Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Santa Returns to the Yankee Christmas Tree

It appears that Santa Claus forgot to drop off all of his early Christmas gifts that were ticketed for the Bronx. Less then a week after dropping off two expensive pitchers, Santa returned and dropped off the top hitting prize on the market. The Yankees must have been extra good this year despite missing the playoffs to be rewarded like this.

The Yankees will be bringing in arguably the three top prizes on the free agent market. In a move that nobody saw coming the Yankees were able to pull off a huge coup and steal Mark Teixera from the Red Sox.

The Yankees were always mentioned as being obsererves of the Teixera situation but never really serious contenders. It appeared all winter that Teixera would either be a Red Sox and a nemisis to the Yankees or go to the Nationals and be irrelevant for his career. Instead he chose to follow in the footsteps of his idol Don Mattingly and play in the largest stage in baseball.

Brian Cashman played the 2009 free agent market perfectly. He set the tone on CC Sabathia and let the rest of baseball know that they shouldn't even think about signing the big lefty. He let Sabathia know his level of interest early and show how sincere he was. He then went and paid a visit to the lefty's home and got his wife onboard.

Cashman used a different tactic with Teixera. He met with him early in the offseason where I believe he expressed his interest and asked Teixera to give the Yankees a chance to make an offer before he signed. That was news to his agent Scott Boras as he loves to keep the Yankees hanging around to raise prices. Cashman always denied his interest and the possibility of brining in the young firstbaseman. Cashman kept the price low enough and swoopt in and took him in the last minute.

Now you are going to hear everyone complain about the Yankees spending but in reality their payroll will still be lower or about the same as last years payroll. The Yankees are swimming in money and should not be expected to hold on to it. They bring in a lot of money from the YES Network and the opening of a new stadium. It would be worse if they made this money and didn't put it back into the team. The Yankees only commitment is to their fans who are paying big money to see them play. They must do their best to put the best show on every night for the fans.

The Red Sox fans will complain, but they should only blame their team management. They let 14 million dollars over 8 years stop them from signing a guy they coveted. Tell me if a team worth about a billion dollars (including the Stadium and NESN Network) should really let that stop them from getting a guy they want.

The Red Sox are not done by and large stretch. They are still a team who were a few outs away from a second straight World Series. They will need David Ortiz and Mike Lowell to bounce back from injury plagued years. They will also need Josh Beckett to return to being an ace and see how Jon Lester bounces back from his first full season. If they need to sign someone there are a lot of cheaper guys on the market who can help them: Bobby Abreu, Adam Dunn, Milton Bradley to name a few.

Teixera might not be a top ten guy in the league (a point I have made before) and he might not be worth the money he is getting. But there was no way the Yankees could find a guy of his talent, skills and youth other then Teixera. He does a lot of things very well and the Yankees really couldn't pass on the chance to get him. They have a lot of money off the books this year and next year (Matsui and Damon most notably.) Plus next years free agent class is extrememly weak and the Yankees don't look to be big players in it.

This move is actually a positive for baseball too. Sure it looks bad to have one team spending all that money but now every game the Yankees play will be sold out, at home and on the road. They will bring in more money for visiting teams then they make the rest of the year. The Yankees will also be a must see team and every game on national TV will bring in big audiences.

This move and offseason didn't win the Yankees the World Series or the AL East but they have greatly improved on a third place finish. They will likely be the new favorites to win it all but they still have to play the games in the toughest division in baseball. These moves did show the Yankees will always look to improve the team and how badly they want to win.

To Play or Not to Play

Around this time of year in the NFL you continually hear writers and announcers say that teams should rest their players for the playoffs and not give it their all in the seasons final game. This has been brought up again with the Giants already clinching the best record in the NFC. Oh how quickly they forget.

Last year the Giants whole turnaround on their road to the Super Bowl was the confidence they built up by challenging the Patriots even though they had "nothing to gain." The majority of pundits wanted the Giants to lay down and not play. But Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning decided to go for it and proved they had a lot to gain. They gained immence confidence and proved to themselves they can play with and possibly beat any team.

The Giants rode that momentum to the Championship and yet the same pundits are saying the same thing this week. Luckily Tom Coughlin isn't listening to them again. He plans to play the team that gives him the best chance to win and build momentum towards the playoffs. The Giants have a bye week and can rest players there.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Giant Fall for Burress

In early February Plaxico Burress was on top of the NYC sports world. He not only had one of the best performances in NFL postseason history to help the Giants win in Green Bay but he caught the game winning touchdown in the Super Bowl. He was arguably one of the three most popular Giants. Even after signing a new contract Burress was causing minor problems for the team. He was missing practices and acting out.

From February 2008 fast forward to December 2008 and check to see how far Plaxico has fallen. Now instead of Giant fans seeing highlights of his previous game on Monday, they were subjected to seeing him taken in handcuffs following his bizarre incident Friday night at the NYC nightclub Latin Quarters. As you all know by now Burress accidentally shot himself in his thigh as he was carrying an illegal hand gun.

Burress is rightly facing a lot of public heat. Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants the full book thrown at the star wide-receiver. The minimum sentence would be 3.5 years, it is doubtful he sees a sentence that long with a plea deal. Bloomberg is correct to go after Burress as a message needs to be sent to people about what happens if you were caught with an illegal handgun. He should get just as harsh or even harsher treatment being a celebrity and someone people look upto.

Burress is extremely lucky he only shot himself and not an innocent person. I will never understand why he needs to carry a loaded weapon into a NY nightclub that is in the middle of the city. It was in a very good area. The idea that he needs it for protection because of all the jewelry and bling he had on is ridiculous. Does he need to bring all that with him? And if he wants to, higher a body guard. Packing heat is a dumb dumb idea. It's one thing to have a gun in your house for protection but to carry it out in public is a bad move.

When is the last time you heard of the athlete with a gun shooting two robbers or thugs and saving himself? Let me know because it will be the first. Having a gun will not end well for these guys. They should be allowed to go out and have a good time but they need to be smart and know not everyone likes them. They need to control themselves and not bring attention to themselves. Don't put yourself in a situation where you would need a gun.

This problem with Burress is not only affecting him but also anyone else who was involved in the situation. Antonio Pierce is the Giants emotional leader and he maybe facing jail time or a suspension. He did drive an illegal gun across state lines. His good reputation will hopefully help him out as I am sure he panicked. He doesn't seem like the type of guy to be involved in this stuff. The hospital workers who covered up for Burress also are going to be in trouble. Along with Giant staffers who may have been contacted.

This situation is luckily only bad for Burress as he did not accidentally shoot anyone else or hurt anyone else.

The Not-So-Hot Stove Update

Some quick thoughts on the current state of the MLB Hot Stove. But first I would like to apologize for the lack of updates. Between the holidays and starting a new job I have been very busy and haven't found the neccessary time to put some real thoughts down on paper. Hopefully things have settled down and I can continue to give my opinions on the sports world.

* Yankees offer no aribitration to anyone- This is a sign of the current economic state of the world. The fact Bobby Abreu didnt get offered arbitration is a huge surprise. All year it was understood that Abreu would be offered abritration and the Yankees would either get draft picks as compensation or they would get Abreu for 16-18 million for the 2009 season. Either was looked at as a win-win. But with the current economic state of things Abreu isn't getting any offers anywhere near 16million and he definetly would have accepted. Which means Yankees would have paid him a lot more then his economic value.

* Besides Mark Teixera, CC Sabathia, and probably AJ Burnett who is going to get big money? The markets seem to be very dry and there isn't the big money everyone was hoping for. Will players like Adam Dunn and Rafael Furcal accept the low offers?

*When will the players start signing? I would expect around the winter meetings in a couple weeks. Everyone is waiting for Sabathia and Teixera to set the standard and then the dominoes will all fall quickly.

* Where is the outcry over the Red Sox begining an international conflict? The Red Sox signing of Japanese amateur pitcher Tazawa is going to open a whole new can of problems for MLB. There had been a gentleman's agreement between the MLB and Japan Leagues not to pursue eachother's amateurs. Well that is clearly gone and now it is expected that Japanese Teams will offer America amateurs big money to leave and go play there instead of in minor leagues. This could turn into a major problem. Imagine the outcry if the Yankees did this? ESPN would have a new special every hour.

Same Old Jets

Just as the world was starting to worry that it was coming to an end, everyone can take a deep breath as we found out that the Jets are not the best team in the NFL. They are probably not even the best team in the AFC.

There had been talk of a NY-NY Jet-Giant Superbowl all week leading into the Broncos game. People were counting on a home playoff game following a bye in the Wild Card Weekend. Apparently everybody had forgotten that this was the NY Jets and not a normal organization. Brett Favre and Kris Jenkins had done a good making everyone forget about the previous 40 years. They had given everyone hope and made everyone think that the Jets had changed.

Ah, but you can change the players on the team but you can't change an organizations terrible history. No the Jets aren't terrible like the Lions but they have their own history of blown chances and crushing losses. In fact recent years have seen the Jets often make the playoffs. But the fan base wants to see their team make the next step and get to the Super Bowl. Especially after last season's Giant Super Bowl Victory made all Jet fans hungry to see their own ticker tape parade.

