Friday, October 29, 2004

Junkees' Off-Season Moves, Pt. 1

a) The most obvious one here is Carlos Beltran. Unless he really doesn't want to play in a big market, only George will be able to fork up the dough to please Scott Boras.

b) I may take a lot of flak for this one, but I see Sammy Sosa in pinstripes next year, as a DH. He received a huge fine for skipping the last game of the season last year and has clearly worn out his welcome in Chicago. The Cubs would love to find a taker for his $17 million contract.

Back in 2000, George wanted Sosa very badly. He couldn't get him, and instead had to settle for David Justice. And when George wants somebody, he'll get the guy even a few years later, when the guy is past his prime. Think Kevin Brown. The Yankees wanted him from back in his Texas Rangers days, and when they finally had a chance to get him, they took advantage. The fact that he was an old man, an injury risk, and ridiculously expensive? No big deal.

Who will the Cubs take for Sosa? I see them getting Bernie and in essence trading bad contracts. They're losing Alou to free agency, and because they've got Corey Patterson already, they'll probably put Bernie in left. Perhpas they hope his numbers will improve in Wrigley.

And ESPN's Rumor Central now reports that the Mets want Sosa. (Typical stupid Schmets move- they're doing it just for PR). If the Mets are trying to get him, that'll make it all the more important for George to get this guy he's coveted.

Yankees: Watch Out for Boston in '05

One of the sweetest things about the Red Sox winning the World Series (I love the sound of that - the Red Sox winning the World Series), aside from the fact that it sticks it to Yankee fans, is the idea that the Yankee fans have to watch out for Boston next season.

Until the Sox proved that they could beat the Junkees, Junkee fans didn't take Boston seriously. After all, they'd say, they've never beaten us in a big spot, and the so-called Curse still lives. Well, no longer! They can beat the Yankees (they're not intimidated), there's no more curse (not that I thought there ever was), and you have to admit that Theo Epstein is a hundred times better at what he does than Brian Cashman is, so Yankee fans, beware of Boston!

It'll be sweet to see Joe Snorre and the other Junkees next season as they watch the Red Sox accept their World Series rings. If you thought Snorre looks 85 now...

Life is beautiful!

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Message to Yankee Fans

Hey guys, hope you enjoyed the World Series. Then again, you losers didn't watch it. At least the Cardinals didn't pull off the biggest choke in history, unlike some other team out there.

Yeah, those "1918" t-shirts? You can throw 'em out. Or try selling them on eBay. 2004's the year now.

And the Curse of the Bambino? No longer. The only curse in town is the Jeff Nelson curse, or the curse of George Steinbrenner's bonehead spending.

Speaking of which, the Despiser and I have a new chant: TWO THOUSAND! That's the last time your team won. Been a while, huh? Hope it stays that way.

And don't even bother talking about your 26 World Championships. Stop living in the past. Get with it. Your team sucks now.

By the way, if you haven't done so already, throw out the "Who's Your Daddy?" t-shirts. I think they're at 75% off in Modell's by now, if they're not paying you to take them.

And if you got that stupid "Bucky/Boone" poster in the NY Post last week, you can tear it down. Put David Ortiz or Johnny Damon up there instead.

Bill Buckner & Grady Little? Welcome back to Boston. Bucky and Boone can come too. Just for a good laugh.

The best team in baseball is the Boston Red Sox. The biggest chokers? Your team. All $190 million worth of the biggest chokers money can buy. Haha. Get used to it.

I heard Buster Olney's putting out a book called "The Last Night of the Curse."

And someone tell Joe Torre he can't put half his team on the All-Star roster next year. John Flaherty's just gonna have to wait a while for his first appearance.

Look forward to seeing you next Opening Day at Fenway, when the Sox get their World Series rings.

It's the Pitching, Stupid

If there's anything the last two weeks have taught me, this is it. The age-old lesson. To win in the postseason, you better have the pitching.

The Yankees didn't have it. Not with Brown and Vazquez. Not with a tired bullpen. Not with Leiber unable to outduel Curt Schilling. And they had plenty of offense, but Boston's pitching stymied that offense. Derek Lowe and Schilling got the job done. And aside from Jeter's double, so did Pedro. And so did Timlin, Foulke, and Arroyo out of the pen.

And the World Series. I wanted the Cardinals to make it. Now we all see why. These guys can hit, but they can't pitch. And against Schilling and Pedro, they couldn't hit, either. I don't pin the blame on Rolen for slumping. It's just that Morris and Suppan just don't match the Red Sox guys.

It's amazing. The Red Sox #4 guy, Derek Lowe, may be better than the Cards' #1 guy Woody Williams. If Lowe puts in a performance tonight like last week's, the Bambino should turn over in his grave.

And even if he doesn't, I don't see a Yankee-esque choke coming if the Sox have Curt and Pedro lined up to pitch. Pitching wins in the postseason. That's all it boils down to.

The one exception: the 2002 World Series. Both the Angels and Giants were dealing with the Kirk Reuters and John Lackeys of the world. But I would argue that the Angels' deep bullpen of Weber, Donnelly, Rodriguez, and Percival gave them a big edge.

And if not for Byung-Hyun Kim in '01, Arizona's pitching would've discarded the Junkees a lot sooner.

The Cardinals got a lot of their wins from the injured Chris Carpenter and from beating weak teams in its division like the Brewers, Pirates, and Reds. They need dominant postseason pitching to stay in this one. Is Jason Marquis the answer? We'll find out.

Still Can't Believe It

When I watch the World Series on TV, I still have to pinch myself sometimes to make sure I'm not dreaming - the Red Sox really did beat the Yankees in the ALCS and really are in the World Series!

The Junkee fans are already claiming to be over it. Nonsense! When your team is up 3-0 in a best-of-seven series, you're high on your team, especially if you're a Junkee fan, who is pompous to begin with.

After Game 3, Pedro Martinez told Chris Myers on the postgame show that although the BoSox are up 3-0, they are not taking anything for granted. Pedro added that he had read in the papers during the ALCS that Gary Sheffield had become "arrogant" and that has made the ALCS victory all the more sweeter.

I'm not getting arrogant about the Red Sox winning it all until it happens. And if they can win that one game, that'll really stick it to Yankee fans. It'll be the quickest offseason ever!

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Yankee Fans: Not Real Baseball Fans

I read in the paper that many Yankee fans will NOT be watching the World Series this year because their team isn't in it (thank God!). You know what that means? These people aren't real fans, that's all.

To me, if you love baseball, you can't be happy about Steinbrenner and his idiotic ways. The guy singlehandedly ruined baseball, which is why the true fans of baseball can't warm up to the Yankees.

Not only that, but I find that a lot of Yankee fans have very little knowledge of the other teams. All they care about is Yankees, Yankees, Yankees. They probably can't name five players on the Colorado Rockies. I wonder if they ever heard of Miguel Cairo before he became a Junkee.

I despise the Yankees, but I still watch the World Series when they're in it, because I love baseball, and whatever happens goes in the books, so I want to know what happens so I can remember the games. I sat through painful moments such as Tino's grand salami against the Padres in the '98 World Series, Jeter throwing out Jeremy Giambi in the '01 ALDS, Armando Benitez's blown save in game 1 of the '00 World Series... Then again, I got to enjoy the final inning of the '01 World Series when the unstoppable Mariano Rivera allowed two Arizona runs to score to beat the Junkees.

So I'm loving the '04 World Series. It might be the best I've ever seen. And if the Red Sox can win two more and become champions of the world... I can't wait to see the Junkee fans then! Oh, how sweet it'll be. Manny Ortiz, you thought the ALCS win was the best night ever?

