5 Keys for the Yankees in the ALCS

October 15, 2010 Leave a comment

5. Beating Cliff Lee

If the Yankees can manage to beat Cliff Lee in one of his starts would be crucial in them winning the series. He bested them twice during last year’s World Series and they were able to pull through. While Lee was lights out against the Rays, their offense was pretty abysmal for most of those games and the Yankees lineup is a whole new ball game. This season he is 2-1 against the Yankees.

 

4. C.C Sabathia

Sabathia must be the anchor in this series if the Yankees want to move on. He will get 2-3 stars and he will have to show up with his A game. He pitched solidly in his lone start without having his greatest stuff, but that will not happen against the Rangers who had the 5th best offense in all of baseball this season.  Game 1 could be the roughest start for him going on over a week’s rest when he is not usually at his best. Without good starts from C.C. they will not be heading to their second straight series.

3. The Bullpen

Mariano Rivera cannot do it all alone and get more than 3 outs in every game. Wood and Joba need to show their effectiveness as setup guys in the playoffs. The Yankees have not had a solid playoff bridge to Mo since the days of Nelson and Stanton. Mo is old, and while he pitched great against the Twins, his September was not the best of his career either.

2. A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes, & Andy Pettitte

Two of these three starters need to show up and pitch well in this series. If they do not then the Yankees may well be done in this series unless C.C pitches every game of the series. I trust Andy to pitch well like he showed in Game 2 of the ALDS when he did not have his best stuff early on, but ending up pitching well. It comes down to A.J. and Phil to who will have to show his Game 3 start was not a fluke.

1.     The Offense must hit

The offense needs to show up and show up big time. The Rangers had the fifth best offense in all of baseball this season and with the shaky Yankees staff the offense will be called upon to pick up the starters. The young guys like Cano and Granderson must continue their successes and clutch hits from ALDS and contributions from A-Rod, Jeter, and Jorge will have to be their to back them up if they can’t pull through.

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Championship Series Picks

October 15, 2010 Leave a comment

ALCS-

Yankees vs Rangers

The Yankees showed up against the Twins and it appears to have gotten them back on track after a shaky September going 11-17. The big concern though is the six days off and how that will affect them. For some of the older veterans like Jorge & Andy I see it as a positive, but for the ace Sabathia it could be a bad thing. He thrives on momentum and him having over a week off could weaken his stuff and going into a game one against Cliff Lee he may need his top stuff. With that said he is an ace for a reason and the challenge of finally beating Lee after he took the W in Game 1 of last seasons last World Series. The Rangers are a hard team not to root for, from the outsider perspective at least, for one big reason Josh Hamilton. Everyone pulls for him and those who do not obviously do not care about second chances and redemption.  The Yankees will take this series in 5 games, besting Cliff Lee in Game 5 to advance to their 41st World Series.

NLCS


Giants vs Phillies

The Phillies looked great against the Reds, but its hard to not look great when your ace threw the second no-hitter in all of postseason history in his first ever postseason start. They also came from behind late in Game 2 of the NLDS and had another pitching gem in Game 3 so they look tough. The Giants also looked pretty good against the Braves with some really good pitching performances. This series has the makings to be the complete opposite of the ALCS, where hitting is sure to rule a majority of the games, but pitching will take center stage with excellent pitching. I know the Phillies look great, but I am going to take the surprise pick here and take the Giants in 6 games.

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NBA Playoff Picks

April 17, 2010 Leave a comment

I had a very respectable 7/8 correct picks for the playoff teams in each conference. so Here is my updated Playoff picks to compare against my preseason ones.

EAST Round 1

1.Cavs vs 8. Bulls

Cavs will trounce the Bulls here in 5 games and Lebron will be dominate and refreshed after his end of the season sit. Bulls barely sneak in and I don’t see them doing much in the playoffs.

2.Magic vs 7. Bobcats

I am taking the Bobcats in 7 because as much of a Tar Heels fan that I am, I do not have much confidence in a Vince Carter team even if he is a role player. No I am just kidding. Magic in 6 but it will be a fun series and I will finally get to see a Bobcats game yay.

