Who is Miguel Gonzalez?

The Baltimore Orioles will send Miguel Gonzalez to the Yankee Stadium mound as they try to take a 2-1 lead in their ALDS series with the Yankees and move within one win of the American League Championship series. Let that sentence sink in for a moment. No, really, just pause for a second and really think about what we’ll all be watching tonight: The Orioles, perennial also-ran who looked like one of the three or four worst teams in baseball back in March are two wins away from the ALCS, and they’ll be turning to a 28 year old rookie no one ad ever heard of five months ago in the most pivotal game of the series. We get caught up in pennant races and playoff chases quite a bit, and sometimes that causes us to lose sight of the incredible things going on all around us, and this is one of them. No matter the outcome of the ALDS, the Orioles’ 2012 season has been one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen in baseball, and that deserves another moment of appreciation.

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As The A-Rod Turns (And Walks Back To The Dugout Frowning After Striking Out)

(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod) I ended my last A-Rod post with the following statement: “Maybe the best move to start is to see how the opposing team approaches A-Rod and hope that he finds his power swing. If he doesn’t, though, it might be time to go back to the drawing board and bump him down.” 4 days and 2 ALDS games have passed since then, and in case you hadn’t noticed, Alex Rodriguez is still swinging a limp, lifeless bat. It’s not quite “dogs and cats living together” levels of hysteria in Yankeeland Continue reading As The A-Rod Turns (And Walks Back To The Dugout Frowning After Striking Out)

The narrative never dies

For a dose of sanity as the Yankees prepare to open a best of three sprint to the ALCS at Yankee Stadium. I submit the following tropes for rebuttal. First, Ian Begley on Nick Swisher:

Coming into this postseason, Nick Swisher’s numbers weren’t pretty. After Monday night, those numbers look even worse.

With runners on second and third and two out in the seventh in Game 2, and the Yanks down 3-2, Swisher flew out to left.

The out left Swisher with just one hit in his past 33 at-bats with runners in scoring position.

A single would have given the Yanks a lead, but the flyout — an all-too-regular postseason occurrence for the Yankee outfielder — ended a pivotal Yankee threat in the loss.

Complicating matters? Swisher’s performance on Sunday night, when he went 1-2, reached base three times in total, and drove in a run with a ninth inning sacrifice fly. That gets relegated to a mere footnote today, completely washed away by one at bat on Monday night (which wasn’t even a bad at bat, even if the result wasn’t there) because ALL HAIL THE NARRATIVE!

Except, of course, when the narrative should favor the Yankees. For what to do in those situations, I present Andrew Marchand:

The Yankees know that they are a more talented and accomplished team — and maybe talent will win out.

But the Yankees have never been able to separate themselves from Baltimore all season. It took them until the final regular-season game to win the AL East.

Now, you wonder if the Yankees could tighten up, while the nothing-to-lose Orioles play free and easy. Swisher and A-Rod are guys who have become lightning rods this time of year — and, trust me, they know it.

In literally any other case, the narrative here would be of the grizzled, experienced, unflappable Yankees keeping their cool against the upstart Cinderella waiting for the clock tostrike midnight on their improbable run. Because it’s the Yankees, however, we get to turn that on its head when needed, so it becomes the scared-to-lose Yankees against the playing-with-house money Orioles. Is that an accurate portrayal. Of course not, especially on the latter point. Baltimore fans might be at the point where the season was a successful one no matter how it ends now, but the Orioles players, despite the way they get portrayed by many media types in this match up, are actualy professional baseball players with a World Series trophy within their reach. I guarantee you that they very much do care whether they win or lose this week, and that not a one would agree with the assertion that it makes no difference if they advance to the ALCS.

Anyway, this doesn’t really have anything to do with anything, but you’ll get a lot of it if the series remains close through Friday, so I figured I’d get my requisite narrative bashing out of the way early. Now on to the series stuff like, ya know, actually talking about the Orioles like they’re a 93 win team. Continue reading The narrative never dies

Nothing To See Here Except David Robertson Victimizing Mark Reynolds

Last week, I talked a bit about David Robertson reverting back to his curveball in September. It wasn’t a huge jump, but at a 22% selection on his breaking pitch, it was a big improvement over his 84% cutter rate in August. What I left out of my last article was how effective his curveball looked in September. It’s a huge reason he became a top reliever over the past few years, and he threw it with a 21% whiff rate in that final month of the season. Couple that with an absolute inability for hitters to make contact with Continue reading Nothing To See Here Except David Robertson Victimizing Mark Reynolds

The First Annual TYA Awards

AL MVP: Mike Trout (7/8) On the heels of EJ’s scathing take-down of the Miguel Cabrera contingent, it should come as no surprise that Mike Trout would hoist our imaginary hardware. For those of you that may have (luckily) missed the month long tit for tat on this subject, Trout led the American League in the following categories: runs, stolen bases, wOBA, WPA, VORP, TAv, OPS+, wRC+, oWAR, bWAR, fWAR, and WARP. While none of us really know what many of those supposed acronyms even mean, this is obviously fairly impressive, if not outright Ruthian (or Bondsian, sans the asterisk). Continue reading The First Annual TYA Awards