Friday, April 30, 2010

The A-Rod Blog is LAUNCHED!

Friends, readers, lovers:

The A-Blog, Alex Rodriguez's official internet diary, is ready to be viewed. Read about his crazy exploits, dramatic adventures, and mundane issues...




For those of you who are url fans, it's: http://arod4ever.blogspot.com.

For those who love link sections, you can find it on the sidebar to the left.

I've posted 7 of the old blogs here, and I've posted those and like 8 others on the new A-Blog, along with a new post. Starting next week, you can expect daily or semi-daily posts with stories and opinions from our favorite anti-hero. I've heard, but can't confirm, that A-Rod likes to post in the afternoon.

Take a visit, tell your friends, and print out tiny leaflets to drop in and around your town. I'm off to Yankee Stadium to watch Andy and The Holy Crow get rude with the ChiSox. Have an awesome weekend.

Morning: Give Him Player of the Month

1. You know who I'm talking about: Sweet Robbie. The man with the magic bat.


Last night, he hit two more home runs and a double to increase his league-leading average to .407. After last night, his numbers looked like this:

AVG: .407
OBP: .444
SLG: .790
OPS: 1.235
wOBA: .510
HR: 8
Hits: 33
Runs: 21
Total bases: 64

He leads Major League Baseball in every one of those categories except home runs; Konerko has 10, and Kelly Johnson 9. He'd also probably be leading in RBI if Teixeira or A-Rod could ever get on base in front of him. He has 17 at the moment, and Miguel Cabrera leads with 25.

So you know what this means: today is April 30th. Unless he runs out to second base tonight, drops his pants, does a lewd dance in front of some kids, gives the middle finger to every camera in the Stadium, and burns an American flag on the pitcher's mound, the dude is PLAYER OF THE MOTHERFUCKING MONTH.

I've never seen a hitter catch fire like Cano has this month. The last week in particular has been spectacular. He's 13 for his last 21, and most of the outs have been smoking liners right at a fielder. I get excited every time he comes to bat, and each new hit actually makes me giddy. I've spent the last few Yankee games jumping up and down, waking up my girlfriend, and calling my stepfather to rave about the current best player in baseball.

On the Yankee message board I frequent, spirits are equally high. "How many times can a guy play in an infield with three future Hall of Famers, and be the best of the bunch?" one poster asked. Others are saying he'll someday be known as the best second baseman to ever play the game. It's getting hyperbolic, yes, but even that is a sign of someone's greatness. Another obvious sign is that people are striving for nicknames. I've always liked calling him Sweet Robbie, because of his free and easy style, but there have been some other good contenders:

Obi Wan Canobi (the force is with him)
The Holy Crow


The Holy Crow is my favorite right now. I'm trying to find out where it comes from, and I don't quite get it, but it's awesome nonetheless.


2. Just when you thought I couldn't rave about Cany anymore, DID YOU SEE THAT PLAY HE MADE IN THE FIELD???? DID YOU SEE IT??

Go to this site, and scroll down to the listed highlights. The Cano video is in the second row. Click on where it says "Cano throws across his body for the out." You also might be able to see it directly by going here, but don't quote me on that; MLB video always foils me. Let me embed, you bastards. Anyway, don't miss the casual bubble blowing as he goes around the horn, and the shit-eating grin. That's the look of a guy who knows he's awesome, and doesn't need to say anything about it.

The play is ridiculous. It's absurd that a human being could make that throw. I don't think anybody playing the game today could have done it. Joe Morgan, the greatest second basemen of all time, has said before that he's never seen anyone make that play better than Cano. Granted, Joe Morgan is kind of an idiot as an announcer, but second base is one thing he knows.

Afterward, Jeter just stared at him and didn't say a word. When they asked Girardi after the game what it takes to make that play, he said the following: "it takes great range, a great arm, and it takes being able to throw a strike without looking."

Without looking! Here's what the Times said:

And on Thursday, Cano supplied a defensive play so superb that, as he watched it from beside the mound, Burnett put his hands on his head in appreciative disbelief.

“When he threw it, I was like, I should be backing up first,” Burnett said. “But when you’re that good, I guess I don’t have to.”

An ESPN article claiming Cano is having the best April in Yankee history said the following:

He also completed a defensive play that was so spectacular Yankees starter A.J. Burnett nearly cried out, "Oh, my God!" on the mound, while Cano's manager, Joe Girardi, said he has never seen anything like it.
...
The play Cano made in the third can be classified as utterly ridiculous. Nolan Reimold hit a hard grounder up the middle. Burnett was already kicking himself, thinking Cano had "no chance" to get to the ball.

Quick aside: what does it mean when someone "nearly cried out"? Does that mean he actually didn't cry out, but the journalist wanted him to, so the whole 'nearly' gambit comes into play? Interesting, ESPN.

Anyway, Cano is a damn beast. He's a baseball messiah. He's bringing joy and awe wherever he goes. Tonight, I get to see him live and in person on the last day of a month he's owned. Guess which t-shirt I'll be wearing? I am so psyched.


3. Here's a great piece by Yahoo sports on Jorge Posada. They interview about the best pitchers he's ever caught. My favorite tidbit was that he was afraid of David Cone. Oh, and the revelation that Pettitte used to throw a nasty knuckler in the minor leagues:

“When I got to two strikes, I was going to throw a knuckler as hard as I could,” Pettitte said. “I struck everybody out with it.” His coaches ordered him to scrap it. One of the coaches was Hoyt Wilhelm, a Hall of Fame knuckleballer. They promised him when he was in the major leagues for 10 years, he could start throwing it again. So? “I can’t,” Pettitte said. “I lost it.” As he recalled, he threw two to Posada. One hit him in the shin, the next in the foot. Posada took off his mitt and warned, “I’m not catching you again if you throw it.” Pettitte: “My nickname was ‘Knucksie.’ I’m not kidding.”)

Thanks to Spike for the link.


4. Apparently the Yankees are not the most hated team in baseball. Based on a survey by the Wall Street Journal, that honor goes to the Cleveland Indians. Apparently there's some complicated formula that goes into determining positive or negative feelings based on online-brand reactions, and the Tribe topped the list. It sounds like bullshit to me, but whatever. Isn't Cleveland the lovable loser team? I mean, they were even the good guys in the Major League movies. The Yankees were the Evil Empire. I can't think of anyone I know who hates Cleveland. Pity, sympathy, empathy...sure. But hatred? The only people who could possibly hate the Indians are their own fans. And self-loathing is different than the kind of hatred opposing fans reserve for the Yanks and Sox.


5. Yankee starters continue to roll.

AJ went 8 scoreless innings, giving up only three hits, in a performance that deserved more attention than it received. Besides Vazquez, our highest starter ERA belongs to Sabathia at 3.12. And he's still the guy I'd most want on the mound in a big game. If Teixeira and A-Rod ever start hitting, this team will be totally unbeatable.

Okay, that's it for the morning. The official A-Rod blog launches this afternoon. Until then, here's a gift for those of you who want to watch the Cano play on repeat. This .gif doesn't it justice, and I highly recommend the version on MLB video, but it's still fun:

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Morning: Sick Day

This will be the first and last post of the day, friends. It's a sick day.

1. First Yankee tickets of the season are PURCHASED. Friday night, Andy and Robbie do horrible things to the ChiSox, and I'll bear witness.

2. Robbie is now batting .390 after a 2-5 night that included a home run and two line outs. This is getting epic.

3. CC moved up to 3-1 with an average (for him) performance against the Orioles. He'll take the easy win. If he stays healthy and goes through his usual super-hot stretch in the summer, 20 wins looks pretty likely.

4. Question from the girlfriend: how many teams have never won a World Series? Turns out there are 8:

Padres, Rockies, Astros, Brewers, Rays, Mariners, Rangers, Nationals. Those last three have never appeared.

5. Francisco Cervelli is quietly hitting .444 with an OBP of .524. He's not eligible or anything, I'm just saying...

Slick AJ tries to win the series in Baltimore tonight. Brief entry OVER. Here's something that's both brief and cool.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A-Blog Greatest Hits, Part 7

Get psyched, everyone, the A-Rod blog is coming soon!

A-Rod's Blog, 8/30/07: Pick-Up Lines to Use on Gorgeous Babes

Whenever I have a really good game, I spend the next day trying to land some gorgeous babes. Not only because I’m fresh in their minds from the morning paper, but also because I feel confident and manly from walloping a baseball.

Last night I hit the winning homer against the Red Sox, so today I bring my “A-game” (I came up with that one on a tour bus to Six Flags) with the ladies. Before I tell you my pick-up lines, though, I want to ask a question. Why do they call it a “game-winning home run”? It didn’t win the game! I hit it in the seventh, and we still had to play like four more innings before they’d let us go home! The media always tries to explain this to me, but I still don’t understand. If you know what’s going on, leave a comment.

Okay. I thought up my first new pick-up line in L.A. a few days ago. Here’s how it works: I walk up to a pretty girl, smiling all sly, and say, “you look as beautiful as the first day I met you.” She acts surprised, and then I go “oh, maybe because it is the first day I met you!” I wait a second for her to get the joke. Right as she stops blushing and giggling like crazy, I step in close and whisper in her ear. “The name’s A-Rod, and I think I love you.” Then I kiss her on the hair.

