Home run derby makes the Cy Young race a little clearer

Earlier this week, Jeff Passan wrote an exhaustive but terrific break down of the Cy Young race between Justin Verlander, Jered Weaver and CC Sabathia.

He broke out stats I never heard of and traditional stats and some gut feelings.

Well if their last starts are any indication, then Justin Verlander should be making room on his mantle for an award.

Verlander won a game on the road to prevent the second place Indians from sweeping the Tigers and getting into striking distance.

Meanwhile CC Sabathia let up 5 homers the other day. Granted they were all solo homers, but Cy Young winners shouldn’t let up 5 taters. Call me a traditionalist.

And Jered Weaver coughing up 8 runs in less than 5 innings of work won’t help his resume.

With three candidates bunched so closely together with such little time left in the season, a few games here or there could spoil a Cy Young candidacy.

Two games cost Brandon Webb a second Cy Young Award in 2008.

Weaver and Sabathia had better hope their last games don’t prevent them from getting some hardware.

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10 Reasons why the New York Yankees winning the 2011 World Series would be good for baseball

In the second of my series of Why Each Team’s Potential World Championship Would Be Good For The Game, I decided to tackle the toughest one and get it out of the way.

Yup. The Yankees. The team that is so universally hated and such a short hand for being the bad guys in baseball that even the enemy little league team in The Bad New Bears was called The Yankees!

And yet the Yankees are the most popular team, get the highest ratings and, oh yes, play in the biggest media market in the country. So SOMEONE must like them!

So as painful as it may be for the Red Sox fan, I have found 10 reasons. Now excuse me as I hold my nose as I type this.

10 Reasons why the

New York Yankees

winning the 2011 World Series

would be good for baseball

1. It is IMPOSSIBLE to not like Curtis Granderson

Trust me, I’ve tried. I try to hate EVERYONE on the Yankees. But there is something about Granderson that is just appealing.

He is respectful of the past, good in the community, clever in interviews (and will be a terrific broadcaster) and plays the game all out.

If anyone understands the Yankee tradition and where being on a championship Yankee team would mean, it is Granderson.

It’s tough to root for a Yankee… but it is easy to root for Granderson.

2. A 6th Ring for Derek Jeter… and its repercussions

There will soon be a big and ugly showdown over Derek Jeter’s playing time in New York. And 6 rings for Jeter will make the Jorge Posada controversy look like two people having a friendly cup of coffee together.

Can you IMAGINE the refrains from Jeter’s followers if he gets benched (as most shortstops in their late 30s do)?

“He has as many rings as Jordan!”

“He has led the Yankees to World Series titles in three different decades!”

“How can you sit him?”

It might be worth sitting through a Yankee World Series parade just to see that happen.

3. Watching Girardi and Posada interact in the World Series celebration

The second worst kept secret in baseball* is the tense relationship between manager Joe Girardi and one time catcher Jorge Posada.

Posada took Girardi’s job as a player and Girardi is benching Posada as the manager. And Posada, a DH who can’t hit, has no power nor speed, is peeved that he *GASP* isn’t playing full time.

Posada probably would be reduced to “token pinch hitting role in a blow out” this post season. That is if Posada doesn’t have ANOTHER hissy fit and quit on the team again.

Would they even nod to each other in a World Series celebration?

(*The worst kept secret in baseball is the whole Kevin Costner/Cal Ripken/Cal Ripken’s wife thing.)

4. It will be interesting to see how A-Rod will come out badly in after a Yankees Championship

I am telling you… A-Rod could come back from his injuries, launch a few bombs down the stretch, get a walk off shot in the Division Series, win ALCS MVP and bat .500 in a Yankees World Series victory and there will STILL be someone writing about how much he sucks.

There will be SOMETHING he does… he won’t use enough pine tar. He’ll foul off one too many pitches. He won’t look intense when the cameras cut away to him during the game. He will actually make an out. And THAT will be what people will focus on.

And he will respond to it stupidly in a press conference.

He will never win no matter how often he DOES win!

5. A ring for Eric Chavez

Of all of Oakland’s stars in the 2000s, only one of them signed a contract extension to stick around the East Bay. That would be Chavez as Giambi, Tejada, Zito, Mulder, Hudson, Damon etc all left for more green, Chavez stuck around and WORE green.

