Arizona Fall League Showcases Some Potential Yankees
Monday, October 31, 2005
perhaps we can groom him for Yankee-ville...
If you’re not already familiar with the goings-on in the minor league, the AFL is a great place to start. Keeping an eye on what’s going on down on the farm, on who is on a hot streak and who is the next Roger Clemens, is very important as a major league baseball fan. Its always exciting to watch a player come up through the minors and make it on the Yankees, a feat we Yanks fans don’t get to experience very often (Steinbrenner would prefer to purchase an aging player – ahem – than groom a minor leaguer for major league status). I keep hoping that will change, though, especially looking at the prospects that we currently have in the minors.
The AFL is a fall league made up of six mega-teams. Each major league club sends six of their top boys to create the six larger teams. The Yankees’ players join players from the Twins minor league club, as well as players from the Mets, Rangers, and Marlins to play as the Grand Canyon Rafters. Got all that? Good. There will be a quiz later.
Get used to hearing the names “Dave Parrish” and “Eric Duncan” - - these are two of our top prospects. Parrish, who serves as catcher on the AAA Columbus team, hit .314 this year with eight homers, while Duncan, who played third for AA Trenton this year, hit .326 in the regular season and is hitting .425 for the Rafters. Whew! Not to mention little TJ Beam, who is still just a single A pitcher (for now); Beam has allowed only three earned runs in eight outings during the AFL. Tracking these guys makes me very excited for the future of the our team, especially as our star players get older and the net amount of cartilage on the field keeps heading towards zero.
Curiously, the Rafters are in last place in their division in the AFL, despite the prime Yankee players. I’ll blame the Rangers.
Silver Sluggers Go To A-Rod, Sheffield; No Love For Pujols
A-Rod and Shef each claimed a Louisville Silver Slugger award for their hitting prowess this season, the eighth for A-Rod and “only” the fourth for Sheffield. Neither recipient should come as a surprise to anyone who watched them bat this year; those two were pure intimidation at the plate. This season also marked the milestone 400-homer mark for Rodriguez, which he accomplished before he even turned thirty - - and yes, we have him through 2010. For his part, Shef knocked in 34 homers and hit a solid .291, definitely enough to warrant a Silver Slugger. Of course, several Yanks could be candidates for this award, but I shan’t be biased towards them.
I do have a bone to pick with their first base choice, however. How was Albert Pujols overlooked? He was an absolute monster this season. I do realize that Derrek Lee certainly was amazing as well, and will concede that their numbers were nearly equal across the board. The reason I would personally put Pujols on top is because the numbers he put up this year aren’t anything out of the ordinary for him. Pujols has not dipped below .314 or hit fewer than 34 home runs since the start of his career, while Lee’s numbers came from out of nowhere (steroids? Body double?) this season. Lee did edge out Pujols by a point or two, but in this case, I’m going to have to say that those advantages are moot. Pujols should be awarded for his solid, career-spanning domination.
The Unit and Womack Make My ‘Most Disappointing’ List for 2005
Sunday, October 30, 2005
Though the Yanks did finish in first at the last possible second, I’d be lying if I said this season was a big disappointment overall. With Johnson, Mussina, Mo, A-Rod, Jeter, one would think that a Yankee fan could be confident in some serious domination, but to no avail. I’m sure you’ve been waiting with bated breath for the Yankees Chick to announce who she was most disappointed by in 2005, and so you shall anticipate no longer…..
3. Kevin Brown: I am disappointed simply because he is alive. I already hated him last year; this year just cemented him permanently into my hate list. He went 4-7 with a sweet 6.50 ERA and somehow managed to hit seven batters in the thirteen games he appeared in. He did get a double in one of his two at-bats this year, though, so I guess to Steinbrenner that justifies his fifteen million dollar salary.
2. Tony Womack: This lad should be thanking his lucky stars that Cano was brought up from Columbus, or he could be numero uno on my disappointment list. The sad part was that I actually started to feel badly for him every time they cut to him on the bench. I tried to root for him, I really did. If only he could have worked a few more walks (his OBP was a sad .279 this year) or completed a steal safely a few more times….
yeah...that about sums up the Wo - man's season.
1. Randall David Johnson: I’m not going to say “I told you so”. Ok, maybe I will. I told you so. For sixteen million dollars we could have had Woody Williams and El Duque, retained Javi and Halsey, and maybe brought up Small a bit sooner. Instead we bought an old legend whose time was winding down. Perhaps for the 2006 season we’ll have Orel Hershiser as our starting pitcher.
(Disclaimer: Though I hate the Bosox, and by association, Johnny Demon - - excuse me, Damon, this opinion has not been influenced by that bias)
The short answer: No.
The long answer: No, thanks. Why? Because what the Yanks need to focus on in the outfield is DEFENSE. Damon certainly has better defensive skills that Bernie, but his arm is no better and he can’t even use old age as an excuse. He would technically be an improvement, but not be enough to justify making the move. Offensively, I will admit that he has some gold. He’s a stellar lead-off man – he gets on base, he’s got respectable speed, and even decent power. However, if the Yanks management has learned anything after these last two years it is that man cannot live off offense alone. The last thing this team needs to worry about is hitting. It would be a devastating misstep to waste resources and trade players for Damon.
I’m hoping that the next Yankee rumor I hear on SportsCenter will involve Cashman, contracts, and Torii Hunter.
The day Damon makes this grab is the day I support a Damon-to-Yanks move
When the Yanks signed A-Rod last year, there was a lot of racket from Yankee haters about the plan to station him at third base. As a member of the Mariners and the Rangers he had been a successful and popular shortstop, but New York already had a successful and uber-popular shortstop in Derek Jeter and a hole left by pick-up basketball champ Aaron Boone at third base. In signing A-Rod to a third base post, Steinbrenner opened up a huge can of worms (worms = controversy here) over whether A-Rod would have been a better shortstop than Jeter.
Clearly, that was and is a moot point. Jeter is the captain of the team, the leader figuratively and literally. There was also no solid reason to believe that A-Rod would be better at shortstop than tried-and-true Jeter. Both Jeter and A-Rod committed approximately the same number of errors per game lifetime at shortstop (the difference being about three one-thousandths of a point), and their put-outs, assists, and double-play stats are nearly identical. The deal breaker, the issue that sealed A-Rods fate to third base, is the simple fact that Jeter was the heart of the Yankees. Had the Yankees chosen to move their star player to make way for a newcomer (to the team), it would have had devastating effects on the reputation of Yankee management - - and who needs more reason to hate them?
The great ending to this situation is that A-Rod proved to be just as amazing at third base, if not more amazing, as he had been in his career at shortstop. The Yankees made the right move. Perhaps that’s where he belonged in Seattle and Texas….
