Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Ambivalence: Yankees Lose in 10, Rangers Get Embarrassed

The classic definition of "ambivalence" is the feeling you get when you see your mother-in-law drive off a cliff... in your new Cadillac.

The bad news: The Yankees lost to the Baltimore Orioles in 10 innings, 3-2.  Nat McLouth hit a walkoff home run off Vidal Nuno.

I can forgive Vidal Nuno for allowing a walkoff home run, especially in the Harbor Bandbox. Rookies should be cut some slack. As NCIS' Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly) taught us, "Never kick a probie when he's down." Whereas, if it was that other lefty reliever who'd done it, Boone Logan, I'd have Gibbs-slapped him so hard his grandchildren would feel it in 2050.

To make matters worse, McLouth got hit in the face with a cream pie during his postgame interview.  That's our thing, you dirty Birds!

However, other than Nuno's 1 pitch (3, actually, but he made a mistake with 1, it was actually a good night for Yankee pitching.  Phil Hughes went 6 innings, allowing 2 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks, striking out 5.  Between them, Logan and Shawn Kelley pitched a scoreless 7th, David Robertson struck out the side in a perfect 8th, and then Joe Girardi put in Preston Claiborne.

With a name like a 19th Century Senator, Claiborne was trusted to protect a 2-2 tie against a Playoff team in a hitter's park.  He got Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy to ground out, before allowing a single to ex-Yankee Chris Dickerson.  Then he went to a full count on Yamaico Navarro.  Gut-check time.  Claiborne had the guts: He struck Navarro out swinging.

The Yankees have spent the last few years looking for the successor to Mariano Rivera.  It can no longer be Brian Bruney.  It can no longer be Rafael Soriano.  It won't be Joba Chamberlain.  It may not be Robertson.  I say, see what Claiborne can do.  The 25-year-old righthander from Dallas has now pitched 9 innings in the major leagues without allowing a run, or even a walk.  He has allowed 8 hits.  His WHIP is 0.889.  His ERA is 0.00.  Which means his ERA+ is infinite.  (Allowing 1 earned run in that time would have given him an ERA of 1.00, although I'm not sure what his ERA+ would be.)

Nuno, a righthander from the San Diego area who will turn 26 in July, had gone 8 innings without allowing a run, until that McLouth walkoff.  His ERA is now a sensational (even for a reliever) 1.13, his ERA+ a shocking 386, his WHIP a somewhat unsettling 1.375.  He's earned a pass on last night.

The Yankee runs both came at the hands of Travis Hafner, a single after Brett Gardner doubled in the 1st, and a single after Vernon Wells doubled in the 4th.

The series concludes tonight, with Hiroki Kuroda starting against Jason Hammel.


The good news: The Rangers lost 2-1 to the Boston Bruins at Madison Square Garden.  They now trail the Beantown Brats 3 games to 0. Bye, bye, Scum.

The NFL, having already awarded Super Bowl XLVIII (48) to the Meadowlands, and XLIX (49) to Phoenix, awarded L (50) to the new San Francisco 49ers stadium (which will open as Levi's Stadium in September 2014 in Santa Clara) and LI (51) to Houston.

Apparently, Miami, which has hosted 10 times, a total matched only by New Orleans, was hosed by the selection committee because they were unhappy about how the Dolphins' stadium (whatever official name it's using this year) wasn't getting the demanded upgrades.  It wasn't getting the upgrades because the local taxpayers refused to fund them, because they were hosed over the building of Marlins Ballpark (on the site of the Orange Bowl, no less, a 5-time host of the Super Bowl).  So the Dolphins' stadium, which last hosted in February 2010 (New Orleans Saints over Indianapolis Colts), won't be hosting again until at least February 2018.

Presumably, Super Bowl L was awarded to the San Francisco Bay Area because they built a new stadium and the Los Angeles area, which hosted Super Bowl I, did not.  Hopefully, some of the surviving Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs who played in Super Bowl I will be there as honored guests.  Certainly, by that point (3 full seasons from now), the Packers should still be a good enough team that they will be a contender for it.  The Chiefs? They were awful last year, but a lot can change in 3 NFL seasons.


Days until the Red Bulls play again: 4, this Sunday afternoon, home to the Columbus Crew.  Their last 2 wins have been late wins over the New England Revolution (with a Thierry Henry bicycle-kick goal) and the Los Angeles Galaxy (with a Tim Cahill goal in stoppage time).

