city down."

But before it was all said and done, NY had runners on the corners with no one out and Derek Jeter representing the tying run in the 9th. Jeter is "Mister Clutch" and he really had a chance to pile on his legacy. That double play was huge! And it let the Phillies survive to live another day. Maybe that was the ideal time to bunt.

So the positives for the Yankees after last night's loss?

1. They most likely won't have to face Cliff Lee again.
2. They went to Philadelphia and won 2 of 3.
3. The Yankees were down 8-2 after 7. They could have easily rolled over and died. But like championship teams, they hung in there and battled. They got to Cliff Lee and they were in position to tie the game in the 9th.
4. If it goes 7, the next 2 games are at home.
5. In the last 3 games, Mariano Rivera has made 13 total pitches. So he'd probably be ready for a possible 9 out save in Game 6.
6. Ryan Howard has lost his swing.
7. Again, if there is a Game 7, Philadelphia really doesn't have pitcher. Cole Hamels wants the season over and has been nothing like his dominant self from last year. The Phillies are left to start rookie J.A. Happ on the road in Game 7 of the World Series.

Tomorrow night's Game 6 is a dream matchup for MLB. Phillies/Yankees in the Bronx. Pedro vs. Pettitte. Can it really get better than this?

One question I have. Does Girardi intentionally throw at Utley the way the Phillies did to A-Rod? Probably not. I don't think he would stoop to the Phillies' level?

Monday, November 2, 2009

27 Outs Away From 27

The NY Yankees are 27 outs and Cliff Lee away from winning their 27th World Series. If the Yankees do win this title, the two plays that will forever be linked to this championship both involved Johnny Damon.

Game tied 4-4 in the top of the ninth, two outs and Brad Lidge on the mound. Johnny Damon had one of his biggest at bats of his career. (Funny how is other biggest AB was his grand slam in Game 7 for the Boston Red Sox in the 2004 ALCS.) Damon fought long and hard before finally driving a 3-2 pitch for a single. On the next pitch, Damon made one of the greatest plays of this World Series. Damon stole second base and then made the biggest heads up play in the history of the World Series. With no one covering third, Damon continued running and swiped third base.

This totally rattled Lidge, as he plunked Mark Teixeira to put runners on the corners for Alex Rodriquez.

A-Rod stepped up in the clutch on the biggest stage of the game. 2 weeks ago, that last sentence seem preposterous. A-Rod delivered with what he said was the biggest hit of his career. His go ahead RBI double put the Yankees on top on gave game's greatest closer the chance to put the Yankees up 3-1 in the series.

A-Rod only has 2 hits in the World Series, but his two hits maybe the two biggest hits of the series. His 2 run shot in Game 3 sparked the Yankees' bats as they ran away with Game 3. And last night's 2 out double was pure epic.

After A-Rod's homerun in Game 4, he was hit by a pitch twice. And then in his first at bat last night, Joe Blanton beamed A-Rod. That's dirty play by Charlie Manuel. If you're scared to pitch to A-Rod, intentionally walk him. You don't need to start anything but hitting him. And last night's play, the umpire warned both dugouts which basically meant that if C.C. Sabathia went a little too inside, he'd be thrown out. This is what the Phillies have resorted to.

The Phillies are a great team. They're defending champions. But the Yankees are the team coming up with the big plays in the clutch.

Joba Chamberlain came in the 8th inning and was looking like the Joba we all knew. He struck out the first 2 batters and got ahead of Pedro Feliz 1-2. But Feliz got a hold of a Joba fastball and sent it into the leftfield seats. Game tied 4-4. Joba went on to strike out the side, but it looked like his one mistake could have potentially lost the series.

Mariano Rivera has carried this team on his back. Last night was his 11th appearance in 13 of the Yankees' postseason games. In 14 1/3 innings, Rivera has 13 K's and a 0.63 ERA. Last night's 8 pitch save was his 39th career postseason save. He faced 3 batters last night, and not one ball left the infield. Mark Teixeira was responsible for all three put outs. In the last 2 games, Rivera has recorded 5 outs on 13 pitches. Can you say World Series MVP?

If the Yankees have the lead in the 7th inning tonight, does Girardi go to Rivera for a 9 out save?

The Yankees have a 3-1 series lead while Teixeira/A-Rod/Robinson Cano have a total of 5 hits! Hell, Andy Pettitte has as many hits in the series as Teixeira. But no matter how much Teixeira has struggled at the plate, his defense at first base has made up for his poor hitting.

What's been killing the Phillies? Ryan Howard is 3-17 in the series with 10 K's!