Friday, October 31

I agree that salaries have maxed out, but whether that's because teams have reached some top level of "what they can afford" is an entirely different issue.

Clearly, the Sox would have been well positioned to redirect Manny's massive salary to a big bat (Guerrero?) and a big arm (Colon?) if he was picked up. I assume that's why the Yankees did not move on him. I really don't know what the ramifications are for the And now there's talk that A-Rod is also available.

Quick post before heading out of town for the weekend:

The tenor of the Manny irrevocable waivers situation is quite interesting. In particular, it seems as if the local NY press regards the Yankees' decision to not claim Manny as some sort of victory over the feared Red Sox juggernaut (!), as another "bad beat" for the Red Sox. This is a ridiculous sentiment. The Red Sox lose nothing by placing Manny on waivers and not having him claimed. At the worst, they show to Manny and his agent Jeff Moorad that Manny is an undesirable, that a trade demand means zippo, and their player/agent leverage (beyond an existing mammoth contract) is zero. At best, had the Yankees claimed Manny, the Sox would have been rid of a player they clearly don't value as much as his raw stats would seem to indicate and had a ton of money to free up. The Sox, "stuck" with Manny post-expiration of waivers seem no worse off than before - they have a mercurial offensive juggernaut with mediocre defensive skills on the roster who may or may not show up every day anyhow, but now other teams know he's available for .60 on the dollar and Manny can't yell "trade me now", since most teams wouldn't take him free of charge. What really happened here is that both the Yankees and Red Sox made smart moves, the Sox in trying to shed Manny, the Yankees in not taking the bait. I wish the New York baseball writers would get over their insecurities (I can't figure out what else drives the tenor of the local commentary) and stop looking at this single event as a Red Sox/Yankees competition. They should assess it more in terms of a more global economic shift in baseball. It actually, for the first time in years, looks like salaries may have maxed out, and that teams are recognizing what they can afford, that dollar allocation strategies are changing.

Thursday, October 30

Below quote from Neyer's ESPN column on the Manny situation. When has there ever been discussion about moving Jeter to center?

With Giambi and Nick Johnson set at DH and first base (and rightly so), Ramirez would have to play left field, which means Hideki Matsui has to play right field, which means Bernie Williams has to remain in center field, which means there's no way of moving Soriano or Jeter to center field (and you can forget about trading for Carlos Beltran or signing Vladimir Guerrero, too).
Manny on irrevocable waivers?!?! Will he be a Bomber soon?

Wednesday, October 29

Rumors flying! Carlos Beltran for Soriano on the wires...
Rick Down out. Mattingly on the way?

Excellent "State of the Franchise" article from today's Boston Globe. YF should take a gander.


Tuesday, October 28

Peter Gammons, today:

That doesn't mean that that one inning cost Little his job, but it did set off a set of circumstances that brought them to a Monday press conference in which Lucchino and Epstein announced that the 2004 option was not picked up, and that Grady was free to manage the Orioles or replace Don Zimmer as Joe Torre's bench coach with the Yankees, which would make those who believe in curses and medieval things that go bump in the night happy.
I should more pointedly clarify: numerous news outlets (ESPN, Globe, Times) have speculated that Little will be or could be a candidate for the open Yanks bench coach position, though they haven't claimed he is a considered candidate yet. Today's Times, for example:

As for Little, he could become a candidate for two other American League managerial openings — in Baltimore and Chicago. His experience as a bench coach might even make him a candidate to succeed Don Zimmer in that role with the Yankees.
Circulated by whom? SF? Not going to happen.
Grady Little as Yanks bench coach? Rumors circulating...

Monday, October 27

I don't think I could bear my own childhood favorite, Willie Randolph, in a Red Sox uniform. Ack.
Just read Candiotti's post. Unreal. This is the best quote (besides the inane Hargrove-would-be-a-good-choice part):

In hindsight, Little could have pulled Pedro a batter earlier (his last pitch of the game became a two-run single by Jorge Posada to tie the score 5-5).

Jeez, no shit, Tom. How about "in retrospect, it might have been better if Buckner hadn't let the ball go through his legs" for some more quality analysis? ESPN should just stick with Neyer, Caple, Stark, and forget the "insider's view".

As for Hargrove, the guy is a horrible manager, and if that's who they pick, they should have stuck with Grady.

Reactive Top 3 candidates (much more thought required, so that's definitely a disclaimer):

1. Leyland (prohibitive favorite in my ideal world)
2. Randolph (steal the heir apparent! In any case he deserves an interview at this point)
3. Remy (wild card)

Pudge Fisk would be my sentimental, not my brain's, choice, my favorite player ever and a true leader, but I am not sure if he can successfully execute a pre-game lineup card or whether managing his kid's little league team is enough experience for the job.
Warped Perspective of the Year Award

Tom Candiotti thinks it was the right decision to leave Pedro in there back in game 7 of the LCS, and given the opportunity, he'd do the same thing AGAIN. Also thinks Mike Hargrove would make a nice replacement for Grady.


YF fantasy: Luchino replaces Theo with Candiotti, Grady with Hargrove....

Ouch! And as insult to injury, Blogger is now pimping Marlin seats on our site. BOO!


Yanksfan Loses Mind, Begins Posting Drivel

East Village (Reuters) - In a not unexpected development following the Yankees' stunning loss to the upstart Florida Marlins in this year's World Series, Yanksfan has lost his mind, and has started posting blog entries suggesting Red Sox hiring practices which make zero sense.

Psychologists consulted by Soxfan, Yanksfan's nemesis blogger, regard this situation as both dangerous and lamentable, though not surprising, considering the example the owner of Yanksfan's favorite team sets.
Sox Name Dent Manager

Boston--(AP) In a bold and surprising move, the Boston Red Sox have hired former Yankee shortstop and nemesis Bucky Dent to succeed Grady Little as the team's manager. "Sticking the Yanks with Zimmer didn't work, so we thought we'd try this. We need to exorcise some demons," said Red Sox President Larry Luchino. Dent's home run off Mike Torrez in a 1978 playoff game propelled the Yankees to a comeback victory. Zimmer managed the Sox at the time.

In a related move, Bill Buckner was hired as a special fielding instructor.
Don't think you watch much football. You mistake Beckham for just about anyone in the MLS - he's still a great player. Perhaps you were thinking of Jeff Nelson?

Grady Little Sympathy Index Drops.

Just came across this: "If people want to judge Grady Little on the results of a decision I made in that last game the other day, so be it."--Grady Little

Sorry, but we have a hard time finding compassion for anyone who refers to themselves in the third person. I guess that's what happens after two years with Manny and Pedro.
Goodbye Grady. But is the NYT reading its own stories? Below the headline "Red Sox Manager Is Fired" we learn that "Little's contract expires Friday, so he was not fired."

Absolutely. Praise the smart and small ballplayer. Juan Pierre is certainly both. Soriano should watch tapes of his WS at bats.

Remy. Hiring a native, in all senses. A nice antitode to all those good-ole boys.

Beckham: I was not intending to cast aspersions, but now that you mention it, he's a tant with a bad haircut and diminishing skills.
As much as I used to hate Chuck Knoblauch and his stupid two-flapped helmet, I concur. I love the guys who execute the fundamentals, who take the extra base, who know when to let a foul ball drop because it's an easy tag-up. So I say praise the little guy, but even more let's praise the smart ballplayer.

I thought, at first, that your first line referred to a certain Little named Grady, who apparently will be getting the axe in about 2 hours. Rumors have Jerry Remy as a possible replacement. He's a fantastic color analyst, one of the best and most candid tv announcers as well as a former Sox player who knows the pressure of Beantown and the media, so it seems like an inspired choice, though I have to say it would come with some obvious and quite serious risk attached (see the "job experience" section of the resume).

p.s. don't bash Becks. Though I hate Manchester United (the Yankees/GOP of the Premiership) and have distaste for Real (the Yankees/GOP of La Liga), Beckham is an anomaly, a truly gifted athlete who, though he can't hit a baseball, can do things with a football that few on Earth can. He's a beautiful player to watch, hard-working, creative, and intelligent on the field.

In Praise of the Little Man

It's become fashionable, in these Sabermetric times, to downgrade the value of small ball and speed in favor of power and on-base percentage. But let's just make a note of what an absolute joy it is to watch a little guy with speed creating havoc at the plate and on the bases. We loved watching Juan Pierre this year, just as we enjoyed David Eckstein in 2002.

I have a British friend who likes to complain that baseball players aren't "real" athletes: some are fat and some are superbuff; some are bean poles and some fire-hydrants with legs. But isn't the heterogeneity of the ballplayer something to appreciate? Do we really want the homogenous horde of medium height, medium build futbol boys? They seem to lack character. And let's see David Beckham hit a curveball.

So here's to the little men: the Wee Willie Keelers, the Pee Wee Reeses, the Scooters, and all of their descendants of small stature and grand ambition.

Choke up. Bunt. Get down the line. Steal a base. Score Score Score.
I’m still trying to come to terms with this World Series. But here are some hot stove thoughts in response to yours:

1: Bench coach: the Zimmer ride was fun (for the most part) while it lasted, but clearly this was a relationship that needed ending. Rumor that we like: Joe Girardi as new bench coach and Torre heir-apparent.

2: Mazzilli: At heart, a whinny Met. Luis Soho will do fine at 1st, and nice to add a Latino to the coaching staff. Change is good.

3: Stottlemyre is all Yankee and a damn good coach. Let’s hope he stays.


5: Aaron Boone & Jeff Weaver: “Would you like that in Vente or Grande?”
1. Zimmer: See ya. He's obviously insanely pissed and resentful of Steinbrenner, probably justified in his venom, but seriously, who cares? I am sure the Yankees will be fine without him. I stand by my previous name-calling, he's a clown.

2. Cashman: Interesting dilemma - he has a great track record, if you count the Series victories that were really Bob Watson and Stick Michael's, so how do you dump him? A bigger question is whether he has even been making the moves or if the Boss has been calling the shots. If Cashman is just a puppet, and I suspect that he is about a 60% puppet, he's therefore a scapegoat if canned. One thing that is inarguable: he's done a horrible job of building a future.

