Wednesday, September 11, 2013

this is a test

T

Saturday, September 7, 2013

One Damn Thing After Another

Sometimes, there's a game that makes you think that this is it, the season is lost, there is no more hope.

Sometimes, there's a game that make you think that this is it, we're back in the race, anything is possible, baby!

Thursday night's series opener between the Yankees and the Red Sox was the former.  And then the latter.  And then the former again.

Oh well, "Tomorrow is another day, right?"

As the late great Yankee Fan (well, he wasn't a great Yankee Fan, but he was great and a Yankee Fan) George Carlin would have said, "No, today is another day.  Tomorrow might be another day, but by the time you find out, it won't be tomorrow anymore, it'll be today."

"Baseball is a 19th Century pastoral game," Carlin liked to say.  "Football is a 20th Century technological struggle." Clearly, when he said that for the first time, he wasn't thinking of the Yanks-Sox rivalry.

Well, Mark Twain -- born Samuel Langhorne Clemens, and Roger Clemens claims that he's related -- might have enjoyed Carlin's sense of humor, liberal use of profanity (something Twain said "provides a relief denied even to prayer), and innate misanthrophy.  But he would have disagreed with Carlin on baseball being pastoral.  Living his most successful years in Hartford, Connecticut, 101 miles from Fenway Park and 110 miles from Yankee Stadium, he wrote in 1889:

Base ball, which is the very symbol, the outward and visible expression of the drive, and push, and rush and struggle of the raging, tearing booming nineteenth century!

Twain lived in that century, before there even was a New York Yankees and a Boston Red Sox -- although he did see the New York Giants and the Boston Beaneaters, forerunners of today's San Francisco Giants and Atlanta Braves -- so he knew.  And he would not have been surprised in the slightest to see the animosity between the teams' fans.  He might even have enjoyed it.

But he certainly wouldn't have agreed that "Tomorrow is another day." He was quoted as saying, "Life is one damned thing after another."

He would have understood the Thursday and Friday games of this Yanks-Sox series.

Although, as a native of Hannibal, Missouri, he might have been more partial to the St. Louis Cardinals.

*

Going into the bottom of the 7th inning on Thursday night, all seemed lost for the Yankees.  They were down 7-2.  Jake Peavy, who won the 2007 National League Cy Young Award with the San Diego Padres, winner of 131 major league games against just 98 losses going into that game, twice an NL leader in both ERA and strikeouts (2005 and '07), and possessor of a career WHIP of 1.174, he was cruising for the Sox to whom the Chicago White Sox had traded him just before the deadline.  Great pickup for The Scum.

To make matters worse, Ivan Nova didn't have it, and only pitched 4 innings.  Preston Claiborne, who's also having a great year, was even worse, pitched to 5 batters and didn't get a single one out.  And Adam Warren allowed the 7th Sox run.  So that's why it looked hopeless going into the bottom of the 7th.

But Ichiro Suzuki led off the inning with a walk.  Vernon Wells, pinch-hitting for catcher Chris Stewart, singled Ichiro over to 3rd.

No one knew it at the time, but the game was lost at that moment.  Not because Wells was in the game, but because Stewart was out -- and because backup catcher Austin Romine would have to come in.  Meanwhile, while Russell Martin, whom Yankee general manager Brian Cashman let go after 2 seasons, is batting just .239 for the Pittsburgh Pirates, he does have 13 home runs and 51 RBIs.

Red Sox manager John Farrell replaced Peavy with Matt Thornton.  It didn't work: Brett Gardner singled Ichiro home.

Derek Jeter was up.  Wells stole 3rd base.  One of "the unwritten rules of baseball" is "Never make the first or third out at third base." (If you're an NCIS fan, it's not a Gibbs Rule.  But it should be treated as if it were.) But, with nobody out, Wells stole 3rd base.  He made it, but it was risky.  Especially while still down by 5 runs.  If the Yankees had been down by 1 run, maybe; but this isn't Fenway Park, with that close wall in left field: A single by Jeter would probably have scored Wells from 2nd.  It would certainly have scored Wells from 3rd, and possibly also Gardner from 2nd -- except Garder, the fastest man on the team, didn't even try to steal 2nd.  He probably could have gotten it.

Both decisions -- Wells' to steal 3rd, and Gardner's to not steal 2nd -- ended up not mattering, as Jeter drew a walk.  Now Wells was on 3rd, Gardner on 2nd, and Jeter on 1st.  And there was still nobody out.

The batter was Robinson Cano, whose 3rd inning double scored the 2 runs with which the Yankees came into the inning.  He grounded to 2nd, and Dustin Pedroia threw to Stephen Drew to force Jeter out at 2nd, but Drew couldn't get the ball to 1st baseman Daniel Nava in time to get the double play.  And even if he had, that would have meant 2 outs instead of 1, but Wells would still have scored.  Now there were men on 1st & 3rd, 1 out, and it was 7-4 Sox.

Farrell took out Thornton, and brough t in Junichi Tazawa.  Yankee Fans will remember Tazawa as the man whose major league debut came on August 7, 2009, and consisted of pitching the bottom of the 14th inning and getting the 1st 2 outs in the bottom of the 15th, before Alex Rodriguez took him deep to win a previously scoreless game, 2-0.  After spending all of 2010 and most of 2011 iun the minors, he has settled down to become a mainstay of the Boston bullpen.

But this time, Alfonso Soriano singled to right, scoring Gardner to make it 8-5.  Curtis Granderson doubled to right, scoring Cano to make it 7-6.

Tazawa struck out A-Rod.  Sure, now.

But Lyle Overbay singled to right, and suddenly, after it seemed so hopeless, now we had ourselves an 8-7 Yankee lead!

Somewhere, in that great press box in the sky, Mel Allen was yelling, "How about that!" And Phil Rizzuto was yelling, "I tell ya, Mel, this is unbelievable, these Yankees can get the clutch hits, holy cow!"

All the Yankees had to do was get 6 more outs, without allowing another run, and it would be their biggest win of the season.

David Robertson pitched a perfect 8th.  Mariano Rivera came out for the 9th.  He got David Ortiz, the big fat lying cheating bastard, to hit a line shot to Overbay at 1st base.  One out.  He got Nava to ground to Overbay.  Two out.  Two strikes on Mike Napoli.  One strike to go.  Typical Riveran piece of cake.

Napoli singled to center, and was replaced by pinch-runner Quintin Berry.  So what, one more out.  The batter was Stephen Drew.

Shades of Dave Roberts in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, Berry tried to steal 2nd.  And Romine, behind the plate, tried to throw him out.

And failed.  The ball sailed into center field, and Berry got to 3rd.  And Stephen Drew singled to right, scoring Berry to tie the game.

Okay, if Romine had made a good throw and Berry had still been safe, had only gotten to 2nd, Drew's single might well have still tied the game.  But Romine still fucked the game up more than Mo had.  And even if he hadn't, Mo has earned a few passes.  What has Romine ever earned?

What did that unwritten rule say about making the first or last out at 3rd base? It didn't say anything about making the 2nd out there.  But in the bottom of the 9th, after Cano lined out, Soriano walked, stole 2nd, and then, when a Granderson single could have gotten him home, tried to steal 3rd, just as Wells had.  Unlike Wells, he was easily out.  And Granderson struck out to send the game to extra innings.