3. Hawks vs. 6. Bucks

The Bucks have been one of the great stories this year, but I like the Hawks in 5.

4.Celtics vs. 5. Heat

D-Wade has a big series and the Celtics get even older. I like the Heat in 5.

WEST Round 1

1. Lakers vs 8. Oklahoma City

I like the Thunder here. I am a big fan of Durant and Westbrooke and I like them to win this series in 7, no joke it will be an awesome series keep an eye out.

2. Dallas vs 7. San Antonio

I like the Mavs here in 6.

3. Suns vs. 6. Trail Blazers

Steve Nash leads the Suns in this series and they win it in 5.

4. Nuggets vs 5. Jazz

I like the Nuggets here. My boy Ty Lawson has a big series and they win this in 5.

East Round 2

1. Cavs vs 5. Heat

Cavs win easily again in 5 this time as well.

2. Magic vs. 3. Hawks

I like the Hawks in this one. Joe Johnson will be the dominate force in this series.

West Round 2

4. Nuggets vs 8. Thunder

I think Durant come through in a game seven to win this series.

2. Mavs vs 3. Suns

Mavs in 6

East Conference Finals

1. Cavs vs 3. Hawks

I like the Cavs in 5 again. This will be a fun series to watch even though it will be a short series.

West Conference Finals

2. Mavs vs 8. Thunder

My love affair with the Thunder is over and I will take the Mavs in 6

NBA Finals

1. Cavs vs. 2. Mavs

Cavs in 5, Lebron will average a triple double this series and easily win his first title and finals mvp trophies.

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MLB Playoff predictions

April 8, 2010 Leave a comment

I know its a few days late, but nothing significant has happened yet. No analysis just predictions since this only takes five mins and I have that short amount of time free.

Predicted Standings

AL EAST

1. Yankees

2. Rays (Wild Card)

3. Red Sox

4. O’s

5. Blue Jays

AL Central

1.  Twins

2. White Sox

3. Tigers

4. Indians

5. Royals

AL West

1. Rangers

2. Angels

3. Mariners

4. A’s

NL East

1. Phillies

2. Marlins (Wild Card)

3. Braves

4. Mets

5. Nationals

NL Central

1. Cardinals

2. Brewers

3.  Reds

4. Cubs

5. Astros

6. Pirates

NL Central

1. Rockies

2. Dodgers

3. D-backs

4. Giants

5. Padres

Playoff Picks

ALDS

Yanks over Rangers

Rays over Twins

ALCS

Yanks over Rays

NLDS

Cards over Marlins

Rockies over Phillies

NLCS

Cards over Rockies

World Series

Yanks over Rockies

Major Award Winners

AL MVP- Derek Jeter, hes due one

AL Cy Young- CC Sabathia

NL MVP- big shocker here, Pujols

NL CY Young– Roy Halladay

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Best of the Decade- MLB

December 19, 2009 Leave a comment

The best of MLB for the 2000s.

MLB

Best Individual Team

2004 Red Sox- While I am a huge Yankees fan, this individual team was great for baseball. Breaking the Red Sox curse of 86 years was a team lead by David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Kevin Millar, Schilling, and Pedro. It was a team that most baseball fans, excluding Yankees and Cardinals fans, got behind and gave a city of baseball die-hards a long awaited championship. It was a fun, easy-going team that made the big mid-season trade when they had to, getting rid of Nomar. Also, one that came back from the dead in the ALCS after being behind 3-0, and one that was finally to exile the curse and get it done in the World Series, for the first time in 86 years.

