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.