He put in 12+ seasons in Oakland but broke down and signed as an afterthought with the Yankees. He has comeback and become a valuable left handed bat and substitute for the injured A-Rod. The 6 Time Gold Glove winner deserves some jewelry.

6. It will be interesting to see who could criticize Mariano Rivera after another title

He’s going to be the all time saves leader. When he became a closer, Dennis Eckersley was still compiling saves and being among the league leaders. Eck is already in the Hall of Fame.

The only way to make an analogy of Mariano’s greatness is with one of Eckersley’s teammates, Rickey Henderson. When he passed Lou Brock in all stolen base categories and then kept going for another decade, it was clear that we were seeing the kind of player that we may never see again.

If Rivera clinches ANOTHER World Series? And continues to pile up the saves and the super human post season numbers? How could anyone criticize him?

(Oh there will be SOME moron who will.)

7. The aftermath of Multiple Rings for A. J. Burnett

Yankee fans tend to find a players worth the same way you determine the age of a tree: Count the rings!

Was Jeter better than A-Rod? Was DiMaggio better than Williams? Was Mantle better than Mays? The refrain from Yankee fans is always “Who won more rings?”

Well imagine this scenario… A. J. Burnett with two World Series rings and Don Mattingly with zero. Who was the better Yankee? I just counted the rings.

If Burnett wins another, he will have matched the combined total of Mattingly and Thurman Munson. Who was the better Yankee?

Do rings lie?

8. Cashman would leave right after a Yankee title and a bizarre chain reaction would begin

There have been rumblings that Cashman wants out of the Yankees front office. His bizarre press conference after the Rafael Soriano signing showed he wasn’t 100% happy with the direction of the club. If the Yankees win again, he gets to leave on top.

And no doubt he would get a new gig to show he wasn’t just the beneficiary of the deep Yankee pockets. That’s when Brian Cashman will get a very rude awakening in the off season.

“What do you MEAN we can’t sign Pujols, Heath Bell AND C. J. Wilson? Just sign them. It’s only money!”

“Wait a second. What exactly is a salary dump? I have heard that term before but I never understood what it was.”

“Wait, you actually expect your prospects to PLAY? They are just trade bait!”

Meanwhile whichever poor S.O.B. who takes over the Yankee GM job is in for the worst time of their life. Any bad decision they make would have the “Cashman wouldn’t have done that label” and anything positive would just be chalked up to “Well they are the YANKEES. ANYONE could be GM.”

If Cashman fails elsewhere, it would all but confirm that.

And before long Cashman will be hired back… and fired… then rehired… lather… rinse… repeat.

9. It would give Hal and Hank Steinbrenner some teeth.

Let’s face it. Hal and Hank have been a big let down. Their dad was amazing and possibly insane and made hating the Yankees a real national obsession. So when he passed away (with his team the defending champs) the baton was passed to the calculating Hal and the passionate Hank.

It looked like Michael and Sonny were running the team.

Instead it is more like Carlo and Fredo. (If I have to explain any of those names, then I feel badly for you.)

What would make this dynamic work better? A championship of their own! And once Cashman is out (kind of like when Tessio got whacked) they can scream at each other for the direction of the team.

And the two of them could claim THEY were the reason the 2011 title was won and bicker for the next 30 years. The headlines that would create would be worth one Yankee title!

10. Sometimes the Empire needs to Strike Back!

OK enough Godfather references. I need to make some Star Wars analogies here.

What made the original Star Wars movies better than the new ones? Among all the reasons you can come up with, the best answer I would say is that the bad guys were really awesome in the original ones and COULD win.

The prequels had vague villains. Phantom Menaces. Scheming about tax routes. Robots who could all be shut down by one ship blowing up. I don’t even KNOW what they were fighting about in Episode 2.

But in the original Star Wars movies? Right from the start when Vader’s Star Destroyer dwarfed Leia’s ship you saw the Empire meant business. And sometimes the Empire is going to win. Ask the folks on Alderaan. Ask the Rebels squashed by the walkers on Hoth. Ask the pilots flying the rebel cruisers around the new Death Star in Jedi.

