Thursday, October 29, 2009

It's All Even...

It was deemed a must win for the Yankees, and they came through at home in Game 2 of the World Series, with a 3-1 victory over the Phillies. It was a good pitching battle for the first few innings, with AJ Burnett and Pedro Martinez keeping each offense silent. But in the end, it was the Yankees offense that woke up, Mark Teixeira hit a homer and New York knots the series at 1 a piece.

As I suspected last night, Joe Girardi went to Mariano Rivera for 2 innings to nail down the save. Girardi has seemingly lost faith in that middle relief/set up corps, including Joba Chamberlain and Phillip Hughes. Rivera is not exactly in the early part of his career and you have to wonder how often Girardi will be able to call upon him to get 6 outs.

As hot as Alex Rodriguez was in the ALDS and ALCS, is as cold as he's been in the first two games of the World Series. He is 0 for 8 and has struck out 6 times in the series.

World Series Musings...
Noticed today (sorry if I'm late to the party), but the Phillies have an old sport coat once worn by legendary broadcaster Harry Kalas, hanging in the dugout. I think that's a great gesture on the team's part. Kalas was a part of the Phillies previous two WS wins, in 1980 and last year.

Umpire Brian Gorman was front and center, robbing both teams of scoring chances. He called a "line drive" caught by Ryan Howard, when replays show it was short hopped. Howard threw to Jimmy Rollins who tagged Jorge Posada to "double him up" and the Yankee threat was over. Gorman also called Chase Utley out at first base completing a double play in the 8th inning. Replays show it was not that close, that Utley beat the throw and should have been on base with Howard at the plate. Nope. The 6 man umpire crew huddled a couple of times tonight, that's never a good thing, especially when they don't get the calls correct. Most of the time.

Have you ever been to a game at Yankee Stadium? Have you ever heard a bunch of orchestrated cheering in the top of the first inning and wondered, "what is that?" The fans in the right center field bleachers do what they call a "roll call" chant. They start in leftfield, by chanting that players' name, they move to center, to right, to third, short, second and first. They leave the pitcher and catcher alone. The only way they stop chanting the player's name, is when he acknowledges the cheer, with a wave, or a tip of the cap. It's pretty cool to see it and hear it live at a game.

Chase Utley just keeps on going. He's now been on base in 27 consecutive post season games.

Derek Jeter was named the 2009 winner of the Roberto Clemente Award. It's given annually to the player who combines community service and excellence on the field.

Padres stuff...
My buddy Corey Brock the Padres beat writer for MLB.com, is going back through the 2009 season and grading the starting pitching, bullpen, offense and defense. It's an interesting look at what was and what might be...the series is titled, Making the Grade.

Alright, have a great night....

Andy

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Phillies Chase Yankees Home Field Advantage, Quick-Lee...

Two swings of Chase Utley's bat, and many swings and misses by Yankees hitters, that added up to a 6-1 win for Philadelphia in Game One of the World Series. Utley hit 2 home runs off of CC Sabathia, and Cliff Lee went the distance for the second time this post season. He allowed just 6 hits, walked none and struck out 10. He's now 3-0, with a 0.54 ERA in the playoffs. Lee struck out Alex Rodriguez three times, holding him hitless in 4 at bats in game one.

The Yankees have to be asking themselves what it might be like to possibly face the lefty Lee 2 more times. Sabathia lost for the first time in the playoffs this year, and didn't pitch badly, he just didn't get any offensive support and exited the game after 7 innings. That's when the lead was only 2-0 Phillies, and that's when the game turned. The Yankees bullpen imploded. The combination of Hughes, Marte, Robinson, Bruney, and Coke gave up 4 earned runs over 2 innings and it was pretty much over. Remember that one of the keys I brought up yesterday was getting the game to Mariano Rivera. If the Yankees can't find a way to do that, they could be in trouble.

Utley by the way, set a new post season record by reaching in his 26th straight playoff game. He failed to reach in his very first game in 2007, and has reached in every one since.

Game 2...
The Yankees won't have to wait long to try and even up the series. Game two is Thursday night in the Bronx. AJ Burnett will try to turn things around, after a rough outing in Anaheim last week as the Yankees couldn't close out the Angels that night. Pedro Martinez will go for the Phillies. He is no stranger to pitching in New York, he had some memorable games against the Yankees, while pitching for the Red Sox.

All the pressure in Game 2, squarely falls on Burnett. The Yankees and their three man rotation has usually featured a win by Sabathia, allowing Burnett and Pettitte a little margin for error. Not Thursday night. Burnett needs a strong 7 or more likely 8 innings to get things to Rivera. Joe Girardi is probably sleeping on whether or not to use Rivera for 2 innings like he did in the clincher against the Angels.

For Martinez he'll make his first career start at the New Yankee Stadium, but he won't be phased. Pedro is a career 8-4 with a 2.95 ERA against the Yankees in New York. He has made only 1 post season start this season, he didn't figure in the decision against the Dodgers in the NLCS. He went seven scoreless innings in that start. That's the last time he's pitched, so the 38 year old should be fresh and ready to go.

Umps get one right...
I know I'm not alone in beating up the umps this post-season, and I've certainly pointed out when they've blown calls, now it's time to point out one they got right. Give this crew some credit. With Yankee runner at first, in the 5th inning, Robinson Cano hit a sinking liner to Rollins, he made the catch on the line, just to be certain he stepped on second and then threw wide to first pulling Ryan Howard off of first (maybe). Matsui the runner at first, believing he'd been forced at 2nd, stopped running, and Rollins noticed it, yelling to Howard to tag Matsui. He did. Now at first, the umps ruled only one out. They huddled, all six of them, and then realized that if Rollins made the catch, the touch of second was a non factor, and Matsui was off the bag at first, for a very strange 6-3 double play. Way to get it right guys. Congratulations.

Notes...
This was the first World Series matchup of Cy Young winners, since Greg Maddux (Atlanta) faced Orel Hershiser (Cleveland) in 1995.

The last six teams to win the series opener, have gone on to win the World Series Title.

Sex for tix?
Police in Philadelphia arrested a woman for offering "sexual services for world series tickets" in an on line ad. The 43-year old self described "buxom blonde" was trying to 'score' tickets on line to take her husband to a Phillies WS game. She was arrested when she showed up at a bar, and met up with an undercover police officer who responded to the ad. Her lawyer is trying to get the charges dropped.

On that note. Have a great night!

Andy

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Here We Go...

It's World Series eve, and it's time to get things underway. The Yankees host the Phillies in game one at the new stadium in the bronx. It's going to be a matchup of former Cleveland Indians teammates, each making their first world series start, CC Sabathia for the Yankees and Cliff Lee for the Phillies. They are the last two AL Cy Young award winners as well.

Let's break down this series...

Philadelphia Phillies, NL Champions, Defending WS Champs...
The Phillies certainly have recent experience on their side. Virtually everybody on the roster played for the WS team of a year ago. That certainly bodes well for them. When you look at the Philadelphia starting rotation, it gets off to a great start with Lee. He was arguably the most important pick up of the 2009 season. The Phillies come back with more post-season experience in Pedro Martinez and then last year's MVP, Cole Hamels. Then Charlie Manuel has a choice, with either Joe Blanton, J.A. Happ, or go right back with Lee depending on how the series is playing out.

The Phillies bullpen again is a source of questions. It seems like Brad Lidge has regained some of his form of last year, nailing down saves in the NLDC and NLCS. His confidence is back, but will it remain if a hot hitting Yankees team lights him up in an outing. Getting the ball to him has also been a tough chore at times. Chad Durbin did a nice job in the NLCS, Ryan Madson had his moments, veteran lefty Scott Eyre has been solid and Chan Ho Park has been a bit up and down. This is going to be important to the Phillies if they hope to repeat as champs.

