Tag Archives: Alex Rodriguez

The End Of Joel Zumaya

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In 2006 I watched the Detroit Tigers eliminate my New York Yankees in 4 games in that year’s ALCS.

Of all of the torturous memories I have of that series (including A-Rod’s embarrassing performance) what really killed me was how helpless the Yankees looked against one man.

His name was Joel Zumaya.

Zumaya was Aroldis Chapman before he existed. Zumaya was a fireball throwing right-hander whose arms were covered in flames literally thanks to matching fire tattoos on his forearms.

My first memory of him was game 2 in Yankee stadium that year. After Justin Verlander pitched 6+ impressive innings and clung to a one-run lead Tigers manager Jim Leyland called on Zumaya to handle the middle of the Yankees order.

He did more than handle it, he dominated it.

He blew away Jason Giambi and Alex Rodriguez with ease as they looked helpless against his 100 mph fastball. As he walked off the mound I hoped to God that the Yankees would never run into him again.

Unfortunately I as well as many AL batters are getting their wish.

Zumaya ruptured another tendon in his pitching elbow yesterday ending another season in what has turned into a tragic career for him.

Zumaya hasn’t pitched a full season since his breakout year in 2006 and has missed the last two because his throwing arm can’t hold up.

What looked like the start of a promising career has turn into a repetition of setbacks that could end his career.

It’s sad because Zumaya had the kind of stuff that pitchers and coaches die for. The prospect of facing him in the AL for years and years in the seventh and eighth innings was a nightmare for me and any fan that watched their team play the Tigers.

Unfortunately for Zumaya and The Tigers that won’t be the case. His career likely is over before it ever really got started.

You always forget that the human arm wasn’t meant to throw that hard for extended periods of time. Zumaya found that out the hard way.

That ALCS performance will always be stuck in my head. I thought I was watching the next great reliever in the game who would dominate for years with an intimidating fastball that no one could hit.

I was… Unfortunately his arm didn’t see it that way.


The Debate: Curtis Granderson, AL MVP

AL MVP? You're looking at him.

So Adrian Gonzalez is going to win MVP in the American League. I’ve conceded this fact I know it will happen and there’s nothing that I can do about it.

Gonzalez has been everything that the Red Sox hoped for when they acquired him from San Diego. He has stabilized their lineup, hit for average and driven in a ton of runs. Basically without him in the lineup the Red Sox are not the same team they don’t have the same pop in the order and no one can really match what he does as far as production goes.

His MVP candidacy can only be trumped by two other Red Sox who are having great years in Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury and maybe a dark horse candidate in Jose Bautista can steal some votes. Besides that Gonzalez should run away with this thing as the Red Sox guide their way into the playoffs and to a possible AL East title…

Ok that was my take on the AL MVP race up until today when I did my normal weekly numbers look up and checked out league leaders and to see who else was ballin out of control currently. There was Gonzalez in all of his glory with a monstrous .348 batting average and a .408 on base percentage to go with 102 RBI. Those numbers, along with his great defense at first base can more than lock up the MVP race for him.

Mark Teixiera can thank Grandy for his power numbers.

But here’s the revelation that I have come to after further review and after getting my head together… Adrian Gonzalez is not the AL MVP if the season ended today… Curtis Granderson is.

Yep, I hear the calls from all of you that this is a homer pick seeing as how I am a super crazy Yankees fan and that I’m just finding a way to diminish Gonzalez’s value to the Red Sox. Honestly I’m not; I think Gonzalez is without question the best Red Sox player right now. He is putting up great numbers and has been a great addition to the Red Sox lineup.

With that said Granderson has been much more valuable.

With Alex Rodriguez fighting through injuries, Derek Jeter’s early season struggles, Mark Teixeira’s horrendous batting average and a ton of uncertainty in the rotation with Phil Hughes arm problems and injuries to Joba Chamberlain and Rafael Soriano it was Granderson that made all of that irrelevant.

Granderson took Teixeira’s number 3 spot in the lineup after A-Rod’s injury and took off. He’s producing power numbers at a career rate and is doing it with ease. Granderson has set career highs in home runs (36), RBI (103) and slugging (.591) and is doing it against left handed and right handed pitching.

For anyone that has followed Granderson throughout his career you know about his deficiencies against lefties. Last year he barely hit .200 against them and found himself on the bench in games against lefties and replaced in games by the likes of Austin Kearns. Yeah it wasn’t cool. This year he’s hitting .279 against them thanks to help from hitting Coach Teddy Long and looks as comfortable as ever.

Take a look at his stats for a minute and compare them to the three Red Sox Gonzalez, Pedroia and Ellsbury as well as Toronto outfielder Jose Bautista. Of all 5 contenders Granderson does have a ton more strikeouts with 135, trails Bautista, Gonzalez and Pedroia in on-base percentage and has the lowest batting average at .278. However, let’s be real about strikeouts these days, they don’t matter. This is a free swinging era and seeing high strikeout totals is nothing new. In 2006 when Ryan Howard won MVP he struck out 186 times, he also hit .300 with 50 home runs and 140 RBI. Also his OBP is almost .380 so who cares that he’s 11th in that category when you get on base that much.

Granderson has monster numbers in most offensive categories. He’s 1st in runs, triples and RBI, 2nd in Home runs and slugging, 3rd in OPS, 6th in walks and 8th in steals. Look at those runs for a minute; yes he is 11th in OBP but when he gets on base he scores almost every single time. Jacoby Ellsbury has scored 93 times, 2nd in the league, and is a league leader in steals… AND IS STILL ALMOST 30 RUNS BEHIND GRANDERSON! To get on base like that and score runs at that pace is silly. He has an outside shot at scoring 150 runs this season and breaking Jeff Bagwell’s modern day mark of 152 (the record is 198 in 1894 and that’s never getting broken).

He’s put Yankee batters in great position to knock in runs all year with his ability to get on base and his speed. As poor as Tex has been hitting this year his power numbers are still gaudy because he hits behind Granderson and has been able to get good pitches to hit, same for Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher.

(Side note: A dark horse candidate for MVP is Cano as well. Top 10 in four offensive categories, could have 200 hits, a gold glove at second base and is scorching hot in the second half. Yeah I know I’m giving my Yankees a little too much slurpage but they deserve it.

Granderson's not bad defensively either.

I honestly thought that the Yankees were going to be mediocre this year with the Red Sox getting Gonzalez and Carl Crawford as well as the Yankees pitching problems. However, you name the person and they’ve stepped up.

David Robertson has become one of the game’s best setup men, Granderson’s career year to ease the A-Rod ills, Ivan Nova emerging as the Yankees number 2 starter and Swisher finding his swing in the summer months have all lifted the Yankees to a possible playoff spot. This was an iffy year and guys have been stepping up and killing it.)

