Ramble On Sports

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Posts Tagged ‘New York Yankees’

Umpiring controversy strikes MLB playoffs — again

Posted by Bill Koch on October 9, 2010

Another night, more umpiring fiascos and an addition to the list of ejected managers have stolen the attention away from the action on the field.

Welcome to the 2010 Major League Baseball postseason.

Bobby Cox and the Atlanta Braves were the victims again as they locked horns with the San Francisco Giants in the National League Division Series. The call in question had very little to do with Game 2’s outcome – no runs were scored and Atlanta’s late comeback was far more entertaining – but it brought more attention to a problem that is threatening the credibility of these games.

Alex Gonzalez was called out on a grounder to deep short, a mistake made by first base umpire Paul Emmel after he missed Aubrey Huff’s foot slipping off the bag. It was the second time in as many nights that Emmel had screwed the Braves, and Cox added to his all-time lead in ejections by getting sent to the showers early. Television replays showed that Emmel was wrong and Cox was ejected for arguing something that he never should have had to contest, the same type of injustice that has already happened twice previously in these playoffs.

Cox joined Joe Maddon (Game 2 of the Tampa Bay-Texas series) and Ron Gardenhire (Game 2 of the Minnesota-New York series) in the group of managers who have been ejected since the postseason began. The cause of all three ejections, upon video review, was a blown call. Michael Young’s three-run homer (which followed a disputed check swing that should have been strike three on a slider in the dirt) and Lance Berkman’s RBI double (which followed a 1-2 fastball from Carl Pavano that clearly caught the inside corner and should have been strike three) never should have been allowed to happen. It was a call that Cox didn’t argue that hurt even more in Game 1 – Buster Posey was out at second on a stolen base attempt and Emmel missed it, allowing Cody Ross to knock in Posey with the game’s only run in a 1-0 Giants’ victory.

Defending the umpires is easy enough. You can insist that their respective calls alone didn’t decide the respective outcomes of the games, and you’d be right. Not many teams are going to win games striking out 14 times and scratching out just two hits like the Braves did in Game 1. Chad Qualls shouldn’t have thrown a fastball down the middle to Young on his next pitch. Pavano should have buried his changeup in the dirt instead of leaving it ankle-high to a low-ball hitter like Berkman. I’ll concede all of those points.

But it shouldn’t come to that. We shouldn’t know Emmel’s name. Video replay is so accurate and could be implemented so easily that Major League Baseball has to act sooner rather than later. As usual, Bud Selig and the rest of his cronies are dragging their feet and will be forced to kick and scream before they do anything proactive. They sat back and watched when steroids and performance enhancing drugs shredded the record book and while the gap between rich teams and poor teams grew to the point where baseball has become irrelevant in places like Kansas City and Pittsburgh.

Selig should have learned his lesson when Jim Joyce was thrust into the national spotlight after he blew a call at first base on what should have been the final out of Armando Galarraga’s perfect game. The Detroit Tigers’ righthander had history and the crowning moment of his career taken away when Joyce ruled that Jason Donald beat out a grounder to first on what should have been the 27th and final out. Replays showed that Joyce was wrong and pressure was put on Selig and the rest of MLB’s executives to reward Galarraga after the fact in the record books. Selig chose not to do that (and we agreed with him, because that would open Pandora’s Box), but he didn’t take any steps to make sure it would never happen again.

The umpires themselves, a historically stubborn group, also share the blame. They insist that nobody hurts more than they do when a call is missed. If that was truly the case, they’d be pressuring MLB just as hard as the fan base to reform the current system and take advantage of all that technology has to offer. It took forever for umpires to agree to conference on the field in the name of getting calls right – they’re extremely reluctant to overrule a colleague. You think they’d take kindly to replay? No shot. What’s left unsaid is that the umpires want to get it right – on their terms. They don’t have the true best interests of the game at heart, and we’ve never thought that Selig has been the man to protect baseball during his time as puppet commissioner. This postseason is proving those points for us yet again, and it’s a shame.

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Ramble On’s 2010 MLB postseason guide

Posted by Bill Koch on October 6, 2010

It feels a little strange to be starting postseason baseball without the Boston Red Sox involved, but that doesn’t mean that Ramble On is going to be any less interested in what goes on. We’ll be watching night after night as Tim McCarver continues to make a jackass of himself on FOX and new heroes are born on the way to the 2010 World Series. Here’s a brief breakdown of each of the Division Series matchups.