It was then that manager Joe Girardi decided he didn't want to win the game.  Because he brought in Joba Chamberlain.  Remember when we loved Joba? Remember when he was unhittable? Remember when he had great control? Remember when he was "only" 250 pounds? Well, those days are gone, probably forever.  On the morning of September 29, the day after the regular season ends, hopefully, so is Joba.  Thanks for helping us win the 2009 World Series, now, here's your hat, what's your hurry?

Joba got Will Middlebrooks to fly out to lead off the top of the 10th.  Then he allowed a single to Jacoby Ellsbury.  Ellsbury, stole 2nd.  Shane Victorino, the "Flyin' Hawaiian" formerly of the Philadelphia Phillies' 2008-09 Pennant winners, singled him home.  9-8 Sox.

Joba got Pedroia to fly out, and then Girardi pulled him.  For Boone Logan.  Who was apparently in the game to A, pitch lefty-on-lefty to Ortiz; and B, make my head explode.  Bringing in Boone Logan to pitch to David Ortiz is like putting Woody Allen in a boxing ring to fight Mike Tyson.

Apparently, Joba was unhappy with the strike-zone calls from home plate umpire Rob Drake.  So 1st base umpire Joe West, the crew chief and one of the most hated umpires in the game -- not just for his incompetence but for the general perception that he's an asshole -- threw Joba out of the game.  When he was already out of the game.  I guess he wanted Joba out of the dugout, where he didn't want to hear Joba's whining.  O the irony, since West has been known to have an off-field whine now and then.

Girardi ordered Logan to walk Ortiz intentionally, to set up a force play.  Well, then what the hell was the point of bringing Logan in in the first place? Well, the next batter was Nava.  Lefty hitter as well? Not quite: Switch-hitter.  And Farrell called him back to the dugout and sent up Brandon Snyder, a righthanded hitter.  So Logan's presence in the game is not only no longer necessary, but it's a liability.  But Logan got Snyder to fly to center.

Bottom of the 10th.  Koji Uehara pitching for Boston.  Time for A-Rod to be clutch, right? Right.  Well, you know that, and I know that, but A-Rod didn't know that: He popped up.  Overbay and Ichiro struck out.  The Sox won.

WP: Craig Breslow (5-2).  SV: Uehara (18).  LP: Chamberlain (2-1).

Absolutely crushing defeat for Boston (which they can afford) turned into absolutely crushing defeat for teh Yankees (which we cannot.)

*

"Life is one damned thing after another," Twain said.  Or is it? Edna St. Vincent Millay, who lived in New York in the times of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio, contradicted him: "Life isn't just one damn thing after another, it's the same damn thing over and over and over again."

Groundhog Day.  Starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell.  Except, in the Friday night game, there was nobody on the field who looked as good as Andie MacDowell, who still looks good enough to appear in L'Oreal cosmetics commercials at age 55.  Because she's worth it.

The 2013 New York Yankees have not been worth it.

When the Saturday game began, I still wanted to kill Romine.  When it ended, I no longer wanted to kill Romine.  I did, however, go back to wanting to kill Logan.

Andy Pettitte pitched 6 innings, allowing 3 runs on 3 hits and 3 walks, striking out 8.  He threw 100 pitches.  A manager who had a clue would have left him in to pitch the 7th.

But Joe Girardi doesn't have a fucking clue.  He decided this moment was the one in which to reintroduce Phil Hughes, who is having one of the worst seasons any Yankee pitcher has ever had, as a reliever.

The score was 8-3 in favor of the Yankees.  Soriano had started the scoring with his 30th homer of the season in the 1st inning, of Felix Doubront, and the Yanks coasted from there.  Surely, even the 2013 edition of Phil Hughes can't blow a 5-run lead, can he?

As it turned out, the answer was, "No, not by himself."

Hughes allowed a single by David Ross.  A flyout by Middlebrooks.  A single by Victorino.  A walk to Mike Carp to load the bases.  An infield single by Pedroia.

8-4 Yankees.  Bases loaded with 1 out.  Ortiz coming up.

Girardi: "Duhhhh, gee, I don't know what to do here.  I mean, here's Big Papi coming up.  And I've got Hughes on the mound, I'd better take him out.  But, duhhhh, who do I bring in? Do I bring in a pitcher who has proven he can get lefthanded hitters out? Or do I play the percentages and bring in Logan? Duhhhh, I'm too stupid to figure this out for myself, so I'm going to consult my binder!"

Binder: "Bring in Logan."

Girardi: "Duhhhh, okay."

Am I being too hard on Girardi?

Maybe: Logan struck the big fat lying cheating bastard out.  So now the bases are still loaded, but there are 2 out.

Girardi: "Duhhhh, hey, it worked! It actually worked! Hey, maybe I should leave Logan in.  After all, the next batter is Napoli, and he's righthanded, but, duhhhh, if Logan can get Big Papi out, he can get anybody out.  I'm going to leave Logan in."

Logan: "Skip, are you kidding me? Well, I might as well do the best I can."

Every Red Sox fan in the world: "Yes! We've got the fucking Yankees now! Wicked pissah!"

Logan: "Don't think, Meat, just throw... "

Napoli: "Oh boy! Here comes a nice, juicy meatball! I'm going to hit it to the opposite field for a grand slam home run!"

Ichiro: "Uh-oh, here it comes.  Well, no sweat, I can catch this.  I got it.  I got it.  Uh-oh, no, I don't got it.  It's going over my head and into the seats.  (Whatever is the Japanese version of, "Damn!")"

John Sterling: "Haddaya like that! The Red Sox have come all the way back to tie it, at 8 to 8.  You know, Suzyn, you just can't predict baseball."

Suzyn Waldman: "Yes, you can, John.  It was Boone Logan pitching to a righthanded power hitter." (Okay, John & Suzyn didn't really say that.  As for the others, I can neither confirm nor deny.)

Me: "I don't believe it! How could that stupid Girardi leave that worthless fucking Logan in? To face a righthanded hitter! With power! The one time he doesn't consult that damn binder of his, and this happens? Fucking hell! I want that stupid Girardi fired! If George was still alive, and the way he was, he'd fire Girardi on the spot! He wouldn't even leave the game with a job, much less the Stadium! Come on, Hank and Hal, fire him now! And get rid of that fucking Logan, too!"

Girardi: "Duhhhh, what happened?"

Logan: "Eh, so what.  Long as I'm lefthanded and Joe's the manager, I still got a job."

For the record, this season, Logan is slated to make $3,150,000.  Let me spell that out: Three million, one hundred fifty thousand dollars.  Or about $3.1 million more than he's worth.

Logan then allowed a single to Nava.  Girardi finally saw enough.  He pulled Logan for Claiborne, who got Drew to fly out to end the inning.

The Yankees went 1-2-3 in the 7th, including an inning-ending strikeout of one Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez.

Claiborne had nothing in the 8th, allowing a 2-run homer to Victorino.  Girardi pulled him for Joba.

That's right: Phil Hughes, Boone Logan, and Joba Chamberlain.  The Three Stooges of the Yankee pitching staff, all within 1 inning.  As an Arsenal fan, I had flashbacks of Manuel Almunia, Denilson (Pereira Neves) and Abou Diaby.  (If you're an Arsenal fan, and you think Diaby is great when he's healthy, then you're stupid enough to be a Tottenham fan.  Diaby sucks.  Maybe he was good before the injuries, but he's been crap since.  Hence, the analogy to Joba.)

Joba threw enough gasoline on the fire to make it 12-8 Boston at the end of the inning.  The Yankees got Eduardo Nunez to 2nd and Stewart to 1st with two outs in the bottom of the 8th, but Gardner struck out.  The bottom of the 9th was a Jeter groundout, a Soriano strikeout, and a Cano strikeout.

