Monday, October 26, 2009

Restoring partial order to the universe: the Yankees' 40th Pennant

Five years after TheChokeHeardRoundTheWorld and the TorreFiringThatShouldHaveHappened, the Yankees are back in the World Series.

About time.

The why is easy to determine: (1) the Yanks had 5 quality starts in six games, including two top-notch starts from ALCS MVP CC Sabathia; (2) Jeter and A-Rod scored 11 of the team's 33 runs and A-Rod hit .429 with 3 HR and 6 RBI in the series; (3) Mark Teixeira, for all his high suck level at the plate, made about a run-saving play per game; (4) Chone Figgins (13-39, 1.025 OPS), Bobby Abreu (11-35, 8 RBI in 9 games), and Kendry Morales (12-32, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 1.147 OPS), who killed the Yanks in the regular season were 7-48 with 1 HR, 7 RBI and 5 runs combined in the ALCS, (5) the Yanks have Mariano and the Angels don't. The absence of a top-end closer in the postseason has been deadly to the Dodgers, Cards, Angels and Rockies. The presence of top-end closer who fails to pitch up to his ability killed the Twins and eliminated the RedSux (Nathan and Papelbon are two of the three best closers in the AL, the third is in the World Series).

The Monk will have some more World Series information tomorrow and Wednesday. But here are some observations from the ALCS and NFL.

(1) The Yanks need better protection for A-Rod. If I'm Charlie Manuel, I seriously think about giving him the 2002 Barry Bonds treatment. Matsui has been poor in the postseason, Cano's inability to hit with RISP is almost legendary in scope (.320 average, .520 slugging, .872 OPS overall; but .207 AVG, .332 SLG and .574 OPS with RISP), and Swish still can't hit a lick in the postseason. And Posada was absolutely AWFUL last night. Jorge made the last out of three innings. He hit into two double plays. He left 10 men on base. He was 0-5 but accounted for 7 outs. He bounced into an inning-ending DP in the fourth with bases loaded, one out and the Yanks one hit away from blowing the game open up 3-1. Posada's horrendous night came batting right behind A-Rod, who had two hits and three walks and was on base every time Posada was at bat. Matsui wasn't better (0-4), but because Posada was so bad, Matsui only had one at bat with A-Rod on base even though Matsui batted right after Posada.

(2) The relievers need to suck less. Kudos to Joba, who had been atrocious, for getting two weak grounders to end the seventh and set the stage for Rivera in the 8th.

(3) AJ needs to toughen up. The Yanks need someone other than Sabathia to be able to finish the 7th. Pettitte had his super-glare last night and pitched a fine game. I don't blame Joey G for giving Andy the hook with one out and one on in the 7th because Pettitte had a tough sixth inning and dodged trouble and rough innings cost the pitcher more energy than just a high pitch count does.

(4) Give credit to Swisher on defense last night -- he made a good running catch and throw to first to pick off Vlady (who stupidly wandered halfway to second on a short fly to right) and he made a nice sliding catch. For a guy who plays the outfield because he hits his way into the lineup, Swish has made three nice defensive plays in the last 9 innings he's been in the field.

(5) Kudos to Pettitte for setting the record for most playoff wins by a pitcher. He has 16, John Smoltz had 15. Pettitte also has more wins in the LCS and World Series (10) than Smoltz (8). And Pettitte also set the record for most playoff wins by a pitcher starting games where his team could close out the opponent. The others: '96 ALCS game 5, '98 WS game 4, '01 ALCS game 5, '09 ALDS game 3.

And on another topic -- the NFL.

First, The Monk cannot remember a year in the salary cap era where there were so many blowouts and so many suck teams. The Raiders are awful, the Browns are horrid, the Bucs are terrible, the Rams are horrendous. They lost 38-0, 31-3, 35-7 and 42-6 yesterday, respectively. But the blowouts between seemingly evenly matched teams (Bengals 45, Bears 10) are also surprising.

Second, Cris Collinsworth showed last night why he earned his post as Madden's successor. He sussed out one of Eli Manning's snap count tricks (calling "Omaha" at the line changed the snap count) and pointed out why the Giants' receivers were failing in their route-running through bad technique. Listen to the Sunday night football broadcasts and you'll learn more about the game.

No comments: