Daily Archives: October 8, 2012

ALDS Game 2 Lineup: Yankees @ Orioles

Lineup vs. Orioles:

Derek Jeter SS
Ichiro Suzuki LF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Russell Martin C
Curtis Granderson CF
Eduardo Nunez DH

Andy Pettitte LHP

Tweet(s):

Too Many Homers

Only this time it wasn’t on the diamond….

The TBS booth was something special last night, for an Orioles fan. I get bringing Cal Ripken into the booth seeing as this is the first time the Birds have been in the postseason in many many years, but how about a little balance up there? I don’t think it’s any bit of a stretch that Smoltz is still a little bent about the Yanks sending him packing back in the 90’s, and it shows in the commentary. A little bit of balance would have been nice to hear; how about Tino or Paulie to go back and forth with Rip? Is that too much to ask? The saving grace was that our Yankees came out on top, sparked by Russell Martin, who was greeted with cheers after barely ducking a fastball to the helmet. In that moment when his shot to left went over the fence you could hear a collective sigh both from the broadcast booth and the stadium. Speaking of the stadium… where did all that orange come from? My guess is they bussed a bunch of extras in from the nearest correctional facility, and judging from the applause at the near beanballs to Martin and A-Rod i’d be right. Their silence as Jim Johnson was smacked around by the Bombers in the ninth was deafening and Yankee fans everywhere loved every minute of it.

Speaking of home runs…

The two most homer-happy teams in the league went head to head and launched only one in the hitter friendly Camden Yards in the series opener, courtesy of the guy who had been DFA’d by nearly every Yankee fan at some point this season. Kudos to the Russ-Bus; the guy has had a few tasty hits this year and has accounted for the only two walk-off hits off the year, both of which left the yard. The Yanks put numbers on the scoreboard in a variety of ways; they got hits, they went deep and even sacrificed a man in from third. I love seeing the opposing pitchers head jerk back like a human Pez dispenser, but it’s cool to see them cross home plate in a variety of ways. RISPFail haunted the home dugout last night and the Yankees sailed on to victory.

Not an ace….

The Big Man came through last night and showed everyone why he gets paid the big bucks. 8.2 innings and two runs against a team that has found a way to win for 183 games, and he did it in style. Over the last few starts (4ER 24IP before last night) CC has found his changeup and he and Martin used it effectively last night, working out of some big jams and keeping the O’s lineup off balance and in check. While it may not have seemed like it at the time, his time on the DL may end up being a good thing. CC is in the midst of a low in innings pitched in several years now, and has had just enough time to get sharp for the October run. Buck had a lineup full of righties out there to try and get the best of Sabathia, but with his change and a nasty slider coupled with excellent fastball command, the Birds never stood a chance.

Baby Bombers…

Baseball America has been releasing their top 20 lists for the various MiL levels and there are some familiar faces making the cut. The trio of Sanchez, Austin and Williams all made the cut for the SAL, and Sanchez and Austin both made another appearance on the FSL list along with Slade Heathcott and Nik Turley. Tyler and Gary came in at 8 and 9, while Slade and Nik took the 17th and 18th spots. Jose Fernendez of the Fish and Gerrit Cole took the top honors. Heathcott has drawn praise from opposing managers as an exciting player and a real gamer, his only real drawback being his durability. His go-for-broke style of play should probably be scaled backa bit if he expects to protect that shoulder of his, which has seen two operations thus far. His tools give him a high ceiling, but his health concerns keep his floor somewhat low. He’ll get his cuts in the AFL this year, which starts very shortly.

A Yankee Legend returns to the big stage…

Andy Pettitte‘s return to the mound happened months ago, but let’s be honest… this is what we’ve all been waiting for. Andy will make his first October start since game 3 of the 2010 ALCS and his first against the Birds since 1996. Andrew Eugene has logged more than a full season of innings in playoff action; 263 to be exact, with a 173/72 K/BB ratio and 3.83 ERA. Andy won’t go down as the most dominant pitcher to grace the big stage, but you can count on him to give you his best. Even when he doesn’t have everything working the man will battle and give his team a chance to win the game.  He’ll be battling fellow southpaw Wei-Yin Chen, who has stumbled a bit down the stretch, ending the season with 192.2 IP and a 4.02 ERA, 105 ERA+ and 1.261 WHIP.

Qustions have been raised about wether or not Pettitte will return in 2013, as his year had been cut short by an unfortunate line drive that fractured his ankle and cost him nearly three months of the regular season. Andy went on to say: “I know the competition and the desire to compete is still there, and I don’t feel like I kind of got that itch out from the 70 innings or so that I threw this year. I was expecting to do a little more work than that. But we’ll see. We’ll see how this goes, and then i’ll factor everything probably in”. At this point in the year however, focus is in one place, and that’s on his next start. Tonight Andy will be going for his 20th win in the post season, an MLB record.

Travel Day

A ridiculous format, everything that’s wrong with MLB, a costly error, a costly injury, Tito to the Tribe, and there is no crying or magic in baseball.

Insanity!!

