Sunday, August 11, 2013

Don't Give Up on Mo

Why haven't I written anything in a while? Laziness, maybe. But really there hasn't been anything to write about. I even predicted the White Sox would sweep the Yankees. Why? Because this team hasn't shown an ounce of fight. CC can't stay in it, Andy can't stay in it, Phil Hughes's record is starting to look like Jim Abbott's by the end of his career (Look it up, it's horrible.) Cano's average has tailspun too. But then people will start to moan and groan about Mariano blowing three straight saves. Back off.

Today, YES was unbelievably embarrassing after Mo gave up the game-tying home-run to Victor Martinez. Kay and Singleton couldn't have better demonstrated how to beat a dead horse. They kept spinning out new stats on Mo never blowing three straight saves as if the world was coming to an end. OOOOOH, MO HAD A BAD WEEK? Mo's been anchoring a bullpen all year that's been the only plus on this team. He was undefeated going into the Mets series; and to me, giving up three Tiger home runs (Miggy twice and Victor once) was entirely plausible (Although Miggy hitting a home run practically crippled Friday night was pretty nasty.) The rough loss was in Chicago, when Mo gave up a game-tying base hit to ADAM DUNN of all people. But the two of them in the booth had stat after stat after replay after replay. Kenny reminded me of John Madden on the chalkboard; showing where Mo's pitch was and where Victor swung, etc. Guys, the world's not ending. In case you haven't realized, they ain't makin' no playawfs.

I'm just counting down the days until the Giants kick off. I have to personally thank Brett Gardner for saving this weekend for two walk-off hits (single and a home run); otherwise this would've been a complete and utter disaster.

Till Next Time!

Neil Dwyer @neildwyer1993

Rivera blows another save, but Gardner again bails him out as Bombers take rubber game

Andy Pettitte gave up just 1 run in 4.1 innings of work as the Yankees took today's rubber game over the Tigers, 5-4. Pettitte should've gotten a win today, but he really was terrible. I'll just say this: when he was taken out, in the fifth inning, he had somehow already thrown 101 pitches. 

Another thing that should keep Andy up tonight is the fact he had a 4-1 lead when he was taken out. Those four runs (A-Rod's first home run of the season and an RBI Single, solo homer by Soriano, sac fly from Nunez) should've been more than enough for him to just get through one more inning, but apparently not. Honestly, I want to him retire at the end of the year. He's a great player, but it seems like his best days are behind him at this point. 

Another guy who's best days appear to be behind home right now would be Mariano Rivera, who blew another save this afternoon. Despite leading 4-2 heading into the top of the ninth, Mo could not hold the lead, giving up two solo homers in the inning to Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. But, as the title of this post says, he was bailed out again by Brett Gardner. On Friday night, Gardner won the game with an RBI Single. Today, he won it with a solo home run in the bottom of the ninth, making the final score 5-4. With this win, the Yankees are still above .500 at 59-57, a solid 7 games out of the wild card.  

Alex Rodriguez Meets With BALCO Owner Victor Conte

Alex Rodriguez and the Bronx Is Burning Part II will be back after these messages from BALCO.

Remember BALCO? The Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi steroid company that began blowing the roof off the steroids crowd? Well in 2012 Alex Rodriguez visited Victor Conte and BALCO with former NFL player Bill Romanowski in search of legal supplements to help with his performance. The Yankees had an off day in Oakland last May before starting a series with the Oakland Athletics and A Rod took advantage of the off day to try and get a step up on the competition, again.

You may remember Conte's name as he served four months in prison for conspiring to distribute steroids and money laundering when the BALCO fall out came to light. Conte initially declined to meet with Alex before reportedly receiving an uninvited Alex at his doorstep asking about the supplements. If you care Conte recommended protein shakes and taking a zinc, calcium, and magnesium based  product out of his diet.

Congratulations To Alfonso Soriano On His 2,000th Hit

Alfonso Soriano got his very first hit in the major leagues back in 2002 for the New York Yankees and today Soriano got his 2,000th hit 11 years later for the Yankees in today's ball game. Congratulations to him because it is quite an impressive feat especially considering he has also spent time with the Texas Rangers, Washington Nationals, and Chicago Cubs in between the 2,000 hits with the Yankees. Congrats again Sori!

Game Thread: Tigers @ Yankees 8/11

The Tigers and the Yankees will finish off their three game weekend set with a getaway game at Yankees Stadium today on the YES Network, TBS, and of course MLB TV. The pitching match up is the savvy veteran Andy Pettitte for the Yankees and Justin Verlander for the Tigers. Andy Pettitte took one on the chin his last time out and looks to have a good start against a pitcher who owns us, and the rest of the league for that matter, more times then he doesn't.

