Friday, October 30, 2009

World Series Game 2: The Empire Strikes Back!

New York Yankees 3 - Philadelphia Phillies 1, Game 2
Series tied, 1-1

A.J. Burnett (1-0) - 7.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 9 K, 0 HR

A.J. Burnett outduels Pedro Martinez

But more importantly Burnett hands the ball to Mariano Rivera who pitched a scoreless 8th and 9th inning. No bridge was needed today and the Yankees escape the Bronx, tied 1-1.

Solo Home Runs

Mark Teixeira and Hideki Matsui provide Burnett all the runs he needed by each hitting solo home runs. This sounds like a carbon copy of Game 1. A masterful pitching performance (Cliff Lee, A.J. Burnett) and two hard-luck losers (C.C. Sabathia, Pedro Martinez) who pitched well enough to win. And 2 solo home runs (Chase Utley) were the difference. Very interesting so far.

Where's A-Rod?

So far, Alex Rodriguez' first World Series experience hasn't turned out the way he expected. A-Rod is 0-8 with 6 strikeouts. Ouch!

The Yankees bullpen may not be the only cause for concern. If A-Rod doesn't get going, major trouble may lurk ahead for the Yankees. The Phillies can go toe-to-toe with the Yanks in a slugfest and if A-Rod is going to be a lame duck, it just may be a long winter in New York.

Photos courtesy of the AP

World Series Game 1: Cliff Lee Conquers The Empire

Philadelphia Phillies 6 - New York Yankees 1, Game 1
Phillies lead series, 1-0

Cliff Lee's House

Cliff Lee (1-0) - 9.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 10 K, 0 HR

Cliff Lee pitched a masterpiece in Game 1. In the process, he became the first pitcher in World Series history to pitch a complete game with 10 strikeouts, 0 walks and 0 earned runs. In fact, only once before has a pitcher had 10 K and 0 BB in a World Series game, and get this-- it happened in the very first World Series game (1903 - Deacon Phillippe of the Pittsburgh Pirates). However, Phillippe allowed 2 ER in that 1903 game-- and the man he outdueled-- Cy Young.

Chase Utley provided Lee with all the runs he needed by belting 2 solo home runs off of C.C. Sabathia (0-1).

This was a huge win for the Phillies as they take home field advantage away from the Yankees.

The Usual Suspects

The Yankees bullpen surrenders 4 runs in the 8th and 9th innings. Joe Girardi's bridge to Mariano Rivera may be a nightmare in the making. The talk of the playoffs was all about the Phillies erratic pen, but it's the Yankees that may have a cause for concern.

Photos courtesy of the AP

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Los Angeles Lakers: The Other Empire

Just when we thought the city of Los Angeles was in the doldrums.

They're baaaack!

The defending NBA champions, Los Angeles Lakers opened their season with a 99-92 victory over their roommates, the Los Angeles Clippers. Prior to the game the Lakers held their ring ceremony and raised their 15th championship banner.

Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom and Co. looked tough last night. With a hungry Ron Artest, a healthy and lighter Andrew Bynum-- the Lakers are better, stronger, faster. Watch out Western Conference!

But guess who's lurking in the bushes? If the Lakers are going to win a 16th championship, they may just have to rumble with their arch nemesis, the Boston Celtics.

The Celtics made a major statement last night in Cleveland, beating the Cavaliers, 95-89. When Shaquille O'Neal joined the Cavs in the off season, he was asked, "Why Cleveland?" Shaq responded, "The king needs a ring", referring to LeBron James. I think someone forgot to tell Shaq, 1) he's 37 years old; 2) Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen & Co. are also attending this party.

Sorry king-- but I don't think Shaq is the tour guide who's going to take you to the promised land.

My NBA Finals prediction: Lakers 4 - Celtics 3.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

World Series: Let The Games Begin!

New York Yankees vs. Philadelphia Phillies

The New York Yankees have made the World Series every year they've opened a new or renovated stadium (1923: Yankees defeat the New York Giants, 4-2; 1976: Cincinnati Reds defeat Yankees, 4-0; 2009: ?

