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Monthly Archives: October 2010

Expanded MLB Playoffs And Eliminating The DH

I read an AP article this morning that blew my mind in both the good and bad way:

The first topic centered around Bud Selig’s willingness to expand the MLB playoff schedule.  I am in favor of this, but it has to be done correctly, and the only way I see this working is if they shorten the regular season.  How much, exactly, I don’t know… maybe reduce 162 games to 150 games, as I’ve suggested before.  Again, I think 12 teams in the postseason (like the NFL) rather than 8 teams would be great, leaving 18 teams behind.  I think the first round will have to be a best of 5 and the last three rounds can be the preferred best of 7; I don’t want the playoffs to last two months like the NBA and the NHL. This could be great; it just has to be done carefully… if we end up having game 7 of the World Series in Minnesota on November 15, it could be a disaster.

(I don’t want to repeat a bunch of comments you may have already read – check out my post from last September Proposing a new MLB schedule and playoff structure if you missed it)

Also speaking before the game, Rangers president Nolan Ryan said he was in favor of eliminating the designated hitter in order to standardize rules between the leagues.

Whoa there.  Where the hell did that come from?  I know Nolan Ryan is a crazy Texan that has owned the Rangers for less time than Cliff Lee has pitched for them, but wow – that is straight up crazy shiz.  The designated hitter doesn’t need to be eliminated from the American League, it needs to be added to the National League!  I understand Ryan is a former pitcher (and a brilliant one at that) and in his mind, having an automatic out in the lineup is just fine, but I don’t agree.  At all.  Why would you want to watch the pitcher hit?  Pitchers almost always stink at hitting.  The worst thing you’ll ever hear a baseball announcer say is, “Two on, two out and the pitcher steps to the plate.”  It’s almost immediately followed by one of the following:

1.  “Strike three looking.”
2.  “Strike three swinging.”
3.  “A soft grounder to [insert anyone on the infield here], throws to first and [name of pitcher pitching here] works out of trouble.”

Watching the pitcher hit is a painful experience – it’s what they invented the DH for in the first place – to avoid misery.  Sure, people love offense, and that’s great, but the DH also exists because it’s ridiculous to expect starting pitchers to hit at the MLB level when they only get a few at bats a week, and its even more ridiculous to expect relief pitchers to hit when they get only a few at bats a month, if any.  Sure, it’s fun (or hilarious) when they succeed, but it’s not worth the misery.  Ryan must be nuts; somebody make that guy take his meds.

So wow, busy morning.  I’ve already forgotten that the Giants dropped a 7 spot on the Rangers late last night during game 2, winning 9-0.  If you check my Twitter, you’ll note that I’ve adjusted my picks to the Giants winning this series in 6 games… which isn’t looking like a solid pick right now – more like the Giants in 5.

Stay tuned for 2010-2011 Off Season action!

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Giants put the Cowboys to sleep for good

I’ve been tough on the NY Giants this year, but if I was a Cowboys fan, I think that last night’s loss would have been my breaking point – if it hadn’t come already.

How many things do the Cowboys need to go their way to win a game? Newman and Sensabaugh intercepted Eli Manning twice in the first five minutes off passes tipped by Giants receivers. I still don’t think those should be scored as interceptions against the quarterback – NFL level receivers need to do a better job of catching the ball in general, but I am tired of the Giants receiver core making Manning look bad. Maybe last night’s passes were high, but I expect NFL receivers to make a play – at least every once in a while. In any case, the Cowboys had a 10-0 lead after six minutes of play (which had the Giants defense scratching their head, given that they’d barely given up 50 yards at this point – this is why I don’t worry about the Giants defense giving up 35 points to a 1-5 team), and they just couldn’t get it done. There’s probably no bigger indictment of the Cowboys then their failure to come up with a touchdown after that second interception.

Despite 35 points allowed, I was pretty happy with the Giants defense last night. Considering the first 10 points came off of field position that was impossible to defend, I’m cutting them some slack. Little kids probably check for DeMarcus Ware under their beds rather than monsters. Michael Boley tackled Romo so hard he broke his clavicle. That’s scary. If you’re an opposing quarterback, do you worry about playing the Giants? Tony Romo is just the latest victim of the Giants defensive juggernaut of legal hits to the quarterback. A broken collar bone is nothing to sneeze at, and you have to wonder where this leaves Romo and the Cowboys long term. As for the Giants D, it leaves me to wonder if they’ll get through the entire season without killing someone.