Last Year's Big Talker

I forgot one point in the Schilling discussion: he provides a stark contrast to David Wells last year.

In one of '03's top Yankee Despiser moments, Wells bragged about how he's a great pitcher even though he doesn't work out at all, unlike Roger Clemens and his rigorous routine.

And two days later, Wells lasted only an inning due to his back and had to be replaced by Jose Contreras. Not the guy you want on the mound in the World Series. Needless to say, that shut Wells up.

And by the way, one more good Yankee Despiser moment (well, not quite a "moment") of '04. Seeing Wells, Clemens, and Weaver put up good numbers for their new teams. Not to mention ex-Yankee farmhands and '04 All-Stars Jake Westbrook and Ted Lilly. All this while the Yanks' starting pitching was a question mark all year long. Too bad Andy Pettitte was injured for a good part of the year.

Yankee fans: Jealous of Schilling

Like everyone else out there, I keep hearing a lot about Schilling's sutures and how he's played through pain. I think it's not only up there with Kirk Gibson, but much greater. Gibson has one at-bat. Schilling's done this for 13 innings.

But the New York media is tired of it. The Post had a bunch of articles yesterday saying that even though Schilling is an arrogant, full-of-himself, selfish player, you've gotta respect what he's done.

And then I hear ESPN's Mike and Mike say that Schilling is the one who doesn't stop talking about it. He's the one drawing the attention to himself.

Come on, Yankee fans. Talk about a double standard.

When Derek Jeter dove into the stands, the Yankee fans talked about it for weeks. They thought it was the greatest catch ever. They talked and talked about how he giving of himself for the team, willing to get hurt to make the catch.

And if Mariano gets the job done in Game 4 of the ALCS, we'd still be hearing about his courage in pitching after his relatives were killed. But after his two blown saves in a row, the courage we heard about after Game 1 has gone the way of the aura and mystique of Yankee Stadium. History.

And throughout the year, we heard about how Gary Sheffield was thinking of retirement because of the pain in his shoulder. Hey Gary, after your pathetic ALCS performance in Games 4-7, it looks like a pretty good idea.

And why do you think Schilling talked so much about the injuy? Because he was asked about it so much, that's why! What do you expect him to do-- pull off a Mike Mussina and snub the media? And Schilling's been classy about the deal, discussing his faith in God and how he was enocuraged by the fans' signs of support on his way to the ballpark.

Who was the last Yankee to do like Schilling? Was it Kevin Brown, pitching with an injured left hand after his moronic wall-punching incident? And we all now how that turned out. And then Vazquez, the guy the Yankees got instead of Schilling. Gave up the grand slam that basically capped off the Yankees' choke.

As it is, when I went to Citizens Bank Park in Philly this year, they had a video of Schilling discussing the '93 Series. Schilling was wearing a "Yankee-hater" cap during the interview. The guy is classy.

And the jealous Yankee fans should just shut up. You're getting Carlos Beltran in a few weeks. Maybe he can pitch.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Top Ten Yankee Despiser Moments in 2004

(10) Big mid-season acquisition: Estaban Loaiza. (And not getting Randy Johnson.)

(9) Derek Jeter’s 0-for-32 slump in April.

(8) Mets sweeping Yankees at Shea in July.

(7) Red Sox sweeping Yankees at Yankee Stadium in April.

(6) Bill Mueller’s walk-off home run off Mariano Rivera to win that wild game in Fenway, on July 24th.

(5) Kevin Brown punches wall, breaks hand, misses a month.

(4) David Ortiz’s extra-inning walk-off home run in Game 4 of ALCS.

(3) David Ortiz singles in Johnny Damon to win Game 5 of ALCS in extra innings.

(2) Indians 22, Yankees 0.

(1) Red Sox overcome 0-3 deficit to beat the Yankees in the ALCS 4-3. Enough said.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

al-Yankzeera does it again

In this town full of pro-Yankee media, it's refreshing to see someone who tells it like it is. NY Daily News media pundit Bob Raissman has ripped the biased Yankee-loving broadcasters for years, and was right on the money in his Friday column. I liked his piece so much I've decided to put it up on here.

"Anyone surprised that the Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network was the place to be if you were looking for some spin on the biggest gag job in baseball's postseason history?
It happened at the bitter end of what, up to that point, had been a fine and informative Game 7 postgame show.
As he wrapped things up, Michael Kay said the Yankees had had a "great season," but acknowledged it hadn't ended the way they would have liked it to. He pointed out that the Bombers had won 101 games while also setting "attendance records" at the Stadium. Kay said that "superstars up and down the lineup" had provided excitement in 61 come-from-behind victories.
"Again, they fell short, but have nothing, nothing to be embarrassed about. It didn't end the way they wanted it to end. And the Red Sox made history tonight as they go to the World Series," Kay said. "But the Yankees certainly don't have anything to hang their heads about when you look at the entire season as a whole."
It would be too easy just calling this a typical Al Yankzeera moment. It was pure fantasy.
Even Kay's primary benefactor - George Steinbrenner - wouldn't buy this jive.
Would anyone be shocked if, behind closed doors, Steinbrenner himself is embarrassed by the Yankees' performance? Does anyone actually believe Steinbrenner or Joe Torre is finding any solace in the Yankees' regular-season performance?
How many times have you heard Kay say the Yankees are "built for October." The regular season? Regular season come-from-behind victories? Attendance records? When October comes and goes, those subjects are rarely discussed in Yankeeland.
The Yankeecentric, and all other interested parties, know Steinbrenner's blueprint begins and ends with winning the World Series. How many times have you heard that line?
It's no darn secret.
The Yankees are unlike any team in baseball. Other clubs are satisfied with just making it to the postseason. So if they lose, no matter how it goes down, there is still a feeling of satisfaction. When a team in rebuilding mode contends for the playoffs, and just misses, its regular season might mean something.
These notions are so foreign to the Yankees they don't even exist. The Boss sets the bar high. Did Steinbrenner throw crazy money at Alex Rodriguez, Kevin Brown and Javier Vazquez to finish in first place during "the regular season?" Did Steinbrenner throw millions at them so that they could be key components of Operation Choke?
For Kay to say the Yankees have nothing to "hang their heads about" when "you look at the season as a whole" contradicts every statement he has ever made about the "Yankee way."
The 2004 regular season already is a distant memory. Is anyone going to remember - or care - about the Yankees finishing first when that achievement is compared with the memory of becoming the first and only team in baseball history to blow a 3-0 playoff series lead? The Red Sox factor makes this a double whammy.
And the statement about the Yankees having "nothing, nothing" to be "embarrassed about" strongly suggests Kay is taking on ostrich-like qualities.
Only someone with his head in the sand - or looking to play Dr. Feelgood for heartbroken Yankee fans - would not realize the Bombers have everything to be embarrassed about. This is an eternal embarrassment for everyone in the organization - especially the players.
In the future, when people reminisce about all those Yankee World Series titles and pennants, they also will bring up the year the Bombers blew it like no other team ever has. That's what usually happens when a dubious achievement is authored.
Nobody knows this better than Steinbrenner. In this respect, he is a realist. This isn't a man inclined to let someone blow smoke up his gasket. After all these years of owning the town, moving easily among moguls, politicians, celebrities and everyday working stiffs, Steinbrenner knows when the praise is real and when it's false.
False praise. Or Kay attempting to say it ain't so bad. In Steinbrenner's world, it's the same as someone telling you "keep your chin up" or "wait till next year."
Those are the only lines the Yankees are left holding.
And it is embarrassing.

Pitching for the Yanks: Too Much to Handle?

