Thursday, September 30, 2010

Yankees....Take The Wild Card

Recently I wrote an article warning that the Yankees couldn’t hit lefties, and that doesn’t bode well for the playoffs. Well, as the LoHud Blog recently wrote: The Yankees have now lost the past 8 games against left-handed starters.” Ooof.

So what does this mean? It means should grab the Wild Card spot and play the Twins rather than the Rangers.

Why? Because the Rangers would surely start Cliff Lee (who simply owns the Yankees), and C.J. Wilson, both lefties.

Consider this: Against lefties starters this year, the Yankees batted .258 with a .768 OPS. Against righty starters, it’s .273 BA and a .798 OPS.

Even more damning. In those last 8 losses against lefties, the combined lefty ERA was 2.99. In those losses, the Yankees batted .203.

Now it is true that Yankees did well against Wilson this year, but really, would you rather face Carl Pavano, Francisco Liriano and Scott Baker? Or face a couple of quality lefties that more than likely, you will face twice in the 5 game stretch. Plus Darren Oliver from the pen, who, against the Yankees this year, threw up a goosegg in 4.2 IP?

Of course, there is home field advantage to consider. And it is a very salient point. But I would take my chances facing the Twins in Minneapolis rather than the Rangers in the Bronx. And should the Yankees get to the second round, their record against Tampa at home and away is both 4-5, so that’s a wash.

Mike Silva made a case for the Wild Card spot. And I totally agree with his point. My point, if I could add to his argument is this: In a short series, the Yankees have shown that the safer road is the one without 2 quality lefties. So, if the Yankees grab the Wild Card, the Yankee Universe should thank their lucky stars.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Why I Can't Forgive LeBron

It's not because he left Cleveland out and went to go win a championship with some help from Dwayne Wade. Not because he "took his talents" to South Beach. It's his decision—whether you would have liked him to stay in Cleveland or not—so he gets to make it.

But because of this:
Look everyone! I signed a contract!

Charles Barkely is right—it was a "punk move": the "The Decision" Tour 2010 and one-hour announcement on ESPN; the self-promoting and the self-aggrandizing hoop-la. It was a punk move.

It was a victory lap before a single game was played. It said: "Look at me!" when nothing has been done yet. Larry Bird, Patrick Ewing, Michael Jordan, Karl Malone, Magic Johnson, Hakeem Olajawon. Could you imagine any of those guys doing a dance on a stage sticking out a jersey for everyone to see—a jersey that haven't won a single game in?

Again, King James, it's not just the decision to go to Miami. If you had just signed the contract and waited for training camp, sure, it may have disappointing some people—joining guys you played against, but for everyone outside of Ohio, I think they would have eventually shrugged their shoulders and waited for Opening Day.

It was the one hour special on ESPN. The documentary crews. The fireworks and dancers and the gala event on a stage in Miami.

As Bill Simmons wrote before "Decision 2010:"

"...it's Car Wreck Television. If LeBron picks anyone other than the Cavaliers... Cleveland fans will never forgive LeBron, nor should they. Losing LeBron on a contrived one-hour show would be worse than Byner's fumble, Jose Mesa, the Game 5 meltdown against Boston, The Drive, The Shot and everything else. At least those stomach-punch moments weren't preordained...This stomach-punch moment? Calculated. By a local kid they loved, defended and revered...It would be unforgivable. Repeat: unforgivable...(When Kevin Durant announced his own five-year, $86 million extension with an endearingly simple tweet yesterday, we all had the same thought: "Now that's how it's done." Pretty sad that an NBA star stood out for being humble and only caring about basketball.)
Exactly right. There are 2 things that bother me. As said before, the first thing was the self-important Decision Tour and succeeding celebration despite having won nothing.

And this is the other thing that irritates me—and maybe it's only me, but: what about the other Heat players? Maybe they don't care that these 3 get their own stadium-sized party. Maybe they are fine with the hoopla and whatnot—they don't care. But what does this hoopla event tell Udonis Haslem? That the Heat have won the championship with these 3 and the other 2 guys on the floor don't matter. And again, maybe the other guys on the roster don't care, but to me, it's LeBron not thinking at all about his teammates, they maybe they would feel just a bit insulted.  It's just more party for me, and none for you, because you don't matter. Larry Bird never would have done that. For me, the lack of respect he showed Cleveland with the announcement on ESPN—Decision 2010—and  the lack of respect he showed his teammates in Miami, rankles me.

Watch this: pretty much all the old-time guys say the same thing. They don't necessarily question LeBron's decision to leave the Cavs—they may be disappointed he didn't stay in Cleveland and joined guys he should have wanted to beat, not join, as Michael Jordan or Reggie Miller and Magic said elsewhere, but ultimately they don't bash him for it—they say it was LeBron's right to do what he did.

