Friday, October 29, 2010

Random Thoughts from the Passionate Sports Fan's Mind

Joe Girardi gets a 3 year, $9M extension from the Yankees.
What, Stump Merrill wasn't available? Guarantee at least two huge games will be blown next season by the MicromanaGirardi.

Kristen Lee rips into New York fans.
Not that I condone the behavior of the New York fans, but Mrs. Lee: do you remember a little place called Philadelphia? Tell us a story about the fans there! Bottom line (no pun intended): degenerate fans exist in ALL ballparks, and your husband, Cliff, will take the contract with the most $$!

The Giants and Jets currently own the best records in their respective conferences.
I STILL think there will be no Big Apple Bowl. Take it to the bank.

Tony Romo is probably out for the season.
You never wish for anyone to get hurt, but if you are a Cowboy hater, there was no sweeter sight than Romo lying on the Cowboys Stadium turf, symbolizing the end of Dallas' season.

The Miami Heat lose their first game of the Miami Thrice era in embarrassing fashion.
Yeah, I STILL don't care about the NBA.

The San Francisco Giants lead the World Series 2 games to none.
Texas is NOT, I repeat, NOT done. Don't be surprised if they win three in a row in Arlington.

Mets hire Sandy Alderson as their new GM.
Just hope, Met fans, he doesn't hire Wally Backman as manager, or for that matter, Joe Torre.

The Devils have the worst record in the NHL by Halloween.
It's still very early, but how's that Kovalchuk deal looking, Lou? Just a reminder: 15 years. Enjoy!

And my non-sports thought of the week:
Do any of you gullible fools believe a Republican-controlled Congress will alleviate our country's problems? If so, just vote for Sarah Palin in 2012 and prove to me how much trouble we are in.

Week 8 NFL Picks (2-2 in Week 7, 2-2 overall)

Pit +1 over NO
DET -2 1/2 over Was
KC -7 1/2 over Buf
Mia +1 1/2 over CIN

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Most Important Yankee Offseason in Years plus NFL Picks for Week 7

So you want me to act like a spoiled Yankee fan and not give credit to the Texas Rangers on winning their first American League pennant, cry about the 27 rings, or even throw in a "BOSTON SUCKS!" just for self-preservation?

Well, like the Yankee team in practically the entire series except for 10 total innings, I lost interest in getting upset or throwing a fit. It's not worth my time or my health.

I don't want to say the Yankees quit in this series, but considering the way this Texas team dominated them through six mind-numbing games, it sure seemed that way.

This was the most listless, lifeless performance by a Yankee team in a postseason series since the 2006 ALDS against Detroit. They played like they didn't belong in the Major Leagues, much less an American League Championship Series. In other words, they deserved to lose this series, and everyone knows it.

Does age have something to do with it? Maybe. Is terrible coaching and management to blame? Maybe. Is a lack of effort to blame? Maybe.

The bottom line is this: This offseason may define the direction the Yankees take in this decade. Many, many questions face this team after a disappointing exit.

How much longer will the "Core Four" stay together?

In all honesty, I believe next year is the year the "Core Four" becomes the "Core Three." I will be surprised if Andy Pettitte comes back next year. Based on his body language and hesitations when faced with the retirement question, coupled with a groin injury that sidelined him for two months, I believe this is the end for Andy. Derek Jeter will get paid by the Yankees, and I mean really overpaid, but how much longer will be produce at a high level? 2010 was arguably the worst season of his career, and it really makes you wonder if he will be the same player again at age 36? But look at it this way: at mid-season next year, he will become the first Yankee ever to achieve 3,000 hits. And all probably before the age of 37. You can already bet on one special moment in the 2011 Yankees season, and there it is. 2011 may also be the final year in pinstripes for Jorge Posada. His bat remains a force in a stacked lineup at age 39, but his defense is an immense liability on a team that lacks a truly above average defensive catcher. With the two top prospects in the Yankees' minor league system both being catchers (Jesus Montero, whom despite being a defensive liability himself, has the potential to be the next Miguel Cabrera offensively, and Austin Romine, a great defensive catcher with a good bat, a la Buster Posey), and both possibly ready for the Majors in 2011 and 2012, Posada may become expendable as his contract expires. Mariano Rivera, at age 40, is still the best at what he does and is once again showing no signs of slowing down. You can bet your life he will be re-signed in the offseason.

Is it imperative the Yankees sign Cliff Lee?

There are three answers to this question: Yes, yes, and yes. If the Yankees are hell-bent on winning #28 in 2011, this is the man that must be signed. With the aforementioned Pettitte likely retiring, the ineffectiveness of outgoing free agent Javy Vazquez and headcase A.J. Burnett, the youth of Phil Hughes, and no prospects ready for the big leagues, the only truly reliable pitcher in the Yankees' rotation will be CC Sabathia. Which means the big man will have to help lure his best friend to the Bronx. If you know anything about baseball, you know that Cliff Lee is the one of the best postseason pitchers in history, and of course, only one month matters in the Yankee Universe: October. How different would this ALCS have been if Brian Cashman had pulled off the deal with the Mariners for Lee? And let's face it, the Yankees may be the only team that will be able to afford him. If Hank and Hal Steinbrenner have the same lust for winning their father did, Lee will be in pinstripes before Christmas.

