Well, as I said earlier in the year, one of the advantages of jumping out to a big lead is you can withstand a smack to the face.
Just imagine if the Tigers and Yankees split last weekend and the Red Sox only won 3 out of 4... it would be a 3 game lead. The Red Sox lead hasn't been that small since April 26. The Yankees haven't been only 3 games out since they lost in Fenway on April 21.
But they aren't. It's a 5 game lead going into Labor Day weekend. The sweep stunk... but in 1999 with the Yankees ahead of the Red Sox in the standings, the Red Sox came into Yankee Stadium and swept them, including a wild game on September 11th where the Sox won 11-10 and cut the lead to a mere 3 1/2 games.
I figured out it would take a great Giants run, a Diamonbacks flop and the Padres, Dodgers and Rockies playing mediocre ball.
Well, look what's happened since! They have gone on a 5 game winning streak! They've won 10 of their last 12. In fact if the Giants held onto a 1-0 9th inning lead last Tuesday and won an extra inning game the next day... the Giants would have won 12 straight!
Neither the Padres, Rockies nor Dodgers have had an overwhelming week and the D'Backs have been hovering at .500.
Who knows? He witnessed the 1951 comeback! Maybe I should listen to my dad!
I admit I am a classic Yankee hater. I'm not someone who hates Yankee fans just because for their team, but I do enjoy watching the Yankees lose.
Sometimes too much.
And I enjoy thinking about Yankee fans squirming.
Maybe it came from living in New York for 15 years and getting it from the Yankee fans... hearing the 19-18 chant, the "Who's Your Daddy?" and all of that B.S.
Yankee fans now claim they were classier all of these years. Funny, I guess I kept bumping into the few arrogant classless fans by a fluke all those 15 years.
Last night's loss was the kind that I can't turn my head away from... like watching the latest news about Lindsay Lohan or a show counting down the best TV shows of the 80s... I don't like to admit it, but I'm hooked.
And I'm equally hooked at reading the articles this morning of doom and gloom. It's fun to see the Yankees squirm. And squirm they did!
Mike Mussina was pitching for his career and needed to be a horse. Now the Yankees are trying to work out a deal with a glue factory.
It was a fascinating blowout... one where Mussina let up 6 runs in 3 innings and you get the sense he was lucky it was that few. Melky Cabrera's first inning running catch saved what could have been an inside the park grand slam.
I heard the first part of the game on my XM where Rudy Guiliani visited the Tigers booth (and the Tigers announcer kept calling him Governor Guiliani)... and Rudy couldn't even mask his disgust of the team.
Torre put out the human white flag, Sean Henn, to close out the game... and then 8 hits, 5 walks and 9 runs later, had to take HIM out. I guess out of pity.
It was a game where the Yankee hater in me got pleasure in seeing their offense sputter and their pitching staff letting up pumpkins.
In a way, this was the best way for the Yankees to lose going into the Red Sox series... they didn't need to use Rivera or Chamberlain and they were humiliated to the point where you know they will come up big tonight.
I still don't care. It was great to watch.
I watched the second half of the game at my gym. I had it on a TV and someone asked me if I was watching the game. I said "Yes!" with the same intensity of someone watching their favorite show.
... the only guy to play in both the 1975 and 1986 World Series... not to mention the 1988 and 1990 playoffs... who had the best cannon the Red Sox ever had in right field... and on June 23, 1990, with me and some of my friends sitting with the best Fenway seats we ever had, hit a 2 out, come from behind 2 run bottom of the tenth homer to win the game off of Gregg Olson...
When did the White Sox become an easier opponent than the Devil Rays?
When did the White Sox become worse than the Royals?
Last August 14th, the White Sox were the defending World Champions on a 5 game winning streak and a 71-46 record. They were behind the Tigers in the division race, but on pace to win 98 games and the Wild Card. And with Jim Thome making the lineup stronger and their deep pitching staff... they seemed a good bet to repeat as World Champs.
What happened? They went 19-26 the rest of the way, finished 3rd behind the Division Champion Twins and the eventual pennant winning Tigers.
But they still had a respectable 90-72 record and looked like contenders this year. I even picked them to win the Wild Card.
Now? The fans are wearing bags on their heads. They are on pace to be a 90 loss team. When your lineup and rotation get old at the same time... it can be ugly.
So what now?
I thought GM Kenny Williams was going to make a bunch of trades... thinking "We got the best we could out of this group, so let's get younger before we become the Orioles or Giants!"
And then went on to make no trades and sign his players to extensions. Maybe Kenny is thinking this year was a fluke... the way 2006 saw the Indians take a huge step back, only to spring forward with a big 2007.
