The 2008 baseball season may come to an end tonight. It sucks, I know, but there’s nothing we can do about it. The only people capable of keeping the baseball season alive are the Rays, who (putting it bluntly) have played like shit the last two games. When your 3-4-5 hitters are a combined 4 for 44 with 16 strikeouts in the series, you don’t deserve to win.

Scott Kazmir will take to the mound for the biggest start of his life and biggest game in team history. The youngest member of the Rays rotation and winningest pitcher in franchise history will be relied on to keep Philly’s suddenly surging offense in check long enough for their sluggish offense to do some damage. A tall order for the Kazmanian Devil, but he’s up to it.

As if a 3-1 series lead wasn’t enough, Philly is sending their ace to the mound tonight, Colbert Richard Hamels, the kid so awesome that Jeff Lebowski refers to him as “The Dude.” Allowing only 21 hits & 8 earned runs in 35.2 postseason innings, Hamels appears to have entered the realm of “Big Game Pitcher” this year, and would cement that status with a W tonight. He’ll have to deal with a slightly revamped Tampa lineup tonight, but it might be too little too late for Joe Maddon’s boys.

My prediction that the Rays would win the series in 6 (losing only the games Hamels starts) is obviously not coming true, but I hope Tampa manages to extend the series tonight. I’m not ready for baseball to go away just yet.

Tampa Bay
1. Akinori Iwamura, 2B
2. Carl Crawford, LF
3. BJ Upton, CF
4. Carlos Pena, 1B
5. Evan Longoria, 3B
6. Dioner Navarro, C
7. Rocco Baldelli, RF
8. Jason Bartlett, SS
9. Scott Kazmir, P (12-8, 3.49)

Philadelphia
1. Jimmy Rollins, SS
2. Jayson Werth, RF
3. Chase Utley, 2B
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Pat Burrell, LF
6. Shane Victorino, CF
7. Pedro Feliz, 3B
8. Carlos Ruiz, C
9. Cole Hamels, P (14-10, 3.09)

Weatherman says we might be in for a little rain tonight, but it shouldn’t be enough to postpone the game. I’m sure MLB is ecstatic about another World Series game ended after 1am.

Oh, and remember that kinda weird out-of-place “FISHY FISHY FISHY” song that played during the Game Three pregame ceremonies? The creator of the song left a comment on the game thread. How cool is that?

Update (11:35pm): It’s official, they’ll resume the game tomorrow night in Philly.

Categories : Game Threads
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  • Trenton takes home MiLBY Award
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    Via Mike Ashmore, Double-A Trenton won the 2008 Minor League Baseball Yearly Award (MiLBY) for the Double-A level. Basically it’s the award for best team Double-A team, which the Thunder certainly earned by winning their second consecutive Eastern League Championship. Last month the Yankees renewed their Player Development Contract with Trenton for another 6 years, which hopefully means many more EL titles and MiLBY’s to come. · (4) ·

Really. I don’t know. We don’t need words for this one. Why Kobe is the only one wearing pants is a question best left unanswered.

Categories : Whimsy
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While the Yanks’ Friday visit to Congress resulted in nothing too exciting, the Yankees did trot out an old excuse about their new stadium. As Richard Sandomir reported, the Yanks would have moved if they hadn’t gotten a sweet land deal from New York.

Randy Levine, the president of the Yankees, told a Congressional hearing Friday that if the city had not issued tax-exempt financing for the team’s new stadium, it would have left town.

“It’s been no secret for many years” that the team would move if it could not save tens of millions of dollars on financing with tax-free bonds, Levine told the House subcommittee on domestic policy. He added: “There was no shortage of suitors. We see ourselves as a paradigm in professional sports.”

Levine refused to be specific about the other suitors, but when asked after the hearing if New Jersey has wooed the Yankees in recent years he said, “Absolutely!”

Yet again, the Yanks have trotted out this strawman New Jersey argument. For the better part of 14 years, the Yanks have used New Jersey and the Meadowlands as a leveraging tool, and it’s been nothing more than that.

