Monday, October 26, 2009

The Two Part, Turnpike World Series Preview

Finally, after 4,860 games from 30 teams: We have the World Series that we had all hoped for. We have the two Juggernauts of baseball. The two cities, separated by 26 exits of Turnpike through the great state of New Jersey, will indeed give us the World Series that we could only wish for at the beginning of the season.

Now this World Series preview is going to be a two part piece, courtesy of the two most entertaining, unknown sports blogs this side of the Toms River. I am going to write about the Yankees side, breaking down match-up favors for them, and basically telling you why the Yankees will win the series. My colleague over at ShoreThing Sports, Mr. Phil Shore (being a die-hard Philly fan) has humbly agreed to give you the Phillies side of the series, and he is going to tell you why the Phillies will win this series.

So for reasons (that obviously no one cares about because it's the Phillies) go over to ShoreThing Sports for an excellent Phillies preview.

Now on to the real reason why the twenty of you who regularly visit this blog are here. This match-up may very well be the most talented World Series across the board that we've seen this decade...or further. You have the most feared lineup in all of baseball, and a National League lineup that hits like they belong in the American League. You've got two of the games top 5 pitchers starting game 1.

(Quick Side Note: Thank you so much to the front office of the Cleveland Indians. Look at what you've given up for the cities of Philadelphia and New York to enjoy. C.C. Sabathia and Cliff Lee starting game 1. Kudos to you guys.)

You've got the most dominant closer in baseball history, against the sketchiest (yea, I just said sketchiest.) You've got the two single most passionate fan bases out of all cities that house a professional sports team. I was listening to 660 WFAN on my way home this morning and they brought up a point that needs to be portrayed to the rest of the country. When you come up to the northeastern part of the United States....sports just mean more. It's too hard to comprehend for people outside of NY, Philly, Boston because they've never experience what it's like to follow teams in this part of the country. There is an aura about the teams, the stadiums, and the fans that can only be seen here. While I'm not condoning the other major cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, and St. Louis, but there is nothing like rooting for a team in this part of the country. Trust me, it's just different.

Now that I've given as much props as I can to the city of Philadelphia (ugh)...It's on to why the New York Yankees will win their 27th World Series title.

1. Mr. November

The man formally known as A-fraud, A-Roid, and a non Yankee has single handedly carried this team to the World Series (with a little help from number 2.) Alex Rodriguez has been as good as anyone could have imagined, given his previous post season woes. As long as number 3 is in the lineup you have to pitch around him. You figure that the Yankees are going to get runners on base, so it is indeed tough to pitch around A-rod, which is why he has been so successful. All I know is, if I'm Charlie Manuel, I'm not pitching to the guy.

2. The Captain

Aside from A-Rod's 'on another planet' performance we're witnessing, Mr. Jeter, the captain, continues to amaze even the loyalist of Yankee fans. Think about this for a there anything that he could do, that you wouldn't expect? He gets clutch hit after clutch hit, he hits home runs, he fields excellently despite the naysayers, and to top it all off he is the best leader in all of baseball. Derek Jeter has been the epitome of what a Yankee is from day one. No one in the world has more postseason experience and success then number 2.

3. C.C. (CAN COUNT on) Sabathia

If you don't watch ESPN's First Take and you don't know who Skip Bayless is than that joke isn't really funny. But for years he has called C.C. Sabathia, "Can't Count On" Sabathia. Nothing makes me happier than when Skip Bayless has to eat his words. C.C. is an absolute horse, he can start on 3 days rest, hell I wouldn't be surprised if he started every game. The guy doesn't wear down and he's best when it counts.

4. The Gold Glove First Basemen

Anyone want to question the move to sign Mark Tiexiera now? Regardless of what he's done with the bat in the post season, the Yankees are in the World Series in large part to his defense. Tiexiera is a human vacuum, nothing seems to get by him and with a heavy lefty lineup coming to town with Howard, Utley, Ibanez, and Rollins the Yankees are going to need him more than ever.