WP: Brandon Workman (5-2).  LP: Claiborne (0-2), but the real fault lies with Logan.  Logan's Litany of Losing: Game Number 34.

*

Just as I started by quoting comedy legends Mark Twain and George Carlin, now I quote comedy legend Bill Cosby: "You should never challenge 'worse.' Don't ever say, 'Things can't get any worse!' 'Worse' is rough!"

In this series, the Yankees have scored 8, 8 and 9 runs.  And have lost 3 straight.

David Huff, who took Hughes' place in the rotation, got shelled today, allowing 9 runs, and didn't even get out of the 4th inning.  Jim Miller and Brett Marshall, also rookie callups, weren't a lot better.  Although Ichiro, Gardner, Nunez and Mark Reynolds hit doubles, and Gardner and Reynolds each had 2 RBIs, the Yankees were losing 12-3 going into the bottom of the 6th.

And then, they mounted another comeback.  They scored 4 runs in the 6th, and 2 more in the 8th.  It was 12-9! But Napoli hit another homer, and that was it: Sox 13, Yanks 9.

WP: John Lackey (9-12).  No save necessary.  LP: Huff (2-1).

Oh yeah: Jeter had to leave the game, having reaggravated the ankle injury he sustained last October.  Who knows when he'll be back.  Tomorrow? Next week? Next season? Oy...

*

So, going into tomorrow's series finale with The Scum, the Yankees are 11 games behind in the Division, 10 in the loss column -- as if that's worth caring about anymore.  In the Wild Card race, the Yankees trail the Tampa Bay Rays by 3 games for the 2nd AL Wild Card -- 4 in the loss column.  The elimination number is 9 for the Division, 19 for the Wild Card.

"Life is one damn thing after another." Or "Life is the same damn thing over and over."

Does it matter which it really is?



 






Thursday, September 5, 2013

White Sox Swept, Bring On the Red Ones

It wasn't easy, but the Yankees completed the 3-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox last night.

CC Sabathia appears to have shaken out of his funk: After allowin a run in the 1st inning, he cruised into the 8th, then tired.  David Robertson almost blew it, and Mariano Rivera had to come in and get a 4-out save against a team that's been terrible most of the season.

Fortunately, the Yankees got the runs they needed.  Robinson Cano hit his 26th home run of the season in the 1st, and the Yankees picked up 4 runs in the 4th.  There was no way of knowing that the single run they got in the 7th would make the difference, but it did.

Yankees 6, White Sox 5.  WP: Sabathia (13-11).  SV: Rivera (41).  LP: Erik Johnson (0-1).  Johnson thus lost his major league debut, although of the 5 runs he allowed in 6 innings, only 3 were earned.  He'll turn 24 in December, so he might have a good future ahead of him.  Regardless, the Yankees won't have to face him again until at least next April, and they can be confident that they know how to hit him.

*

There are 23 regular-season games remaining for the Yankees.  They are 8 games behind the Red Sox, 7 in the loss column.  Their elimination number for the AL East is 15: Any number of Yankee losses and Scum wins adding up to 15, and the Yankees can't win the Division.  But the Yankees are only 2 1/2 games out of the 2nd AL Wild Card slot, though 3 in the loss column behind the Tampa Bay Rays, who've won their last 2 after dropping 7 out of 8 to drop them out of the virtual tie they had with Boston for the top.

If the current standings hold to the end of the season, here's the Playoff picture, with the team having home-field advantage in the series listed last:

AL Wild Card game: Tampa Bay at Texas.  Winner faces AL East winner Boston.
AL West winner Oakland at AL Central winner Detroit.
NL Wild Card game: Cincinnati at St. Louis.  Winner faces NL East winner Atlanta.
NL Central winner Pittsburgh at NL West winner Los Angeles.

If the Pirates win the Central, it will be their first Division title, or even Playoff berth, since taking the NL East 3 straight times in 1990, '91 and '92.  Indeed, 1 more win, and they clinch their first over-.500 season since that year when George Bush was President... the father, not the son.

Pittsburgh hasn't won a Pennant since 1979, Los Angeles since 1988, Oakland and Cincinnati since 1990, Atlanta since 1999.  Boston, Tampa Bay, Texas, St. Louis and Detroit have all won at least 1 Pennant since 2007.

Texas and Tampa Bay have never won a World Series, Pittsburgh not since 1979, Detroit since 1984, Los Angeles since 1988, Oakland since 1989, Cincinnati since 1990, Atlanta since 1995.  Boston * and St. Louis have both won one since 2007.

*

And now, the Red Sox come to town for 4 games.  Here are the pitching matchups:

Tonight: Ivan Nova (8-4) vs. former San Diego Padres ace Jake Peavy (11-5).
Tomorrow night: Andy Pettitte (10-9) vs. Felix Doubront (10-6).
Saturday afternoon: David Huff (2-0) vs. John Lackey (8-12).
Sunday afternoon: Hiroki Kuroda (11-10) vs. Jon Lester (13-8).

Tonight's game and tomorrow's are 7:05 starts.  Oddly, the next 2 games are both 1:05 starts: The Saturday game won't be on Fox at 4:00, and the Sunday game won't be on ESPN at 8:00.  How long has it been since a Yanks-Sox weekend series had neither a Fox Saturday game nor an ESPN Sunday game?

I don't care.  Come on you Bombers! Beat The Scum! Let's bring the AL East title back to where it's up for grabs now!

*

Hours until the next Yankees-Red Sox series begins: 9.  The last regular-season series between the teams, at least for this season, begins at Fenway Park a week from tomorrow.  Oh yeah, if you're a Red Sox fan, that's a day you want to play the Yankees: Friday the 13th!

Hours until the U.S. National Soccer Team plays again: 36, tomorrow night, away to Costa Rica, in a CONCACAF World Cup Qualifier.  A win virtually assures that the U.S. advances to the 2014 World Cup, but "the Ticos" are no pushovers at home.

Hours until Rutgers plays football again: 50, this Saturday afternoon, their home opener against Norfolk State.  This should allow them to bounce back from a bad season opener.  They were on the road, against Fresno State, but blew a 2-touchdown 2nd quarter lead and a 7-point last-minute lead, and lost in overtime, 52-51.

Days until the Red Bulls play again: 3, this Sunday afternoon, away to the Houston Dynamo.  In their last game, they beat the hated D.C. United 2-1 on a goal by Tim Cahill, but Cahill was then injured, and could be out for the rest of the regular season and even, if the Red Bulls make it (and they still should), at least the start of the MLS Playoffs.

Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: 7, 1 week from tonight, on September 12 -- on a Thursday due to Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, falling on a weekend.  It's away to South Brunswick.  Just 6 weeks.  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 Arsenal play another competitive match: 9, a week from this Saturday, away to North-East club Sunderland.  This week is an international break or "Interlull."

Days until the Devils play again: 28, with the 2013-14 NHL season opener being on Thursday night, October 3, away to the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Just 4 weeks.


Days until the Devils play another local rival: 29, with the home opener being the night after the season opener, against the New York Islanders.  The first game of the season against the New York Rangers (The Scum, hockey edition) will be on Saturday, October 19, at the Prudential Center.  The first against the Philadelphia Flyers (The Philth) will be on Saturday, November 2, also at home.

Days until the Red Bulls next play a "derby": 30, home to the Boston area's New England Revolution on Saturday, October 5.  That's the last derby of the regular season.

Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge Thanksgiving clash: 84 (November 28).  Just 12 weeks.


Days until the Devils play the Rangers at Yankee Stadium: 143 (January 26, 2014).  Under 5 months.
Days until Super Bowl XLVIII at the Meadowlands: 150 (February 2, 2014).  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: 155 (February 7, 2014).
Days until the next North London Derby: 191, currently scheduled for White Hart Lane on Saturday, March 15, although due to the nature of the Arsenal-Tottenham rivalry it could be moved to the next day, Sunday, for maximum TV ratings.  (It could also be moved from its usual 3:00 PM local time kickoff to an earlier or later one.  But it will almost certainly be moved, anywhere from 3 hours up to 25 hours back.) This past Sunday, at the Emirates Stadium, a.k.a. New Highbury, Arsenal ground out a classic "One-nil to The Arsenal" win over The Scum (soccer edition).  Spurs spent over £106 million on new players, after selling superstar Gareth Bale to Real Madrid for a world record £84 million -- only for Arsenal, who hadn't yet spent a penny in the summer transfer window and were depleted due to a bunch of injuries, to totally shut down those new signings, and then go out and spend £42 million to buy Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid.  So now Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger looks like a genius, Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas and owner Daniel Levy look like idiots, Tottenham's finances are still a mess, and Madrid, as they so often due, exchanged a superstar for a superstar.  And the alleged "power shift in North London" has still not happened.  And now, Tottenham have to "Beware the Ides of March."

Days until the next World Cup, in Brazil: 280 (June 12, 2014).  A little over 9 months.
Days until Rutgers' first Big Ten Conference football game: 373, on Saturday, September 13, 2014 -- at home, against our most hated rival, now a league rival for the very first time: Penn State.  Yes, even before the 2013 college football season begins, the 2014 Big 10 sked has been released.  I guess that's the difference between the Big East and a real college football league.  Anyway, it's just a shade over a full year.

Days until the next Summer Olympics, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: 1,065 (August 5, 2016).  Under 3 years.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Logan's Litany of Losing, As Of September 4, 2013

Boone Logan was the winning pitcher for the Yankees last night.  But he also had a major role in blowing Sunday afternoon's game.  So, time for an update.

Boone Logan is a bum.  Oh, he might be a decent human being, who still can't pitch and whose placement on the Yankee mound has resulted in blown leads and lost games, much like Scott Proctor.  Or he might not be one, who still can't pitch, much like Kyle Farnsworth.

At this point, I don't care whether Logan is a decent human being: He has to go.  He can't pitch.

I despise the very concept of the LOOGy, the Lefty One Out Guy.  If you can't be trusted to get a batter out, regardless of his hand or yours, when the advantage nearly always favors the pitcher, then I don't want you on my team.  And if your sole purpose in a game is to get one lefthanded hitter out, and you don't, then what the hell are you doing in the major leagues?

Boone Logan was born on August 13, 1984 in San Antonio, Texas.  He reached the majors with the Chicago White Sox in 2006.  They sent him to the Atlanta Braves in 2009, and on December 22, 2009, the Braves traded him and Javier Vazquez to the Yankees for Melky Cabrera and 2 guys who ended up not mattering.  This has become one of the worst trades in Yankee history, and not just because the second coming of Vazquez, a.k.a. Home Run Javy, was even worse than the first.

According to Baseball-Reference.com, the pitcher whose career statistics most resembles those of Logan is Pedro Borbon.  This seems unfair, as I remember Borbon as a good reliever.  But the pitcher whose career stats most resemble Logan's at the same age? Felix Heredia, who was so bad as a Yankee that I called him "the Meatball Sub," and whose name made me think of a nasty medical condition: "He's got an acute case of felixheredia."

As a Yankee, Logan is 16-7, a winning percentage of .696.  However, won-lost record and winning percentage are even less meaningful as stats for relievers than they are for starters.  Logan's career ERA is 4.40, which is absolutely unacceptable for a reliever; as a Yankee, it's 3.27, which is still way too high.  His WHIP (Walks + Hits, divided by Innings Pitched)? 1.502 overall, 1.347 as a Yankee.  This season, after 31 appearances, it's 1.271.

If Logan were a righthanded pitcher, he would be at Triple-A now.  But he's a lefty, so he's likely to stick in the major leagues, going from desperate team to desperate team, until his age matches his uniform number, 48.

And yet, Yankee manager Joe Girardi keeps consulting his Binder, and it keeps telling him to put Logan into the game.  Maybe we should start calling him "Binder Boy Boone."

Here now is a quantification of my reasoning that Boone Logan is a bum.  Here is the litany of games that he has blown for the Yankees:

1. April 27, 2010, Yankees at Baltimore Orioles.  Yankees lead 2-1.  Logan come in to relieve Phil Hughes in the 6th -- after Hughes has already gotten 2 outs in the inning, albeit on sharply-hit balls.  Logan faces Luke Scott, a lefthanded hitter.  He walks him.  Girardi, seeing Logan fail in his one and only task, immediately pulls him for David Robertson, who has not yet become the Yankees' trusted 8th-inning reliever.  D-Rob hits a batter, then allows 3 straight singles, before finally getting a strikeout to end the inning.  Yankees go on to lose 5-4, and it all started because Logan walked the one man he was supposed to get out.

2. May 10, 2010, Yankees at Detroit Tigers.  Yankees trail 4-2.  Logan comes in to relieve Robertson.  He walks Johnny Damon, but gets Magglio Ordonez to ground into a double play.  But he walks Miguel Cabrera, and allows a triple to Brennan Boesch (now, in 2013, his Yankee teammate).  Yankees now trail 5-2, and go on to lose 5-4.

3. May 19, 2010, Yankees host Tampa Bay Rays.  Yankees trail 6-2.  Logan comes in to relieve A.J. Burnett.  He needs 1 out to get out of the 7th, and he gets it.  But in the 8th, he allows a walk, and an RBI double.  That makes it 6-3.  Girardi pulls him 2 batters too late, and brings in Mark Melancon, who pours gasoline on the fire that Logan started, allowing an RBI single, a flyout, and RBI single, another single, and an RBI sacrifice fly.  Now it's 10-2 Rays, but the Yankees close to within 10-6.  Had Logan not pitched the 8th, the score could have been 6-6, but he did, so there was no chance.

4. September 19, 2010, Yankees at Baltimore.  Yankees lead 3-1.  Logan comes in to relieve Joba Chamberlain, who had come in to start the 7th in relief of Andy Pettitte, and struck out Adam Jones.  Instead of leaving in a pitcher who had just gotten a good out, Girardi brings in Logan to pitch to Scott.  Logan strikes Scott out, and then gets Ty Wigginton out.  Okay, Logan does the job.  But Girardi leaves Logan in to start the 8th, and Logan allows a leadoff single to Corey Patterson -- a lefty that Logan couldn't get out.  Girardi then replaces Logan with Kerry Wood, who allows back-to-back singles to make it 3-2 Yankees.  Wood gets out of it, and it's Mariano Rivera, of all people, who allows Scott to tie the game with a homer in the 9th, and Robertson allows a Scott double and a Wigginton single in the 11th to lose it 4-3.  But if Girardi had handled Logan right, the Yankees would not have blown the lead.

That's 4 games that Logan blew, or helped to blow, in 2010.  The Yankees finished 1 game out of 1st place in the American League Eastern Division that season.  Had they won just 2 of the 4, half of them, they would have had the best record in the AL, and would have been the 1st seed in the Playoffs, not the 4th.

