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2011 MLB Season: Cashman A Genius? Best Pitching Not In Philly? Red Sox Suck?

Yes…you read the title right, as 2011 is proving to be the craziest season in years.

Everything that is NOT suppose to happen is already happening.

Not that everything can’t change because the season is still in its baby stages and trust me nothing will stay as is. Still, the first three weeks are mind-boggling with dramatic walk-offs, sensational pitching and home-runs galore.

It seems as if EVERY team has come to win this season. Teams that are supposed October locks and players that are not supposed to good anymore are proving all of us baseball nuts to be fools.

Here are the 5 biggest shocks that are now baseball realities (the order is for number not ranking purposes):

  1. The Philadelphia Phillies starting rotation does not feature the best one-two punch in baseball. Phillies Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee are no slouches but they don’t compare to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim aces Jered Weaver and Dan Haren. The Halos tandem have a combined 9-0 record in nine starts and have 66 strikeouts. While the Phillies duo have a combined 53 innings pitched, with 52 strikeouts and a win-loss record of 4-2 in eight starts. The Halos #1 and #2 cost around $20 million combined; compared to the Phillies paying $31 million, with $20 million for Halladay alone, who is worth every penny. That is a lot more money to not be on top.
  2. The competition in the AL Central is no doubt about as good as it gets, but who thought that it would be the Cleveland Indians and the Kansas City Royals fighting it out for the first place? As the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins are barely keeping their head above water. Can everyone agree now that Twins Joe Mauer is the biggest overpaid bust in baseball? Mauer is on the DL for the millionth time in his career and his 2009 MVP season sure seems more and more like a fluke.
  3. Picked by every expert, except my favorite ESPN Skip Baylor, to run away with the AL East the Boston Red Sox are proving that buying players doesn’t guarantee anything. You think GM Theo Epstein would have learned this by watching their rival Yankees fail at this many times. Boston didn’t win two World Series in the past decade with this formula. Still, don’t complete write them off the Red Sox cause they will get better.
  4. New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman’s off-season was considered a disaster after missing out on ace Cliff Lee. In an attempt to make up for Lee, Cashman inked every over-the-mound veteran, with an injury history, bad attitude or all three. To put it mildly, Yankee fans were not happy, but now they are in awe of their genius GM who has put together an All-Star back-up plan to come in for the already aging starting All-Stars. You forget how much baseball experience is now in that Yankee locker room, as the amount of awards won on this roaster alone could fill an entire stadium. Don’t think the Yankees are going anywhere just yet because champions know how to win championships.
  5. The Mets have hit rock bottom…NOT! You wonder what else could go wrong at this point, but it is almost a guarantee now that the Mets will find it. The team is at the bottom of not only the NL West but is the worst team in baseball with a 5-13 record. The explanation that “The Mets have all the talent and they are not this bad” is getting old because it is about time they start to prove it. This team needs to do figure itself out or the players need to start to play for all nine innings, not seven or eight. Also, respecting David Wright might do wonders as he is the franchise’s player and deserves better. No one thought that things could really get any worse and the fans are starting to hate the game of baseball now.

 

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New York Yankees Vs. Orioles: Time To Win One For CC

The New York Yankees are in Baltimore for Easter Weekend to play a three game set against their division rival Orioles. So far in 2011, the Yankees are 2-0 against the Orioles.

The first game on Friday night the Orioles will send 25-year-old, righty Brad Bergesen to the mound to face Yankees ace and one of the best pitchers in baseball CC Sabathia.

Orioles Brad Bergesen:

Bergesen will have his hands full with the hot Yankees bats of Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez.

Cano has an 11-hitting streak going; and A-rod has hit a home-run and two RBIs in nine at-bats vs. Bergesen. In Granderson’s seven at-bats against Bergesen, he has a .555 batting average; with three hits, one double, three RBIs, a walk and zero strikeouts.

