Tuesday, October 22, 2019

N.Y. Jets: Sam Spooked By Monday Night Phantom

From the desk of: WALT MICHAELS REVENGE

EeK!

MONDAY NIGHT
Patriots   33
Jets           0
FUHGEDDABOUDIT

"... seeing ghosts!" - Sam Darnold

No, Sam, I am.  Those were not green ghosts nor Adam Gase's continuing scam.

Instead, Sam, I am, you went up against the man named Bill Belichick, whom this season decided the Patriots will ride the backs of its defense.

New England treated Sam Darnold the same way they treated Giants rookie quarterback Daniel Jones two weeks ago: very delicately.  That is no coincidence.  If Bill Belichick isn't sacking your young quarterback, he's inducing interceptions.  That's always been his preference.  It's easier to fool young quarterbacks than it is to fell them.  But if Belichick is not inducing young quarterbacks into throwing interceptions, you can be sure he's sacking them ... repeatedly.  On occasion, the Patriots do both.

Simon Bar Sinister if he wanted to could have sacked both Darnold and Daniel for a baker's dozen.  But Belichick's pass rush is measured.  Week in and week out, head coaches around the league fail to realize that.  If you recall the Patriots sack Daniel Jones just once, and pepper him with eight other hits.  Rather, they dupe Jones into throwing three interceptions and force a Jonathan Hilliman fumble.  Darnold's experience against New England's defense is no less befuddling, if not more so than Daniel's.  Yet he is only sacked once with just two other QB hits to speak of.  Instead, the Patriots intercept him four times and force a fumble.


PATRIOTS INTER-SACK-TIONS:
  • Week One vs. PITT: one sack; three QB hits; one INT.           *Big Ben
  • Week Two vs. MIA: seven sacks; twelve QB hits; four INT.   *young QB
  • Week Three vs. NYJ: five sacks; ten QB hits; one INT.          *novice QB
  • Weekk Four vs. BUF: five sacks; nine QB hits; one INT.       *young QB
  • Week Five vs. WAS: six sacks; nine QB hits; one INT.          *young QB


Two New York quarterbacks against a common opponent in consecutive weeks:
  • Week Six: Daniel Jones goes 15/31 for 161 yards; one touchdown; three INT; one sack.
  • Week Seven: Sam Darnold is 11/32 for 86 yards; no touchdowns; four INT; one sack.


Now riddle me this  ... how is Sam Darnold's week seven performance against the Patriots any different than Luke Falk's week three performance at Foxboro?
  • Week Three: Luke Falk goes 12/22 for 96 yards; no touchdowns; one INT.  The Patriots sacked him five times and inflicted another ten QB hits by accident.


SMASH MOUTH
  • Tom Brady: 31/45 for 249 yards; one touchdown; one INT.
  • Sony Michel: three rushing touchdowns.
  • Patriots Offense: 38:27 time of possession!
  • Patriots Defense: no points allowed; six turnovers!

Nuf ced ...



Monday, October 21, 2019

N.Y. Giants: Daniel Jones Under Siege

From the desk of: DO IT FOR THE DUKE

SACKED AGAIN

WEEK SEVEN
Cardinals   27
Giants         21
FINAL

MetLife Stadium Sacked For Second Time in Last Three Weeks

Arizona sacks Daniel Jones eight times and get in another 12 QB hits.  The offensive line has now yielded a grand total of 20 sacks and 57 QB hits through week seven.  That averages out to 3.6 sacks and nine QB hits per game.  At this juncture it's reasonable to question which weighs more heavily: Daniel Jones inexperience or some perceived ineptness on behalf of the offensive line.

With regards to experience or lack thereof, Eli Manning is sacked once and hit seven other times in week one against Dallas.  In week two against Buffalo, he is again sacked just once and hit five other times.  However, Eli is the beneficiary of healthy team mates.  While I've never considered Evan Engram much of a blocker, it's still easier to operate when your tight end and backfield understand their respective assignments.

Daniel Jones, on the other hand, has played largely minus the services of Engram, Barkley and Wayne Gallman.  In turn pass protection suffers collateral damage.  Arizona linebacker Chandler Jones alone registered four sacks.  If that sounds familiar, it's because Tampa linebacker Shaquil Barrett recorded four sacks in week three.  That makes two respective linebackers accounting for eight sacks.  Someone is failing their assignment.  In the meantime, Jones has now been sacked 18 times and hit another 45 times times.  He has been sacked no less than four times in three of his five starts.  And keep in mind the Patriots only sack him once.

I'm trying to lend the hog mollies some support ... work with me.

While I have low expectations for the Giants in general, I anticipated a better effort against the Cardinals.  Instead Mother Nature and Arizona's pass rush keep Jones under duress.
  • 22/35 (63%) for 223 yards, one touchdown, one interception; three fumbles (two lost).

Once upon a time the more it rained the more you ran the ball.  Arizona seems to know what I'm talking about.  Coach Shurmur not so much.  The elusive NFL mudder is alive and well.  The Cardinals ride the back of Chase Edmonds whom rushes 27 times for 126 yards and three touchdowns.  Shurmur calls for a mere 18 rushes, Saquon Barkley answers with 72-yards and a touchdown.  In fact, Barkley has yet to attempt 20 rushes through four games played.  Daniel Jones is the only other Giant to run the ball beyond scrimmage on Sunday.


Sunday, October 20, 2019

N.Y. Yankees: Bronx Bombers Quietly Advance Into Off-Season

From the desk of: BLAME CARLOS MAY


MINUTE MAID PARK
SEPTEMBER 2019

AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
Astros defeat Yankees; 4-2
I - NYY 7; HOU 0
II - HOU 3; NYY 2
III - HOU 4; NYY 1
IV - HOU 8; NYY 3
V - NYY 4; HOU 1

GAME SIX
Yankees   4
Astros      6
FINAL

Like a Bottle Rocket in the Night the Bombers Season Goes Pop

ALL AROLDIS CHAPMAN COULD DO WAS GRIN, AND BEAR IT.  I believe it was more a curt expression than anything else.  Dismay manifests itself in many forms.  But the look on Chapman's face no doubt punctuates another confounding New York Yankee exit from post-season play.
What a brilliant at-bat in the top of the ninth inning by D.J. LeMahieu.  He demonstrates great discipline in laying off a slider low and away for ball two.  With a 2-2 count he fouls off four straight pitches (five in all), which I felt was attributable to poor sequencing.  But when Roberto Osuna finally elevates an enticing eye level fastball, LeMahieu smartly takes it for ball three.  That forces Osuna into throwing a hitter's pitch.  His tenth offering of the sequence is just that.  LeMahieu deposits the ball over the right field wall just beyond the outstretched arm of a leaping George Springer tying the game at four.