5. October 18, 2010, Game 3 of American League Championship Series, Yankees host Texas Rangers.  Rangers lead 2-0, but, as Yankee broadcaster John Sterling taught us, "That's just a bloop and a blast." Logan comes in to relieve Kerry Wood, and Girardi has clearly brought him in to face just 1 batter, the dangerous lefty Josh Hamilton.  Logan allows a double.  Girardi pulls Logan for David Robertson -- who, at this point, was occupying a place in my mind that Logan does now, as a bum who doesn't belong in the majors.  Robertson straightened himself out in 2011; Logan never has.  The Rangers end up scoring 6 runs in the inning, and a 2-run deficit becomes 8-0 Rangers.  Logan set in motion the putting of the game out of reach.

6. October 19, 2010, Game 4 of ALCS, Yankees host Rangers.  Rangers lead 5-3, but that's just a bloop and a blast.  Logan comes in to relieve Robertson, who had just relieved Burnett with 2 outs.  Again, Girardi brings Logan in with the sole purpose of pitching to Hamilton.  Hamilton does not settle for 2 bases this time: He takes 4 on a mammoth home run.  6-3 Rangers.  Girardi replaces Logan with Joba, and he's got nothing: Double, walk, single, before getting a strikeout to end it.  Yankees lose 10-3.

If the Yankees had won either of those games, that ALCS would have at least gone to a Game 7, and proven postseason performer Andy Pettitte would almost certainly have been the starter.

7. April 5, 2011, Yankees host Minnesota Twins.  Game tied 4-4.  Logan comes in to relieve Mariano Rivera, who had pitched a scoreless 9th.  Walk, single, RBI single.  Yankees lose, 5-4.

8. May 7, 2011, Yankees at Rangers.  Rangers lead 5-4.  Logan comes in to relieve Bartolo Colon.  He gets through the 5th, and in the top of the 6th, the Yankees tie the game.  Girardi leaves Logan in for the bottom of the 6th.  Double, single, RBI sacrifice bunt.  Girardi brings in Robertson, who allows another run.  Yankees lose, 7-5.

9. May 27, 2011, Yankees at Seattle Mariners.  Yankees lead 3-2.  Logan comes in to relieve Burnett in the 6th.  He pitches to 1 batter, the lefthanded Adam Kennedy.  You never want to put the leadoff man on, but he does, with a single.  Girardi brings in Luis Ayala, who allows single, walk, RBI groundout, RBI groundout.  Yankees lose, 4-3.

10. July 6, 2011, Yankees at Cleveland Indians.  Indians lead 2-0.  Logan comes in to relieve Ayala with 2 outs in the 6th.  He hits Travis Hafner (now a Yankee), but gets Carlos Santana (not the guitarist) to ground out.  He stays in for the 7th, and gets the first 2 outs, then allows a home run to Lonnie Chisenhall.  3-0 Indians.  The Indians make it 5-0 before a Yankee comeback falls short in the 9th, 5-3.  If Logan hadn't allowed that home run to a banjo hitter, the Yankees might have won.  So I'm counting this one.

11. July 19, 2011, Yankees at Rays.  Yankees lead 2-1.  Logan comes in to relieve Colon in the 7th, after Colon started the 7th with a strikeout but had allowed back-to-back singles.  Logan allows a single to load the bases, a groundout error, and a sacrifice fly before getting a strikeout to end it.  3-2 Rays, and that's the final.

12. July 23, 2011, Yankees host Oakland Athletics.  A's lead 3-2.  Logan comes in to relieve Cory Wade to start the 7th.  The first batter he faces is a lefty, Hideki Matsui.  Our old friend hits it out.  4-2 A's.  Logan pitches 2 full innings with no further damage... and other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play? Yanks get a run in the bottom of the 9th, but that makes it 4-3, not 3-3.

13. July 27, 2011, Yankees host Mariners.  M's lead 2-1.  Logan comes in to relieve Wade, with 1 out, after Wade allowed a double and a single.  Logan got what should have been an inning-ending double play, but there was a throwing error.  Okay, can't blame him for the game now being 3-1, but then he loads the bases with a walk, gets the 2nd out on a strikeout, but allows a triple to make it 6-1.  Ayala comes in and allows a double to make it 7-1.  Yankees go on to lose 9-2.

14. August 23, 2011, Yankees host A's.  A's lead 3-0.  Logan comes in to relieve Colon in the 7th, with 1 out, but Colon has now allowed a single and a double.  Logan allows a double before getting 2 groundouts.  5-0 A's.  The A's make it 6-0 before a furious Yankee comeback falls just short, 6-5.  Had Logan not allowed that double, the Yankees would have won.

15. September 16, 2011, Yankees at those pesky Toronto Blue Jays.  Game tied 4-4.  Logan comes in to start the bottom of the 9th.  Double, intentional walk, bunt groundout.  Girardi brings in Cory Wade, game-winning single.  Jays 5, Yankees 4.

16. September 28, 2011, Yankees at Rays.  Yankees lead 7-0 in the bottom of the 7th.  Let me say that again: Yankees seven, Rays zero.  Surely, even Boone Logan can't cause the Yankees to blow a 7-run lead, right? Right? Wrong.  He gets a strikeout to end a 1st-and-2nd threat, but he stays in for the 8th, and allows a single to Johnny Damon, a double to Ben Zobrist, and hits Casey Kotchman, loading the bases.  Girardi takes him out for Ayala, and the dam bursts: RBI Walk, RBI hit-by-pitch, strikeout, RBI sacrifice fly, 3-run homer.  Wade allows a tying home run to Dan Johnson in the 9th, and Scott Proctor allows a winning homer to Evan Longoria in the 12th.  Rays 8, Yankees 7.  The Yankees had a 99 percent chance of winning when Logan started the bottom of the 8th, and lost.

That's 10 games Logan blew, or helped to blow, in 2011.  The Yankees finished with the best record in the AL anyway.

Incredibly, Logan made 3 appearances in the 2011 AL Division Series against Detroit, totaling 2 1/3 innings, and didn't allow a run.

17. April 8, 2012, Yankees at Tampa Bay.  Rays lead 2-0.  Logan comes in to relieve Hughes with 2 outs in the 5th, men on 1st and 2nd.  He gets a strikeout to end it, and gets the first 2 outs in the 6th.  But he allows a home run to make it 3-0 -- and no longer "a bloop and a blast." That was the final, and I'm counting it.

18. May 1, 2012, Yankees host Baltimore.  Orioles lead 3-1.  Logan comes in to relieve Hughes, who got the 1st 2 outs in the 6th, but hit a batter.  Logan allows 2 singles and a double, before Girardi gets the slightest of inklings that Logan is a bum and pulls him for Cory Wade, who walks the next better before getting out of it. 6-1 Orioles, and the O's win 7-1.  Again, Logan turned a deficit that was "just a bloop and a blast" into a wipeout.

19. May 20, 2012, Yankees host Cincinnati Reds.  Reds lead 3-2.  Logan comes in to relieve Wade, who'd gotten the 1st out in the 8th, because Girardi looked in That Damned Binder, which said, "Joey Votto is a lefthander with power, and you've got that short porch in right field.  Bring in Boone Logan, and ignore his past inability to get lefties with power out." It worked: Logan struck Votto out! So the Binder next said, "Now get that bum the hell out of there and put in a competent pitcher!" Right? Wrong, it said, "Leave him in." And Logan allows back-to-back singles, before Girardi pulls him, and brings in Rafael Soriano, who allows a 2-RBI double.  Reds win, 5-2.  This is the first time Logan has messed up an Interleague game.