Twenty years ago, New Jersey rejected a measure to fund a potential baseball stadium ostensibly for the Yankees, but George Steinbrenner still used the spectre of New Jersey to threaten Rudy Giuliani throughout the 1990s. More recently, as Sandomir notes, the Yanks have had no contact this decade with Meadowlands officials.

At this point, the Yanks and the City aren’t going to admit any wrong-doing with this questionable land deal, and the City’s coffers will probably never get the money it should have. But the Yanks should really stop trotting out this New Jersey threat. With four million fans making the trip to the Bronx each year, the Yanks aren’t about to decamp to an inaccessible site that isn’t even in New York, and to threaten this non-move is to insult their loyal fans.

Categories : Yankee Stadium
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Over the last month of the season and into October, Tim at MLB Trade Rumors has put together off-season outlooks for various teams. You can check out his Yankees outlook here. We posted a link to this when he wrote it, and Bo, our invariably negative commenter, brought up a good, albeit still negative, point. Why doesn’t Tim have bloggers for each team put together these outlooks?

That’s what we’re shooting for today. We’ll include all contract obligations, estimate arbitration raises, and the guys who have a prayer of breaking camp with the team in March. Discuss in the comments, and be sure to make sure I didn’t forget anyone.

Read More→

Categories : Hot Stove League, Rants
Comments (108)
  • On Derek’s defense, again
    By

    In 1997, during his age 36 season, Cal Ripken, a far superior defensive short stop than Derek Jeter, moved over to the Hot Corner. He knew he couldn’t man short, and for the good of the team, he shifted to his right. In 2009, Derek Jeter will play his age 35 season, and the debate over his defense has raged for years. This weekend, Dugout Central chimed in on the issue and wondered when and to where the captain would shift positions. Jeter has been vocal in insisting that he’s not going to move off short, but at some point soon, he should. · (88) ·

I was on the phone with my dad tonight during game four of this lopsided World Series, and as is often the case, our talk turned to the Yankees. “I’m a bit worried about the off-season,” my dad said. “The Yanks have so many holes to fill.”

His voiced tailed off a bit at the end, and we both knew what went unspoken. The Yanks are on the cusp of a rather important off-season, one that could make or break the team over the next few seasons. They have a lot of old players coming off the books, a lot of financial resources at hand, and a few clear needs. They also have an aging core of players and a few needs, tougher to fill, that aren’t so clear.

On the flip side, the 2008-2009 winter also offers up a rare combination of free agents. One of the game’s best pitchers and one of the league’s premier hitters are both free agents at the peak of their baseball prowess. Rare are the days when young players hit free agency at the right times in their lives, and in CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira, the Yankees have two obvious targets who would both fill two of the team’s glaring holes. Whether or not they can actually land them is a different story.

If the Phillies manage to dispatch the listless Tampa Bay Rays this evening — and with Cole Hamels on the mound, the odds are in their favor — we’ll be two weeks away from the start of the free agent frenzy. Tonight, A-Rod won’t opt out from his contract, but bigger moves await on the horizon.

For some reason, over the last few years, some baseball insecurities have crept into New York’s attitude. Once upon a time, the Yanks had swagger. The team, coming off of four World Series in five years, was good, and they knew it. Free agents — Mike Mussina, Jason Giambi — wanted to come to New York. They didn’t hedge their bets. They were the best; the Yankees had money; and everyone went home happy.

But the Yanks have won no World Series since then. For the first time since the early 90s, the team didn’t make the playoffs, and before that, they hadn’t advanced to the World Series since 2003. What if, fans have wondered, the team is just becoming a bloated semblance of a team populated by overpaid has-beens on the wrong sides of their careers? Is Bobby Abreu a Yankee or a Philadelphia reject? Are we really going to suffer through another season of Hideki Matsui‘s hobbled knees?

Of course, it’s not as bad as the naysayers would have you believe, but it is not wine and roses in the Bronx right now. The Yanks are a flawed team in need of some fixing. But what happens if the Yanks can’t sign these very alluring targets?

