Friday, October 2, 2009

Game 160: One More Chance

CC Sabathia will step to the mound tonight in search of his 20th victory of the season. The Big CCheese won 19 along with the AL Cy Young Award in 2007 and coincidentally has the same ERA (3.21) and the same record (19-7) that year as he does with one start to go in 2009. Odds are, one of those three numbers will change tonight, and likely, two of them will fluctuate.

The Tampa Bay Rays, led by David Price will be trying to see to it that the numbers that change are in the "loss" and "ERA" columns. This is not the position the Rays envisioned themselves in when this season began - long since eliminated from the postseason and simply playing out the string. The media darlings were predicted to contend for the AL East crown or at least the Wild Card but instead were pretty much out of the playoff picture when August came around.

A sort of symbol of the Rays struggles, Price has has a disappointing season as well. in 121 1/3 IP, he's stuck out 97, walked 52 and racked up a 4.60 ERA. When he was unveiled during last year's playoff run as a reliever, the general consensus was that he would be a force to be reckoned with one transitioned to the starting rotation. However, much like Joba Chamberlain, he's thrown too many pitches and walked too many batters. He's been better as of late though, carrying a 3.86 ERA over his last seven starts, including six innings of two run ball against the Yanks about three weeks ago.

Like Mr. Sabathia, Mike Mussina made a charge towards 20 wins last season notching victories in each of his last three starts including the last one against a division rival (the Red Sox) on the road, in a meaningless game (although meaningless for entirely different reasons). Paradoxically, Mussina did it with a higher ERA on a team with at least 13 fewer victories.

Should he complete the feat, Sabathia will have gone 10-0 in his last 12 starts to get 20 victories. CC will be the man of the night, whether he wants to acknowledge it or not:
Right now, to be honest, 20 wins is the last thing on my mind. I'm just trying to get ready to pitch on Wednesday. It would be great to be able to look back one day and say I won 20 games one year, but it's not a crazy goal.
He's not the type of guy who is going to make a big deal out of it, but I'm sure he's thinking about getting to the big 2-0. If you work the whole season and are within reach of that milestone for the first time in your career and you're going to want it pretty badly. He'll probably be putting a little more pressure on himself than usual, so it will be more interesting than your average playoff tune-up.

Big Poppa's only got one chance to do it. This year anyway.

Lyrically, I'm supposed to represent,
I'm not only the client, I'm the player president.

One more chance,
Biggie give me one more chance,
All I need is one more chance.

[Sidenote: The song choices have been a bit of a struggle lately, since we've ripped through 160 of them now, but this one might have been the easiest of the year. Sometimes they just fall into place.]

Programming Note

Sometime this morning, Blogger dropped an unexpected software change on our asses. All of a sudden, you can only put 10 tags on a post and each blog can have only 2,000 tags in total.

Well, by now you've probably noticed that we get a little tag-happy. I usually tried to hit the previous maximum of 200 characters on every post, regardless of the subject matter, partially for the resulting search traffic and partially just for the fuck of it. Unfortunately, this little habit has kind of backfired because by my count, we have nearly 4,350 individual tags ranging from "AssClowns" to "ZipTies".

That means that we can't put new tags on anything until we get back under that number. Since Blogger's software totally sucks, editing these labels incredibly tedious and I've got a pretty large mess on my hands that their Help Forums aren't going to be able to provide much assistance with. In the meantime we'll have get a little creative and re-use the tags we have.

As such, I won't be able to get to the Fall Beer Review I mentioned last night. But rest assured that Frank, John and I drank 6 Oktoberfests/Festbiers, 3 Harvest Ales and 4 Pumpkin Ales and recorded our reactions to them. It just has to be typed up and that's not happening today. I'll get it done over the weekend though and post it here on Monday when there will be some more eyes on it. For now, here are the baker's dozen we sampled last night.

Be back with the preview in a little while.

Get Ready To Yearn For Michael Kay

We Yankee fans are tough to please. We expect a successful team, we pointed out every flaw in the billion dollar palace they just erected, we chronicled all the wasted space on our 40 man roster, and constantly question how our manager uses the bullpen although he's got great results.

We also complain a lot about our announcers, when in the grand scheme of things, they aren't that bad, as those who have the DirecTV Extra Innings package like my buddy Cliff can tell you. John Sterling, Suzyn Waldman and especially Michael Kay are endlessly scrutinized but it's to be expected since they are in our ear for a good 500 hours a year, unless you listen to Kay's radio show, in which case that number expands to approximately 6,000.

As you probably already know, these last three games in Tampa will be the last we hear of Michael and his signature play-by-play stylings - aside from Yankees Classics and highlight bits on YES - until next Spring. While that might seem like a good thing at first glance, it means that we are going to be stuck with national broadcasters for the rest of the way; guys who haven't followed the team all year and probably aren't going to tell you much you don't already know.

I linked to the playoff announcing schedule yesterday, but wanted to save by anti-Chip Carey rant for another post.

