Friday, September 26, 2014

Derek Jeter: An unscripted career

For the last 20 years, there has been one constant at Yankee Stadium, Derek Jeter. Winning wouldn’t have happened without him, and classic moments would have been fewer had he never donned pinstripes. Each poignant event in Jeter’s illustrious career has seemingly been penned by an author hell-bent on making Jeter the hero.

But you can’t predict baseball, right? The game can change without notice. And in Jeter’s final at-bat, in his final game at Yankee Stadium, he added one more completely unscripted moment to a career filled with heroics.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Yankees must sign Chase Headley

One of the benefits of New York Yankees' general manager Brian Cashman’s mid-season moves in 2014 was the ability to “scout” some players who might be useful to the club in the future. One such player is Chase Headley, long coveted by the Yankees and finally traded to New York from the San Diego Padres.

Headley became a hot commodity after putting up exceptional numbers for the Friars in 2012. Headley launched 31 homers, drove in 115 runs and tossed in 17 stolen bases. His .286/.376/.498 slash line with a 145 wRC+ and 7.2 WAR made clubs drool, knowing the Padres might not be able to sign Headley to an extension.

But, Headley regressed offensively in 2013 (114 wRC+) and for the first half of 2014 (90 wRC+), which severely affected his stock. The Yankees were able to utilize a vagabond shortstop (Yangervis Solarte) they did not have in their system in 2013 and fringe prospect Rafael De Paula to acquire Headley. It was a welcome move for the Yankees in more ways than one.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

New York Yankees: 7 positives in a negative season

The New York Yankees wake up Wednesday one game away from elimination from the postseason. A single Kansas City Royals' win or a lone Yankees’ loss over the next five days will seal the deal. Yet, in an otherwise negative season, there were seven positive occurrences the team can point to as they begin to look toward the 2015 season.

Tanaka delivers


Masahiro Tanaka was sought after by virtually every team in the league and the new posting system gave each of them a shot of securing his services. The Yankees were able to nab the Japanese hurler with a seven-year, $155 million contract (plus the $20 million posting fee). The only thing that slowed Tanaka down was a partial tear of the UCL in his right arm which he recently returned from after more than two months on the shelf.

Tanaka was well on his way to competing for the American League Rookie of the Year Award, as well as the Cy Young Award before his injury. On the season, Tanaka owns a 13-4 record with 139 strikeouts and just 19 walks in 134.1 innings pitched. Not only was Tanaka able to translate his repertoire from Japan, he was cool as a cucumber on the mound and extremely humble as praise was given him.

Monday, September 22, 2014

New York Yankees: Dare to dream?

The chances the New York Yankees reach the postseason in 2014 sits at a miserable 0.2 percent according to Baseball Prospectus with seven games left in the season.

Here is a look at each of the contenders’ schedules and what would need to shake out for the Yankees to nab the second wild card slot.

Oakland Athletics (85-70) – vs. L.A. Angels (3), @ Texas (4)
Kansas City Royals (84-70) – @ Cleveland (4*), @White Sox (4)
Seattle Mariners (83-72) – @ Toronto (4), vs. L.A. Angels (3)
Cleveland Indians (81-74) – vs. Kansas City (4), vs. Tampa Bay (3)

Dare to dream?

New York Yankees: Everything clicks

In what has been an inconsistent season for the New York Yankees it was especially refreshing to see the team put together a very productive game from all parts of the team Sunday afternoon in the Bronx. The Yankees 5-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays was a result of solid pitching and good hitting.

Masahiro Tanaka was back on the mound for the first time since July 8 after rehabbing a slight tear in his UCL. He tossed an efficient 5.1 innings allowing just one run on five hits. Tanaka struck out four batters without issuing a walk. He threw 70 pitches, 48 for strikes and pushed his record to 13-4 on the season.

The offense showed some signs of life, at least at the top of the order. Brett Gardner launched the Yankees 15,000th home run in franchise history, Derek Jeter ripped two more hits and Brian McCann pulverized two pitches into the seats. The trio went a combined 6-for-12 accounting for all the run production.

At the back end, Adam Warren struck out three of the five batters he retired, continuing his very good September. While Dellin Betances had a slight hiccup in the eighth, David Robertson tossed a scoreless ninth for his 38th save of the season. For a day their overall situation was easy to forget.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

New York Yankees: It’s too late, right?

That’s the question fans of the New York Yankees continue to ask themselves. Yet, because of a feeble league where not one wild card contending team seems to want to grab it, the Yankees wake up Saturday with a chance. It’s a small chance, and an unlikely one to evolve, but it’s still there.

I’ve written numerous times in the last couple of weeks that the Yankees just needed one big run. If they had done so they could be sitting just two games back in the hunt for a wild card position. Yes, even the first wild card spot is technically within reach now.

Now, what remains to be seen is if this mini three-game winning streak continues and if it’s just too late. It seems that every time I completely count this team out, they lure me back in with some good play.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Derek Jeter’s big day

We have not said that too much this season about New York Yankees legendary captain Derek Jeter, have we?

Well, Thursday was a very good day for the retiring shortstop. Gatorade released a remarkable commercial -- even if it was mostly staged -- showing Jeter interacting with fans on the way to Yankee Stadium, including a stop at Stan’s Sports Bar located just outside the ballpark. With Frank Sinatra singing 'My Way' in the background, it was hard not to get goosebumps watching it. Check it out for yourself.

 

Then, Jeter did something in the sixth inning of the ballgame which he had not done all season. He hit a home run in Yankee Stadium. Jeter’s power has certainly diminished -- he has just 20 extra-base hits all season -- but he got all of this one.

The Yankees went on to win and for Jeter, after 20 years in the big leagues, winning is still the most important thing. Here's a shot of him as Chase Headley's grounder goes through the legs of Toronto's Adam Lind for a walk-off win.

Clipped from MLB.com video.
Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer/editor and the Director of Content Strategy for Sportsideo.




Thursday, September 18, 2014

Dellin Betances: Bright spot in gloomy season

The New York Yankees have had a rotten season by many team’s standards, let alone their own 'win a championship every year' motto. But, amid the gloom was a very bright spot, one that was pretty unlikely; the emergence of Dellin Betances.

Betances etched his name into the Yankees’ record book by striking out two batters in Wednesday’s game versus the Tampa Bay Rays. The strikeouts brought his season total to 132, surpassing the great Mariano Rivera’s 130 K’s established in 1996.

Betances took just 87.2 innings to accomplish the feat, while Rivera tossed 107.2. Some more numbers on Betances that are simply mind-blowing.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

New York Yankees: Carry-over or move on?

Since the question of whether the New York Yankees will reach the postseason has pretty much been resolved in the negative, the pressing item for Wednesday’s game in Tampa will be whether there is any carry-over from Tuesday night’s bench-clearing incident with the Rays.

After Derek Jeter took a fastball to the top of the wrist in the bottom of the eighth inning, both benches were immediately warned by home-plate umpire Rob Drake. It is uncertain as to why the quick jump to warn both benches. Typically, it takes a bit more than one hit batter to get that far. There is a chance that the umpires were told to be on their toes since Chase Headley took one on the chin last week courtesy of an errant Jake McGee 97-mph fastball.

Jeter’s HBP was the fifth one suffered by the Yankees in the last two series with the Rays and manager Joe Girardi, who was already ticked off because of an unreviewable tag-up play, unleashed on Drake about the instant warning. Then, Girardi showed even more frustration as he started to yell at Rays' reliever Steve Geltz.

Girardi was eventually tossed for arguing and in the bottom of the inning, David Phelps threw up and in around the chest area of Kevin Kiermaier. Phelps missed but was ejected and the benches and bullpens cleared. No punches were thrown but the Yankees for the first time in a long time seemed genuinely interested in baseball.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve supported the Yankees in the past for not be retaliatory when it comes to hit batsmen. I never saw the point of potentially hurting another player on purpose, not to mention the potential for a suspension. But last night for whatever reason, maybe seeing some fire in the Yankees for a change, I tweeted the following.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

For Yankees, it’s all about Derek Jeter now

The New York Yankees lost in walk-off fashion Monday night for the third time in five games. They’ve failed to take advantage of the rest of the American League wild card hopefuls by going 4-6 in their last 10 games.

