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Friday, October 30, 2009

A.J. Burnett shuts the critics up, and Pedro Martinez won't shut up

A few more thoughts on Game 2:

* How about Pedro Martinez's pitching - and his postgame press conference? I know as a Yankee fan I'm supposed to hate him. But I can't - dude brings the drama. What a showman. I loved how he smiled as the crowd booed him as he walked off the mound. Did you see what he said afterwards?
“I know they really want to root for me. It’s just that I don’t play for the Yankees,” Pedro said. “They love the fact that I compete. I’m a New Yorker as well. If I was on the Yankees, I’d probably be like a king over here. But that’s not the case right now.”
Do you think he's angling to be a Yankee next year? I sure do!

* Larry Milian of South Florida's Andy and the Amigo show asked me in our radio interview today whether I thought Joe Girardi would have Jose Molina catch Burnett in Game 5. Good question. Given the lack of DH in Philly, I could see Girardi going with Jorge Posada. But it will be a tough decision, as Burnett is so much better with Molina catching him. A.J. really was something, last night, wasn't he?

* Oh, and can somebody please stop the anti-A-Rod hysteria? He had two bad games. Two. We're talking eight at bats here. How quickly the media - and way too many Yankee "fans" - forgot that he is the No. 1 reason the Yanks are in the World Series in the first place.Good grief. What kills me the most about the screeching about his strikeouts is that the Yankees still won Game 2!  Derek Jeter made one of the worst plays I've ever seen him do, where he bunted into a strikeout (his third K of the night),. but ultimately, it didn't matter, because the team won. Shouldn't the same go for A-Rod?

* Not sure how many standing room seats the Yanks are selling, but it behooves the Stadium to get as many of the real fans in there for Games 6 and 7. Let's face it - other than some "Who's your daddy" chants for old time's sake,  the crowd was weak last night. Jimmy Rollins mentioned it, and he's absolutely correct. The atmosphere is like April 2009 at the Stadium - too many corporate types, and not enough regular fans.

What do you think? Leave us a comment!

Another reason to root against Cole Hamels

Poor Cole Hamels. Winning the World Series in 2008 and being named MVP was not special enough for him, because he had to pitch in Tampa Bay. Finally, he gets to be in a real Fall Classic:
"It actually feels like a World Series... Tampa Bay had tremendously talented players, but it's not the World Series-type city and flair that you expect in a World Series. I grew up in Atlanta. They were always on TV. That's what you were accustomed to, that's what you thought of when you thought of a World Series.

Unfortunately, Tampa Bay doesn't have that type of attention. They're gonna put up some tremendous statistics and do well. But the attention you get in New York makes it feel like a World Series."

The Phillies are defending World Champions. They have been in the World Series five times in the last 30 years. That's as many as the Braves. In fact, that's as many as any other team besides the Yankees. (The Cardinals also have five World Series appearances.) As much as I hate to say it, Philly players and fans have a right to say, when you think of the World Series, think of us.

Instead, Hamels ends up devaluing his own World Series MVP performance in 2008. After all, Hamels' only win in the series came in Tampa Bay, and we know that those games don't feel like World Series games.

And now that Hamels' road World Series games are finally on a stage big enough for his liking, Phillies' manager Charlie Manuel apparently feels like that stage is too much for Hamels, skipping over last year's MVP for 38-year-old Pedro Martinez, who was viewed as more likely to do well in Yankee Stadium.

Hamels pitched at the new Yankee Stadium in May and did pretty well. In six innings, he allowed two runs on eight hits and no walks while striking out five and got a no-decision. Except for the strikeouts, those numbers are better than the ones Pedro put up Thursday night in Game 2. But when it "felt" like a World Series game," Hamels got passed over.

Hamels has said things that devalue his own accomplishments in the past. Squawker Lisa and other Yankee fans expect me to hate Hamels because he called the Mets "choke artists" last year. But Hamels' statement hurts himself more than Met fans. It only validates our view that the Phillies did not win the division in 2007 and 2008 so much as the Mets lost it.

I don't recall anyone associated with the Mets calling the Red Sox choke artists for letting the 1986 World Series slip away. That would only diminish the never-say-die spirit of the 1986 Mets.

Besides, Hamels is right - the 2007-8 Mets were choke artists. And the only way for the Mets to shed that label will be on the field.

I look forward to seeing the Mets back in the World Series one day, and wherever it is played, I am sure it will feel like a World Series.

Squawker media alert: I'm going to be on the radio

Quick note to let you know I will be on Andy and the Amigo at 6 p.m. today, on South Florida's WFTL Sports (640 AM.) Go to WFTLSports.com to listen. We'll be discussing the World Series, of course.

More on a Philly sportswriter's "pain and suffering" at Yankee Stadium

My Squawk about Philadelphia Inquirer sportswriter Frank Fitzpatrick's complaints over the Yankee Stadium auxiliary press box has gotten picked up in the tweetosphere, so I thought I should follow up on it.

The biggest thing that got me about Fitzpatrick's complaint about the press box was that he was griping about the very same weather conditions that the fans - and, for that matter, the players - also had to endure. Besides, as I wrote, it was 52 degrees at game time. That's not exactly the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field.

Look, I get that sportswriters don't have the easiest of jobs - they have to write quickly, they don't always get treated very well from the people they're covering, they have a lot of travel, and their industry is shedding jobs like crazy. But at the same time, to gripe that - shocker - there are a lot of press jammed in at a World Series game seems a bit much to me.

We count on sportswriters to give us the inside scoop on what's going on with the teams we follow. And we want to hear the sportswriters' insights on the game, not their moaning that they didn't get a good seat in the main press box.

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Who's your daddy? Pedro's daddy has a new home!

Glad the Yankees won. I did not expect an easy game against Pedro Martinez - I figured the Yanks would have to beat the Phillies' bullpen in order to win - and he really was great for six innings. But A.J. Burnett was better, and Pedro stayed in a little too long.

Before the game, I wrote something on Pedro's wacky presser the other day. I think he's a real character. The funniest thing about his press conference was that he went into this whole tangent about the Zimmer fight at Yankee Stadium, even though it was at Fenway Park!

I'll have more to say on the game tomorrow. But wanted to mention the Jay-Z/Alicia Keys song. As I noted the other day, the Yankees and Phillies are both big fans. I told Squawker Jon that if he wanted to be a true Yankee fan this week, he'd have to learn to freestyle rap!


What do you think? Leave us a comment!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Met fan Squawker Jon becomes a Yankee fan - for a week!

Remember how Squawker Jon agreed to root for the Yankees against the Phillies in the World Series? He said, and I quote, that he'd "rather see my blogging partner celebrate than Shane Victorino." So last night was the first time Jon and I cheered for the Yankees together. How did it go? Not exactly good for the Bombers. Or for me.

Not only have his predictions been better than my own so far, but he's not exactly a quick learner in the ways of Yankeedom. When I asked Jon to join me in chanting roll call, he started yelling payroll figures instead of names - "$300 million!" instead for A-Rod, "$190 million" for instead of Derek Jeter, etc. Not cool.

Instead of being dismayed, Jon yelped in excitement over Chase Utley's homers, and he couldn't help but get excited when the Yankees' bullpen got roughed up. Some Yankee fan! I guess old habits die hard.


Do you have any tips for Squawker Jon becoming a Yankee fan? Tell us about them!

Boo-hoo! A Philadelphia sportswriter complains about getting paid to watch baseball

Philadelphia Inquirer sportswriter Frank Fitzpatrick is waxing indignant over the way he was treated at Yankee Stadium at Game 1. Let's take a look at his piece, Fire Joe Morgan style:
Many of you seem to enjoy getting an inside look at how the media covers a big event like a World Series. Allow me to offer a glimpse into last night's glamorous Game 1 experience.
Um, no. Most fans care to hear about who's in the lineup, and what funny stories you might know about the players. Hearing about what it's like to cover the game, especially when there's a very good chance it will degenerate into self-indulgent whining, isn't really on the list. Most fans think you should be happy because you get paid to watch baseball, and in this economy, it's hard to argue with that opinion.
Rode to stadium with six Inquirer colleagues and a cooler packed with our postgame meal - or, more simply put, with six turkeys and seven turkey sandwiches.
Sure your colleagues are thrilled with this shoutout.
Four hours before Game 1, the main press box resembled the Tokyo subway. Bodies and computers made things impassable. The adjoining work rooms were overflowing too, the precious spots apparently having been claimed at dawn by savvy veteran journalists.

The poor Yankees. How were they know people would be interested in covering a World Series? Having hosted 39 others, there was no way they could possibly have anticipated a crowd.
Maybe if your paper didn't send seven writers, and every other paper didn't send so many writers, and so on and so on, there wouldn't be such a mess. Didn't you guys ever see that Herbal Essences commercial when you were a kid?
Beat a hasty retreat for the auxiliary press box, a lofty, outfield perch where Philadelphia sportswriters were assigned seats and sherpas to get them there.
After rappelling up there, it was quickly apparent that more clothing, binoculars and oxygen would be required. The freezing wind howled like a New York cabbie. The puddles of water that two days of rain had left on our chairs and tables were icing over.
Let's review. First you complained that the main press box was too crowded, and then the auxiliary press box wasn't close enough for your liking. Boo hoo. You also had to deal with the same weather conditions and sight lines that, um, every fan not ensconced in the luxury suites had to put up with. And you expect readers to be on your side about this, why, exactly?
We all would have huddled near the TV monitors for warmth had there been any TV monitors. Apparently it was OK for the cream of the nation's sportswriters to get wet but not for TVs.
If all you want is the TV monitor, and dry, warm, weather conditions, why didn't you just stay home and watch the game from there, like us bloggers? The paper could have saved their money in sending you to the game.