Here is the Yankees lineup
Brett Gardner CF
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Lyle Overbay 1B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Curtis Granderson DH
Eduardo Nunez SS
Chris Stewart C

Follow us on twitter by following @GreedyStripes. Go Yankees!!

How To Fix Umpiring

The Yankees were in Chicago this past Tuesday night, playing the White Sox, when it happened. There were two outs in the top of the third inning, with Brett Gardner on second and Alex Rodriguez on first, Robinson Cano slapped a ball to left fielder Alex Rios. Gardner was sent home, and Rios came up firing...

Although White Sox catcher Josh Phegley missed the tag, home plate umpire Alan Porter called Gardy out. To be fair, it wasn't obvious upon first viewing, as the ball got to the plate around the same time Brett did. And since Gardner didn't slide, that made things a bit tougher.

Now, missed calls happen in all sports. They just do. But in this case the problem was in Porter's positioning. Instead of moving off to the side, in order to see the play better, he stayed behind home plate where there was no way he could have seen whether or not Phegley made the tag. In essence... Porter guessed, and he guessed wrong.

I'm a certified basketball official, and they stress positioning to us all the time. Not a meeting goes by (and I go to about eight a year) in which the people running basketball referees do not say something about where we should be on what type of play. And that doesn't include the rules books and such that also stress positioning. And I get why... if we're in the best position to make the call, then chances are we're going to get the call right.

For example, this is not the correct position to call balls and strikes.

The one thing I don't have to deal with, and what umpires such as Mr. Porter do, is multi-camera replays proving you right or wrong on every call. Well, that's why I get paid $55 for doing a varsity basketball game, and rookie MLB umpires get paid $120,000 a year.

I've softened up on the subject of instant replay in MLB. At first I hated it. The idea that myself, or my fellow officials, weren't good enough filled me with rage. I work hard at being the best I can be, so to tell me I need a robot to do the job properly ticked me off. But after reading article after article on the subject, experiencing more and more situations during games in which I wish I had instant replay, and watching more close plays get blown by even the "best" umpires, I've come around to the idea.

I don't mean robots should take over officiating sports, but adding them to the game would not be a bad thing. It's worked in football for years, and as long as the term "replacement refs" isn't brought up, I don't hear anybody wanting to get rid of human refs in that sport.

So here is how I would like to see it done in Major League Baseball...

Along with instant replay being used on all questionable home runs and "traps", it should also be used on boundary calls (aka fair/foul calls). I'm not just talking about where a ball lands between 3rd base and the outfield wall, but on ground balls that go by the third base or first base bag as well. Face it, those are really hard calls, as the home plate ump is not in position to make the call, and the third/first base ump needs to make sure he's not going to get killed by the batted ball. So replay in those situations should be allowed.

And it's not like they happen often enough that it would make the game longer than some already are. Heck, being allowed replay would probably quicken things as there would be less arguments about such calls between umps, players, coaches, and managers. Instead of screaming for a couple minutes, a manager would just say "let's go to the tape...".

Except Earl Weaver. Earl would have still scream for a couple minutes.

One place in which replay is not currently allowed, but where calls are sometimes botched to the point that they change the game, are safe/out calls. You know, like the play with Brett Gardner I described in the opening of this post. Unlike with home runs, "traps", and boundary calls, these would come up more often. Allowing replay on every one of these type of plays could result in longer games. Which is why I propose a system like in the NFL, where managers are allowed two "challenges" a game.

I'm not saying this is a new idea. You've likely read or heard about it many times before. I just want to say that I agree with the idea (at least now I do).

Whether it's a speedy guy like Ichiro trying to beat out an infield hit, Eduardo Nunez trying to steal second base, you see these type of "bang-bang" plays all the time. And to their credit, umpires more often than not get the calls right. That's pretty darn amazing if you ask me, and umpires don't get enough props for the job they do. But like myself in basketball, they are going to miss a call. And it's not fair that that call may affect the outcome of a game. If Gardner was called safe as he should have been Tuesday night, then the Yankees may have won the game (it was only the third inning, after all).

One place where the idea of instant replay has been pushed hard against the most is when it comes to strike/ball calls. The thought was that there were just too many questionable pitch calls during a game. There were 263 pitches in Tuesday night's Yankees/White Sox game. If managers were allowed to question strikes and balls, then there's a good chance that game wouldn't have ended until last night. But allowing a manager to "challenge" a strike/ball call seems perfectly fine to me. It's strategy. Should he throw challenge this safe/out call, or hold onto that challenge in case the ump blows a ball/strike call later in the game?

It seems like a fine compromise to me. You may not ensure that each and every call is 100% correct, but you give managers the ability to have a key call corrected should it need to be.

