Sunday, December 30, 2007

2007 Winners & Losers: Around Here, More the Latter

Winners and Losers in sports for 2007:

Winners: New England fans. Can't sugar-coat this. They wanted a World Series "just once in our lifetime." They now have two. And they got off scot-free in the Mitchell Report. They got an undefeated NFL regular season, and no real punishment for that team's cheating, either. They got "their Celtics" back. Boston College had a pretty good season. Harvard won the Ivy League. Even the Bruins look competent for the first time in about a dozen years.

Sickening.

Losers: New York Tri-State Area fans. Not one of the area's major league teams lived up to expectations. The Giants came closest, making the Playoffs. But the Yankees fell short. The Nets fell short. The Devils fell short. The Rangers probably got as far as their talent would let them, but with their big start, bigger things were expected from hockey's most overpriced and most overrated team.

At least those teams made the Playoffs. The Islanders missed. The Jets dissolved into injury. The Mets had the most calamitous collapse any local team ever had, blowing a seven-game division lead with 17 games to play and not even making the Playoffs -- when this was supposed to be THE YEAR.

The Knicks? Let's be honest here: If the problems that any of the other eight big-league teams in the area had were all that Knick fans had to worry about, it would be a vast improvement. The Knicks stunk on the basketball court, and they stunk in civil court. They stunk on the boards, and they stunk in the boardroom. Any Yankee Fan who wants to say the Mets are a "disgrace," or any Giant fan who wants to say the Jets are a "disgrace," Met or Jet fans can say, No, you want a true disgrace, look at the Knickerbockers.

Even the Tri-State Area's auxiliary teams disappointed. The Liberty made a quick exit from the WNBA Playoffs. The New York Cosmos... I mean, the New York Arrows... I mean, the New York-New Jersey MetroStars... I mean, Red Bull New York, also made their ridiculous league's playoffs but made a quick exit.

Local college sports? Rutgers, which thrilled so many with a run to the National Championship game in women's basketball, saw their men's basketball team tank, and their football team, which was supposed to make a run at the Big East title, finished the regular season 7-5. Seton Hall and St. John's didn't make the NCAA Tournament, either. The days when New York City (even including its suburbs) was the center of the basketball universe are long gone.

Winners: Rutgers University. It tells you how far Coach Greg Schiano has brought this team when they can win seven regular-season games, contend for the Big East title, and go to a bowl game played in January... and the season is considered a disappointment. Ray Rice, please: One more year! And the Lady Knights did go almost all the way, and there's no shame in losing to Pat Summitt's Tennessee juggernaut. The shame came afterward, but did not fall on Rutgers:

Loser: Don Imus. Like he has the right to joke about anyone's hair. Shame on WABC for letting Curtis Sliwa and Ron Kuby go and hiring the old bastard. (You'll notice I didn't use my usual euphemism "b@$+@rd" this time.) The real shame is that this bigoted bully wasn't fired decades ago for things much worse.

Winners: Roger Maris and Hank Aaron. They still hold the records, respectively for home runs in a single season and in a career. Anybody who says otherwise is lying. That includes Bud Selig.

Losers: Mark McGwire. Sammy Sosa. Barry Bonds. And, to a lesser extent, the other players named in the Mitchell Report -- to a lesser extent because they were confronted with allegations but not proof.

Yeah, I know, we don't have the proof on McGwire or Sosa, but we also didn't have Roger Clemens or anyone else named in the Report looking ridiculous or guilty (or outright making themselves guilty, like Rafael Palmeiro) under oath in front of Congress.

Winners: The University of Florida. Few schools have ever won National Championships in both football and basketball. By winning the 2007 title in football, the Gators are the first to do it in the same schoolyear. By winning the 2007 title in basketball, the Gators are the first to do it in the same calendar year. And the first basketball team to do it since Mike Shuhshefski and Duke did it in 1991-92.

I'll start spelling his name right when he starts pronouncing it right. If your name begins with a K, it's not pronounced with a "shuh."

Losers: The guys behind the Bowl Championship Series. Never mind that Louisiana State is probably still the best team in the country. Never mind that LSU's only two losses were in triple overtime. There are two teams in Division I-A (or whatever the college football equivalent of "major league" is being officially called now) who have one loss or less: One-loss THE... Ohio State University and undefeated Hawaii.

If the only two teams with less than two losses aren't facing each other in the National Championship game, then, at least this season, the BCS has failed.

It's simple, really. First, tell every independent -- this means you, Notre Dame, you cowards -- that either they join one of the following eight leagues: Big East, ACC, SEC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac-10, a merged Conference USA and MAC and a re-merged WAC and Mountain West, or they are automatically disqualified from the National Championship. Then split each league into two divisions.

There you go: The Division Champions are thus entered into a 16-team playoff. They play for the Conference Championships at neutral sites in their region, and then the Conference Champions move on to a round of eight. Then bring in the bowls. Big 10 vs. Pac-10 in the Rose Bowl, as God intended it. Big East vs. ACC in the Orange Bowl. SEC vs. C-USA/MAC in the Sugar Bowl. And Big 12 vs. WAC/MWC in the Cotton Bowl. (You do remember the Cotton Bowl, don't you?) Now you've got four teams.

Then you put the two easternmost remaining teams in one semifinal and the two westernmost in the other. Then you have a National Championship Game on the Saturday between the NFL Conference Championships and the Super Bowl. (This season, January 26.) Or, if you prefer, move the minor bowls to the week after the conference title games (December 8), then the major bowls the next week (December 15), the semis the next week (December 22), and the National Championship on New Year's Day as in days of old.

It's so simple, a caveman could do it. But the NCAA, the college presidents and the TV networks won't. Why? Because that would make sense, and they won't have that.

Winners: The San Antonio Spurs. It's not just that they won their 4th World Championship in the last 9 seasons. It's that they have definitively taken away from the Shaq/Kobe Lakers the title of best NBA team in the post-Jordan era.

Loser: Kobe Bryant. He has never been the best player in the NBA. In fact, when he's been the best player on his own team, his team has stunk. And with Shaquille O'Neal having excelled in Miami (when healthy), that argument is over, in Shaq's favor.

Winner: All those people who rooted against the Cheatriots this year.

Loser: Bill Belichick. Even if he does make it to 19-0*.

Winner: Craig Biggio, for joining the 3,000 Hit Club.

Loser: Pete Rose. Forever. Shut up about steroids, you lying, gambling, womanizing, tax-cheating schmuck.

Winner: Brett Favre. No, he isn't really, as Sports Illustrated said, the Sportsman of the Year. Once again, as they did for Stan Musial in 1957, John Wooden in '72, Jack Nicklaus in '78, Joe Paterno in '86, Arthur Ashe in '92, Don Shula in '93, Cal Ripken in '95 and Dean Smith in '97, SI gave that distinction as a lifetime achievement award, rather than for what he did in the calendar year. (At least Wooden and Paterno actually won National Championships in the seasons in question, but had previously won them, so why wait that long?)

But Favre now holds the NFL career records for completions, passing yards and touchdown passes. And, unlike the guy who held each of those records before him, Dan Marino, Favre has won a Super Bowl. Favre also broke John Elway's record for most wins by an NFL quarterback. And he did this when a lot of us thought he should've retired a year (or two) ago.

Loser: O.J. Simpson. Forever. I'll bet he likes to look in the mirror. Maybe "if he did it," he would find "the real killer."

Winners: Tony Romo and Eli Manning. They could've crumbled under various pressures. (Romo: The goof in last year's Playoffs, dealing with Terrell Owens, explaining to Jessica Simpson the difference between the silver screen and a screen pass. Eli: The New York media ripping him for being not as good a quarterback as brother Peyton, or even Walter Payton.) But both got teams that are only good, not great, into the Playoffs.

Loser: Michael Vick. It doesn't have to be forever.

Winner: Rich Rodriguez. No, he didn't get West Virginia to the National Championship, but he took a good program and made it a great one, and now he gets to go to Michigan, and try to take a once-great program and make it great again.

Losers: Bobby Petrino and Nick Saban. I could tell you why, but I got a better offer from a blog in the SEC.

Winners: New Jersey Devils fans. No more Meadowlands Arena/Brendan Byrne Arena/Continental Airlines Arena/Izod Center. No more changing buses at Port Authority, no more having to go from New Jersey to New York to New Jersey to see New Jersey's hockey team. No more vicious wind whipping off the Hackensack River across that treeless parking lot. No more of that creepy pedestrian overpass between the Giants Stadium and arena parking lots. No more one level of concourse for two levels of seats, clearly patterned after the Nassau Coliseum, which is not the model to choose. And no more sharing an arena with the lame-duck Nets.

And while we're at it...

Winner: The City of Newark. Brick City is back, and the Prudential Center, modeled after the Bell Centre in Montreal and the Whatever Bank It Is This Season Center in Philly (it is still Wachovia, right?), is as good as any arena in the league. And the team... well, we'll see. One game, they look ready to have a Cup parade down Broad Street (the new Broad Street Bullies?); the next, they look like they're hoping for a lucky shot while Marty Brodeur holds everyone off. But at least we don't have to deal with the Meadowlands anymore. Unless we wanna go see the Nets. Or the Giants. Or the Jets.

Losers: The New York Rangers and their fans. They both suck, no matter how the team is doing.

Losers: The Yankees and their fans. How can a team that made the Playoffs be losers? Well, there was the most obvious loss: Phil Rizzuto. We lost other legends from the World Championship teams of the black-and-white era: Tommy Byrne, Hank Bauer, Clete Boyer. Then there's the loss that isn't here yet, but we can all see it coming: Yankee Stadium.