20. July 2, 2012, Yankees at Tampa Bay.  Yankees lead 3-2.  Logan comes in to relief Cody Eppley, who'd gotten the 1st out in the 7th.  Walk, wild pitch, pop fly.  Girardi brings in Robertson.  Double, error.  Rays win 4-3.

21. July 7, 2012, Yankees at Boston Red Sox.  Sox lead 5-3.  Logan hasn't yet blown a game against The Scum, but this time, comes in to relieve Hughes with 1 out in the 6th, man on 2nd.  Flyout, back-to-back walks, strikeout.  End of that threat, but Girardi should have realized that, having already walked 2 batters, Logan shouldn't be kept in the game.  He leaves Logan in to start the 7th, and he allows a double.  Girardi brings in Wade, who turns that leadoff double (totally Logan's fault) into 4 runs (all of them partly Logan's fault).  Sox lead 9-4 instead of 5-4.  Yanks manage to make it 9-5, meaning if Logan doesn't allow that double, it's no worse than 5-5.  And this is against The Scum.  Granted, the Sox were awful in 2012, but you still want to beat them, and the Yanks were still in a Division title race.

22. July 24, 2012, Yankees at Seattle.  Mariners lead 3-2.  Logan comes in to relieve Chad Qualls with 2 out in the 8th, but bases loaded.  He allows a 2-run single and is immediately replaced.  Mariners win, 4-2.  This was in a streak of 6 straight games in which Logan appeared that the Yankees lost.

23. July 30, 2012, Yankees host Baltimore.  Orioles lead 3-2.  Remember, this is the team the Yankees are battling for the AL East title.  Logan comes in to relieve Freddy Garcia to start the 7th.  He strikes out the 1st 2 batters, then allows a walk and an RBI double, before David Phelps comes in and allows an RBI single.  Orioles lead 5-2.  The Yankees close to within 5-4, and would have won if Logan hadn't been a bum.

24. August 16, 2012, Yankees host Texas.  Yankees lead 5-4.  Logan comes in to relieve Eppley, who allowed a leadoff single in the 7th.  The first batter he has to face is... Josh Hamilton.  Oh no... Surprise, Logan struck him out.  But then he allowed a single to Adrian Beltre and an RBI double to David Murphy.  Girardi brings in Joba, who allows another run.  Yankees end up losing 10-6.

25. August 20, 2012, Yankees host Chicago White Sox.  Game tied 6-6.  Logan comes in to relieve Joba in the 6th, and gets through the inning.  He got the 1st out in the 7th, too.  But he allowed a single, a flyout, and then a home run.  ChiSox go on to win 9-6.

26. August 29, 2012, Yankees host Toronto.  Jays lead 5-4.  Derek Lowe relieves CC Sabathia, and allows a double and a single.  Logan comes in to relieve Lowe.  He got a strikeout, but allows an RBI sacrifice bunt.  Yanks lose 8-5.

27. September 25, 2012, Yankees at Minnesota.  Yankees lead 3-1.  Lowe comes in to relieve Hughes in the 7th.  Wild pitch, run scores.  Double, 2 runs score.  Walk.  Single, run scores.  Yanks trail 5-3, close to 5-4, but that's it.

That's 11 games that Logan blew, or helped to blow, in 2012.  The Yankees finished with the best record in the AL anyway, but the Division race came down to Game 162.  If just one-third of those games, 4 out of 11, had gone the other way, the Yankees would have gone into the final series of the season with the Division title wrapped up, and would have been a lot more relaxed going into the Playoffs.  Would it have made a difference? We'll never know.

Incredibly, Logan made 5 appearances in the 2012 postseason, 2 in the AL Division Series against Baltimore and 3 in the ALCS against Detroit, totaling 3 2/3 innings, and didn't allow a run.  Indeed, his career postseason ERA is 2.35, his WHIP 1.043.  This is what you would expect from a Yankee reliever in postseason play.  But what he's done in regular-season play shows he shouldn't be trusted on the postseason roster.  Or any roster.

28. April 5, 2013, Yankees at Detroit.  Yankees lead 3-2.  Logan comes in to relieve Ivan Nova with 2 outs in the 5th, men on 1st and 3rd.  The first batter Logan faces is a lefthander, Prince Fielder.  Home run.  Yankees trail 5-3, and go on to lose 8-3.

29. April 21, 2013, Yankees at Toronto.  Yankees lead 4-2.  Logan comes in to relieve Nova with none out in the 6th, men on 2nd and 3rd.  He allows a single to lefthander Cody Rasmus that ties the game.  Girardi immediately replaces him with David Phelps, and he does no better.  Yankees go on to lose 8-4.

30. May 5, 2013, Yankees host Oakland.  Game tied 4-4.  Logan comes in to relieve Preston Claiborne, who had pitched 2 shutout innings in relief of Andy Pettitte, to start the 8th inning.  Logan gets 1 out, then allows a home run to Josh Donaldson, a righthander -- who, apparently according to Joe Girardi's Binder, Logan shouldn't have been facing anyway.  Yankees go on to lose 5-4.

31. June 23, 2013, Yankees host Tampa Bay.  Game tied 1-1.  Logan comes in to relieve Shawn Kelley, who had pitched to 1 batter in relief of Ivan Nova.  Nova had gotten the 1st 2 outs in the top of the 7th, but hit 2 batters, and then Kelley walked the bases loaded.  Logan came in for the specific purpose of getting out Tampa's lefty-hitting 1st baseman, James Loney.  Instead, Loney singled home 2 runs.  Yankes go on to lose 3-1.

32. August 15, 2013, Yankees host Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.  Angels lead 3-1.  Logan comes in to relieve Kelley, who had pitched a scoreless 7th in relief of Hughes, but had allowed a leadoff double.  Incredibly, this time, Logan struck out Josh Hamilton.  Then he got Erick Aybar to pop up.  But Girardi ordered an intentional walk of Mark Trumbo, to set up the force play.  Angels manager Mike Scioscia, a man with more sense than Girardi (not hard), ordered a double steal to eliminate the possibility.  Logan gave Hank Conger the old "unintentional intentional walk" to restore the possibility.  Chris Nelson hit a grand slam home run to wipe out any possibility.  Giradi finally pulled Logan and brought in Joba, who allowed another run, to make it 8-1 Angels.  The Yanks closed to 8-4 in the bottom of the 9th, but still lost.  Had Girardi left Kelley in, and Kelley had gotten out of the jam, it would have been 4-3 Yankees, so I'm counting this as part of Logan's Litany.

33. September 1, 2013, Yankees host Orioles.  Yankees lead 3-0.  Pettitte allows a pair of singles to lead off the top of the 7th.  Girardi replaces him with Kelley, who allows a single and a home run to make it 4-3 Orioles.  Girardi replaces Kelley with Logan.  The O's only lead by 1 run, and that can be overcome without much trouble.  But Logan allows a single and a walk, and those runners are his responsibility.  Girardi replaces him with Chamberlain, who gets an out, but allows a home run that allows Logan's runners to score.  Yankees lose, 7-3.  As with the August 15 game, had Girardi left Kelley in, and Kelley had gotten out of the jam, it would have been 4-3 Yankees, so I'm counting this as part of Logan's Litany.

