Manny Being Manny or Being Misquote?

Ok, leave it to the media to take a throw-away comment at the end of a long interview session and run with it.  First headline on ESPN, 4th on FoxSports, 5th on CBSSports, 2nd on CNNSI and so on.

Manny said "…losing wouldn’t be the end of the world."  He also said about 100 other things.  Manny doesn’t do interviews in case you haven’t noticed and he was kept around for this one for far longer than any time I can recall (based on words, not minutes).  It seemed to me that he was getting sick of the session and tried to wrap things up with the words above.

He is right, it isn’t the end of the world.  On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being death, losing the ALCS ranks fairly low, right?  So if we take him literally, it isn’t a big deal.  Now if you fall into the camp that thinks he doesn’t care, well, good luck proving that.  All of his other statements during the interview were were positive and confident in nature.  I can’t find the transcript of the whole thing, but Boston.com at least puts the comments into a more neutral setting.

My headline should really say "Manny Being Manny or Are His Comments Being Taken Out of Context" but that would not have fit and would have made for a bad presentation.  But you get the idea.

Anyway, in case anyone forgot, game 5 tonight in Cleveland.  It’s a game 1 rematch.  Let’s root for similar results.

I recently added my October 2004 archives back on the site (sad that I hadn’t done so sooner).  You can see how up and down I was during the ALCS.  I got fairly pissy and pessimistic, so you can understand my game 3 and game 4 posts (for this year).  In fact, they were fairly tame compared with 2004.  IMPORTANT NOTE on the archives, it is best to read them bottom to top as when I started adding posts back in, I did them month by month rather than post by post to save significant time.  Lazy, sure, but easy.

Last thing, I heard a stat and I am not sure I’m getting it 100% right, but it went something like this.  Of the 65 teams that were down 3-1 in the ALCS, 10 have come back to win the series.  The last team?  The 2004 Boston Red Sox. 

Go Red Sox.

Enough Already!

Does this sound familiar?

“The Yankees have completed their discussions today. No decisions have been made concerning Joe Torre. The discussions will continue.” 

It’s hard to understand what the delay is, but about the only thing we can definitively draw from this is that George is no longer fully in charge.  He made a threat on October 6th.  The Yankees didn’t respond to that threat on October 8th.  It is now October 17th and the threat hasn’t been carried out.  A new era has been born in the Bronx these past nine days, now we have to wait and see what that means for the future. 

 

ALCS Game 4 Round-Up

The Boston Globe has some good articles on last night’s game:

Nick Cafardo has a good one relating to the decision Terry Francona has made (or hasn’t).  Basically the Red Sox were going to be down 3-1 in the series with or without Jacoby Ellsbury in for Coco Crisp.  The problems with the Red Sox are much greater than some switches (see my comments from my last post).

Cafardo also chips in this one about Schilling and Daisuke.

ESPN’s Bill Simmons submitted this diary of game 4.

The Herald’s Rob Bradford has a 180 degree opinion from that of Cafardo on the lack of moves by Francona.

The Projo’s Art Martone, one of my favorites, has a daily Red Sox blog that is something like ESPN’s Buster Olney’s morning blog, but Martone’s focuses heavily on the Red Sox and spares us news of the Kansas City Royals and Washington Nationals.  Good daily reading.

As for game 5, C.C. Sabathia is again on the mound against Josh Beckett.  No reason to believe the Red Sox can’t beat up on Sabathia again and that Beckett won’t be good again.  If they can get this thing back to Boston for game 6, that would be a good thing.

Game 4 Disaster

Talk about a complete collapse.  No hitting, no pitching.  For a 3rd straight ALCS game in a row, a Red Sox starter couldn’t get past the 5th inning.  Tim Wakefield pulled the quintessential Wakefield performance, marked by absolutely dominating stuff for a while and then the wheels came off…quickly.  Manny Delcarmen was brought in to douse the fire, but he must have been packing gasoline.

So now what?  Game 5 Thursday night in Cleveland.  Of course it is a must-win, but just what can the Red Sox hope for if they win?  Back to Boston for game 6 and maybe 7 with Curt Schilling and Daisuke Matsuzaka?

Sure manager Terry Francona could have started Josh Beckett on 3 days rest, but that is far beside the point.  Boston starters not named Josh Beckett have been beyond disappointing.  You’d think such highly paid, highly skilled performers would do more than, well, crumble.

Now that I’ve called out he pitching staff, the offense gets its medicine too.  We saw too little, too late home runs from Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez.  Guys like Dustin Pedroia, Julio Lugo, Coco Crisp and  JD Drew just have not shown up.  Guys, this is the playoffs.  There isn’t always a "tomorrow" in the playoffs.

The Red Sox are one step away from hot stove talk.  I don’t know what else to say here.  We are seeing one of the most disappointing performances in a while.  As for the name of my posts, yesterday was a downer, today a disaster.  I would prefer writing something like "explosion" or "domination" after Thursday’s game.

Notes:  Fox did it’s best to create a story on the health of Josh Beckett.  Ken Rosenthal and Joe Buck really worked that angle…with no proof of course, just speculation.  Tim McCarver had a dousy tonight.  After Kevin Youkilis swung at the first pitch in his 2nd at bat, McCarver commented on the fact that the Red Sox were now swinging at Paul Byrd’s first pitch b/c so many had been thrown for first pitch strikes.  The problem with McCarver’s comment is that Youkilis was the first guy that inning to swing at a first pitch.  So why would he claim the Red Sox were now swinging at the first pitch when only one guy had done so?!?  A small, most likely unnoticed comment, but it drove me nuts.  McCarver, please retire tomorrow.

Time for bed and that will be the case for the Red Sox if they don’t figure things out quickly.

No News Tonight

The Yankees have issued the following statement:

“The meetings are adjourned for tonight. There have been no decisions made, nor will there be any comment today. The meetings will resume tomorrow.”

This is taking way too long.

Is Anybody Alive Out There?

To quote “Radio Nowhere”, is anyone on the East Coast awake right now? It’s 1:41am Tuesday morning and the Colorado Rockies are going to the World Series.

And, thanks to MLB scheduling, we won’t see the Rockies again until October 24th, eight days from now. Pretty sad and you have to imagine TBS is wondering why it spent so much on MLB playoff rights when all it got out of five series was four sweeps and one extra game. At least they got to promote “Frank TV”!

Now, Fox has to be praying for a Red Sox series win. Cleveland-Colorado in the World Series would be the coldest ever in ratings and temperature. As a baseball fan, you almost have to root for Boston- almost…..

ALCS Game 3 Downer

The Red Sox bent over and gave this one away.  I’m not sure why they couldn’t muster the intensity needed, but they looked slow, dim-witted and just plain bad against the Indians in game 3.

This game was not essential (obviously), but it would have brought the advantage back to the Red Sox.  I can’t put my finger on it, but again, I think they lacked intensity.  Also, J.D. Drew displayed weak body language after grounding out early in the game.  I understand "body language" is not scientific and probably an overused concept, but Drew basically hung his head after grounding out.  Lame.  How about running fast to first?

I am very bummed with the performance of the Red Sox.  It is starting to appear that their second half mediocrity is haunting them.  They are the better squad but they just aren’t showing it. right?

Rants:  Jason Varitek deserves some blame for the Kenny Lofton home run.  He called for the fastball which Daisuke had thrown extensively, Fox broadcasters specifically mentioned his use of fastball successfully, as a first pitch to Lofton.  The Red Sox had gone to the "well" too many times with the cheese.  Almost any major leaguer can hit a home run when he is expecting gas.  The book on the Indians is that they struggle with off-speed stuff and stuff that moves.  Why lay in the fastball on a first pitch, especially to a veteran like Lofton?  Daisuke didn’t wave off the call either fyi.

Fox also highlighted Royce Clayton giving Lofton the business about how long he took to get into the batters box when his turn was up prior to hitting a home run.  Enough sassing Royce, it didn’t work.  In fact, it looked really bad after the fact.

Dustin Pedroia has struggled mightily in the playoffs.  He is swinging at garbage and showing that his swagger and confidence got a bit diluted in the face of playoff baseball.  Time to shake off the nerves Dustin and start playing like you can play.

Was it written into Daisuke’s contract that he has to go to a full count on each batter he faces?  The guy is maddeningly inconsistent with his ability to throw K’s.  For a dude that has 7 pitches he can throw for strikes, he drives me crazy.  Perhaps they should refer to him as the pitcher that has 7 pitches he can occasionally throw for strikes.  I have to assume he either can’t handle the transition to a larger ball and different usage strategies, or he is just isn’t what we all hoped he would be.

David Ortiz, what were you thinking?  You had 110 feet to negotiate the liner by Manny that ultimately hit you in the inner thigh.  I hope it stings a bit tonight.

Jason Varitek, you redeemed youself, generating the only offense of the night.  Against Jake Westbrook.  Right, him, yup, the guy no one else could get to.

Game 4 Tuesday night at 8pm or so.  Wakefield (or Beckett on 3 days rest perhaps) against Byrd.

Wasted Opportunity

The Red Sox were able to get to Fausto Carmona last night essentially neutralizing the Cleveland Indians 2nd best weapon (behind C.C. Sabathia).  But the Red Sox wasted the opportunity by pitching poorly themselves, early and late.