The 2007 postseason were the first national games that TBS had broadcast rights to. As such, it was the first time that Chit Carry had called a Yankee game... and it showed. It was so bad, Richard Sandomir cataloged Carrey's numerous factual errors one by one and wondered in print, "Why isn’t he better prepared?".

It's been two years since that debacle, so you'd think that Chop might have learned a few things in the meantime. Not so much. Here are some comments he made about A.J. Burnett during a media conference call yesterday, (via LoHud):
When he’s on, he’s unhittable. He has a slider that when he throws it where he wants, no one can hit it. The key for him is, he’s kind of an excitable boy. Sometimes that works in his advantage, sometimes I think it works against him. Getting in charge of his emotion will be key. He’s brought a lot of levity to that team. The Yankees were always a team that seemed more like IBM than Apple.
I'm all for referencing Warren Zevon but I don't think Kip Scary would want to call A.J. Burnett an "excitable boy" to his face. And please spare us your dumb analogies and stick to the script, Chep. You're paid to be the play-by-play guy, not to take veiled shots at the Yankees for spending a lot of money. It's no secret that Carray, the son of the legendary Cubs broadcaster, is a fan of National League baseball and not fond of the Yanks and their free-spending, power-hitting ways.

And Chap, Burnett doesn't throw a slider. No one has ever called it a slider. Pitch f/x does not call it a slider. It's a curveball.

Oh wait. What's that? It's Chip? Chip Caray? And he's the grandson of Harry Caray? And that was Ron Darling who was being quoted? Oh, my bad. I guess I should have done some research before going up with the post.

Postseason Tickets Aren't Selling For Face Value?!?!?

Ken Belson of the NYT Bats Blog seems genuinely surprised, if not appalled that you won't be able to buy Yankees playoff tickets for $5.
The Yankees made a big deal out of their decision to hold ticket prices steady for the first round of the playoffs. That’s right, even those $5 seats in the center-field bleachers with obstructed views of the field would remain $5 when the Yankees play either the Detroit Tigers or the Minnesota Twins next week.

But unless you are a season ticket-holder, forget about that $5 price. Fans selling those bleacher seats on line are charging no less than $98 each for a chance to see about two-thirds of the field, according to FanSnap, a Web site that scans dozens of ticket resellers.
Raise your hand if you were counting on purchasing a Yankees playoff ticket for $5. Okay, now keep it in the air, clench your fingers into a fist and punch yourself in the face.

The Yankees made a big deal of the pricing structure for the P.R. boost after all the negative press over their ticket pricing for the regular season. This year, as has been the case ever since the Yanks went on their dynastic run, there only a precious few postseason tickets available to the general public. A few weeks back, Ross from New Stadium Insider did some quick calculations and estimated the amount of available tickets for each round of the postseason to be:
ALDS: 4,735
ALCS: 3,235
WS: 735
It doesn't take a mathematician to decipher that, unless you are a season ticket holder, you are going to be paying through to nose to observe some playoff baseball in the Bronx.

A Rare October Call Up

Good morning, Fackers. Let's start the day off on a positive note.

Our friend Jason has some big news:
It's About The Money, Stupid has been selected by Rob Neyer and ESPN to be a charter member of what will be a new blog network on known as's SweetSpot Blog Network! IIATMS has the distinct honor of being the sole blog representing the New York Yankees in this network throughout the 2009 Playoffs, and hopefully into 2010 and beyond.
The network won't officially launch until Monday so there's nowhere to direct you to just yet, but I will of course provide that info once it become available. Check out the post linked above for Jason's reaction. He's justifiably excited and those guys at IIATMS should be in for a fun ride. is a pretty lofty place for a blog to ascend to and let's hope that they do the blogs in that network justice and feature them prominently as they should. There's a lot of interesting insight and analysis be churned out by hobbyists like Jason, Will, Tamar and Brendan and ESPN has the chance to elevate blogs as a whole by placing them in front of baseball fans who don't really visit them or understand the concept... yet. Who knows how assertive they'll be on this front, but there's hope.

A good amount of you probably haven't been around long enough to be aware of this, but Fack Youk also sprouted underneath of the Rob Neyer/Shysterball/IIATMS blogging tree to some extent. Jason was one of the first bloggers to take interest in our site, allowing me to do a couple guest posts to promote this operation early on and linking to us more than one could rightfully expect over the past 9 months. Craig was more than generous with his advice when I first started doing this back in December, and has been kind enough to point people to the site in the past as well.

In short, those guys did more than their fair share to introduce our site to some of you. They offered a helping hand up onto the already crowded stage of baseball blogging and it's good to see some of that good karma coming back around. Whether it be Craig getting absorbed by the Hardball Times and NBC or Jason now appearing on, it's cool to be able to recall the simpler days of reading them on Blogspot, you know, back before they were big internet celebrities.

Congrats, Jason. Enjoy the ride.