Rumors Point to Another Yankees Contract For Matsui
Thursday, October 27, 2005
The art director for this poster is clearly not a less-is-more propenent
Just as most of us suspected, it looks like Matsui will continue his tenure in the Bronx. Though it’s still in the “rumor” phase, I can’t see any reason that the Yankee Gods would have to justify letting him get away. He finished eighth in the AL this year in both batting average (.305) and RBIs (116), and has made steady improvements in his three years as a Yankee. His batting average has improved, and he committed just three errors throughout the 2005 season despite moving around in the outfield a bit (Tony Wommack, anyone?). While his numbers certainly speak for themselves, Matsui also offers something that Jeter is famous for: those fabulous intangibles. There are no stats - - yet - - to account for the value of a player’s personality, charisma, and charm, but their importance is unmistakable. All one needs to do to see evidence of a player’s intangibles is look around the stadium during a game, home or away. How many people do you see walking around with Matsui emblazoned across the back of a jersey (although, as I mentioned previously, I hate seeing NYY jersey’s with names on the back)? And don’t forget the huge mass of Japanese fans that turn out in droves with their signs and jerseys to support Godzilla. Yankees fans have embraced Matsui from day one, and it would be a huge mistake for Steinbrenner to let another team have access to the fans his talent and personality will continue to reel in. Though it technically is still a rumor, I am all but done hoping and have switched to being certain that Matsui is here to stay.
Lidge Earns Loss Number 3 as Chicago Completes the Big Sweep
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Baseball season is over, folks, and if you’re a Houston fan, it’s over too soon. Chicago shut down the very defeated-looking (even before they lost) Astros tonight 1-0 and can now hang a World Series Banner in their park for the first time in 88 years. Unlike last night’s fourteen inning decathlon, the final game of the series was quick and seemed to have been decided before “play ball!” was even shouted. Perhaps they were tired and frustrated after last night’s game, but the Astros played tonight as though they did not have a slightest chance of winning. They did manage five hits, but stranded an embarrassing nine runners on base, including wasting an opportunity in the sixth when they had the bases loaded. Lidge, who pitched incredibly throughout the season, was responsible for the only run in the game and earned himself a very sad 0-3 win-loss record for the post season. As for Bagwell, who fans were hoping would be the leader or hero of the series for the Astros, he failed to produce yet again tonight.
The Sox, on the other hand, played as if this was a deciding game seven rather than a chance to sweep. Every play, from Crede’s double to Uribe’s dive into the stands to catch a foul ball exemplified why this team deserved to win. They played tight, they played hard, and they played as if it actually meant something to them. At the end of the night, when the first reporter squirmed his way into the celebrating mass of Sox, Pierzynski was asked what makes this team work together so well. The answer? “We’re just a bunch of guys who like each other”. Cue tears.
Next year: Let’s be crying some tears of happiness for the Yanks.
Have you heard what people have been saying about us?! I don' know where they're coming up with that crap. Oh, and by the way, your tree-truck sized arms and bloated head look great today buddy!
Despite the fact that steroids have been the controversial topic all season, the Senate Commerce Committee and the baseball player’s union have still not come to terms on a policy for steroid use. The Senate hearing last year and all the attention paid to Giambi’s admission to using “performance-enhancing drugs” (is it just me, or does that euphemism make you think of Viagra?) brought a lot of attention to the problem, but nothing substantial has been done to curb the increasing usage of steroids. Granted, they did test the players every so often – but why did it take them till 2003 to begin doing that in the first place?! While they did enforce penalties for players testing positive this season, they were laughably soft: Palmeiro was suspended for a mere 10 days, as was former Yankee reliever Heredia (a lot of good the juice did him!).
Don Fehr, director of the baseball's players union, had suggested the World Series as a deadline, a deadline that clearly will not be met. The suggested policies from Senators John McCain and Jim Bunning would impose a two-year suspension for steroid use and a lifetime ban if a player was stupid enough to use and get caught again. On one hand, the two-year ban seems a tad harsh, but conversely, I hate the thought of players using steroids; it is so shallow and self-serving. I also wonder if any amount of possible consequence would be enough to reign in every single desperate major league player.
Luis Sojo, who played for the Yanks till 2003, is about to have his position as third base coach usurped. Sojo has been waving runners in from his post by third base for the past two years, helping the Yanks score 897 runs in his first season alone. You may also remember him frantically waving around Jeter back in April when he clearly had no chance to score. He’s become infamous for his habit of overzealously waving-in base runners from first or second on hits that are not deep enough to score a runner. Sojo has caused a lot of frustration for the management as well as the fans because of this, but he has also proved to be a very effective with the Spanish-speaking players, including helping Cano tighten up his defense.
The latest development in management and coaching hoopla in the Bronx is that Larry Bowa (yes, the crazy man who has already been fired from two major league managerial positions) will be coming in next year to boot Sojo out of that third base coaching spot. As of right now it is unsure whether Sojo will still have a place with the Yankees, possibly shifting over to first base, or if he will be let go. For his part, Torre has always defended Sojo, and the players are huge supporters of his. My bet is that Sojo will indeed shift to first - - and then back to third when Bowa irritates enough people to get himself fired by the end of the season.
Geoff Blum Surprises The Astros – And The Sox! In Game 3
This was truly a game of epic proportions. The Astros were up. Then the Sox were up. Lidge came and went. And that was all in the first nine innings.
That’s right – game 3 lasted an entirely ridiculous 14 innings, close to six hours. By the twelfth inning I actually stopped caring who won; I just wanted someone to get it over with so I could go to bed. Not to say that it wasn’t an absolutely amazing game. We were witness to fourteen and eight hits for the Sox and the Astros respectively, and a surprising four total errors during the game (three by the Sox, one by the Astros). Crede, still my pick for MVP, had a home run and a single, and Dye and Podsednik both had two hits as well. Houston’s offense was on tonight as well; Lane homered (though it was not a game-saving hit like game 5 of the NLDS) and both he and Biggio had doubles.
As I said, though, the big excitement didn’t even occur until the top of the fourteenth inning. The score had been tied since way back in the eighth. Both teams’ were quickly running out of available pitchers and position players, and the Astros turned to Astacio to pitch to Dye, Konerko, and Geoff Blum. Dye singled, Konerko grounded into a double play (subtract one million off that contract), and then Blum hit a homer to give Chicago the lead. Wait, what?! Who?! As a San Diegan, I am familiar with “The Blummer” as he was a Padres bench man earlier this season, but you may remember him as an Astro (coincedentally) in 2002. Since being traded to Chicago this summer, though, he has been pretty low-key, hitting just .200 in the 31 games he was a part of. To be honest, I actually forgot he was even on this team until they showed him sitting in the dugout tonight! I think Blum is aware of his “forgettability” and was on a mission to make the most of his one big shot, a la Aaron Boone circa 2003. We should advise him not to go breaking any ankles playing basketball in the off season.
