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Monthly Archives: November 2011

Mourning the Giants

"Where was the pass rush? Brees was having a field day."

This was the question one my friends put to me this morning, and the answer probably lies in the current status of Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora, neither of whom are anywhere near 100% healthy. I’m sure few players are at the point in the season, but still, without these two guys playing at a high level, I think it’s pretty clear that the Giants are not able to get it done.

Here we are: the Giants have met the hard part of their schedule and for the most part, they have failed miserably. Although many thought that beating the Patriots was a sign of what was to come, it’s now looking like the last hurray in a season that may now be beyond recovery.

(It’s easy to forget that the Patriots were not looking good that game and the Giants weren’t exactly making plays; I remember the Pats offense looking fairly disorganized, especially in the 1st half, and the Giants couldn’t get out of their own way. Of course, the second half was a different story all together, and the Giants defense was able to hold on.)

So what has happened to the Giants season? Was it a front loaded schedule of easier opponents that made the Giants look better than they are? Is it the injuries? Or maybe just the roster construction over all? Perhaps that loss to the Eagles took some fight out of them.

Now the Giants have to prepare for the Packers on a short weak with a roster weakened by injuries, but even at full strength, the Giants have fundamental flaws, so it’s not like I’m disappointed – i predicted them to be a .500 team, and I still believe that’s where they’ll end up. Sure, they still have to play Dallas twice, and those as well as others are winnable games coming up on the horizon, but I can’t get too excited about their prospects. Even if the Giants do sneak into the playoffs (not that one really sneaks into the playoffs in the NFL but rather falls in ass first), I just dont see the them doing any significant post season damage.

But you never know how things will turn out. My buddy reminded me that the Jets got the last seed with a 9-7 record and went to the AFC championship. There they were, beating teams that won 11 and 12 games… well, they didn’t win the Super Bowl, but they certainly made a statement.

One they haven’t followed up on since.

The Bright Spot
Since Mario Manningham doesn’t seem to have the playbook memorized, it’s been fun to watch the emerging of Victor Cruz, this week coming up with 9 receptions good for 157 yards and 2 Touchdowns. Maybe Cruz is the long term answer at wide receiver that the Giants have been looking for since the fall of Plexico Buress…

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Derek Jeter Sculpture at Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory

I’m sure you’ve already heard, but the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory has unveiled a Derek Jeter sculpture, or statue, or whatever. Sorry, this sat in my inbox for nearly two months and I’m just now getting to it. The press release is below… if it says what the sculpture is made out of, I don’t see it. The thing has a weird look… is he wood, or maybe wax? I can’t tell. Also, it doesn’t look much like Jeter, although I do think they sorta got his expression right, if that makes any sense.

I’ve never been the Louisville Slugger facility, and this isn’t really motivating me to change that. In fact, the whole thing is sorta weird. Now, the museum has four statues: Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Ken Griffey, Jr. and Derek Jeter… that’s a Cooky Quartet if I ever heard of one. Griffey was a great player (though often injured) and Jeter has obviously amassed a career that few could boast, but I would never say either of them are on an even playing field with Ted Williams and Babe Frigging Ruth. It boggles the mind!

Anyway, here’s the press release.

Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory Unveils Derek Jeter Sculpture

Museum will honor Yankee Captain with “Derek Jeter Day” on Saturday

Louisville, KY (October 12, 2011) — Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory added another superstar to its roster Wednesday as it unveiled a lifelike sculpture of Derek Jeter, team captain of the New York Yankees and future baseball Hall of Famer.

To welcome the new sculpture, the museum will celebrate “Derek Jeter Day” this Saturday, honoring the Yankee Captain. As part of the celebration, a game used Derek Jeter bat will be added to the museum’s Hold a Piece of History exhibit, allowing guests to hold a bat actually used by Jeter. Guests will also receive Jeter mini bats at the conclusion of each factory tour, while supplies last.

In addition, for “Derek Jeter Day” the museum will offer a special $2 admission in recognition of Jeter’s #2 jersey. Proceeds from Saturday’s ticket sales will be donated to Derek Jeter’s Turn 2 Foundation.

“We are thrilled to feature Derek Jeter in the museum,” said Anne Jewell, Executive Director at Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory. “Jeter is a baseball rockstar, an ambassador for the game and a huge fan favorite. We’re proud to include him in our lineup of baseball greats and we know our guests will love it. ”

Jeter, the longtime Yankees shortstop, joins elite company as he is just the fourth person honored with a statue at Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory. The only other player sculptures in the museum are baseball legends Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Ken Griffey, Jr.