Well, on the one hand, it wouldn’t be so great if the Yanks don’t sign Teixeira — my personal first choice — or Sabathia. It may make them go out and waste money on lesser pitchers. But on the other, the baseball world will not end. Even as a flawed team, the Yanks managed to hammer out 89 wins this year. Soon, they’ll have to replace Jorge Posada; he’s one of those not-so-obvious holes. But in 2009, they’ll have him back and healthy. They’ll hopefully have September’s version of Robinson Cano as well as a healthy Chien-Ming Wang.

Tomorrow, or later this week, when the World Series dust settles, the rumors will fly. But for now, we can’t let the worries of next month get too overwhelming. The Yankees are still the Yankees, and money talks. The Yankees need to spend; the players want to get the best deals; and the pieces will fall right enough, if not just right as we all imagine them to in our little Yankee-centric bubble. Optimism becomes us. This is, after all, Yankee baseball.

Categories : Hot Stove League
Comments (53)

Tonight’s game promises to be less … chaotic, than last night’s. The weather is nice and clear, so there will be no 10pm first pitch tonight, and you have to imagine we won’t see the two teams be so self-destructive in the later innings again.

I’ve watched the replay of Carlos Ruiz’s walk-off “hit” a few times, and I can’t say for sure that the ball would have gone foul. It looks like it might have, but it was far enough from the line to make me think it would have stayed fair. Oh, by the way, that was the Phillies’ first hit with RISP that actually scored a run in the series. They’re up 2-1 in the series, but you can only rely on the long ball so much.

Cupcakes Blanton will be facing his first American League club since his midsummer trade to the land of cheesesteaks. He was 5-12 with a 4.96 ERA & 1.42 WHIP with Oakland this year, and then better, but not great after the trade, going 4-0, 4.20, 1.37 with the Phightin’s. His strikeout rate has never been good, so he’ll have to hope they don’t hit them where they ain’t.

Needless to say this is a big game for Tampa, who certainly doesn’t want to go down 3-1 in the series with Cole Hamels looming in Game 5. Andy Sonnanstine is the Rays’ version of Ian Kennedy – fringy stuff with excellent command – except he’s already mastered the art of keeping the ball in the lower third of the zone, which is what he’ll have to do tonight to keep the Phillies in check.

The game doesn’t start until 8, so feel free to use this as an open thread to discuss today’s NFL action.

Tampa Bay
1. Akinori Iwamura, 2B
2. BJ Upton, CF
3. Carlos Pena, 1B
4. Evan Longoria, 3B
5. Carl Crawford, LF
6. Dioner Navarro, C
7. Ben Zobrist, RF
8. Jason Bartlett, SS
9. Andy Sonnanstine, P (13-9, 4.38)

Philadelphia
1. Jimmy Rollins, SS
2. Jayson Werth, RF
3. Chase Utley, 2B
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Pat Burrel, LF
6. Shane Victorino, CF
7. Pedro Feliz, 3B
8. Carlos Ruiz, C
9. Joe Blanton, P (9-12, 4.69)

Site note: No DotF tonight, the Arizona Fall League is off and Hawaii Winter Baseball was rained. Yes, apparently it does rain in Hawaii.

Categories : Game Threads
Comments (197)
  • The sweet sounds of Sunday night
    By

    Joe Morgan and Jon Miller could be headed for a 2009 break-up, says Bob Raissman. ESPN is seriously considering moving Morgan off of the Sunday night broadcast. This would be great news for those of us who find ourselves shouting at Joe Morgan’s inane broadcast missives every Sunday night during the baseball season, and I have to wonder if this is in response to a growing segment of baseball fans who can’t stand these prominent broadcasters. If only FOX would do the same with Buck and McCarver… · (14) ·

  • Straw to Joba: Don’t do what I did
    By

    Via Jim Baumbach, Darryl Strawberry has a few words of caution for Joba regarding his DUI arrest. Strawman, who’s problems are well documented and impacted what could have been a Hall of Fame career, suggests he seek out The Captain for advice because Jeter’s mastered the art of being a superstar in New York. I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again: Joba’s rise to stardom in NY was meteoric, but the fall from grace could be even swifter. Hopefully he realizes this. (h/t Seamus) · (10) ·