Monthly Archives: July 2009

Boston Trophy Party

The arrogance of Boston fans has just been a way of life for New York fans for the past seven or eight years. So when the news broke yesterday that both Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz tested positive for performance enhancing drugs.

A-Rod has garnered most of the media’s ire over his positive test since Spring Training and rightfully so. He cheated, but he came clean and admitted to it. Manny Ramirez has taken some of the attention away this season since testing positive earlier this year and receiving a fifty game suspension.

Both A-Rod and Manny have said in the past that they didn’t use performance enhancing drugs, which obviously were lies. Most players denied their use over the past fifteen years, although none quite so adamantly as the once-feared slugger, David Ortiz.

I feel bad for people getting into that stuff, because it’s bad stuff. You may want to do well, but you need a little help, but you know what? The consequences are going to be tough.

Ortiz, who like many players would welcome stricter testing if it would clear the air, said again the other day he has never used steroids.

I was turned onto this video by a friend, and thought it does an excellent job at returning some of the verbiage thrown around by Boston fans in past years.

Epic Battle Update – 7/20/09

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Notes: Nathaniel continued his dominating play, pummeling Andy during the shortened week. TJ and JT also took advantage of the lessened amount of games to rack up big wins. TJ moved into second and JT gained some ground of his own. After going 12-33-9 over weeks nine, ten and eleven, Zachary has surged back into the thick of the playoff hunt by going 39-19-14 in the past four weeks.

Home Field Advantage

Ever since the 2002 All-Star Game ended in a tie, Bud Selig decided that it needed something extra. So he laid out his plan to give home-field advantage in the World Series to whichever league won the meaningless exhibition game in the middle of July. I guess there’s no real clear-cut way to determine which team should receive that pivotal extra home game come October.

Alternating Home-Field: Before the tie, home field advantage simply alternated between leagues every year. The NL would have the advantage in even years and the AL in odd years. This isn’t a terrible way of doing it, but it does completely ignore every aspect about both teams and both leagues. I’m not a huge fan, but there could be worse ways. See below.

All Star Game: This isn’t a great way to decide, but it’s certainly something. It makes more sense if the All-Star rosters were more appropriately constructed. Instead of the fans voting for whichever big name they recognize the most, have the players vote for who they think gives them the best chance to win home-field advantage. The All-Star game isn’t the place to give Tim Wakefield some sort of ridiculous lifetime “achievement” selection, especially since he’s not one of even the top twenty five starters in his own league. Also, if each team is required to have at least one representative that makes a mockery of this system determining home-field advantage too.

Better Record: This is probably the most popular option to determine who gets home-field advantage, and up until the World Series, I’ okay with it. But because the leagues don’t play each other for more than two weeks’ worth of games in midsummer, I don’t like it. League power is cyclical and the parity between leagues is often less than ideal. Currently, the American is in a decade long cycle of complete interleague dominance. Handing home-field advantage to an NL West team that wins 98 games over an AL East team that finishes the season with 95 wins doesn’t make complete sense to me.

Better League: Here’s the one where I’ll throw my weight behind. Since baseball now plays over 200 games between leagues, I think there’s an appropriate enough sample size to determine which league deserves home-field. This one’s simple: whichever league proves itself as the superior circuit gets home-field advantage. It’s a more telling sample than one exhibition game in July that’s more of a social event than a game.

Epic Battle Update – 07/13/09

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Notes: Andy B made the big jump this week, moving from seventh all the way to fourth, but faces a tough challenge going up against league leader Nathaniel, who Andy is 12-21-3 against in two match-ups this season. Zachary moved from seventh to fifth and has a chance to make another move, going up against second-place Josh, who Zachary is 18-14-4 against this year. Short week next week, with the All-Star Break wiping out games until Thursday.

Texting Teen Falls Down NYC Manhole

Found this story about a New York teenager that walked right into an open manhole.

The girl, Alexa Longueira wasn’t paying attention and was instead text messaging as she was walking down the sidewalk, and ended up in the sewer. As my cousin Dave might say, she was looking where she wasn’t going. She and her mother are planning on filing a lawsuit against the city.

Sometimes I wish I was a judge that could hear these cases. Dumb is not a reason to sue someone. You fall into a manhole because your nose is buried in a cell phone? You lose your case and I rule in favor of the defendant.

It’s like backing into another car in a parking lot and then expecting the owner of the car you hit to pay for any damages because his car was there.

Epic Battle Update – 07/06/09

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Notes: Not too many close games this week and the still-running league theme is the constant jumbling for spots 2-8. JT fell from second to fourth and Zachary jumped from last to a fifth-place tie. With their solid weeks, Josh and TJ joined Nathaniel as the three teams with a better than .500 record. In a league where one week can shift nearly the entire week all the match-ups this week are important. The top 6 teams make the playoffs, and Kevin and Andy B match up this week, with Kevin one game ahead of Andy for that sixth and final playoff spot.

Happy Independence Day

56 Americans gathered in Philadelphia to commit treason against the crown 233 years ago. These 53 men were among the most brilliant men in history and together, they conceived a Nation based on the premise that liberty and freedom could exist in The United States of America, and this nation would be a free and independent one where every man, woman and child could prosper in accordance to their own abilities and determination.

We shouldn’t so easily forget the brilliance of those people who brought forth a new Nation conceived in liberty so that all of us could be free. In addition to those 56 Americans, remember also those men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure the continuing freedoms that we so enjoy.