With two outs in the last half of the ninth Aroldis Chapman walks George Springer.  That brings to the plate Jose Altuve who promptly ends the Yankees season by crushing Chapman's fourth offering, a slider, high and deep over the left field wall for a walk-off victory.

If you're wondering why Chad Green is starting game six of the ALCS, look no further than Brian Cashman.  Otherwise the decision to bullpen an elimination game is Aaron Boone's only recourse.  Although no stranger to starting games, Green nevertheless yields a double, a walk, and a three run home run by Yuri Gurriel for an 0-3 first inning deficit.

Gary Sanchez drives in a run in the second, and Gio Urshela's home run in the fourth closes the gap to one.  But Houston picks up an insurance run when Altuve scores on Alex Bregman's fielder's choice in the sixth.

And into the ninth inning they go ...


NUMBERS OF THE BEAST

Both sides utilize seven pitchers in GAME SIX:
  • NYY: six earned runs on six hits and six walks with six strikeouts through 8.2 innings pitched.  They throw 170 pitches with only 101 (59%) going for strikes.
  • HOU: four earned runs on ten hits and four walks with eleven strikeouts through nine innings pitched.  They throw 154 pitches with 101 (65%) going for strikes.

SWING AND A MISS

  • Jose Altuve: .348/.444/.652; two home runs; three runs batted in; four walks; one strikeout!
  • Carlos Correa; George Springer; Yuli Gurriel: five home runs; 13 runs batted in.

  • Aaron Judge: .240/.321/.360; home run; two runs batted in; three walks; ten strikeouts!
  • Gary Sanchez: .130/167/.261; home run; three runs batted in; one walk; twelve strikeouts!
  • Edwin Encarnacion: .056/.227/.111; four walks; eleven strikeouts!
  • Brett Gardner: .136/.208/.136; one run batted in; two walks; ten strikeouts!
  • Giancarlo Stanton: 2 for 7, home run; three strikeouts.
  • Thank goodness for Aaron Hicks?

  • HOU: slash .179/.281/.318; eight home runs; 27 walks; 54 strikeouts; 24 runs scored.
  • NYY: slash .214/.289/.383; ten home runs; 22 walks; 64 strikeouts; 21 runs scored.

THE REAL BRONX BOMBERS

  • DJ LeMahieu: .346/.414/.615; two home runs; three runs batted in; three walks; two strikeouts.
  • Gleyber Torres: .280/.333/.600; two home runs; six runs batted in; two walks; four strikeouts.
  • Gio Urshela: two home runs; two runs batted in; two walks; .828 OPS; two strikeouts.

THE REAL BRONX BUMMER

  • HOU Three Starters: ten earned runs in 31 innings for 2.90 ERA; 24 H; 10 W; 34 K.
  • NYY Three Starters: seven earned runs in 23.2 innings for 2.71 ERA; 18 H; 12 W; 23 K.

  • HOU Bullpen: ten earned runs; 21.1 innings; 4.26 ERA.
  • NYY Bullpen: seven earned runs; 26.1 innings; 2.41 ERA.

  • HOU hit eight home runs, only four are solo shots.  They leave 45 runners on base and bat (5/46) .108 w/ RiSP.  Team slash .179/.281/.318.
  • NYY hit ten home runs, but seven are solo shots.  They leave 42 runners on base and bat (6/35) .171 w/ RiSP.  Team slash .214/.289/.383.

SO, WHAT THE F&@% JUST HAPPENED.!?

Game Two Loss:
  • Starter James Paxton lasts just 2.1 innings; reliever J.A. Happ surrenders game winning home run in 11th inning.
Game Three Loss:
  • Luis Severino is far from mid-season form.  He misses the entire season until returning to action in September.  He makes three appearances and pitches just twelve innings prior to the ALDS versus Minnesota.  Opposed by Houston's Gerrit Cole, Severino yields two earned runs on five hits and three walks with six strikeouts through 4.1 innings pitched.  Cole throws seven scoreless innings allowing just four hits and five walks with seven strikeouts.
Game Four Loss:
  • Zack Greinke and Ryan Presley outperform Masahiro Tanaka and Chad Green.  Tanaka surrenders four runs (three earned) on four hits (George Springer home run) and two walks with just one strikeout through five innings pitched.  Chad Green yields a two-run home run in the sixth to Carlos Correa.  Greinke and Presley surrender just one run on three hits and five walks with seven strikeouts through five innings.
Game Six Loss:
  • Chad Green serves as game opener.  He promptly surrenders a first inning three-run home run to Yuli Gurriel.  LeMahieu hits a game-tying home run in the top of the ninth.  Aroldis Chapman loses control of his fastball, Altuve crushes a slider in the bottom of the ninth, series over.

Brian Cashman's failure to land a viable starting pitcher at the trade deadline comes to pass.  The plan to bullpen game six backfires horribly.  No one could have predicted Domingo German's season ending in suspension.  Although with 30 home runs allowed and a 4.03 ERA through 143 innings pitched, I'm not quite sure German would have made a series altering difference.  However, waiting on Luis Severino proves a mistake.  C.C. Sabathia's physical condition and overall effectiveness was also a known factor.  Moreover, last season's money acquisition of J.A. Happ fails to pay dividends.  His ineffectiveness was likewise a known factor heading into the deadline.  Happ posted a regular season 4.91 ERA through 161.1 innings pitched.  Relegated to the bullpen for the playoffs, he makes just two appearances against the Astros, yielding a hit, a walk, and a run, through 2.2 innings pitched.  Otherwise game six "opener" Chad Green posts a 9.64 ERA through four appearances and 4.2 innings pitched.  Adam Ottavino is worse, allowing four runs on six hits through five appearances and 2.1 innings pitched for an 11.57 ERA.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Houston's outstanding defense; Houston's game saving defense, that is.  Meanwhile four Yankees errors in game four contribute to three unearned runs in an 8-3 loss.  Gary Sanchez once again proves a liability behind the plate.