Jay Cutler and the Broncos had other ideas as they came into the Swamp and exposed almost all of the Jets weaknesses. The Jets couldn't tackle, couldn't cover anyone in the passing game. The offense had no real rhythm. The Jets didn't look like the same team who went into Tennessee and dominated the Titans.

Now with 2 west coast trips in the next 3 three weeks, the Jets season is at a crossroads. Either the team takes the wakeup call and gets better. Or even Brett Favre cannot keep the teams fate of collapsing from happening.

Monday, November 17, 2008

NY Sports Preview Week of 11/17

This week should be a little less hectic for NY sport fans as they can still revel in their football teams big wins and a winning week for both the Knicks and Rangers.

In terms of baseball both Met and Yankee fans can look forward to their teams being aggressive in the free agent market. K-Rod and CC Sabathia have been given offers and each team is waiting for a response. The Mets and Yankees are differing in their approach, the Yankees are looking to blow teams out of the water and surpass their offers and the Mets are trying to be competitive with others and raise them when needed. We will see what works best.

As for the Knicks they face the defending champs Boston Celtics and then get some easier games versus the Bucks and Wizards. The Celtics should be a tough game to give the Knicks a realistic view of where the team stacks up.

The Rangers have two games vs the Senators which sandwhich a game versus the Canucks. The Canucks game will be a great battle between Roberto Luongo and Henrik Lundquist.

Another big event in NYC will be the Coaches vs. Cancer college basketball tournament which will feature two of the top programs in the country Duke and UCLA. Should be a fun two days at MSG as everyone hopes for the championship game between those two schools.

The New York Football Giants will head to the desert and the site of their Super Bowl Championship as they take on MVP favorite Kurt Warner and the Arizona Cardinals. A win here gives the G-Men a good grip on the #1 Seed and home-field advantage.

The Jets and Bret Favre come off their biggest win in years after beating the Patriots on the road. And how are they rewarded? A trip to Nashville to face the Titans and their undefeated record. A win here and the talk will be about a NY-NY Superbowl. This game should bring the fans back to earth.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Breaking News- Nick Swisher to Yankees

The Yankees have acquired CF/1B Nick Swisher from the White Sox for Wilson Betemit and Jeff Marquez.

Quick thought: Swisher is a guy the Yankees should have been targetting. He is very versatile and fills the CF or 1B hole. He is a grinder in his hitting style. The only concern is that he didn't play in September or October as the White Sox thought they were better without him.

As for Betemit, he was what he was- a bench player with some pop who has never got a chance to play. Maybe this will be the right move for him. And Marquez was a guy the Yankees were high on but ultimatly a guy that couldn't stand in the way of the move.

Top 10 Free Agents

With the countdown to free agency about to hit 7 hrs lets take a quick look at the top free agents available right now:

1) CC Sabathia- What else can be said about the big lefty? He is in position to earn himself a big contact.

2) Mark Teixera- The top offensive player on the list is in high demand and should get himself a monster contract. As one of his friends said "its good to be Mark Teixera right now." How true.

3) Manny Ramirez- If not for his age or attitude he would probably be the top offensive player on the list. He could get A-Rod money but for how many years. It is doubtful he gets the contract that takes him to 42 like he wants.

4) AJ Burnett- Burnett is coming off a huge season, possibly the best of his career and he chose to opt out following it. This will all lead to a big payday.

5) Derek Lowe- Lowe showed once again that he is a big game pitcher by helping the Dodgers make the playoffs and reach the NLCS. He wants to move back to the east coast after 4 years on the west coast.

6) Fransisco Rodriguez- K-Rod had himself a huge walk year by setting the single season saves record. He also is lucky the Mets bullpen was atrocius last year as that will lead him right to Citi Field.

7) Ben Sheets- Sheets expected to be higher on this list following an All-Star game start but another late season injury has raised questions about his health and the need for a long term deal for him.

8) Orlando Hudson- There is a lot of interest in the slick fielding and solid bat. He is the best 2B option on the market.

9) Bobby Abreu-

10) Ryan Dempster- Dempster is coming off a career year and an all-star appearance. He also was the Cubs game 1 starter for the NLDS. It will be interesting to see where his funky windup will be pitching next year.

Guys To Watch:

1) Jason Varitek- Do the Red Sox bring him back or does he go somewhere else?


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thursday Night Showdown

So as we wait for Friday's free agent market to open up, lets take a look at Thursday's big game. First place in the AFC East will be up for grabs as the New York Jets travel to Foxborough to face their rivals the New England Patriots. (The word rivalry gives the Jets too much credit as they seem to never beat the Pats.)

This is the biggest regular season game the Jets have played in recent memory. This is definetly the biggest game since the 1998 AFC Championship game and it might be bigger. It could be the biggest game since Super Bowl 3. This game is for the Jets franchise. This is their chance to take over the AFC East. They need to prove to themselves they can beat the Pats. Their fans need it and most importantly the organization needs it.

Yes, the Patriots do not have Tom Brady, Adellius Thomas or their top 3 running backs, or most of their secondary; so everything seems stacked in the Jets favor. Everything but history. The Jets always seem to lose these types of games. And most Jet fans have a lot of hope for the game but they ultimatly know the worst will happen. Maybe Brett Favre is the right guy for this spot, he has won a lot of games and thrown a lot of big tds but he also has a lot of losses and a lot of bad interceptions. Favre is able to put everything behind him and move onto the next play. That is what the team needs this week they cant worry about Jets history or anything else other then the 11 patriots who will be lined up against them.

For the Jets to be succesful, Eric Mangini needs to establish Thomas Jones and Leon Washington and the run game. The weather is calling for rain and a sloppy field, perfect weather for the Jets new offensive line and for the gunslinger Favre to steal a win. As long as Favre isnt throwing 45 times a game. And Mangini needs to pressure Matt Cassell and get his jersey dirty. They can't give him time in pocket. The defense needs to GO GET THE QB.

If the Jets win they have a great shot at the AFC East title, if they lose they face a 6-5 record with the Titans coming up the week after. This game will also tell how the Jets franchise views itself for years to come.

Yankee Hot Stove: The Offense

Before getting into what the Yankees need to do this offseason to improve their offense a bit of news. The Yankees have signed Damaso Marte to a 3 yr 12 million dollar option. I was never a fan of acquiring Marte last year and still will not trust him in a big spot. However the move makes sense as the Yankees need a lefty reliever they can rely on (no more Billy Traber or Mike Myers please.) Phil Coke looked good last September but lets let him develop before we give him the 8th. (Remember how good Ian Kennedy was last September?)

Ok onto the offense: As we know Friday 12:01 AM will be a big day for the Yankees. Maybe even the biggest free agency day for the Yankees in their history. The offense was the major problem for the Yankees last year. If you take the same pitching last year with 2007's offense, the Yankees make the playoffs. Hopefully a healthy Posada will come back and restore some claught to the catching position. Arguably two of the top Yankee hitters last year Jason Giambi and Bobby Abreu wont be back next year. They both had very good years last year. It seems any player on the team not named Jeter or A-Rod will be on the block.

Yankees have shopped Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon and have had some interest in both. The big name the Yankees can offer is Robinson Cano, now the tough move is do you believe that 2008 was just a bad year and he will return to his batting title form or is he a guy you need to get rid of? Cano could get you the centerfielder that you need as Damon definetly wont be there and there are doubts if Brett Gardner or Melky Cabrera can handle the job. Cano for Matt Kemp of the Dodgers has been rumored for months and seems like a good deal. If Cano is gone look for Orlando Hudson to be signed to replace him.

I wouldn't mind seeing Abreu back for one year and having Gardner and Cabrera try to handle CF this season as there are no top guys to get to fill those wholes. For 1B, I am not a big Mark Texeira fan but he seems to fit their needs perfectly. Great Defense, Good OBP and Power. Texeira doesnt do anything great but does a lot good. He isn't as good as the money he will earn but thats the market and the Yankees need him. If I were Yankees I would see if Todd Helton and Ryan Howard were available. Howard doesnt seem likely to stay in Philly too long and he is very pricey maybe he can be had. If I were Cash, I would bring Giambi back on a cheap short contract as his OBP and OPS last year were very good and he had some nice #'s besides avg.

As for Manny Ramirez, I do believe the Yankees will have a chance for him. If they can move Matsui, Manny wouldn't be a bad DH for a year or two. Anything more then 2 yrs is a bad contract. I utlimatly believe Cashman wont sign him no matter how hard Scott Boras tries. If Cashman wants a CF he should see what Toronto wants for Vernon Wells and see if he is available.

So Abreu back, Gardner in CF, and Texeira at 1B is my pick. I will probably be wrong on all my ideas but I do know this: the next month will be very exciting to see what moves the Yankees make.

Post Season Awards Preview

With my renewed hope in the intelligence of the sports writers who voted on the MLB Awards here are my picks and who I actually believe will win it.

