Author Archives: Brian Delpozo
After 6 months, capped off by one of the greatest days in the sport’s history on Wednesday, the Major League Baseball Playoffs have officially arrived. I had wanted to have a longer PO blog up yesterday, but a severe bout of kidney stones put the kibosh on those plans. Still, there are a few things I wanted to touch upon:
The 27 Hour Game One:
Well, here are are, a few short hours before Game One of the 2011 American League Division Series between the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees starts… in the bottom of the second inning. Yes, thanks to Major League Baseball and TBS starting a game that anyone with a smartphone could tell was never going to finish, game one was interrupted by rain, and will continue tonight with a 1-1 score and minus both team’s aces. Now, obviously rain is a fact of life in baseball, even in the Postseason, but the radar reports were obvious to seemingly everyone (Beat Writers, fans on Twitter, etc) except MLB officials as early as 5:00 last night. MLB should have made the preemptive move to push game one to tonight and etc, without subjecting 50,000 fans to terrible weather, and having both teams burn their aces in Sabathia and Verlander, completely changing the complexion of the series.
Seemingly every sports website, blog, Twitter, and Tumblr has posted in-depth previews and predictions over the last few weeks, many of them better than anything I could write, especially in this medical state, so I’m just going to give my first round predictions. (NOTE: I’m using the predictions I had ready to go before ANY games had been played, even though some of them don’t feel as solid now.)
AL: Yankees over Tigers, Rays over Rangers.
NL: Phillies over Cardinals, Brewers over Diamondbacks
Most confident in the Mil over Ari, least confident in the NYY over Det pick (In fact I changed it back and forth several times)
While it obviously will have no bearing on this season, in doing some research in the Yankees ALDS history, I came across some interesting stats.
1. While conventional wisdom and most stats would tell you that winning Game 1 is integral to the ALDS, the Yankees actually provide a historical counterpoint to said convention. In the 15 American League Division Series they’ve played in since 1995, the Yankees are only 4-5 in series when taking the first game, and 5-1 in those where they drop the first game.
2. The 2011 ALDS marks the eighth time the Yankees will face an AL Central Division team in the ALDS, with the Bombers having a 4-3 record in the previous 7. 4-o vs the Minnesota Twins (03,04,09,10), 0-2 vs the Cleveland Indians (97, 07) and 0-1 vs these very Detroit Tigers (06).
Alright, that’ll be it for now. I’ll be back with an ALDS wrap-up, and (hopefully) an ALCS preview.
Go Yankees! (Never said I was unbias =p)
Way back in my first post on this site, I talked about how excited I was about the prospect of writing a weekly Yankees blog, and that I was really going to commit myself to staying on a schedule. Suffice to say, that hasn’t worked out. So, where the hell have I been? Well honestly (maybe too honestly) I’m about to tell you. To put it bluntly, my father’s health is failing. He’s been plagued by kidney issues, diabetes, high blood pressure, and a chronic nerve disease that leaves him in crippling pain over the past year. Over the course of August we had to rush him to the hospital on three different occasions, and watched his daily medication count balloon, culminating to a point where he basically needs someone around 24 hours a day, which has been my life for the last three or four weeks, which has clearly cut into my blogging time. I tried writing a few entires during this period, but it seemed like every time I got a piece near-done, something new would happen in my home life and overshadow it. Luckily, the situation seems to have settled itself for now, or at least enough that I can take the time to do this. Now, I’m sure there’s a lot of people reading this asking “Why’re you putting this on the internet, and why on a sports site?” To answer the first part, I’ve always been a pretty public person. I have an active Twitter/Tumblr/Facebook life, and I often use them to vent (while keeping things still private enough in my mind, though I’m sure others disagree.) As for why on a sports site, honestly I can’t think of a better venue to talk about my dad. For better or worse, my relationship with my father is inexorably linked to sports. Not that there aren’t other aspects to our relationship, but almost of best memories with him relate to sports. It was through watching baseball with him that I learned to love the sport. I was with him for every major moment of the last Yankees dynasty, and eventually co-opted him into my New England Patriots fandom, and we enjoyed that dynasty together to. We’ve been to countless Yankee games together, in both the old and new Stadiums, the last being Game 3 of last year’s ALDS against the Twins. On top of that, he sat with me in the upper deck of the old Giants Stadium to watch the Pats go 16-0, even though we were surrounded by angry Giants fans, vowing I’d be hearing from them a few months later after the Super Bowl… like that could ever happen. All kidding aside, those memories of live sporting events will be with me forever, but they’re sadly over now. While my dad will (hopefully) still be around for a very long time, the odds of him being able to actually attend anything on that level again are slim to none. I do take comfort in the fact that his passion is still there. He listens to/watches every Yankees game, and is psyched for the Playoffs and the upcoming NFL Season. In the end, I’m thankful for that.