The game ended with Mark Buehrle coming out for the final batter of the bottom half of the 14th, who used just three pitches to get Everett to pop out and end the game. The loss tonight brings the Astros down to their last chance tomorrow night. The Astros need to win all four of the remaining games to win the title. Will Backe start a huge rally for the team tomorrow, or will the Sox keep on rolling over Houston for a sweep? I’m betting on the sweep myself, but after tonight’s marathon game, who knows?
With the amount of time I spend (waste) not only watching games but reading rumors and interviews online, the end of the season is sure to leave a spare few hours in my day. But who’s to say I want my life to be baseball-free? No thanks!
To fill the void that I’m sure you’re all anticipating as well, here are a few of my favorite baseball flicks:
1) Yankeeography Vol. 1, Babe Ruth All of the Yankeeography episodes are really well done, but the first one is my favorite. I have to admit that it has brought me to tears in the past. Yes, I’m a wimp. But I just love the way they delve into his personality and his life outside the ballpark. 2) Mr. Baseball Tom Selleck in Japan! I like how the main moral of the story is “only start to respect other cultures when you fall in love with your manager’s daughter”. Solid! 3) A League of Their Own There’s no crying in baseball. 4) The Rookie Ahh, what a feel-good movie. I like movies like this, where you can cheer for the protagonist the whole way through and not be disappointed by a twist-sad ending. There is a place for unhappy endings in movies, but this is not it. 5) Field of Dreams This one may actually be my number one favorite. I love the fact that although the premise is a fantasy, it is so well executed that I’m able to believe the story. I also love the visuals, I have a really good picture of the field in my head right now. 6) Eight Men Out A very appropriate choice for this World Series. This is, of course, the movie-version of a real-life drama/mystery, that of the 1919 White Sox team members accepting bribes to throw the series to the Reds (yes, those teams really were in the World Series. That part is real). This movie does a great job of portraying Sox owner Comisky as the bastard he was…and if you didn’t love Shoeless Joe Jackson before, you’ll find yourself rooting for him here. 7) 61* Watch this for a chance to see a STEROID-FREE slugging race. 8) For Love of The Game Kevin Costner plays an aging Detroit pitcher on the brink of being traded…stay with me here, to him that is a bad thing. The whole movie takes place over one day and one perfect game. Tip for watching: pretend it is not the Yankees that he is pitching against. 9) The Sandlot Some of the best insults ever! “You drink water from the toilet - - and you like it!” 10) Bad News Bears Just a classic. But why is the enemy team always named the Yankees?!
Tell me your favorites, or why mine are bad choices!
Forget Konerko and Posednik. Forget Buehrle or even Contreras. After watching games 1 and 2 this weekend, I think that the Sox have a lot of thanks to offer to their third baseman. He’s only had two hits in the first two games of the Series, but one of them was a sweet home run. His 350 average and .789 (!) slugging percentage in the ALCS surely aren't to be overlooked. I predict a lot more power out of him in Houston with the short distance to the left field wall – only 315ft, a right-handed hitters dream, although the fence is tall. What really impresses me, though, is this kid’s defense. There were several balls that were just drilled down the third base line that Crede was able to dive and snag, and then still make the throw to first! After game 1 Houston’s Chris Burke praised his infield opponent in the “diary” he pens for MLB.com’s Baseball Perspectives, saying “you have to give Joe Crede credit. He played unbelievable [sic] tonight, in both aspects of the game.” Poor grammar aside, Chris Burke was right to commend Crede, though he may be choking on his words tonight when he grounds into a Crede-executed 6-4-3 double play tonight
I’m sure its been on the minds of the Astros all day, and I’ll tell you, it’s been on mine: what if home plate ump Jeff Nelson (use his name as you see fit) had been able to differentiate between Dye’s bat, which was hit, and Dye’s arm, which was not? Here’s a few of the possible outcomes of what may have happened had that pitch been called foul:
a. Wheeler serves another one up, and Dye pops it up to the catcher. This, to me, is the most likely of the possible “what-if” outcomes. He had fouled off two already, and a third when it didn’t hit him and went into Pierzynski’s glove. Inning is over, no pitching change, no Konerko, no grand slam. b. The next pitch is a ball, and Dye walks. Same as if he had been hit, but would Wheeler have been taken out? c. The next pitch is a strike, and Dye is out. Again, inning over, rally dead. d. Dye makes contact and drives in a run or two. Score would now be tied, and Qualls would still come in to relieve poor Wheeler. In this situation, would Konerko still have had that momentum to homer? AND even if he did, since it wouldn’t have been a grand slam, would it have had the same soul-crushing effect on the Astros? Could they have come back? e. And finally, maybe the next pitch would have actually hit Dye. Who knows?
Dear Agent: Mark me down for another million, please
If Konerko thought making nearly nine million dollars this year was a good chuck of change, he’s going to be in for quite a confidence-boosting shock at the bidding war that is sure to ensue as soon as the Series is over. The free agent list is pathetically tight this year (lets all scramble to get Kevin Brown and Jeff Weaver off that nice free agent pitching list!), and Kevin Millar and Konerko are essentially the only big-ticket players as far as first base options go. Martinez, Fick, and Snow will likely be snapped up for more than they’re really worth, but I don’t really predict any three-team bidding battles to take place there. Konerko, though, who was likely pick numero uno for many teams even before the season ended, is literally tacking millions on to his potential contracts with every ball he smacks this post season. He’s already hit five home runs, including one that we will surely be forced to sit through on ESPN at least 5,000 more times today alone, the grand slam against Wheeler last night in game 2. He’s batting a solid .293 for the post season, and with fifteen RBIs to his name – so far – he’s on pace to be signed for a ridiculous contract that could likely rival Beltran. We may want to start a pool and throw down some figures here…
Konerko, Posednik and Chicago’s Post Season Umps Keep the Astros Down
Sunday, October 23, 2005
"I'd like to thank the home plate ump for this opportunity..."
The ghosts of the 1919 Black Sox must be working overtime to atone for their past transgressions, blinding the home plate umps in not one but two key calls this post season. First there was the ball deemed “dropped” in game two of the ALCS vs. the Angels, which allowed Pierzynski to take first and for the inning to continue, giving Chicago the opportunity to knock in the winning run – which they did. Of course, at every possibly angle other than the ump’s, it was clear that the ball did not hit the dirt before landing in the catchers glove. Bitch as they may, managers find that very few calls are debatable after the umps lay down their figurative gavels. After tonight, Scioscia may want to give Garner a call, or, on second though, a condolence card – read on:
By the bottom of the seventh, the Astros were on top 4-2, thanks in part to a nice homer by Ensberg. Garner pulled Pettitte, who had really pitched quite nicely (making the end of this story all the more saddening), and replaced him with Wheeler. Wheeler gave up a double to Uribe and a walk to Iguchi before facing Jermaine Dye, who showed his muscle last night with a solo shot. Dye worked the count to a 3-2 when an inside pitch appeared to come close to hitting him. Notice that I never said it actually hit him. This, of course, is because it did not hit him. Upon replay of the pitch, it is clear from any angle that the ball simply hit Dye’s bat - - in other words, a foul ball. The home plate umpire, however, signaled that Dye had been hit and awarded him first base.