An writer pointed out that Tom Gordon was so overwhelmed by the pressure in Game 6 of the ALCS that he threw up in the bullpen. Seems like Gordon is the latest casualty to fall to the pressure of pitching for the Yanks. And with the casualties mounting over the last few years, it seems like more pitchers will do like Greg Maddux in '92 and pass up on a chance to go to the Bronx.

It all started with Kenny Rogers back in '96. Rogers was awful in New York, but has done well in Texas and Minnesota. But back then, guys like Jimmy Key were able to deal with it. Seemed like it wasn't a big deal at the time.

Then in '00, there was Denny Neagle, whose experience in the Bronx was only 2nd-worst to his tenure with the Rockies. Jay Witasick was solid for the Padres in the beginning of '01, then morphed into Ed Whitson after joining the Yanks.

After that the list gets longer. Weaver. Contreras. Gabe White. Felix Heredia. The latest? Javier Vazquez and Tom Gordon. All of the above have succeeded at some point for another club. But Yankee pressure got the best of them. And it seems that this pressure is reaching the point where many players don't want to join the Yankees.

Carl Pavano, one of the top arms on this year's free-agent market, has said that he doesn't want to sign with the Junkees. And even if the Yankees dangle enough $$$ to get a guy like Eric Milton, who's to say he'll do well in the Bronx after stints in Minny and Philly?

Seems like if you want to do well for the Yanks these days, you better get your ego ready. The aloof Mike Mussina and surly El Duque fit nicely with the Yankees. Maybe Jon Lieber is an exception to this rule. But for most pitchers, it's "enter at the risk of your sanity." And ask the Orioles of the late '90's about trying to win with lots of egos on the team. Doesn't work.

Hitters don't suffer as much (but don't forget Chuck Knoblauch and Rondell White), simply because they're not in the spotlight like the pitchers. After all, a struggling hitter usually has 8 other guys to bail him out. But a stinky pitcher is out there all alone on the mound.

With Yankee craziness, desperation, and pressure at an all-time high, Yankee Stadium is gonna start looking about as appealing as Coors Field to free-agent pitchers. Once again, the madness of King George may come back to hurt the Yankees.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Not Nelson's Curse, But George's

I had also been a believer in the curse of Jeff Nelson, but not after last year.

After not being re-signed afer '00, Nellie said "the Yankees won't win without me." And it was true in '01 and '02.

But in '03, Nellie was back. So the Yankees should've won. But they didn't.

In my not-so-humble opinion, the biggest Yankee curse is George Steinbrenner.

Stick Michael was able to build the cornerstones of the dynasty in the early '90's when George was suspended and low-key. Michael let a core of home-grown players develop and added importnat pieces like O'Neill and Cone.

As for the late '70s dynasty-- Gabe Paul built the core of that team in the early '70's, making excellent trades to obtain Lou Piniella, Graig Nettles, Sparky Lyle, and others. George deserves credit for getting Reggie, but that's it.

Once George got too involved and got duds like Dave Collins and Doyle Alexander, the team went south.

If George was active in the early '90's the way he is now, Mariano Rivera would be on the Braves. Derek Jeter would be on the Dodgers. And Bernie and Pettitte would've performed in different uniforms. There would have been no dynasty, no World Series rings.

Now that George is too involved and has let key players like Pettitte leave, and has encouraged lousy moves like Giambi, Brown, and Vazquez, the Yankees are going back to their '80's ways. Lots of overpaid, overage hitters and lousy pitching.

George can tease the fans by spending enough dough to make this team crush the Devil Rays and Orioles 35 times a year and win 100 games. But a team like that can't and won't succeed in October.

The ’05 Yankees Will Go the Way of the ’04 Mariners

If the ’04 ALCS proves one thing, it’s this: prayer really does work.

Looking ahead to next year, the Junkees are in trouble, and I’m delighted:

1B – They have Giambi locked up for another few years, and no team will be dumb enough to take him, so they can either leave him at first, with his horrid defense and his .208 batting average or move him to DH, which would preclude them from getting Beltran, because Bernie would have to remain in centerfield. I wonder if the Yanks wouldn’t mind having Jeremy Giambi instead…

2B – They’ll probably try to get Jeff Kent. Typical, typical, typical… Then again, Kent didn’t have a great experience in New York when he was on the Mets, so he might opt for a smaller market team. That leaves

SS – The overrated Derek Jeter, who would get no attention if he played for the Devil Rays. He’s nowhere nearly as good as Tejada, Nomar, or Michael Young.

3B – Alex Rodriguez has shown that his great ’01-’03 numbers were due to batting in the hitter-friendly Ballpark at Arlington. Worth all that dough? No way.

LF – Shemp had a pretty good postseason, but he’s a tad overrated. He hit 16 homers in ’03, but once the Yanks got Sheffield and Rodriguez, his total increased to 31 because he had more pitches to hit. If he were on the Pirates, I wonder if he’d have 10. And his defense leaves much to be desired.

CF – Bernie has one more year on his contract, and George will not cut him, so he’ll be in centerfield, unless they get Beltran, in which case Bernie DHes and Giambi plays first. The media seem convinced that the Junkees are getting Beltran, but you never know. If Houston goes further in the postseason, he just might accept a 5-year $60 type of deal. Unlikely, but it’s possible. But even if they get Beltran, having Giambi play first everyday with those gimpy knees will be a joy to watch.

RF – Sheffield is excellent, there’s no denying that, but he’ll be 36 and has had nagging injuries over the past couple of years, so who knows if he’ll stay healthy. But I give the Junkees props on this one, even though many teams can’t afford to pay a guy $13 million a year.

C – Posada is looking a little long in the tooth, so I can see him slowing down both offensively and defensively, where he was never a bargain anyway.

DH – They still have Lofton signed through ’05, who I can see George dumping, but the logjam of Giambi and Bernie will make it tough to sign anyone.

So right away you see that the Junkees don’t have much space to put anyone, except second base, of course, and Bernie is getting old, as is Sheffield, Shemp (who looks like he’s 55), Posada, Giambi (who aged about 10 years since 2001), and we haven’t even gotten to the pitchers!

SP – Mussina doesn’t impress anyone with his 4.59 ERA, gives up a lot of home runs, and hitters batted .276 off him this past year. He’s become a #2, #3 type starter making #1 type money. Lieber is not signed past this year – they have an option on him – but hitters batted .301 off him in ’04. El Duque cannot be relied upon long-term, and the Dodgers look like geniuses dumping Brown and his $15 salary. He’s shot, so forget him being effective, but he’s under contract for ’05. Who else is there – Loiaza?

Pavano looks like he’s going to Boston, so the Junkees will have to settle for a second tier pitcher like Eric Milton, Russ Ortiz, or Derek Lowe, so don’t expect the rotation to resemble the ’98 Yankees.

RP – After the two blown saves in the ALCS, I think it’s fair to say that Mariano is no longer invincible. He’s been around for a long time now, and his contract extension may prove to have been a mistake. Gordon, Quantrill, and the other guys are most likely goners, so the Junkees will look to pick up relievers off the scrap heap. So you’ll have the Tanyon Sturtzes and Antonio Osunas of the world once again.

All in all, I like what I am seeing, so I think I’ll re-subscribe to the baseball package on Direct TV and enjoy watching the Junkees miss the playoffs for the first time since 1993.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Astros or Cardinals?

With the ALCS over and the Sox in it, the question is who should we root for tonight?

The Cardinals have a slightly better offense and deeper lineup than the Astros. Pujols, Edmonds, Rolen, and Larry Walker are all threats. Even though the 'Stros have the killer B's, guys like Mike Lamb and Brad Ausmus water down the lineup.