3. Coaches - Rick Down: See ya. Mel Stottlemyre: class guy, clearly fed up with the Boss, a loss if he goes. Mazzilli: out, but how important is a hotheaded and arrogant first base coach? "Back!" and a buttslap can easily be replaced.

4. Giambi: Unmovable (due to health and contract), but in an ideal world would be the first guy I would shop - Nick Johnson should be playing every day, he's got a chance to be truly stellar (I was a late convert to your claims - you made the call).

5. Pettitte: back, no doubt. I wonder if Theo should make a call, drive the price up, though I think that ultimately hurts him in the short run, inflating the top tier prices (he has to re-sign Lowe and maybe Pedro).

6. Sheffield or Guerrero? Guerrero is apparently a wallflower, and hates New York. Conventional wisdom therefore brings Sheffield here. See #8 below for monkey wrench, positionally speaking.

7. Colon, Vazquez, Maddux? Whoever George wants, George gets, though I see no way that Maddux comes to the AL. Also, let's chart the salaries for these guys - if I remember correctly you vehemently disagreed with my claims that Colon and/or Vazquez bank at least 10m/year.

8. Soriano/Kaz Matsui: Why wouldn't the Yankees move Soriano to CF, Bernie to left, Hideki to right, slot Kaz in at second? Again, Matsui is theirs if they want him, such are the economics.

9. Boone: non-tender? Is he that expensive? Is there a better replacement? Is he too fragile to succeed in NYC? It's a tough call, since he clearly can play somewhere, I am just not sure if it is in New York. Do they sign Matsui and put him at third? Drew Henson? (just kidding).

Hot stove talk begins now. I will pipe in a bit later on all the mayhem surrounding the Yanks post-mortem. It's been an entertaining, exhilirating start to the off-season!

And we should know more about what Grady will be doing next year later in the week.

Sunday, October 26

We were there for the bitter end last night—upper deck, section 21, row G—and we still have this strange feeling of anomie with which we were overcome after the last out. Isn’t there time for one more rally? That final half inning came and went so quickly, yet somehow still appeared in slow motion: two flies to left and a dribbler up the line, a delayed call from Welke behind home plate (did he really make the tag?), and then the Florida pile-on with Sinatra belting out "New York, New York" in the background. It all seemed impossibly far away, even—to use that hackneyed term—surreal. But surreal it was. Dream like. Out of place.


A few notes:

-Beckett and Pettitte: two masterful perfomances.

-Congratulations to Eddie Layton on his retirement, and thank you.

-Ronan Tynan: he’s worse in person that on tv—I know, this seems unimaginable. "God Bless America" is not a dirge. It’s Tin Pan Alley pop. That depres sing oration took the life out of the crowd when the boys were already behind. He must go. Whatever happened to Daniel Rodriguez, the cop with the great voice?

-$15 for a program is outrageous, and the scorecard is basically unusable because it has an advertisement for a Japanese electronics firm screened behind the scoring area. You can’t even read what you’re doing. Boo!

Saturday, October 25

Well THIS should be one interesting off-season. Painful to say this, but congrats to the Marlins.

Sleep well tonight, George.
Not that we don't engage in this here, but can Fox please end the "virtual manager"? That 52% of the voting fans think that pitching on 3 days rest is not a disadvantage just goes to show how little these voters know. History shows that pitching on three days rest is a massive disadvantage, and just because Josh Beckett is defying the odds does not make it otherwise.

Friday, October 24

See how realistic video games are getting!? The funny thing is that in this virtual 5 game series, the Yanks score 32 runs but Jeter, in the 2 spot and the virtual MVP, has only 18 at bats. Something's wrong here...

989 predicts the World Series
ESPN Gamer news services

989 Sports MLB® 2004, the popular baseball videogame by 989 Sports for the PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system, was used to simulate the MLB World Series and predicts the New York Yankees will beat the Florida Marlins 4 games to 1 to become the 2003 World Series Champions. Derek Jeter will be named the World Series MVP by going 8 for 18 to hit .444 with 3 doubles, 1 HR and 7 RBI's.

World Series Predictions Highlights

Game 1 (Final: Marlins 2 - Yankees 7)

Marlins -- Ivan Rodriguez 2 for 3, two singles
Yankees -- Jason Giambi 2 for 4, double and a home run

Game 2 (Final: Yankees 6 - Marlins 3)

Marlins -- Miguel Cabrera 1 for 2, double
Yankees -- Alfonso Soriano 3 for 3, 1 HR, 2 SB, 3RBI

Game 3 (Final: Marlins 5 - Yankees 4)

Marlins -- Derek Jeter 2 for 4, 2 doubles, 2 RBI
Yankees -- David Dellucci 2 for 4, single and a double

Game 4 (Final: Yankees 7 - Marlins 3)

Marlins -- Juan Encarnacion 2 for 3, single and a double
Yankees -- Roger Clemens struck out 8 in 7 1/3 IP

Game 5 (Final: Marlins 5 - Yankees 8)

Marlins -- Jeff Conine 3 for 4, two singles and a double
Yankees -- Derek Jeter 3 for 4, single, double, and a home run

YF finally returns after a prolonged hiatus--sorry folks. The conclusion of the LCS just about knocked us out, left us speachless, and in the ensuing days its just been hard to find the energy to jump back into the fray. But I suppose we must, and there is much to discuss. So a few items to review over the past week, some in reply to SF, some not:

-Ronan Tynan, David Cassidy, Yanni. Could someone from MLB step in here--for the love of God, if not country.

-On the Tynan front: My opera buffa in-laws claim never to have heard of this "famed Irish tenor."

-My favorite LCS Game 7 story: A member of the Boston Symphony horn section wore headphones and through a set of prearranged hand signals reported the score to the rest of the orchestra during their evening concert.

-Okay, after a brief hiatus we are once again anxious to have Aaron Boone's pinstripes permanently revoked.

-Grady: You can't choose a manager based solely on what the players think. He did a decent job, but every time the Sox lose two games from here on out, there will be distractions from the media calling for his head. I suspect Epstein wants someone a bit more in touch with his philosophy.

-Torre: Should he have gone to Mo in game 3? I thought he would, but I understand his thinking: in the NL, you don't want to be bringing in pitchers if there's a danger you have to pinch for them. And given the way the Yanks have been swinging, he might reasonably have anticipated another prolonged extra inning contest. Weaver didn't do badly either. He got ahead, had one quick inning, and the hr wasn't exactly a towering shot. So I'm williing to cut Joe a little slack. He's earned it. And the Yanks had plenty of opportunities to push across a run that would have precluded this whole mess.

Clutch: There's been a great deal of SABR analysis of clutch perfomance: whether it exists, whether it doesn't, in what proportion it exists, etc. It will be nice to review this material over the coming few weeks. In the meantime, Derek's having a fantastic series. (Though he was a bit slow to cover third last night in that run down!).

So it appears that many Red Sox fans, myself included, may get a wish granted with Grady Little out, possibly by Monday. I think this issue deserves a little bit of discussion, now that there is some distance from game 7, on the action of relieving GL (or any manager in a position like his) of his duties.

First - if the majority of players want him back (and that's been the tenor of players' comments, on the whole), and the performance of those players was, for the most part, excellent, then should that be a major factor in considering his return? What is the starting point for this team with a new manager? Do they begin from a point behind where they are now, due to new management, new chemistry, resentment of upper management? How fragile is the Red Sox clubhouse and would releasing Little damage this makeup? How much did Little have to do with the good karma in the clubhouse this year, and the confidence level that took the Sox so far? How much did he have to do with the actual improvement of many players from a fundamental standpoint (or is that the coaches)?

Second, is one (horrible, hall-of-shame-level, moronic) managerial non-move to the bullpen enought to shitcan a man from his job? This is a tougher question to answer - Bob Brenly survived multiple gaffes in the series against the Yankees. In fact, he made far more egregious gaffes than Grady's (however tired Pedro may have been). Brenly's team still won, his errors were for the most part buried, so it raises the issue of how much a manager should be held responsible for field execution. So, I ask you - what is a fireable offense from a manager? Does it have to be a pattern of decision-making? Or one decision?

This post is a bit of a backtrack for me, because after reading about the players' reaction to the call for Little's head I wonder about the wisdom of the move, though I do not doubt it will happen. My take is that if Little would simply say that he might have made a mistake by leaving Pedro in (a no-brainer, they lost, it WAS a mistake), then he shows he can learn, and as he's just a second-year Major League manager there's lots of room to grow (managing for 17 years in the minors isn't the same as the bigs), and therefore he leaves room for even higher expectations, not a bad thing, considering how well the team did this year, how the division looks to be evolving, etc. On the other hand, and this is the key issue, I think, Grady has continually and stubbornly said that he stands by his decision, he would do it again (whether he istrying to protect Pedro I don't know, but Pedro has been forthright about his responsibility for the outcome and seems to be able to handle not being protected by his manager), and maybe therefore he can't be trusted to evolve as a skipper. I don't think the Sox top brass (and most fans) can live with (or trust) a manager who flatly says that he'd once again put the team in the position to blow an eighth inning lead against an arch-rival in a seventh game with a fresh and dominating bullpen ready, knowing what heartbreak his decision has caused. That, to me, is unacceptable, and what allows the top brass to say goodbye.

Thursday, October 23

And to add, the last part of Neyer's column is brilliant stuff, IMO.
A professional scribe corroborates my thoughts...

ESPN.com - MLB/PLAYOFFS2003 - Neyer: That's inexcusable
Here's an interesting note from today's Globe. If Little "isn't sure he wants the job", then they ought to move on now. Can't hear the tone, but the "that team" comment comes off as petulance. Even if the top brass considered bringing him back, that kind of comment should be justification enough to cut bait. The Sox should be interviewing Willie Randolph (and whoever else seems appropriate or ready) when the Series ends.

Little unsure he wants job
Sox manager put off by team's hesitation
By Gordon Edes, Globe Staff, 10/23/2003

MIAMI -- Faced with the increasing likelihood that he will be fired as Red Sox manager, Grady Little said yesterday that he's not sure he wants to manage the Red Sox next season.

"I'm prepared for the likelihood . . . I'm not sure that I want to manage that team," Little said by phone from his home in North Carolina.