Major kudos to Lawrence Tynes for kicking that 52 yard field goal at the end of the second quarter – that was a huge boot and a huge field goal. Manning was also impressive (despite the interceptions) at 25-35 for 306 yards and 4 Touchdowns. Manning also impressed me with his ability to adapt and change the play after reading the defense. Ahmad Bradshaw rushed for over 100 yards and Brandon Jacobs finally seems to have settled into his role as the short back. Maybe things are finally coming together for the Giants, but I still think they lack a true number one receiver, despite over 100 yards for Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith.

Tom Coughlin went 2 for 2 in challenging bad calls on the field last night, and an opportune time out also allowed for a booth review that corrected another call against the Giants. I don’t understand why a team is penalized when they get a challenge wrong but only given their due when they get a challenge right. I think that if a team gets a challenge right, they shouldn’t get that challenge taken away. It’s not the coach’s faults that the officials keep screwing up. I understand the NFL wants to keep the game moving along swiftly, but between half time, starting the game at 8:40 EST (insane) and the ridiculous frequency and length of the commercial breaks, the game pace isn’t that fast anyway. Anyway, I believe the system needs some refining, but I do like the challenges.

The Giants still need to play more games in their division, but I’m beginning to wonder: are the Giants playing to their potential (they’re certainly playing better) or is the league just that weak? At this point, I’m starting to question if I was wrong when I said the Giants would make but not go deep in the playoffs.

ALSO:

What was LeBron thinking?  The Nike commercial is AWFUL.  He needs to fire whoever convinced him to do this or whoever is responsible for leading him down this path… he might have to fire himself.

Yankees head for the golf course

Today, I received the ‘Vote Yankees for the 2010 This Year in Baseball Awards’ email from MLB.com. Are they kidding? Sorry if I’m not in the mood to vote for anything for the Yankees right now.

Not after Friday night. I’m still a bit confused why Joe Girardi elected to flip flop Phil Hughes and Andy Pettitte in the starting rotation. Sure, Hughes had better road numbers than home numbers in 2010, but I’d think you’d want the better pitcher – this case, Pettitte – to pitch before Hughes. At least that’s how I’d do it.

The Yankees tied the game at 1 in the top of the fourth and Texas immediately answered: Hughes pitched OK through the first four inngs, but when the tough got going (and by tough, I mean the Rangers), Hughes got shipped to the clubhouse for David Robertson, who promptly stunk up the place as bad as Hughes had or worse. After putting up a 4 spot, the game was over, and so was the Yankees season. Everybody knew it. You could smell it, feel it in the air - the air had gone out of the balloon. The Rangers didn’t pop champagne in the top of the sixth, but they may as well have. The Yankees only had 3 damn hits and scored their only run on a wild pitch. Like the rest of the series, the Yankees sucked in game 6. They lost to Cloby Lewis twice, for cryin’ out loud!

But don’t fret: this isn’t the end of BomberBanter.com until next spring, it’s just the last post of the 2010 Season. I still have a ton to do around here:

Not to mention blog the off season – after the World Series ends, the hunt for Cliff Lee begins!

Yankees win first eliminatin game

Today was kill or be killed – and the Yankees responded.

CC Sabathia didn’t have his best stuff, giving up 11 hits but no walks and 7 Ks in 6 IP.  Kerry Wood did a great job with 2 scoreless innings and 3 Ks and no walks.  Even though the Yankees were holding a 7-2 lead, Mariano Rivera pitched a scoreless ninth – again, it’s an elimination game, and the rest of the bullpen has really faltered of late.

Finally, finally, finally the Yankees have responded with runners in scoring position, even if they were 2-11 and left 7 on base.  The Yankees collected 6 walks, which enabled them to score 7 runs on 9 hits, while Texas suffered 2 runs on 13 hits.  Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano hit back to back jacks and Curtis Granderson gave that extra run in the 8th with a solo homer of his own, so that’s getting it down with the power.

Friday’s elimination game 2 is a rematch of Phil Hughes and Colby Lewis.  Hughes can’t possibly pitch as bad as he did last time – right?

Yankees and Girardi stink up the place

new york yankeesImagine your team’s moral as a balloon:  before the game starts, your team is pumped.  As a manager, you do the best job you can to keep the balloon full of air as the slings and arrows of the opposition and circumstance do their worst to pop your shiz.