The Yanks sit six games out of the second wild card position with 13 games left to play. Now, the remainder of the 2014 season is about Derek Jeter.

Mattingly compares Dodgers to ’72 Athletics

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly compared his first-place club to the 1972 Oakland Athletics, and not just because of their play on the field.

Those A’s, World Series champions for three straight seasons, held a reputation as having a disjointed clubhouse.

The comment by Mattingly came after an 11-3 drubbing of the Colorado Rockies Monday night, in which outfielder Matt Kemp was seen chastising Yasiel Puig as they walked through the dugout. Mattingly said it was, “family business.”

"Just talking in the dugout, same old things," Mattingly said via MLB.com. "We're like the A's. The '72 A's."

Monday, September 15, 2014

Masahiro Tanaka throws five scoreless, Yankees lose simulated game

New York Yankees hurler Masahiro Tanaka tossed five innings of scoreless ball in a simulated game this afternoon, but as in real games, the Bombers went on to lose.

Tanaka, who has been trying to avoid surgery for a partially torn UCL, threw 65 pitches and allowed six hits while striking out four batters according to multiple beat writers. YES reporter Meredith Marakovits reported via Twitter that Tanaka hit 92 mph on the radar gun.

The Yankees’ offense much like in real games was non-existent and a fake reliever blew the game as the Yanks watch their season go down the toilet.

The next step for Tanaka, assuming he feels no pain, could be to pitch in a real game, where he’ll get exactly the same run support. It will lead to the following comment after the game from Yankees’ skipper Joe Girardi.

‘Well, Tanaka battled and gave us all he had, but we couldn’t get anything going on offense. It’s not what you want.’

You’re welcome for saving you from watching any more of this season.

Photo Courtesy of Arturo Pardavila III via WikiCommons.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer/editor and the Director of Content Strategy for Sportsideo.



New York Yankees: David Robertson’s no-win situation

It goes without saying that New York Yankees closer David Robertson had some very large shoes to fill when the greatest closer of all time, Mariano Rivera retired at the end of the 2013 season. What was not expected was an amazing season from an afterthought of the Yankees minor league system, Dellin Betances.

Anyone who claims they saw Betances coming was doing so back when he was a heralded starter in the organization, not in February 2014.

There were likely times when the Yankees might have felt that departing with Betances was the right idea, but instead converted him to a reliever in 2013 and thus began the rise of one career and the plight of another.

Let’s admit that if Betances is not around and pitching like he has this season, the questions about Robertson blowing Sunday night’s save against the Baltimore Orioles would not be as dramatic. We’d potentially question manager Joe Girardi’s use of Robertson for a third consecutive day, but who would we clamor on about as the person who should have gotten the ball? Shawn Kelley? Adam Warren?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Paul George mindlessly defends Ray Rice’s actions on Twitter

Once again, a star athlete (on the court obviously not in the game of life) failed to think before taking to social media. Paul George, the Indiana Pacers’ injured small forward, tweeted the following defense of Ray Rice courtesy of The Huffington Post.



George, after fielding numerous replies which called him out, deleted the tweets and then posted this apology.

As is typical, here’s a person with a large following spewing nonsense and propagating idiotic comments about something they are not knowledgeable about, which then feeds their even more moronic followers with ammunition to continue to suggest Rice had a right to hit a woman, his then fiancée.

Maybe George should have used his time on the couch to read about domestic violence before formulating and then delivering a very hollow belief that the victim is the person at fault in domestic violence incidents.

Unreal.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer/editor and the Director of Content Strategy for Sportsideo.



Wednesday, September 10, 2014

New York Yankees: Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda

As the New York Yankees spiral out of the postseason race, how about we play some Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda where it concerns a few of their offseason moves?

