Sunday, September 30, 2007

What will Mets fans regret the most?

1) The fact that they will be reminded of 2007 every time a team is up by 7 games with 17 to go?

Think they'll forget? It will be mentioned along with the 1951 Dodgers, 1964 Phillies and 1978 Red Sox.

2) The fact that the Mets lost to so many tomato cans AT HOME?

Yeah the two Phillies sweeps were rough, but they went home for their last 7 games against the pathetic Nationals, the already make plane reservations Cardinals and the flopping Marlins. They won a grand total of one game.

3) The fact that they lost the Division to Philadelphia?

As a Red Sox fan who lived in New York... trust me, when your team loses to a team whose fans you interact with all the time... it hurts more.

It's what made 2004 so unique to Yankees fans. When the Yankees lost, they'd lose to obscure fan bases (Florida, Anaheim, Arizona, Seattle) or fan bases they didn't see much of (Los Angeles, Kansas City, Cincinnati).

You had to go all the way back to 1955 to see the Yankees lose to a team that was close to them (the Brooklyn Dodgers) and even then, the team left town 2 years later.

The Red Sox aren't going anywhere and we haven't let the Yankees forget it.
I'm sure Yankee fans haven't let you guys forget 2000 nor the 24 more titles.

Now get ready to hear it from Phillies fans.

4) The fact that some fans prematurely claimed the city?

It's safe to say the Mets have not claimed the city as their own. And any A-Rod/Jeter vs. Wright/Reyes debate seems pretty decisive.

5) The fact that the window might be closing?

There are some young pieces on this team but a lot of old ones as well... and the Mets were clearly built for right now. And with a wide open National League (and a chance to open the post season at home) the Mets blew a prime chance to potentially go to the World Series.

6) The fact that Beltran was caught looking last year?

Who knew that Carlos looking at strike three might have been the Mets last chance to go to the Series in a long while.

Inner peace

Man this feels strange... but I feel complete inner peace regarding the Red Sox right now.

First of all there is NO REASON to mutter under your breath about any loss by the Red Sox this year.

Nope, not A-Rod's homer off of Papelbon... nor any blown save by Eric Gagne... nor the sweep in Yankee Stadium... nor blowing the 5 run lead in the 8th to the Yankees...

How would things have been different if they won those games?
The Red Sox have homefield advantage throughout the playoffs as it is!

And guess what?
Manny is back and he's hitting.
Ortiz is slugging the ball like a man possessed.
Dice K pitched a great game his last game out.
So did Wakefield.
And Okajima got a save his last game out.

Even my nemesis J. D. Drew is hitting!

So how could you have asked for a better scenario going into the playoffs?
I'm not saying that the Red Sox are a lock to win anything (they are playing the team I picked to win the World Series!)

The playoffs start on Wednesday. The team is rested, ready, has the most favorable schedule and they couldn't be in a better spot if they won 162 games.

That feeling I am experiencing?
It's called peace.

(And two free days before I get tense again!)

What a weekend!

Where should I begin?


We'd have TWO winner take all games tomorrow! Instead we have the kind of collapse that can derail a franchise.

With Florida clubbing them, maybe I should direct Met fans to the Marlin Bandwagon along with Cubs, Indians and Giants fans.


When September 12th ended, they were 7 games back and any momentum gained from their 4 game sweep of the Mets in August was gone.

So what did they do? They went into Shea, swept the Mets for the second time in less than three weeks and finished the season 13-4 including 3 extra inning wins.

That's a championship caliber run.


With 2 weeks left in the season, the Rockies were behind the Dodgers by 2 games and patronizing fans like myself were thinking "If they finish above .500 that would be nice for them." They not only won 12 of their next 13, but beat up all the teams ahead of them! They swept the Padres, they swept the Dodgers TWICE and won 2 "lose and the season is over" games against the team with the best record in the National League. They forced a one game playoff by sheer will.

Yeah they blew their chance to play for the Division Title, but with nothing on the line, they had a shocking "you're aren't celebrating on my field" come back win on Saturday and an equally stunning blow out today.

Maybe there was no post season for the Brewers, but finishing above .500 and stunning the Padres at least ends the season on a positive note.


My rule in my Hall of Fame posting states that a closer should be a bullpen stopper for a World Champion to get in the Hall... and I stand by that.

With a playoff spot on the line, a Hall of Fame closer should strike out Tony Gwynn... let alone Tony Gwynn Jr!

If the Padres lose tomorrow, that game tying triple by a 5th outfielder will be as big a stain on his resume as Scott Brosius was in the 1998 World Series!

Either way, that was the best last weekend of a season that I can remember!
And now we get bonus regular season baseball!

I for one am rooting for the Rockies tomorrow.
Winning 13 of 14 and storming into the playoffs is just too cool a story.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

It's pretty darn close to anarchy!

The season ends tomorrow. All we know is the Diamondbacks will be playing someone and the Cubs will be flying somewhere.