We know that the Phils hit some home runs, and Yankee Stadium along with Citizens Bank Park, are both conducive to the long ball. The Phillies do not completely rely on the long ball though, with some speed at the top of their lineup with Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino.

New York Yankees, AL Champions for the 40th time...
Even though it's been a while since the Yankees made it to the World Series, there are a few key members of the team that have some credible experience in the post-season. Derek Jeter, and Mariano Rivera to name two. The Yankees manager, Joe Girardi also has WS experience as a player. The New York starting rotation is pretty similar to that of the Phillies, with CC Sabathia the ALCS MVP going in game one, AJ Burnett who has been up and down this post season gets game two, and Andy Pettitte will throw game three. It's very likely that Girardi will bring back Sabathia for a fourth game and possibly a 7th game if its necessary, and why not?

The Yankees bullpen is also quite similar to that of the Phillies. The only difference is a rock solid playoff and world series tested closer in Mariano Rivera. Getting the ball to him has been a bit of an adventure in the post season, but if the Yankees can get leads, and get him in the game, consider it won.

Home runs were flying off the bats of the Yankees this season as well. So again the offenses are similarly matched each team having some good table setters and good power in the middle of the lineup.

Who will win...
It's been a while since two teams that are basically mirror images of one another will face each other for all the marbles in the World Series. After thinking about some of the facts in the breakdown segment, I'm going to select the New York Yankees to win the series, and it's going to go the full 7 games.

The difference is going to be Rivera. He's about the only thing that really separates the two teams. I give the slight edge to the Yankees also in the starting rotation. Sabathia has been as advertised and worth every penny he signed for this off season and is there a bigger game pitcher in the post-season out there than Andy Pettitte? Defensively the nod goes to the Phillies, and I give them the slight edge in offense, but as many around baseball will tell you, good pitching can stop good pitching.

The other interesting thing to watch will be the use of the DH in the AL park and no DH in the NL park. Ben Francisco will likely start as DH for the Phillies in game one against the lefty Sabathia. To me the difference will be hard to notice. The Phillies are built almost like an American League team.

I really hope it's an exciting series that provides some drama, and that NO GAME IS DECIDED BY A BLOWN CALL BY AN UMPIRE!

Can I get an AMEN?

WS Notes:
* The Phillies are the first NL team to go to back to back World Series since the Atlanta Braves in 1995 and 1996.
* The Yankees won the World Series in their first season in the Old Yankee Stadium, and played exactly 100 series games there.
* The Yankees are the last team to repeat as champions, they won three WS in a row, from 1998-2000.

Jimmy "The Greek"?
Jimmy Rollins is stirring up the pot a bit, making a bold prediction before this series starts. He told New York Newsday:
"Oh, man, well of course we're going to win," Rollins said. "If we're nice, we'll let it go six. But I'm thinking five and close it out at home."
Rollins has made statements before, just ask the Mets in 2007. Rollins irritated that New York team by saying that he had no doubt the Phillies were the team to beat in the NL East that year. He backed up his words by winning the NL MVP Award that season as the Phillies won the division.

Random Thoughts...
Mentioned yesterday that Mark McGwire was hired as the Cardinals new hitting coach. It prompted an interesting comment from a viewer. To paraphrase, the question is, why is McGwire allowed back into baseball and Pete Rose is still banned? McGwire never admitted to steroid use, and basically dodged the issue in front of the US Congress. Rose, denied and denied and denied he ever bet on baseball, that is until it was time to sell a book, and he in a roundabout sort of way admitted to it finally. It's a tough call. McGwire never tested positive for steroids. The whole issue started when someone noticed the Andro (not going to even try and spell it) in his locker. I think the fact that McGwire has been out of sight makes many think he's guilty. I do believe that McGwire owes the game and the fans an explanation. He needs to hold a press conference before Spring Training starts to clear the air. Otherwise his presence is going to be a distraction to the Cardinals and to the game. He'll be the focus of the media every time the Cardinals visit a new city. This could be interesting.

Brad Mills has been hired as the new manager of the Houston Astros. Mills has been the bench coach in Boston under Terry Francona the last 6 seasons. He does have minor league managing experience, spending 11 seasons as a skipper for three different organizations.

The Ricketts family is finally the owner of the Chicago Cubs. They were approved by the other major league teams, and have taken a 95 percent controlling interest of the team, and Wrigley Field. The sale from the Tribune Company, was for a reported 845 million dollars.

Not sure if you realize this or not, but Brett Favre is playing the Packers this weekend in Green Bay. A special thanks to Fox-TV for making this point, VERY CLEAR during every waking moment of Sunday's NFL coverage. Ugh.

The NBA season opened tonight, somebody please wake me when it ends...

On that note...have a great night!

Andy





Monday, October 26, 2009

Hoyer In the Fold...


The Padres made it official today, announcing that Jed Hoyer will be the team's new General Manager replacing Kevin Towers.

Hoyer is 35 years old and makes his way to San Diego from Boston where he worked as the assistant GM to another man with Padres ties, Theo Epstein. Hoyer held his first press conference this afternoon, and talked extensively about his plans for the organization moving forward. One thing he really hit hard, was using PETCO Park to the team's advantage.
"It's really important to dominate your home games, to do really well," Hoyer said. "One of the advantages in San Diego is you can tailor the team to the ballpark."
That process seemed to start last season, with the addition of some speed on both the bases and in the outfield. The acquisition of Rule 5 draftee Everth Cabrera, Tony Gwynn Jr. and the emergence of Will Venable as a solid defender in the outfield certainly helped out a young pitching staff.

Hoyer was very complimentary of his predecessor Kevin Towers.

"I grew up in baseball listening to Theo extol Kevin's virtues," Hoyer said. "I got to know him a little bit through Theo. He's one of the best baseball guys in the game. ...

"I'm incredibly thankful for what he's left behind. He's left behind some great players, some great building blocks and a great baseball operations staff. Every day I walk into the office, I'm going to be thankful for the work he did."

He also outlined a brief philosophy on how he wants to proceed...
"My goal is consistency. I want to make sure that on Opening Day every year, there's a quality team on the field. Really, the only way to develop that kind of consistency is through scouting and player development. Relying on external forces -- trades, free agents -- that's not the way I want to build a team. I want to build from within."
I look forward to meeting him when I get back to town. I'll certainly provide some details when I get that chance. I want to say thanks to Friar John and his blog for providing the picture above, and the quotes.

World Series...
The matchup is set, the Yankees look for their 27th World Championship, taking on the Phillies who are looking to make it back to back titles. I'll provide a little more insight into the series and give you my pick to win it all tomorrow. I think these two teams are quite evenly matched and have pretty similar strengths. Could be a good series.

Who's the Boss?
Yankees owner George Steinbrenner was not at the "House that George Built" to celebrate another American League Pennant. "The Boss" as he's referred to, is not in great health, and only saw 3 regular season games this year. He will be in attendance Wednesday when the World Series starts. Love him or hate him, the Yankees players and coaches are excited to see him at the stadium. Steinbrenner was and is still in some circles a polarizing figure. He had a reputation of being a hot headed, quick tempered owner. He hated losing, and sometimes didn't go about making his changes in a "politically correct" manner, if you will. He made few friends outside of New York, but give him his due, the Yankees have been a dominant force under his leadership. Brash as it may be.

Not even close...Yankees crush Giants...on TV...
Fans in New York, chose the Yankees over the football Giants by a wide margin last night. The ALCS clincher was seen by 26.4 percent of the TV's in the market, while the Giants were watched by only 9.3 percent of households with TV's. By the way, what households don't have TV's these days?

