Tag Archives: New York Mets

Why The NFL Has No Respect For The World Series

The NFL has done something over the past few years to prove to the world that they feel they are the only professional sports league that matters. We all know that the NFL is the top dog when it comes to professional sports, but now they seem to be laughing in the face of America’s former National Pastime.

There was a time when the National Football League actually respected Major League Baseball enough to not schedule a Sunday night game that would be played opposite the World Series. That time is over. Football is so popular in America that a Week 8 regular season NFL game gets more viewers than a possibly decisive Game 5 of the World Series.

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NBC’s Sunday Night Football game between the undefeated Green Bay Packers and Denver Broncos drew about 23 million viewers, while the World Series between the Kansas City Royals and New York Mets managed to bring in about 17.2 million viewers. Some will point to the fact that the baseball game ran late due to extra innings. The numbers actually show that many viewers flipped over to watch baseball after the football game ended. Game 5 of the World Series actually hit a 12 year high for ratings, but it still wasn’t enough to beat the NFL.

The marquee matchup between the undefeated teams of Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers was a little disappointing, while the World Series game was a nail-biter for 12 innings. Fantasy football can also be partially blamed because many people likely had key players in the Sunday night game. After the ratings came out, this was the most watched Week 8 NFL prime time game in 22 years! Obviously the NFL’s schedule makers didn’t know that both teams would be undefeated, but they knew that this would be a marquee matchup that would draw ratings against the World Series.

During its first four seasons on NBC, Sunday Night Football had the decency to take one week off as to not conflict with the World Series. Since deciding not to take a Sunday night off, the NFL’s schedule makers have featured either the Green Bay Packers or New Orleans Saints in the game opposite the World Series every year since 2010. The thought process is supposedly that neither New Orleans nor Green Bay has a MLB team so there should be no conflicts of interest.

Rob Carr/Getty Images
Rob Carr/Getty Images

It seems that the NFL is not going to back down and wants high ratings no matter what it goes up against. If this trend keeps up, it may be baseball that is forced to change its postseason schedule to avoid the NFL. With the NFL now playing prime time games on Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays, that doesn’t leave much for MLB to work with. The World Series might have to be played on Tuesday and Wednesday with a travel day on Thursday. They could play the next two games on Friday and Saturday, although that would not allow for the current 2-3-2 format.

Even Pete Rose decided to do something else for Game 5 of the World Series. He had a contract already signed to appear for a private dinner, speech, and autograph session and was not able to be featured as an analyst on the Fox broadcast. It would be nice for the NFL and MLB to work together even if it’s just to schedule one week in October, but that seems unlikely. The NFL regards itself so highly that it will never budge and just wants to keep gaining money and popularity.

Royals Are Hollywood’s Dream

It’s been nine hours since game one of the World Series and to quote the great Jack Buck “I don’t believe what I just saw”. I don’t know if there is anyone in Hollywood paying attention to this Kansas City Royals team, but if there isn’t they should get here immediately. I’m starting to think the Angels in the Outfield has a more believable plot than this Royals team. Last night’s game was enough for a full summer blockbuster.

It all started with Royals shortstop Alcedes Escobar in the bottom of the first inning. It’s almost a joke at this point at how Escobar always swings at the first pitch. I think Fox announcer Joe Buck might fall out of his press box if Escobar didn’t swing at the first pitch of the game. Lucky for Buck he was safe, as Escobar swung at first pitch fastball down the middle of the plate and hit a deep fly ball to left center field. The two Mets outfielders had some miscommunication allowing the ball to not only drop between them, but bouncing off Yoenis Cespedes leg shooting into left field. Escobar, running the whole way, scored easily for the first inside the park homerun since Mule Haas in 1929. It was the first ever inside the park homerun to leadoff game one of a World Series and only the second leadoff inside the parker in WS history in any game. Just like any great movie, the Royals started fast to suck you in and put you on the edge of your seat early.

The game then settled down for a few innings, good time to get some popcorn. Then the bad guy showed up in the movie as the Mets scored a run in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Down 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth the Royals do what they do and made a comeback. A couple hits, stolen base and sacrifice fly later the Royals tied the game 3-3 in the bottom of the sixth. The Royals coming back in the late innings is becoming as predictable as a hero defeating fifty people by himself.

Then came the twist and surprise plot turn that you never saw coming. In the top of the 8th with two outs and a runner on second, an easy grounder bounced over the glove of Eric Hosmer into right field scoring the runner from second. Hosmer is a two time Gold Glove Award winner who makes that play 99 out of a 100, but unfortunately that one time happened to be in the World Series. The crowd was shocked into silence, not that we were losing but just the fact that Hosmer missed it. Of course last night just happened to be the 29th anniversary of the Bill Buckner play against the Mets in the 1986 World Series. I don’t think Steven Spielberg could make this stuff up.

So we head to the bottom of 9th with the Royals down 4-3. With one out and the Mets dominant closer Jeurys Familia on the mound, Alex Gordon walks to the plate. While the Royals haven’t named an official Team Captain since Mike Sweeney, everyone knows Gordon is the unofficial Captain of this team. Drafted number two in the 2005 draft, Gordon was projected to be the next George Brett. Being blunt, he was a major bust before the 2011 season. That year he was moved to the outfield in one last ditch effort to get something out of him. What they got was a four time gold glover outfielder with a consistent bat and leader of the team. So the old man of the team steps to the plate and crushes a ball 438 feet over the center field wall to tie the game at 4. It was the first time a player hit a homerun to tie or take the lead in the 9th inning of game one of the World Series since Kirk Gibson hit his walk off against the Oakland Athletics.

The stadium is in a frenzy as the Royals once again come back from what looked like certain doom. The game went into extra innings as bullpen battled bullpen. It all came down to a pitchers’ duel between starters turned relievers; Chris Young for the Royals versus Bartolo Colon of the Mets. They dueled until the bottom of the 14th inning. The man who started it all, Escobar, hit a hard grounder to third which was bobbled by the Mets team Captain David Wright causing a wide throw allowing Escobar to reach first. A single by Ben Zobrist and intentional walk to Lorenzo Cain loaded the bases with no outs as Hosmer came to the plate. After being just two outs away from being the new Buckner he would have his chance to be the hero. He didn’t disappoint as he hit a long fly ball to right field plenty deep enough to score Escobar from third for a walk off win. The fourteen innings tied the record for longest WS game played by inning and the over five hours of game time was good enough for the second longest game in WS game history by time.

The stadium erupted as fans high fived everyone within reach and hugged people they’d never met. Fireworks were going off, the W sign was being hung on the Royals Hall of Fame and Salvador Perez was dumping a Gatorade bucket of water on Hosmer during an interview. Is there a better ending to a movie than a crazy walk off turning the hitter from goat to hero in one of the longest games in WS history?