Maybe he sees that Buehrle, Vazquez and Garland are still under 30 and Bobby Jenks has developed into a solid closer and with that kind of young pitching... you might have one more shot at it.
I hope this doesn't mean the end for Ozzie Guillen. Baseball needs managers like Ozzie... a touch crazy, throwing the book out the window and calling up sports talk shows swearing like Tony Montana.
Give him another year, Kenny! He may call into a few more shows!
These are indeed the times that try men's souls... if you are a Cubs fan.
These last few years have been karmically cruel for the North Siders.
Let's start with 2003... what should have been one of the great magical seasons for the Cubs. In a tense 3 team battle (with no hope for the Wild Card) the Cubs are in third place in early September. They rattled off 6 straight wins, putting the St. Louis Cardinals in their rear view mirror but still trailed the Astros with 7 games to play. The Cubs rattle off 5 wins in 6 games, including a double header sweep on the second to last day of the season to win the division.
They then stun the Braves in the Division Series and ran up a 3-1 lead in the NLCS to the seemingly overmatched Marlins.
My Red Sox went into Chicago with the bats looking alarmingly dead the last game against Tampa Bay.
Then in 2 days, the Red Sox blew out the White Sox 3 times in their own building by a combined score of 35-6. Granted, that offensive outburst was not Texas Rangers-esque... but it's nice to see Papi homering, the pitchers shutting everyone down and no nail biting in the 9th.
Hell, Papelbon hasn't pitched in the series. And with Tavarez, no longer an alien in his skin, pitching tomorrow, it's nice to have the whole bullpen ready for a potential 4 game sweep before heading into the Bronx.
...the native New England Hall of Famer whose free agency was caused because someone in the Red Sox front office forgot to mail him a contract... who actually played more years in Chicago than in Boston... but will be immortalized by his 12th inning shot in the 1975 World Series... and whose number is retired by both the Red Sox and White Sox...
So the Tigers and Yankees were delayed 4 hours by rain on a Friday. The Yankees will be in Detroit on Saturday and Sunday, so lots of opportunity to reschedule the game as a double header.
So naturally what happened? They played the game last night! First pitch at 11PM. I heard on XM that baseball wants to avoid double headers.
Um... OK. So it makes sense to play a Yankee/Tiger game where you eliminate the New York and Detroit television markets?
You play a game wayyyy past Roger Clemens bed time?
It served them right that it was an extra inning game. I was hoping it would go 19 innings and they'd be playing at dawn.
When Carlos Guillen homered to end the game, it was 3:30 AM. Always a good time to have a lot of people loaded on beer to drive home in Detroit.
How is that better than a double header?
Here's a good rule to live by: If you are going to start something at 11PM, and it doesn't involve someone dressed as Dr. Frank N Furter and a live performance of "Let's Do The Time Warp Again"... then postpone it until the next day.
... whose 5 combined shut out innings in game 4, 5 and 6 of the ALCS were the most underrated heroics of the 2004 playoffs... who was kind enough to blow a series clinching save AGAINST the Red Sox when he was with the A's in 2003... who basically ended his career with his heroics in 2004... and gave us the highlight we waited our whole lives for, a World Series victory...
I picked the Los Angeles California Angels of Anaheim in Orange County to win the World Series... and the way they beat both the Red Sox and Yankees recently makes it look like a solid pick.
However the Wild Card leading Seattle Mariners somehow someway has tied the Angels in the loss column!
With a big 3 game series next week between the two teams looming next week, it's time for me to figure out what team to root for.
First Criteria: Which city's fans have suffered more? Seattle, a city of half a million, has not had a champion since the 1979 Supersonics.
Anaheim, a suburb of Los Angeles, has been home to a World Series champion and a Stanley Cup champion this decade...
While the fans have to suffer having a hockey team named after an Emilio Estevez movie, it's not so bad because nobody there follows hockey.
Second Criteria: Which team had more superstars play in their prime there? Nolan Ryan had his best years there, including 4 no hitters.
Rod Carew also had some great years in Anaheim (but none that would match his 1977 MVP season with the Twins).
Vlad Guerrero is putting up great numbers there (but then again he also put up great numbers for more years in Montreal!)
Most of the Angels stars have been solid players (Don Baylor, Bobby Grich, Garret Anderson, Troy Glaus) or stars who had better years for other clubs (Reggie Jackson, Fred Lynn, Lee Smith, Bob Boone.)
Has there been a trio of recent superstar teammates in their prime better than A-Rod, Junior and Big Unit?
Third Criteria: Which team has the cooler manager
Mike Scioscia is quietly putting together a resume with some more years, a few more division titles and another Championship might be Hall of Fame worthy.