That's 6 games that Logan has blown, or helped to blow, thus far in 2013.  The Yankees go into tonight's game 8 games out of 1st place, and 2 1/2 games out of the AL's 2nd Wild Card slot.  If they had won half of the 6, 3 of them, they'd be 5 games out of 1st, very much in it, and in the 2nd Wild Card slot.

*

Overall, Logan has blown 33 games.  Two have been in the postseason.

He's blown 6 games against Tampa Bay, 5 against Baltimore, 4 against Texas, 3 each against Oakland and Toronto, 2 each against Detroit and Minnesota, and 1 each against Boston, Cleveland, Anaheim, the Chicago White Sox, and in Interleague play against Cincinnati.

Thirty-three games.  Boone Logan has blown, or helped to blow, 33 games for the New York Yankees.

He might be a nice guy.  He might be a good person.

But when it comes to pitching...

Boone Logan is a bum.

So THAT'S What Nunez and Logan Are Doing In the Major Leagues!

Had he lived, yesterday would have been the 100th Birthday of Alan Ladd, best known for the 1953 Western movie Shane, in which he plays an aging gunfighter.  At the end of the movie, he rides off, a kid he'd befriended, played by Brandon deWilde, tries to get him to stay, yelling, "Shane, come back!"

(Not "Come back, Shane!" That's one of those lines that always seems to get remembered wrong.  I should do a Top 10 of those sometime.  Sadly, Ladd attempted suicide twice, succeeding the second time, in 1964, at the age of 50.  deWilde would be killed in a car crash in 1972, only 30.)

Well, Shane Spencer isn't coming back -- or, as Rick Pitino put it, "Shane Spencer's not walking through that door" -- but the Yankees didn't need him against the Chicago White Sox last night.  All they needed were the current players.

For the 4th straight start, Hiroki Kuroda did not have his good stuff.  He made it to the 7th inning, allowing 4 runs on 7 hits and 2 walks, and was outpitched by the Pale Hose's All-Star ace, Chris Sale.

It was 4-1 Chicago (hating the Red Sox as I do, it's weird for me to write "Sox" or "the Sox" when talking about the Chicago White variety) in the bottom of the 8th, when Captain Clutch started perhaps the most emotional rally of the season: Derek Jeter sent a line drive to center field.

Robinson Cano doubled him over to 3rd.  (This is a trend that I've noticed: All too often lately, doubles have gotten Yankee runners on 1st only to 3rd, not home.) The White Sox manager, Robin Ventura (who was briefly a Yankee and briefly a Met, after a fine career as the Sox' 3rd baseman), pulled Sale, and that may have been a mistake.  He brought in Nate Jones, who gave up back-to-back singles to Alfonso Soriano and Alex Rodriguez, the former scoring Jeter and Cano to make it 4-3.

Ventura then made another pitching change, bringing in Donnie Veal. Curtis Granderson breaded Veal with a game-tying single.

Veal struck out Mark Reynolds for the 2nd out... and then Ventura took him out, after getting a big out.  Huh? Does Ventura have a binder, too? He brought in Matt Lindstrom, to face Eduardo Nunez.

Nunez is not one of my favorite people.  He can hit a little, but he's got a tin glove, regardless of whether he's playing 3rd base or shortstop -- hence his nicknames NunE5 and NunE6.  I even nicknamed him El Doctor Guante Extraño -- Spanish for "Dr. Strange Glove," a reference to the nickname Dick Stuart, a great slugger but a horrible fielder who, since he played in the 1960s, before there was a designated hitter, was stuck at 1st base, traditionally the position where a bad fielder could do the least damage.  (Before the movie Dr. Strangelove came out in 1964, leading to his more familiar nickname, Stuart was known as "Stonefingers.") Sixties sluggers Harmon Killebrew and Dick Allen had been moved there from 3rd base.

Nunez has been one of these guys that makes me say, "What the hell is this guy doing in the major leagues?"

I will tell you what Eduardo Nunez is doing in the major leagues: Hitting a game winning double to left field, that scored A-Rod and the Grandy Man.  6-4 Yankees.

On Facebook, I typed, "I take it all back!"

You know who else has made me say, "What the hell is this guy doing in the major leagues?" Boone Logan.  Yet he turned out to be the winning pitcher, having relieved Preston Claiborne (who finished the 7th inning for Kuroda) and pitched a 1-2-3 8th.

Most likely, Girardi brought Logan in because the leadoff hitter was Adam Dunn, a lefthander who can hit a ball 500 feet... when he's not striking out, something Logan made him do for the 2,190th time in his career.  That's more than any player who's ever played except for Reggie Jackson, Jim Thome and Sammy Sosa.  (Dunn is only 33, so, barring injury, he will get the 408 Ks he needs to surpass Reggie's all-time record of 2,597.  Thome, apparently if not officially retired, is 49 short.  Two other players have over 2,000 Ks: A-Rod and Andres Galarraga.  Surprisingly, Jeter has 1,751, breaking Mickey Mantle's club record of 1,710.)

Remember when Bobby Bonds (Barry's father) held the record for most strikeouts in a season, with 189? That figure has now been topped 13 times, 4 times by Dunn, who fanned 222 times last season.  But that's not the record now: Mark Reynolds, now ours, whiffed 223 times in 2009 while with the Arizona Diamondbacks.  He's also topped the old Bonds record 3 other times.  Drew Stubbs of the 2011 Cincinnati Reds (now with the Cleveland Indians) has also topped 200, and Granderson had a Yankee record 195 last season.

But Logan was officially the Yankee pitcher when the Yankees took the lead, and so when Mairano Rivera nailed down his 40th save, Logan was the winning pitcher (5-2) -- but I still, due to his futzup the other day, have to add to his Litany of Losing list.  Jones was the losing pitcher for the White Sox (4-5).

The Yankees remain 8 games behind the Red Sox for the AL East lead (7 in the loss column), and 2 1/2 behind the Tamap Bay Rays in the hunt for the 2nd Wild Card slot.  The former now looks like a longshot, but the latter is definitely doable.

The series with the White Sox concludes tonight at 7:00 (well, 7:05... okay, maybe 7:08), with CC Sabathia starting against Erik Johnson.

Who? He's a 23-year-old 6-foot-3, 235-pound righthander, not as big as CC but pretty big, and not only is he the proverbial "pitcher the Yankees have never seen before," no team has seen him in a major league game: He's making his debut.  (Remember, it's September, and the rosters have been expanded.) This season, between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte, he's 12-3, with an ERA of 1.96 and a WHIP of 0.986.

Looks like he's ready for the majors.  Let's see if he's ready for Yankee Stadium.  Come on you Pinstripes!

And then, tomorrow, the other Sox come to town.  The Boston Red Scum.

*

Note of salute to the Pittsburgh Pirates.  By beating the Milwaukee Brewers 4-3 last night, they won their 81st game of the season.  Barring a 24-game losing streak (which has happened only once in the history of Major League Baseball), they will have their first winning season in 21 years -- since 1992.  Time for a "How Long It's Been" post.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

It's Pennant Race Time

Technical issues prevented me from posting over the Labor Day weekend.  Not happy about that.

But taking 3 out of 4 games over that stretch? Including 2 of 3 against the Baltimore Orioles, fellow contenders for the AL East title and the AL Wild Card spots? I'm okay with that.

On Friday night, CC Sabathia, again, did not pitch well.  He didn't get through the 6th inning, allowing 5 runs (all earned) on 7 hits, although only 1 walk.