Tampa Bay Rays-Texas Rangers
We wish that Josh Hamilton, our American League MVP choice this season, had never jumped into that wall at Target Field and cracked his ribs. He won’t be anywhere close to the absolute force he was during the regular season and the Rangers will suffer because of it. Elvis Andrus ended the season in a terrible slump, Vladimir Guerrero’s resurgence will end now that it’s the postseason (just two home runs in 29 career playoff games) and the Texas pitching staff is largely untested on the big stage. Cliff Lee can’t win all three games for the Rangers in this best-of-5 series.

The Rays are simply tough to beat. David Price is in our top-3 for the AL Cy Young Award, fronting a young rotation loaded with power arms. Tampa’s lineup is pesky enough to give the Rangers fits and the Rays are so athletic that they’ll run wild on the bases and play great defense. Even with a gutless fan base that has no idea how to appreciate what it’s seeing right now, we like Tampa to advance.
Prediction: Rays in 4 games

Philadelphia Phillies-Cincinnati Reds
The Reds are one of the feel-good stories of the 2010 season. They were picked anywhere from fourth to dead last in the National League Central and surged to win the division behind an MVP effort from first baseman Joey Votto, a rare healthy season from third baseman Scott Rolen and a pitching staff that has one of the brightest futures in all of baseball. The problem for Cincinnati is that manager Dusty Baker has a way of making sure that any young arms – think Mark Prior and Kerry Wood, Cubs fans – have a habit of not making it to old age. Edinson Volquez has already had Tommy John surgery, Mike Leake is shut down for the playoffs and Aroldis Chapman is a couple of 40-pitch appearances from exploding in the center of the diamond.

The Phillies will likely be our pick to win the World Series when the time comes. They have the best 1-2-3 punch in recent memory with Cy Young winner Roy Halladay and rejuvenated studs Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels. Philadelphia’s lineup also seems to be getting healthy at exactly the right time, with Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Raul Ibanez and Ryan Howard all coming off the DL late in the season to give the Phillies their trademark punch. There might be no stopping these guys on their way to late October.
Prediction: Phillies in 3 games

New York Yankees-Minnesota Twins
Is this finally going to be the year that the Twins get past the Yankees? Minnesota seems to run into New York every year in the postseason and comes up short, and the Yankees usually don’t need the help that bogus umpires like Phil Cuzzi tend to provide in key spots. The Twins are celebrating the opening of Target Field with a postseason berth, a reborn Francisco Liriano, an emerging ace in lefty Brian Duensing and maybe one last chance at a ring for aging slugger Jim Thome.

We’re not sure if Minnesota will have enough offense without first baseman Justin Morneau (concussion), but this series will be all about pitching – or a lack of it. The Twins have the deeper bullpen and New York’s starting rotation is in shambles after C.C. Sabathia. How many more postseason bullets does Andy Pettitte have in that shoulder? His achy groin might be the bigger question mark this time around. Phil Hughes hit the wall sometime in July (11-2, 3.65 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 8.1 Ks/9, 3.14 K/BB ratio before the All-Star break; 7-6, 4.90 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 6.6 Ks/9, 1.9 K/BB ratio after the All-Star break) and seems like a guy begging to be lit up. A.J. Burnett and his $82.5-million deal didn’t even make the rotation.
Prediction: Twins in 5 games

San Francisco Giants-Atlanta Braves
We’re glad to see Bobby Cox back in the postseason in what’s set to be his final season in Atlanta’s dugout. The Braves’ longtime manager is making his 16th postseason appearance, a Major League record that is just about impossible to duplicate while staying with one franchise the entire time. This season marks one of one of his best managerial jobs and he will be missed.