The whole year looked like a struggle just to make the Playoffs. And then the way we went out -- BUGS! -- no, as I said before, don't blame the bugs, the Yanks just didn't hit. Alex Rodriguez had one of the best years any hitter's ever had, but he's still a loser for how his personal life got splattered on the front pages, not just the back ones; and for how he failed in the Playoffs... again! And then screwed up the contract talks... How can a guy who got a $275 million contract be a loser? That's how.

Joe Torre gone in a dubious way. Hey, at least he took Don Mattingly with him, so the Curse of Donnie Baseball moves to a team that really does deserve to be cursed, the putrid progeny of Walter O'Malley. And Joe gets his pal Scott Proctor back.

But it got worse: Just this week, we learned the sad story of Jim Leyritz's drunken crash. Of course, on came the Mitchell Report, casting doubt on the 1996-2003 title era, giving Met fans, Red Sox fans, and all Yankee-haters the chance to say it's all illegitimate. Never mind that the Report also fingered some Mets, including Lenny Dykstra of the sainted sinners of 1986. And that it let the Red Sox off without so much as a tsk-tsk.

Did I mention the Red Sox? We now have to listen to their inebriated reprobate fans spew out foul-mouthed mentions of two World Championships since our last.

And finally...

Winners: The Yankees and their fans. Of course. And I'm not just talking about the 26 World Championships. I'm talking about hope for 2008. Joe Girardi in as a kick-starter of a manager. No more Mattingly. No more Proctor. No more Carl Pavano. Hank Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman decided to keep the young talent rather than roll the dice on the overrated Johan Santana. Said young talent has another year under its belt. The Red Sox are a year older, and Josh Beckett really doesn't do well in even-numbered years. So there is reason to hope.

Even if there are only 81 more games scheduled for the one and only Yankee Stadium we ever really wanted. (Or 82, if you count the All-Star Game.) Nothing left to do but see to it that a few more games are scheduled. For October.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

LEAVE ROGER ALONE!!!!


Because he began his career with the Boston Red Sox, I, as a Yankee Fan -- always, Capital Y, Capital F -- found it difficult to trust him in Pinstripes, or any other way. When he told the Yanks he was retiring, then he went to Houston, the New York Post (which I usually loathe) put up a classic headline: "WHAT AN ASS-TRO!"

Now, he's been accused of steroid use. With no proof put forward as of this writing. If proof is one day shown, fine, then we'll have to deal with it. As of right now, none.

Should his Cy Young Awards be taken away? I'm not sure. Should the Yankees' World Series titles with him be vacated? Be serious. The 1999 title was won with little help from him. The 2000 title was against the Mets, and they had accused steroid users as well. And that bat was not thrown AT Piazza. (If there's one thing Roger Clemens has proven, it's that if he wants to throw something at a guy and hit him with it, especially if it's Mike Piazza, he can do it.)

That said, I hope he never pitches for the Yankees again. They've got enough drama princes on their roster. In fact, if Alex Rodriguez was the only one, that would still be one too many.

It could be worse: I could treat him the way Suzyn Waldman treated him last spring, as if he were a Beatle and she were a 13-year-old girl sitting in the balcony at what's now the Ed Sullivan Theater.

*

In fact... If you'll indulge me, I'd like to get into character here...

What's the matter with you people? Roger didn't do anything wrong! He's just a good Southern boy who was looking to do something about an injury!

You people make me sick! All he wants to do is pitch! You're lucky he even performs for you at all!

Seven Cy Young Awards! Almost five thousand strikeouts! Two World Championships! Six Pennants! Over both Leagues! He's the greatest pitcher who ever lived! And all you people wanna do is smack him! Smack, smack, smack, smack, SMACK!

LEAVE ROGER ALONE!!!!


Boo hoo hoo hoo!

Leave Roger alone! Leave Roger alone!

*

Okay, back to normal. Well, normal by my standards, anyway.

We should leave Roger alone. That means, instead of going after him, just don't pay any attention to him at all.

That means you, Curt Schilling. You were as big a Clemens acolyte as Andy Pettitte, to the point where you're as big an ass as Clemens, as Pettitte never has been. How do we know you aren't juicing, Curt? Huh? We're supposed to just take your word for it? Ha!

Lee Thomas, the Phillies' GM while you were there, was right: "One day out of five, he's a horse; the other four, he's a horse's ass!"

And that means you, Pete Rose. Shut the bloody hell up. For a guy who's a known compulsive gambler, you should know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, and know when to run. You damaged the game far more than Clemens did (if he did), and what you did was actually against the rules when you did it.

On second thought, I would like to see Roger pitch one more time. With Pete in the batter's box. Pete, you'll feel like Ray Fosse did. Or maybe like Bud Harrelson did. You'll be begging to face Gene Garber again.

Mike Piazza will probably play this season, and that might be it. Maybe the Baseball Writers' Association of America will "punish" Clemens by not electing him to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. That could mean... Clemens and Piazza going in together. Oh, boy.

But Clemens will still almost certainly get in. Rose will not go in during his lifetime. Maybe never.

Then again, if Walter O'Malley, a worse human being than any of them, can get in...

But you'll never see a "Leave O'Malley Alone!" video. Ever. I Broadway-Joe-Namath guarantee that.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Mitchell Report: Slamming the Yanks, Whitewashing the Red Sox

The Mitchell Report is out. It was conducted by George J. Mitchell, former Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate, Democrat of Maine -- and a member of the board of directors of the Boston Red Sox.

And Mitchell's report slams the Yankees.

In particular, it accuses two key cogs of the 1996 to 2003 Pennant and World Championship era: Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte. One guy who was surely bound for the Hall of Fame, another who might have been. Both were surely headed for Monument Park at the new Yankee stadium. (Note the lower-case s in "stadium," but that’s a gripe for another time.)

So how many players on the Mitchell Report list played for the October 2004 to October 2007 Boston Red Sox?

Two. Eric Gagné, whose "contributions" to that team were almost enough to wreck it, including a 7.36 ERA in the 2007 postseason. And Brendan Donnelly, who didn’t even appear in the 2007 postseason for so much as one pitch.

The most prominent Red Sock on the list – current or former, aside from Clemens himself – is Mo Vaughn, who hasn't faced a pitch for them since September 1998. There was also Mike Lansing, who closed his career in Boston in 2000 and '01, but had his best years for the Montreal Expos and Colorado Rockies. (Much like Larry Walker -- and while Lansing was a decent player, he was no Larry Walker.)

That's pretty much it for Boston. Wow. What a big honkin' shock.

Why, no less a Boston sports booster than Bob Ryan, who celebrates 40 years with the Boston Globe (and occasionally appears on ESPN's Around the Horn and Pardon the Interruption, whose producers are probably kicking themselves for taking the day off), said this in yesterday's Globe:

There will be howling from sea to shining sea if the Mitchell Report names lots of names and none of them is attached to the Red Sox, on whose masthead he has remained during the entire investigation.

And the man who popularized the phrase “The Curse of the Bambino,” the Globe’s Mr. Sox, Dan Shaughnessy, wrote in today’s edition:

It's astounding that a man as smart as Mitchell can so easily shrug off his compromised position. He either has a blind spot or he thinks his audience is stupid. The man is the official 'director' of the Red Sox and he just issued a report that trashes some Yankee gods while leaving the championship Red Sox unscathed (Mo Vaughn played here in the pre-Mitchell era, Eric Gagné was dirty as a Dodger, and who cares about Mike Lansing?). Mitchell's reputation is impeccable, but he had no business holding his Red Sox title while conducting this investigation.

*

So how can we take this report seriously? It was a slam job on the Yankees all the way, and can we really say that it hit the mark?

No, and here's why:

1. The only two names that really matter as far as the 1996-2003 dynasty is concerned are Clemens and Pettitte -- and Clemens wasn't even in The Bronx until 1999.

2. The claim against Pettitte is that he used something to help rehab from an injury. That's a whole different thing from using it to gain an unfair advantage: That's just getting back to where you were before the injury. Nothing unfair about that.

3. No positive tests. Mainly just the word of 2 guys who have reasons to lie. It's like waterboarding: What makes you think they'll tell the truth if the lies will get the torturers to stop just as easily?

4. The Yankee names were leaked before the report was revealed.

5. No significant 2004-07 Red Sox were accused. Gagné doesn't count, although his record of 84 straight save opportunities converted should get tossed. Donnelly doesn’t count, either.

If Clemens and Pettitte were hauled into court, a jury would have to say that Mitchell and his crew have not proven their case, and the defendants must be found "Not Guilty."

Granted, that's not an exoneration – as O.J. Simpson now knows, and as Barry Bonds may find out. But the two Texans are up to their necks in reasonable doubt.

Therefore, by any rational measure, the Yankee titles of the 1996-2003 seasons stand.

Sorry, Met fans, you lose again. Now, if Luis Sojo or Jose Vizcaino had been on the list...

Come to think of it... Matt Franco is on the list? Uh, Met fans, we'd like that 1999 regular season 9-8 game back.

*

Speaking of Boston, you know who looks a lot better now that this has come out? Dan Duquette. The general manager who wouldn't re-sign Clemens after 1996, saying the 33-year-old fireballer who had just gone 10-13 was "in the twilight of his career."

He also managed to bring to Boston Pedro (the Punk) Martinez, Jason (the Man in the Chicken-Wire Mask) Varitek, Derek (On the Down) Lowe, Manny (Being Manny) Ramirez and Johnny (We Like Him Much Better Now) Damon.

Duquette sure looked fooled from 1997 through 2005; how ya like him now?

