General

Prayers For Boston

I lived right in Boston for 10 years and some of my fondest memories are of Patriots’ Day. It is simply a great sports day and while I certainly didn’t root on the Red Sox, I always tried to get to the marathon course to cheer on the runners. For a number of years I worked right in Copley Square, so I would walk right across to Boylston and up a few blocks to see the runners finishing. Today that very place is the scene of terrible carnage and tragedy.

In the days ahead we will find out just how many people have died and been injured as a result of this craven attack. Whatever the final tally, it is too many and it feels futile to offer my meager  condolences and prayers to those who have lost so much. But, I also remember that in the aftermath of 9/11 how much it meant to me when people expressed their support for New York so I hope that in some small way this helps.

Boston, we are with you. Our thoughts, our prayers, our hopes and our condolences go out to you tonight.

The Crystal Ball

A quick break from vacation to get my picks in before the season starts in a few hours. As always, follow these at your own risk.

AL EAST

1- Tampa

2- Toronto

3- Yankees

4- Red Sox

5- Baltimore

To me Tampa is a great team people seem to forget about. Their pitching is great and I think Myers will provided them with the big stick they need when they call him up at the end of April. I love Toronto’s offseason, but not enough to put them on top. I get the bandwagon that thinks the Yankees finish in last, but I don’t see it. Sure they are old and injured, but they can pitch and that should keep them out of the basement. Plus, lets not forget how truly bad Boston was last year, why should we expect them to climb over New York? I say the Yankees finish third with 85 wins and miss the playoffs. The surprise is probably the Baltimore pick, but I think their luck in one-run games runs out and they certainly won’t surprise anyone this year.

AL CENTRAL

1- Detroit

2- Chicago

3- Kansas City

4- Minnesota

5- Cleveland

Detroit is the class of this division.

AL WEST

1- Angels

2- Oakland

3- Texas

4- Seattle

5- Houston

I think the Angels run away with it, but Oakland and Texas are the wild cards. That is in part do to how epically bad Houston will be. I would guess 110 losses for them.

NL EAST

1- Washington

2- Atlanta

3- Philadelphia

4- Florida

5- Mets

Hard to see anyone catching the Nats this year, but Atlanta will give them a run.

NL CENTRAL

1- Cincinnati

2- Pittsburgh

3- St. Louis

4- Milwaukee

5- Chicago

Now that Houston is gone, this might be the most competitive division in baseball. I think the Reds hold off a surprising Pirates club.

NL WEST

1- Giants

2- Dodgers

3- Arizona

4- Colorado

5- San Diego

The Dodgers may be the fashionable pick, but I will take the winners of two of the last three titles.

AL PLAYOFFS

Texas over Oakland in the wild card

Detroit over Tampa
Angles over Texas

Angels over Detroit

NL Playoffs

Atlanta over LA in the wild card

Nats over Atlanta
Cincinnati over San Fran
Nats over Cincinnati

WORLD SERIES

Nats over Angels- at least something works in D.C.

Finally a toast to the two greatest words in the English language- PLAY BALL. I can’t wait to hear them tomorrow afternoon.

World Brawl Classic?

Did you catch the brawl in the Mexico-Canada game yesterday? It was quite a scrum with lots of punches and tackles, but amazingly no suspensions. I understand why MLB doesn’t want to suspend players from this event, but it sets a very tricky precedent the next time the benches clear in a real baseball game.

The bigger problem is why the benches cleared. They cleared because a Canadian player laid down a bunt in the 9th inning of a game his team was winning 9-3. Why did he do that? Because the tiebreaker in the WBC is run differential. Canada had been creamed by Italy the day before (they actually got mercy ruled) so it was reasonable for them to want to score as many runs as possible. It was also reasonable for Mexico to get a bit upset watching a guy drop a bunt down in that situation. The question is, what does MLB do about it?

Changing the format of the WBC would be a start. Since the games are played in March, why can’t they have some sort of tiebreaker for a playoff spot? Or, get creative and add a home run derby for the spot or something like that. Whatever they do, hopefully MLB thinks of something to avoid this situation the next time the WBC is held.