I’ve already been critical of Joe Girardi’s decision to flip flop Phil Hughes and Andy Pettitte in the rotation – I understand Hughes has better road numbers than home numbers, game 3 is usually considered the swing game of a post season series and the Cliff Lee vs Andy Pettitte match up gives the Yankees the best opportunity to win game 3, but I don’t think this was the best strategy towards winning the series.  I thought the Yankees should have managed and played games 1 and 2 like elimination games and thrown Phil Hughes in game 3 and take their chances, but it didn’t go down like that.  They stole game 1 and were lucky to do so, and when they came home knotted with the Rangers at a game a piece, I started to worry, and more than at any other time in his tenure, I started to question Joe Girardi’s managing style.

Down two games to one, I fully expected CC Sabathia to start game four on short rest, but it didn’t happen.  If they lost the game under this scenario, they would have had to of asked Phil Hughes pitch the elimination game on short rest, and I guess they didn’t want to do that, so AJ Burnett started game four last night.

new york yankeesIn the bottom of the fourth inning, A-Rod was hit by a pitch to lead off, then Robinson Cano hit a single.  With 1st and 2nd and no outs, I fully expected a bunt… which never came.  Nick Swisher ended up striking out.  I know Swisher is a great hitter and the Yankees were playing for the big inning, but they’ve been so bad at executing in this series that I thought Girardi would bunt for sure.  He didn’t.

The Yankees put more base runners on again in the bottom of the 5th and they failed to score again, but even more demoralizing was the injury to Mark Teixeira.  For current team moral after the bottom of the 5th, please see the balloon image at right.  Joe Girardi was going to need to take his balloon management to a new level to keep things from falling apart.

aj burnett

new york yankeesI think it’s fair to say that AJ Burnett exceeded my expectations for 5.2 innings.  When he came into the sixth inning, I thought he was clearly tired after just one batter.  Joba Chamberlain had been warming up for a long while, so after the intentional walk, I thought Joba was coming in for sure, but no such luck – and BOOM, home run by Bengie Molina – a guy you don’t necessarily expect to hit a home run, but a guy who was challenged by a tired pitcher who hadn’t pitched in three weeks who just walked a guy (intentional or not, I feel it’s a rhythm killer for pitchers) and hasn’t been great at locating the ball this year.  Why did he face Molina in the first place?  Awful managing.  It was pure divine providence that Burnett got any outs in the sixth in the first place – Girardi was already gambling with house money, he let it ride and he lost big.  After that home run by Molina, the game was over.  All the air was out of the balloon.

Tonight, the Yankees send CC Sabathia to the hill as they face elimination.  I honestly have no idea what to expect from tonight’s game – the Yankees could step up and hit with runners on base and Sabathia could turn in his first quality post season start and they could win the game.  Or they might get crushed.  Coming back from a 3-1 game deficit is a tall order, and with the way the Yankees have been playing in this series, I don’t think they can do it.

I hope they prove me wrong.

Rangers take series lead

Nothing went the Yankees way last night.

Brett Gardner beat Cliff Lee to 1st base and missed the bag during his head first slide by maybe an inch. Derek Jeter’s first inning home run bid fell just short. Cliff Lee was dominant all night long. When Gardner lead off with a single, the Yankees couldn’t get him around. The Yankees bullpen, which was dominant in games 1 and 2, was beat last night – every ground ball found a hole.

There’s not much else to say about game 3 – Cliff Lee had what, 12 Ks last night? That’s dominant. The Yankees just couldn’t hit him, and they worked his pitch count pretty well, too, and he still wouldn’t relent. Besides the first inning, Andy Pettitte pitched well, but it was all for nothing. It’s hard to complain much about the bullpen when the offense gets shut out.

All things considered, the Yankees should be happy they’re down by only one game, considering how the Texas Rangers have outplayed them in all three games. As far as I can tell, the Yankees are still going with AJ Burnett in Game 4, which I think is a mistake of disastrous proportions.

Joe Girardi is open to second guessing for flip-flopping Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes in the rotation – I think he liked the Pettitte vs Lee match up (I did too), but given that Lee pitched exactly how he was expected, and so did Pettitte, it seems like they would have been better off with Pettitte in game 2 and Phil Hughes in game 3. Pettitte isn’t the sort of pitcher who implodes in big games and neither is Lee, so you figure maybe starting Pettitte in game 2 gave you a better chance to win a game you had any chance of winning in the first place.