The times when the Yankees have been bad or not really championship quality, interest in baseball dipped. The A’s, Pirates, Braves and Blue Jays just don’t make for compelling bad guys!

So yeah, just like watching Duke win in basketball, or the Lakers or the Cowboys winning a title, having the big bad bully win from time to time gets everyone pumped up to BEAT THEM NEXT YEAR!

And Yankee fans who might be offended by the Empire analogy, ask yourself. Who would you rather dress up as at Halloween? A Stormtrooper or a Rebel Pilot? Count all the Darth Vaders on October 31 and compare that tally to all the Luke Skywalkers.

It’s cool to be the Empire.

I am not going to lie to you. That was tough to write. But I needed to get this one out of the way. And I also know that when I write the Red Sox one, people will say “I bet you would NEVER write one about the YANKEES!”

And I would be able to say “I wrote the Yankees one BEFORE the Red Sox one.”

It is a preemptive strike against my critics.

If you liked this then go ahead and read the entries for the other teams.


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Wins are all that matters

John Lackey hasn’t lost in over a month. He is 6-0 since the 4th of July. He won again tonight!

So why does he make every Red Sox fan terrified when he takes the mound?

Maybe because he puts the Red Sox in a hole that he needs to be rescued from. Today was no different as Reddick and Big Papi homered and knocked in all of the runs needed to save his butt.

So it is a philosophical question.

Would you rather have a pitcher who is lucky to win or an unlucky pitcher who is great but his team never picks him up?

I’m not sure.

All I care about is the win.

And let’s update the tally.


April 8 – 9-6 win against the Yankees. (The Sox end their 6 game losing streak with a slugfest. John Lackey stinks but Phil Hughes stinks even more.)

April 10 – 4-0 win against the Yankees. (Beckett and Sabathia duel in a game that was 1-0 until the late innings.)

April 20 – 5-3 win in Oakland. (Red Sox survive a lead off homer and two bases loaded situations and facing the tying run at the plate to win their first road game.)

April 21 – 4-2 win in Anaheim. (The Red Sox stranded 15 men on base and Josh Beckett’s went 8 strong with no decision. But the Sox rallied in the 11th to win.)

April 22 – 4-3 win in Anaheim. (Peter Bourjos makes a 2 run errors and the Red Sox survive a bizarre passed ball by Jarrod Saltalamacchia that let a run scored from second.)

May 1 – 3-2 win against the Mariners. (Ichiro loses a ball in the sun that turns into a 9th inning triple for Lowrie. Crawford singles him home for the win.)

May 8 – 9-5 win against the Twins. (Dice-K lets up 3 runs in the first but settles down as the Red Sox clobber Carl Pavano.)

May 9 – 2-1 win against the Twins. (A bullpen breakdown cost Beckett the decision but Cark Crawford ended the game with an 11th inning walk off hit.)

May 13 – 5-4 win in the Bronx. (Youkilis homers off of Joba and Bard and Papelbon make it more interesting than it needed to be.)

May 15 – 7-5 win in the Bronx. (Sox fall behind 4-1 but come back as Youk, Papi and Salty all homer.)

May 16 – 8-7 win against the Orioles. (Down 6-0 after 6 innings, the Sox rally and win it with a 2 run walk off double by Adrian Gonzalez)

May 18 – 1-0 win against Detroit. (With 2 outs in the 8th, Salty doubles home Crawford from first for the only run. Papelbon gets himself in and out of 9th inning trouble.)

May 19 – 4-3 win against Detroit. (Bard blows Beckett’s lead but Carl Crawford wins it with a walk off hit.)

May 24 – 4-2 win in Cleveland. (Varitek throws two runners out and homers as the Red Sox win their first game against the Indians.)

May 29 – 4-3 win in Detroit. (The Red Sox blow an early 3-0 lead but David Ortiz wins the game with a pinch 9th inning homer.)

June 3 – 8-6 win against Oakland. (Buchholz lets up 4 runs in the first but the Sox come back thanks to Carl Crawford’s 2 run single.)