More than anything Granderson has become the most reliable man in the Yankee lineup. It’s almost as if you expect him to get on base and score runs every game. It doesn’t matter if he gets a hit or not he somehow finds a way to score a run. A few games ago Granderson went 0-3 and scored 2 runs… how does that happen? In yesterday’s 22-9 massacre of Oakland he had 2 hits and scored 4 runs… really?

He’s having a gaudy year and is as worthy of MVP as anyone in the league. If Bautista is truly MVP worthy why is his team playing so poorly even with him in the lineup? Also how can you distinguish one of the Red Sox players as MVP?

Who is truly more valuable Ellsbury, Pedroia or Gonzalez? If you take any of them out of the lineup will the Red Sox still be effective offensively? Who makes the other two guys better? Hell David Ortiz missed time in the lineup two weeks ago and the Sox went 4-4 and fell behind the Yankees in the AL East momentarily so maybe he should get MVP votes.

The point I’m making is it’s hard to choose an MVP from a team where there are three candidates because really who is more valuable. With Granderson you see his value and his effect on the Yankees lineup from top to bottom. He sets the tone, drives in runs, and has made other players in the lineup better.

Without Granderson the Yankees wouldn’t be in the position that they are in. His big numbers and big plays have the Yankees sitting pretty in the AL Wildcard and possibly winning the AL East.

He deserves props and respect for the season that he is having, but more than anything he deserves to be the AL MVP.


Big Z’s Last Tantrum

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Zambrano's last tantrum might've been the last draw.

Carlos Zambrano needs to go away… now!!

I wrote about Bryce Harper’s attitude issues yesterday but he has an excuse, he’s 18. He has time to grow out of his issues and become a man, what’s Zambrano’s excuse?

Last night he allowed 5 home runs and was so infuriated that he threw at Chipper Jones twice and was ejected. After being tossed he went down to his locker, cleaned it out and went home. Apparently he’s considering retirement… if I were the Cubs I’d let him.

Here’s how ridiculous Zambrano has become; do you know who else gave up 5 home runs and had a bad night last night? C.C. Sabathia. Did he throw a tantrum? No. Did he lash out at people? No. Did he clean out his locker and embarrass the Yankees with his actions? No.

He took his beating like a man, sat down and will work through his issues. Zambrano threw a hissy fit (again) and made himself look like a fool (again).

Zambrano and his child like behavior has pretty much run its course with everyone involved within the organization. He has proven that he can’t behave like a professional baseball player and can’t handle the rigors of an entire baseball season as a marquee pitcher.

The Cubs have given him chance after chance and the only option left is to send him home for good.

Rick Sutcliffe of Baseball Tonight was asked if Zambrano’s teammates should accept him back onto the team and he said no.

I agree with him 100%. Zambrano is not a good fit for this or any other major league team right now. The Cubs, who are in the midst of another poor season, do not need Zambrano to infect the wonderful young talent that is blossoming right now in Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney. Castro and Barney are going to be good pieces to build around and do not need a baby like Zambrano to influence their decisions.

The biggest thing for Zambrano is that he needs to walk away for awhile to help himself. He needs anger management, self-reflection, something.

The sad thing is that Z is a hell of a pitcher who has thrown a no-hitter, won 20 games and has made All-Star teams. In 2008 I had an argument with my buddy Scully about how the Yankees should’ve sent Alex Rodriguez to the Cubs for Aremis Ramirez and Zambrano because at the time I felt the Cubs were putting so much into Kerry Wood and Mark Prior that they weren’t noticing that Zambrano was their best pitcher.

I knew it, the Cubs eventually did, but Zambrano has driven all of us to the point that we just don’t care anymore.

That’s why he’s got to walk away now and salvage his career. Zambrano ha a lot left in his tank and can be a good starter for some team down the road.

Just not the Cubs. That ship officially sailed last night when Zambrano tried to hurt Chipper Jones and hurt his image, the Cubs, Mike Quade and anyone associated within the organization.

I’m sorry Big Z but you gotta go. You’ve been hurting yourself, now you’re trying to hurt others.

No organization, not even one with the patience like the Cubs have been showing can put up with this any longer.


Random Thoughts Vol.2

Hit me... I dare you.

It’s been a month… time for more random thoughts.

I’m pretty sure that even if Dontrelle Willis’s improbable comeback as a pitcher fizzles out, he can be a DH or first baseman with that bat.

The Pirates are now dead… I knew it couldn’t last.

FC Barcelona losing to Chivas USA is the equivalent of Michigan losing to Appalachian State.

Justin Verlander might throw 6 more no hitters this year… I’m not joking about that either.

The U.S. Women didn’t choke.

(I mean did you watch the game? Japan never died. They kept fighting back and took advantage of the opportunities that were given to them. Sure the U.S. missed chances in penalty kicks where the Japan goaltender all of a sudden looked like Ken Dryden. However, you can’t say that they choked the game away when Japan played well in the face of adversity. Sometimes teams give games away but most times teams pull victory from the jaws of defeat. That’s what Japan did.)

Isn’t it funny that Ben Roethlisberger provided good off-season news for the Steelers as opposed to everyone else?

I’m surprised Steve Williams didn’t rip Tiger Woods even more than he did.

The Red Sox have not had a solid starting staff for the entire season with bullpen issues… yet have been in first place since June. And you think Adrian Gonzalez doesn’t deserve MVP?

Randy Moss aint done… seriously.

Are Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand the more extreme version of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter?

Seguin and Marchand are really enjoying winning the Stanley Cup.

I hate Merrill Hoge… but he was right about Tim Tebow…

And LeBron James would back him up wouldn’t he.

(My least favorite basketball player who shrinks in the moment defending the most overrated athlete not named Jimmer Fredette… god has a sense of humor.)

Kevin Durant dropped 66 at the Rucker… somewhere Russell Westbrook was seething.

Nice to see that Shea Weber got $7.5 million in arbitration… he’ll get that when he’s a Red Wing next year too.

The most aggravating rotation in baseball would consist of A.J. Burnett, John Lackey, Barry Zito, Edinson Volquez and Zach Greinke… with Burnett leading the league in headaches.

(I hate A.J. Burnett.)

The Eagles are the new Heat.

Osi Umenyiora can talk about a new deal all he wants. However, if he follows up another big sack season with a small sack season… kick rocks.

Ocho and Brady… Jesus.

What do you think Carson Palmer will do with all that money now that he’s retired?

Kyle Orton has lost his starting jobs to Jay Cutler, Rex Grossman and Tim Tebow…if he went on a 12 month bender I wouldn’t judge him.

Oklahoma is no.1 in the coaches’ poll. The last team to start the season no.1 and finish it as such… 2004 USC… good luck Boomer Sooner.

Strasburg is coming back… *giddy face*.

Shaq and Barkley on TNT… I need my cable back and fast.

The Red Sox traded for Erik Bedard to help their rotation… his ERA at Fenway is near 7 lifetime… I’m starting to feel ok that the Yankees didn’t get anything before the deadline.

