Results tagged ‘ Phillies ’

Have Gun, Will Travel…

http://www.youtube.com/e/tgvxu8QY01s
large_cliff-lee.jpgWell, well, the Yankees didn’t get their man after all…

Talk about a guy (Cliff Lee) who doesn’t mind being a hired gun and throwing home life stability (I don’t know what kind of family he has) to the wind.

First, he develops his talents in Cleveland.  When they can’t afford him, he jumps to Philadelphia to help them make the World Series in 2009.  In 2010, he starts out with the “promising” Mariners, but when they completely collapse he is dealt to Texas and helps THEM get the big show.

Now, after being courted by the Yankees and Rangers, he decides to go back to Philly to join a starting rotation that would also include Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels, and Joe Blanton.

What a crazy guy (although, the kind of checks he’s cashing must be incredible)!  I guess if you don’t mind not setting down roots anywhere, more power to him.

What’s Up, Doc?


pitch.jpgWhat’s up? How about the 2010 NL Cy Young.  Congrats to an old-school, throwback sort of pitcher who eats innings, doesn’t come out of games, and has been dominating batters for more than a decade in relative anonymity.

Very Quick NLDS Thoughts:

Phillies vs. Reds:

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Though the Reds are clearly the “fly under the radar and upset everyone” team, I’ll take Halladay, Oswalt, and Hamels in a short series.

Braves vs. Giants:

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The Giants can pitch, but Jason Heyward is a special player and will turn this series to Atlanta. Bobby Cox is also an X-Factor as the best manager in baseball.

U-Turn

uturn%20sign.jpgHeading into the top of the ninth inning of Saturday’s game against the the Phillies, it looked as if the Twins were headed for a sweep at the hands of the defending NL champs.  But then, less than 24 hours later, the Twins had taken two of three from the Phils and salvaged what looked to be a disaster.

Thome, Mauer, Butera, and Young provided the late-inning offense in the thrilling Saturday comeback (featuring a blown save by Jon Rauch that prolonged the game even further), while Carl Pavano out-pitched Roy Halladay (Yankee fans, I bet you never thought you’d read that sentence!) on Sunday.

Now, on to the city of Brats & Beer!

Preview (40-29, 1st, 1.5 GA DET): Scott Baker (6-5, 4.41) vs. Chris Narveson (5-4, 5.79).

Geesh, Blackie

20081001_blackburn_33.jpgWell, I wanted to get in a blog posting before heading up north for the weekend, but I wish it were under better circumstances.

Let’s just say this: If anyone thought that Jesse Crain would be headed to the batters box in the second inning, please raise your hand.  Didn’t think so.

As I type this right now, Nick Blackburn was absolutely terrible against the Phillies, allowing 8 runs in one and two thirds innings of “work”.  Chase Utley and Ryan Howard provided most of the damage with moon-shot home runs.

I know it’s way too early to panic, but I wish the starters on this team would be a little more consistant.  I have to give them credit for staying healthy, but you just can’t count on Blackie, Slowey, or even Baker, for that matter, to give you a good outing every five days.  It’s just that the Tigers are breathing down our necks.

Saturday: Kevin Slowey (7-4, 3.84) vs. Cole Hamels (6-5, 3.74)

Sunday: Carl Pavano (7-6, 3.92) vs. Roy Halladay (8-5, 2.36). Gulp

2010 MLB Picks

crystal-ball.jpgMy “official” predictions for the 2010 MLB season (before the season gets too far along and starts to affect my judgement!):

AL East

New York

Boston (Wild Card)

Tampa Bay

Baltimore

Toronto

AL Central

Minnesota

Chicago

Kansas City

Detroit

Cleveland

AL West

Los Angeles

Oakland

Texas

Seattle

NL East

Philadelphia

Atlanta (Wild Card)

New York

Florida

Washington

NL Central

St. Louis

Chicago

Milwaukee

Cincinnati

Houston

Pittsburgh

NL West

San Francisco

Los Angeles

Arizona

Colorado

San Diego

AL Champ: New York

NL Champ: Atlanta

World Series Champ: Atlanta Braves

Questions, comments, rants, profanity-laced tirades?!

The Sad State Of Baseball Economics

mmw_baseball_101608_article.jpgAfter watching my beloved Minnesota Twins got stomped by the New York Yankees in the first round of the playoffs this past season, and then seeing Cleveland-bred C.C. Sabathia and Cliff Lee pitch the Yanks and Phillies into the World Series, I believe that now is the time for me to comment on the sad economic state of baseball these days.  This has always been a very hot-button topic for me (as I root for the small-market Twins), so I would like to take a few moments to explain why the current system is broken and what can be done to fix it:

Basically, the problem started way back in the 1900s, when both the American and National Leagues were first established.

mathewson-ruth-wagner-cobb-johnson.jpg Instead of free agency, there was something called the reserve clause, which was essentially a legal precedent that baseball used to keep players on one team until their owner decided differently.  The players were treated not too much different from a cattle-range steer, to be bought and sold as commodities.  It wasn’t, by any means, the greatest system in the world (as the only option a player had to fight against an unfair salary, which were very common in those days when most owners made Carl Pohlad look like the Monopoly Guy, was to quit playing altogether), but it did help the competitive balance of the game, allowing all teams (if managed/owned sensibly) to have a shot at competing for a championship.