With Tavarez looking sharp last night, The Cards' pen is still the one to beat. The Astros have the unhittable Brad Lidge, but guys like Qualls and ex-Schmet Dan Wheeler are nothing special.

The Astros' big edge? Starting pitching. Clemens and Oswalt are solid, and after an excellent Game 5 start, Brandon Backe is starting to look real good. Woody Williams and Jeff Suppan just don't cut it.

With that in mind, I've got to say the Sox have a better chance at beating the Cardinals. The Sox should be able to feast off the mediocre starters like Morris and Williams. On the other hand, I see Pedro being dominant against the Cards, simply because they aren't the Yankees. If they can get two starts from Schilling, that's two wins right there. And perhaps not being used to Wakefield's knuckler, the Cards won't be able to get him. Plus, don't forget the resurgent Derek Lowe.

Clemens, Oswalt, and Backe could shut down guys like Damon, Manny, and Ortiz. And if those starters go long enough, the Sox won't have a chance to feast on the Dan Wheelers of the world. Brad Lidge looked incredible last night. And Carlos Beltran just plain scares me. He can hit anybody right now.

Let's go Cardinals!

The Curse Lives On... The Curse of Jeff Nelson, That Is!

After his spat with Joe Torre in 2000 over being left off the all-star roster, Jeff Nelson, the great middle reliever for the Yankees was not resigned and became a Seattle Mariner. Upon leaving, he cursed the Yankees that their great run would end. How right he was!

Every year since then, the Yankees have done a great Atlanta Braves imitation. They've found ways to lose. And for the fourth year in a row, they're denied their rings. Oh baby!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can finally sit back and enjoy the World Series not having to worry about the Junkees ruining my year. Thank you, Yankees!

This year has made all my years of being a Yankee despiser worthwhile. Does it get much better than this?

And how about Mike Mussina, who joined the Junkees after 2000 to get his ring? Hey pal, your contract's gonna run out soon, and like Karl Malone joining the Lakers just for the ring, I hope you never get yours. Go do your crossword puzzles in the locker room, you preppie!

And A-Rod, go slap the ball out of Arroyo's glove, huh? A-Schmuck is exactly right.

Shemp Matsui, go back to Japan!

Jason Giambi, do we have to call the cops for all the money you stole this year? At least Bonds could still hit after getting off the juice...

Hey Cashman, how'd that 4-year $45 million contract for Javier Vazquez work out for you?

Hey Manny, wanna go to Boston and party?

Best Night Ever

No, this can't be real. I'm not even excited yet. I'm just shocked. I can't believe this. Too good to be true.

During the game, my other favorite moments flashed before my eyes.

--'97, the Sandy Alomar HR. Not too great, because it was before the Yanks really killed baseball
--'01 Luis Gonzalez' bloop hit. Wow. Everyone thought it was over after Byun-Hyung Kim blew two saves in a row, a feat matched by Rivera in this series, oddly enough.
--'02 David Wells just not giving a damn anymore after Bernie screwed up catching a fly ball.
--'03 Beckett baffling the Yankees.

But '04 leaves all those in the dust. Wow.

I wrote "Game Over for the Sox." Gee, what the hell was I thinking? But that was so long ago. 4 incredible nights later, the tables have turned.

Game 7, aside from the Pedro inning, was heavenly. Kevin Leary getting his $17 million butt kicked. Javier Trout giving up the slam to Damon, followed by 5 walks. And encores of Esteban Loser and Felix Headcase. Flush Gordon giving up a few runs, and Rivera coming in just to leave the fans something to go home with.

And Damon and Bellhorn, how about those guys. Did nothing all series, and they provided the offense in games 6 & 7. Gotta give Francona credit for keeping those guys in the lineup.

And then there were Mo's two blown saves. How sweet! Especially after everyone made a big deal following his save in game 1.

Face it, Torre screwed up big-time in handling his bullpen. Rivera, Gordon and especially Quantrill were overused during the season and didn't have it. And Grand Tanyon, Headcase, etc. just weren't the answer.

David Ortiz is awesome. You gotta love the guy. But what the hell happened to Manny? The fact that the Sox won without him makes it all the more incredible.

And Derek Lowe. What a job the guy did tonight. Nobody saw this coming. He deserves a lot of credit, more than he'll probably get, especially being preceded by Schilling's incredible effort.

The amazing thing is, this happened so quickly. Saturday night, I felt like it was done. I was freaking depressed.

And then, Sunday night, the Yankees three outs away. Rivera on the mound. Okay, it's over. Sweep.

Monday night, 4-2 Yanks going into the 8th. Okay, we got teased, but the Yanks have beaten Pedro again. Or have they? Flush Gordon wears out his welcome, and the Sox tie it up.

And now, a few nights later, the Red Sox have finally beaten the Yankees.

I gotta see George's face. Worth a million bucks, that's for sure. Like seeing Michael Moore election night if Bush wins.

Cashman should be fired. Brown and Vazquez? Awful. Sierra and Tony Clark? Terrible.

But right now, with the ESPN-radio guy lamenting, it's starting to hit home. I'm going stop blogging now and enjoy the moment. Wow!

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Bottom of the 9th Blog

Here are my thoughts throughout the bottom of the 9th. Sterling and Steiner blaring on the radio. My sick pleasure.

--Steiner and Sterling talking about Mickey Mantle's birthday. Coming into a Game 7, who would've thought they'd be talking about him?

--Matsui gets a hit. I've never heard Sterling less enthuiastic. I guess John figures George will have other things on his mind.
--Shemp is among the more clutch Yanks.

--I don't care if it's a 7-run lead. I can't relax till it's officially over.

--"If the Yankees stage this kind of comeback, it will be remembered forever." -Sterling
Wake up and smell the choke, Johnno.

-- 3-1 Timlin can't find the plate!

-- Reese with the forceout. 2 outs to go. Posada grounding into a DP would be perfect.

--Posada swinging first pitch-- pops out. 1 more to go.

--Season comes down to Lofton and Olerud. I feel a little better.

--"The Yankees were half an inning away from sweeping the Red Sox"- Charley Steiner
Thanks, Mariano.

-- 3-0 on Lofton? Come on! End it!

--He walked him!!

--Olerud trying for a Kirk Gibson moment. Let's see. They're putting Embree in. Good move. Seems like Francona is making up for the Pedro gaffe. What the hell was he thinking there?

--Commercial break. I'm officially sick of the Foxwoods jingle

--"As the clock strikes midnight, literally and figuratively"- Steiner
What's with the cringe-worthy cliche-- trying to compete with Hickman.

--Sierra grounds out.





The Despiser already recapped game 6, but I'd like to focus on one thing he just mentioned in passing.

Maybe it's all the pro-Yankee writers in this town, but it's easy to get the impression that A-Rod is a classy guy, a professional. He was even willing to move positions when he came to New York! What a team player!

And the same guys praised the classy A-Rod for fighting with Varitek back in July. "Now he's a true Yankee."

Shut up. A-Rod's an unprofessional jerk. And he proved it again last night.

What the heck was the guy thinking, trying to swipe the ball away? Hey, A-Rod, you screwed up again in a big spot. You should be used to it by now. Take the out like a man, and sit down.

Then A-Rod says, "what, do they want me to knock the guy down?" Moron.

Excellent job by the umps last night. And kudos to Francona for arguing it calmly. If he goes nuts over that play, I don't know if he gets the call. And then crybaby Torre argues for 10 minutes. Just shut up!

If anything, A-Rot screwed up in that Jeter would've been safe at second and in scoring position had he kept his hands to himself. But because of A-Rod, Jeter was stuck at first.