Look, at least I can understand sportswriters griping about deadlines, and rude players, and long hours. But to hear a writer complain about how his seats weren't up to snuff is a bit much.
Far below, set up atop the right-centerfield wall, we could see a pair of NYPD snipers. Had New Yorkers finally tired of the Yankees uber-obnoxious broadcast team of John Sterling and Susan Waldman?
Is this Philly's idea of humor? Sniper jokes about our radio hosts? Good grief.
By game time, the rain and cold climate brought to mind Nome or a Rockies game in October.
Gametime temperature was 52 degrees. Maybe that seems like Alaska or Colorado - to somebody from Florida. Not Philly.
On the field below, we could see Yanks starter CC Sabathia - the only human large enough to be visible - ambling toward the bullpen for warm-ups.
Even up here, in the section formerly known as Pluto, the ground shook.
Gee, a CC fat joke. How edgy of you. Yeah, I can totally understand why you wanted the good seats. A wit like that shouldn't be wasted in the auxiliary press box.

Sorry, I give up. I feel like I'm killing brain cells even recounting this nonsense - you can go here to read the rest of his article; it goes on and on for many more words, with lists, limericks, and more lame jokes.

It's not that this writer was anti-Yankee - heck, I loved the Philly City Paper's look at the Yanks, even though it was mocking them - it's that Fitzpatrick is just like every other whining sportswriter who thinks he should get the best seat in the house. And thinks that fans should care about his troubles. Leave the whining to the trained professionals - us bloggers! Thanks.


What do you think? Leave us a comment!

World Series Game 1: Get off the ledge, everyone! It's only one game!

Last night was a bad loss, but it's still only one game. One game, not four, unless they somehow changed the rules and are giving the World Series trophy to the Phillies just because they dominated the Yankees in Game 1.

The game reminded me of Opening Day at the new Yankee Stadium. In both games, CC and Cliff Lee pitched well, but Lee got the win. In both games, the Yankee bats were stifled, and in both games, the bullpen imploded. And in both games, the fans seemed really out of it.

Remember all the hysteria in Yankeeland over that humilating loss? I do. But somehow, the Yankees managed to get it together, and win 57 games in the new ballpark.

You would think sportswriters would be able to keep some perspective - CC was very good (other than giving up the Utley homers) but Cliff Lee had one of the all-time great postseason performances, and at any rate, it's still only one game.

But not New York Post columnist Joel Sherman. He wrote this on Twitter after the game:


@nyp_joelsherman Whose season feels more over: #Yankees 0-1 in World Series, #Knicks 0-1 in regular season

Get a grip, dude. Are you really serious? What a breathtaking lack of perspective.

But sadly, that's typical for Sherman, though, when it comes to his columns, tweets, and blog posts after bad losses. Here's what he wrote after the Yankee's season opener loss, when Sabathia and Teixeira had lousy debuts in their first game in pinstripes:
Sabathia was the highest-paid free-agent pitcher of the offseason and Teixeira the highest-paid position player. In a down economic climate, the Yanks invested $341 million on just those two. They are not going to feel bad about those decisions at 0-1. However, no one wants to make a bad first impression as a Yankee because the hole is always a little deeper, so deep that many never truly escape.
It's true! CC and Tex never truly escaped that bad first impression. We're doomed!

Then there was this Sherman hysteria after A.J. Burnett and  the Yankees lost 14-1 at Fenway Park in August, the day after beating the Sox. He even brought up the specter of the 2004 over this one loss, fretting that the Yankees could lose the division to the Sox.
Just about the only downside for the Yankees in Friday night's blowout of the Red Sox was how much it was reminiscent of their Game 3 victory in the 2004 ALCS.

The Yankees won that contest 19-8 at Fenway, Hideki Matsui hit two homers and the Yanks took a three-games-to-none lead. At that moment, the Yanks appeared more likely to join a Broadway chorus line en masse than fail to reach the World Series. Their magic number was one with four games to play. But they never did get that victory, and no one ever Cursed again.
Turns out that the only thing that Saturday loss to Boston - the one where A.J. Burnett yelled "Why, why, why" on the mound - was that Jorge Posada stopped catching Burnett. The Yankees ended up winning the series finale, didn't lose a game to the Sox for the rest of the year, and Boston finished in second place, eight games behind this Yankees. And after losing the first eight games of their head-to-head matchups, the Yanks ended up tying the season series. Oh, and did I mention that the Yankees are in the World Series now? Other than that, Sherman's prognostication was on the money!

So why am I doing this whole walk through memory lane? Because while it's true that this Yankee team has had some brutal losses this year, but they have invariably prevailed. If you're a Yankee fan who really thinks that the World Series is over because of one brutal loss, do yourself - and the rest of us - a favor and jump off the bandwagon now. Thanks.

Yes, other than Derek Jeter, the Yankee bats looked flat all evening. And yes, Phil Hughes was terrible. And yes, why Joe Girardi would put Brian Bruney on the postseason roster at all, let alone have him pitch in this game, made no sense.

But it's still only one game. In 1996, I flew up to New York and spent almost $300 on a ticket to see Andy Pettitte get his butt kicked in the rain in Game 1 of the World Series to the Atlanta Braves, the defending world champions. And then the Yanks lost Game 2 at home. The bridge-jumping then was fierce, and the media was in hysterics. Yet somehow, the Yankees managed to win three games in the then-intimidating atmosphere of Atlanta, and then clinched their first title in 18 years at home.

Am I saying the same thing will happen this time? No. I'm just saying that it's ridiculous to even suggest that the season feels "over" because of one game.

There is one Squawker cohort who doesn't feel the same as me, though - my cat, C.C. After giving a grudging paw of approval to the Yankees ace, she takes it all back, hissing and scratching in CC Sabathia's direction after each Utley homer. She's not pleased. Cats have no loyalty.


What do you think? Tell us about it!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Predictions for the nightmare World Series

Don Fehr had a chance to close out his tenure as head of the Player's Association on a positive note - by teaming up with Bud Selig to cancel the World Series one more time.

Unfortunately, Fehr let down the baseball public yet again. So here we go with predictions:
  • A-Rod will have a great Series, but will not win MVP.
  • Pedro Martinez will pitch well, but I agree with Squawker Lisa that Brad Lidge will blow the game.
  • Jimmy Rollins will do well because he loves sticking it to New York.
  • Johnny Damon will do well enough that the Yankees will want to bring him back next year.
  • Nick Swisher will be benched for at least one game.
  • Jayson Werth will be much better known by the end of the Series.
  • Cliff Lee will have a better Series than CC Sabathia.
  • If Joe Girardi goes to a three-man rotation, he will regret it. Start Sabathia on three days rest if you want, but have Chad Gaudin start Game 5.
Other predictions:
  • If Brett Favre's return to Green Bay goes into overtime Sunday afternoon, Fox will delay the start of Game 4.
  • Mayor Bloomberg will sit next to Kate Hudson in the stands to maximize his time on camera.
  • Bud Selig will fulfill his wish to have a World Series game played in daylight hours by setting all stadium clocks five hours behind.
It will come down to the closers. Yankees in six.

The wait is over! Here are my World Series predictions

Phillie Phanatic, you're going down. Rocky, you too. And Michael Vick, stop barking!

For the next week or so, Philadelphia is enemy territory. Until this series, I didn't really have anything against the city, or the Phillies - after all, the team makes Met fan Squawker Jon miserable, and that always warms my heart. And, as I wrote last month, I think the bad rep Philly fans have is both overblown and a little unfair. There are good fans and not-so-good fans in each and every fanbase. (Speaking of which, can we vote Artie Lange out of Yankee Universe? You could fit what he knows about the Yankees in a thimble. This is the clown who actually told Bill Simmons that the 1978 Butch Hobson, who had 43(!) errors that year, was a better player than Alex Rodriguez.Good grief.)

I digress. I was looking forward to seeing one Philadelphia Phillie's return to the Bronx. After all, this player was part of the 2004 ALCS, and Yankee fans need to get revenge on him. He has a lot to answer for.  But then Charlie Manuel left Miguel Cairo off the World Series roster. Bummer.

Anyhow, I'm one of the few Yankee fans who digs both Jimmy Rollins and Pedro Martinez - as I always say, I like players with larger-than-life personalities. (On the other hand, Shane Victorino gets on my last nerve. Go figure.) But they are the enemy this week. They're a tough team, but they haven't faced any team as tough as the Yankees yet.

Without further ado, here are my predictions:

* I see CC Sabathia as having an edge over Cliff Lee in Game 1.

* As for Game 2, I think Pedro Martinez will be fired up and wired up after the crowd gives him a Bronx cheer or two, and he'll outpitch A.J. Burnett. Why do I say this, even though the Yanks have smacked him around in recent years? Because he's a competitor who loves the drama. I would be very surprised to see Pedro do poorly. I think this game will be a walkoff win- the third Game 2 walkoff win in the postseason for the Yanks this year - with the Yankees smacking around Brad Lidge. Remember, Lidge got two blown saves off the Yankees this May.

* My guess is that the Yanks will only win, at most, one game in Philadelphia. And that will be whatever game Cole Hamels pitches.