Ryan Howard in his last 3 games has 3 home runs and 6 RBI, yep it must be August.

Michael Irvin on the cover of a gay magazine to promote equality of all people. Don’t know if I would’ve done it but very gutsy.

I win... again.

Duke being investigated for violations in recruiting… told you that no one is clean anymore.

When is Verlander’s next start again?

(We’re at a point with Verlander that he is must see TV. Verlander throws harder than anyone else in the league and his location has improved to the point where now he is close to pinpoint accurate. If you play the Tigers and Verlander is up on the mound then you might as well take it as a loss. He’s currently baseball’s best hurler and he hasn’t even hit his prime yet. Imagine this guy in 4 years… scary.)

Yani Tseng is the most dominant athlete in the world right now. And I am well aware that she is a 22 year-old female golfer and not many people watch women’s golf, but you should watch her.

Dan Uggla has a 25 game hitting streak… yet is batting .213… ummm?

NFL players like talking smack about how bad Roger Goodell is in the media, yet the signed this new CBA like everything is ok. Either take action or shut the hell up.

Is it wrong that I’m more excited for Syracuse football than Ohio State football? Keep in mind that I’m an OSU grad though I grew up with the ‘Cuse.

When A-rod retires there will be no specials on his greatness, no lauding over his accomplishments… hell there maybe a party thrown just for the fact that we never get to hear his name again.

(I haven’t been on A-Rod in a while but he’s like a bad ex-girlfriend he always finds a way to drive you crazy.

Really A-rod… illegal poker rings? And you still go after MLB and the Yankees tell you not to?

The Yankees are in a pennant race, one game back of Boston with the biggest part of the season approaching and you decide to blow a few thousand in front of low lifes, coke users and violent outcasts.

Eat your heart out Red Sox Nation.

I always say that I’m over A-rod but I really mean it this time. If this is true and A-rod did violate MLB policy then the Yankees should find a loophole in his deal, drop him like a bad habit and let Eduardo Nunez go through his growing pains at third.

I’m over the A-rod drama, I’m over the fact that there is always something with him and I’m ready to move on from him. Hopefully the Yankees brass feels the same.)

Kate Upton’s a Yankees fan, thank you God.

Had to end it off positively. Have you ever seen Kate Upton? That would make anyone feel good even when your third baseman is a perennial screw up.


Looking Back At Derek Jeter’s Greatest Moments

This Derek Jeter guy has been pretty good.

Lets start from the beginning in 1996 (no its not actually the beginning but it’s the official beginning of the legacy of Derek Sanderson Jeter)…

 

It was October 9th 1996 when the legend of “Captain Clutch” began. Jeter came up to bat in the 8th inning with the Yankees down 4-3 to the Baltimore Orioles in the ALCS when he drove an opposite field shot off of Armando Benitez over the right field wall to tie the score at 4 that led to a 5-4 victory in 11 innings.

 

(yeah I know Jeffrey Maier interfered but a homer is a homer. Eat that O’s fans.)

 

It led to the first World Series in his MLB career as the Yankees disposed of the Atlanta Braves 3 weeks later.

 

1998: after Jeter asserted himself as one of the league’s premier shortstops with a .324 average, 19 homeruns and 84 RBI, Jeter leads the Yankees to their second title in a 4 game sweep of the San Diego Padres where he batted .353.

 

1999: Jeter led the league in hits and was second in average and runs and also drove in a career high 102. He batted no less than .350 in any playoff series as he led the Yankees to their third title in four years by beating the Atlanta Braves once again.

 

2000: after another stellar season (.339/15/73) Jeter hit .409 with 2 homeruns in the World Series to lead the Yankees past the New York Mets in five games and earn World Series MVP honors. He also won All-Star game MVP honors as well.

 

Jeter's first clutch moment came with a big assist.

2001: no the Yankees didn’t win the World Series that year, but two plays added to his legacy and defined him as a player.

 

Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS: Terrance Long smacked a double into right field that was surely going to score Jeremy Giambi and lead the A’s to a sweep of the Yankees who had just lost two games at Yankee Stadium. Shane Spencer threw a terrible ball into the infield that missed every Yankee on the field and was headed for the A’s dugout.

 

All of a sudden out of nowhere Derek Jeter swoops in, scoops the ball up, tosses it to Jorge Posada who then tags out Giambi and the Yankees win the game and then the series.

 

(My buddy Scully said something funny about that play. He said that the thing people forget about that play is that Jeter was terribly out of position. If he had played in his natural spot then he doesn’t make that play. This is true. Jeter had no business being anywhere near that ball… but he was, and no one is complaining about it at all especially me.)

 

Game 4 of the 2001 World Series (or the Byung-Hyun Kim nightmare series): you couldn’t set this up any more perfect than it was. 9/11, the world watching as the Yankees lifted the city on its back and tried to win another title to uplift the entire city. The clock strikes 12 and for the first time in baseball history there was baseball in November. Derek Jeter has a 3-2 count and drills an opposite field homerun and beats the Diamondbacks to draw the series even at two and gains the nickname “Mr. November.”

 

(Side Note: I’m over the 2004 blowup against Boston, I got past Randy Johnson’s failures, the loss to Florida in 2003, and the fact that we couldn’t beat the Angels for 350 years.

 

Mr. November.

However, I will never, ever get over losing that series to the D’Backs. We had them reeling with the debacle that was BH Kim. The drop back was perfect, the world was finally cheering for the Yankees, we were supposed to win and bring a title home for the city to celebrate and drown out the horror that was 9/11.

 

Even after we lost 15-2 in game 6 I was sure that we would win game 7 especially after Alphonso Soriano drove a Curt Schilling fastball over the wall and gave us a 2-1 with Mariano Rivera coming in. Then all I can remember was a Luis Gonzalez bloop, Bob Brenly jumping up and down with his palms wide open and then 8 years of steroids, Carl Pavano and the follies of A-Rod.

 

Even after the 2009 title the one that got away in 2001 still stings.)

 

2003: Jeter is named the 11th Captain in team history. This is after he dislocated his shoulder trying to stretch out a triple in a game on opening day. He doesn’t know the meaning of taking it easy. Maybe someone should explain that to Hanley Ramirez.

 

2004: you knew our fans were harsh… but we booed Derek Jeter in the midst of a 0-32 slump… come on buddy. This is the Captain, Captain Clutch, the man behind the flip, “Mr. November” and all of those monikers that made us gush over him for years and years… and we boo him because he has a slump?

 

Still cant believe this.

That’s another great thing about Jeter, he understood the fans frustrations. He didn’t mock them or bash them or run down his accomplishments, he went out there and worked it out. He knew Yankees fan expected and demanded a lot and instead of getting mad he fought through it… and did this…

 

Jeter tracks down a pop fly in the top of the 12th inning in a game in May against the Red Sox… he makes the catch but his moment sends him crashing into the crowd leaving him with a bloody face. It was a game in May people… and it doesn’t matter, the legend continues.