And need I mention what happened to Seattle after they let the guy go? They got better. A lot better. 116 wins in '01. True, the addition of Ichiro Suzuki made a difference, but you can't tell me the M's would've won more games if they had A-Rod.

Fast-forward to 2004. Texas goes from cellar-dwellers the last few years to baseball's biggest surprise, staying in the AL West chase till the last week of the season. And many were saying that Texas had the best infield in baseball. This after dumping A-Rod.

Hey, maybe the Schmets weren't totally off in not signing the guy. Then again, I'll take him any day over Kaz Matsui.

And I love hearing people say how Michael Young (A-Rod's replacement in Texas) is a borderline MVP candidate. And nobody's saying that about A-Rod this year. Loser.

Yankee Fans: Shaking in their Boots

These past three games have been so sweet, I can't even begin to describe. In my mind, I wrote off the Red Sox, so I wasn't expecting anything. After game 4, with the Ortiz walk-off homer, I said, okay, at least it won't be a sweep. Then was game 5, where Ortiz drove in Damon in the bottom of the 14th, and I said, cool, at least they made it somewhat interesting, so that when they lose game 6, we'll be able to say that we took it to 6 games. But after winning game 6... ooh boy!

I turned it on shortly after the Bellhorn home run (until then my wife was hogging the TV watching the WB network), and watched Shilling mow down the Junkees. Sierra looked like the old man that he is in his strike outs, and Tony Clark reminds me of the Tony Clark who hit .203 a couple of years ago. The Tigers didn't want him!

In the 8th, Arroyo got the first out, then gave up a double to Cairo. I turned off the TV. I'm not going to watch them blow the lead. It's one thing to get blown out, but to lead and then blow it? But I couldn't control myself so I turned it back on a couple of minutes later to see the score 4-2. I shut it.

A few minutes later I turned it on and the score said 4-3. The umps were reviewing a play (the A-Rod play, although I didn't know that at the time), and I just shook my head.

A half hour later or so I turned on ESPN and saw "Boston defeated New York 4-2, series tied 3-3."

If the Junkees lose tonight, it'll be sweeter than Sandy Alomar, Luis Gonzalez, and Josh Beckett combined.

Monday, October 18, 2004


What a game. What a game. What a game. I was going nuts from the tension. Thanks to David Ortiz's single off Esteban Loser, I can go to sleep. Till tomorrow night, that is.

a) I've had it with Pedro. Let George have him. I don't think it's a matter of him vs. the Yankees. I think his stuff isn't what it used to be. Look at his numbers this year and compare to last year. Above average? Yes. Pedro-esque? No.

In March, Peter Gammons said he saw a toughness in Pedro that he hadn't seen since '00. It sure didn't carry over in the numbers.

b) What a pleasure seeing the Flash flood and Mo blow again. I think Torre had a Grady Little moment in leaving Gordon on in the 8th. After Ortiz hit the homer, he should've gone straight to Mo.

Otherwise, I was disappointed that the Sox couldn't hit the Grand Tanyon, Felix Headcase, or Quantrill more than they did. If they want to win this thing, they've gotta batter those guys.

c) How much will Schill have in Game 6? Can the Red Sox figure out former #8 starter Jon Lieber? I thought this series was over, but it seems like it's just getting started.

d) Stat of the night: Jeter, A-Rod, Sheff, Shemp: combined 2-21. The Sox have to keep their bats quiet if they want to go anywhere.

Rivera Blows One and David Beats Goliath

What a game last night. At first, I didn't care much, considering that I thought the series was over (and I still do). But it was a close one, and hard to turn off.

Seeing Rivera blow a game is as good a feeling as it gets for the Yankee-hater. You constantly hear how the guy is invincible, he's the MVP of the Yankees, etc. Problem is, most of the time he lives up to the hype. So it's always great to see him blow one. Even in a game like this which is probably meaningless (if the Sox lose), it's still a pleasure to see. It was a far cry from Sandy Alomar in '97 and Luis Gonzalez in '01 (which was heaven), but still pretty darn good.

But the pleasure of Rivera's BS was only redeemed by the Sox winning. If they would've lost, then Rivera's BS would be meaningless. And when Francona brought Leskanic in there, I feared the worst. But the Yankees have a worse pitcher in Quantrill, and the Sox took full advantage.

But again, I don't see the Sox pulling this one out, unless the momentum from this win can have a huge impact. The Sox have been so streaky this year. They had that awfully mediocre first half, and then, post-Nomar, became the hottest team in the game. Then they breezed past the Angels in the ALDS. Maybe they can turn it on again, but will that help here, with the Yankee pitching being half-decent and Shemp Matsui playing like Barry Bonds? We'll find out.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Game Over for the Sox

Much as I hate the Yankees and want the Sox to win, let's face it. It's all over. The Yankees buck-studded lineup did it all last night. The only good thing about that is nobody giving Cashman credit for signing A-Rod, Matsui, and Sheffield. Yankee fans aren't that stupid. Then again....

a) I see the rest of the series going like the '99 NLCS. The Mets looked cooked after going down 3-0 to Altanta, then made things interesting before Kenny Rogers' infamous bases-loaded walk. I see the Sox doing that, just to make it more painful; make it look like they actually have a shot. Maybe David Ortiz will hit a grand single or something. And the Sox sure don't need a guy like Rogers to screw things up. They can manage that quite well without him.

But maybe it's just me, but the Sox don't seem so into it. I could also see them not caring about Game 4, just wanting to get it all over with.

b) Is this series proof that the system is screwed up? Some Yankee fans think not. After all, the Red So have the second highest payroll in baseball, clocking in at $127 million. So the Red Sox fans have no right to complain about the system, cause their team ain't much worse in the money department.

But the Yankees' payroll is about $60 million higher. What can $60 million get you?

A solid contender in the Oakland A's, that's what. Their payroll? $59 million.

And the Red Sox can't afford another $60 million. A Business Week piece in April discussed how Theo Epstein has resorted to the Beane model in many ways because his team has basically maxed out financially. Fenway, a small, old park, has a small seating capacity and sells out every night. And NESN gets excellent ratings. But that's it. They can't spend unlimited amounts of money. That won't draw more fans to the park or to the TV. They would be in deep trouble if they tried spending like the Yankees.

Look at other big-market teams. Can the White Sox spend? The Dodgers are talking about cutting payroll. The Angels have spent, but how much more can they dish out? Seems like the Yankees are really the only team that have bottomless pockets, and can spend whatever, whenever.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Getting Lieber and Olerud: More Bucks than Brains

Looking through the New York Post this morning, the articles were full of praise for Brian Cashman as his "little" moves in getting Lieber and Olerud paid off big last night. Kevin Kernan made Cashman out to be the next Billy Beane. Well, let's take a closer look at these moves and see why the guy doesn't deserve any credit.

In early 2003, when the Yanks signed Lieber, they already had Clemens, Mussina, Pettitte, Wells, Contreras, Hitchcock, and Jeff Weaver as potential starters (for a total of $53 million- more than other teams' whole payrolls). So Lieber was basically a #8 starter. And even if you want to say that the Yanks knew Clemens wasn't coming back, so that makes him #7. (I don't think anyone expected Pettitte to leave at that point.) Basically, the Yankees were gambling on $3 million that the guy would pitch effectively in '04 after Tommy John surgery.

How many teams can afford to gamble on a potential #7 starter? The Royals and Brewers wish they could give that kind of money to their #3 starter, let alone a backup-backup! The A's can barely afford Hudson, Mulder, and Zito. They can't spend on an "insurance plan" like Lieber. So signing Leiber was more about Cashman having money to burn than anything else.