AL Cy Young: I would vote for Roy Halladay. He is truly a marvel to watch as he goes out and expects to throw a complete game every time out there. He also pitches in the toughest division in baseball and continues to be the top pitcher in the AL year and year out.
Who will win: Cliff Lee. Lee had a great year on an even worse team then Lincecum so giving the award to him is fine by me.

NL MVP: This was probably the toughest choice for me: as far back as June I thought Chase Utley had it locked up but as he slowed two candidates clearly emerged as the choices: Albert Pujols and Ryan Howard. The only argument against Pujols is that his team didn't make the playoffs. But he did keep them afloat into September. (Oh and he did it with a bad shoulder that needed surgery.) His other strike against him is that he puts up these crazy videogame like numbers every year. It isn't a shock to see him do this at all. Howard on the other hand got his team into the playoffs with big hit after big hit in September. He led the league in homerun's and rbi's. (Postseason does not count in the vote as they are voted before the postseason.) Sounds like the winner right? Not so fast, factor in his 250 ba and 199k's and you see some blemishes. I would vote for Howard (even Pujols said Howard should get it).
Who will win: Pujols finally gets his MVP. Again no problem with this choice.

AL MVP: It pains me to say this but the MVP of the AL is going to be the balding five foot tall secondbaseman of the Red Sox. The littleman swings a big stick and willed a banged up and below the usual standards of recent Boston teams into the playoffs. The team had no Beckett, Ortiz, Manny, or Drew for parts of the year yet Pedroia really defined the team. His hustle and effort on every play (take notes Robbie Cano take notes) was what defined this Sox team. He grinded and gutted out every at bat. And you know he does something right when I say he is one of the few Sox I would like to see on Yankees.
Who will win: Pedroia

Managers of the year: Joe Maddon (obviously) and Charlie Manuel.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Week in NY Sports: Week of 11/10

First order of business: Check out my article on BleacherReport.Com on the great choice Tim Lincecum was for NL Cy Young. I have been asked to write various articles for BleacherReport.com and will be sporadically doing them. Please look out for them.

A new feature here on the Elias Sports Blog, we will take a look at the upcoming week for NY teams and preview the biggest games for each team. What a big week this is coming up for NY sports. All teams in action will have big games and the NY teams look to be active in the MLB Free Agency frenzy starting Friday 12:01 AM.

Knicks: Mike D'Antoni's boys look to build on a hot 4-2 start as they go to San Antonio and face the Tim Duncan and the Spurs. A win here would be sure to give the team more confidence.

Rangers: The Rangers take on their cross river rivals on Wednesday for the first time since Martin Brodeur has been shelved. Following a great start the Rangers have only won once in their last 5 games. Has the European trip finally caught up with them?

Jets: The game of the week in the NFL features the Jets going up to Foxborough and taking on the Patriots in a battle for first place. This game is one of the biggest in Jets history and will show what this team is made of. (More on this game to come later in week.)

Giants: The defending champs will take on the Ravens at home this week. The G-Men sit at 8-1 and would need a Mets like collapse to fall out of the playoffs. The Ravens feature a superb run defense so this should be a good test for Brandon Jacobs and company.

Mets: The second team in NY looks to add a closer and another bat in free agency.

Yankees: The shopping spree begins just after midnight Friday morning. The Yankees are expected to be big players and to open up their wallets.

Black Friday Nears

Just about 72 hours seperate us from the free agency and the Yankees opening their giant wallet and seeing who will take their money. It is an exciting time to be a yankee fan as they are poised to be big players in this offseason. Hal Steinbrenner was quoted today saying that "they are ready for free agency."

Pitching Needs:
Everything I read and hear sounds like they will be making a giant run at CC Sabathia and they are willing to give him anything he wants. They would even "let him DH" from what Mike Francesca was told. I think the Yankees will make him a Godfather offer (an offer he can't refuse.) Who turns down big money anyway?

I also see the Yankees making a big run at either Burnett or Lowe and adding two of the big three to their rotation. If they strike out on those two they have Ben Sheets or Ryan Dempster as possible options.

I think Pettitte will be back at a sizeable discount and Mike Mussina will go off into the sunset with his only 20 win season. As for the bullpen no major needs and I think Cashman learned to build the bullpen with youth and not free agent signings. Bullpens are fickle and change year to year. I would expect Damaso Marte unfortunatly to be back and maybe a run at Juan Cruz to be added to the pen.

Offense Hot Stove Tomorrow

Hot Stove Heats Up

Now that the GM meetings are over the real fun will begin. While the GM's were busy working on their golf game or their bowling game, they managed to find some time and lay the ground work for some possible trades or free agent signings. This time of the year for baseball is possibly just as exciting as the actual season. Everyday there are new rumors and new possible deals coming out. One day you think its a lock CC Sabathia is going one place and Jake Peavy is going another only to read the next day that none of it was true and a third team has upped their offer. It is a fun time to sift through all the material and find the reporters who you believe. Some of the best to follow or Jon Heyman of SI and Ken Rosenthal of Foxsports; but the best in the business is Buster Onley (especially for Yankee fans. He seems to break all their major news.)

Right now it seems every team is interested in every player. This is especially true of the Yankees. It sounds like they are rumored to sign every player this offseason. A word of warning: Don't Believe the Rumors. They are just rumors. For every deal that happens there are 100 rumors. And usually the deal that happens, happens quick and is unexpected. For example:

Matt Holliday to the A's
This move was straight of leftfield. Everything I read seemed to point to the Cardinals or the Phillies. But Billy Beane swooped in made a giant offer and got a great hitter. I do not understand the criticism of Beane on this move. If he has proved anything, it is that he usually has a plan and knows what he is doing. He restocked the A's farm system last year in trading away Joe Blanton and Danny Haren. He had never been a fan of closers making big money so getting rid of Huston Street makes perfect sense. (Street is overrated as it is, but thats another story.) So worse case scenario for the A's now that they traded for Holliday is either A) They trade him in July and get prospects or B) They keep him make a run at the playoffs and get two draft picks for him when he leaves. Its really a win win, and why wouldn't you want Billy Beane to have extra draft picks? As for the Rockies they got a good young CF, two good young pitchers and another trade chip in Huston Street. This was a great deal for both sides.

A few thoughts:
1) What are the Royals doing? It seemed the Royals had a clue this season as they finally made some good draft picks and seemed to making a good step to being legit. Now they trade for Mike Jacobs, who is a solid player, but goes against their OBP plan. I just don't get it.

2) Was that the Nationals big move? I have been reading for days about the money the Nationals had and how they planned to make a move for Teixera, Adam Dunn, or Manny Ramirez. They believed they were a bat away from being in contention. Now they trade for Josh Willingham and Greg Olsen? Please tell me this isn't their big offseason move.

3) Where does Manny go? The whole Manny Ramirez offseason will be intriguing. Scott Boras orchestrated a player quitting on his team so he would be let out of his contract- that worked. Then said player has the best second half in MLB history and is lined up for a big pay day. Only one problem, no team wants to give him long term security b/c they are worried he will quit on them. I don't see Manny getting the contract he wants that will take him to 42. I think he will end up with Dodgers taking less then their offer of 25 million per year for two years and signing for three seasons.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Letter to Mike and Mike on ESPN Radio

Every morning I wake up and listen to Mike and Mike on ESPN Radio while getting ready for work. The two usually do a good job in their attempt to break down the previous day in sports. (As good a job as two who know nothing about most sports can do.) Why do I listen? Because there is no better alternative. WFAN has an even worse morning show. Mike and Mike usually have good guests. This morning they spent most of the morning talking about Chase Utley's heads up play to get Jason Bartlett at home on an infield single. Here is a letter I sent to them in response.

Mr. Greenberg and Mr. Golic:

I could not believe the way you two obsessed about the Chase Utley play this morning. What made it worse was the fact you even had to bring Derek Jeter into it and conclude that if he had made the play everyone who say what a great play it was. The Utley play was a good play and a heads up play. However it is play that is seen in baseball games from High School to College baseball and every level of pro ball. Any second baseman with a brain would have known they will not get the runner and fake the throw to first to see if the runner from third will make a big turn. You guys acted like he split the atom. This is a normal play in the course of a baseball. The best part of the play was the tag by Ruiz because Utley threw the ball and 5 hopped it up the third baseline. Ruiz needed to dive across the plate and tag Bartlett.

Maybe if you guys spent some time and actually learned about baseball you would learn something. But instead you two are self-absorbed and are more interested in fawning over yourselves. You know absolutely zero about baseball and every time you discuss it pains me. If you watched baseball on a daily basis this is the type of play you would see daily. Was it a good play? Yes. Did it deserve 40 min of dialogue? No.

Thank you,
Matt Elias

Manny Being Yankee??

According to the NYPost it is possible that the Yankees could be making a push for Manny Ramirez. Now that the World Series is over it will only be two weeks until free agents can sign with new teams. The Hot Stove Season is upon us.