Randy Velarde's name was on the list. This proves that steroids are no guarantee of enhanced ability. It reminds me of what former Yankee pitcher Jim Bouton said about amphetamines in Ball Four: "In my case, greenies raised my performance about 5 percent. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough." (He later admitted that he took a greenie just once, and it made him so jumpy he didn't want to take another.)

Two names I expected to see on the list, but weren't there: Brady Anderson (then how do you explain 1996?) and Jay Buhner (come on, people).

Juan Gonzalez is on the list? Not surprised. Luis Gonzalez isn't? A little surprised.

John Rocker's name was on the list. If he was a steroid user, that would explain why he always seemed to be going nuts, and why he got really good really fast, and then his performance collapsed just as fast. And all along, Met fans thought they'd gotten into his head. Ha! (Well, there may have been that, too.)

*

Yes, we Yankee Fans have to face the accusations associated with cheating. And we have the right to defend against them.

Mitchell should be beyond reproach. But he is not. Not in this case. He was a great Senator and a great diplomat. But he is not a great baseball fan.

Many fans are a fan only of their own team, and not of the game as a whole. Many New York Tri-State Area residents, be they Pinstriped or Blue & Orange, are also guilty of this. I’ve never been accused of it, but there’s plenty of times when I could have been.

But Red Sox fans, who never cease to remind us of how they’re the most knowledgeable fans of all, take the cake and burn down the bakery. As if people aren’t going to figure out that the Impossible Dream really did turn out to be impossible (they won the 1967 Pennant but lost the World Series), and as if we can’t figure out that Carlton Fisk’s 1975 home run won Game 6, not Game 7 – or else why the additional 29 years of Curse? Blaming Bill Buckner for the 1986 disaster absolves multiple Red Sox players and manager John McNamara: Why blame the whole team for losing Game 6 (and, again, there was a Game 7 that they also lost) when you can blame one guy who was soon gone? Sox fans act as if other teams only exist to give them somebody to play when they’re not fighting their New England jihad against the Yankees.

Can George Mitchell, a man of the world who is respected by so many, really be that myopic? Sure he can. It doesn’t make him a bad person, but it sure made him the wrong person to head this investigation.

It’s ironic: Mitchell, who was already out of office during the witch hunt that resulted in the acquittal of President Bill Clinton in his impeachment trial (and don’t forget that: He was found Not Guilty), has become baseball’s Ken Starr, an investigator who was supposed to be impartial but was hopelessly biased. In Mitchell’s case, in two ways: For the Red Sox, and for Selig.

Yankee players have been accused of using steroids. Where’s the positive test, which the federal prosecutors have on Barry Bonds? Where’s the positive test that was found from Rafael Palmeiro? Where’s the proof? Where’s the beef? Until you’ve got a positive test, all you’ve got are accusations, and that won’t hold up in court, and in America, it’s “Innocent Until Proven Guilty.”

I was sure David Ortiz would never show up on the list, because guys that fat generally don’t use steroids. But Mo Vaughn was on the list. He was the original Big Papi: Even his swing was similar to Ortiz'. It’s easy to pick on Mo because he’s long-gone.

But I have my suspicions that other members of the 2003-07 Sox have juiced, and these suspicions have been voiced by others. The suspects include: Jason Varitek, Kevin Millar, Trot Nixon, Kevin Youkilis, Josh Beckett, and, of course, Curt Schilling, an even bigger Clemens acolyte than Pettitte. If Pettitte “copied Clemens’ steroid use,” then is it so hard to believe Crybaby Curt didn’t, as well? Test the blood on that sock!

My grandfather grew up in The Bronx, could walk down the street and watch them build Yankee Stadium, saw Ruth play before Gehrig, and at age 74 could still spot a phony and did not fear to say so.

If he were alive today, he’d know who the phonies were, and he’d start with Bud Selig and George Mitchell.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Walter O'Malley Does NOT Belong In the Baseball Hall of Fame

Electing Dick Williams, Billy Southworth and Barney Dreyfuss to the Baseball Hall of Fame was long overdue.

Electing Bowie Kuhn falls into the category of "What were you thinking?" As the French say, "It is worse than a crime, it is a blunder!"

No, for a crime, you have to see electing Walter O'Malley. Lord Waltemort, owner of the Dodgers in part from 1942 and in whole from 1950 until his death in 1979, was not, definitively, the most evil man in baseball history, but he's a finalist for that title.

*

This man became a part-owner of the Dodgers because he was a lawyer for the Brooklyn Trust Company, which owned a one-third interest in the team, and they appointed him trustee of that share. They chose him over another lawyer with their firm, named William A. Shea. The same Bill Shea who would one day try to undo the damage O'Malley did by bringing a new National League team to New York in what was then considered a modern stadium, which, as you may have guessed, was named for Shea.

This man, in his role with Brooklyn Trust, foreclosed on many a house in what we would now call the New York Tri-State Area during the Great Depression of the 1930s. And, apparently, he liked his job. So, even then, he was sticking it to poor people on behalf of rich people.

This man drove team president (and owner of one of the other one-third interests) Branch Rickey away from the team in 1950.

This man fined anyone who mentioned Rickey's name in his presence.

This man drove Red Barber, one of the most honored broadcasters ever, away from the team in 1953 -- not just away from the Dodgers, but across town to the Yankees, a team Dodger fans may have hated even more than they hated the Giants.

This man traded away Jackie Robinson after the 1956 season, not because Jackie's skills were declining (though they were, he was 37 years old), not because Jackie wanted more money (though he did, O'Malley was always a cheapskate), but because Jackie was a "troublemaker." This man defined "troublemaker" as anyone who disagreed with him.

This man later claimed to have been the man truly responsible for bringing Jackie to the team and reintegrating baseball, not Rickey. This man had absolutely nothing to do with it.

These are some awful acts, including driving away from the team Rickey, Barber and Robinson, three of the most honorable men, and three of the most significant men, in the history of the game.

All this was done before he began making public statements about moving the Dodgers.

*

It is true that Robert Moses, who controlled several agencies in the governments of the City of New York and the State of New York, prevented O'Malley from building his domed stadium in Downtown Brooklyn, the "Atlantic Yards" site on top of the old Long Island Rail Road Terminal, where Bruce Ratner now wants to build, among other things, an arena he can move the New Jersey Nets into. Moses did that damage and far more. He was scum.

But here's the argument for O'Malley: He had to leave, because Moses wouldn't listen to his pleas to build a stadium to keep the team in Brooklyn; and he was a visionary who brought Major League Baseball to the Pacific Coast, and that's why he belongs in the Hall of Fame.

Like hell he does.

Think about it:

* If O'Malley was such a "visionary" for bringing big-league ball to the Pacific Coast, then he should have been visionary enough to find a way around Moses. Talk to Mayor Robert Wagner. Talk to Governor Averell Harriman. Talk to somebody with a lot of money, who might have more pull with the Mayor and the Governor. (At one point, it was rumored that Nelson Rockefeller, preparing his campaign to oppose Harriman the next year, which he won, was interested in buying the Dodgers and doing something to keep them in Brooklyn, but O'Malley wouldn't sell the team.)

O'Malley was visionary enough to finagle all kinds of concessions from the City of Los Angeles; he should have been visionary enough to work with, or through, or around Moses.

* If O'Malley was such a visionary for bringing big-league ball to the Pacific Coast, then he wasn't the first. As early as 1941, the St. Louis Browns had reached an agreement to move to L.A. The move was expected to be approved at the baseball winter meetings.

But Pearl Harbor was bombed before those meetings could be held, and baseball had to worry about being played at all in 1942 before President Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote his "Green Light Letter" to Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis. The move never happened due to travel restrictions, and the Browns moved for the 1954 season, becoming the Baltimore Orioles.

And the Pacific Coast League had been thinking for a few years before 1957 about simply declaring themselves a major league. Since the expansion of 1961-62 brought a new team, adopting the name "Los Angeles Angels" from the former PCL team, it is logical to presume that big-league ball would have reached the Pacific Coast anyway around that time, even without O'Malley's move.

Therefore, if O'Malley wasn't the first to consider big-league ball on the Coast, he wasn't a "visionary."

* If O'Malley was a visionary for moving the team, then he really is responsible for moving the team, and then you have to admit why he moved the team. Sure, Ebbets Field was small, with just 31,497 seats, but it wasn't the smallest ballpark in the majors. (Washington, Cincinnati and St. Louis then had smaller parks, and those in Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Kansas City weren't much bigger.) And it wasn't falling apart, like the Polo Grounds was across town. Granted, parking was a problem, only 750 spaces. Contrast that with the 10,000 spaces the Milwaukee Braves had for County Stadium, which then seated about 44,000 people; and with the 12,000 spaces that would be lined up for both 55,601-seat Shea Stadium and 56,000-seat Dodger Stadium. That's why O'Malley wanted the LIRR site: Both subway and commuter-rail access, eliminating the need for a lot of parking.

And it wasn't that the Dodgers weren't making enough money. They were making more money than any team in the majors, with the possible exception of the Yankees. This was a result of having the best attendance in the League until, and then except for, the Braves in their new city and stadium. That was why O'Malley wanted the new stadium, somewhere, anywhere: The money.

If he thought he could make more money in London, in Tokyo, in Antarctica or on the freakin' Moon, that's where he would've moved the team. And if he's all about the money, then that's what fueled his "vision," not an idea of how to improve baseball.

* And, finally, if the move of the Dodgers really can be blamed on Moses, not O'Malley -- or not just O'Malley -- if O'Malley really didn't have a choice but to move the Dodgers, which is a defensible position, if not a palatable one, then there goes the whole "visionary" argument: You're not a visionary if you're forced into position to see the vision.

