Posted on: June 19, 2010 8:06 pm

Will Phil Hughes be named to the All-Star Team?

Joe Girardi faces a tough decision when he is called upon to name the American League pitchers for the All-Star Game this year. Phil Hughes has pitched well beyond expectations for the Yankees this year, and his 10-1, 3.17 record so far would ordinarily make him a lock for the All-Star team. However, the Yankees had made plans when the season began that were intended to limit the number of innings Hughes would throw, and part of the plan involved skipping a start or two right before the All-Star break, and maybe one or two after, rather than employing the ridiculous method they used on Joba Chamberlain last year with disastrous results.

With another four starts coming up before the break, Phil Hughes could make Girardi's decision even harder by pitching well enough to be named the starter. Girardi would certainly need a guy like Hughes on his roster, and Hughes deserves the honor, but naming him would fly in the face of the Yankees long-term plans for Hughes having the All-Star break off to keep him fresh for the stretch run. If Hughes is named to the team, Girardi would then need to make a choice whether to use him in the game or to short himself one pitcher by letting Hughes sit on the bench. If it came right down to using Hughes to help the American League win the game and potentially give the Yankees home field advantage in the World Series, or sticking to the Yankees plan to rest Hughes, what does Girardi do?

I think the case could be made for Hughes being named the starter for the American League. Let him pitch the first inning, and then take him out. It would be the same as a bullpen session between starts, and the Yankees would have to let him do some throwing while they were resting him, to make sure he stays sharp when the put him back in the rotation. If he deserves it, why not have that activity be starting the All-Star Game?
Category: MLB
Posted on: May 1, 2010 5:56 pm
Edited on: May 1, 2010 8:13 pm

One of my best friends is a Northwestern graduate

and they're NOT named Joe Girardi. A lot of people have been second-guessing Girardi's managerial decisions for some time now, and today's fiasco should bring them out in force. We'll skip over the horrendous decision the Yankees made in the off-season to trade for Javier Vazquez, and focus on the top of the seventh inning, after the Yankees rallied to take the lead with four runs off Scott Linebrink. David Robertson had two outs and Paul Konerko, not fleet of foot, at second base after an opposite field double. After falling behind Carlos Quentin 2-0, Girardi ordered Quentin to be intentionally walked, putting the go-ahead run on base.

Now the fun starts. Instead of allowing Robertson, a strikeout pitcher, to face A.J. Pierzynski, Girardi decided to go lefty-lefty matchup. So who does he bring in? Damaso Marte, who used to pitch for the White Sox and specifically was caught BY Pierzynski. Why wouldn't he use Boone Logan in that situation? Logan can hit 97 MPH on the gun, and Pierzynski hasn't faced him much, both things favoring the Yankees. Instead, he brings in Marte, and tells his outfielders to play shallow. If there was a time for a no doubles defense, that was it. Heck, if Girardi was so comfortable with putting the go-ahead run on, why not walk Pierzynski, who has had a lot of success against the Yankees, and pitch to Mark Kotsay?

But no, the genius allows Marte to pitch to his former batterymate, and Pierzynski drives a ball over the head of Randy Winn in left and the White Sox immediately regain the lead. Kotsay conveniently flies out to left to end the inning, but the damage, both psychologically and physically, is done. Javier Vazquez gets to feel badly about costing his team yet another game by being unable to keep pitched balls inside the Stadium, and the bullpen takes another hit after coughing up the lead. What bothers me is that Robertson didn't pitch badly, but gets charged with 2 ER in 0.2 innings and gets tagged with the loss, when it was Girardi's poorly considered decisions to put the go-ahead runner on base intentionally and to use Marte against Pierzynski that resulted in the game-winning hit.

It's too bad Robinson Cano picked today to go 0-4 and leave 5 runners stranded. I hope it isn't the beginning of a Granderson-sized slump. At least Mark Teixeira picked up two hits today, as did Nick Swisher, and Brett Gardner continues his solid hitting. Gardner will be patrolling CF for the forseeable future after Granderson's groin injury, so Randy Winn had better figure out where the equipment manager hid his bat bag or we'll be seeing a lot of Marcus Thames in LF.

Here's a revolutionary idea: Derek Jeter in LF, and Ramiro Pena at SS. Jeter couldn't possibly play worse defensively than either Winn or Thames, and he sure does hit better. Pena is a switch hitter, and has been playing well when asked and getting some clutch hits. I know if I was a Northwestern graduate, I'd have to give it some serious thought.
Category: MLB
Posted on: October 4, 2009 11:22 pm

Happy Birthday to Me!

For the first time, namely since the regular season never went this late before, The New York Football Giants and the New York Yankees both won on my birthday. Don't be stingy in your congratulations, it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

The Yankees look primed to go deep in the playoffs this year, having made significant improvements in their bullpen and their defense. Their top three of CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte will be a problem for their opponents and having Alfredo Aceves available to fill the old Ramiro Mendoza role from the bullpen gives them a lot of options in the ALCS. Their advantage in the ALDS is that whichever team makes it, will be beaten and bloodied just from getting there. Neither will have the chance to set their rotation the way they really want it, which gives the home team a big shot in the arm(s).

The Giants are rolling along at 4-0, with the Raiders coming to town next week. The injury to Eli Manning didn't appear to be serious, as he was walking around on the sideline in the fourth quarter with the headset. Even if David Carr is the starter next week, it provides two opportunities for the Giants: let Eli recover another week if needed, and give Carr some reps in game conditions against a team that isn't playing well right now and figures to fold like a wet napkin in the face of the Giants defense.

Not a bad beginning to the month of October, all things considered.
Posted on: November 23, 2008 9:06 pm
Edited on: November 24, 2008 2:39 am

The New York Football Giants establish themselves

as a force to be reckoned with and as a strong contender in the playoffs.

Even though the Giants relied on Eli Manning's arm more today than they have in the past few weeks, the playcalling was still reflective of the Giants overall plan to stay balanced between the pass and the run. With 33 pass attempts and 26 rushes, they were able to keep the Cardinals guessing on defense, which only made Eli Manning's job easier.

The Cardinals had 52 pass attempts and only 15 rushes, which definitely made Steve Spagnuolo's job easier. The Cards made no attempt to prevent the Giants from pinning their ears back and getting after Kurt Warner, although the Cards offensive line handled the pressure well.

After all the debate before this game, it all ended up coming down to the special teams. Domenik Hixon came through in a big way with three long kickoff returns for 180 yards that gave the Giants excellent field position. The key to the game for the Giants was their ability to use the short field to their advantage and they scored each time they got the ball after a kickoff.

It is a mark of the best teams that they are able to adjust on the fly and tweak their game plan to take what they're given. The running game didn't produce any big plays, but the Giants got 7 first downs rushing, so they were still effective without the big plays.

The Giants also managed to defeat a strong passing team on the road, and rested Brandon Jacobs and Plaxico Burress for next week's game in Washington against the Redskins. Strong efforts the next three weeks against divisional opponents would clinch a playoff spot for the Giants, and could even give them a first-round bye. The Redskins and Cowboys have been improving of late, but still have weaknesses the Giants can exploit. The Eagles are self-destructing faster than a top fuel dragster with a blown engine.

All in all, the Giants should have no trouble clinching a berth. The Redskins, Eagles, Cowboys, Panthers and Vikings all have winning records, but the Giants should be favored in each contest. The Cowboys still have the Giants, the Ravens, and the Steelers on their schedule, with the Seahawks and the Eagles. The Redskins still have the Giants and the Ravens, along with the Bengals, Eagles, and 49ers. The careening Eagles have the Giants, Cardinals, Redskins and Cowboys, and the Browns, which seems to give the Redskins the advantage over the Cowboys and Eagles as far as the wild card spots go.

We could see a repeat of last year's playoffs where three NFC East teams make it, but too many other teams (Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers, Vikings, Bears) are playing well enough to preclude that without some stunning collapses.

Whoever their opponents are, the Giants message is simple: We're going to run, run some more, and for a change of pace, we'll run. We're going to get after your quarterback, smother your rushing game, and knock your receivers around. Tighten your chinstraps and make sure your cup is adjusted, because your going to get it right in the mouth every single down. And if you let us, we'll even pass, too.

Posted on: July 16, 2008 3:16 am

A Memorable day from Yankee Stadium's final year

My wife and I attended the game vs. the Royals on June 7, 2008, and the game had more than its share of memorable moments. In the third inning, the home plate umpire was knocked out of the game by a bunt attempt. It was 98 degrees in New York that day so it must have been 110 on the field, and it looked like Andy Pettitte would succumb to it as the Royals jumped out to a 5-1 lead after three innings. The Yankees tied it in the fourth, and Melky Cabrera got thrown out at the plate tagging on a Derek Jeter fly ball to end the inning.