* As for the rest of the series,  I'm going to agree with Jay-Z's prediction for how it will end:
I actually predicted the Yankees in six with the Angels, so I think I’m like Jigga the Greek. I’m gonna say, Phillies are a bit tougher than the Angels. I’m gonna take Yankees in seven. Dramatic A-Rod walk-off at the end of the game redeeming him for all the time the papers and the media vilified him. Is that specific enough?
* Needless to say, given that prediction, A-Rod is my prediction for theWorld Series MVP.

Here are some of my other predictions:

* Whatever reception Michelle Obama gets after throwing out the first pitch at Game 1 will be a super-big story. Another story will be people griping about the super-strict security. (Not exactly going out on a limb here, I know.)

* The Phillie Phanatic will do something controversial against the Yankees. (Incidentally, what kind of animal is the Phanatic, anyway? Is he like Gonzo or something?)

* Shane Victorino will be a thorn in the side of the Yankees, while Johnny Damon will be the same against the Phillies.

* Sleeper pick of a breakout Yankee World Series star? Dave Robertson.

* And finally, chances that this series will be an all-tiime classic? Excellent!

What are your predictions? Tell us about it!

Squawking with the enemy: A look at what Phillies' blogs are saying

This time, it's personal. After taking a look at what Red Sox blogs and Mets blogs thought about the World Series, I went behind enemy lines today to ask Phillies' fans what's what.

I spoke with meech.one of The Fightins, Tom Goyne of Balls, Sticks & Stuff, Mike Mariano of We're the Team to Beat, Matt of The Shibe Times, Bill Baer of Crashburn Alley and Estebomb of Fire Eric Bruntlett.


Check out the article, and visit their blogs to see what the other side is thinking about the World Series. Thanks to all of them for participating!


Coming soon - my World Series predictions. But in the meantime, please leave us a comment with your thoughts on the series.

The battle over Jay-Z, and an interview with a Squawker

A few quick links here, as I work on my World Series predictions. I wrote a piece for The Faster Times about how Jay-Z is the most popular musician in both the Yankees and the Phillies dugouts. And the rapper, who will be performing before Game 2, even made his World Series prediction. Take a look.

And fellow Baseball Bloggers Alliance member Bill Baer of Crashburn Alley interviewed me on my thoughts about the series. Check it out.

Alternate viewing choices for the disgruntled Met fan

Armageddon is here. For those of us looking for something else to watch on TV tonight, here are some options:

8 p.m. NBC - Monsters vs. Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins From Outer Space. Once again, someone has stolen my idea for a screenplay. If you can't figure out if the Yankees are the monsters and the Phillies are the aliens or if it is the other way around, you can watch the program again at 8:30.

8 p.m. ABC - It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Met fans got a rock.

8 p.m. IFC - The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The 1974 original, described as "young adults encounter a demented family of butchers." A travel guide for Yankee fans with tickets to a World Series game in Philly.

8 p.m. CMT - Are You Smarter Than a Fifth-Grader? Job fair for openings on the Mets' medical staff.

9 p.m. SNY - Darryl Strawberry Golf Tournament. As if we needed reminding that the Mets are out playing golf while the Yankees and Phillies are in the World Series.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Jimmy Rollins declares the Phillies are the team to beat in the World Series

Jimmy Rollins is at it again. The shock-talking shortstop is now running his mouth about how his Philadelphia Phillies will beat the New York Yankees in just five games in the World Series. Check out my Faster Times piece on the issue.

Gee, I'm thinking this pronouncement might become a big deal. Unlike today's New York Post photoshopped cover of Shane Victorino in a cheerleader's skirt, which is fictional (as far as we know!) Rollins actually made this proognostication about the Phillies' chances. (As for the Post cover, shouldn't they have called the "Frillies" the "Phrillies"? Just wondering!)

What do you think of Jimmy Rollins? Tell us about it!

Tom Verducci still California dreamin'

The Yankees went 35-8 at home in the regular season after the All-Star break, but Sports Illustrated columnist Tom Verducci credits the Bombers' continued home success in the postseason to geography of another kind.

Last week, when Verducci started pushing his "East Coast Baseball Theory," which argues that West Coast teams fare poorly in playoff games on the East Coast, he emphasized the cold weather as a factor, writing that "when you do get to October, the frequently cold, wet, blustery weather provides something else to battle, too."

Sunday's gametime temperature was a balmy 58 degrees, and the night was clear, so that part of the theory somehow got left off when he tried to explain why the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim lost Game 6 at Yankee Stadium. But Verducci continued to tout the rest of his theory.

Here's the lede of his "Five Cuts" piece Monday on the ALCS:
Let's be honest: The Angels didn't show well in New York. In three games at Yankee Stadium, Los Angeles went 0-3, committed seven errors, walked 17 batters and looked jittery. I am starting to believe that there really is something to my East Coast Baseball theory. West Coast teams went 1-6 this postseason in New York, Philadelphia and Boston. That makes West Coast teams 3-19 (.136) when they come to the Northeast for postseason baseball since 2003, and 10-38 (.208) in the wild-card era. The advantage may be that Northeast teams play in postseason-type environments all year long, where baseball means so much to the fan base that every 0-for-12 streak is a two-hour talk radio rant.
Verducci is right about the errors, and some of those miscues certainly made the Angels look jittery. But the Angels actually walked more batters (20) in their three home games than they did at Yankee Stadium (17). Three of the home walks and one road walk were intentional. So the Angels walked 17 batters unintentionally at home and 16 unintentionally at Yankee Stadium.

As for the notion that Northeast teams enjoy an advantage of playing in "postseason-type enviroments all year long," one would think that advantage would also work against non-West Coast teams from less fervent baseball cities. But the Colorado Rockies took three out of four playoff games in Philadelphia over the last three years (Rockies went 2-0 in 2007 and 1-1 in 2009).

The Chicago Cubs are not an East Coast team, but they have the sort of environment and fan base Verducci describes. But in 2003, the Florida Marlins took three out of four playoff games at Wrigley Field. In the World Series that year, the Marlins beat the Yankees two out of three at Yankee Stadium.

Verducci also brings up the Yankee payroll in a way that contradicts the ideas expressed in "The Yankee Years," the book he wrote with Joe Torre. In that book, Verducci peddles the notion that one of the reasons the Yankees failed to win titles over the last few years was because of acquiring high-priced talent like A-Rod (aka A-Fraud, as the book reveals some players called him). But now Verducci writes:
It was pretty cool to watch what happened in the middle of the infield after the series-clinching out. Rodriguez, finally in the World Series at age 34, yelled so loud the gum popped from his mouth as both he and first baseman Mark Teixeira immediately ran toward shortstop Derek Jeter. The three of them jumped and hugged together -- that's $644 million worth of contracts wrapped up in three men, or more than the valuation of the entire Angels franchise, lock, stock and Rally Monkey, with more than $100 million left to spare.
It is fair to bring up the payroll disparity between the Yankees and Angels in 2009, but it should also be noted that in 2005, the Yankees' overall 2005 payroll was $208M, seven million dollars MORE expensive than this year's $201M payroll. Yet the Angels still beat the Yankees that year, when their own payroll was just $97 million.

The Angels also defeated the Yankees in the 2002 ALDS. In fact, going into the 2009 ALCS, the Angels were the one team that seemed to have the Yankees' number. In the Joe Torre era, the Angels were the only team to have a winning record against the Yankees.

When Torre managed the Yankees, he could not beat the West Coast Angels. But now that Torre manages a West Coast team, the Dodgers have gone 0-5 in Philadelphia over the last two NLCS. Is it a coincidence that his co-author has now come up with the "East Coast Baseball Theory"?

This year, the Yankees finally overcame the Angels. Payroll and geography issues were similar, but one big change is that the Yankees have a different manager. It would be interesting to hear what Verducci has to say about that.

What do you think? Leave us a comment!

Who's your daddy? Yankee nemesis Pedro Martinez set to pitch Game 2

Oh goody. As if this Philadelphia-New York World Series weren't already intense enough, Phillies pitcher - and longtime villain - Pedro Martinez is going to pitch Game 2. At Yankee Stadium. Wonder if some t-shirt sellers will dig up those old "Who's Your Daddy" duds to mark the occasion.

Unlike most Yankee fans, I think Pedro Martinez is one of the more interesting, intelligent characters in baseball - he's funny, entertaining and even eloquent, as I noted in this Faster Times piece. I enjoyed seeing him knock the Mets out of the playoffs this year. But I hope he loses - bigtime - against the Yankees Thursday, with him babbling under the mango tree when all is said and done!

What do you think? Leave us a comment! 

Expect lots of red hats in the Yankee Stadium stands when the Phillies come to town

Think tickets for the World Series games at Yankee Stadium are hard to come by? They're even more expensive in Philiadelphia.

Ticket site FanSnap.com sent over these ticket price numbers, as of Tuesday afternoon.

GAMES 1-2
In New York the average ticket listing is $650 for Games 1 and 2. Fans can get-in for about $350.

GAMES 3-5
For Philadelphia, the average ticket is running about $1,500 with get-ins at about $500.

GAMES 6-7
If the series goes back to New York, the average ticket listing is nearly $1,000 and the get-in prices are $450.

