Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sox Swan Song

The term "swan song" comes from an ancient belief that a swan, which otherwise doesn't sing a song the way many birds do, sings one beautiful song before it dies. Basically it's come to mean a prelude to an ending. Anyway, I think the Sox had their swan song when they lost two out of three to the Rays over the weekend. And it was one god-awful song, like John Cage meets Celine Dion or something.

So how does a Sox fan keep interest? I feel like I represent the Sox fan who would watch every game if he didn't have a family, full time job, other interests and a life. It wouldn't matter to me that the Sox were out of the race and didn't have much to play for if my time weren't so precious to me. Then I could just watch and observe and try to make predictions for next year. I could dissect the minutiae of what went wrong during the season and think of all sorts of ways that Theo and the front office could fix it. But honestly, I have very little time for that. Call me when the playoffs start.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Pettitte Feeling Strong

Good news coming out of Yankee camp for the first time in a while. The word coming from Chad Jennings is that Pettitte felt strong after his bullpen and even dialed it up for the last 20 pitches with no adverse effects.

A healthy Pettitte would be huge for the Yankees. Like Sabathia, Pettitte knows how to battle through starts and give his team a chance to win. Having him in the fold would stabilize the front end of the rotation and eliminate some of the uncertainty that follows around either Dustin Moseley or Ivan Nova.

Plus Teixeira is back in the lineup after being pulled with a a bruised right thumb. That makes sense against the right-hander. It problem only bothers him when he hits from the right side.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Rotation Struggling As Burnett Gets Rocked

Start the doomsday whistles in the Bronx, A.J. Burnett go roughed up yet again as the Yanks fell to the White Sox 9-4. I'm sure many will start to freak out a little bit, especially considering how the Red Sox beat the Rays in Tampa and are now within five games in the loss column to both New York and Tampa.

Really though, this is A.J. Burnett and I'm pretty sure the Yankees knew that when they signed him. Hell, I'm sure every Yankee fan knew it when they signed him. He is incredible streaky and is inherently unreliable at the top of a rotation. But I think that Brian Cashman understood that and knew CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte as that reliable horses who would make sure the Yankees got through the regular season and he knew that A.J. could be a dominant playoff force if the timing was right.

Last year that happened and the Yankees won a World Series title. That same scenerio could be playing out again. The only difference is that this season the Rays are markedly improved and are hanging with the Yanks, and Pettitte is still serving time on the disabled list.

August is the second month this season when Burnett has failed to win a game. I think that is what has weighed on the Yankees. Also Burnett has not had a signature game or hot streak to bouy the doubts of fans and management like he did last year.

The problem is that the Yankees have already used their one insurance policy in Triple-A when they called up Ivan Nova to replace Javier Vazquez. They had a back-up for the back-up plan with Zach McAllister, but he pitched his way out of that role and then into a trade as a player-to-be-named-later deal for Austin Kearns. Nova will likely stay in teh rotation for a couple of turns, but the Yankees need to get Pettitte back and get Hughes back on track for the stretch run.

Even Nova is unreliable. Not that he couldn't provide the Yanks with a spark, but he is approaching an innings limit similar to Hughes and just like Hughes he is young and you just don't know whether or not he will be solid on a start by start basis.

Right now only Sabathia and sometimes Dustin Moseley (with a lot of luck) have provided the Yankees with anything resembling stability in the rotation. That's a scary thought when you say it aloud. And it means certain doom if the Yanks can't get Pettitte healthy and Burnett back on track before the playoffs.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Damon to Stay in the Motor City

Earlier this week there was speculation that Johnny Damon was headed back to Boston after the Red Sox claimed him off of waivers from the Detroit Tigers. Though he was claimed many things had to happen before Damon would switch the D to B on his cap. Damon would have to waive his no-trade clause to Boston and the Sox and Tigers would have had to work out a deal with players or dollars or both. Many thought the move was to merely prevent Damon from going to the Rays. In the end, Johnny decided it wasn’t worth the trouble to go back to Boston and I don’t blame him.

