Thursday, August 20, 2009

Come And Sit Down, I Made You Some Delicious Link Stew

After a stretch of 16 games during which the Yankees wen 13-3, we've come to another off night. As Matt pointed out this morning, summer is fading fast and the season is somehow already 3/4 over. But we've still got two and a half weeks 'til Labor Day and are sitting on the precipice of a series with the Red Sox that could leave the Yanks anywhere between 3.5 and 10.5 games up in the division with 38 to play.

The Sawx are in action tonight as Jon Lester faces Brett Cecil at the Rogers Centre, but unless you are within broadcast area of NESN or TSN, or subscribe to, you are out of luck.

If you are in the Hartford area and happen to like shitty music, you might run into some of the Yankees at the Creed concert at The Meadows Comcast Center New England Dodge Music Center The Meadows (once again).

If you elect to stay home, you can catch Mark Teixeira on the Late Night Show with David Letterman giving an outdoor batting demonstration. (h/t to PeteAbe on both of those)

A little while back we looked at Derek Jeter's defensive renaissance and surmised that of all the possible reasons he was a better fielder this year, his improved defensive positioning was likely the most important. Yesterday, Sweeny Murti of WFAN talked to first base coach Mick Kelleher and got some sound bytes concerning the adjustments he made to not only the Captain, but Cano as well. It's certainly worth a read/listen.

River Ave Blues points us to an E:60 segment on the Yankees' ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte (he has one glove that fits both hands, in case you were wondering). The Yanks drafted him in the 20th round of the '08 draft and he's yet to reach a level of minor league baseball he hasn't dominated. Even if it's just a Rudy-style moment, how great would it be if he got to the Big Leagues at some point?

David Robertson has the highest strikeout per 9 IP ratio of any reliever in the big leagues at 13.2. Marc Carig takes a look at how he's been pulling it off. I like Robertson, but he's been used almost exclusively in low leverage innings until recently, so we'll have to see if he's the next Edwar Ramirez, who saw his strikeout ratios fall as the league adjusted to him, or someone who can contribute in the long run.


In light of the fact that one of the 10 trending topics on Twitter two days ago was "F-A-R-V-E", Joe Posnanski jokingly hypothesizes that perhaps Brett is really just on a quest to get people to spell his name right.

Plaxico Burress is going to jail for two years. I'm not sure if it's an "American tragedy", but it sucked to be a Giants fan when it happened. This is from the beginning of April, but it will do for now as well.


As someone who used to live a block away from Central Park, I find this to be pretty sad. I'm not going to cry about it like the one lady in the article, though.

Here's an interactive graph of every homicide in the City by location since 2003. Over 6 years 3,488 doesn't really seem like that many, does it?


I'm not a MMA fan by any stretch, but I'm kind of fascinated by Fedor Emelianenko. At Slate, Tim Marchman talks about how his absence from the UFC might be the one thing that keeps the sport out of the big time. Money quote: "UFC may be to mixed martial arts what MLB is to baseball—but Albert Pujols doesn't play in Japan". If you've got some time on your hands, here's the first part of an interesting documentary on him. It'd be a lot better if Jay Glazer wasn't so annoying and the phrase "Baddest Man on the Planet" wasn't said 150 times, though.

The Search For Mo's Best Streak

As I noted in last night's recap, Mariano Rivera converted his 32nd consecutive save opportunity last night dating back to April 29th, a set a new career high. This streak includes 43 appearances, during which he had a ERA of 1.85 and a K/BB ratio of 46/8. However, this span also included two losses (both to the Rays) one in which he gave up two homers and the other where he allowed 4 runs (3 earned).

As we all know, the save is an arbitrary and flawed statistic, so I was curious find out how this stretch stacked up with others in his career and what his finest streak really was. Using's Play Index Streak Finder (you can subscribe to the PI for $5/month or $30/year), I started running some queries.

It turns out that Mo has had eerily similar runs starting sometime in April and running to various points throughout August in four out of the last 5 years.