How wonderful was it that with one out to go for San Diego to clinch and be on the verge of tidying up the playoff picture (D'Backs vs Cubs... East winner vs Padres) that the second most famous Padre of all time (Trevor Hoffman) let up a tying hit to the son of MR. PADRE (Tony Gwynn Jr)?

The Brewers don't roll over and suddenly with the Rockies blowing out the D'Backs we still have 4 teams for 2 slots and 4 meaningful games on the last day.

Now all we need is for all 4 home teams to win... and we have 4 teams with 89 wins.
Potential anarchy!

Don't let me down, Brewers/Phillies/Mets/Rockies!

Man... if the Brewers had won those three games at home we would have had the East, Central and Wild Card all tied on the last day.

Let it go, Sully.
Let it go!

Thank you Kansas City!

Maybe I was too harsh when I wrote that there was nothing to say about them.

The Royals had a nice 8th inning rally to beat the Indians and now not only do the Red Sox get the choice of which series they want to play, but the last game is totally meaningless so starters who need a rest can have until Tuesday off.

Thanks Royals!

Oh yeah, you sportswriters I talked to earlier, be sure to mention the Red Sox have the best record in all of baseball for 2007.

Thank you.

Um, Charlie Manuel... quick question

Did you know that your team was actually ahead of the Mets?

Did you know this wasn't a do-or-die game?
I mean I know you were really trying to win and all, but was there some reason you used EVERY SINGLE PITCHER?

I know Adam Eaton isn't the second coming of Tom Seaver, but don't you think he could have gone maybe 3 innings?

Or maybe let him give up more than 1 run?

In a situation where you have a game tomorrow and potentially a one game playoff on Monday, don't you think using 4 pitchers through 6 innings was a bit much? Especially since the score was 2-0.

It's not like anyone was getting clubbed.
In case you are wondering, you are now no longer ahead.

Hey Mets... that wasn't hard, was it?

In my plea to have the Mets wake up, I told them to not make history.

Well they almost did in a good way.

It's the easiest formula in the world to break a slump:

Have a pitcher throw a masterpiece and beat the be-Jesus out of a lesser opponent.

Do it again tomorrow and you might just win this thing!
The only question is will both the Daily News and the Post have "Remember the Maine" as the back page headline?

Don't make history, Mets!

Come on Mets! Don't lose today! Don't let the Phillies clinch today!

When I wrote my "Who Should I Root For" segment for the NL East, I thought I had to do it quickly before the Mets ran off with the race.

September 3 was a lonnnng time ago.

I talked to a few of my Mets fans friends before the game last night... and they all sounded like the Mets were 9 1/2 games out on the last day of the season.

There was no talk about what the Mets had to do, any chance of winning and hopefulness for the playoffs.

"I can't believe we're not going."
"The year is lost."
"I hope the Phillies get swept."

I'd say "You two are TIED!"

Not anymore.
Last night's 7-4 loss to the Marlins had to be the low point of the season.

They lost a big game to Byung-Hyun Kim. Yes, THAT Byung-Hyun Kim. The one who makes Armando Benitez look like has the guts of Patton.

(Side note... what team would have both Byung-Hyun Kim and Benitez on their pitching staff and expect to win big games? Just a question to the 2007 Marlins.)

Well the team that was up by 7 games 17 days ago is now 1 back... that's dropping almost a game every two days. While playing the pathetic Nationals, the phoning it in Cardinals and the aforementioned Marlins squad.

That's almost impossible! To a Phillies team with no pitching staff!


Here's what happens if you wake up, and win these games:

1. You go to the playoffs.
2. You have homefield.
3. You'll play teams that are VERY flawed
4. You'll have as good a chance as anyone of winning the National League pennant.
5. Nobody will remember the lousy September (who remembers the lousy finish of both of last year's World Series participants, the Cardinals and Tigers?)

Here's what happens if you keep struggling and miss the playoffs:

1. People will talk about this collapse forever (don't believe me, ask the 1964 Phillies)

2. Remember those clips of Bucky Dent, Bill Buckner and Steve Bartman? They'll be showing clips of the 2007 Mets... trust me, it's not fun having those rubbed in your face!

3. Remember all the claims that the Yankees were done and it was a Mets city earlier in the year? Yankee fans do. Yankee fans with ammo are never fun to be around. Trust me.

4. If you thought it was bad just blowing a lead... imagine blowing a lead to Philadelphia. Those fans are always known for their class, right?

John Maine is pitching against someone named Chris Seddon. I wouldn't recognize Chris Seddon if he came up up to me in full uniform and said "Hi, I'm Chris Seddon."

Let's go Mets!
Have one more great moment before you move to that stadium built to honor the Dodgers.
(If for no other reason than to give us some drama in the last day.)

Woe is the Brewers!

The Brewers picked the wrong time to lose 3 straight... and lose 7 of 10... and make critical errors... and to get into a bean ball war with St. Louis.

As if this weekend wasn't crazy enough, just imagine if the Brewers won the last 3 games at home.