That all changed in the 1970s when Curt Flood of the St. Louis Cardinals challenged the reserve clause all the way to the Supreme Court.

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Though Flood didn’t actually win his case, he shed so much light on the matter that a free agency sytem was quickly established by MLB. During the 1980s, the system actually worked like it was supposed to…players had better rights, AND the game was still competitive.  But, starting in the mid-1990s, salaries began exploding (along with the economy) and suddenly the system was skewered.  Teams in huge economic markets like New York, Los Angeles, and Boston were able to throw huge wads of cash in the pockets of all the top free agents, all but assuring there services.  Sometimes, in the case of Ted Turner’s Atlanta Braves, all it took was an incredibly rich owner to give a team a distinct advantage.

Those big markets had (and continue to have) such an advantage for a few different reasons: First and foremost is the fact that, just by sheer geography, a team like the Yankees can much more easily fill their ballpark every night than, say, the Twins can out here in Minny.  Also, teams on both coasts have established their own TV networks (YES Network for the Yankees and NESN for the Red Sox), which bring in enormous profits compared to what the Twins get from Fox Sports North.

After about ten years of this broken system, when the same teams started making the playoffs year in and year out, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig established the “luxury tax” system into the game.  Essentially, this is known as the Robin Hood system, as it robs from the rich to give to the poor.

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This has helped a little bit (e.g. the Twins signed Justin Morneau to a long-term deal and have at least a shot at doing the same with Joe Mauer), but it din’t get to the root of the problem, as teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, and Mets can continue to reach into their deep pockets to get the best players.  Essentially, they are saying “luxury tax be damned” and just paying the fine for going over the payroll limit.  This is evidenced very toughly for Twins fans by these two photos:

HunterAngels.jpg

johan-santana.jpgThe Twins gave very decent offers to both Torii Hunter and Johan Santana, but couldn’t come close to matching the amount of years the Halos offered Hunter or the sheer dollar amount the Mets dangled in front of Santana.  Another obvious example was the beginning of this season, when the Yankees went out and got C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, while the biggest moves the Twins made was signing Nick Punto, bringing in R.A. Dickey (what a joke) and getting a Joe Crede whose back was so bad that he essentially a non-factor.  Those “moves” were all we could afford.  Imagine how different the 2009 ALDS might have been if Hunter had been patrolling the outfield instead of Delmon Young, or if Santana had made the Game One start instead of Brian Duensing.

Now, to be fair, there are some criticisms of instituting a salary cap into MLB, but I would like to give my rebuttal to two of them:

1. Why should the Yankees be penalized for running an efficent system?  It seems as if Yankee fans could just criticize Carl Pohlad for being a tightwad all those years and not spending money to improve his team, but that really isn’t a fair criticism.  First of all, George Steinbrenner isn’t really spending much (if any) of his OWN MONEY on the Yankees, instead relying on seemingly endless revenue streams based on his sheer geography.  Without those streams, other owners (like the Pohlad family) would be dipping into their own personal reserves, which would be like you paying for your office supplies/furnishings or me paying for Wal-Mart shelf labels. 

Secondly, then, is that if teams know they can’t spend with the Yankees, then why even try?  The Twins know that, under the current economic system, they are already beaten in trying to sign free agents, so instead we save our money to try and lock up as many of our good players as possible (which, in this age of inflated salaries, is fewer and fewer each season).

2. The second criticism of the the salary cap is that it really isn’t needed, due to the fact that the 1998-2000 championship run of the Yankees was accomplished primarily with home-grown players like Derek Jeter, Jorge Posade, Andy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera.

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That may be true, but funny how those great players STILL WEAR YANKEE PINSTRIPES! Instead of losing those great players to a higher bidder, the Yanks can just keep them.  Plus, whether the free agents work out (Jimmy Key, Paul O’Neill, Johnny Damon, Sabathia, etc.) or flop (Kevin Brown, Chuck Knoblauch, Carl Pavano), the Yanks can just “pay through” and be done with it.  If the Twins make a mistake in signing the wrong player to an expensive contract, it would hamper the organization for a decade.

Thus, until MLB institutes a salary cap like the NFL and NBA (to a certain extent) have in place, the economics of the game will remain skewered towards the large markets, and that severely troubles me.  I consider baseball to be my favorite sport, the one that captivated me as a child and still does to this day, but right now the NFL is gaining ground and fast due to the fact that in the NFL setup, all teams have a chance to be competitive.  It is only through bad ownership (Al Davis, Matt Millen, etc.) that teams completely fail.