To me, the Fourth of July is Independence Day. A lot of Americans have fallen into the bad habit of simply referring to the holiday based on the date. “Fourth of July” doesn’t explain why it is our country celebrates the holiday. It’s “Independence Day” and we’re able to celebrate it because of the men and women who have sacrificed in order to keep our nation safe.

The saturation of our Nation’s most important should not be tolerated. Here’s a video for you, and for sure, it’s not your typical inspirational-music fireworks video. No, the only fireworks here come from the mighty Jack Nicholson. His epic speech from A Few Good Men needs to be heard by Americans more than any speech Barack Obama could ever deliver. It’s certainly harsh, but it’s the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Watch and listen to Jack and you’ll learn exactly why we are alive and well and able to celebrate our country’s Independence Day.

Appreciating Mariano Rivera

I’ve grown up with Mariano Rivera. He’s been with the Yankees for just about as long as I’ve consciously been a fan. He and Derek Jeter have consistently been my two favorite Yankees and when Rivera sat the Mets down in the ninth inning the other day, Rivera became the second pitcher to ever record 500 saves.

While Trevor Hoffman has nearly 70 more saves than Rivera, it’s unlikely that Mo will retire with the all-time saves record. But there also won’t be any doubt that Mariano Rivera will be remembered as the best closer of all time. He won’t admit to such, but there may not be a pitcher in all of baseball history that has dominated at such a high level for such an extended period of time than Rivera. He pitched through the steroid and live-ball era and still has managed the lowest ERA+ (by far) of pitchers with more than 1,000 career innings.

But more impressive than his utter physical domination of the best hitters in the world is the professionalism that defined Rivera. He never showed anyone up, but simply went about his job as best he could. And if he failed he didn’t throw a tantrum of cry, he simply showed up the next day and went back at it. Each save has ended in a handshake, not a shakedown.

Closers are a strange breed of baseball player. They’re often overlooked until they fail. The shelf life of closers is not long. Closers are often starting pitchers converted because they lacked a sufficient arsenal to go through a lineup multiple times. And eventually, the one or two good pitches that a closer has are mastered by the league’s hitters and that closer’s done. 689 different pitchers have saved a major league game since Mariano Rivera’s first save. 73 of those only saved one game.

Mariano Rivera has saved 500 (now 502) games throwing one pitch. The devastating cut fastball. The pitch runs in on lefties and makes righties give up. Former Boston manager Kevin Kennedy said of Rivera in 1996, “He went through us in the seventh and eighth inning like he was facing little leaguers”. Batters know what pitch is coming, how fast it’s coming, what it’s going to do and they still flail as if stricken with blindness.

Rivera’s nerves of steel and superhuman cut fastball have allowed him to become not only a regular season hero but a postseason legend as well. His 34 postseason saves are more than double the guy behind him and his 0.77 postseason ERA is unparalleled by any other pitcher.

It’s only fitting that his 500th save was something pulled straight from a storytale. The Yankees lead their crosstown rivals, the Mets by a score of 3-2 heading into the Mets half of the eighth inning. Yankee reliever Brian Bruney came on to relieve Phil Hughes and walked two of the four batters he faced. With the go-ahead run on base, manager Joe Girardi summoned his ultimate trump card, Mariano Rivera.

Rivera trotted in and calmly stared down Met catcher Omir Santos and ran the count to 2-2 before Santos fouled off a pair of nasty cutters painting the outside black. Rivera missed off the outside corner to fill up the count before freezing Santos with a cutter headed for his knees, but ultimately caught most of the plate.

Rivera had kept the Yankees ahead, but had three more outs to get. But not before something else. Playing an interleague game in a National League park meant the pitchers had to hit and due to a double switch, Rivera’s spot would be up sixth if the Yankees mustered any sort of offense in the top of the ninth.

It’s a fairy tale career, remember? The Yankees would muster.

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Jorge Posada would single and Melky Cabrera would ground into a force out. Brett Gardner walked, Johnny Damon lined out to right and Derek Jeter stepped to the plate with a base open and the pitcher, Mariano Rivera, due to hit next. Joe Girardi would send Francisco Cervelli to the on deck circle to try and fool the Mets into thinking he was going to pinch hit, but Rivera would hit. Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez started pitching to Jeter, who had to stifle a grin.

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The Mets would eventually figure out that a pitcher with two career plate appearances would bat next and intentionally walked Jeter to get to him. Rivera would stride to plate with the bases loaded and his team up one run. He took two balls and then watched two strikes find the zone. He fouled the next pitch off and then watched ball three go by. With a two outs and a full count, K-Rod missed up and in and Rivera had his first career RBI.

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The man is the greatest closer in the history of the game, dead or alive and is probably the most consistent player in any sport, ever. And he’s smiling after driving in a run bigger than probably any other professional accomplishment he’s ever had. He threw a comical glance at Jeter as the two men ran the bases simultaneously for the first time in their fifteen year union.

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Mark Teixeira would strike out as the next batter so Rivera was stranded on first and ready to finish off save number 500. After two quick outs to begin the Mets half of the ninth inning, Daniel Murphey smacked a single to left. But Rivera’s very next pitch was grounded weakly to second and a moment later, Rivera had become the second man to save his 500th game, and the first to do so and drive in a run in the same game. Naturally, Rivera’s celebration began with a handshake and a hug from his ultimate teammate, Derek Jeter.

Rivera is now 39 and will eventually end his illustrious career. But it won’t be this year. It’s been fifteen years since Rivera threw his first pitch, and he’s still mowing through major league hitters as if they’re 12-year old kids swinging too-heavy bats in hopes of looking tough.