This isn’t just a one game series though; there are at least three more to go, maybe as many as six. So we all knows what that means; sequels! The sequel to this amazing movie that was game one was set in motion when the news broke that the Royals starter Edison Volquez father had passed away just hours before the game started. The family however told the Royals to not tell Eddie because they wanted him to pitch. The Royals agreed to the family’s wishes and only told coaches and pitcher Chris Young so he could be prepared to come in for relief if Eddie found out and wanted to leave early. The news however did make its way to social media and by the second inning the only people who didn’t know was Eddie and the rest of the players. Fox and the Royals radio team did a great job of not talking about it on air just in case Eddie was in the clubhouse and hear the news that way.  When he came out of the game after the sixth inning he spoke with his wife and got the devastating news. He left almost immediately to fly to the Dominican Republic to be with his family. Manager Ned Yost told the rest of the team after the game turning a great celebration to a more subdued affair. Despite winning one of the greatest WS games in history, the players first thought in every interview was on Eddie and his family. The Royals family has had a tough year with now the third parent passing away joining Mike Moustakas’s mother and Chris Young’s father who both passed away in August.

This series was already going to be a fight with every game sure to be close; now you mix in the heavy hearts of the Royals players wanting to win for their brother and something special is building. Game one was a summer blockbuster for the ages that had everything a good movie needs. There was drama, heart break, redemption, good versus evil and an emotional roller coaster from the highest of highs to the absolute lowest of lows. Fans are screaming for a sequel because they want more of this amazing theatre. Unlike the movies, you won’t have to wait a year or two for the sequel; game two starts in just a few hours. So get your popcorn ready, get in that comfortable seat and sit back and enjoy the show.

 

Three Decades, But Only A Moment For Tribe Fans, To Wait

Ronald Reagan was president, Whitney Houston released her first album, the underdog Kansas City Royals defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1985 World Series. The next year, news breaks of the Iran-Contra Affair, Mike Tyson wins the WBC Title, and the New York Mets need seven games (and a legendary error in Game 6) to defeat the scrappy Boston Red Sox to win it all.

Thirty years. Thirty-one years. Seems like a long time ago… until a Cleveland fan gets an assignment to write something about the Indians that can tie into the current baseball landscape.

In 1985, the Indians were 37 years removed from their last World Series. Hell, the Indians 1948 World Series Championship happened before the Mets or Royals even existed. It would be easy to pen another tale of woe, from another sad, jilted Indians fan. It would take almost no imagination for me to tell you my age1I’m 34. I remember when Pauly Shore was funny. and add up all those Cleveland championships that don’t exist, as if the city’s bare trophy case is justification for a lifetime of whining about sports. If I wanted to spend the next 500 words typing different combinations of “Only in Cleveland2OIC also stands for Opiod Induced Constipation, which probably also explains a lot about Cleveland fanhood.,” I could finish this column in my sleep.

Nope. I’m here to give Indians fans hope. Or, at least take away the hopelessness.

Only half of the teams in baseball have been around for as long as the Indians, which was chartered as the Cleveland Blues in 19013The Yankees are the youngest old team in baseball, with a start date of 1903.4I Hate the Yankees. That leaves a robust 15 teams that didn’t even exist before 1962. I’ll spare you the list that compares World Series Championships against league tenure. Instead, let me say that the Indians are a few unlucky bounces away from the same historical success that the Royals and Mets are experiencing this season.

Kansas City had a good ten year run, then disappeared for three generations before their recent turnaround. While the Mets haven’t even mustered a string of consistent success, instead scattering eight playoff appearances – and two championships – over 54 years. That’s what baseball is like if you’re not the Yankees527 championships gets tossed around a lot, but the Evil Empire has an astounding 40 WS appearances., Cardinals, Giants, or Dodgers.

It’s been a tough road lately for Tribe fans, but Jose Mesa’s blown save is certainly no worse than Bill Buckner’s error. Those Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner contracts don’t really stack up to the horror that Bartman inflicted upon the Chicago Cubs. It took 86 years for the Red Sox to lift the Curse of the Bambino, which is 85 years and 10 months longer than it took Francisco Lindor to the majors in 2015.

Being a sports fan in Cleveland is hard, it’s the fanhood equivalent of living paycheck to paycheck. Every season we sit on the couch and daydream about all those things we’ll do with the next season. It’s a stressful way to pay the bills and to root for teams. But next payday… let’s just say there’s hope for that vacation we’ve all been dreaming for.

Sources:

World Series History stuff – Baseball Reference

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1. I’m 34. I remember when Pauly Shore was funny.
2. OIC also stands for Opiod Induced Constipation, which probably also explains a lot about Cleveland fanhood.
3. The Yankees are the youngest old team in baseball, with a start date of 1903.
4. I Hate the Yankees
5. 27 championships gets tossed around a lot, but the Evil Empire has an astounding 40 WS appearances.

More Than A Friday: Thinking of Lamar Odom During a Busy Week in Sports

Lamar Odom is going to die. We sincerely hope it doesn’t happen today, tomorrow, next week, next month, or even in the next year. For Odom, there is a reality, and doesn’t that word really have some negative connotation to it? The reality is, that I hope he is able to survive from the time between now and whenever this publishes, but only for a life that doesn’t involve suffering.

Why do I care about the mortality of Lamar Odom? As former Arizona Cardinal Darnell Dockett so bluntly stated, he didn’t cross my mind before he was trending, so to speak. I don’t mourn for his situation with a Lakers or Heat flag on my car, and I’m not sympathetic to the character he was presented as to the masses on a show I didn’t watch. I know who he is, because of basketball, and I know how much he loved being a Laker, through the words of his ex-wife during a very brief glimpse of that show that I swear I didn’t watch. I’m sympathetic to his situation, because he is very obviously in the public eye, and it feels like he’s slowly dying in front of all of us.

I don’t feel that he deserves that. He deserves our compassion, but to suffer, with all of those toxins eating away at the very life he’s lived for the past 35 years, 11 months, and change; no one has earned that fate. Everyone in the media seems to be acting appropriately sensitive, walking on egg shells and citing his difficult background, while commending his wildly successful life and hoping for the best. We’re all human enough for that; we should be well wishing Odom for a prolonged life or a merciful death, though most of us don’t know the answers. While we brace ourselves for the inevitable assassination of his character from a few directions, and for various reasons, this is a time to be above the noise and just care.

In Major League Baseball

If you lack a dog in this fight, it’s been an awesome week of watching the field dwindle itself from 8 down to 4. If you had rooting interest in the Division Series, half of you are elated and half of you ain’t.