Failure to improve rotation depth; a bullish bullpen; too many strikeouts; and lack of clutch or even situational hitting; make of it what you will.  At the end of the day, Houston's top star rises to the occasion and the Yankees top stars do not.


TRENDING

Once is an event; twice is a coincidence; three times is a trend.  The Yankees are eliminated from post-season play for a third consecutive year, twice at the hands of the Houston Astros.

2017 ALCS: Astros Defeat Yankees; 4-3


  • HOU: slash .187/.271/.294; 20 runs; 40 hits; four home runs; 24 walks; 45 strikeouts.
  • NYY: slash .205/.274/.347; 22 runs; 45 hits; six home runs; 19 walks; 70 strikeouts.

  • HOU Four Starters: 13 runs on 32 hits through 46.1 innings for 2.54 ERA (6.2 innings per start).
  • NYY Four Starters: 9 runs on 21 hits through 36 innings for 2.25 ERA (5.1 innings per start).

  • HOU Bullpen: 9 runs on 13 hits through 12.2 innings for 6.64 ERA.
  • NYY Bullpen: 11 runs on 19 hits through 23.1 innings for 4.28 ERA.

2018 ALDS: Red Sox Defeat Yankees; 3-1


  • BOS: 27 runs; 39 hits; .279/.358/.429; 18 walks; 29 strikeouts.
  • NYY: 14 runs; 28 hits; .214/.295/.321; 15 walks; 31 strikeouts.

  • BOS Four Starters:  7 runs on 18 hits through 20.2 innings pitched for 3.12 ERA.
  • NYY Four Starters: 15 runs on 19 hits through 13.0 innings pitched for 10.38 ERA.


Stick It With Your Analytics ~ Acquire Starting Pitching ~ Stop Striking Out So Damn Much ~ Stick It With Your Analytics ~ Acquire Starting Pitching ~ Stop Striking Out So Damn Much ~ Stick It With Your Analytics ~ Acquire Starting Pitching ~ Stop Striking Out So Damn Much ~ Stick It With Your Analytics ~ Acquire Starting Pitching ~ Stop Striking Out So Damn Much ~ Stick It With Your Analytics ~ Acquire Starting Pitching ~ Stop Striking Out So Damn Much.  Stick It ...



Saturday, October 19, 2019

PIGSKIN 2019: Week Seven


PIGSKIN
FOOTBALL SUNDAY
Week Seven

RESULTS

SCOREBOARD
Week Six Record: 9-3
Overall Record: 39-41
Schmear of the Week: 3-3
Bagels in the Basket:  -2

1st and Ten
  • Patriots and Niners are still undefeated.
  • Bengals lead Dolphins in the race for number one draft pick.
  • Sam "the spleen" Darnold leads Jets to first win.
  • Andy Reid wins game #200 as head coach.
2nd and Long
  • Buffalo: second place never felt so good.
  • Seahawks only five-win team not in first place.
No Gain
  • Pat Mahomes out!
  • Marcus Mariota loses starting quarterback spot to Ryan Tannehill.
  • Browns and Steelers tied for second place with 2-4 records.
PUNT!
  • Jets ruin Jerry Jones' birthday and the Cowboys lose three in a row.
  • Jaguars finally trade Jalen Ramsey to Rams for a haul.

WEEK SEVEN
Friday Line ~ NYDN

GIANTS -3 Cardinals
Time I give my favorite team some love.  I've been picking against the Giants all season.  There is still much to learn from last week's game film against the Patriots.  Let's see if any of it translates into something positive this Sunday.  The Giants have been outscored 24-63 over their last two games while only possessing the ball for a total of 47:44 minutes.  The Vikings held the ball for 32:40 two weeks ago, and the Patriots last week held it for damn near 40-minutes.  Talk about an overbearing tax placed on a young inexperienced defense.  Much of what has transpired over the last two weeks is attributable to injuries sustained by Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, and most notably Saquon Barkley.  Since his thrilling week two performance Daniel Jones has been caught in a downward spiral as a result.  The Giants should finally regain a measure of offensive stability with the return to action this week of Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram.  I'm also very interested in seeing the Daniel Jones/ Darius Slayton connection taking another step forward.
Loss; 27-21 Cardinals

Patriots -10 JETS *Monday
Sam Darnold gets his first crack of the season against the Patriots.  With Luke Falk at the helm New England defeated the Jets in week three at Foxboro where the Patriots held the ball for 35:14 minutes.  Falk was sacked five times and threw one INT.  The Patriots limited Le'Veon Bell that day to 35-yards on 18 rushes.  But the Jets offensive line and the running game have been a problem throughout.  In five games Bell has only rushed for 256-yards on 85 rushes which averages out to 51-yards a game.  Even with Darnold back under center, I do not foresee tangible changes in their performance.  Bell's 50-yards on 14 carries last week against the Cowboys bears that out.  The Jets remain stuck on the tarmac until the offensive line play improves.
WIN; 33-0 Patriots

Texans PK COLTS
This is only the Colts second real home game.  In three victories the Colts outscored their opponents by a mere eleven point margin.  They've lost to the Chargers and Raiders by six, and seven points, respectively.  Texans handled the Chargers at Los Angeles.  They'll handle the Colts at Indy.
Loss; 30-23 Colts

BILLS -16 1/2 Dolphins
Miami will not allow the Bengals to get next year's first overall draft pick.  They're averaging an anemic 8.4 points a game.  They are determined to lose at all costs.  The only question is will the Bills cover.  Buffalo is only averaging 18-points a game.  But the Sea Mammals allow an average of 36-points a game.  That's an 18-point cushion.
Loss; 31-21 Bills

Vikings -1 LIONS
Yeah, why not.  The Vikings are presently hot, and the Lions are not.
WIN; 42-30 Vikings

PACKERS -6 Raiders
That John Gruden is a wily coach, but he doesn't have enough to handle both Aaron Rogers and Green Bay's defense.
WIN; 42-24 Packers

Jaguars -3 BENGALS
Despite a 2-4 record, the Jags have been in every game.  My recommendation is to just stay away.
WIN; 27-17 Jaguars