In the months of May, June and July over the past 5 years he's blown ONE SAVE, on June 17th, 2006 against the Nationals. Chew on that for a second. 15 months of baseball, one blown save. 133 save chances, 132 saves. It's sort of cherry picking months of the season, and he's had some difficulties in non-save situations over that span, but he has been incomparable at locking down wins once he hits his stride in the season. And he was 35 years old in 2005.

Every year, he has some rough patches in April, when he's still finding his grove which cause people to get panicky. And he hits a couple of bumps in the road in August when the 40 something appearances he's accrued start to catch up with his arm, which cause others to wonder if there's something wrong with him, but there never is. You could set your watch to the guy. He's a man-chine.

If you look at those streaks, it's clear that the one in 2005, which he just "surpassed" in terms of saves, was the best. He had a 0.71 ERA, allowed just 31 hits and 8 walks in 50 2/3 IP (0.769 WHIP) and struck out 56. The 2008 version was also slightly better since he pitched more innings to a lower ERA.

It all depends on how you want to slice it. He had a streak of 88 games from April of '97 to July of '98 where he didn't give up more than more earned run in any appearance and had a 1.40 ERA. He did blow 9 saves and take 3 losses, but never both in the same game. During 71 outings from June 2003 to May 2004, he also didn't give up more than one ER at a time over that stretch and had only 5 blown saves and two losses.

There was one other streak without a blown save which spanned two seasons, which didn't fit in with the April/August iterations above, and it actually turns out to be the best of them all.

During this one, he went 44 appearances and 52 1/3 IP without a blown save or a loss, including the 12 1/3 IP in the postseason. As part of that run, from July 22nd, 1999 through the sweep of the Braves in the World Series, over 36 games and 43 IP, he didn't allow a single run. It's also worth noting that the current streak only includes 32 saves while this one has 33.

I believe that's the winner, folks. I'm guessing there has never been another streak like it, which included a scoreless postseason and World Series victory, but you're more than welcome to pony up the $5 to B-R, pull up the Streak Finder and try to prove me wrong.

Remy Returns To Red Sox Booth

As the Yanks head into Boston for a big weekend series, here's a little follow-up on an item we posted last week. With the Yanks on the west coast with 10 PM start times for the past week, I've been keeping tabs on the Red Sox games during the earlier evening hours. During last night's telecast they announced that Jerry Remy will return to the NESN booth for this weekend's series.

Remy's return will be on a part-time basis, so with Fox and ESPN grabbing the Saturday and Sunday games respectively, Remy will have a good series to ease himself back into things. While I'm glad he's back, I hope the Yankees make his return a game to forget.

In unrelated announcer news, Michael Kay's vacation during the west coast trip, combined with the two off days, and the two national telecasts this weekend, mean that he'll call just one Yankee game in a twelve day stretch. I'm not going to complain about that at all. I don't think my liver (or my ears) can take much more than that.

Chalk One Up For The Bloggers

If it wasn't for Cliff Corcoran from Bronx Banter I might have lived the rest of my life thinking Shane Rawley was on the Yankees in 1980...

Not to disparage Kepner at all since his Twitter feed is a must-follow for Yankees fans, but more to praise Cliff because he gives a good name to us mother's basement-dwellers (even if he does write for too). Kepner's got 2,328 other followers and I doubt one of them even thought to double check that stat - myself included. If you are on Twitter, follow Cliff as well. He puts up some great stuff over there.

These Days Is Almost Gone

Good morning Fackers. It's another off day. While these are never enjoyable, the off day today and next Monday, bookending the Boston series, are functional in that they've allowed the Yankees to align their rotation just as they want it: lining up their three best starters for this series, skipping Joba to limit his innings, skipping Mitre because he's not a good pitcher, and getting Chad Gaudin some much needed work.

Yet these off days are also a harbinger of things to come. Last night was Game 121, meaning the season is now 75% over (74.7% for you math majors). We're less than two weeks away from rosters expanding, minor league seasons ending, and the pennant races hitting the home stretch. Summer's on its way out the door and it won't be very long before baseball isn't a daily luxury any longer (though of course, I hope that it is for the Yankees longer than it is for anyone else).

