What we read while Aaron Craft took a “charge”…
What we read while sorting through binders full of bad binders full of women jokes…
What we read while picking the worst day to skydive from only 23 miles up…
What we read while Oprah commenced Phase Two…
Just put him on...
Alas, the Yankees have lost the ALCS. There are many things you can blame for this sad reality, most notably the fact that the Rangers pitched and hit better than the Yankees throughout the series. But one thing that certainly didn’t help matters was the absurd number of intentional walks issued at the behest of Joe Girardi.
Two of the series’ key turning points were centered on intentional walks. First, in Game 4, with A.J. Burnett pitching as well as anyone could have expected and the Yankees leading 3-2, Vlad Guerrero led off the sixth with a single. Nelson Cruz replaced him at first on a fielder’s choice, and then, in a smart baserunning play, went to second on a deep fly ball to center. This move was so smart because it left Girardi with something that, apparently, managers do not know what to do with: a base open.
You hear things like this all the time in baseball: “Well, you have a base open here, so you can pitch around him,” or “You may as well walk him with a base open.” Here is a quick note for managers: YOU WANT YOUR BASES TO BE OPEN. That is a good thing. It means you have fewer runners on base and, thus, fewer runners at risk of scoring. And yet having a runner a second base and not first for some reason makes managers think about this differently, as if there were no substantive difference between having two runners on and having only one.
Because I’m sure that, had Cruz not taken second, Girardi would not have done what he did,* which is intentionally walk David Murphy.** 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.
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Tim and I have each spent time challenging the uses and abuses of the English language. Josh, for his part, has highlighted words the make him cringe. It’s not unfair to say that we are sticklers for linguistic precision here at NPI.
So it is with this in mind that I take umbrage with the overuse of the phrase “must-win” in sports parlance. When the Yankees lost Game 1 of the World Series, people started calling the next game a “must-win” for New York. Except that it wasn’t. “Must” means that something has to happen, from the sheer force of necessity. The Yankees were down one game in a best-of-seven; they didn’t need to do anything. Continue reading »
The MLB All-Star Game is next week. I generally find All-Star Games of any sport relentlessly boring. A hodgepodge of very good players united for one game seems to contradict most of the basic tenets of a sporting philosophy: team consistency, sustained competitiveness, varying levels of talent, etc.
Apparently I am in the minority, because every year every team sport in America has one. And they seem popular.
(The only thing more perplexing to me than the popularity of All-Star Games is the popularity of the Home Run Derby. It seems like what is impressive about home runs is that they are hit in game scenarios against pitchers who are not trying to give up home runs, none of which is true in a Home Run Derby. The Home Run Derby seems like it should be an event in the World’s Strongest Man.)
I do concede that the All-Star Game makes for good discussions. Every year we get to argue over who got selected undeservedly, who got snubbed, etc.
And every year someone complains about how the All-Star Game decides which league will get home-field advantage in the World Series. This is, for many people, the worst tragedy since Rwanda. Yet, despite my almost total aversion to All-Star Games in general, it makes total sense to me. Continue reading »
It is currently an interesting time to be a New York baseball fan. Both the Mets and Yankees are in their opening seasons of heavily subsidized new stadiums. A common complaint about both of these stadiums is that the seat and food prices are too expensive and—unlike in past times—it is no longer feasible for middle class families to go to games multiple times per year. Wallace Matthews of Newsday critiques the owners for running the teams “as if they were hedge funds.”
I’m moderately sympathetic to this argument. I, for one, do not support using taxpayer money to fund the stadiums of two very profitable organizations. “The Yankees got $1.2 billion in tax-exempt bonds and $136 million in taxable bonds; the Mets got $697 million in tax-free bonds” to build their new stadiums according to Sports Illustrated. But, the Mets and the Yankees are not to blame; they are in business to make profit, so if the government is going to throw money their way, then it doesn’t surprise me that they take it. Ideally, I’d love them to be honorable and not take the funding, but that is too much to expect. The government, on the other hand, has the power to stop disbursing these bonds; the onus is on them to stop giving billions of dollars to already profitable organizations. Accordingly, I have trouble accepting the argument that because Citi Field and the new Yankee Stadium are subsidized, they somehow owe the fans—the taxpayers—affordable ticket prices.
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