New York


World Series Game 1 Phillies @ Yankees
Tickets listed = 6,000+
Average price = $625
Get-in (lowest) price = $325 (Bleachers)
Field Dugout Best Value = $826
Field Infield Best Value = $ 484
Field Outfiled Best Value = $482
Grandstand Dugout Best Value = $335
Grandstand Outfield Best Value = $325
Legends Best Value = $1,969
Main Dugout Best Value = $615
Main Infield Best Value = $703
Main Outfield Best Value = $400
Main Suite Best Value = $1,300
Terrace Dugout Best Value = $650
Terrace Infield Best Value = $450
Terrace Outfield Best Value = $350
Terrace Suite Best Value = $700

World Series Game 2 Phillies @ Yankees
Tickets listed = 7,500+
Average price = $681
Get-in (lowest) price = $336


PHILADELPHIA

World Series Game 3 Yankees @ Phillies
Tickets listed = 3,500+
Average price = $1,403
Get-in (lowest) price = $500 (SRO)
Arcade Best Value = $1,045
Baseline Best Value = $950
Diamond Club Best Value = $2,375
Hall of Fame Club Best Value = $1,104
Infield Best Value = $1,300
Outfield Best Value = $850
Pavilion Best Value = $875
Pavilion Deck Best Value = $650
Scoreboard Porch Best Value = $911
Terrace Best Value = $775
Terrace Deck Best Value = $635

World Series Game 4 Yankees @ Phillies
Tickets listed = 3,700+
Average price = $1,593
Get-in (lowest) price = $500 (SRO)

World Series Game 5 Yankees @ Phillies
Tickets listed = 7,500
Average price = $1,650
Get-in (lowest) price = $450 (SRO)

World Series Game 6 Phillies @ Yankees
Tickets listed = 9,000+
Average price = $910
Get-in (lowest) price = $400 (Grandstand Outfield)

World Series Game 7 Phillies @ Yankees
Tickets listed = 12,500+
Average price = $989
Get-in (lowest) price = $450 (Grandstand Outfield)

My guess is that Phillies fans who have a few extra bucks in their pocket will buy tix at Yankee Stadium, the way they showed up in May at the Stadium for the Philly series. Bummer.

What do you think? Leave us a comment!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cleveland fans have it even worse than Met fans

It is bad enough being a Met fan right now, but imagine rooting for the Indians. I just did a piece for The Faster Times about how Cleveland fans must not only watch CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee square off in Game 1 of the World Series, but must also deal with Manny Acta as their new manager.

You can read the piece here.

I admit to being biased about Acta because he is close to Omar Minaya and others in the Met organization. These days, that is not a reference you want to have.

For all we know, Acta will have a lot more success in his second job, which has happened before, including with both of this year's World Series managers. But Cleveland does seem like an organization in disarray. The top prospect in the Lee trade just underwent surgery on his pitching shoulder. He was on the disabled list at the time of the trade. Can somebody say Victor Zambrano?

South Florida radio station WFTL goes wall-to-wall Yankees for World Series

You think we have Yankee fever here on New York radio? One Florida radio station is even more committed to talking about the pinstripes.

In honor of the World Series, Fort Lauderdale station WFTL (640 AM) is going 24/7 Yankees until Wednesday. The sports station's temporary format change happened this morning. This station is the home of Squawker friend Larry Milian, who co-hosts the Andy and the Amigo show during drive time.

If you want to hear what they're saying in Florida about the Yankees, head to WFTLSports.com.

I asked Larry Milian about the big event. He had this to say:

"Our station made a commitment to cover the New York Yankees this season. In many cities the Super Bowl is covered consistently for a two-week period leading up to the game. By catering to South Florida's large transplanted New York population, we serve as a home for ALL Yankee fans in this area, despite being 1500 miles away."

"Being a lifelong Yankee fan, born and raised in Brooklyn and with season tickets behind home plate during those great teams of 1977 and 1978, covering this team all year for a station dedicated to carrying Yankees games in South Florida has been the biggest thrill of my radio career."

Anyhow, check out Larry and the big event at WFTLSports.com .

A-Rod should have been MVP

Squawker Lisa has weighed in for The Faster Times on "Why A-Rod Should Have Won the ALCS MVP." I agree that he should have at least shared it with CC Sabathia.

Arguing over who should be the LCS MVP. Nice problem to have!

So what should we call this Yankees-Phillies World Series?

Here are the words I've wanted to say for six years: The Yankees are going to the World Series!

What a night. I stayed up very late rewatching all the coverage. How cool is it to have the Yankees finally going to the World Series? Hooray!

I was also trying to figure out what we call this series - the Turnpike Tumult? CC and the Cheesesteak? Ben Franklin vs. the Benjamins?  And will the Yankees run that "Rocky" clip against the Phillies?

Anyhow, here are a few of my other thoughts from last night's win:

* The Yankees exorcised a bunch of demons last night. They finally bested the Angels and their stupid rally monkey, and they also ended the 2004 worry/jinx/concern/whatever you want to call it. (And, yes, I know that Red Sox fans will say that their team still has the upper hand there. Why, exactly? The Yanks could have beaten Boston this year, but their team got swept by those same Angels. Sox fans, you can enjoy re-watching your 2004 "Faith Rewarded" DVD. The rest of us have 2009 World Series games to watch!)

* The Stadium was as loud as I've heard it on TV this year. Fans seemed ready to will the team to win.

* Maybe it is all about the hair. The new Swish-Hawk seemed to bring Nick Swisher some luck!

* When Johnny Damon was up with the bases loaded in the fourth, I was thinking "grand slam," but a two-run single to put the Yankees head was pretty cool as well.

* How about A-Rod with that clutch walk? I still think he should have gotten MVP, or at least shared the award with CC. Sabathia deserved the MVP, but A-Rod did too.

* And Bobby Abreu finally touches the wall! What's up with that?

* Andy Pettitte finally won a Game 6, after three previous losses - 2001 and twice in 2003. He looked like the Big-Game Andy of old. And Mariano Rivera did give up a run, but he still looked like good old Mo.

* The wheels really came off for the Angels in the bottom of the eighth, didn't they? Two bunts, and two terrible throws. Scott Kazmir's throw was particularly horrendous. Maybe Rick Peterson needs to fix him in 10 minutes!

* Very touching Yankee celebration. I'm not ashamed to admit that I got teary-eyed watching it, especially seeing Posada and Rivera hug, and Jeter, A-Rod, and Teixeira embrace. That's the good stuff.

* The bad stuff was the FOX camera work. They messed up with the Phillies-Dodgers series, and they messed up here. From the shaky camera to the bad angles, they did a lousy job of capturing much of the moments. There were a lot of touching scenes there - too bad they messed up the first time, although they did partially redeem themselves later on with some the other shots.

* The Fox voices were terrible, too. Joe Buck's "the Yankees win the pennant" call had about as much emotion to it as him saying "yes, I would like fresh pepper on my meal, please." And Ken Rosenthal channelled Jim Grey with his postgamequestions to Derek Jeter - right off the bat, he was super-negative, without even congratulating the captain. Jeter put him in his place but good, though!

* Hal Steinbrenner sounds like his father, but looks like Tucker Carlson. Quite a match.

* I'm sorry, I'm not digging the looks of the AL Championship hats and shirts. Like what they represent, of course, but I'm not crazy about the style.

* Was cool that they had a long celebration. I also liked how Jeter said they were going to savor this.

Anyhow, what are your observations? Tell us about it!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Getting ready for tonight's ALCS Yankee victory

Well, when I did my ALCS predictions, I did say the Yankees would win in six games. It's just that I didn't expect the two losses to be so gut-wrenching! But tonight, everything changes. Tonight, the Yankees are going to win and head to the World Series for the first time since 2003. And I think that Yankee fans are confident that tonight is the night.

How do I know this? Because it was pretty much impossible to find a ticket on StubHub today. All the tickets were sold out on Yankees.com. And the Craigslist ads today consisted either of people desperately seeking tickets, or of ticket brokers attempting to sell tickets at an exorbitant rate.

Compare and contrast to 2004, when I was able to buy Game 6 tickets from a Yankees fan for face value - the fan apparently had no faith the Yankees would win. At least that fan sold to a fellow Bomber rooter. On the other hand, A lot of Yankee fans who figured the Sox would win sold their tickets to Red Sox fans. I was also at Game 7 that year - I had bought my ticket as soon as they went on sale - and I unfortunately stayed until the bitter end. There were maybe 20,000 people left in the ballpark at the end -  and about 90% of them were Sox fans!

Anyhow, this is my roundabout way of saying that this isn't 2004 anymore - for one thing, Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia sure beat Jon Lieber and Kevin Brown! And I think the team doesn't  feel fatalistic, the way they did in 2004.

So, I'll be watching at home - I had no luck getting a ticket - and in about five hours, I should be writing a victory post!

If you want to read my in-game squawks, feel free to friend me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!

What do you think? Leave us a comment!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Grrrrr - I'm still peeved about last night's game

You know, I actually would have felt better if the Yankees lost last night's game without them rallying to get the lead in the seventh. But to have them score six runs then, after being down 4-0, and then still lose makes it truly gut-wrenching.

But really, I don't blame Joe Girardi for the loss. I wrote in a piece for The Faster Times that Phil Hughes, Nick Swisher, and A.J. Burnett are my goats of the game. I note that Hughes has been terrible this postseason. And don't tell me he would have been better if he had started the seventh. He started the eighth in ALDS Game 2, and promptly gave up two runs to make the game 3-1.

Either Joe Girardi needs to bat Nick Swisher ninth, and move Melky Cabrera up, or he needs to bench Swisher. Because he's killed rally after rally in this series, most notably last night.

Now it's on to New York for Game 6. Attention Red Sox fans who are going nuts over this turn of events - the Yankees have beaten the Angels three times more than the Sox  have!