Well, that’s what I’ve got for you right now. I’m hoping to have a Yankees piece up at the end of this week (not to mention a couple of smaller Patriots pieces I’ve been working on), but obviously that may be subject to change.
Greetings regular readers, Twitter followers, and bored people looking for something to read on a summer afternoon. First and foremost, I’d like to offer an explanation for the lateness of this column. I found myself without Wi-Fi for a vast majority of last week, then dealing with some medical problems with my wisdom teeth that have knocked me out for a couple more days. My distinct apologies for that, and I will do my best to ensure it never happens again. Now, onward to some baseball talk.
7/14 – 7/25
The New York Yankees have gone 7-5 in twelve games since the All-Star Break, and the whole stretch can be seen as a microcosm of the team’s season so far. Some games featured a dynamic, seemingly unstoppable offense (see the 17-6 beat down of Oakland on 7/22, and the 10-3 manhandling of Seattle on 7/25), while others had a lineup that simply couldn’t buy a RISP hit. The team began the stretch by dropping the first two post-break games to Toronto, before rallying behind another masterful CC Sabathia start to take the final two games up north, splitting the four game series. Moving onwards from Toronto, the team played a four game series against their Eastern Division rival Tampa Bay Rays. Once again the four game series led to a split, with the each game being a tightly played affair. Though winning only 4/8 wasn’t the ideal way to start the second half, the Yankees arrived home last weekend with a comfortable lead in the Wild Card, and still well within striking distance of the Division title. The team began their homestand by taking 2/3 from Oakland, with their only loss being a very winnable Saturday afternoon game where the winning run was left on base to end the game. After Oakland, the team took the opening game of three game series with the Seattle Mariners.
Anyone whose followed me on Twitter for the last few years knows that I’m a big CC Sabathia guy. I think that he has been more than worth the contract the Yankees gave him before the ’09 season, and has been nothing but a consistent ace for the team. That being said, I don’t think he’s ever looked better in pinstripes than his recent stretch of starts. In his last ten, the big man is 8-2 with 2.22 era, and 75 strikeouts in 77 innings, and getting through at least the seventh inning in all but one start. If Sabathia continues anywhere near this level, I think he has to be the frontrunner for the AL Cy Young Award, and would in my humble opinion deserve it.
It’s never too early.
From strictly a fan perspective, I want to see the Yankees win the Eastern Division Championship. Nothing would be more rewarding (in the regular season) than seeing the Yankees snarl the division title away from the Red Sox. But that being said, I have no issue with the Yankees winning the Wild Card. Bottom line is that making the playoffs is what really matters in MLB. Granted, home field advantage would be welcome, but I don’t thin it’s an absolute need. For example, the Yankees not having HFA had little to do with them being bounced from the 2010 Postseason. Let’s be frank, Texas destroyed them in 2/3 games at Yankee Stadium at the ALCS.
Alright, that should wrap it up for this week. Next week I’ll wrap up the series with the Mariners, and the rest of the Yankees Hope Week games, review HBO’s DJ3K documentary, and discuss some of the proposed changes to the MLB playoff format.