Rams -3 FALCONS
When it rains it pours, even inside domes.  Atlanta is en route to a coaching change.  Not the least bit impressed by the Rams, though.
WIN; 37-10 Rams

Niners -10 D.C. SNYDERS
Yes ...
Loss; 9-0 Niners

Chargers +2 TITANS
That Titans defense is very solid, but their offense has completely failed them.  Ryan Tannehill is coming out of the bullpen in place of Marcus Mariota.
Loss; 23-20 Titans

Ravens +3 SEAHAWKS
I smell a push ... might as well be on the receiving end.
WIN; 30-16 Ravens

Saints +3 BEARS
Alvin Kamara is out for Sunday's game, but I don't care.  Much more impressed with Teddy Bridgewater and the Saints strength of schedule.  Whether Mitch Trubisky plays also does not concern me.
WIN; 36-25 Saints

Eagles +3 COWBOYS
Go back and look at that Jets game.  I'm sure the Eagles have.
Loss; 37-10 Cowboys



Schmear of the Week: (3-3)
Texans  pk
Loss


Good luck, and have a Happy Football Sunday, everybody!

Post Game
Week Seven Record: 7-6
Overall Record: 46-47
Schmear of the Week: 3-4
Bagels in the Basket:  -4



N.Y. Yankees: The Empire Strikes Back

From the desk of: BLAME CARLOS MAY

Astros lead Yankees; 3-2
I - NYY 7; HOU 0
II - HOU 3; NYY 2
III - HOU 4; NYY 1
IV - HOU 8; NYY 3
V - NYY 4; HOU 1

AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
GAME SIX
New York Yankees 
vs.
Houston Astros
FROM
JUICE BOX PARK

James Paxton Out-Duels Justin Verlander; Yankees Stave Off Elimination; Series Shifts Back to Houston.

Baseball wisdom says in order to achieve success against the game's best pitchers you need to get at them early before they settle in.  On Friday, the Yankees do just that.  D.J. LeMahieu homers on Justin Verlander's second offering of the game.  Four batters later Aaron Hicks' three run home run off the right field foul pole stakes the Yankees to 4-1 first inning lead and final margin of victory.  After which Verlander retires 20 of his next 21 batters faced.  Through the next six innings he allows no runs, no walks, and just one hit with seven strikeouts (nine overall) albeit in a losing effort.

Meanwhile James Paxton's night doesn't start well.  He unleashes a first inning wild pitch permitting George Springer to score from third with the game's opening run.  But after throwing 52 pitches through the first two innings, Paxton settles down to provide the Yankees with much needed length and effectiveness.  He strikeouts out the side in the second, fans two in the fourth, and two more in the fifth, while throwing a more economical 60 pitches over his final four innings.  Overall Paxton allows just one earned run on four hits and one walk with nine strikeouts through six innings full.
  • Per YES Channel post-game, Paxson's 112 pitches were the most this season by a Yankees starter.
Making his seventh appearance in seven post-season games Tommy Kahnle yields a hit and a walk while throwing just eight pitches in the seventh.  Otherwise Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman are perfect over the final 2.2 innings with three strikeouts.

The Yankees generate just five hits, draw no walks, and strikeout ten times.  Aaron Hicks who is limited to just 59 appearances this season with an elbow injury strikes the major blow of the night.  That's not as promising as it sounds as the Yankees still must win two in a row at Houston.  Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez, join forces on 1 for 10 with seven strikeouts.


Thursday, October 17, 2019

N.Y. Rangers: Battle of the Hudson Resumes

From the desks of: 
RAISE GRESCHNER WITH THE GREATS  &  THE BRICK CITY STYX

BATTLE OF THE HUDSON - I
New York Rangers
vs.
New Jersey Devils
FROM
THE ROCK

It's time I welcomed myself to the 93rd season of New York Rangers hockey.  It's also high time the Rangers hoist Ron Greschner's #4 to the rafters!

Thank you very much ...

Even though the front office hastened the rebuild, I enter this season with few expectations.  But, boy, am I a happy camper!  The triumvirate of John Davidson, Jeff Gorton, and David Quinn, along with this collection of young talent, has elevated my enthusiasm to levels not experienced since 1992 (Roger Neilson withstanding).  Sure, they financially capped themselves like a jar of marmalade, but I don't care.  Everyone I want in a blue shirt is present and accounted for right down to Anthony DeAngelo's last minute signing.

DROPPING PUCKS
  • I mean Mika Zibanejad no slight, but I like the idea of entering the season without a captain.  The Rangers are in a good place.  Let some of these players distinguish themselves first.  If everyone takes the ice with the characteristics of a captain in mind then eventually one will materialize.  But make no mistake, Zibanejad has a big fan in me.
  • Henrik Lunqvist's playing time is a big concern.  At this stage of his career perhaps less is more.  Two seasons ago Henrik started 60+ games for the eighth time in his career.  Last season he was limited to 52 starts.  In March he turns 38-years old.  Not one bit do I mind him chasing down career milestones.  In fact, I'm rooting for him.  But closer to the point, I just want Alexandar Georgiev receiving representative minutes in net.
  • What is Chris Kreider still doing here?  He is the last person I expected to survive Gorton's purge.  But since he still dons a blue shirt, how about some consistent play for a change.  If Kreider ever gets his head screwed on straight could be a top forward of the league ... but it isn't, and he's not.

NYR - Kaapo Kakko
(2019 #2 overall draft pick)
vs.
NJD - Jack Hughes
(2019 #1 overall draft pick)


And let us not forget Nico Hischier, the 2017 first overall pick of the 2017 draft.

Point being, the next ten years of metropolitan area hockey is shaping up to be a lot of fun.  Just don't say that too loud.  Newark is off to a ponderous 0-4-2 start, and giving away multiple goal leads like candy on Halloween.  With the return to full duty of Taylor Hall, and the big acquisitions of P.K. Subban and Wayne Simmonds, no one anticipated such a start as this.  All I'll say for now is that coach John Hynes deserves to see this through.


Raise Gresch With The Greats



N.Y. Yankees: Mother Nature Throws Aaron Boone a Change-Up

From the desk of: BLAME CARLOS MAY


GAME CALLED

AMERICAN LEAGUE 
CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
GAME FOUR
Houston Astros
vs.
New York Yankees

Brian Cashman, Aaron Boone, and Mother Nature walk into a bar ...

