Friday, October 14, 2011

Nightmare At Fenway Park

John Henry- Principal owner of the Red Sox and a class A Jackass.

Let's face it. If you are a baseball fan or know a baseball fan, you are at least slightly aware of the struggles facing the Red Sox. For those of you who have had a hard time following the circus in Beantown, here is a breakdown and commentary on what has taken place so far:

First and foremost, the Sox topped the record books this season for having the biggest collapse in the month of September, EVER.

On September 1st, the team awoke in first place in the AL East with the best record in the American League. They also had a commanding 9 game lead over the beleaguered Tampa Bay Rays in the wild card column. 28 days later (ironically the title of a zombie movie considering the team's starting pitching looked just like zombies) the Orioles just completed a ninth inning comeback off of star closer Johnathan Paplebon and the Yankees, having already clinched first place with a commanding lead, dropped a 12 inning game to the Rays. This combination effectively eliminated the Red Sox hope of a post season, and completed the worst (or greatest depending on your standpoint) collapse in September baseball.

Reeling from the disappointment and obviously looking for a scape goat, the organization blamed Terry Francona, the manager who helped bring an end to the 86 year drought in Boston. Francona decided to fall on the sword and go peacefully, acting as if his departure was a mutual decision although "unnamed sources" stated that ownership had voted him out a week prior to the end of the season.

As if things didn't look bleak enough for the Sox, the worst was yet to come. Bob Hohler of the Boston Globe publication wrote a scathing article pointing the finger at who was to blame for the epic collapse. Mr. Hohler spared no one. Hohler, siting "unnamed sources," revealed a number of veteran players who never took on the leadership roles they should have. However, the most glaring revelations were the drinking in the club house DURING games and a supposed drug problem. It was made public that Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and John Lackey were "drinking beer, eating fried chicken and playing video games" in the clubhouse during the games instead of being out in the dug out and supporting their team. It was also noted that during the season, Francona was possibly abusing pain medication he was prescribed after knee surgery and may have also been distracted due to his marrital problems.

Next, in what can only be described as really bad timing, word broke that the superstar General Manager would be jumping ship in favor of the Chicago Cubs. Theo Epstein, who was partly responsible for pushing Francona out the door, decided he was also ready to leave. Epstein was majorly responsible for building the team that was able to thwart the "curse of the Bambino."

While all this news was swirling about in the baseball world, the "unnamed sources" spoke out once again. These sources admitted that the information about Francona that was given in the Hohler article was in fact leaked by ownership as a smear campaign at an attempt to make it difficult for Francona to find a job elsewhere.

All the controversy surrounding the team sparked David Ortiz to express his desire to not be "a part of the drama in Boston next season." Ortiz even hinted at a possible desire to go play for the Yankees, saying "they lost just like us...and no one is killing each other over there."

Finally most recently, John Henry came out of hiding. Henry is the principal owner of the Sox and he decided to go on the Sports Hub radio station in Boston to address some of the happenings. He said a lot of things including how he had nothing to do with a "smear campaign" against Francona and how he doesn't feel that any of his players quit on the team in September. He managed to say a lot of stupid statements in a span of just a few minutes but the words that were missing are the words that every Red Sox fan deserves to hear: "I'm sorry for this embarrassment and I will do everything in my power to right these wrongs."

Henry is an idiot that makes the owner of the Dodgers look good. He is a moron who has no clue how to stop the bleeding. Instead of trying to move on, he is simply making matters worse by ignoring glaring issues that now plague the Red Sox. The simple fact that he can sit there with a straight face and say that the players didn't quit in September is laughable. Maybe he was absent that month but if the players didn't quit then they wouldn't have finished an embarrassing third for the second straight year.

The Red Sox are in trouble and the two guys who deserve to have statues in front of Fenway are gone. The ship is sinking.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Fenway Park

Friday, October 7, 2011

$200 Million Failure

I know this is not what people want to hear but this is not entirely A-Rod's fault. Yes, the image of A-Rod striking out to end the season sums up his miserable season of minimal production. However, when you score 2 runs on 10 hits, you simply don't deserve to win that game. They didn't completely lay down but they failed to get that big hit, time and time again. Some (including myself) would consider that worse, but it is hard to get the big hit when your 4, 5 and 6 hitters are a drain rather than a spark.

Robinson Cano was our big threat and he was easily neutralized because he had zero protection. If you don't have to pitch to a big hitter, why would you? Our most consistent hitter was Jorge Posada who was batting 7th. Last night was likely his last game as a Yankee and it was the absolute definition of bittersweet. He went out producing but his last game was a first round exit.