With the bases loaded, Wheeler surrendered the mound to Qualls. Now this is a truly unfortunate situation for a pitcher to inherit in any game, much less the World Series, much less against Konerko. And after the frustration of the call on Wheeler moments before, I’m going to presume that composure was the last thing on Qualls’ brain. I don’t think there was a simple ‘out’ for the Astros at this point, and Konerko knew it as well, positively pouncing on the very first ball Qualls served up. Long story short – Konerko goes yard for a grand salami, effectively putting his team on top and crushing poor Pettitte, who sat stone-faced on the bench, simultaneously.
I assumed the drama would end there. After all, it was the bottom of the seventh, the Sox were up, and they still had Jenks in the pen. The Astros had a smidge more gas left in the tank, though, and managed to tie it up using Jenks’ sub-par stuff to their advantage before Lidge blew it in the bottom of the ninth. Podsednik, Mr. Zero Home Runs in the Regular Season, served up a big “L” to Lidge (the “L” is for “loss”, not for “Lidge”, that would just be silly) with a huge game-winning homer that made all those hours in the rain worthwhile…for his team, anyway. The Astros weren’t pleased, I’m sure.
Bottom line? Both of these teams play hard, their pitching is very comparable, and they are even well-matched defensively. So why is Houston having a hard time getting the better of Chicago? When it comes down to it, the Sox are just that much more clutch, they have that much more heart, and, apparently, have that much more luck to go all the way.
"What the heck did I just do?! Oh...a home run...I've heard of those before..."
Clemens Injured + Crazy Bobby Jenks = Chicago 5, Houston 3
Saturday, October 22, 2005
The ChiSox proved me wrong tonight, scoring five runs rather than my predicted one. Houston, however, apparently did hear my prediction and kept it at three runs.
Houston went down in Chicago tonight, letting the Sox get the best of Clemens. This was actually the first game one World Series start for the Rocket, despite previously being a part of five. Before the game Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen reminded everyone of Clemens age – er – experience¬ – saying “I think my coaching staff has more at-bats against Roger Clemens than my starting line up!”
Ozzie didn’t need to worry about his players, though. Chicago put up three runs in the first two innings, including a huge homer by Dye before Clemens succumbed to a strained hamstring. Houston did tie it up with a solo shot by Lamb in the first followed by Berkman knocking two runs in the next inning. That would do it for Houston, while Chicago pulled ahead in the fourth and tacked on an insurance run in the eighth when Podsednik’s stand up triple allowed Pierzynski to score (still riding high from residual “the ball hit the dirt! I swear!” fame).
The highlight of the game proved to be when Sox closer Jenks was waved in from the bullpen. As soon as Ozzie motioned “big, tall guy” to his pen, I could almost hear the Astros let out a collective groan (yes. My sound system is that good). The Astros didn’t have a chance against Jenks’ sound-barrier-breaking fastballs. I don’t think a single pitch of his dipped below 95mph as he secured the win for his team, using a very conservative fourteen pitches.
Though the Sox won tonight, it’s still anybody’s ring in my opinion. Both teams played well tonight, and who knows what would have happened if Clemens’ hamstring had been feeling up to par? Tomorrow night brings us Pettitte and Buehrle, and Pitching Duel 2005 continues at 7:30 EST….
24 hours and counting till game one of the World Series kicks off with a pitching showdown no Yankees fan should miss. Not only for the fact that they are such talented athletes, but for all the fun wallowing you can do as you remember that they used to be Yankees!!!!! Try to think of it this way: with Contreras on the mound, just squint really hard and try to pretend that those are Yankee pinstripes on his uniform…
I suppose our disappointment over the ALDS can be somewhat assuaged by the fact that the teams that made it to the Fall Classic truly are talented and have show a lot of heart thus far. While it would have been great to watch the Yanks in the series, it will be exciting to watch Houston and Chicago pull out every trick they have to try to lock this year’s title up.
Both the Astros and the Sox are polar opposites of the Yankees, displaying awe-inspiring pitching and not much when stepping up to the plate. Chicago put up a mediocre .262 overall team average, barely giving them an edge over Houston, whose team average was a whopping .256. In other words, if you scored a seat in the outfield tomorrow, don’t bother bringing your glove. These teams rely on squeeze bunts, steals, and singles to manufacturer their runs. These teams are not going to be relying on power hitters or sluggers, because they simply don’t need to! Its when they are in the field that these guys win games. Outstanding pitching backed by solid defense…maybe Steinbrenner will be taking notes this week? Someone should email him.
Prediction for game 1: Houston 3, Chicago 1 (Clemens can out-pitch Contreras, and the Astros are on a roll)
"Yankee fans are furious at Alex Rodriguez for playing so poorly in the playoffs and many of them have been insulting him in public. Apparently A-Rod got so angry that he took a swing at a fan and grounded into a double-play." (Conan O'Brien)
Sure, laugh it up Conan! But those five games against the Angels in the Division Championship were definitely not funny at the time. A quick look at the numbers of our hero:
Of course, it's not really fair to single A-Rod out for his poor performance this post season. Matsui single-handedly stranded eight of his teammates on base, and Sheffield and Bubba Crosby's collision in center field in game five allowed the Angels to take the lead.
I'm trying to come up with some "Best of the 2005 ALDS" stats for the Yanks, but first I'll need to sift through my memories of errors in the infield, double plays and strikeouts...I wonder how many stand-out Yanks plays this post season I can come up with?
"There's only one place to manage in my estimation. It's been the best time I've ever had, these 10 years." - - Joe Torre
It looks like Torre will be giving the Yanks another year – or two – after all. After the dismal ALDS versus the Angels and the following very public remarks made by Steinbrenner criticizing both Stottlemyer and Torre, I think most of us were expecting a Torre-free 2006 season. It seemed inevitable, and with Lou Pinella all but begging Tampa Bay to buy out his contract, I think more than a few of us were trying to put some sort of spell on Torre in hopes he would stay (Pinella in the dugout?! Maybe they would hire Torre as an independent Facial Expressions and Calming Down contractor). Fans breathed a sigh of relief as Torre committed himself to another season, and possibly two, saying that he was now leaning towards retiring after his contract expires, after the 2007 season.