This time, though, the Yanks bailed the Big Fella out with runs, lots of them.  Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the 4th, with 2 out, Robinson Cano drew a walk, and Alfonso Soriano hit one out to give the Yanks a 2-1 lead.  (It was his 12th homer for the Yankees, his 29th overall.)

The O's struck back in the top of the 5th, taking a 4-2 lead.  But back-to-back doubles by Curtis Granderson and Mark Reynolds, a homer by Ichiro Suzuki (his 7th), a double by Austin Romine, a single by Brett Gardner, a walk by Derek Jeter, and a single by Cano made it 7-4 Yanks.  The O's got a run back in the 6th, chasing CC, but the Yanks got that back in the 7th thanks to a 2-out rallY: A Cano single, Soriano getting hit with a pitch, and Alex Rodriguez singling Cano home.

Yankees 8, Orioles 5.  WP: Sabathia (12-11).  SV: Mariano Rivera (39).  LP: Miguel Gonzalez (8-7).

*

Saturday's game was the opposite: The Yankees got only 2 runs on 7 hits, but it was enough.  In the 1st, Gardner doubled, Jeter moved him over with a groundout, and Cano doubled.  Cano then led off the 8th with a home run (his 25th).

In between, Joe Girardi must have lost his Binder, because he allowed Ivan Nova to pitch a complete game.  And it was a shutout.  In the 2nd, Nova hit Adam Jones with a pitch and allowed a single to Matt Wieters.  In the 4th, he hit Chris Davis.  In the 6th, he allowed a single to Manny Machado.  In the 8th, he walked J.J. Hardy.  And in the 9th, he allowed a single to Nate McLough.  That was all the baserunners he allowed, and nobody even got to 3rd base.

Yankees 2, Orioles 0.  WP: Nova (8-4).  No save necessary.  LP: Scott Feldman (11-10).

Without Nova's revival, the Yankees would already be out of postseason contention.

*

On Sunday, I was pleased by Liverpool's 1-0 win over Manchester United, and, as they say in England, "chuffed" by Arsenal's 1-0 win over Tottenham.  These two arch-rivalry games were, combined, a wonderful thing.  Actually, either would have been a wonderful thing.  But I would have accept a Man U win over the Scousers, if Arsenal had also beaten The Scum (English soccer edition, not to be confused with the Boston Red Sox or the New York Rangers).

Then the Yankees had to go and mess it up.  Or, more accurately, Shawn Kelley, Boone Logan and Joba Chamberlain had to go and mess it up.

The Yankees led 3-0 going into the top of the 7th, thanks to a Soriano RBI single in the 3rd, and a bases-loaded walk by Gardner and a sacrifice fly by Jeter in the 4th.  Andy Pettitte had pitched 6 strong innings, and there was plenty of reason to believe the Yankees would win.

But Andy allowed a pair of singles to lead off the 7th, and suddenly the tying run was at the plate.  Girardi must have found the damn Binder, because he took Andy out and He brought in Kelley.  Now, I'm not that mad at Kelley: This was a rare bad outing for him.  But Binder Boy Boone, and Joba? Surely, by now, Joe has learned not to trust those 2 in a close game.

I can tell what you're thinking: "No, Mike, he hasn't.  And don't call me Shirley."

Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit blogging.

Behold the damage in the top of the 7th inning on Sunday:

* Michael Morse singles to lead off.

* Danny Valencia also singles.

* Girardi replaces Pettitte with Kelley.  It is still 3-0 Yankees, but men on 1st & 2nd with nobody out.

* Wieters singles.  Morse scores.  3-1 Yankees.

* Hardy hits one out.  4-3 Orioles.

* Girardi replaces Kelley with Logan.  Whatever happens next, it can't be added to "Logan's Litany of Losing," right? Wrong: The O's only lead by 1 run, and 1 run can be overcome without much trouble.  But if Logan makes things worse, it counts in the Litany, even if the Yankees don't score another run.

* Brian Roberts singles.  A runner who is the responsibility of Logan.

* Nick Markakis draws a walk.  Also the responsibility of Logan.

* Girardi finally realizes that the Binder doesn't know what the hell is going on, and replaces Logan... with Joba.

* Joba finally gets the inning's 1st out, getting Machado to pop up a bunt, which catcher Chris Stewart catches.

* Jones takes Joba deep.  7-3 Orioles.  The 5th and 6th runs, the responsibility of Logan, leading to the 7th.

And that's the final score, as Joba got the last 2 outs, but the damage was done.  WP: Kevin Gausman (2-3).  No save.  LP: Kelley (4-2).  But the real loser is Girardi, who, again, panicked, and put in the wrong relievers.

Nevertheless, this game still counts as Game 33 in Logan's Litany of Losing.  An update is necessary, and will soon follow.

*

I would be just fine with taking 2 of 3 from the Birds, if the 3rd wasn't lost in such crap fashion.  Fortunately, there was a cure for what ailed me, and it was a Labor Day matinee, home to the Chicago White Sox, who are seriously struggling this season.

As bad as the top of the 7th was for the Yankees the day before, the bottom of the 8th yesterday was even better.  But first, there was a 2-hour rain delay.  When it ended, Girardi decided not to send Phil Hughes back out there, even though Hughes had pitched to 5 batters and gotten 4 of them out.

Joe turned to David Huff, who's been pretty good since coming over, including one long outing in relief of the insanely struggling Hughes.  Huff went all the way to the 7th inning, allowing just 1 run on 5 hits and (I love seeing these words in connection with Yankee pitchers) no walks.

A Gardner double and a Jeter single gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead in the 1st, but that gave no indication as to the joy that was coming in the 4th.  To wit:

* A-Rod leads off with a double.

* Vernon Wells (Remember him?) hits a deflected grounder that gets himself to 1st and A-Rod to 3rd.

* Curtis Granderson walks to load the bases with nobody out.

* Reynolds singles home A-Rod.  Bases remain loaded.  2-0.

* Romine singles home Wells and Granderson.  4-0.

* Gardner doubles home Reynolds.  5-0.

* Jeter singles home Romine.  6-0.

* Finally, the ChiSox get the 1st out, as they pop Cano up.

* Soriano doubles home Gardner.  7-0.

* A-Rod comes to bat for the 2nd time in the inning.  Sox catcher Josh Phegley drops a foul pop-up.  Then A-Rod draws a walk.

* Wells grounds into a force play, except Adam Dunn -- a great slugger but strikes out too much and is a born DH who is playing 1st base, makes a throwing error, allowing home Jeter and Soriano.  9-0.

* Finally, Granderson and Reynolds ground into successive forceouts to end the carnage.

Isn't "carnage" a great word?

The Sox got on the board in the 7th with a Paul Konerko homer, the 432nd of his career.  (You didn't know he had more career home runs than Yogi Berra, Joe DiMaggio, Jim Rice, Johnny Bench, Graig Nettles, Dale Murphy, Al Kaline, Duke Snider, David Ortiz, Billy Williams and Mike Piazza, did you?) But that was all the Pale Hose got.

Yankees 9, White Sox 1.  WP: Huff (2-0).  No save.  LP: Jose Quintana (7-5).

*

The Yankees have 25 games left.  They are 7 1/2 games out of 1st place in the AL East.  They probably can't catch the Red Sox.  They are 2 1/2 games out of the AL's 2nd Wild Card.  They probably can catch either Tampa Bay or either Oakland and Texas, whichever ends up not winning the AL West.

We shall see.  It's September.  It's Pennant Race time.

Yeah, I know, it should be called "Playoff Race time." But I'm old-school, and there's just something about the word "Pennant."