The Chicago Cubs were the first ones in the clubhouse, waiting to see what the rest of semi-final field would be. They had to win that winner-take-all game, which is always dangerous. It meant burning their best arm, leaving one Jake Arrieta available for just one start in the subsequent best-of-5 series. To survive that do-or-die game in Pittsburgh, it meant taking on baseball’s best regular season team and a long-time arch-rival in what’s been a very lopsided pairing for a very long time.

Give it to the Cubs, for not letting history get the best of them. They were able to bounce back after a poor showing in St. Louis in Game 1, a game that had you thinking the Cubs didn’t have the ammunition to survive the almighty Cardinals, beaten and battered as Mike Matheny’s squad may have been. Lo and behold, they kept hitting the ball out of the park, and when the Cardinals pecked away at a Chicago lead, the Cubs scratched back.

We’ll say good-bye to the Cardinals, and point out that they’re just another great National League team that managed to win at least 100 regular season games on a long list of triple-digit winning National League teams that have failed to win the World Series since the Mets won it all in ’86. The 2015 chapter of the Mets are a little different; they’re not supposed to be here. Blame the Washington Nationals for that, but maybe credit these young Metropolitans for being too dumb to know the stage is too big for them or that they’re not ready yet.

For a while, we’ve known the National League’s chapter of New York baseball was acquiring too much talent to be kept down for long. Remember when Matt Harvey was pretty much the chosen one there? Those days are long gone, with the flowing locks of Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard making the Dark Knight (and the Yankees) an afterthought in Gotham. You’ve got Yoenis Cespedes and David Wright earning the headlines for Terry Collins’ team, but it was the efforts of the likes of Michael Conforto and Daniel Murphy that put them in the place they needed to be to host the Cubs on Saturday in Game 1 of the NLCS.

As for the Dodgers, the brilliance of Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke for two games apiece wasn’t enough. Chase Utley taking out Ruben Tejada on a questionable double-play breaking slide wasn’t enough. Justin Turner’s .526 batting average wasn’t enough, nor was any other aspect of the roughly $310 million payroll enough to get three wins against these Mets in a best-of-five series. If you’re into math, they were paying about $77 million, per team that advance farther than them in the 2015 Playoffs.

It’s probably not the best of ideas to reduce a best-of-five that goes the distance down to a single inning of an elimination game, but that’s how we’re going to roll with the American League Division Series. The conversation of the day on Wednesday, at around 2:30 PM (Mountain Standard Time) was about whether or not the Astros could rebound from their 8th inning collapse, a few days prior, against the defending AL Champs at home. And maybe the Royals had something to do with that as well, but you had to hold the phone on making Game 5 of Astros-Royals into headline material. Down 6-2 in the eighth inning, on the road, six outs from elimination, the Royals put together one of those innings. They got some bounces and scored enough runs(5) to survive(a 7-6 victory), but needed another win to advance. That was Monday.

Before the Royals could do what they needed to do, back at home on Wednesday evening, there was the issue of settling the other half of the bracket with Game 5 in Toronto. Fast forward to the 7th inning of that one, game tied at 2, with Rougned Odor on 3rd base and Shin-Soo Choo at the plate. On a Russell Martin throw back to Blue Jays’ reliever Aaron Sanchez, the ball hits Choo’s bat and squirts toward the third baseman. Odor scores on the “throwing error”, and all hell breaks loose in Toronto. After a review, the Rangers lead 3-2 and they were 9 outs from another trip to the ALCS. Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus wasn’t prepared to help the cause.

It started with a routine ground ball to short, which he mishandled. Then, there was a double play ball, and well, the ball was thrown poorly by Mitch Moreland at first base, and Andrus couldn’t haul it in. Next batter, it’s a sacrifice bunt not executed well, where a good throw to third should eliminate the lead runner, but Andrus can’t handle it. Bases loaded.

Toronto tied the game on a ball that should be described as a Texas Leaguer, and could have invoked the Infield Fly Rule, floats beyond the reach of the Texas second baseman. It ends up being a fielder’s choice at 2nd base, but the tying run scores. Tie game, runners at first and third for Jose Bautista.

What he did was hit the ball, so far that metaphors would be ineffective for those that don’t know much about Canadian geography. It was a three-run job, giving the home team a 6-3 lead that would stick. After he hit it, he tossed his bat about eight feet in the air, and (we assume) it traveled for kilometers before it reached the ground, well after he’d run the bases.

Blue Jays win, and they’re back in the ALCS, for the first time since 1993. That was the year Joe Carter hit baseball’s second (and most recent) World Series clinching walk-off home run. In a lot of ways, regardless of what happens to the Blue Jays the rest of the way, this Bautista shot may have been a bigger deal.

1908, 1985, 1986, 1993. The last time the Cubs, Royals, Mets, and Blue Jays have won it all, respectively. We’re going to get someone new, while the Giants, Red Sox, Cardinals, and Yankees watch from the couch…and I that’s just fine by me.

In Football

Ohio State is going to stay #1 until they lose. It’s just the way it is. I look forward to them playing Penn State under the lights in Columbus, but I’m not looking forward to seeing them wearing all black, for the sake of wearing all black.

Texas A&M will host Alabama, and the Aggies have a legitimate shot to win that game and establish themselves as a legitimate player in the College Football Playoff talk, while Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan Wolverines host in-state rival Michigan State with a good chance to finally allow some points and to likely get handed their second loss of the season.

Florida will travel to Baton Rouge for a night game with LSU on Saturday. They will be without their starting quarterback, while South Carolina hosts Vanderbilt and USC travels to Notre Dame, both without their head coaches. You might expect an 0-3 run from that group with those voids.

On Sunday, expect plenty of blood in the water, in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Indianapolis. Bruce Arians didn’t even take the Cardinals back home last week, after thumping Detroit; you can be sure he wants to get his pound of flesh from Mike Tomlin and company, after they kicked him to the curb a few years back. TJ Ward said he wanted to remain with the Browns (and presumably his best friend, Joe Haden) two year ago, but Cleveland wasn’t interested, so he’ll surely be interested in ringing some bells with his Broncos visiting the 2-3 Browns. Finally, they say snitches end up with stitches, so go ahead and find your own shitty air/inflation-related pun to describe what Tom Brady and the Patriots might do to the Colts on Sunday night.

In the National Hockey League

Call it a Stanley Cup Hangover, or call it the distraction of one of your top players being accused of sexual assault, but the Chicago Blackhawks have looked anything but Champions…so far.

It’s obviously early, but we haven’t seen an immediate impact from Mike Babcock joining the Maple Leafs or Connor McDavid joining the Oilers. Both will happen in due time.

The Arizona Coyotes are basically left for dead by anyone who knows anything about this game, but they’re off to a promising start under Dave Tippett in Glendale. Rookies Anthony DuClair and Max Domi look like they have something special budding in the desert, making major contributions to the ‘Yotes 3-1 start.