*

So while ESPN did a "Top 5 Reasons You Can't Blame Walter O'Malley for Moving the Brooklyn Ddogers," we can do a Top 5 Reasons Why Walter O'Malley Doesn't Belong in the Hall of Fame:

5. He was a filthy piece of scum who drove men who truly did belong in the Hall (and are in) away.

4. His "vision" failed him when it still could've saved the team for Brooklyn.

3. His "vision" was not his own: It had been "seen" before.

2. He was no visionary: He was forced into his choice.

1. His "vision" was evil, driven solely by greed, and did nothing to improve baseball.

*

Many years ago, Brooklyn natives and then New York Post teammates Jack Newfield and Pete Hamill met for lunch, and talked about doing a column called "The Ten Worst Human Beings Who Ever Lived." They agreed to start by each writing their three worst on their napkins, and then comparing.

Each man had the same three names, in the same order:

1. Adolf Hitler.
2. Josef Stalin.
3. Walter O'Malley.

The column was never written, but the story turned out to be worth more to them than the column would've been.

No, O'Malley wasn't on the same level as Hitler or Stalin. Nor, to cite evil contemporaries, was he Senator Joseph McCarthy or American Nazi Party leader George Lincoln Rockwell. Or mob boss Albert Anastasia, rubbed out mere days after the Dodgers' move was announced; or Charlie Starkweather, a Nebraska teenager who went on a killing spree a year later.

And he was no more of a cheapskate than his hated partner Branch Rickey, or his crosstown competitors George Weiss (who ran the Yankees for Del Webb and Dan Topping) and Horace Stoneham (owner of the Giants).

But if you're familiar with Keith Olbermann's MSNBC show Countdown, and you take into account all the harm O'Malley did before he was in baseball, all the rotten things he did in Brooklyn, and all the crap he pulled in Los Angeles, then you'd have to agree that he fits Olbermann's criteria for his routine, which matches the parlor game Newfield and Hamill began on their napkins at that Manhattan coffee shop lo those many years ago: "The Worst Person in the World."

At Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum in London, Hitler's statue, uniquely among the statues there, can only be displayed in a glass case, because people constantly defaced it, even decades after the Allies won World War II. There is one bust at the Pro Football Hall of Fame that cannot be displayed in the honorees' gallery, for the same reason: O.J. Simpson's.

Walter O'Malley never killed anybody (as far as we know), but if the Baseball Hall of Fame puts his plaque in their gallery, I'll guarantee you that someone will attempt to damage it. And it might not be some 70-year-old Met fan who once rooted for the Brooklyn Dodgers. It might be someone who just cares about baseball.

I would not condone defacing the plaque. Simply giving it the finger will do. And doing that would prove that you care more about baseball than Walter Francis O'Malley ever did.

He wasn't a dictator. He wasn't a mass murderer. He wasn't someone who ruined people's professional or personal lives just to get re-elected or to get his name in the paper or his face on TV.

He was just a greedy bastard. And for that, he was, by the Newfield/Hamill or Olbermann definition, a completely fair nominee for The Worst Person in the World.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Do Not Fear Santana in Red Sox


So far, it looks like the Yankees are done talking with the Minnesota Twins about Johan Santana. The fear now is that the Red Sox will get him.

Baloney. As that great New Yorker Franklin Roosevelt put it, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Fear a rotation of Santana, Curt Schilling, Josh Beckett, Tim Wakefield, and Jon Lester or Clay Buchholz?

Uh, no. Santana's 2007 performance suggests he may already be in decline, having thrown too many innings too soon in his career. His record in the postseason (1-3, 3.97 ERA) and his performances against the American League's current top teams (Yanks, Sox, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Anaheim Angels) suggests he's not that big an upgrade.

Schilling is 41 and injury-prone, and if he pitches beyond 2008 I'll be very surprised.

Wakefield is also old, knuckleball or no knuckleball.

Beckett is this generation's Bret Saberhagen: Great in odd-numbered years (as the Yankees found out in 2003 and 2007), not so good in even-numbered years (as the Yankees showed in that five-game sweep in Fenway in 2006). And 2008 will be an even-numbered year.

And either Lester or Buchholz, or both, would have to go to Minnesota in that trade. Besides, how do we know Buchholz isn't another Juan Nieves, another Steve Busby, another Bo Belinsky, another Bobo Holloman? Somebody who threw a no-hitter when very young and then, for whatever reason (injuries, poor handling by his team, substance abuse, whatever) practically disappeared?

The Yankees will be fine. Their current projected rotation of Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina, Chien-Ming Wang, Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy is one I can very easily live with.

They are the New York Yankees. They are not supposed to be afraid of any team. Other teams are supposed to be afraid of them.

I know, it sounds like V for Vendetta. And, at the rate Bud Selig is tinkering with the schedule, one of these years, a World Series may indeed end on the 5th of November.

*

UPDATE: While Mussina retired after 2008, Wang fizzled out in 2009, and Kennedy did nothing for the Yankees and got traded away anyway, the Yankees won the 2009 World Series with Hughes, but without Santana. The Red Sox won the 2013 World Series with Lester and Buchholz, but without Santana. The Mets let Santana go after the 2013 season, after he appeared in 109 games for them -- none of them in the postseason.

Would Santana have made a difference for the Red Sox? They got within 1 game of the 2008 Pennant, got swept in the 2009 ALDS, and choked away a sure Playoff berth by 1 game in 2011. But with his injuries, there's no guarantee he would have been any better in Kenmore Square than he was in Flushing Meadow.

Monday, December 3, 2007

This Trade Idea Makes Me Sick


I'm sick. Major cold. From the nose up my head feels like a rock.

Not a word, Met fans! At least I still root for the right team!

Anyway... or should that be "Andyway"... Pettitte coming back for one more year? Good!

Trading prospects for a pitcher who may already be on the way down due to too many innings too soon, and whom we've already beaten in the Playoffs, when we faced Minnesota? Bad!

Keep Phil Hughes. Keep Melky Cabrera. Keep everyone else. Keep the team we closed 2007 with, with a bad smell but still considerable hope, intact. Tell Carl Pohlad, the Minnesota Twins' parsimonious centenarian billionaire, what he can go do with himself.

Let the Red Sox trade their future for Johan Santana. They'll end up with a rotation of a declining Santana, a finished, injury-prone Crybaby Curt Schilling, an inconsistent Josh Beckett (great in odd-numbered years, not so much in even-numbered years, which next year is), an ancient Tim Wakefield, and... not Jon Lester, he's supposedly part of the package... Clay Buchholz, who might be yet another no-hitter-throwing flash-in-the-pan? From what I hear, he's gonna have to be part of the package, too.

Let the Sox make that trade. Anybody who's afraid of anybody in that rotation is too timid to be a fan of any New York team.

Trading Hughes, Melky and someone else for Santana... I need that like I need a hole in the head.

Actually, I need 2 new holes in my head, to drain these sinuses...

Monday, November 19, 2007

That Makes the Score 275 million to 763


Well, it appears to be settled: Alex Rodriguez is staying. And, thanks to the almost-certain fact that Barry Bonds will never play again, we now know the number A-Rod is chasing. It's no longer 350 million, or even 275 million.

The number A-Rod is chasing is 763 -- even though it's really 756. Just 244 homers more, and we won't have to use the words "the real record" anymore. Not about career home runs, anyway. If he stays healthy and averages 41 homers a year for 6 more years (late September 2013, when he'll be 38), he's got it.

(UPDATE: As it turned out, that wasn't even close.)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Rewriting the Record Book *


Note: The following was written before it was revealed that Alex Rodriguez had used steroids while with the Texas Rangers from 2001 to 2003.

The following are baseball home run records. They do not require asterisks.

Most home runs, single-season: 61, Roger Maris, 1961.

Most home runs, single-season, right-handed hitter: 58, Jimmie Foxx, 1932, also Hank Greenberg, 1938.

Most home runs, single-season, National League: 56, Hack Wilson, 1930.

Most home runs, single-season, National League, left-handed hitter: 58, Ryan Howard, 2006.

Most home runs, career: 755, Hank Aaron.

Most home runs, career, left-handed hitter: 714, Babe Ruth.

Most home runs, single-season, San Francisco Giants: 52, Willie Mays, 1965.

Most home runs, single-season, St. Louis Cardinals: 49, Albert Pujols, 2006.

Most home runs, single-season, Chicago Cubs: 56, Hack Wilson, 1930.

Most home runs, single-season, Arizona Diamondbacks: 38, Jay Bell, 1999.

*

The entire list of players who have hit 40 home runs and stolen 40 bases in the same season:

Alex Rodriguez, 1998 Seattle Mariners
Alfonso Soriano, 2006 Washington Nationals

That's it. Only two.

*

American League Most Valuable Player, 1988: Mike Greenwell, Boston Red Sox.
National League Most Valuable Player, 1996: Mike Piazza, Los Angeles Dodgers.
National League Most Valuable Player, 1998: Moises Alou, Houston Astros.
National League Most Valuable Player, 2001: Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals.
National League Most Valuable Player, 2002: Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals.
National League Most Valuable Player, 2003: Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals.
National League Most Valuable Player, 2004: Adrian Beltre, Los Angeles Dodgers.

*

Of course, these are neither officially recognized by Major League Baseball nor capable of being enforced by me. And there may be others who will have to be stripped of records and awards, just as B---- B----, M--- M------, S---- S---, J--- C------, R----- P-------, L--- G------- and K-- C------- have been.

But those players whose names I have obscured above did not deserve those awards, and should be stripped of their records.