The NL Central would be tied on the last Saturday of the season, and the Padres would have a single game lead and the Brewers would have clinched their best record since 1988. Instead the Cubs have the Division Title, the Padres are about to clinch, the Brewers are eliminated and are STILL fighting to get above .500 for the first time in 15 years.

Now they go from the best story in baseball with an 8 1/2 game lead at one point and in first place by themselves as recently as September 11th... to playing spoiler and hoping to make the NL Wild Card relevant to the Rockies and possibly the Mets.

I listened to the end of the Brewers/Padres game on my XM. Uecker was so depressed by the end you would have thought they cancelled Mr. Belvedere again.

OK Sports writers... listen to me and listen to me good!

I know you all wanted to write stories about a great Red Sox collapse. It's easier to recycle old stories and topics than to look around at this insane season.

But out of town writers... quit rooting for a collapse.
Hometown writers... stop trying to make a living by seeing the glass as completely empty.

If you are going to write about the 2007 Red Sox... here's the story:

The Red Sox took over first place on April 18th and never let go despite injuries to key players (Ramirez, Schilling, Ortiz, Youkillis) several pitchers wearing down and a furious Yankees charge. The lead peaked at 14 1/2 and got as low as 1 1/2 games in September. But the Red Sox won when they needed to, played abov and played consistently with only one losing month (June), no winning streak longer than 5 and no losing streak longer than 4. They went into the last 2 days of the season tied for the best record in baseball.

Don't type the year 1978.
Don't type the words Bucky Dent.
Don't even burp the word "Curse."

All that crap is over.
And guess what? Dice-K looked great in his last game. Papelbon, Okajima and even Gagne have been throwing scoreless innings, Ortiz is hitting like crazy and Ramirez is back.

And they have the only 20 game winner since 2005 and have homefield against the Angels, a team they went 6-4 against.

So try to avoid the doom and gloom.
And describe this glass!

Friday, September 28, 2007


I'll say it... last night was the single greatest and most insane regular season day I can ever remember.

Seriously, last night was the reason the XM Radio was invented!

There have been seasons where the last weekend was meaningful for a few teams... but how many make or break games could happen at the same time?

One minute I am listening and...
The Mets are collapsing

The Phillies are charging

The next minute...

The Cubs are winning

The Brewers are falling apart

Next thing I know

Dice-K is throwing goose eggs

And Rivera has blown a save and suddenly the Red Sox can stunningly win the division with an Orioles win... and the Yankees are putting in Edwar Ramirez, the human White Flag.

I had to go to the pharmacy and pick some stuff for my son Matty who was sick. And I did so as a dutiful father... and loved sneaking in a few more innings on my XM.

By the time I got to the Nob Hill Supermarket in Mountain View, I was sitting in the parking lot flipping between the game where the Diamondbacks can clinch a playoff spot over the Rockies who can tie the game, the game where the Brewers are fighting to stay alive against the Padres who are trying to clinch a spot... and the Red Sox on the verge of a Division Title.

I realized I had a sick son, therefore I couldn't just sit in the parking lot, so I put my headphones on and shopped as fast as I could.

When Melvin Mora dropped a squeeze bunt to beat the Yankees and clinch the AL East for my Red Sox, I was in the self check out line. I gave a huge fist pump, and I am sure the person behind me thought I was excited about the low price of chamomile tea.

By the time I get back into my car, the Red Sox were celebrating, the Diamondbacks had clinched and the Brewers were eliminated and I was heading home to be a good father.

Savor last night, fellow baseball fans.
We may NEVER have a night like that again.

In honor of the 2007 Boston Red Sox...

... as exciting a Red Sox team as you will ever see

... a team that can thrill and frustrate

... a team that some days look like they can't beat anyone and other days look ready to conquer the world

... a team that very well may have its best days ahead, but for right now let's savor their new official title



In honor of Jim Dwyer...

Jim Dwyer? Why would I be honoring a part time player who only spent 2 years with the Sox?

Why not Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr for whom the Red Sox retired #1?

Or Bernie Carbo who hit the big pinch hit homer in game 6 of the 1975 World Series?

I'll tell you.

In 1980 when I was 8, my family went to Winter Haven, Florida to see the Red Sox in spring training. And my brother Ted and I were running around getting autographs left and right. We got Reid Nichols, Julio Valdez, Stan Papi, Allen Ripley, Gary Allenson and my most prized scribble was from Butch Hobson and Johnny Pesky gave my brother a ball.

So my brother and I were leaning against a wall comparing autographs. As I was listing the players I heard a voice from behind me. "Do you have mine?"

We turned around and it was Jim Dwyer. I said "No!" and thought he was so cool. Now 27 years later I think he is even cooler. I have no idea how long he was standing behind two kids counting autographs but he waited for the perfect time to chime in.

Later as an Oriole, he hit a homer in the 1983 World Series and I was cheering for him, remembering the autograph.

So despite not having a Red Sox World Series highlight, nor being a Hall of Famer nor having your number retired... you get the honor.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Crossing the finish line... I fulfilled my vow!

