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The Omen: Jeter’s Injury Foretells the Future as Yankees Fall to 0-2 to Tigers in ALCS

Before the times of change, still is it so: 
By a divine instinct men’s minds mistrust 
Ensuing dangers; as by proof, we see 
The waters swell before a boisterous storm

William Shakespeare Richard III

Baseball people are tremendously superstitious. Sometimes events, miscues, injuries bad calls and bad luck are of more significance than they would be if they didn’t happen when they did. Cubs fans can attest to this as can the generations of Red Sox, White Sox and Giants fans who endured one shocking disappointment after another as they languished between World Series Championships.

Derek Jeter is the face of the Yankees. He has been a staple of the team and been their as they won championship after championship and his steady play and leadership have been a part of the great success enjoyed by the Yankees. He has played through injuries and never missed a post season game until tonight.

The Yankees may have become the latest team to see things slip away and legends pass. In the space of less than a day the New York Yankees went from looking like they would pull off another late game miracle thanks to the clutch hitting of Raul Ibanez to being down two games to none in the ALCS.

On Saturday the Detroit Tigers appeared to be sailing to an easy win when the Yankees got to closer Jose Valverde in the bottom of the 9th. Up 4-0 the Yankees scored 4 runs including a game tying 2 run home run by veteran Raul Ibanez who seems to have made hitting dramatic late game home runs a new habit.

But in the top of the 12th inning, as the Tigers rallied for what would be a winning lead, Derek Jeter, “The Captain” who had played in spite of injury for much of the past month broke his ankle on a freak play attempting to field a ground ball.

It was a devastating loss for the Yankees, not so much the game but Jeter’s injury. Jeter was one of the few Yankee regulars beside Ichiro Suzuki who have had any offensive punch during the post season. Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher, Curtiss Granderson and Robinson Cano have had nightmarish post-seasons.

The Tigers won game one 6-4 and shut out the Yankees 3-0 today to take the 2 game lead in the series. The Tigers were leading 1-0 in the 8th when they benefited from a blown call at second base when Nick Swisher threw behind Omar Infante who gone too far off the base. Cano applied the tag but Infante was called safe. Yankees Manager Joe Girardi argued the call twice and was thrown out of the game.

Girardi can shift blame to the umpires all that he wants but the fact is his team has not hit the ball during the post season with the exception of the 9th inning of game one against the Orioles. The Orioles had a bad call that negated a home run in game 5 of the Division Series against the Yankees that easily could have changed the course of the game, and may have help the Orioles win the series. To see Girardi complaining tonight in the post game interview was unbecoming, especially compared to Buck Showlater’s response to similar questions after game 5 of the ALDS against the Yankees.

Now the series moves on to Detroit and the Yankees will have to face Justin Verlander. Unless the high priced Yankees offense can get going and start getting hits and producing runs they will not play another game at home this year.  The Yankees were lucky to get through against the Orioles and unless something changes fast they will exit the post-season.

I think that this may actually point to greater problems next year for the Yankees. They are getting old and despite their seemingly unlimited ability to buy what they need on the free agent market are not the team that they used to be. They still have a lot of talent but something is not right in the team chemistry and Joe Girardi will have to figure that out in the next few games and after the season ends.

I think that Jeter’s injury and the Yankees struggles portend the changing of the guard in the AL East.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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World Series Game Six: Yankees Win it All

Part Two: Written after the game

matsuiHideki Matsui World Series MVP

Yankees Pitchers against Phillies Batters: Andy Pettitte had very good stuff in the first five innings giving up one run on a sacrifice fly by Jimmy Rollins following a 1 out triple by Carlos Ruiz.  In the sixth Ryan Howard hit a one out two run homer driving in Chase Utley off of Pettitte who then stuck out Jayson Wirth.  With 2 outs Raul Ibanez doubled down the line to right. Joba Chamberlain came in to get the final out of the Phillies sixth. Ruiz singled and Jimmy Rollins hit into a fielder’s choice and then Chamberlain walked Shane Victorino.  Joe Girardi then pulled Chamberlain for Damaso Marte who came in to face Chase Utley who he struck out to end the inning. Marte struck out Ryan Howard who with the “K” set a new World Series record of 13 strike outs.  The Yankees then brought in Mariano Rivera who struck out Jayson Wirth for the second out. Raul Ibanez doubled to center after battling Rivera at the plate.  Pedro Feliz then popped out to Posada in foul territory to end the inning. Rivera faced pinch hitter Matt Stair to lead off the ninth getting him to line out to Jeter at short. Carlos Ruiz came up next and worked the count full before drawing a one out walk.  Jimmy Rollins flew out to Swisher in right bringing up Shane Victorino.  Ruiz took second on a strike to Victorino who after a battle with Rivera where he worked the count full grounded out to Cano at second to begin the celebration for the Yankees and their fans.