Bergesen has had some success versus the Yankees, as Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter have yet to get a hit in a combined 17 at-bats. He also pitched two innings of relief in New York back on April 13th, not giving up a hit and striking out two of the six Bombers he faced even though the Orioles lost the game 7-4.

Still, for the Orioles to have any chance to win the first game of the weekend, Bergesen has to pitch like he did in relief 10 days ago, but for about four more innings.

He has made two prior starts in 2011 posting a 0-2 record, throwing a combined 8.2 innings, allowing seven hits, three homers, four earned runs and striking out five. That isn’t going to cut it with the way the Yankees are hitting.

Yankees CC Sabathia:

Sabathia’s 0-1 record over four starts is not an accurate account of his performances. Sabathia has a 2.52 ERA in just over 25 innings pitched.

This is Sabathia’s slowest start and the only time he hasn’t posted a win in four outings in his 10 past seasons. Sabathia would throw nine innings all the time, but skipper Joe Girardi is not going to allow Sabathia or any Yankee pitcher get overused.

Sabathia is 14-2 in his career against the Orioles, so going eight innings is something Girardi would love to see. Whether Sabathia can keep his pitch count below 100 through seven innings is the question. Sabathia’s pitch count has been over 100 in all four outings, but only once vs. the Twins did he throw an efficient 104 pitches in seven full innings.

MY PREDICTION (and plea):

 

The motto in baseball or any other team sport is you win as a team; you lose, as a team. With the idea that no player is supposed to ever ask or imply otherwise, but this is America and to say it has never happened would be lying.

I can guarantee that selfish attitude has and never will materialize from a player like CC Sabathia. So I have no reason not to hope that Sabathia’s Yankee teammates win this game for their ace, who has come through above and beyond for the team, both as a player and a person.

Obviously the Yankees and the O’s both want to come away with the win, but the Yankees have an extra reason to make sure it happens in this game.

It would be hard to imagine that the Yankee players aren’t thinking about winning for CC and my guess is that is exactly what will happen.

Yankees beat the Orioles with a final score of 10-2.

 

2011 MLB FACT: The Bombers are the only team in baseball who has not lost two games in a row this season.  They also have the most homeruns with 30 already on the season.

 

New York Yankees: Bartolo Colon’s Debut Shut Me Up

Toronto Skydome (Rogers Centre), NY Yankees vs...

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What year is it…2011?

Well, you could have fooled me as it sure felt like 2005 up at the Roger Centre in Toronto tonight, watching New York Yankees pitcher Bartolo Colon throw a gem in his first start filling in for Phil Hughes who is still on the DL with a dead-arm.

After losing a heartbreaker the night before in the bottom of the 10th inning, Colon led his new Yankee teammates to a well needed win. It came as a surprise, but not a shock after the impressive numbers Colon had in Spring Training.

Colon exhibited such an aura of confidence that you would have never guessed it was his first start on a Major League mound since July 24, 2009. He allowed seven hits and two runs over 6 2/3 innings. He struck out seven batters in the tough and hard-hitting Blue Jays line-up, while walking just two. At one point he sent 12 Blue Jays down in a row.

More proof that GM Brian Cashman knows what he is doing, as when Yankees bench coach Tony Pena suggested Colon, Cashman didn’t listen, he acted immediately.

Cashman got such grief, me included before the 2011 season started and all the while he was just doing his job and well I might add.

Looking forward to watching Colon in his next start because after tonight he certainly earned another start on the bump.

Hey, it is about time the low-risk/high-reward actually worked for the Yankees.

The odds were in the ball-clubs favor, as Cashman probably learned after his first few failures of taking on older talent in hopes of a re-birth.

So, could the 37-year-old Colon be turning back into a pitching machine?

As isn’t the never-ending mystery of sports why fans love it in the first place?

Darn right it is….

My advice to Hughes is you better get to work and wake-up that arm because you spot is not guaranteed after the show Colon put on in Toronto tonight.