"When the One Great Scorer comes to mark against your name
he marks not that you won or lost, but how you played the game."
-- Grantland Rice (1880-1954)

OK, that flies in the face of things I've said about Alex Rodriguez. But he is now miles ahead of those others, regardless of whether he ever hits 62 homers in a season, or 74; or 756 home runs in his career, or 763.

But after being indicted yesterday on four counts of perjury and one charge of obstruction of justice, charges that would bring, if convicted on all, a maximum of 30 years in prison -- and they wouldn't have indicted if they weren't pretty sure of a conviction -- we can be pretty sure that B---- B---- will remain stuck on 762. Even if he's acquitted (fat chance), who would risk the radioactive publicity they'd get by signing him?

2007: Perhaps the strangest year baseball has ever had, from the home run record chase to "As the A-Rod Turns"; from the Mets blowing a big lead to the Phillies taking advantage of it, instead of the historical other way around; from the Rockies winning 21 out of 22 to the Red Sox violating the once-every-86 years rule.

I'm glad I went through it, but I hope we never go through a year like it again.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

And Are We Just Supposed to Forgive? Maybe


So, A-Rod threw himself on the mercy of the court. Or, to use another analogy, came in sackcloth and ashes. And we Yankee Fans are just supposed to forgive, simply because he’s one of the greatest players of all time?

There is precedent, though:

June 1925: Babe Ruth is a fat, overpaid bum who ate his way out of the lineup. September 1927: The Babe hits a record 60 homers and is the greatest player who ever lived.

April 1938: Joe DiMaggio is an ungrateful smart-aleck kid who should be thankful he has a job in this time of Depression, instead of holding out against the greatest of all baseball teams. October 1939: The Yankee Clipper is the MVP and everybody loves him.

October 1955: Mickey Mantle is a moody kid who strikes out too much, gets hurt too much, and dodged the draft in the Korean War. (He was actually 4-F, but some people thought he, or the Yankees, had gotten a doctor to “fix” that.) October 1956: The Mick wins the Triple Crown, the MVP, and his homer wins Don Larsen’s World Series perfect game, and he becomes the most popular player in baseball.

September 1961: Roger Maris is a surly guy and a .270 hitter who doesn’t deserve to break the record of the great Babe Ruth. October 1961: The Rajah hits Number 61 and gets a standing ovation.

June 1977: Reggie Jackson is a hot-dogging, egotistical, disruptive influence who is publicly questioning his manager and should be traded. October 1977: Boom, boom, boom, and a lot of baby boys, and a few baby girls, are soon named “Reggie.”

November 1995: The new manager is "Clueless Joe." October 1996: The new manager is Saint Joseph of Sheepshead Bay.

April 1996: How dare Tino Martinez, this outsider from Seattle, replace the great Don Mattingly? October 1996: Oh, that’s how, by winning a Pennant and a World Series, which Mattingly never did.

September 1998: Roger Clemens is a headhunting punk. October 1999: The Rocket wins the clinching game of the World Series and we cheer him.

I can’t do one of these for Alex Rodriguez, because it would require several entries, his approval rating going up and down like a yo-yo.

My first choice would still be to see him go, because he is still, fairly or not, a convenient symbol for the Yankees not winning the Pennant in each of these last four seasons.

But maybe he is showing that winning and being a Yankee are more important to him than money and Scott Boras are. I’m staying tuned…

But Hank Steinbrenner did the right thing. He said, “We don’t want anybody who doesn’t want to be a Yankee,” and A-Rod, by coming with hat in hand and Boras nowhere to be found, said, for all intents and purposes, “Wahhhh! I wanna be a Yankee! Please, sir, I want some more! I’ll even take less money for it! Please, gimme one more chance in Pinstripes!”

I’m reminded of the end of the Eagles’ song “Hotel California” – appropriate, since it seemed that’s where he was headed: “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave!”

But I’m also reminded of a Temptations song, which could be sung by A-Rod to the World Series trophy: “Unimportant are all the things I can do, 'cause I can't get next to you! No matter what I do!”

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Sgt. Torre's Lonely Hearts Club Band


Sorry that it's taken me so long to get back, but now I'm gonna get back to where I once belonged. Which is a pretty good segue:

The Yankees re-signed catcher Jorge Posada. That's one load off my mind. Now it looks like they're going to lock up Mariano Rivera, and then we'll only need one more starter (which we may already have, among the kids) and a 3rd baseman (don't get me started).

Somebody -- I won't say who, but he roots for The Other Team -- recently suggested that Posada is the "Ringo" of the Yankees' 1996-2003 dynasty. It's gotta be the nose and the ears, since it can't be the hair. And let's be fair here: Ringo Starr was a great drummer, and I don't want to hear that Keith Moon of The Who or John Bonham of Led Zeppelin were better: They were better, but they weren't Beatles.

So if Jorge is Ringo on the Yankees, what would he be on the Mets? He'd be either John or Paul, since the Mets are the Rolling Stones of New York: Call 'em "The World's Greatest Rock and Roll Band" all you want, but that doesn't make it true. Also, like the Stones compared to the Beatles, the Mets' drug problems have been more embarrassing than the Yankees'.

Mariano would be George Harrison, since he's the one interested in religions, which may let him out of being John Lennon; or maybe Bernie Williams was George, because he's the one with the guitar that gently weeps; Andy Pettitte has a Lennonesque nose; and Derek Jeter is Paul, not just because his shortstop play and his clutch hits are so lyrical, but because nobody except Paul McCartney has ever walked into a New York sports stadium or arena and made more teenage girls scream.

But does that make Joe Torre producer George Martin? What does it make Brian Cashman? Brian Epstein? (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) I wouldn't want to compare Ed Sullivan, Murray (the K) Kaufman or Bruce Morrow to George Steinbrenner -- especially since Cousin Brucie is a Brooklynite and a proud Dodger-turned-Met fan. (But then, nobody's perfect.)

I realize that, on their 1965 and 1966 tours, the Beatles played Shea Stadium, not Yankee Stadium, despite the Bronx ballyard having more seats. CBS was liberal enough to let the Fab Four play on The Ed Sullivan Show, but not on the field of the team they then owned.

Then again, it didn't do the Mets any favors: They finished 10th in '65 and 9th in '66. (Ten-team, single-division leagues back then.)

But, in the years since, John was photographed in a Yankee cap, and Paul has been to a number of games at The Stadium. These things tend to work out. We can work it out.

Unless "we" are the Yankees and Alex Rodriguez. I don't care how repentant he is over the Scott Boras debacle over the last three weeks: He only wants to be a Yankee for the money and the publicity. He hasn't got a clue as to what being a Yankee means.

He's not Eric Clapton, or Elton John, or Billy Preston, or Ravi Shankar, or even Harry Nilsson. (All of whom had musical associations with the Beatles, while they were together or individually.) You know what he is? He's Michael Jackson. He had the duets with Derek/Paul, and the individual success, and the pretty face. And now, all the "plastic surgery" in the world can't restore his image, and he's a weirdo.

Although, as far as I know, not a criminal. And even if you take away the criminal investigations against Jacko, he's still weirder than A-Rod will ever get -- I hope!

Jacko must -- I hope he does -- want to return to the days when the jokes were far less malicious. Like this one: Did you hear the Mets signed Michael Jackson? Just what they need: Another guy who wears a glove on only one hand for no apparent reason!

(UPDATE: Michael Jackson was still alive when I wrote this.)

Of course, the Mets are bad. It doesn't matter if they're black or white: When it came to losing in September, they decided, "Don't stop 'til you get enough." They were really off the wall. And now Met fans would like Tom Glavine to beat it. Maybe they should start with the man in the mirror.

Hmmmm... Does this make Don Mattingly Pete Best? Or maybe it makes him Cliff Richard.

(NOTE: This was before Cliff Richard, like Michael Jackson, was accused of being a pedophile.)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Auuuugh! I can't stand it!


The Boston Red Sox have won the World Series for the 2nd time in 4 years.

In the words of the immortal Charlie Brown, "AUUUUUUUUGH! I can't stand it! Good grief! My stomach hurts!"

As you can see, I've moved on from shock, past denial, to anger... and to disgust. Next comes bargaining, as in fix the roster, starting with dumping, as King George would say, "the 3rd baseman." Finally, will come determination: Next season will bring Title 27.

There is no "acceptance." As Yogi Berra would have said, if he'd thought of it first, "When you accept losing, you accept losing."

I will not accept losing. If I was willing to accept losing, I'd root for some other team, like, oh, I don't know... the one that spent late September, uh, flushing away a Playoff berth.

I'm reminded of that scene from Fever Pitch, where Jimmy Fallon watched his tape of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, the Buckner Game, rewinding and rerunning the fatal pitch, and his Sox-fan friends broke in and staged an intervention: "Where'd you get this? Huh? Where's your stash? All right, let's clean him up!"

The morning after, being a Yankee Fan, I went back to a moment not of catastrophe, but of glory. Two, in fact: Bucky Blessed Dent and Aaron Blessed Boone. And I still got to work on time.

To all the Red Sox fans who are either old enough to remember the hard times, or sober enough to not be one of the bozos making spectacles of themselves for the sake of slobbering ESPN and Fox cameramen... Congratulations on a hard-fought victory by the best team in baseball.

To all the others... It's still 26 to 7 (8 if you count 1904), Pedro is still a headhunting punk, Nomar did not have godlike powers, Munson was still better than Fisk, Chambliss' homer actually won a championship unlike Fisk's, Jim Bouton's book is still better than Bill Lee's, Tony C was an overrated nightlife-chaser (making him your Pepitone rather than your Mantle), DiMaggio was a better player than Williams, and Chris von der Ahe invented the sports bar in St. Louis before Michael "Nuf Ced" McGreevey opened his in Boston.