Big Mac is back, so is LaRussa...
Tony LaRussa agreed to a one year extension with the Cardinals marking his 15th season as the team's manager. As I eluded to yesterday, he made one change to his coaching staff, with the hiring of a new hitting coach, Mark McGwire. Big Mac has been in virtual baseball seclusion since his famous "I'm not here to talk about the past" statement before Congress. It will be interesting to see how he will be received outside of St Louis. Some are quick to forgive, some are long to forget.

Alright, that's it for now...perhaps more later....

Andy




Padres to make a major club announcement...at 2:30 today.

The Padres have called a press conference for 2:30 PM to make a major club announcement.

It is expected that the team will officially announce it has hired a new GM.

More later.

Andy

Padres to make announcement...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Fox gets it's dream match up...

It's going to be the Yankees and the Phillies in this year's World Series, which will start Wednesday in New York. The Yankees dispatched the Angels in 6 games with a 5-2 win tonight. It must have seemed (sorry Yogi) like deja vu all over again for the fans in the Bronx, Andy Pettitte pitches into the 7th and Mariano Rivera wraps up the save and the series by going 2 innings tonight. Pettitte now has a record 16 post-season wins. So it's a television network dream matchup, as the large market Yankees take on the large market Phillies, and oh did I mention they are both east coast teams?

CC Sabathia was named the ALCS MVP, going 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA, he also struck out 16 over his two starts. You have to tip your cap to Sabathia, after signing the big, or huge money deal in the offseason, all the pressure was on him. He came through in a tough place to play.

Give Joe Girardi some credit too, he proved that he can manage when there were some questions. After winning the NL Manager of the Year award in 2006 he was fired by the Marlins because of a conflict with the eccentric owner in Florida. He took a year off, and now in his second season in New York, he's going to the World Series. Girardi has been there as a player, and now as a skipper as well. Congratulations Joe.

Cleveland influence in WS...
Yes, it's true, the Indians will be well represented in this year's fall/winter classic. I guess to be more specific, former Indians. The last two AL Cy Young winners will face off in game one, Sabathia goes for the Yankees, and Cliff Lee will take the ball for the Phillies. Sabathia was dealt from Cleveland last year to the Brewers, and led them to the playoffs. Lee was dealt this season by the Indians and is now pitching in the World Series.

Manny gets in on the Acta...
Speaking again of Cleveland, the Indians have a new manager and it's Manny Acta. The former skipper of the lowly Washington Nationals, Acta gets a 3 year deal with a club option for 2013. Acta apparently had an offer to manage the Astros as well, but chose the Indians offer instead.

The Genius returns...and maybe bringing a Big Mac with him?
Tony LaRussa has apparently agreed to an extension with the Cardinals to remain the team's manager. LaRussa told the AP that he'll be back for a 15th season with the Cardinals. There are reports he'll be bringing back a familiar name with him. Mark McGwire could be hired as the team's hitting coach. McGwire has been out of baseball since his famous "let's not talk about the past" testimony before Congress regarding the use of steroids. He hit 583 career homers, and a then record 70 in 1998. He has fallen well short of Hall of Fame voting ever since suspicions arose about his use of performance enhancing drugs.

You can't get there from here...no seriously...
How's this for timing, or should I say leverage? The Philadelphia Transit workers have voted to authorize a strike, just a week before the city is set to host a World Series game. How are all the media members going to get to their cheesteak sandwiches?

ESPN cans Phillips...
The cable sports channel said goodbye to former Mets GM and Baseball Tonight contributor Steve Phillips after he last week admitted to an affair with a 22 year old staffer at ESPN. Phillips is apparently entering a treatment facility "to address his personal issues". Yikes.

Alright that's it for now...stay tuned for more on the reported hiring of Jed Hoyer as the Padres new GM.

Andy

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Hoyer looks like the man...

Although it won't become official until Monday, multiple sources, including MLB.com, and the San Diego Union Tribune, are reporting that the Padres have hired, Red Sox Assistant GM, Jed Hoyer to replace Kevin Towers as the new GM of the Padres.

Hoyer, is 35 years old, and will be a GM for the first time, at least a full-time GM for the first time. Hoyer has worked under Theo Epstein for the last 7 years, and briefly assumed power when Epstein walked away for 44 days, at the end of October 2005. While in charge, Hoyer helped to engineer the deal between the Red Sox and the Marlins, acquiring Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell, sending Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez to the Marlins. The deal has been widely regarded as one that worked out well for both sides.

Padres Vice Chairman Jeff Moorad stated in his press conference, that he wanted a person to come in and have a more 'strategic' approach. Moorad also wanted a candidate who could use the numbers, and also rely on his knowledge through scouting and gut feel. Hoyer has that reputation. He also happens to be the same age, 35, as Josh Byrnes, when Moorad hired the latter in Arizona.

There will be plenty more available on this story, after it becomes completely official.

Rain Rain Go Away...
As I suspected, the rain would not subside and the Yankees/Angels game 6 was postponed until tomorrow night. Yankees manager Joe Girardi decided to stick with Andy Pettitte for the game, preferring to keep CC Sabathia on normal rest, if a game 7 becomes necessary. As far as the Angels are concerned, they'll stick with Joe Saunders, and now, with an extra day, Mike Scoiscia can come back with John Lackey in a game 7 situation. Rain is still in the forecast for New York on Sunday.

Phree Time for the Phillies...
How will this long layoff affect the Phillies? After finishing off the Dodgers in 5 games, the Phils have been off since October 21st. I guess you could argue it either way. One thought is that now Charlie Manuel can set up his rotation to best compete against the American League Champ. It also gives the Phillies a chance to get some much needed rest and be fully prepared when the World Series starts. The other school of thought is perhaps the Phillies have lost their momentum, and could have a hard time getting re-started once the WS starts. I say this, the Phillies are the defending champions, they've been here before, they have the experience and will be ready when the bell rings. Sometimes we like to over think these things, don't you think?

The Ocho?
I told you yesterday that Chad Ochocinco was fined by the NFL's uniform police for an improperly colored chin strap, now comes news that Ochocinco would rather report the news, than be the news. He's planning to form his own social news network on Twitter, and use his contacts around the league, to break stories, and bring his followers news on other teams. He has a name and a slogan already, the network is OCNN "The Ochocinco News Network", and the slogan, as he told the AP in a phone interview, "If I break it, you might as well believe it". Hey Chad, I'd like a t-shirt with that logo and saying on it please! Someone who is following Chad, please pass that request along will you please?

UFC...
Ok, I have to admit, I'm really not into the UFC thing, but I happened into a local establishment tonight, and watched the title bout between Lyoto Machida and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua won by Machida on a unanimous decision. I was amazed to see so many people of all different ages, races and gender getting into every punch, kick, block and connection. My jury is still out, but it did open my eyes to the popularity of the sport. Maybe I'll watch it again?

Alright that's it time for bed and a full day of NFL tomorrow...if you have the DirecTv package, make sure you check out my friend Andrew Siciliano on the Red Zone Channel, it's a great way to watch all the games, and he does a great job.

Later all...

Andy


Friday, October 23, 2009

Game 6 Maybe?

The Angels stayed alive. It wasn't pretty but it was effective. If the Angels had lost, Mike Scioscia would have left himself open to a ton of criticism. From removing John Lackey in the 7th, to walking the potential tying run, Alex Rodriguez, intentionally in the 9th to face Hidecki Matsui. But it all worked out. The last move to me was the most curious. Scioscia was basically saying, we don't want A-Rod to tie the game, so I'll walk him to bring the go-ahead run to the plate. Interesting move to say the least. So the Angels live to see another game.

Not a good forecast in New York for tonight's game 6 of the ALCS. The Yankees certainly want to play, leading the series 3-2 over the Angels. Joe Saunders takes the ball for the Angels, facing playoff veteran Andy Pettitte. Now, Joe Girardi will have a decision to make if this game is rained out. Will he bring back CC Sabathia in a re-scheduled game 6 to try and close it out, knowing that Pettitte would be available to work a game 7 on an extra days rest? Worth paying attention to in my opinion.

