Archive for the 'Yankees' Category

Yankees in the World Series … Again

Yankees in the World Series … again. So I won’t be watching the World Series … again. Yes, I’m a sports fan and a baseball fan. But when the Yankees are in the Series, it’s not baseball. It’s Hollywood. It’s a story when the franchise with the most overwhelming advantages of any team in history doesn’t make the Series.

Sports pundits gloating when they pick the Yanks and are proven right? It’s like betting that a corrupt politician will be elected … You’re bound to be right.

When the Yankees are back, as they inevitably always are, baseball is boring … again.

What’s Wrong with Baseball

As we prepare to continue this series here is a review of numbers 7-10 of the list. Click on the titles to read the articles. Number 6 to appear soon.

10: Wimpy Pitchers

9: The Designated Hitter

8: Cheating

7: The Concept of the Closer

Sports Soaps Top 5 of the Week

The U.S. sports scene has been providing a bumper crop of soap operas.

1. Barry Bonds: Finally indicted.
2. A-Rod: Mr. Not-October slinks back to New York.
3. O.J.: Is America ready for another trial?
4. Stephon Marbury: AWOL egoist pays.
5. Ricky Williams: Desperate Dolphins tap sober former-superstar.

Dishonorable Mention:

Joe Glenn/Kyle Whittingham: Coaches prove they can be less mature than the students they coach. [story]
Michael Vick: Continuing saga.
Belichick/Patriots: The coach fans love to hate.

What’s Wrong With Baseball #9: The Designated Hitter

The designated hitter. Bob Costas: “Baseball is simply a better game without the DH.”

This will definitely not resonate with younger readers, who have never known an American League that played with real baseball rules, but it can if they will think hard about the differences in the National League and American League games. Joe Torre is getting a lot of sympathy for being offered a contract Steinbrenner knew he would turn down. A great manager gets the short end of the stick, right?

Not entirely. While I do think Torre is an excellent manager, should he choose to continue managing and end up in the National League, he would have to do a lot more managing, thinking, strategizing. The strategies surrounding a pitcher who hits, having to consider removing him when the need to pinch hit arises, double switches, etc., means NL managers simply think a lot more. Few of them nod off in the dugout.

And the game is better. There is no guarantee Torre could still think like a National Leaguer (he did spend his career there). Of course, he has had to do that in the World Series he has managed in, so he should be able to do it.

So the main reason the DH is bad for baseball is Bob Costas’ “Baseball is simply a better game without the DH. ”

There’s a second reason. Stats, though thrown together as major league stats, just don’t mean the same thing in the two leagues, especially for pitchers, who obviously, since they never get to pitch to pitchers, have higher ERAs in the AL. It’s mixing apples and oranges. Players’ career stats can’t really be compared. It’s even more of a mess since the introduction of inter-league play, which is clearly good for baseball.

The advantages of pitching to pitchers in the NL is somewhat offset by the fact that good pitchers get to pitch longer in the AL because they don’t get lifted as quickly. But fewer young pitchers get to develop this way. And this means that hitters have a disadvantage in the AL because they are facing good pitchers longer. The only hitters to gain an advantage in the AL are the aging guys who hang on for a few extra years because they don’t need to go into the field. (So where is Barry Bonds going to go?)

But it’s too late to rectify it on the stats end. And it’s too ingrained in the AL psyche to ever change. So I offer the #9 thing that’s wrong with baseball simply as food for thought. It’s never going to change, so we’ll live with it. And I’ll keep enjoying National League games more than American League games.

Joe: “No”

Joe Torre is no longer the manager of the New York Yankees. An aging George Steinbrenner offered him a pay cut I’m sure he expected him to reject. The team lost in the first round of the playoffs for the third straight year in 2007 and Steinbrenner wants a winner.

Joe should have said, “No.” Whoever succeeds him will get a lot of money and a few years off his life expectancy.

Don’t Count Boston Out

Everyone reading this knows the Indians just defeated the Boston Red Sox, 7-3, to take a commanding 3-1 series lead. But we all know what happened in the 2004 ALCS, and the World Series that followed. That year the Red Sox came back from the largest possible deficit, down 3-0, to the New York Yankees no less. Any team that did that can do what it takes to get to the 2007 World Series. This time, they only need to win 3 straight, not 4, and, while the Cleveland Indians are a good team, they are not the New York Yankees.

The odds are still against Boston. It is unlikely there will be another miracle. But there certainly could be. The Red Sox have bequeathed to baseball an atmosphere of hope, and the Colorado Rockies of 2007 haven’t hurt that atmosphere any. What the Red Sox did in 2004 will be good for baseball as long as baseball lasts. Games … and series … are never over till they’re over. Fans on both sides can enjoy every moment of every game.

Now, do the Sox have another miracle run in them?

Don’t count them out.

Umps get it right; “Hal McRae Rule” Appears in NLCS

In the seventh inning of game 1 of the NLCS in the desert, Rockies starting pitcher Jeff Francis gave up a leadoff double then hit Justin Upton with a pitch. When Augie Ojeda grounded to third baseman Garrett Atkins, Upton was forced at second and went into a roll block with an arm bar that prevented second baseman Kazuo Matsui from making a throw.

Second base umpire Larry Vanover called interference on Upton and Ojeda was out. Major League Baseball banned this in 1978 after Kansas City Royals designated hitter Hal McRae used the tactic on New York Yankees second baseman Willie Randolph in the 1977 American League Championship Series.

This time the umps got it right. Even if discouraged Arizona fans strongly disagreed and pelted the field with debris causing a temporary desertion of the field by Colorado players at the behest of manager Clint Hurdle.

They were right! CO beat AZ, 5-1. And we get to mention an obscure rule. Now that’s good baseball.