Well, I tuned in to see about 20 minutes of the Series last night, after "The Bachelor" ended, and I have to wonder why Torre left Mariano on the bench. I understand he is on the road, he wants Mo to close, but Weaver for TWO innings? That seemed a bit greedy to me. The guy hadn't pitched since September, and even understanding he was facing Gonzales (a stiff at the plate to that point) and then the 9 hitter, pitcher or otherwise (had there been a double switch yet?), it was a stretch. Mariano has proven he can throw two nights in a row, two innings each time, if he was contemplating a Game 5 close-out. Not a great call by Joe (he's allowed, I guess).

Also, is anyone more pathetic looking at the plate than Luis Castillo?

Wednesday, October 22

Last night, decision time. Do I watch the Series, or do I tune in to the season finale of "Nick and Jessica: Newlyweds", on MTV?

Let's just say that Nick and Jessica had a nice romantic weekend in San Diego and went on a hot air balloon ride!

Tuesday, October 21

Book'em, Dan-o!

A glimmer of good news amidst the miserable World Series...Nellie and Garcia likely to face charges!

Monday, October 20

I am guessing Jason and Shea Hillenbrand take the same "vitamins", the ones that alter the size of one's skull.
In spite of my non-post claim, I had to throw this one up for what will likely be a lively discussion about cheaters on the Yankees (and elsewhere):

SAN FRANCISCO -- New York Yankees slugger Jason Giambi has been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury investigating a company that prescribes nutritional supplements for elite athletes, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Monday.

Giambi is among the 40 big-name athletes -- Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants and world-class sprinter Kelli White included -- who have been asked to testify in the budding steroid scandal.

Giambi said he visited the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO, last fall before going on a tour of Japan with other major leaguers.

"I just asked about some vitamins and supplements and stuff like that," Giambi told the newspaper. "No big deal."

Friday, October 17

You're damn right we tossed back a few at the local watering hole after last night's emotional roller-coaster!
What, may I ask, are you recovering from? If it's not a hangover then I don't understand...
The Yankees won the World Series in 1951, but their accomplishment was overshadowed by the Giants' dramatic pennant win over the Dodgers, courtesy Bobby Thompson's Shot Heard 'Round the World. "The Giants win the pennant. The Giants win the pennant. The Giants win the pennant..."

And so this year's World Series will also come as something of an afterthought. Sox-Yanks was a championship unto itself, a battle for the ages. What could possibly live up to that drama?

We're still recovering and euphoric. Sympathies to SF and the rest of The Nation. Losing should not have to be that cruelly painful.
Here's a postmortem:

1. The game last night was painful in a very different way for me than Buckner, Dent, et al. In last night's case, the players did everything right (beyond not getting that fifth run in in the fourth), from Pedro's effort through 7 (all he should have been asked for last night) to the clutch insurance ding by Ortiz, to the nice plays by Walker. For once, the players executed, the players didn't brainfart, the players succeeded. Grady Little failed, and failed beyond all expectations. For this reason, the sting is different - it didn't feel like the dreaded "curse", it wasn't the same kind of train wreck as in the past, because when Little left Pedro out there you KNEW he was going to get hit - he had nothing in the tank, and it wasn't, for me, an anticipation of a botched double play, or some bizarre passed ball or failed squeeze, it was actually a kind of knowledge that the Yankees would (and should) knock hits around, they HAD too - they are too professional, too good, not to be able to tee off on a guy they have seen several times this year who had nothing left. Any good team would have done the same to a similar opponent - the Red Sox did it with Roger earlier (and Torre wisely yanked him), the Yankees with Pedro.

2. Grady has no excuse - the whole "Pedro said he was ok" is a line EVERY pitcher gives to his manager, if he's a gamer. My guess is Jeff Weaver doesn't think he's got problems sometimes, and it is the manager's job to recognize that gap in recognition. Little, for some reason, didn't execute, and he took his players out of a winning situation and put them in a spot they didn't deserve to be in, one of chasing down fungoes, of playing against the house.

3. My hope, my guess, is that Grady won't be re-upped for next year. He did a fine job, he's clearly a capable manager, but he did something last night that is not forgivable. The Sox this year will not be forgotten for the great things they did accompish and the even better things they should have accomplished. But Little, and not the players, will be remembered for his McNamara-esque failing, his breakdown at the worst possible moment.

Some context from last night, which I think is important because we ALL, at some point, think we can do a better job than the professional skippers (which isn't true, of course). In Oakland, at the airport, in a crowd of about 75 people watching, some Sox, some Yankees fans, almost everyone, was screaming "take him out!!!". This was not a confusing decision, in any way. I don't need to rehash who was rested and ready in the pen, and Little had to know this, his coaches had to know this, and why he didn't act is beyond comprehension, beyond defense.

So, way to go Yankees. They took advantage of possibly the worst managerial non-move in baseball history. For that, I guess, they deserve some credit.

This has been a fun blog, but I am checking out until hot stove time. I don't have any strength left or interest in watching the Yankees/Marlins series, one that I expect to be the worst World Series since Yankees/Padres.

Best of luck, and we'll blog come sometime soon.

Grady Little Deathwatch begins.....now.
Aaron! All is forgiven.

Go Yanks. Beat the fish.


Thursday, October 16

Contreras. The quick hits by Nomar and Manny, off fastballs, to start the inning appeared to rattle him. Before you could even blink the tying run was in scoring position. In response, Contreras became a bit timid, mincing around the edges of the strike zone and falling behind, and this in turn made his out pitch, that nasty split-finger, a lot less dangerous. I'm not sure he had the velocity on his fastball that he'd had earlier in this series. Credit the Sox. They take pitches. They get ahead. They exploit mistakes.
Didn't see the game - caught moment by moment updates on JetBlue's inflight DirecTV, then the highlights, so I have heard (and seen) everything about twelve times. I can't speak to your point by point post, but I do wonder what happened to Contreras. His stuff in the sixth looked awesome, but what happened in the seventh?

As for tomorrow, who the hell knows. Let's hope that an itchy ump doesn't go overboard if there's an early inside pitch (so long as it isn't headhunting), to me that's a danger. I don't think either pitcher will be out for anything but the win, past history aside. As for the result, there are so many ways to spin the poetry of a possible outcome, from Roger beating the Sox in his last start against them and beating Pedro again, to the Sox exorcising some demons by making it to the Series by beating a true Sox hero in Yankee Stadium. I just wish I could see the game.

Re: Nomar, I don't think it's fair to say I put him on the block, in fact I did speculate about his return, though I still do have reservations about his predictability at the plate and my trade thoughts were pretty heavily qualified. He was good today, no doubt, and I hope that was the start of something, not the end.

As for the Marlins, what's to like? Unless they are playing the Yanks, I'll be pulling for the AL team...

SF in SF
It's been four hours now since that fiasco concluded and I'm still having a hard time keeping the blood pressure below 4 digits, but here are some thoughts:

1: You could see Nixon's home run coming when White tossed that hanging curve on the first pitch of his at bat.

2: Giambi simply can not catch up to high heat. That K with Sori and Derek on 2nd and 3rd respectively was the fulcrom point of the game.

3: If the Yankees go down to Boston tomorrow, I suspect--and hope--we'll have seen the last of Aaron Boone. I assume we'll see Wilson tomorrow against Pedro.

4: Nomar. Are you still ready to put him on the block?

5: If ever there was a series that demonstrated the importance of getting ahead in the count, this is it..
Sitting here lamenting the loss of the poor Cubbies to those Floridian upstarts. Can we get a recount here?

Wednesday, October 15

What is tiresome and exasperating is your constant stream of ad hominem attacks on Yankees fans, in which we are all lumped together as one collective obnoxious, stupid, spoiled, and arrogant group. That's just silly, and I have neither the time nor the energy to respond to these diatribes. You may be providing "context" and some interesting arguments, but when they come couched in so much invective there's really no fun in the process.

Meanwhile, Pettitte is imploding.

This is getting a bit tiresome, particularly your response to my last post. I make a sincere effort at explaining to you the circumstances behind the current "curse" ethos, taking your previous post about media fatalism and extending that to fan fatalism (note that I was the one who extended that, not you), but you don't really respond to anything in your post, YF. I wish you would.

If you take a minute to read clearly and consume what I posted, it's pretty obvious that I wasn't using the collective grief of Sox fans as a weapon, in fact I qualify my inclusion of that EXPLICITLY as a contextual explanation of why the curse even comes up, of how the collection of events that has transpired to Red Sox and/or Cubs fans feeds a collective emotion. It is more important, in the context of this blog, to try to explain WHY there is such a sentiment, not demean the other for trying to explain it.

In any case, and with regards to that whole "grief as a weapon" tack, I will speak in a tautological way, and this time I WILL use it as a weapon, but you can't possibly understand what Sox fans have been through because you haven't been through it. Why not try to articulate an instance where you did feel that pain, instead of just calling me sanctimonious? Back up your response with some anectodal evidence and we can have a reasonable discussion, but if you just call me names we can't go anywhere, you have no evidentiary case, you just come off as spoiled on world championships.

I realized how absolutely spoiled Yankees fans are (after making that assumption for many years that they were, without really thinking about it, without having context for legitimizing that sentiment) after the Patriots beat the Rams in the Super Bowl. I was elated, so happy that a team that I have rooted for for 30 years won a title. When they lose now, I get pissed, but to be honest I can't with any dignity act like the world is ending if they miss the playoffs, if they don't win a championship. They could be 5 seconds from a title, blow it, and that would be upsetting, but contextually speaking I will be over it so much faster - my grief at that blown game won't equal a Bills fan's nausea re-visiting Scott Norwood every time there's a game-ending field goal. I wouldn't ever claim that that one blown championship made me the same as a Maple Leafs fan or a Vikings fan, no way, that would be crass. So it's in that context that I assess Yankees fans and their sense of entitlement, it's in that context that I use my disappointment as (your word) a weapon. I can live off that Patriots title for a long time. If the Red Sox win one, everything afterwards will be gravy, every tragedy to follow will no longer qualify as a tragedy.