For the next pick-up line, I saunter up and say, “hey, want to see my A-Rod?” I start undoing my belt buckle, so the girl thinks I’m about to show her my penis. But all the sudden I reach into my pants and pull out a dollar bill. I hand it to her and say “Before you spend it, make sure to check the serial numbers. It could be counterfeit.” The girl leaves, puzzled, but later that day she checks the dollar, and written in black ink are the words “Alex Rodriguez, ballplayer.” Then it has my cell phone number, and, below that, in red ink, it says, “P.S. – this bill is not counterfeit. And neither am I.” That night, we’re necking in my car.

Crap! I just looked on ESPN, and we have an afternoon game today. That is annoying to the extreme. I wonder if Joe will let me skip.

Morning: Perfection Isn't Reality, Joe

1. Yankee fans like to complain about Joe Girardi. I have complained about Joe Girardi in the past, and I admit to enjoying myself.


But I can also admit that he's a good manager. He deals exceptionally well with the bullpen, balancing work loads to ensure that nobody tires out when they're really needed toward the season's end. He's on top of all the stats, especially the match-up numbers for every pitcher and hitter in the league. He hired a good hitting coach. He likes his players. He's good with the media. He got braces on his lower teeth out of solidarity for his daughter, who was scared to get her own. He obviously cares about winning, to the point that he's visibly anxious on the bench almost all the time (a nice contrast to Torre's half-sleeping act). There's just one problem:

Joe Girardi is a perfectionist.

Really, it could be worse. I'd rather have a perfectionist than some sloppy, live-and-let-live skipper who cares less than he should. But sometimes perfectionism goes against the protective rails of common sense, and finds its way overboard. Last night, Phil Hughes struggled. He walked in a run in the second inning, couldn't harness his curve, and was getting crowded by a restrictive ump. But he plodded through, and made it through the fifth inning. When he came out for the sixth, he retired the first two batters. At that point, he'd allowed one run on two hits. He'd thrown 109 pitches, and the Yanks led 2-1.

Apparently Phil's upper limit is somewhere near 110 pitches. And a lefty, Luke Scott was up. The perfectionist manager's handbook says to yank Hughes and bring in a lefty specialist to try to close out the inning.

But for God's sake, Joe, use common sense: leave your starter in to at least try for the last out. He battled all day, turned in a decent outing, and was past the worst of his struggles. Why not let him finish the inning? To top it off, the lefty specialist he was bringing in, Boone Logan, was fairly untested. It wasn't necessarily a better option even on paper. But perfectionist Joe obeyed the dictates of his lefty/righty match-up stats, and the overly-stringent pitch count, and gave Hughes the hook.

Sometimes, that stuff is going to work. Sometimes it won't. Logan walked Scott, Robertson (also struggling) came in and hit Wigginton in the ribs on an 0-2 count, and three singles later, the Yanks were down 4-2. The game ended with a 5-4 loss to the current worst team in baseball.

I'm not saying I'd trade Girardi for anyone else. I like him, and he has a World Series championship to his credit. But his perfectionism has a tendency to get out of control, and to cloud his view of the bigger picture. The whole 'forest for the trees' metaphor works here. He could stand to relax a little bit, be a little flexible, and stop out-managing himself. If those wheels turned a little more freely in his very active brain, the Yanks would have a couple more wins to their credit.

2. Guess who went 3-4 last night and now leads the MLB in batting average at .389?


ROE-BEE-THON!


3. Guess who can't hit a lick the last few days, went a combined 1-13 last night, and have mired the Yankee offense in its first rut of the season?


Get your shit together, guys.

4. Jorge likes Chai Latte

This comes from the girlfriend, via another friend, who saw Jorge Posada in a Manhattan Starbucks a couple weeks ago. He made his order, chai latte, and the server asked him for his name. Apparently he paused and stared at the barista as if to say "really?" Then he said "Jorge," got his drink, called his manicurist on a pink Blackberry, and walked out with his poodle in tow.

GOSSIP! By the way, if it crossed your mind to question Jorge's sexuality, here's a picture of his wife.


She's the one on the left.

5. Why does Robertson stink now?

David Robertson, basically lights out in last year's playoffs, is rocking a 10.8 ERA and has had two really terrible outings. His fastball velocity seems fine, but its run value is way the hell down. Is it lacking movement? Batters are making contact on 95% of swings they take at balls in the strike zone, which means he's not blowing the heater by anyone. Last year, the total % was 77.

It still looks like he's got decent stuff, so I'm going to chalk this up to small sample size and a slumpy beginning, and hope that everything normalizes in the next month. Unlike a lot of Yankee fans, I came in to this season thinking he was a better 8th inning option than Joba, and I still hope that comes true. But at the moment, it doesn't look great.

More later.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Duke is the Best Team in the NBA

In just a moment, I'm going to turn this post over to long-time contributor Nick, the man who brought you such hits as the Duke-WVU preview, a Roy Williams take-down, and Zombie Singler.

Before I do, though, two quick Yankee things:

First, Robinson Cano is better than Dustin Pedroia. That's according to six unaffiliated scouts. Booya. I guess that means Robbie will get two undeserved MVP awards.

Second, the Yanks visited the White House yesterday. You can read the details and watch video of Obama speaking here. Earlier, everyone on the team visited wounded soldiers at Walter Reed.

Okay. So Nick's post is pretty epic, and I hope I can do it justice with formatting. Basically, he set out to disprove the...well, screw it, let's hear it in his own words. Take it away, Nick.

Duke in the NBA: The Manifesto

Ah, yes. All is right with the world on this wonderful April day. Duke has some freshly cut nets and a brand new trophy. Undefeated at home, ACC regular season and tourney champs, and NCAA tournament champion. Duke has once again proved that they are without a doubt the class of the NCAA. I could wax poetic about their success all day.

LISTEN DOOKIE!!! I DON'T CARE ABOUT YOUR STUPID CHAMPIONSHIPS YOU ONLY HAVE THEM BECAUSE K RIDES THE REFS AND GETS ALL THE CALLS EVERY SINGLE ONE OF UR PLAYERS IS GONNA SUCK DONKEY DICK IN THE NBA IF THEY EVEN GET THERE WHICH THEY WONT FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU

Really? Sucks in the NBA, you say? Prepare to have your shit wrecked using my two of my favorite things: tables and math.

NO DOOKIES PLAY IN THE NBA.

Hmm...Say, just how many Duke players played in the NBA this season, compared to other respectable programs? Exhibit 1:

Duke: 14
UCLA: 14
UNC: 13
UCONN: 12
Arizona: 10
Kansas: 9
Kentucky: 9
Texas: 7
Ga Tech: 6
Memphis: 6
Ohio St: 6
Wake: 6

WHATEVERRR DOOKIES SIT ON THE BENCH AND LICK THE ASSHOLES OF REAL PLAYERS NONE OF UR GUYS DO ANYTHING.

OK, so Shavlik Randolph really shouldn’t count as an NBA player. Let’s get rid of all the scrubs. Computer, remove anyone that was benched for more than 15 games this year. Exhibit 2:

UCLA: 11
Duke: 10
Arizona: 7
Kansas: 7
UConn: 6
UNC: 6
Ga Tech: 4
Memphis: 4
Texas: 4
Kentucky: 3
Wake: 3
Ohio St: 1

Oh shit! Second only to UCLA. I can handle that. You know what else is interesting? It looks like we have six schools eligible to enter the world’s first 5 on 5 alumni tournament! Of the players left, let’s take the top 5 alums from each school (ranked by John Hollinger’s PER rating) and set some rosters. Here’s what it looks like:



What in the name of Christian Laettner? The K Army starting 5 go for 79.6 PPG, more than any other team? Our combined PER is better than any other team? We dominate in nearly every single statistical category? Say, those numbers are quite impressive, not just compared to other alumni teams. How would they fare against, say, the mighty Cleveland Cavaliers?



That’s right kids. Duke wins, 80-70. Congratulations Duke Blue Devils, 2009-10 NBA Regular Season Champions.

Morning: Travel Day

Yesterday, with the Yanks en route from Seattle to Baltimore (or already there, probably) and the rain falling in NYC, there was nothing for me to do but play poker. I lost 13 bucks in some rich couple's gigantic home in Greenpoint. They had a collection of 5 mortars with pestles. Sophisticated druggies, or just collectors with an old school aesthetic? You decide. They weren't there, so I couldn't ask.

5 Yankee Points is what we do now, so quickly:

1. A Mariano Rivera article from yesterday's Times. They talk about his "understated elegance," and how he now models suits for a high-end Italian company.

2. The Javy Vazquez shitbomb mystery deepens. Here's his quote from Sunday's postgame:

“My fastball is not where I want it to be,” Vazquez said. “It’s my most important pitch and if I can’t locate it, the hitters can sit on my off-speed pitches. It’s not mechanics right now, but if I knew what it was, I would have fixed it by now."

