There’s a reason why Grant Balfour, Dan Wheeler and J.P. Howell aren’t starting pitchers, and there are reasons why the three of them aren’t top-notch closers. Sometimes, it pays to remember that.

For the last few days, sportswriters and baseball analysts have been tossing out the same old excuses. The Rays, they say, were thrilled to win two out of three in Boston. They were happy to return to the cozy confines of the Trop with a three games to two lead over the defending World Series Champion Red Sox. I wonder if they’re still so pleased.

On Friday, I discussed my belief that Joe Maddon should have turned to James Shields to close out Boston on Thursday. Had the move backfired, Shields would have gotten some work on a throw day. Had it succeeded, we wouldn’t be whiling the hours away until game seven. It is in this decision that good managers show their mettle and bad managers emerge.

I know people will long argue that Balfour had stellar numbers against lefties, that Dan Wheeler didn’t throw enough strikes. I know people will say that the series isn’t over yet, and it’s not. But it shouldn’t be here.

In the playoffs, managers have to take chances, and they have to recognize that sometimes what works during the regular season isn’t the best option. They have to realize that, when facing the opportunity to put away a resilient opponent, the best choice isn’t your bullpen but your number one starter for two innings.

Maybe Tampa will score four runs early against Jon Lester tonight and coast to a victory. Maybe Boston explodes against Matt Garza and a shell-shocked Rays team that had a World Series berth in its grasp. But the truth is that Tampa just shouldn’t be here. They had the Sox down and out and made a few strategic mistakes that could haunt them for a long time.

Categories : Playoffs
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The Yanks have learned that a bad economy is no time to auction off baseball memorabilia. As the AP reported, yesterday’s stadium memorabilia auction was not very successful.

The last ball hit out of Yankee Stadium didn’t leave the auction block Saturday in a memorabilia auction celebrating Bronx Bombers history…It was expected to fetch up to $400,000, but was pulled after offers fell short of the suggested opening bid of $100,000…

A collection of 15 World Series and American League championship rings that once belonged to former Yankees owner Del Webb was also pulled by the Guernsey’s auction house after the high bid of $325,000 fell short of expectations…

About 100 people came to the Garden and bid several hundreds of dollars for baseball card vending machines, pictures of Yankee Stadium under construction and posters signed by Mantle and Joe DiMaggio.

This is hardly a surprising result. People aren’t too keen on spending their disposable incomes on baseball merchandise right now. I’m sure they’ll try again in a few months.

Categories : Yankee Stadium
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AzFL Peoria (14-11 in over Scottsdale)
Austin Jackson: 1 for 5, 1 R, 3 K – 5 for his last 27
Juan Miranda: 2 for 4, 2 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 K, 1 HBP – 9 of 14 hits have gone for extra bases … hitting .500-.548-.964 in his 7 games
Kevin Russo: 5 for 5, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 SB – batting avg jumps from .143 to .308
Busty McZOMGheonlythrows91: 2.2 IP, 7 H, 8 R, 7 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 HB, 4-3 GB/FB – 36 of 60 pitches were strikes … after retiring 6 of the first 7 batters he faced, the wheels fell off in the 3rd: single-single-HBP-sac fly-homer-single-single-walk-pop out-walk-single w/ 3 run error by LFer … threw 42 pitches in the inning, 24 for strikes (57.1%)
Humberto Sanchez: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 0-3 GB/FB – 9 of 14 pitches were strikes (64.3%)

HWB Waikiki‘s game has just started. Austin Romine is behind the plate and batting sixth. These games end mad late because of the time difference, and I don’t feel like waiting around for it. Check out Gameday in the meantime.

Friday’s Games

AzFL Peoria (7-3 loss to Scottsdale)
Juan Miranda: 0 for 4, 3 K, 1 HBP – teh bust
Jeff Marquez: 2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 3-0 GB/FB – 19 of 32 pitches were strikes (59.4%) … teh bust

HWB Waikiki (8-1 win over Honolulu)
Jeremy Bleich: 6.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 9-6 GB/FB – 48 of 78 pitches were strikes (61.5%) … not teh bust, at least for today

Categories : Down on the Farm
Comments (46)

You know what it is about these Red Sox that really bother me? They shouldn’t be this good. When you look at the lineup for today’s game and compare to the ones the Sox put forward in 2004, that 2004 team would tear apart this 2008 team.

Anyway, you know the drill. Tampa was seven outs away from the World Series with a seven-run lead and couldn’t seal the deal. They better win tonight; I can’t stomach a game seven.

Tampa led the Majors with 57 home wins this year. One more gets them into the Fall Classic.

The game thread is going up early because we’re all out tonight. Feel free to use this as an open thread until the game starts at 8:07 p.m.

Boston Red Sox
1. Coco Crisp, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Kevin Youkilis, 3B
5. J.D. Drew, RF
6. Jason Bay, LF
7. Mark Kotsay, 1B
8. Jed Lowrie, SS
9. Jason Varitek, C

SP — Josh Beckett

Tampa Bay Rays
1. Akinori Iwamura, 2B
2. B.J. 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

SP: James Shields

Update by Mike (8:30pm): Apparently there’s a power outage at TBS’ headquarters, so the game’s not on TV here. Here’s MLB’s live feed. It’s on TBS now.

