How about a chat this afternoon, let’s call it 3pm? Help pass that always slow Friday afternoon. He’s the past chat transcripts.
AzFL Peoria (9-8 win over Mesa)
Austin Jackson: 1 for 4, 1 RBI
Juan Miranda: 3 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K – leads the league in batting avg by .144 pts, OBP by .019, SLG by .373 & OPS by .452
Kevin Russo: 1 for 4, 1 RBI, 1 K – he’s played 3 positions (3B, LF and now SS) in the 6 games he’s played
…then perhaps it will even begin to look like a baseball field too. Sliding Into Home has the latest photos from inside the new Yankee Stadium. The infield is nearly complete. The same cannot be said for the rest of the seating bowl, however. Take a look. · (9) ·
The Yankees are interested in Jake Peavy and have had very preliminary discussions with the Padres about the righty, NJ.com’s Dan Graziano reported last night. The Yanks, according to the report, feel that the Padres are further along in talks with other teams and that Peavy wouldn’t waive his no-trade clause to come to New York. So in other words, the Yanks’ interest in Peavy is similar to my interest in Scarlett Johansson: It ain’t gonna happen. · (71) ·
At some point in the playoffs, textbook managing has to take a backseat to creativity. Joe Torre, once Don Zimmer left, never really put that together, and tonight, we saw both sides of the picture.
On the one hand was Terry Francona. Facing a five-run deficit and with two on and nobody out in the seventh, Francona played his trump card. Knowing that the Red Sox had their back to the walls, Francona wasn’t going to go down without getting his best pitcher into the game. Shades of the 2003 World Series this was not.
In a way, the move backfired. Jonathan Papelbon allowed the two inherited runners to score, but he staunched the bleeding after that. He pitched out of a self-induced two-on, no-out jam and held Tampa’s offense in the 8th.
This risky Papelbon move wasn’t the only gamble Francona took. He had gone to Hideki Okajima, one of his other top relievers, in the fifth to keep Tampa quiet. Only Manny Delcarmen in the seventh dropped the ball. Meanwhile, with a few other relievers in the pen — including Justin Masterson, the eventual winner — Francona knew that he could buy his offense a few innings before he absolutely had to turn the game over to Mike Timlin, the Sox’s 25th man in the postseason.
Across the field, Joe Maddon was not so lucky. Up 7-0 with two outs in the 7th, Grant Balfour lost it. Then Dan Wheeler, throwing just 19 of 33 pitches for strikes, lost it, and finally J.P. Howell really lost it. As his pitchers struggled throwing for command and struggled keeping Red Sox off the bases, Maddon didn’t really manage for anything.
At this point, Maddon has to know that even up 7-1, a lefty should come into face David Ortiz. Maddon has to recognize that when Dan Wheeler struggles, you remove him before J.D. Drew, another lefty, comes up to the plate. Maddon has to overmanage game five of the ALCS even with a six- or seven-run lead because this is Fenway Park and these were the Red Sox, winners of two of the last four World Series. They’re not going to roll over.
In the 8th, I believe that the Rays should have turned the ball over to one James Shields. He’s held the Red Sox in check all season and could have pulled a Randy Johnson circa 2001 in getting the final six outs. Maddon wouldn’t have burned his game six starter because there would have been no game six.
Perhaps, a move like that would have represented something of a Hail Mary in a non-Hail Mary situation. After all, Tampa — 57-24 at home — lost two in a row in the Trop just twice all season, once against the Mariners in April and once against the Yankees in September. But with Josh Beckett and Jon Lester on tap, if I’m Joe Maddon, I don’t take those chances. After all in 2004, after the Yanks roundly beat the Sox in game three, Boston came back to win not just one but two games they shouldn’t have won. There certainly were shades of 2004 haunting game five tonight.
If Tampa is going to win this series, they have to learn that when the Boston Red Sox in October show you their jugular, you go for it with all you’ve got.
The term “must-win” gets thrown around a lot in sports these days. Your team loses five of six in May and falls to three games back in the division? The next game is a must win. Your team just lost three in a row and has their ace going tomorrow? That’s a must win. It’s much like the term “ace pitcher,” it’s been thrown around so much that it’s lost its meaning.