When Damon left Boston it was for one reason: $$$. Anyone would take a higher salary (about $5 million more) to do the same job at a different company and anyone who says they wouldn’t is lying. Red Sox fans crucified Damon on his return to Fenway in pinstripes. (Mick and Sully do not take well to traitors.) Damon proved he was a gamer during his 4 years in Boston and was obviously a center piece in their ’04 run. Every Sox fan should be thankful for his contributions in 2004 and buy any Red Sox of the 2004 squad a beer if they ever meet in a bar. (even Mark Bellhorn my least favorite red sox EVER.) When he left, it was a business decision and I respect that.

Damon would have been a nice addition to a 2010 Sox team hurt by injuries, but they have players (Bill Hall, Darnell McDonald, Ryan Kalish) who can fill in and be productive. The last hope of the Sox making the playoffs isn't Johnny Damon, but another Red Sox, Josh Beckett.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

From The Story of One Ailing Yankee to Another

Yesterday I posted an interesting story about Lou Gehrig and the possibility that the disease that killed him wasn't really ALS but the result of numerous concussions that he suffered throughout his life. While that story has some relevance to the modern world and today's athlete, this story is purely nostalgic, yet still heartbreaking.

Time Magazine recently released color photos taken on the day of Babe Ruth's final appearance at the house that he built. Ruth made his final appearance at the Old Yankee Stadium on June 13, 1948 and passed away soon after on August 16. The photos do an amazing job at conveying how cancer had destroyed one of the finest athletes of the day and the snippets from the photographer Ralph Morse, who at 93 can still recall the details of that day, make it feel like you understand the emotion of the locker room and the stadium.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Lou Gehrig May Not Have had Lou Gehrig's Disease

Caught this article today and obviously it piqued my interests for many reasons. The first and most relevant to this forum is that Lou Gehrig is a huge part of the Yankee heritage and the idea that his streak might have actually led to his demise would change a lot in the way that the legend that is Gehrig is understood.

Another reason that this drew my attention and should draw the attention of just about every sports fan, is that concussions have a huge impact on the human brain and maybe this study and the facts it brings forth will change the standard male axiom of sucking it up. Perhaps athletes - football players in particular, I'm looking at you Hines Ward - will start to realize the impact that these injuries can have on themselves and their teammates and how they can ruin your life in a number of ways if not properly addressed.

Though it can never be proven that Gehrig didn't have ALS, hopefully any doubt that arises from this study doesn't negatively impact the awareness that Gehrig's name lends to those who fight the disease. And maybe now the NFL and other sports organizations at every level of athletics will begin to take head injuries more seriously.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Buchholz Is Lights Out Again

As I write, Clay Buchholz is helping the Sox school the Angels yet again with six shutout innings. In what will likely end up as a disappointing season for the Sox, Buchholz has been a major bright spot. Not including the present game he is 2-0 with a 1.61 ERA in his first three starts of August. On the season he is 13-5 and has an AL best 2.49 ERA. (By the way, this drives me crazy every time I look at pitching stats. This: 7.1, does not mean seven and one third. It means seven and one tenth. It should look like this: 7 1/3. I know it's not easy to represent 7 1/3 with a decimal since 1/3 is a repeating non-terminating decimal, but 7.1 is not correct.)

I'm pleased to see Buchholz develop and flourish in his first full season in the majors. He seemed to hit a snag after his no hitter in 2007. But now in my mind he has leap frogged Josh Beckett and joined Jon Lester as one of the Sox top two starters. Hopefully this a clear sign that the Sox will have excellent starting pitching for years to come.

A short football digression: I am selling the Jets right now. I just want go on record as saying that New York football's second class citizens will win not more than 10 games. If the sports media is high on your team, especially in the NFL, run for the hills. Also if Brett Favre comes back I'm setting the over/under on ints this year at 18.5. Which one are you taking?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A-Rod Jacks Up KC; Ellsbury Back to DL

Last night we got a glimpse at the A-Rod circa 2005 as the Yankee third baseman demolished the Royals pitching with three home runs and propelled the Yankees to a 8-3 victory.