Honorable Mentions- 2001 Mariners, 2009 Yankees, 2003 Marlins

Best Player

Albert Pujols- Here is a list of the accomplishments on the field that Pujols earned from 2001-2009: 3 time MVP, 8 All-star appearances, a Gold Glove, Rookie of the Year, World Series Champion, 2003 Batting Champ, Voted Outstanding NL player by his peers 3 times, and 5 silver sluggers. Those were the awards here are the stats: .334 BA, 1071 runs, 1112 RBIs, and a .427 OBP, and 366 HR’s.  A-Rod does have better numbers in a few categories like HRs and Runs, but I just like Pujols better here the stats are very similar enough to make it a toss up.

Honorable Mention- A-Rod

Best Team

New York Yankees- They did it all this decade. Its hard not to give it to them, since the only teams close are Red Sox,Cardinals, and the Phillies. The Yankees started and ended the decade with World Championships, while playing in two more. The Yankees had many many many All Stars,a Cy Young, 2 MVP’s, gold glovers, and silver sluggers, those are just the awards the players won. The team won the AL East eight times, played in the postseason nine times, played in four WS, and played in 5 ALCS. They also won 965 games, 45 more than the Red Sox. Enough said.

Honorable Mentions- Cards, Phillies, Red Sox

Biggest Headline

Steriods- What else could it be? It was such a huge story that lasted several seasons. Everyone hates it, but it was a big part of baseball and has to take the cake.  So thanks to all those who juiced for tainting an era.

Honorable Mention- The emergence of statistics in player evaluations with Moneyball

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Hot Stove Warm Up

November 23, 2009 Leave a comment

It has been awhile since I last blogged. Sorry for my absence. I know society has deeply missed me. I am occasionally a really busy guy. Several great things have happened since my leave started. My beloved Yankees won a world championship and college basketball has started. All is right in the world. I have been thinking about what to write about in my next blog and I have decided on a sort of hot stove preview. I will combine a few things. I will predict what will happen with some free agents or possible trades and give plan for each team in the off-season. This might be a two or three-part blog, we will see. I will start with free agents and trades today.

Top Free Agents

  • John Lackey- He doesnt end up with the Yankees. I don’t see Cashman throwing a bunch of money at an older pitcher with injury history anymore. He will drive up the price, but wont sign him. I think the Mets need to sign him. They need to do what the Yankees did and make a splash in this years market. Even though it is a weak market, behind Johan they do not have a great staff. The Mets need to overpay for him if they have too.
  • Matt Holliday- Due to tension between the Cardinals and Scott Boras, he doesn’t resign with the Cards. He goes to the Mets with Lackey. The Mets need another bat in their lineup. David Wright cannot do it alone.
  • Mark DeRosa- Is a really good fit for the Phillies. They did not pick up their option on Felize. DeRosa would provide them with a solid veteran player to add to an already deep team.
  • Bengie Molina- Another guy going to the Mets.
  • Erik Berdard- The Brewers are a good fit here. They need a solid experienced pitcher for their rotation.
  • Ben Sheets- I see the Yankees signing him to an incentive laden deal. The Yankees have done this a few times with pitchers coming of injuries and I see it happening again, especially with Cashman wanting to have 11-12 starters in camp.
  • Rich Harden- He is from Western Canada and I think he will be making a slight homecoming when he signs with the Mariners, who have a big ball park and solid defense that would be good for him.
  • Nick Johnson- A former Yankees, who I always liked. I have been reading a lot about the Giants and that makes sense for him, also Oakland, where he would be a good DH.
  • Jarrod Washborn- After a not very good few months with the Tigers, I know this cause he sucked on my fantasy team, I see him going back to where he came from in Seattle.
  • Justin Duchscherer– Another injured guy, I’m looking at Cubs here. They could use pitching.
  • Miguel Tejada-needs to go to an AL team so he can DH. The A’s seem pretty logical so I will go there for now. Possibly could go to Reds, but I see the next guy going there.
  • Orlando Cabrerra- Goes to the Reds. I have been reading that a lot lately. Don’t know where else to put him. Ill stick with the guys who get paid to cover this.
  • Rick Ankiel- I would love to see him with the Yankees, but they have a glut of outfielders. I don’t think the Cards will resign him either sadly. I am going with the Twins here. They have a solid outfield, but I dont love it.
  • Adrain Beltre- The O’s would be a good fit here. Mora won’t be back. They are starting to develop a good young team and he would add a nice veteran presences and has a good glove at third. He is only 30 too. He won’t get the contract he had with the Mariners either.