I think that's a big difference in the ethos of the fans - should the Red Sox win a title I think most of us in Sox Nation will be joyous, will be relieved, will soak it all in, won't be so ruthless (ed - no pun intended) about what the title means to us. My impression is that to Yankees fans the titles are great (I don't doubt how happy they make people), reason for celebration, but in the end just another notch on the belt, a way of measuring all-time greatness, about how much better their team is than all the rest historically (in Boston this characterization befits Celtics fans), regardless of the moment. In that way, the championships here seem devalued to a degree (and I have been living here through 3 of them, so I have some basis for this comment), they are more about reassurance, about insecurity, (and affirmation that yeah, this city is great), about a legacy, not about some more pure notion of absolute joy and celebration, of appreciation for the emotional high that can bring. In this town, a title is also about how everyone else stinks, not just about how great it makes you feel.
Who absolved the NYT--or Boomer for that matter? Not me. And let's be clear: Sox fans are certainly entitled to wallow in their grief. But there is a difference between cause and effect. If the Sox lose every year, it's not due to some larger supernatural force, but through a variety of historical circumstances, and it is our job to look carefully and honestly about just what those might be. So spare me all of the sanctimonious BS about how we Yankees fans just can't understand your pain. You're entitled to it, sure, but you can't also use it also as a weapon. Is baseball a meritocracy? Defitinitely not. Should it be? I'm not sure. But that's a debate for the off season.

As for the interference in the Cubs game, yes it was a big play, but the Cubs had ample OPPORTUNITY to erase its damage. They did not. That's their fault. It's only a decisive moment in retrospect.
Let's get something on the record:

I don't believe in any curse. I don't think "fate" determines that the Red Sox will lose. I don't think Kevin Millar ponders Harry Frazee one bit.

All that being said, your distaste for the media fatalism, for your by-extension dismissal of the feelings of legions of devoted fans is, I say, arrogant and a bit callous. The fact is that, and you correctly point this out, the Sox and Cubs are NOT cursed, but that doesn't mean that fans don't feel despondent, sad, or cursed. I feel sad because I really want the Red Sox to win a Series, my Mom feels sad because she really wants them to win a series during her lifetime, which they haven't, my Dad too. We get pissed/sad/irrationally emotional, we feel cursed because our context and team history is far different than yours - you have no experience with what we have gone through (Mariano throwing a ball into center field doesn't count). It's not that I am claiming any kind of monopoly on sports-related grief - hell, Mariners fans have been hungry, White Sox fans, Falcons fans, etc, all have had it pretty tough, and I am sure, at some point, you have felt disappointment too. But it's pretty arrogant for you to be so dismissive of the sensitivity that Sox and Cubs fans have about their team (and from this sensitivity comes the irrational "curse" explanation). The context of these teams is very different from the context of New York. The curse is, to me, an emotional crutch for a lot of people (one which I try not to lean on, though I sometimes fail), a way out of the darkness and despair of painful losses. The curse isn't real, but it sure feels real.

On the other hand, it's not that I expect anything less from a Yankees fan (Yankees fans in general are the up-by-the-bootstraps-cream-rises-to-the-top-meritocracy-backin' Republicans of all baseball fans) - the tone of noble patricianism, the attitude that the best always come out ahead, etc (ironic since Yanks fans may in fact be more diverse, more working-class than any other set of fans and even more ironic because the Yankees don't run a truly meritocratic system, with their free-spending ways they tend to wait for other meritocracies to break up and poach their dispersal). So another issue: we should acknowledge something about sports - the best team doesn't always win. That's why sports is so fascinating, because a run at the right time can propel a team to a championship, because a team with a certain makeup matches up well with another team with bundles of talent. That's why we watch, I think, even the most mismatched teams fight it out (Pats/Rams, Braves/Mets almost any year, etc.). This year, the best team, top to bottom still around in the playoffs, is probably the Yankees, so if they win, this year will be a case of the best team taking it. But that isn't always the case. A superior opponent doesn't always beat the inferior one. It's certainly not worth pointing that out after the game in a press conference if you play for the losing team and feel like you need to tout how talented you are and how the other team isn't as good as you even though they are parading a big shiny trophy around, as per many sore losers (e.g. any player on the Steelers), but it is a truth. Sometimes lesser teams are champs. But you know what? They will always be the champs.

I am off for a business trip to San Francisco and unfortunately will only be able to catch the game/games if JetBlue now provides Fox, though I will get the highlights via onboard ESPN. I am on planes at 4pm today and 7pm est tomorrow. Go Sox!

And while we're at dissing the ideas of a curse, how about we start with the New York Times sportspage editors this morning. See, YF, it starts here at home, it's enabled by New Yorkers as well as others. You didn't point fingers at any specific "press", but the subtext is subtly arrogant and not so inobvious - you native New Yorkers are part of the problem too.
First chink in Baker's armor: he really rode Prior way too long.

I only saw the eighth inning (worked late), and that interference non-call was a tough one. They didn't lose because of it, you are right, but your tough love is a tad disingenuous. It was a tough call, it could have gone the Cubs way, and it would have changed the game. That's the least you could admit. But it didn't lose them the game.

Tuesday, October 14

The NL game has only been over for 40 minutes, and already I'm tired of hearing about how the Cubs lost because of a mind-cramp interference play by a fan. Spare us all. Eight runs scored in the inning in question, and none came as the direct result of that play. If the Cubbies want to point fingers, they can start with Alex Gonzalez and move on from there. They only have themselves to blame for their Chernobyl-scale meltdown.

And while I'm at it, let me say that I've had just about enough of the media's predictable orgy of fatalism. The Cubs are not cursed. Neither are the Sox. If either team loses it will be because they are outplayed by a superior opponent. Period. There are no predetermined outcomes. Both of these series are still up in the air..
Jeez. Some serial posting there from SF. I'm not going to respond to the Gossage/Nettles comments. Enough already from everyone on this whole situation.

Moving on to more pressing matters, I've wondered the same thing about skipping Burkett entirely and going directly to Pedro for 6 and then Wakefield for a potential 7. But short rest is short rest, even for a knuckleballer. (Going with Wakefield in 6 would REALLY be a quick turnaround). And though I'd certainly like to see this thing end, Grady's way does offer the intriguing prospect of Pedro-Clemens II at the Stadium in the finale. And Wakefield should be avail able for some long relief work if either Burkett or Pedro ends up in early trouble.

Nomar. He's a genuinely great player on both sides of the ball and has been for a long time. In the past he's killed Yankee pitching; he doesn't just hit the League's weaklings. Yes, he's in a slump at a bad time. It happens. Not everyone can be Derek Jeter. Moving or losing him would be a huge mistake. (Unless of course he were replaced with A-Rod, but that's not happening.) Yeah he has some fundamental problems with aggressiveness, but so do any number of modern players (see Soriano). And Nomar has plenty of company in the slump department, on both the Sox and the Yanks. Ortiz, Manny, Mueller, Giambi, and Soriano all look fa irly helpless. And Aaron Boone makes Nomar look like Barry Bonds. N
Strategic question:

Who's better: Wakefield on two days rest or Burkett on a month? I say Grady should seriously consider bringing Wakefield back, if the guy's arm is ok. If he's remotely tired, forget it, but if not, why not?

I am not 100% sure about his unwillingness to throw Pedro, though based on most pitchers' records on three days rest I would probably think it's an ok move, so no major quibbles from this fan.
Someone really ought to speak with Nomar, a coach, a mentor, someone. I think I realize now that his regular season stats are modestly inflated - they are due to the fact that the guy is a pretty darn good hitter, but he takes advantage of the fact that he faces mostly mediocre pitchers throughout the regular season (like any good hitter should). But, facing a staff like the Yankees (or A's), his weaknesses are made ever so glaring - the predictability, the bad swings at bad pitches (all of which occurs during the regular season too, but during which he can get away with it), the utter disregard he has for situational hitting. I think the Sox need to really think about whether or not he's going to be an integral piece of the team for the next 5-7 years. It's a tough decision, because the guy can play, he's a truly great one-dimensional hitter, a better-than-average fielder, and he plays hard. Any team would be lucky to have him, and the Sox may yet still make him a career Bostonian. But he's got tremendous holes, as articulated by the Yankees and A's these past two weeks. He's up for a contract after next season, and I maintain that the Red Sox shouldn't reflexively think they have to re-up this guy, unless they have some confidence that he will adjust his game a bit. My thought of a Nomar to Texas deal isn't crazy, especially if Hicks thinks he can get Nomar at millions less than he has committed to A-Rod, he keeps a star in the ballpark for crowd draw, and the Sox can certainly carry the load of Rodriguez - he'd be a great upgrade, that goes without saying.
One last thing - if we read between the lines here, can a little racism be detected in Goose's comments? Or am I being sensitive on behalf of the DR? Who are "they" (Pedro, Manny, Sammy)?

With obvious scorn, Gossage said the pitch Ramirez reacted to "would've been a strike if it was a little lower. He got mad over nothing. (Hitters) want it all their way, and they're getting it because it's the pitchers who are afraid. They're all the same: Ramirez, Sosa. They're all (cowards)."
I guess these quotes from Gossage (and similar ones from Graig Nettles) really do show what a class organization the Yankees are, what kind of upstanding citizens the team produces. And all along I thought it was the Sox who were the classless ones, what with their death-defying press conferences and all! My mistake.
There is no shortage (nothing like a player speculating about felonies)...

"You want to bring a bat to the mound? Let him try," Gossage said. "Ramirez might've gotten one of us (pitchers), but he wouldn't have gotten all 10. You wouldn't have seen him the rest of the series, I promise you, because we would've put him in the hospital.

and another doozy (I don't think Goose realizes that Manny's home run won the series for them):

"I saw what he did (in Game 5 of the ALDS against Oakland), pointing into the dugout after he hit a home run. Someone should've put him right on his butt for that. That made me sick. He hardly ever hits when it counts, and he has the (guts) to do that? Give me a break."
Here's a good pair of quotes, and they likely articulate the tiny amount of brain matter Gossage is working with, if you can recognize the contradictions inherent in the statements.