My advice on Manny: If I am Yankees I offer him a one or two year deal worth about 35 million a year. I would gladly take Manny on the Yankees for a short time where he would be motivated. Anything long term is a bad idea.

Analysis on Game 5.5 to come later.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Game 5: Part 2

All systems are a go for tonights finale of Game 5. This World Series will now always be talked about as we have never seen a game start on Monday and conclude on Wednesday (not even a Yankee Red Sox game can go on that long.) Most sport fans should watch this game, what else are you going to watch an Obama infomercial or the Knicks homeopener?

I am really looking forward to how each manager plays these final innings. A World Series could come down to 21 combined outs and roughly an hour of baseball. The Rays season is now down to 3.5 inning game. A win and they get to play a full game Thursday night. The strategy that Joe Maddon or Charley Manuel will follow has not been released, nor should it be. Right now the pitchers in the game are Grant Balfour and Cole Hamels. Balfour has a legitimate chance to atleast start this shortened game. However there is no chance Hamels will return to the mound. A) He is due to bat B) There is no way the Phils risk injury to their franchise pitcher. But Maddon has some interesting choices. Do you let Balfour start inning? If Balfour starts inning, you will see a lefty used for Hamels (Matt Stairs, Geoff Jenkins, or Greg Dobbs.) Does Maddon make another move and go to a lefty? Does Maddon go to a starter and look for length? Does he go to David Price and hope the phenom can dominate? Also what role does the cold weather play? Both teams will show upto the stadium with more of a sense of urgency then they have ever done before. They have never come to the park knowing that they only have 3.5 innings to play.

This is going to be a game we always remember. Wouldn't it be cool if they end up playing 9 innings tonight? The ratings should be good as the World Series champ could be crowned in an hour or the Rays come back could begin.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Joba vs. Price

On Saturday morning I heard Warner Wolf discussing this interesting topic on his weekly radio show: Who would you rather have Joba Chamberlain or David Price? Leave your opinions below on who you would pick.

As a Yankee fan I love Joba Chamberlain, even with this recent legal issues, but this is a no-brainer. You have to take David Price for one reason: he is a lefty. Lefties are so rare, especially ones who have stuff as nasty as Price and who are as poised as Price. Now, Price has not been as lights out as Joba was in their first seasons but look at Price's rise in the minors. He lost one game all year and went through 4 levels of the minor leagues as quickly and as dominatly as anyone in history. And his performance in Game 7 of the ALCS will always be remembered in baseball history. It also helps Price that the Rays are not thinking of him as a reliever and he knows he will be a starter come 2009.

What are your thoughts? Leave them in the comments section.

Bud Got it Right

And so we wait for mothernature to allow the conclusion of Game 5. We now know it wont be tonight, maybe tomorrow will be the night. The forecast still doenst look good as snow is on the way for Philly. (Umm I thought this was supposed to be Global Warming) The city of Philadelphia is on the verge of winning their first championship and they have to wait until an undefined date to celebrate. Kind of fitting for a city that has no championships in almost 100 sport years.

As for the first 5.5 innings of Game 5, the Rays may have stolen some momentum. As the Phillies bats awoke in games 3 and 4, led by Ryan Howard's 3 HR's, the Rays finally got hits from Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria. Maybe they will get hot again and carry the Rays back to Tampa.
Now to Bud Selig's decision. He had it right, there is no way a World Series Game or Series can be decided in anything but a 9 inning game. Rain cannot cause a shortened game and cheapen the win. The rules should be changed for the future, and I am sure they will be, but Selig had no choice but to envoke his power for the goodness of the sport. It was ridiculous that the game was even started. As early as the 3rd inning it was obvious that rain would have a huge impact. A sloppy playing field should not effect a crucial game. (I mean the umpires wouldn't even call an infield fly rule because the conditions were so hectic.)

As for the strategy for the resumtion of Game 5. The next run is obviously going to be huge. With the score tied 2-2 and rested and ready bullpens it might come down to one run. I wouldn't be shocked to see the Phillies use Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge for the final 9 outs. As for the Rays, I would go right to David Price. Joe Maddon needs to use his power arm and make sure that the Phillies dont score. He is their best chance to keep the score tied and give his team time to score the go ahead run.

Ultimatly this leads to a few more days of baseball being played and I am all for that. But lets get this over so the Yankees can start signing some free agents.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Everybody heads to Philly

So we sit here on the first off day of this seven game series all tied up at one game apiece and heading to Philadelphia. The next three games will be at beautfiul Citizens Bank Ballpark and the Phillies have two major tasks in front of them: 1) Find a way to win a game that Cole Hamels doesn't start 2) Find a way to score a RISP.

1) It doesn't take a genious to figure out that the Phillies need to find out a way to win a game in this series that ace Cole Hamels doesn't pitch. Hamels has risen has game to another level and is having a postseason for the ages. He has a chance to be the first starter to win 5 games (Randy Johnson won 5 but one was in relief and Fransisco Rodriguez won 5 all in relief.) We know the Phillies will win the Hamels starts but can they win a game he doesn't pitch. The weather sounds like it might help the Phillies and let Hamels pitch game 4 on Monday instead of game 5. If this happens he could come back on short rest and pitch game 7. But that would leave the Phillies needed either Jamie Moyer or Joe Blanton to step up and win a game. The pitching matchups the next two games favor the Rays as we saw what Matt Garza is made up in his ALCS game 7 start and Andy Sonnastine in game 4 is an underrated pitcher who stifled the Red Sox for 7+ innings.

2) I had put the memories of the Yankees awdful hitting w RISP for the 2008 season out of my mind until the Phillies decided to remind me of how bad they were. Until the late innings last night the only hit the Phillies in the first 17+ innings of this World Series they had one hit with RISP and it didn't even score a run. When did Bobby Abreu, Alex Rodriguez, and Jason Giambi enter this World Series. If the Phillies had maybe 4 hits with RISP they could be up 2-0. Ryan Howard looked like he might be breaking out of it ( its hard to believe the Phillies made the WS with Howard having a total of 3 RBI's in the whole postseason.) The bad play of Howard has overshadowed catalyst Jimmy Rollins and his putrid play. I would like to see Charley Manuel go for the offense and put Matt Stairs in right field as Jason Werth has been Werthless in this series. Why he didn't use Stairs in game 2 as a pinch hitter in the 6th will always baffle me. Maybe once the Phillies get some cheesesteaks from Pat's in their system it will invigorate them to win this series.
Yes this post was very slanted towards what the Phillies need to do to win this series but that is because they have struggled more then the Rays. The Rays have the pitching matchups in their favor and they did what they needed to do and win one of two at home. They lost the first game vs. Boston and came back to win the series (and should have won in 5.) The same could happen here as Evan Longoria and BJ Upton take aim at the short porch in Citizens Bank Park. I think if the Rays play their game and only lose the Hamels starts they will win this series easily.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

World Series Preview: Cheesesteaks vs. The Beach

So here we are about 6 hours from the start of the 2008 World Series and if you had the Tampa Rays vs. the Philadelphia Phillies as your World Series matchup in spring training congratulations. (And give me a call b/c I need some advice on betting.) Anyway I am very excited about this world, more then usual. Not only are there a lot of good young players and guys who deserve the national spotlight, but the Red Sox are not in the World Series and I can enjoy some good baseball and not care who wins in the end (even though I will be pulling for the Rays.)

Lets Break it down by Position:

Catcher: Dionner Navarro vs. Carlos Ruiz
This is pretty simple as Navarro was an All-Star this year and well basically Ruiz was far from it. The performance of both of these catchers will be key as these teams love to steal bases. Whomever can control the basepaths will go along way to helping their team win.
Edge: Rays

Firstbase: Carlos Pena vs. Ryan Howard
Pena would get the edge over most 1b but Howard is on the verge of his second MVP and puts up scary RBI and HR totals. Neither has a high avg and Pena's glove is superior but I will give:
Edge: Phillies

Secondbase: Akinori Iwamura vs. Chase Utley
This is easy Utley again was an allstar while Iwamura is a solid player but isn't an elite player.
Edge: Phillies

Thirdbase: Evan Longoria vs. Pedro Feliz
Longoria is the leader of this team at the age of 23 and he is already arguably one of the top 3 thirdbaseman in baseball. Again this is not close.
Edge: Rays

Shortstop: Jason Bartlett vs. Jimmy Rollins
Rollins is the defending MVP and the leader of the Phils. He gives the team the boost they need. While Bartlett is a great defender and has really helped solidy the defense his bat just doesnt measure up.
Edge: Phillies

Left Field: Carl Crawford vs. Pat Burrell
Many Philly fans wanted Burrell gone two years only to see him turn into one of their most consistant and clutch performers the last two years, however he still doesn't add up to Crawford. Crawford brings a great bat, speed and defense to the table and as the Ray with the most service time with the team he would love to bring a ring to the Trop.
Edge: Rays

Centerfield: BJ Upton vs. Shane Victirino
As we saw in LA, Victirino is definelty an agitator and spark plug. He helped will the team to victory vs the Dodgers. But we also see Upton amass 7 hr's already this postseason, one off the all time record.
Edge: Rays

