Archive for May, 2011

Looking at the Positives of the 2011 Yankees

Posted in Yankees on May 29, 2011 by EAST SIDE RYNO

Since the 2011 season began, almost every local article written about the Yankees has been critical of the team. I’m sick of it. I’ve never seen so much negative news for a team that’s one game out of first place. Even in the beginning of the season when the Yanks were rolling and Boston was miserable, all the news was about Jeter’s lack of production and Phil Hughes’ lack of velocity. Then there was the whole Jorge Posada debacle, which was blown completely out of proportion. Now it’s all about the Yanks trying to get rid of the .203 hitting Swisher. Everyone needs to fuck’n relax! Here are the top five positives from this young season:

5. Russell Martin

Nine homers and 26 RBI by Memorial Weekend? Wow! And this guy only came to the Yanks to give Montero time to develop. Now he’s become one of the Yankees most reliable hitters this season.

4. The Comeback vs. Toronto

Best game of the year. Down 4-1 in the 8th inning, the Yanks’ offense came alive and scored four runs in the final two innings. Down by one heading into the 9th, Jorge Posada hit a one-out double to right to spark a rally. The Yankees then tied the game on a Granderson base hit that scored Chris Dickerson (who pinch-ran for Posada). In the next at bat, Teixeira ripped a single past first base that scored Granderson for the game-winning run. After everything that Posada had gone through in May, it was great to watch him start the comeback.

3. Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia

Coming into Spring Training, both these guys were destined to be released prior to Opening Day. But after having very impressive Springs, they have anchored the bottom of the starting rotation. They have combined for five wins so far and have had very respectful ERA’s (Colon – 3.77 , Garcia – 3.26). Hopefully the Yankees can get at least ten wins from both Colon and Garcia by the end of the season.

Hector Noesi: Future Stud

2. The Rise of the Bullpen Youngsters: Hector Noesi and David Robertson

For the last two seasons, David Robertson has been one of the most reliable arms in the bullpen. But this year, he has been unhittable. In 21.1 innings, Robertson has only given up three earned runs. Batters are hitting a miserable .198 against him and in 24 appearances, he has yet to give up a home run. This season, the Yankees have also found another reliable young right-hander: Hector Noesi. He has only had 3 appearance so far in his young career, but he’s been lights out every time he’s been called from the pen. In 9.1 innings pitched, he has only given up one earned run. With his fastball sitting consistently at 93 mph, he has looked unhittable so far.

1. Curtis Granderson

Unquestionably, the MVP of the team so far. Granderson leads the Yankees with 16 home runs and 37 RBI. He is second in the majors in home runs (behind Jose Bautista) and ninth in RBI. While guys like Posada, Jeter, and Swisher have been struggling, Granderson has been saving this lineup. He has been the most clutch hitter and has grown accustom to the short porch in right field. If Curtis keeps these numbers up throughout the summer, he can very well be an MVP candidate.

Tiki Barber Should Stay Quiet for a While

Posted in Giants on May 28, 2011 by EAST SIDE RYNO

(ESPN NY) Tiki Barber hasn’t taken the football field yet in his comeback, but he’s already taking hits for making an analogy to Holocaust victim Anne Frank. The former New York Giants running back has been criticized in local media for making the analogy during an interview in this week’s Sports Illustrated. At one point in the article, Barber describes going into hiding with his girlfriend after his well-publicized breakup with his then-pregnant wife. Barber and his girlfriend ended up in the attic of the home of the player’s agent, Mark Lepselter. “Lep’s Jewish,” Barber told Sports Illustrated. “And it was like a reverse Anne Frank thing.

Seriously dude? Nothing like a good Anne Frank joke! How did Tiki think this was appropriate? Did you think people we going to laugh about it? When Tiki Barber was a member of the Giants, I respected the hell out of him. He was one of the best runningbacks in the league and he had an unmatched work-ethic (squatting 800 pounds isn’t too shabby). But once he retired (in the middle of his prime), he became one of my most hated athletes on the planet. It wasn’t the fact that he quit on Tom Coughlin and his teammates in the middle of the 2006 season when he announced his retirement. But it was when he started criticizing Eli Manning and Coach Coughlin prior to the 2007 season. After that,  I lost all respect for him. (On television, he claimed that Eli Manning wasn’t a leader in the locker room or on the field. He claimed his teammates didn’t believe in him). How dare you quit on the Giants then stab them in the back! I know he wanted to start his television career with a bang, but that’s just uncalled for. Seeing that Tiki isn’t a reporter anymore, I guess that move didn’t work out for him.

But now with him leaving his pregnant wife for a 23 year-old, the entire country hates the guy. So when you are trying to win back the public, why would you say something this controversial? I’m actually starting to feel bad for him. I know he’s going to try and return to the NFL, which shows us that he realized he made the wrong decision to retire. If I were Tiki, I would try and stay out of the spotlight as long as I could. Just continue to get back in shape and pray that this lockout ends.

