Monday, May 21, 2012

Red Alert for Yankees, Chelsea Win Champions League

This weekend, the Yankees played their 1st Interleague series of the year, at home against the Cincinnati Reds. One team left with their sleeves red; the other, their faces.

Friday night's game was just right. Andy Pettitte pitched 8 innings, allowing 4 hits, 1 walk, and no runs. His first win (1-1) since October 2, 2010 (against the Red Sox, no less).

(He struck out 9, but, really, while strikeouts are spectacular they're not that good a mark of effectiveness; Nolan Ryan struck out more batters in history than anyone by far, and yet his career ERA+ is 112 and his winning percentage .526 -- both good, but hardly great.)

In contrast, the Reds started former Red Sox punk Bronson Arroyo, and the former Captain Cornrows didn't pitch all that badly, but the Yankees got to him in the 8th inning, with home runs by Robinson Cano (his 4th) and Raul Ibanez (his 8th), to hang the loss on him (2-2).

Yankees 4, Reds 0.


The Saturday game was much less fun. Ivan Nova struck out 12 and walked just 2 in 6 innings, but allowed 7 hits and 5 runs. (4-2. See what I mean about strikeouts?)

The Reds' starter was Homer Bailey. Wasn't that the name of Jimmy Stewart's uncle who lost the $8,000 in It's a Wonderful Life? (No, that was William Bailey, and $8,000 in 1945 would be worth about $100,000 in 2012. Think about that the next time you see that movie: To us, today, Uncle Billy misplaced a hundred grand.)

This Bailey was building a strong performance and not loaning many chances. Although Russell Martin hit his 4th homer and Jayson Nix his 2nd, the Yankees never really got anything going, despite a 9th inning in which we scored 2 runs and had the tying and winning runs on base. Five Red pitchers, starting with Bailey (2-3) and ending with Jose Arredondo (1st save), got the job done. And, oh yeah, while this hurts one of my points, they dished out 10 strikeouts between them.

Reds 6, Yankees 5.


CC Sabathia started on Sunday. You can always count on CC, right? Well, for a while, we sure could, as he had a no-hitter going into the 5th and a shutout after 6. Ibanez hit his 9th homer in the bottom of the 6th, driving in Cano to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead. With CC on the mound, that seemed safe.

It wasn't. In the top of the 7th, CC gave up home runs to Ryan Ludwick and Ryan Hanigan. (No, I'd never heard of them, either. That's what I get for not following the National League. But I still refuse to return to Rotisserie Leagues. I've seen the Red Sox win 2 World Series, and that's as close as I care to get to "fantasy baseball.") Then with 2 out and a man on, CC walked 3 straight batters to force home the decisive run. Walks will kill you a lot more than strikeouts will save you.

The Yankees went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 7th. Cory Wade got out of a jam in the top of the 8th, and then in the bottom of the 8th, Curtis Granderson led off with a single. The Reds made a pitching change. Cano struck out. The Reds made another pitching change. Alex Rodriguez came up, and hit a shot that John Sterling, Michael Kay and I all thought was gone. Wrong, it died at the warning track. And then Ibanez, who's done so much in the 1st quarter of the season, popped up to end the threat.

Wade got into trouble in the top of the 9th, and Boone Logan (naturally) finished it for him by allowing Ludwick to double home 2. The bottom of the 9th was a washout, as Mark Teixeira reached on an error, but that was it. (He's now batting .226.)

Reds 5, Yankees 2. A home series lost.

One piece of good news: Derek Jeter says he's fine and will be able to play in spite of an apparent injury yesterday.


Does anybody know why the Phillies let Ibanez go? Think of where the Yankees would be without him.

Because look at where we are with him: 4th place, 5 1/2 games (5 in the loss column) behind the Baltimore Orioles, and just 1 game over .500 (21-20). The Tampa Bay Rays are 2 back, the Toronto Blue Jays 4 back, and the Red Sox 6 1/2 back (6 in the loss column).

The Yankees get back to real baseball tonight, playing a good old-fashioned American League series with the Kansas City Royals. (Okay, the Royals have only been around since 1969, so it's not THAT old-fashioned. But they haven't sniffed the postseason since 1985, so it is a little old-fashioned.) Tonight, Hiroki Kuroda starts against Felipe Paulino. Tomorrow night, Phil Hughes against Luke Hochevar. Wednesday night, Pettitte against Luis Mendoza.


Milestone Tracker: Derek Jeter now has 3,147 hits. He is 17th on the all-time list, 5 behind Paul Waner, 7 behind George Brett, 37 behind Cal Ripken. Among players born after 1903, he's 10th. Among players born after 1941, he's 5th, trailing only Brett, Ripken, Eddie Murray and Paul Molitor. He's 1st among all players born after 1956.

A-Rod now has 2,815. He trails only Jeter and Omar Vizquel among active players. He needs 185 for 3,000, and unless Johnny Damon (now batting .172 with the Cleveland Indians) regains his stroke, he looks like the only active player with a decent shot at the milestone.

