Category Archives: baseball playoffs

THE CY YOUNG AND MVP AWARDS – REVISITED

Five weeks ago, I took a stab at who might win the Cy Young (left) images (8)and MVP (below) awards in each league. Yesterday, the top three finalists were announced in each category (somebody had a good idea). The field looks remarkably images (7)similar to the players I predicted would be in contention, except for the inclusion of Sonny Gray who emerged as a candidate for the AL Cy Young. 

While my reasoning behind the selections I made remains constant, my selections now are a bit different, mainly because the Post Season is now over. In the same way I put stock in a player’s TEAM making the playoffs, I now think that player’s performance in the Post Season counts equally as much. So, let’s get to the picks….. Continue reading

COLLINS: ” DON’T PUT IT ON HIM – IT’S ON ME”

Second guessing Terry Collins’ decision not to remove Matt Harvey images-17in 8th inning after 102 stress filled pitches does not do justice to a man who is a baseball “lifer” and who also has the credentials to be seriously considered for Manager of the Year in the National League.

Here’s the thing – in the press conference immediately following the loss to the Royals, he “manned up”images-23 taking ownership of his decision saying that he was thinking with his heart and not his head. Both he and pitching coach Dan Warthen had a plan coming into the game. It called for Harvey to go seven (if he could) and then for Familia to finish the game out.

A good, sound plan. Harvey did his part. And then came the “meeting” in the dugout in the eighth inning between Collins, Warthen, and Harvey. My brother Bob offered this question…..is this like Grady Little leaving Pedro Martinez in in the same eighth inning in the 2003 AL Championship Series? Good question. Continue reading

IT FEELS LIKE CHRISTMAS EVE….

Baseball’s Showcase or Fall Classic as it has been historically termed,  comes to life beginning tomorrow night. After 162 regular seasonFB_IMG_1445889516448 games and two playoff series, only two teams remain standing. The World Series is also, in many ways, baseball’s last stand before the NFL seizes the attention of sports fans until next February when the cycle renews itself and 30 teams arrive in Florida or Arizona with the sole purpose of being one of the two teams here in 2016.

For fans like myself, it usually doesn’t matter whose playing. MLBtrophyBut this year, it feels like Christmas Eve now because we can anticipate a series of gifts that may leave us gasping for breath – as was the case last year when the Royals took the Giants to the final out of the seventh game with a final score of 1-0.

The first gift I want to see opened is the contest between the Met strike out pitching and the put the ball in play Royals. Remember, the Royals don’t walk a lot – but they also don’t strike out a lot either. In fact, the Royals struck out the fewest number of times of any team in baseball ( beating the next closest team by almost 300 fewer whiffs). 

The other gift I can’t wait to see opened is the one with the image (1)fans wrapped inside. These are two great baseball cities and the players are excited about performing in front of them. You may not realize it but Kansas City is an integral part of baseball history and their fans know it. The Monarchs were the vanguard team in the (then) Negro Leagues. And there is a must stop visit to the Negro Baseball Museum in Kansas City that is a must for all fans. And the Mets, of course, have New York City as their backdrop. And judging by the newspapers and the amount of ink being used around here, this is BIG!

Indeed, Christmas comes early for fans of baseball……….

FINALLY – NEW BASEBALL DYNASTIES ON THE HORIZON

We all have our favorite teams and players to root for. More than likely, we will continue to do so. But as genuine fans of baseball, we also need to acknowledge a changing of the guard and welcome new teams (potentially) into the fold as Baseball Dynasties. 

While we have witnessed the amazing run of the Yankees images-14in the late Nineties and early 2000’s, they have diminished in recent years to a shell of what they once were (and I say that as a fan of the team). Same with the Braves who put together a incredible string of Playoff appearances under Bobby Cox. The Giants and Cardinals are a close call in terms of a dynasty, but have fallen short of being able to put together a string of any kind.

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AMAZING NO MORE – THEY’RE JUST GOOD

photo_stengelIn the infancy of the New York Mets in 1962, Casey Stengel christened the team he managed as the “Amazing Mets”. And as only he could, he walked and clowned their way through one hundred losses that year. The city of New York could hardly care – National League Baseball was back!

Seven years later, the Mets would capture their first World Championship. Their next World Series title would not come for nearly two decades. What followed was a history most Met fans would like to forget. There was a ownership struggling with financial issues related to Bernie Madoff, ill fated and costly free agent signings, and general disarray along with ineptitude from the top down. When (Met fans rightfully asked) would they ever get it right?

Although he is locked away as a memory now, it was Omar Minaya, the team’s General Manager prior to current GM Sandy Alderson, who quietly began the process of signing images-38and cultivating a string of young and talented arms. Alderson followed up by refusing to deal any of these pitchers, even when the volume of dissent in the media was loudest. Similar to completing a jigsaw puzzle, Alderson brought the final pieces in giving the team the look and feel we see on the field today. Continue reading

SMALL BALL (CHAPTER THREE)

Okay, give the Blue Jays some credit. They did what they had to do. They avoided a virtually insurmountable task of falling behind and having to overcome the Royals and a 3-0 deficit. They did it in Toronto style scoring eleven runs. Not to be missed is the fact that the Royals scored eight runs and pounded Toronto pitching.

 But the real question is this……do you see the Blue Jays scoring 11 runs (per) over the next few games? On the other hand, do you see them winning any of these games by a score of 3-2 or 4-3. Not gonna happen. Close games are won or lost by the bullpens. In that regard, can you even name the Blue Jays closer? 