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New York Yankees: Joe DiMaggio: The Long Vigil

In Joe DiMaggio: The Long Vigil, you can appreciate the admiration author Jerome Charyn had for Joe DiMaggio the New York Yankees baseball player.

The first half of the book, Charyn is just a fan that enjoyed nothing more than going to Yankee Stadium and watching DiMaggio play the game of baseball with such grace.

In a sense Charyn wanted to keep his DiMaggio the unvarnished hero that the Yankee Clipper was when he wore the pinstripes.

The later half tells a story of a man who struggled with life after baseball, the true love of DiMaggio’s life, until he met Marilyn Monroe.

Monroe and DiMaggio loved each other but valued how they were perceived to be even more, as the most beautiful actress and the greatest to play the game.

Once DiMaggio desired for Monroe to take on the role of wife their relationship soured. Only to end with DiMaggio being rejected, which did not bode well with a man who was suppose to be perfect. Charyn asserts to the idea that it was only after Monroe’s tragic death, that DiMaggio became the thoughtless character he is remembered for today.

Whether it was in DiMaggio’s personality or whether the pressure of being a baseball star got the better of him is what the author brings into question. Maybe DiMaggio felt used and baseball was the only real personal connections he truly formed authentically.

It makes DiMaggio’s attitude almost understandable and for a moment even endearing. Charyn’s words describe a passionate man in everything he did, regardless of whether it was good or bad, it was just very real.

It justifies why DiMaggio said, “I’d like to thank the good Lord for making me a Yankee.”

The book reiterates a recurring theme amongst athletes still today, why life is sometimes so hard off the baseball field, when everyone seems to love you when you are on it.

When I completed reading The Long Vigil, one of my favorite quotes came to mind this one by Dr. Harriet Braiker.

It best describes how I perceive Joe DiMaggio after being influenced by Charyn valiant words:

“Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing.Dr. Harriet Braiker

 

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New York Yankees: Mariano Rivera Is Human After All

What baseball fan doesn’t love the extra inning, walk-off win?

Maybe the fans whose team didn’t win and get to witness their favorite players partake in baseball’s version of a mosh-pit of joy.

Well, last night that was my life, but ten times worse, as the New York Yankees lost in the 10th inning to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Why was it 10x’s worse?

It is like a dagger through any Yankees fans heart when Mariano Rivera is the culprit because it so seldom happens.

Understand that Mo allows New York fans to be cocky, without any disagreement from even the biggest Yankee haters. He is our ego.

In comparison it feels like you just got dumped because, speaking for myself, that same pit comes back in my stomach.

Mo is not supposed to have bad days because Yankee fans really believe he is super-human. So when a game ends like yesterday’s it makes Mo seems real, and that is the one thing he is not.

AJ Burnett imploding; Joba loading the bases; or even Boone Logan giving up a homerun are disappointments Yankee fans expect.

Sincerely, acknowledging that the day when Enter Sandman will be no longer play in the ninth inning is coming makes each appearance by Mo that much more extraordinary. Which, in turn makes a loss like last night’s become very personal.

Look, it happens and it will happen to Mo again but that doesn’t make it any easier for Yankee fans to swallow.

See, each of Mariano Rivera’s 566 saves or one of his 978 appearances in relief means special to someone because they get to say that they saw the greatest closer ever.

He defines what rarified air is in sports, but what makes Mo stand out even more is that even his superior talents can’t surpass his individual character.

Toronto battled in the ninth inning to tie the game, and then win it in the 10th with a score of 6-5.

The Blue Jays well deserved the win, as they outplayed the Yankees, even it did break chip away at my soul  just a little.

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2011 New York Yankees Depth Chart

Since I get asked all the time about which New York Yankees plays where, like who is the new catcher and who is setting up for MO…. no time like the present to make a 2011 Team Depth Chart.

You can click on the picture twice make it bigger; or print directly by pushing printer button below this post. Please use this at your own convenience or email it to a friend as it is all yours.

Hope this helps….