 

2006: have I ever mentioned how ticked off I am that he didn’t win the AL MVP award that year? Led the AL in average and runs, had 214 hits, hit .381 with runners in scoring position… and finished second to Justin Morneau. Morneau had a nice year but didn’t finish in the top 5 of any statistical category except RBI where he finished second. He wasn’t as consistent as Jeter was for that entire season and still won MVP.

 

(did I mention that in the voting there were three Minnesota Twins in the top 6 of ? How can a guy win MVP when people think there are 3 guys that were MVP on the same team? Also I still want to pimp slap Joe Cowley for voting him 6th in the MVP ballot because “you could plug another guy in that lineup and that guy would still have his numbers.”

 

Precisely… just like the Twins did last year when Michael Cuddyer batted in Morneau’s spot and had a monster year… idiot.)

 

2009: Jeter hits in the leadoff spot for the first time in his career and bats .334, leads the AL with a .406 on-base percentage  and is second in the majors with 212 hits. He also became the Yankees all-time hits leader with 2722 passing Lou Gehrig and leads the Yankees to their 27th title and garners the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the year.

 

(This was the year when it hit me that Derek Jeter was slowly becoming the greatest Yankee of all-time. He was approaching the hit record, games played record, stolen bases record and there was a chance that he could be the only Yankee in the history of the franchise to collect 3000 hits…chew on that for a second.

 

World Series champion for the 4th time.

Not Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, not any of them had 3000 hits all with the Yankees… Jeter would be the only one.

 

By the end of this year Jeter will have played more games in Pinstripes than any other man in history. By the end of his career he may score more runs, have more doubles and total bases too.

 

That’s why the contract talks this offseason were so important and disheartening to Jeter. The Yankees knew how much he means to the organization, what his place in history is and where he stands in the fans eyes. He needed to finish his career here and if it took a few extra dollars then so be it. When it kept dragging on and sports talk radio and the ESPN talking heads put in their two cents about Jeter’s worth it became a question as to whether or not an aging shortstop coming off of his worst season in 2010 was worth $17 million per season.

 

Note, you didn’t hear the same talk about Jayson Werth receiving $126 million for two good seasons in Philadelphia but I digress.

 

Who cares that he will never bat .330 again, or be as good of a defender or any of that. Jeter personified the Yankees in each of his previous 16 years and he deserved what ever he wanted. If he would’ve gotten his 3000th hit as a Kansas City Royal it wouldn’t have meant squat.

 

Jeter is a Yankee. He is the greatest Yankee of my time and possibly ever. Isn’t that worth $17 million a year?)

 

2010: Jeter wins his 4th gold glove. Everyone whines and complains about zone efficiency, range, blah blah blah… sorry had to put that in for the haters.

 

2011: bottom of the third inning on a 3-2 count Derek Jeter takes a David Price slider and crushes it over the wall for his third homerun of the season and his 3000th hit. As he rounded the bases I thought back to every great moment I’ve witnessed from him and smiled from ear to ear.

 

Jeter is probably my favorite athlete of all-time. He is the man’s man whether he’s hustle out a slow grounder, jumping off of his back foot to through a cross body dart to first base, diving in the stands for a foul ball, or picking up Jessica Biel, Jessica Alba or any other babe that he’s had in his dating circle.

 

Mr. 3000.

Throughout his career he’s been bashed in books for his defense, ridiculed by Gary Sheffield for not being black enough, and through it all he’s come through for the Yankees and their fans over and over again.

 

He’s been the quintessential leader, one of the game’s best winners, and has provided me with too many memories for me to even count. Today was more than just another day in the eyes of baseball insiders and announcers and television stations.

 

For us it was just another day in the amazing life of Derek Sanderson Jeter who has made the fans of New York happy as can be from the first time he took the field on May 29th 1995. The best thing that we have three more years of great memories left.

 

And if any of them are like a 5 hit day with a game-winning hit on the same day as your 3000th hit, then all of those $60 million dollars will be worth it.


The Return Of Random Thoughts

Wait a minute... we're still over .500? High five!

You know what we haven’t done in a while? A random thoughts blog.

Just things I’ve thought about that maybe you have as well in the last few weeks of watching sports.

With so much going on as far as sports since March Madness I think it’s time to do some rehashing.

So without further ado… HERE WE GO!

Is Zach Greinke really worth it? I mean he is 7-3 but he’s got a 5.66 ERA.

Anybody else think Kenny Williams is lying about the Adam Dunn deal?

Josh Harrelson a year ago was buried on the bench at Kentucky with Enes Kanter coming in. A year later he was a key component in the Wildcats Final Four run and will get minutes off of the bench for the Knicks. Life.

Hopefully the Sedin Twins take boxing lessons this summer.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, please gain 20 pounds.

Even though she is six foot five how many of us would hit on Jan Vesely’s girlfriend?

Federer couldn’t beat Nadal, Nadal can’t beat Djokovic… So who’s he going to have a problem with?

Why is it that Joe Girardi is the only person who thinks Derek Jeter should lead off?

David Ortiz couldn’t hit anything for the last two years now all of a sudden he’s hitting .301 with 17 home runs and 49 RBI… hmmmm….

Lebron James dunking on a kid doesn’t help his image.

(honestly at this point LeBron could cure cancer and we’d still hate him. And yes I’m serious about that statement.)

Mario Chalmers is now my new least favorite athlete in the world.

Did any team in the NBA Draft really help itself?

Sabine Lisicki also plays tennis. We'll talk about that later.

Nicklas Lidstrom came back for his 20th season. Can we engrave his name on the Norris Trophy in 2012 already?

Lets face it, Dany Heatley will never be “the guy.”

Neither will Andy Murray.

Anybody else happy that Brian Cashman corrected Alex Rodriguez by saying that Robinson Cano is better that Jose Reyes?

Can I call Austin Rivers “Baby Doc?”

Did Jose Bautista really just score the most votes in All-Star voting history?

How awesome was it that Virginia won the lacrosse title?

(think about this for a second. In the last two years lacrosse’s two most controversial teams fought back from media hell to win a title. Last years Duke team won after three years of dealing with the ugly aftermath of a stripper rape allegation and this year Virginia won after one of it’s own murdered women’s lacrosse player Yeardley Love.

The image of the Cavs men’s team was brutally tarnished and the turmoil around both mens and women’s teams was enough make anyone not want to put on pads and a helmet and sprint out onto the field again. However, Virginia fought through it’s adversity and came out a winner. Their win over Maryland in the Memorial Day title game cast a fantastic light on the team an buried whatever demons were left from the 2011 season.

Very commendable indeed.)

Are the Pirates really a game and a half out of first place?

Who the hell is Mike Morse?

Brian Wilson needs to shave that beard… Now!

Is Jim Riggleman; a, a gangster, b, salty or c, out of his bleeping mind?

Iman Shumpert… And yes I’m still stuck on that pick.