By the way, I'd love to see some managers and players proven wrong. Therefore, after the game, the media asks them why they challenged a play that was clearly called correctly, instead of saving that challenge for another time.

I want to make one thing abundantly clear... I do NOT agree with the idea that robots should call balls and strikes. Not because I'm afraid a lot of good umpires will be out of a job, but because they would give a big advantage to the batter.

As if batters need another advantage.

Think about it, batters today are never sure whether that pitch on the corner of the plate will be called a ball or strike. An umpire may be squeezing the pitchers for most of the game, so that a ball on the outside corner would not be called a strike, but a batter has to "stay alive" in case the umpire sees the pitch a bit differently the next time. If a batter knows exactly what is going to be called a strike or a ball, then they have a big advantage. Especially at the Major League level, where hitters are that good at recognizing pitches.

So here's a breakdown of what I'm proposing...
  • Instant Replay can be initiated, by the managers, on all questionable home run, "trap", and boundary calls. It's not up to umpires to question other umpires, it's up to the managers to ask about replay should they deem it necessary.
  • Instant Replay can be used on all other calls, including safe/out or ball/strike calls, but under the "challenge" system like in the NFL. I'm not set on 2 or 3 challenges a game, but go ahead and implement it.
  • Robots will not be used to call balls and strikes. 
Finally, I want to say one more thing regarding questionable calls. Players, coaches, and managers get way too much rope when it comes to arguing. In no other sport are they allowed to hold up a game for more than a few seconds, without any penalty. I understand it to a point, because you can't give a baseball manager a technical foul for arguing too much, like I can give a basketball coach. And you don't want to throw a manager out of a baseball game every time they question an ump. Perhaps something like penalizing that manager's team an out, or something on par with getting a technical foul in basketball, or a yellow card in soccer. But it bothers me how some managers are allowed to go off for a couple of minutes, and then return to the dugout like nothing happened. 

Clearly changes need to be made when it comes to umpires, and it should happen sooner rather than later. The first thing that should happen is easy, and doesn't require more cameras and such put in stadiums. That is this... make sure the best umpires are in MLB. Forget seniority, just get the best out there. That right there would likely lead to less issues, but even the best make mistakes, and that's where replay can come in.

No, CB, it doesn't matter how high you jump when you make a call.

Detroit Tigers @ New York Yankees 8/11

The Detroit Tigers and the New York Yankees will finish up their three game weekend series today at Yankees Stadium in an afternoon game. The Yankees will send Andy Pettitte to the mound to face off with Justin Verlander for the Detroit Tigers. The game will be televised at 1:05 pm ET on YES, TBS, and MLB TV.

Dellin Betances Called Up, David Adams Sent Down

The Dellin Betances era in the Yankees bullpen may finally be starting as he has been called up from AAA Scranton Wilkes Barre from the RailRiders. The Yankees have a short bullpen since no one in the rotation can seemingly give the Yanks any distance these days so expect Betances to be the first guy out of the pen today if need be. David Adams has been sent down to AAA to make room on the 25 man roster for Betances. I cannot say I understand that as it would make much more sense to just DFA Joba Chamberlain but what do I know.

Biogenesis of Genesis: On the Sixth Day, A-Rod rested

Being posted as a part of Syndicated Sunday from It Is High...

In the big inning, there was darkness...

On the first day, A-Rod said, "Let there be lights!" and all the Klieg lights of the media firmament shone upon him. 

On the second day, A-Rod said, "Let there be lawyers!" and mountains of legal papers rose from the oceans, and he could again stride freely despite his bad hip.

On the third day, A-Rod said, "Let there be games!" and he went one for three with a walk.

On the fourth day, A-Rod said, "Let there be bean balls!" and a White Sox pitcher hit A-Rod on the elbow, causing a thunder of cheers. 

On the fifth day, A-Rod's team finally won, in extra innings, no thanks to A-Rod, who went oh for four with three strikeouts.

On the six day, A-Rod rested, and the Yankees were crushed by an angry, jealous God from Detroit, where everybody is pissed off about something or other.

On the seventh day, A-Rod... well... wtf?

Thunder Come From Behind To Win 13-Inning Marathon

(Trenton, NJ) – Slade Heathcott homered, doubled and scored the winning run in the bottom of the 13th inning to complete a late comeback for the Trenton Thunder, who outlasted the Akron Aeros, 3-2, Saturday night in the team’s longest game of the season before of 5,530 fans at ARM & HAMMER Park.
Four Trenton relievers combined to hold Akron without a run for the final 10.2 innings of the contest and Heathcott scored all three runs in the come-from-behind win.  The Thunder (62-57) moved 5.0 games ahead of third-place Portland, New Hampshire and New Britain for the wild card spot in the Eastern Division.