The Bronx Bombers are going for their 27th world championship. They are 26-13 in World Series play. They already have the most titles in major sports in North America. Second place - The Montreal Canadians with 23.

Breakdown of the Yankees 26 World Series championships: Brooklyn/LA Dodgers (8); NY/SF Giants (5); Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves (3); St. Louis Cardinals (2); Cincinnati Reds (2); Chicago Cubs (2); Pittsburgh Pirates (1); Philadelphia Phillies (1); San Diego Padres (1); New York Mets (1)

Breakdown of the Yankees 13 World Series losses: Brooklyn/LA Dodgers (3); St. Louis Cardinals (3); New York Giants (2); Milwaukee Braves (1); Pittsburgh Pirates (1); Cincinnati Reds (1); Arizona Diamondbacks (1); Florida Marlins (1)

The Phillies are the only team that has faced every team in a current division (AL East) in World Series play [New York Yankees-1950 (L), 2009 (?); Boston Red Sox-1915 (L); Baltimore Orioles-1983 (L); Toronto Blue Jays-1993 (L); Tampa Bay Rays-2008 (W)].

They also played and defeated the Kansas City Royals in 1980.

Beware Of This Man!

Ryan Howard - 2009 Postseason - 9 G, 31 AB, 8 R, 11 H, 4 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 14 RBI, 7 BB, 8 K, .355 AVG

Howard may just be the Yankees worst nightmare.

And then there's Brad Lidge. Hmmmm? This should be interesting.

To be continued....

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Monday, October 26, 2009

American League Champions: New York Yankees

Return Of The Empire!
40th American League Pennant

New York Yankees 5 - Los Angeles Angels 2 - Game 6

Yankees win series, 4-2


The Four Horse Men

Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera: These 4 Yankees icons have been getting it done for a long time!

A.J. - C.C. - Tex-- $400+ million investment

A.J. Burnett (5 years - $82.5 million); C.C. Sabathia (7 years - $161 million); Mark Teixeira (8 years - $180 million). Whoa!! Personally, I think baseball needs a salary cap.

Good Luck next season, LA!

Photos courtesy of the AP

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Big East Is Back!

When the preseason polls came out, back in late August, there were a total of 0 teams from the Big East ranked in either poll-- AP Poll & Coaches Poll. This week there are 3 Big East teams in the Top 25-- No. 8 Cincinnati Bearcats (7-0), No. 15 Pittsburgh Panthers (6-1) and No. 21 West Virginia Mountaineers (6-1). This is good news for Cincinnati and their national title hopes because both Pittsburgh and West Virginia remain on their schedule as ranked teams.

The Bearcats are 1 of 7 remaining unbeaten teams and 1 of 4 who unfortunately don't control their own destiny. Only #1 Florida, #2 Alabama and #3 Texas can safely say, they have their destinies in their own hands. If they win out, they'll be in the national title game.

It's quite possible that along with Cincinnati-- the No. 7 Boise State Broncos (7-0), the No. 4 Iowa Hawkeyes (8-0) and the No. 6 TCU Horned Frogs (7-0) will go undefeated and have nothing to show for it. But that's life in college football.

Boise State has the best chance of the 4 of going undefeated. Their remaining opponents (all division rivals) have a combined record of 19-24, with Idaho (6-2) being their only (tough) challenge left. Yes, Idaho. And in the world of college football this may be a dagger for the Broncos because their strength of schedule component is going to take a beating the rest of the way.

TCU is in the same boat as the Broncos. Their remaining opponents (all division rivals) are a combined 16-20. The one bright spot is a Nov. 14 showdown with No. 16 Utah. Coincidentally, Boise State plays Idaho on the same date, but the Horned Frogs have the tougher opponent in Utah, which can be good or bad. The good news-- if they beat Utah, they'll most likely leapfrog Boise State in the polls and separate themselves from the Broncos in the BCS standings. A TCU win over ranked Utah weighs much more than a Boise State win over Idaho. The bad news is-- Utah is no slouch and can defeat TCU, eliminating them from any conversation.

