William Tasker grew up in Bergenfield, New Jersey but has lived in New England since 1975 and in the far reaches of northern Maine since 1990. Tasker is the author of nine (non-baseball related) books and, besides writing here for three years, has written for his own site at www.passion4baseball.blogspot.com since 2003.

Author Archives: William Tasker

Uncertain to the core

Of all the uncertainties that face the New York Yankees heading into the post season, concern about the “core” should probably come to the top of the list. The last we saw Derek Jeter, the captain and Yankee stalwart since 1996, he was flat on the infield after suffering what we later learned was a fracture to his ankle. This past Saturday, he had surgery on the ankle and is expected to be ready to go by Spring Training. The last we saw Mariano Rivera, the 42 year old designee as the greatest closer that ever lived was being carted off the field with a torn up knee and a blood clot later complicated his injury. Andy Pettitte was the only one of the old guard that ended the season on his feet, but that was after getting drilled in the leg and suffering a fracture of his own that would take two months to heal. You know Jeter will be back and Rivera said he would be back.…

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The last time the Yankees were swept in a seven game series

Getting swept in the American League Championship Series by the Detroit Tigers in that seven game series was an inglorious way for the Yankees’ season to end. The fact that the Yankees never put up a serious fight after that ninth inning in the first game of the series was unsettling. After such a shocking and upsetting end to the season, I wanted to look back and see the last time the Yankees were swept in a seven game series in the post season. And once such an occurrence was found, see if there were any comparisons or anything to be learned by such a happenstance. It turns out that the last time was in 1976 when the Yankees lost four straight World Series games to the Cincinnati Reds. As most of you know, the Yankees rebounded from that blowout of 1976 to win two straight titles in 1977 and 1978. The circumstances behind that 1976 team and this 2012 team’s post season failure could not have happened to more dissimilar teams and therefore, such a glorious rebound looks far less possible.…

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Granderson getting his eyes checked

Holy smokes! For weeks I have been joking in the comments that maybe Curtis Granderson should get his eyes checked. It was a joke based on his prodigious swing and miss rate as the strikeouts piled up. But the New York Daily News reports that Granderson is indeed going to get his eyes checked to see if that is part of the problem. Jay Jaffe, upon seeing the news, speculated that bad vision could have also led to Granderson’s bad routes to balls in center field.

Heck, if better vision turns Granderson’s clock back to where he was not such a liability in center and could make contact with the baseball more often in 2013, it makes sense to pursue that angle as a root cause of his problems. The Yankees have already picked up his option for 2013 and though he does not have a n0-trade option and could be dealt, the possibility is also strong that Granderson is in the Yankees’ plans for the coming season.…

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The best team doesn’t always win?

Once upon a time there were six, then eight and then ten teams in each of the American and National Leagues. They played 154 and then 162 games. There were no divisions. The top team in each league won the league pennant and went on to the World Series. Such a format, at least in theory, meant that the best team in each league went on to the World Series. But now, as frequent commenter, Bill, mentioned in last night’s game recap, the World Series is perhaps going to consist this season of two teams that were not the best teams in their leagues. As Bill also mentioned, the playoff system currently in place means that the hottest teams carry the day. Whether any or all of this new era is fair is subject for debate and few will ever agree.

In that old system, two of the twelve, sixteen and then twenty teams had something to cheer about in October.…

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Yankees swept. Tigers are American League Champions

When a series like this is covered on a site devoted to one of the teams contending in the series, it is easy to get wrapped up in the “failures” of the team that is covered. The flip side here is that the Tigers and their pitching in particular were spectacular in the series and did not make a single misstep the entire series. From Jim Leyland to each starting pitcher and the Tigers’ bullpen (outside of Valverde) to the offense, the Tigers dominated the series and outscored the Yankees, nineteen to six. Was it a total failure of the Yankees’ lineup or a total achievement of the Tigers’ pitching staff? Gosh, that depends on which side you are looking from. A metaphor of the entire series happened in the top of the third inning with the Yankees only down by a run at that point.

Eduardo Nunez came up with two outs and hit a spinning top to Prince Fielder.…

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Nick Swisher and breakup syndrome

So, why won’t Swisher be a Yankee next season? First, he is going to ask for a contract he deserves which will likely be for four or five years at $15 to $17 million per. Secondly, the Yankees have other deals to get done and will not consider Swisher at that kind of money when 2014 already has a hard cap of $184 million. And last, have you heard any words from guys like Brian Cashman or Boy Steinbrenner stating they would like to keep the guy? Both have stated that Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson are priorities. The latter of those two might be working his way out of that stance, but still. Nobody has come out and said that Nick Swisher is a priority or even something to the effect that it would be nice to have him back.

Swisher has to know these things. And it has to suck for him personally. He likes being in the center of the baseball universe.…

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Good old Andy

Andy Pettitte lost his last post season start just recently against the Orioles. It was his eleventh post season loss and brought his overall career post season winning percentage down a peg to “just” .633. If he wins, it will be his twentieth post season win and will pad his record that no one is likely to ever match. He is as synonymous to the post season as the Yankees are.

Is his post season record overrated? Perhaps a tad. His post season ERA is 3.83. The overall numbers won’t grab you by the throat. 6.7 strikeouts per nine with 2.5 walks. He has allowed 9.3 hits per nine innings with a 1.352 WHIP. There is nothing there that is spectacular. His post season “heroics” are likely the same result as Derek Jeter‘s. If you have enough reps doing a certain thing, there will be great things that happen that people remember. That doesn’t make him a lock. But it does mean that he ‘s done this more than anyone else.…

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The Lineup – who says we all have to agree here?

The Yankees have lived and died with this cast of characters all season either hitting homers or stranding runners. It has been a season as hard on the emotions and nerves as any in recent memory. These are the guys you have paid millions of dollars to have in your lineup. These are the guys you nursed along through injuries to be healthy for this moment. You continue to live and die with them. Doing so this season has led to a first place finish in the division and to a fifth game, winner-take-all scenario. The odds are about 50/50 no matter who the Yankees trot out there. Despite swinging air balls the entire second half, Curtis Granderson did hit 20 homers in that same time frame. Do you really want to sit that kind of possible explosion? Are the Orioles going to sit Mark Reynolds because he has struck out 37 percent of the time this series? Heck no.

And the reason is that despite all the air swings, Reynolds can win the game with one swing.  …

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