Archive for the ‘baseball’ Category

Baseball’s new playoff format is mostly great, but fuck if it isn’t complicated to figure out who is going to play who. Looking at the standings has me more confused than an Red Sox fan trying to count to 10. But I’m not from Boston, so I dusted off my old college calculus textbooks to figure this thing out, and I think I have.

Interestingly enough, the Yankees could play any of the four other playoff teams in the ALDS, or they might not even make it that far. Following their clutch 4-3 victory over Boston in 12 innings last night, here is every single outcome possible in play for the Bombers:

If the Yankees win today: they win the AL East Title and home-field until the World Series. They would start the ALDS* on the road against the Wild Card winner on Sunday. Also, BOSTON SUCKS.

If the Yankees lose and the Orioles win today: the Yankees and Orioles play a one-game tiebreaker** on Thursday in Baltimore—by virtue of the O’s better record in the AL East.

If the Yankees win the tiebreaker AND…
the Rangers beat the Athletics:
the Yankees win the AL East and home-field until the World Series—by virtue of winning the season series against the Rangers—and start the ALDS on the road against the Orioles-Athletics Wild Card winner on Sunday.
the Athletics beat the Rangers: the Yankees win the AL East and start the ALDS in Detroit against the Tigers on Saturday. The Athletics would have home-field until the World Series—by virtue of having a better division record than the Yankees.

If the Yankees lose the tiebreaker: they host the Wild Card Game Friday against the loser of the Rangers-Athletics game today. The winner of the Wild Card Game would then host Rangers-Athletics winner on Sunday—by virtue of both AL West teams winning the season series against Baltimore—while the loser hits the golf course.

If the Yankees lose and the Orioles lose today AND
the Rangers beat
the Athletics: the Yankees win the AL East and home-field until the World Series—by virtue of winning the season series against the Rangers—and start the ALDS on the road against the Wild Card winner on Sunday.
the Athletics beat the Rangers: the Yankees win the AL East and start the ALDS in Detroit against the Tigers on Saturday. The Athletics would have home-field until the World Series—by virtue of having a better division record than the Yankees.

*Can we please extend the ALDS to a best-of-7 series? It’s ridiculous that a team could roll through 162 games, and then be eliminated because of one or two bad pitching starts or an unlucky bounce. Let’s lower that margin of error.

**Why do we need a division tiebreaker game when both teams are guaranteed a spot in the playoffs.? Just award the division through the existing tiebreakers in place. If you win the season series or have a better division record against the team you are tied with, that should be virtue enough to win the division. Don’t want to play in the winner-take-all Wild Card Game? Win your division games. And have we decided whether it’s a good idea to use your ace in this game? Or do you save him for any potential Wild Card Game? Is it even fair for either the Yanks or O’s to go into the ALDS having used their #1 pitcher in the tiebreaker game, when at the same time they’ll have the best record in the American League? It really defeats the advantage of having the best record in the league. I don’t get it.

Sayonara Means Goodbye

Posted: July 24, 2012 by Dinner Party Animal in baseball, MLB
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He arrived in 2001, when the world seemed to stretch on forever in front of me. I was 17, and I spent that summer touring the East Coast looking at colleges while he played the sport in a way I’d never seen, for a team that won games at a rate that few alive had witnessed. For a brief moment, everything in baseball and in my life seemed limitless and unending. Now I’m 28, the Mariners stink, Ichiro is a Yankee, and life feels quite a bit smaller.

From the moment he arrived, there have been detractors. Too small, too little power, too strange, and most of all too Japanese. His disinterest in pandering to the segment of the local fanbase that demands that any and all imported superstars speak English and Americanize made him into a polarizing figure in Seattle, even when the team was winning or he was having seasons for the ages. For some, the discussion always started with what Ichiro couldn’t do, and that blinded them to all that he did.

The three-hopper to shortstop that turned into a base hit. The flare to left field that somehow found a spot between three defenders. The doubles to the gap that became triples. The catches. The throws. The Throw. Sure, everyone appreciated the big things, the MVP year, the hits record, the gaudy batting averages, but Ichiro was never a player of the big things.

To shamelessly steal from my favorite piece of baseball writing, John Updike’s Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu, “For me, [he] is the classic ballplayer of the game on a hot August weekday, before a small crowd, when the only thing at stake is the tissue-thin difference between a thing done well and a thing done ill. Baseball is a game of the long season, of relentless and gradual averaging-out. Irrelevance—since the reference point of most individual games is remote and statistical—always threatens its interest, which can be maintained not by the occasional heroics that sportswriters feed upon but by players who always care; who care, that is to say, about themselves and their art.”

