Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Andy Ponce de Leon

What happens when a team does NOT support a 40-year-old man playing out of his skin trying to keep a season alive?

The Devils being down 3 games to 0, with the Los Angeles Kings having the chance to close out the Stanley Cup Finals in L.A. tonight.

Martin Brodeur, I hope the big bald cheapskate brings you back next year, because this is no way to let you go out.

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What happens when a team DOES support a 40-year-old man playing out of his skin trying to keep a season alive?

Okay, officially, Andy Pettitte doesn't reach the age of 40 until a week from Friday. But look at the job he did against the (tied for) first-place Tampa Bay Rays last night: 7 1/3 innings, 2 hits, 2 walks, no runs. That he also struck out 10 batters is nice, but, remember: It doesn't matter HOW you get the outs, only that you get them.

Freddy Garcia got the last 5 outs -- but he allowed as many hits over 5 outs as Andy did over 22 outs. Fortunately, he also allowed the same number of runs. This reduced Andy's ERA to 2.78, and Freddy's to... 7.66. Hey, you can only do what's in front of you; last night, both pitchers did.

Meanwhile, against Rays starter James Shields, the Yankee bats did the business as well. ("Doing the business" is a term from English soccer fans.)

Calling the Yankees "The Starship Enterprise" because their weapons wore down the enemy's Shields.

To be fair, Shields was also undone by his defense, which must drive a fundamentals-driven manager like Joe Maddon up the wall. The Yankees scored 2 runs on a throwing error in the bottom of the 1st. The Rays had 3 errors in total last night -- 1 less than they had hits.

It was the bottom of the 4th that truly wrecked the Rays. With 1 out, another 40-year-old playing out of his skin, Raul Ibanez, drew a walk. Nick Swisher singled, and Eric Chavez walked to load the bases.

And then Russell Martin hit a drive that fooled John Sterling. Normally so quick to point out that a ball is high, it is far, it is clearly destined to be gone, and then it turns out not to be, Sterling acted as though this one was going to be caught or go off the right-center-field wall. Nope: Home run, Martin's 5th of the season, and a grand slam to boot.

Doubles in the 5th by Robinson Cano and Swisher led to the final run. Yankees 7, Rays 0. WP: Pettitte (3-2). LP: Shields (6-4).

Pettitte seems to have found the fountain of youth. Andy Ponce de Leon.

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The Yankees are now 30-24, half a game behind the Rays and the Baltimore Orioles for first place in the AL East -- dead even with them in the loss column. The Toronto Blue jays are 2 back, the Boston Red Sox 3.

Elimination numbers: Rays & O's 107, Jays 105, Sox 104.

As for the Mets... They blew not one lead last night, not two, but three, losing in 12 innings to the Nationals in Washington.

That "no-hitter" sure did them a lot of good, didn't it? (rolleyes)

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Has anybody noticed that Cliff Lee hasn't won a game yet this season? True, his ERA is 2.92, his ERA+ is 132, and his WHIP is 1.005. But a baseball player doesn't get paid to have great stats, he gets paid to do whatever it takes to win baseball games, and Cliff Lee hasn't done that this season: He's 0-3 for the Phillies.

True, the Phils have had a lot of injuries. So have the Yankees -- and losing Mariano Rivera AND David Robertson means more than losing Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. Man up, Philly: I thought you were a tough town.

Lee's career record is 119-72 -- a winning percentage of .623. Take away his 2 best seasons, 18-5 in 2005 and 22-3 in 2008, and he's 79-64 -- a winning percentage of .552.

Andy Pettitte's career record is 243-140 -- a winning percentage of .634. Take away HIS 2 best seasons, a pair of 21-8s in 1996 and 2003, and he's 201-124 -- a winning percentage of .618.

Andy Pettitte: 243-140, a winning percentage of .634. Career ERA of 3.87, ERA+ of 117. 13 postseasons, 8 Pennants, 5 World Championships, including 19-10 in postseason play -- an entire season's worth, an All-Star season's worth, of postseason pitching performances.

Cliff Lee: 119-72, a winning percentage of .623. Career ERA of 3.62, ERA+ of 117. 4 postseasons, 2 Pennants, no World Championships. Arguably culpable for the Texas Rangers blowing what should have been a sure title in 2010. And when the Cleveland Indians got within 1 win of a Pennant in 2007, they didn't even trust Lee to pitch to a single batter in the postseason.

Andy Pettitte: Hall-of-Famer. Cliff Lee: Will need to buy a ticket to get in.

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The New York Red Bulls treated last night's 4th Round of the U.S. Open Cup like it didn't matter, hardly starting their starting XI against the 3rd-division Harrisburg City Islanders, losing 3-1.

Euro 2012 starts on Friday, with Poland and Ukraine dividing the hosting duties. Poland will open the tournament at 12 noon, our time, against Greece.

If Poland can't win it, my next choices are the Netherlands and France. I do NOT want England to win, as long as they have any of the players who have shamed a nation and a sport, and have acted like bastards toward Arsenal.

That "taking my talents to South Beach" thing has really worked out for LeBron James, hasn't it?

It hasn't?

Seriously: I have never been more glad to see the Boston Celtics win.

But that doesn't mean I'm glad to see the Celtics win. Whoever wins the NBA Western Conference, whether the established San Antonio Spurs or the rising Oklahoma City Thunder ("rising Thunder?"), they MUST beat the Chowdaheads in the NBA Finals.

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