Friday, September 25, 2009

Game 154: Empire State Of Mind

The Yankees return home tonight, coming off what was a pretty decent road trip. They got themselves in a 1-3 hole starting with a series loss to the Mariners, but won the last two against the Angels to break even on the six game swing.

This 3 game set in the Bronx will round out the Red Sox final road trip of the season. After dropping the first two against the Royals, the Sox rallied to halve the four game set and these next three against the Yanks will determine if it will be a winning or losing one. It will also determine if the season series between the two teams will be won by the Red Sox or be a wash. It currently sits at 9-6, so if the Yankees win all three, they can square it up.

The tiny superstitious part of me that hasn't been beaten down by studying game theory, years of analyzing market research data and attempting to do objective baseball analysis would rather see the Yankees simply take two out of three than sweep. I guess the fear is that a sweep would make it seem like the Red Sox were due to win some games should they meet in the ALCS.

However, I really hope that one of those two games is tonight. Young Master Joba only has two chances to come up with a respectable start or he might have to face the reality of being left off the postseason roster. His last start in Seattle was downright terrible and even his most ardent supporters need to see something good out of him tonight to regain some confidence in him. Not getting shelled would be nice. Making it though the sixth inning would be a pleasant surprise.

Jon Lester faces the Yanks tonight for the first time since throwing 7 innings of one run ball against them in the Boogie Down back on August 9th. He and Andy Pettitte were locked in a scoreless duel until the 7th inning that night when A-Rod took Lester deep. Victor Martinez answered with a two run homer in the top of the 8th but Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira countered with solo homers off of Daniel Baaahhhd in the bottom half to put the Yanks over the top.

That night the Yanks completed a 4 game sweep, went up 6.5 games up in the division and they haven't been separated by less than 5 games since. With the margin sitting at 5.5 right now, the Sox have the chance to breach that 5 game barrier.

When the schedule first came out in the beginning of the year, there was certainly the potential that this series could have more direct implications on the outcome of the divison. Nonetheless, there's a good chance some champagne will be popped at some point over the weekend. I'm just glad that the best case scenario for my team isn't celebrating it in the Stadium of the club we're trailing for first place.

Unlike the Red Sox, the Yanks got last night off, slept in their own beds and should be refreshed and ready to go as they open their final homestand of the year. Let's hope for an inspired performance from Joba et al. tonight.

Concrete jungle, where dreams are made of,
There's nothing you can’t do,
Now you’re in New York,
These streets will make you feel brand new,
Big lights will inspire you,
Let's hear it for New York, New York, New York.

Afternoon Quick Hits

It's Minimal Effort Day here at Fack Youk. It's Friday, we're all just trying to keep our eyes open.

From our graphical/interactive department:
  • How many Yankee captains can you name? (via the B-R blog) I got 7/11. If you get either of the first two or the guy between Ruth and Gehrig, I'll be really impressed.

  • Q: How often does the team with the best regular season record win the World Series?

    A: Not that often.
Some Yanks vs. Sox links:
Other stuff:
We'll be back with the preview in a little while.

More Terrible Pedroia Ads

[Snarky comments and copious decontrsuctions omitted this time]

Bonus version with alternate ending!

"That's Dustin Pedroia Hitting!"

By now you have probably heard about the comments Jim Rice made about Zack Greinke sometime yesterday (which have since been pulled down). I believe the Chirs Littman from The Sporting Blog may have been the first on the case, Baseball Think Factory picked up Littman's post, Joe Posnanski threatened to write 20,000 words on the comments (and inadvertently crashed the site), Bob Harkins from Circling the Bases took Rice to task, I linked to them in our off night post, and Posnanski did write something about it, just not the aforementioned 20,000 word retort.

What is boils down to was that Rice said Greinke had "sporadic command", "didn't impress" him and "didn't seem dominant." Since Greinke is having an all-time great season in terms of ERA+, he had been drawing statistical comparisons to all-time great pitchers. Rice was having none of this, saying, instead of a prime Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens, or Johan Santana, Greinke reminded him of a "righthanded Roger Moret".

You all remember ol' Rog', don't ya? He was the lanky left hander who spent parts of six seasons with the Red Sox starting in 1970. You know, the swing man with a career K/BB ratio of 1.20, who pitched over 100 innings in a season a whopping three times in his career and was out of baseball at age 28.

Anyway, the point of this post isn't to point out how stupid it is to judge a pitcher's dominance based on one start because JoePos already did that better than I possibly could. Once in a while Joba Chamberlain conjures up images of a young Roger Clemens and but other times you see Sidney Ponson. That's the nature of starting pitching. A 3.00 ERA equates to 2 runs over six innings. The trick is being effective over the long run.

The real reason I wrote this post is because even though I had already read what Rice wrote, I went back and clicked on the "Ask 14" website that the post originally came from. It was back up this morning and, just in time for the final regular season installment of the Red Sox and Yankees, I struck gold two posts down.