Days until the U.S. National Soccer Team plays again: 7, a week from tonight, in a friendly against Belgium, featuring Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen.  Under 3 weeks.  That game will be played at FirstEnergy Stadium, formerly Cleveland Browns Stadium.  It, and the subsequent Sunday afternoon game against Germany at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium in Washington, will be warmups for our next game in the last, "Hexagonal" round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers, for the region that encompasses North America, Central America, and the Caribbean nations.

Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series begins: 9, a week from next Friday, at home.   The first Yanks-Sox series of the year at Fenway Park won't begin until Friday, July 19.  Then another series begins at Fenway on Friday, August 16.  Then another in The Bronx on Thursday, September 5, and another at Fenway on Friday, September 13.  Oh yeah, if you're a Red Sox fan, that's a day you want to play the Yankees: Friday the 13th!

Days until the Red Bulls next play a "derby," against either the New England Revolution, the Philadelphia Union or D.C. United: 32, on Sunday, June 23, away to the Philadelphia Union, at PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania.  A shade over a month.

Days until Arsenal play another competitive match: 97, on Saturday, August 17.  They beat Newcastle 1-0 this past Sunday, to clinch 4th place in the Premier League and a berth in next season's UEFA Champions League.  This also enabled them to finish ahead of their North London arch-rivals, Tottenham Hotspur, who finished 5th and are stuck in Europe's second-tier tournament, the Europa League, which was just won by West London's Chelsea.  (The Champions League Final is this Saturday, at London's Wembley Stadium, but it will be the top 2 finishers in Germany's Bundesliga playing for it, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.  Chelsea beat Bayern in last year's CL Final.) The Sunday results also made the day "St. Totteringham's Day." I'll have a piece on that phenomenon in the near future.

Days until the next North London Derby: Unknown, since next season's schedule won't be released until June 19.  It's been a long time since Arsenal vs. Tottenham was an early game (possibly 1988-89).  Usually, they wait until November for the first meeting of the season between the teams.

Days until Rutgers plays football again: 99, on Thursday night, August 29, away to Fresno State University in California.  The first home game of the 2013 season will be on Saturday, September 7, vs. Norfolk State.  The schedule is now complete, with all opponents and locations set in this, Rutgers' last season in the Big East, before starting Big Ten play in 2014.  The only thing that hasn't been set is the kickoff times, with TV in mind.

Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: 103, on September 12 -- on a Thursday due to Rosh Hoshanah, the Jewish New Year, falling on a weekend.  It's away to South Brunswick.  Under 4 months.  It 
will be the first game they play without Marcus Borden as head coach since Thanksgiving Day 1982 (a loss to Colonia High of Woodbridge), as he has left the program.  (Did he jump, or was he pushed? I don't know.) A new coach has been named: Bob Molarz, who turned nearby Carteret High School, which couldn't buy a win while I was at EBHS, into a team that made the Playoffs 9 seasons in a row and won 3 Central Jersey Group II Championships.  He comes to us from the head job at one of our rivals, St. Joseph's of Metuchen, where he coached their first 2 seasons of varsity ball.  A great hire.

Days until the Devils play again: Unknown, as the 2013-14 NHL schedule has yet to be released.  Most likely, the new season will begin on the 1st Friday of October.  If so, and the Devils debut on opening night (rather than the next night, Saturday), that's 125 days.  A little over 4 months.

Days until the Devils play another local rival: See the previous answer.

Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge Thanksgiving clash: 180.  About 6 months.

Days until Super Bowl XLVIII at the Meadowlands: 243 (February 2, 2014).  A little over 8 months.  Of course, we have no idea who the opposing teams will be.  The possibility exists that either the Giants or the Jets could be in it -- or both.  To this day, no team has ever played a Super Bowl in its own stadium -- in spite of multiple hostings by Miami, New Orleans and various California teams.  Only 2 have done so in their home metro area: The 1979-80 Los Angeles Rams, whose home field was then the L.A. Coliseum, and they lost to Pittsburgh at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena; and the 1984-85 San Francisco 49ers, whose home field, then as now, was Candlestick Park, and they beat Miami at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, which had a much larger capacity than Candlestick.

Days until the next Winter Olympics, in Sochi, Russia: 251 (February 7, 2014).

Days until the next World Cup, in Brazil: 376 (June 12, 2014).  Under 13 months.

Days until the next Summer Olympics, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: 1,161 (August 5, 2016).  Under 3 1/2 years.

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