5. Brad Lidge

I was going to go with all Yankees for my reasons, but this one was too noticeable to pass up. How do you have a closer that has an ERA over 7. 7!! Seeing what the Yankees do to opposing bullpens, the Phillies better hope that Cliff Lee, Pedro, and Cole Hamels are giving them at least 8 innings. All it's going to take is one hit from someone in the Yankee lineup off of Lidge and his confidence will be completely shaken again. Don't forget that one of his many blown saves this year came against the Yankees in walk-off fashion against A-Rod.

6. Enter Sandman

How could I not close this up with the best closer of all-time. Very simple. Mariano enters the game. The other team doesn't score. All the Yankees have to do is get the lead in the 9th inning and then......ENTER SANDMAN.


The series is exactly what we all wanted. We wanted the two powerhouses. We wanted the glits and glamour. Well now we have it. Time do deliver boys.

Yankees in 7.


NBA preview coming Friday. Stay Tuned!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

What Have You Done For Me Lately?

"There is never time in the future in which we will work out our salvation. The challenge is in the moment; the time is always now." - James A. Baldwin

Nothing quite like starting a sports column with inspirational words.

So often in sports, and more so now than ever, we tend to remember the current and ignore the past. If you presented this theory to a history professor or a history major they'd laugh in your face and say that is the worst way to predict what can possibly happen in the future. Over the past 230 years that this country has been a country, one trend has been consistent that we can base our future projections on: History always repeats itself.

So why, in this day in age, do we always focus on the "What Have You Done For Me Lately?" rather than looking into the past to get more accurate results? If our history is our best educator than why is everyone so hung up on what happens that day?

Myself, along with nearly everyone in the sporting world, is a victim of this disease. In the four major sports, NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL we base our thoughts about a particular player or particular team on what they have done recently. This has never been more prevalent than this year's NFL season.

It starts with the media. We all love to see what the media has to say about every team week in and week out, and we're supposed to believe what they tell us because they are the "experts." I, for one, fall prey to this week in and week out. For some reason we're all addicted to what they have to say. The problem is that 90% of the analysts and media outlets focus on what happened in the past week. I know I harp about the Cowboys week in and week out, but they are the perfect example.

Heading into the season, Mr. Romo was supposed to be a top five quarterback in this league and he sure looked like it after week 1. Then the Cowboys go into week 2 and lay an egg in Jerry's new stadium. After that game Tony Romo went from being the 5th or 6th best quarterback in the NFL who can potentially win a Super Bowl, down to a middle of the pack quarterback and the Cowboys season was finished because he could never win the big game.

After a win the next week, they head into an undefeated Denver Broncos stadium and once again Mr. Romo decided to lay another egg. Throwing an interception and missing throws all game.

The point I'm trying to make is that nearly everyone of our athletes across the league is under a "What have you done for me lately?" microscope. Carson Palmer was an elite quarterback before his injury. So when he came back everyone was saying that he'll just be average and he's lost his ability to be a great quarterback. His team is 4-1. Now everyone is judging Tom Brady, saying that he has lost some ability to play quarterback. Well, yea the man sat out an ENTIRE YEAR of football. Why are we so quick to judge what he's going to do after 5 weeks? Carson Palmer has come back from a similar injury and is now playing at an elite level. So why do we think Brady won't do that as well?

This epidemic is league-wide. People are now beginning to question whether or not Jeff Fisher is a good coach in Tennessee. The media outlets and bloggers are critiquing him and saying that his job may be in jeopardy because his team is 0-5. So because his team is having a rough stretch you fire a coach who's lead this franchise to the playoffs 6 out of the past 10 seasons?

Fantasy Football has made this epidemic grow even more rapid over the past years. This year players like Matt Forte, Clinton Portis, Tony Romo, and De Angelo Williams are being scrutinized by everyone who owns them saying that they've lost a step and that Romo can't lead a team without T.O. I guarantee you that the three running backs mentioned will all have 1000 yards and Romo will still finish with 30TDs and 3000 yards. Those are all solid fantasy numbers right? Maybe it's time for us to focus on what our past will tell us and give these athletes time to perform.