Rightfield: Gabe Gross/ Rocco Baldelli vs. Jayson Werth
Rightfield is not a strong suit for either team and is prob the weakest combined position in the series.
Edge: Phillies

DH/Bench: Cliff Floyd/ Willie Aybar/Fernando Perez vs. Matt Stairs/ Greg Dobbs/ Geoff Jenkins/ Eric Bruntlett
The way the Rays DH has performed, especially Aybar they are the easy pick for the edge. But I have to say with the prospects of Burrell (DH Game 1 and Bruntlett in LF for another RH Bat vs. Kazmir is what I expect Charley Manuel to do) Stairs, and Dobbs getting some swings as DH I would expect to see the first NL DH HR since 2002 when Shaun Dunston did it for the Giants.
Edge: Rays

Starting Pitching:
The Phillies throw the best pitcher out in game 1 in Cole Hamels but the rest of the matchups favor the Rays. Jamie Moyer could be the father of every other pitcher in this series as everyother starter is under 26 and he is pushing almost 45.
Edge: Rays

As we saw in Boston the Rays weakness is the bullpen (they couldn't even protect a 7 run lead.) The dominance of Balfour appears gone and the Phillies bolster Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson for late inning shutdown relief. Even if David Price closes for the Rays, which he should, their bullpen is still shaky.
Edge: Phillies

Manager: Joe Maddon vs. Charley Manual
Could we have two bigger opoosites in managers? One is a talkative, jogger, tree-loving man with a mohawk vs a quiet soft-spoken manager. But both teams love their managers and would run through brick walls for them. The Phillies really want to win for Manuel who lost his mother last week.
Edge: Rays

Series Pick: Rays in 6

Friday, October 17, 2008

Here We Go Again

Everyone it is official, there is no point to watch the rest of the MLB postseason: the 2008 Boston Red Sox are the World Champs.

We have seen this before and we will see it again, down 3-1 they are going to repeat their past in coming back again. Of the 5 teams to ever do it Boston has done it 4 times including 2004 and 2007. The David Ortiz homerun to make it 7-4 really brought all the momentum to the Sox and the Rays looked like a deer in the headlights.

The last two games of this series are basically a fore gone conclusion. This Beckett start is exactly like Curt Schilling's start in 2004 in Game 6. Schilling had been shelled and even cried as he walked off the mound in game 1 by the Yankees. All the talk was of his injuries and how he was done. However by the time the Sox got it to Yankee Stadium Schilling pitched a decent game and kept his team in the lead and helped win game 6. (Yes it is an overrated pitching performance but history looks very kindly on it.)

This is how I envision the final two games of the series going. Once it gets to 7 the Rays are dead and the Sox will stampede them. Plus Jon Lester wont pitch terribly two games in a row. Then they will likely go on to the Series and face the Phillies who wouldnt have played for 7 days and the Phillies will roll over and play dead much like the Rockies and Cardinals did in past Sox World Series.

The Rays have a great future ahead of them. They are going to be a dominant team for the next decade. BJ Upton and Evan Longoria are great right now and will only get better; but they have never faced a loss like the one last night and I don't see anyway they can over come it. The ALCS says Rays up 3-2 but it feels like they are down in the series. (I still have to hope the Rays can win)

Friday, October 10, 2008

ALCS Preview

The Phillies did what they needed to do last night and got a big win. The Dodgers offense didn't show much besides Manny and the Phillies finally got a big hit from Chase Utley. The Dodgers MUST win today. They need Billingsly to step up today, because as Joe Torre always said Game 2 is biggest game of the series. Either your going to LA tied or 2-0 Phillies. Tied and LA has a chance down 0-2 series over.

One other point before the preview: why would the Phillies ever pitch to Manny with first base open. They need to make someone else beat them. Manny proved once again what a great hitter he is. Charlie Manuel if you want to win put Manny on 1B, treat him like Bonds circa 2001.

ALCS Preview:

I do not think I can give a fair evaluation of this series as my hatred for the Sox will likely come out. My heart wants the Rays to win but my mind knows better. The Sox are too experiences, too gritty, and have too much going for them. They lose their ace Beckett, who looked very mortal in his one start, but they got Jon Lester who looked very Beckett Like in his two starts. He has'nt given up a run in 21 innings in his post season experience. Only Red Sox with that type of number is Babe Ruth. Dice-K never looks good as a starter but he finds a way to win. He will walk people and throw 140 pitches but only allow 2 runs and the Sox will win. Papelbon is lights out in the 9th. Pedroia and Youkilis are gritty grinders who wear out pitchers and Jason Bay has easily replaced Manny Ramirez.

The Rays are a great story this year. They are a true "team." They have no one in the top 10 of MVP's but they were able to win the AL East beating out the Yankees and the Red Sox. The Rays dominated the Sox down at the Trop. The Rays play great defense and Evan Longoria could change everything. If he has a monster series things could change.

Predection: Sox in 6. I think the prospects of facing Beckett and Lester in games 2,3 6,7 is too much. Beckett is this generations Bob Gibson and Lester might be the pitching the best right now.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

NLCS Preview

The Los Angeles Dodgers led by Manny Ramirez and Joe Torr... Oh wait thats right there is still a series to be played. The Philadelphia Phillies have become the forgotten team. Has this ever happened before, a team with more wins and home field advantage is never mentioned? The Fightin Phils boast a lineup with two MVP's (only Dodger MVP is on the bench) and a possible third in Chase Utley, yet they are an after thought. No one expects them to win this series. They expect Manny Ramirez and Joe Torre to walts into the World Series.

This is exactly a position the Phillies should be in because of one key thing: NO PRESSURE. The Phillies have not been in the national spotlight since the playoffs started. All the talk is about Los Angeles, this can only help the Phils.

This series is filled with story lines:
1) Joe Torre's quest to go to the World Series while the Yankees are at home.
2) Manny's possible matchup with the Red Sox in Boston... We know Fox is going to do anything to get this to happen (not that we really believe TV exec's can determine the outcome.)
3) Larry Bowa returning to Philly in a Dodger Uni
4) Manny attacking the short porch in left... The all time postseason hr leader has a great chance to add to it.
5) How do the Dodgers handle Ryan Howard and Chase Utley... And can Utley and Howard finally get some postseason hits?
6) Has Brad Lidge forgotten the 2005 playoffs and Albert Pujols homerun and is ready to prove he is a big time closer, just as his big 2008 season proved?

As all playoff series come down to pitching, defense and clutch hitting this one will be no different. If you factor the managers into the equation the nod has to go to Joe Torre over Charley Manuel, unless we are weighing them, then Manuel scales tip in his favor. If Cole Hamels can pitch a great game and help the Phils steal game one the pressure will really be on the Dodgers and the Phillies could be on their way.

Predection: Dodgers in 6. Manny continues his hot streak and Derek Lowe proves he is a big game pitcher.

Manny Guarenteed Ring?

Has Manny Ramirez guarenteed himself a ring? I received this text message yesterday afternoon from my friend Bobby and as crazy and ridiculous as it sounds, Manny might get a ring no matter what (as long as its Boston- LA.) The usualy protocol for a player traded during the season is that they get a ring. Nomar got a ring in '04 even though he was long gone so Manny might have a shot at a ring. I wonder if a losing player in the world series has ever gotten a ring.

Before Previewing the LCS

Sorry for the lack of posting since Yankee Stadium has closed but it has been a difficult time gathering my thoughts on all the is going on. Even the little joy that I could get out of another Mets collapse to end the season it still has been tough/weird watching the Playoffs without my Yankees, even though the last few years it has not lasted more then a handfull of games. But those games allowed for about three days of previews, then the games, then the post-mortum and trying to figure out what went wrong.

A few quick thoughts before the preview:
1) Thank you Mets for the collapse; you guys took all the attention off a failed 2008 campaign for the Yankees.
2) When reflecting back, I think the closing ceremony on September 21st was a perfect sendoff for the Stadium. I think it was the way the Stadium should have gone out (unless it was guarenteed a World Series Championship.) This way everyone knew this was it and everyone could enjoy it. The speach Derek Jeter gave and the final lap saying goodbye was terrific.
3) Bringing Brian Cashman back was the only choice the Yankees had. He has been trying to make the team younger and more athletic for a couple years and he deserves a chance to finish it. He has some questionable moves on his record (Kei Igawa and Jaret Wright to name a couple) but overall he has done a good job and I look forward to the moves he makes this offseason.
4) Congrat's go out to Mike Moooooooosssssssssssseeeeeeee Mussina, for his first 20 win season. It has been great watching his in pinstripes since 2001 and if this is truly it what a way to go out.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Stadium Closes

I can't believe Sept 21st is finally here. It is a weird feeling thinking that there will never be another game played at Yankee Stadium after tonight. (Unless a historic collapse by the Red Sox occurs.) Unfortunatly, I will be watching all the ceremonies and the game on TV, but this was the toughest ticket in town. I was lucky enough to go the last two nights and make sure I soaked everything in. I haven't written in the last few days because I have either been at the game or I have found it tough to actually write something meaningful on what Yankee Stadium means to me. It was really tough leaving yesterday knowing that I would never be coming back. There are so many great memories that I have had in the Stadium. Not even just seeing big, important playoff games but just going in June and being with either my parents (my mom was a good trooper and went to a bunch of games and would always stay till the end), or going with my friends. Yankee Stadium was just a great place to hangout and enjoy baseball.