That's a good sign. And Curt Schilling, baseball's biggest idiot, agrees with me that Javy won't succeed in New York. This is just like that time Osama Bin Laden and I agreed that American television can be pretty frivolous.

3. Huggggghhhesss tonight! I think everyone's excited to see the follow-up to his stellar performance against Oakland. Aside from Vazquez, check out the numbers for our starting pitchers: 9-1, 2.43 ERA, .211 BAA, and 3 jacks allowed in 92 innings.

4. Speaking of starting pitchers, go to this page, scroll down, and look at the picture for the AL ERA leader. Oh, that is dandy.

5. Looking ahead to the Orioles series that begins tonight, we've got Phil, CC, and AJ going against Millwood, Guthrie, and Matusz. The Os are averaging 3.2 runs per game, and are 3-16 on the year, the worst in MLB by 5 wins. They're patently awful, and it's time to put on my entitled Yankee cap: anything less than a sweep is disappointing.

The off day is over, my friends. It went the dull and wicked ordinary way.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A-Blog Greatest Hits, Part 6

Promised Special Announcement: Sometime this week, the A-Rod Blog will officially launch at a separate web address! Along with all the old entries, I'll be updating daily or close to daily. Until then, enjoy this blog entry from the summer of '07. You can read the others on this very blog.

A-Rod's Blog, 8/28/07: Trouble with the FBI

Crap.

Apparently, while I was in a blind panic rollerblading from Detroit to Toledo, Ohio, I accidentally crossed over into Ontario.

Ontario is part of Canada.

Somehow nobody caught me, because I snuck in behind an RV, but a security camera has footage of me in both countries. I was in Canada for a total of fifteen minutes, only lingering by the border, but I guess that doesn’t matter. I got a letter from the FBI saying the incident comprises two separate illegal border crossings, first into Canada and then back to the United States. The penalty for illegal entry into Canada is up to two years’ imprisonment; for illegal entry into the States, a further one year. I could be spending the next three years in jail.

Then, just when it seemed like things couldn’t get worse, the tape showed me on the side of the road in Canada, less than fifty feet from the border, tugging at the leaves of a nearby tree. For whatever reason, I started ripping a bunch off and jamming them into my waist-bag. Doesn’t seem like a big deal, right?

Well, it was a Red Mulberry, which is the most endangered tree in Ontario. Now the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Constabulary is trying to prosecute me for “damage to an at-risk species.” And because the leaves can be used for medicinal purposes, and I still had some in my waist-bag when I came back to America, I’m being charged with drug smuggling by Michigan authorities.

Things are getting really bad for me, and now the Yankees have to play Boston, who are like ten times better than us.

In better news, I might learn how to play the bagpipes.

Morning: What Happens to a Blog Deferred?

Answer: it dries up like a raisin in the sun.

Promising posts and then not delivering is not among my favorite things to do, so I apologize. There will come a day when I am paid to spill the contents of my brain in written form, instead of logging payroll hours for women that steal toilet paper from the handicapped bathroom. Then again, there may not. But if that day comes, I'll be unleashing blog posts like a man possessed.* I hope by that time computers will have evolved to the point that people wear chips in their head, and are forced to read every single word I write via a teleprompter-type thing that runs just beneath the eyelids. Ideally, it would also release a chemical that paralyzes the person temporarily, so they can't engage in other distracting activities while reading.

*If that day never comes, I'm going to design and build a really sweet toilet paper alarm system.

So there were probably a lot of sweet things I was going to write Friday afternoon, but didn't have the time. Now, I will post them all in shortened form. While you read them, please keep in mind that the original theoretical versions were much longer, more analytical, less crass, and verging on genius.

Thoughtful Sports Analysis: Crude and Abridged

NFL Draft: The Giants picked up a bunch of fat douchebag linemen. Real exciting, dipshits.

NBA Playoffs: Kevin Durant can fucking dunk, y'all.

Yankees: Yo, Teixeira, quit being a bitch and hit the ball, dick.

Kentucky Derby: Horses are mad gay.

Rafael Nadal: That Spanish motherfucker has a backhand to rival some of the more abusive dads in town.

So now you're caught up. Also, there will be a special announcement this afternoon. I promise. Let's get on to...

5 Yankee Points, 4/26

1. The Streak is Over

With yesterday's loss at Anaheim, our streak of 5 straight series wins to start the year is officially done. But it was a nice ride, and, barring a miracle, we'll be starting a new one on Tuesday when the team sets fire to Baltimore.

2. The Return of Jerk-Ardi

That's the nickname my stepfather reserves for Yankee skipper Joe Girardi. I'm not nearly so hostile, but occasionally Gentleman Joe will make a move that warrants some complaint. Yesterday's loss provided a nice example. In the bottom of the 7th, trailing 5-4, Damaso Marte was on the mound to face a few lefties. He walked Abreu and hit Torii Hunter to put two men on, and managed to get Matsui to ground out. With two down, Kendry Morales strolled to the plate. Morales is a switch hitter.

Now, if you just go by the book, Morales hits more home runs from the left side of the plate. So keeping Marte in seems like an okay move, since it keeps Kendry batting right-handed. So fine, play the percentages. But not to the detriment of observation. Marte stunk all inning. He was aiming rather than throwing, trying to nibble the corners and not even coming close. You have to bring in someone new there. Maybe Robertson, maybe Joba. What eventually happened was that Marte was forced to lay a fastball over the plate, and Morales tanked it for a 3-run homer. That made the score 8-4 and put the game completely out of reach.

3. Stick a Fork in Javy Vazquez

Done. He turned in another game with an average fastball below 90mph, which makes four in a row. In the three seasons before, he had four total. Never two in a row.

What else: His walk rate is now double any other year in his career, the home run rate is higher than ever before, the opponent BA is above .300 for the first time ever, and the opponent swinging contact rate is above 80% for the first time ever. All symptoms of a fastball with no juice, I'm afraid. And that's typically not something that magically improves.

12 million dollars. Crap.

4. ROE-bee-thun!

I saw this really great baseball movie called "Sugar" last summer. It was by the same directors who did "Half Nelson." It's about how kids from the Dominican are recruited and sent to America to play baseball. At one point, they ask a bunch of them to name their favorite player, and a lot say Robinson Cano. But they pronounce his name like the above. So now, whenever he comes to bat, I say his name that way. It kinda rolls off the tongue. Hopefully it's not racist (nationalist?), or something, because I enjoy it quite a bit.

Anyway, my favorite Yankee is off to a phenomenal start. He's now tied for 4th in AL batting average, within sniffing distance of first, and his OBP is almost 50 points higher than his BA. Which means he's walking! Unbelievable. He's also hitting for some power, with 5 jacks and 14 RBI on the year. And his wOBA is .459, good for 8th in all of baseball, and higher than second base Jesus, aka Chase Utley. The dude is legit.

5. The Joke Stopped Being Funny Days Ago, Mark

It's gotten so bad with Teixeira that my girlfriend, an avid fan from day one, has taken a new Yankee boyfriend: Brett Gardner. And she's pretty loyal, so you know something's amiss.

An 0-2 day yesterday lowered his average to .119. All we keep hearing from every expert is reassurance, but it's nearly May and I'd like to start seeing some results. I am, after all, a Yankee fan; patience has its limits.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Morning: Oh, A-Rod, You Divisive Figure

It's going to be a quick one this morning, but there will be more later, plus a special announcement!

Let's get right to the 5 Yankee Points, 4/23

1. Triple Play!!

With no outs in the bottom of the 6th, and men on first and second, Kurt Suzuki ripped a Sabathia offering to third base. A-Rod fielded on the backhand, did a sort of open spin/jump-throw move to touch the bag and whip it to second, where Sweet Robbie was waiting to make a slick turn. Nick Johnson stretched, and the ball hit the leather a step ahead of Suzukie for the 5-4-3 triple play.

Awesome. Hank Aaron once said that the triple is the most exciting play in baseball, but in my mind nothing can touch the triple play. Everything has to be set up perfectly, and the execution must be flawless. Even then, it's extremely difficult to make it work, especially when trying to do it the old-fashioned way, on a ground ball. The unassisted triple play is extremely rare, but it's more like a miracle of circumstance. The ground ball triple play, on the other hand, is a thing of beauty.

You can watch the video and read more here. The last time the Yanks made it happen was 1968, when Johnny Roseboro of the Twins hit into a triple play that involved Yankee fielders Bobby Cox and Mickey Mantle. Somewhere in America, Roseboro can finally die in peace.*

*He actually died in 2002.

A-Rod, you are my hero.

2. A-Rod, You're a Disgrace!!

Oh, this is fantastic. In the top of the 6th, only minutes before his triple play, A-Rod violated some unwritten rule by walking across the pitcher's mound on his way back to first base. He had been running from first when Cano lashed a foul ball, and in the prcoess of going back, he took a little detour to trek across Dallas Braden's turf and touch the rubber. I had never heard of this secret code, and

This could only happen to A-Rod. Braden, who apparently is not the world's coolest customer, started screaming at him. But A-Rod was oblivious, and only noticed the yelling when Braden resumed as the inning ended. Some of the excerpts from the Times article I linked above are awesome.