joegirardiYankees Manager Joe Girardi Led the Yankees back to the Top

Phillies Pitchers against Yankees Batters: Pedro Martinez struggled and was hit hard by Hideki Matsui who homered in the second with Alex Rodriguez on base and who singled with the bases load in the bottom of the third to drive in two more. By the end of the fourth he had pitched 62 pitches, giving up 4 runs on 3 hits with 2 walks and hitting Mark Teixeira with a pitch. Pedro was pulled by Charlie Manuel at the end of the fourth for reliever Chad Durbin who gave up a double to Derek Jeter to lead off the bottom of the 5th.  Jeter was advanced by a sacrifice bunt by Jerry Hairston who Mark Teixeira hit an RBI single to drive in Jeter.  After walking Alex Rodriguez Durbin was relieved by J.A. Happ who gave up a double to left to Matsui scoring Teixeira and Rodriguez.  By the end of the inning the Yankees were up 7-1. With one out and one on the Phillies sent in Chan Ho Park who got Derek Jeter to hit into a fielder’s choice and Jerry Hairston to fly out.  In the bottom of the seventh Park got Mark Teixeira on a strike out but gave up a grounder with eyes which got through for a base hit to Alex Rodriguez.  Park left the game as Scott Eyre came in to face Matsui. Rodriguez stole 2nd as Eyre struck out Matsui.  Eyre then walked Posada and stuck out Cano to end the inning.  In the 8th Eyre remained in the game getting Nick Swisher to ground out to third for the first out and Brett Gardner to ground out to second. With two outs Brett Myers came in to face Jeter who singled to right for his 175th career playoff hit and got Jerry Hairston to fly out on a soft fly to left.

With the win the Yankees won their 27th World Series and their first in the new Yankee Stadium.  In a historic sense it was fitting. In 1923 the Yankees won their first World Series title in the inaugural year of the original Yankee Stadium which sat silently in the dark next to the new ballpark. Hideki Matsui was the Series Most Valuable Player and the Yankees won their first series since they beat the Mets in the “Subway Series of 2000.  For the Yankees it was the end of a long streak of frustration in post season play.  The Yankee “old guard” of Jeter, Posada, Pettitte and Rivera returned to glory, additions since the last series win  including  Alex Rodriguez, C.C. Sabathia, Matsui and Johnny Damon got their rings as Yankees while Sabathia and Rodriguez shook off years of frustration.

In my next post I will give my analysis and reflections on the Series, the playoffs and the 2009 season.

yankees celebrateWorld Champion Yankees

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Padre Steve’s World Series Prediction and Book and Bible Burning Update

“The key to winning baseball games is pitching, fundamentals, and three run homers.” Earl Weaver

*Mar 06 - 00:05*C C Sabathia

Well Baseball Fans here we are, the day before the beginning of the World Series of Baseball to be played between the current World Champion Philadelphia Phillies and the resurgent New York Yankees. The series arguably should be one of the best in years.  There is no doubt that these teams are the best in baseball and no controversy that one or the other does not deserve to be in the series and if you can sum up who will win this series it is just like Earl Weaver said: “The key to winning baseball games is pitching, fundamentals, and three run homers.”  The two teams are well matched with each having great seasons and dominating their playoff opponents.

cliff-lee-philliesCliff Lee

Charlie Manuel took his Phillies from last year’s series title to the very hard to achieve return to the series in the following year.  Manuel is a great manager who survived some rocky times where the ever loving Philadelphia fans and sports writers were calling for his public execution outside Independence Hall. In doing this he managed the Phillies to a 93-69 record in the regular season, a 4 game win over the red hot Colorado Rockies in the Division Series and a 4-1 thumping of the Dodgers in the National League Championship Series.  Phillies hitting and the pitching of late season acquisition Cliff Lee from the Indians have been the secret to the Phillies success.  Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth provide the power for the Phillies who hit 244 home runs in the regular season and scored 820 runs with a team batting average of .258.  Their pitching staff had an ERA of 4.16. Since the Phillies are in the National League their pitchers hit which has to drive down the team average. The Phillies pitching which was at times problematic held up in the playoffs with only one meltdown by the bullpen in game 2 against Colorado and one shelling of a starter, Cole Hammels in game 2 of the NLCS in Los Angeles.  Brad Lidge who went from the best reliever in the league to being relieved of his closer duties toward the end of the season came back and has not allowed a run in the playoffs.  Speaking of the playoffs the Phillies were 7-2 and hit 14 home runs, batted .261 with their pitchers having a .304 ERA.