The problem for Cox is that he might have more energy left than his players. The Braves had to sell out in the season’s final week just to qualify for the postseason, using Tim Hudson and Derek Lowe on three days rest and trying to force some runs out a lineup that is missing NL MVP dark horse Martin Prado due to an oblique injury. The Giants seem to be coming on at the right time behind trade Tampa Bay bust Pat Burrell, electric rookie catcher Buster Posey and a young rotation that is as good as any in baseball. Tim Lincecum, Jonathan Sanchez, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner will be a tough out for any club, especially one with the Braves’ limited offensive firepower.
Prediction: Giants in 4 games

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Bloody Sunday for Americans at Ryder Cup

Posted by Bill Koch on October 3, 2010

I’m not even sure if I want to get up at 4 a.m. to watch the conclusion of what is shaping up to be an American execution at the 2010 Ryder Cup.

This might be my favorite golf competition of them all, ranked above The Masters and the U.S. Open, but not when it goes like it did Saturday. Europe dominated from start to finish and will take a 9.5-6.5 lead into the predawn hours here on the East Coast for the Ryder Cup’s first ever Monday finish.

The Americans were exposed by the Euros’ superior depth on Saturday, as all 12 players from each team were in action in both the four-ball and alternate-shot formats. No matter the rules, the Euros showed no mercy and were able to turn around the 6-4 advantage that the Americans built through the rain-soaked opening two days of play.

Another weather suspension pushed Sunday’s play back into the Welsh evening, but nothing could have stopped the solid play of the hosts and the poor play of their guests from continuing. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, the alleged No. 1 and No. 2 players in the world, respectively, can stand at the head of the goat line for the Americans. Woods suffered the worst Ryder Cup loss of his career when he and Steve Stricker were crushed 6 and 5 by Luke Donald and Lee Westwood and Mickelson has contributed nothing to the proceedings in three days – he’s 0-3 while partnering with young guns Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler. Westwood, meanwhile, has been absolutely brilliant and is now officially The Best Player To Have Never Won A Major, a title that Mickelson held for so long before breaking through at Augusta in 2004.

Yes, I’ll probably be tuned in sometime before the sun comes up this morning to see how this all ends up. This feeling I’m having right now is similar to two other sporting moments in my lifetime, and they both turned out pretty well – the 1999 Ryder Cup at The Country Club in Brookline and the 2004 ALCS when the Boston Red Sox battled the New York Yankees. I was pretty hopeless in both of those circumstances and those were two miracles that ended up going my way. Do I expect the same thing to happen in Wales tomorrow? It doesn’t matter. Like I told my Dad when he ripped me for time-wasting while watching Game 4 in 2004, I just have to see what happen this time.

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Hitting the weekend in a Red Sox state of mind

Posted by Bill Koch on August 20, 2010

It’s been a pretty crazy week here at Ramble On, and we want to thank all of you for helping us pile up one of our best stretches of website hits that we’ve had since we started this thing. We’d also like to thank Kevin Youkilis for screwing up his domestic situation – that certainly didn’t hurt our traffic at all.

Speaking of Youkilis, we’ll send you into this beautiful weekend with a few Red Sox notes. Boston is one of the best places in the country to be in the late summer/early fall, so we’ll turn our attention to the Olde Towne Team.

— Dustin Pedroia went back on the disabled list on Friday with a sore foot, and we hope this is the end of his season. There’s no reason to jeopardize the future of one of the organization’s true sparkplugs, and a broken foot is nothing to take lightly. Pedroia probably won’t want to hear this, but he’s worth far more at 100 percent in 2011 than he would be for the last two weeks of September in 2010 with the Red Sox well out of the pennant race. Let’s hope that This Manager and Boston’s front office have the good sense to sit Pedroia down.

— Boston won its series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Orange County and Everywhere Else in Southern California, but the Red Sox still failed to gain any ground on the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Wild Card chase and lost a game in the AL East to the New York Yankees. This is the reality of the mathematics that so many Red Sox fans have loved to turned to since the new regime took control in 2003 – Boston needs its opponents to stumble even more than it needs to play good baseball down the stretch to even have a prayer at qualifying for the postseason. Needless to say, we don’t think that’s happening.

— We can officially deem The Mike Cameron Experiment an absolute failure, and we have to tell the Red Sox front office that we saw it coming. Cameron will have abdominal surgery and be shelved until spring training next year after just 48 games, and there’s no reason to think that he’ll be any better when he’s a year older in 2011. The 37-year-old center fielder hit just .259 and posted a dreadful .729 OPS in his first season in Boston, about what we expected when the Red Sox decided to throw away $15.5 million over two seasons to secure Cameron’s services.