First he says this:

"Manny Ramirez is a (coward). I hope he reads that," Gossage said Monday. "If he pulled that stuff in the old days, he would've gotten back in the box and I guarantee you he would've had the next pitch in his earlobe.

and then, about Martinez, two sentences later:

"That skinny little (expletive)," the Goose said loudly. "There's no question he threw right at Garcia's head. That's totally gutless."

So what is it, Goose? It's ok for you to (hypothetically, that is, though I am not sure that Gossage knows what that word means) throw at Ramirez's head, but it's not ok for Martinez to throw at Garcia? Is it because Pedro is skinny (though I am not sure why Pedro's body type matters here)? Or is it only ok to chuck at a guy's head after he acts angry at the pitcher, however unwarranted that anger might be (as per Manny)? My head hurts...

What is wrong with some people?

"I was watching (Game 3) lying in my bed, and when (Manny) Ramirez starts walking to the mound with a bat in his hand, I jumped up and started screaming at the TV set, 'Kill that (expletive),' " Gossage said.
Where is YF?
Today's game is far more important to the Sox than the Yankees. The Sox win, they get Pedro on full rest in game 7. The Sox lose, they have to send Burkett out against Pettitte just to salvage a game 7. So, I imagine Lowe has to rise to the occasion, or we may say sayonara to the boys from Beantown sometime tomorrow night.
Let's do the Yankees/Red Sox equivalency test!

What if Pedro said this? Can you imagine the uproar, by both Boston and NYC press? What a selfish player! What a non-team guy! 24 cabs for 24 players! Moose should keep his trap shut until the season is over. (Mind you, what he says is correct, but it has no place at the moment, nor does it serve any purpose).

"I can only control 60 feet, 6 inches," Mussina said. "That's it. I'm doing the job the best I can. The other stuff has to be attended to by other people, not me."
Actually, having now read the paper, apparently I missed Torre checking Timlin's hat in game 2 (while I was lecturing, I guess). So, low-rent move by Torre, as well. Grady's move is more understandable in that context, but I never would have done it at that point in the game. Still weak.

Monday, October 13

Low-rent move by Little, pending a good explanation.
Looking at Karim Garcia, and thinking that there's a good possibility that the Yankees win the World Series, it makes you realize how cruel baseball is, that Ernie Banks has no ring, but this clown might get one.
Now THAT was a boneheaded play. Nice job, Jason.

edit: My parents, at the game, said it was a designed play. In that case, nice job, Grady.
Tight call at first, at full speed impossible to call, clearly a tie, but slowed down to 1/64 of a second it might have been a DP.
OK, bases loaded. Before anything happens, I have to say it was a nice play by Matsui, but I don't think Millar scores anyhow. The guy is slow, in fact there would have surely been a play at the plate, and it's even money he would have been thrown out, quelling a rally. Still, a smart play all in all, I just don't think you can say he saved a run, with any authority.
Can we stop with the "Zimmer is sensitive to guys getting hit in the head" bullshit already?

Seems like convenient, contextual sensitivity to me...

''I don't believe there's a human being in professional baseball who would throw a ball hoping to hit a man in the head,'' Zimmer writes. ''I was disappointed with Piazza coming out and saying Clemens threw at him on purpose. What's Clemens supposed to do? Throw the ball over the plate so Piazza can keep hitting home runs off him -- or make him feel uncomfortable?
It doesn't seem to me that the Yankees are doing much talking. It's the Sox holding all of the press conferences.

Thankfully they play on soon...
Let's clear something up. I don't think Pedro was doing anything but chucking at Garcia. I don't think Manny was justified in any way waving the bat at Clemens. I have never represented anything but that in my posts. Now let's get something else straight, so we don't lose sight of the only thing that really matters to me here: the Yankees should shut the fuck up.

Just as the Red Sox have no right to complain about a high and tight pitch at this point, the Yankees, seeing as they are the owner of one of the best (and dirtiest) pitchers to ever hurl, have no ground to stand on with their complaints, particularly their manager and his phony outrage. That's my main complaint here. You know that I don't like all the restrictions on pitchers throwing inside, so the whole issue of tagging a guy at the plate is, to me part of the game. I am sick of body armor, of pitchers not being able to throw high and in. The Yankees, however correct they are in their sentiment that Pedro threw at Garcia and that Manny was a knucklehead, are equally wrongheaded in their vilification of those actions, considering that a) that's what they have done numerous times in the past and will certainly do in the future, even with Clemens retiring and b) this is part of baseball and they know it. My main beef is with almost none of the events but the reactions, particularly of the Yankees, afterwards. I am willing to bet that you can't admit any inconsistency in Torre's remarks, or hypocrisy for that matter. To me, this all smacks of the GOP's current claims that the Democrats are being "uncivil". You reap what you sow.

Your logic confounds me: Pedro tried to bean a Yankee player out of his own personal frustration, his team be damned, and then threatened others with similar punishment. Then Manny over-reacted and took a bat out toward the mound after a pitch that was not even at him. Then Pedro tossed a 72-year-old nutjob to the ground. In the bullpen, Yankee players were under constant harassment from Fenway employees stationed IN the bullpen. And last night, the entire Red Sox front office held a press conference to spin the situation in direct contravention of an order from the commissioner. But it's the Yankees and Joe Torre--who has been nothing if not diplomatic--who have no class.

Pedro and Manny were rightly fined, as were Zimmer and Garcia. All these players got a huge break by not being ejected.

The Red Sox behavior over the course of this entire playoff run has been ridiculous, from their bogus "cowboy up" slogan to Mannygait to this latest disgrace. They are the team that has lost all respect and public sympathy. And this in itself is an amazing feat: people love to hate the Yankees. But the Red Sox have completely squandered any goodwill they might have held as the underdog. I suspect a national poll would overwhelmingly show the most desired World Series matchup right now would be Yankees-Cubs. Last week it would have been Sox-Cubs. And the Sox have only their own behavior to blame. And I suspect that's the last place they'll look.

But I’m frankly tired of this whole sorry discussion. If you want to go on hating the Yankees as a bunch of hypocritical tants, go right ahead—I’m obviously not going to convince you otherwise. It seems to me that in pro sports, and baseball in particular, there is more than enough hypocrisy to go around. As it is, I’d really just like to watch a decent ballgame. And frankly I’d like the Yankees to win it.
Hmm, Pedro gets fined 50K for an offense that didn't even get him tossed out of a game, that is part OF the game, and Clemens gets the same for throwing a bat at an opposing player. Seems like typical MLB logic to me. Maybe someone should see if Bob Watson still cashes a Yankees paycheck...
Dan Shaughnessy would have been one of those writers who spewed bile about Ted Williams, had he (better for us in that case, since we wouldn't have to read his crap) been so fortunate as to have been born two generations earlier.
My point about Torre basically summarizes my take on this entire situation. Sure, Pedro threw at Garcia. No, Clemens didn't throw at Ramirez, and it's really Ramirez's fault things got insane. In the context of this stupid game of baseball, so fucking what? The Yankees keep their traps shut, go out and win the game, then I have nothing to say, except admit that Pedro threw at Garcia, that the Yankees handled it with supreme cool. But you add in the sanctimony, the blinders, the hypocrisy of the Yankees players and management, and you have a better understanding of why the Bombers are so hateable, such an arrogant franchise. They have the opportunity to show some class, to take the high road, and yet they can't sit back, they can't be the classy winner. Instead, you are left with a supposedly genteel manager who conveniently forgets that one of his players once threw a frigging bat at an opposing hitter during a ground out after previously beaning him in the head intentionally, a semi-retarded bench coach cum mascot taking a swing at an opposing pitcher, and two idiot players beating the shit out of a mouthy groundskeeper. It's not bile, YF, it's simple observation: your team has no class.
Congratulations on your preemptive Shaugnessy strike. His essential points--Pedro went dirty on Friday, and the Sox do a crappy job of corralling their stars--are well taken, though he certainly went to far in his suggestion that Pedro is basically washed up. Not sure what games he's been watching.

Spare us the Torre bile. No one's buying.

Meanwhile, the Sox catch a huge break with the rainout last night in that they can skip Burkett and get back at Moose.
If you have the urge to refer to Dan Shaughnessy's column in the Times today, please don't. He's notorious in Boston for the habit of eventually hating every star that ever comes through town, from Clemens to Nomar now to Pedro, and picking as many fights as possible with them. Funny that now that Clemens is a "mature Yank", just three years removed from being 37 years old and headhunting Piazza, he's all of a sudden the picture of maturity. If Dan could write in the lineup card you'd probably have Burkett starting every game and 9 Merlonis. Ignore him - he's a bad-weather friend, and I can't stand reading him anymore - now he has to come show up in my morning paper here in NYC. My guess is that if the Sox had won the game, Dan would be saying what a great move it was for Pedro to fire up the team, all the while holding back a vilification for the moment he messes up.

For a really good column, read William Rhoden on the DH in today's paper, though please note that a picture of Ivan Rodriguez calming Sosa down after a knockdown does take the column down a notch...you'll understand what I mean after reading it.

Sunday, October 12

Just a little context for you Yankees fans re: Clemens/Piazza, way back in the day before the Yankees were a bunch of angels:

Torre sharply backed Clemens' version late Sunday night that the incident was not intentional. The manager said he needed his wife to calm him down later at dinner.

Given a day to think about it, Torre did not change his stance, though he said he could see why the Mets were angry.
There's a lot to digest here, but it seems that there's one thing we're all in agreement about, and that's that Pedro was throwing at Garcia out of frustration with two men in scoring position. And this is something that everyone can be unhappy about.

T he argument between Yanks president Randy Levine and Sandy Alderson is certainly one thing we'd like to hear more about.
And while we're at it, here's two cents (or maybe a nickel's worth) from friend of YF-SF Will Hong:

What it boils down to is that Petey didn't have his best stuff and he knew it and the Yanks were starting to get to him and he let his emotions get the be tter of him. I mean, not quite as crazy and self-involved as Rocket throwing a bat shard at Piazza, but still enough to do real damage to his own team. Petey clearly threw at Garcia's head. Not a lack of command there when the fastball is a dart BEHIND Karim's head. This ain't Rick Ankiel up there, it's Pedro Martinez, and on his worst day, he's not gonna have one get away from him that badly. Plus the circumstances (no out, open base, Karim already has a hit against him, righty Sori—who hasn't sniffed a hit off of Pedro—waiting on deck).