Back on May 10th, I realized Sully Baseball was too focused on the Red Sox and Yankees and I vowed to write at least one post for every team in Major League Baseball before the regular season ended.

And here we are, after midnight on the last Wednesday of the season and I pulled it off!

So let's review the posts... and for my new readers, you can catch up on your team.

First the American League

I told them to bring back the smiling bird hat.

Waaaaay too many posts, including this one.

I wondered what happened to the team that seemed poised to be a dynasty.

I questioned their pride before they proved me wrong and ran off with the division.

I took pity on Jim Leyland's lungs.

I figured they needed a charismatic billionaire more than a farm system.

I broke down how underrated a franchise they are, and then told all of baseball to beware of them

I predicted that the Twins would be a factor in the race... I was wrong.

Again, too many including this smug entry.

I questioned if Oakland was really a major league city... then I broke down the A's many break downs

I applauded their fans for applauding Ken Griffey Jr... and then pointed out that September was not the best time to collapse

I listed the 10 greatest moments in Devil Rays history... it was hard finding two!

I wondered how Rangers and Yankees history would have been different if the 1996 Rangers had a closer

I encouraged the Jays to demand their fellow country men's loyalty

Now the National League

I wondered how the D'Backs were winning.

I pondered what innings kept Bobby Cox awake at night.

I found common ground between Cubs fans and Thomas Paine

I urged the Reds to trade Ken Griffey Jr for the good of the game.

First I wondered who Matt Holliday was... then I wondered if anyone noticed they were winning... then I just declared them champs

I encouraged Cubs, Indians and Giants fans to become Marlin fans

I suggested it was time to cut bait with Brad Lidge

I was stunned that Grady Little screwed up a game... and then equally stunned he still has a job

I've been openly rooting for the Brewers... and asking them to stay focused

I think the Mets new field is nostalgic for the wrong team.

I suggested that the Phillies rebuild the Vet

Early in the year I told the Pirates to go all in... then questioned their sanity at the trade deadline

I wanted the rights to the Rick Ankiel story... before I knew it had an unhappy ending.

I praised the Padres for the Michael Barrett trade... but reminded them they should have read the fine print when signing Milton Bradley

I warned the Giants to not become the Orioles... and then wondered what post Barry life will be like... and was always in awe of my dad's faith in the team

I wondered if Jim Bowden was watching the same team we were.

In addition to the individual team postings, I also broke down the races.

AL CENTRAL... why I rooted for the Indians
AL WEST... why I rooted for the Mariners
NL EAST... why I rooted for the Mets
NL CENTRAL... why I rooted for the Brewers
NL WEST... why I rooted for the Diamondbacks
NL WILD CARD... why I am hoping for anarchy

Well... it was a challenge, but I did it.
And now the playoffs are upon us.

If I focus a little bit too much on the Red Sox... I hope you can forgive me!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

What is there to say about the Royals?

Seriously? They have lost 90 games in a season for the 6th time in 7 years.

They will have a new manager next year as Buddy Bell decided he had better things to do than mind the store.

No doubt another retread will step into his shoes (Jerry Narron? Lee Mazzili?) and the Royals will continue to stink.

Don't blame it on being a small market. They've had plenty of time to develop a farm system with those high picks. Plus they had an outfield of Johnny Damon, Jermaine Dye and Carlos Beltran... and the sum total of the trades involving those stars is John Buck and Angel Berroa.

Don't blame small market for trading Dye for Neifi Perez. That's small brains in the front office.

What the heck happened?
When I was growing up, I used to think the baseball post season worked like this:

All the teams played 162 games and at the end of the year, the Phillies, Dodgers, Yankees and Royals would play in the playoffs. In fact in the 1970s and 1980s, Yankees/Royals was a more fierce rivalry than Yankees/Red Sox.

Who was a bigger star than George Brett?

What team had weapons on the basepaths like Frank White or Willie Wilson? Or hitters like Hal MacRae or Al Cowens?

What bullpen could throw an Al Hrabosky at you... and then Quisenberry?

Pitchers like Splittorff, Leonard and eventually Saberhagen were dominant.

Even players like Willie Mays Aikens, John Mayberry, U. L. Washington and Amos Otis gave the team a bad ass quality.

Who couldn't cheer for the ultimate fat slugger, Steve "Bye Bye" Balboni? And who wasn't mesmerized by Bo Jackson?

What happened?
Why did the team that personified consistency (16 out of 20 seasons above .500 in one stretch including 7 post season trips, the 1980 AL pennant and the 1985 World Championship) suddenly only have 1 winning season since 1995?

I'll tell you what happened:

Ewing Kaufman died.
Kaufman was everything an owner of a baseball team should be. He cared about the team and the community and fought to keep putting a winner on the field until he died in 1993.

And I bet he had something to do to avoid making a cookie cutter multipurpose stadium and instead having a beautiful baseball only park. Once Shea is torn down it will be the only stadium from the 1960s and 1970s construction era to survive... and it is still a beauty.

So more than a farm system or pitching, the Royals need a charismatic billionaire.
They need someone with some forward thinking to turn around this once proud franchise in a potentially baseball crazy city.