Heathcott led off the 13th with an opposite field double to left against reliever Trey Haley (1-2).  The next batter Gary Sanchez lined a ball back to Haley, who knocked it down and looked Heathcott back to second. 

Haley then threw wildly to first, and the ball sailed into the first-base camera well.  The umpires awarded each runner two bases, and Heathcott came home with the game-winning run on Haley’s error.

Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth, Trenton was down to its final out when Saxon Butler walked with the bases loaded against Aeros closer Jose Flores to force the game into extra innings.  It was one of three ninth-inning walks for Flores, who blew only his second save in 14 chances this season.

Akron starter Toru Murata shutout the Thunder through six innings on just two hits and the Aeros held a 2-0 lead.  Heathcott struck for a solo home run (8) however to lead off the seventh and put Trenton on the scoreboard.

Graham Stoneburner (2.2 innings pitched), Aaron Dott (2.2 innings), Zach Nuding (3.1 innings) and Danny Burawa (2.0 innings) each shutout Akron after the starter Fred Lewis allowed two runs in the top of the third. Burawa (6-3) won an extra-inning game for the second time in three days.

Akron left 15 runners on base in the 4 hour, 18 minutes marathon, including 11 in the first six innings of the contest.  The Aeros out-hit Trenton 14-to-9 paced by four from leadoff batter Jose Ramirez and three from catcher Alex Monsalve.

The Thunder will try for a three-game sweep of Akron Sunday with the series finale scheduled for a 5:05 pm first pitch.  Left-hander Nik Turley (8-6, 3.89) expected to starter against lefty Matt Packer, the league-leader in wins (10-7, 3.29). 

Limited tickets are available through the Thunder box office at (609) 394-3300 or online at  Radio coverage on 91.3 FM (WTSR) and also streaming online begins at 4:45 pm.


Being posted with permission from the Trenton Thunder organization. The original article can be seen HERE.

Rome Braves Outlast Riverdogs

Braves Outlast RiverDogs
Rome tosses takes third straight, chance to complete the sweep on Sunday

CHARLESTON, SC – For the third straight day the Rome Braves got a strong outing from a starting pitcher and used a balanced offensive attack to beat the Charleston RiverDogs 8-5 on Saturday night in front of 3,912 fans in South Atlantic League action at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park.

With the loss, the RiverDogs fall to 23-26 in the second half and 62-55 overall. With the win, Rome advances to 23-26 in the second half and 58-60 overall.

The Braves bats got going early to the tune of three runs on three hits, one walk, and a hit batter in the top of the first inning capped off by a two out, two RBI single by Tyler Tewell who finished 2-4 with two RBI. They added a couple more runs on a two-run homer by Felix Marte in the third to take a 5-0 lead.

Sean Gilmartin followed the lead of the previous two starters for Rome and turned in a great performance on the mound. He allowed just one run on four hits, no walks, and collected five strikeouts to collect the victory and move to 1-0.

Offensively for Charleston, the bats were slow to get going. After being stifled for the first four frames, Francisco Rosario hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Reymond Nunez and make it a 5-1 game after five innings of play. Rome got that run back though in the top of the sixth on an RBI single by Ronald Luna to go up 6-1.

In the bottom of the sixth inning Charleston cut the lead to 6-3 thanks to Ericson Leanora’s RBI double and Reymond Nunez’s RBI single.

Then in the bottom of the eighth, Nunez hit a majestic two-run homer over the left field wall to cut the Rome lead to 6-5. Nunez finished the game 3-4 with three RBI and two runs scored to pace Charleston at the plate.

That was as close as the RiverDogs would get however as the Braves tacked on two runs in the ninth to go up 8-5, and held on to win by that score.

Greg Bird and Jackson Valera each chipped in with two hits for Charleston as well.

Evan Rutckyj got the loss for Charleston after surrendering six runs on six hits, three walks, and five strikeouts in 5.1 innings pitched. His record now stands at 9-8. Adam Smith threw 1.2 scoreless innings of relief, and Ben Paullus gave up two runs on four hits in two frames.

Alex Wilson tossed a scoreless ninth inning and earned his fifth save of the year for Rome.
Box Score:

Being posted with permission from the Charleston Riverdogs organization. The original article can be seen HERE

Game 116 Lineup: Tigers vs. Yankees

It's the final game of a three game set and here is your starting lineup!

Brett Gardner CF
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Lyle Overbay 1B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Curtis Granderson DH
Eduardo Nunez SS
Chris Stewart C
LHP Andy Pettitte

Some Notes: -- David Adams was Optioned to Triple-AAA today and the Yankees called up Dellin Betances as bullpen help.

This Day In New York Yankees History 8/11

On this day in 1980 Reggie Jackson hit his 400th career home run off of White Sox pitcher Britt Burns in a 3-1 New York Yankees victory.