New GM?
It's being widely reported in several online publications that Jed Hoyer will be the new Padres GM. There is nothing official from the team on this, so it's still speculation at this point. Hoyer has been the Assistant GM in Boston. I'll certainly let you know, via this space, twitter or my Facebook account once this move, or a different move becomes official.

They're back...
Bud Black will have his entire coaching staff back for the 2010 season. The only possible exception is Randy Ready. He interviewed for the vacant managerial opening in Houston last week. Ted Simmons, Glenn Hoffman, Rick Renteria, Darren Balsley, and Darrel Akerfelds are set to return for the upcoming season. These are very good coaches, and very good people. To me, each proved what they were made of this season, working with a very inexperienced bunch. Some managers, and coaches have a hard time dealing with young players, but not this staff. Guys, looking forward to working with you again in 2010. Wow that even rhymes.

It's Getting Ugly in LA...
Frank and Jamie McCourt's impending divorce took an interesting twist, with Frank, firing Jamie as the team's CEO. Mr. McCourt held meetings today with his GM, Ned Coletti and manager Joe Torre as they look forward to 2010. Coletti doesn't expect there to be any cutbacks to the payroll as he prepares for next season.

Lakers hoop it up in America's Finest City...
While out on the town tonight, I glanced at one of the TV's and saw a shot of the San Diego Sports Arena, as it played host to an NBA Pre-Season game for the Lakers. Denver won the game 119-105. Pretty cool though to see the NBA again in SD.

NFL Fines Ochocinco...
Watch out Chad Ochocinco the NFL is cracking down on you. Not for "tweeting", or for running your mouth, but for wearing the wrong colored chin strap. Yes, you heard me, the Bengals receiver will have to cough up $10,000 for wearing a black chin strap last week instead of white. The NFL's uniform police routinely had out these silly fines, for showing too much sock, or not enough, and even for the wrong colored towel hanging from uniform pants. In the words of Chad himself, "child please".

Good friends...
On a personal note, while vacationing this week, I had a chance tonight to catch up with five very good friends. I've known these guys in some cases, for 37 years, and others since the start of high school. I feel fortunate to have these type of people in my life. Guys it was great reliving the 'glory days' and it's always great to see you, make sure you visit me in SD soon.

That's it for tonight, I'm actually dog sitting for my brother now...and the pooch needs to go outside...

Andy


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

NLCS Has It's Phil, again

Well it's over in the National League. The Philadelphia Phillies have repeated as NL champions and will get to defend their World Series Title. As NLCS MVP Ryan Howard described it, the Phillies used a total team effort to get past the Rockies and then the Dodgers. A good mix of offense, defense and pitching propelled the Phillies back into the World Series for the second straight season. The Phillies will now await their next challenge, probably the Yankees in an attempt to repeat as champions of baseball.

Tonight, Cole Hamels wasn't great, Vicente Padilla wasn't great, but the Phils offense was. Philadelphia led the NL in homers this season, and used 4 of them tonight to beat the Dodgers and win the series 4 games to 1.

Congratulations to Charlie Manuel and his team. Charlie is a great guy. I had the chance to meet him this year, thanks to one of the Phillies broadcasters Chris Wheeler. Charlie couldn't be a nicer human being. He wouldn't end our conversation. We chatted about everything from the weather in San Diego, to Tony Gwynn Jr's batting stance at home plate. Manuel is an old fashioned manager, in the respect that he gives his players the chance to just play. No micromanaging from him. He makes decisions from his gut, and believes in his players. If you don't believe me, just ask Brad Lidge. Manuel stuck with the struggling closer and Lidge has been a big part of the Phillies success this post-season.

ALCS...
John Lackey will be the last hope for the Angels, he'll start game 5 against AJ Burnett for the Yankees. New York has a 3-1 lead in the series. I can't see how the Yankees will blow a lead of this margin, they are just too good. It will certainly set up a good matchup of similarly built teams in the World Series if the Yanks can close things out.

Manager Joe Girardi revealed today, that Derek Jeter has been sick this entire series. Battling "a bug" as he put it. Just proves that Jeter is one of the guttiest players in baseball and is a true "captain" in every sense of the word. Alex Rodriguez will be named series MVP and how could he not? 5 homers in the post season, and 3 in the ALCS, it's a lock for A-Rod.

When I mentioned what a class guy Charlie Manuel was, ditto that for Yankees manager Joe Girardi. I got to know Joe very well as a catcher for the Chicago Cubs in his second tour of duty with the team. Girardi was a hard nosed player, and expected the most out of his teammates as well. I had the unique opportunity to interview Girardi after two tragic events in baseball, and in the US. He was gracious enough to grant a request when baseball resumed after the horrible events of September 11, 2001. Girardi was a voice of reason in that interview and I can remember the look in his eyes, it was a look of yes our country is wounded, but it's our job to give them a distraction. In essence he was saying, the game must go on to help heal the USA. Girardi also was kind enough to grant me some time after the Cubs/Cardinals game was cancelled in 2002 after the tragic death of Darryl Kile. The next night the two teams played and Girardi was my pre-game guest. He had to choke back tears several times during the interview. This is a man that understands life and understands what it is to be a major league baseball player and now a manager. I always appreciated his time and just being able to talk baseball with a guy like Joe Girardi.

If it is a match up of Phillies and Yankees, there will be two classy and deserving men at the helm of their respective teams.

Umps...I'm backed up!
Thankfully there were several other national media member to corroborate my thoughts on the horrible display of umpiring not only this post season but all year long. I'll refer you to an online article written by CBS Sportsline columnist Greg Doyel who agrees completely with me, that the umpiring has been atrocious! Thank you Greg!

Valentine again?
What is it about major league baseball GM's, hiring re-treds? I mean are the Indians seriously considering hiring Bobby Valentine? To me they should be looking for a new GM instead of a new manager. Mark Shapiro was the guy that in the last two years traded away an all star team of, CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee, Casey Blake, Ryan Garko and Victor Martinez. Casey Stengel himself couldn't have managed the Indians any better than Eric Wedge did. Wedge had nothing. Now Wedge is out of a job, and he may be replaced by Valentine. Wow, that's sad.

Senator Please...
Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) is continuing his crusade for a change to the BCS system. He wrote a letter to President Barrack Obama saying "Mr. President, as you have publicly stated on multiple occasions, the BCS system is in dire need of reform," as the Senator is calling for an antitrust probe of the BCS.

Again, while I agree that the NCAA should go to a college football playoff system, is this really the time for a Senator, who's home state school was dissed by the BCS, to spend even this much time on a problem so minute to our country? I ask the question.

Esteban OchoCinco?
There has been an interesting war of "tweets" going on this week between Chad Ochocinco and players on the Chicago Bears. On a conference call with the Chicago media today, Chad began the conversation by saying "hola" , that he was now Mexican and that his name was Esteban. Ok. He did have one hilarious "tweet", according to the Chicago Tribune Ochocinco told Bears linebacker Lance Briggs, that "I'll make Lance Briggs backpedal so much that his name will become Lance Armstrong". Good stuff. Could be an interesting game as the Bengals host the Bears this Sunday.

A Little Ice Time...
Just got back from a hockey game tonight. As I'm on vacation, I took in a Chicago Blackhawks game as they hosted the Vancouver Canucks. My brother and a friend of his attended and had a blast even though the home team lost 3-2. I know hockey isn't very popular in Southern California, but it's a great sport to view in person. HDTV has certainly helped in being able to watch a game and follow the puck on TV, but being there is awesome. Go to a Kings or Ducks game and check it out for yourself. Lots of fun too!