The fact tonights game still means something, I know the season is over but they are still technically alive. It would have been awful for the final game at Yankee Stadium to be a truly meaningless game.

I am looking forward to the New Yankee Stadium next year, but I am still sad to see this one go. The new one will be amazing but I don't see how it can duplicate this place. I know the Stadium changed but it was the field where Mantle, Ruth, Gehrig, Dimmagio, and Munson played. I mean you can't duplicate that history, that will be gone. And I dont see how you can make the Stadium rock the way this one has. Where the upper deck would shake following a big moment and you half wondered if the old stadium would just collapse there. There are a lot of great memories that I will take from there.

I will spend hours today watching all the shows on ESPN, ESPN Classic, and YES about the Stadium, not watching football. I can't wait to see the return of Bernie Williams, he deserves a great ovation. Tonight is going to be a night where you get goosebumps, even sitting at home. The Yankees are going to put on a great show. *A side note, I read that the Yankees are not letting the players keep their game jerseys b/c they want to sell them. I find this to be truly ridiculous. The players should be allowed to keep them if they want, they basically told the players they will be arrested if they try to take them. That seems a bit unfair.* I will try to put some real thoughts about Yankee Stadium on paper during the week, including the top 10 games I ever watched there and the Top Games I ever attended there.

Lets go Yankees! Make sure the Stadium closes on a win, with Jeter putting the Yankees ahead and Mo closing it out 1-2-3.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Bretts Have a Chance

Eight minutes into this NFL season everything changed. When Pollard's body hit into Tom Brady's left knee and tore his ACL and MCL the whole NFL was turned upside down. The NFL lost one of its biggest stars and one of its ratings makers.

This has opened up the AFC East for a free for all. Going into the 2008 season- there was no chance that any of the other three teams could win the division but now they all have hope. The Buffalo Bills and New York Jets have a great shot at stealing the division and since this is the NFL anything can happen and the Dolphins have some hope now too.

The Bills looked the best in week one, completly dominating the hapless Seahawks. But the Jets have Bret Favre and this gives them the best qb in the division and the best leader to try to get to the playoffs. He helps improve the running game as Thomas Jones already equaled last season's touchdown output in the first game.

This is not to say the Jets will definetly capture the East. It just says they have a thousand times better chance to do so now that Brady is out for the year. Would the feeling be so good if Chad Penningtons pass was a touchdown and not an interception with five seconds to go?Probably not but that didn't happen and a win is a win. The Jets have a chance to be 2-0, a very good chance.

I am also not saying the Patriots will be pushovers. They are still the team I would expect to see win the division. Matt Cassell may have not started a game since high school but the Pats still have a great defense and plenty of offensive weapons. They should still win 9 or 10 games this year with the defense and talent they have.

This Sunday's game will tell a lot. If the Jets don't win at home versus a Tom Bradyless Pat's team it will show their fans and them that they are still not on the same level. Even with all the changes and bringing in Brett Favre. We will learn a lot about the Jets, a win can energize the team and fanbase even more and show them that this injury has brought the Pats to their level. Look for the Jets to pull out a close one as Matt Cassell can't pull off the heroics that Tom Brady could.

The Final Home Stand

I cant believe this is it. As dissapointing as this season has been for the Yankees, the big story begining this week is the final home stand in Yankee Stadium History. This is not the way anyone in the Yankees orginization envisioned the season going. Everyone expected and wanted the final game to have Mariano Rivera closing out the final game of the World Series. That is clearly not happening now and it is obvious that Sept 21st will be the final game ever played in Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees havent handled the final season in the House that Ruth built the way everyone imagined. There havent been special ceremonies for legend players or for teams final time in the stadium. They have bungled the countdown lever puller during each game. The Yankees have enough former players and legends who could pull the countdown clock. There is no reason that Yankee Stadium staff or the GM of the Devils should be pulling the lever. There were almost enough guys at Old Timer's Day to do it once this year. Hopefully the Yankees have something big planned for this final week. A good start would be to have Bernie Williams come back and have the fans honor him the way he deserves.

This Cathedral of baseball will close its doors for the final time that night and along with it all the history and memories will be done. It is strange to think that there are only a handful of times that I will ever walk into the stadium on 161st street and River avenue. Ten games left to make a memory. There have been many great moments and some bad ones that have taken place in this building and plenty that I have witnessed. The Yankees are moving into a great new ballpark next year but this week is about the Stadium, not even the Yankees poor play can take away from that.

9/11/01- Never Forget

I know this blog is supposed to be about sports and mainly the Yankees and Baseball, but on the 7th anniversary of 9/11/01, I just want to make sure everyone takes some time out of their day and pays their respects to those victims of the horrible attacks. Our world changed forever that Tuesday afternoon and everyone should remember it. That morning was similar to this one in respects to the weather, except the Yankees were in first place. It even rained the day before, cancelling Roger Clemens chance at 20 wins. Walking by Ground Zero this morning, just like every morning I get chills and it is a reminder of the fact that people hate us for the freedom we enjoy.
No matter who you support in the 2008 election everyone is an American and we should all come together to mourn this terrible event.

*Some actual sports thoughts later tonight as the Yankees head to the final homestand and the Jets face the Bradyless Patriots

Friday, August 29, 2008

Thank You Jason (Not Mustached One Either)

So Jason Stark has pointed at what the chances of the Yankees making the playoffs are. 2.3 %. You almost have a better chance of being struck by ligntning, twice, then seeing the Yankees make the playoffs. They would need to go on a run that they have not had since 1998 when they won 114 regular season games.

2.3% is still a chance but it doesnt seem likely. Jason Stark has pretty much shown us Yankee fans that yesterday was just a tease and that the 2008 playoffs are almost improbable.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Answer: 4 yrs 60 Million

Earlier in the week, we at the Eliassportsblog asked you to vote and comment on which pitcher you would give a 4 yr 60 million dollar contract (15 million a year.) Thank you for all the votes and keep them coming in as the seaosn winds down. These guys will all get, could get, or currently get more then that but this seems to be a fair contract to a pitcher. Not crazy money (20 million a year) and a fair length (4 yrs.) A team would be lucky to have any of these pitchers and none of them are the wrong choice.

Our finalist were: Carlos Zambrano, Brandon Webb, CC Sabathia, Tim Lincecum, Roy Halladay, and Johan Santanna.

In reverse order here is our pick for the pitcher who most deserves this contract:

6) Carlos Zambrano- The Cubs know who their ace is. Zambrano was supposed to be the third best pitcher out of their big three (Kerry Wood and Mark Prior). But he has proven to be the only durable and big time pitcher out of the group. He is a workhorse who goes over 200 innings and year. He strikeouts out a lot of guys, is a perennial all-star and can even swing the stick pretty well. He just isn't at the level of the other five guys.

5) Johan Santana- Johan has had another dominant season. He is putting together another year with an ERA under 3.50 and trying to help the Mets to the playoffs. The two strikes against Johan is the fact that until recently he seemed content with going 6 or 7 innings and turning it over to the bullpen. An ace of a team should go out there and throw 9 innings when needed and he just doesn't seem to want to do that. Another strike against him is his size. How much longer can he be an elite starter. He will likely break down by the end of the third year of this contract (hypothetical) and might be a shell of himself by the final year. Think he gives up a lot of homeruns now? Wait till the 2012.

4) Tim Lincecum- In two years Tim Lincecum will probably be the number one pitcher in baseball. But I want to see him do it for another year or two before I crown him the best in baseball. His stuff is electric and he knows how to pitch. His size leaves a question mark as to can he withstand a long healthy major league career. But his mechanics look flawless and hopefully he wont suffer and injuries.

3) Brandon Webb- Webb will pick up his 2nd Cy Young in three years. He has added a new pitch every year to go along with his devastating sinker. He has the drive to improve and looks like he can be dominant for years to come.

2) CC Sabathia- Sabathia knows he will get more money then this contract in the offseason. He has been amazing for the Brewers and has completly owned the National League. He is the perfect age to get this contract. He throws hard, has great offspead pitches, and can eat up innings. The only two strikes against him are: his size (he eats a lot more then 200 innings a year). Who knows what he will weigh when raking in the big bucks. And two when asked the same question Steve Phillips picked Sabathia. We all know his track record.

1) Roy Halladay- Over the last six to seven years Halladay has been the best pitcher in baseball. He is a lost treasure in Toronto. If only he could get a chance to show his skills on a playoff contender. He can go out and throw a complete game any night of the week. He has eight this year, some teams probably havent had eight complete games in the last decade. He is a throwback pitcher who stays relatively healthy (last year he had an appendix removed but thats not a baseball injury.) Halladay could pitch on my team any day (and probably will when he is 38, as that is the Yankee track record.)