“I don’t go over there and run laps at third base,” Braden said afterward. “I don’t spit over there. I stay away. You guys ever see anybody run across the mound like that? He ran across the pitcher’s mound. Foot on my rubber.”

“He just told me to get off his mound,” Rodriguez said. “That was a little surprising. I’ve never quite heard that. Especially from a guy that has a handful of wins in his career.”

When told of Rodriguez’s reaction, Braden, a 26-year-old left-hander who is 17-21 across four seasons but 3-0 this year, said: “I don’t have a handful of wins. I only have three. Do the math, A-Rod.”

“They’re an extremely classy organization with guys who always tend to do the right thing every time,” Braden said of the Yankees. “It’s kind of disheartening to see that not show through or be reflected by somebody of his status.”

“He should maybe watch his captain a little more often,” Braden said in reference to Rodriguez’s teammate, Derek Jeter.

Good lord, right? I bolded my favorite line. I might use this to heckle A-Rod the first time I hit a Yankee game this year. "Do the math, A-Rod!" That should confuse him.

The whole thing is hysterical to me, both because A-Rod is exactly the type of person who would do something like that by accident, and because Braden is exactly the kind of person he would do it; a reactionary type who would turn the story from nothing into a huge deal. And oh man, I just read the New York Post version, and Braden's onslaught was even worse than I thought:

Braden, who improved to 3-0, launched into Rodriguez when asked if the Yankees slugger apologized to him.

"What do you think?" the lefty said. "The guy was tasting himself too much to apologize. I have a lot of respect for what he has done in the game, but I am disappointed to see the other side."

"I am not a speck on his radar and that is fine, but I know I was out there and he will know not to do that again because there will be repercussions if it happens again."

"Tasting himself too much?" What the fuck is that? Looks like my heckling routine has another line. "Do the math, A-Rod! And stop tasting yourself too much!"

We need to start following Dallas Braden around just for the stellar quotes. And the threats. And oh wow, just one more from ESPN, then I promise I'm done:

"I was just trying to convey to him that I was still out there, that ball's in my hand and that's my pitcher's mound. If he wants to run across the pitcher's mound, tell him to go do laps in the bullpen," he said.

Braden yelled over his right shoulder as he stepped across the third-base line and Rodriguez hollered back. The two kept screaming at each other until A's manager Bob Geren went out and walked Braden off the field.

Braden threw his glove against a wall in the Oakland dugout and kicked a stack of cups.

Chill the fuck out, Dallas! Here was the Daily News' back page, which I enjoyed:


3. The Complete Game Loss

CC Sabathia pulled off this increasingly rare feat last night, going a full 8 innings (no last ups for Oakland in the 9th) and allowing 4 earned runs for the loss. The fat man gave up an uncharacteristic 6 walks, and the big bash was Suzuki's 3-run homer in the first.

Okay, that's it for now. Today's 5 Yankee Points are actually 3, but the Braden stuff should count for a couple more. See you later on.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

No March Madness Expansion!

Well, not technically true. But they're only expanding to 68 teams instead of the much-feared 96. And next year, every game will be televised live on either CBS, TNT, TBS, or something called TruTV (a station previously dedicated to the life and literature of Truman Capote).

Hurrah for not making an obvious mistake that would alienate your fans, NCAA!


Okay, things are about to go down in Oakland, so I'm gonna rush home to catch at least some of the action. Teixeira will be DH'ing today, because, as Girardi correctly divined, more time to sit and think about the epic slump is exactly what he needs. See you tomorrow.

Morning: 5 Yankee Points

It's a happy time. LET'S ROLL!



5 Yankee Points, 4/22

1. Another Series, Another Win

Yesterday's 3-1 result makes 5 series wins to start the year. And we haven't even started playing the bad teams yet! If we can take this momentum and win the next series in Anaheim, we'll be 6-for-6 against the Red Sox, Angels twice, Tampa Bay, Oakland, and Texas. Two of those teams will probably make the playoffs, and the others should come close. I'm actually scared of what we're going to do against the likes of Baltimore and Kansas City.

The last time the Yanks started this hot was 2003, when they won 8 straight series to kick off the season (one series with Tampa ended 1-1 due to a rain-out). That team won 101 games and lost in the World Series to Florida.

So is it too early to talk about the possibility of winning 110 games? Not for my friend Spike, who planted that particular fantasy in my brain yesterday afternoon. Speaking of Spike, a big Mariners fan...

2. You're Welcome, Seattle

On Monday, April 12th, Seattle was 2-6 and in the AL West cellar. Since then, they've reeled of a 7-1 streak to improve their season mark to 9-7. In that same exact span, the Yankees took 2 of 3 from the Angels, swept the Rangers, and have won two in a row from the As. That's a 7-1 record against the AL West, and guess which team is now tied for the lead in that division? The Mariners!

The sad part is, we don't even get to play them while Cliff Lee is injured. The teams finally meet in late May, and we'll probably have to deal with the Lee-King Felix combo.

But if Spike is right, and we have a chance at 110 wins, then maybe we also have a chance at Seattle's record of 116. To get there, we'll need a lot of help from the man of the night...

3. Hughessssssssss!

Fantastic performance from the 23 year-old. 7 1/3 innings, one hit, three walks, ten strikeouts. Wow. Just like last night, I only caught a couple innings and thus missed most of the virtuoso performance. But at the end of the second, when he struck out Gabe Gross on a disgusting curve, it was obvious that Philthy Phil was dealing. As I turned off the tv, I remember thinking that he'd probably throw a no-hitter, and I'd miss it because I have the sleeping habits of an old man. But my rec league basketball championship is tonight, and I couldn't risk being tired, so I made the responsible choice.

Sure enough, he took the no-no into the 8th inning, when a comebacker by Chavez hit him in the chest. Hughes thought it bounced up, but it stayed right in front, and the As third baseman easily took first. End of the no-hitter, but a fantastic performance nonetheless. And I love that it only took him 101 pitches.

The message board I frequent, NYYFans, is in quite a state of excitement. He's allowed 4 hits in 12.1 innings, and his WHIP is under 1. Maybe it's too early for a coronation, but it is pretty incredible that a guy capable of such an amazing performance is our 5th starter. Damn.

4. Gardy

Another strong night for Brett, who went 2-3 with an RBI and a walk. He's tied for the AL lead in stolen bases with 7, and he's rocking a .333 average, .444 OBP, and .394 wOBA. And that's our #9 hitter.

5. The .320 club

With almost one tenth of the season in the books, five of our usual starters are batting above .320. Roll call!

A-Rod: .320
Gardner: .333
Jeter: .339
Cano: .340
Posada: .348

That is a fearsome bunch, right there. Combined with the OBP of Nick Johnson, it's no wonder opposing starters have only made the 7th inning twice in 14 chances.

The Gist

There's not much to complain about, with one notable exception: Teixeira. Common wisdom and past performance tells us he'll get going soon, but that .118 average is pretty ugly.

Otherwise, it's hard to believe how well things are going. It almost makes me nervous. Tonight, CC goes for a sweep in his old stomping grounds. It's an afternoon game, so I'll actually get to watch most of it. He's up against Dallas Braden (easily one of the coolest names in baseball). Braden's year has been stellar so far; he's 2-0 with 6 ER and 16 Ks in 20 innings. Put your best dollars on another low-scoring affair.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A-Blog Greatest Hits, Part 5

A-Rod's Blog, 8/27/07: Melky, you could have gotten me KILLED!

You are seriously not funny, Melky. You are seriously a jerk, and now you’re my enemy. If you expect me to ever hit you home again, you better get a life!

This is going to be a hard story to tell. You all remember my last entry when Melky accused me of trying to have sex with a urinal simply because I was leaning close for sanitary reasons. Well, he approached me to apologize on Saturday. As a “peace offering,” he told me about an area of Detroit with a great rollerblading scene. It was on the east side, he said, in a neighborhood called Conant Gardens.

I love ‘blading, and I didn’t think I’d have the chance to roll in Detroit. I forgave him immediately, went on to get a hit, score a run, and lead us to an easy 7-2 win. Everyone was really nice to me after the game. It was strange but great. By the time I showered and strapped on the blades, Robbie Cano had already hailed me a cab. The driver seemed surprised when I told him I was headed for Conant Gardens, but I was too excited to really notice.

When we arrived, the cabbie left right away, like he was scared. It was almost six and starting to get dark. Long stretches of condemned buildings lined both sides of the street, and I didn’t see gardens anywhere. Nobody was ‘blading, either, but I thought I could scare up some action easily enough, especially if this was as big a rollers’ neighborhood as Melky claimed.

But when I started rocking down the street, executing some pretty flawless spins and jumps, the people just laughed. A few women dressed like prostitutes tried to approach, and I had to veer away. A younger boy with large jeans and a sideways Tigers baseball cap started riding his bike around me in slow, ominous circles.

Soon a flurry of homophobic epithets came from the stoops, and for a while I took the insults without comment. I thought the local rollers club would have my back soon enough. Finally, though, I heard one particularly rude catcall and retorted, “takes one to know one!”