Already, as I drive home from work at night, I notice the baseball fields are empty. But yet when I get home, Pop Warner practices are in full swing in the fields across the stream behind my house. They seem to be ending a bit earlier with each passing night, as the daylight is fleeting. The Yankees just completed a series in which coaches and bench players were routinely seen in jackets and sweatshirts, on a field that has hash marks and yard markers painted on it. NFL camps are in full swing. I don't know if I'm football starved, or if it was just because the Yanks didn't start until 10, but I was bordering on excited to watch a meaningless Giants pre-season game Monday night.

College football, which I enjoy far more than the NFL, has its camps going as well, with most teams having one or two intrasquad scrimmages already complete. USA Hockey just concluded its orientation camp in preparation for February's Winter Olympics and NHL camps are only about three weeks away from kicking off.

In the meantime, it's still an off day, and we've got space to fill. As crazy as we are about baseball here in the northeast, they're likely crazier about college football in the south. Two years ago, as part of's E-Ticket (now Outside the Lines) series, Wright Thompson authored a feature about the south's love of college football. It's a great piece of writing, and one that I read again before last season and just recently in anticipation of the upcoming season. But it also reminds me of my own feelings about baseball, and the build up to spring training and Opening Day each year. So if you get bored with no Yankee baseball today, give it a read.

Soon, for the first time since the NBA finals wrapped in June, MLB won't be the only major sport that's in season. So enjoy these last few weeks where baseball has the national landscape to itself. These days is almost gone.

Happily Heading East

It was going to be a long flight either way, but the Yankees just made the red eye to Boston a whole lot more tolerable. Even though they lost back to back games on Sunday and Monday, they won both series out West and during a stretch where the Red Sox went 4-2, they picked up a half game in the standings.

The top third of the order accounted for bascially all of the offense against Brett Anderson or otherwise last night. Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira each scored a run and Teix drove in all three on a groundout in the first and a two run shot to left in the second. The only other Yankee hit was Nick Swisher's single in the fourth.

Chad Gaudin put together a start in place of Joba Chamberlain which resembled something Joba himself might have done. He didn't allow a run, the only hit Gaudin gave up was a single to Adam Kennedy to lead off the bottom of the first and he struck out 5 batters. However, the five walks he issued drove up his pitch count and kept him from getting the win. Two of the walks came in the 5th inning and after 90 pitches he was lifted with the bases loaded and one out in favor of Alfredo Aceves.

I prefer to think of Gaudin's start tonight as a great long relief appearance which just happened to occur at the beginning of the game. Which isn't really a bad thing when you have a bullpen that has been pitching as well as the Yankees'. With a projected pitch limit of ~85 and the tendency to walk a lot of batters, Gaudin wasn't expect to go very deep into the game. In fact, before the first pitch Mark Feinsand predicted that he'd go exactly 4 1/3 innings on Twitter.

Aceves needed only two pitches to induce an inning-ending double play from Yankee-killer Kurt Suzuki and get the Yankees out of trouble when he was summoned from the bullpen. It wasn't all smooth sailing for Alf, though. Jack Cust chipped in with this first home run since July 20th and his first RBI since 7/23 on a solo homer off of Aceves with two out in the 6th. The A's picked up another two out run in the 7th after Rajai Davis singled, stole second and scored on a single by Mark Ellis.

In all, Alf went 2 1/3 and gave up 4 of the 6 hits and the only two runs the A's scored in the game, but didn't relinquish the lead. Phil Coke came on for the final out of the 7th, Phil Hughes worked into and out of trouble in the 8th and Mo mowed them down in the 9th. It was Rivera's 32nd consecutive save converted, the longest such streak in his career.

It wasn't the crisp pitcher's duel that a final score of 3-2 sometimes indicates, but it wrapped up in just over two and a half hours nonetheless. Each of the games in the series finsihed in under three hours, a fact which wasn't that the A's are 15.5 games behind the Red Sox in the Wild Card standings. It was much appreciated by those of us who stayed up to watch the games on the East Coast.

And they ended on a high note.