If anything, the fact that Leiber has gone from the #7 man to #2 just tells you how the Yanks' rotation has gone from very deep to very thin in less than two years. Nice going, Cashman.

As for Olerud, the guy rejected a chance to play for the Giants, telling them he wanted to hang it up. But when the Yankees called, he was ready to go. Kinda like Hideki Irabu all over again.

Besides, guys like Olerud and Cairo do well in the Yankee lineup because they get pitches to hit. If you walk these guys, you'll end up facing Jeter and A-Rod. When Olerud was on Seattle, who'd you have to worry about after, Bucky Jacobsen? So there you've got nothing to lose by pitching more carefully around guys like Olerud. And with more runners on base in New York and more pressure on the pitcher, Olerud does much better than he did in Seattle.

So ultimately, it's more about the big money boppers than the little guys.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Goin' Home

That's the only good thing I can find about the Sox after this one. They're headed back to Fenway. Maybe home-field can make a difference.

What happened to the Junkees' pitching? When did these guys start gettin' the job done? I guess George is finally getting his money's worth. Speaking of money, how about a David-and-Goliath matchup in minumum-wage Bronson Arroyo vs. $15 million man Kevin Brown?

The Red Sox have to sweep the three Fenway games. Otherwise, forget it. No chance.

Game One: Big Deal

Game One wasn't pretty. When I turned on the game in the 4th and I saw 6-0 Yanks, I was shocked. But heartbroken? You're overdoing it a bit, Despiser. Take a chill.

After all, remember who won game 1 of the ALCS last year? Did it matter when all was said and done? I don't think so.

I had mixed emotions about the near-comeback. I had kinda given up at that point, and for the Sox to tempt me with a comeback and then not pull thru made it all the more painful. If they were gonna lose anyway, I don't care if you lose big. It's only one game.

Also, I didn't want to have to read about Mariano Rivera's heroics. Sure, I feel for the guy and what he and his family went through. As a human being, even as a Yankee-hater, you just have to. But his saving the game has turned into the most overblown baseball-human-interest warm-and-fuzzy talked-about-forever story since Frank Torre's heart surgery in '96. The media fetishizes this stuff and never lets it go. They tell you about it till you're nauseated. Had the game been 10-0 instead of 10-7, we wouldn't have had to deal with it.

But the close game was good in that it showed that even on a night where their ace is injured and Mike Mussina is pitching like Sandy Koufax for 6+ innings, these guys can still make it a ballgame. Most other teams can't do that.

Remember game 1 of the '96 World Series? 19 year-old Andruw Jones and Braves humiliated the Yanks at home, 12-1. The Yankee fans were like "it was nice to make it to the Series, but forget it. We're just not beating the Braves." And with Maddux and Glavine lined up for Games 2 & 3, they had reason to surrender. Yes, kiddies, long before George started drastically outspending other times and destroying baseball, Yankee fans were happy "just to make it" to the World Series (like the '98 Padres). Hard to believe.

Well, the Braves haven't won much of anything since.

And the Red Sox don't have Maddux and Glavine in their prime awaiting them. It's more like Jon Leiber and Kevin Brown not quite in his prime.

And if Schilling isn't healthy, it'll be tougher for the Sox to pull it out. But they will.

Heartbreak: Junkees 10, Boston 7

I'm starting to detatch all my emotions this year, as I did in '98, '99, and '00. It's just too painful to watch the bums beat up on my beloved Red Sox. A few points:

(a) Shilling has had ankle problems recently, and they probably contributed to his ineffectiveness on Tuesday night. Now the pro-Junkee media in New York says that Shilling, and Shilling fans, have no right to complain about his ankle when he was talking just before the game about crushing the Junkees. Hey schmucks, what do you expect the guy to do - say that he's going to lose? When Pedro admitted that the Yankees had his number and made his famous "daddy" line, they killed him for it. When Shilling was cocky about things, they killed him, so you can't make a Yankee fan happy.

(b) They almost came back, which doesn't amount to a hill of beans when all is said and done, but there is something to be said for that.

(c) Need I remind anyone that anything can happen in a seven game series?

(d) If the Junkees pull it off, I will root my fanny off for the Cardinals, who can easy manhandle the Junkees.

(e) And again, so long as there is no salary cap, keep in mind the disparity, even in this Yankees-Red Sox series: $190 million to $130 million. Enough said. Make a salary cap, and then I'll give the Yankees their props. Otherwise, so what. You bought Rodriguez, Jeter, Sheffield, Matsui, Williams, Posada... Until I see competitive balance, I can't tip my hat to the Junkees.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Postseason Picks So Far

Last week, I picked Yanks-Sox for the ALCS and Astros-Cardinals for the NLCS. Turned out I was right on both counts.

I was a bit off on most of the numbers. The Braves along with Phil Garner's foibles made the Astros sweat, instead of the 3-game sweep I had predicted. Who woulda thunk ex-Yankee farmhand Russ Springer would appear in a postseason game? At least the Astros were smart enough to dump David Weathers.

I called the Cardinals over the Dodgers in 4. Right on.

In the AL, I thought the Angels would have more fight in them, saying it would take 5 games for Boston to beat 'em. But Boston is red-hot. No doubt about it.

And I gave the Twins a little too much credit. After Santana left, that bullpen was fodder for the Yanks. And the Twins' lineup just wasn't enough to bash the Yankees' putrid pitching.

But who predicted a couple of come-from-behind wins? Thank you very much. All the Yankee fans making such a big deal of the resilience and toughness of these Yankees. Give me a break. All those comeback wins are a sign of weak, awful pitching. Most bullpens in the league are weak, and the Yankees have no trouble pounding them. The '98 Yankees had much fewer comeback wins. And they were much, much better than this squad.

As for the upcoming ALCS:
GAME 1: Curt Schilling will once again prove that "aura" and "mystique" are just names of strippers. Mussina did a decent job against the Twins, but this is a much better lineup he'll be facing.
GAME 2: The Pedro game is gonna be interesting. I see the Yankees pulling this one out. Lieber has been pretty good at home, and the Yankees always find a way to beat Pedro. The Yankee fans will make a huge deal, say "who's your Daddy?" and talking about all the momentum the Yanks got from beating Pedro. Expect some Jeter heroics and the Yankee fans to make a huge deal over this overrated, overpaid guy. But once the Sox hit the Junkees' junky part of the rotation, the fun will begin.
GAME 3: I'm starting to really like Bronson Arroyo. He gained my respect when he plunked A-Rod, and then the guy was pretty solid down the stretch. He pitched very well against the Angels in the ALDS. The Red Sox are gonna knock Brownie out of this one early, kinda like the game a few Sundays ago. Again, these are not the Henry Blanco Twins we're talking about.
GAME 4: Javier Vazquez is starting to remind me of Jose Contreras. Yankee fans got excited when he beat the Royals and Devil Rays, but clammed up when the guy got rocked by a half-decent team. And lately, Vazquez has had trouble getting anyone out. Wakefield has always stymied the Yanks (except you know when ---and expect Fox to show the Aaron Boone HR about a million times this game), and hopefully his schmooze with ex-Schmet pitching coach Charlie Hough will prove helpful.
As for Game 5, I see Mussina keeping the Yanks in it, but Schilling should prevail. Maybe the Yanks will tie it up, in which case I'm all for a 2001 Game 7 redux. And just for old-times sake, how about Curt Schilling as ALCS MVP?

Last year, the Yankees were a bit better than the Sox, and painful as the loss was, the Sox could tip their caps to the Yanks. No more. The Yankees must lose this year. We don't need a $190 million payroll and a 4.70 ERA making the World Series. This time for sure, the Yanks don't deserve to be in it. The Red Sox are clearly the better team.