A-Rod has 634 home runs. He is 5th on the all-time list. He is 26 behind Willie Mays for 4th, 66 short of 700, 80 behind Babe Ruth for 3rd, 121 behind Hank Aaron for 2nd, and 128 behind Barry Bonds for the all-time record. I do think he's going to get to 3,000 hits, but I no longer think he's going to get to 763 homers -- not even if he'd gotten another 3 feet on that shot yesterday.


West London club Chelsea won the Champions League, defeating Bayern Munich on penalty kicks at the Allianz Arena in Munich -- Bayern's stadium, but, like the Super Bowl, the site of the CL final is picked years in advance, to heighten the chance of a neutral site.

It's bad enough to lose the CL (formerly European Cup) Final on your home field. But to be a German team losing to an English one on penalties? Oh, hell, the Red Sox beat the Yankees and won a World Series (although in back-to-back series rather than at the same time).

The thought of John Terry and Ashley Cole being Champions of Europe is deeply sickening, but, face it, the Bavarians blew it.
But it does mean that Arsenal's arch-rivals, Tottenham Hotspur, miss out on next season's Champions League in spite of finishing 4th, as Chelsea make it as defending Champions despite their 6th place finish in the League, and England gets only 4 slots. Tough shit, Spurs!

Chelsea: Number 1 in Europe. Number 6 in England. Number 3 in London.

Thank you, Kieran Gibbs, for that tackle that saved Arsenal's CL berth. This is the 17th year in a row that Arsenal have finished above Tottenham.

"Mind the Gap," my arse!


The New York Red Bulls beat the Montreal Impact 2-1 on Saturday night at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal. This despite injuries that forced them into a 3-6-1 formation. (That's 3 defenders, 6 midfielders and 1 forward.) And a bogus sendoff reduced them to 10 men while the game was still tied. Metro won anyway.

Game 4 between the Devils and Rangers is tonight at the Prudential. Having taken home-ice advantage away from The Scum in Game 2, the Devils gave it right back in Game 3 like a bunch of mugs.

If the Devils do not win Game 4, this series cannot be won. Come on you Reds!


Hours until the Devils play another local rival: 10, tonight against The Scum. They won't play The Filth (the Philadelphia Flyers) or the New York Islanders again until the next season starts in early October.

Days until the Red Bulls play again: 2, this Wednesday night, home to Chivas USA, "the other Los Angeles team."

Days until the U.S. National Soccer Team plays again: 5, this Saturday night, against Scotland, at EverBank Field in Jacksonville -- formerly known as Jacksonville Municipal Stadium and Alltel Field, home of the NFL's Jaguars. Come on you Red White & Blues!

Days until the Red Bulls next play a "derby": 34, against D.C. United at home on Sunday night, June 24. They next play the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts, on Sunday night, July 8. They next play the Philadelphia Union on Saturday afternoon, July 21, at Red Bull Arena.

Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series begins: 46, on Friday, July 6, at Fenway Park in Boston. Under 7 weeks.

Days until the 2012 Olympics begin in London: 67 (July 27). Just over 2 months.

Days until Arsenal play again: Unknown, as the Premier League announces its schedule -- sorry, forgot to speak English, its fixture list -- for the upcoming season on Monday, June 18, and the new season always starts on the 2nd Saturday in August -- meaning that the next Arsenal match will probably be August 11, which is 82 days from now. It could be the next day, Sunday, August 12.

Days until the next North London Derby: Unknown. As I said, the fixture list hasn't been released yet. But it almost certainly won't be in the opening game. "Derbies" rarely lead off a season.

Days until Rutgers plays football again: 103, on Saturday September 1, at the Superdome in New Orleans against Tulane University. Not exactly a rivalry game, although Tulane was founded by a Princeton man. And thus, in a little over 3 months, will begin the Kyle Flood Era. Good luck...

Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: 109, on Friday, September 7, home to South Brunswick. I'm glad it's a home game: It's always good to open the season at home, and South Brunswick is particularly tough to get to: Despite the distance, it's not close to public transportation. But that's the only thing I have against them: Though they are neighbors, they are not rivals.

Days until the first Nets game in Brooklyn: Unknown, as the 2012-13 NBA schedule has not yet been released. The season usually starts in late October, so we're talking about 160 days or so. A little over 5 months.

Days until the 2012 President election: 168, on Tuesday, November 6. About 5 and a half months. Register to vote... and on November 6, vote!

Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge Thanksgiving clash: 185. A little over 6 months.

Days until Alex Rodriguez collects his 3,000th career hit: 436 (estimated around August 1, 2013).

Days until Super Bowl XLVIII at the Meadowlands: 622 (February 2, 2014).

Days until Alex Rodriguez hits his 700th career home run: 714 (estimated).

Days until Alex Rodriguez hits his 756th career home run to surpass all-time leader Hank Aaron: 1,549 (estimated).

Days until Alex Rodriguez hits his 763rd career home run to become as close to a "real" all-time leader as we are likely to have: 1,594 (estimated -- estimating 28 home runs a year, but accounting for his recent slump, he might get it by the close of the 2016 season, maybe around October 1, at age 41).

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