Even with Torre locked up, there’s still the departure of Mel Stottlemyer to contend with. Leo Mazzone, who has served as the pitching coach for Atlanta since 1990, is inches away from signing up with the Orioles, leaving one fewer stellar option for the Yanks. There’s still Yankee bullpen coach Neil Allen in consideration, although looking at the shape our bullpen was in it may be a better idea to bring some fresh blood in. Other contenders include triple A Columbus coach Gil Patterson, who is my personal pick after seeing Aaron Small come roaring up from Ohio with confidence and composure.
And its still October? It’s a long road till spring….
What can be said about the 2005 season for the Yanks? If nothing else, it was a wild ride, one that left you screaming at the TV set one night and cheering for yet another multi-homer game for Giambi the very next day. In most of these prolific Joe Torre years, Yankee fans have had the luxury of their team being all but a sure thing as far as the post season goes; it was almost as if the ‘real’ season didn’t begin till October. The 2005 season, however, demanded that we stay tuned, leaving us clutching at our seats every time Kevin Brown was due to pitch and counting down the days till the juice withdrawals were over for poor Giambi.
The ride known as season 2005 began way back the off-season, when several interesting transactions took place – and several transactions that should have been made did not (does Beltran ring a bell?). The biggest, of course, was that involving The Unit. Personally, I was skeptical from the start. I’m not denying the fact that Randy Johnson is a legend, a true athlete, an all-star, definitely a hall of famer, yada yada yada. That’s all fine and good, and I respect his talent immensely. The problem I saw with this trade is that we traded two of our young up-and-coming pitchers, Halsey and Vasquez, for an old man with no cartilage left in his knees! Every year the Yankees do this, and every year they suffer the consequences! Starting pitching is the backbone of a team, and if you’re trading away the young, healthy vertebrae in exchange for brittle, decrepit vertebrae, the backbone will not be hearty enough to support the team. Not to mention the error of thinking that a National League pitcher will put up the same numbers in the AL…but that’s another article.
The other major controversy before the season even began was BALCO. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a sports fan that would deny that some players use steroids; we’re not stupid. I don’t condone it, but never am I shocked to learn that a player was juicing. So why, then, was everyone so surprised at Giambi’s admission to using performance enhancing drugs?! It was as if he had killed Mickey Mantle and snorted his blood for nutrients! If anything, he should have been praised for his honesty and the humility with which he handled the situation. Certain other sluggers (starts with a “B”, ends with an “Onds”) should take note.
The season started on shaky ground. We still had Kevin “I don’t know what a smile is” Brown in the rotation and newcomer Tony Womack on second, and don’t forget that Tino Martinez was playing first almost daily in the beginning. Mariano had trouble the first couple games, Bernie’s age was starting to show, and, sorry to remind you, but Giambi was far from the monster he was in years past. He was swinging as if Soriano had been his batting coach (Soriano’s hitting class 101: swing at anything that is mobile). As a whole, they were playing as if they were still nursing the broken hearts dished out to them by Boston 6 months prior…
Then spring turned into summer and it was like a new dawn for the Yanks. Giambi came back with a vengeance and fell back into his standard beautiful OBP. Tony Womack rode the bench. Kevin Brown “mysteriously” fell ill (I’m pretty sure Mel shot him and hid the body). A wonderful gift from the heavens named Robinson Cano was called up, and with Jeter and ARod we suddenly had some truly solid infield defense for the first time in years. The only thing keeping us down at this point was a little function called Starting Pitching. It was disaster and inconsistency up and down the bullpen, from the Unit to Stanton to Sturtze. The only hope was to get ahead so that Flash and Mo could seal the deal in the eighth and ninth innings. I’m sure you all loved flipping to a D-Backs game and seeing Javi pitch a solid seven innings while Torre has to pull Johnson in the third!
It seemed like Torre’s prayers were answered when we acquired Shawn Chacon from the Rockies and found Small, a seemingly talented pitcher, right on our own farm! These boys were the salvation of my fingernails throughout the late summer and into the fall. Yankee fans could breathe easy when they were on the mound. And, best of all, we could be excited that they were YOUNG and may remain healthy for more than one season!
Of course, we all know how the end of this story goes. Every shred of cohesiveness this team had dissolved as soon as the regular season was over. ARod couldn’t hit a ball to save his life, and it looked like we had brought in the kickball team from the local elementary school to play defense. Every dugout shot was of Torre looking like he wanted to murder someone…even more so than usual. And who could blame him? They committed a record number of errors on the field and left god knows how many runners stranded. When it comes down to it, the Angles just played harder. I hate to watch my team give up, and that’s what it felt like while watching those five games.
Even though the 2005 season has (prematurely!) ended for the Bombers, the speculation and criticism of both the team and its management has only just begun. With Bernie’s and Matsui’s contracts being up and the recent resignation of pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre, there will be plenty to hypothesize about in the off-season months. Stay tuned….
I MAY HAVE BOOBS, but I really do know what I’m talking about.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
The common perception is that girls do not know anything about baseball. This is the common perception because it is generally true. Sometimes you’ll see a chick with a baseball hat on, but you know it’s really there to cover a bad hair day. Some girls will claim to be Yankee fans, but couldn’t name a single player other than Derek Jeter (because he’s ‘so hot!’ of course). Others will try to play along for their boyfriend’s sake; these are the girls you’ll see at a playoff game playing with their cell phones as their man stampedes three rows of fans to catch a Sheffield foul ball.
This is where I come in. I’m the chick that’s reading Moneyball on the train. I’m the chick skipping class to watch the ALCS. I’m the chick getting in a fight about Ortiz’s defense with two Bosox fans…and winning. I’m the chick who scoffs when I see people wearing Yankees jerseys with the names on the back (that is not authentic!). I’m the chick explaining the balk and the drop-third strike to her nephews.
I’m also the chick who constantly has to convince people that I do know what I’m talking about, despite the fact that I am indeed a female. I can hold my own with the most die-hard fans, and in most cases I probably know more than they. I know about trades, what’s happening down on the farm, managerial strategies, steroid rumors, the value of the lefty specialist, and the downfalls of the designated hitter.
Or course, I’m still a typical chick in some ways. I tend to get a tad emotionally attached to the players (who care’s if Bernie’s hitting .250? He seems like such a nice guy!), and I always bring my eyeliner to the stadium, in case I need to touch up between innings. But don’t let that fool you. I am the Yankees Chick.
You know what is a lot easier than typing and takes even less effort than recording a video? Being on the radio.
Live broadcasts are always available on the front page of Yankees Chick, and all the archives are available right here! For brevity's sake I have only posted my segments here; if you would like to listen to the entire show you can click the show title.
Free the Fan Radio | 8/05/07 Trivia REMATCH with Trey from domewright.com - - with impartial judges this time. Guess who won??
Free the Fan Radio | 6/17/07 Trivia contest between the Yankees Chick and a Mets Babe. Listen closely and keep score yourself: I totally won; it is no coincedence that the host - a Mets fan - awarded the title to the Mets Babe!