What happened in Atlanta on Friday night was as disgusting as anything I’ve ever witnessed in MLB in my lifetime. After playing 162 games over the course of six months, the Atlanta Braves were forced to host the St. Louis Cardinals in a one game playoff to determine who would advance to the best-of-five round in the playoffs.  Bud Selig’s brainchild was designed to “increase excitement” in the playoffs.  Since the announcement of the playoff format for 2012 was announced, many of us were concerned with the randomness of a one game playoff, as well as the format under which the best-of-five round would be played.  Many of us have been lamenting the sorry state of umpiring in MLB for quite some time, and this year’s umpiring was a new low.  One of the greatest concerns I had about the one game playoff format was that one bad call could ruin an entire season for a team.  On September 10th, I wrote the following article: http://yankeesfansunite.com/2012/09/10/travel-day-21/

All of those concerns were 100% validated on Friday night.

The Atlanta Braves finished six games ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals this year and were clearly the better team.  They may have been the better team on Friday night too, but we’ll never know.

Trailing 6-3 in the bottom of the 8th inning, the Braves had runners on first and second base with one out.  Shortstop Andrelton Simmons came to the plate and hit a high fly ball to left field between Cardinals LF Matt Holliday and SS Pete Kozma.  Kozma back pedaled to the ball, and at the last moment gave up on it, realizing that it was a play that Holliday was better suited to make.  The only problem was that Holliday had given up on the ball already. As the ball fell to the ground with a thud, umpire Sam Holbrook stunned everyone watching and on the field by making the signal for the infield fly rule.

The official definition of the infield fly rule is as follows:

An INFIELD FLY is a fair fly ball (not including a line drive nor an attempted bunt) which can be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort, when first and second, or first, second and third bases are occupied, before two are out. The pitcher, catcher and any outfielder who stations himself in the infield on the play shall be considered infielders for the purpose of this rule.
When it seems apparent that a batted ball will be an Infield Fly, the umpire shall immediately declare “Infield Fly” for the benefit of the runners. If the ball is near the baselines, the umpire shall declare “Infield Fly, if Fair.”
The ball is alive and runners may advance at the risk of the ball being caught, or retouch and advance after the ball is touched, the same as on any fly ball. If the hit becomes a foul ball, it is treated the same as any foul.
If a declared Infield Fly is allowed to fall untouched to the ground, and bounces foul before passing first or third base, it is a foul ball. If a declared Infield Fly falls untouched to the ground outside the baseline, and bounces fair before passing first or third base, it is an Infield Fly.
Rule 2.00 (Infield Fly) Comment: On the infield fly rule the umpire is to rule whether the ball could ordinarily have been handled by an infielder—not by some arbitrary limitation such as the grass, or the base lines. The umpire must rule also that a ball is an infield fly, even if handled by an outfielder, if, in the umpire’s judgment, the ball could have been as easily handled by an infielder. The infield fly is in no sense to be considered an appeal play. The umpire’s judgment must govern, and the decision should be made immediately.
When an infield fly rule is called, runners may advance at their own risk. If on an infield fly rule, the infielder intentionally drops a fair ball, the ball remains in play despite the provisions of Rule 6.05 (L). The infield fly rule takes precedence.

In layman’s terms, the two criteria for the establishment of an infield fly situation are that the play must be an ordinary one, and that the umpire must make the call immediately. The ball that Simmons hit was not an ordinary play, nor was it called immediately, to say the least.

As the infield fly rule is not a common call seen on a day-to-day basis, I wanted to ask the opinion of a friend before I decided how accurately or inaccurately that Holbrook had acted.  I have a friend who umpires at the collegiate level and who umpires at the prestigious Cape Cod league every summer.  I called him immediately and asked him what he thought of the call and he said that the umpire had blown the call badly in his opinion.  He said that the generally accepted criteria for a play being ordinary and the rule being invoked was when the infielder making the play on the ball stopped moving his feet.  He said that once the fielder stopped moving his feet and was set under the ball, that the infield fly rule must be invoked. The problem on the play in question was that Kozma never, EVER, stopped moving his feet. At no point in time was Kozma ever established under the ball as to make the play and ordinary play.

How would the inning have played out with bases loaded and All-Star catcher Brian McCann coming to the plate with one out? We’ll never know.  While McCann drew a walk from Cardinals reliever Motte, you can’t assume that with bases loaded and only one out that Motte would have pitched McCann in the same fashion that he wound up pitching him.

The players and fans were denied a true and just outcome of this game. Playoff games are too important to be decided by incompetent umpires, and MLB’s insane refusal to join the other major sports in implementing full-scale instant replay never looked dumber than it did on Friday night.

Instead of talking about what should have been exciting baseball, the focus was strictly on everything that is wrong with MLB today, and that is very sad.

Home Sweet Home

The next time you hear from me, the Oakland A’s will probably be eliminated from the playoffs. That will be in no small part due to the insane format instituted by Nutty Buddy this year for the best-of-five series.

When you play 162 games and wind up with the second best record in your league, then wind up playing the first two games of a playoff series at the home of your opponent, who had the seventh best record in the same league, something is very wrong.

