Archive for World Series 2009

A year ago, those in charge of baseball were panicking a bit. The 2008 World Series ended amidst some weather-inspired controversies, and no one had watched. Ratings were down 20 percent from 2007, and average of just over 13 million fans, the lowest total since FOX started broadcasting the Fall Classic, tuned in per game. Baseball was on the verge of losing its wider national audience.

However, with the onset of the MLB Network’s wall-to-wall coverage of the sport and, more importantly, the return of the Yankees, the villain of October, to the World Series, ratings for the Series were up a record 42 percent over last year. Although this year’s wasn’t the most watched World Series of recent times, it was the fourth-highest viewed of the last decade and has restored baseball’s October dominance and popularity. Over 19 million fans tuned in each night to watch the Yankees battle the Phillies, and the numbers suggest that the Yankees, as I’ve said before, are good for baseball.

Maury Brown at the Biz of Baseball has more on the ratings:

Fueled by outstanding individual and team performances, dramatic come-from-behind wins and the most one-run games in a single postseason, each round of the 2009 MLB Postseason generated double-digit percentage year-to-year increases in average viewership as compared to 2008, capped by the 2009 World Series averaging 19.4 million viewers, a +42% increase over last year and the largest-ever year-to-year gain in viewership (previous high was 36% from 2000-2001, which followed a low viewership showing for the Subway Series).

Complete 2009 MLB Postseason coverage on FOX and TBS averaged 9.0 million viewers, up +30% over last year and the most-watched since 2005. In addition to the +42% viewership gain for the World Series on FOX, viewership for the Division Series on TBS was up +11% over last year and viewership for the League Championship Series on FOX and TBS increased +14% over 2008.

The 2009 MLB Postseason delivered extraordinary results for FOX and TBS, including leading TBS to the most-watched week in its 33-year history, and catapulting FOX to a commanding +22% lead in the key Adult 18-49 demographic against its network competition. The huge Adult 18-49 season-to-date advantage for FOX is the largest in the network’s history in the fourth quarter and the largest fourth-quarter lead for any network since 2003.

In addition to these hearty aggregate numbers, the World Series was the highest-rated network primetime show during the six nights of games, reports Brown. All over the country, people wanted to watch the Yankees.

And so fans may hate the Yanks. They may root against the team and its payroll. They may say the Steinbrenners bought another title. But the reality of it is simple: Baseball fans tune into watch Goliath because they hope David can win. When David happens to be another team with a payroll in excess of $100 million from a major media market, baseball executives can go home happy. This year, the World Series was very, very good for baseball.

Categories : Playoffs
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Nov
06

A nice day for parade

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It’s a beautiful November day in New York City. The skies are clear blue, and the temperatures are hovering in the upper 40s. You couldn’t ask for a nicer day for a parade. So let’s have one.

In honor of your 2009 World Series Champions, the City of New York is hosting a ticker tape parade through the Canyon of Heroes in Lower Manhattan. The march toward City Hall starts at 11 a.m. and ends at around 12:30 p.m. when the Mayor will present the Yanks with keys to the city. While an estimated 500,000-1 million fans will turn out for the celebration downtown, many of us have to go to school or work. Fear not though for the parade is being broadcast live for free online via MLB.com. The YES Network and MLB Network will be carrying it live, and the city’s local news stations should be as well.

So for those of you watching at home, those of you furtively catching glimpses of the parade will in your cubicle, those of you in class, this thread’s for you. Toast the team; cheer the World Series victory; and bask in the glow of winning after a nine-year wait. For us Yankee fans, it seemed to be an eternity.

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AL Burnett in Game Two of the World SeriesFans are quick to throw around the “must win” or “huge game” or (ahem) “playoff preview” moniker these days. If a team loses two games in a row with a division rival set to come into town over the weekend, then it’s called a big game. No matter what fans call it, you can always tell which games are the most important by how the team treats them. When Ian Kennedy is brought into the eighth inning with a one-run lead in Anaheim for his first action of the season, then yeah, it’s not all that important.

Most of the time for a playoff club, the most important game of the season is a Game Seven, or an elimination game where the season was on the line. Those are the true “must-wins,” not those dumb games in June that seem important just because the offense is in a little bit of a funk.