How funny would it be if the Winnipeg Jets won the southeast division this year?

(Winnipeg is six hours north of Minneapolis.)

It’s July… NFL step on it.

(I’m serious. The New York Giants tick me off, Eli Manning makes bad throws, I’ll see 85 Coughlin faces and understand each of them… AND IF I MISS ONE FREAKING GAME I WILL HUNT ROGER GOODELL AND DEMAURICE SMITH DOWN!!!)

By the way, if the MLB locks out in November then there is a real possibility that Hockey may be the only game in town come 2012….

New theory behind the Flyers trades; maybe Paul Holmgren used Jeff Carter and Mike Richards just to get the Winter Classic in Philly and then dumped them afterwards… Nope, trade still makes no sense.

I know Brett Favre is retired, but I’m still uncertain.

Quick, 3 things about Luke Picknell. Ready and… GO!

Is Maryland football a better job than Connecticut football? Randy Edsall are you listening?

Seattle Sounders FC draws more fans than the Mariners…

Anybody else think Cam Newton will bomb?

I still have no caption for this.

No seriously are the Pirates really only a game and a half out of first place?

(why is this not a huge story? The Pirates haven’t had a winning season in almost 20 years. That’s back to the Barry Bonds and Bobby Bonilla days.

Ever since then they have traded every and I mean every good player that they’ve had and have been in a never ending rebuild mode. Now here there are with Andrew McCutcheon as a dark horse MVP candidate, an All-Star in Joel Hanrahan and the Brewers, Reds and Cards all looking back in disbelief.

If they make the playoffs they are the story if the year hands down.)

Sabine Lisicki… Mmmmmm.

Will Tiger Woods fade into oblivion?

Even though Roger Federer has “lost it” he’s still the third best tennis player in the world.

And lastly… Dirk, a $90,000 bottle of champagne and pictures with Birdman and Lil’ Wayne… In LeBron and D-Wade’s backyard.

Cough on that Miami.


Baseball Preview Day 5: Jeter At A Crossroad

Derek Jeter is now in the twilight of his career.

In my early years of watching baseball I fell in love with a bunch of players. I loved Andre Dawson and his power and defensive skills, I loved Ryne Sandberg because I always wanted to be a middle infielder, and I loved Mark McGwire and his unmatched power at the plate.

However, I’ve never loved a player like I do Derek Jeter.

Ever since his rookie year in 1996 I’ve followed Jeter closely, defended him in silly arguments against haters who downplay his importance to the Yankees. I’ve bought his Jordan brand sneakers, three screen-print jerseys, annoyed every one of my friends by stating his greatness (or overstating it depending on who you ask.).

To say that I’ve been a little obsessed with Jeter is an understatement. Jeter has been the quintessential Yankee. He has five rings, a World Series MVP, he’s made plays that have defied logic, he’s come through with clutch hits so many times that I’ve lost count. When he retires he will be remembered as possibly the greatest Yankee ever. And that day of retirement is slowly approaching.

Jeter is now 37 years old. He is coming off of the worst statistical season of Hall of Fame career. He set career lows in batting average and on-base percentage and had his lowest totals in home runs and RBI since 2003 when he missed the first two months with a separated shoulder. There were times when I remembered watching him at the plate and I said to myself “maybe he should move down in the lineup.” In fact I wrote a blog about it in anger. Yep I was angry at Derek Jeter for the first time in my life.

However, it’s not his fault that he’s no longer a top of the order guy. It’s called age and no one can escape it.

Jeter is at the point of his career where you can’t count on him to come through in the late innings like he did in the early 2000’s. He can’t sprint across the field and flip balls to Jorge Posada, cant range to his left and jump off of his back foot and throw a strike to first base from mid-air; it’s not feasible at this point.

Unfortunately plays like "The Flip" will no longer be feasable for Jeter to perform.

However, his demise in some ways has been greatly exaggerated. Last year after winning his 4th gold glove, critics bashed Jeter’s selection saying that he was unworthy of the award due to his lack of range and how his saber metrics numbers just didn’t add up.

(Ok, listen. People hate Derek Jeter I get it. People have gone to great lengths to downplay his skills in the field whether it is in books on defense or with this saber metrics crap. But saber metrics is the most meaningless mathematical equation in sports. That’s right, more than RPI rating, passer rating and the BCS. Saber metrics is some stupid number that judges a players skill through objective views and people use it as a basis to prove that some players are better than others.

Last year people were saying that Alexei Ramirez deserved the Gold Glove because his saber metrics numbers were better than Jeter’s… Ramirez 20 errors and a .974 fielding percentage… Jeter led the league with the fewest errors (20) and the highest fielding percentage (.989). It’s like going car shopping; do you want the car loan with the highest interest rate or the lowest one? Exactly. Shut up.)

I understand to the eye that Jeter isn’t as good in the field as he was 10 years ago, but he’s not a liability like Manny Ramirez. He’s still a very capable shortstop and is able to make plays when they are needed.

What does scare me is that this year his regression could coincide with the simultaneous regression of Alex Rodriguez and that could spell trouble if the Yankees have two DH’s playing on the left side of the infield and Jorge Posada is already occupying that spot as we speak.

The fact is that Jeter isn’t the only player at a crossroads in an organization that is at one collectively. This Yankees team is by far the weakest one in years. There are questions about Jeter, A-Rod, the pitching, the youth, who’s going to hit, who’s on their way out and what’s next for the Yankees after this year?

Deals that need to get done, and soon, are for Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher. Jorge Posada is on his way to retirement and Jesus Montero is waiting in the wings to take his place. The Yankees farm system is one of the best in the Majors and Brian Cashman and company are wondering whether or not to let em rip, or keep spending money on free agents.

Jeter is essentially the least of the Yankees worries. However, he still represents a large part of this team.

He is still the face of the Yankees. He is 76 hits away from becoming the only Yankee to have 3,000 hits during his life time with the team. He is on the verge of owning 5 more Yankee records during the next 3-4 years in New York. He is still the main attraction of the team even in his final years.

That’s why this fall’s contract negotiation mess was so disheartening for all that were involved. Jeter was asking for too much money even with all of the possible approaching accolades and the Yankees front office let the talks drag on and become public. It left a sour taste in Jeter’s mouth as it did with the fans and the front office.

It made me wonder how the most famous player, and arguably the game’s most important one, could seemingly be undervalued by the team that he brought back to prominence.

Derek Jeter face has been that of the Yankees and other business ventures off of the field.

A deal did get done but not without more public anguish. How could they spend almost 60 million on a guy that is coming off of his worst season and aint getting younger? Here’s my counter, how did Mike Hampton, Carlos Beltran, Mo Vaughn and Albert Belle get gigantic deals when they never really proved their worth?

Jeter’s deal is for services rendered. He was the best shortstop in the league for years. He led the Yankees to 5 titles; the team has made the playoffs every year that he has been in the league except one. He’s an 11-time all-star, SI sportsman of the year, was one of the game’s most consistent players for over 11 consecutive years. If anyone deserves one last big pay day it’s him.