More Than a Friday: It’s a Rap…by De La Soul

I’m back. At least I think I’m all the way back. I like to travel; check that, I love to travel, but there’s no question it takes a lot out of me, both physically and mentally.

Between Phoenix, Charlotte, and Cleveland, my phone spent a lot of time in Airplane Mode last week. As a means of making phone calls or doing any internetty things, the iPhone 6+ is basically a paperweight. Among those things, would be my preferred method of listening to music via streaming, but Google Play decided some songs are stored locally. I have no idea which ones, or what the criteria is for off-line listening, but it sure beats those non-SkyMall magazines. One of the songs that came up, De La Soul’s “Itzsoweeze”, reminded me why it’s on my playlist; it’s fun.

Now, what seems like a lifetime ago, I wrote a Pac-12 weekend recap called “Pac-Raps”, where each game would be tied into lyrics from some 90s rap tune. We’re going to do that again here, sans Pac-12 football.

Great all-dedication
Mos Def affiliation
Adequate representation
This is the phat presentation
De La dedication
Common Sense collaborations
Peace to all of you Haitians
Check it out

Maybe I don’t have the star-power of Mos Def and Common collaborating with me on any More Than A Fan venture, a la the guests on “Stakes Is High” album, but I don’t mind thanking the likes of Kevin Noon, Joe Posnanski, Martin Rickman, Bruce Jacobs, Mark Asher, and countless others for speaking with me at one time or another, as I’ve ventured into this realm.

Of course, my De La dedication is all about the many scribes at More Than A Fan that do what they need to do to keep the lights on in these parts.

If money makes a man strange — we gots to rearrange
So what makes the world go round
If love is against the law — listen I don’t know
Gotta change how it’s goin down

We all know we can’t be consumed by greed, because that paper isn’t going to be there forever, but it’s about fame and glory, or whatever too. Think fame lasts forever? You must not get VH1.

In 2015, we probably think of one primary thing, when we wonder if love against the law, and the Supreme Court has dictated that it’s no longer a violation of law to go there. Instead, I think of defending your dedication to something like, say my beloved Cleveland Browns. I’m asked, why do you settle for such futility? My response is, I love them or I love nothing at all–NFL related, of course.

Fell in love with this fish who got caught in my mesh
But yo she burned my scene up like David Koresh
I guess a diamond ain’t nothing but a rock with a name
I guess love ain’t nuttin but emotion and game
It’s a lesson well learned so praise is well due
I’m sendin off from Big I, to Kenny Calhoun

38efddd5a963fd50537371cb7cc3612a68c351c6I could go on and on about the Browns, and how I’m always so twisted emotionally over the reboot, while I can’t let go of my decades-old angst against the original version that planted their flag in Maryland, but what does that accomplish?  I deal with the fact that, more regularly than not, they light up dumpsters like Waco in ’93, but I just flew home to see them win, so no grievances for the team that calls the shores of Lake Erie home, not at the moment.

Let’s take our focus down I-71, to a struggling Ohio State team that still holds the #1 spot in the presently meaningless rankings. When the Browns moved to Baltimore, my focus moved from Sunday to Saturday, and I gave a little more love to John Cooper’s Buckeyes, and they would typically break my heart, in the same style that their former professional counterpart to the Northeast did so often. In 1999, something looking like my first love returned to the scene, but I was still locked in on Saturdays, Na’il Diggs, and Steve Bellisari. Then, they discarded the label-makers that wrote out “COOP” on the headsets, and went with some guys with sleeveless sweaters from Youngstown to right the ship.

The rise of the Scarlet and Grey was fun, but it was not fulfilling on a personal level. Perhaps it would be different if there was a degree with “The Ohio State University” on top hanging on the wall, or even a class schedule or some type of receipt in some drawer, from that school somewhere. It was the same emptiness that I felt when celebrating the Diamondbacks 2001 World Series victory; I didn’t put in my due time with either.

No regrets or anything, just a lesson well-learned. On another note, I have no idea what a “Big I” is, but Kenny Calhoun was all about “The U”, and I don’t need Billy Corben to tell me that. Dove, aka David Jude Jolicoeur, was from Brooklyn with Haitian roots. I didn’t realize it until LeBron James joined the Heat, but Miami is treated as local by those from the West Indies and nearby areas, as regional as Boston is to Maine, I suppose.

And add a reservation for the resident crew
And yo get your bowl cuz we cookin up stew
See them Cubans don’t care what y’all _____s do
Colombians ain’t never ran with your crew
Why you acting all spicy and sheisty
The only Italians you knew was icees, _____s price me

To those who only use social to associate with famous, or Twitter-famous, types, they really need to show some diversity in their conversations. I had someone from back east ask what was going on with the Arizona Coyotes and Glendale a few months back, offered my opinion, and someone stepped in to tell the person to trust only a local Fox Sports reporter has the right information. Talk about something that grinds my gears; my opinion was based off of that reporter’s reports, but someone had to play the role of white knight for a media-type.

I’m sure that reporter, and many others like him, don’t care whether or not they’re included in every conversation about the team they cover. These are close-minded individuals, who shun any idea that doesn’t come from their idols. Much like John Gotti likely never cared or knew who Jay-Z was, a journalist cares very little about how often they’re @’d.

Also, this song wouldn’t have made the cut for Pac-Raps for inclusion of the words blanked out, but you can figure out what those words are. I wish it were a word that would just disappear, but I’m not really welcome to the table where that discussion takes place. Whatever, it is what it is with that.

I’m keepin it clean, like a washing machine
And yo, get your locomotion run into full steam
I’m sending out a greeting to my man Daseem
I got a child so I gotsta get the green, right right

World_Series_Giants_Royals_BaseballIf you’re going to do something, do it right. Let’s not be so naive as to say that MLB did this for the fans; it’s all about the money here, but it coincidentally turned out to be a solid move to add a second wild-card team, expanding their post-season tournament to ten teams. Does one-third of the league belong in the post-season? It depends on who you ask, but it definitely worked for the eventual World Champion Giants a year ago.

One game, and it’s clean. I love the focus it puts on winning your division, in order to avoid a 1-game “do or die” scenario, and I like how many teams are playing meaningful games in late-September. Now, it’s not as clean as a washing machine if the Indians and Tigers have to play a game on October 5th, which may or may not equal the Tribe playing again on Tuesday to play-in to a play-in game, but there’s always a worst case scenario.

Itzsoweezee, it’s gettin hot this year
Itzsoweezee, it’s gettin hot

Summer ended this week, and I couldn’t be more welcoming to the Autumn months. For those that still care about baseball, you’re going to get both New York teams, the Cubs and Dodgers, and some small-market teams that you haven’t seen in the post-season in a while. Add football with its sea-legs beneath it, both on Saturday and Sunday (and sometimes Thursday), to serve as a prelude to Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, Karl-Anthony Towns, and D’Angelo Russell beginning their pro careers, and October is a beautiful month on the sports landscape.