Aaron Boone's (potential) plan to bullpen his way through game four knowing Thursday would be a travel day is compromised by Mother Nature.  Wednesday's rain-out means the remainder of the ALCS must be played out on consecutive days.  While Aaron Boone gets to pitch his starters on normal rest, he now must act with far more prudence when giving them the hook.  With only four chances to win three games, the spotlight is fixed on Aaron Boone and how efficiently and effectively he utilizes his bullpen going forward.

After six games the bullpen already has more innings pitched than Yankees starters.  Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and Luis Severino, have each made two post-season starts.  They've collectively yielded seven runs through 26.1 innings pitched for a 2.41 ERA, but only average 4.1 innings per start.  Even if you take away Paxton's 2.1 inning effort in game two, the Yankees top three still only average five innings at best.  To date, only Masahiro Tanaka has pitched into the sixth.  Meanwhile the bullpen boasts a 2.23 ERA through 28.2 innings pitched.

Adam Ottavino has appeared in all six playoff games; Zack Britton and Tommy Kahnle are next in with five appearances each.  Meanwhile J.A. Happ has been nothing short of a liability.  It's no wonder Aaron Boone has only called his name twice through six games.  Makes me wonder which left-hander Boone will trust more in a big situation: C.C. Sabathia or J.A. Happ.

On a related front, Brian Cashman's failure to land a pitcher at the trade deadline was just about coming to pass when the rains hit early Wednesday afternoon.  Had Wednesday's game been played and the Yankees lost, Cashman would surely have been brought to task.  He escapes that criticism, for now, with help from Mother Nature.

But, boy, she really did stick it to Aaron Boone.


Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Amazin' Date: 10/16/1969: New York Mets Are World Series Champions

From the desk of: HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET
AMAZIN'
THE MIRACLE METS
50th ANNIVERSARY

1969
WORLD SERIES
GAME FIVE
Orioles    3
Mets        5
FINAL
SHEA STADIUM

WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS
NEW YORK METS

From National League welcome mat to world series champion, eight years into their existence the New York Metropolitans are best in all the land.  An amazing baseball journey piloted by Gil Hodges lands softly in the waiting glove of left fielder Cleon Jones on this historic Autumn afternoon at Shea Stadium.
If you want something done, sometimes you have to do it yourself.  Just ask Dave McNally.  With Orioles hitters mired in an awful slump, Baltimore's starting pitcher opens the scoring in the third inning with a two-run home run.  Two outs later Frank Robinson follows suit with his second home run of the series and first since game one, giving the Birds a 3-0 lead.  McNally makes it stand through the fifth.

Leading off the bottom half of the sixth, Cleon Jones appears to get hit with a pitch on his back foot.  However, home plate umpire Lou DiMuro sees it differently.  Both Jones and on deck batter Donn Clendenon protest DiMuro's call to no avail until manager Gil Hodges emerges from the dugout with a baseball bearing black shoe polish.  DiMuro inspects the ball and awards Cleon Jones first base to the great dismay of Orioles manager Earl Weaver.  Clendenon then steps in the box and deposits McNally's fifth offering into the loge section in left field.  It's Clendenon's third home run of the series.  In the seventh Al Weis homers off McNally tying the game at three.

With Eddie Watt in to pitch the eighth in relief of McNally, Cleon Jones leads off with a double off the left/center field wall.  After Clendenon is retired, Ron Swoboda doubles home Jones.  With two outs, Jerry Grote bounces to first.  However, Boog Powell mishandles the play and Watt does not cleanly handle the toss from Powell.  In the meantime Swoboda scampers home making it a 5-3 Mets lead.  Both Watt and Powell are charged with errors on the play.

Leading off the top half of the ninth Jerry Koosman issues a base on balls to Frank Robinson, then retires the next three batters in order.  Cleon Jones secures the final out in left field and the miracle is complete.

Ecstatic fans pour onto the field in jubilant celebration.

Jerry Koosman goes the distance, allowing three earned runs on five hits and just one walk with five strikeouts en route to his second victory of the series.  Don Clendenon captures World Series MVP honors, starting four of five games and going 5 for 14 (.357) with a double, three home runs, and four runs batted in.




Thank you for following my replay of the 1969 season.

Happy Anniversary, guys!

#LGM



N.Y. Yankees: Astros Pitching Short Circuiting Bomber Bats

From the desk of: BLAME CARLOS MAY


AMERICAN LEAGUE 
CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
ASTROS LEAD YANKEES; 2-1
I - NYY 7; HOU 0
II - HOU 3; NYY 2
III - HOU 4; NYY 1

GAME FOUR
Houston Astros
vs.
New York Yankees
FROM
BRONX COUNTY

Having now faced Houston's big three, the Yankees trail the ALCS (1-2) with two games left to play at Yankee Stadium.  Baring a pinstriped implosion this series is heading back to Houston where the Yankees in game one score seven runs on 13 hits against Zack Greinke.  However, New York's momentum at the plate only carries them as far as the next game's opposing pitcher.  In game two Justin Verlander and five Astros relievers join in limiting the Yankees to six hits and a pair of runs.  On Tuesday Gerrit Cole and a trio of relievers yield just one run on five hits.  That's three runs on eleven hits for the Yankees over their last two games.  Not very Bomber like, save for Gleyber Torres.
  • Gary Sanchez: 1 for 13 (.077); six strikeouts; and presently a defensive liability.

Game four strikes me as a coin flip.  Each manager has limited pitching options and none seem terribly promising.  The tentative plan is to bring Tanaka back on short rest.  Plan B would be to bullpen the game.  There's always C.C. Sabathia.  Or just pray for rain.

For what it's worth, Paxton would be on his bullpen day three days after being yanked from game two after allowing an earned run on four hits and two walks with three strikeouts in just 2.1 innings pitched.

Meanwhile the Astros appear only slightly more well off handing the ball to Wade Miley.  This all remains to be determined.  But it sure looks like game four is building up to be a hitter's game.

Famous last words ...

Which ever team wins game four I believe seizes the advantage.  Houston, obviously, because they'll have three opportunities to win one game.  But if the Yankees should take game four, Masahiro Tanaka is in line for game five.  Tanaka pitches brilliantly against the Twins, and more so in game one at Houston in which he allows the Astros just one hit and one walk, with four strikeouts through six scoreless innings pitched.