A Little Site Business

Hey Readers, we just wanted to make you aware of some new and updated features here at YankeesRedsox.com

First and foremost, our RSS feed has changed. It is now feed://yankeesredsox.com/feed/ so please update your web readers.

Next, you now have the option to be notified of follow-up comments via email. So, if you comment on a post and you check that box, the site will automatically email you when a new comment is left. Please be assured that we do absolutely nothing with your email addresses and would never share them with anyone ever.

Finally, we have added various ways for you to share content you like at the bottom of each post. You can Tweet, Facebook, email, Google+, Pinterest any post you wish right from the page. If any of those things are your bag of tea, please feel free to use them.

As always, thanks for your support and feel free to make any suggestions to us in the comments about features you would like to see.

Peter and Andy

Moving On Up

In the interest of making this website look a bit more, you know, real, Peter and I have decided to fork over some dough and will be making an upgrade to the site. Nothing fancy I assure you, but a better format to be sure.

With this, the site might go down for 1-2 days. Please bear with us and be sure to check back soon. We appreciate all who read and comment and hope this will make everything easier to use.

In the meantime, Happy Holidays to you all.

The Blue Jays

While Peter and I obsess about all things Red Sox and Yankees, the Toronto Blue Jays have aggressively thrown their hat in the ring. It’s a giant hat…think a Three Amigos sombrero.

Adds:

R.A. Dickey – Reigning N.L. Cy Young Winner.
Josh Johnson – Career 3.15 ERA.
Mark Buerhle – 3.74 ERA in 2012 and career 3.82 ERA.
Jose Reyes – 29 years old with speed and some pop.
Melky Cabrera – While we all finally confirmed what we suspected, if his ability to hide future drug use is good, then you have a good to great player.

These acquisitions added to their existing core of Jose Baustista (27 HR in 92 games in 2012 and 43 HR and 54 HR respectively in 2011 and 2010), Edwin Encarnacion (42 HR in 2012), Brett Lawrie (disappointing sophomore season, but still young), Adam Lind (2nd half far better than 1st half), Brandon Morrow (tore it up as a starter) and Casey Janssen had a fine first season as a closer, make the Jays a frontrunner in 2012.

The Jays have gone all in and the rest of the A.L. East has certainly taken notice, or as a Red Sox fan, I hope they have.

Florida Fire Sale- UPDATED

Interesting news out of Miami where the Marlins have reportedly traded away most of their remaining big contracts. By doing this, the Marlins have now only $16 million committed to their 2013 payroll, not including their arbitration-eligible players.

Now there are two things that this brings up in my mind.

1- The citizens of the Miami area just shelled out a lot of money to build the Marlins a new ballpark. People in Miami were not at all happy with the way this ballpark was financed out of their pockets and these moves will only increase the perception that they have been fleeced.

2- A lot of MLB owners are already upset that Jeffrey Loria received support from other MLB teams when he was making plenty of money. How will this trade make those owners feel?

To me Bud Selig should invoke the “Best Interests of Baseball” clause and block this trade. The Florida fans have been sold out time and again and this latest betrayal could be the death of baseball in South Florida. (We can debate if baseball should be played in South Florida another time, but they spent $650 million on a new stadium so they are stuck with baseball for now.) This trade is a betrayal of trust. Loria destroyed the Expos, are the owners and the Commissioner wiling to let him destroy another team?

UPDATE Keith Law said it really well and added a great word (limicolous) in his assessment of the trade:

Those limicolous owners are the greatest joke of all in this deal, rooking Florida taxpayers for a publicly funded stadium, only to make one half-hearted attempt to fill it with a contending team, then surrendering after the season to return to their old business model, playing a skeleton-crew lineup while pocketing all of their revenue-sharing money. This isn’t a bad baseball deal for Miami; it’s not a baseball deal at all — it’s a boondoggle, perpetrated by owners who have pulled one stunt like this after another, with the implicit approval of the commissioner’s office. It’s time for baseball to rid itself of Jeff Loria and David Samson by any means possible. Miami, the state of Florida, and the sport in general will be better off without them.