What do you think? Leave us a comment.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Subdued Philly celebration even worse than wild one

We knew it was coming, but the Met fan's October got a lot worse last night.

I couldn't watch most of the Philly clincher last night, but I did end up watching the celebration. It could have been a lot worse - I saw an interview with Pedro Martinez, but not one with Shane Victorino. And TBS got booed.

But the more I think about it, the less I like the fact that the celebration seemed relatively subdued. The Phillies acted like they have been there before. And they have - three division titles in a row, a World Series last year and a championship last year.

The Phillies franchise had only been to the World Series twice before 1980 and had never won. Now they have been there five times in the last 30 seasons, with two championships and a chance to make it three.

The Phillies are no longer a downtrodden franchise enjoying a day in the sun. They are a dominant team with the players to keep it that way for a long time.

It was only 2 1/2 years ago that Jimmy Rollins stirred up controversy by proclaiming the Phillies the "team to beat" in the NL East. Now the only controversy would come if a Met dared to utter that statement.

The Phillies are the team to beat, both in the division and in the league. And if Brad Lidge continues to hold up, maybe in all of baseball.

I hated them less when they were the scrappy underdog.

***

The Phillies are the first National League team to win back-to-back pennants since the 1995-6 Atlanta Braves. So the last time an NL team returned to the World Series to defend their title, they were facing a Yankee team that was back in the Fall Classic after what for the Yankees was a lengthy absence, trying to end one of the longest title droughts in Yankee history.

Will 2009 be a repeat of 1996? We shall see.

Also, in 1996, the Mets won 71 games, one more than this year. Toward the end of the year, they hired Bobby Valentine. Just sayin'.

Will Jimmy Rollins' prediction of a Yankees-Phillies World Series come true?

Congratulations to the Philadelphia Phillies for beating the Los Angeles Dodgers. So much for the media acting as if a Dodgers/Yankees World Series was inevitable. Looks like the Philadelphia Phillies were the real team to beat, as shortstop Jimmy Rollins would say. The Curse of Donnie Baseball strikes again!

It's amazing how little respect the defending World Champions got from the media. Heck, TBS couldn't even give them decent camera angles when they won - instead, they went right to a stadium shot from the Goodyear Blimp. No wonder TBS got booed in the awards ceremony.

I like Rollins an awful lot - he talks a lot of trash, but he backs it up, like with his "team to beat" comment. And he's got a real personality, and lots of charisma. You know me - I like players with unique personalities; it's why I'm one of the few Yankee fans who digs Pedro Martinez and thinks Manny Ramirez is a hoot. (On the other hand, Shane Victorino is just annoying! After watching this series, I now understand why Met fans despise him so!)

Anyhow, back in May, when the Phillies met the Yankees at the new Yankee Stadium, Rollins had this to say:
"How great would that be? A World Series here, us against the Yankees?" Rollins said with a grin. "We've proved we can put on a pretty good show."
Let's hope Rollins is right.

I wrote this on Facebook last night:
Congrats to the Phillies. On the other hand, Joe Torre has his ninth failed postseason in a row. Guess he's got time to work on "The Dodger Years" now. Chapter 1 - Manny Used Up All the Hot Water in the Shower.

I was officially neutral with the NLCS, but I'm not exactly shedding any tears over the Dodgers losing. Winning a World Series is hard enough, without any added drama. Phillies fans are already all "bring on the Yankees!, even though the Yanks haven't won yet.

Anyhow, the Yankees still have work to do. They need to keep the wolves (and the rally monkey) at bay and beat the Angels tonight. 

In other news, Red Sox Nation isn't exactly pleased about the Yankees continuing their playoff run. I interviewed some Sox bloggers for The Faster Times. Thanks to all of them for participating. Even though I hate the Sox,  I appreciate their passion for their team - as I do the Mets bloggers I interviewed for a similar piece. 

What do you think? Leave us a comment!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Imagine if Jerry Manuel wore a Jimmy Rollins jersey so he could 'feel like a winner'

The spirit of the 2009 Mets lives on in the Tennessee Titans, who were expected to contend this year but are now 0-6 after getting humiliated by the Patriots, 59-0. Many observers thought that the Titans appeared to give up against New England.

But Titans coach Jeff Fisher has an odd way of bringing the winning spirit back to Tennessee. Fisher appeared in public Tuesday wearing an Indianapolis Colts Peyton Manning jersey. Even worse, he told the Nashville crowd that he wore the Manning jersey because "I just wanted to feel like a winner."

ESPN has video here. Be sure to keep watching for Herman Edwards' enthusiastic defense of Fisher. Apparently, you play to look like someone who won the game.

I suppose we should be grateful that Jerry Manuel hasn't donned a Jimmy Rollins or Derek Jeter jersey so he, too, could feel like a winner. Because the way things have been going lately, that is probably his best bet.

But if sports figures are going to wear inappropriate outfits, here are a few more that I would like to see:

Oliver Perez wearing a CC Sabathia jersey: "I just wanted to feel like I was living up to my contract."

Razor Shines wearing Tim McClelland's umpire uniform: "I just wanted to feel like someone who has even less of an idea about what is going on at third base than I do."

Dan Warthen wearing new Brewers pitching coach Rick Peterson's jacket: "I just wanted to feel like I once coached a pitching staff into the playoffs... But do I have to wear this jacket when it's 90 degrees?"

Scott Boras wearing a ski mask: I just wanted to feel like I got the Mets to give Matt Holliday Teixeira money.

Omar Minaya wearing no shirt at all: "I just wanted to feel like I was challenging minor leaguers to a fight."

Shocker! Tom Verducci slams CC Sabathia, A-Rod, and the Yankees - again

Every Sports Illustrated Tom Verducci column ought to have the disclaimer "this author has financial ties with Joe Torre, so take everything the writer says about the Yankees with a grain of salt." Make that a salt shaker.

A day after writing an evisceration of Joe Girardi that he somehow missed doing on the worst manager in the League Championship Series this year - Joe Torre,  Verducci got his latest dig in against the Yankees in today's column, writing about CC Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez:
CC Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez have been here before: one win away from the World Series. Actually, between the two of them they have been here seven times before. And in seven games in which a victory would have put them in the World Series, their teams are 0-7.
 Um, Tom, how is CC responsible for his team losing two games against the Red Sox in the 2007 ALCS in which HE DIDN'T EVEN PITCH!  And in the game he did pitch, Game 5 of the ALCS, while he didn't pitch great - he gave up four runs in seven innings - he didn't pitch abysmally, ever. At any rate, Josh Beckett shut down the Indians' bats in that game, giving up only one run, and striking out 11. Maybe that's CC's fault as well

As for A-Rod, we all know about his postseason failures. It's not exactly news anymore. But was he single-handedly responsible? No, I think Joe Torre and the rest of the Yankees might have had a little something to do with it.

Speaking of Teflon Torre, how is it that Verducci completely ignored the "Where's Manny? In the Shower" whole to-do?  I had to laugh when I heard Torre defend Manny Ramirez taking a shower when Jimmy Rollins was winning the game for the Phillies. Joe told the media:
"Manny has so much confidence, and when we get a lead late in the game, and I've taken him out, whether it be for defense or we have a big lead, when we go up to shake hands after the game, he's in his street clothes," Torre said. "So it's really nothing different than he's done before. I don't think it's disrespect of anything. He wasn't going anywhere until the game was over, and we can't put him back in the game.
"But that's not something I thought was unusual since individuals are all different anyway. But he's always done that, so it's nothing that last night was going to be any different. As we say, Manny is Manny. He's a cool customer. But he certainly didn't have any lack of respect because of that. I think the way it turned out, it probably doesn't look good. But it's nothing different than he had done before."
If you remember from "The Yankee Years," Torre was apoplectic that A-Rod asked a clubbie to get him coffee (never mind that Torre had his own flunky making him his green tea.) Torre insinuated that A-Rod was a bad teammate and a prima donna.

And here's Manny, not watching his team play during a playoff game, and Joe's cool with that? And he's bending over backwards to defend this? Look, we know this goes on during a regular season game, and the All-Star Game (remember how A-Rod booked out of the game early last year, something I thought was horrible) but a playoff game? Wouldn't Manny need to be out there after the game to greet his teammates?

Look, I find Ramirez endlessly entertaining, but the double standard Torre has for Manny as opposed to the way he treated A-Rod is just breathtaking. And I would be interested to hear his co-author Verducci's take on the subject. But the writer had more important subjects to report, like Bob Sheppard's birthday, and coming up with a "West Coast Baseball" excuse for the LA teams not doing well. Looks like Verducci is still in the tank for Joe.

At any rate, I think it's amusing that, unless I missed it, Verducci has yet to write anything critical about Torre. Gee, I wonder why.

What do you think? Leave us a comment! 

CC Sabathia is so big - he's World Series big - but A-Rod is the series' MVP - so far

So much for all the talk about how the Yankees would suffer with CC Sabathia pitching on only three days rest. Turns out that this Joe Girardi move paid off - big time - for the Yankees, with CC being an AA - Absolute Ace - last night.

And A-Rod continued his postseason superstardom yesterday, hitting a homer, a single, and a double, stealing a base, and hustling the whole game like a kid. He's nicer than I would be, though. If that were me, I'd be all, "Take that, you &*^)!" the way Ted Williams once gestured towards the press box during a big game.