That didn’t go over well. A heated exchange followed, and soon I was being chased on foot. It became a sort of mob scene, and as I fled I kept screaming out my name: “I’m A-Rod the baseball player!” It had no effect, except to make them angrier. Still ‘blading at top speed, I took my wallet from my waist-bag and tossed some bills to the side, hoping to distract them the way you might distract a mean dog by throwing cheeseburgers (if you happen to have a bag full of cheeseburgers). Finally I just threw the whole wallet, filled with about four thousand dollars cash, and sped down a side road. Which reminds me that I need to start a checking account somewhere.

After a few minutes I guess they stopped the chase, but I had blacked out and couldn’t stop ‘blading. I don’t remember anything from that moment until the next morning, just after six, when a couple cops found me passed out in a Wal-Mart parking lot. I was clammy, starving, and close to exhaustion. The Wal-Mart was in Toledo, Ohio.

Today I went 0-for-4 with 2 strikeouts. So thanks, Melky. You’re about as cool as the Conant Gardens rollerblading scene.

Morning: 5 Yankee Points

It's Wednesday and I'm feeling froggy, so let's launch a new feature called "5 Yankee Points." I think you'll catch on quick.

5 Yankee Points, 4/21

1. Javier Vazquez has lost his fastball.

Last night, for the third straight start, his fastball averaged under 90mph. The final tally was 88.9, and the fastest heater of the night was 91.4.

As I've mentioned before, this is strikingly uncommon. In three full seasons between 2007 and 2009, his average fastball was below the 90mph mark exactly three times. Never twice in a row, and certainly never three times in a row.

It's no surprise that his walks are also up, with his BB/9 ratio currently doubling any season total since 2000. Opposing batters are making contact on 81.6% of their swings, up from 73% last year. On pitches outside the strike zone, they're connecting 64% of the time, as opposed to 51.2% in 2009. These stats all reflect that lost velocity; he walks more people because he lacks confidence in the fastball and tries to stay outside the zone, and hitters are making more contact because the fastball is less formidable, and doesn't set them up to whiff at off-speed stuff.

He got his first win yesterday, but he needed 107 pitches to go 5 and a third, and he gave up two home runs. This happened against a below average offense in Oakland. In my book, this start isn't terribly different from the first two disasters.

2. Robbie Cano had 3 friggin' walks last night!

Wow. I will admit that the Sandman got me sometime in the second inning (10:05 starts don't jive with a 6:30am wakeup time), so when I saw this stat this morning, I thought it had to be some kind of record. You see, Robbie doesn't walk. He'd rather swing at a crappy pitch and ground out to second base, and he does so quite often. In favorable counts. His walk totals the past three years are: 39, 26, 30. That's about once every five games.

So I checked out his game logs, and sure enough, it's a record! Or at least a tie. He walked 3 times in a single game once in 2008, and twice in 2007. So this is the foruth time he's ever managed the feat. In the long run, this means exactly nothing. Or maybe it means he'll become a walking machine; he's on pace for about 60 now. Small sample size, anyone?

Sadly, Robbie's hot start is now a thing of the past. Walks aside, he's 0 for his last 8 at the plate, and the habits we know and love (flailing at bad pitches, mostly) seem to be re-emerging.

3. Joba hit 96 on the gun

And averaged 94.38 on the fastball. That's a marked jump up from his last 4 outings, and a nice sign that maybe, possibly, his arm is on its way to recovering the 07-08 speed. If nothing else, it's probably safe to close the book on his career as a starter. His average fastball last year in that role hovered around 92, and his junk isn't good enough to make that work. The only way he's feasible for the Yankees is as a pure fastball/slider relief pitcher.

Personally, I still think we'll see him used as trade bait before the year's up. This goes double if he has a strong early ERA out of the pen. Sell high.

4. It's almost unfair to have Nick Johnson in this lineup

Why? He's batting .176, which is pretty awful. But he's an absolute walk machine. He leads the league, in fact, with 16, and his on-base percentage is .407. The batting average will improve, and with it the OBP. I can't imagine a more perfect player to fill the #2 spot. He seems to be very adept at moving Jeter along, and those walks are just deadly in front of Teixeira and A-Rod. It wouldn't surprise me if Nick scores 100 runs this year. As an added bonus, he makes pitchers throw and throw and throw, just like Swisher. Only 2 opposing starters have made it into the seventh inning against the Yanks (Pineiro and Price), and Nick Johnson is a big reason why.

5. Granderson is batting .263 against lefties

Not amazing, but much better than his .183 number from last year. We'll have to keep an eye on this, but it's a strong start.

The Gist

I have to say, the Yankees look amazing right now. CC, AJ, and Andy have had about as good a start as anybody could hope for, the lineup is scoring runs despite another lame beginning by Teixeira and low batting averages from Johnson and Swisher, and all the new guys except Vazquez are working out great. A-Rod is back in business, and had a classic A-Rod game yesterday: 2-2, 1 home run, 3 walks.

Another big win last night against Oakland kicked off what looks like a difficult road swing on paper. If we can manage 4-2 against the As and Angels, we'll be sitting pretty going into Baltimore. And then it's home, where we can all just chill out and get weird with some Enya. Old school.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Singler is Back(ronym)

Kyle Singler will return to Duke for his senior season.

Really?
Eschewing
Professional
Extras
And
Trying

Gamely-
Under
Absurdly
Raised
Ambitions,
Naturally-
To
Exceed
Everyone's
Dreams?

Clearly,
Our
Mission
Moves
Ahead.

Bathe
In
Trepidation,
Chapel
Hill.

Morning: The Horrors of Oakland

Prithee say...


WHAT FRESH HELL IS THIS?



OAKLAND!

Hideous sister of Saint Francis
Sharing a bay, but not the beauty:
Thou art like the isle of Augusta-
Isolated among hordes
with all of the green
and none of the splendor.



Oakland!

A stranger on your shores
doffs his cap to native men
only to be spurned
and glazed with heavy eyes
as the riverboat damned
are by Charon darkly hailed.



Oakland!

Spare each other wand'ring fears.
Be as a savage upon the shore
beholding the mighty armada-
Bow, as though to ancient Gods
when in gray and black
your vanquishers alight.



And the Oakland spirit ranging for revenge,
With Ate by its side come hot from hell,
Shall in those confines with a Monarch's voice
Cry "Havoc," and let slip the dogs of war;
That this foul deed shall smell above the earth
With carrion men, groaning for burial.

Monday, April 19, 2010

I'm In Love with wOBA

wOBA: Weighted on base average.

This is the stat. The stat. If you want to get a hang of a player's overall offensive ability, look no further.

Why I love wOBA, in a nutshell: unlike the OPS stat, which is just on base percentage plus slugging percentage, wOBA takes run values into effect. In slugging %, which just measures how many bases a batter earns per at-bat, a home run is worth four times as much as a single. In On-base percentage, they're worth exactly the same. OPS, which combines the two, does not effectively erase the shortcomings in either stat.

It just doesn't work. The truth is, a home run is worth 1.7 runs more than an out. What that means is that the average of all home runs (tracked over a period of time) produces about 1.7 runs (the majority of home runs are solo shots, worth 1, while some are worth 2, 3, or 4). Just combining on-base and slugging comes nowhere near to reproducing this number, and actually skews largely toward slugging, and hence toward a power hitter.

So you know how sabermetrics people always kinda scoff at speed and stolen bases, and skew toward sheer power? It's because of OPS. Now, there's finally a way to account for valuable assets like these. (In case you're curious, a steal is worth roughly .19 runs.) Not to mention the fact that OBP is a better predictor of run scoring than slugging %.

If you're interested in reading detailed accounts of its development, check here and here and here.

The other great part of wOBA is that they scale it to the on-base percentage scale. So the casual fan can easily read this stat and know whether a player is bad, average, or great based on the fan's knowledge of OBP. There's an easy adjusted stat, too, called wRAA, which stands for runs above average based on wOBA. In other words, how many runs better were all these guys than the league average? Here were the 2009 leaders in wRAA:

Albert Pujols 69.7
Joe Mauer 54.9
Prince Fielder 54.2
Ryan Braun 44.8
Hanley Ramirez 43.9
Mark Teixeira 42.9

But the best part of this stat? It finally gives me an accurate sense of how good Brett Gardner is offensively. Last year, with only 284 plate appearances, his wRAA was 2.0. This year, he's 2.2, with a wOBA of .402.

What this means: Brett Gardner is above average offensively. And he does it with speed. A sabermetric stat has basically just vindicated a speed-first player who wouldn't even be involved in an OPS discussion (in fact, his adjusted OPS last year was 93, which is 7 below the league average). But if you've seen games like last Saturday, when Brett reached base four times without hitting it out of the infield, and followed up with stolen bases and runs scored, you knew he was a worthwhile player. This is sophisticated and awesome.

If you didn't understand any of this post, I apologize. I'm not sure I do, either, but I'm happy. Here's a picture of Brett doing what he does best:

Morning: The Weekend Top 5

Vamos!