No player has more perfectly trod the line between art and craft than Ichiro. Behind every well-placed single or great defensive play were the hours of pre-game preparation, the endless stretching, and a dedication to his craft that no player in the game can approach. As a Mariners fan, Ken Griffey Jr. taught me how to love the game, and by extension how to love life, to play with abandon and zeal and lust. Ichiro, on the other hand, taught me that anything worth having requires work, and preparation, and constant effort. An adolescent-turned-young-adult couldn’t have had a better role model in that regard.

So now he’s off to New York in search of something he found so rarely here in Seattle: postseason baseball. The Mariners and I will go forward, trying to find some semblance of hope in another season full of losing baseball and disappointing young players. I know there are those who will say that Ichiro has held this team back, that his contract and his spot in the lineup have kept the team from moving forward, but I also wonder if those people understand that being a baseball fan can be about more than just winning. It can be about appreciating greatness, and it may well be a long time before a player as great as Ichiro calls Seattle home.

Most Valuable Papa

Posted: June 18, 2012 by Keith Stone in baseball, football, MLB, NFL
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Ignore the fact that Eli is wearing a Mets jersey for a second, how bad ass is throwing a first pitch while holding your daughter? This is like the Helmet Catch of first pitches. If a jabroni like the mayor of Cincinnati tried this stunt, there’d be a dead baby. What a Great Father’s Day for the Mannings. It would have been perfect if only David Wright didn’t make poor Eva cry.

Congrats, Red Sox!

Posted: April 25, 2012 by Keith Stone in baseball, MLB
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What a triumphant victory for the Boston Red Sox last night. Against the 5-12 Twins, the Beaneaters captured a nine-run lead and, wait for it, held on for the 11-2 win. Call me crazy but I think this proves that the Sox are the team to beat in AL East. Bobby V is finally getting his message across, the players are at the right point in the cycles, and most importantly, nobody was eating fried chicken in the clubhouse. Either that, or they were playing a really shitty team. Yeah, probably the second part.

The Most Accurate Headline of All-Time

Posted: April 21, 2012 by Keith Stone in baseball, MLB
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For once, the Post has an accurate, tasteful front cover.

TEMPE, Ariz. All these years later, we finally have an admission from a Twins player that the Twins are psyched out when they play the Yankees in the playoffs. Actually, two Twins players. Ex-Twins star Torii Hunter said some Twins players were beaten before they started, which finally confirms what has long been suspected: that the Twins are intimidated by the Yankees. Many of the postseason games were close, but the Twins were beaten from the start, according to Hunter. And another ex-Twins star, Michael Cuddyer, now with the Rockies, agreed. “Some guys were nervous, all nervous,” Hunter, now an Angels player, said of his former Twins teammates. “There were a lot of guys mentally down — like, ooh, we drew the Yankees.’ Just play the game,” Hunter said. “Once it gets in your head, you’re done.” Hunter recalled one 2004 ALDS game the Twins lost where they had a runner on third with one out down a run against the great Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, and Twins manager called on a young righty-hitting Lew Ford to bat against Rivera, and Torre recalled Ford turning down the pinch-hit assignment. “You need a righty hitter against Rivera with his cutter,” Hunter recalled. But according to Hunter, Ford shook his head no. So Gardenhire turned to another kid, Jason Kubel, a lefthanded hitter, who Hunter recalled getting jammed. “Kubel wasn’t afraid, but he’s a lefty hitter,” Hunter said. Cuddyer enthusiastically agreed with Hunter’s general claim that the Twins were psyched out. “It was never about talent in those series,” Cuddyer said. “We played with them all (14) of those games. I think that’s pretty accurate” what Hunter said.

Talk about a recurring fucking nightmare. The Twins had to go up against the Yankees in the ALDS in 2003, 2004, 2009, and 2010 and they won exactly two games. I always thought that the Yanks were simply superior but now we know it was because the Twinks turned into little girls against the Bombers.

Of course they were scared shitless. The ’03-’04 Yanks were relentless like Freddy Kruger. Clemens and A-Rod were at the height of their, um, strengths. Captain Jeter was still a functional shortstop and crushing all the pussy in sight. The Giambino had the power of the gold thong. If David Wells’s back holds up in the World Series and Jorge actually had the ability to throw out a base stealer, they go back-to-back. Fast forward to ’09-’10. CC killed it with Subways instead of steroids, the Core Four was getting older but knew what it took to win, and Joba’s son was too young to play on trampolines. Oh, those were the good old days. If I was Lew Ford, I wouldn’t want to get in the batter’s box either. You know it’s bad when you’d rather be a bitch in front of all of your teammates than face the Hammer of God.

Has a team ever been inside another team’s head like the Yankees were with the Twins? Even LeBron James has more poise in the fourth quarter of a Finals game. It reminds me of a hot chick I used to work with. One day, I was walking to the bathroom doing my best not to check her out as I passed her desk, and totally tripped in front of her. Just full-on spread eagle on the floor. Couldn’t talk to her again. Every time I did, I turned into Stuttering John. Sometimes, these things get into your head. You can’t help it. You just gotta go into the ALDS and get your ass whipped like the Twins did.