Alright, that's it for tonight...have a great one...

Andy


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Looking Like Yankees and Phillies...

CC Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez are proving to be a lethal combination to all that get in the Yankees' way. They combined again to help New York take a commanding 3-1 lead in the ALCS with a 10-1 win in Anaheim.

A-Rod hit his 5th homer of the post-season and third in as many games, matching the output of the Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson in the 1977 playoffs. The Yankee record belongs to Bernie Williams with 6 long balls in the 1996 post-season for the Yankees.

Sabathia moved to 3-0 with a 1.19 ERA in the playoffs with his 8 inning performance, while former Padre Chad Gaudin finished things up in the 9th.

Game 5 comes up Thursday in Anaheim.

Umps having tough post-season...
Is it me, or has the umpiring in the post-season been sub par? Tim McClelland, who really seems already retired, completely blew the call at third base. Jorge Posada had the right to the bag with two men occupying it, but as he stepped off, the runner from second, was tagged, then Posada who over ran the bag was tagged out. According to my knowledge of the rule book, that's a double play. According to McClelland's only one out was recorded. Hmm.

McClelland struck again, saying that Nick Swisher left early from 3rd on a tag play. Only thing is as the video replay clearly shows, McClelland was only watching the catch in center by Torrii Hunter and not the tag up. Talk about making an impact. WOW.

Add Dale Scott to the roster as well. Kazmir's pickoff play at second base, was as clearly an out as you can have. Yet Scott didn't see it that way.

Again not saying these plays determined the outcome of the game, but these guys are supposed to be the best in the world. That's why they make 6 figure salaries. That's why they can take vacations in the middle of the season. That's why they don't have to study video of the games they ump, like pro football refs (who are part time by the way) do, and college basketball officials do. It would only seem logical to want to get better at what you do. Right? How much time could it take to review a game after it's over? Or on their first class flight to the next city?Can't be much time. It's embarrassing to watch. The worst part is the arrogance of some of them as well. In the old days, a player could have a say, a chat with a man in blue, but today, you look at him cross-eyed and you are gone. What a shame.

What ever happened to getting it right? Why can't the umps get together and maybe overrule each other?

NLCS...
It could be all over in the NL as of tomorrow. The Phillies will try to close out the Dodgers at Citizens Bank Park. Cole Hamels goes for the home team against former Phillie Vicente Padilla for the Dodgers.

Ryan Howard will try to keep up his amazing post-season, he's recorded an RBI in all 7 of Philadelphia's playoff games. That is a single playoff record.

Stub-hub-bub
The ticket brokering service Stub-hub made a big time boo boo this week. The company sent an e-mail Monday offering fans, METS post-season tickets. METS playoff tickets. Cue up Jim Mora..."PLAYOFFS? PLAYOFFS? PLAYOFFS?"...the Mets finished the regular season 70-92 and were toast by mid-July. The company suffered an apparent e-mail glitch and sent out a retraction email apologizing for any confusion. PLAYOFFS? PLAYOFFS? PLAYOFFS?

Manny-reasons why Manny Being Manny isn't good...
Where was Manny Ramirez while the Phillies were rallying to beat the Dodgers Monday night?Let's go with multiple choice, A) Sitting on the bench rooting on his team, B) At the dugout railing yelling and screaming for his team to hold on, or C) In the shower. If you answered C, in the shower, you are correct! Ramirez was unaware of anything that happened in the bottom of the 9th. He was lifted for a defensive replacement and instead of staying with his team, he hit the showers. Great example isn't he?

Alright, that's it for tonight. Have a good one everybody...

Andy


Monday, October 19, 2009

Two Great Games, One, not so great...

Jeff Mathis and Jimmy Rollins. The two are hardly ever mentioned in the same sentence, in fact maybe this is the first time ever. Today and tonight those two players, sent their teams to dramatic wins in their final at bat. For the Angels, it kept the faint pulse beating against the Yankees, and for the Phillies it may have just finished off the Dodgers.

The Angels needed this one badly. They are now down 2-1 in their series with the Yankees and still have some hope. Many are criticizing Yankees skipper Joe Girardi for losing his DH, when he put Jerry Hairston Jr in left, and then with Mariano Rivera scheduled to hit with two out and nobody on, pinch hit for the closer, leaving Girardi without the established presence in the 11th. Go ahead and criticize. I'm not going to though. I've learned over the years from such managers as Jim Riggleman, Don Baylor, Dusty Baker and now Bud Black that there's usually a darn good reason for making the moves they make. What might look curious to some, is never something left to chance. We never know if a guy is injured, or if a pitcher says "hey skip, my arm is toast, take me out", or some other underlying factor. Good managers never throw their players under the bus in public, most of the yelling and screaming is done in private, behind closed doors. Just something to think about.

How important was the 11 inning win? CC Sabathia is coming back to pitch game four for the Yankees after dominating the Angels in game one. Scott Kazmir will pitch for the Angels to try and pull them even in the series. Game 4 is tomorrow night.

Jimmy Rollins was lucky to escape the post game celebration with his life. When did it become custom to try and tackle and beat up the hero of the game? I remember in 2007 when Kevin Kouzmanoff snuck a single through the right side of the infield to beat the Rockies, Brian Giles almost took Kouz's head off! It's supposed to be a non-contact sport!

Rollins two run double/triple off Jonathan Broxton capped a mad comeback to put the Phillies on the brink of heading back to the World Series. Philadelphia now has a 3-1 lead in the series, and it may not have to go back to LA at all.

Broxton really has nobody to blame but himself. He throws hard, but once in a while, and yes Padres fans you've seen him give up 5 run leads on a couple of occasions, he just looses his command. He walked pinch hitter Matt Stairs, hit Carlos Ruiz and though it may not sound like a big deal, it turned the line up over and allowed the tough part of the Phillies order to come up and tonight, come through in a 5-4 win at Citizens Bank Park.

I think one of the lines of the night came from Rollins just after he won the game for the Phillies...I'll use quotes, but I'm paraphrasing here, "I'm not looking to hit a home run there, I knew I just had to barrel one up and when a guy is throwing 99 MPH, and you hit it square, it's going to go". What a refreshing approach to a critical situation in a game.

The NLCS will take tomorrow off and resume Wednesday in Philadelphia.

High Hopes...
In case you were wondering, if you were still watching the NLCS during the post-game, and heard a song playing in the background at the ballpark, I'll tell you what it was. Since the passing of legendary hall of fame broadcaster Harry Kalas, the Phillies either during the 7th inning stretch or after a win, will play his rendition of "High Hopes", that Harry sung at a banquet before his induction at Cooperstown. We heard it for the first time, in the Phils first home game after his passing. The entire series they played it instead of "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" and to hear all those people in the stands, singing along with Kalas, sent goosebumps up my arms and shivers down my neck each and every time I heard it. Same tonight.

Low Point...
Ok, I mentioned two good games (baseball) and one bad one. Unfortunately that one was the Chargers/Broncos game. Not sure what happened tonight. I actually did watch quite a bit of the game, while switching back and forth to baseball. I did find it hard to believe that LaDanian Tomlinson was not in the game, but on the sidelines during a critical short yardage situation. Why? He seemed quite "irked" by the decision as well. The Chargers failed to measure up to the Broncos tonight. Eddie Royal's two returns for touchdowns, Carrell Buckhalter and Knoshown Moreno's 1-2 tandem rushing the ball, and Kyle Orton, who is leading the Denver team to a 6-0 record. They outplayed the Chargers at the Q. To me, the Chargers still are a more talented team, but sometimes effort and determination beat talent. I'll leave it at that.