5. The NBA Playoffs Begin, I School My Younger Brothers with Mathematics

As I get older, it gets more and more satisfying to use my experience and profound wisdom to put cocky youngsters in their place. So please indulge this story of out-doming a few such whippersnappers.

Last year, my brothers (ages: 17 and 15) and I invented an NBA fantasy thing where we drafted one player from every team in the playoffs. We each ended up with 16 players, and we tracked their points through June. Obviously, the winning team was the one who accumulated the most. I picked second in' 09, so I had Kobe, but the rest of my draft wasn't awesome. I hung with my brother Thomas for a while, but eventually Lebron scored too many points and I lost.

This year, when the draft order was decided, I was third. That meant no Kobe and no Lebron, but I'd get the next two picks since it was a snaking draft. They watch way more NBA than I do, and I didn't like the idea of dealing with their swagger for another year. So with an hour to spare before the first pick last Sunday, I decided to spend some time and really crunch the numbers. Only in-depth statistical study, I knew, could overcome the Kobe-Lebron problem. My thought process:

a) The most important factor is margin. You want players who not only score a lot, but score a lot more than their teammates. If player A scores 50 points per game, and player B, his teammate, also scores 50, player A has a 0 value rating. If someone takes player A, I can just pick up player B in a later round and lose nothing. Player C, who only scores 15 per game on a team where nobody else averages more than 10, is actually way more valuable.

b) Distance into the playoffs matters. The top three or four seeds will have double or triple the number of games of a team that exits first round.

c) A round lasts 4-7 games. Because I didn't have a ton of time to analyze exactly how long each individual series might last, I split the distance and made it 5.5 games per round. Then I projected each team's number of games. If they were definite first round losers, it was 5.5. Two rounds (like the Hawks), 11. One-to-two rounds, like Miami or Boston, 8.25. Etc.

d) Last, I took the point margin each player held over his nearest teammate and multiplied it by their projected games in order to get an overall value rating.

I found out some interesting stuff. Dirk Nowitzki and Carmelo Anthony, for example, are extremely valuable because they score so much more than their teammates, and will last at least two rounds (Dirk's rating was +161.5, Melo's was +119). This shouldn't come as a big surprise. What was surprising is that Kevin Durant and Dwyane Wade, despite their likelihood of going down in round 1, are still way more valuable than good players on better teams. Durant averages 14 more per game than his nearest teammate, and at a projected 5.5 games, his value rating was +77. Projecting the same number of games for Wade, he's +64.9, but if Miami somehow beats Boston, that total is doubled.

Dwight Howard, meanwhile, only averages 2 points more than Vince Carter, and 4 points more than Rashard Lewis. Even though he's projected 3-4 rounds, for 19.25 games, that's only a +38 value rating. And really, a couple bad games and he becomes a neglible asset. D-How was one to avoid.

Other things: if a team had two guys who scored high, you didn't want to be stuck with the third best. In the case of the Cavs, Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison both averaged 15.8. Once Lebron was gone, it didn't matter who I picked up, and I could save that pick for later in the draft. But for the Bobcats, Stephen Jackson averages 21.1, Gerald Wallace 18.2, and Raymond Felton only 12.1. Once Jackson went, I knew it was important to pick up Wallace.

As you might guess, using this kind of analysis against teenagers was like bringing an air force battalion to a middle school debate. I totally dominated the draft, despite losing out on Kobe and Lebron. A really great moment happened when I proposed that we each have one substitution chance, in case a player got injured. They were not having it, and Thomas in particular was vocal in denying the rule. He even implied it was a way for me to try to cheat. "Okay," I said, "but don't come crying to me if someone on your team goes down." And yes, I'm proud of myself for using the phrase "don't come crying to me." I am ready to be a father.

I didn't have to wait long for them to hoist themselves by their own petards. Twelve rounds later, Thomas drafted Andrew Bogut, who is already out for the year with an elbow injury. Keegan, my youngest brother, used his 13th pick to draft Raja Bell as the Charlotte Bobcats representative. Bell was traded from the Bobcats to the Golden State Warriors last November.

Yikes.

Anyway, after the first round of games, I'm leading Keegan by 30 points, and Thomas by 117. And even though my use of stats was pretty rudimentary and maybe a little obvious, I still feel like a total math wizard. They have no hope against a man of my numerical genius. I should go on a lecture tour of Ivy League universities.


4. The 20-inning game!

Holy shit, this was awesome. Luckily, I found the game on Fox early so I could follow the last 10 innings. My friend Nick and I were playing chess and peeking over now and again, and somewhere around the 16th inning, I knew things were starting to get absurd. This might be an arbitrary call, but somehow 15 is just a weirdly long game to me, while 16 gets into epic territory. By the time they'd played a whole second 9 innings, the excitement hit a fever pitch. And the vibe was extra juicy because it was a double shut-out. That's some old timey baseball, right there.

When the Cards brought in Mather, an outfielder, I really, really wanted the Mets to lose. Their organization is so poorly run, and they're so incredibly unlucky, that this would be icing on my schadenfreude cake. If they lost with a position player taking the mound, after so much effort, it would even top last year's Castillo incident.

Unfortunately, they didn't. It took them two innings to beat a guy who doesn't pitch professionally, but they finally managed. 2-1 Mets. Amazing stuff.


3. Ubaldo Jimenez throws a no-hitter

It's time like these when I wish I was rich and could justify buying an MLB video package despite the fact that I really only ever watch the Yankees and can get them on normal cable. It'd be nice to hear about a pending no-no and flip over to watch the end. Nothing is more exciting in baseball than a potential no-hitter or perfect game.

However, you can watch all 27 outs here, on MLB video. That's pretty awesome. Don't miss Fowler's unbelievable grab in center at the 2:25 mark.


2. CC, AJ, Andy

Texas had no shot against these guys. Here was the weekend line: 21 innings pitched, 13 hits, 3 earned runs, 20 strikeouts.

Wow.


1. The New York Friggin' Yankees

The record is up to 9-3, and we've won our first four series' against very good teams. Here's the scary part: Teixeira hasn't even started hitting yet, and A-Rod has just been so-so. Vazquez, our fourth starter, has been horrible. He might have some real issues, especially with velocity. But those first two players will not stay in their funk, and when the pendulum swings, the entire MLB is in for a serious ass-kicking.

Things get tough this week, when we head to Oakland for three against the 9-5 As. Vazquez and Hughes will be pitching the first two days, and if we can steal a win, we're in good shape with CC on the hill Thursday in one of his favorite cities. But a series in Anaheim follows, and those west coast swings are always tiring as hell. At least we get it out of the way early. And if we go 2-4, no big deal. We're already off to a hot start.

April 19: The sky is bright, trees are in bloom, and pinstripes look good.

Friday, April 16, 2010

A-Blog Greatest Hits, Part 4

A-Rod's Blog, 8/23/07: I Wasn't Having Sex With the Urinal, Melky!

God, who would have thought a group of professional athletes could be so immature?

We’re in Detroit today for a series with the Tigers, and this morning we hit the field for an informal workout. It’s a laid-back routine. We just field a few grounders, take some swings in the cage, and shake off the cobwebs from the travel day.

When we finished, I was using the visitor’s bathroom when Melky Cabrera walked in. He started snickering right away, and rushed back to the locker room yelling “Yo, A’s bangin’ the urinal!”

Then everybody laughed and I had to finish quick before they rushed in to see.

I wasn’t having sex with the urinal, Melky. I just know that if you stand too far away, the urine can splash and create a mess for everybody.

Leaning in close is a good way to be sanitary. But I wouldn’t expect you to understand that. God, I’ve got such a bad sodium headache right now. I might ask to only play 3 innings tonight.

I wonder if I can sue Melky for slander. If any lawyers read this please leave a comment.

Morning: Jackie Robinson Cano Day

Last night, the Yanks honored Jackie Robinson by presenting a bouquet of flowers to his widow, and Sweet Robbie honored the man he was named for by jacking two. Granderson added two triples, Jeter homered, and the Yanks won their third straight series against a quality opponent.

Not a bad night. Phil Hughes started for the first time, and did just okay. He lasted into the sixth and picked up the win, but it took him 108 pitches and 5 walks to get there. His fastball velocity numbers were okay; an average of 92.08, with a peak of around 94. Which is pretty much par for the course in his career as a starter. As a reliever last year, both of those numbers were about 2 mph higher.

For their efforts in the first 9 games, the Yanks get a solid A-. Let's hope we can keep the ship rolling against Texas, who come in to town tonight having to face CC, AJ, and Andy.

In other news, THE NBA PLAYOFFS START TOMORROW! WOWSER!

I actually do like the playoffs, so maybe that sarcasm wasn't appropriate. But I have literally no idea what has been happening in the NBA this year. I'm assuming Cleveland is like a 2 or 3 seed, and will lose in the conference finals and make everyone in Cleveland even more depressed, and the Lakers will win the title again.

Just looked, and I'm wrong about the Cavs. They apparently have the best record in all of basketball. But they'll have to play Boston in the second round, which seems like a tough draw, and then either Atlanta or Orlando. The Magic, you'll recall, beat them last year. Should be interesting. For more expert analysis, please send me a self-addressed stamp envelope with 300 hundred dollars and a fake passport.