No, it was the way he did it (when Scottie "I take the final shot or I don't play" Pippen is calling you classless, that's gotta hurt.). As Barkley said: "I was very disappointed with that decision thing on ESPN. I was very disappointed with them coming out dancing like that. That's my only criticism."

Couldn't have said it better, Charles.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Transactions....

Future Hall of Famer glove man Daivd Ortiz.
Leave it to the Jets to have a Stupidity Shadow on what should have been a great day. Yes, they beat a hated rival, but on the same day, 2 guys who should have been doing good things on the Jets, lit it up for other teams. Leon Washington, who the Jets gave up for a football tee in a trade with the Seahawks, ran back, not 1 kickoff, but 2, kickoff returns for TDs. And Danny Woodhead, who the Jets never gave a legitimate chance, helped ail the Patriots rushing woes, with a rushing TD, and 3 carries for 42 yards. Meanwhile, Joe McKnight, the guys they drafted is on the active non-football injury list. Nice.

OK, I am a little worried about Mariano Rivera. Just a little.

Why are the Carolina Panthers asking about Vincent Jackson. Don't you think he would help rookie QB, Jimmy Clausen a little?

I think Chris Johnson, by year 5 of his career, will be broke. He just doesn't have the body to take 30 carries a game. Tennessee is overusing him.

Brett Farve has a 60.3 QB rating. Think maybe you should have come to training camp maybe, Brett?

Homer Bailey did this last year too. The former no. 1 pick, sucked all hyear, then pitched well for the last month or so. if someone could train him to start the season as well as he finishes, he could really be worth the pick the Reds used on him.

In the "Are You Freakin' Kidding" news of the week, the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo wrote this gem: If (Carlos) Lee can play first base for a National League team, David Ortiz could as well. Nick, you've seen Ortiz lately, yes?

OK, Michael Vick may have grown up a little. He's still not accurate, but he has shown that's "getting" the game a lot more than he used to.

New England really isn't the team it used to be. They don't make other teams fear them like they used to. Barely beating the Bills? Really?

For the AAPTBNL Man of the Week, it's gotta go to DeMarcus Ware. He pretty much singlehandedly willed the Cowboys to their first win. Check this: 6 tackles, 5 for losses, 3 sacks. He pretty much set up a tent in the Texans' backfield. Nicely done Mr. Ware.

And finally, in the bizarre news of the week, general disappointment, Yi Jianlian (6th pick in 2007 draft, 9.6 ppg, .403 shooting percentage, traded twice) was asked for some reason, abhout his preference in his sexual partner's preferred ethnicity. And this is what he had to say:

THREE YEARS into the NBA as well as the American life, Chinese basketball star Yi Jianlian doesn't seem to have changed who he was in terms of his views on love and marriage, as he gives a point-blank "No" when asked about whether he would consider a mixed marriage.
"I'll definitely marry a Chinese girl," the low-profile star blushes at the question. "And it is not about aesthetic stuff, I am just not that open to a mixed marriage."

Yi and the very passionate gynast pose in an all-Chinese occasion. No mixed races here.
OK, Yi. A touch prejudice, but whatever. And with the way you're playing in America, you may be back playing ball in China anyway and have you're pick of whichever Chinese lately floats your oddly bigoted butt.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Five

1. What's the best hair style you've ever seen in sports?

2. With the back & forth between New York and Tampa, who takes the AL East?

3. Which Sunday morning football preview show do you watch? Why?

4. Who's the best football announcer you've ever watched.

5. Pretend this is a zany radio show. What crazy thing would you do to get Super Bowl ticktes, 50 yard line?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Michael Vick's Chance For Success. This Time.


I have never been a Michael Vick fan.

I get that he is dynamic and exciting football player. He is fast, quick in the pocket. but to me he has always been overrated.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Transactions....

Way to early to worry, Jet's fans, but so far, after handing Shonn Greene the head rushing job, we see: 20 attempts, 3.5 ypc, 1 fumble lost and a long rush of 8 yards. Not what Ryan was hoping, I'm sure.

Before everyone anoints the post-prison Michael Vick the 2nd coming of Steve Young, everyone just chill out. Vick had a good day yesterday...against the Detroit Lions. And as for the Yahoo blogger who says he's never sen anything from Kevon Kolb—the dude threw for 750 yards in 2 games last year—including almost 400 yards against the Saints. And last I checked, in 8 years of football, Michael Vick's lifetime completion percentage is freakin' 53.9%. So, maybe, Vick wins the starting job, but let's not call the man Dan Marino just yet. MMM...kay?