Also, Game 5 starts Wednesday at 4 PM. Way to go, MLB – I don’t have anything to do on Wednesday, anyway… oh wait, I have to work, like everybody else.

Well, I guess they’re really going to send AJ Burnett to the mound tonight. I still think they’re nuts, or the Yankees think they’re that much better than the Rangers. When they play like it, I’ll believe it.

Giants are tied for 1st after beating Lions

If you couldn’t watch the Lions at Giants game due to the Cablevision/FOX dispute, that sucks. But when you’re dealing with News Corporation and FOX, this is how it is… Asking for an increase from a previous contract that more than doubles the previous amount due is not how business is done. That’s insane. No company in their right mind would accept a new contract that calls for them to pay more than double what they were paying in the previous contract… I can’t stress that enough. Cablevision is not going to cave, so if this issue effects you, I would start calling FOX and tell them they need to cave or you’re not going to watch American Idol anymore or something. Here’s the NY Times article on the dispute. Oh, and if you run out to Radio Shack, you can just buy an HD tuner and watch FOX programming anyway, because FOX still broadcasts the damn channel for free, like any other local channel does.

I can’t imagine anyone picked the Lions over the Giants… and we got what we expected, another Giants win. I know they all look the same in the win column, but this game was too close and speaks directly to my underlying theme of the Giants not being that great this year. They won’t need to be that great to get into the playoffs this year, but I don’t expect them to go very far unless some of the guys on this team seriously up their game. The Lions committed over 10 penalties (I lost count), and the late hits to the Eli Manning were especially dumb. It’s like the Lions don’t want to win games… maybe they’re trying to get a good draft pick or something.

How many quarterbacks have the Giants defense knocked out this year? Three? It is not a good day to be a quarterback when you play the Giants. So there is something about the Giants to celebrate: they get to the quarterback. But something is missing; a number one wide receiver would help, but it’s something more… I’m not sure what it is, but if they want to go deep into the playoffs, they’d better find it.

Yankees vs Rangers ALCS game 2 review & 3 preview

I can’t talk about game 3 until I get game 2 out of my system. The idea that Joe Girardi started Phil Hughes in game 2 of the ALCS becaues he has a 15 1-3 scoreless innings in Arlington streak is ridiculous – he started him there because he decided he’d rather have Andy Pettitte go head to head with Cliff Lee instead of Hughes, and that makes sense – relying on a 15 1-3 scoreless innings streak in an away ballpark that dates back to way back in… uhm what year was that? 2007? – is insane. (Joe Torre was managing the team when Hughes was pitching a perfect game in Texas before he heard a pop in his hamstring that pretty much derailed the rest of his season.) So to all you folks who were pushing that angle as the storyline to this game, you’re idiots. Isn’t a playoff game enough of a storyline for you knuckleheads?

The Yankees lost game 2 because Hughes straight up stunk; he just didn’t give his team a chance to win by virtue of his nonexistent fastball command. And if somebody knows the reason why Jorge Posada would throw through to second base with a runner on third, I’d love to hear it.

Tonight, Andy Pettitte and Cliff Lee will square off. I know everybody has written this game in the books already as a Rangers win (including me), but that’s a bit premature. Andy Pettitte is nearly unbeatable after Yankees loses and the game is at home, after all – and the Yankees have hit Cliff Lee before. But, if they do lose this game, I think the whole world expects CC Sabathia to start game 4 on short rest.

In fact, I feel good about this game tonight and I’m going to reverse myself – I say the Yankees take this one!

Yankees comeback against Rangers seals the deal

brett gardner alcs

the beginning of the end

If you read my ALCS picks, you’ll see I had the Yankees winning in 6 games, but I’m probably wrong, and Michael Kay is probably right – Yankees in 5 games.  But after last night’s late inning collapse by the Rangers, it’s almost difficult to expect them to win any games at all. 

I mean, what else do the Rangers need to go right for them to win a ball game?  CC Sabathia was terrible (again), CJ Wilson pitched a great game and they had a 4 run lead to start the eight inning.  Then it all came undone, starting with an infield single by Brett Gardner, during which he slide into first base.  I still have no idea why guys do this – again, to invoke Michael Kay, if sliding was faster, then Olympic sprinters would slide over the finish line, right?  I guess it did make him more difficult for C.J. Wilson to tag, and it turned out to be the start to a great rally for the Yankees.