And Tessie is still a whore.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

As If I Needed Another Reason Not to Vote For Rudy Giuliani


So, Rudolph William Giuliani, "America's Mayor" and "the world's biggest Yankee fan," is rooting for the Boston Red Sox to win the World Series, because he's an American League fan.

Fans of American League teams don't think that way. Fans of National League teams do. Met fans will root for the NL Pennant winners solely because they're an NL team. These are the same boneheads who say, "New York is a National League town. New York has always been a National League town."

That explains why the Yankees held the New York attendance record from 1920 to 1970, and have held it again since 1998.

Count 'em: Yankees 39 Pennants, Giants 17, Dodgers 13, Mets 4. To put it another way: AL 39, NL 34. And that's with 68 seasons, 1890 through 1957, with two NL teams in New York. World Championships? Yankees 26, Giants 5, Mets 2, Dodgers 1; AL 26, NL 8.

NL wins over AL? The Giants beat the Yankees in 1921 and 1922; the Dodgers beat the Yankees in 1955; the Mets have never beaten the Yankees. AL wins over NL? The Yankees beat the Giants in 1923, '36, '37 and '51; the Dodgers in '41, '47, '49, '52, '53 and '56; and the Mets in 2000. That's AL 11, NL 3. Since the start of Divisional Play in 1969, it's Playoff Berths, it's Yanks 19, Mets 7; Division Titles, Yanks 16, Mets 5; Pennants, Yanks 10, Mets 4; World Championships, Yanks 6, Mets 2; Subway Series, Yanks 1, Mets 0.

Explain to me again why rooting for one specific league matters, especially in New York?

So what's the real reason Rudy's rooting for the Red Sox? I will tell you: It's because he wants to win the New Hampshire Primary. That's the only reason. If Colorado had the nation's first primary election, he'd be decked out in purple and black.

The man was with the Clintons and Governor Mario Cuomo when it was to his advatnage; he switched to Bush and new Governor George Pataki when it was advantageous to do so.

After he loses the nomination, he'll give a Convention speech saying how wonderful a human being the nominee is and what a great President he'll make. Which will be tough for him, since he doesn't think anyone's better. Especially if it's Mitt Romney, who he really ripped -- as, among other things, a "flip-flopper" who changes positions when it becomes politically convenient. Like Rudy himself hasn't done that before.

Then again, Romney was Governor of Massachusetts, and he hasn't said a word about the Red Sox. At least John Kerry, clumsy as he was about it (bad first pitch, the "Manny Ortez" thing, etc.), was root, root, rooting for his home team, come what may.

Pete Coors, the Coors beer baron who owns a piece of the Rockies franchise, is a major Republican fundraiser. It might have been more advantageous to Giuliani to announce he was rooting for the Rockies.

He doesn't have to win the New Hampshire Primary to get the nomination, because the whole point of his appeal is that he can supposedly get the States that usually go Democratic. That will help him in the later primaries.

But if he'd sided with Pete Coors and the Rockies, he would have pleased Yankee fans in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut -- that's 56 Electoral Votes the Democrats usually get -- and Pete probably would have raised a ton o' funds for him, which would have helped him in several Western States that the Dems think they have a shot at in 2008, including Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and possibly even Montana.

What New Englanders is Reichskanzler Rudy really trying to please now? The taxophobes in New Hampshire? They know his record: It ain't one they would like. So what New Englander... Oh yeah, New Haven, Connecticut native George W. Bush.

Let's not forget: Rudy bashed Hillary Clinton as a "flip-flopper" for being a Chicago area native and a Cubs fan who started wearing a Yankee cap when she ran for the Senate seat in New York. Now, Rudy has flipped... his lid. He has flipped when he wants us to believe he's "decisive" and "sticks to his principles." Unless said principles can be tossed overboard -- that's what we called it, kids, before you started saying "thrown under the bus" -- in order to take another step toward winning the White House.

So what's Hillary saying on the subject? She's calling herself a dispassionate observer, since neither of her teams are in. Smart lady: Staying out of a fight she has no place in. If Bush had done that... But that's a story for another time.

As a Yankee Fan, I've rooted for the Red Sox twice. The first time was in the 1986 World Series, because I hate the Mets that much. And I think we all know how THAT one turned out. The other time was in the 2004 Series, despite their humiliation of the Yankees, because it seemed silly to do that, and then lose the Series.

I like Boston. I like New England. But I will not root for the Red Sox again. Or the Celtics. Or the Patriots as long as that cheating Bill Belichick is their coach. Maybe the Bruins, if they're playing the Rangers (who suck), Islanders or Flyers. Maybe Boston College, if they're playing Notre Dame, Penn State or Miami. Not the Red Sox, unless we end up with another Sox-Mets World Series. Or a Sox-Dodgers World Series. As Joseph Conrad would say, "The horror... the horror... "

Yankee Fan Rudy abandoning New York for the Red Sox... As they used to say in cartoons, when nearly every voice-over guy had a N'Yawk accent... "What a maroon!"

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Other Team's Fans Chuckle... Why?


With the way Joe Torre has been treated by Yankee management, several Met fan websites are chuckling with glee.

That's their right, but... consider the source. They're Met fans. The Flushing Heathen, as I've been calling them since 1998. What do these guys know about baseball?

The guy who ran the Always Amazin' blog for nj.com, the website for the Star-Ledger of Newark, the Jersey Journal of Jersey City and The Times of Trenton, has actually given up writing it. Maybe he's tired, maybe he's frustrated, maybe he's doing it for his physical and mental health. I applaud him.

(UPDATE: That blog would evolve into Amazin' Avenue, and is still being written today.)

There are others who apparently wish to flaunt their ill mental health. The Kranepool Society -- the equivalent of a Yankee Fan naming his website after... actually, there is no viable equivalent, as the Yanks never had a guy do little more than hang on for 18 years and make Gillette Foamy commercials -- calls the Yankees by their 1903-1912 name, the Highlanders, and posts a picture of Alex and Cynthia Rodriguez... with Derek Jeter's head on Cynthia's body.

Yes, we get the joke: "Gay-Rod" and a bachelor who dates famous actresses and singers only as a front. The joke was stupid in 1998, it was stupid when A-Rod arrived in 2004, and it isn't funny now.

And get your lies straight: Either Alex is fooling around with strippers or he's gay, but he's not both; either Derek is spreading herpes to gorgeous actresses (more on that in a moment) or he's gay, but he's not both. Better to be only a liar than a lying weasel.

They also have a picture of a post-spider-hole Saddam Hussein wearing a Yankee cap. Maybe so, but Bert Walker was one of the original stockholders of the Mets, and he was George W. Bush's great-uncle (as opposed to myself, Ashley and Rachel's great uncle), and Bush was and remains a greater threat to America than Saddam ever was.

The yutz who writes that blog also thinks the Mets are going to sign Mariano Rivera. In the words of the late, great Brooklyn Dodger fan Jackie Gleason, "Lemme have what you're having, I wanna get loaded, too!"

The author of the blog Brooklyn Met Fan writes of Joe Torre "firing George Steinbrenner":

Oh what a joyous day for Met fans and Yankee haters alike!... It’s all so perfect from where we as Met fans stand. Oh what a great moment at the end of this baseball season in NYC!

(UPDATE: That blog is now out of business.)

Perfect? Perfect? No, "perfect" is what ex-Met David Cone did on the mound at Yankee Stadium on July 18, 1999. "Perfect" is 25,000 people at Shea Stadium chanting "Let's Go Yankees!" and "Thank You Joe!" and "Thank You George!" a few minutes after midnight on October 27, 2000. (OK, maybe that wasn't "perfect," but, as MasterCard would say, it was "Priceless.")

He also says "the Yankees have choked for 7 consecutive years." Uh, no. The Yankees choked in 2004, and Jeff Weaver screwed everything up in 2003. In each of the other 5 years, the Yankees were outplayed, perhaps not by a better team, but by a team that was better that week.

And after what's happened to the Mets for 21 straight years, including the chokes of 1988, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2006 and 2007, to say the Yankees have "choked" is, as former Yankee 2nd baseman and broadcaster Jerry Coleman (now the longtime voice of the San Diego Padres) would say, "treading thin water here."

Then there's the guy who writes and edits "Yankees 2000: Promote the Curse." (Which curse would that be, the Curse of Kevin Mitchell, which has bedeviled the Mets for 21 years now?) He says, "The Yankees, as we have known all along, lack even the faintest semblance of class."

Right, I'm gonna let a guy who roots for the team of Pedro Martinez, Paul Lo Duca, Jose Reyes and Lastings Milledge (and that's just counting current miscreants) lecture my team about class.

Then he said, "The Yankees Are (Screwed)." Is that a reference to the Yankees' future? I'll take my team's prospects -- whether by "prospects" you mean "young, promising players" or "likelihood of future titles" -- over theirs anyway.

(UPDATE: This was written before I decided it was my blog, and I can use profanity in it if I want to. At that point, I wouldn't use it at all.)

Then he refers to "Jeter's herp," slobbering over the story that Derek Jeter gave a certain actress herpes. (I won't mention her name, because she does not deserve to be mentioned in the same paragraph as the Mets, and, besides, she once starred in a TV show as a character who could paste either me or the doofus who writes that blog.)

(UPDATE: If you must know, the actress in question was Jessica Alba. It appears that she did, at one point, date Jeter. But there is no known evidence that either of them has ever had any sexually transmitted disease.)

He closes by saying, "Hating the Yankees just got great again." Really? And what has it gotten you? It's gotten you 1969, 1986, and up to your neck in agita.

Yikes. Makes you wonder if, loathsome though he was, John Rocker had a point: "I would say the majority of Mets fans aren't even humans. They're more like... Neanderthals."

Yeah, he should've looked in the mirror, having said that during a postgame interview during the 1999 NLCS. But... Choosing the Yankees over the Mets? Apparently, it's not "so easy, a caveman could do it."

I guess Met fans would like to gloss over the fact that the Yankees won the 2000 World Series in 5 games, beating the Mets and celebrating on the field at Shea Stadium.

And I guess they would also like to gloss over the fact that, just last month, their Metropolitans had a 7-game Division lead with 17 games to go, and didn't even make the Playoffs.

That gives them, in 2000, the most embarrassing loss in the postseason history of New York baseball; and, in 2007, the most embarrassing loss in the regular-season history of New York baseball.

More embarrassing than the 1904 Yankees, or Highlanders as the name really was at the time, who had to sweep a doubleheader from the Boston Pilgrims (as the Red Sox were then known) on the last day of the season, and did win the second game, but lost the first when 41-game winner (nope, that's not a misprint) Jack Chesbro let in the winning run with a wild pitch.

More embarrassing than the 1908 New York Giants, who arguably had a Pennant stolen from them, and had to replay a regular-season game as, for all intents and purposes, a playoff, but had it at home, and had Christy Mathewson on the mound... and lost.

More embarrassing than the 1912 Giants, who went into extra innings in the deciding game of the World Series, and made 2 errors to blow a 1-run lead and lose.

More embarrassing than the 1926 Yankees, who had Babe Ruth as the tying run on 1st with 2 outs in Game 7 of the World Series and Lou Gehrig at the plate... and lost because Ruth, not a man who looked like a base stealer, tried to steal second, and was thrown out.

More embarrassing than the 1941 Brooklyn Dodgers, who were 1 strike away from tying up the World Series at 2 apiece... and lost when their closer Hugh Casey threw what is believed to be a spitball, and catcher Mickey Owen couldn't handle it, allowing Tommy Henrich to reach 1st, Joe DiMaggio to single, and Charlie Keller to double them home, with the Yanks winning the Series the next day.

More embarrassing than the 1950 Dodgers, who were in extra innings of a game whose win would force a Playoff at home, and gave up a home run to Dick Sisler.

More embarrassing than the 1951 Dodgers, who had a 13 1/2-game lead on the Giants on August 11, blew it, and were still 2 outs away from winning the Pennant with a 3-run lead... and lost on a home run by Bobby Thomson.

More embarrassing than the 1956 Dodgers, who went into Game 7 of the last of the classic Subway Series at home, and lost when the Yankees beat them 9-0.

More embarrassing than the 1963 Yankees, who won 104 games, then got swept in the World Series.

More embarrassing than the 1973 Mets, who had a 3-games-to-2 lead in the World Series, and lost.

More embarrassing than the 1976 Yankees, who were physically and emotionally exhausted after winning a thrilling American League Championship Series, and were swept in the World Series.

More embarrassing than the 1981 Yankees, who had a 2-games-to-0 lead in the World Series, and lost 4 straight.

More embarrassing than the 1988 Mets, who had a 3-games-to-2 lead in the National League Championship Series, and lost to a Dodger team that had Orel Hershiser, Kirk Gibson, Mike Scioscia and 22 guys named John Shelby.

More embarrassing than the 1995 Yankees, who had a 2-games-to-0 lead in the American League Division Series, and lost 3 straight.

More embarrassing than the 1998 Mets, who had to win just 1 of their last 5 regular season games to make the Playoffs... and lost them all.

More embarrassing than the 1999 Mets, who lost a Pennant on a bases-loaded walk, a method of losing a title or series that no other team has ever used.

More embarrassing than the 2001 Yankees, who were 2 outs away from winning the World Series, and lost.

More embarrassing than the 2004 Yankees... as bad as that was, it was in the Playoffs, something the 2007 Mets cannot say... and the Mets only had to win 1 more game against either the 2007 Washington Nationals or the 2007 Florida Marlins, not exactly the 2003-07 Boston Red Sox.

Why, it's even more embarrassing than the 2006 Mets, who were tied going into the 9th inning of Game 7 of the National League Championship Series... and let Yadier Molina, the 3rd-best Molina brother, hit a Pennant-winning home run, and then, with the tying and Pennant-winning runs on base, Carlos Beltran just stood there with his bat on his shoulder and took a called 3rd strike.

Whether the Mets' 2007 collapse is worse than those of, say, the 1964 Philadelphia Phillies, or the 1978 Red Sox, or the 1987 Toronto Blue Jays, or the 1995 California Angels, or even those of the 1969 Chicago Cubs, the 1973 Pittsburgh Pirates and the 1986 Red Sox, from which the Mets benefited, is debatable.

What is not debatable is that the Mets ended the 2007 season worse than the Yankees have ended any season. And that the Mets still had the chance to "own New York" in 2000, and blew it.

It's not even the very simple math of "26 > 2" anymore. It's "1 > 0." Not "1969 > any Yankee title" or "1986 > 1998," not that either of those was ever true.

So, go ahead, post your cheap laughs. It's your right as an American.

But it is your responsibility as a New York baseball fan to remember: You root for The Other Team. And until your team beats the Yankees in a World Series, they will always be The Other Team.

And until then, you have nothing to say.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Joe Torre Is Out, and Good For Him


Well, it's done. Joe Torre has turned down a one-year contract that would have him make less money in salary, but pay him more if he gets the Yankees into the World Series.

Good for him. He can leave, and in a way that makes it look like it was his decision. He walks away with his head held high, and with the moral high ground. (Not a hard thing to do when you're dealing with one of the two murderers of Yankee Stadium, the other being Massachusetts Mike Bloomberg.)

And to have this happen on the 30th Anniversary of the day Mr. Reginald Martinez Jackson became Mr. October? Doesn't anybody in the Tampa Regime think?

So let the Joe Girardi Era begin. Or the Larry Bowa Era. Or the Tony Pena Era. I can live with any of those.

If the 2nd Mattingly Era begins, the next Yankee World Series might not be until Mattingly dies, because the Cult will never let Hank Steinbrenner fire Saint Donald Arthur of Evansville. We could be stuck with Donnie Regular Season Baseball until 2040 or so. By that point, Hank will want a new ballpark built on that empty space across from "Yankee Stadium" -- you know, where the real Yankee Stadium used to be.

Anyway, maybe George or Hank (whoever's really making the decisions) can close Yankee Stadium with one more special ceremony: Retiring the Number 6 of Joe Torre, the Number 21 of Paul O'Neill and the Number 51 of Bernie Williams, and give them their Monument Park plaques, so they'll at least have it done in Yankee Stadium, not in George Steinbrenner Memorial Stadium across the street.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Waiting... For What? For Whom?


My big concern about the Torre-decision delay is this: They may be waiting until they have his successor lined up before dropping the ax. This would indicate someone from the outside, like Tony LaRussa (oy vey) or Bobby Valentine (even worse) -- rather than someone in-house like Joe Girardi, Don Mattingly, Tony Pena, Larry Bowa, or the manager of one of the farm-system teams.

If they stay in-house, at least it would be a tribute to Torre to have someone he knows and respects from working with him. He might respect LaRussa and Valentine, or whoever it is if it's somebody we're not considering (certainly Torre himself wasn't first on anyone's list in 1995), but to get someone that different would be a slap in the face with brass knuckles.

Then again, as has been stated before, maybe they are just waiting to see if the Indians can finish the job against the Red Sox. That would soften the blow considerably, and possibly lead Steinbrenner (but which one?) to make the decision to keep Torre.

Right now, I'm still ambivalent. I love Joe, but...

And I'm sure a lot of Yankee fans are having that same thought.

*

I know one way to settle this. Imagine it's June 2008. The Yankees and Red Sox begin a 3-game series at Fenway. (I haven't seen next year's schedule, but there's been just such a series in every June since I can remember.) The teams are within the margin of error; that is, one team is in first now, the other could be in first with a sweep.

And a Sox starter hits a Yankee batter. (Does it really matter who is in either place? The Sox staff is full of punks, and they don't care who they hit.) It's obvious that it was on purpose.

What do you want the Yankee manager to do? I want him to get out to the umpires' crew chief and tell him that I'm not going to put up with this crap. Either you warn every Sox pitcher and manager Terry Francona to knock it the hell off, or the game is a forfeit to the Yankees. And if the crew chief refuses to threaten the Sox with the forfeit, pull the Yankees off the field. If the crew chief then forfeits to the Red Sox, appeal to the Commissioner.

Even if you fail, your point is made, and the Red Sox look like the bums they are, for all the world to see.

Can you imagine Don Mattingly doing that? Not if you're sober, you can't.

Can you imagine Joe Girardi doing that? I can.

My personal feelings about Don's unmistakable record of the Yankees never having won a Pennant with him in uniform (1982-95, 2004-07) aside, he is not the manager the Yankees need. Forget Donnie Baseball; give me someone who will stand up for his players.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Top 5 Reasons You Can't Blame the Bugs


Go ahead, make your jokes about how much the Yankees' loss to the Indians is "bugging" me. But I am now old enough and mature enough of a Yankee fan to not blame the bugs.

Well, maybe I'm not enough of a Cub fan to blame the natural, or the supernatural.

At any rate, I cease my grumbling over another bad Yankee postseason loss to present to you...

The Top 5 Reasons You Can't Blame the Lake Erie Midges for the Yankees Losing the 2007 American League Division Series

5. Fausto Carmona. The Indians' Game 2 starter had to pitch through the same swarm that Joba Chamberlain did, and was fine.