So do you think Prince Fielder gets traded this off-season to the Rays for young pitchers in a deal that would make sense for everybody? Or rather, do you think it's more likely that Scott Boras turns Fielder's free agency into a circus, asking for ridiculous money for his client, dragging the process out, then but ultimately getting nothing more than what's reasonable?

Before everyone makes fun of Trent Edwards and his awful day, let's just remember the guy was sacked 4 times and hit 10 times. And in their infinite wisdom,  the Bills drafted CJ Spiller (1 rush, 3 yards) ahead of Bryan Bulaga, Maurkice Pouncey and etc. Poor guy has about 1 nanosecond of time to throw a pass before he gets hit. I say, blame Buffalo's management and not this poor schlub.

Seems a bit odd to me that Penn State is still ranked in the top 25. They beat up on Podunk State (Youngstown State), get manhandled by Alabama, then have a "meh" showing against Kent State. To me, that's not exactly Top 25 stuff. And seriously, how is Oregon not getting more love. 189 points in 3 games. Yes, i know it's New Mexico, Portland State and Tennessee, but still...189 points?

So, what the heck happened to the Padres. After cruising all year with amazing pitching, it seems like the entire team woke up and said....."wait, we're really in first?" then panicked. How else would you explain the fact that practically their entire rotation, which was lights out until about 2 weeks ago, now can't seemingly pitch better than my newborn daughter. No way the Padres bats save them, so their rotation is going to have to close strong to get to the playoffs.

To all the over-the-top Yankee fans, panicking that Rivera is done because he blew a save: You do realize Rivera has a 1.45 ERA (3rd lowest of his career). And a .821 WHIP (2nd lowest for his career). He's given up 2 HRS this season, his lowest for a season since 2005. People, relax.

To all the "experts" who predicted that this might be the year the Big East asserts itself in the BCS.....good prognosticating. UConn gets shown up by Temple. Pitt comes out of the gate losing to to the Mountain West Utah. Cincinnati has lost to NC State and Fresno State. Let's see how Big East leader, West Virginia represents against LSU this weekend.

For the AAPTBNL Man of the Week award, this week, it goes to the unheralded Jets front line, namely Sione Pouha and Mike Devito. When Kris Jenkins went out for the season, most of the football world smiled, thinking the Jets would be weaker up front. Au contraire. Devito and Pouha combined for 11 tackles yesterday, 10 solo, 2 TFL, and held the Patriots running game to 2.6 ypc. All against a much praised Patriots front 5. Great showing guys.

And finally...again, I'm not a politically correct guy...but creating a 14-acre mock-up of your favorite team in the middle of farmland, really the best way to show your fan loyalty?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Rudy Fails: Danny Woodhead Cut

He was supposed to be Wes Welker.

He was supposed to be the feel-good story; the white kid out of nowhere who wasn't invited to the NFL Combine, wasn't drafted, no one paid attention to—but through a recipe of pluck, can-do-it-iveness, determination and grit, made everyone in New York, punch their friend and say, "how bout that kid!"

But it's now to be. Danny Woodhead got cut.

He probably will get signed to the practice squad. Rex Ryan was one of the admirers of Woodhead's spirit and nascent talent, so the Jets will probably want to keep him around.

And yes, the talent is there. In a pre-season game last year against the Eagles, Woodhead ran for 158 yards and 2 TDs—the 158 yards being the second highest in a pre-season game since 1992.

In regular season games, Woodhead—involved only in sporadic play—gained 167 all-purpose yards as a receiver, rusher and kick returner. He gained 64 yards on 15 rushes and averaged 10.9 yards with 8 catches. Nice numbers for a bit player.

But there was always something in the kid—the way he ran so hard and with such determination, you could just see it—he played the game hard, every yard mattered. And fans loved him, from New York, to Chadron, Nebraska where he played his collegiate ball (no self-respecting Division school would have ever recruited him). Woodhead excelled in his division 2 school and become only the seond persona in all of collegiate history to score more than 100 TDs.

But in the NFL, he looked so small, just 5'9" (so said the media guide, but probably not) in a game of behemoths. But he squirmed, fought and hustled his way to earn a roster spot. In the few times he got onto the field, he never fumbled, never made mental screw-ups, was quick as a cockroach, and played like his life depended on it. In short, he was everything a Cinderella story was supposed to be.

But it wasn't, after all, to be. Danny Woodhead was cut yesterday.