For the 2009 Yankees, the most important game of the year seems pretty clear to me: Game Two of the World Series.

Think about the circumstances coming into the game. Cliff Lee had just manhandled the Yankees the night before. He crushed them, grabbing liners behind his back and shagging pop-ups nonchalantly when he wasn’t striking guys out. For a team that had dominated the competition during the regular season and made good clubs like the Twins and Angels look like Little League teams with all the mistakes they forced, Game One of the World Series was a humbling experience.

Not only did the Yankees come into Game Two already down one-love in the series, they were going on the road to Philadelphia for the next three games. Heading down the turnpike down two games to none was something the Bombers wanted to avoid at all costs. So they gave the ball to AJ Burnett, the most unpredictable starter in their playoff rotation.

And AJ delivered.

He pounded the zone early all night, throwing first pitch strikes to 22 of the 26 batters he faced. He threw his fastball and curve at almost a 1:1 ratio (53 fastballs, 45 curves), and allowed the first four batters in Philly’s’ lineup to reach base just twice, and one of those instances was an intentional walk to Chase Utley. Burnett sat down the last eight batters he faced, and the only run he gave up came on a ball that ricocheted off Alex Rodriguez‘s glove.

It was a masterful performance, and the game was more important to the outcome of the Yankees’ season than either of his Game Five starts (ALCS or World Series). Opposing starter Pedro Martinez held the Yankees’ offense down, meaning there was little margin for error. Anytime a starter can hand the ball off to Mariano Rivera in a playoff game, then you know he’s done his job and then some.

Let’s give AJ some props. He’s frustrating as hell, but the dude was money in the team’s most important game of their championship  season.

Photo Credit: David J. Phillip, AP

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Nov
05

RAB’s parade meet-up details

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RAB parade meetup location

You see that little star? That’s where we’re going to meet-up for the parade tomorrow. Specifically, it’s the northwest corner of the Beekman and Nassau Street intersection. Here’s the map so you can zoom in and stuff. Joe and I are shooting to get there around 8:30-9 a.m., but you’re welcome to come whenever.

The parade comes right up Broadway, so we’ll have to finagle our way over to get a good luck. I’m not 100% certain, but I believe they’ll set up a big screen in City Hall Park to show all the speeches and stuff. After the parade and stuff, we’re probably going to go grab a bite to eat somewhere, and everyone’s more than welcome to come. Leave any suggestions or anything in the comments.

If you want to come and hang out and watch the parade, email Joe or me, and we’ll exchange cell numbers to coordinate. If you do that tomorrow, e-mail Joe because he has the BlackBerry.

Also, if anyone has a better spot, let us know via e-mail and we’ll update plans.

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As the Stadium emptied out and the Yanks continued to celebrate into the wee hours of the morning, Mariano Rivera stopped by the ESPN stage to chat with Peter Gammons, Steve Berman and Dave Winfield about winning the World Series. Rivera is just three and a half weeks shy of his 40th birthday, and his face expressed elation at capturing a fifth ring.

He started out the interview by talking about the long wait, putting the ghosts of 2001 to bed and Andy Pettitte. Laughing at how Pettitte performed on three days’ rest, Rivera simply said with a smile, “That old goat is wonderful.”

I know Rivera won’t complain about his workload, but he had a very long season this year. Although his regular season innings total of 66.1 was a seven-year low, his 16 postseason innings are the most he has thrown since 2003. He was clearly feeling the effects of making 78 appearances this year. “I’m beat up, man,” he said to the ESPN crew.

And then he let slip a secret. “My side was killing me. I don’t know how I finished,” Rivera said. Yankee fans had a feeling something was wrong with Rivera during Game 4 when FOX caught him holding a heating pack to his right side, and last night, he confirmed what he called a “rib injury.”

Rivera labored last night. He needed 41 pitches to get five outs after using just 13 to get the previous five outs. His velocity seemed to be a tick lower than usual, and his control wasn’t as sharp as it generally is. When the game, the season, the World Series ended, though, Rivera was on the mound, and he could rest his rib. “We did not want to say about it,” he said. “Thank God we finished that today because I don’t think I could go another day with that.”

After the game, though, Rivera said he could keep going. He wants to pitch for another five years and might just be serious about it. “I’m serious,” he said to Chad Jennings. “I hope the organization does whatever it takes to bring me back.”