Categories : Game Threads, Playoffs
Comments (241)
  • A Yankee fan roots for the Red Sox

    I’m unabashedly rooting for Tampa Bay to end this thing tonight. With the Yankees out of the playoffs, I couldn’t be happier, from a baseball perspective, if the Sox miss out on the World Series. But it seems that some of us who claim to be Yankee fans find themselves rooting for the Red Sox. Harvey Aarton in The Times today attempts to excuse this traitorous behavior, but any true Yankee fan wouldn’t root for the Sox until hell freezes over. · (39) ·

  • Price on Peavy, Teixeira and other free agents

    Ed Price offers up his take on the Peavy situation: It seems very unlikely, as we’ve been hearing, that Peavy would come to New York and that the Yanks would meet San Diego’s demands for the pitcher. The Yanks, according to Price, are much more interested in “all the top-tier pitchers” available on the market and Mark Teixeira. Interestingly, though, Price notes that Peavy would come to the AL after “a lot of convincing,” by which I assume he means a few million more dollars a season.

    Update: Over at the Banter, Cliff Corcoran sums up a Jon Heyman column that echoes Price’s piece. The Yanks want to sign everyone, and I am reminded of an article in The Onion from a few years back.
    · (59) ·

The level deck of the new Yankee Stadium will not have any seats. (Photo courtesy of The YES Network Message Board)

As Yankee Stadium, above, rushes toward completion, some politicians down in Washington are going to poke their noses into some city business relating to the supposed value of the South Bronx land.

Late last month, Richard Brodsky, a New York Assembly representative from Westchester, journeyed down to Washington to brief Dennis Kuchinich’s House Domestic Policy Subcommittee on the city’s stadium financing deals. Brodsky has contended, among other things, that the city overvalued land to get tax breaks for the ball clubs. Brodsky also charged the city with spending too much and receiving just 15 new permanent jobs in return. Neil deMause had the lowdown on Brodsky’s report.

Yesterday, Rep. Kuchinich spoke in advance of next week’s Congressional hearing on the issue. According to the Ohio Democrat, city officials could face prosecution if his committee uncovers allegations of wrongdoing. Richard Sandomir had more in yesterday’s Times:

Representative Dennis J. Kucinich, Democrat of Ohio and chairman of the House’s Domestic Policy subcommittee, wrote Tuesday in a letter to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg that if the I.R.S.’s enforcement arm audited the sworn representations of I.D.A. [Industrial Development Agency] officials, “they could be guilty of perjury if the misrepresentations were deliberately inaccurate.”

He said the agency’s claims about the value of the stadium “cannot be relied on.”

In an e-mail interview on Thursday, Kucinich said that “our factual findings could be the basis for a later agency or court finding of legal liability.”

In the letter and interview, he cautioned that the I.R.S. could roll back the tax-exempt status of some or all of the stadium bonds. He also suggested that the I.R.S. could reject the Yankees’ pending request for tax-free status on an additional $366 million in bonds to complete the financing of the stadium, which is scheduled to open in April.

Basically, this issue come down to the valuation. The Parks Department valued the parkland at just over $20 million; the city’s Economic Development Corporation pegged it at $40 million; and the IDA issued a report alleging a value of over $200 million, well over market value for Bronx land. With this valuation in mind, the team was able to secure a whole slew of tax-exempt loans.

What this means for the team is unclear at this point. The stadium will be open in April, and someone will pay for it. It might be the team; it might be the city; it might be the taxpayers. No matter the outcome though, I doubt the Nets are going to get their new arena quite as easily as the Yanks and Mets secured the funds for their new digs.

Categories : Yankee Stadium
Comments (11)

Aside from last night’s improbable and exciting comeback by the Sawx, this year’s playoffs have been pretty lame. All four Division Series were yawn worthy, as was the NLCS. It hasn’t just been this year either. The American League has gone 12-1 13-4 in the last four World Series, and none of those four series were particularly competitive. I don’t think there’s any question that the College World Series in June has been more exciting that the traditional Fall Classic for the past few season.

Games are starting later and later, which means most adult fans are asleep by the 7th inning, while young kids – the future of the game as both fans and players – as asleep by the 3rd. A stupid commercial (a commercial!!!) by a Presidential candidate will delay the start time of a World Series game even further. The number of off-days has reached ridiculous proportions, with a typical best-of-series series spanning an ungodly ten days, with even more days off before and after the series. The Phillies are going to have six days off between clinching the NLCS and Game 1 of the World Series, a year after the Rockies endured a ridiculous nine day layoff.

What do you guys think? Have you been disappointed by the way the playoffs have been drawn out and made inconvenient to a typical fan? Would it maybe be better to chop a week or two off the regular season to keep players fresh for the postseason, or do you prefer seeing tired relievers and exhausted starters throwing meatballs that determine games, series, and sometimes even career paths?

So while we wait another another off-day before Game 6 of the ALCS, let’s take this chance to air any playoff grievances here. Play nice.

Categories : Open Thread, Playoffs
Comments (35)