Everyone has been discussing Rodriguez's down year and he suffered through more criticism for his diminished slugging ability when he took longer than any other player to transition from 599 home runs to 600. And it is all true. Rodriguez is posting some of the worst numbers of his career in almost every offensive category. Still last night showed that A-Rod can still crush the ball every once in a while.

And while the Red Sox won last night, they lost Jacoby Ellsbury yet again. I gotta say, while I love the idea of the Red Sox trying to make up ground without their leadoff hitter - or their two best hitters in Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis - I feel bad for Ellsbury. The guy can't catch a break, well bad choice of words considering it's his broken ribs that have constantly plagued him this season.

Ellsbury has played only 18 games this season and never more than nine games before hitting the DL. Hopfully he gets healthy soon. Just not soon enough to try and save the Red Sox season.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Pitching Fails Sox Again

The last two outings have seen the Sox lose games because of their three pitching disappointments on the year. Josh Beckett, Jonathan Papelbon, and Tim Wakefield all contributed to the Sox late inning collapses. I think the Red Sox need to think long and hard about the future of each of those pitchers (except for Beckett who just signed that big extension. How nice for him).

Wakefield has clearly had it. He's been serviceable the past two or three years and has made some positive contributions. But his performance this year has shown that he is absolutely and irrevocably over the hill. Witness his 2003 ALCS reenactment last night.

I'm beginning to think that the Sox need to trade Paps while he still has some value. The fact is that a guy like Mariano Rivera or even Trevor Hoffman are very rare. Most closers are only dominant for a handful of years. Papelbon has two years left on his contract and Daniel Bard is showing legitimate closer ability this season. The Sox could keep both pitchers next year then trade Paps in the final year of the contract. I said trade him this off season before his value plummets. I'm sure they can get some idiot to trade them the farm for Paps. Closers like him are always over valued on the trade market and in free agency.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

NESN Daily

After about 15 seconds I was able to come to this conclusion about NESN's new nightly sports news program featuring comely blonde Jade (can't possibly be the real first name of a 40-year-old woman) McCarthy and Uri Berenguer. It's horrifying. I think the goal is for Uri to identify with the commonwealth's broham demographic. "No one's pawsibly gonna compete wit da Pats, brah!" And Jade's purpose is ... I'm not sure. Do we need more sports news of any kind? I think we've reached critical mass. (Oops. Guess I just gave you some sports news right there.)

ANYHOO... does anyone think that Carlos Degado's arrival means anything. If he hits over .230 I'll eat my hat. I guess the Sox just need bodies at this point. I'm actually feeling like they're going to make a run pretty soon, but I'm certain it will fall short.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Why Joe Buck Should Stay Away From Baseball...

There are many, many....many reasons why Joe Buck should never be allowed to call a baseball game. Today marks reason #243 or so. During batting practice Alex Rodriguez was fielding his position. Lance Berkman was up at the plate. Meanwhile Joe Buck was dicking around on the field and distracted A-Rod by saying "Hi" Simultaneously Berkman hit a hot shot ground ball toward third base. A-Rod who had just got his head around was struck in the shin by the ball and therefore missed today's game. He is day to day. Be careful starting your car tonight, Joe.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Yanks and Sox at it Again

Ok so here we are again. Yankees vs the Red Sox. It's been a while and both teams are a lot different than the last time they met. The Red Sox have lost the whole right side of their infield and the Yankees have a new DH and the outfield is healthy again and we will not be seeing Winn-Gardner-Thames out there.

These games will be close and at least in a few instances pretty ugly. The pitching tends to regress in these series. I will say this though, Mike Lowell will be the MVP for the Sox this series. That's just how it will be. They lose Youkilis and people wont be expecting Lowell to step up and be quite as good as him, but he'll surpass him this series because the Yankees always get hurt by the guy they think is the smallest threat.