But tonight represents the true meaning of a must-win for the Sox: they lose, they go home. Period, end of story. They’re sending Dice-K to the mound, the only starter that managed not to get his brains beat in by the Rays’ lineup this series. Tampa’s outscored the Sawx 31-13 over the last three games, and their bats are so hot they set the Citgo sign on fire.
Joe Maddon switched up their rotation and is sending Victor Zambrano Scott Kazmir to the bump instead of Jamie Shields. The move partly has to do with each pitcher’s career performancea at the Fens (Kaz has a 3.02 ERA in Fenway; Shields 10.12) , but mostly has to do with Kazmir’s issues with scheduled Game 6 ump Derryl Cousins. Bottom line is that it would behoove the Rays’ to wrap this series up tonight, because having to face Josh Beckett and Lester The Invincible in Games 6 & 7 is not a situation they want to be in, regardless of how those guys pitched earlier in the series.
1. Akinori Iwamure, 2B
2. BJ Upton, CF
3. Carlos Pena, 1B
4. Evan Longoria, 3B
5. Carl Crawford, LF
6. Cliff Floyd, DH
7. Dioner Navarro, C
8. Gabe Gross, RF
9. Jason Bartlett, SS
- Scott Kazmir, P (12-8, 3.49)
1. Coco Crisp, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Kevin Youkilis, 3B
5. Jason Bay, LF
6. JD Drew, RF
7. Jed Lowrie, SS
8. All-Star Catcher Jason Varitek, C
9. Mark Kotsay, 1B
- Daisuke Matsuzaka, P (18-3, 2.90)
The World Series isn’t starting until next Wednesday regardless of when the ALCS ends, so we could be looking at nearly a week of no baseball. Yikes.
Sports and the economy get along uneasily at best. Over the next few weeks, as the nation looks for some economic stability, CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira are going to sign two of baseball’s most valuable contracts. Meanwhile, teams are raising ticket prices and hoping to sell luxury boxes.
Historically, sports haven’t always suffered when the economy dips. In periods of prolonged slumps, attendance does decline, but in periods of shorter economic downturns, sports have, by and large, not witnessed decreases in attendance. Concession sales may slag, but ticket sales remain relatively robust.
This doesn’t stop, however, writers from wondering if the financial crisis will impact the Yanks who are opening some expensive new digs in six months. Fortune’s Jon Birger ponders this exact question:
Take the New York Yankees, for instance. The Yankees move into their new stadium next year, and over the past year they’ve been trying to sell New York’s corporate titans on the virtues of the new stadium’s 47 available luxury suites. Asking price: $600,000 to $850,000 a year – several times what other major league teams charge for their luxury boxes.
A year ago, selling Yankees skyboxes was considered a slam dunk. Today, not so much, not with the stock market tanking and most financial companies gushing red ink. “I would hate to be in their position,” a top executive with another Major League team says of the Yankees. “$850,000 for a luxury suite?” says Phil Matalucci, president of sports-suite broker Luxury Suite Alternative. “There could not be a worse time for teams to be selling luxury suites.”
A Yankees spokeswoman insists that the economic crisis has not had any impact on the commitments the team has already received from prospective suite-holders. Still, as one Yankees’ limited partner tells Fortune, it’s a little too soon to judge since the contracts for the suites were only recently sent out.
While we last looked at this issue less than a week ago when the Yanks seemed like they would ride out the storm, Birger introduces an interesting phenomenon. First, high-rolling clients — such as New York’s banks — find value in investing in luxury suits. Bank of America says that its return “is multiples more than the initial investment.”
At the same time, though, can a bank that just had to accept billions of dollars of governmental bailout money really turn around and spend more than three quarters of a million dollars on baseball tickets? I doubt it.
This could get interesting over the next few weeks. The Yanks and Mets both claim that luxury suite sales are robust, but are the contracts signed? Have the tickets been delivered? There would be some irony in the Yanks’ not selling out their luxury suites considering that those suites were one of the prime purposes behind the new stadium. Perhaps, for now, the baseball gods will have the last ironic laugh over the destruction of Yankee Stadium after all.