FA Staying put

  • Jason Bay- Stays with the Red Sox, the Yankees will drive up the market value for him too, but he is sticking with the Red Sox and they cannot really afford to lose his above average production.
  • Chone Figgins- He stays with the Angels. The Yankees having an outside shot possibly if Damon thinks he can get a multi-year dear somewhere else. He just makes more sense for the Angels
  • Randy Wolf- They need him, he pitches well for them. No reason to go elsewhere.
  • Johnny Damon- I think we take Boras out of the equation and Damon decides he has enough money and sticks with the Yankees for one more year at about the same money me made last year. Damon was big in the playoffs and the Yankees will reward him and allow him to keep left field open for next offseason where Jeter could take over or they could go after Crawford.
  • Andy Pettitte- Paraphrasing Buster Onley here: Yankees offer him arbitration, if he comes back he takes it and gets a raise if not he retires. I see him coming back though.
  • Joel Pineiro– Sticks with the Cards. Dave Duncan has done too much for his carer. Just a good fit here.

Two Players likely to be Traded

  • Roy Halliday will finally be traded this off-season and pretty soon too. With a new GM in the fold, the Yankees and Red Sox become options and I will put the Phillies, Rangers, and Brewers  in the mix as well. With not many great options in the open market for the Yankees, this is where I would like to see them get creative and offer a reasonable somewhat overwhelming trade without depleting the minor league system.  If the Yankees field an offer of Joba Chamberlin, Ian Kennedy, Melky Cabrera, and another B level prospect. Please Cashman keep Austin Jackson out of any offer. I am excited for this kid to play. The Red Sox could come up with a very similar offer. I think the Phillies, with there win now mindset. They offer a solid deal built on Happ and the Blue Jays take a slightly lesser offer to trade him to another league. Plus the only wins the Phillies got in the World Series was thanks to Cliff Lee, they could use Halliday.
  • Adrian Gonzalez- The White Sox and Red Sox are the two teams at the forefront of trading for Gonzalez and like the White ones here. The Red Sox already have a glut of corner infielders/dh types with Lowell, Youkills, Ortiz, and Victor Martinez. If they could get rid of Lowell and move Youk to third permanently then I could see this. As of now I think the White Sox are the favorites. Look for a three way trade. The Angles is what I have been reading, where they send Konerko to the Angles and prospects to the Padres. I could see the A’s maybe working there way into this deal and taking the Angels spot as well if they Sox throw in money. If the Red Sox trade Youk and do not get Halliday then they will end up with Gonzalez.

Three trades I would like to see

  • Curtis Granderson to the Yankees for Joba Chamberlin and a quality prospect or two, maybe Ian Kennedy as well. Why do I want to see this trade? Well this would help make the Yankees get younger and more athletic in the outfield. If this trade went down then the offseason plan would shift to the following. Granderson would take over in center,and Damon & Matsui are both gone. The outfield becomes Melky, Granderson, Swisher, Gardner, and Jackson coming up midseason or start of season if Melky or Gardner was traded.
  • Ian Stewart to the Cardinals. He does not hit for a high average, but the Cardinals will need a 3B  after losing DeRosa and Stewart would be a good fit and would not cost the Cardinals too much in the trade.
  • Felix Hernandez, Carl Crawford, Dustin Pedroia, and Josh Beckett to the Nationals. This will not happen I am not stupid, but it would be fun to see right take a bad team and give them great players and see what happens. What the hell right?

Coming up by Thanksgiving a team by team off-season preview, I hope.