When it comes to the 2011 All-Star Game, it seems like Derek Jeter just can’t seem to win. When he was named an All-Star Starter, the internet and sports talk radio exploded with angry outbursts deriding the fans and voting process. When Jeter pulled out of the game early last week, citing that he didn’t want to risk re-injuring the calf that had landed him on the DL, many simply shrugged it of, saying he didn’t deserve to be there anyway. However, after his marvelous 5 hit/3000th hit attaining performance on Saturday, rumors began to spread that MLB seriously wanted Jeter to attend the game and soak in the accolades of his accomplishment, however Jeter would have none of it, and isn’t going to Arizona.
Much like his initial All-Star selection, this has caused an huge firestorm, with many of the same people who ripped Jeter as undeserving now angry that he “owes” it to baseball to go. Quite frankly, as a baseball fan I don’t see why anyone would be upset about this. What would be the purpose of Jeter going to the game, especially since he’s already pulled out of playing? To simply soak in awards and applause, and take away from the game itself? That seems like a very un-Jeter like thing to do, and frankly the kind of behavior that would get Alex Rodriguez destroyed in the press. Even more, as a Yankees fan, I have no qualms with Jeter taking the days off to relax and recharge over the break, as we need the productive Derek Jeter of last week to show up in the second half. Of course, I’m sure Jeter is barely noticing any of those. He’s probably sitting in his humungous mansion right now, surrounded by Minka Kelly, his 3000th hit ball, and his 5 World Series Championship rings, which might just count as winning in and of itself.
As always, feel free to leave any comments or opinions in the comment box below, or @ on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/Titan4Ever2488
Greetings Yankee fans, Twitter followers, and non-sports fan friends who’ve simply clicked this link because I posted it, welcome to Pinstripes With a Side of Snark: Week 2. Beyond the normal weekly recap feature, today’s article could easily be subtitled “Brian Yammers on About The Left Side of The Infield” as a vast majority of today’s discussion is going to center on Derek Jeter‘s 3000th hit and a bit on the Alex Rodriguez surgery situation. Let’s jump in, shall we:
The last week before the All-Star break didn’t exactly start out in grand fashion for the 2011 Yankees. Even with the return of Captain Derek Jeter, the team seemed to play a somewhat listless brand of baseball in Cleveland the first three days of the week, with the offense breaking out during Tuesday’s 9-2 victory, but being virtually completely shutdown by Josh Tomlin on Monday, and Justin Masterson on Wednesday, once again highlighting the feast or famine nature of the offense that’s plagued the team this year. Not that the Monday/Wednesday pitchers did much to help their cause, with AJ Burnett surrendering a huge 3-run homer to Austin Kearns on Monday, and an ineffective DL return from Phil Hughes two days later. Granted, Jeter’s “Quest for 3000” may have been a small distraction for the team in Cleveland (the captain got three hits in the series, leaving him 3 away) but the issues that cropped up in the series have been there all season, long before the 3000 chase was an issue. On top of that, midweek brought the news that Alex Rodriguez would most likely need surgery on his knee, sidelining him for at least a month. Whatever the case, the Yankees didn’t look their strongest as they came home for a huge series with division rival Tampa Bay over the weekend, a feeling that was exacerbated by a loss in Thursday’s Series opener. After Friday’s rainout, the Yankees came into Saturday 1-3 on the week, and looked to be limping their way into the break, however the collective will of two specific Yankees put a stop to that. As will be detailed below, Derek Jeter took the team on his back Saturday. The Captain went 5-5 with a HR (his 3000th hit), 2 RBI, and a run scored, almost solely powering the team to a 5-4 victory. Some, myself included, thought there was going to be a “hangover” effect loss on Sunday after Jeter’s heroics, but CC Sabathia made sure it didn’t happen, notching a beastly complete game shut-out for his second win of the week in the team’s 1-0 victory. The 2-1 series victory over Tampa gives the Yankees a wee bit of breathing room in the Wild Card standings (it’s never to early too start thinking about these things) and combined with Jeter’s 3000, reversed the team’s fortunes, sending them into the break on a high, which they can hopefully ride into next weekend’s second half-opening series with Toronto.