One more point: Even after his heroics the other night, Ruben Sierra is hard for me to hate. Anyone who calls Torre a "liar" is up there in my book. And the fact that George got him just to stick it to Torre was great.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Real Season Starts Tuesday

This is it - the moment we've all been waiting for. This is why we sat through 162 games plus the first round of the playoffs - to get to the REAL season, Yankees and Red Sox in the ALCS. Face it - as much as I prayed for the Twins to pull off an upset, you knew that at the end of the day, the Junkees and the Red Sox would meet in game 1 at Yankee Stadium.

When Johnny Damon steps in the batters box against Mike Mussina, the adrenaline level will be through the roof.

But unlike last year, the Red Sox are not going to lie down. Their team is vastly improved, and the Yankees have gotten worse. Hey George, how'd Javy Vazquez work out for you? Curt Schilling is going to be a god in Boston after they send the Yankees home.

I will be on top of every pitch of every game because this time, it counts. And it doesn't matter who plays the World Series - this is the series that matters. Most Junkee fans I know felt that after beating Boston in '03, that was it. It didn't matter what they did against the Marlins (oh yes it did!), as long as they prevented Boston from getting their trophy.

This isn't going to be as close as people think- Boston is going to dominate. Heck, they're talking about going 11-0 in the postseason! Please God, not that I ever doubted Your existence, but if You can make things go Boston's way, just for the next week and a half, You'll make believers out of everyone. Please!

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Those Damn Yankees! They Did it Again!

Why? Why do I subject myself to such torture? Why do I get my hopes up after the Twins take Game 1, only to have my heart ripped out once again? Why can't I have a relaxing ALCS, like I did in 2002?

Games 2 and 4 were pure heartbreakers. As usual, so many if-onlys. If only Joe Nathan gets out of trouble, if only Juan Rincon strikes out Ruben Sierra, if only... and on and on and on.

Couldn't they pull out Game 4 just to make the Junkees sweat a little in Game 5?


Good, Yankee fans, your $190 million team beat the $60 million Twins. Feel good? Kind of like beating a three-year-old in an arm wrestle.

But Yankee despisers, have no fear - this is Boston's year, and when we beat New York, how sweet it'll be!

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Twins 2, Yankees 0; Enough Said

I don't care how the idiot Yankee fans spin their game 1 loss ("They lost game 1 last year and look what happened!"; "They got the runners on, they just didn't capitalize...") the bottom line is that my beloved Twins defeated the putrid New York Yankees and I am a happy man today. The sun is shining brighter than usual, and I have a spring in my step.

First off, it was great being able to listen to Dan Shulman and Dave "Soup" Campbell doing the game on ESPN-radio - I didn't have to listen to Pompous, Inc., otherwise known as Yankee announcers Charley Steiner and John Sterling.

Second, what a beauty. A-Rod getting caught stealing in the first - what the hell was that move where he was out by a mile yet tried to sneak his foot in anyway? Just take your tagging and get off the field, loser! And then Jorge Posada, the slowest Yankee since, uh, John Olerud, getting thrown out on a sac fly attempt. Neat.

I don't give two freakin' hoots how much Junkee fans say that they had Santana on the ropes - the bottom line is, you lost the game! Either you win or lose, and they lost.

You had to love A-Rod getting robbed of a home run by Torii Hunter. And the Yankee fans crying fair by Ruben Sierra's foul ball. The replays show it was foul. Get over it.

I turned on WFAN in the eighth inning and the host, Steve Somers, had a caller on who predicted that the Yankee magic would come through with A-Rod, Sheffield, and Bernie. It didn't. I was dancing in the streets.

And in the ninth, Joe Nathan took care of business, as the cliche goes, and I jumped so high I thought my neighbors would complain about the noise.

I TiVoed Baseball Tonight and replayed the highlights over and over again. In my mind, the five double plays were right up there with Luis Gonzalez's bloop single over Jeter's head in 2001, Jorge Posada grounding out to Josh Beckett last year, Sanday Alomar's home run off Mariano in '97... They kept getting played over and over and over.

And I don't want to hear comparisons to last season, when the Junkees won games 2, 3, and 4 to move on to the LCS. Who won those games? Pettitte, Clemens, and Wells. Need I say more?

And the Red Sox creamed Anaheim 9-3, which gives me satisfaction because the better the Red Sox do, the more it sticks it to Yankee fans.

Again, it's possible that the Junkees will do what they did last year. Then again, they could lay another egg (please, God). Face it - the real season for both Yankee fans and Yankee despisers starts with the postseason, and so far, they're 0-1. Let the good times roll!

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Manny's Playoff Picks

After my compadre the big Despiser gave us his picks, I'd like to offer mine:

YANKS v. TWINS: Much as I hate the Yankees, I don't see anyone on the Twins overpowering them, save Johan Santana. So even with the Twins winning both Santana games, I see the Yanks taking this one in 5. They'll probably have a couple of come-from-behind wins (which the Yankee fans will get ecstatic over), but that's only because their starting pitching is so putrid.
Besides, it's more fun when the Red Sox beat the Yanks (see below).
Yankees in 5.

As for the other series:
The Red Sox will eke it out over the Angels in 5. I think the Sox are slightly better both in starting pitching and offensively.
The Astros should get rid of the Braves quickly. After all, these are the Braves we're talking about, the greatest regular-season team of the last decade, but always October failures. Besides, I like Clem and Oswalt over Wright and Hampton. And the Killer B's give Houston an edge. Astros in 3.
The Cards should make short work of the Dodgers. Both teams have pretty bad starters, but the Cards offense is much better than the Dodgers, in spite of Beltre and Finley.
Cards in 4.

Here's where it gets fun. Last year, the Yanks lost game 1, and, in the words of Fred Hickman, Andy Pettitte stopped the bleeding in Game 2. This year, no Pettitte. When the Yankees signed Jon Leiber just for the hell of it before last winter, who woulda thought the guy would be the Yanks' #2 playoff starter less than two years later? Unbelievable how the mighty have fallen. I'll give the Yanks one win in this series (probably against Pedro, a game that'll have a million clips from the 8th inning of last year's game 7-- maybe I'll just listen on radio), but Schilling should stop 'em like in '01 and I think Arroyo and Wakefield will be able to stave them off.
The lack of pitching is gonna doom the Yankees. Manny and Ortiz should feast off the stinkers.
There's gonna be a brawl in this one. After Zimmer and Sturtze, the moron this time? I'll go with Kevin Brown. He'll probably get injured accidentally punching himself or something. And Torre will claim that Arroyo hit his guy intentionally, while the Yankee hurler just let the ball slip out. Crybaby.
Red Sox in 5.

NLCS: With the Astros making the NLCS for the first time since the Mike Scott era, it should be a fun one. Two teams with a pretty packed offense and decent pitching. I've gotta give an edge to Houston for having two big guns in Clem and Oswalt, but the Cards' offense trumps the 'Stros. Not to mention their gold-glove defense.
In another LCS thriller, I've got the Cards in 7.

World Series: This is the year. No more curse. In the all-red World Series, the Red Sox time has come. Led by second-time Series MVP Curt Schilling, the Sox will shut down the Cards' offensive juggernaut. No more Yankee fan losers with "1918" t-shirts.
Red Sox in 6.

Monday, October 04, 2004

More Ca$hman Blunders

I told you I wasn't done yet in going through Brian Cashman's many bonehead moves. In fact, I'm just getting started.

