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Men Behaving Badly

Let’s get the lousy part of game 3 out of the way first. What should have been a great baseball game was hurt by a number of people who should be fined and suspended for their poor displays. A look at the “goats”

Pedro- It is bad enough that he felt the need to hit someone because he wasn’t pitching well, but to throw the ball BEHIND someone’s head is gutless. Pointing to his head to let the Yankees know where the next beanball would be is completely beyond the call of the game. Pedro has made a lot of noise about respect and people respecting him. He lost any respect I had for him on Saturday.

Garcia- Ok, I would imagine you are pretty rattled when a Pedro fastball goes behind your head, but take your “revenge” and move on. You took out Walker at second, shut up and go back to the dugout.

Ramirez- I think Harold Reynolds of ESPN was dead on, he didn’t want to hit against Clemens. He was looking for a reason to go off and took it on a pitch that could hardly be called inside. This set off the whole shooting match.

Zimmer- I appreciate his passion, but he should know better at his age than storming out of the dugout and trying to get into it with Pedro.

Nelson and the Groundskeeper. Still not sure what happened, but why did it have to? Not sure why a Groundskeeper would cheer for the Red Sox in the Yankee bullpen and not sure why Nelson couldn’t have just let security handle this.

Enough of the bad, now let’s look at some of the “heroes” in an ugly games.

MLB Secuirty- A great idea shutting the beer sales off in Fenway during the Fourth Inning. The last thing that crowd needed was more alcohol to fuel their anger.

The Umpires. Glad to see them use some discretion in a big game and not eject people. It would have been a shame for a playoff game to be decided because of players thrown out of the game.

Clemens- Can’t believe I can say this, but he actually kept his cool.

Ortiz, Pettite, Jeter, Nomar and countless others. The heartening thing when you look at the videotape from Saturday is the number of guys who DIDN’t get involved. Nice to see the cooler heads prevail.

Ok, enough of the junk, a few notes on the series. Is it me of is Jason Varitek giving away location on high pitches by standing up? I can’t believe that hitters aren’t keying on this one.

While the conventional wisdom says the rainout favors Boston, since they will get to pitch Wakefield, I disagree. I think the rainout will favor the Yankees since Mariano can go 2 innings tonight, they won game 3 and instead of Burkett going tonight they will have to pitch him in a possible game 6.

Nick Johnson’s diving catch in the 9th inning and Trot Nixon’s leaping catch in the 5th were two great defensive plays.

Lastly, according to ESPN, the payroll of Yankees currently on the roster (or DL) is $137,760,000. The Red Sox is $104,377,000. A gap to be sure, but nowhere near the 180 million dollar figure commonly used.

Initial Thoughts

What a difference a year makes! Last year, baseball’s “Final Four” all resided on the Western side of the Mississippi River and the World Series was contested entirely within the state of California. Now, baseball’s four remaining teams all play on the Eastern side of the country and California will have to be content with a recall election instead of a World Series.

For baseball purists, it doesn’t get any better than a Yankees-Red Sox series. While the rivalry has been somewhat one-sided, this year’s regular season games ended with the Yankees winning one more game than the Red Sox.

So, what can we expect for the upcoming ALCS? These are the 4 keys to a Yankee victory as I see it.

1- Take advantage of the early pitching matchups. While the Yankees will go into the series with their rotation well rested, the Red Sox will be forced to start their number 3 starter, Tim Wakefield in game one and will not get to start Pedro until game 3. In addition, Derek Lowe will most likely pitch game 2 at Yankee Stadium and he has been much less effective on the road this year. It is critical that the Yankees use their sizeable advantages and win the first two games of the series.
2- Keep the “bridge” to Mariano short. One of the keys to the Twins series was the fact that the starters pitched deep into the game and the Yankees didn’t have to rely on anyone besides Rivera at the end of ballgames. A continuation of this formula is vital for their success.
3- Get to the Red Sox bullpen. While the Red Sox bullpen pitched very well against the A’s, there are still a lot of questions down there. Principally, who is the closer? Derek Lowe saved game five vs. the A’s, but he will be expected to start and not close. Maybe it will be Timlin, maybe Williamson, either way, the Red Sox starters seem to be the more formidable part of their pitching.
4- Keep playing the aggressive baseball we saw against the Twins. The championship teams of the last 1990’s didn’t wait for the big homerun, they came at you with tough at bats and aggressive baserunning. We saw a return to this style of play in the Twins series and it is critical that this continues against the Red Sox.

All in all, these teams are very evenly matched and both have significant flaws. The team that can overcome these flaws will win the series.