They make it to easy to enjoy sports.

I own the deeds to some acres in the West Indies
Where my pops is building residence to house my seed
Now here’s the lead, y’all niggas pray to hot rods and not God
While Versace play you niggas like Yahtzee
Crackin jokes like you Patzi
(When’s the last time you had Happy Days?)
Blazin up your herb to escape the maze, but the problem stays

This is what the track is about, right here. Be you. And that goes for sports fans, just the same. Don’t get caught up in buying jerseys and sneakers. Don’t spend your whole life on the phone or computer. Apple, Samsung, Nike; they’re all taking us for a ride, reducing us to little pink or blue plastic pieces in “The Game of Life”. You missed a Tweet, and didn’t get the breaking news until ten minutes after everyone else? So the hell what!

If you partake in the herb, that’s cool. What? I’m no cop. That isn’t the only escape though; for a lot us, it’s these games, and if they frustrate us, so what! Life can be one problem after another, and when our teams lose or win, we are going to have to wake up to those same problems the next day. We might as well enjoy the time in between.

Think big get it big is my motto
You can go and play your lotto, I’ll be singin like baby won’t you be mine
You’ll be pressin rewind, you can never see mine
Keep your eyes focused, you can’t touch this or quote this
Style is crazy bogus so you can’t try to approach this
Stomp you out like roaches, pullin on my coattail
Like some horses pullin coaches, WHOA your roller coasters
It’s hotter than the temperature that’s cookin in your toasters
While the heat’ll put you deep into hypnosis

All I have to say, is this is a great verse.

Think big.

Live in the moment.

Know what you want on your highlight reel, and replay those moments in your mind.

Itsoweezee, Enola in the area
Itsoweezee, Timbo King’s in the area
Itsoweezee, Maseo’s in the area
Itsoweezee, ninety-six in your area
Itsoweezee, lawd lawd lawd!
Itsoweezee, lawd lawd lawd lawd
Itsoweezee, lawd lawd, for y’all peace
Itsoweezee

Itsoweezee

It all comes full circle. In sports (and My Cousin Vinny), it’s win some, lose some. The champs are all 0-0, once the calendar resets itself to begin the next season. The chumps take their high draft choices and start on equal ground with the team that won it all, but that win was last year’s news.

The time is now, and you can’t worry about last year, last week, and the people that were with you then. You see who stands by you now, and that’s your team.

More Than A Friday: We Remember New York, and We Still Live in Fear

It was fourteen years ago today, when we learned that we are never safe, not in this world. Yes, I remember where I was when I learned of what happened. Yes, it was terrible in every way. And yes, it changed a lot of things for a lot of people, but most of all, the events of that morning instilled a level of fear in all of us, about things that perhaps we were previously too blissfully ignorant about.

We fast forward to this week, where we have a new, legitimate fear in our own backyard in Arizona this very week. Maybe back then, on the day of, we didn’t understand the motive, why those planes hit those buildings, but maybe those answers came with time, even though those answers were never what we deemed acceptable. Right now, we don’t know why we fear the very highways we travel every day, other than the fact that we don’t care to be hit by random gunfire. I find myself assuming a level of vigilance, keeping my head on a swivel, eye-balling rooftops and roadside mountains for snipers. I hear that, while the highway shootings are of a serial nature in Arizona, this is happening in Chicago now as well. What the hell is happening? I don’t want to be next, but I really don’t want there to be a next at all.

I guess it’s important to remember how fear brings us together, and makes us collectively brave. We remember those who ran toward the trouble, when so many were running away. Those rescue workers died, so that so many could live. At this point, I’d like to take a deep breath, and let the honorable stand on their own plane.

Alright, new thought. This is a sports site, so I want to mention how Mike Piazza’s home run and President Bush’s first pitch at the World Series helped begin the healing process in New York and across the country. The Mets wore caps honoring the police and firefighters, who we will forever remember as heroes, but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t talking about baseball and level of heroism that is above reproach in the same breath. Speaking of which, let’s breathe one more time.

Here are ten thoughts from the week that was:

  • Former tennis star James Blake had a rough run-in with the New York Police Department the other night, and I suppose that’s putting it mildly. The former #4 tennis player in the world was tackled and cuffed on Thursday in a sting operation gone awry. Blake, who bore a reasonable likeness to a suspect, according to police, said he told police he wished to comply and that he was very scared throughout the entire ordeal. On a day that we’re honoring your fallen brothers, this is not okay, NYPD.
    https://twitter.com/RyanRuggiero/status/642425084070756352/video/1
  • Amid some heavy investigative reporting on the part of ESPN’s Outside the Lines and a similar multi-author report by Sports Illustrated, the New England Patriots had their Super Bowl homecoming game on Thursday evening in Foxboro. They took the field, not as champions, but certifiable cheaters in the eyes of many. Accusations of sabotage and things of that ilk weren’t easily dismissed, especially when the visiting Steelers headsets malfunctioned in the first half of Pittsburgh’s 28-21 loss to the Patriots. Mike Tomlin wasn’t happy, and I’m no Steelers apologist, but his anger was justified. Apparently, he doesn’t get a leg to stand on, because he stood on the field of play during a kick return, a few years back. Get the hell out of here with that noise.
  • Back to New York, where the Yankees strangle-hold on the top American League Wild Card spot and realistic chances in the division are being largely ignored, the Mets have become my favorite “I have no dog in the fight” team to watch on MLB.tv. On Labor Day, I tuned in for parts of their most important game of the season, versus the Nationals in DC. Yoenis Cespedes did what he’s done since arriving in Queens, and that’s to provide a spark for the previously hapless offense that Terry Collins has marched out there. The other takeaway from the Mets’ 8-5 victory, was more about the man than the ballplayer that Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos is. He hit a grand slam in the game, shifting momentum before Cespedes took it back, but this is a guy that survived an abduction in Venezuela back in 2011. That kind of thing always stays with me, and I take great joy in any success that he has.
  • Ohio State wore the #1 ranking, given to them by the Associated Press and the Coaches, very well on Monday, at Virginia Tech. The result of the game, a 42-24 rout of the Hokies, came secondary to the story we’ve wondered about, on and off, for the last eight months. How would Urban Meyer deal with “too many cooks in the kitchen” at the quarterback position. Many figured Braxton Miller would transfer, and that the odd man out would be visibly unhappy. JT Barrett was named a captain early in the week, and seemed anything but disgruntled about being the backup to Cardale Jones. As for Miller, he didn’t transfer, but he stepped aside, switching positions, and it looks like he might be one of the best receivers in the country. Well played, Urb.
  • Talk about a state of misery! Both of the Missouri ballclubs look like they’re slowing down at exactly the wrong time. Kansas City has the luxury of an 11-game lead in the American League Central Division, despite being losers of seven of their last ten. Up in St. Louis, the Cardinals have taken themselves out of the best ever conversation, and they’ve just looked flat-out bad at times, recently. They’ve dropped two of three to both of their relevant adversaries in the National League Central Division since last weekend, and they aren’t off to a good start in Cincinnati either. The fact that Pittsburgh has a fighting chance at that division spells doom for the Cardinals, who lost 11-0 in the ‘Nati on Thursday.
  • The Pirates defeated the Reds on Wednesday at Great American Ballpark, in a game the Reds finished without Joey Votto. The Canadian slugger got jobbed all game by plate umpire Bill Welke’s strike zone, and he let him have it after a called strike 2 in the eighth inning. I recall how angry you can get about things like that, so I understand, but I’ve never been labeled a star of the stature that Votto is, so I’m surprised. Major League Baseball was nice enough to spare him on his 32nd birthday Thursday, but stay tuned on Friday. They may be giving him a belated gift of a day off, probably without pay.
  • Did I miss something about Tennessee football? I see that they’re now ranked #23, and people seem to believe their game with visiting Oklahoma on Saturday afternoon at Neyland is a big game. Not buying on the Vols after what I saw of their opener against Bowling Green, but we’ll see. Of course, I didn’t shell out the $99.99 to pay-per-view Bob Stoops’ Sooners clobber Akron last week, so who knows.  I also see we’ve got Mississippi State ranked, just in time to host LSU this weekend. What the pollsters won’t do for the SEC!
  • On the other hand, Oregon and Michigan State should come as advertised. Forget that the Ducks gave up 42 to Eastern Washington or that the Spartans looked less than spectacular at Western Michigan last Friday; look for a close, low-scoring game. That doesn’t bode well for Mark Helfrich and Oregon in East Lansing on Saturday night.
  • I know most people live in the “what have you done for me lately?” realm, but I’m still a sucker for the nostalgia of a Packers-Bears game. No dog in the fight, but these two organizations have played about as even as two teams can play over the entire course of history, though Sunday won’t be even in any way, shape, or form.
  • If you don’t give a damn about a rivalry that happens to be lopsided in 2015, you probably care less about my opinion on the night Rob Gronkowski gave my Little White Beanbags fantasy team, my first go-around with fake football in about 8 or 9 years. I can’t begin to imagine the level of apathy non-hockey fans would have over an Oilers-Coyotes game in November, but I’m still excited to go to Glendale on November 12th, but if hockey people are comparing Edmonton rookie Connor McDavid to LeBron James, that’s some hockey I don’t want to miss.

And no one ever gets excited about going to Glendale, even before we were scared of being hit by rounds of seemingly random gunfire. Stay safe, everyone.

Matt Harvey Should Just Retire

…and Hanley Ramirez should follow him right out the door…

As I watched MLB Network on Saturday night, I was dumbstruck to hear the Mets’ Matt Harvey come out and say that his surgeon, Dr. James Andrews, had placed him on a 180 inning limit for the 2015 season.  It flabbergasted me all the more, because earlier that same day, I had seen reports that the Mets had announced there was no strict innings limit for Harvey this year.  Obviously, the lines of communication between Harvey and the Mets’ management were not as clear as they should have been.

Continue reading Matt Harvey Should Just Retire

Cleveland Indians: Corey Kluber vs. Felix Hernandez for AL Cy Young

Major League Baseball is in the midst of handing out their regular season awards and several Cleveland Indians are either award recipients or potential recipients. The two big announcements come today (11/12) and tomorrow (11/13) with the Cy Young and MVP, respectively. The Indians have a horse in each race in Corey Kluber (AL Cy Young) and Michael Brantley (AL MVP). Before looking ahead, here is a look at some of the other major award winners.

Rookie of the Year

American League – Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox

National League – Jacob deGrom, New York Mets

Manager of the Year

American League – Buck Showalter, Baltimore Orioles

National League – Matt Williams, Washington Nationals

Unsurprisingly, no Cleveland Indian won a Gold Glove or Defensive Player of the Year award, although a case could’ve been made for Michael Brantley (.996 fielding percentage with only 1 error, 2 double plays, 12 assists and 271 putouts in 1304.1 innings of work in the outfield). Speaking of Brantley, he and Yan Gomes were given American League Silver Slugger Awards, which honors the games top hitters and is decided by votes compiled from MLB coaches and managers. Brantley finished the year batting .327 and had an OBP of .385. He hit 20 home runs, had 97 RBI, scored 94 runs and had an even 200 hits. Gomes hit .278 with a .313 OBP while hitting 21 home runs to go along with 74 RBI and 61 runs scored on 135 hits.

Looking ahead, tonight we will find out who will win the Cy Young award. In the National League Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto as well as Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals will more than likely finish as runners up to Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers, who was undoubtedly the best pitcher in baseball for the entire 2014 season. Over in the American League Chris Sale (Chicago White Sox), Felix Hernandez (Seattle Mariners) and Corey Kluber are in a much tighter race, with many feeling it’s between Hernandez and Kluber. To completely rule Sale (12-4, 2.17 ERA, 174 IP) out of the race isn’t fair, but both Kluber and Hernandez have the fuller body of work (mostly due to an injury Sale suffered to start the year). However, assuming the experts are correct, this race is between Kluber and “King Felix”. While it shouldn’t factor in, Hernandez has the more impressive resume with five All-Star appearances, twice the American League ERA leader (including this season) and one Cy Young already (2010). But don’t dismiss Kluber, who can be considered an AL All-Star snub, was tied for most wins among AL pitchers this season and finished near the top in most statistical categories. If you look at this race by the numbers it’s very tight, and a slight edge might go to Hernandez depending on what you place your values on. Kluber was 18-9 with a 2.44 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP. In 235.2 innings of work he struck out 269 batters, walked just 51, allowed 64 earned runs (74 total runs), and a K/9 ratio of 10.27 while the opposition had a batting average of just .233 against him. He also had three complete games and one shutout. Hernandez numbers read as follows: a 15-6 record with a 2.14 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP. In 236 innings he struck out 248 batters, walked 46 while giving up 56 earned runs (68 total runs allowed) with a K/9 ratio of 9.46. The opposition hit an even .200 against him, however he never had a complete game or a shutout. He also gave up two more home runs than Kluber (16 vs. 14). A voter putting more emphasis on wins and losses will likely vote for Kluber, whereas a voter placing more emphasis on numbers like ERA will likely be inclined to vote for Hernandez. The two aces were also almost identical in team run support, with Hernandez getting an average of 4.29 runs per start and Kluber getting an average of 4.35 runs per start. If you want to look at Sabermetrics their numbers are still similar, with Kluber edging out Hernandez in WAR (wins above replacement) 7.39 to 6.75.