I’m going to start this section with a disclaimer: I’m a huge Derek Jeter guy. He’s not only my favorite baseball player, but my favorite athlete period, and easily the biggest Yankee icon since Mantle. Now, that doesn’t mean I’m blind. He’s certainly not the player he was even two years ago, and he’ll probably need to be moved out of the top of the order sooner rather than later, but I still think he has a good deal to contribute to the team, and he certainly showed a glimpse of that this past week. After going 0-4 in his first game back from the DL, Jeter got four hits over his next three games, three of said were the type of booming doubles that have been lacking from his game the last two years. With Friday’s rainout, Jeter was left sitting on 2998 going into Saturday afternoon’s game. After collecting a single to right in his first AB, the Stadium was filled with a palpable electricity for Jeter’s next AB, and the captain didn’t disappoint. In true Jetarian fashion, he launched a game-tying HR into the left-field bleachers, becoming only the second man to reach hit #3000 with a long-ball. The entire stadium erupted with a a jubilation never seen in the new building, with many saying it was even more exuberant than the clinching Game 6 of the 2009 World Series. The entire team mobbed Jeter at the plate, in a surreal scene that looked like a third inning, game -tying walk-off, and the crowd chanted his name the rest of the day. Jeter wasn’t nearly done though, coming up with three more hits, including driving in the game-winning run in the eighth. It truly was a magical day in the Bronx, though I think my personal favorite moment came after the game. As Jeter was being interviewed after the game by Kim Jones, the entire stadium restarted the “Der-Ek Je-Ter” chant, and the Captain become visibly choked up, and saluted the crowd with emotion rarely seen from him. From a historical perspective, the 3000th hit put Derek Jeter into elite company, as he’s only the 28th man in MLB history to reach the magic number, and the first New York Yankee. Speaking of the Yankees, let’s look at Derek Jeter’s accomplishments for the franchise: Only Yankee with 3000 hits, most hits as a Yankee (obviously), most hits at the Old Yankee Stadium, 5 World Series Titles, 7 AL pennants. Looking over that list, I don’t see how anyone can argue that Jeter isn’t a Top 5 Yankee of all time. In my opinion, the list has to go Ruth, Gehrig, Dimaggio, Mantle, Jeter. For what it’s worth, my father would put it Ruth, Gerhig, Dimaggio, Berra, Jeter, which is huge for him to say as Mickey was his childhood hero. Whatever the case may be, we witnessed something very special on Saturday.
I’ve always had a soft-spot for Alex Rodriguez. Granted, he’ll never be the hero to me that Derek Jeter is, but I honestly think he’s gotten a very raw deal in this city, and with this fanbase, but that’s a blog for another time. Suffice to say though, I was overjoyed that over the first few weeks of this season, it looked like Alex was en route to MVP award #4 (#3 as a Yankee) but injuries have taken there toll on him, culminating in the news that he has a tear in his knee, and will miss at least the next month due to surgery. Granted, he supposedly could have played through it, but I don’t see why anyone would want him to. The injury has destroyed his power numbers (this year will surely be the end of his impressive 30/100 streak), and playing on it could risk further damage. At this point, I’m just hoping for a speedy recovery, so that a fresh A-Rod could be a force in the final month of the season, and hopefully a playoff run.
Alright, that should do it for me this week. As always, please feel free to leave feedback in the comments section or on my Twitter (WWW.Twitter.COM/Titan4Ever2488) See you next week for an All-Star Game discussion, and a recap of the Toronto series.