— Part of the collateral damage of signing Cameron was unsettling Jacoby Ellsbury, and it looks like his season is over, too. Ellsbury fractured a rib in Texas, one of the five that he broke when Adrian Beltre took his right knee and smashed it into Ellsbury’s torso in Kansas City just two weeks into the season. That led to weeks of back-and-forth between Ellsbury, his doctors and Boston’s front office. Ellsbury insisted he wasn’t well enough to play, the Red Sox thought that he was and ill feeling will foul the air between the two camps heading into the offseason. Let’s hope that Theo and The Trio come to their senses, bury the hatchet and return Ellsbury to his rightful spot in center field and leading off in Boston’s batting order.

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Lesterrific!

Posted by bdowd625 on August 9, 2010

Good win for the Sox today in the Bronx. Their offense sucked ass for the third time in the series, but Jon Lester was filthy in 6.1 strong innings and the bullpen navigated its way through a Yankee minefield to escape with the victory. Boston had to have this one after dropping two clunkers to the Bombers on Saturday and Sunday. John Lackey and Josh Beckett? The Sox have a better chance with Daisuke Matsuzaka on the mound lately. Who the hell thought that would be possible at the start of the season?

Let’s hope Tampa Bay continues to struggle so the Sox can hang around in the playoff race a little longer. I, for one, am not ready to pack it in just yet, but Boston needs to start making up ground in a hurry to have a shot at the postseason. Otherwise, I’ll be forced to turn my attention the Patriots, and I’m not quite ready for that.

Poll question time:

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Five random thoughts on the Red Sox

Posted by bdowd625 on April 9, 2010

* It didn’t take long for this team to piss me off. Just three games – and one Yankees’ series win – into the season and I’m already frustrated as hell. When they hit, they don’t pitch. When they pitch, they don’t hit. And on top of it all, I’m downright sick of Jonathan Papelbon. I was OK with the guy running his mouth in the beginning of his career – you know, when he was actually getting people out. Now he’s just a one-pitch blowhard. That ball that Curtis Granderson hit off him on Wednesday night just landed at LAX.

* I was, however, pleasantly surprised by John Lackey’s first performance in a Sox uniform. Granted, it was only for six innings, but he kept the Bombers off the scoreboard unlike Ace 1 and Ace 2. I was disappointed that NESN never put the camera on his wife. (If they did, I missed it.) I need more of Krista Lackey in my life.

* I love how Jordan’s Furniture put that big sign up just to the right of the triangle in center field at Fenway. If a Red Sox batter hits it, someone wins free furniture or some other stupid giveaway that no one actually cares about. The only problem is hitting that sign would take a blast of about 450 feet, and last time I checked, the Steroid Era was winding down. If you don’t want to give the people a realistic chance to win your shitty recliners and bed sets, then just go away. And for God’s sake, Eliot, cut that stupid ponytail.

* My Victor Martinez man-crush continues to grow. Is this guy a professional hitter or what? He sprays balls all over the park and legitimately seems excited when the Sox are doing well. Give him an extension now, Theo! Wait, what’s that? We have nearly 95 percent of our payroll wrapped up in only five players? Crap.

* A lot of people are getting upset that the Red Sox brought in Joshua Sacco – the little boy who has become a YouTube legend – to give a slightly modified version of his Miracle speech on Opening Night. Well you know what I say to them? Screw ’em! That kid is money and everyone knows it.

Now let’s just hope the Sox can get it together in Kansas City, a place where good baseball goes to die.

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Holiday wishes

Posted by bigblue123 on December 27, 2009

The best of the holiday season to all readers. May you the Christmas spirit of Will Ferrel in “Elf”, avoid the travel dilemma of Steve Martin in “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” and have your house decorated better than Chevy in “Christmas Vacation”.  To some of my favorite personalities, here’s some holiday thoughts –

To Omar- thanks for the knuckleballer, the surgically repaired Japanese reliever and Cora. Coal would have probably been easier- probably not cheaper. I know it’s hard being in the Yankees shadow so am thinking you could use a checkbook cover with the Yankees logo- – the checks are still cashable to the Mets but at least the cover might give you some courage to sign someone-anyone that might help.

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