Both Felix Hernandez and Corey Kluber were dominant in 2014.
Both Felix Hernandez and Corey Kluber were dominant in 2014.

So is there anything that can definitively set somebody apart in this race? Perhaps, yes.

The Cleveland Indians defense during the 2014 season was horrendous. They finished with a .981 fielding percentage while committing 116 errors. Both of these numbers were the worst in baseball last year. Conversely, the Seattle Mariners had a .986 fielding percentage (3rd) and committed just 82 errors (2nd). It isn’t unfathomable to think that with even an average defense behind him, Kluber may have had another win or two and more than likely would’ve had a lower ERA. Put a top of the league defense (or at least a defense that committed as few errors as Seattle did) behind Kluber and his ERA, WHIP, and opposition batting average probably much closer resembles that of Felix Hernandez. If you subscribed to Sabermetrics stats then maybe Kluber (with a higher WAR than Hernandez) may have even had better numbers than Felix with Seattle’s defense. That’s all, of course, speculation. What isn’t speculation is this. Kluber was slightly more dominate later in the season (August, September and October) when both teams were in playoff contention. During this time Kluber was 7-3 with a 2.10 ERA in 77.1 innings of work while Hernandez was 4-3 with a 2.44 ERA in 70.2 innings.

Despite the defensive factors, there isn’t really a clear winner in this race. As much as Corey Kluber deserves to be the 2014 AL Cy Young Award winner, so does Felix Hernandez. Personally, my vote would go to Kluber. While he does have a slightly higher ERA he has a better K/9 ratio and more strikeouts overall, more wins (which, admittedly, aren’t all due to a starting pitcher) and a higher WAR.

Come back tomorrow as we discuss the AL MVP race between Mike Trout, Victor Martinez and Michael Brantley.

Why Can't a Pitcher Win the MVP?

Thursday night I stayed up to watch Tyson Ross and Clayton Kershaw duel as the Padres finished a three-game series with the Dodgers. Getting to see such a good game was reward enough for me but as I turned off the television and rolled over to go to sleep, I couldn’t help but think I had seen more than that.

Before I begin, the point needs to be made that the greatest part about the game was that it took just two hours and twenty-three minutes to complete eight and a half innings (bottom of the ninth unnecessary because the home team won) of baseball. The ‘pace of the game’ is apparently something MLB and newly-elected Commissioner Rob Manfred will try to address in the near future. Although I whole-heartedly agree that games are taking far too long on average, I think micromanagement such as monitoring each hitter’s time spent outside the batters’ box is not the way to go about speeding up. This however, is the subject for another column and so I’ll get back to my point.

Dayn Perry wrote an interesting piece on pitching dominance a little over a week ago and though I was already aware how tremendous Kershaw is, the chart toward the bottom of the page made my jaw drop. On Thursday, Kershaw went eight innings, giving up just one run on three hits and two walks while striking out ten. That means he registered another ‘Dominant Start’ and brought his DS% just above 38 (8 of his 21 starts being ‘dominant’ as Perry describes). As good as he was Ross was even better through seven innings. He also went eight, refusing to surrender any runs until a Carl Crawford leadoff single and a Justin Turner homer gave the Dodgers the 2-1 lead in his last inning of work.

Watching the game unfold, I found myself wondering how some people can be naïve enough to discount the impact a phenomenal pitcher can have on a team. Sure, Kershaw won’t take the mound again until next Wednesday because the Dodgers have Monday off but his eight innings last night were huge.

Not only did Kershaw’s performance notch the Dodgers a home-series sweep against an opponent within the division, it also prevented the bullpen from overuse. Manager Don Mattingly had seen his starting pitchers go just five innings each of the past two days, meaning he had to rely on his bullpen to register twelve of the required twenty seven outs on consecutive days. This is the sort of thing you want to avoid making a habit of, no matter how well your relievers are pitching.

Mattingly might have let Kershaw go out for the ninth had closer Kenley Jansen been used at all the past weekend. Being swept by the Brewers before welcoming the Padres to town meant that prior to Tuesday, Jansen had not pitched since last Thursday in Atlanta.

Had the Dodgers not grabbed the lead on the Turner homer, Kershaw likely would have gone out to pitch the ninth too. His pitch count (if you put stock in such numbers) sat at 103, giving Mattingly more than enough wiggle room to justify sending his ace out to finish what he started. Instead the skipper, with a one-run lead, chose to use Andre Ethier as a pinch-hitter when the pitcher’s spot came up, in a vain attempt to add some insurance.

This is not to say I think Mattingly made a poor choice. I agree with his call to go with his closer, after all that’s what they’re there for. But in going eight and setting himself up to even go nine, Kershaw gave Mattingly a tough choice that any manager on any team would love to have to make.

The way in which the Dodgers won the game will certainly give them a boost going forward too. How good it must feel for the Dodgers to know that every five days, with Kershaw on the mound, they only need to get a couple runs and play sound defense. In a long roller-coaster type season, Kershaw’s track record must give his teammates a welcomed sense of clam at least once a week.

So now I’m asking: why is it that pitchers aren’t supposed to win the Most Valuable Player award?

If your defense is that pitchers already have the Cy Young Award and therefore a hitter should always win MVP, then you need to familiarize yourself with the Silver Slugger Award, given to the best hitter at each position in both leagues. This means that each season there are a combined seventeen Silver Sluggers which are given exclusively to hitters (yes, they do give an undeserving National League pitcher one every year as well). Meanwhile pitchers have only four honors to pursue, and that’s if you include the Rolaids Relief Man Awards for each league.

Maybe you don’t think a guy who plays every fifth day has much of an effect on those other four days. First of all, the impact a starter has on the day he pitches is absolute. If he pitches poorly, it’s going to be tough to get a win that day. If he’s on his game, it’ll be much easier. Secondly, a starting pitching performance often does have a lasting effect until the next time that pitcher takes the mound. For example, the Dodgers’ bullpen is now fully rested as the Mets come to town for the weekend. Lastly, any pitcher we’re even remotely considering for MVP would be dominating opposing lineups much like Kershaw has been this season, not going the minimum five innings to scratch out wins.

Maybe you just don’t like pitchers. Maybe you’re the type who would rather see a 10-8 slugfest than the pitchers’ duel that Ross and Kershaw engaged in on Thursday night. Well, when runs are continually scored, there’s a mound visit every inning and the outfield grass wears thin from trotting relievers, the games take much longer. If MLB wants to speed up the game they should start saying, “chicks dig the strikeout,” because good pitching beats good hitting more times than not, and nobody wants to spend a quarter of their daily time awake watching bad baseball.