Should Joe Girardi be fired?

The organization probably says no, but the fans emphatically say yes. Girardi is the definition of a micro-manager: going by the book 99.9% of the time instead of by his brains and guts. This is a man that single-handedly cost the Yankees huge games in both 2009 (Game 3, ALCS) and 2010 (Game 4, ALCS). When you have a manager that is capable of such a feat, he may not be the man for the job.

What other big-name free agents should the Yankees sign?

If the Yankees believe Brett Gardner is a fourth outfielder, they will attempt to sign Carl Crawford. If the Yankees are tired of Nick Swisher's postseason ineptitude, they will attempt to sign Jayson Werth. Other than the aforementioned three big names, there are no potential franchise-changers on the market the way CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira were on the market two years ago. If it were up to me, Lee and only Lee would be shown the money, and maybe a savvy trade or two would shore up the outfield or the pitching staff, especially in the bullpen. Which brings me to:

Who should stay or go in the bullpen?

This may be the end of Joba Chamberlain in pinstripes. Girardi's reluctance to use him in the biggest spots of the postseason shows a lack of confidence by the coaching staff and possibly the higher-ups as well. Don't be surprised if he is traded this offseason. David Robertson's inconsistency is also a concern. I believe he will return, however. Kerry Wood's 8th inning dominance shows that he needs to be re-signed, and if Damaso Marte comes back healthy, the Yankees have two potential dominant lefties in the 'pen besides Boone Logan. Don't get me started on Sergio Mitre.

Will A-Rod be A-Rod again?

The Yankees are stuck with him for the next seven years, so they'd better hope he produces a few more 30 HR/100 RBI seasons. But the inclination is to say he may not be the same player again at age 35, and coming off a major hip injury, he may not reach the heights of 2003, 2005, or 2007 again. Steroids or no steroids. The bottom line is, the Yankees will need him to be great to win another title, and it's a 50/50 shot at this point.

Brian Cashman and co. will have a lot of work to do to put the Yanks in a position to win #28, and it starts with locking up Jeter and Rivera, and signing Cliff Lee. For now, it's a long way until pitchers and catchers in mid-February. Stay tuned.

NFL Picks for Week 7:

FALCONS -3 over Bengals
Vikings +3 over PACKERS
RAVENS -13 over Bills
Redskins +3 1/2 over BEARS

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Are the Yanks in Trouble? Relax, Yankee fans.

Let's channel the mind of a passionate Yankee fan after Game 2 of the ALCS against the Rangers.

Fan: "We're in huge trouble!"

Friend: "Relax, it's only Game 2."

Fan: "But Lee is starting Game 3, and Burnett is slated to start Game 4!!"

Friend: "Maybe Lee will choke."

Fan: "What, are you kidding me?!?!? Lee has never lost a postseason game in his life and the Yankees are intimidated by him! And I don't trust Burnett any further than I can throw him!"

Friend: "Isn't Pettitte starting Game 3?"

Fan: "So what? We had to win the first two games in Texas, and Sabathia and Hughes both bombed! We're done!!!"

Friend: "Watch the Yankees win the series anyway. I'll laugh at you."

It's easy to panic as a Yankee fan when you live under the Steinbrenner Doctrine: Win the World Series or your season is an utter failure. It breeds pressure on the players, the coaches, and especially the fans. But you know what exacerbates this sense of urgency and entitlement? The Media. That's right, I said it.

My advice to Yankee fans is to ignore the prognosticators. Ignore the columnists. Ignore the so-called "experts" that make Cliff Lee out to be bigger than God himself. Yes, Lee is a great pitcher and will probably end up with the Yankees next season for 20 million or more a year. Yes, he is nearly perfect in postseason play with a 2-0 record against the Yankees in the 2009 World Series with the Phillies. Yes, he has the vibe of Mike Scott circa the 1986 Postseason (and if I hear that Lee scuffs the ball one more time, I am going to choke someone. Get real, folks!).

Have these fans forgotten this is baseball? Anything can happen. The sport is a crapshoot every single goshdarnmothertrucking day, no matter how good or bad the opposing teams are on paper.

Have you also forgotten that Andy Pettitte, wins wise, is the greatest pitcher in postseason history? His next victory will be his 20th, Cy Young caliber in the regular season, and unprecedented in postseason play.

Have you forgotten how shaky Texas' bullpen is? A full-blown implosion in Game 1, and agita-filled moments in Game 2?

The bottom line is, if Game 3 is close in the late innings, and Texas holds a slim lead, say, 3-2, will there be any doubts in your mind that the Yankees can rally at home? The Yankees once again led the major leagues with 48 come-from-behind wins in the regular season, and 3 of the 4 Yankee playoff wins have been of the comeback variety.

All Andy Pettitte needs to do is pitch a Vintage Pettitte game, and the Yankees will have a chance. Is it possible Pettitte can implode the way Sabathia and Hughes did? Yes, but isn't Lee due for a bad postseason start as well?

Relax, Yankee fans. Texas is a much better team than Minnesota, and they showed it in Game 2. This series is still a long way from over.

Of course, this all being said, should the Yankees lose Game 3 and throw A.J. Burnett in Game 4 with the season potentially on the line, THEN you may panic.