Last night was also likely the last time Swisher will have donned the pinstripes. There are only so many times you can be completely useless in October and still return to the Yankees. This is likely the last straw.

Truth is, if the Yankees weren't contractually obligated to keep A-Rod, he'd be gone too. There is a common misconception when discussing the Yankee hitters. The notion that they live and die with Rodriguez's bat. People actually think that without A-Rod's bat in the lineup, the rest of our hitters don't produce. This couldn't be further from the truth. We saw this year, A-Rod got hurt and Nunez and Chavez but stepped in for him. During this stretch, the lineup was clicking beautifully. The issue is having a slumping A-Rod in the lineup. That is when his bat affects the hitters poorly. So am I saying that Girardi should have just sat A-Rod and put in Chavez? Maybe but it's easy to be a Monday morning quarterback. We would have been better off with losing A-Rod for the season but it didn't play out that way. Maybe it's time the Yankees have a sit down with Alex and make him the full time DH. His fielding was stellar this series but all his injuries seem to come while playing defense.

One thing is for sure, this season could have been so much more.
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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pivotal Game 5

As Yankee fans, we are almost lead to believe that the Division Series is meaningless. We are so focused on the World Series that the DS is merely step one.

However, the DS is very important. Its the start of the playoffs and it's when a team needs to get into a grove. The Yankees will be playing a "win or go home" game 5 against the Tigers tomorrow night in the Bronx. Listening to how loud the Detroit fans were the past 2 nights, I hope to see a great deal of intensity in the Bronx tomorrow.

We are Yankee fans and we should not be out done by anyone. Our fans are great but I want that building shaking from the 1st inning to the 9th.

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Long Road Home

It is August 25th, and this is the final stretch. They playoffs are about 5 weeks away and the AL East is still air tight. The Yanks just fell out of first but sit only a game behind the Red Sox in the division. But as the smell of October starts to fill the air here in New York, the Yankees have to kick it into gear. They seemed to be playing solid baseball until a slew of resent losses to subpar teams. Losing 3 of the last 4 is not the way the Yankees want to be playing teams like the Twin and the Athletics. What happens when they are playing teams like the Rangers and the Red Sox?

Believe me, I am not beginning to panic. I might be a tad disgusted about last night's loss to the A's, but I am not panicking. I just think there are couple of things that can be done to strengthen the team. Firstly, the six man pitching rotation has to end. The long rest has effectively ruined CC Sabathia's chances of landing the Cy Young Award. Worse than that, is how the long rest has made him not as effective or dominant. Freddy Garcia is all better and a decision needs to be made. Not just any decision either. Listen to the fan base on this one. Banish AJ to a place where he can hurt the team the least. Burnett has been so bad and I don't need to delve into details, we all know the stats. He is simply awful and to keep allowing him to start games this late in the season is irresponsible to say the least.

Secondly, adding a lefty to the pen is very important. Boone Logan has been unreliable in big situations this season. He can not be trusted to do his job come October. The team added Aaron Laffey but quickly designated him for assignment. Now, Brian Cashman is saying that Manny Banuelos may not be a late season call up and that putting him in the bull pen is unlikely. Banuelos is the organizations best lefty prospect. A trade for a reliable lefty is out of the question so why is it that the organization also refuses to fix the issue with a prospect? I feel like logic is absent in this decision.

5 more games until Boston. Let's get with it!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Glaring Issue

It doesn't seem to matter how hot the Yankees come in against their Beantown rivals, it's the same result. The bombers came into the series on a 7 game winning streak. They managed to push their streak to 8 before losing the next two games and the series to the Red Sox. The most glaring issue the team has is the Boston Red Sox. Even if the Yankees get the wild card spot and manage to get to the ALCS, they will be facing the Red Sox almost certainly.

The problems don't end there, however. You guys know that I am all for bringing up prospects to see if they can have a place on this team and now is as good a time as any. As the lights slowly and quietly dims on Jorge Posada, it is time to see what Jesus Montero has.

I'm just as sad as any Yankee fan to see Posada's Yankee career wind down in such a lackluster sort of way. Girardi has to play the part of the bad guy sometimes. It was an absolute pleasure watching Posada's career unfold but I support Girardi's decision. It is August and these games are important. The Yanks are just a game out of first place and the best team needs to be on the field. Don't be surprised if Montero gets his first at bat this week at Yankee Stadium.

Moving on to the 6 man rotation, enough is enough! Time to make a decision. Nova over Hughes. It's not just because I'm bitter about the loss of another rivalry series, but because what I saw last night worried me. That was a situation where we needed a lights out inning and we instead got a train wreck. He looked nervous from the moment he stepped out of the bullpen. The team can't afford to give the ball to him on every fifth day if they don't know if his confidence is in good spirits on that given day. Ivan Nova has gotten better and better this season and he has earned his spot on this team. Only, he keeps having to prove it. We have a strong young starting pitcher so lets use him.