Then there's Iowa. On Saturday, Iowa won a thriller at Michigan State, 15-13, scoring a touchdown on 4th and goal with .02 seconds left, thus remaining unbeaten. The Hawkeyes are set up nicely, playing 3 of their remaining 4 games at home against 3 very winnable opponents. Their only tough challenge is a Nov. 14 date at Ohio State. If the Hawkeyes can find a way to win at OSU-- they will certainly hold on to their No. 4 ranking in the BCS standings.

Cincinnati-- by virtue of the Big East being viable again has greatly improved their chances. The Bearcats play West Virginia on Nov. 13 and Pittsburgh on Dec. 5. If they win both games, it would put them in an excellent position by virtue of beating two ranked opponents.

All this may sound confusing-- I know. Let's put it more simple-- if Texas beats No. 14 Oklahoma State next week and runs the table, the Longhorns will play in the national title game against the SEC champion. No question about it!

That was easier to say-- and much less to write. : - )

Photos courtesy of the AP

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Angels Stay Alive!

The Angels live to see another day!

Los Angeles Angels 7 - New York Yankees 6, Game 5

Yankees lead series, 3-2

Bad Move!

Manager Mike Scioscia removes John Lackey from the game with 2 outs in the bottom of the 7th inning. A furious Lackey was barking at Scioscia and rightly so. True, Lackey loaded the bases-- but he's a veteran pitcher who knows how to get out of those situations. Scioscia lifted Lackey for Darren Oliver to turn Mark Teixeira around and bat right-handed. I don't know what game Scioscia was watching, but I'll rather have Lackey pitch to Teixeira with the based loaded over Oliver any day of the week. Teixeira made Scioscia pay dearly with a bases clearing double. Oliver would go on to surrender 3 more runs of his own, almost ending the Angels season.


Torii Hunter goes 2 for 2, 2 RBI, 2 R, 2 BB; Vladimir Guerrero goes 2 for 4, 2 RBI, 1 R; Kendry Morales goes 2 for 4, 2 RBI. If the Angels can get this kind of production from their 3-4-5 hitters, I like their chances in Game 6. They also saved Scioscia's neck with a 3-run 7th inning.

Jered Weaver - 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0ER, 0BB, 2 K, 0HR

If I'm the Yankees, I'll keep an eye on this man.

Good Move!

Intentionally walking A-Rod with 2 outs in the top of the 9th inning, was a smart move. Keep him as far away from Brian Fuentes as possible. Although Fuentes almost screwed it all up by walking Hideki Matsui and then hitting Robinson Cano to load the bases. A lights-out closer would have gotten the third out, either by getting Matsui or Cano. But the Angels have lived on the edge all season with Fuentes. Remember, had Fuentes gotten the job done in Game 2, the Angels would be up 3-2, not the Yankees.

Back to NY!

Joe Girardi, A.J. Burnett, Mariano Rivera and Co. are going to have to do it at home. The ghosts of 2004 are already being mentioned here. Whoa!

To be continued....

Photos courtesy of the AP

Thursday, October 22, 2009

National League Champions: Philadelphia Phillies


Philadelphia Phillies 10 - Los Angeles Dodgers 4, Game 5
Phillies win series, 4-1

The Phillies win their 7th NL Pennant - 2009, 2008, 1993, 1983, 1980, 1950, 1915

The Phillies look to become the first NL team since The Big Red Machine (1975, 1976) to win back-to-back world championships and only the 4th NL team (Chicago Cubs, 1907-1908; New York Giants, 1921-1922; Cincinnati Reds, 1975-1976) to do so.

What can I say to LA?....

History can be a tough business. LA (2008, 2009) became the 3rd team in NLCS history to lose in consecutive seasons to the same opponent. The Pittsburgh Pirates (1991, 1992) lost to the Atlanta Braves-- and guess who? The Philadelphia Phillies (1977, 1978) lost to....the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Good luck next season, LA!

Photos courtesy of the AP

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Yankees-Angels Game 4: Too Much C.C.

New York Yankees 10 - Los Angeles Angels 1, Game 4
Yankees lead series, 3-1

The Angels need a lifeboat-- desperately!