Here’s a clip from when the Giants welcomed back Tiki for their “Ring of Honor” ceremony last October:

Jo Bein’ Jo!

Posted in Other on May 23, 2011 by EAST SIDE RYNO

This is why Jo is great. Just when the NBA starts advertising why it’s inappropriate to use anti-gay slurs, Joakim just goes out and calls a dude a “f****t.” Just another classic example of why you never fuck with Joakim. He’s a loose cannon. You never know what he’s going to say or do next. During a press conference, he might call out Cleveland as being the worst city on the planet or he might start break into a free-style dance. You never know. So in this case with Jo’s antigay slurs, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Joakim just reacts to the situation.

To defend Jo, the fan apparently said some horrific comments to him. If a fan ever said the wrong thing to me, who knows if I would’ve let my emotions get the best of me? Maybe I would’ve pulled a Ron Artest? Also in defense of Joakim, he had no idea the camera was on him. I’m pretty sure if he knew the camera’s were rolling, he would’ve stayed quiet. Overall, it’s very unfortunate that Noah was filmed saying this antigay slur and was fined $50,000 by the league. Let’s hope Noah doesn’t pick up two fouls in the first five minutes of the game so Chicago can bounce back against Miami in Game 4.

A picture of Joakim during his time at Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn, NY. While there, he was coached by the legendary Bill McNally.

Latest College Baseball Tournament Projections (Bracketology)

Posted in Bracketology, College Baseball on May 22, 2011 by sammywestside

Its been an eventful week in College Baseball and today we’ve got the latest projections.

Right now the bubble is shrinking and the teams on it are most notably LSU, Ole Miss, Texas Tech, Kansas State, E Tennessee State, Jacksonville, Illinois State, Georgia, Florida Atlantic, and St. John’s. The good news is, most of these teams will make it if there aren’t too many conference tournament upsets. The most widely debated LSU Tigers are in for me right now, because of their strong finish and great OOC record. The Ole Miss Rebels are out after slipping at the end of the year and with a record not far above .500. Georgia is in trouble because they must win have a winning record in the SEC tournament this week, which seems unlikely given their bracket. For now, I have them out.

In terms of host sites, I see eight teams vying for 4 spots. They are Oklahoma, Clemson, TCU, Fresno State, Stetson, Southern Miss, Arkansas, and Cal State Fullerton. With a tough week for the Sooners, Hatters, Bulldogs, and Golden Eagles, today they have been bumped to #2 seeds in regions. A strong finish from any of these teams could put them in position to host, although the ability of the NCAA to make money at each of the sites is important as well. Arkansas, Clemson, Fresno State, and TCU have an advantage in that department.

With UNC’s sweep of #1 Virginia this weekend, the Tar Heels are in good shape for a national seed, while Florida State falls after they lose 2 of 3 to Clemson at home. Virginia maintains the top spot for now, but could easily lose it without an ACC crown this week.

Like last time, I will put the National seed bracket, followed by their pairing.

#1 Charlottesville Regional

Virginia

Connecticut

East Carolina

Navy

Fayetteville Regional

Arkansas

Oklahoma State

SE Louisiana

Michigan State

#2 Columbia Regional

South Carolina

Florida International

NC State

Alcorn State

Tallahassee Regional

Florida State

Stetson

Florida Atlantic

Stony Brook

#3 Nashville Regional

Vanderbilt

Miami FL

E. Tennessee State

Princeton

Atlanta Regional

Georgia Tech

California

Auburn

Stony Brook

#4 Gainesville Regional

Florida

UCF

Jacksonville

Bethune Cookman

Clemson Regional

Clemson

Southern Mississippi

Coastal Carolina

Charlotte

#5 Tempe Regional

Arizona State

Fresno State

Illinois State

Wright State

Fullerton Regional

Cal State Fullerton

UCLA

Texas Tech

Kent State

#6 Chapel Hill Regional

North Carolina

Mississippi State

Elon

Manhattan

Houston Regional

Rice

Baylor

LSU

Troy

#7 Austin Regional

Texas

Stanford

Creighton

Austin Peay

Fort Worth Regional

TCU

Oklahoma

Texas State

Sacred Heart

#8 Corvalis Regional

Oregon State

UC Irvine

Kansas State

Gonzaga

College Station Regional

Texas A&M

Arizona

Alabama

Oral Roberts

Last In-

E. Tennessee State

SE Louisana

LSU

Texas Tech

Kansas State

Illinois State

Jacksonville

Last Out-

St. John’s

Mississippi

Georgia (by default)

Dallas Baptist

Bids by Conference

SEC- 8

ACC-7

Big 12-7

Pac Ten- 6

CUSA-4

Sun Belt- 3

Atlantic Sun-3

Missouri Valley-2

Southland-2

Big West-2

Another Reason why College Sports > Pro Sports in my Opinion

Posted in College Baseball on May 21, 2011 by sammywestside
 

Of course College Football and Basketball are great, and are so much better than their pro sports conglomerates, but college baseball is on the rise.