charlie-manuelCharlie Manuel

The Yankees make their first return to the series since 2003 when they lost to the Marlins and the collapse in the 2004 ALCS which spelled beginning of the end of the Joe Torre dynasty in the Bronx.  Under new skipper Joe Girardi the Yankees failed to make the playoffs in 2008 for the first time since 1994.  The job of managing a team like the Yankees requires a certain finesse, to quote Earl Weaver “A manager’s job is simple. For one hundred sixty-two games you try not to screw up all that smart stuff your organization did last December.”  In the off season the Yankees added C.C. Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett to their arsenal, improved their bullpen as their “home grown” relief staff matured into a formidable force, and overcame off season controversy and injury with Alex Rodriguez and Girardi was able to make the adjustments and the Yankees came together as a team, not just a high priced bunch of individuals who happen to play together.  During the regular season the Yankees went 103-59 with the best record in the Majors.  They hit 244 home runs with a team average of .283 and the team ERA of 4.26.  In the playoff they went 7-2 with 14 Home Runs, a team batting average of .262 and ERA of 2.04.

ryan-howard1Ryan Howard

During the regular season the teams met for one three game series at Yankee Stadium where the Phillies took 2 out of 3.  Game one the Phillies won 7-3 with Jimmy Rollins hitting the first pitch out against A.J. Burnett in a game that netted 7 home runs.  The Yankees won the second game 5-4 coming from behind as Alex Rodriguez hit a tying home run of Brad Lidge and Melky Cabrera singled in the winning run giving Lidge the loss.  The rubber game was won by the Phillies 4-3 in 11 after Lidge blew a second save attempt in the 9th.

Mariners Yankees BaseballAlex Rodriguez

Looking ahead at match ups we know that both teams can hit, so the key will be pitching, as Earl Weaver said: “The only thing that matters is what happens on the little hump out in the middle of the field.” Game one will see C.C. Sabathia against Cliff Lee.  The two former Indians team-mates have performed magnificently in the playoffs with both dominating their opponents Lee pitching 24.1 innings with a 0.74 ERA and Sabathia 22.2 innings with a 1.19 ERA.  This one should be close and it will likely be decided on a big hit or a mistake, if the game gets to the bullpen and is close the Yankees should win.  In his career Lee has faced the Yankees 9 times and is 4-4 with a 5.02 ERA and a .297 team ERA when facing him in 52 innings work.  Sabathia has a career record of 1-1 against Philadelphia and a 4.36 ERA with Phillies hitters having a .265 average against him in 20.2 innings pitched.  All things equal I have to go on past performance and give the Yankees game one.

mariano-riveraMariano Rivera

Game two pits Pedro Martinez against A.J. Burnett.  Both men are capable of big game performances and both are no stranger to the other team.  Martinez has faced the Yankees 32 times with a career record of 11-11 against the Bronx Bombers including big games in the 2004 ALCS when pitching for the Red Sox.  He has a career 3.20 ERA against the Yankees as well as holding them to a .211 team batting average.  Martinez has had a long recovery period and is not the same as he was a few years back but he owned the Dodgers.  Since returning his is 5-1 in the regular season with a 3.63 ERA.  He gave up 7 home runs in 44.2 innings.  Burnett has a career record of 5-8 against the Phillies with a 4.75 ERA and with the Phillies and an opponent team batting average of .263.  In his one appearance this year against Philadelphia he gave up 5 runs on 8 hits including 3 home runs in 6 inning work.  This game is hard to call but I think that the Phillies take this one unless Pedro has a very bad outing.  If the game is close and Burnett can get the game to the bullpen the advantage shifts to the Yankees with Mariano Rivera in waiting in the bullpen.  He is the Yankees silver bullet should the game be close.

