Friday, May 29, 2009

Game 48: Ohio

Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We're finally on our own,
This summer I hear the drummin',
Four dead in Ohio.
[Yankee related sidenote: This song is about the infamous Kent State Massacre back in 1970. KSU is the alma mater of both Stick Michael and Ohio native Thurman Munson and the baseball field there is named in Michael's honor.]

While the Yankees were down in Texas this week, the Indians did a commendable service to everyone in the A.L. East, save from the Rays, that is. Heading into the series with a record of 17-28, the Indians pulled off a four game sweep which included a 7 run, 9th inning comeback, a dominant outing by Carl Pavano, overcoming a 5 run first inning defecit, and a mix and match pitchers duel where 4 hurlers combined to hold the Rays to one run

As it stands now, the Rays are tied for last place in the AL East and have lost much of the preseason shimmer that had carried over from their World Series run last year. Their "ace" Scott Kazmir has a 7.69ERA in 9 starts and is currently on the 15 day DL along with closer Troy Percival who was also quite ineffective (6.35ERA). They've scored the most runs in the AL, and as a result, their Pythagorean W-L record says they should be 28-22 instead of the 23-27 they find themselves at as opposed to last year, when they outperformed their run differential by 5 games.

The Indians are also underperforming their Pythag of 24-25, but that is clearly inflated by the 10-2 and 22-4 wins against the Yankees in their first meeting of the year. They are at 11-11 against the AL East, which is pretty impressive considering they are 10-17 against the rest of the league and they haven't even faced the Orioles yet!

Tonight's pitching match-up squares off lefties Cliff Lee and Andy Pettitte. It is the third such southpaw showdown the Yanks have been a part of in the past six days. 

Lee, last year's Cy Young Award winner stumbled out of the gate but has seemingly righted the ship. In his last eight starts he is averaging over 7 1/3 innings pitched and has a 1.86ERA. During that stretch, he lowered his ERA from 6.75 to 3.04. Pettitte, on the other hand has exactly one quality start in his past five outings, but despite all of that has a record of 4-1 as opposed to Lee's 2-4. Lee has already lost more games than he did all of last year - 3.

The most significant note for the Yankees is that Jorge Posada has returned to the line up. Amazingly, since he went on the DL on May 5th, the Yankees have gone 14-7, but he will be a welcome addition to the batting order, nonetheless. As Matt suspected, Kevin Cash has been optioned to Scranton to make room.

Yesterday morning, Joel Sherman had this to say about Jorge behind the plate:
Posada's defense has regressed in recent years, and we are not just talking about his throwing after shoulder surgery. Pitchers do not generally enjoy pitching to him for a variety of reasons, including his inadequacy at framing pitches and his sketchy game calling.

But the general point here is that the Yankees are playing a cleaner, crisper game than they have over the past few years. It is probably not coincidence that it happened with Posada out with injury.
No, Joel, it probably is just a coincidence. Welcome back, Jorge. Let's go Yanks. 

"Bring Your Z-Game"

Via Craig from Shysterball over at Circling the Bases today, please check out Gregg Zaun's website, and definitely don't skip the intro (watch the volume, however).

He's got "Z-Tunes" from Rush and System of a Down, and would like to inform you that his uncle Pat competes in the World Long Drive Championships and is available to build you a driver if you would like to as well! Take a look "Behind the Mask" or become a member of the "Zaunbie Nation" (approximate enrollment: +/- 7).

Friday Injury Update

"It's Friday. You ain't got no job; you ain't got shit to do"

It is Friday. But I do have a job and I have a ton of shit to do, so I'm left counting down the hours to a weekend that won't really even exist for me. How about some good news regarding the Yankees walking wounded?
  • Jorge Posada will be activated from the DL for tonight's game. Sayanora Kevin Cash!

  • Melky Cabrera will rejoin the the team today. His injury is just a bruise and will supposedly keep him out 5 to 7 days, but he will not need to go on the DL. At least that's what the team says. They've been wrong (or lied) before.

  • Brian Bruney got a clean bill of health from Dr. James Andrews. There's no ligament damage; his problems are being caused by the same flexor muscle that landed him on the DL in the first place. The bad news is there's no timetable for his return.

  • Xavier Nady got into his first extended spring training game yesterday. As the DH, he went 2 for 5 with a HR and a BB. He's slated to start throwing on Monday.

  • Molina, Ransom, and Marte worked out at the minor league complex. Marte did not throw.

A Hypothetical Ponderance - How Much For A Year Behind Bars?

This one comes to you from a follow-up post Jason at IIATM,S did about his new site "Vote For Manny". The original post suggested that people vote Manny Ramirez for the All-Star Game mostly to promote chaos and see what would happen if Manny did work his way into the top three vote-getters. I wholeheartedly support the movement, mainly because I'm in favor of anything that makes Bud Selig uncomfortable. Get out there and vote, friends. 