In today’s Times, Jack Curry writes glowingly of Rivera, and it’s no secret that Mariano is my favorite player. In fact, for every single playoff game this season, I wore my Rivera 42 2008 All Star Game jersey. Now, we hear he is injured, and he closed out the World Series while hurt. Yet, it doesn’t show. He takes the ball; he throws that cutter; he gets his outs. The legend and the greatness of Mo just continues to grow, and five years after he retires, I’ll be in Cooperstown with him, watching a great player earn a spot in the Hall of Fame.

Categories : Playoffs
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Jimmy Rollins is not known for keeping his mouth in check. He has spent the past few seasons antagonizing Mets fans in Spring Training by proclaiming the Phillies better than the Mets and the team to beat in the NL East. With the Mets’ injury-inspired fade this year, Rollins was right, and he didn’t let discretion get the better part of him for the World Series.

In fact, prior to the Series, Rollins let his mouth do the talking again. Considering how he hit this Fall Classic, his mouth, in fact, was the only thing doing much talking. “Of course we’re going to win,” Rollins said before the Series started. “If we’re nice, we’ll let it go six. But I’m thinking five, close it out at home.”

Three games into it, and Rollins’ prediction couldn’t come true. After losing Game 1, the Yanks had beaten the Phillies in three straight, and in Rollins’ original clincher, the Phillies had to fight to force Game 6. After the Yankees won last night, Rollins was the only member of the team who managed to make their World Series loss about the Phillies.

“They were the better team this series,” Rollins said after the game. “Do I think we’re the better team? I really do. They just executed. I think we weren’t playing bad, but they were playing that much better. They got the hits, we didn’t. It’s that simple.”

Other Phillies acknowledged the Yankees’ run to a title. “We got beat,” Ryan Howard said. “They were the better team. They outplayed us. You have to tip your hat to them.”

Manager Charlie Manuel praised the Yanks as well. “We just didn’t play as good as we can, but at the same time, we also played a real good team who did a good job, and they’ve had a great season,” he said. “They definitely deserved to win.”

Since Game 2 of the ALDS, when David Robertson pitched out of a bases loaded, no out situation without allowing the run, the Yankees had that championship feel to them. They beat back a pesky Angels’ team and beat a very good Phillies team. After seven months and 114 wins, the Yankees are on top.

I can understand Rollins’ frustration. The Phillies out-hit the Yanks in this World Series, thanks to Chase Utley and Jayson Werth, but the rest of the team didn’t really show up. Rollins, the lead-off hitter, scored just three runs, and Ryan Howard struck out 13 times. His sixth-inning home run last night came too late to save the Phillies.

But Rollins, one of the game’s better ambassadors, should know when to tip his cap to the other team. I understand team pride; I understand riling up the fan base. But I also understand that the Yankees, a better team than the Phillies, won. After the beanings this week, the bad blood will flow between the Yankees and the Phillies in Spring Training. Maybe Jimmy Rollins should save the trash talking for then.

Categories : Rants
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Nov
05

A nice day for a parade

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Tomorrow morning at 11:00 a.m., the Yankees and New York City will celebrate the team’s long-awaited 27th World Series championship. The parade and subsequent ceremony will be a two-hour affair, starting at 11 a.m. at Broadway and Battery Place. The team will ride through the Canyon of Heroes to City Hall where Mayor Michael Bloomberg will award the Yankees keys to the city.

While fans can line the streets of Broadway for a chance to see the Yanks, the City is opening up the City Hall plaza to a limited number of fans. Beginning at 2 p.m. today, New Yorkers can register here for a chance to win tickets to the ceremony. (Ed. Note: Apparently, NYC.gov is having some problems with the registration form, and everyone is getting a note telling them their form has already been uploaded. We’ll update this when the problems are fixed.)

As the Yankees look forward to their moment in the sun, the City will be enjoying its 178th Ticker Tape parade. The most recent walk up the Canyon of Heroes came in February 2008 shortly after Giants ensured that the Patriots did not go 19-0. For Yankee fans, who haven’t had a parade in nine years, this one will feel good. “I can’t wait,” Mariano Rivera said. “It’s satisfaction. The city of New York deserves it.”