Move #1


The most puzzling to me was the signing of Carlos Beltran. Yes, he had some nice seasons in St. Louis, but a three-year deal bringing him to his age-39 season seemed less than optimal at $45 million. Plus his signing cost the Yankees a draft pick because the Cardinals submitted a qualifying offer for his services. Beltran is currently slashing .236/.305/.409 with 15 HR, 49 RBI, with a 97 wRC+ and a -0.4 WAR in 106 games and 440 plate appearances.

Shoulda


The Yankees instead might have signed a similar player in Marlon Byrd (also 37) at a much lower cost and potentially one year less (he has an option year with the Philadelphia Phillies). Considering he signed for two-years, $16 million with the Phils, the Yankees could have gone to two years, $20 million and saved $25 million, assuming they didn’t have to go with an option year. Further, Byrd did not have draft pick compensation attached to him. Byrd has a .265/.313/.458 line with 25 HR, 78 RBI, a 112 wRC+ and 2.4 WAR in 139 games and 581 PA.

MLB Rule 7.13 is an epic fail

If a professional sports league, like Major League Baseball, creates a rule and they begin to roll it out to the teams and players it is meant to enforce, and the first response from a large constituent is, ‘Huh?’ then the rule needs some tweaking before it is fully implemented.

This was MLB’s first mistake with Rule 7.13, otherwise known as the home plate collision rule; putting out a rule no one completely understood. The second error was going on with it for five months before trying to clarify the confusion as they tried Tuesday. The third misstep was making the rule even more confusing with the clarification. The biggest problem is that players have to deal with it for the remainder of the season and worse in the playoffs where games can be decided by these judgment calls.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Yankees’ situation forces attention to rest of MLB

I’m forever the optimist but it’s looking more and more like the New York Yankees will miss the playoffs for the second consecutive season. I didn’t see it coming, not many did, but it seems to be the way they are headed. I’ll root for them to make a run (I’ve been doing so for weeks) and won’t stop until they are mathematically eliminated but the objective sports writer in me has forced my attention to the rest of the Major Leagues.

NFL, Ravens chose wrong side of domestic violence

There are some individuals which businesses should not back and the perpetrator of domestic violence is one of them. Never take the side of the abuser. The National Football League and the Baltimore Ravens are finding that out the hard way.

After a virtual slap on the wrist by the NFL, a tiny two-game suspension and loss of a third week of pay, the Ravens simply followed along and were set to allow Ray Rice to play this season beginning in Week 3.

However, new evidence in the form of a videotape surfaced Monday of Rice actually carrying through with the violent abuse of his then finance, Janay Palmer-Rice. Rice, not once but twice punched Palmer-Rice in the face. As she fell, she hit her face on the hand rail inside the elevator crumbled to the ground. Not once did Rice show an ounce of remorse.

The NFL had made their decision based on knowledge of an initial recording which showed Rice carrying an unconscious Palmer-Rice out of the elevator. The NFL and the Ravens both suggest they were not privy to this new tape until Monday. Seriously?

Monday, September 8, 2014

New York Yankees: Jinx continues

The New York Yankees, like all MLB teams, conduct numerous promotional days to draw more fans to their ballparks. The 2014 Yankees have gone a step further this season by holding five separate days to honor a member of past/present teams. The Yankees record in such events fell to 1-4 Sunday as they were held scoreless by the Kansas City Royals 2-0 on Derek Jeter Day.

An ancillary benefit to these days should be getting the current players hyped up for the game. With previous success being celebrated, one might think the present Yankees would get up for such a game. Not so.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Film Review: 'No No: A Dockumentary' illuminates Dock Ellis the man

Courtesy of www.nonoadockumentary.com
I was graciously approached to write a review about a movie which was featured at the Sundance Film Festival and is being released in theaters Sept. 5 titled, No No: A Dockumentary. The movie follows the path of former Major League pitcher Dock Ellis.

I knew of Ellis and his famed no-hitter while pitching for the Pittsburgh Pirates and high on LSD. I admit to being intrigued by how director Jeffrey J. Radice would encapsulate this player’s career and life with the presumed theme of the game which made Ellis a notorious figure.

Well, Dock Ellis was much more than a man who abused alcohol and drugs while being pretty good at baseball. It is discussed in the film? Of course. Is it the basis of the film? Far from it. It's a fantastic journey.