And if there's any doubt as to what Pedro's intention was, it's made clear once Garcia is walking towards first when Petey and Posada start getting into it and Petey points at his head and says, "I'm gonna nail you, too." I mean, the guy just lost it. Why the umps didn't go over and say something extremely firm to him at that point is beyond me. But the point is, Pedro did a big disservice to his team, because it's not like he's pitching against Jamie Moyer up there (o r even Moose, who never ever retaliates); it was friggin' Roger Clemens, who may be the only guy in the league who's MORE crazy than Pedro in terms of serving up serious chin music.

The Garcia slide into Walker aside (YF’s right in that had Walker gotte n hurt, it would have been on Pedro, and Walker himself said that though he was pissed, he would have done the same thing as Garcia did had he been in that situation—which also confirms that pretty much everyone knew that Pedro was headhunting), Pedro's a ctions were an open invitation for Clemens to bean someone. Which is why I don't blame Manny too much for his reaction to the high fastball that caught the plate. I guarantee that as Manny stepped into the batter's box, he had a clear vision in his head o f a 96-mph heater careening off Piazza's helmet and landing somewhere in the press boxes while Piazza falls to the dirt like the proverbial sack of potatoes. I'm sure he was scared shitless (which also explains, maybe, why he didn't say boo to the press a fter the game). Who wouldn't be? And who wouldn't on some level resent Petey for putting him in that position? I think, actually, you can credit Rocket for showing some poise for once and not going out and drilling Manny or anyone else.

As for Zim, well, who the hell knows what was up with that. No excuse whatsoever for him running out there and trying to land a left hook on Petey's jaw. Even if he was once beaned and spent two weeks in a coma as a result and now has a steel plate in his head that can't be particularly comfortable and which probably picks up short-wave radio broadcasts at inopportune times and stuff (maybe aliens told Zimmer to charge Pedro?).

On the other hand, why Pedro has to grab a 72-year-old guy by the head, with both hands, and throw him face first into the turf is questionable. The whole thing was nuts. And right after Zim hit the ground rolling, the melee pretty much stopped cold, like some serious line had been crossed, with even the Sox players looking at Pedro like they couldn't believe what just happened. But credit Pedro for coming out after the game and talking to the press and saying that he never meant to hurt Zim and that he was as confused by it as anyone.

And as for the stuff in the bullpen, I just chalk that up to another episode of "When Tants Attack Each Other Like Idiots." In this case, I'm sure the groundskeeper guy was a massive tant (even Al Leiter said during the Cubs game last night that the Fenway bullpen is one of the few "dangerous bullpens" in the league, and that he could pretty much guarantee that the guy did more than just fist pump once or twice), and we all know that Weaver and Nellie are professional hayseed tants. Who knows who landed the first punch, but it doesn't really matter. It was flat-out stupid for Nellie and Garcia to get involved, but the guy shouldn't have been close enough to get in their faces to begin with.

YF is right, too, that Grady's war upgrade comment was disappointing. I know how emotional a game it was, but you don't want the antics to continue to get more out of control. I think tonight's game will be settled down some. I could be wrong, but I'm guessing both teams just want this to get back to being about baseball. [Amen to that last thought--YF]

Here's my take:

1: Pedro was frustrated, and threw one at Garcia's head with a base open. Then, he compounded that bad decision with the clear threat to the Yankee bench. Finally, he tossed Zimmer to the ground instead of backing away or just warding him off. You have to wonder how the cooler heads on the Sox bench--Nomar, Millar, Varitek--must feel about this total loss of composure by the man they were all relying on so heavily.

2. Garcia's slide into Walker was dirty. If Walker was hurt, it would have been on Pedro. But that does not excuse Garcia for intentionally trying to injure Walker. That's a horrendous play to watch.

3. Manny is a hothead and his response was entirely unjustified. Taking the bat out with him toward Clemens was inexcusable.

4. Zimmer had no business leaving the dugout; attacking a player is not excusable. Bernie Williams shouldn't have to baby sit a 72-year-old coach.

5. Grady claiming that the matchup has been "upgraded from a battle to a war" was stupidly inflammatory. Every other coach and player (Torre, Jeter, Millar) tried to play down the incident and its effect on the rest of series. Moreover, I think your criticism of Torre is totally unjustified. All he did was speak truthfully about Pedro's headhunting. This year Red Sox pitchers have hit Yankee batters something like 50 times, as opposed to just 20 or so in the other direction. Pedro crossed the line between hardnosed and dirty tonight. In a perfect world, Pedro, Garcia, Manny, and Zimmer would all have long and expensive suspensions. But I hope no one is suspended, especially Pedro, because I don't want there to be any excuses when this thing is over.

6. Nelson is a hothead, and though the facts are still out, my impression is that he started it. But you have to ask where Fenway security was when this was all going on. And why is a Fenway employee verbally abusing a visiting player?
OK, just saw today's highlights. Here's my take:

1. Pedro was chucking at Garcia, no question. Whether he was headhunting, I don't know, because it seems at that point he had no control at all, really. But he was trying to hit him, with first base open.

2. Manny was an idiot - that pitch from Clemens was over the plate.

3. Zimmer is an even bigger idiot, and I think it's time to send him off to some sort of managed care facility. The fact that they let that clown sit on the bench is a joke, like still allowing your aging grandparent to drive their own car even though they are a danger to society, just because you really love them and they used to take you to the merry-go-round when you were a kid (in itself not a terrible thing, but you get my point).

4. Joe Torre bitching after the game about Pedro headhunting is like Rush Limbaugh demonizing drug addicts. Does Joe remember the 2000 season, Roger beaning Piazza and then throwing a fucking bat at him? If he just keeps his trap shut then the Yankees come out on top, I have no beef, and the Sox have no claim to anything. But hearing Torre complain about that pitch when he's the boss of the biggest headhunter this side of Robert Mugabe is hypocrisy of the first degree, it's the kind of shit that makes the Yankees impossible to admire, in any way.

5. Apparently the fight in the bullpen was instigated by that hayseed tant Nelson and Garcia, who clearly looks like he ought to be in the WWF. The Boston police are considering pressing charges against the players, which might say something about who started that altercation.

Saturday, October 11

dun na na na dun na na na hey hey...good bye (red sox, that is).

didn't see the game, but I heard about that low-life Zimmer. What a clown - he was a shit manager and seems to be about as fine a human being.

Friday, October 10

I think Torre said that he went out to argue the home run, but all of the umpires but the one who called it foul told him it was fair, and that was good enough for him. As far as I am concerned, the visuals were pretty damn conclusive, and what the umpires said was pretty darn single-minded, the initial call notwithstanding. This isn't really a controversial issue.

As far as Buck is concerned, I didn't hear him last night, though if Ed Hillel was the guy in the white shirt with the black hair, interviewed by Fox, who kept insisting it was foul but who was sitting on the fair side of the pole directly behind it, then he deserves the harsh words, that guy was a total Yankee fan putz.

Al Leiter seems soooo much better than Bret Boone, and I would say there's a broadcasting future in retirement for him, without a question.

Meanwhile....YF's phone line is down—Verizon!—so there may be a posting hiatus over the weekend.

Time to splurge for that cable modem, I suppose...
So it's unanimous: a big thumb's down on Bret Boone, commentator (not to mention Aaron Boone, overswinger).

But back to that Walker home run. Last night Fox trots out some audio techie who tells us the foul poll was mic'ed, and that if the ball hit the poll we would have heard it. Possibly. As far as I'm concerned, there was no conclusive visual evidence regarding this play--again, only one camera with a long shot, and this explains the tepid response of McCarver and Buck. Buck, however, spent a great deal of time and energy disparaging Ed Hillel, that fan, and was still on him last night.

Re: Bret Boone

Couldn't they find someone any better? First of all, he's a cocky tant. Second, he says stuff like "With Lowe you just look for a good pitch to hit". Thanks, Bret, that's great stuff. Why do they even need another player's perspective, beyond McCarver??!!
First, an admission - I am biased. That Walker shot was a home run. Fox's camera was ideally placed, and it was apparent that the fan reached out in front of the pole, touched it, and that the ball (and fan) still ended up getting pinched against the pole. The Fox "vilification" of the fan was more McCarver poking fun on the fact that the guy they asked "was it a home run" to was sitting behind the pole to the LEFT, so how would he have even known? My disappointment was that Buck and McCarver didn't seem to take a stand that the ball was fair, that the call was correct. This one, and again, I am biased, didn't seem like a confusing call to me, and I wonder what the hell the umpire was even looking at. I didn't detect any latent anti-semitism (did they say his name? How did you know he was Jewish - was he wearing a yarmulke?), either, but maybe that's because I was a bit giddy.

Last night's game wasn't watched, I was instead giving a lecture out here, but it sounds like the Sox' bats were highly un-clutch early, and that changed the game.

Oh well, they got one, though, and really need Petey to come through tomorrow. It's a stupid and maybe obvious comment, but tomorrow's game is more important to the Sox than it is to the Yankees, rotations and all. I am not sure if I will be able to see it, unfortunately, since I may be somewhere on the Oregon coast.

Thursday, October 9

McCarver clearly disapproved, for whatever it's worth. And there's a difference between typical grandstanding (Ortiz last night) and Mannygait.

Moving, on, one thing I didn't care too much for about last night's game (aside from the result), was Fox's over-the-top villification of a (Jewish) fan. Was he a liar? Possibly. But sometimes our minds allow us to see things the way we want to see them, a curious psychological point no one even considered on air. Yes, it certainly LOOKED like that ball hit the poll, or would have, (and that the interfering fan disappeared mysteriously certainly implies some guilt). I'm not debating the call. But Fox, with all of its cameras and fancy production technology, only had one clear shot of the play, and it was taken at a slight angle from about 350 feet, so hardly conclusive evidence.

And you have to ask just how appropriate it is to have Bret Boone doing commentary on a game in which his brother is a participant.