2001 was awful; possibly Cashman's worst as a GM. After letting Jeff Nelson go, the Yankees' righty in the pen coming into the season was the mighty Todd Williams. And then there was Carlos Almanzar, who was released after blowing a lead in a game against the Mets. So then he brought in Jay Witasick and Mark Wohlers. Whitson, Witasick, Wohlers, Weaver, White (Gabe).... do I see a pattern forming?

Speaking of relievers, don't get me started on the likes of Naulty, Osuna, Heredia, and Hammond. Cashman's lucky that Bob Watson got them Nelson and Stanton (not to mention that Cashman held on to Stanton for way too long).

Recently, George has gone bonkers and started paying closer money to middle relievers. Many teams can barely afford to pay their closers the cash Karsay, Quantrill, and Gordon are getting. Ridiculous.

And another bad trade: getting Drew Henson back (after he was traded for Neagle) for Wily Mo Pena. Pena had 26 HRs this year for Cincy. Henson's playing football now. Nice going.

Since '01, things haven't gotten much better. The Giambi signing has been a huge bust. Even before this year, he had his knee issues during the second half last year, and had to miss an important game in the World Series. One Yankee insider recently called him "finished." Rondell White was awful. Sterling Hitchcock got $6 million as the team's backup long reliever/ 7th starter. The Mondesi trade. Terrible. The Yankees looked awful considering it was a glorified salary dump, and it just wasn't worth it. And of course, Weaver. Last season, one of my Yankee fan friends said Weaver was gonna win 20 games in Pinstripes. Then he said the same thing about Vazquez this year. I'd keep my mouth shut if I were you, buddy. Think the Yanks wouldn't mind Schilling right about now?

The Yanks gave up another good prospect in the White Sox' reliever Damaso Marte, who had a 1.58 ERA in '03. (I'll take him over Quantrill.) Who'd they get in return? Enrique Wilson. All the Yankee fans make a big deal that he has great numbers against Pedro Martinez. But they never talk about how the guy can't hit a lick off anyone else in the league.

And of course, there's Jose Contreras. The guy looked so scared every time he pitched against the Red Sox. But when you're the Yankees, you can afford to eat an $8 million bust. If you're the D-Rays, you're getting your butt fired. And Esteban Loaiza's looking like a real winner, no?

Okay, so maybe you should blame George more so than Cashman for moves like Contreras and Mondesi, where King George was clearly forcing the Cash Man's hands. But when you've got an unlimited payroll, there's no excuse for not acquiring enough depth to cover for those stinkers. C'mon. I could do better than that with bottomless pockets. If you spend $190 million and you have a team ERA of 4.70, you suck. Nothing else to it.

Finally, the Yankees' farm system has gone from one of the best in the '90's to an absolute wasteland. No apologies to Dioner Navarro. The D-Backs couldn't find anything there for Randy Johnson. But when you're the Yankees and can sign every free agent in the world, it's not a problem.

Contrast Theo Epstein, whose been solid getting guys like David Ortiz, Bill Mueller, Orlando Cabrera, and Kevin Millar. And last year, the way he turned the closer-by-committee joke into an excellent bullpen come October was very impressive. Look at the Twins' Terry Ryan. These guys lost A.J. Pierzynski (ok, they had Mauer waiting), LaTroy Hawkins, Eddie Guardado, and Eric Milton over the winter. This year, they're as good as ever. And John Schuerholz has struck gold in the likes of Johnny Estrada and Jaret Wright. Give these guys Cashman's cash, and I wonder if they'd ever lose a game.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Postseason Preview; Plus Predictions

I know and would have made more sense than plus, but you've got to love the alliteration.

So the Junkees face the Twins in the first round, which I'm not thrilled about, but I try to be optimistic in my despising the Junkees, so the bright lining is that at least they have to face Johan Santana, who is so dominant that he reminds me of Orel Hershiser in 1988 when he was unbeatable and led the Dodgers all the way; they have to play in the noisy Metrodome, which gives Minnesota an enormous home-field advantage (not that it helped them much the last couple of postseasons...), and they're a slightly better offensive team this year than in 2003, with Justin Morneau edging Doug Mientkiewicz at first, and the emergence of Lew Ford. Otherwise, you have Shannon Stewart (if he's healthy enough), Torri Hunter, Jaque Jones, Corie Koskie, and the rest of the group. No big bopper to speak of, but again, if the pitching does their job, it could be enough to knock New York out of the first round. Anaheim didn't have a big bat in '02, but they did it, so let's hope Minny can do the same.

Obviously I want Boston to beat Anaheim because that sticks it to the Yankee fan more.

In the NL, of the four teams, the only two I can see beating the Yankees are Houston and Atlanta, but because they face each other in the first round, it'll be harder to have one of them face New York in the Series. The Dodgers are not beating the Yankees with the Odalis Perezes and Jeff Weavers of the world, and I can see the Junkees scoring 10 runs a game off the Cardinals pitching. I think Atlanta is a better team now than in the mid '90s, with Giles, Drew, Chipper, Andruw, et al. I like Thomson and Hampton better than Glavine and Maddux, who needed pitches six feet out of the zone to be called strikes to succeed. The Astros can mash the ball, and Clemens and Oswalt are legit top of the rotation guys.

So, here are my picks for the '04 postseason. Keep in mind that sometimes I am pick the teams I would like to see win, rather than the teams I think will win:

NLDS: Astros over Braves; Cardinals over Dodgers
ALDS: Twins over Yankees; Angels over Red Sox
NLCS: Astros over Cardinals
ALCS: Angels over Twins
World Series: Angels over Astros

Again, I'd love to see the Red Sox win just to needle the Junkee fans, but I think the Angels are the most complete team, and this way, Torre can't way what he said in '02 that at least he lost to the best (schmuck).

Weekend Happenings: Ups and Downs

So, let's see what's happened since I last posted: The Yankees swept the Twinkies, thereby clinching the East, and then proceeded to lose two to Toronto. As far as the sweep goes, I say it's overrated, because the Twins pulled Santana out of the game after the fifth inning to preserve him for the playoffs. The bullpen blew the lead. And I don't think the Twins were so serious about winning the games because they already made the playoffs, and didn't want to burn out their regulars. So what if they have to play the Yankees in the first round? As of Saturday night, that has yet to be determined, but even if they do, they'll be ready to play. More on that later.

I love that El Duque got shelled again. I'm not thrilled that Brown had a good outing. In fact, I'm ticked off. But El Duque getting bombed is sweeter because it's the second time in a row, while Brown's decent outing has been a one time deal so far.

I'm very happy that the Angels won the West because they can beat the Yankees. They're not afraid or intimidated, and they're just a darn good team. Servicable starting pitching, awesome bullpen (K-Rod is the next Mariano), and the only non-Russian I know named Vladimir. I'm glad the A's didn't make it because there's no way they were beating the Yankees with the Ricardo Rincons and Octavio Dotels of the world in their pen. And the big three starters laid a big egg in the last month of the season, so the series might have been a three and out.

So I guess I'll just have to wait and see if the Twins can finish off the Indians in the final two games and have the A's beat the Angels so that the Junkees can face Anaheim in the first round. Again, if the Twins face New York, it's not the worst thing in the world because you'll have Santana twice and Radke once, but the lack of a big hitting star on Minny might come back to bite them in the butt. But even if the Junkees get by the Twins, they'd have to face either Anaheim or Boston, and those will be fun to watch. Of course, I'd rather it not get to that, but worst case scenario, there'll be a team waiting that has what it takes to shut New York down.

One final thought - the Daily Snooze downplayed the loss to the Blue Jays Friday night by emphasizing that the Yankees rested a lot of their regulars. Just shut up and take your loss like a man!