“It’s a true honor to be recognized in this way by Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory,” said Derek Jeter. “Louisville Slugger is synonymous with baseball. I’ve used the same bat model (P72) throughout my career and it’s a privilege to have such a tribute in this great museum devoted to the skill and history of hitting,” he said.

Since his major league debut in 1995, Jeter has been one of baseball’s most popular figures and is currently the all-time New York Yankees hit leader. He has been selected as an All-Star 12 times, won the Silver Slugger award four times and earned the Gold Glove award on five occasions. He won the Rookie of the Year Award in 1996 and helped the Yankees win the World Series the same year.

Jeter was also an integral part of World Series championship-winning teams in 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2009. He is the only player in history to win both the All-Star Game MVP Award and the World Series MVP Award in the same year. He has served as the Yankees’ team captain since 2003 and collected his 3,000th career hit earlier this season.

The sculpture unveiling coincides with Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory’s 15th Anniversary Year. In May, the museum welcomed its record 3-millionth guest. With 234,771 visitors last year, Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory broke its attendance record in 2010; a record unmatched since the museum opened for its first full year in 1997.

Earlier this year, the museum unveiled its newly renovated, 3,000-square-foot Museum Store, which was designed with a fresh layout to bring a feel of the museum to the store that offers hundreds of gifts, apparel and collectibles.

Also new in 2011, Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory announced that its factory is now producing bats year round on Saturdays, and for the first time ever also producing bats during tours on Sundays and holidays, enabling visitors to view bat production on every tour.

Follow Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory on Facebook for more information.

About the Turn 2 Foundation

The Turn 2 Foundation was created during Derek Jeter’s 1996 rookie season with a goal to create and support signature programs and activities that motivate young people to turn away from drugs and alcohol and “TURN 2” healthy lifestyles. Through these ventures, the Foundation strives to create outlets that promote and reward academic excellence, leadership development and positive behavior so that children of these programs grow safely and successfully into adulthood and become the leaders of tomorrow.

About Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory:

Experience history-in-the-making as you stroll through the factory where world-famous Louisville Slugger bats are created. Award-winning factory tour, newly renovated galleries with interactive exhibits, historic memorabilia, the World’s Biggest Bat, and more. Create a Louisville Slugger bat with your very own name on it, just like the pros. Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, 800 West Main Street, is open Monday – Saturday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., and Sundays 12 noon – 5 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors (60+), $5 children (6-12), and free for children 5 and under. For more information, log on to sluggermuseum.com or call 502-588-7228.

Bringing Freddy Back To The Fold Indicates Yankees Rotation Plans

Now that the Yankees have agreed to a one year deal with Freddy Garcia, I think Brian Cashman’s plan for rebuilding the rotation (his top off season priority) has become evidently clear.

The current roster currently has five starters under contract: indisputable ace C.C. Sabathia, rookie sensation Ivan Nova, "Look out, I don’t know where it’s going," aka A.J. Burnett, "He came into Spring Training a little out of shape last year," and former 19 game winner Phil Hughes and the aforementioned Garcia. So there’s your rotation right there…

Or, maybe not. Hughes and Garcia aren’t exactly a guaranteed picture of health and you never know when Burnett’s tendency to pitch like Charlie Sheen in Major League before he gets the glasses is going to get so out of hand that he can’t pitch anymore, so there are going to be chances for the kids down on the farm to make their case.

But what this early off season move by Cashman truly indicates is that the Yankees are not interested in dumping piles of money on C.J. Wilson or Yu Darvish, and I tend to agree with that logic. Wilson’s short career as a starter doesn’t warrant the dollars he wants and Darvish has never pitched in the majors, and I think Kei Igawa has left a bad taste in the Yankees months. Now that’s not to say that they won’t snatch either (or both) of these guys up if they are able to be had at a below market price, but otherwise, I wouldn’t start stitching their names onto the back of Yankee jerseys.

It’s trade or bust for adding another starter to the Yankees rotation.

If the Yankees can work out a reasonable deal for someone like John Danks, Gio Gonzalez or Jair Jurrjens, then they’ll do it. Maybe they’re willing to part with some of their many catching or pitching prospects that their minor league system is currently awash with to make a deal for one of these guys, but otherwise, the Yankees are going 2008 style and waiting on the better 2009 free agent class – or, in this case, the 2012-13 free agent class.

This is a tentative list, but there are some attractive names here – proven commodities that are better risk/value for the dollar than Darvish or Wilson. Besides, do the Yankees really need a third starting pitcher with initials for a first name?