Wednesday, October 8

Thank you Joe Buck, for stating what should have been the only thing said about Manny: It's part of the game, it's showmanship, it's emotion. Buck has no problem with it, I say it's borderline, but considering the context he gets the benefit of the doubt from me. Posada hits one in the same circumstances against the Sox, as much as I HATE him, and as arrogant I think he is, he gets the same benefit of the doubt. Let's just leave it at that - you can keep your double standard.

Delude yourself all you want about Mannygate (or, more aptly, Mannygait). I'm all for giving players the benefit of the doubt, and for appreciating the humanity of this great game and those who play it--thus my aversion to the ad-hominemization [there's a word!] of sports commentary. (My least favorite ESPNism: "He has to make that play.") Not to mention creeping mechanization (steroids! Questec!). So let it be said that I'm all for taking the shenanigans of certain players (Sammy, Barry, Rocket) with a grain or two of salt. But Manny crossed a line that made what should have been a special moment a frustrating and upsetting one. That was wrong, and deep down even you, my dear SF, must appreciate what a sad display it was.

Some questions about this series:

1: Will the bottom of the Yankees order produce? Boone, Johnson, and Rivera need to get on base and deliver key hits.

2: Will the middle of the Sox order produce? Manny and Ortiz had a clutch hit apiece against the A's and did little else. That won't be enough in this series.

3: Who will close for Boston?

4: Is Contreras the Yanks secret weapon in middle relief?

Here are my picks from early last week, for the record, from the AL (we didn't make NL picks):

Yanks over Twins in 4
Sox over A's in 5

I am not sure I want to get into the business of putting my thoughts on the line for the Yanks/Sox at this point, as nothing good can come of it karmically (is that a word?).
Last night Sammy hopped TWICE in the ninth, instead of his one little cutesy signature move, after tying it. What a tant showboat. I didn't hear (nor have ever heard) any questioning of Sammy's sportsmanship, even though his hop seems like a crafty canned effort to draw attention to his own feat, which would qualify as the definition of showboating. The announcers (and you) have an easy target in Manny. Find someone more difficult to direct easy potshots at, or at least take them at Manny when he actually deserves them (like when he's out drinking with a Yankee even though he's sick and begs out of at-bats the same day), not when he has just hit the most emotional, clutch home run of his career.

Here's hoping Manny has something to stare at in personal celebration, for an even longer time, in the coming few days. I am not going to start holding my breath, of course.

As an aside, I am unlikely to be blogging for several days - off to Oregon to deliver a lecture. In fact, I may not get to see Games 2 or 3, unfortunately. Back Sunday.

Tuesday, October 7

Lowell! (Can't anybody close here?!)
Sammy! (Can't anybody close here?!)

As for your latest tirade, have you stopped taking your Paxil? You might want to pick up a new batch, and also grab some Visine, because your analysis of The Ramirez Strut indicates you didn't get a clear look at it.

Kudos to Al Leitter for refusing to call Lyons anything but "Psycho."



If you want me to deconstruct your case, then fine, here goes:

Yankees FANS are grandstanding assholes, needy and insecure, willing to coax soft, compliant players out of their dugout to take a bow for meaningless, mostly forgettable achievements, in order to soothe their tiny, infantile, and apparently fragile allegiance to their arrogant, vain franchise.

So, cut Manny some slack, as you have no proof that he was taunting the A's - if you used some relatively simple powers of observation you will realize that he stared right back at the Sox dugout and pointed to them (probably Ortiz and Petey, his best friends), nothing else. He stared at it too long, but that's no crime, not even in the top 50 of bad sports moves, at that! It wasn't premeditated, so just move on. You have obviously been listening to Miguel Tejada too long, who for some reason thinks that Derek Lowe's leg slapping and freakish jumping around after the last strike was "obscene", a "classless" gesture, and not "family appropriate". What was Lowe supposed to do, walk over before the final strike, shake his hand, and warn him that any and all spastic reactions he might have should he whiff Long are merely related to the fact that he's uncoordinated and not to any longstanding disrespect for his opponent?

Lay off the heroin-grade sanctimony, YF.

And it's agreed, I won't call you Lyons any more. So, enjoy the game tonight, Mr. Brantley.

You'd think that, after such a compelling victory, SF would be in a slightly better mood. I guess not. But it is nice to see that your (fickle) renunciation of the postseason was just that (and let me just point out the accuracy of my prognostication of this series).

As for Manny, spare us all of your justifications, and please keep your comparisons to Steve Lyons (a former Red Sox, by the way) to yourself. The suggestion that Manny's stroll was simply exuberance after a lifted weight and was for the benefit of his teammates (with no disrespect intended) is absolutely ridiculous. It was classless. And the idea that the commentariat can't "have it both ways"—that we can't criticize him for his lax attitude (as you yourself did!) and then also criticize him for his disgraceful grandstanding, is equally preposterous. Why can't a reasonable level of sportsmanship and comportment be expected of our athletes? Cowboy up!

And, by the way, comparison to the Yankees is ridiculous. If they take a bow once in a while, it is at the BEHEST of the home crowd, and not some kind of showboating rebuke to their opponents and their fans. And it should be noted that when Soriano flipped his bat and watched a home run last month, he was IMMEDIATELY castigated by Torre AND by his teammates.

At least we can agree on Beane's sour grapes. The A's are not in a small market. If he has a small budget, it's imposed by his frugal owner.
And how dare you compare Fick nearly severing Karros' arm in a dirtbag play to a player admiring a massive, game-changing home run? I thought you were above such poor analysis.

You should know better than to create a moral equivalency of those two acts. Should I start calling you "Lyons"?
For all my complaints about MLB's big market/small market problems, this comment strikes as particularly sour:

"I'll tell you what," Beane said. "If you want to give us $50 million more, I'll promise you we won't blow that 2-0 lead."

As for Manny, his gesture after the ding was clearly to the Sox' dugout, not
a taunt of the A's, however exuberant, it was that a weight had been
lifted. The announcers were all over him for disrespecting the A's, but
what the fuck do they want? They either crap on him for being Manny, an
"emotionless flake", or they get on him for being fired up. But with Sosa
and his little hop all is ok, it's "character". Please. And let's not
forget that the Yankees take curtain calls after 2 run jacks in the 5th
inning up by 6 during regular season games, and the announcers hem and haw about the "tradition", "yankee pride". But they get on Manny for staring at his 3 run jack in a deciding game after struggling all series? Boo f---ing hoo. Look in the mirror, those who live in glass...aw, forget it, you're an arrogant Yankee fan, there's no use reasoning.

Monday, October 6

Booo!!!!! Manny. And we thought Fick had the "Low Class Move of the Playoffs" award all locked up.

"Bring on the Sox!" says Boomer. For the sake of YSFS, we agree, even if the A's seem like the softer target right now, what with Mulder gone, Hudson ailing, and Zito working on short rest.

Some issues:

Pedro vs. Barry: the real question here is which of these two is going to hold up--Pedro after a 130 pitch effort, or Barry after the quick turnaround.

"Cowboy Up": They may wear red stockings, but last time I checked Massachussetts was a blue state, and well north of the Mason-Dixon. (Though it is, admittedly, somewhat amusing to imagine Pedro and Manny gathered around a campfire in chaps and Stetsons. And while we're at it....has Theo been informed that it was not Trot but Jesus Chirst who "swung the bat" on that crucial homer—now that's a free-agent pickup!

"Bring on the Sox," says Boomer. The A's look more vulnerable, but for the sake of YSFS, we'd have to agree. (And we have to take credit for the continued accuracy of our prognostications regarding this series.)

Some other thoughts:

Jeff Brantley: Please, could you just stop talking...occassionally...even for a couple of minutes. We had to switch to the radio yesterday.

We can't speak to Mr. Hudson's thinking re Pedro vs. Zito (maybe he's a fan of youth?), but the real question at hand is whether Zito on 3 days rest can keep up with Pedro on full (but after a wopping 130 pitch effort in his last start)?

"Cowboy Up": I don't know; I just can't see Manny or Pedro or Nomar in chaps and a Stetson. Not to mention poor Theo. Can the Red Sox Nation really love this group of Bible-thumping would-be Good Ole Boys. Massachussetts is a Blue State, right?

Robert Fick, Jeff Weaver: what's the deal with these nutty ex-Tigers?

The Twins Management: Craig Kilborne? Prince, we could understand....

Sunday, October 5

What's more embarrassing? Losing 3-1 to the Cubs, or the fact that Turner Field looked like Wrigley Field South after the last pitch? Did ANY Braves fans attend the game? Pathetic.
"I think we have the better team," said Tim Hudson, who started Game 4 but left after just one inning because of a strained muscle in his side. "We have the best left-hander in the league going tomorrow."

But Boston believes it has the best right-hander.

"It's all right," Hudson said, "I'll take Barry Zito over Pedro Martinez any day."

Uh, sure, Tim. I'd take Zito over Pedro any day too...if I was on crack.
He's still incompetent, and now he should buy Ortiz a special gift for saving his job.
Grady Little is fucking incompetent. Why he brings Burkett out for the 6th inning after greedily milking him for 100 pitches in 5 with Wakefield, Suppan, Kim in the pen is beyond me. He will deservedly lose his job after the season.

Saturday, October 4

Enough Already Dept.

Fox announcers: can we please lay off the Torre Out and Pettitte's Last Yankee Season story lines, or at least put them in the proper context, that being that both will almost certainly be back in pinstripes next year. Torre is under contract. He's not going to quit--he's said so explicitly--and he's not going to get fired--George has said so explicitly. And Pettitte has made absolutely every indication that he wants to stay in NY, and there's no rational reason to believe that he's not wanted.

Friday, October 3

99 cents still ain't bad for a night of webcasts, all games included. I'll feel exploited if it turns out I should have gotten them for free.

Simplistic, maybe, but two years ago the games weren't available, now they are and they cost 99 cents. This to me seems to be an improvement. We'll have to wait to see if there are any legal challenges, or if there can't be.

Down with the antitrust exemption, in any case.
Word on the street is that Pedro is being held until a possible Game 5.