They need a Mark Cuban.

Yeah, Cuban is an overgrown man child... but he also turned around one of the most forgettable franchises in sports into one of the most exciting.

Baseball needs an owner who wants to turn a team around for the long haul instead of breaking the team up every time they ask for minimum wage.

There must be a crazy billionaire out there willing to do it.
What's Trump doing these days?

Let's see how I did with my wish list

Earlier today I listed how I wanted each of the important games to turn out.

I don't really care about the Astros vs. the Reds, and judging by the attendance (just over 13,000) neither did the people in Cincinnati.

Well the slate of games are over for the night, so let's see if my wishes came true:

I got

(which of course trumps everything else!)


I didn't get


I didn't get a double header sweep by the Mariners, but thanks to someone named Jeff Clement who hit his first major league homer with 2 outs in the 9th and someone named Mike Morse who singled home a run in the 10th, the Mariners managed a split.

Naturally one of the two games was a home game for the Mariners, the other an away game.

Then complain to the folks in the scheduling department who opened the season in Siberia instead of a domed stadium.

So the Red Sox go into the last 4 games of the season tied for the best record.
No preventing the Yankees clinching, the Brewers failed to capitalize on a chance to pull within 1 game but the Mets are in danger of an epic collapse. The Rockies stay a game out of the Wild Card and the Padres pull within a game of the division.

Not bad... not bad.


It sounds strange doesn't it?

The way they've been playing, it might just happen.

I just wanted to hear what that sounded like.

(Sounds like Cubs, Indians and Giants fans making a noose!)

The Phillies should rebuild the Vet!

When the Phillies lost to the Rockies 12-0, they fell behind 7 1/2 games to the Mets with only 17 games left. What happened since?

The Phillies have gone on a rampage... winning 10 of the next 13 and pulling within one game of the Mets with 4 to play.

They could knock the Mets clean out of the Playoffs and start a civil war between my cousins who are Mets fans and my cousins who are Phillies fans.

If their playoff push falls short (like it did in 2003, 2005 and 2006) I have a proposal.

Tear down the new Citizens Bank Ballpark and rebuild Veterans Stadium.

That's right... I am calling for the rebuilding of one of those awful cookie cutter nondescript multipurpose stadiums.

The cold, dark, ugly, urine smelling Vet.

Why would I propose such lunacy?
Because the Phillies need to be nostalgic and go back to their roots!

They need to change their uniforms back to the Mike Schmidt curly P and play in the Vet again!

I know they are wearing the same design uniform from their past. I know they hearken back to the old days... but those old days SUCKED.

Want a history lesson for the Phillies?

The franchise started in 1883 when they were called the Quakers.
The name was appropriate because they didn't put up a fight.
They finished 17-81... or a .173 winning percentage.

And thus a legacy of losing was born!
They wouldn't finish in first place until their 32nd year... where they were drubbed in 5 games by the Red Sox in the 1915 World Series.

In the Phillies first 92 years they finished in first place twice.
Read that sentence again.

And in their two World Series appearances (1950 was the other) they combined for 1 win. Not a series win... one game.

This is the past that the new uniforms are celebrating.

Then, in the smelly Vet... with their simple uniforms... they went on the single greatest run in franchise history.

In an 8 year span, they played in the post season 6 times.
The franchise that never had a 100 win season suddenly did it back to back.

The team that was the standard bearer of bad franchises (especially since the laughable St. Louis Browns became the formidable Baltimore Orioles) suddenly became a marquee franchise.

They had the best player in the National League in Mike Schmidt... the best pitcher in Steve Carlton and swiped the biggest Free Agent in Pete Rose.

In 1980 they did the unthinkable and won their only World Series.

And the winning ways continued as they won another pennant in 1983.

It was a sports renaissance in Philadelphia as the Flyers won the Stanley Cup twice, the 76ers were a fixture in the NBA finals, winning in 1983, the Eagles made the Super Bowl and Rocky Balboa won the heavyweight title from Apollo Creed and later from Clubber Lang and defended it against Ivan Drago.

Then hard times came and in 1992 they changed their uniforms and won another National League pennant. Like the Orioles dropping the smiling bird, the good fortune turned out to be a fluke.

The Phillies have yet to make the playoffs in the Wild Card format.

And I for one think they are missing the good karma of the Vet.
It was a tough place to play.
It was mean. It was dark. It was hostile.

And the players looked tough, acted tough and had names like Bake. This Phillies team would have fit right into the Vet.

Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard have a swagger that would have worked wonderfully between Schmidt, Bowa and Luzinski.

The fans in Philadelphia, who saw the Lindros era and the Iverson era come and go without a title and the McNabb era probably ending the same way too, are starving for a new era of glory.

They want titles, not beauty.
When they won titles, it was ugly... but it worked.

If it doesn't work this year, bring back the Vet.
And let the new good times roll.

In honor of Jerry Remy...