Parting shot...
To Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) and Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), I say, "GIVE ME A BREAK". The trio is vowing to fight to kill the BCS system and put in place a more fair post season system for college football. I agree with that because the BCS is about a middle initial too long, but for government officials to get involved? Come on. Hmm, wonder if it's because its Utah, Hawaii and Texas, three schools that have gotten less than a fair shake from the BCS in it's present form? I would think that the taxpayers from those states, would rather see their representatives fight for other things, like help for the economy and foreclosures and other real life things going on. Just my thoughts. Don't want to get into a political debate but this seems sort of stupid.

Ok, that's it for me tonight! Enjoy!

Andy

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Real-LEE good...

While one former Indian is getting a lot of the spotlight in the ALCS (Sabathia) another former Indian and CY Young winner, Cliff Lee is mowing em down for the Phillies. Exhibit A, a victory in a Phillies 11-0 whitewashing of the Dodgers in game 3 of the NLCS. Philadelphia now takes a 2-1 lead in the series.

Citizen's Bank proved again to be the homer haven it's been all year for the home team. Jayson Werth the former Dodger hit the first of Philadelphia's two homers and it came with his team already up 2-0. Werth's two run shot made it an early 4-0 lead off of Hiroki Kuroda, who just didn't have it after a long layoff due to injury. Shane Victorino also went deep, and Ryan Howard tripled in a pair in the lopsided win. Lee has been the difference for the Phillies, this post season, he's 2-0 with an era of 0.74. He struck out 10 and didn't walk a batter in a dominant 8 innings of work. The series continues Monday night in Philadelphia as former Phillie and Padre Randy Wolf goes for the Dodgers against Joe Blanton for the home team. This is basically a must win game for the Dodgers.

ALCS...
This series also resumes Monday, with an afternoon game in Anaheim. Joe Saunders gets the ball for the Angels against Andy Pettitte for the Yankees. These two teams needed a day off after the 13 inning marathon in the Bronx the other night. The Yankees have a 2-0 lead in the series.

Surprising reception...
I don't know about you, but I was very surprised that Randy Wolf was booed as he was in being introduced before tonight's game in Philadelphia. Wolf began his career with the Phillies and was a fan favorite. A group known as the "wolf pack" formed, a bunch of guys, who were related, began donning wolf masks every time Randy would pitch. Wolf became friends with the members of the family of wolves, and even attended the funeral of one of the wolf pack a few years ago. I'm sure that Wolf will have a mix of emotions going on, knowing he's pitching for his hometown Dodgers, in the city he cut his teeth in the big leagues, trying to ensure that the series will be coming back to LA. That's a lot for even me to digest.

Not surprising was the reception for Vicente Padilla and former player/manager Larry Bowa. They were both booed as well. But former Phillie, Jim Thome received a warm reception from the fans.

Hoodie is no goodie...
I couldn't believe my eyes while watching the Patriots crush the Titans in a blinding snowstorm in Foxboro. What was more amazing, the final score of 59-0. Tom Brady threw six touchdown passes, including 5 in the 2nd quarter. Here's where the "Hoodie" did his best Steve Spurrier impersonation. Up 45-0 at halftime, it wasn't enough. He sent Tom Brady back out, to throw that elusive 6th TD pass against a team that had clearly given up many touchdowns prior. I don't think the Patriots are going to have to worry about that 5th or 6th tie breaker of point differential to get into the playoffs. Why embarrass a team that much? What does it prove? Is it too good for the ego to pass up? Give me a break. Way to go Bill Belichick, you are just the best coach ever. How is that for your ego?

Phillies bail out the Eagles...
Thankfully for the Eagles, the Phillies won tonight, otherwise, I hate to think what might be happening on the airwaves at a station like WIP in Phily. The Eagles went on the road and actually LOST to the Raiders 13-9. How about the fact that the Phillies outscored the Eagles and gave up less points too. Ouch.

Monday Night Lights...
Time for the Chargers to prove once and for all that they are the better team than the Broncos. Denver's 5-0 start has many in the Mile High City thinking this is a Superbowl team. The Broncos are good, they have a good 1-2 punch in Buckhalter and Moreno at RB, Brandon Marshall is very good and Kyle Orton is having a great start, but it's only 5 games. The Chargers need to step it up defensively, get some pressure on Orton and cause some turnovers. Defensive Coordinator Ron Rivera knows Kyle Orton and his weaknesses from their time together with the Bears, hopefully he'll exploit those weaknesses Monday night. I'm still predicting a Chargers win at the Q.

Alright, big day in sports tomorrow....enjoy it!

Andy

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Jack In The Bronx...

That's what "they" are calling this New Yankee Stadium and it's slightly longer than Williamsport dimensions. Ok, before you say it, I know, I know, both teams play there and have the same chances, but come on the Yanks get to play 81 games in the bandbox that replaced the band leader. I also realize this is not why the Yankees won the game, or why the Angels lost the game but it still makes one think.

Key Moments...
For the Angels: Great job by Darren Oliver, the 38 year old lefty (that was pointed out a few times by Joe Buck) to pitch around an absolutely HORRIBLE, potentially game changing call by 2nd base umpire Jerry Layne. The "in the neighborhood" play is there to prevent 2b's and ss's from getting killed with guys sliding into them trying to break up a double play. Way to get your name in the paper (or in this case the blog) Jerry, you were almost "Denkinger-ized". No excuse for that. None.

Maicer Izturis got caught up in the moment thinking he could turn two on a tough play to his left. Get the sure out and live to fight another batter and see what happens. Sometimes players get to thinking "spectacular play" rather than the routine play, or in this case, a sure out.

Vladimir Guerrero left a small village of his teammates on base. I believe the final count was 8. That to me, more than anything contributed to the loss for the Angels.

For the Yankees: What can you say about Alex Rodriguez? There are many who feel as though A-Rod should have been walked, but a lot of managers will tell you it's not good baseball to put on the potential tying run to get to the potential winning run at the plate. The problem with the Rodriguez at bat in my opinion was a poor 0-2 pitch by Brian Fuentes. If you get A-Rod down 2 strikes, you better miss big or expect what happened. #13 has come up large for the Yankees this post-season, and his first row homer tied the ballgame.

Jerry Hairston Jr (older brother of former Padre Scott Hairston) came through for Joe Girardi with a solid single to start the 13th. The Yankees are fairly lucky it ended in 13, since the bench was getting thin, and so was the pen. Did you see who was up? A clean shaven, hardly recognizable blast from Padre past, Chad Gaudin.

So now the Yankees head to Anaheim up 2-0 in the best of 7 ALCS. Game 3 will feature lefty Andy Pettitte for the Yankees, and Jared Weaver for the Angels.

NLCS shifts to Philly...
Philadelphia will be the scene Sunday for game three of the NLCS, with Cliff Lee facing Hiroki Kiroda. The latter hasn't pitched in a while, and has had a tough season. Kiroda spent a bunch of time on the DL, especially after being hit on the head by a line drive in Arizona. His most recent injury though was a bad disc in his neck. We'll have to wait and see what he's got in the tank. It's going to be a chilly one in Philly, temps expected in the mid 40's at game time.

Technology front runners...
The Dodgers are doing a great job of keeping their fans in the moment. The team website (www.dodgers.com) is filled with celebrity 'tweets' and today features a video tour of Philadelphia by former Padre Mark Sweeney who is now an assistant coach with LA. Sweeney's commentary is good stuff, you should check it out.

Female GM?
Numerous reports have Dodgers assistant GM, Kim Ng (ing) interviewing with Padres brass today. She would be the first female GM in baseball. Read more here at the Padres team site. Corey Brock reported a couple of weeks ago, that Jeff Moorad planned to interview at least one minority candidate.

Alright, that's pretty much what I've got for you tonight...enjoy!

Andy

Friday, October 16, 2009

Yankees Use A CC Rider...

