Monday, October 18, 2010

Who's Afraid of Cliff Lee?; Eric LeGrand Paralyzed

In Game 1 of the American League Championship Series in Texas, the New York Yankees fell behind the Texas Rangers 5-0, and won, 6-5.

In Game 2 of the ALCS in Texas, the Yankees fell behind the Rangers 5-0 again, but this time there was no comeback, and they lost, 7-2.

The series is tied. The Yankees got a split on the road, and now the next 3 games are at home at Yankee Stadium II.

But the media is going bonkers. They're all afraid of the starting pitching situation. The Yankees' Game 1 starter, CC Sabathia, and their Game 2 starter, Phil Hughes, both pitched poorly. And now, in Game 3, the Yankees have to face Cliff Lee, who won both games the Phillies won against the Yankees in last year's World Series and is probably the best lefthanded pitcher in baseball.

And, as everyone knows, the Yankees can't beat lefthanded pitchers. Especially in the postseason.

Such is the thoughts of a bunch of idiots.

The truth: The series is tied, the next 3 games are in New York, the Yankees have postseason experience on their side (and the Rangers don't), the Rangers have never played bigger games in the history of their franchise (while the Yankees play games this big just about every year), and the Yankees have the winningest pitcher in postseason history going tonight, Andy Pettitte. And as bad as the Yankee starters were, the Ranger bullpen was every bit as bad, while the Yankees have the best bullpen in baseball.

So... Who's afraid of Cliff Lee? Idiots are. The Yankees are not.

We are in great shape, and to hell with Cliff Lee: Whoever said the Yankees can't hit lefthanders, especially in the postseason, never talked to the following:

* Tom Glavine, 1996 and 1999 World Series.

* Darren Oliver, 1996, 1998, 1999 and now 2010 Division Series. What happened to this guy in the 2000s?

* Arthur Rhodes, 1996, 2000 and 2001 ALCS.

* Mark Langston, 1998 World Series. And even if that was a strike, how many borderline pitches are called against the Yankees? The breaks tend to even out, and the Padres had already blown a 3-run lead in the 7th.

* Mike Remlinger, 1999 World Series. Seriously, a walkoff homer to Chad Curtis?

* Al Leiter and Mike Hampton, 2000 World Series. Oh, how the Flushing Heathen were talking up the Yankees' inability to hit those 2 lefthanders. And in the 3 games they started for The Other Team, the Yankees went 3-0.

* Barry Zito, 2000 and 2001 ALDS.

* Scott Kazmir, 2009 ALCS. Speaking of how dumb Met fans are, if their team hadn't been stupid enough to trade him to Tampa Bay for Victor Zambrano and Bartolome Fortunato, Tampa Bay wouldn't have traded him to Anaheim, and the Angels might've beaten the Yankees for last year's Pennant.

* Cole Hamels, 2009 World Series. Of course, there's a chance he could redeem himself in the 2010 World Series. Come to think of it, if the NLCS goes the other way, Zito could do so.

* Oh yeah, and former Minnesota Twins ace, The Great Johan Santana, 2003 and 2004 ALDS.

So will somebody explain to me why the Yankees, and the Yankee Fans, should be afraid of Cliff Lee?

Sure, there was Sandy Koufax in 1963, and Don Gullett in 1976, and Fernando Valenzuela in 1981, and Randy Johnson in 2001. And Paul Splittorff and Larry Gura in the 1976, '77, '78 and '80 ALCS. But look at the Yankees' overall record against lefties in postseason play, and you'll see they aren't fazed by anything.

The author of the blog Pinstripe Alley (see link to the right) says that Batters have hit .348 in 2010 on the 1st pitch vs. Lee.

Let's see, do the Yankees have any players who like to swing at the 1st pitch? Yeah, guy name of Jeter. As Bobby Jones of the Mets found out when Derek led off Game 4 of the 2000 World Series by homering on the first pitch, killing the Mutts' momentum from winning that Game 3. Another guy name of Rodriguez. .348 on Lee's first pitches? That's A-Stat for A-Rod.

And remember: Lee could well go the full 9... and lose, 1-0. Or be tied, 1-1, and then have to trust his bullpen against the Yankee lumber.

The Texas Rangers, who have never won a Pennant, are not going to intimidate the New York Yankees, the 27-time and also defending World Champions. If the Rangers want to win this Pennant, they are going to have to beat the Yankees on the field.

And if the Yankees win Game 3 in spite of facing Cliff Lee, who will then not be able to pitch again until Game 7 -- unless the Rangers want to risk throwing him on 3 days' rest in Game 6 -- then there might not be a Game 6.

If the Yankees do win tonight, and I think they will, then I hope the knee-jerkers (or jerkers of any other body part you can name) in the national media will admit that, A, the Yankees are the better team; and B, they are not only in the driver's seat, but have lapped the Rangers on the track. (Just to use a metaphor that has absolutely nothing to do with sports.)


On Saturday, at the new Meadowlands Stadium, Rutgers fell behind Army 17-3, and came back to win 23-20 in overtime.

Good for Rutgers. Good for New Jersey.

Bad for Army, and bad for America as a whole. If the U.S. Army can blow a lead like that...

Seriously, there was bad news from this game: Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand, a native of the Avenel section of Woodbridge, New Jersey and a graduate of that Township's Colonia High School, collided with Army player Malcolm Brown, defending a kickoff return late in the game. Brown was spun by a preceding hit, and LeGrand made a mistake, and went head-first into Brown's back.

Brown wasn't hurt, but LeGrand suffered a broken neck, and is now paralyzed from the neck down.
They don't yet know if he'll ever walk again. Even if he does make a full recovery, and there is hope of that, his football career is over.

Rutgers is now 4-2, and have a Big East Conference game on Saturday, away to the University of Pittsburgh, who usually beat them in Pittsburgh.

Right now, though, it doesn't seem to matter much. Get well, Eric.

Only 41,000 came out. That would be a sellout at Army's Michie Stadium (and then some), and close to a sell-out at the pre-expansion Rutgers Stadium (the 1994-2008 version). But at the new Meadowlands Stadium, it's only half-full. Where were all those people on the waiting list for Rutgers season tickets?

UPDATE: LeGrand remains paralyzed through April 2017. He has, nonetheless, built a sports media career, and Rutgers made his Number 52 the 1st uniform number its football team has retired.
And, of course, "the New Meadowlands Stadium" is now MetLife Stadium.

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