... part of one of the best trades in Red Sox history when he came over from the Angels for Don Aase

... a great fielding secondbaseman with speed and a beautiful line drive swing

... a Fall River native whose humor and accent have made him one of the most beloved broadcasters in Red Sox history

... and whose name was on the summer camp attended by me and my brother in 1983


The innings Billy Beane regrets

The A's have had three terrific runs since arriving in Oakland before the 1968 season.

The first saw the A's win five straight division titles between 1971 and 1975 and became the first team not called the Yankees to win three straight World Series.

Tony LaRussa's squad was almost as formidable, winning 3 straight pennants between 1988 and 1990 and winning the 1989 title. They also won the division in 1992.

Most recently and least likely of all was the Billy Beane run where the A's made the playoffs every year from 2000 to 2003 and then again in 2006.

But the most recent group not only never won a title, but could only win one series, which must be crushing to a franchise that has strangely expected championships.

Since the run is probably winding down and the A's fighting to stay out of the cellar, I must do for Billy Beane what I did for Bobby Cox and find the innings that stand out in an era that came sooooo close.

2000 Division Series Game 5, Top 1st.

The A's had won game 4 in New York with an 11-1 thrashing of Roger Clemens. The teams had to fly cross country that night to play a winner take all 5th game in Oakland. The Yankees seemed to have crushed any hopes of the A's winning by smacking Gil Heredia and reliever Jeff Tam for 6 runs before the A's even came to bat. The A's rallied to make it 7-5 after 4... but both teams were shutout the rest of the game and the Yankees advanced, leaving the A's to what would have happened if they put a goose egg up on the board in the first.

2001 Division Series Game 3, Bottom 7th

The 102 win A's were on the verge of sweeping the 95 win Yankees. Trailing 1-0 in the 7th with 2 outs and none on, Jeremy Giambi singled to right. Terrence Long then doubled to the rightfield corner and Shane Spencer's throw home was off target, seemingly tying the game. But we've all seen the clip of Derek Jeter coming out of nowhere relaying the throw back to Posada and getting Giambi standing. Which question is more mysterious? Why was Jeter there or why didn't Giambi slide?

The Yankees would win the game and the next two games to win the series.

2002 Division Series Game 5, Top 9th
The 2002 Oakland A's were the team to beat in the 2002 playoffs. They match the Yankees 103 wins for the best in baseball and had a 20 game winning streak in August to pull away from the Angels. The A's took a 5-1 second inning lead against the overmatched Twins in game one, but the Twins stunningly came back to win the game. The A's responded by winning games 2 and 3 easily. The Twins won game 4 sending the series back to Oakland. When the Angels stunned the Yankees in 4 games, Oakland seemed to have a clear path to the World Series if they won game 5.

The game was 2-1 Twins going into the 9th. A. J. Pierzynski hit a 2 run homer and pre Red Sox David Ortiz drove in 2 more with a double making the game 5-1, Minnesota. Each run would come back to haunt the A's as Mark Ellis hit a bottom of the 9th 3 run homer to make it a 5-4 loss instead of a 4-2 series win.

2003 Division Series Game 5, Bottom 9th

An underrated series that both the Red Sox and the A's seemed hellbent to lose. Game 1 had the Red Sox blowing a lead with 2 outs in the 9th and losing in 12 on a bunt by the A's catcher. In game 3, during my wedding, Eric Byrnes forgot to touch home plate and Miguel Tejada interfered with Bill Meuller rounding third. If either of those runs scored, the A's would have swept. Instead the Red Sox won on Trot Nixon's extra inning homer. Keith Foulke coughed up an 8th inning lead for the A's in game 4 sending it to a wild and underrated game 5.

Pedro Martinez and Barry Zito dueled until a slumping Manny Ramirez hit a 3 run homer to give the Red Sox a 4-1 lead.

The A's cut it to 4-3 and in the 9th, closer Scott Williamson walked the first two Oakland batters. My wife, who had been married to me only 2 days, said "I'm so sorry honey" as it was obvious they were losing. Even more so when Ramon Hernandez put down his second bunt of the series... this one putting the tying and winning runs in scoring position. Derek Lowe came in to try and close (a role he flourished in during the 2000 season but flopped in 2001).

Shockingly manager Ken Macha lifted veteran Jermaine Dye for a rookie Adam Melhuse, who struck out looking. Lowe walked the next batter loading the bases and faced Terrence Long. He too looked at a called third strike ending one of the most underrated 9th innings in playoff history.

2006 ALCS Game 1, Top 3rd

The A's finally got past the Division Series and with Barry Zito on the mound at home, fresh off of his defeat of Johan Santana, the A's seemed ready to win their first pennant for Billy Beane.

With two outs and nobody on in the 3rd, Zito seemed ready to have another stellar outing... when Brandon Inge homered. And suddenly and shockingly the wheels came off of Zito. After the homer he let up a double, then walked the bases full and let up another run.

The A's couldn't score despite putting 2 men on in the bottom of the 3rd and Pudge Rodriguez homered to lead off the 4th.