The series should go back to Philadelphia knotted at one.  In game 3 the Phillies will pitch Cole Hammels against Andy Pettitte.  Hammels was MVP of last year’s World Series.  Hammels is a career 0-1 against the Yankees in 2 starts in which he has pitched 13 innings with a 2.77 ERA and a .286 opposing team batting average.  This year he got knocked around a bit in Yankee Stadium.  This year Hammels has went 10-11 in 32 appearances with a 4.32 ERA and his opponents hitting .277 against him.  In the playoff he has suffered in 3 games and 14.2 innings work he has a 1-1 record but has given up 20 hits including 6 home runs, 12 walks with a 6.75 ERA.  Making him the game 3 starter is a good move by Charlie Manuel giving him the start in Philadelphia rather than New York but I do not think that this will save him.  I expect that the Yankees will hit him hard.  Andy Pettitte gets the start for the Yankees.  In 7 career starts against the Phillies he is 1-1 with a 3.67 ERA and a .273 opposing batting average.  He was knocked around by the Phillies in his appearance against them this year though the game was a no-decision for him.   During the regular season Pettitte went 14-8 with a 4.16 ERA and an opposing batting average of .271.  During the playoffs he is 2-0 in 3 starts with a 2.37 ERA and .246.  I give the advantage to the Yankees as I do not see Hammels pulling this one off.

When we get to game 4 the starters are not announced by assuming that the Yankees will pitch Sabathia and that they will win.  I expect that the Phillies will take game 5 with Cliff Lee back on the mound and force the series back to New York where Andy Pettitte will get the win.  If by some chance the Phillies win game 6 the Yankees will take it in game 7 with C.C. Sabathia going strong and Rivera closing the game out.  Two other factors could play a part in this series, the first is the weather and while the weather is not expected to be too bad you never know what happens this time of year.  The second factor that will likely hurt the Yankees is the lack of the designated hitter in the games in Philadelphia.

My prediction is the Yankees in 6 with an outside chance that the series will go seven games.  I expect that there will be much drama as the two teams are stacked with talent and personality. Jimmy Rollins has predicted a 5 game Phillies win which if you ask me is a pretty ballsy statement. The Phillies certainly are confident as the reigning champs and will not go down easily.  This has the makings of a classic World Series that no matter who wins should be amazing to watch.

And now a Book and Bible Burning Update:  The Grand Master Pastor Marc has announced “game on” and that he is going ahead with the Halloween Book burning at Amazing Grace Baptist Church in Canton North Carolina.  It begins at &PM until all the books are done… well done.  Anyway, don’t bother to bring the marshmallows or beer as Grand Master Pasto Marc has put this announcement on his website:

“This event is not open to the public. Only our members and those by special invitation from the pastor only. All others are tresspassing.” (Marc’s misspelling and grammar errors not mine.) Of course the Beloved Grand Master Pastor Marc is a “true scholar” as opposed to the rest of us apostates by his reasoning that a “A true scholar is one who believes the Bible (KJV) whether he understands it or not.” And a ‘scholar’ (most) today is someone who does not believe the Bible (KJV) is the Word of God, but questions it.”

He advertises “Great preaching and singing” but since he will likely be the preacher, and maybe his daddy too it seems a little like chest pounding to me.  The fact that this great preaching and singing will be simply entertaining the faithful versus reaching the lost seems a little disingenuous when he talks about wanting to save souls while not attracting media attention.  Anyone who posts to the web knows that it will be seen and if controversial picked up by the media.  Likewise his stated goal of only wanting “to make a statement to our community not to the world” rings hollow as he put it on the web, attempted to advertise in the newspaper and gave a TV interview.  He claims that it has been twisted and lied about by “commentators, reporters, and announcers” about but they are his words on TV as well as the website.  It’s hard to twist someone as straight forward as the Grand Master Pastor Marc.   He loves his community and the media, especially the media of whom he makes the following comparison. Our Media 2000 Years Ago-Same As Today.

Acts 17:5″But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason (this is not your typical brother that would be “Blown away”), and sought to bring them out to the people.” As far as I know the media in Canton and Ashville is not heavily Jewish, nor have I heard about anyone assaulting his house, unless assaulting is meant being asked for media interviews.  The problem for the Grand Master Pastor Marc is that he wants to control and spin the message, and the one time he got on TV he looked stupid simply because he answered their questions.  Oh well if you want to get an invitation I do suggest calling him at 828-648-0213 or e-mail jonmarcgrizzard@aol.com

The website is here:  http://amazinggracebaptistchurchkjv.com/Download99.html

The church if you want to do a tail-gaiter off campus the address of the church and location of the book burning is 6841 Cruso Road Canton , N.C. 28716.  Look for the Sheriff and Fire Marshal who will be parked out front waiting to cite him for burning without a permit.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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The Worst Call Ever Made: I Hate to Say it but We Need Replay Now and LCS Updates

“The best umpired game is the game in which the fans cannot recall the umpires who worked it.” Bill Klemm

blown callAngels Catcher Mike Natoli Puts Both Posada and Cano Out…Well Not According to Umpire Tim MacClelland

Monday was such a great night for baseball, two excellent games both decided by walk off hits which left the Angels back in their series with the Yankees and the Phillies within a game of going back to the World Series when they came back in the 9th inning with 2 outs and Jimmy Rollins at the plate with two strikes on him.  It was awesome to behold and it looked like all was well again in the 2009 MLB League Championship Series.