-Your thoughts/ comments?

Everytime You Think You Are Out They Pull You Back

Heading home from Yankee Stadium Wednesday night I had finally convinced myself the season was over. No sooner had Dustin Pedroia connected on a grand slam to make it 11-2 my mind was made up. In fact I was up and out of my seat on the way home before that ball even landed. I was even convinced that they were going to get swept in the final Yankee-Red Sox series in the current stadium. I had even told a Red Sox fan congrats on winning the wild card.

As I headed to the Stadium today, I only hoped for a well played game and a win. I just didnt want to see another double digit slaughter by the Sox. I am heading to Florida this week and figured that this was a good time to get away and not worry about the Yankees for a week. They would be 8 games out with 29 to play and just swept by the Red Sox.

But with a couple Giambi swings everything seemed to change. The Stadium had a weird feeling all day, it was almost like the fans were expecting the Yankees to lose. Down 2-0 heading into the 7th things looked bleak. It looked like another game where the Yankee bats would fail them, which is the same script that has been followed for the first 120+ games. Cody Ransom's double with two outs looked like a meaningless hit. And when Girardi brought in the Big G to pinch hit to face Hideki Okajima I had my doubts. I was even questioning the move (I had no faith in Giambi.) But the Big G ran into an Okajima fastball and crushed it to leftcenter and the Stadium was rocking again. The fans were looking for something to chear about and Giambi's 27th homerun was what they needed. He had stopped the final nail into the coffin from being hit (for now.) And then with the bases loaded Giambi lined an 0-2 Jonathan Papelbum pitch to centerfield to send everyone home happy. The Yankees had a huge weight lifted off their shoulder.

This win pulled me back into the season. I was ready to watch them play out the string. I would still watch every game just not live and die with every pitch. But now 6 games back with 29 to play seems slightly do-able. Crazier things have happened. This is a big momentum game that the Yankees can possibly build on. It would be easy as they face Burnett and Halladay this weekend and only have 7 games with teams under 500. Maybe they are done and this was one last good feeling for the 2008 season, maybe this was just a tease, but the Rockies won something like 18 straight games last year to reach the post-season, why cant the Yankees. You have to believe in a team led by Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera.

As I was riding the 4 train home all I could think was "I thought I was out but they pulled me back in."

Breaking News- Beckett to Alabama

Josh Beckett has been scratched from Fridays start vs the Whitesox and is being sent to Dr. James Andrews office in Alabama. He will be checked out there and Buster Onley has reported his status for the rest of the season is up in the air.

Dr. James Andrews are the three scariest words in baseball (other then Red Sox Win). It is a phrase no team/fan/player ever want to hear.

You never want to see someone hurt and I am only reporting this not trying to make fun of the Red Sox. I hate it anytime someone gets hurt and people celebrate. This is not good news for baseball. As a fan you want to see your team beat their opponents at full strength not a dilluted version.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Unfamiliar Position

The New York Yankees will find themselves in a very unfamiliar position. They are now nothing more then 200 million dollar spoilers. They have been knocked from playoff contention (not matchematically but they need to go 25-5 to have a shot.) Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera will miss the playoffs for the first time in their careers. The Yankees are now no better then the Royals/ Pirates/ Nationals for the final 30 games of the season. They are irrelevant in the baseball world. It is something that has not been experienced in over 14 years.

There will be plenty of time to reflect on the great moments of the past 14 years and the great run, but right now its time to realize its over and that Jeter and the rest of the team has fallen into depths unknown to them.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Do or Die

As everyone knows this Yankee season has been an up and down roller coaster. One week they look dead with no pulse only to quickly change the next week to a team who looks like they can win any type of game that is thrown at them. But those good feelings do not last for long as the teams returns to its listless ways and looking disinterested. Can this team postpone the last game at Yankee Stadium until October or will it officially close Sept 21st as planned?

Well Joe Girardi's team finally has met its crossroad this week. With just 32 games to go and a 5 game deficit the Yankees get a chance at the team who is directly ahead of them. Forget about the first place Rays, they are long gone in the Yankees mind. The Yanks need to focus on their most hated rivals who come to the House that Ruth Built for the final time (unless a one game playoff occurs.) The Red Sox lead when they leave Thursday afternoon will either be 2, 4, 6, or 8. If the deficit increases the Yankees are done. If it is four the season is still on life support as there will only be 29 games to make up the hole. And they will be facing Halladay and Burnett this weekend, two guys who they cant hit. Is four impossible? No as we saw last year with the Mets collapse and the Rockies amazing run anything is possible. But there is a reason those are historic comebacks they do not happen every year or even every ten years. A two game difference and now we are talking about a come back.

Either the beginning of a great comeback or the official beginning of the first meaningless September since 1993 begins tonight vs. Tim Wakefield. It is truly a testament to the Yankees grit that they have managed all the injuries to key players that they are still in this race. But it is also a testament to the awful play of their competitors that they haven't put the kill on a team who has played very mediocre over first five months of the year. It is time for Alex Rodriguez to carry the team over the final month. If he has a big month he could win his second straight MVP award. The team also needs Jason Giambi and Robinson Cano to drive in big runs and get hits with runners in scoring position. Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon and Bobby Abreu need to keep up their hot hitting. Hideki Matsui returning makes the lineup deeper and stronger. And Xavier Nady has handled the pressure of New York beautifully.

As for the pitching the Yankees need to win almost every start that Mike Mussina and Andy Pettitte makes. With Carl "American Idle" Pavano, Sidney Ponson, and Darrell Rasner making 60% of the remaining starts Moose and Andy starts are that more important. The bullpen has to be solid and not blow leads.

The pitching has not been the problem, even with all the injuries (Chamberlain and Wang) and ineptitude (Hughes and Kennedy.) If the offense was what it was last year this team would be leading the race. So for that reason these last 32 games are on the offense they need to hit and hit and hit some more to get this team to a 14th straight post-season.

Monday, August 25, 2008

4 yrs/ 60 Million To Spend on Any Pitcher

So I was listening to Mike and Mike on ESPNradio last week and every baseball guest was asked the same question: if you could sign any pitcher to a 4 yr 60 million dollar contract, who do you sign?

There are a lot of pitchers to consider, from veterans like Roy Halladay to young guns like Tim Lincecum everyone is in play. This is an interesting question to think about. Here is a quick list of guys who come to mind who would be in play for this contract: AJ Burnett/ Rich Harden/ Brandon Webb/ Dan Haren/ Cliff Lee/ Johan Santanna/ Josh Beckett/ Roy Halladay/ Tim Lincecum/ Edinson Volquez/ Jake Peavy/ Cole Hamels/ Felix Hernandez/ Carlos Zambrano/ Joba Chamberlain/ Ben Sheets/ Chien-Ming Wang

Lets start by eliminating dominant guys, with great stuff but who are always hurt: AJ Burnett, Jake Peavy, Josh Beckett, Ben Sheets and Rich Harden are out of the discussion.

Cliff Lee is not proven enough. Even though he is starting this year's all-star game last season he was sent to AAA due to ineffectiveness.

Joba Chamberlain/ Edison Volquez/ Felix Hernandez all are very impressive at their young age but they do not have the experience or lasting power so far to show that they are going to be this dominant.

I would put Dan Haren, Chien-Ming Wang and Cole Hamels into the second tier of pitchers. They are not worth the big, big money. They are solid number two pitchers but are not the aces that this contract is for. Even though Wang had the most wins over the last two years he still isn't the ace everyone is looking for.

The Finalists: Johan Santanna/ Brandon Webb/ Roy Halladay/ CC Sabathia/ Carlos Zambrano and Tim Lincecum.

Vote and leave comments on your picks on the Finalists. Our picks will come later.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Golden Thoughts

As the Yankees have an off day, that leaves some time to think about the sport spectacle known as the Olympics that are going on in Beijing to discuss. Leaving the political problems, and underage Chinese girls out of the equation, with these Olympics aside these games have been great and very compelling:

1) The Golden Boy- What more can be said about Michael Phelps? He was amazing and a handled himself perfectly. It was an honor as an American to have someone as amazing as him represent this great country in such a great way. He is arguably the most dominant athlete in the history of sports. Maybe not the best athlete but most dominant. He is definetly in the short list. Here is hoping he can compete in 2012.

2) The Re-Deem Team: This version of Team USA basketball has looked a lot like the 92 Dream Team. They have simply dominated their opponents and re-stored America back to the top. Entering the medal rounds anything less then a Gold would be simply a failure. This group led by Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Dewayne Wade has handled this responsibility with great class and dignity. They have made an effort to restore the image of USA Basketball. They have even gone to watch fellow Americans compete, like seeing Michael Phelps go for his record 8th medal.