The biggest advantage of starting at home in a best-of-five series is facing the opponent’s best two pitchers at your stadium.  This year, for reasons still unknown, MLB tweaked the best-of-five format in a most irrational fashion, forcing the higher seeds to begin on the road.

As roughly 75% of the best-of-five series in MLB playoff history have failed to go the full five games, the higher seed had only about a 25% chance of actually being able to play a deciding game five at home.

When someone can figure out exactly why this change in format was instituted, please drop me a line.  I haven’t heard a single rational explanation yet.

While Coco Crisp‘s error in yesterday’s game in the A’s-Tigers series won’t go down in history in the proportion that Buckner’s error in the 1986 World Series did, it will linger over the Bay for quite some time.

Crisp’s error was the game deciding play yesterday that sent the A’s into an 0-2 deficit but overshadowed horrendous home plate umpiring in both of Oakland’s losses.

Anyone watching the first two games of this series had to be alarmed at the different strike zones for the pitchers of both teams.

Check out the strike zone maps by Brooks Baseball for Saturday’s game

http://www.brooksbaseball.net/pfxVB/zoneTrack.php?month=10&day=6&year=2012&game=gid_2012_10_06_oakmlb_detmlb_1%2F&prevDate=106

The “love” Verlander got from the home plate umpire in this game was truly laughable, as the graphs don’t lie.

Yesterday’s game was even worse.

http://www.brooksbaseball.net/pfxVB/zoneTrack.php?month=10&day=7&year=2012&game=gid_2012_10_07_oakmlb_detmlb_1%2F&prevDate=107

The two umpires working home plate in this series have earned NFL replacement ref status.

When will MLB take steps to insure fairly called games that the players decide?

Cleveland Rocks

Terry Francona’s year of rest came to an end this weekend when he was chosen to pilot the Cleveland Indians.

Fans will miss Francona in the broadcast booth, as he quickly gained accolades for speaking frankly and adding insight that was refreshing to listen to in an era of screaming television and radio personalities.

While his decision to accept the job with a team who is coming off of a very bad season may seem puzzling, Francona obviously couldn’t wait to get back in the dugout.

Francona had to deal with nonstop scrutiny and pressure in Boston, pressure that was rumored to have affected his health in an adverse fashion.  Cleveland represents a good opportunity to cultivate a young team that is not totally devoid of talent.  SS Asdrubal Cabrera and  C Carlos Santana were signed to long-term contracts before the 2012 season and are the blocks that the Indians intend to build around.

A less demanding fan base and media market with the opportunity to manage young ballplayers may be exactly what the doctor ordered for Francona.

Sometimes people have to step outside the norm of their lives to find what they are looking for.  Francona deserves thanks for making the game better to listen to while he was in the booth and I hope he finds success and happiness in Cleveland.

Magic THAT!

It is incredibly hard for me to listen to grown adults reciting woefully inaccurate cliches, superstitions, and attributing things they don’t understand to “magic”.

All season long, the Baltimore Orioles operated many standard deviations outside of the statistical norms in regards to their overall record in relation to their run differential vs. opponents, their record in extra inning games, and their record in one run games.  “Magic” was used more times in relation to the Orioles than it was in the Houdini household.

Last night, with the Orioles tied with the Yankees 2-2 in the late innings, the key phrase being uttered and tweeted by irrational beings everywhere was “magic”. The TBS broadcasters bought in as well, seemingly sure that the Orioles would win the game in dramatic fashion.  As a matter of fact, from the 5th inning on it seemed the broadcasters were eagerly awaiting and preparing those watching for what they apparently felt was the inevitable one run win over the Yankees.

In the top of the 9th inning, after Russell Martin homered, the announcers sounded sadder than the Orioles fan in attendance.  By the time Robinson Cano had driven two more runs to blow the game wide open, the announcers sounded sad and dejected and shocked that a guy as talented as Cano could once again crush a pitch the opposite way and drive in two runs.

Earlier in the day in St. Louis, the broadcasters working the Cards-Nats game sounded stunned and suicidal when Tyler Moore‘s pinch-hit two run single in the 8th inning put the Nationals on top of the Cardinals.

All game long, the geniuses in the booth explained to everyone watching about the supposed “magic” that the Cardinals possess in the postseason.

Hopefully the TBS broadcast teams have gotten over the devastating blows to the “magic” they believe in and will be alright to work today’s games.

Morning Bits: C.C. looked sharp, Pettitte in game 2, & more…

Sticking with the old mug for good luck

Good Morning all.  C.C. did what he needed to do last night and it took awhile but the Yankee bats finally came alive in the top of the 9th.   Yankees now hold a 1 game lead.  Game 2 is tonight with Pettitte facing Chen.  Game time is set for 8:07PM.  Let’s start this Monday off right with some links….

Marchand writes that Pettitte and the O’s meet again.

Wallace Matthews has his rapid reaction from after the game.

Bryan Hoch has the recap from yesterday’s game where the Yankees finally broke out in the top of the 9th.

— After struggling with the O’s during the season, The Yankees Ace almost went the distance writes Gregor Chrsholm.