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I have seen the face of Rock n’ Roll, twice

October 26, 2009 Leave a comment

I have seen many amazing things in my life, but last night I experienced one of the greatest moments in my life. This was my second Bruce Springsteen and E-Street Band show, and I didn’t think the experience of the first one could be topped. But it was. I had really really really high expectations going in. He was playing Born to Run in full, which is my second favorite album. He had played it in other stops along this tour and I had read nothing but great things mainly. The bar was high, and it was easily cleared. Here are the events of the evening.

My car ride took an extra hour due to traffic, but it was OK since I ended up getting into the pit anyways. My number was 760, they were letting 500 people into it and they called a number in the 300s I was in. I knew my luck had turned and getting into the pit made up for the hassle. While in line I bumped into my pal Liz and her Dad, who kindly invited me to hang out with them for the rest of the evening. Once they lined all of us pit people up by number and got us inside about two and half hours early Liz, her dad, and I picked our spot. We went with the only obvious one left, right near the mini-platform set up between the barriers of the pit railing and the railing for the rest of the general admission seats. Liz had been to a few other shows this tour and had known that he would be on that stage at some point. The show was supposed to begin at 7:30 according to the ticket, but Bruce being Bruce did not get on stage until about 8:23. That was fine by me, he is Bruce Freaking Springsteen and if he wants to start an hour late he can start an hour late.

Show Time! Max is at the drums, thankfully (I would have been disappointed if he was not there, sorry Jay, but what Max and I have is special). He opened with Wrecking Ball , a song that is new that I had heard only one time, but the crowd was into it. Then Came Seeds. Which I had heard it before, but could not figure out why the hell he has playing. I become a little disappointed now thinking this might be an off night for Bruce and the band. But I would be proved wrong immediately.

The E-Street band proved why they are the greatest band ever with Prove it All Night.  Now I love the version I just linked to, but last night Nils Lofgren played an amazing guitar solo, that sent shivers done my spine. It was a man doing what he is good at and doing it damn well. After that I knew this was going to be the great show that I was expecting. Bruce then tossed his guitar to the tech after the song was over and busted into Hungry Heart. He circled the pit and seats nearest to the floor. He then reached the aforementioned platform.  There he sang for few minutes then crowd surfed. This is when I got to touch greatness. I reached over and grazed his leg before he surfed past me. Liz did as well and both of our knees were jittery for the next few songs.  I had touched one of my heroes; it was absolutely amazing.  After my brush with greatness, Bruce returned to the stage and played his first song from Working on a Dream , playing the title track.

He then introed the Born to Run album (an album is a CD, kids sorry to talk like a 50 year old) and talked about how important the album was to the band, before busting into Thunder Road, which is the greatest Springsteen song ever. I have a strong personal connection  with one of the lyrics. “Its a town full of losers, And I’m pulling out of here to win” Those words mean a lot to me because its how I felt about going to college in Missouri. It was the words that were in my head when I was pulling out of my driveway in Port St Lucie for the last time. It was those words that I thought of when I got on I-95 and those words when I was officially out of Florida. I love this song a lot and live it was so great. The set went on with Tenth Avenue Freeze Out, which you have to love because it’s a very Clarence centered song and everyone loves that guy. Night was next and was of course great, but then what I thought would have been the greatest single song preformed live I have ever seen after it was done, this would be proved wrong about 15 songs later, but I’ll get to that. I honestly don’t have any words to describe the experience of watching that performance of Backstreets. Bruce vocally went somewhere that was so emotionally powerful that I may never be able to listen to the song the same way again. At one point he shushed the crowd once they started to clap, He went somewhere inside himself that really shined. I was moved to say the least. It was a very unique experience. Born to Run seemed to just pass by quickly; I do not really remember it all to well since I was so moved by Backstreets. Next comes She’s the One and it was very nice true to the album version, with the standard live flair, which was perfect because I love that song the way it is. Next was the highly anticipated Meeting Across the River and Jungleland back to back the way it should be done, just like the album. It knocked my expectations way out of the park. Meeting was beautifully done with Bruce on vocals, Roy Bittan on the piano, Gary W Tallent on the Bass, and a guy named Ramhorn on the horn (there is a story about that for another, Liz knows. I don’t know if that is actually his name, but if it isn’t I don’t want to know).  It was a great performance of the song all around. Jungleland is a great song o

ne of my all time favorites. Clarence’s solo was one of the highlights of the night too. He is the man, but my love for him is for another blog. Hearing the album in its entirety was one of the great experiences of my life. I do not know how listening to it on my iPod will sound now. It will be awhile before I give it a shot.