I shall now end this trifling blog post. More material later, when I have fewer middle-aged women all up in my shit.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A-Blog Greatest Hits, Part 3

Before I turn this post over to another 2007 A-Rod blog, I'd like to take a brief detour. When I was watching that Chan Ho fight video from the post below, I saw Woody Hayes' incident, looked him up, and then was reading about the Ohio St. University president who fired him. On the wiki entry, it shows the president who preceded and succeeded him, and before I knew what was what, I was reading the names of every Ohio State president ever. And man, what names! You couldn't make these babies up. If you love weird old school names like I do, please enjoy this complete list of Ohio St. presidents, up to 2002:

1) Edward J. Orton, Sr.
2) Walter Quincy Scott
3) William Henry Scott
4) James Hulme Canfield
5) William Oxley Thompson
6) George Washington Rightmire
7) William McPherson
8) Howard Landis Bevis
9) Novice Gail Fawcett
10) Harold Leroy Enarson
11) Edward Harrington Jennings
12) Elwood Gordon Gee
13) John Richard Sisson
14) William English Kirwan

Wow! There's not a bad one in the bunch. I think my favorite is "George Washington Rightmire." That's golden. But "Howard Landis Bevis" is close. Trivia Time: Guess which OSU president looks this this:


If you guessed "Elwood Gordon Gee," you are correct!

On to A-Rod's blog:

A-Blog, 8/23/07: Girls are the Worst!

Last night was a big downer. I went 0-for-2 and just didn’t feel like playing. Coach Torre had to basically plead with me to take the field from the sixth inning on. The reason? A girl, as usual.

I’m going to make this story quick, because we’re staying in L.A. for the off day, and I really want to get some rollerblading in before we fly out to Detroit tonight. The Cali rollerblading scene is just so much more legit than New York, you know? People actually take it serious here. Back home, you’ve got to deal with skateboarders throwing soda cans and Italians with ugly accents calling you derogatory names for gay people.

Anyway, I hit the boardwalk at Venice Beach yesterday afternoon and ‘bladed like a fiend until about three, then found an empty bench where I could eyeball Cali’s many fine ladies. I took a book from my waist-bag (and no, it’s not a fanny-pack … they look similar, but are entirely different products).

The book was this dictionary I always carry around. It helps me pick up girls, because when they ask what you’re reading, it’s such an awesome line to go “this is the dictionary. I’ve always had a passion for words. I bet there’s even one in here for you.” Then you have to find a word that basically means beautiful.

A few minutes passed, and finally this slim brunette with cute glasses sat at the other end of the bench. She wasn’t a ‘blader, but that didn’t worry me — she seemed smart, and I knew she’d appreciate the dictionary routine. At first she didn’t look over, so I flipped the pages really loudly and kept going “hmmmm,” like I was reading something real interesting. Finally she took notice, but still wouldn’t start a conversation. I had to man up.

“This is a dictionary,” I said, pointing gravely at the book like a professor probably does. “I’ve always had a passion for words. I bet there’s even one in here for you.” Then I blanked for a while, but finally came up with “handsome.”

“I bet there’s a word in there for you, too,” she said.

“Oh yeah?” I asked, my interest piqued.

“Solipsistic.” Then she smiled and left.

Wow. A-Rod was on cloud nine. I flipped through to check out the definition, but my dictionary is a Thorndike-Barnhart Junior, the kind with huge print, and it didn’t have that word. I ‘bladed like a madman back to the hotel so I could look it up online on the lobby computers.

Let me just say this, mystery girl: ha fucking ha. Maybe you should get into comedy, Carrot Head.

But you know what? The joke’s on you. You just hurt a dude so bad that he played like an idiot for the world’s most important team, and because of that they lost a crucial game.*

Don’t bother leaving a comment if you read this. You’ve already done enough.

*Editor’s Note: The Yankees won last night’s game against the Angels by a score of 8-2.

I Have a New Favorite Yankee, and Chan Ho Has...

After Chan Ho Park's rough outing in game one against Boston, rumors swirled that he hadn't been feeling well. Things turned around for him in his next outing, and afterward the media asked him about that first game...


Wonderful. He's already a true Yankee in my book. Mariano laughing in the background really makes the video. The Newark Star-Ledger reports that the high-pitched cacklers off-camera were Joba and David Robertson.

As a bonus, here's Chan Ho going karate on an over-aggressive Tim Belcher. 1:10 mark:

Morning: A Chance at Excellence

Baseball is never easy in the American League, particulary in the AL East, but the Yankee schedule to start the year seemed especially daunting. Three games in Boston, three games in Tampa Bay, and then a home set against the Angels. Each of those teams has a great chance to make the playoffs, and, along with the Yankees, may form a complete list of the elite teams in the AL.

But today, hours away from surviving the nine-game stretch, the Yanks have a chance to emerge with an excellent 6-3 mark, and three series wins. On paper, it's exactly how you want to start the World Series defense.

Off paper, I could nitpick. Javier Vazquez looked like hell for the second time yesterday, lending credence to the belief that last year's 2.87 ERA was an anomaly that owed a lot to pitching in the National League. If last year taught me anything, it's not to panic too early in the season, but have a look at his ERA numbers with the White Sox, D-Backs, and Yankees, starting in '08 and working backward: 4.67, 3.74, 4.84, 4.42, 4.91.

I'd take that 3.74 in a heartbeat, but the current 9.82 total isn't gonna fly. A great year for Vazuez would be 14 wins, an ERA hovering around 4, and something approaching 200 strikeouts (a total he's surpassed in 5 of 12 major league seasons, though he's gone past 190 in 10 of those 12). It's probably too early to look at advanced metrics, but through two starts there's nothing very alarming. His walks are way up, and opponent BABIP (batting average on balls in play) is up, but his line drive rate is normal and the batter swing percentages aren't alarmingly high. His first pitch strike rate is pretty far down, which could be an indication that he's losing confidence. The most worrisome of all is that his average velocity is below 90, the lowest it's been in the past three years. But again, it's early.

Otherwise, the starting pitchers look terrific. CC's already flirted with a no-hitter, AJ had a nice second start after struggling in Boston, and Andy is being himself. We get to see Hughes for the first time today, which should be exciting.

In annoying news, one of my fantasy pitchers is starting agaisnt the Yankees for the second time already. First Lester, now Kazmir. I suppose this is to be expected.

Time now for a new weekly feature:

THE ROBINSON CANO WATCH


Thursday, April 15th: After 8 games, Robbie is 9th in the league with a .382 average. He has 2 home runs and 6 RBI. He still never walks (1 on the year, for a terrible 2.8& rate), and he still swings at bad pitches (34% outside the strike zone, compared to a 26% league average). But his line drive % is way up so far, at 28%, and he's hitting fewer weak grounders. Woo-hoo!

He's flawless in the field, sporting a nice 1.000 fielding percentage.

That's it for the morning, more later.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A-Blog Greatest Hits, Part 2

(In today's morning post, we introduced a new feature. It's a blog by Yankee great Alex Rodriguez. The "A-Blog" will start in earnest in a week or two, but for now we're getting everyone excited by running a few entries from 2007. Enjoy!)

A-Blog, 8/22/07: Razzing Mussina

Hey everybody, I’m up early this morning on the west coast. I can’t stop thinking about the two A-bombs I hit last night. What a great game! That’s 42 on the year for me, which leads the league, and I’m also leading the league in RBIs, I think. Not to get ahead of myself, but if this keeps up I’ll probably make the All-Star game.

Of course, all the media can talk about is Garret Anderson’s 10 RBI. Sure, it’s a nice round number, but keep in mind that he got them off a pitcher who’s about a hundred years old and some crappy bullpen guys. In the same situation, think how many RBIs I’d get!

Actually, let’s figure it out mathematically. Garret has 50 RBI on the season, and I have 121. So if he got 10 off Mussina, and we do proportions, the numbers tell us I would’ve gotten about 46. In a single game.

Now you can be impressed.

You might be thinking that was a mean thing to say about Mike Mussina, my teammate, but he and I are always joking around. That’s our relationship. Which reminds me of a good story. At one practice I was ragging Mike about his age, calling him “Old Gray” and other funny nicknames, and the whole team could barely pretend not to find it hilarious. I kept it up afterward in the locker room, and finally Mike snapped and said “if I’m so old, get in the fucking box against me!”

That did it. We went back to the field, and everyone came to watch. Most of the guys cheered for Mike. I guess it’s because we had an understanding; I knew I had their silent support, and that freed them to be pretty vocal on Mike’s behalf.

I could’ve used a cheer or two, but I stayed cool because that’s what being a captain is all about (I’m pretty sure I’ll get to be captain soon). Anyway, I dug in and Mike started throwing his fastball, which tops out at about 82, and I was just smacking it all over the park. Finally he tried a curve, but it hung, and I drove it into the left-field bleachers. I decided to razz on Mike some more.

“Why don’t you go buy some lady’s diapers, Mother Theresa?” I yelled. I can’t remember why I used that joke.

“Get back in the box,” he said, doing his typical narrow-eyed scowling face.