The basics of baseball are relatively easy to understand, but the game is a lot more fun to watch if you understand the nuances and the intricate rules. By providing this growing and ever-evolving glossary, my goal is to break down all things baseball - from rules to specifications to ridiculous clauses - with definitions that are easy to understand but not oversimplified. Any time I think of yet another aspect of the game that I don't 100% understand, I make sure to research it thoroughly and add it here, and I also love to know which rules/terms you would like to know more about. Feel free to give me some feedback on what you would like added here - or if you notice any errors in the existing explanations!
Arbitration: Arbitration gives players a chance to negotiate for more money or better contract terms. Both free agents and players under contract can be eligible for arbitration, although players under contract must have been with the team for at least three - but less than six – seasons. Sometimes, such as with Kevin Brown after the 2005 season, the team will decline to participate in arbitration, which ends the opportunity for a player to negotiate and sign with that team. For players that a team does hope to negotiate with and resign, the process itself begins with his team offering him a salary, which the player then counters with a (much higher, usually) salary that he'd like to earn. Generally, the team and the player will then negotiate and hammer down a salary somewhere in between the two salaries, but if they can't settle they will bring in an independent arbitrator to decide for them. The arbitrator hears from both the player and the team and decides on a salary fair to both the player and the team.
Backloaded Contract: Often, when a team wants to secure a star player but doesn’t want to expend its entire payroll on the one player, they will arrange a “backloading” deal. These deals allow a team to pay a player a smaller amount in his first year with the team while agreeing to pay him increasingly more in subsequent years. For example, when Pettitte signed with the Astros in 2004 he was paid just $5.5 million for his first season, $8.5 million for his second, and $17.5 million for his third season in Houston.
Balk: The balk is one of the more complicated nuances in the language that is baseball. Very simply put, a balk occurs when a pitcher makes a move inconsistent with a regular pitching motion when there are runners on base. The rule serves to protect the base runners from being tricked/deceived by the pitcher (i.e., if the pitcher were to trick the baserunner into believing he was winding up for a pitch, he may be able to throw said baserunner out in an attempt to steal). The most common pitcher actions that cause umpires to call a balk include:
Not coming to a complete stop on the rubber strip
Doing a full wind-up but failing to actually pitch the ball
Faking a throw to an unoccupied base throwing a pitch without facing the batter
Making a pitching motion without either foot touching the rubber the ball slipping during a pitch and crossing the foul line (if there are no base runners, this would just be a ball or wild pitch)
Throwing a pitch before the batter has had appropriate time to get into the batter's box (again, if there are no base runners, this would be called a ball)
Making a throw to first base while on the pitching rubber without first stepping towards the base (if the pitcher is off the strip he can throw anywhere)
Once an umpire has ruled that a balk has occurred, each baserunner gets to advance one base. The batter, however, remains at bat.
Ball Park Factor: As anyone who has seen a lefty send a ball sailing over the right field wall in Fenway or watched a slugger struggle to get a home run in RFK can attest, each MLB ballpark’s design offers unique challenges and benefits to the players gracing its fields. Ballparks are as unique as the teams they host, and with the exception of details like the distance between the bases, each team has the freedom to build their stadium however they please - - whether that means putting a flagpole smack in the middle of the outfield or bringing in right field wall. Variations like these not only allow the park to have distinctive appearances but make a huge impact on the players. Parks with short left fields, for instance, will allow righty batters to hit more home runs, while stadiums with massive outfields are more likely to slow down a slugger’s power numbers.
The calculation for BPF is quite involved, but I will try to break it down as simply as possible. Several statisticians have calculated their own BPFs, but the one I am using here is from Bill James, sabermetric extraordinaire.
We first calculate runs per game at home and away for each season of data we are using (this includes Runs and Runs allowed). We then find the park factor in two steps:
1) iPF = RPG(H)/RPG(R) 2) PF = [(T-1)xiPF+T-iPF]/[2x(T-1)] PF= Park Factor H= Home R= Away/Road RPG= Runs per Game T= # of Teams in League
In step ONE, we will take the number of runs scored AND allowed per game at home and divide it by the number of runs scored AND allowed per game while on the road. We'll call this number "iPF”.
In step TWO, we will take the number of teams in the league (T) and subtract one from it - - because teams do not play themselves. We will call that number "T-1". We will then multiply the "T-1" factor by the "iPF" that we calculated in step one, and then add the "T-1" factor. Finally, we divide that number by the number we get by doubling the "T-1" factor. The number we get is our Park Factor! We can express it as a decimal (i.e. 1.1 or .95) or as a whole number (i.e. 110 or 95). A Park Factor or Park Index over 100 is considered to give the hitters an advantage, while a number under 100 indicates an advantage for the pitchers.
James used data from the 2003, 2004 and 2005 seasons to calculate these indices, except in the cases of RFK (the Expos have played just one season there) and Petco (the Padres had played just two seasons there).
Baltimore Chop: A type of bunt popularized by the original Baltimore Orioles, which, as we know, turned into our own Yankees. A perfect "chop" would have the batter hit the ball downwards, as close to home plate as possible. When this is executed properly, the ball bounces high enough to allow the batter to utilize his speed and reach first base before the defense is able to make a play. This tactic was popular in the earlier days of the game, and is rarely used today.
Dropped Third Strike Rule: In baseball, as we all know, it's three strikes and yer out! But the dropped third strike rule is something of a lucky loophole for a batter. If the catcher fails to catch the third strike ball, the batter is not out as he usually would be. He officially becomes a baserunner and is not out until he is either tagged out or thrown out at first. In other words, a batter can strike out but still make it to first base if the catcher drops the ball (literally) and doesn't tag him or throw it to first in time. This rule became notorious during the 2005 ALCS, when A.J. Pierzynski took advantage of an apparent dropped third strike, and went to first base while the Angels defense assumed he had struck out and did not try to make a play.
As with all baseball rules, there are always nuances to complicate things! Most importantly, first base must be unoccupied, OR, if it is occupied there MUST be two outs. Another interesting condition to keep in mind while keeping score is that if the batter doesn't realize that he has become a baserunner and heads back towards the dugout, he isn't technically "out" until he actually reaches the dugout steps.
Fielder's Choice: Usually, when a ground ball is hit to the infield, a fielder will throw to first to get out the batter. However, if there are runners on base, the fielder might instead decide to throw to another base to throw out the lead runner. In this case, even though the batter got to first base safely (because the fielder chose to throw out another guy at 2nd, 3rd, or home instead), he is not credited with a hit.
Ground Rule Double:Technically, a "ground rule double" is a double awarded by the umpire because a fair ball became unplayable according to the ground rules at the ballpark (like a ball getting stuck in the ivy at Wrigley Field). More commonly, though, the term is used to describe any double awarded after a fair ball bounces over a fence or other boundary. When an umpire awards a ground rule double, the batter goes to 2nd base (obviously) and every baserunner is allowed to advanced precisely 2 bases. A runner from first base is thus required to stop at third, even if he obviously could have scored had the ball not gone out of play.