The band then busted into Waiting on a Sunny Day which provided the cutest moment of the night. Bruce bought up a little boy on the stage from the audience to sing and it was so adorable. He knew all the words and watching the band’s reaction was the best part of the whole thing. Working on a Highway was next. I am not the biggest fan of the Born in the USA album, but of the few songs he did off of it last night I enjoyed. This had a nice variation to the original that was very enjoyable and fun. The next three songs went as followed: The Promise Land, Lonesome Day, and The Rising, all three were great with The Promise Land being the best of the three.  The main set was closed out with my favorite Born in the USA track, No Surrender.  Which is the song I listened to while pulling out of the school parking lot, before school was out thanks to a certain newspaper teacher, on the day of my first Springsteen concert. Why did I listen to that song, that day? If your not a Bruce fan you do not know, if you are you do. Times up. The song starts out with the lyrics, “We busted out of class had to get away from those fools, We learned more from a three minute record than we ever learned in school.” It was a great way to close out the main set.

The band then went to the back of the stage then came back out to gather signs from the audience. The first acknowledged one was a very nicely done that had Bruce Play the Piano. So Bruce played the Piano, after a brief mishap with getting the piano to make some noise and trying to figure out the lyric sheets (apparently Bruce has trouble remembering songs he wrote in the early 70s, even though he has song it thousands of times). He then busted into For You, a song that I love to death. Combining that with the fact that my favorite thing musically is someone sitting at a piano just playing and singing. This was the song of the night for me. Surpassing every other song I have seen played live including the recently played Backstreets and Jack White solo on going to be Friends. It was just amazing and very powerful to listen to the words with no other instruments beside the piano. Next came the cleverest sign of the night. It was for a Chuck Berry song, it was in St Louis it was only necessary to play CB, but this sign came with lyrics and cords on the back. Bruce was a big fan of this, especially since they were quality cords. Little Steven found it hilarious.  The song was Roll Over Beethoven and it was enjoyable for never having heard it before. Next came the second song from Working on a Dream with a requested Surprise Surprise for a girl who was celebrating her 15th birthday. (The song has a line that says, “Today is your birthday.” That’s why it was requested not because it’s a great song). Then came Detroit Melody, not my favorite, but fun, then the always fun American Land, followed by the over popular Dancing in the Dark (yes this is the Courtney Cox video), and the classic Rosalita. The last few songs were good. It was a very fun ending to a great show.

Then everyone spilled out of the arena and I enjoyed my two-hour car ride home and did not arrive home till 2 am.

All and all it was a wonderful evening. I am really happy that I experienced that show; it was a great experience that I will always remember.

P.S. I hope you enjoy the videos. It was not a lot of extra work, but listen to some of the songs if your not a huge fan especially. Listen to some live songs you will not receive the full live Springsteen effect, but it will make your day a bit better. I also wanted to post more pics from my cell phone, but could not figure out how to get them onto the internet.

Setlist:
Wrecking Ball
Seeds
Prove It All Night
Hungry Heart
Working on a Dream
Thunder Road
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out (with Curt Ramm)
Night
Backstreets
Born to Run
She’s the One
Meeting Across the River (with Curt Ramm)
Jungleland
Waitin’ on a Sunny Day
Working on the Highway
The Promised Land
Lonesome Day
The Rising
Badlands
No Surrender
——————————
For You
Roll Over Beethoven
Surprise, Surprise
Detroit Medley
American Land
Dancing in the Dark
Rosalita


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