But this is how our society is. We're prisoners of the moment. We're captured by the now. In a world of real-time updates and ridiculous news reports about completely irrelevant topics (See: Favre, Brett), in a world of Twitter and Facebook, in a world of iPhone applications and Blackberry updates, and in the world of Fantasy football fans do not miss a beat. There is no cure for this epidemic, it has to start with ourselves. Maybe we should look into the past for more accurate answers as to what is going to endure in the future. But for now were going to be living in that "What have you done for me lately?" mindset.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Order Up Another Pie!!

"Start spreading the newsss, Im leaving todayyy
I want to be a part of it - New york, New yorkkkk...

These vagabond shoessss, are longing to strayyyy
Right through the very heart of it - New york, New yorkkkk..." - Frank Sinatra

There is nothing quite like the sound of Mr. Sinatra. There is nothing in baseball quite like a walk-off win. There is nothing in baseball quite like the Yankees. There is nothing in baseball quite like the playoffs in New York.

Well last night we got all four....and what a treat it was. When you start to hear the music blaring from the thousands of speakers in the New Yankee Stadium, and you see AJ Burnett, pie in hand, make a B-line straight toward Mark Teixeira, you've got to be watching Yankee playoff baseball.

Last night's game was just awesome. As a writer I try to always find creative adjectives and descriptive words to explain a situation that I'm talking about. But I just could not find a better word then, awesome. Everything about the game was awesome. We saw two great pitching performances on both sides. We saw a team score and then the home team come right back in the bottom of the inning and score to keep pace. We saw Alex Rodriguez come through in a (gulp) clutch situation with his first RBI.

(Side note: After this hit, I texted my boy and fellow Chit-Chat Sports' half-ass contributor, Showtime, and said, "Can I now use the words A-Rod and clutch in the same sentence?" Little did I know this would lead to an even bigger circumstance later on.)

So we get to the bottom of the ninth, and if you've been a Yankee fan the past 10 years, you know that these situations (especially with A-fraud coming up) seem to never work out for us in the playoffs. But if you've followed this team all year you know that something is different with them. They have that swagger and confidence every game. They believe that no matter the score, they can still win this game.

These moments almost always seem to come down to Alex Rodriguez. If you could somehow look up a stat on how many times a player has been up in "clutch" situations, Alex has to be the leader. And in the past he has struggled tremendously. So when Mark Teixeira got the lead-off single, you just knew something was in order.

I posted a comment on facebook saying, "Comon A-rod, for once be clutch in your life."

Seconds later, I'm watching Clutch-Rod (as my boy Ski now calls him) trotting around the bases after tieing the game at three with a two-run home run.

At first I was stunned. Maybe he should have started dating Kate Hudson years ago? She seems to have straightened him out, and most definitely will not be trying to lose this guy in 10 days. But that's neither hear no there. I digress.

The magnitude of that home run will be overlooked of course by the actual Walk-off winner, Mark Teixeira, however the bigger story is that proverbial "monkey" that seems to be off Mr. Rodriguez's back. He seems calm and confident, even if he strikes out a couple times, he is showing that resiliency to be a clutch hitter. This may lead to the most important thing to come out of this game if the Yankees are to get to the championship this year.

Of course I didn't forget about my man Teixeira, who I bashed for days on end in the beginning of the season. But I knew he could do it all along. :) What a moment for him to earn his pinstripes.

And of course the night wouldn't be complete without the AJ Burnett pie festivities. I never understood why we call it a pie to the face, when it's really shaving cream. But I'm not complaining, I'll take all the pies they can whip up. Hell, I'll even buy the Barbasol....LET'S GO YANKS!!

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Monday Morning Blues

During my entire existence on this gracious planet, I have seen hundreds of football games. From pee wee to high school to college all the way to the grand-daddy of them all, the NFL. I've seen nearly every situation a team can go through, every off-the-field incident a team can endure, and every high or low that a fan can possibly live through.