The Yanks took a lead with a run in the fifth, and it looked like we might get a good six innings from Pettitte after all. Jose Guillen fouled a ball off his lower leg in the sixth, and was down for several minutes and looked like he wouldn't stay in the game. Even after the Royals tied it in the top of the seventh, it looked like the Yanks would escape trouble when Joe Girardi had Mike Aviles intentionally walked to put the DP back on, and Pettitte struck out Mark Teahen. That brought Guillen back to the plate, and he didn't look comfortable as Pettitte ran the count to 2-2. Then Pettitte hung a slider, and suddenly it was 10-6 Royals, and the game looked lost. The gentleman seated in front of us, Paul Simon, asked the kids he had with him if they wanted to leave. They said, "NO!" so they all stayed.

The Yanks got two runs back in the bottom of the seventh, and Mr. Simon asked, "Do you want to leave?" "NO!" they said. And they stayed.

The Yanks got two more runs in the eighth to tie it up, and you could feel the momentum shift in the crowd. Mr. Simon asked, "Do you want to leave?" "NO!" they said, and they stayed.

Mariano Rivera came in to warm up for the ninth, and the crowd really got loud. For one pitch. David DeJesus deposited Mo's first pitch into the right field stands, and it got really quiet. Rivera retired the side in order, but the damage was done. Or so we thought. Mr. Simon asked, "Do you want to leave?" "NO!" they said, and they stayed.

Joakim Soria came in to close it out in the ninth, and after a Jason Giambi fly ball out, Jorge Posada hit a HR to tie it up and the crowd went wild. After a Robinson Cano grounder, Wilson Betemit worked a walk, and Melky Cabrera reached on a dribbler toward third. That set the stage for Johnny Damon, who came up with two on, two out, tie game, and with a 3-1 count, deposited his sixth single of the game into the right field corner, scoring Betemit with the winning run! Yankees 12, Royals 11, in a game that all the people we saw as we made our way back to the subway said was the best game they had ever seen.

And my wife got a genuine autographed UTZ potato chip bag from Paul Simon.

Posted on: February 25, 2008 10:23 pm

Which way did we go?

I've been thinking about this topic for a while, and still haven't found a meaningful explanation for what's happening. I hope there are other members who have explored the subject more thoroughly who can enlighten me.

Two Hall of Fame caliber players, approaching the twilight of their careers, are about to crash and burn. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens have been arguably the best at their respective positions in the modern era, if not all-time. Yet, the use of steroids and Human Growth Hormone appears to be the death knell for both, but by significantly different means.

Greg Anderson has spent time at the Graybar Hotel twice, three times? He refuses to make any statements that would implicate Barry Bonds in any way, and has been willing to go to jail for his trouble. The changes in Bonds' physical appearance and increase in his homerun totals notwithstanding, no one has come forward with a "smoking gun" that proves he has used steroids. Even the convictions in the BALCO investigation have not induced anyone involved to tesify against Bonds.

Brian McNamee has talked enough to get his own spot on "The View", to keep from spending any time in jail, up to and including the creepy disclosure that he kept needles he alleges were used to inject Roger Clemens with steroids and HGH. His testimony is the foundation of the findings of the Mitchell Report, and may result in jail time for Clemens for perjury, if nothing else, if proof emerges that Clemens indeed used steroids.

The prevailing opinion around baseball is that neither player is the most popular among his peers, yet Clemens' "best friend" Andy Pettitte has given incriminating testimony before a Congressional committee, while no one has come forward to incriminate Barry Bonds.

What sort of conversation could have taken place between Bonds and Greg Anderson that would inspire Anderson to be jailed for contempt of court rather than incur the wrath of Bonds? How does Bonds manage to continue to avoid incrimination by one of the many people involved in the BALCO mess? And why has Clemens been deserted by McNamee simply to save his own skin? Is Greg Anderson a standup guy, and McNamee a weasel? Or hasn't McNamee seen The Godfather?

Barry Bonds has been a lightning rod for everyone who decries cheating in baseball, and Roger Clemens has focused the attention of Yankee haters everywhere who look for any excuse to be critical of the Yankees. I guess there won't be any more bar fights about whether Clemens should enter the Hall in a Red Sox hat or a Yankee hat. I doubt there were many who cared whether Bonds went in wearing a Pirates hat or a Giants hat. Either way, two once-great players have basically self-destructed, and are taking America's Pastime down with them. Even if they are found to be innocent, the stain on the game will remain for years, and on Bonds and Clemens for life.

Category: MLB
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