4. Chien-Ming Wang. He had nothing in either Game 1 or Game 4. He won 19 games for the 2nd year in a row, but the Sinker of Doom sank the Yankees this time.

3. Joe Torre. He should have started Andy Pettitte in Game 1 instead of Game 2, Phil Hughes in Game 2 instead of Pettitte, Wang in Game 3 instead of Roger Clemens, and Mike Mussina instead of Wang in Game 4.

And he should have told crew chief Bruce Froemming -- not just the longest-serving umpire ever, but possibly the worst -- that, because of the bugs, the field was unplayable and the game should be stopped until the bugs left, and that if Froemming wouldn't stop the game, he'd take the Yankees off the field, and, if forfeited, protest to the Commissioner. You know, the kind of thing Billy Martin would have done.

If this was his last series as Yankee manager -- and I'm still not ready to say that it should be -- he did not go out on anything resembling a high note. At least he went out better than, say, Roger Clemens. Or Tom Glavine.


2. The Yankee Bats. They got next to nothing in Game 1 and Game 2, and came up a day late and a dollar short in Game 4. Really, all they needed to do was get one more run in Game 2, and they would've been tied a game apiece going into Game 3. And then they would've been up 2 games to 1 going into Game 4. And then maybe the momentum would've been on their side, and then maybe we would be having Pettitte starting Game 1 at Fenway Park on Friday night.

1. The Indians Were Better. They led the American League Central for most of the season. They finished tied with the Boston Red Sox for the best record in baseball. And they led in all 4 games.

Sure, the Yankees won all 6 regular-season games between them. But the first 3, at Yankee Stadium, were very early on, before we realized what each team could do. And the last 3, at Jacobs Field, came when the Indians' best hitter, Travis Hafner, was on the disabled list. Hafner was a major factor in the series.

Throw in CC Sabathia surviving a shaky start in Game 1, Carmona pitching lights-out in Game 2, Paul Byrd pitching the game of his life in the biggest game of his career in Game 4, and the Cleveland bullpen not allowing a single run until late in Game 4, and you come to an inescapable conclusion:

The Yankees didn't get bugged, and they didn't choke. They got beat.

After all, if the Mets had made the Playoffs and lost the same way, few would think it was so bad. In fact, quite a few Met fans would have given a tooth or two to have their season end the way the Yankees' did, instead of they way their own did.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

And So Another Season Ends


And so it ends. Not with a bang, not with a whimper, but with a reasonable effort that fell a little short.

Joe Torre has earned the right to say goodbye on his own terms. But we, the fans, have earned the right to ask him to say goodbye. Time for Joe Girardi to come in.

Not Don Mattingly. The Curse of Donnie Baseball lives. I will explain this in full in another entry.

Derek Jeter did not play to expectations. He has come through so many times. But he hasn't exactly been a good Captain. Maybe the position should be retired. It was retired for 36 years after Lou Gehrig was forced to retire. It was retired for only three years after Thurman Munson was killed. It didn't do Mattingly any good: Captain Don led the team nowhere.

Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera must be brought back; Posada, at least until we can be sure his replacement is available; Rivera, at least until we can be sure that Joba Chamberlain is his replacement -- I'd rather have him as setup man next year and closer from 2009 or '10 onward than in the rotation, which is probably, surprisingly, more secure for the future than the bullpen for once.

(UPDATE: Yeah, in retrospect, that sounds ridiculous. But at the time, it was a defensible idea -- indeed, it seemed like a great one.)

This leaves the big question, the Clash question: Should Alex Rodriguez stay or should he go? The answer is obvious, if a bit weaselly and a mixing of sports metaphors: Put the ball in his court. Tell him, and tell Scott Boras, that if he wants to come back with the same contract, we'll take him; but if he wants more, goodbye, and don't let the door hit you in the Curt Schilling on the way out.

We need his production, but if we can get his production from two much cheaper guys, then that's what we'll do. In fact, how Alex handles this could go a long way toward deciding whether he is worthy of staying with the Yankees. I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, because, this year, he acted as though winning mattered more than money, and he gave his all. Does another shot at a World Championship mean more than fattening the fattest contract in the history of North American sports?

Roger Clemens: Hell of a way to go out, but it wasn't as much of a bust as what currently stands as Tom Glavine's last game. Can't say his return was a waste, but can't say his return next year would be necessary, either, even if he is still capable of winning 10-15 games as a starter. Goodbye, Rocket.

(UPDATE: Glavine did pitch again, although not for the Mets. Clemens, at least in "organized baseball," did not.)

So who do I support the rest of the way? Despite the way they handled my team, I'd have to say the Indians. I cannot root for the Red Sox. I tried that in the 1986 World Series, and it didn't work. And I'd rather the Indians, who haven't won since 1948, win the Series rather than the Diamondbacks, who didn't even exist until 1998 and won too soon, take the Series. I could live with the Rockies finishing their amazing run with a crown, but not the D-backs or the Fenway Punks. So GO TRIBE. They've earned my respect.

There will be further post-mortems.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

A-Rod and Other Bugs


Game 2 of the Yankees-Indians Division Series: That was a disgrace. The Indians aren't playing in that 85,000-seat airplane hangar right on Lake Erie anymore. They are in the heart of a major city, a mile inland. There is no excuse at all for what happened, no excuse at all.

A loss due to bugs? This is the sort of thing that happens to Boston, to Chicago, to Philly. In fact, things like this could be expected to happen in Cleveland, but to Cleveland.

When the Yankees lose in a big situation, there's rarely a bizarre element to it. This was bizarre. This was "curse material." (So what's the curse? A-Rod? Giambi? Matsui? Mussina? Mattingly, whose presence in uniform has always meant no Pennant?)

The umpires should have stopped the game for "unplayable conditions" as if it was raining, or (as has happened in Cleveland) there was snow, or fog. Surely, Billy Martin would have lodged an official protest. As would George Steinbrenner, a Cleveland native, who would have expected this, if he were still alive. Can we really be sure that he is?

But then, what do you expect? The crew chief is Bruce Froemming, the longest, uh, serving, and in my book worst, umpire who has ever lived. This guy deserves to be left alone in a room for 15 minutes with Milton Bradley. He is that bad of an ump. He screws up and lies so much, I half-expect Our Fearless Leader to appoint him U.S. Attorney General.

Andy Pettitte justified our faith in him. He was in trouble in every inning, and got out of every inning. I only heard that sixth on the radio, and I'm convinced I could hear John Sterling squirming. That inning should be replayed at every pitching clinic from big-league spring training down to Little League, to show every pitcher, and aspiring pitcher, on the planet that speed is one of the least important factors for a pitcher, that far more important are control and poise. We are right to worry about Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain in situations like this, because they haven't been tested. Andy is the test.

But I don't blame Joba. He was pitching under conditions that, as far as I know, no pitcher in the history of postseason play in Major League Baseball has ever had to face, and that goes back to the 1884 matchup of the National League Champion Providence Grays and the American Association Champion New York Metropolitans. (Like their much-later successors, known as the Mets for short. The Grays won, behind workhorse Charlie "Old Hoss" Radbourn.)

Joba lost his control inside that swarm, but he didn't lose his poise or his courage. And he took it like a man from the press. He's 22. He's more mature than a lot of ballplayers in their 30s prove to be. Whoever's managing this team next year, please, do not make him into a starter. He can be Mariano Rivera's successor.


(UPDATE: That paragraph looks pretty bad now. Joba was turned into a starter, an idea that failed, and he now seems like one of the least mature players in recent Yankee history.)

Speaking of Mo, he was fine against that good Tribe lineup on the road, knowing he didn't have a lead to work with. Contrast that with Trevor Hoffman, the all-time leader in saves, whose season-close was hideous. I don't care who retires first, or with more saves: Trevor doesn't get elected to the Hall of Fame before Mariano does.

Matsui: He's hurt. Keep him on the bench as a pinch-hitter, if that. Right now, Giambi is healthier and hitting better.

This should be the lineup for Game 3:

LF Damon
SS Jeter
RF Abreu
3B A-Rod
C Posada
2B Cano
DH Giambi
CF Cabrera
1B Mientkiewicz

Everybody needs to start hitting, not just Matsui.


*

And now, I come to the subject of A-Rod. All that talk, including my own, all year long, that we'd have faith in him in the postseason. And it is all falling to ashes again. If he got that hit in Game 2 with the winning run on second base, instead of striking out, we win 2-1, and the bugs become a footnote, and the poor hitting thus far is reduced to a minor concern. 

But no, he has to be the Morning Glory again, folding up before it gets dark.

Alex, this is it: If we lose this series, it is your (expletive deleted) fault! Forget every other flaw, it is A-Rod's fault if we lose!


(UPDATE: This was written before I decided, It's my blog, I can use profanity in it if I want.)

Win or lose in Game 3, this may just be the last time we see Roger Clemens pitch. No, no, really, we all may have to mean it this time. Unless we make a comeback, which is definitely possible. After all, Sabathia was shaky, and even if we do face Carmona again in this series (it could only be in Game 5), how can he pitch that well again, in a backs-to-the-wall game?

(UPDATE: This was before the Yankees signed CC Sabathia. We didn't like him then. We do now.)

Of course, one of these last 3 games could be the last time we see Alex Rodriguez in Pinstripes. If so, good riddance, and everything he did for the Yankees is just stats, nothing more. And that would then be what we should see of A-Rod in The Bronx: Nothing more.

Yes, I'm turning on him. I wouldn't, if he had turned on that 3-2 pitch from Carmona. It really is all about the postseason with this team.