Too much C.C.! What can be said? C.C. Sabathia is making it look easy.

Game 1: 8.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 0HR

Game 4: 8.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 1HR

Oh yeah-- and way too much A-Rod-- No! Way too too much A-Rod!

Alex Rodriguez goes 3 for 4 with 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1R, 1 BB. If the Angels can't figure out a way to cage A-Rod-- it's going to be a long winter.

As if C.C. and A-Rod weren't enough-- LA gets hosed by the umps. Big Time!

First Nick Swisher is called safe at second base after a pick off attempt. Swisher was out by at least a foot. Then the Jorge Posada - Robinson Cano play (or fiasco) at third base. What in the world was umpire Tim McClelland thinking? What game was he watching? Both Cano and Posada were clearly out and McClelland calls Cano safe! This guy should be banned from Angel Stadium. Period!

Too May High Fives + Too Many Fist Pumps

= Dejection!

Although, with all the fiascoes that when on, the play which stands out to me, as the dagger for the Angels, was when Juan Rivera grounded into a double play in the bottom of the 6th inning. The Angels had runners on first and second, no outs-- the game was within reach at 5-1. In other words, the tying run was on the on deck circle with no outs. Rivera's double play grounder killed the rally and took the air out of the team and the fans. That double play, to me, was the straw which broke the camel's back.

The good news for the Angels is-- they don't have to see C.C. until a possible Game 7-- if they can make it that far.

Photos courtesy of the AP

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Jimmy Rollins: King For A Day

Philadelphia Phillies 5 - Los Angeles Dodgers 4, Game 4
Phillies lead series, 3-1

With one clutch at-bat in the bottom of the ninth, Jimmy Rollins put his disappointing season behind him. Rollins hit a rocket of off Jonathan Broxton, scoring pinch-runner Eric Bruntlett and catcher Carlos Ruiz. Broxton (0-1) created his own mess by walking pinch hitter Matt Stairs and then hitting Ruiz. With 2 outs, Rollins made him pay dearly-- and I mean dearly, for his sloppy work.

Lidge and Howard

Once again, Ryan Howard and Brad Lidge delivered for the Phillies. Howard hit a 2-run home run in the bottom of the 1st inning and Lidge (1-0) came in the ninth with 1 out and a runner on base-- he faced two batters and struck them both out. This was vitally important because it kept the score close at 4-3, Dodgers ahead, putting all the pressure on Broxton. Broxton shot himself in the foot and Rollins-- well we know what happened....

Can't fault LA. They had it where they wanted it. A lead in the bottom of the ninth inning and the ball in the hands of their closer. Now they have a mountain to climb. But we never know-- stranger things have happened.

To be continued....

Photos courtesy of the AP

The Angels Find Their Way

Angels Win!

Solo Act!

The Angels gave up 4 solo home runs to the Yankees-- and the key word is "SOLO." The Yankees are going to hit home runs (244 during the regular season). So the key is to limit the damage and give yourself a chance. Jered Weaver and company did just that by pitching brilliantly with men on base, setting up the dramatic win later in extra innings.

Los Angeles Angels 5 - New York Yankees 4, 11 innings, Game 3
Yankees lead series, 2-1

Andy Pettitte Stares Down Vlad!

Vlad The Impaler!

Vladimir Guerrero goes 2 for 4 with 2 RBI, 1 Run Scored and 1 BB. His 2-run home run with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning tied the game 3-3, but more importantly gave new life to the Angels and quite possibly changed the complexion of the series. If the Angels go on to win the series, Vlad's home run could be known as "The Shot Heard Around LA."


Yankees manager Joe Girardi, inexplicably pulls pitcher Dave Robertson for Alfredo Aceves with two outs in the bottom of the 11th inning. Aceves gives up a single to Howie Kendrick and a double to Jeff Mathis, scoring Kendrick all the way from first. Why Joe? Robertson looked like he had the situation under control.

Angels win in dramatic fashion, 5-4. But more importantly, they seemed to have found their way and may have a new lease on life.

This may get good!

Photos courtesy of the AP