Free Agent Starting Pitchers in 2012-2013 Off Season

Scott Baker
Joe Blanton
Matt Cain
Fausto Carmona
Kevin Correia
John Danks
Jorge De La Rosa
R.A. Dickey
Scott Feldman
Gavin Floyd
Zack Greinke
Jeremy Guthrie
Cole Hamels
Dan Haren
Tim Hudson
Colby Lewis
Francisco Liriano
Kyle Lohse
Derek Lowe
Shaun Marcum
Daisuke Matsuzaka
Brandon McCarthy
Brett Myers
Carl Pavano
Jake Peavy
Anibal Sanchez
Jonathan Sanchez
Ervin Santana
Joe Saunders
James Shields
Jake Westbrook
Randy Wolf
Carlos Zambrano

Yankees Raise Bleacher Ticket Prices

I concede that the Yankees have not changed or reduced 70% of their ticket prices, and that’s great. So the solution to pick up the lost revenue from reduced prices is to raise the cost of the bleacher seats? (And I use the term seat loosely.) This is an awful idea. In my early twenties, I loved to sit int he bleachers with the drunks and chant, yell and just be an ass, but that part of my life is officially over. Now that I’ve entered an older, more crotchety stage, I’m ready to tell the Yankees that charging $20 for half a seat sucks.

Yeah, half a seat, because that’s what a bleacher seat is – it’s a bench with no back. If you’ve never done it before, sitting in a bleacher seat over a three and a half hour game isn’t exactly comfortable, and the view is less than stellar. It’s great that they added a few TVs back there (for the obstructed views, I guess?), but it’s still not a great experience.

BLEACHER TICKET PRICING BY YEAR:
2010: $12
2011: $15
2012: $20

What’s the deal with the bleacher seat prices going up two years in a row? Why stick it to the fans who can least afford it? Or, in the case of the Bleacher Creatures, why punish your most loyal fan base? These folks go to every single game and this jacks their bill up for a complete season package by $405! If I was a Creature, I’d bounce – this is blatant disrespect.

But there it is; a 33% increase for a bench seat with no back. That’s brilliant. Starting in 2010 and the previous five seasons, I’ve been going to just a handful of games each year, but in 2011, I didn’t make it to a single game, and I wasn’t sorry – the view from HD TV is great. Now, I think I’m just going to stop going to games on principle. If the Yankees think it’s good policy to charge $20 for a backless bench seat and $9 for beer, well, I don’t think that’s the sort of place I want to hang out.

Catch ya’ll on YES!

Giants Tumble Further Down The Rabbit Hole

The New York Giants just don’t have the pieces they need to succeed, and while I’m usually yelling at the receiver core until I’m blue in the face, it’s time to take a hard look at the Giants running game.

Or lack there of.

The Giants rushed for 29 yards. Twenty-nine yards. That’s it. Brandon Jacobs averaged under 2 yards per carry in 12 tries. What. The. Hell. Is. That. About?!? At this point, the guy just doesn’t provide the Giants with much value, and I don’t know what they can do to turn around his season.

Whatever. This is who the Giants are. They play close games against mediocre teams and sometimes they make fewer mistakes than their opponents, and sometimes they make more. It’s a weak division in a weak league, so ultimately, it doesn’t matter, because the Giants don’t have what it takes to go all the way. If you have any fantasies about the Giants going deep in the playoffs, it’s time to let those go. If they were in the other league, they’d have a .500 record instead of being 6-4, and yet, they could easily be 8-2 and it still wouldn’t change who they fundamentally are – a flawed team that can’t get out of it’s own way and has no hope of winning the Super Bowl this year.

At all.

Football Friday: Giants Receivers Are Self Aware!

It’s always nice when someone can admit they’re wrong. In this case, it’s the Giants wide receiver core. Yahoo! Sports’ Jason Cole has got the goods:

…on at least half of Eli Manning’s eight interceptions this season, the problem has been tied to the receiver being in the wrong place at the wrong time. “There have been some pretty crucial times when we haven’t finished routes or read them correctly,” a Giants source said earlier this week. The latest example came on Manning’s second interception during Sunday’s loss to the San Francisco 49ers as wide receiver Mario Manningham didn’t finish a route the quarterback expected.

“You could say I’m supposed to work through it a little further,” Manningham said, a little sheepishly. “We definitely weren’t on the same page, so that has to get fixed.”

Likewise, Manning had an interception on a pass to Cruz in a loss to the Seattle Seahawks earlier this season when Cruz was in the wrong spot.

