Baltimore Orioles (93-69) at New York Yankees (95-67)
The two teams that battled for the AL East over 162 games now face each other for five to see who advances to the ALCS. Because that’s fair. The teams split the season series 9-9, with Baltimore outscoring New York by two in those games (the Orioles did end the season with a positive run differential, for those of you keeping track). The Orioles are this year’s Cinderella team, making the postseason for the first time since 1997, which was also the last time they had a winning record. The Yankees, meanwhile, are in their 28th postseason series since that year.
Baltimore’s offense this year was all about the home run. The Orioles don’t walk much—11th in the league in OBP—or hit for a very high average—10th. They are last in stolen bases and 10th in hits. On top of that, their best contact hitter, Nick Markakis, broke his thumb in a totally innocent and not at all suspicious accident and is still out for a few more weeks. But the Orioles were second in the league in home runs, and there are power threats littered throughout the lineup. From Mark Reynolds to Matt Wieters to J.J. Hardy to Chris Davis to Adam Jones—who had a breakout season this year—nearly everyone is a threat to hit it out. Facing the Yankees, who play in a home run haven and trot out pitchers with a tendency to give up the long ball, that will obviously come up. Continue reading »
The $254 Million Man
The Yankees have finally won a game, so all is right with the baseball world. But John S still hasn’t broken down the American League, so has the season really begun?
1. Texas Rangers
2. Los Angeles Angels*
3. Oakland Athletics
4. Seattle Mariners
On a scale of 1 to 10, how scared are you of Albert Pujols joining the American League? Well, he’s not in the AL East, so I’m not that scared. I’m more concerned about his ability to drain the next few MVP races of any real intrigue…
Pick a number! OK, OK… 8. It is interesting how changing leagues can totally change how I view a player. When someone is in the NL, I can be somewhat objective about him, evaluating him on talent or personality. But when a player is in the AL, I judge him almost entirely on how he affects the Yankees. I bear grudges against any player who beats the Yankees dramatically (Damn you, Marco Scutaro, for your walk-off home run against Mariano Rivera in 2007!), or who robs a Yankee of a personal achievement (Damn you, Josh Hamilton for stealing Robinson Cano’s MVP in 2010! Damn you, Justin Morneau, for stealing Derek Jeter’s in 2006! And damn you, Pat Hentgen, for stealing Andy Pettitte’s Cy Young in 1996!), or insults a Yankee (Damn you, Dallas Braden, for your insolent mound bullshit in 2010!). Continue reading »
What we read while getting ready for our huge Ramadan party…
What we read while Derek Jeter got even more insufferable…
I was seven years old when Derek Jeter played his first game at shortstop for the New York Yankees—by the time his new contract ends I will be at least 26. It’s easy to gloss over those numbers at first because it seems like trivia, but it’s worth letting them sink in.
To put these facts in perspective, here is a brief list of things that have changed in my life over the course of time that Derek Jeter has been the starting shortstop for the New York Yankees: Everything.
I’m exaggerating, but only slightly. Fifteen years is a very long time. Continue reading »
New York Yankees (95-67) at Minnesota Twins (94-68)
In many ways, this is a rematch of last year’s Division Series—the main way being that these same two teams played each other in last year’s Division Series. But things are much different now. The Twins are no longer the underdogs that snuck into the playoffs at the last minute, and the Yankees are no longer the dominant force in the AL. The Twins went 48-26 after the All-Star Break, essentially wrapping up the AL Central with a month to go. The Yankees, on the other hand, stumbled down the stretch, losing the AL East to Tampa Bay and settling for the Wild Card thanks to a 13-17 record in September/October. In other words, do not expect a repeat of last year’s one-sided Yankees sweep.
Continue reading »
What we read while taking advantage of the estate tax loophole…
- We can think of nothing better than spending a 12-hour blind date with Dostoevsky.
- Get this: The colon is making a: Comeback!
With the MLB All-Star Game come and gone, it’s time for John S and Tim to look back at their pre-season (well, more like 5 days into the season) predictions and see where they stand now. Here’s John S looking back on what he got right and what he got dead wrong.
What I Got Right
We should start in the AL West, where I made probably my best call in picking Texas to beat LA for the division title. As I expected, the Angels have taken a big step backwards—they are only three games above .500, and their run differential is -24. A lot of that is due to a rough patch the team hit shortly after the devastating injury to Kendry Morales, but a lot of it also has to do with a mediocre rotation. Joe Saunders and Scott Kazmir, the two veterans of the staff, have turned in lousy seasons, and the team is 11th in the AL in runs allowed.
Meanwhile, Texas has been even better than I anticipated. They have the biggest divisional lead of any first place team in the majors, and their run differential is better than every non-AL East team in baseball. And the only glaring weakness of the Rangers—the lack of a real ace—was addressed by trading a package centered on Justin Smoak for Cliff Lee. The Rangers won’t be able to resign Lee, but he makes them a legitimate pennant contender this year. Continue reading »
Jorge Posada returned to the Yankee lineup Wednesday night after over two weeks on the DL. If you don’t actively follow the Yankees, though, you may not have even realized he was gone. Posada is not the kind of marquee player whose injury would be national news.
Even though the last few weeks haven’t been the best for the Yankees, it’s not really like the Yankees have missed Posada so much—Francisco Cervelli’s surprising performance (he’s put up a .383 OBP and a stunning 1.442 OPS with 2 outs and runners in scoring position, albeit in an extremely small sample) has made Posada’s absence more palatable. Even before Posada’s injury, there was talk that he should become the team’s full-time DH to make room for Cervelli.
This isn’t really new. Being underappreciated seems to be Posada’s destiny. The most anonymous of the Core Four has flown under the radar throughout his career.
If you live in the New York area, have ever watched the YES Network, or picked up Sports Illustrated a few weeks ago, then you’re already familiar with the term “The Core Four.” This is how we insufferable Yankee fans refer to the quartet of teammates—Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, and Jorge Posada—that have been with the team since the beginning of the Yankee Dynasty in 1996. All four players made their MLB debut with the Yankees in 1995 and would go on to play major roles in the Yankee championships of the late ’90s, 2000, and then again last season. When critics point out (fairly) that the Yankees can sign free agents and assemble a roster of All-Stars seemingly at will thanks to their bottomless pockets, fans point to the Core Four as the four examples of homegrown talent that the Yankees didn’t have to “buy.” Earlier this season Jeter, Rivera, and Posada became the first trio of teammates in any major professional sport to play together for 16 consecutive seasons—a pretty remarkable fact in the era of free agency, even for the Yankees. Pettitte would have joined them, if not for a three-year stint with the Houston Astros from 2004-2006 that Yankee fans conveniently ignore in their memory. Continue reading »
Well, we’ve reached the big boys of the American League, which, despite what Tim might tell you, means we’ve reached the big boys of MLB. Each of the last three AL Champions, and two of the last three World Series winners, have been from the AL East, and it’s been a different team each time. You can make a very reasonable argument that three of the six best teams in baseball are in the AL East, which means one of them is going to get left out of the playoffs. There’s also the fact that—allegedly—the Baltimore Orioles are getting better, meaning the 19 “easy” games in the division won’t be as easy anymore. Even so, the Wild Card will almost certainly come out of this division. After all, it has every year since 2006. Continue reading »