At least not yet. If some Jets fans had their way, Woodhead would be given a real shot. Here's some replies to the news on www.thejetsblog.com:

Woodhead NEVER got a shot on the field!! He does his job on special teams…doesn’t fumble, and catches every ball that is tossed to him…why don’t them let him go…he doesn’t belong on a fumble ridden, dropped ball team! Good luck Danny!! You are a TRUE player!
It’s a SHAME Woodhead had the biggest heart and he did play like a JET every time. BAD MOVE

And here is the entry that most Jet Fans fear in their hearts:

I just hope he doesn’t go to a division rival and become the next Welker.

Knowing the Jets, that is exactly what will happen. Good luck, Danny.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Why The Yankees Will Have Trouble In The Playoffs

Simply put: Quality lefties give them trouble. The last two nights will attest to that.

Against Cliff Lee and David Price in the past 2 games, the Yankees managed 5 hits in 16 innings. They didn’t score one run.

In fact most of the top lefties in baseball pitched well against the Yankees’ supposed juggernaut of a line-up. This year, Cliff Lee in 23.1 IP had a 3.09 ERA with 18 Ks and a .945 WHIP. Dallas Braden had a 2.09 ERA in 11 IP. The Yankees did shell Price once in July, but in the other 2 starts, Price held them to 3 runs in 15.2 IP. Matter of fact, Price over his career, has a 3.22 ERA against the Yankees in 6 starts. Dallas Braden has a 2.45 ERA this season against the Yankees. Jon Lester has a 2.95 ERA and 17 Ks in 18.1 IP. In 2 games, Johan Santana had a 3.29 ERA against the Yankees this year. His teammate Hisanori Takahashi, in 2 starts did even better—12 IP and no earned runs. Clayton Kershaw pitched 7 innings of 2 run ball. Heck, the ancient Jamie Moyer pitched 8 innings of 2-run ball.

Now this isn’t to say the Yankees never hit well against a lefty—it’s just to say that there is plenty of evidence to say that they have trouble against quality lefties. And in a short playoff series where they might face Cliff Lee, David Price or Francisco Liriano (3.46 ERA this season with 14 Ks in 13 IP) twice in the series....well that doesn’t bode well.

So what’s going on—why is this happening in such a potent lineup? Let’s take a look at the righties in the Yankee lineup. Jeter is batting just .274 against lefty starters, down from .322 lifetime; and .313 against all lefties, down from .344 over his career. For Rodriguez, it’s even worse: he’s batting .244 against lefty starters and just .212 overall against all lefties. Take his career cumulatively and it’s down from .289 and .290 respectively. For Posada, the song remains the same; lifetime, Jorge’s BA against lefties is .296; this year it’s .264.

Let’s go further. The 2009 Yankee right-handed batters hit .286 against lefties. This year’s model features righties hitting just .269 against lefties. The entire Yankee lineup hit .286 against lefties last year with a .480 slugging percentage; this year that number is down to a .259 BA with a .429 slugging percentage. Makes you wonder where the Yankees would be without Marcus Thames’s .315 BA and .468 slugging percentage.

Also, throw in the fact that Curtis Granderson (.245 BA against lefties) and Brett Gardner (.252 BA against lefties) essentially replaced Melky Cabrera (.268 BAA lefties), Johnny Damon (.269 BAA lefties) and Hideki Matsui (.282 BAA lefties with a .618 slugging percentage). Brian Cashman replaced these players—and in the case of Gardner, with a nice player— but did next to nothing to shore up the lineup against quality left-handed starters.

Next year, maybe Jesus Montero comes up and solves the problem (.284 BA and .530 slugging against lefties in AAA), or the Yankees sign Jermaine Dye or someone else off the trash heap and they discover the Fountain of Youth. But for right now; heading into the playoffs—with the aforementioned Rodriguez and Jeter underplaying against lefties, with Nick Swisher hobbled, Lance Berkman absolutely pathetic against lefties and Cano cooling off after a hot start—where do the Yankees turn for help? What happens if Swisher is really injured or Teixeira gets into a slump?

The Yankees have enough problems now with their pitching (Does anyone besides Sabathia stand up? Will Pettitte able to be the Risen Savior? What the heck is up with Joba?), they don’t need problems with their lineup. But that is what the have now with nagging injuries, creeping age issues and the inability to hit quality lefties. They have a real problem. And October is coming.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Transactions....

Is this the year the Colts window begins to close. It's odd, yes to say that about a team that could have gone 16-0 last season, but just check out yesterday's game. They they couldn't defend anything, their O-line got pushed around, they fell behind quick and had to make Manning throw for like, 4000 yards. And still lost.And they lost Bob Sanders, maybe for the season. Not a could recipe for going deep into the playoffs. They are starting to look aged and washed out.