Yeah, I noticed that myself. I’m sure that memorizing an NFL playbook is no easy task, but when it’s your job, I’d like to think there would be a bit more emphasis on getting that done. Hell, Plexico Burress was usually hurt and couldn’t even practice with the team, but I don’t remember him having this problem. I’m willing to give Cruz a pass for now; after all, he’s been on the team for like five minutes, right? But Manningham needs to get his act together so I can start making Super Mario puns.

But yeah, look at Yahoo! Sports coming in handy! I usually don’t have much in the way of positive words for them, but this was a decent article… although they did make the obligatory joke about Giants receivers being in the wrong place at the wrong time in reference to a shooting at a nightclub that some of the Giants were at to celebrate Victor Cruz’s birthday. It’s not an especially funny joke and given that someone died, it’s not in the best of taste.

So, you know – standard Yahoo! article.

Giants Drop Passes in Lose to 49ers

While I am willing to concede that Mario Manningham made some fine catches (including a well thrown ball for a touch down) in Sunday’s loss to the San Francisco Giants, I must also point out that the ball bounced off his chest at least once and his inability to complete his route directly caused an interception that was probably a game changing turnover. These kind of mental mistakes are the sort of things that continue to hold the New York Giants offense from climbing up to the next level. Eli Manning is not guiltless in the loss, but when he hits a receiver in the chest with the ball, they need to catch it. When you’re running your route, you need to finish it so the only person that’s anywhere near where the ball comes down isn’t the other team’s safety. Still, big kudos to Eli Manning and the offense for their 4th down conversions in the fourth quarter – that was some hardcore shiz. But taking this thing to the next level is not looking like a possibility right now, although a playoff birth is looking mighty obtainable at this moment. If Brandon Jacobs and the Giants wide receivers can elevate their game, we might really have something here. I was pleasantly surprised by the Giants rushing defense;I thought the 49ers would run all over the place, but it didn’t feel that way; I can’t remember now, but perhaps the Giants were able to bring in an extra safety due to the 49ers less than stellar passing attack.

This feels like a game the Giants should have won – they led in nearly all offensive categories, but that extra turnover really broke their back. Maybe next week, the Giants can take advantage (again) of a damaged Philadelphia Eagles team that is just waiting to be put out of it’s misery.

A.J. Burnett and C.C. Sabathia’s post season average stats

A.J. Burnett and C.C. Sabathia‘s post season average stats are a bit closer than I thought they would be.  Of course, C.C. Sabathia’s sample size is much larger, but the data does lean a bit toward the shocking side.

cc-sabathia-aj-burnett-stats-whip-h9-hr9-bb9-so9-sobb

Who would have guessed the numbers would play out this way?  Not me.  Of course, this isn’t the sort of revelation that makes anyone want to throw a parade for A.J. Burnett – rather, it’s more a reminder that outside of 2009, C.C. Sabathia’s post season performance has not been exactly stellar.  Still, make no mistake – with C.C. Sabathia, the Yankees may not be able to reach the post season – the problem is, they can’t win unless he pitches more like himself.

Giants D Holds Against Pats

I couldn’t have been more pleased with the Giants defensive performance in the first half.  Shutting out Tom Brady and the Patriots at home is something to be proud of.  Yet, the Giants were also unable to score on a weak New England secondary, so while beating the Pats at home is an achievement, it hasn’t convinced me that the Giants are ready to go to the next level on offense.

Again (before I start complaining), great job by the defense.  The 3rd down stops, the interceptions, the secondary (until late in the game) – GREAT JOB!  (Although, 20 points in one half is pushing it.)

Of course, the ball had to bounce of somebody’s chest this week, so why not pick the biggest chest on the team?  Still, I di think that despite that blooper, Brandon Jacobs looked pretty good.  I’m still not convinced that Victor Cruz is the answer at wide receiver, but he’s pretty good.  I was also impressed by Jake Ballard; key receptions combined with his huge 6 ft 6 in, 275 lbs frame is a recipe for limited success.  D.J. Ware, however, might be getting too many touches.

The Giants brutal stretch of games continues next week at the San Francisco 49ers, then the game I’m most looking forward to:  in East Rutherford against the Eagles!

Sabathia staying in Bronx, Cardinals win World Series

image

Papa Bear CC Sabathia did jot opt out after all but  instead accepted a contract extension.  Now, the Yankeess and Sabathia are linked for 5 more years and $122 million – a 6th year automatically vests (as long as he’s healthy) at $20 million.

Oh yeah, the cardinals won the world series…  nice pun, Bergen Record.

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