*Since today is the Fourth of July, birthday of the United States, I guess it makes poetic sense to publish the first installment of my blog on the national pastime. Beforehand though, I’m going to run through some of the ground rules of what this blog is going to be, and what you can expect from me content-wise. Schedule-wise, I’m going to try my damnedest to get one up every Monday. Each entry is going to begin by discussing the previous week’s slate of Yankees games, and a general discussion of where the team is. After that, it’s going to be big and small things from the Yankees Universe (I think I owe the Steinbrenners $25.00 for just typing that) that pique my interest, kind of in a bullet-point style. Some quick things you need to know about me: I’m snarky, tend to be very sarcastic, always try to look at the big picture when it comes to the Yankees, and I’m definitely not a sabermetric guy. Alright, now that the business stuff is out of the way, let’s get started.*
-New York Yankees: 6/28-7/3
Maybe I should take it as a good sign that I was asked to start blogging here this week, since the Yankees are probably the hottest team in baseball right now. Since they were swept by the Red Sox last month, the Yankees have rattled off 7 consecutive series victories, and feasted on comparatively weak National League competition in Interleague play, culminating in this past week, which saw them post a 4-2 record vs. The Brewers and Mets. This recent success has easily been the best team has looked all season, combining very good starting pitching, timely hitting (and not just the dreaded “evil home run ball”), and surprising effectiveness from the bullpen. That said, this upcoming week should prove an interesting litmus test for the Yanks, first playing three games in Cleveland against an Indians team playing much better than the last time we saw them, then four at home vs. the Rays, who’ve defied most expectations (including my own) to stay very much in the AL East race.
For those of you who follow me on Twitter (and if you don’t, you should start now. At least if you like the Yankees and Bon Jovi) you know that I’m a pretty avid user of the medium, especially dealing with sports. During baseball and football season, I spend a delusional amount of time posting about the New York Yankees and The New England Patriots (I know it’s weird) and there are plenty of times when I let my emotions get the better of me. That said, there’s a difference between emotional and downright irrational, and sadly the latter often takes over Twitter sports talk. One need look no further than yesterday’s series finale with the Mets to see this exemplified. Granted, it was certainly not fun to see Mariano Rivera blow a chance to sweep the Mets, and even less fun to see them win the game in extra innings, but some of the stuff on Twitter was downright insane. Phrases like “This team is pathetic” were bandied about after the loss. Yes, the same team that (as mentioned) above has won seven straight series, and is on pace for 100 victories is “pathetic” because of a fluke loss to the Mets. Sure, that makes perfect sense.
I’m going to preface this by saying I really don’t care about the All-Star rosters. Sure, I watch and enjoy the All-Star Game, but there’s so many things wrong with the voting process that I really can’t get my horns twisted about who does and doesn’t get elected. With that out of the way, let’s dive in, shall we. Four of the six Yankees All-Stars deserve to be in the game. Curtis Granderson is having an MVP Type season, Robinson Cano is still the best second baseman in the AL despite his sometimes lax play, Alex Rodriguez has good enough numbers at third to deserve it in a year when Longoria has been injured and somewhat ineffective , and Mariano Rivera is still the best closer in the game. One can’t say the same for Russell Martin, whose season has take a disastrous plummet after a hot start. His presence on the roster is simply indicative of the lack of standout catchers in the AL. Of course the other Yankee on the roster who doesn’t deserve to be in Arizona is Derek Jeter. Anyone, even the biggest DJ fans in the world can see that he is nowhere near the best SS in the AL, and certainly should be starting based on that criteria. However, I don’t understand why anyone is shocked by Jeter’s selection. For better or worse, fan voting has always led to declining “name” players being voted in over more deserving younger ones. It’s just a fact of All-Star life. As for the Yankees “snubs”, all three were deserving, but I think both Sabathia and Robertson were hurt by the 6 Yankees that were already on the team, as was Mark Teixiera’s chance at being picked as a reserve. Saying that, Teix simply would not have deserved the start over Adrian Gonzalez.
Alright, that should wrap it up for this week. Please don’t hesitate to leave me feedback about what you liked and didn’t, be it here or at http://www.twitter.com/Titan4Ever2488. I’ll be back next week with a review of the final look at the final week before the All-Star break, and some in-depth thoughts on the past, present, and future of Derek Jeter.