Is history on New York’s side?

With Friday the 13th not that far in the rear view, superstitious thoughts are on the mind.  When aren’t superstitious thoughts on the mind when it comes to baseball?

Only two times during New York’s eleven pennant years since 1969 have the pinstripes possessed the best record in baseball on July 15th.  In five of the eleven pennants seasons since 1969, the Yankees had the third best record in the Major Leagues.  Maybe the Rangers and Dodgers recent fades are not exactly welcome by the Yankees (would the third best record be better than the top record?).  Despite the frequently talked about issues regarding hitting with runners in scoring position, the Yankees have the fifth rated offense in all of baseball.  They also have hit nine more homers than any other team (on a franchise record pace).  Besides, the Yankees supposedly crippled pitching staff still possesses the fifth best ERA in the game.   As everyone knows, pitching wins championships in the end. … Click here to read the rest

Requiem For An Unlikely Season

Later this evening, the 2011 season will end. It is a season in which the Yankees were sent home early, where the preseason favorite Red Sox and Phillies won a combined 2 playoff games, and where you could make a strong argument that no matter who wins tonight, the best team did not win it all. And yet, despite all that, I have a feeling that this is a season that will stick out in the minds of many of us for a long time as one that reminded us of why we love baseball.

When people ask me why I love baseball, I often wish I had some sort of wise soliloquy prepared, in which I could distill my love of the game down to a paragraph or two that got at the heart of this amazing game. But the truth is, there are a variety of reasons underlying my feelings about baseball. I love the cadence of a long season, in which we live and die with every pitch but at the same time can always look to a new game the following day.… Click here to read the rest

A Very Good Day In Recent Yankees History

Yesterday, I highlighted the anniversary of the Yankees loss to the Marlins in the 2003 World Series, focusing particularly on Joe Torre’s gaffe in Game 4. I decided to balance the ledger by focusing on some more positive memories today, and was pleased to notice that October 26th is one of the better days in recent Yankees history. Let’s take a look at 2 fantastic games that occurred on this date:

Game 6, 1996 World Series

The Yankees clinched their first World Series since 1978 on October 26th, 1996, with a 3-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves. After losing the first two games in lopsided fashion, the Yankees took 3 straight contests in Atlanta, including a thrilling comeback from 6 runs down in Game 4 and a 1-0 victory behind Andy Pettitte in Game 5. That brought the Yankees back to New York with two chances to sew the World Series up, with Jimmy Key facing Greg Maddux in Game 6.… Click here to read the rest

How the Yankees have fared in playoff series that have gone the distance since 1995

(photo c/o NY Daily News)

The Yankees’ lopsided 10-1 victory in Detroit on Tuesday night ensured that the Bombers would have the opportunity to return home to the Bronx to finish the Tigers off in a winner-takes-all Game 5 of the 2011 American League Division Series. The victory was the Yankees’ second-ever road win in an ALDS Game 4 to force a Game 5 at home — the first was against Oakland in 2001. The last time the Yankees played an ALDS that went the distance was in 2005, when they lost to the Angels in Los Angeles.

The Yankees have played five previous ALDS Game 5s — compiling a 2-3 record all time — but they only had home field advantage in one of those five — that 2001 series against Oakland, which they won. The Yankees have played three Game 7s in the DS era, going 1-2 in those contests, giving the team a 3-5 record overall (though 2-1 at home) in playoff series enders.… Click here to read the rest

Looking for More Game Two Magic

The 2009 post-season run by the Yankees was obviously fantastic. They swept the Twins ALDS, beat the Angels 4-2 in the ALCS, and then beat the Phillies 4-2 in the World Series. Somehow, it didn’t hit me until last night while watching Game One of the ALDS versus the Twins (moving to the bottom of the seventh as I type this): each Game Two in the playoffs last year had something special.

ALDS Game Two

We all remember this one. The David Robertson escape act. The A-Rod homer against Nathan to tie the game in the ninth. Mark Teixeira’s walk off homer. This was a perfect back and forth playoff game and the Yankees came out on top.

ALCS Game Two.

Another back and forth game, and another game with David Robertson getting the win, and another big homer from Alex Rodriguez. I’ll never forget that homer–down 0-2, to the opposite field, in the rain. I still don’t know why Brian Fuentes put the ball where he did, but I’m not going to complain.… Click here to read the rest

National League wins All-Star Game for first time in 14 years

In a contest with a final score that seemed rather appropriate for the so-called “year of the pitcher,” the National League finally beat the American League in the All-Star Game for the first time in 14 years, winning 3-1 on the strength of some ridiculous pitching.

Though I enjoy giving the NL a good ribbing from time to time, there was nothing to laugh about last night, as the National League All-Star pitching staff was flat-out filthy, limiting the AL to one run over nine innings (an unearned run, at that) and holding the hitters to a .194 batting average. Nearly every single pitcher who entered the game — for both teams — was throwing unreal gas, with seemingly every pitch registering in the high 90s. Ubaldo Jimenez and Josh Johnson in particular were downright unfair.

For their part, the AL pitching staff was almost as dominant, save for one bad inning. Clinging to a one-run lead — provided by a Robinson Cano sac fly — first time All-Star Phil Hughes put runners on first and third after surrendering two consecutive hits.… Click here to read the rest

Baffling Brett and other observations

Quite frankly, Brett Gardner confuses the hell out of me. First off, I’m always surprised that he had a sub .400 SLG in the minors. I know he doesn’t have much power, but even that seems a bit “much” (or little?) if you get what I mean. How did he manage to have an OBP of .389 (and a fantastic IsoD of .100) without any noticeable power? Probably a combination of two things: a good batting eye and pitchers with iffy control.

Secondly, Gardner just makes me think. A lot. He makes me wonder how a player without much power can still manage to be so selective at the plate. On a very positive note, Gardner went into yesterday’s game seeing the most pitches per plate appearance of any Yankee, with the Nicks, Johnson and Swisher, not far behind. Seeing that makes me happy. If Gardner can see pitches, work the count, and somehow walk despite his lack of power, then he can steal bases and be an effective tool for the nine spot in the Yankees’ order.… Click here to read the rest

Examining some of the 28 Reasons

With yesterday’s paper, the New York Daily News included a special pull out section, previewing the baseball season. Therein was an article giving 28 reasons why the Yankees will win the World Series again in 2010. Breaking down all 28 would be tiresome and repetitive, so I’m just going to look at a few, and give some quick reactions.

“8. A-Rod is hip-hip-OK”

This is big. Huge. Monstrous. Gargantuan, even. Despite missing Rodriguez for a month, the Yankees had the best offense in baseball in 2009. This season, he’s fully healthy and ready to go from Opening Day. Perhaps this will help Mark Teixeira’s slow starts. Regardless, more A-Rod is good for both the team–as it obviously helps them win–and player, as it will allow him to make up for time lost due to injury.

9. It’s Joba time once again

The rules won’t be necessary now that Joba Chamberlain is back in the bullpen, assuming the eighth-inning setup role that made him a cult hero in 2007.

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