After watching Notre Dame lose to Michigan on Saturday, I can only say this: The Fighting Irish still have a long, long way to go.

First the Yankees skip Hughes, now they skip Vasquez. Are they just going to skip everybody and let CC pitch every game?

It looks like the Jaguars might have been right all along. They big moves they made this off-season—and were criticized for—drafting Tyson Alualu, and signing Aaron to a big-time contract, paid off yesterday. Kaumpman had 1.5 sacks, 6 quarterback hits and had a TFL. Alualu had a sack and a TFL in his first NFL game. This off-season may have saved Jack Del Rio's job.

Cliff Lee is the big ticker pitching free agent this off-season, but after him, Jake Westbrook and Ted Lilly stand to get overpaid. Not that these guys aren't good pitchers, it's that when there's a dearth of decent pitching, above-average starters will get paid like aces. And that's Lilly and Westbrook.

Alex Barron has been/is/will always be a gigantic waste of talent and space.

Kim Clijsters is quietly putting up a great US Open career. She has won 3 of the last 5 US Opens. It would have been nice to see what her career could have been without all the injuries she had.

The Diamondbacks say they have interest in Mike Hampton (remember him?) for the 2011 bullpen. What? Dude has pitched 191 innings in the past 3 years, including a whopping 1.2 IP this season. He ended both 2008 and 2009 with injuries, including rotator cuff surgery surgery after the 2009 season. His cumulative ERA for the 2008 and 2009 seasons is 5.12 I know people are desperate for pitching, but why not go whole hog and look into getting Catfish Hunter for your bullpen?

AAPTBNL Man of the Week. Watched the Philly-Green Bay game, and it's hard to think anybody else besides Clay Matthews deserves the award. Dude was everywhere on the field yesterday. His 7 tackles, 2 TFL 2 sacks and 1 PD don't do justice to the game he had. Seemingly in on every play, Matthews deserves the MOTW award.

And finally Dave & Buster's College Football Survey has stated that most people would skip a date to watch college football. So half of you would miss a chance for some nooky to watch a Missouri-Iowa State game. I love sports people, but....really?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday Five

1. If you needed one tennis player to win a match—and your life was dependent on it, who would it be? Federer? nadal? McEnroe? Conners? Sampras? Borg? Steffie Graf?

2. Will the Padres blow it in the NL West?

3. Will Farve be the same this season as he was last season?

4. Who takes the BCS this season?

5. And in honor of my new daughter...who was the best athlete with a Z starting their first or last name? And no, don't say Pat Zachary.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What's wrong with Phil Hughes?

Hello, back and ready for some baseball, football, tennis and etc.

So, what the heck is wrong with Phil Hughes? No one really expected him to maintain his stellar start where up until June 6th he had a 2.54 ERA. But as of late, he has been pretty awful. in his last 3 starts, in 14.2 IP, Hughes has given up 13 runs. He's given up 4 HRs in that time, and only pitched decently against the pathetic-hitting Oakland A's. So what gives?

It could be just fatigue. Hughes has never pitched this many innings before in the big leagues and he's laboring. He's pitched 155.1 innings this season, almost double his former major league high. The highest he's ever pitched in the minors is 146.1 IP, and that was in 2006 in the A+ and AA leagues.

Take for instance the August 25th game against the Blue Jays. Hughes pitches were all over the place. He walked 5 in 3.2 innings and threw 102 pitches. 66 of his 102 pitches were strikes.

Another reason may be that Hughes has turned into a more 2 pitch pitcher as the season has gone on. Of those 102 pitches, only 7 were cutters. Compare that to a May 12th game against Detroit where Hughes pitched 7 innings of shutout ball, Hughes threw 27 cutters. In that game, Hughes only walked 1. Is Hughes less sure of the pitch. Can he not control it now?

One more reason to believe it is fatigue is the tightness of his pitches. Compare the movement on his pitches from the 5/12 game to the 8/25 game. Notice how his movement in the 5/12 game is much tighter on both the horizontal and vertical planes; whereas in the 8/25 game, the movement is more erratic and nowhere near as tight. That's sloppiness in mechanics and most likely, arm fatigue. Click on the images below and compare the 5/12 (left chart) with the right one (8/25) game.


Hughes only turned 24 just 2 and a half months ago. And consider this is his first full year of major league pitching, Hughes hasn't really done that badly. However, the Yankees should be extra cautious with him, perhaps even throwing him to the bullpen—though that likely won't happen. Yes the Yankees desperately need pitching for the stretch run, but as of right now, skipping Phil Hughes altogether until maybe the playoffs is the best answer.