Rewind back to the final weeks and days of June.  Brian Cashman turns his back on what he believes to be a rigged trade market, electing instead to hold his ground.  Luis Severino perhaps plays a part in Cashman's decision.  But we just witnessed the consequences of his decisions in game three and now leading into game four.  It's clear Severino is nowhere near mid-season form, much less ALCS ready.  But in lieu of pitching upgrades, this is precisely why Brian Cashman acquires Edwin Encarnacion ...

... to win game four.


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Amazin' Date 10/15/1969: Tom Seaver Goes Ten In Game Four Victory

From the desk of: HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET
AMAZIN'
THE MIRACLE METS
50th ANNIVERSARY

1969
WORLD SERIES
GAME FOUR
Orioles   1
Mets       2
10 INNINGS
SHEA STADIUM

TOM SEAVER TEN INNING GEM LIFTS METS TO 3-1 SERIES LEAD OVER BIRDS

The unflappable Gil Hodges and his amazin' Mets are one victory away from clinching baseball's world championship.
In a rematch of game one, Tom Seaver toes the rubber at Shea Stadium opposed by Baltimore's Mike Cuellar.  If you recall it was Seaver making an early exit from the series opener at Baltimore, and Cuellar going the distance for the win.  This time it is Cuellar making an untimely exit while Seaver pitches triumphantly through the tenth.

Also getting his second look at Cuellar is Donn Clendenon who goes 2 for 4 with a double in game one.  On Wednesday leading off the second Donn hits his second home run in his last three games.  Cuellar exits after seven innings having yielded the lone run on seven hits and no walks with five strikeouts in a no-decision effort.  Meanwhile the score remains unchanged through eight.  With one out in the top half of the ninth Tom Seaver yields consecutive singles to Frank Robinson and Boog Powell.  Then with runners on the corners Brooks Robinson strokes a low sinking liner to right field.  Ron Swoboda racing furiously to his right makes a full extension backhanded diving catch for the out.  Frank Robinson tags and scores the tying run from third.  But anything less than Swoboda's amazing catch means that ball bounces all the way to the wall.  Seaver then fans Elrod Henricks ending the threat.

Into extra-innings they go ...

Manager Hodges sends his ace back out for the tenth inning.  Tom Seaver obliges with another scoreless frame.  Leading off the bottom half of the inning against Orioles reliever Dick Hall, Jerry Grote flares an excuse me double up along the left field line.  Al Weis is intentionally walked, and the Orioles then summon reliever Pete Richert.  Pinch-hitting for Seaver, J.C. Martin pushes a bunt up along the first base side.  Richert fields it, but his attempted throw to first hits Martin.  Pinch-runner Rod Gaspar rounds third and when the ball gets away he hustles home scoring the winning run.

Tom Seaver puts forth New York's third straight dominant performance against a seemingly over matched Baltimore lineup.  He faces 38 batters, allowing just one earned run on six hit and two walks with six strikeouts through ten full innings pitched.  The Mets have now limited Baltimore to just a pair of runs and twelves hits over their last three games.  New York's defense also should not go under spoken.  Superlative glove work from Tommie Agee, Bud Harrelson, Cleon Jones, and Ron Swoboda, no doubt have had a deflating effect upon Orioles hitters.



N.Y. Giants: Danny Downer Needs a Lift

From the desk of: DO IT FOR THE DUKE

Downward Daniel

WEEK SIX
Giants      14
Patriots    24
FINAL

Like I say, you can't be disappointed with what you do not expect.  Of course New England was going to pose a huge problem.  Did you think otherwise?  The defending Super Bowl champions are the measure of all teams, after all.  That being said, it's still nice knowing how well Big Blue stacks up against the best ... or not.

Now we know.

Dave Gettleman still has lots of work to do.  I'll leave it at that.

In the meantime Daniel Jones needs to study last Thursday's game film for the rest of the season.  The more he understands what happened to him the better off the Giants will be.  Just one sack, but three interceptions - that's what Bill Belichick does to young quarterbacks.  With eight other QB hits Daniel Jones was under duress and sufficiently confused.  The numbers prove that out: 15/31 for 161 yards, with 64-yards coming on a touchdown connection with Golden Tate.  Take away that play and Jones goes 14/30 (46%) for 97 yards.  That's a hard lesson.

Through four starts Daniel Jones is 82/136 (60%) for 904 yards, with five touchdowns and six interceptions.  Two touchdowns come in his first start.  Three interceptions occur last week.

Since his starting debut against Tampa, Daniel's attempts, yards per game, and completion percentage, have fallen incrementally over his last three games.  He now needs a performance that bucks these trends.

The Giants next host the Arizona Cardinals; a manageable opponent.


Monday, October 14, 2019

N.Y. Jets: Gang Spleen Finally Takes Flight

From the desk of: WALT MICHAELS' REVENGE

Cowboys  22
Jets           24
FINAL

Sam, I am, and despite my ponderous mononucleosis I am the man..!

Darnold leads the Jets to their first victory of the season with a heart matching the size of his swollen spleen.  He doesn't just beat the Dallas Cowboys, he befuddles them, eluding the rush and completing rather miraculous passes.  Darnold finds Jamison Crowder and Robby Anderson eleven times for 233 yards and a 92-yard touchdown play.  He connects with Ryan Griffin for another.  In all he targets six different receivers not named Le'Veon Bell.  Sure he threw an INT, but who cares!  Sam completes 23/32 (72%) attempts for 338 yards in his first game back.  He even makes the offensive line look good.  Behind them, Bell rushes 14 times for just 50 yards.  But Sam is only sacked twice (by Robert Quinn), and sustains just two other hits.  The extra time allows Sam to generate almost as much total yardage as Dallas in 21 fewer plays from scrimmage.
  • PROBLEM: Just 56 yards on the ground, and 2/12 on third down conversions.
  • QUESTION: Why isn't Bilal Powell being utilized more?