Anyway the Red Sox will face the Yanks A- lineup tonight with the only downgrade coming at the expense of Jorge Posada. Here it is along with the Sox:

Derek Jeter SS ---------- Jacoby Ellsbury cf
Nick Swisher RF ---------- Marco Scutaro ss
Mark Teixeira 1B ---------- David Ortiz dh
Alex Rodriguez 3B ---------- Victor Martinez c
Robinson Cano 2B ---------- Adrian Beltre 3b
Lance Berkman DH ---------- J.D. Drew rf
Curtis Granderson CF ---------- Mike Lowell 1b
Francisco Cervelli C ---------- Ryan Kalish lf
Brett Gardner LF ---------- Jed Lowrie 2b

The New York lineup will have to level the playing field this series since the Sox hold an advantage in most of the pitching match ups, especially Monday's afternoon affair between Dustin Moseley and Jon Lester.

This series is big for both teams. The Yanks could make it a two-team race and the Sox could make up some big ground in the division/Wild Card race.

So let's do this thing.

A-Rod Hits 600; Yanks Back in First

So yea I'm a bit late on the whole A-Rod hitting his 600th home run and the Main Stream Media have spent the entire day beating it to death, especially since the week plus leading up to the home run we were bombarded by MSM pundits saying that people weren't making a big deal about A-Rod's 600th homer.

Anyway like many other people I am incredible bored with the whole steroid issue. Right now we really can't understand how the era will be viewed by history. It will take a while for us to have enough hindsight to make accurate judgements about the milestones players have and will achieve.

I will say that I have softened my stance about some players, particularly Barry Bonds. Clearly PEDs allowed him to extend his prime well beyond what it should have been, but his talent was evident before the steriod use probably began. A similar statement can be made about A-Rod and his ridiculous seasons in Texas. BOth probably belong in the Hall of Fame. However, I still say that Mark McGwire has no business being in the Hall of Fame. I get the 583 home runs, but that's really all that he has on his resume and I don't think he's an all-time great.

Anyway back to the baseball at hand, the Rays dropped their series finale to the Twins thanks to the catwalk over the infield. The loss puts the Yanks a half-game ahead of the Rays and puts them one game ahead in the loss column. All this with the Sox roll into the Big Apple for a four game set. If the Yanks take advantage of the games at hand, they could put the Red Sox out of their misery and make the AL East a two-team race.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Well that's the end of that. Kevin Youkilis is out for the year with a torn muscle in his thumb. Apparently this injury is extremely rare in baseball, but there is nothing that can be done. He needs surgery. This is very disheartening as Youk was on his way to another great year statistically (.307/.411/.564). Fortunately, another Mike Lowell trade didn't happen, and he will be able to play some first base. As long as he gets scheduled rest Lowell can be an effective player offensively and defensively.

It's amazing that the Sox have been able to win as many games as they have with all of the injuries. They're going to win 90+ games this season even with a roster of no names and prospects. Unfortunately sometimes that's not good enough in baseball's toughest division.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sox Do Squat at Deadline

Well, they got rid of some dead weight in Jeremy Hermida and Ramon Ramirez and got Jarrod Saltalamacchia from Texas. But these moves are hardly Earth shattering. Jarrod (not typing the surname again) is a decent addition. Clearly either Jason Varitek or Victor Martinez will not be back after this season. I would like to see Jarrod move to catcher. Let Martinez play first every day, and have Youkilis move to third. I feel a little bad for Hermida. He played well in spot duty very early in the year before he got hurt.

Nice walk off wins the past two days. Papi's base clearing double to win the game yesterday was pretty awesome. I don't think I've ever seen a game end that way before. When it's a home run, you know your team won. When it's a double like that there's more drama. Are all three runs going to score?! Today's win was a little less sweet. Crapelbon promptly allowed two inherited runners score before giving up the tying run. Then they needed an error to get the win. The good news, Clay Buchholz pitched very well for eight innings, a great sign after coming back from the injury.