Hey New York, Nice Sports Teams

It’s been great having you at the party, New York. Drive safe. Rest comfortably with all that “greatest city in the world” nonsense that you love to spout incessantly. Tell us again how you’re the only place one can find real bagels or pizza or bologna sandwiches or whatever. We assume you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the amenities that life in the big apple has to offer, seeing as you won’t be watching your sports teams’ quests for championships.

Seriously, New York, you’re freaking abysmal. The Jets? The Giants? The Yankees? The Mets? Holy crap. The Knicks? I don’t follow hockey really until the playoffs (which might have to change this year. Unless Roger Martinez is the new Jack Edwards, MTAF Boston doesn’t have a hockey guy), but Yahoo Sports is telling me that the Rangers are barely a top 10 team and the Islanders aren’t good.

Football, I understand. The Giants have won a couple of titles this decade, and the Jets tossed all their eggs in the doomed, but entertaining, Rex Ryan basket. Plus, because of salary cap and free agency restrictions, you don’t have the inherent advantages in football that your city has in baseball and basketball: a willing workforce.

Players LOVE New York. And why wouldn’t they? If you’re a young, athletic guy with millions in your pocket, why would you focus on being the best player you can be when you can focus on replacing the “er” with an “a” and party all the time. It’s the city that never sleeps, and everyone knows that sleep is secondary when you’re a world class athlete with a 10 year window.

Alright, alright, alright. I’ll put aside my personal shots at the city who gave the world Anthony Weiner for just a minute and talk sports franchises. I’m not going to talk hockey, except to say that neither team is in the running for a title, but here are the states of the rest. Brought to you with pride and (extreme, over the top) prejudice.

Football

Geno Smith had 2 fumbles and 2 interceptions in a blowout loss to the Titans and nobody is clamoring for his replacement. Rightfully so. Who’s clamor-worthy: Brady Quinn? Matt Simms?

Kellen Winslow and Santonio Holmes are their top receivers, which wouldn’t be an utter failure if it were 2009. They’re lucky to be 2-2 and are already 2 games back in the division.

And the Giants? Out of nowhere they’re worse. And Giants fans should be far more embarrassed than Jets fans because the Giants actually have decent talent and a competent coach.

Verdict: The Giants need to rebuild their offensive line and the Jets need to rebuild everywhere (save possibly QB – Geno might be alright). But it’s the NFL, so you can go from pretty bad to playoff contender in short time. New Yorkers should fret the least about their football franchises.

Baseball

This one might be my favorite. Let’s get past the Mets pretty quickly because they might actually have some hope on the horizon (although Matt Harvey’s injury certainly tamps that down a bit). Oh alright, we’ll take a quick look at their recent past:

  • 2013: 74-88
  • 2012: 74-88
  • 2011: 77-85
  • 2010: 79-83
  • 2009: 70-92

They’re not even that bad; just numbingly irrelevant. You’ve got to go back to 2008 to find an above .500 record, you’ve got to go back to 2006 to find a playoffs appearance, and you’ve got to go back to 1986 to find a title.

Now, to the golden goose. I know, I know, this is only the second time in 19 years that the Yankees have missed the playoffs. Like Mark McGwire, I’m not here to talk about the past (except in the paragraph right above and in many other places throughout this piece. Shut up. It’s a day for New York bashing. Being fair and/or balanced is not what I’m about right now.). I’m here to talk about Robinson Cano’s upcoming $305 million dollar payday. There is no way the Yanks pay that, right? But what if they don’t?

What if the Yankees have learned the lessons of Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and C.C. Sabathia? That paying a ton of dough for 2-3 years of an 8-10 year deal is a bad idea. That it ultimately hands you a roster full of part-time players / full-time DHs. If they don’t sign Cano, or any other high-priced free agents like Brian McCann or Shin-Soo Choo, their lineup will look something like:

C – Chris Stewart

1B – Teixeira

2B –

3B – Rodriguez

SS – Derek Jeter

OF – Alfonso Soriano (who’d better pee in a cup before next season starts)

OF – Ichiro Suzuki

OF – Brett Gardner

DH – a rotating cast of Curtis Granderson, Tex, Jeter, ARod, and whoever else’s osteoporosis flares up

I know they can go and sign some players, increase the payroll to $300 million, and not blink an eye. But this is fun to think about right now. Not to mention A. everyone in that lineup is a year older (and aging exponentially, it seems), B. they’ve still got to re-sign their best starter, Hiroki Kuroda, and C. they’re losing their all-world closer. Be-au-tiful.

Basketball

First off, enough about the long and storied New York basketball tradition. I know that the playgrounds are full of some pretty great talent, but there hasn’t been big time college basketball there since Louie Carnesecca was teaching Bill Cosby how to dress, and that Knicks franchise isn’t as storied as some would have you think.

Present day, they’re a mess. The second piece I wrote for MTAF was about the no-man’s land of being a middle-of-the-road NBA franchise. That’s exactly what the Knicks are. They’re upper-middle, but middle nonetheless.

The Knicks are completely capped out and they’re looking at a starting 5 of Raymond Felton, J.R. Smith, Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudamire, and Tyson Chandler. All the same guys as last year’s second round playoff team, only they’re on the bad side of 28 and chances are they won’t be more athletic or less injury prone. Not to mention teams like the Pacers and Bulls getting markedly better and the Nets entering the championship conversation.

The Knicks might win 55 games (I don’t think they will, but it’s always possible Anthony takes steps toward being less selfish on offense and less nonexistent on defense). But is there any chance they beat at least 2 of Chicago, Indiana, Brooklyn, and Miami to reach the Finals? I’d say there’s a greater chance of me attending a JD and the Straight Shots concert.

And, oh yeah, about the future: not only are they capped out, but their 2014 first round pick goes to Denver, their 2016 first round pick goes to Toronto, and they don’t have a second round pick until at least 2018. Don’t worry, though, Knicks fans. Spike Lee will still be there to entertain you during the down times. He’s hilarious.

The Nets are the one team that might have some juice. Hiring Jason Kidd as the coach was a highly questionable move, but I remain vociferous in my support for this franchise. I think knowing how to win an NBA title is a gigantic hurdle that players need to clear before actually winning one, and Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett bring that (along with their superb skill-sets) to the borough of Brooklyn.

And, really, that’s okay with me. If the city that gave us David Berkowitz has a basketball team, populated with ex-Boston Celtics, which might contend for the title, I can give them that. I’m a magnanimous guy. A fan of the little man. And I’d love to see Miami take it on the chin.

Enjoy our leftovers, Gothamites. I’d keep writing, but it’s time to start reading up on the Cleveland Indians and Tampa Bay Rays. American League baseball playoffs start today, hadn’t you heard?