Scoreless Streak

Quick observation, through 20 innings of baseball today, no runs have been scored in all of baseball. That’s 4 different games covering 20 innings. Guess it really is a pitchers era.

A Good Argument

I’ve never liked MVP voting. How do you define “valuable”? And, even if you use some advanced statistics to prove that a player is the most “valuable” in the league, does it matter if his team is awful? It seems to me that things would be a lot easier if the MVP award was renamed “best player”. But, it’s not so this is the system we have.

This year, Justin Verlander won the MVP in the AL, despite not even appearing on one of the ballots. The writer who left him off his ballot, Jim Ingraham, made a very interesting argument against pitchers as MVP. Here are his words:

“I’d wrestled with this for a long time. If I was ever going to vote for pitcher for MVP, it would be him this year. He hasn’t appeared in 79 percent of their games, any starting pitcher really doesn’t appear in 79 percent of his team’s games in a year. Would you vote for an NFL quarterback for MVP if he only appeared in three of his team’s 16 games, which would be 21 percent? So that’s part of it. Another part of it is I think they’re apples and oranges. The guys that are in there every day, there’s a grind to a season that a starting pitcher doesn’t, I don’t think, experience the way the everyday position players do playing 150, 160 games.”

That is the most compelling reason against voting for pitchers that I have heard and I think he is absolutely right about it. Starting pitchers don’t appear in enough games to meet the “value” criteria in my mind. Verlander had an amazing season and he was given the Cy Young for it. Instead of burying Ingraham, his fellow baseball writers should take his argument to heart and reform the MVP voting process. Since pitchers have their own award, why not make the MVP a purely offensive award? It won’t solve the problem of figuring out value, but it will make the process a bit clearer.

Win Some/Lose Some

Two big changes are coming to MLB in the near future- 15-team leagues and another wild card. I view the first development as bad and the second as good. Let me explain.

Creating two 15-team leagues means MLB will be forced to play an interleague series almost every night of the regular season. While this doesn’t mean we are going to necessarily have more interleague games (amazingly they have no idea on that part of this move) it means pennant races will be impacted by interleague play.

To me this is incredibly stupid. This isn’t the NBA or NHL where the teams all operate under the same rules. The AL and NL have a huge difference because one league has the DH and the other doesn’t. Obviously, this always applies in interleague baseball, but consider this additional kicker- September callups. AL teams that have interleague games in September will have a huge advantage over teams that don’t because they can pinch hit, much, much more than during the rest of the season. Consider the 2011 Yankees who called up 6 batters and 7 pitchers September 1st. If they had had an interleague series that month, they would have been able to pinch hit and substitute freely as compared to a series in June. Unless MLB does something like the NHL and require all teams to declare x number of players eligible for each game, this will be a major hurdle in the new system. And don’t get me started on the attendance for a KC-Washington game in April….

It also strikes me as terrible that Houston was the team that got picked to move. I understand that they wanted to lower the number of teams in the NL Central, but if so, wasn’t the obvious move to RETURN the Brewers to the AL? (That’s right kids, the Brewers were an AL team for the first 29 years of their existence, right up until the end of 1997.) I get the argument that Houston isn’t geographically near any of its rivals, but they have a 50-year history in the NL. And, while it is jet travel, these teams travel in a manner most of us can only dream of. Sure, it’s a drag to get on a plane and travel for 81 nights a year, but plenty of people do it without the benefit of chartered planes and five-star hotels.

What I think baseball got right is the addition of a wild card to each league, but with the critical proviso that they will play a one-game playoff versus the other wild card. Baseball instantly made September important for a lot of teams again. Now, winning the division really will matter. Last year’s Boston and Atlanta collapses aside, we have entered a lot of Septembers recently when the divisions and wild card were almost settled. I think back to 2010 when the big question for the Yankees was should they go all out to win the division, or rest players knowing they had the wild card. Now, that choice is obvious. And, the extra playoff spot gives more teams a chance. This is a great idea and it lengthens the playoffs by a single day. Congrats to MLB on nailing it.

What do you think?