On a cold night in the Bronx, the Yankees used their horse, CC Sabathia in a 4-1 win over the Angels in game one of the ALCS. It's not a shock that the Yankees defended the home field, however to me, it is a shock the way the Angels lost. Committing errors. Even Torrii Hunter committed one in the game, just his second error in 2009. Hunter is such a good centerfielder that since 1998, that was his 30th career error. The three team errors led to a couple of unearned runs, and that spelled doom for the Angels.

Either way it was going to be a tough chore to get to a "locked in" CC Sabathia. He went 8 dominant innings, and is proving to be quite worthy of the lucrative deal he signed in the off season. He's showing why they were crying in Lake Erie when the Indians traded him to the Brewers. Sabathia almost single handedly led the Brewers to the playoffs, but since he was being used seemingly every day he ran out of gas. He then ran out of Milwaukee and signed the "big bucks, no whammy's deal" with the Yankees. How nice must it be for Joe Girardi to throw Sabathia for 8, then turn to Mariano Rivera in the 9th? Trivia: What does CC stand for? I'll answer that later in the blog!

Game 2...
Another one of the Yankees big money free agents will go in tomorrow's game two, AJ Burnett facing the Angels, Joe Saunders.

NLCS Game 2...
That's the way the Dodgers have been winning games all year long. Andre Ethier is usually in the middle of it as well. Such was the case today in LA, when the Dodgers evened up the NLCS with a 2-1 win over the Phillies. Both starters were dealing (pardon the cliche) in the game. Vicente Padilla, an unwanted man in Texas, found a home in LA, going 7 1/3, while striking out 6. He gave up a homer to Ryan Howard for the only Phillies run. Pedro Martinez was his usual post-season self, going 7 scoreless innings while striking out 3...

Crazy 8...
Then there was the 8th inning...and a typical Dodger rally. Here's the official play-by-play since it's too crazy to recap myself...(courtesy of CBS Sportsline.com)
DODGERS 8TH
Chan Ho Park pitching:
Casey Blake:Strike looking, Ball, Ball, Blake singled to left
Juan Pierre ran for Casey Blake.
Ronnie Belliard:Pickoff attempt to first, Bunt foul, Pickoff attempt to first, Belliard reached on bunt single to first, Pierre to second.
Russell Martin:Ball, Ball, Ball, Strike looking, Bunt foul, Martin reached on fielder's choice to third, Pierre to third, Belliard out at second,Pierre scored on Utley's throwing error
Jim Thome hit for Hong-Chih Kuo.
Scott Eyre relieved Chan Ho Park.
Jim Thome:Pickoff attempt to first, Ball, Thome singled to right, Martin to third
Juan Castro ran for Jim Thome.
Ryan Madson relieved Scott Eyre.
Rafael Furcal:Ball, Foul, Ball, Ball, Furcal walked, Castro to second.
Matt Kemp:Foul, Foul, Ball, Kemp struck out swinging.
J.A. Happ relieved Ryan Madson.
Andre Ethier:Ball, Foul, Foul, Foul, Ball, Ball, Ethier walked, Martin scored, Castro to third, Furcal to second.
Chad Durbin relieved J.A. Happ.
Manny Ramirez:Ramirez popped out to third.
End of Inning (2 Runs, 3 Hits, 1 Error)
Jonathan Broxton would then come on in the 9th and go 1-2-3 and even the series at 1-1. It was a much needed victory for the Dodgers with the next 3 games to be played in much chillier Philadelphia.

Game 3...
We have to wait until SUNDAY for game 3. Unbelievable. It's going to be Hiroki Kuroda going for the Dodgers, against another former Indian, lefty Cliff Lee for the Phillies. I still like the Phillies in this series, they play great at home, and their pitching still makes me a believer.

McCourt Case...
I'm not a Dodger fan by any stretch of the imagination. But I am rooting for them in this respect. I certainly hope that the impending divorce of owner Frank McCourt and wife Jamie McCourt. Padre fans know already that this can and will affect ownership and play on the field if it gets out of hand. At first glance, it's not looking good, consider this from today's Los Angeles Times:
Dennis Wasser, who represents Jamie McCourt, on Thursday rebutted claims that Frank McCourt is the club's sole owner.

"We disagree," Wasser said. "We are confident that, if the ownership issue must be adjudicated, the Dodgers will be determined to be community property, owned 50% by each of the McCourts."

But Marshall Grossman, who represents Frank McCourt, said he has documents to back up his assertion that his client is the sole owner.

"Anyone reading them will readily see that Mr. McCourt's ownership is 100%," said Grossman, who declined to release the documents.

Wasser said he was unaware of any such documents and said he knew of no reason why California's community property law would not apply.
This could get ugly LA, enjoy this playoff run...

Odd Pair...
Tommy Lasorda and Kobe Bryant were seen sitting together, in Tommy's seats right next to the Dodgers dugout. LaSorda who is an active Twitterer, tweeted about Kobe today: @TommyLasorda may not know this but Kobe bleeds Dodger Blue just like I do. And we both speak Italian!

Final Musings...
Full disclosure, I'm on vacation now for a couple of weeks, and will certainly try to update the blog as much as humanly possible. Please forgive me if there are a few lapses over this period of time. I'm visiting family out of town and it's great to see them after a long baseball season. Looking forward to getting back to SD though and the start of USD's basketball season which tips off November 13 at the Jenny Craig Pavilion against Stanford.

Have a great night!

Andy

TRIVIA ANSWER: CC Sabathia's full name is...Carsten Charles Sabathia


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Game one to the Phillies...

It came down to my X Factors in Philadelphia's game one win at Los Angeles 8-6.

The Dodger X Factor was their starting pitchers, and tonight Clayton Kershaw was looking pretty good until the 5th inning. He ran out of gas or something, and issued walk after walk and when the inning was over, his team was down 5-1. The big blow was a three run homer by catcher Carlos Ruiz. Kershaw only gave up 4 hits in his 4.2 innings, but walked 5 and gave up the five earned runs. The Dodgers clearly had a shot in this game, because the Phils starter, San Diego's Cole Hamels was not on his game either. He gave up the two run homer to Manny (would and did) Ramirez to make it 5-4 after 5 innings.

The Dodgers normally reliable bullpen wasn't tonight, George Sherrill issued back to back walks in the 8th, and then Raul Ibanez launched the Phillies second 3 run homer of the game, to make it 8-4. Give the Dodgers credit though, they battled to try and get back into it and pulled to within 8-6 going to the 9th.

That's when the Phillies X Factor, Brad Lidge came in and closed it out. The Phils will go as far as he can take them in this series and in game one, Lidge got it done and saved the 8-6 win for the Phillies.

Game two comes up tomorrow afternoon at Dodger Stadium. Vicente Padilla for LA, against Pedro Martinez for the Phillies.

NLCS Notes...
Boomer Wells mentioned in on the TBS Post Game show, and I was thinking the same thing during the game, that Torre really could have used Jeff Weaver in a game like tonight. Kershaw struggled, and Weaver could have eaten up some innings. Weaver was left off the roster after being sent home with flu-like symptoms along with a fever.

Former Padre, Dodger, etc, Chan Ho Park saved the bacon for the Phillies tonight, throwing a scoreless inning to pick up the rookie Antonio Bastardo. Park was blazing his fast ball at 96 MPH!

I didn't see it or hear it (thank goodness), but why, why, why, why, why, why, did Billy Ray Cyrus do the National Anthem tonight? "Achy Breaky Heart" was a hit in 1992, what has he done (besides father Miley Cyrus) to warrant a spotlight performance like that?

Speaking of the National Anthem, I read, that the Dodgers long time organist Nancy Bea is going to sign a 3 year deal to keep her tickling the ivories through 2012 which would be her 25th season with the Dodgers. I don't know about you, but I love hearing an organist at a ballpark. Not sure why they seemingly go hand in hand, but you can't beat it.