Zito wouldn't make it out of the 4th inning, leaving with a 5-0 hole that the A's couldn't climb out of. The Tigers would sweep the series, ending on Magglio Ordonez's 3 run homer in the bottom of the 9th in game 4.

But it was that third inning that changed the series. Had Zito made it through that inning, who knows? Perhaps he dominates game 1 and game 5. Maybe the A's win that allusive pennant for Billy Beane. All I know is the A's pennant hopes lived and died with Zito. And in game 1 they died.

Pitchers getting bombed early, players not sliding, late rallies squashed, home plates missed... a lot of frustration for a GM who has turned a moribund franchise with a bad stadium and a worse TV deal into perennial contenders.

If only Jeremy Giambi slid.

Once Again A's... thanks for not televising your games!

I know I went through this already, but why can't the A's broadcast their games?

I'm home today, I want the game on... I live across the Bay from Oakland. I should be able to watch the Red Sox/A's game!

Do you know what is on Fox Sports Bay Area at first pitch?
An infomercial.

Billy Mays will be selling OxiClean while the Red Sox try to lower the magic number to two!


For more on the lunacy that is the A's not broadcasting 15% of their games, read Liam McEneaney's take on Oakland A's coverage

What I want for Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Last night was so close to being perfect that today I want to map out exactly what I want.

As I type this, the Rangers are beating the Angels 3-0 and I want that score to hold up to push the Red Sox closer to clinching home field.

What else do I want?

Duh. Clinch that division before the weekend!

Prolong the inevitable and make sure the best the Yankees could do against Tampa is split the series.

Why not make the Yankees squirm another day?

Forget the Braves! Tighten up that division and Wild Card!

Get the East Division in play!

I'm telling you, I don't want a single division decided!

I'm telling you, I want that homefield!

Or have I been subtle in my support of the Brewers?

I am falling in love with the Rockies

Tall order with Peavy on the mound.

If all of those games happen the way I want, then...

The Red Sox would be in the lead for home field advantage and have a magic number of 1 to clinch the division

The Yankees still would not have a play off spot clinched

All of the division leaders in the National League would have a lead of a single game.

And there'd be a 3 way tie for the Wild Card

I want it to be a huge traffic jam!


Don't Let Up, Brewers!

Keep the pressure on the Cubs! Win today and hope for a Marlins loss.
You can get to within 1 game...

Make that series with the banged up Padres team be the most meaningful series for the franchise in 15 years!

And when you think of great baseball rivalries, does it get better than the Brewers and the Padres?

Last night was sooooo close to a perfect night!

I am a greedy man... and I wanted several different scenarios to unfold in order to make last night perfect, baseball wise.

And hot damn, it came this close to unfolding perfectly.

Let's list what would have made the night perfect.

I wanted:
A RED SOX WIN...reducing their magic number
CHECK! Many comes back and contributes to two rallies, Schilling pitches well, Papelbon bails out Gagne and Ortiz homers.

A YANKEES LOSS...reducing the Red Sox magic number some more
CHECK! 5-0 lead blown and somehow the Devil Rays are 8-8 against the Yankees.

A TIGERS WIN... prolonging the Yankees clinching for at least another day
CHECK! The Tigers shut down the Twins with the faintest hopes still alive.

AN ANGELS LOSS... Giving the Red Sox a better shot at homefield throughout the playoffs
CHECK! Thank You Texas

Meanwhile in the National League I wanted:

A BREWERS WIN... as I've been openly cheering them on to stay in the race
CHECK! The Cardinals continue to phone in the end of the season.

A CUBS LOSS... to cut their lead over the Brewers to 2 games
CHECK! Dontrelle Willis shuts them down and a parade of anonymous relievers close it out.

A PHILLIES LOSS... to help tighten up the Wild Card race and bring about anarchy
CHECK! And somehow the Braves are back in it!

A METS LOSS... to make sure the division is still in play for the weekend
CHECK! Why can't the Mets beat the Nationals?

A ROCKIES LOSS... to pull them even closer to the Wild Card
CHECK! Way to keep the Dodgers motivated, Grady.

At this point it looked like it was going to be the type of night I'd ask a genie for! Now there were only two more games left... could they come through for me?

AN INDIAN LOSS... to help the Red Sox get closer to homefield throughout the playoffsOOOO, so close! Adrian Beltre hit a game tying homer in the 9th for Seattle and they loaded the bases in the 11th, but couldn't score and the Indians won in the 12th.

A PADRES LOSS... to make it a 3 way tie for first for the Wild Card with the Braves only 2 back with 5 days left in the season
ONE OUT FROM HAPPENING! But Brian Wilson (might as well have been the Beach Boy) let up a 3 run 2 out homer to give the Padres the 6-4 win and maintain a 1 game lead on the Wild Card.

Leave it to a Giants reliever to blow it.

All things considered... the Sox could potentially clinch the division before Friday and have home field, the Yankees need one more day to clinch, and the National League is still a complete scrum going into the last Wednesday of the season.

Not bad. I still want ANARCHY!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Who the hell is Jorge Velandia?

