Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Morning: More National Championships!!

Welcome back from the long weekend. Let's be honest: the majority of us are not where we want to be at the moment. If you're like me, you spent three days cultivating a screwed-up sleep schedule, and you're now paying the piper, groggy on anywhere from 4-6 hours' rest. In my case, it didn't help that the girlfriend and I have yet to install an air conditioner. Last night was one of those tossy-turny evenings where bad dreams and wakefulness blend into a hot, uncomfortable stretch that culminates in anger at the mere fact of morning.

And I swear, the human body is like a furnace on those nights. Having two together in close proximity is a disaster recipe. I remember waking up several times and thinking 'My God, why is this other person so close to me?' before the crucial facts of my life came into focus. Then I'd try to nudge her back to her side of the bed without seeming too violent. Another thing: why are hot nights so fucking itchy? It's like the area between my shoulder blades waits until the worst possible time to be like 'screw it, let's fire up the nerve endings. Now or never, baby.' Bottom line: I could never live in the tropics.

So. We're all back at work, and nobody's pleased. But let's try to be positive.

*The Duke Lacrosse team won the national title! The program has been top-notch for a while now, and they made the final game in the two years immediately following THE SCANDAL, so this was bound to happen. Now that it has, maybe the associations with the program can start to shift. Probably not, though, since the alleged rape was national news that the media jammed up with 'cultural significance,' while this is news to sports fans only. Still, the freshmen on that 2006 team, whose season ended after 8 games, were 5th-year seniors for the title, and that's a nice detail.

The victory came in overtime, and after a defensive battle, the Devils needed about 5 seconds to end it. You can see the video highlights on the front page of ESPN Lacrosse, but basically, CJ Constabile won the face-off, charged down the field, and scored. Nobody really got in his way, and it was kind of a crazy way to end a game where goals were very hard to come by.

For full disclosure, I didn't watch the game. I did see the end of the semi-final win against top-ranked UVA, but it slipped my mind on Monday and my pal Nick texted me the results. My other friend Nick, a Dukie I was hanging out with in Prospect Park, heard the news and said the team should celebrate by hiring the same stripper from the scandal.


*I went to two Yankee games this weekend, Friday and Sunday, both wins. The Bombers took 3 of 4 from Cleveland over the long weekend, and if not for an ugly, ugly loss on Saturday, it would've been a clean sweep. Basically, this team can win as long as the starting pitcher goes 8 innings and we have a 5-7 run lead when they leave. Luckily, that seems to happen a lot.

*Heat Check: Robbie Cano has flames on his bat. He's pushed his BA back up to .363 after a cool early May. That number is second only to Justin Morneau (whose numbers are just absurd, and is a heavy favorite for MVP if he keeps it up). He's also 6th in RBI (40), top 10 in home runs (11), 5th in OBP (.405), and 4th in wOBA (.435).

If I had to guess right now, I'd say that Morneau will cool off at least a little (his BABIP is a crazy .430), and Cano will remain steady and win his first batting title. Predictions aside, I'm just happy he's must-see TV again. When I woke up on Sunday, one of my main motivations for hitting the stadium was to see him play.

Let's get hyperbolic:

5 Reasons Why Robbie Cano Can Break Dimaggio's 56-Game Hit Streak Record

1) He hits for a high average.
2) He never, ever walks (5.9% walk rate, lowest by far among the game's best hitters).
3) He never strikes out (12.4%, in the top 1% of all players).
4) He always makes contact (88% of swings, top 1% of all players).
5) He's finally hitting well under pressure (.339 with RISP, .316 in 'Late and Close' situations).

Why not? His current streak is 14 games. The eyes of the world are upon him.

*Roy Halladay gave Major League Baseball its second perfect game in the same season for the first time since 1880. I was able to catch the last 3 outs this time, and even though he plays for the Phils, it was pretty exciting. I'm convinced that in almost every situation, it's impossible not to root for the perfect game. Even if the Yankees were the team getting dominated, by the 9th inning I'd probably be pulling for perfection unless a) it was still close or b) it was the postseason. There are only a handful of pitchers I'd root against if the perfect game was on the line. Here they are, in order of hatred. Some don't play anymore. One wasn't a starter. One isn't a pitcher.