Am I biased? Of course I am I’m a Yankees fan. I’ve seen five parades in Manhattan; I have countless championship tees and hats since 1996. I’ve spent hours of my life in front of TV living and dying with this team in the last 15 years and it’s been due to their success thanks to Derek Jeter.

Was he as powerful as Miguel Tejada or Alex Rodriguez? No. was he better defensively than Omar Vizquel? No. was he a better hitter than Nomar Garciaparra? No. did he play at a higher level than any of those other guys from that era of shortstops, more consistently and with more success than any of them? Yes.

That’s who Jeter was and is. He’s not intimidating, he’s not going to leave you in awe of his raw talent and skill, but he will outwork you and leave it all on the field when it’s all said and done. That’s why Jeter ran into seats for a foul ball during a May game against the Red Sox, that’s why he became Mr. November versus the Diamondbacks, that’s time and time again in every situation people counted on Jeter to lead the Yankees to victory, and he did it more times than not.

But those days are unfortunately over. As Jeter inches closer to every conceivable Yankee record he also comes closer to the end of his brilliant career.

This Derek Jeter that we’ll see in the next 3-4 years won’t be as great as the one that we’ve seen in the previous 15, but it will be something to watch a guy I grew up with and loved every time I watched him play become possibly the greatest Yankee to ever put on a uniform.

No book on defense, over analysis with saber metrics or criticism from an outsider can ever take that away.


Baseball Preview Day 2: The Present And Future Of Prince Fielder

With free agency looming, all eyes are finally on Prince Fielder.

This is the era of the first baseman. We went through the shortstop revolution in the late 90’s with Omar Vizquel, Nomar Garciaparra, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez and now the bulk of talent in the field has shifted to the right side of the infield.

Joey Votto was the NL MVP last year. Ryan Howard has won one as well and has a NLCS MVP to match. Mark Teixeira is a perennial all-star and considered to be the best defensive first baseman in the game. Then there’s Adrian Gonzalez, Miguel Cabrera and of course the best of them all Albert Pujols (no explanation needed.).

One guy who gets lost in the sauce is Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder.

The son of former 50 home run hitter Cecil is the same hulking mass that his father is, but is a much more refined hitter.

He’s good for close to or over 100 walks a season to go with 30+ home runs and 100+ RBI that he averages a year. He puts up Pujols on-base numbers, Howard power numbers and has improved his defense so much that he’s close to Teixeira’s level.

So why then is Fielder never mentioned on the same breathe as his associates?

It goes something like this; as talented and as big of a threat he is at the plate, Fielder is more comparable to Milton Bradley than he is to Pujols, Howard or Teixeira.

Ryan Braun maybe the Brewers franchise face, but Fielder's presence makes his job easier at the plate.

While it’s not that extreme, Fielder is rougher around the edges than his cooler fellows at first base. You will see Fielder throwing bats and gloves in the dugout after a strikeout, going chest to chest with an ump, you’ve seen him wait to beat the pulp out of Guillermo Mota after being hit. Not to say that he is too volatile, but Fielder has had his share of questionable moments.

As far as baseball goes the reason why he’s not mentioned in the same breath with the other first basemen could be due to location, geographically and divisionally and the fact that unlike the other men Fielder isn’t the face of his team.

Fielder plays in the same division as Votto, who powered the Reds to an NL Central title last year, and Pujols, who… well, is Albert Pujols. Being in the same division as two of the top 5 first basemen in the game gets you less airtime on Baseball Tonight and in the national press. What also doesn’t help his name is Ryan Braun. It’s not Braun’s fault that he’s one of the games brightest stars and since his debut 4 years ago he’s been a stud. Braun is the face of the franchise because he has an appeal and a quality about him that makes him a likeable guy.

It also doesn’t hurt to be a lifetime .300 hitter whose strikeout totals have declined each of the last 3 seasons. It also doesn’t hurt to hit in front of Fielder whose presence in the lineup allows for Braun to get the kind of at-bats that he gets.

That could change after this year.

This is a huge year for the Brewers and Fielder. With the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright going through Tommy John surgery and the Brewers picking up Zach Greinke from Kansas City, the Brew Crew have great positioning to be the team to knock Cincinnati off of their perch in the division.

However, if they don’t resign Prince Fielder then it could be a one-year deal.

Fielder is at the end of a 2 year, 18 million dollar and is looking at a huge payday this offseason. One that the Brewers wont be able to afford unless Fielder takes a hometown discount.

Losing Fielder would be a huge blow to the team and its lineup. Despite his attitude issues Fielder is a great commercial guy and is fun loving type of player (see the team’s home run celebration when he stomped on home plate two years ago.). He is a great clubhouse guy who brings everyone together in a funny way. If he leaves the Brewers lose a fan favorite and a huge bat in the middle of its lineup.

Sure he had an off year last season but Fielder is a .290/33/110 guy with a .400 OBP waiting to happen. You can’t replace that anywhere.

Fielder is volatile, but he's also lots of fun.

His presence in the lineup makes Braun, Corey Hart and Casey McGehee so much better and gives pitchers fits. Losing Fielder would put more pressure on a rotation that is already iffy even with Greinke and Yovani Gallardo at the top.

However, the Brewers can’t pay him 20 million a year, it’s impossible. Not in that market, with that team. Their only options are to play out the year and see what happens or trade him now and get what they can for him.

If they do trade him, they’ll get a ton of talent back. Fielder is arguably a top 5 first basemen in an era where there are a ton of them to choose from.

Though he’s not a huge name like Albert Pujols, or the rising star the Joey Votto is, Fielder is one of the best in the game at his position.

Trust when I say that Fielder won’t have the same year that he had last year. This year will be huge, and someone whether it is the Brewers or another team will pay for it.


Are The Yankees The Next Empire To Fall

Was the Soriano deal a sign of a possible downturn for the New York Yankees?

Did you notice a trend that has happened in sports in the last ten years?

The death of the traditional power.

Think about this for a second; how many traditional sports powers took hits to their pride and luster in the last 10-15 years?

In college football Notre Dame still thinks that they will wake up the echoes in a matter if time and Michigan still considers itself to be the gold standard even when no when, I mean no one, wanted its head coaching job after the ousting of Rich Rod. Throw in Miami and Florida State and four of the games premier programs are in the middle of the pack as far as relevance .

In college basketball its Kentucky who still prides itself on being an elite program but hasn’t made a final four since Tubby Smith’s first year. Arizona, though they have an excuse, and recently UCLA, which is stunning especially after the run they had at the beginning of Ben Howland’s regime, have all fallen to the middle of the pack in recent years.