I would know who Seattle's John McLaren was if he came up to me and said "Hi, I'm John McLaren."
He replaced Mike Hargrove who suddenly quit in the middle of a winning streak. It's too bad he's no longer there. He was hosed when Cleveland fired him
Fourth Criteria: Stranger left handed starter
The Mariners had 6'10" freak of nature Randy Johnson who can destroy a bird with his fastball. One of the great pitchers of all time. The Angels had Jim Abbott. He had one hand! And went straight from college to the majors... and won 18 games for the Angels... later he threw a no hitter with the Yankees.
I know he was only an All Star for a few years... but remind yourself... HE HAD ONE HAND!
Fifth Criteria: Which team has given this Yankee hater more pleasure in October?The 1995 Division Series was one of the best post season series ever. And it ended on the 11th inning when Edgar Martinez drove in the tying and winning runs. While I know some Yankee fans still lament that series (Mainly for Don Mattingly, whose Ringless career ended with Griffey sliding across home plate), the loss lead to the hiring of Joe Torre. Oh yeah the Yankees came back to beat the Mariners in the 2000 and 2001 ALCS.
Meanwhile the Angels beat the Yankees in the 2002 and 2005 playoffs... two of the most shocking defeats of the Joe Torre era. Also the Angels are the only team to have a winning record against the Torre Yankees. Bliss for the Yankee hater.
Sixth Criteria: Which team had a more embarassing cap?
The Mariner trident was cool, but the star around it was silly. The Angels cap from the late 1990s early 2000s with the wings is one of the all time worst.
SLIGHT ADVANTAGE: MARINERS
Seventh Criteria: Which team was better represented in The Naked Gun? The climax of The Naked Gun took place when Queen Elizabeth joined Riccardo Montalban at an Angels/Mariners game. Read that sentence again to appreciate the genius of the first Naked Gun movie.
Reggie Jackson made an appearance as the mind controlled assassin (again... genius) while the only real ballplayer on the Mariners was Jay Johnstone, who never even played for the Mariners.
Strangely, they shot the scenes at Dodger Stadium instead of Anaheim. Why not drive to Anaheim or make it a Dodger game?
Seven criteria and still no winner.
Time for a COMPLETELY ARBITRARY TIE BREAKER!!!!
The Angels new name is stupid! Until you figure out where you are from, call yourself the California Angels.
THE WINNER: THE MARINERS!!!
So I'll be rooting for the Mariner Moose over the Rally Monkey! Disneyland over Grunge Rock!
But truth be told, the Yankee hater in me wants them both in the playoffs!
The Red Sox aren't playing either of them for the rest of the season... GO MARINERS IN HEAD TO HEAD GAMES... GO ANGELS AND MARINERS FOR THE PLAYOFFS!
Have you ever heard of Travis Metcalf? Me neither, and I follow baseball pretty closely.
Evidently he is a part time rookie third baseman for the Rangers. And going into today's double header, he wasn't exactly a candidate for Rookie of the Year.
Batting .230, 1 HR, 6 RBI in 100 ABs. Today?
Well in the insane 30 run thrashing, he hit an 8th inning grand slam off of Orioles pinata Rob Bell, doubling his career total to 2.
In the nightcap, where the Orioles held the Rangers to a mere 9 runs, Metcalf went 2 for 3, driving in 2 runs in the second on a double, a run on a sac fly in the fourth and then tied the game in the 8th and scored in the winning rally.
His stats jumped to .250, 2 HR and 14 RBI.
How remarkable a jump in one day's stats is that? In order to put that in perspective, for Alex Rodriguez to have his average spike by 20 points in one day, his home run totals double and RBIs increase the same rate as Metcalf... A Rod would have to go 42 for 99 in one day, have all 42 hits be home runs and drive in 161.3 RBI.
Impressive numbers... but against the Orioles today? Quite possible. Maybe I should pick up Travis for my fantasy team.
Dave Trembley was signed on to be the Orioles manager through 2008 today... and his team rewarded him by taking the biggest ass whuppin' since the 19th century.
30 to 3 was the final.
And get your arms loose, boys! It's only game one of a double header.
The game has only been over for about 20 minutes, but I have some initial thoughts:
1. It's the biggest ass whuppin since Chicago beat Louisville... in 1897 The American League didn't exist yet. Amelia Earhart and George Gershwin weren't born yet. Brahams was still alive. That's a HISTORICAL asswhuppin'
2. It was the first game of a double header which means several starters, including Sammy Sosa, Gerald Laird and Brad Wilkerson were resting for game 2. I wonder if there was any pressure on them to top the game 1 score.