So despite last night, small ball will win this Series. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

YOU DID GOOD, JOE………

The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees
all citizens the right to a speedy trial.  Chase Utley
received that and more from Joe Torre on behalf of Major League Baseball. His suspension of Utley for games 3 and 4 of the Series against the Mets which resumes tonight is now going through the appeals process covered under the Players Bargaining Agreement, based on the premise that Union lawyers need time to prepare a case for Utley.
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CENTER STAGE TODAY – THE CUBS AND WRIGLEY FIELD

With no disrespect to the New York Mets and what promises to be an electric Citi Field,  the centerj of the baseball universe today has to be Wrigley Field and the Chicago Cubs. Opened in 1914, this venue (along with Fenway Park and the old Yankee Stadium) stands as a Mecca for baseball fans – including myself in 2009 – across America. Even today, after the “lights came on” few years ago, a Friday afternoon game at Wrigley is reason to leave work early and bask in the bleachers Sun on Addison Street.

For Cubs fans, today is also a day to bask in the setting sun of a 96 game winning season (the third best in baseball) and to welcome home a team that carries with them a hope and a prayer that this just might be the season when all doubts spanning numerous decades are cast aside – and a long awaited Championship comes to the Southside of Chicago.

Excitement and drama of this kind draws itself from a long history that dates back to 1876 when the Cubs became an original franchise of the National League. Interestingly, they were known in those days as the Chicago White Stockings (not to be confused with the White Sox), not taking the name of the Cubs until 1902. And yes, the last World Series won by the Cubs was in 1945 – a drought long enough to span the years of the team’s oldest fans.

But today, all that changes or it at least moves to the back of everyone’s mind as Jake Arietta takes the ball  to face the St. Louis Cardinals, a team much different from the Cubs. For while the Cubs field a team stacked with very young home grown talent, the Cardinals present a team of veterans who have a storied history behind them with the second most Championships (only the Yankees have more) to face the hottest pitcher in baseball today. 

It doesn’t get better than this. The steel beams erected more than a century ago will be rocking and shaking at Wrigley today. You couldn’t tell a better baseball story than the the one being played out in Chicago this afternoon.

 

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HEY METS: GET ‘EM WHERE IT REALLY HURTS – WIN THE GAME!

It’s going to be a made for TV show when Matt “The Brat” Harvey takes the mound Monday night toimages-48 face Chase Utley for the first time. The event will give us a preview of Harvey’s mindset as he makes the most important start of his career. Based on his immature behavior to date (most recently missing a mandatory workout just before the Playoffs), it’s likely he’ll also “miss” this one too – and forgot that his job is to get the batter out and move on to win the game. Terry Collins (pictured above counseling Harvey) has his hands full with this guy, but you can be sure that he will be miffed if Harvey decides to take the “law into his own hands”. And that’s the way it should be.

The play by Utley on Rueben Tejada is obviously questionable from many standpoints. Of one thing we can be sure – it turned the game upside down and propelled the Dodgers to victory. For Utley, he executed a play that is taught and preached by every coaching staff in the Majors. Your job, in that situation, is to break up the double play. He did that. The fact that he didn’t begin his slide until he nearly reached the bag is a given. The fact that he never touched the base himself is a given. The fact that Tejada was in a awkward position after receiving the ball is a given. The fact that the umpire accepted the “neighborhood play” and called Utley out is a given. It’s really all about judgment with several things happening in a split second. The second judgment call belongs to Joe Torre who has the unenviable job of sorting things out after the fact. Complicating things further is the splendid call by Don Mattingly to have the entire sequence reviewed, resulting in a safe call that negated the judgment call on the field (Tejada’s foot never touched the base). A train wreck if there ever was one…….

Still, life goes on. Terry Collins has been in the game long enough to know that. images-32And that message better be delivered long and hard to his entire team. But most especially, he needs to hit “The Brat” over the head with a bat if he has to. “Play the game son, we need 27 outs from you so don’t give them anything”. Because ultimately, the best form of retaliation for the Mets (and Harvey) is to win the game and take a commanding lead in the series.

98 WINS AND PRESTO….THEY’RE GONE!

If MLB is going to insist on playing a prolonged schedule of 162 games, they should at least do everything they can to insure that every game played “counts”.  1371As things sit now, you could have a good argument in saying that the REAL season 150px-Houston-Astros-Logo.svgdoesn’t begin until August 1st when the trading deadline has passed and teams have tweaked their roster to the point they believe they need to be at to make “a run” to the finish and steal a Playoff  spot in spite of how they have performed until then (hello Rangers and Blue Jays).

The Pittsburgh Pirates won 98 games during the regular season, and yet they have vanished from the Playoffsimages-3 following a one game playoff against the Cubs and Jake Arietta images-2who pitched the game of his life with a “Namath like” guarantee beforehand.  I’m not taking sides here because if the Pirates had won, the Cubs  would have gone home with the third best record in the Majors with 97 wins.

The point is this…….only two of the three teams with the best  record over the course of the season are still in the hunt. The teams in the National League Central are being punished for being really good because they are the powerhouse Division right now. But, that can change as it has over the past few years when the American League East was stacked with the same kind of talented teams.

I’m not a mathematician and I don’t get paid to do this, but surely the suits at MLB can figure this out so we have a better chance of seeing the best of the best in the Playoffs and (ultimately) the World Series. 

In the meantime, the Yankees images-14who won 87 games over the course of the season and would have qualified  (with more wins than – for example – the Rangers) for a “Playoff” spot under different circumstances as well as the aforementioned Pirates who have packed their bags and are  heading home. 

MLB images-31 and specifically Rob Manfred (right) has tweaked the Playoffs before, most recently with the addition of two Wild Card teams who play a one game shootout at High Noon. Very dramatic ( a real show in prime time for television $$$),  but does it really do the game justice………or….. (and they’ll never admit this) is the April through July “season” merely an extension of the Spring Training season. It’s a valid question and it needs to be answered.

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