Then fallen humanity struck…

And 3rd Base Umpire Tim McClelland has now discovered what it means to be remembered for all the wrong reasons, two badly blown calls and a lame excuse for blowing them.

See the calls:

http://sports.yahoo.com/video/player/mlb;_ylt=Ahzw4dvilocLtjFLCKQAyusRvLYF#mlb/16204489

As I sat watching the Yankees destroy the Angels last night I was amazed at the bad calls.  Now this playoff season there have been a number of really grotesque calls on the part of umpires. This year I have found some of the calls so unbelievably bad that even I, a traditionalist in the Church of Baseball who detests replay reviews in the NFL think that the time has come to consider some form of replay.

My view that that baseball is the most human of sports, perfection is seldom reached and never maintained.  People who hit .300 make it to All-Star teams as well as the Hall of Fame.  Rain delays, bad calls and close calls that could go either way are all part of the fabric of baseball.  In principle I don’t like replay.  I believe that umpires, like everyone else are human and that the imperfection of the umpires is as much as part of the game as a fielding error, wild pitch or bad at bat.  However some of the calls this post-season have been particularly egregious and the crew chief on the field should have overruled to call, especially when Angels Catcher Mike Napoli clearly tagged out Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada who were both well of the base. McClellan’s excuse about how he missed the call was lame and he compounded the issue by calling Nick Swisher out for supposedly leaving third base early on a sacrifice fly, which the replay showed that he had not done so and should have scored.  Once again though there were two extra umpires no one caught the play.

My recommendation is for an “eye in the sky” umpire who can review the call in real time and overrule the call on the field if the call is clearly wrong, this would not apply to called balls and strikes, but only on balls that are put in play.  To overturn the call the “eye in the sky” umpire would have to determine that the play was clearly blown and not simply a call that could have gone either way.  He would have to account for the umpires position and visibility in relationship to the play and if it could be reasonably expected that any umpire would make the same call.  If the replay clearly shows that the umpire on the field missed the call the “eye in the sky” umpire could then overturn the call.  Such a mechanism would maintain the flow of the game as the umpire on the field would not have to go to a replay booth, taking valuable time and would provide some measure of accountability when a play is as badly called as McClellan’s.  It would not take out the human factor of calls that can go either way or where bad positioning or visibility could have affected the call.  It would however ensure that calls like last night’s by McClellan are quickly rectified with minimal delay to the game, calls that could easily decide the fate of a series in a close game.  Thankfully because of the blowout of neither Angels nor the Yankees could claim that the calls affected the game’s outcome.

I missed the game tonight because of being involved with critical situations here at the Medical Center, but the Evil Dodgers were crushed by the Phillies tonight 10-4 ending their season.  I picked the Phillies in 7 because I thought that the Dodgers bullpen would make a difference but the Dodgers bullpen was about as effective as a pocketknife in a gunfight and the Phillies bullpen, derided by many stepped up, especially closer Brad Lidge who had such a miserable and ineffective season after a great 2008 where he was just about perfect.  The Phillies hitters owned the Dodgers pitching staff driving in 45 runs in the 5 games of the series.  Anytime a team averages nine runs a game it will win the series.

Tonight the Yankees and Angels square off in Anaheim for what could be the deciding game of their series. The question is can the Angels mount a comeback and will the “X” factor of Nick Adenhart inspire them enough to win the game and get the series back to New York?  I had picked the Angels in six figuring that the Yankees could not keep up the pace, but the Yankees are locked on, they have an edge and every member of the team is playing hard, Alex Rodriguez is in the process of establishing himself as a clutch Mr.October the likes which have not been seen since Reggie Jackson.  Derek Jeter has helped lead the team and hit well while the pitching staff led by C.C. Sabathia has been amazing and Mariano Rivera as usual has been a hero.  Joe Girardi has managed the team exceptionally well and is getting performance and teamwork out of the Yankees far more effectively than Joe Torre who was ushered out of the playoffs with the Dodgers in much the same way that he was ushered out with the Yankees from 2003 to the end of 2007.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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