3. The Orioles were up 3-0, so technically this was a "Come from behind" win. A genuine nailbiter.
4. It was quite a day for players picked up at trade deadline deals for the Rangers. Jarrod Saltalamacchia (and yes, I looked up how to spell that name) who was picked up in the Teixeria trade, went 4-6 with 2 homers, 5 runs scored and 7 runs batted in. Former Red Sox David Murphy went 5 for 7 and raised his average to .550. (I am predicting it will go down.) Kason Gabbard, also picked from the Red Sox for Gagne, got the win. Safe to say, he enjoyed his run support.
5. If you can believe it, someone got a save for this game! Wes Littleton pitched the last 3 innings, which does indeed qualify as a save. Not exactly a pressure packed save you'd have to admit. I'm sure he wasn't quaking on the mound in the 9th thinking "I got to hold these guys to 26 runs!"
6. Two guys hit grand slams... two guys drove in 7 runs each... two more drove in 4... two guys hit 2 homers... and every run was earned.
7. The Good teammate award goes to Paul Shuey. The one time second overall draft pick who never became the star the Indians were expecting, pitched the last two innings, saving the bullpen for the nightcap. His ERA wasn't exactly sparkling going into yesterday's game (6.75). That was before he let up 9 runs in two innings pitched. Now it is at 9.49. When your ERA in August jumps by nearly 3 runs in one night, you had better demand a round of drinks from your teammates.
8. What could Ranger manager Ron Washington POSSIBLY say to his team to keep them pumped up? "Come on guys! It's only a 27 run lead! Don't let them back into this?"
9. What could Trembley say to the Orioles between games? "Alright guys, it's just a loss. Brush it off, and try not to beat in a manner that hasn't been seen since before the Spanish American War!"
10. There is no pressure AT ALL on Garrett Olson, the Orioles pitcher in the nightcap. Just hold the Rangers to under 30 and he'll have the best pitch game of the night!
The coolness of the Angels is underrated. They've had some of the biggest names in baseball over the past 4 decades pass through town. Reggie Jackson, Rod Carew, Nolan Ryan, Fred Lynn, Don Baylor, Bert Blyleven, Lee Smith, Bobby Grich, Doug DeCinces, Mark Langston and Vladimir Guerrero all had All Star years in Anaheim.
They had Jim Abbott, a one handed pitcher for God sake!
The Angels are also as strange as they are cool. They've had 3 city names since the 1996 season (California Angels, Anaheim Angels and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) yet they have never moved from the Big A.
The Naked Gun had its climax at an Angels game, Tony Danza once played an Angels pitcher and its most recognizable tradition is the Rally Monkey.
For years their reputation of collapsing was also underrated. They blew the 1982 Best of 5 ALCS to Milwaukee despite having a 2-0 lead. They blew the 1986 Best of 7 ALCS to my Red Sox when manager Gene Mauch made one of the great panic moves of all time and yanked a dominant Mike Witt in the 9th, only to have Donnie Moore serve up Dave Henderson's homer. And in 1995, they were in first by 11 games in August only to lose a one game playoff to Seattle.
And their owners have been underratedly colorful. Between the singing cowboy Gene Autry and the flamboyant and free spending Arte Moreno... the Walt Disney Company was the LEAST interesting ownership group!
They also won a World Series (one my dad, a huge Giants fan would rather forget) with an underrated farm system.
In an age where people claim the World Series must be bought, the Angels won it all in 2002 with an entirely homegrown outfield, 2 home grown catcher and a home grown slugging World Series MVP thirdbasemen. 3 out of their 4 starting pitchers, their All Star closer, their phenom set up man, their lefty specialist and two middle relievers were also products of their farm system. Plus, while their middle infielders were drafted by other organizations, they spent their rookie years in Anaheim. They had 16 players who came up through their system and 3 more picked up as minor leaguers on a team that won the World Series. The Red Sox and Yankees WISH their farm could produce like that.
I'll tell you something else about the Angels that is underrated: Their impact on baseball this decade.
Tonight's 18-9 pounding of the Yankees on the heels of splitting 4 in Fenway should serve notice that the ALCS won't necessarily be latest chapter of Red Sox vs. Yankees.
A lot of people, including yours truly picked the Angels to win it all. And the fact that they can pitch, they can close and they can manufacture runs and neither the Red Sox nor the Yankees really scare them... it doesn't feel like such a bad pick.
And if they win it all, that would mean the underrated Mike Scioscia would have lead the Angels to 4 playoff appearances in 6 years including 3 trips to the ALCS and 2 titles.
Folks, in this day and age where no team can repeat... that could make the Angels the team of the decade!
And it would have all been happening without us even noticing. Who would have thought a potential dynasty would be underrated?
Now if only they could decide the name of their team!