In under one day, the site got some serious publicity and with that came lots of people who took the name of the idea at face value and left a lot of stupid anonymous comments and probably some angry email in Jason's inbox. All of that caused Jason to put up this post Wednesday night, clarifying his intentions. (Of course, some people are still missing the point.) 

As so often happens, I found a really interesting nugget in Jason's post. Trying to frame the usage of PED's in over the years in baseball, he asks:
Here's my question: If you were promised $200 million once you were done serving a 1 year jail sentence, would you serve the time? Would you risk the shame and embarrassment for generational wealth?
This is an extreme example, obviously. For most players the question would have been closer to "several million dollars if there was a chance of being sent to prison for a year", but I like Jason's hypothetical better. 

How much money would you need in return for one year in prision?

Let's assume that it's a maximum security joint and you go in a week from now. There are no TVs. You have a roommate and it's not John Coffey. No conjugal visits. You are in with the regular inmate population, and they all think that you committed, say, armed robbery or whatever crime you choose. We've all heard about the terrible things that happen in jail and you get no guarantees on your safety and no special treatment. Odds are you will make it out alive, but there's no promises you do. 

You eat the slop they serve you. Your toilet is right in your cell. You have to listen to whatever inmates who are serving life sentences scream throughout the cell block to each other at night. You can't chisel your way our behind a Rita Hayworth poster and you don't have the Squirrelmaster to protect you. Michael Scofield isn't bailing you out of this one. You are locked up in the clink, behind bars for one full year, no getting out early for good behavior. 

How much would it take for you to trade in one year of your freedom and dignity? 


I'll go first - For me, $200 million would be an absolute no brainer. Lock me up! But I think it's more interesting if you treat it like the Price is Right: You can't go over. Make your lowest offer and if it's too high, it doesn't get accepted. 

I'm going with twenty five million United States Dollars, after taxes. I'm 24 years old and single, so I don't have a family I would be pining to see on a daily basis when I was locked up. It would be like doing all the work you would ever have to do in your life in a one year span. Except instead of "work", you'd be reading books, doing a shitload of push-ups and trying to steer clear of dudes named "Roach" who could potentially shiv you in the courtyard.  

I took three one week intensive courses in college where you take the same class for 5 days from 9-5 and receive full three credits upon completion. Sure, listening to a professor drone on about fucking Discrete Probability for two three and a half hour sessions a day was mind numbing. However, every memory of those classses were blocked from my memory within about a week and during the following semester, I didnt have any classes before 10:30 and had every Friday off. 

Money can't buy you happiness, but it can certainly buy you freedom. $25 million bucks isn't that much money, when you consider that 11 guys on the Yankees are in the middle of deals with higher total values (and they get to play baseball, not go to jail). But even if you could get a 1% a year return on it, that's a $250,000 per annum, and you would be able to take advantage of it 24/7/365. Travel, write, golf, get a couple graduate degrees, take a badass baseball road trip, whatever. 

Your turn. 

Not A Bad Place To Be On A Night Off

(Photos via Yahoo)

Man, being a professional athlete sure has it's perks, doesn't it? They may have gotten shut out of the Ritz Carlton last night in favor of a Saudi princess, but several Yanks caught the Cavs vs. Magic game in style. That's Robby Cano and CC checking in with Jay-Z pictured above. Even some of the beat writers got in on the action.

In addition to the Yanks, Jigga and the LoHud of the Rings"Ben Roethisberger", errr, Brady Quinn (the real Big Ben was there too), Kerry Wood and Carl Pavano all saw the Cavs crawl back to 3-2. Only 4% of NBA teams who get down 3-1 in a playoff series come back to win, but I can't bet against LeBron. I think it's his time. 

Sager: CC, the year you won the Cy Young, your team, the Indians, were up on the Boston Red Sox 3-1 but couldn't close them out. How much do you think a championship would mean to this city?

Sabathia: I'm sorry Craig, could you repeat the question? I couldn't concentrate because I was fighting the urge to strangle you with your ridiculous tie.  

Isn't it amazing how often A-Rod gets a picture taken of him where he looks like a complete and total douche? Would you even want to hang out with him for a night if you could? I'm assuming he'd pick up the tab which would make it significantly more tempting. 
 Mo, on the other hand, looks like he's walking in to "Enter Sandman" no matter where he goes. I would kill with hang with him for a night at his restaurant and talk baseball. 

Which Yankee would you most like to chill with? One night out, on them, your choice of activities. Ladies, it can't be Derek Jeter and "rolling around in bed", okay?