ALCS...
What a great pitching matchup in game one, CC Sabathia, a 19 game winner for the Yankees against John Lackey for the Angels. It's going to be a cold night in the Bronx (no joke) for the start of the first game of this series.

Sabathia has struggled in his career against the Angels, he's just 5-7, 4.72 in 14 games started. But this is a dominating pitcher, especially with the weather being what it will be. I still think the Angels will find a way to win this series, but it will be tough tomorrow against the big fella Sabathia.

More on the ALCS tomorrow after the game...

Random Musings...
Pitch Trax is just killing the umpires in the post season. Randy Marsh, who many players consider one of the finest umps in the game, missed call after call after call in this one. His strike zone was erratic to say the least. I hope the umpires union contract won't be decided by an arbitrator, because all they'll have to show is the replays of these games with Pitch Trax.

Question. Is your fantasy football season over, when your team is 1-4 after the first 5 weeks? I'm getting the sinking feeling that my team is TOAST. No consistency and a bad draft really did me in this time around. I'm picking up players off the waiver wire as fast as anybody in the league, but it isn't helping. I enjoy playing and it gives me a great reason to camp out in front of the TV on Sunday's and watch more football than one human should be allowed.

Chargers/Broncos on Monday night at the "Q". Let's hope the Broncos leave the Padres '72 Jerseys in Denver. This is a "must" game for the Chargers. Denver has gotten off to a fantastic start behind Kyle Orton. But if push ever came to shove, I'd take Phillip Rivers every day, and twice on Sunday. The Bolts need to force the issue on defense, get some pressure on Orton and force him to throw short and to the running backs. I know there were a bunch of changes at Charger camp this week, so let's see how they work out. Early prediction is the Chargers rise to the occasion under the bright lights of Monday Night Football, and win the game 27-17.

There is no truth to the rumor that the Broncos are flying to town on that flying saucer thing the kid in Fort Collins let go from his back yard. How sad is it that I (along with probably many of you) sat and watched the CNN coverage of this Mylar (know more about that product now than I did before) Balloon traveling 60 miles from it's home? Thank goodness the 6 year old wasn't inside and is ok. Hey Falcon Henne and family, your 15 minute clock is ticking, and it's counting down by 5's.

That's it for now, have a great night!

Andy

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Let's Get The Show On The Road...

To me the worst thing about the MLB Playoffs, is having to wait so long in between series. I realize that the schedule is such because of team travel and all that, but LET'S GO ALREADY! I'm so used to having a game every night, or nearly every night, that my A.D.D. is starting to kick in and I'm ready to watch some baseball again....

We'll get the NLCS first, in a repeat of last year's match up the Dodgers and the Phillies. The only thing different is the Dodgers have the home field advantage this time around. Not sure we could ask for a better pitching match up in Game 1, two young talented lefties, as Rancho Bernardo's Cole Hamels goes for the Phillies against 22 year old Clayton Kershaw for the Dodgers. Hamels is the reigning World Series MVP, and even though his season hasn't gone like last year, it's hard to argue against his post season experience. Hamels was 4-0, with a 1.80 ERA in 5 post season starts a year ago. Kershaw, out of Dallas, Texas and Highland Park High School, the same school that produced the Padres Chris Young, pitched well in his start in the NLDS against the Cardinals, but didn't figure into the decision.

X Factors...
For the Dodgers, I believe it's the starting rotation. Not a short series, can't ride 2 hot pitchers to the World Series. The Dodgers will need effective starts from the lefties, and then hope somebody like Vicente Padilla can step up.

For the Phillies, the choice to me is obvious. It's Brad Lidge. The biggest question begs to be asked, is Lidge back after picking up 2 saves against the Rockies? The Phillies have the offense, the defense and starting pitching to get back to the World Series, but will the bullpen be a help or hinderance to that goal?

Lineups...
From the Dodgers official Twitter page, @DodgertownUSA, we present the LA starting lineup for game one...1. Furcal - SS, 2. Ethier - RF, 3. Ramirez - LF, 4. Kemp - CF, 5. Blake - 3B, 6. Loney - 1B, 7. Belliard - 2B, 8. Martin - C, 9. Kershaw - P.

Don't have the Phillies lineup yet, but I'll try to find it out for you soon.

More Musings...
Congratulations to Cole Hamels and his wife, on the birth of their first child, Caleb Michael Hamel, delivered Friday.

If you are looking for an amusing, yet honest take on what it's like to be a Phillies relief pitcher, check out Scott Eyre's blog http://scotteyre.mlblogs.com/ Scott is a friend from our Chicago days, and a funny guy. Give him a read.

The Dodgers also announced their rotation for the series (again courtesy @DodgertownUSA), Kershaw, Padilla, Kuroda, and then former Padre Randy Wolf. Kuroda had been out with a disc problem in his neck. It was reported that he threw a five inning, 50 pitch game in Arizona today, then threw 25 more pitches in the bullpen.

Leadoff men...
How important is a good leadoff hitter? Here's the list of the final four team's leadoff hitters:
Jimmy Rollins - PHI, Rafael Furcal - LAD, Chone Figgins - LAA, and Derek Jeter - NYY. Pretty impressive stuff.

A look at more from the NLCS tomorrow and a quick preview of the ALCS then as well...

Til then....

Andy



Tuesday, October 13, 2009

More Padres Roster Moves...

This from the Padres official release today:

The San Diego Padres today announced they have outrighted right-handed pitcher Josh Geer, outfielder Drew Macias, infielder Luis Rodriguez and catcher Eliezer Alfonzo to Triple-A Portland. Rodriguez and Alfonzo have elected to become free agents.
Geer, 26, appeared in 19 games (17 starts) for the Padres this season, going 1-7 with a 5.96 ERA (68 ER/102.2 IP). He made his Big League debut with San Diego last season and has gone 3-8 with a 5.28 ERA (76 ER/129.2 IP) in 24 games (22 starts) over two Major League campaigns.
Macias, 26, hit .197 (15-for-76) in 51 games for the Padres, collecting six doubles, one home run, seven RBI and eight runs scored. Since making his Major League debut for the Padres in 2007, he has hit .198 (19-for-96) with six doubles, three home runs, 12 RBI and 11 runs scored in 69 games.
Rodriguez, 29, played in 93 games for the Padres in his second year in San Diego. He hit .202 (42-for-208) with six doubles, two home runs, 16 RBI and 18 runs scored. Over parts of five Major League seasons with the Minnesota Twins (2005-07) and Padres (2008-09), he has hit .243 (208-for- 855) with 36 doubles, four triples, eight home runs, 66 RBI and 90 runs scored in 363 games.
Alfonzo, 30, began the season at Triple-A Portland and appeared in 37 games for San Diego, hitting .175 (20-for-114) with three doubles, two home runs, eight RBI and six runs scored. Over parts of four Major League seasons with the Giants (2006-08) and Padres (2009), he has gone 113-for-475 (.238) with 22 doubles, three triples, 15 home runs, 54 RBI and 38 runs scored in 155 games.

Not much in the way of surprises here...thought Macias had an outside chance at sticking at least on the 40 man roster. He has pretty good speed, a little pop in his bat and is a good defender. Luis Rodriguez was a good soldier in 2009. Once he got hurt in Chicago, it was pretty much the end for him. Cabrera came off the DL and didn't miss a start at shortstop. Rodriguez never complained or made waves. He's a good pro. Geer had trouble all season with command. It's hard to explain after seeing his numbers, but this kid does know how to pitch. With limited velocity, he's had to learn the art of pitching, not throwing. We'll see maybe in Spring Training if he's gotten the command aspect of his game back or not.

Stay tuned....


Andy