However, yesterday was the last straw for me...

If you didn't already know, I am a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan. I bleed blue and no one in the state of New Jersey is a bigger fan then I am. I stick by my team despite all the heckling and trash talking that comes my way (and it's a ridiculous amount, because I live in a state that is 75% Giants fans, but 80% of those fans became fans right after they won the Super bowl....great fan base guys!) Week in and week out I hear it from all angles. When the Cowboys win, it's never good enough. "Oh, well they're supposed to win, Oh Romo still sucks even though they won." And if the Cowboys lose, it's a feeding frenzy..."Wow man the Cowboys really suck, God they are so bad, those Cowgirls suck." But it's OK because I deal with it, realizing that the people who talk trash to me don't know half as much as I know about football.

Through all this I've stayed upbeat, realizing that it is just a game and there are things in life that are more important than football.

But I'm here to tell you now....I am done rooting for players that don't care about it's fan base or what that star represents on the side of their helmet. I'll still root for this team week in and week out, but why invest so much stress and time into a team full of players, that do not even care if they win or lose? 90% of the players on the Dallas Cowboys are there because they have been blessed with unique abilities, but don't play with any heart. They are there to collect a paycheck and go home to their million dollar mansions.

It all starts at the top in this organization. You have an owner who wants to win so badly that he'll do long as he can control it. So he goes and hires a puppet coach who he can control and do whatever he wants...a coach who could not coach his way out of a paper bag. And now you have a "head coach in waiting" in Jason Garret. Supposed to be regarded as the top offensive mind in all of football, yet he can't get his "star" quarterback to prepare and study the way a starting quarterback should in this league.

Now, this leads me into Mr. Romo. I have defended Tony Romo from Day 1. I've stuck with him through every snap, argued against every moron that said that he sucks and he could never win a big game...WHEN HE'S ALREADY WON BIG GAMES. (He's won at Giants Stadium, Philly, Indianapolis, Green Bay, all numerous times) But this is a "what have you done for me lately" league, and everyone forgets what happens as soon as the next week's whistle blows. I've stuck by all of Romo's off the field antics, with his girlfriends, vacations, other sport ambitions. I've always supported him as the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys....until now.

I can not root for a quarterback that routinely, week in and week out, fools his fan base into believing that he is genuinely trying to get better each week. The reality is that he doesn't care enough about the game of football and his fan base. Sure, he says all the right things after games, but he doesn't go and act on them. Tony Romo needs to call up Peyton Manning and have a long talk about what it takes to succeed in the NFL at the quarterback position. Even though Romo has only been in the league 3 years as a starter, he's been around long enough to know that what he is doing is not working. It's time for a change Mr. Romo.

So until this team starts caring about how they play on the field, and they figure out what that star on the side of their helmet represents, I'll be watching with a cautious eye. I won't be fooled by a joke organization again. Start showing some heart, and some fight, and that's when you win back the fan base that you men have destroyed.


Just some quick notes from the weekend...

Relax Jet fans. It was one game against a top 5 team. Mark Sanchez will be fine, you guys are going to win at least 8-9 games. No reason to start calling for Rex Ryan's head, because you know that's what the New York media is doing today. Id rather have a young quarterback who cares about winning then to have that bum down in Dallas.

The Giants beat up on another horrendous team. So they've beaten 4 teams that have a combined 4 wins? And had to go down to the wire with the Cowboys despite getting 4 turnovers? Hope you can sleep at night Giant fans.

Peyton Manning is the best player in the NFL. From when he wakes up in the morning to when he goes to bed at night, that man breathes football. Colts fans really need to just appreciate how great of an athlete they have.

St Louis, Washington (despite 2 wins), and Tampa Bay are the three worst teams in football. It's not even close.

Who Ya got tonight? I'm going Vikings in OT. It's tough for any team to come in and win at Minnesota...but the Packers...on Monday Night. That place is going to be rocking. Vikings 30-27.