In hockey its been the Maple Leafs and Canadiens. Did you know once upon a time in the 90’s that the Habs had the same number of championships (24) as the Yankees? Ever since their last cup in 1993 the franchise has been plagued by unfortunate injuries (the Saku Koivu cancer cancer scare), lackluster performances (have they had a player in the top 20 in scoring in the last 20 years?), and scandal (hi Kostitsyn twins). Oh yeah don’t forget the whole Patrick Roy asking out of Montreal fiasco that has probably led to a curse on the team. Not that we’re counting or anything.

Dont get me started on the Maple Leafs. They havent won a title in over 40 years and in the last 10 they’ve resembled the Toronto Raptors more than the franchise that has the second most cups (13) to the Habs.

(Side note: Shouldn’t Gary Bettman step in and help fix this team. The NHL needs to Leafs to be good just like the NBA needs the Lakers, or baseball needs the Dodgers to be important. This is one of the leagues flagship franchises in the country’s capital. The hockey hall of fame is there for goodness sakes. The fact that the Leafs haven’t made the playoffs in seven years and haven’t been relevant since their last division title in 2000 is a little more concerning than the fledgling Phoenix Coyotes, who should still be in Winnipeg. Yep, Bettman is back on my bad side.)

There haven't been many good times in Toronto for awhile.

In the NFL its been the Cowboys, Redskins and Raiders. All of these franchises have slid to mediocrity due in part to their ridiculous owners and their bad habits of spending money while letting the football side of things slip through their grasp.

The Redskins haven’t won a division title since their Super Bowl run in 1991 and have been a running joke since Daniel Snyder took over. They’ve made the playoffs three times with only one win to show for it. However, what’s defined them is their penchant for over paying players well past their prime. Bruce smith, Deion Sanders, Mark Brunell, Jason Taylor, and that’s for starters. Throw in their horrible coaching history lately (hi Jim Zorn, and Steve Spurring) and you wonder why fans want Dan Snyder’s head on a stake a la MacBETH.

For the Cowboys its a combination of Jerry Jones overbearing style and the lack of productivity on the field that has hindered them.

In the 90’s Dallas owned football with three titles and a high-powered offense anchored by three hall-of-farmers. Then after their last Super Bowl win over Pittsburgh in Super Bowl 30, the team hasn’t seen a playoff victory.

They’be been plagued by bad QB play, poor decision making by Jones, which includes firing Bill Parcells and trading two number one picks for Roy Williams (I’m sure the Lions still can’t believe that one) and not getting much from heralded draft picks (Mike Jenkins that’s you). Be honest, what do you know about the Cowboys now, a franchise with a rich history from Roger Staubach to Troy Amman, or their ridiculously expensive stadium with a 80 yard flatscreen in the middle of it?

As far as the Raiders go… let’s put it like this; they haven’t been over .500 since getting smoked by the Bucs in Super Bowl 37 over 8 years ago. If you want to know why then take a look at Hue Jackson’s press conference to introduce him as the team’s new coach this past week. Owner Al Davis, looking as decrepit as ever, sat at the table and ranted about Tom Cable’s personal life, comparisons of Jason Campbell to Cam Newton, and seemed more out of his mind than normal.

This is the guy who blew up Lane Kiffin at a press conference years ago, fined Cable for not executing a game plan he wrote out, drafted JaMarcus Russell, and has made so many horrible personnel decisions that no coach or player should come near Oakland. Poor Hue Jackson, I don’t think he knows what he’s getting into.

Before the Boston Celtics climbed back into contention in the NBA they had grown into a punch line. Gone were the days of Larry Bird and Kevin McHale and in were Dino Radja and Antoine Walker.

Their most memorable moment during that time came during a Rick Pitino news conference after another loss where he told the media and essentially the fans to get over themselves and that “Larry Bird ain’t walking through that door.” Right he was, though fans would’ve rather had a near 50 Bird than Ron Mercer.

So in essence every sport has seen its top franchise go through the motions and fall from grace in a haze of greed, nativity, or ignorance. Well everyone except baseball.

In the last 15 years the top tier teams in the sport have stayed on top without much static.

Sure past champions like Kansas City, Toronto and Oakland have seen their share of bad times, but their history is nothing like the Yankees, Red Sox or Dodgers.

(You’re probably wondering what about the Cubs? Flagship franchise? Yes. However, they haven’t won a damn thing in 109 years so they don’t count. Sorry Cubs fans.)

These were the bad times in Boston.

Baseball has largely protected its top franchises by not introducing a salary cap, which allows the Braves, Phillies and Angels to out spend every other team in the league and stay where they are.Sure these teams haven’t made the playoffs every year, but they always bounce back from lackluster seasons.

The Red Sox will be favorites this year after finishing third in the AL East last year in part to overspending for Carl Crawford and giving away the farm for Adrian Gonzalez.

It’s hard for any of these teams fall off of their perch and fall victim to the same plague that’s infiltrated each league over the past 15 years. Or is it?

Last week the New York Yankees announced the signing of former Tampa Bay Rays closer Rafael Soriano to be the 8th inning setup man for closer Mariano Rivera and eventually replace him.

No big deal, just the Yankees spending their endless funds to fix a problem like not having an eighth inning stopper.

However, GM Brian Cashman didn’t want to spend the money on Soriano and wanted to keep either Joba Chamberlain in the setup role or David Robertson. Owner Hal Steinbrenner overruled Cashman and handled the negotiations himself while Cashman sat in the corner and pouted.

Both sides say everything is fine but I’m not buying it.

Cashman is the game’s best GM and built a dynasty in the 90’s while the young Steinbrenners sat back and watched from The Boss’s luxury box. Cashman knows what he’s doing and what to do to keep the Yankees successful.

What Steinbrenner did was undermine Cashman and used his power to make a decision that may or may not work and also costs the Yankees a first round draft pick. That’s the kind of decision you would see Al Davis make. Uh oh.

Ok so that’s one little thing so what? Well, look at the Yankees future for a second if you will; the Yankees have been able to stay competitive after their dynasty years in the late 90’s and 2000 thanks to their huge budget and the ability to get whoever they want for any price. While they haven’t been winning championships at the rate that they would like, the Yankees are still the class of the AL East and remain the team to beat.

However, look at the current contract situations that the Yankees have:

Mark Teixiera- 8 years/180 million dollars, signed til he’s 37
A.J. Burnett – 5/82.5, signed til he’s 39
C.C. Sabathia- 7/161, signed til he’s 37
Alex Rodriguez- 10/275, signed til he’s 43
Derek Jeter- 3/51, signed til he’s 40
Jorge Posada- 4/52, signed til he’s 41
Mariano Rivera- 2/30, signed til he’s 43

In other words half of the Yankees main players on their roster are all signed well into their late 30’s or 40’s and are owed a boat load of money.

Guys like Rodriguez, Jeter and Posada are already on the downside of their careers and aren’t worth the money.

Not to mention there is the possiblility at other long term deals for Robinson Cano and Phil Hughes looming, which will add more money to their books.