For RAB readers looking to meet up tomorrow, we’ll organize something in the comments and put it on site later tonight. The floor is open to suggestions. For those of you stuck at work tomorrow morning, the parade will be streamed live for free via MLB.com.

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Nov
05

27

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Pettitte strong through 5.2 as Matsui wins MVP

On a 3-2 pitch to Shane Victorino, Joe Buck kept the theatrics to a minimum. “To the second baseman, Cano,” he said. “The Yankees are back on top. World Champions for the 27th time.”

At Blondie’s on the Upper West Side, where Chris Meloni had joined us a few innings into the game, we were less composed. As Victorino’s ground ball bounced toward Robinson Cano, we leaped, we high-fived and we hugged as Cano fielded and flipped to Mark Teixeira for the 27th out of the New York Yankees’ 27th World Championship.

For Yankee fans, it was, in Yankee years, a long time coming. The Yanks last won the World Series in 2000 when Bill Clinton was the president, when Michael Bloomberg was just some rich guy, when the St. Louis Rams were the Super Bowl Champions, when Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia were both in the minors, when Derek Jeter was 26 years old.

From the second inning on, this was the Yanks’ game. More specifically, it was Hideki Matsui‘s. After a quick first inning from the Yanks and two strong innings from Andy Pettitte, A-Rod walked, and Matsui came to the plate. The soon-to-be free agent worked the count full against Pedro Martinez and then launched a shot into the right field seats for his third home run of the World Series. The Yanks had a 2-0 lead, and they wouldn’t look back.

A Carlos Ruiz triple with one out and a Jimmy Rollins sac fly would cut the Yanks’ lead to one, but the Yanks would go back at it. After a Derek Jeter single, a Johnny Damon walk and a Mark Teixeira hit-by-pitch would load the bases, Alex Rodriguez struck out looking on a pitch in the left-handed batter’s box. Then, Matsui would again be the hero. He drove a two-run single into center field, and the Yanks had their 4-1 lead.

Two innings later, with Chad Durbin in for Pedro Martinez, the Yanks struck again. Mark Teixeira singled home Derek Jeter, and against lefty J.A. Happ, Matsui drove in both Teixeira and A-Rod. It was 7-1 Yanks, and Hideki had six RBis.

In the sixth, Pettite ran into a spot of trouble. He walked Chase Utley — one of five base on balls for the evening — and Ryan Howard broke out of his World Series slump for one at bat to power the ball just over Jerry Hairston into the left field seats. The Phillies had cut the Yanks’ lead to 7-3, but that would be all the baseball gods wrote for the scoring.

Joba Chamberlain replaced Andy Pettitte with two outs in the 6th and got Pedro Feliz to ground out. Joba would give up two base runners in the 7th but got two outs. With two on and two out in the 7th, Damaso Marte got the ball and was flat-out masterful. He struck out Chase Utley on a check swing to end the inning. In the 8th, Marte struck out Ryan Howard for Howard’s World Series record setting K, and it became Mariano time.

Last night, Mariano needed to get five outs with a four-run lead. He had to nail down out 23, 24, 25, 26 and 27, and although we waited for him to do so in 2001, eight years later, he did. Jayson Werth struck out for out 23, and although Raul Ibañez doubled, Pedro Feliz fouled out to Jorge for 24.

In the 9th, we stood up and cheered. Matt Stairs lined out to Derek for out 25. Carlos Ruiz, that pain in the neck all series, walked, and Jimmy Rollins — the same Jimmy Rollins who predicted a five-game Phillies win — flew out to Nick Swisher for number 26. Victorino grounded out, and the Yankees were World Series champions once again.

For the old guard, for Jorge and Derek and Andy and Mariano, this was ring number five. Pettitte completed his superfecta with a win in the AL East clincher, the ALDS clincher, the ALCS clincher and the World Series clincher. Mariano ended another title, and Derek got a hit in his final at-bat. Jorge called a great game, coaxing 5.2 innings out of Pettitte. The Yankees were on top once again.

The parade is tomorrow at 11 a.m., and for now, we’ll bask in that glow of World Series Championship Number 27. How sweet it is.

Categories : Game Stories
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Nov
05

The new guys

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A.J. and CC and Hinske, oh my!

Categories : Playoffs
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Nov
05

It is high, it is far…

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Oh, this one is certainly gone.

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