Following Wilson was a parade of relief pitchers who just couldn’t get anybody out.  This isn’t all that shocking to me – although the Rangers have a zillion relievers that throw 95 MPH, none of them seem to be that great.  Darren Oliver, Darren O’Day, Clay Rapada and Derek Holland all combined to stink up the joint - not that they got clobbered, but the Rangers needed these guys to come in and restore order against the Yankees best hitters, and the blew it in spectacular fashion, with walks and singles for anybody who wanted one. Holland was able to stay on after he gave up a run and he did keep Robinson Cano from scoring, but that’s all the praise one can heep on him.

And speaking of Robinson Cano, I think he gets our ‘keep hope alive’ award for the lazer beam home run off Wilson in the 7th, which was the first home run Wilson has allowed to a left handed batter since June of 2008!  That’s some streak, and a fantastic way to end it.  Derek Jeter doubled Gardner in, then Swisher walked, Alex Rodriguez singled in a pair, then it was Cano time again for another RBI and Marcus Thames singled in the winning run.

But without Joba Chamberlain and especially Dustin Moseley giving the Yankees a chance after Sabathia’s bad start, this never would have happened.  The bone head award of the day goes to Ian Kinsler for getting picked off by Kerry Wood after he walked him on 4 pitches.  He didn’t even move as Wood fired the ball to Mark Teixeira, he didn’t even try to dive back to first, he just conceded to a run down.  Was Wood’s move that good?  It sure was fast, but Kinsler can’t allow himself to be put in that situation.  Suddenly, Wood had things going his way after a tough start.  The Rangers might have thought they had a chance against Mariano Rivera since they got to him in August, but honestly, that was Mo being crappy, not the Rangers being great.  Mo got it done, and there it is – an improbable Yankees win.  But that’s what great teams do – beat inferior teams.

Quick ALCS Picks

yankeesGame 1:  CC Sabathia vs CJ Wilson

Shock of shocks,  I like the Yankees in this one because I believe  the odds are in their favor:

  1. the Yankees are 2-0 on the road so far this post season
  2. the Rangers are 0-2 at home so far this post season
  3. CC Sabathia pitched poorly in his first outing and it’s unlikely he’ll pitch poorly again
  4. C.J. Wilson is good, but he’s not Cliff Lee

yankeesGame 2:  Phil Hughes vs Colby Lewis

Again, I like the Yankees in this one because I believe  the odds are still in their favor:

  1. the Yankees are 2-0 on the road so far this post season
  2. the Rangers are 0-2 at home so far this post season
  3. Phil Hughes pitched well in the ALDS against the Twins, and I don’t think the Rangers offense is that much better than the Twins
  4. Colby Lewis‘ first name is Colby.  Seriously?  I assume he spends a lot of time shopping at the Gap during the off season with Jacoby Ellsbery

rangersGame 3:  Andy Pettitte vs Cliff Lee

Ah, the plot thickens, as the kids like to say.  Given Cliff Lee‘s dominance against the Yankees this season (and against everyone else – ask Tampa Bay), it’s hard to expect the Yankees to suddenly give him a beating.  But Andy Pettitte could toss a gem… and still lose.  It’s a tough one.  I think the Rangers win this one.

rangersGame 4:  AJ Burnett vs the World

OK, maybe it’s not that bad, but I can’t expect the Yankees to play with any confidence behind A.J. Burnett, but AJ could surprise us and not get annihilated, but I’ll believe that when I see it.  The Rangers take this one, too.

Suddenly it’s tied at 2 games a each.  How’d that happen?

yankees

Game 5:  CC Sabathia vs CJ Wilson

CC pitches his humongous butt off – Yankees win.

colby lewisGame 6:  Phil Hughes vs Colby Lewis

Phil Hughes knocks Colby’s monocle off – the Yankees win.

Yep, Yankees in 6, folks. You heard it here… probably not first.  Also, if the Yankees are trailing in the series after the first 3 games, the entire world expects the Yankees to go to Sabathia on short rest – and I’m sure they’ll keep going that way until they win, which will screw them up in the World Series against the Phillies (yeah, the Phillies are winning the NLCS; seems pretty obvious when their opponent couldn’t a run to save their lives), but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

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