Hit-and-Run Play: An offensive move done in hopes of avoiding a double play when there is a runner at first with no one on second. As soon as the pitcher winds up to throw to the batter, the baserunner on first begins his sprint towards second base. This causes the second baseman to be forced to move towards second base with the runner, creating a gap on the right side of the field towards which the batter tries to hit. If the hit and run is effective, the baserunner and batter should be able to avoid the double play and the runner from first should be able to make it to third base.
Infield Fly Rule:Whenever there are less than 2 outs and there is a force play at third, if a batter hits a pop fly in the infield he is called out whether or not the infielders actually catch it. Any fair fly ball that could have been easily caught by an infielder with ordinary effort is covered by the rule. The rule is intended to prevent the guys on defense from being able to make a super-easy double or triple play.
Luxury Tax:A tax on teams that spent the most on payroll. Each year a “threshold” is set, and teams that spent more than that amount were taxed a percentage of the amount over the threshold that they spent (first-time offenders paid a 17.5% tax on their overage in 2003, 22.5% in 2004 and 2005, and none in 2006; 2nd-time offenders had to pay a 30% tax in ’04 and ’05 and 40% in 2006; 3rd-time offenders paid 40%).
Unlike Revenue Sharing, the luxury tax money does not benefit any of the teams. Half of the money goes to player benefits (i.e. pension fund), one quarter of the money to the industry-growth fund, and the last quarter is allocated for developing baseball players in countries with no organized baseball at the high school level.
Moneyball:Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game is a book written by Michael Lewis that explores the methods of A's general manager Billy Beane. Billy and the A's have a somewhat innovative way of evaluating baseball players that helps them identify young and inexpensive talent that other teams miss. While most ball clubs evaluate potential players by placing a high value on batting average, RBIs and home runs, Billy Beane pays close attention to on-base percentage - a good estimate of a player's ability to avoid getting out -and extra base hits. Beane uses the A's low payroll to its best potential by selling off high paid stars and acquiring overlooked players with strong OBPs and good extra base hit numbers.
Essentially, the "Moneyball Management" philosophy aims to place statistics over scouting, and to take advantage of skills that are undervalued by the rest of the market. The most telling sign of Moneyball's influence is that some teams have started to appoint Ivy League graduates with minimal baseball experience to top positions, thanks to their ability to analyze statistics.
OPS: An index used to evaluate batters. It stands for "on-base percentage + slugging percentage". Since it evaluates a player's ability to get on base and his ability to hit for power, it is often a better assessment of a batter's production value than batting average. An impressive OPS is one over 1.000 - in 2006, David Ortiz had a 1.049 OPS, Manny's was 1.058, and Ryan Howard's was 1.084.
Pavano: This term can be used in a number of ways:
A chronically injured baseball player: Carl Pavano has been a pavano for most of his time with the Yankees.
A money pit requiring millions of dollars and offering little return: Wow, this old fixer-upper house we bought sure is turning out to be a pavano- we've been working on it for years and it's still not habitable!
An unwanted long-term commitment: I had to sign a lease for my apartment; it’s a total pavano since I can’t move for a year even though I found a cheaper, more attractive place to live.
To injure oneself in a strange, unconventional manner: I pavanoed when I tripped over a pile of cotton balls, fell into a large trampoline, and catapulted onto the roof of my dog’s house; I broke my left leg, 3 ribs and my right pinky finger.
To disappoint people; not live up to expectations: I did not want to pavano, so I showed up to work early on my first day and worked late on a special assignment.
To avoid manual labor at any cost, including inflicting injuries on oneself to disqualify one from performing said labor: Jimmy was sick of his tough job as a carpenter, so he pavanoed by intentionally contracting avian flu.
PECOTA(not the player!!): An acronym for Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm. A system using sabermetrics (*definition coming soon*) to calculate projections for players and teams. The exact formulas that are used are apparently top secret, but they are very advanced, capable of forecasting everything from improve rates of individual players to total team wins. As far as accuracy goes, PECOTA has proven to be a great indicator or future performance. For example, in 2007 they projected the Yankees would win 93.3 games; they ended up winning 94. PECOTA is very popular amongst fantasy baseball players, as it helps the "team managers" to draft players that are projected to do well the categories that are generally used such as OBP.
Pickle: AKA "Rundown". A situation in which a baserunner is caught between two bases. Most often a pickle situation begins when a runner attempts to advance to the next base on a ball hit by his teammate and is cut off by one of the defensive players. The baserunner, seeing that he won't be able to make it to the next base as he had planned, must attempt to return to the base he ran from without being thrown or tagged out. The defensive players - generally basemen - throw the ball back and forth, forcing the baserunner to go back and forth between the bases until the defensive players either tag him out or make an error allowing the (very lucky) baserunner to reach one of the bases safely.
Relief Pitchers:Closers vs. Set-up men vs. Middle Relievers vs. Long Relievers: As far as official position titles go, a pitcher is a pitcher is a pitcher. However, managers use different pitchers at different points in the game to use each player's talents to their maximum potential. A closer is the pitcher generally brought into the game in save situations (see save definition) and a set-up man is the pitcher brought in right before the closer, usually in the 7th and 8th innings. Middle relievers, shockingly enough, pitch in the middle innings of the game. Long Relievers are ones you hope not to have to use - - they come in when a starting pitcher gets beat up on early in the game (not that that would ever happen to a Yankee…)
Revenue Sharing:The idea behind the revenue sharing agreement is to create a more even playing field (no pun intended) between the teams with the most money and the smaller-market teams. Each year the top 13 revenue generating MLB franchises contribute to a community pool that benefits the bottom 17 revenue generating franchises; the amounts the teams pay or receive are dependent on the amount of “net revenue” – which is the amount of money they took in minus the “operating costs” of the team – a team earned that year. The money that the “payee” teams receive is intended to be used for “on-field improvements”, AKA payroll, but there is nothing specifically stating how the money is required to be used in the CBA.
RISP: This stands for "Runners In Scoring Position" and is a measure of how well players hit when their teammates are in scoring position (on 2nd or 3rd base). It is calculated exactly the same as batting average (# of hits divided by # of at-bats) except only at-bats when runners are in scoring position are taken into account.
Sacrifice: AKA "Sac". A ball hit when there are less than two outs for the sole purpose of advancing a baserunner. The batter hits with the intent to advance his teammate while knowing that he himself will be called out. For instance, in the case of a sacrifice fly, the batter hits the ball high and deep, and once it is caught the baserunner tags up and runs to the next base. Pitchers often use a sac bunt when they come up to bat, knowing that the defense throw them out at first while their teammate is able to run to second. Sacrifices are not counted in a player's average, so hitting sacrifices will not lower a player's batting average.