The Bombers need to get back to terrifying their opponents. I’m talking intimidation. Give Robbie a neck tattoo. Wheel David Robertson out to the mound like Hannibal Lecter. Make Hank Steinbrenner the new left fielder. Sun Tzu once wrote (probably not but roll with me on this), “You have to win the battle before the battle.” If the Yankees want to win the World Series in 2012, they need to make the entire MLB fear them. Or play the Twins everyday.

All right, so Joba’s going to survive and hopefully pitch again for the Yankees. At this point, I guess you can’t help but laugh a little and be happy things didn’t turn out worse. Let’s wish the big man well.

P.S.: All these people are idiots.

News out of Tampa is that Joba Chamberlain severely dislocated his ankle last night while jumping on a trampoline with his son. How bad was it? The injury apparently pierced the skin. Joba was recovering from Tommy John surgery and Casanova Cashman says he’s out indefinitely, which doesn’t sound promising.

It’s fucking insane how hard the Yankees’ bullpen is being hit by ridiculous injuries. David Robertson hurt himself taking the recycle out. Joba on the trampoline. Soriano is made of glass so I’m sure he’s going to hurt himself brushing his teeth. Can somebody wrap Mo up in bubble wrap? If anything happens to him, the pen is officially cursed. Apparently, Steinbrenner Field was built on the remnants of an Indian burial ground. Joe needs to forget all the motivational tricks and speakers. Bring the crazy lady from Poltergeist to camp.

I love Joba and I love trampolines, but how do you suffer a career-threatening injury on a tramp? When I was a kid, me and my friends would wrestle on trampolines, throw shit at each other, spray each with other with hoses, and didn’t get so much as a scratch. Also, his son is like 5 so I’m sure they were on the most embarrassingly small trampoline you could severely dislocate your ankle on. Can’t wait to hear about it from Sox fans. I know April Fool’s Day is a week away but somebody please tell me this is a joke.

USA Today

You would think Bobby Valentine could get through an entire Yanks-Sox spring training game without any controversy, but apparently it’s too difficult for Bobby-san. During last night’s tilt, the two teams were tied 4-4 after nine innings. Joe Girardi was dealing with a starting pitcher that was scratched when his wife went into labor and a thin bullpen after using five pitchers. Expecting a long bus ride back to Tampa and two split-squad games toady, Girardi told umpires he was ready to call it a day. Bobby V already had somebody called Clayton Mortensen warming up in the bullpen, and that set him off. Valentine said:

The umpire came over and said we couldn’t play. I don’t care about not playing. Why do I have to warm up my pitcher who is trying to make the team, coming in a tie game against the Yankees and maybe help him make the team? Instead, he has to walk off the mound and take a shower. Not very courteous.

I’m pretty sure Bobby V is a chick. That could be the only explanation. He’s like the girl that bitches and moans about everything. Get Bobby V flowers? Not his favorite color. Take him out for dinner? You know he doesn’t like Italian food. Nobody else nags about every single thing like Bobby V does except a woman. Who cares about some guy who’s never going to make the team warming up during a spring training game?

A few weeks ago he said he hated the Yankees and talked shit about Captain Jeter and A-Rod. Joe sticks up for his players. You talk shit about them, you don’t get the courtesy of knowing when we’re taking our balls and bats and heading home. Plus, he has some motivational speeches to prepare. Sorry, Bob. See you in the regular season.


With the addition of Andy Pettitte to the Yankees’ pitching staff, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that there’s not enough room for everybody in the starting rotation. Yesterday, Joe Girardi made it known that he doesn’t care about anyone’s performance in the past or the circumstances of their arrival to the Yanks, just the way they pitch now. He said:

If you don’t want somebody to take your job, pitch that way. It’s really simple. Let’s say the job was given to you and you were struggling. They’re going to look for someone to give the job to. You have to produce. That’s the world we live in in New York. It’s not like, ‘You’re this guy and we’re going to give you 20 starts no mater what happens.’ We don’t live in that world here.

In other words, put up or shut up, boys. What a welcome departure from the days of Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright. Michael Pineda’s been struggling with his velocity. Now it’s get it up or off to the bullpen. You can have all the motivational speeches in the world during spring training but nothing’s going to light the fire under a guy’s ass than the threat of losing his job. It’s nice to see athletes getting treated like the rest of us.

Even if Andy sucks, at least we’ll know which guys really deserve to start. But judging from today’s bullpen session and how much he and Russell Martin got each other’s juices flowing (no homo), it looks like Pineda, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova, and Freddy Garcia are going to have to pick their games up if they want to stay in the rotation.

CBS New York