This is all a part of fielding the best team possible. The team needs to figure out how to beat this Red Sox team, because if they can't, this whole season will have been a complete waste of time.

INJURY REPORT: Alex Rodriguez is shooting for an August 15th comeback, and it can't come soon enough.
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Monday, August 1, 2011

Christmas Never Came

The off season was a let down by New York Yankee standards. We did not get our prized free agent so instead, Brian Cashman put together a who's who of Baseball misfits. It was expected that come July, the organization would make a big trade to bolster the team.

July has now come and gone and the Yankees are the only playoff contenders that did not make any addition to their team. Luckily, Cashman's misfits have come in handy at the right times.

Eric Chavez was injured for a while but came back in time to ease the burden in the wake of A-Rod's absence. Jorge Posada has struggled to fit in as a DH but has taken to the first base position rather well, giving the team an option to rest Mark Teixeira when needed. Russell Martin has not hit the ball as well as the team had hoped but has shown that he can call a great game and play stellar defense. Rafael Soriano seems to have been humbled by his shoulder troubles and is now willing to do whatever it takes to help his team win. Then there is the combination of Ivan Nova, Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia. These three have all made at least 16 starts and have a combined ERA of 3.49. You really can't ask for more out of your bottom 3 starters.

The weakest link at the moment, is Phil Hughes. Maybe the recent trade rumors will spark a reaction from the embattled starter and if not, Nova stands ready to step in.

On the other side of the pitching spectrum, the Yankees have a bullpen who is missing Pedro Feliciano, Demaso Marte and Joba Chamberlain. Soriano, having just been reinstated, joins Dave Robertson and Mariano Rivera to fortify a back end of Baseball's finest. In Soriano's absence, Robertson established himself as the best setup man in the league.

Boone Logan has been the weak link in a bullpen that has also looked to Luis Ayala and Cory Wade for stability and Hector Noesi as a long man. All parties with the exception of Logan have pulled their share of the weight.

The team may have an answer for this problem. Clearly it is not a trade. Twenty year old, Manny Banuelos is the team's top pitching prospect and has been promoted to AAA. He is likely a favorite for a late season call up to see if he can help the team in the playoffs.

The leaks in the team could not be plugged by what was available on the trade market. Although this is an upsetting and unsettling fact, it is nice to see that the team did not make a deal for the sake of making a deal. Our prospects are too valuable to just trade away for cosmetic reasons. Time to start benefitting from these kids. Brian Cashman seems confident in what we have. His message: "I like our team."

Let's see if he still likes it in October.
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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Just A Day In The Career Of A Legend

I sat and watched the television as my niece played with her toys. 3-2 pitch grounded to short, through the hole! I scream and my niece cries. I pick her up and tell her it's ok. I show her the TV and explain that Derek Jeter is just one hit away from 3,000. She is one and she is pissed at me. I give her a hug and tell her I'm sorry, but it's going to get loud one more time.

Jeter comes to the plate in the third, and my niece is now in her pool on the porch. Now is the time, Derek. You can get this hit and she won't cry.

Five miles away from me, 50,000 people stood and chanted. Another 3-2 pitch. Flash bulbs go off everywhere. Jeter swings, and there it goes. Up, up, up. It just kept going up.

Back in my living room, I watch as the camera follows the flight of the ball. At some point before the ball landed, I realized that this was not only hit to the gap, I realized the ball was going to land deep in a sea of fans.
I was in awe. I know I yelled, but I don't know what I yelled. I just know that I marveled not only at the 3,000th hit, but at what a hit it was. And as Derek came home to hug his dear friend, Jorge Posada and the rest of his team, something dawned on me. The game was now tied. It just made sense.

As I stood there watching, my father said; "he's gotta be the greatest Yankee of all time. Stature wise." My dad is right. What we watched on the afternoon of July 9th, 2011 was amazing, but it was also pretty normal. Normal, that is to say, for Derek Jeter. We watched him get some hits and make a difference in the game, just like he has done time and time again.

Say what you want about the aging legend, but this is a fact: For the rest of his career, he will go out and give 100 percent. Each and every day, he will give his all and he will strive to win. It's the same thing he has done for his entire career and it works for him.

Derek Jeter got 3,000 hits but that wasn't enough to win the game. So he went out and got 3,001, 3,002 and 3,003. On the day he is inducted into the Hall of Fame, ask him what stands out to him about the day he joined the 3,000 club. My guess is he'll tell you; "Yankees won, 5-4."