June 4 – 9-8 win against Oakland. (Red Sox blow a 4 run 9th inning lead and trail in the 11th before Ellsbury ties it and Drew wins it in 14.)

June 7 – 6-4 win in the Bronx. (Papelbon strikes out A-Rod to end the game with a runner on base.)

June 9 – 8-3 win in the Bronx. (Down 2-0 to Sabathia in the 7th, the Sox score 7 runs as Papi exacts revenge after getting plunked. A 3+ hour rain delay pushed the game past 1:30 AM)
June 15 – 3-0 win in Tampa Bay. (Youkilis homers in the 7th for the only runs in Beckett’s 1 hit masterpiece.)

June 16 – 4-2 win in Tampa Bay. (Papelbon wiggles out of a 2 on, nobody out jam in the 9th thanks to Youk’s diving catch.)

June 26 – 4-2 win in Pittsburgh. (The Pirates make 4 errors and the Red Sox score 2 in the 7th to avoid a sweep by the Bucs.

June 30 – 5-2 win in Philadelphia.(An injury to Cole Hamels leads to the Red Sox bats waking up.)

July 1 – 7-5 win in Houston. (The Sox score 6 in the 7th inning to come back and win.)

July 3 – 2-1 win in Houston. (The Red Sox score a run in the top of the 9th on a walk to break a tie.)

July 5 – 3-2 win against Toronto. (Lester gets hurt but Darnel McDonald throws out the tying run at the plate to end the game.)

July 6 – 6-4 win against Toronto. (The Sox score 4 in the 4th to take the lead and Wakefield and company hang on for dear life.)

July 10 – 8-6 win against Baltimore. (The Orioles score 6 runs off of rookie Kyle Weiland in the second, but the Red Sox hit three homers in the bottom of the second to tie the game and hold for dear life.)

July 16 – 9-5 win in Tampa. (Lackey puts the Sox in a 3-0 first inning hole, but 3 Sox homers bring them back for the win.)

July 17 – 1-0 win in Tampa. (Beckett throws a masterpiece and the bullpen throws 8 amazing innings. But the Sox bats go dead, leaving 17 men on base before Pedroia drove in a run with 2 outs in the 16th inning.)

July 18 – 15-10 win in Baltimore. (The Sox blow a 6-2 lead but score 8 runs in the 8th to take the game.)

July 22 – 7-4 win against Seattle. (John Lackey beat Felix Hernandez and Mike Carp’s error helped the Red Sox score 5 in the 7th to give them some breathing room.)

July 23 – 3-1 win against Seattle. (Ellsbury gets Beckett off the hook in a tight pitchers duel when he got a 2 out, 2 strike 2 run go ahead single in the 8th.)

July 26 – 13-9 win against the Royals. (The Sox trailed in the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th before the bats exploded in the 5th.

August 2 – 3-2 win against Cleveland. (Youk tied the game with a 6th inning homer and Salty dove home for the winning run in the 9th.)

August 3 – 4-3 win against Cleveland. (Ellsbury hits a walk off shot in the 9th.)

August 7 – 3-2 win against the Yankees (The Sox rally off of Rivera in the 9th and win on Josh Reddick’s 10th inning single)

August 8 – 8-6 win in Minnesota. (Down 5-1, the Red Sox rally back, then score twice in the 9th to give the Sox the win.)

August 9 – 4-3 win in Minnesota. (Darnell McDonald’s homer ties the game and Ortiz singles home the game winner as Bard worked out of trouble in the 7th.)

August 12 – 6-4 win in Seattle. (Reddick and Ortiz homered to bail out Lackey.)


April 1 – 9-5 loss in Texas. (The Sox tie Opening Day in the 8th with an Ortiz homer only to have Bard implode and the Sox let up 4 in the bottom of the 8th.)

April 5 – 3-1 loss in Cleveland. (The Sox drop their 4th straight as the bats are dead in Cleveland.)

April 7 – 1-0 loss in Cleveland. (Sox blow a great Lester performance on a squeeze bunt and Darnell McDonald overrunning the bag to end the game.)

April 12 – 3-2 loss to Tampa Bay. (A solid Lester performance is wasted as Kyle Farnsworth of all people shuts down the Sox.)