The Yankees are used to shelling out lots of cash but right now there’s too much tied up in players that won’t help them contend in three years and could lead to the Yankees becoming baseball’s Cowboys.

As great as they've been, the deals given to A-Rod and Jeter could lead to the Yankees downfall.

There is no balance with them right now. There’s lots of old guys and not enough youth. Sound like Dan Snyder to you?

Another problem are the deals that the Yankees have made, which cost them two viable parts that they could use right now and both could’ve added some much needed youth to their everyday roster.

Last year they traded Austin Jackson and Ian Kennedy for Curtis Granderson essentially in a three team deal. Jackson and Granderson play the same position and Jackson hit for a higher average, stole more bases and had a higher in-base percentage than Granderson. Not to mention he’s five years younger and the perfect leadoff hitter that the Yankees so desperately need.
Kennedy went 9-10 last year for the Diamondbacks with a 3.80 ERA. While his numbers don’t seem too impressive Kennedy got stronger and stronger towards the end of the year. He’s currently penciled in as their third starter while the Yankees have no viable options in their rotation past Sabathia, Hughes, and Burnett. I’ve seen the Leafs give up on a few young guys in the past few years haven’t you?

Lastly the Yankee luster isn’t what it used to be. Guys now a days grow up hating the Yankees instead of idolizing them. No one fawns over Jeter the way they did Mickey Mantle, there’s no appreciation for Posada like there was for Yogi Berry. In the 60’s if a guy like Zach Greinke was on the market he would’ve been a pinstripe in a heartbeat, same for Cliff Lee. Now, they’d rather be a Brewer or a Phillie.

Still, the Yankees can out bid whoever they want to get their man. However, they also set the bar for other teams with just as deep of pockets to follow. How do you think the Sox got Carl Crawford or the Nats (yes, the Nats) got Jayson Werth? It’s the Yankee model; overpay for them and dare someone to leap up and get them.

So now its no longer about the pinstripes and the aura of the stadium and the pressure of the media. If you were Werth wouldn’t you rather take 126 million to play in a small market and not have the pressure of facing 1000 media faces a week wondering what’s wrong with you?

Maybe I’m going crazy, or maybe I see the writings on the wall. I know the Yankees have had to good a run of gluttony and capitalist pleasure to not have it come to a screeching hault. We’ve toed the line of smart and senseless way too long to not have it blow up in our face and I feel were getting to that point.

If the Yankees don’t solve their spending problems and incorporate some youth and practice patience then they may resemble the Celtics of the late 90’s or the Raiders of right now. They run the risk of losing their luster like Notre Dame and could become a legendary afterthought like the Habs.

Call me crazy, but Soriano deal might be the first in a long line of problems for top to bottom from the Yankees. I might be wrong, but I’ve seen it all before.


The Unlikely Timeline Of The Cliff Lee Saga

He's baaaack!

Here’s a timeline of what happened on Monday night after watching the New York Giants beat up the Minnesota Vikings:

11:37- the first headline on the ESPN score bar is that the Yankees were officially out of the running for Cliff Lee. Honestly I was happy. You probably think I’m the biggest dope in the world for writing that but let me explain; the Yankees have too many contracts that guarantee too much to guys who will be pushing 40 and won’t be producing the same stats as they did when they signed their deals.

A.J. Burnett, Mark Teixiera, Jorge Posada. Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez are all signed past the age of 37 and all will be making more than 16 million a season… yep you read that correctly, 3 of our 4 main infielders will be making 20 million plus while staring retirement in the face.

If we would’ve signed Lee to that 6 year, 138 million dollar deal it would’ve been another bad contract that we would’ve had to deal with down the line.

The thing is with this free agency class its so thin that guys like Lee and Carl Crawford are getting way too much money for their services and you wonder if they’re worth it (I didn’t mention Jayson Werth for the simple fact that Hellen Keller knows he got way too much money).

While Crawford is great on bases and in the outfield was 142 million really necessary for a guy whose career high in homers is 19, RBI is 90, a guy that has a career .296 average and a .337 on base percentage?

And in the case of Cliff Lee here’s some facts for you; he’s 32 years old with a lifetime 3.85 ERA. As great as he was with Texas in the playoffs he was 4-6 with a 3.98 ERA. I mean the guy is good but he’s not the superstar stud that his contract and hype are making him out to be… with that said…

12:02- ESPN reports that Cliff Lee has reaches an agreement with the Philadelphia Phillies.

12:05- the following exchange takes place between me and my buddy D.J. who used to play baseball at OSU…

Me- um… The phillies got Cliff Lee
DJ- it doesn’t matter they don’t have enough offense

(5 minutes later)

Me- dude the phillies got Cliff lee, they winning the World Series.
DJ- no they’re not. Their lineup is weak. Who’s gonna score runs for them?

(5 minutes later)

Me- dude the phillies got Cliff Lee
(at this point we’ve both had one too many shots and it becomes clear to him that I won’t shut up about the phillies impending world championship)

For everything that I just said about the Yankees not signing Lee an downplaying his importance as a pitcher, the last team that needed Lee was Philadelphia.

Look at their rotation for next year; Roy Halladay, Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels and whoever they decide to throw in there as the fifth starter.

And to think, these 3 weren't enough.

Thats arguably the best pitcher righty and lefty in the game with a horse like Oswalt and a former World Series MVP in Hamels as your top four pitchers in your rotation, this makes Miami’s big three look like a walk in the park.

This makes Philly the early front runner for the World Series in 2011. No team comes close to that kind of rotation, not even the pitcher happy San Francisco Giants. Four out of five days a week the Phils are sending out a win in the making. So what they lost Werth to free agency, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are still there and Dominic Brown is waiting in the wings to become their next offensive threat in the outfield.

All they need is two to three runs a game tops with this staff and they’ll be fine. In the NL East the only possible competition could be the Atlanta Braves but their offensive output could be a huge problem. The Reds, Giants and possibly Rockies could challenge them for the crown but I don’t see that happening.

Most importantly for the Lee himself was the comfort level in returning to Philly. It’s no secret how much he loved it there and was disappointed when he was traded last winter. As much as he loved Texas and was enjoying how much the Yankees were throwing at him, Philadelphia still has his heart, which led to him turning down an extra two years and 40 million from the Yankees. In the end it wasn’t about money it was about comfort and happiness and Lee is getting both.

12:40pm yesterday- I texted my boy Scully to congratulate him on his impending world title and to tell him I’m giving up on baseball this year. He reminded me that he still thinks the Giants have a better rotation in his opinion and that the Phillies still have to replace the bat of Werth.

That’s cool, unfortunately that’s hard to believe when staring Halladay, Oswalt, Hamels and now Lee. This is the team to beat at the current moment whether you agree with me or not. It’s the best collection of pitching put together in a long time and no one, not me, my buddies or even ESPN saw it coming. 2011 is going to be a long year for the other 29 teams in baseball. Oh well, at least the New York Giants are 9-4.