I had never heard of him before he hit a go ahead grand slam against the Yankees today.

I doubt you had either.

But I became his biggest fan.

Blowing a 5-0 lead... wasting a good Igawa performance (which I didn't know was possible) and then having a former farmhand Dioner Navarro hit the game winning homer?

Pretty sweet night for Yankee haters.
If the Sox hold on to the Division, and it looks pretty good at this point... Red Sox fans should send a thank you note to the Devil Rays!

The Red Sox went 13-5 against the Rays and never lost a series to them.
This far the Yankees are 8-8 against them and need to win the next two games to not only have an above .500 record against them but also not lose their last two Devil Rays series.

Let's get this division wrapped up before the weekend!
I want those to be spring training games.


In honor of Grady Little...

Yeah you read that right!

I am honoring the man I spent two postings trashing and did a Cold Pizza segment calling for him to be fired.

Why am I honoring him?

Two reasons:

1) If he wasn't so staggeringly moronic managing in the 2003 playoffs... if that was just a normal playoff loss instead of a hair pulling choke job instigated by his inability to manage in the big spot... Theo might not have made the "push all the chips to the center of the table" moves before and during the 2004 season.

Maybe if the Yankees had won in 6, Grady would have stayed as manager, Schilling would have been a Yankee, Foulke would have gone to a place like the Dodgers and Garciaparra would be limping through a new contract and there'd be no 2004 title.

Instead Grady butchered the playoffs in a way that made the most logical people in the world say things like "maybe there is a curse!"

Theo said "F--- This! We have to win NOW!"

2) He seems like a nice guy. Not a good manager, but a nice guy.

So for you Grady...


In honor of Butch Hobson....

... a star quarterback for Alabama who became a star thirdbaseman of 5 members of the 1977 Red Sox with 26 or more homers (back when that meant something

... who had to move the bonechips in his elbow back into place while playing down the stretch. (Zim, did you think of sitting him as he committed an error a game?)

... in a team full of stars, was my favorite player for a long time and whose autograph was a prized possession of a 9 year old Paul Sullivan


(All due apologies to Joe Cronin, whose #4 was retired by the Red Sox... but Butch was my guy!)

I hate to say it, Padres...

... but you knew what you were buying when you signed Milton Bradley!

You don't sign Manny Ramirez thinking "He's going to have his mind on the game at every pitch!"

You don't sign Byung-Hyun Kim and say "I want him to give the team a sense of invincibility!"

You don't sign J. D. Drew and say "I want him to light a fire under this team."

You don't sign Armando Benitez and say "I don't want to worry about the 9th with you out there."

And you don't bring Milton Bradley onto your team and say "He's going to keep his cool!"

He was, is and always will be a huge risk because of his uncontrollable temper. Why else would a potential 5 tool player be run out of Cleveland... and then the Dodgers... and then the A's?

All of those teams desperately needed a player with his talent and all of them practically broke out bottles of champagne when he left.

And now he went to the Padres, gave them a much needed lift offensively... and had to be tackled by his own manager before he went after an umpire, tearing his ACL and ending his season.

Now I am not excusing the umpire. He has a reputation for being an a--hole and Bobby Meachem, a stand up guy that nobody in the league seems to dislike, said the ump was being racist.

And he might well have been.
And if he was, he should be suspended. And no matter what he said, he was jawing at Bradley egging him on.

But that's not the point.
Bradley should have known to restrain himself at least to the point where his manager didn't feel the need to tackle him.

Bradley should have known the team was spiraling in a pennant race and a once safe playoff spot now is in peril... and risking a suspension is not what the team needs, no matter what the umpire said.

And it's not like there is no precedent for this!
His throwing a bottle at a fan during a game got him suspended during the last week of the 2004 season, with the Dodgers clinging to a playoff spot.

I guess the Padres thought he learned his lesson.
Or like a girl trying to reform a hot guy who has a cheating reputation, the Padres thought "he won't do it to me!"

Well he did...
Next time read the fine print!

Explain to me how Grady Little still has his job!

First of all, for everyone who said the Red Sox fired Grady Little because of one bad move, I hope you are enjoying that nice bowl of crow.

The man's inability to manage a pennant contender has become so obvious that he has the Dodger fans fired up.

Think about that sentence... a fan base that shows up at the 3rd inning... a fan base where you see cars leaving the parking lot while Kirk Gibson hit his homer... is now passionate enough to hate Grady and have a petition to fire him!

Sports Illustrated's Jon Weisman does a great job breaking down his incompetency, but if you have a team loaded with solid veterans and exciting young hitters... if you have a Cy Young candidate in the rotation and in the bullpen... if you are playing in the wide open National League... and are irrelevant the last week of the season... then you HAVE to fire the manager.

Not in the off season. NOW!

Get someone on the coaching staff to fill out the line up card.
How could you do a worse job than Grady at that?
Maybe the team would be motivated?
How could they be less motivated than they are now?

But let everyone admit... the Red Sox were no dummies letting this dummy go!