Not to jinx things, though, but I think A-Rod is the MVP of the series so far, even though CC is making a big case for it as well. Here's why - for the past five years, the media and the fans have insisted that the reason the Yankees didn't win it all was because of A-Rod's lack of clutchitude. Never mind that bad pitching and Joe Torre's mismanagement were also a huge part of why the Yankees lost.

So, since the media insisted on making A-Rod A-Goat for all the October failures, it is only fair that he should get the MVP for this series, when he has had one of the greatest postseasons ever.  Nothing against CC, but it's like when the media went after Peyton Manning for years for not winning the big game. He deserved the Super Bowl MVP of that year - even though he wasn't the player with the best numbers - because the story was all about him. But unlike Manning, who had a good, but not epic, Super Bowl, A-Rod has extraordinary numbers here to back it up.

I know CC's having an extraordinary postseason as well, and that he had his own postseason rep to beat, but it's not even in the same ballpark as what A-Rod's had to deal with. But I don't expect A-Rod to win MVP if the Yankees win the series. The chances that the media will ever admit in such a way that they were wrong in their perception that he would never come through in October are pretty small.

In other news, how about those crazy umpire calls? Even Yankee fans have to admit that Robinson Cano was out at third, no matter what was in Tim McClelland's heart. What a terrible call. Then there was Nick Swisher being called safe when he was out, and out when he was safe.

And how about Jorge Posada forgetting how many outs there were?  Good grief.

While yesterday's game ended up being a blowout, there were still some tense moments. When the Angels were threatening in the fifth, I was getting a little worried. Fortunately, though, CC got through it, and the Yankees are now 27 outs away from their first World Series in six years.

In the "now it can be told" department, I was a little worried that the Yankees might roll over after Monday's horrible loss. Too many times in the Yankees' postseasons in recent years, the team had a glass jaw, and never recovered after just one punch. We've seen that all too often. So even the first one the Yanks' scored last night seemed huge. And John Sterling was so excited over Melky Cabrera's two-run single that he broke out "the Melkman delivers" and "the Melky way"!

Everybody else seemed to join the Yankee hit parade, except for Swisher. So, instead of being tied 2-2, the Yanks are up 3-1. Good times!

What did you think about the game? Tell us about it! 

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Gotta go to Mo's....spitball?

So what's the story? Did Mariano Rivera really throw a spitball in Monday's game. Check out my thoughts on it - I wrote a piece for The Faster Times on the issue.

I also talked to Met fans about their feelings about a possible Yankees-Phillies World Series. Read the piece to see who Squawker Jon is rooting for.

And finally, Squawker Jon took a look at whether teams can come back in the playoffs after a gut-wrenching lost like last night.

When are the Yankee bats going to wake up?

I focused most of my ire after yesterday's loss on Joe Girardi. I did mention the Yankee bats a little, but several Subway Squawkers commenters thought the Yankees' hitters deserved some more blame.

Symphony writes, "One day I'll get over this sleeping lineup long enough to focus on Girardi. Its more than a side-note."

And one anonymous commenter says: "...you can't rely on 3 guys (Alex, Jeter and Posada) to carry the team. Texiera is great with the glove, but if he and Cano and Melky don't start hitting doesn't start hitting, the Angels will pitch around Alex and take their chances with Matsui. Then it won't matter what Joe does with the bullpen."


Good points. And this is the irony. Ever since 2004, so much of the Yankee postseason focus has been on Alex Rodriguez: Will he ever hit in the playoffs, blah blah blah. Now here we have him with the postseason game for the ages. Superman has nothing on A-Rod this October. But, as our reader notes, it's unlikely he will ever get anything to hit again in this series if the Yankees don't wake up. (Well, that, and if Girardi ever pinch-runs for Matsui again!)

So that means people not named A-Rod or Jeter needs to get some hits. Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher, and Melky Cabrera, I'm talking to you! Time to start hitting.

At any rate, I'm still peeved over last night's game, but I did derive enjoyment from one thing today - seeing Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports make the point that I've been making - that A-Rod is hitting better without Joe Torre breathing down his neck.

On the other hand, Sports Illustrated reporter Tom Verducci completely eviscerates Girardi today. I don't have a problem with a writer slamming Joe G - that's what he gets the big bucks for - but it's a bit much to see Verducci do it, given that Verducci has been quiet over how his co-author Joe Torre has done in the playoffs. Not a peep from Verducci, then other than to blame Jonathan Braxton for not being tough enough. And he can devote a whole page to Girardi? Sheesh.


What do you think? Leave us a comment!

Yankees-Phillies: Facing the fear

I don't even want to think about the looming prospect of a Yankees-Phillies World Series, but Squawker Lisa is all too pleased to do so, and she has rounded up a host of responses from my fellow Met bloggers on how we would deal with such a grim event.

Who will we root for? Will some of us leave the country, or at least the Northeast?

Check out Lisa's "Met Fans Face Their Worst Fear: A Phillies-Yankees World Series" here.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Joe Girardi channels his inner Jerry Manuel

Joe Girardi's bizarre bullpen move in the 11th inning tonight reminded me of something that Jerry Manuel did way back in April.

On April 29, the Mets were trailing the Marlins, 4-3, when they loaded the bases with two outs in the bottome of the ninth. Ramon Castro was coming up. Then Jerry Manuel pinch-hit Omir Santos for Castro.

A righthanded catcher pinch-hitting for another righthanded catcher. There was no matchup advantage - Castro had only faced Florida pitcher Matt Lindstrom a couple of times and Santos had never faced Lindstrom.

It did not make any sense, especially since Castro had gone 2-for-4 in the game. At the time, Santos had only been with the Mets for a few days. Santos flied out and the Mets lost.

Tonight, Joe Girardi's decision to replace righthander David Robertson with righthander Alfredo Aceves ended up costing the Yankees the game. As with Manuel's April move, the player replaced was doing well - Robertson had retired the first two batters - and the matchup history was almost non-existent between the two Yankee pitchers and the next batter, Howie Kendrick.

But when Manuel made the move, it seemed to come from his gut. Manuel is not too big on statistical analysis. It was one of the first times this season that Manuel's decision-making came into question. By the end of the year, many Met fans would have been happy to see him go.

The explanations for Girardi's strange move go in the opposite direction. Girardi was seen looking in a big book before making the pitching change. Many wonder if Girardi is too obsessed with data and is overmanaging as a result.

Girardi's eagerness to remove some of his sluggers with pinchrunners or defensive replacements also reminds me of what Manuel did with Gary Sheffield earlier in the year. It's hard to remember back when the Mets were actually taking leads into the late innings. Sheffield, batting cleanup, would be removed for defense. So if the game went into extra innings, suddenly Jeremy Reed would be in the middle of the lineup.

Tonight, Angel manager Mike Scioscia walked A-Rod in the ninth inning, realizing that Brett Gardner was now hitting behind A-Rod instead of Hideki Matsui. (Jerry Hairston Jr. pinch-hit for Gardner.) If Scioscia had done the same thing in the ninth inning of Game 2, when Matsui also had been removed, A-Rod would not have hit the tying homer.

One place Girardi is not channeling Manuel is in his record. Girardi won 33 more games than the beleaguered Met manager. And Girardi is still likely to bring home that 27th title. (Will he then change his uniform number to 28?) But maybe he should look at that big matchup book a little less often.

Joe Girardi: Overmanager of the year?

It's all your fault, Joe. The Yankees should have won today's ALCS game, and they would have had a great chance at doing so, if Joe Girardi had left well enough alone.

I think Girardi has done a terrific job overall this year, but his relentless overmanaging of the bullpen cost the Yankees the game today. Why he would pull David Robertson, who has been nothing but money in the postseason this year, and replace him with Alfredo Aceves, who struggled mightily in Saturday's game (and gave up the go-ahead run!) There was two outs and nobody on. The FOX cameras showed Girardi looking in his stat book. Given the short careers of each pitcher, what could possibly have been in there to prove that it was a good idea? Was it that Robertson was going to turn into a pumpkin if he got the third out in Anaheim? Good grief.

As soon as I saw Robertson leave the game, my heart sank. It seemed like Girardi was playing with fire in taking him out. Aarrgghh.And what's even more infuriating is that the Yanks had come so far. They had runners on first and third and nobody out, and Mariano Rivera wriggled out of that jam. If they had lost there, I would have been upset, but I wouldn't have been as angry as I am now. Good grief.

That wasn't the only overmanaging Girardi did. Why he took out Johnny Damon and put in Jerry Hairston Jr. (and lost the DH, which meant Francisco Cervelli was pinch-hitting for Rivera) was pretty inexplicable. Damon has actually been hitting well this series. He had a homer earlier today. Yeah, I know he throws like Mary, as the joke goes, but still.

And I don't know what happened when Andy Pettitte gave up the homer to Vladimir Guerrero, but that wasn't so great, either. So much for that mound confererence. But Pettitte, not Girardi, gets the blame for that one.

I will give Girardi credit for going to Mo with a tie score. But geez, putting Aceves in for Robertson just hurts.

Besides No. 27, there were a few other goats today:

* Brett Gardner - he was put into the game for one thing - to steal a base. If he hadn't been thrown out, he would have scored when Jorge Posada hit the homer. And the consequences of that were even worse - without Hideki Matsui in that spot, the Angels were able to intentionally walk A-Rod with two outs and nobody on.

* Joba Chamberlain - he looked terrible!  What happened - too many fist pumps? And by the way, we got to see a lot of that San Diego Zoo sign in the outfield. I hate that sign - too many bad Yankee memories!