So, Pedro's next start:

Opening day 2004.
There is no simple answer to your question, because there is considerable leeway in the interpretation of what constitutes reasonable restraint of trade (ie, some monopolistic behavior can be acceptable). Theoretically, all cable bundling of games--on Time Warner, on ESPN--are violations of the SBA. The NFL, NBA, and NHL all work in the gray zones of the law. But the point here isn't so much whether these are legitimate agreements, but that those other leagues are subject to judicial review through the courts, whereas MLB's antitrust exemption gives it license to do whatever it pleases with basically no public accountability. The opposition you find yourself confronted with--buy an expensive cable package or buy games via the net--is an artificially created condition that results from baseball's monopoly power.

If we could get that question answered positively, then I could buy into the whole "consumer explotation" thing. My choice was, on that day in September, to either ante up 129 bucks to Time Warner to get MLB Season Ticket (giving me access to the entire rest of the regular season, albeit at the same price it cost in April) or 99 cents to MLB directly to give me access to every one of that night's games live on my laptop.

I do know that I didn't feel exploited at the moment - in fact, I thought it was a bright move on their part (however illegal Mr. Zimbalist says it was). If MLB shouldn't have been charging me for that game and should be providing them for free (though I can't believe that this is the case), then I feel a bit more exploited.

My guess is that if MLB is eventually disallowed (can they even be stopped?) from charging for the games then they won't provide them at all, and the local cable outfits won't bother picking up the slack either. This will leave me with the choice of lining TWNY's pockets (and, MLB's) by ordering access to the entire season for well over 100 bucks, or not watching any out-of-market games at all. If I pay the big fee, I admittedly get a much bigger set of games, but if I just want to watch games here and there, beyond the already-paid-for-through-TimeWarnerNYC ESPN/Fox games, I am out of luck. My guess is that I will be out of luck.

Interesting issue.
Good question. Calling Spitzer!
What would I sue them for, exactly, if I could sue? That they should make these broadcasts available for nothing? Or that the team's local cable outfits are the ones who should telecast via the net and therefore set the price?

We've been reading economist Andrew Zimbalist's enlightening new book "May the Best Team Win," which sheds a revealing light on many of the issues we've been discussing on this site over the past few months, competitive balance in particular. I expect we'll turn to such matters in greater depth once the postseason is post, but for the moment I can't help but think back to a missive from SF a few weeks ago regarding MLB's new policy of streaming games live over its website for a fee, a policy hailed by SF.

What we've learned from Prof. Zimbalist, and I'm sure SF was unaware of this as he made his post, is that such fee-based transmissions violate the 1961 Federal Sports Broadcasting Act, which specifically precludes all telecasting of league-packaged games on pay services. Only MLB's presumed antitrust exemption protects it from a court challenge to this behavior. So the reality here is that MLB's putatively enlightened policy is, instead, just another example of consumer exploitation.

Well, if we're talking about prescience, I'll take credit for this game one prognostication: "If the starting pitching holds tonight, as it should, we're going to have a bullpen battle, and that favors Oakland."

This series is still far from over. The A's simply held their turf. The Sox now have two home games, and Lowe starting in the first (and we know about his Fenway record). Boston should be able to put up runs at home (Nomar!), and the A's are going to have trouble keeping up. As you are surely aware, the Sox have come back from an 0-2 playoff hole in the recent past. So now they need to win 3 games in a row, two of which will be pitched by Pedro/Lowe; a difficult but hardly impossible task.

As for Yankees-Twins, Ron Gardenhire's "Blame it on the Tenor" explanation for the Twins 7th-inning collapse sets a new standard for playoff excuse making. Don't get me wrong, I'm no great fan of Ronan Tynan (whatever happened to Daniel Rodriguez?), but he's not the reason Radke popped Nick Johnson on the ass, and he certainly didn't have anything to do with Latroy Hawkins launching one into the Giuliani seats.

Thursday, October 2

As I stated before, I am not watching any more baseball. I saw nothing today, plan on seeing nothing much in the future.

However, I would like to note, with pride, how accurate my statement about the magnitude of Game 1 in the A's/Sox series vs. all other series was. It is clear, at this point, how important that outcome was for both teams.
"Think 'I Am Sam' meets 'Rudy' meets 'Driving Miss Daisy'"

We can only imagine the Hollywood lunch that resulted in "Radio," the forthcoming bomb featuring Cuba Gooding, Jr. Clearly, the great minds who brought us "Corky Romano," "My Giant," and "Juwanna Man" have been hard at work. Fine. But here's a plea: seeing as this is a football movie, or what passes for one these days, can we please keep the ads for it restricted to NFL games?

Oedipal Conflict in Oalkand?

One of the more intriguing subtexts of this A's-Sox series (now 2-0, A's), and one that has all of us fans of Michael Lewis's "Moneyball" excited, is that we have Billy Beane's A's facing the team that has so clearly modeled itself on Beane's own Sabermetric systems, with the man who practically invented the field, Bill James, as advisor. Sadly, ESPN has done little to bring this conflict to life (interviews please?!) in any creative way. That Joe Morgan is one of Beane's targets in the book may explain some of this, but we hope that as this series continues (and we hope it will go the distance), there will be better coverage of this plot line.

It's also worth correcting one of the inaccuracies we've been seeing and hearing in regard to the Ramon Hernandez bunt that ended Game One of this series. As has been widely reported, the A's don't bunt much. But the reason they don't bunt is because they don't like to sacrifice, thereby giving up outs and the possibility of a big inning. Last night's play, which came with two outs and only one run needed for the win, was not a sacrifice. Daring, yes (a bunt from the catcher!), but perhaps not a wild diversion from team philosophy.

We understand--if we can not fully relate to--SF's loss of spirit, but we sincerely hope that the decision to give up on the playoffs was a too-hasty reaction to last night's result, perhaps compounded by lack of sleep. This series is far from done, and the victor is hardly determined. The A's have their own first round demons. Stay tuned!


Squeeze! Baseball fans everywhere can thank the Sox and As for the best game of this young postseason, and--one suspects--a preview of more excitement from this series. Let's face facts: the three other matchups have thus far been somewhat less than brill iantly played, and last night's affair stood out in marked contrast. Today's quick turnaround only makes things more interesting, as does this afternoon's pitching matchup. Last night's duel was about speed and control. With Zito and Wakefield, we'll hav e giant hooks and knucklers. Both are capable of going deep into a game, and today they'll have to.

As for the events of last night, YF extends a hearty Big Ups to both misters Martinez and Hudson, neither of whom seemed in particularly top form but non etheless each left their fellows in an (unrealized) winning position. Kudos also to misters Walker and Durazo.

And YF wishes SF a most happy birthday. We certainly know what he's hoping for.

I am checking out. More blogging to come when post-season awards are announced. I cannot watch any more baseball, it's just not fun (or healthy). This is the third birthday of mine that the Red Sox have absolutely ruined (starting back in '78). No more.

Don't bother trying to empathize, as you have no idea what it is like to be a Red Sox fan.

Wednesday, October 1

A short series is difficult to predict, and these teams are evenly matched. Anything can happen. Either team can survive a game one loss. Not hard to imagine both teams splitting their home games.

Can Oakland score? Can Boston be stopped? Will the Sox pen hold? These are the questions that must be answered.

Lowe has been hot lately. He's much much better at home than on the road, so holding him to game 3 is a reasonable decision. However, the flipside is that if he's pitching with the Sox down 2-0 he may be a wasted talent. My point is that if the A's beat Pedro tonight they are in the catbird's seat, and if the Sox win, likewise. In no other series can that case be made.

Let's look:

Are the Cubs all of a sudden at a gargantuan advantage after last night? If Prior was going tonight, then maybe. But he isn't. So it's an advantage, but not massive.

Are the Twins? No way.

The Giants? They are a much better team regardless, so it's not a relevant issue in that series.


If the starting pitching holds tonight, as it should, we're going to have a bullpen battle, and that favors Oakland. But I'm not sure that this game 1 is any more crucial than any other. Boston has Lowe waiting at Fenway, Zito has been unpredictable, and who really knows what to expect from Ted (You Want Me to Throw What?) Lilly. This one seems destined for a game 5, late-inning decision.

And sorry to go completely off topic here, but we could not help notice that the "naming rights" to this year's New York City Marathon had been sold to the highest bidder, and now 30,000 intrepid pavement pounders (and a handful of turbo-charged Kenyans) will be zipping through our fare borroughs in the ING New York City Marathon. Is nothing sacred?

Yeah, I agree with you there, though in my opinion the Cubs pen isn't remotely overwhelming (even more reason to give the nod to DB).

On other fronts:

1. Has there ever been a more important Game 1 in any series than tonight's Pedro/Hudson matchup? If the Sox don't win Petey's starts, forget them, and if the A's don't win with Hudson they have Zito (not too shabby) and then...Lilly....Halama? Both teams have to be focused as hell tonight.

2. I am waiting for Steinbrenner to bitch about the Yankees/Twins day off today, awaiting some sort of maniacal screed charging Bud Selig with stacking the deck in favor of the Twins, knowing that the Twins are 4-0 on an extra day of rest this year after games they win in which they score 4 runs or charging that Selig knows that the Yankee Stadium grass has chlorophyllic issues when not played upon for two days that make Pettitte's ground balls bounce slower and therefore give the Twins' speed an extra-special advantage or that Kyle Lohse is 3-0 when appearing on TRL with Carson Daly the day before a playoff game or...you get the idea.
Dusty Baker for NL Manager

Jack McKeon seems to be the sentimental favorite for this award, a cigar-smoking, "old-school" character in the year in which sabermetrics and the Jamesian "new guard" have apparently taken over the game. It's an understandable reaction.

Dusty Baker isn't on Social Security yet, but he seems old school to me--when he kissed that cross necklace with the bases loaded in the 7th last night, he was certainly thinking about more than Gross Adjusted Production Differential on Tuesd ay Nights after 8:30 [GAPDTNA8:30]. And with that lineup, you can understand his call for a little divine intervention. (Though, if I'm at the plate, I can't say I'd be happy to see my manager offering a public prayer in the dugout--doesn't exactly inspire confidence.)

Yes, Baker has one heck of a pitching staff: possibly the two best pitchers in the NL, plus Zambrano, plus a solid pen. But you have to give the man credit for slipping into the playoffs with a team that has practically zero offense.

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