April 15 – 7-6 loss to Toronto. (Bobby Jenks implodes with a 4 run seventh inning as the Red Sox waste Pedroia and Youkilis homers and a clutch RBI double by Scuatro.

April 19 – 5-0 loss in Oakland. (Pedroia gets picked off, the Sox bats go dead and waste a solid Lackey start.)

April 26 – 4-1 loss in Baltimore. (Buchholz pitches tentatively and the Sox let Kevin Gregg of all people to close out the 9th.)

April 27 – 5-4 loss in Baltimore. (The Sox tie the game with a 3 run 8th only to have Bard lose it in the bottom of the 8th.)

April 29 – 5-4 loss to Mariners. (Bobby Jenks blows a 7th inning lead, wasting 2 Mike Cameron homers.)

April 30 – 2-0 loss to Mariners. (The Sox strand 11 runners and let Milton Bradley double home the go ahead run.)

May 4 – 5-3 loss to Angels. (7 hours with rain delays and stranded runners. Marco Scutaro was thrown out at the plate in the 12th)

May 10 – 7-6 loss in Toronto. (8th and 9th inning heroics, including a homer by Adrian Gonzalez, are undone by a walk off sacrifice fly by David Cooper.)

May 21 – 9-3 loss to Cubs. (Up 3-1 in the 8th inning, the bullpen and defense implode. The Cubs score 8 runs while both teams wear their 1918 uniforms.)

May 23– 3-2 loss in Cleveland. (The Sox blow a 2-1 8th inning lead when the Indians rally with 2 outs. Crawford ends the game on a double play.)

May 29 – 3-0 loss in Detroit. (Verlander keeps the Sox off base and prevents the sweep.)

June 1 – 7-4 loss to White Sox. (Konerko drives in three, spoiling a game tying Ortiz homer.)
June 14 – 4-0 loss in Tampa Bay. (Wakefield’s solid outing is spoiled. Longoria scores on a passed ball.)

June 18 – 4-2 loss to Milwaukee. (The Brewers hit three homers early off of Lester and hang on.)

June 21 – 5-4 loss to San Diego. (Ortiz hits a double play in the 9th to stifle a potential winning rally.)
June 24 – 3-1 loss to Pittsburgh. (The Red Sox strand 7 runners in scoring position.)

June 25 – 6-4 loss to Pittsburgh. (The Red Sox fall out of first as Pedroia’s error leads to a Pirates run.)

June 29 – 2-1 loss in Philadelphia. (Vance Worley duels John Lackey and slumping Raul Ibanez drives in both runs.)

July 4 – 9-7 loss to Toronto. (John Lackey’s miserable start puts the Sox in too big a hole to climb out of.)

July 19 – 6-2 loss in Baltimore. (Scutaro gets thrown out stealing and the Orioles tack on 3 big runs late.)
July 25 – 3-1 loss to the Royals. (Scutaro botches a potential game winning squeeze play in the 12th as the Red Sox lose in 14.)
July 28 – 4-3 loss to the Royals. (Crawford’s bid for a walk off homer falls just short.)

July 29 – 3-1 loss to the White Sox. (Sox blow a late 1-0 lead and spoil a solid Wakefield start.)
August 1 – 9-6 loss to Cleveland. (Asdrubal Cabrera’s second home run was an 8th inning tie breaking shot off of Daniel Bard.)
August 4 – 7-3 loss to Cleveland. (Carlos Santana’s homer broke a 3-3 tie.)

August 5 – 3-2 loss to the Yankees. (The Sox leave the bases loaded in the 5th and the Yankees score 3 in the 6th to take the lead.)

August 10 – 5-2. (The Twins score 3 in the 8th, spoiling Ortiz’s game tying homer.)

Back up to +9.

And with Sabathia hosting his own private version of Home Run Derby in the Bronx, the lead has expanded to 2 games.

And guess what?


One more thing… 44 is for the Division.

In order to get into the playoffs, the magic number to clinch at least a playoff spot is 36.

So it is probably going to be a post season October.

Will Lackey be the number 3 starter?

Will that work?

I’d rather have the Red Sox be lucky than good!

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