Safety Squeeze: Essentially, a play in which a runner at third scores on a sacrifice bunt by his teammate. Unlike the Suicide Squeeze, where the runner at third begins his sprint towards home while the pitcher is winding up, in this case the runner won't begin heading home until the batter has made contact with the ball. The hope is that batter's bunt will land in a location that will make it difficult for either the pitcher or the catcher to field and tag the runner out at home in time to make the out.
Save: We've watched Mariano, Trevor and Gagne make headlines with their save numbers, but what exactly is a save? There are several conditions that must be in place in order for a pitcher to be credited with a save. Most importantly - and most obviously - a pitcher can only earn a save in a game that his team has won. In addition, the pitcher earning the save cannot also be the pitcher that earned the win for the team. Finally, the pitcher must fall into one of the following three conditions: a) The "saving" pitcher enters the game when his team has LESS than a three-run lead and pitches for at least one inning. In keeping with this rule, a pitcher cannot "create" his own save situation - - if he enters the game with a six run lead, he will not be eligible for a save even if he ends up giving up four runs.* or b) The "saving" pitcher enters the game with the opposing team's tying run either on base, at bat or on deck, and maintains the lead. or c) The "saving" pitcher pitches effectively (i.e., doesn't give up the lead) for three innings.
Using saves to evaluate a pitcher is a relatively controversial topic. Many people (Yankees Chick included) feel that it is a bit arbitrary and that WHIP and ERA are more accurate. For reference, however, the top five all-time save leaders after the 2007 season are:
Trevor Hoffman (Marlins, Padres): 524 Lee Smith (Cubs, Red Sox, Cardinals, Yankees, Orioles,Angels, Reds, Expos): 478 Mariano Rivera (Yankees): 443 John Franco (Reds, Mets, Astros): 424 Dennis Eckersley (Indians, Red Sox, Cubs, A's, Cardinals): 390
*note: Even though a pitcher can't create his own save situation, he can earn a win for his team if he blows a save and his team comes back and wins. For example, if Mariano were to come into the game in the top of the 9th inning with the Yankees up by 2 runs, and let the opposing team tie the game, he would be credited with a "blown save". However, if the Yanks scored a run in the bottom of the ninth to win the game, Mariano would also earn a "win" in addition to the blown save!
Scorekeeping Abbreviations: If you're not familiar with all of the scorekeeping jargon, a major league scorecard could look like a foreign language. Luckily, with a keen eye one can see that there are only a few different abbreviations to remember in order to decipher what the heck the announcers are referring to!
The first things to memorize are the numbers associated with each position on the field.
(Designated Hitters don't get a number; their abbreviation is a simple "DH")
For example, if a batter grounds out to the second baseman and is thrown out at first, the play would be noted as "4-3" groundout.
Next are the symbols for different plays, most of which are pleasantly simple:
For example, if Randy Johnson hits Jeremy Reed with a pitch, scorekeepers will mark "HBP" in the spot for Reed's at-bat. Or, consider a situation in which Manny Ramirez hits the ball to Robinson Cano at second with BoSox teammate Renteria on first. Cano, thinking fast, whips the ball over to Jeter (who is covering second base, of course) to get Renteria out; Jeter, then, throws the ball over to Giambi to get Manny (who was nowhere even close to running it out). The beauty of scorekeeping symbols allow us to abbreviate that play by calling it a "4-6-3 DP”.
Small Ball: An offensive strategy that focuses on getting runners on base and moving them into scoring position without aiming for extra base hits and homers. Plays such as bunts, sacrifice hits, stolen bases, and hit-and-run plays are used to "manufacture" runs. The keys to small ball could be summed up as speed, aggressive baserunning and "productive outs" (those sacs I mentioned). One situation where you might see this strategy employed would be a situation in which the score was tied in the bottom of the ninth inning and a couple players without much pop are due up to bat -- the first man might lay down a bunt then steal second base, then the manager would call for a hit-and-run play, followed by a sac fly by the third batter up, etc.
Suicide Squeeze: Similar to the Safety Squeeze, but even more difficult to carry out. The man on third begins his sprint for home as soon as the pitcher begins his wind-up - this way, no matter where the batter's bunt falls, it will be nearly impossible for the defense to make a play to get the runner at home. On the other hand, if the batter fails to make contact with the ball, the runner is almost certainly going to be caught. This play's success is entirely dependent on surprise and perfection - - the defending team must have no idea that a squeeze play is in the works, and the batter must make contact with the ball, no matter how poor or difficult the pitch looks.
Tommy John Surgery: AKA "Ulnar collateral ligament replacement procedure”. Named after the pitcher for whom the surgery was created in 1974. The surgery serves to correct damage to pitching (or throwing) elbow, which occurs when the ligament frays or detaches after overuse and perpetual overextension. The surgeon uses a non-needed "donor" tendon from the patient's hamstring, leg, or non-pitching arm and threads it through holes drilled through the elbow, essentially re-crafting the pitcher's joint. In successful cases, which account for about 80% of all patients (depending on which doctor you ask), it generally takes at least one year for a player to fully rehab and start pitching to full capacity again - often faster and harder than they ever had before the surgery. In John's 12 pre-surgery seasons he hit a high mark of 16 wins in a season and an average ERA of about 2.92. After rehabbing from the surgery, he continued to play for sixteen more seasons with an average ERA of 3.9 and twice won over twenty games.
Walk-Off Hit: If the game is tied or the home team is down by a few runs in the bottom of the 9th (or later) inning and a batter gets a hit that knocks in enough runs to put their team on top, that is known as a "walk-off" hit. It is called a "walk-off" because it ends the game. For example, if the Red Sox and Yankees are tied in the bottom of the 9th inning at Yankees Stadium and Jorge Posada hits a solo homer to put the Yanks on top, the game ends right then and there. No one else needs to bat, and the other team doesn't get another chance (since it was the bottom of the 9th inning). A walk-off hit cannot occur in any inning earlier than the 9th (since the game cannot end earlier than the 9th inning), and a visiting team can not win with a walk-off hit (since the home team always has a chance to bat in the bottom of the inning).
WHIP: A ratio used to evaluate pitchers. It stands for "walks + hits allowed per innings pitched". It is considered by many to be a better gauge than ERA when evaluating a pitcher's effectiveness. For instance, if a pitcher consistently allows batters to get on base, this will be reflected in his WHIP, but not necessarily in his ERA - - his ERA will only be inflated when earned runs come in. While no statistic is perfect, WHIP is less affected by the pitcher's backing defense than ERA is.
In 2009 Curtis Granderson published a book: All You Can Be: Dream It, Draw It, Become It! Granderson "shares the lessons that he learned growing up--the importance of family and choosing the right friends, the power of listening and staying positive, and most important, the value of being yourself."
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