* The lack of RISP. The Yankees only got four runs, and all of them were solo homers. Gee, it would be nice if somebody in the bottom of the lineup could get a timely hit once in a while.

* Fox. As soon as they flashed the graphic about how the Angels had never had a walkoff win in the postseason, you knew this was coming.

What do you think? Tell us about it! 

Some thoughts on the postseason

I wrote a piece for The Faster Times about the five most surprising things about the ALCS and NLCS. In addition to A-Rod's autumn for the ages, which is the obvious first choice, there are some other noteworthy October surprises.

Also, if you haven't seen this Baseball Reflections piece on what the Yankees did to get ready for October, please check it out.

What do you think? Leave us a comment! 

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Yankees go up, up and away, and Met fans want to be like Balloon Boy

I woke up worn out after that long, exciting game. I'm glad I wasn't there, though - it was too nerve-wracking watching the game in my Snuggie. Imagine what it was like to be in the cold and the rain for five hours and ten minutes! And that was after a very nerve-wracking Texas-Oklahoma game. My nerves are shot, even though both my teams won. Sheesh.

All this might have been too much for Squawker Jon. I think he's either hiding in the attic, or he's gone out into that big balloon in the sky, after last night's epic Yankee win. Call him the Balloon Boy Blogger!

Anyhow, here are a few observations about the game:

* How many times has there been a long, epic walkoff win game when A.J. Burnett pitches? I counted these: Game 2 of the ALDS, the 15-inning Red Sox-Yankees classic, the Kyle Farnsworth win, the Robinson Cano walkoff hit against Toronto, and the third walkoff win in a row against the Minnesota Twins. And I could be missing some other game!

* Squawker Jon and I were waiting for the Joba fist pump/roar, and it showed up - bigtime - last night. Jon told me last night on the phone that he thinks that's why Joba would want to be a reliever again - just to get the opportunity to pump his fist like that!

* And, did you see how A.J. Burnett seemed to channel Joba right after that, doing his own fist pump and roar in the dugout? Very funny.

* I was hopeful going into the ninth inning that A-Rod would have a walkoff HR to win it. But once the Angels took the lead in the 11th, I didn't think that lightning would strike twice for him. It's funny - I told Squawker Jon on the phone that I had no fear when the Yanks were down 3-1 against the Twins that they would win the game, but I was afraid that the Angels would hold on to win last night. Not long after those words came out of my mouth, Alex did it again! Even this longtime A-Rod booster was shocked!

* It looked cold and wet miserable last night, and maybe the cold got to the writers, as well as the players. Ian O'Connor of the Bergen Record wrote:
Alex Rodriguez came out in short sleeves, again, showing an inner Butkus he’d kept caged in the past, and hit the ninth-inning homer that made it 3-3 and sent this wild and crazy game barreling into overtime.
Like the inner Butkus reference, but A-Rod hit the homer in the 11th, when the game was already in extra innings. Unless the cold got to me as well, and froze my mind!

* When Jerry Hairston Jr. scored the winning run, then ended up on the ground in the swarm of players, I was worried he passed out from excitement! Turns out Nick Swisher accidentally knocked him over. Speaking of Swish, he's closing in on a million Twitter followers! (Speaking of Twitter, follow us to see our in-game reactions, or follow me on Facebook!)

* MLB Network just showed clips of the Bug Game. I'm still bitter over that one. Oh, and not to toot my own horn or anything, but I was reminded yesterday about how everybody in the New York media - except for this Squawker - was sure that Don Mattingly, not Joe Girardi, would be Joe Torre's successor. How were so many so wrong? And why didn't they ever acknowledge their error? Of course, I did say that I'd rather have Carol Burnett than A.J. Burnett as a Yankee, which was Hall of Fame dumb!

* Derek Jeter hit a key homer - and made a key error - in the game. He is human, after all. But Squawker Jon and I had to laugh over the contortions Tim McCarver made to excuse Jeter's error. Unreal. I also laughed about McCarver's whining about the neighborhood play called against the Angels, when he had to admit the next inning that Erick Aybar had touched the bag all night - except for that play. Maybe they can mistake John Mayberry Sr. in the stands again. Good grief.

* Finally, what was up with Michael Kay's postgame hat?  He looked like Andy Capp on a bag of Hot Fries!

What do you think? Leave us a comment!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Yankees win: Four down, seven to go!

Were the Yankees lucky or good? A little bit of both last night. CC Sabathia, actually, wasn't just good - he was great. He was so big - it was playoff big! How cool was it to hear the CC chants? Although my cat C.C. was a little perturbed. She did give the starter some grudging credit, but she still thinks he should use periods with his initials!

One of our Squawker readers wondered if CC had lost weight since the beginning of the year. He looks the same to me,  but maybe other people see things differently.

As for luck, they say luck happens when preparation meets opportunity. And that typifies last night's game. As my brother pointed out, Johnny Damon scored from second when the Angels missed that popup because he was motoring as soon as the ball was hit.

On the other hand, I really wasn't crazy about A-Rod's play at home. If he had gotten injured there, it would have been devastating. Somebody with his hip injury shouldn't be taking any chances.

I didn't get to go to the game (the prices on StubHub didn't drop enough to fit my very low price range, and I couldn't find anything on yankees.com), but I was rocking the Snuggie at home while watching the game. I did think about wearing the Snuggie to the Stadium if I got tickets, though! Heck, it looked like Kate Hudson was wearing one last night (or maybe that was a Slanket!)

In other news, I'm watching my Texas Longhorns against the hated Oklahoma Sooners in the Red River Shootout. And people think Yankees-Red Sox is intense!

What do you think? Leave us a comment! 

Friday, October 16, 2009

Gloomy October

Now the weather matches the prospect of the Yankees playing the Phillies in the World Series. Just as the Angels finally beat the Red Sox in the playoffs, the Yankees should finally beat the Angels. I agree with Lisa on Yankees in six.

The Yankee advantage in the late innings is even greater than I realized. I just did a piece on it for The Faster Times, which you can check out here. After the seventh inning, the Yankees have outscored their opponents by over 100 runs!

Meanwhile, the Phillies lead the Dodgers in the seventh as I write this, and could soon be up, 2-0, over the Dodgers. Then again, the Phillies have actually been outscored after the seventh inning this year, so it's not over until it is over.

Somehow, even in a Phillie uniform, I root for Pedro. At least someone once associated with the Mets is doing well these days.

Speaking of the Mets, today marks the 40th anniversary of the Mets winning their first world championship in 1969. Let's hope it is not forty years until the next one!

Saturday will also be ten years since the Robin Ventura grand-slam single game.

Hmm. Too bad SNY is not showing any Mets classics tonight.

Yankee ticket info, and my predictions for the ALCS

It seems like forever since the Yankees have actually gotten to play October baseball, but they start up again tonight. There's been a whole to-do about how many tickets remain unsold at yankees.com for the game tonight, but the story is a bit overblown. As usual, some of the really expensive seats are unsold, which isn't exactly breaking news. The Yankees are also selling standing room tickets this time around, and those tickets have not yet been sold (while I knew about those cafe seats, I didn't even know they were selling regular standing room tickets until today.)

On the other hand, the prices in the secondary market are dropping - big time - for tonight's game, due to weather concern. If the prices get close to face value, I might be going to the game!

As for the game itself, I'm saying it will be Yankees in six. And that Alex Rodriguez will be the MVP.And that Bobby Abreu will win at least one game pretty much single-handedly for the Angels.

In other news, it looks like Ronan Tynan's mouth got him into trouble, and he won't be singing at tonight's game. Harsh!

Any predictions, readers? Tell us about it!

My thoughts on Joe Torre, Jonathan Papelbon, and MLB playoffs

I've written a bunch of articles for The Faster Times this week about what's going on in the MLB playoffs. Here are the links for them, if you'd like to check them out:

First up, Joe Torre snoozed in the dugout while Clayton Kershaw struggled against the Phillies last night. What a shocker!

Then, I actually defended Jonathan Papelbon against the Boston boobirds. To me, the only reason to boo your own player is lack of effort. Papelbon was showing effort; he just stunk. 

I also took a look at the four teams left in the playoffs, and what question marks each team had.

And, if you haven't seen it, I dissed Boston for dredging up that whole Dave Henderson-Donnie Moore unpleasantness.


What do you think? Tell us about it!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Here's something to squawk about - are you rooting for Dodgers or Phillies?

Here's an argument for our readers - which team are you rooting for in the NLCS - the Dodgers or the Phillies? Although I want to stick with my karma on not rooting for a potential team for the Yankees to face in the World Series, I like the idea of chanting "Go Phillies," just to tick off Met  fans. Besides, do you know how insufferable Joe Torre will be if he makes it to another World Series? I'm officially neutral, but put it this way - I'm sorely tempted to root for the Phillies!

At any rate, it might be an even more intense argument than the one going on TV ratings!

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Lisa's Baseball Bloggers Alliance AL Rookie of the Year picks

I  did a Baseball Bloggers Alliance ballot for the AL  Rookie of the Year. Here are my picks:

1. Andrew Bailey, Relief Pitcher, Oakland Athletics: This rookie closer is something else - 26 saves, 6-3 record, a 1.84 ERA, and 91 strikeouts. Too bad he plays for Oakland and has a generic name - he should be as famous as Joba.


2. Rick Porcello, Starting Pitcher, Detroit Tigers: He got off to a rough start, with a 1-3,  6.23 ERA, but Porcello quickly improved, and he ended up with a 14-9 record, with a 3.96 ERA. Helped the Tigers in their playoff run.