1) Josh Beckett
2) Cliff Lee
3) Roger Clemens
4) Armando Benitez
5) Curt Schilling
6) Randy Winn

*As of now, the AL East has 4 of the 5 best records in the American League.

*The Yanks should have 3 starting pitchers in the All-Star Game, and none are named CC Sabathia. Pettitte has 7 wins and a 2.48 ERA, Hughes has 6 and 2.70, and Burnett has 6 and 3.28.

*Hockey and Basketball: time to root against Philadelphia and Boston. The good news is that the Blackhawks took a 2-0 lead last night and are well on their way to a big Stanley Cup win. The NBA finals begin Thursday. I very much doubt I'll watch any of the games, unless it goes to game 7. I'll be curious to see the tv numbers. NBA Finals Nielsen ratings peaked in 1998, when Jordan won his 6th title against the Jazz to earn an 18.7. The lowest ever happened in 2007, when the Spurs and Cavs only managed a 6.2 (file this under "More Reasons Why Lebron is Not the NBA's Savior). In their previous match-up in 2008, Boston and LA bumped that number up to 9.2, which is still the 9th-lowest total since 1976. I imagine we'll see a lower figure this time around, but it'll still probably top 6.2. My official prediction: 8.7.

*9 days until the World Cup!! I'm very, very excited.

Plug away, my friends. We'll make it through Tuesday yet.


  1. Your fervor for your team is admirable, even if it is the Yankees. That said, 3 starting pitchers for the Midsummer Classic is a little aggressive. Usually what like 6 or MAYBE 7 starting pitchers make the game right? TB’s Niemann is the ERA leader and is undefeated at 5-0. he has to go. David Price at 7-2 and 2.57 ERA from TB is also a must right now. Pettitte has been superb and is also an absolute must. That’s 3. Phil Hughes at 2.7 and 6-1, also a must. That’s 4. Then you have Clay Buchholz at 7-3 with a 2.73, even someone who hates the Sox could not argue AJ over him. That’s 5. Clay’s teammate, Jon Lester, is 6-2 with a 2.97 --- also clearly above AJ. That’s 6. We’re already maxed out and we ONLY have pitchers from the AL East. It’s just not going to go down like that. It’s probably impossible that Ricky Romero from Tor, the league Ks leader with a 3.14 and 5-2 record doesn’t make it right now. Ks are sexy. And that’s another AL East pitcher! Jered Weaver is a likely candidate from LAA. Garza from TB also better than AJ right now but TB won’t get 3 either. Then you have Seattle’s Vargas and Fister who are playing great, not to mention a June run from Felix Hernandez would absolutely get the reigning Cy Young winner in the game. Gotta throw Greinke in the mix bc either he or Soria WILL be the KC rep, even though he’s 1-6 he’s got a good ERA (my money’s on Soria right now though). Regardless there are a LOT of SP who are getting in before AJ - he "should" not be there as of today. If I had to bet, right now that pitchers would be: Niemann, Price, Pettitte, Hughes, Lester, Weaver, and Romero. Clay gets screwed. If Felix comes charging, he likely replaces either Niemann, Price, or Hughes, even if they all deserve to be there. Fat chance on AJ.

  2. I'm not sure what numbers are typical, but last year the AL had 8 starting pitchers and the NL had 10. If we average that out and say 9....

    you're right. AJ is 13th in ERA, 2nd in Wins, way down in WHIP, and not so hot in FIP either.

    So team considerations aside, he still doesn't deserve it, and you're right that TB has the best case for 3 starters.

    Call it premature enthusiasm.

    You forgot Shaun Marcum from Toronto. He's 5-1 with a 2.59 ERA. He's got a better argument than Romero right now, even without the same K total.