I know that this situation isn’t likely to change anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean that it is right or correct.  Until Bud Selig can take charge of the National Pastime like he should and not just cater to the owners, the Yankees will continue to unfairly dominate the Twins for years and years to come.

Goliath vs. Goliath

It’s been way too long since I updated this blog, but in part it is because of exactly what I am about to say.  Last week, the New York Yankees beat the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series, and I’ll admit that I hardly watched any of it.  Was it because my beloved Twins were knocked off by the hated Yanks?  Partially, I will admit.  But I think the real reason is just because of how depressing it was to see the “haves” of baseball continue to lay the unrequited smackdown on the “have nots”.  This line of thinking was epitomized by the Game One starting pitching matchup:

indians-sabathia.jpg

The Yankees opened the Series with burly lefthander C.C. Sabathia, who had pretty much dominated any opponent sent to face him all season long.  Just two seasons previous (2007), though, old cap-tipping C.C. (the Yanks must have straightened that out along with Jason Giambi’s mustache, Randy Johnson’s dangly hair, and Johnny Damon’s Jesus-mane) had been the star of Cleveland, winning the AL Cy Young award.

Sabathia’s mound opponent in Game One was Cliff Lee:

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Much like C.C., Lee had lead his Phillies with dominating performance after dominating performance down the stretch the throughout the playoffs. But, again like Sabathia, just one year previous Lee won the AL Cy Young while in Cleveland.

So, while most baseball fans may have just seen a great pitching matchup, I saw what is wrong with the very fabric of what was once America’s Pastime (much more on that topic in my next post).  Instead of a level playing field, some teams are given advantages (based no more than upon the geographic territory they happen to inhabit) that allow them to dominate the lesser opponents.  I mean, just imagine how Cleveland fans must have been feeling while watching that Game One?  It would probably be like how you and I (Twins fans) would feel should the Mets ever stop sucking and Johan Santana gets the chance to shine in the postseason.  It is a very helpless feeling, and one that completely turned me off to the rest of the Series.

About the only excitement I got out of it was watching old Pedro Martinez turn back the clock one more (last?) time against the team he will be forever paired with:

pedro-martinez-phillies.jpg Other than that, I don’t have much interest in watching teams steal young talent from around the league and then calling it “high drama” when they invetabily meet in the biggest of games.  I can’t begrudge the fans of either team, as I guess I can’t blame them for their economic advantages, but I personally find it very disheartening.

Coming up next: Why football is quickly approaching my beloved baseball in terms of “favorite sport”.

Boy, This Game Takes You Back Sometimes

ALCS15810260338.jpgAs I watched the Yankees record the final out of the ALCS tonight and advanced to the World Series to face the Philadelphia Phillies, I couldn’t help to be transported back a full decade (or even more) to my youth.

As a youngster in the late 1990s, my Twins were the scourge of the American League, so come playoff time I would always latch onto another team to root for.  This most often ended up being the team playing the Yankees at the time, as I despised their large-market spending and arrogant owner.  Plus, it was always that same core of guys (1996-2001) who were nearly impossible to beat.

A decade+ later, four of those same guys (well five, if you count former Yankee catcher Joe Girardi, now managing the club) are still doing their thing…Derek Jeter still gets all the clutch hits, Jorge Posada keeps chugging along, Andy Pettitte never loses a big game, and Mariano Rivera is absolutely incredible.

Thus, while I still cannot bring myself to actively root for the Yanks, I do have more than a grudging respect for those four players…guys who play the game the right way and deserve any more rings they can get on their fingers. 

MLB Predictions: 2009

1908Cubs.jpgEach year, usually after receiving the Sports Illustrated Baseball Preview issue, I make a complete set of MLB picks.  It’s always fun to look back at them and see how right/wrong (wrong far outnumbering the right!) I was at the end of the season.  Here they are for ’09:

AL East:

Boston

Tampa Bay (Wild Card)

New York

Toronto

Baltimore

AL Central:

Minnesota

Chicago

Kansas City

Cleveland

Detroit

AL West:

Los Angeles

Texas

Seattle

Oakland

NL East:

Philadelphia

New York (Wild Card)

Florida

Atlanta

Washington

NL Central:

Chicago

Milwaukee

St. Louis

Cincinnati

Houston

Pittsburgh

NL West:

Los Angeles

Arizona

San Francisco

Colorado

San Diego

AL Champion: Boston

NL Champion: Chicago

World Series Champion: Chicago

So, after 100 long seasons of waiting, I think this is the year that the Cubbies will finally win the big one.  I just think that their pitching is too good not to make a deep playoff run.

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