3. Elvis Andrus, Shortstop, Texas Rangers: Elvis is everywhere - on the field with his great defense. His hitting  -.267 BA, 6 HR,  40 RBI - is good as well.


What do you think? Leave us a comment!

Baseball Blogger Alliance Ballot for NL Rookie of the Year

As a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, I got a vote in some of their NL awards. Here's my ballot for Rookie of the Year. These awards are for the regular season only, not the playoffs.

1. Tommy Hanson, Braves

It was a tight race between Hanson and Philadelphia's J.A. Happ for the top spot. In 21 starts, Hanson went 11-4 with a 2.89 ERA. In 23 starts, Happ went 12-4 with a 2.93 ERA. Both pitchers finished in the top ten in ERA. And both compiled these stats for contending teams in a pennant race.

But in other stats, Hanson's advantage is clear. Hanson outdoes Happ in WHIP: 1.18 to 1.23, K/BB: 2.52-2.13 and K/9: 8.18-6.45.

Bad news for the Mets: Hanson projects to be a future ace for the division rival Braves.

2. J.A. Happ, Phillies

Happ's home games were at Citizens Bank Park, which could have affected his stats. Happ had a big home/road split: 4.18 with a 1.44 WHIP at home and 1.99 ERA with a 1.08 WHIP on the road.

But according to baseballreference.com, Happ's ERA+, which is adjusted to the player's ballpark, was 146, not much different than Hanson's 144.

Happ also might have been lucky on the road, where he had a BABIP of .238, compared to .315 at home.

Overall, Happ's rookie year was certainly comparable to Hanson's, but fangraphs.com computes a sizable difference in WAR (wins above replacement). Hanson's WAR is 2.6, which converts to a dollar value of $11.7, while Happ's WAR is 1.8 which converts to $8.0.

3. Chris Coghlan, Marlins

Coghlan led the National League in batting after the All-Star break with a .372 average. He also led the NL in hits after the break with 113. Overall, Coghlan hit .321, good for eighth in the league.

Honorable Mention

Casey McGehee, Brewers

McGehee led all MLB rookies with 66 RBI to go along with 16 homers and a .301 BA.

Garrett Jones, Pirates

Jones led all MLB rookies with 21 homers in only 314 AB. He hit .293 with a 9.38 OPS.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tom Brady's surgeon apparently not good enough for Mets

The New England Patriots trusted Dr. Neal ElAttrache enough to have him perform reconstructive knee surgery last year on three-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Tom Brady. But according to the New York Times, ElAttrache is the Dodger team doctor that the Mets have accused of misdiagnosing Jose Reyes' hamstring tendon tear in May. Now the Dodgers have responded by stating that the Mets have "official documentation" that ElAttrache correctly diagnosed Reyes.

As Metsblog notes, this story has truly alarming implications for the state of the Met organization. Why did the Mets continue to insist that Reyes had a calf strain if they knew it was actually a hamstring tendon tear? By refusing to acknowledge the true story, did the Mets allow Reyes to run and make the injury worse, instead of giving it time to heal or perhaps scheduling surgery so that Reyes could make it back more quickly?

Metsblog also quotes Adam Rubin, who told Kiner's Korner:

"Almost uniformly [players] said that they were pushed to play though injuries that would have landed them on the DL had they been with other organizations."

We can debate all we want over what free agents the Mets should pursue or who should be the manager or GM, but none of that will matter if the Mets cannot be trusted with the health of their players.

***

Squawker Lisa has helpfully suggested that Carl Pavano should be a Met next year.

Let's see - Pavano has a lot of trouble staying healthy, and did not seem to be able to handle New York when he was with the Yankees. Also, he will be 34 next year and will probably want more money and years than he is worth. Thanks, Lisa!

When I told my fellow Squawker what I thought of her idea, she replied that Pavano won 14 games in 2009, more than any Met pitcher. In fact, she added, no Met even had 14 homers.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it may not be such a bad idea. After all, Kenny Rogers was 34 when he came to the Mets during the 1999 season after failing with the Yankees. Rogers went 5-1 down the stretch to help the Mets reach the playoffs for the first time in 11 years.

Once Rogers was in the playoffs, well, that was pretty ugly. But at least he helped the Mets get there.

Pavano, by the way, has great postseason numbers: 1.71 ERA and 0.95 WHIP along with 24 strikeouts and only three walks in 26 1/3 innings. He is 2-1, with Sunday's Yankee game the only loss.

Still, if the Mets' big offseason acquisition turns out to be Pavano, it will be hard not to think of Charlie Brown returning from trick or treating and announcing, "I got a rock."

Monday, October 12, 2009

My thoughts on the Yankees sweep of the Twins, and whether Carl Pavano should be a Met


Well, my prediction that the Yankees would win the ALDS in four games was a bit off the mark - they did it in three. But I was correct that Carl Pavano would give the Yankees fits. I was pretty cranky when watching the  game, and watching the Yankees flail against him. So Alex Rodriguez's homer to tie the game, and Jorge Posada's to get the lead, were pretty satisfying.

I'm not big on unnecessary cap-tipping, but give Pavano credit for shutting the Yankees down for most of the game, and for being perhaps the toughest starter the Yankees have faced this year. I'm not kidding about that comparison - at least the Yanks beat up on Roy Halladay a few times this  year. Pavano, on the other hand, pitched three quality, huge starts against the Yanks this year, the strongest one in a playoff game. I predict some team will reward him handsomely next season. Squawker Jon, how about Pavano as a Met?  Imagine if he becomes the Mets' Iron Horse!

By the way, I enjoyed watching the Yankees beat up on Joe Nathan and the other Twins pitchers. Nathan really can't handle the Yankees, can he? It's amusing to watch. But hey, as Squawker Jon noted, he did pick up dirt from the Metrodome after the game. Good grief.

Squawker Jon also mocked the Derek Jeter worship about the Nick Punto play. I think Jeter made a terrific play, and had a phenomenal series. He would be my MVP, after A-Rod, for the ALDS. But the problem with all the unnecessary worship he gets is that when Jeter does have  a spectacular series, like he did this week, it just seems like the praise is the usual over-the-top stuff, when it's actually well-deserved.


Oh, and I loved the postgame celebration stuff last night. That photo above, where A-Rod was trying to sneak up on Jeter, was a scream!


What do you think? Tell us about it!

Baseball Blogger Alliance ballot for NL Manager of the Year

As a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, I got a vote in their NL awards. Here's my ballot for Manager of the Year. These awards are for the regular season only, not the playoffs.

1. Jim Tracy, Rockies

Tracy took over a team that was 18-28 and with largely the same players went 74-42 the rest of the way. Colorado remained in the race for the NL West title until the next-to-last day of the regular season and ended up winning the wild card.

2. Tony LaRussa, Cardinals

The Cardinals greatly exceeded most preseason projections to win the NL Central by 7 1/2 games.

3. Fredi Gonzalez, Marlins

Gonzalez won 87 games with a team that had a $35M payroll. The 70-win Mets spent more than that for players on the DL and still ended up paying their healthy players more than 2 1/2 times as much as what Florida paid their whole team.

My Baseball Bloggers Alliance ballot for AL Manager of the Year

As a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, I got a "vote" in their AL awards. Here's my ballot for Manager of the Year. Keep in mind that I'm looking at regular season only; not the playoffs.

1. Ron Gardenhire, Minnesota Twins: Early last month, the Twins, a team with only two stars - batting title winner Joe Mauer and 2006 MVP Justin Morneau, lost half that firepower, as Morneau got injured. The Twins looked dead, as they trailed the Tigers by as much as seven games. But the Twins heated up, and  made it a pennant race in the AL Central. Then, after a great September, Minnesota tailed off, and were three games back with four games to play. They seemed dead, yet Gardenhire didn't let them give up. Somehow, the Twins stayed in the race, tied the Tigers, and then won the AL Central in one of the most exciting one-game playoffs ever. Gardenhire deserves a ton of credit for guiding his team to this miracle. He even helped make Carl Pavano a big-game pitcher (Pavano pitched - and won - the regular season finale.) No other manager could have gotten the Twins to the playoffs.

2. Mike Scioscia, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: The manager did a good job guiding his team to the AL West with a depleted team - they lost closer Francisco Rodriguez , first baseman Mark Teixeira, and outfielder Garret Anderson to free agency. They were decimated by a number of injuries this year, including ones to Torii Hunter and Vladimir Guerrero. Worst of all, the team had to contend with the tragic death of pitcher Nick Adenhart. They could easily have given up. But remembering Adenhart became a rallying cry for the Angels, as the team battled on. Scioscia kept the team focused on tomorrow, despite having to face so much adversity, as they held off  the  Texas Rangers.

3. Joe Girardi, New York Yankees: Some might say that no one with a $200 million payroll should be considered for Manager of the Year. But Girardi deserves credit for reinventing the Yankees. After a shaky 2008, the guy with the military-style haircut let these players' freak flags fly, instead of making them follow the so-called "Yankee Way." And he managed the bullpen in such a way as to arguably make it the best one in baseball. He also was willing to change and grow in the job. This team could easily have gone off the rails and been the same old mercenary Yankees, but Girardi made them into a band of brothers. Given the enormous pressure Girardi faced - his head would have been on the chopping block if the Yanks hadn't won - he needs to be recognized  for the great job he did.


What do you think? Tell us about it!