Then he hit me in the back with a fastball. It hurt a lot, and it hurt more that some of the guys laughed. But I controlled my tears, stood up, dusted myself off, and trotted to first base, where I sat down and crossed my arms. Everyone else hit the showers, and Mike tried to apologize, but I just sat on first base and didn’t say a word. I stayed there until morning.

The New York Yankees learned something about dignity that night.

Morning: The Deadliest Catch and A-Rod's Blog

I bet you thought the first part of that title would be some kind of baseball pun, but you'd be wrong. It's actually just an homage to The Deadliest Catch, a tv show whose fifth season premiered last night on Discovery.

Have you guys seen this show? It's incredible. A documentary crew follows these crab boats while they go out for weeks at a time on the Bering Sea, dropping pots and trying not to die. They're all very roughneck and working class, which is something you basically never see on television. As my girlfriend pointed out, this particular show won't get corrupted. It'll never attract the obnoxious fame-hungry types who get on most reality shows, because they couldn't hack it on a fishing boat. Shit, I couldn't hack it on a fishing boat, and I'm a huge badass who doesn't give two shits for fame (my Real World application just got rejected for the 14th time).

Believe it or not, I don't watch much tv outside of sports.* Which isn't to say I don't watch television shows. I just can't stand commercials, and I hate that after watching a new episode, you can't move on to the next. So I wait until seasons are over, then I download every episode and binge. My favorite shows are pretty predictable; The Wire, Sopranos, Friday Night Lights, The Office (both versions), Arrested Development. Those are the only ones I've watched end to end. To sum up: not a big tv guy.

*Granted, this takes up its fair share of tv time.

But last night, when I saw the commercials for The Deadliest Catch set to the tune of "Rise" by Eddie Vedder, I had to watch. I stopped what I was doing and plopped in front of the tv for the full hour. And I wasn't disappointed. It's one of the few times you get to see 'real' people on tv. There's real drama, real danger, and real triumph. The documentary crew doesn't have to manufacture anything, and they do an awesome job just letting the story play out.

Last night, they even managed to splice in cell phone footage of a rescue mission near a sinking cod ship. They interviewed the four crew members after, all of whom survived by waiting on a life raft (the cod ship capsized within ten minutes, and if they hadn't inflated the raft in time, they would have died real quickly in the icy water), and the camera lingered on their faces for a while. You got to study these dudes who had just survived by the skin of their teeth and were legitimately shaken. The best part was that two of them had mohawks. You can imagine them doing it on a lark before they went aboard the ship, two young guys having fun. Now they were staring out at the water, picturing what it might have been like to die.

It's fucking crazy! But even in the tamer moments, it's fun to see how the crew interacts, and how they fare with the crabs. They're the kind of men it would be fascinating to speak with as a journalist, but with whom it would be real awkward to sit down and share a beer. They have all beards and tattoos, and some of them are kinda fat, but they're all ridiculously strong. And it's a kind of thick, endurance strength; they can do the required heavy labor without tiring. The captains all have a kind of hunched posture, and seem like reluctant leaders. They know what they're doing, but you can tell they started as deck hands and weren't born to positions of authority.

They introduced a new character yesterday. His name was "Wild Bill," and he turned out to be this captain with long gray hair and a gray beard who looked exactly like someone named "Wild Bill." Early on, one of his crew members messed up a knot attaching a crab pot to a crane, and it fell, crashing hard against the side of the boat. Nobody was leaning against the rail, and nobody got hurt, but it could have been ugly. Wild Bill got on the loudspeaker and yelled. "That's how somebody gets killed, you fucking jackasses!" His eyes were burning. Later, he turned to the camera. "Day one, and we've already got a close call. Welcome to crabbing, I guess."

Jesus, did I just spend that long talking about The Deadliest Catch? Between this and the stuff about David Samuels yesterday, I'm starting to lose track of the beaten path. Okay, so: watch The Deadliest Catch.

It's time to start something new on this ole blog. In the afternoon posts for the foreseeable future, this will turn into an A-Rod Blog. A Yankee blog should be about Yankee players, and what better way to make that come true than conceding some space to let Yankee voices be heard? Well, it turns out A-Rod used to blog for a now-defunct website a while back. He's a fascinating dude, and after we catch up on those old posts, we'll get back into his head and learn some surprising things about his personal life here on SCSD (it turns out he's huge into rollerblading, for one). For the next week or so, I'll get everybody in the mood by re-posting those old ditties. Without further ado, here's his first post.

The A-Blog: 8/17/07

Wazzaaaap!

Yesterday sucked! We got beat up pretty bad by the Tigers, which I guess is annoying. But the worst part of the day came in the afternoon, before I went to the stadium, at the grocery store.

Food shopping is usually pretty sweet. I go to a joint called Topps, and most of the time I can just relax, check out some good eats, and maybe meet a few cute girls ;). Grocery stores are great for that. But yesterday’s trip was terrible!

It started off well enough, with a quick stroll through the cereal aisle to pick up some Cinnamon Life. They had plenty in stock, and I tossed a couple boxes in my basket and headed for the vegetable section.

There, they have these huge rolls of plastic bags on top of thin metal stands, and you have to rip each bag off individually. You’ve all seen them before. One thing I like to do is tug real quick and then rip the bag dramatically. That usually impresses the ladies if they’re standing nearby.

Well, it just so happened that two pretty hot chicks were looking at the Braeburn apples a few feet away. I coughed loudly so they’d look my way, and executed my pull and tear move. But the stupid bag didn’t break! I ended up pulling out like six feet of plastic. The girls looked at me and kind of giggled. I knew I had to save face, so I tugged again at a hard downward angle.

Disaster. The whole stand came crashing down. I had to jump out of the way so it wouldn’t hit my foot, and I kind of stumbled into the heads of lettuce. A couple fell to the floor, and I may have kicked one in frustration. Lettuce really explodes when you kick it! One of the girls said “what’s he doing?”

A manager came up after that, and made me leave the bag. Plus, I had to pay for the stupid lettuce, which was probably rotten anyway. Before I left, I let him know in no uncertain terms that the metal stand wasn’t heavy enough to support the bags, and that I wouldn’t hesitate to report them for a safety hazard if they didn’t get new ones within a month. I marked the date on my calendar right in front of him, so he knows I won’t forget.

Later, at the check-out, still pretty upset at the sub-standard bag system, I noticed the woman ahead of me had a jar of dill pickles. They looked awesome — like something that could really cheer me up. I knew I’d lose my place in line if I went back to get some, though. I’m a Yankee, and I don’t have time to waste. Torre always yells at me for being late, and I was already cutting it close. Thinking fast, I offered to buy them from her at double price. But she was a stubborn, horrible woman who probably didn’t even know who I was, and she kept saying I should just get some of my own. People around me were whispering, and I saw the manager start to come over, so I upped the ante and offered her a thousand dollars for the jar. “That’ll teach her to refuse an offer from A-Rod,” I thought.

Finally, she agreed, and I bought the pickles. The people around me stopped whispering, and I gave them my patented “I told you so” smile. If they thought A-Rod was the kind of dude who messes around, they learned an important lesson.

Afterward, though, a thousand dollars seemed like an awful lot to spend, and I got so mad that I just threw the pickles into the gutter. It was a pretty crappy day all around, and then the Tigers thing happened.

Talk to you guys soon,

A-Rod

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

3-0 Yanks, 6th Inning: Over

It's 3-0 Yankees in the bottom of the sixth, and there's no conceivable way we can lose this game.

(I'm testing for a blog jinx. It's sort of like a yearly physical. You feel good, but you still want that clean bill of health.)

A couple odds and ends on this overcast afternoon.

*Robbie Cano is 2-3 with a single and a double. Just saying.

*I'm an avid reader of The New Yorker. For the past five years or so, I've read pretty much every issue cover to cover. An hour ago, I finished reading an article that became my all-time favorite. It's called "The Pink Panthers," by David Samuels, about a group of Balkan jewel thieves who have set up an enormous crime syndicate and pulled off amazing heists all over the world. You can read the abstract here, but unfortunately it's not available online. But if you like quality journalism, I highly suggest buying the April 12th issue. You'll be getting some bang for your buck; it also features a story by Jon Lee Anderson, a badass reporter who basically throws himself into the worst spots in Africa and emerges with a great story, and a baseball piece by Ben McGrath.

Samuels also has a collection of journalism called "Only Love Can Break Your Heart," which I'll be buying on the strength of this article.

*Hey, it's time for a LIVE BLOG of Robbie Cano's 4th at bat. It's the first ever SCSD live blog done by radio.

3:21: A-Rod just picked up 2 RBI.

3:21: Jesus, some woman just came in to make copies so I can't hear the radio. I know there are two men on.

3:22: Is she making a lot of copies, you ask? Yes.

3:22: She stopped just in time for me to hear that he popped out to center field. I love this place.

*Last, here's a video of a couple Pink Panther thieves escaping from inside a mall in Dubai via two getaway Audis. The cars broke through the front gate of the mall, then rammed the jewelry store. The whole thing took less than two minutes.


This is now a jewel thief blog!!