3) The Human Bolt- Two things come to mind while seeing this race a) Someone in the NFL needs to give this guy a chance. He is 6'5 and runs like the wind. You cant tell me he wouldnt be a great deep threat every sunday
b) This is the sports world we live in but I cant believe the this amazing runner was not on some sort of steroid or HGH. There is no way someone should win a race like that and so convicing. He blew away the best in the world and even coasted to a win. Not only that but he smashed the world record. A win that easy, something cant be right.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Thoughts on Past Week

Sorry for the lack of updates. Between being too upset with the Yankees and studying for a test I havent been able to update the blog. Here are some quick thoughts on recent activities:

1) The Yankees- I dont know where to start with this team. Have they been decimated by injuries? Yes, they have lost two of their top pitchers, plus another guy they were counting on. Plus their franchise catcher and their starting designated hitter. But their recent bad stretch goes beyond the injuries. If they were getting killed every game, I could chalk it up to injuries. But the way they lose is pitiful. They don't hit with runners in scoring position, at all period. That has cost them 10-15 games this year. Suzanne Waldman today said they only needed 10 sac flies over 20 games and they could have won them. They couldnt have been as bad as they were doing if they tried

2) Is Season over? They are not mathematically eliminate, yet. But they most likely are done. However there is a chance they can get hot and pull off a streak of winning 7 of 9 going into the Boston series starting in one week. If they do that, anything can happen. But if the bats don't wake look for them to be pitiful and dusting off their golf clubs earlier then expected.

3) The Jets new engine- I was tired and uninterested in the whole Brett Favre saga, however the turn it made in the last week has got me extremely excited for the 2008 season. I have never been a Favre fan but once the move was made I finally realized the significance. The Jets are RELEVANT. They are probably the most important team to the NFL this year. Evcryone is talking about the Jets now, and in a positive way. Has this ever happened before? I dont think so, at least not since 1969. Jets fans have never been this excited going into a season after losing 12 games the year before.

4) Mad Dog leaving WFAN- Some sad and puzzling news. There will be no more Mike and the Mad Dog show as Chris "Mad Dog" Russo has left WFAN to go on to XM satellite radio. I do not get this move as Russo lacks general sports knowledge. Unless he only talks about Tennis I am not sure how he can handle a sport show on his own everyday. This seems like a mistake for his career, despite the money he will receive. He will now be barely heard from just as Howard Stern has lost a lot of his audience by going to Satellite Radio.
The interesting part of this move is the fact that Chris Russo acted like the players he criticizes daily. He went for the money not for the job that was best for him. He should have practiced what he preaches and stayed in the best situation for him.
Mike and the Mad Dog was a great radio show. It invented the sports talk show format that we all love. It was a must listen everyday and provided hours of entertainment. It will be greatly missed.
Tomorrow some thoughts on the Olympics so far.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Attention 2008 Yankees: There Is No More Space on the DL.

I don't even know where to begin. Normally if the Yanks were 6 out at this point of the season and behind TWO teams for the division I would be throwing things at the TV, or simply refuse to watch. Honestly though, how could you be that mad about this season. I understand that when people point to injuries some see it as an excuse, but you need to draw the line somewhere. The Yankees haven't had one major injury they've had four, and as much as it pains me to say it, with Dr. Andrews in the picture it looks like that number will be five. Here's a review of what they've lost:

Wang: Winningest pitcher in the entire MLB over the last two seasons... out for season.

Posada: Coming off a career year where he finally learned how to hit an offspeed pitch. Handled that pitching staff about as well as anyone could have....out for season.

Matsui: Led the league in hitting, has been nothing but consistently productive since he has arrived despite his slumps where all he does is ground out to 2B. Was well on his way to being most productive outfielder this year.....out for season.

Hughes: Lost a no hitter last year to an injury, came back and was great down the stretch. One of only two Yankee pitchers to throw well during playoffs last year.....pitched with broken ribs and has been out for most of the year.

Joba: All I will say is that if he is seriously hurt they can pack it in for the next 5-10 years.

There is no other team in baseball who could have sustained an injury to their ace, catcher, most productive outfielder and their no. 4 starter, and still be somewhat (barely) in contention for a playoff spot. I know a lot of people will point to the payroll, but those who do that know next to nothing about baseball. Teams have won the world series with huge payrolls and with minuscule ones, so that argument can be thrown out. I don't care what your payroll is, no team can sustain those injuries.

For example let's take the Red Sox who's fans are comparing the Yankees injuries with David Ortiz's poor wrist. Pretend Ortiz was never hurt, and just for arguments sake pretend they never traded Manny. Take Beckett, Varitek (who isn't half the offensive player that Posada is, and while he might be better defensively it is not by enough to make up for his piss poor performance at the plate) and Drew off their team for the same amount of time Wang Posada and Matsui have been out for the Yanks (I didn't take another starter out for the Sox bc Schilling has missed the entire year). Taking Beckett out means Bucholz never had time to go get his hand held in Pawtucket and had to grow a pair at the Major League level. Taking Drew out means Ellsbury has to play everyday and we all know how The Nation feels about that now-a-days seeing as he has been benched for Crisp. If you take Varitek out the entire team supposedly falls apart, which is partly true and partly an excuse for the 2006 season. Now add in all the other injuries like Jeter being out for 15 days, Damon going to the DL, and Arod being on the shelf for a while, or how about Bruney (who was pitching outstanding) being out for 3 months. I know that Lowell was on the DL for a bit, but now on top of that take Youkilis and Pedroia out for two weeks a piece, along with their best relief pitcher (outside of Papelbon) at the time for 3 months, and you have yourself a sub-.500 ballclub. I took the Red Sox as an example not because I dislike them, but because they too have a high payroll. Also, being a Yankee fan I pay a lot of attention to the players on the Sox, so I know what losing those players would mean to that team.

My point isn't that Yankee fans should be content with not making the playoffs, but if that does happen to remember that this isn't the team they meant to put on the field. The team they were supposed to field can be found in the picture at the top of this post. I know that this seems to happen every year with the Yanks as they trot people back and forth from AAA to the Major Leagues in order to try and fill in spots here and there, but it hasn't happened this late in the season.

On to Joba. Simply put: if he is seriously hurt they are completely screwed for a long time. The kid can pitch, plain and simple. He is a smart pitcher who is talking about the economy of pitches at age 23. He is someone who can throw 100 mph but knows how to bring it down and save some for when he needs it (just like Rich Harden, as much as I hate the injury comparison that is begging to be made). If there is any, and I mean even the slightest bit, chance that he could injure himself in the long term if he comes back this season then shut him down. The Yankees have been so careful with Joba to this point and for them to rush him back for a playoff race they are probably going to come up short on anyway is the closest thing to completely brain dead I can fathom. That being said, I don't think there is a chance they would do that.... they're not the Mets (Ryan Church). I really hope he is okay, he is hands down the best homegrown pitcher they have had since Pettite and if he can continue to pitch like he has he will be far better than Pettite. He is a huge fan favorite and the last thing anyone wants to see is his career be plagued by injuries and then compared to Mark Prior.

On to a related, but different topic. I am completely against signing pitchers to these ridiculously long term/high money deals, because not a single one has worked out. But how nice would a rotation of CC, Wang, Joba, Hughes and Moose be next year (if Moose wants to come back)??? Sounds pretty good to me. If there is anyway the Yankees could get an injury discount on Ben Sheets, they should consider that too, although he will most likely get hurt. On the other hand CC is never hurt, and while he does pitch a lot of innings his body type (i.e. FAT) allows a lot of pressure to be taken off his arm. CC is a new type of free agent pitcher. What I mean by that is every knock on the other long term high money pitchers doesn't apply to CC. Santana didn't pitch deep into games, not only does CC pitch deep into games, he is routinely at the top of the league for Complete Games (usually behind Halladay). Barry Zito's velocity, actually all his numbers, were on their way down... CC's have gotten better (minus the first 8 starts of this season), plus no one should have even come . Kevin Brown signed his deal when he was 34 (the Dodgers HAD to be dropping acid), CC just turned 27. Mike Hampton, well he just caught bad luck with injuries, but he is only 5'10" and 180lbs and his name isn't Pedro Martinez so what did you think would happen? Baseball-Reference.com lists CC at 6'7" 250lbs....250lbs?????? Yeah ok, maybe with only one foot on the scale. Hopefully Brian Cashman reads this and signs CC based on all of this wonderful research. Getting CC for 7 years (ages 27-35) at 18-20 mil a year is a risk, but shouldn't be grouped with those other guys. And yes, that is him wearing a Yankees hat,

On the next post I will attempt to write about football. I am morally opposed to writing about sports you've never played at least once in your life, but no one is reading this anyway so I'll do some research and give it a shot.

One last thought on the Yankees, they make average (and below average) LHPs look like Sandy Koufax and can someone for the love of God teach Richie Sexson the proper way to swing a bat, even when he hits the ball he looks like he swings only until he makes contact and then forgets that you're supposed to keep going and come through the ball.

Oh yeah, Congrats to the Co-AL player of last week: Xavier Nady.

PS: Nolan Ryan looks like he could still kick somebody's ass.....Watch out Robin Ventura.