Curt Schilling fell hard to Earth as far as his post-season reputation is concerned and Eric Gagne proved once and for all he should not be on the playoff roster.  He has not had a stretch since being acquired where one could say he has been effective.  If the Red Sox are lucky enough to advance, I think Eric Gagne will get an early vacation.  Good luck in free agency Eric.

Javier Lopez looked scared and Jon Lester ineffective.  I just don’t know how the Red Sox could allow 7 runs in the 11th (I only saw 4 of them cross the plate).  A very big letdown.  Demoralizing in fact.

In Cleveland Monday night for a 7:07pm start (or whenever Fox gets around to allowing the first pitch).  The Red Sox better hope their veteran leadership core will help the team forget this loss and back to their winning ways.  Daisuke Matsuzaka v. Jake Westbrook.  If you can’t tell, I think this loss was a bad one.

Bonus

The Red Sox got some serious bonus pay last night with C.C. Sabathia being so, so bad.  No one expected Sabathia to lay an egg, but he did just that.  This was great news b/c the game 1 match-up was supposed to be so tough.  It also forced the Indians deep into their bullpen (3.2 IP).

Tonight Fausto Carmona, a very different pitcher, will try to even the score and don’t expect another egg.

Peter asked for a prediction from me for this round.  Well, I’m not usually into predictions, that’s his category.  Also, there is now 1 game done, so a prediction from me is likely to be greeted with scorn and ridicule, much like the other aspects of my life…sniffles.  Anyway, Red Sox in 6 (I know, I know, they are already up 1-0).

8:07 pm start:  Schilling vs Carmona

The Way To Deal With A-Rod

"This will mark the beginning of a national prominence for a franchise."- Scott Boras on the Texas Rangers right after A-Rod signed the richest contract in sports.

And yet, three years later, Texas traded A-Rod to New York and I am pretty sure they are still looking for national prominence or maybe just their own fans to care about them after Dallas Cowboys training camp opens. 

So, what do the Yankees do now with A-Rod?  First the facts.  Right now, they are scheduled to pay him $16-million in ’08, $17-million in ’09 and $18-million in ’10.  He will receive in addition from Texas $8-million in ’08, $7-million in ’09 and $6-million in ’10.  So, he is scheduled to make a combined $24-million in each of the next three years.  (There is also deferred money which Texas is responsible for)  In addition, there is a clause in the deal that essentially will give A-Rod a raise of $5-million per year in ’09 and ’10, you can sort through the actual details of that here.  Add it all up and New York will have to pay A-Rod $61-million over the next three seasons if he doesn’t opt out and A-Rod would receive $82-million total for those three years. 

Now, before we begin discussing his value, let’s look at another quote: 

”Obviously my age had a lot to do with it.  If I were 32, it wouldn’t have been 250. It probably would’ve been more like 120 and that wouldn’t have made such a big splash. It’s a unique contract because of my age. Being a free agent now is so different. I feel good about it, though.”- Alex Rodriguez at age 25, right after he signed his record deal.

I bet Scott Boras doesn’t want anyone to read that quote because his client just happens to be 32 and that is significant.  Yes, Boras will talk about playing until he is 45, but that is a stupid bet for a baseball team to make.  The fact is, and the Yankees have seen this a lot in the past few years, few players do anything once they hit 40, the clock is against him.  Wilile Mays had his last truly great season at 34 and his last season in 1973 at the age of 42 was awful.  Hank Aaron’s last two years at the ages of 41 and 42 were also sad reminders of his past glory.  So, I think anything over eight years for A-Rod is the equivalent of baseball suicide.

So, I say the Yankees should offer to add five more years to his current deal. That will keep him in New York through the 2015 season at which point he will be 40. Offer him something along the lines of $32-million a year which is overly generous and remind him that by accepting the terms he will be mentioned in history as one of the greatest players ever to play for the greatest franchise in baseball.  Tell him he can be the last name announced on Old Timer’ s Day and when he goes into the Hall of Fame, he will go in as a Yankee, having played 12 seasons here.  Give him some sort of option for 2016 based on playing time and then add one more detail…..

Tell him and Scott Boras that all of this goes away if he opts out and that all of this becomes public too.  Boras is a master at creating leverage and one way he does it is by using the Yankees as a threat. He will tell clubs that New York is interested even if they are not and that drives up prices for his clients.  It’s smart, but not something you can let him do. If A-Rod truly loves New York he will jump at that deal, if not, he can go out and seek his 12-year/$30-million deal somewhere else and cement his reputation as a baseball nomad.