Okay, let's go over the assumptions you're asked to make while watching this commercial:
  1. Dustin Pedroia works for a 6 year old girl. At a minor league baseball stadium.

  2. Pedroia is totally cool with this arrangement.

  3. On this particular day, she orders him to jump on a trampoline which appears to be situated down the first baseline of the field.
Now, for the action sequence!
  • If you watch closely, Pedroia appears to materialize magically on the trampoline, an effect which, amazingly, someone had to specifically request and another person had to actually do, but serves absolutely no purpose in the context of the commercial other than to make it even less realistic.

  • At first, no one is watching Dusty jumping around on said trampoline, but then right in the middle of one of his front flips (which almost certainly violate the terms of his contract) other people suddenly materialize, including other children and several adults.

  • After the flips, someone in the crowd tosses him a glove and cheer wildly as he... wait for it... CATCHES THE BALL WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY JUMPING ON A TRAMPOLINE. IMPOSSIBLE!

  • And for his final trick/task for his six year old boss, lil' Dusty shows off his hitting prowess by making contact with a ball on a trampoline, which we are then lead to believe has left the park for a home run, and how conveniently, directly over a Sullivan Tire sign.
Sullivan Ti-ah Guy: That's Hall of Fame hitting!

Jim Rice: That's Dustin Pedroia hitting!

Sullivan Ti-ah Guy: When you-ah great at what you do, you can perfo-ahm well und-ah any cirah-cumstances! Thaht's what we've been doing fwah ovah fifty yeahs at Sullivan Ti-ah!
The funny part about this is how obviously contrived the connection they are trying to make is:
Dustin Pedroia is on a trampoline > Hitting baseballs on a trampoline takes a lot of skill > Getting into the Hall of Fame also takes a lot of skill > Jim Rice is in the Hall of Fame > Sullivan Tires can perform (sell tires?) "und-ah any cirah-cumstances!"
What are these circumstances? If there is a robbery taking place in the store, can you still mount and balance my new Michelins? If the location is flooded, will they still fix my flat?

Wow. Even if you leave all the other ridiculous shit the way it is, the Sullivan guy could just tell you that they sell tires that perform under any circumstances (snow tires, all-weather, racing, etc.) not they Sullivan Tire itself performs "under any circumstances" which doesn't make any sense at all.

I think people are so used to commercials, they usually just accept them at face value. They come at you during a barrage of other shitty marketing communications, most of which you either don't even acknowledge or simply dismiss offhand. But realize that every detail that goes into a 30 second TV spot has to be thought out and probably discussed with multiple other people. Which makes the above all the more laughable. If Sullivan Tire hired an outside agency to do this spot, they should really try to get some of their money back. If they did it themselves, they should probably think about hiring an outside agency.

And no discussion of terrible local advertising featuring a Red Sox player would be complete without this masterpiece from Route 125 Auto. I could write another 500 word break down of this marketing abomination but I think I'll pass.

Morning Round Up

Good morning Fackers. So the Red Sox won last night, keeping the Yankees magic number at five, meaning that the Yanks will need to sweep in order to clinch this weekend.

But the Yankees did get some good news late yesterday. Jerry Hairston Jr saw a hand specialist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital yesterday, and his MRI revealed nothing more serious than tendinits. He was given a second cortisone shot and is listed as day-to-day. Hairston certainly isn't out of the woods yet, but all things considered it's about the best news he could have received. With any luck he'll be good to go come the post-season, because as we explored yesterday and RAB echoed, his versatility would be difficult to replace.

Freddy Guzman would be a potential candidate to replace Hairston if his injury prevents him from being part of the post-season roster. Guzman was added to the 40 man and Major League rosters a week ago at the expense of Anthony Claggett. Claggett became the third young Yankee pitcher to be designated for assignment this season, and yesterday he became third to be claimed by the Pirates, joining Steven Jackson and Eric Hacker. I hope Claggett can get his career ERA under 30, but he may have a difficult time getting to PNC Park thanks to G20 Summit.

At the end of the 2006 season, the Yankees announced they were ending their 28 season affiliation with the Columbus Clippers to move their AAA affiliate to Pennsylvania so that it would be closer to New York. The affiliate is supposed to located in Dunder Mifflin country, but it's looking more and more like it's further west in PA.

As many have pointed out since yesterday's claim, seven men on the Pirates 40 man roster are former Yankee properties: the three aforementioned pitchers, as well as Jeff Karstens, Ross Ohlendorf, Daniel McCutchen, and Jose Tabata - the entirety of the Pirates haul from last year's Xavier Nady/Damaso Marte deal. Also in the Pirates system are Eric Fryer and Casey Erickson, who were acquired from the Yankees system in June in exchange for Eric Hinske. That's enough former Yankee farmhands to field an entire team. As bad as the Bucs have been for the past 17 years they might as well be a minor league team anyway.