Much to my surprise coach Gregg Williams undermanned defense turns back the NFL's top offense.  They generate just one sack, but get in eight QB hits.  They yield 105 yards on 28 rushes by Ezekiel Elliott.  But with Amari Cooper hurt, the Jets coverage is blanket.  Tavon Austin leads all Dallas receivers with five receptions and 64 yards.  Dak Prescott throws no touchdowns.  And of course, there is Gang Green's decisive goal line stand.

It's not often teams get to defeat the Cowboys on Jerry Jones' birthday.

A job well done ...

Next Up: the New England Patriots.


Amazin' Date 10/14/1969: Tommie Agee and Gary Gentry Star in Game Three Victory Over Birds

From the desk of: HEAD-BUTTING MR.MET
AMAZIN'
THE MIRACLE METS
50th ANNIVERSARY

1969
WORLD SERIES
GAME THREE
Baltimore Orioles    0
New York Mets        5
FINAL
SHEA STADIUM

METS WIN FIRST EVER WORLD SERIES GAME AT SHEA STADIUM; TAKE 2-1 LEAD OVER BIRDS.

TOMMY AGEE TAKES FOOD FROM THE BIRDS
Six months after crushing perhaps the most majestic home run of his career, Tommie Agee puts forth arguably the greatest performance of his career in game three of the World Series at Shea Stadium.  The Mets lead-off batter puts New York on the board straightaway when he deposits Jim Palmer's fourth offering of the game far beyond the center field wall for a prompt 1-0 New York lead.  His domination of game three continues not at the plate, but in the field.  With two outs and runners on the corners in the fourth, Agee races far to his right making a running backhand stab of Elrod Hendrick's deep fly to left/center field.  Then with two outs and the bases loaded in the seventh, Tommie Agee this time runs far to his left punching the palm of his glove twice before making a remarkable diving catch of Paul Blair's liner hit towards the right/center field gap.

Mets starter Gary Gentry helps his own cause in the second inning with a two-out double scoring Jerry Grote and Bud Harrelson giving the Mets a 3-0 lead.  Jerry Grote's run scoring double in the sixth, and Ed Kranepool's home run in the eighth give the Mets a 5-0 final margin of victory.

Gary Gentry limits the Birds to just three hits through 6.2 scoreless innings pitched, with five walks and four strikeouts.  Nolan Ryan fans three while yielding just one hit through 2.1 scoreless innings in relief of Gentry.  In taking a 2-1 series lead, Mets pitchers have limited the Orioles to just one run on six hits over their last two games.

Game Four Starters: Mike Cuellar (23-11; 2.38) vs. Tom Seaver (25-7; 2.21)



Sunday, October 13, 2019

Brooklyn Tip Tops Inaugural 1914 Season Draws to a Close

From the desk of: THE BROOKLYN BAKERS NINE


SEASON FINALE
Brooklyn Tip Tops
vs.
Baltimore Terrapins
FROM
TERRAPIN PARK

GAME ONE VICTORY AT LEAST SECURES A .500 FINISH
Brooklyn wins their penultimate game of the season.  The Tip Tops overcome a two run deficit with a six run outburst in the fifth en route to their 77th victory of the season.  Making his 42nd and final start of the season, Ed Lafitte improves to 18-15 with a representative 2.63 ERA.  Left fielder George Anderson, center fielder Al Shaw, and first baseman Solly Hofman each drive in two runs apiece.

THREE FINGER BROWN TAKES LOSS IN SEASON FINALE
The Tip Tops are held scoreless in their season finale.  Baltimore starter Kaiser Wilhelm limits Brooklyn to just seven hits and no walks with seven strikeouts in a complete game shutout effort.  Mordecai Brown, the 37-year old former National League great, concludes a strong finish with Brooklyn.  He allows Baltimore just one earned run on eight hits and three walks with three strikeouts through eight innings.  The Miner finishes the season 14-13 with a 3.52 ERA.
INAUGURAL SEASON
77-77 (.500)
WASHINGTON PARK

THE SEASON

After opening their inaugural season on the road, on Monday, May 11, Kings County gets its first glimpse of the borough's newest baseball enterprise.  The Tip Tops take the field in front of 15,000 fans at refurbished Washington Park where they are whitewashed by the visiting Pittsburgh Stogies on Opening Day.  Onlookers are left pondering what's so new and unique about that, after all, the nearby Superbas lose games all the time.  But Gowanas locals are soon treated to their first alternative circuit victory on Thursday, May 14, with a 4-1 decision over the St. Louis Terriers.

What follows is something as weird, wild, and wondrous, as any summer side show at Coney Island.  There are odd and curious times to be had at Washington Park, for sure.

The Tip Tops are under performers for much of the spring months.  And by the end of June they're in sixth place with a 25-32 record, nine games out of first place.  On Independence Day they win their third straight over Buffalo.  One week later upwards of 30,000 cranks packing Washington Park witness the home Feds sweep a twin bill from the Pittsburgh Stogies.  Brooklyn goes on to post a stellar 21-8 record in July.  Moreover, from July 16 through Aug. 20, the Tip Tops remain anchored no more than 4.5 games out of first place, at one point closing to within 1.5 games.  That is until they arrive at Indianapolis on Aug. 21, for a pivotal six game showdown against the first place Hoosiers.  Indianapolis rolls to a series sweep sending Brooklyn on their way one game under .500 and 8.5 games out of first place.  The Tip Tops exercise one last measure of resilience winning seven in a row.  On September 12, they again close to within three games of first place.  But they can not sustain, and begin a sure and methodical descent down the Federal League ranks.  As the calendar changes to October the Tips Tops are officially eliminated from title contention.

The Brooklyn Tip Tops finish the season at par with a 77-77 record.  However, they play .500 or better against all league opponents with the exception of two: Joe Tinker's second place Chicago ChiFeds, and the pennant winning Indianapolis Hoosiers, against whom they post a combined 12-32 (.272) record.  And therein lies the discrepancy in their final standing, as Brooklyn otherwise posts a 65-45 (.591) against all other competition.

THE MANAGER

Brooklyn secures well respected Bill Bradley as their player/manager.  Back in baseball after a three year absence the 36-year old former Cleveland Indians third baseman limits himself to just six pinch-hit appearances all season.  As a rookie in 1899 with the Chicago Cubs he bats .310 in 129 at-bats.  In 1901 he jumps to the Cleveland Indians of the upstart American League where he spends the next ten seasons.  In 1902 he bats .340 (the first of three straight .300 seasons) with 11 home runs and 77 runs batted in.

THE TEAM

A renown glove man as a player, manager Bill Bradley can only watch in dismay as the Tip Tops commit the league's second most errors and tie for worst fielding percentage.  This is made all the more ponderous by the pennant clinching Hoosiers whom lead the league in both categories.

But whereas Indianapolis posts a second best 3.06 ERA, Brooklyn posts a 3.33 team ERA which is sufficiently below league average.  This, despite yielding the second least home runs.  Otherwise it can be said Tip Top pitchers were out of control, surrendering a league high 559 base on balls, and  plunking a league high 52 batters, while striking out the third least batters.

Right-hander Tom Seaton is Brooklyn's ace.  In 1913 his 27 victories and 168 strikeouts lead the National League.  But after spending two seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies he jumps to the Federal League nearly tripling his salary.  In his first season with the Tip Tops the 26-year old goes 25-14 with a 3.03 ERA, and 172 strikeouts through 302.2 innings pitched.  He ties for third most wins, and finishes fourth in strikeouts.

Before joining the Tip Tops, Ed Lafitte pitches parts of three seasons with the Detroit Tigers.  But it's the 1914 season which essentially marks his first full campaign as a big league starter.  The 28-year old goes 18-15 with a ninth best 2.63 ERA.  His 137 strikeouts through 290.2 innings are eleventh best.  He also owns the distinction of issuing a league high 127 walks.

After eleven seasons National League great Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown jumps to the St. Louis Terriers.  Prior to his arrival in the Federal League, Brown posts six straight 20-win seasons as a member of the Chicago Cubs.  In 1906 he leads the National league with a 1.04 ERA and nine shutouts.  In 1909 he leads the league with 27 victories and 342.2 innings pitched.  And from 1908 through 1911 he also leads the league with 32 saves.  At 37-years of age, the Miner posts a 12-6 record and 3.29 ERA in 26 appearances and 175 innings pitched for the Terriers.  In late August Brown is acquired by Brooklyn.  He makes his first appearance in a Sept. 2 loss at Buffalo.  The Tip Tops are 58-57 at the time, and 7.5 games back of first.  The team does well to close within three games of first by Sept. 12, however, Brown is largely ineffective when they need him most.  His stint with Brooklyn takes a turn towards the positive with the onset of October but only after they're eliminated from contention.  He posts a 2-5 record and 4.21 ERA with 32 strikeouts through nine appearances and 57.2 innings pitched as a member of the Tip Tops.

At the plate, Brooklyn makes one think what could have been, as they boast the second most potent lineup in the league.
  • Runs: #2 (662)
  • Hits: #2 (1,402)
  • Home Runs: #2 (42)
  • Total Bases: #2 (1,923)
  • Team AVG: #2 (.269)
  • Team SLG: #2 (.383)
  • Stolen Bases: #3 (220)

After five seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, Steve Evans jumps to the BrookFeds where he becomes their leading hitter.  At 29-years of age the lefty swinging right fielder enjoys his finest season, finishing second in the batting race with a .348 average.  He posts a league leading 15 triples and .556 slugging percentage.  He is also second with 41 doubles, and second with 96 runs batted in, and his twelve home runs rank third.

Al Shaw has a brief three year career between 1907 and 1909 with the St. Louis Cardinals.  After a four year absence from the game, he returns to roam center field for the Tip Tops.  An early season injury keeps him out of action for more than three weeks.  But the now 33-year old returns to bat .324, with 27 doubles, five home runs, 49 runs batted in, a representative .473 slugging average, and 24 stolen bases.

First baseman Solly Hofman enjoys a career season in 1910 while with the Chicago Cubs, batting .325 with 43 extra-base hits and 86 runs batted in.  But after eleven seasons with the Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates, Hofman jumps leagues.  Now 31-years old, Solly plays in a career high 147 games for Brooklyn, batting .287 with 42 extra-base hits, 83 runs batted in, and 34 stolen bases.

THE LOCALS

The Tip Tops season slightly surpasses that of the neighboring Brooklyn Robins whom in their second season at new Ebbets Field and their first campaign under manager Wilbert Robinson finish the 1914 National League season with a 75-79 (.487) record.  In fact, the Tip Tops even outperform the nine year old New York Yankees who finish in sixth place of the American League with a 70-84 (.455) record.  Only John McGraw's New York Giants enjoy a better season, finishing in second place of the senior circuit with an 84-70 (.545) record.

THE PARK

WASHINGTON PARK IV
COMMEMORATIVE PLAQUE NOW!


Saturday, October 12, 2019

Amazin' Date 10/12/1969: Al Weis and Jerry Koosman Lift Mets to Game Two Victory at Baltimore

From the desk of: HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET
AMAZIN'
THE MIRACLE METS
50th ANNIVERSARY

1969
WORLD SERIES
GAME TWO
New York Mets     2
Baltimore Orioles  1
FINAL
MEMORIAL STADIUM

Mets Draw Even With The Birds on Jerry Koosman's Gem
Baltimore's Dave McNally and Jerry Koosman duel to a one all tie through eight innings in game two Sunday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.  Donn Clendenon connects on a long home run to right off McNally in the fourth.  Jerry Koosman's bid for a no-hitter is broken up by Paul Blair's base hit leading off the seventh.  Brooks Robinson similarly ruins Koosman's bid for a shutout with a game tying single scoring Blair.  With two outs in the top of the ninth, Orioles manager Earl Weaver allows McNally to yield three straight hits from the bottom of the Mets line-up.  Ed Charles and Jerry Grote slash consecutive singles to left.  Al Weis then plates Charles with the go-ahead run on yet another base hit to left.  With two outs in the last half of the ninth, Koosman issues consecutive base on balls to Frank Robinson and Boog Powell.  Gil Hodges then emerges from the dugout summoning Ron Taylor from the bullpen, who induces Brooks Robinson into a game ending ground ball to third.  Jerry Koosman earns the first ever World Series victory in Mets history, allowing just one run on two hits and three walks with four strikeouts. 

The series now shifts to Shea Stadium, Queens, for game three.  Baltimore's Jim Palmer and Gary Gentry are Tuesday's scheduled starters.
Mrs. Babe Ruth throws out the ceremonial first pitch.