I’ve had my share of College Baseball experiences over the last 12 months that have made me a true believer.

I had the pleasure of attending plenty of games this season from Nebraska to South Carolina, but no one was more entertaining than the Clemson-Davidson game on Tuesday night…and it wasn’t even the game that made it special.

Some people say these “antics” tarnish the game, I say no. Do you think more people would stick around during rain delays in the Majors if there were players goofing off on the field?

I certainly was getting antsy sitting waiting for the game for two hours, but this entertainment made me want to stay and see more. Eventually the game resumed, and Clemson won 19-0, but that wasn’t nearly as fun as the rain delay.

I’m not saying every team should do this every rain delay, but you’ve got to try and have some fun every once in a while!

The best part of it is, the players were just trying to pass time, have fun, and came up with these ideas on the spur of the moment.

This is another clip from the Radford game last week, where another team got in on some hilarious fun.

NHL Back in Winnipeg? Could Happen!

Posted in Not in New York on May 20, 2011 by EAST SIDE RYNO

(Montreal Gazzette) TORONTO – After years of false starts and false hope, hockey-obsessed Canada may finally reclaim its lost NHL team as speculation heated up this week that the league is set to return to Winnipeg 15 years after it left. In the latest twist to a saga that has tongues wagging over where cash-strapped NHL franchises could find a new home, the spotlight has shifted to the Atlanta Thrashers from a Phoenix Coyotes team that used to play in Winnipeg. The Manitoba capital has been ready to roll out the NHL welcome mat before, only to have the rug pulled out from under them each time. It could happen again, but all the signs point to a happy ending for Winnipeg hockey fans who have been put through an emotional wringer.

Yes! More hockey in Canada! Even though the report last night about the move being official was denied, it looks like this is bound to happen within days. Even though I feel bad for Thrashers fans in Atlanta, this is a good move for hockey. Overall, it was wrong for Bettman to put a team in Atlanta. The NHL tried it before with the Flames. Why would it work now? Cities like Winnipeg, Hamilton, and Quebec City deserve hockey teams. The NHL would be so much more popular if they had teams in cities that care about the sport. Places like Phoenix, Atlanta, and other southern cities don’t care about hockey as a whole. Yes there are die-hards down there, but it’s not enough to put the NHL fully back on the map in North America.

Winnipeg Superstar Teemu Selanne

Yes, I know the Islanders aren’t the best for the NHL either. They are the least popular team in New York who have had some of the worst attendance numbers in the last three seasons. But I strongly believe that Bettman would never move this franchise because it has had a great history. No franchise who has won the Stanley Cup has ever relocated. Along with the possibility of a new arena, I’m fully confident the Islanders will stay in Nassau. Winnipeg was heart broken when they lost their lone professional sports franchise in 1996. Let’s hope Bettman brings the Jets back not only for the fans in Winnipeg, but to also increase the popularity of this great sport.

Who’s Been the Most Important Yankee of this Era?

Posted in Yankees on May 20, 2011 by sammywestside

It’s scary to think about, but the end of an era is upon us. The Yankees are transitioning from one era to another. More so than ever it is obviously that the end is near.

As far as I’m concerned we are still in the era that has lasted since 1994 in my opinion. While no one remains from any further back than that, it is time to start reflecting upon what the era meant and who meant what to it.

Sadly Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter, and Mariano Rivera are the last strings that hold this together. It’s unlikely that’ll they all retire at the same time, and that means we’ll eventually be left with one. Until that day comes that they are all gone, than I am still considering us barely in the past era.

Today I’d like to look at who has been important to this Yankee era, and explain who exactly is most important to it.

Other Honorable Mentions: David Wells, Orlando Hernandez, Hideki Matsui

Honorable Mention: Robinson Cano 

Sweetest Swing in Baseball

You may ask why I have Robinson Cano here, the answer is simple, he is the future. If there is one Yankee who can and will define the next generation it is him. Cano did his part to put a stamp on the team the last few years, including a World Championship, but for the Yankees to continue success in the next decade he must be the leader. Cano has the potential to do amazing things in his career, and while he is not still “young”, he is getting towards the prime of his career now. If Cano can play like he has over the next 8-10 years for the Yankees, than he is bound to have a tremendous career, perhaps a Hall of Fame one. When he first came up I said he’d win a batting title one day and I still believe that. Meanwhile he can hit 30-35 HR’s and get you over 100 RBI’s.

Honorable Mention: Joe Girardi

Girardi is the one person who will make the most impact on each of the two generations of Yankee players. Joe did his part to help the Yankees to World Championships as a player and now a coach. While he only played four seasons for the Yanks, he was an huge part of developing young players on the team like Pettitte, Jeter and most of all Posada. Now, he is charged with even more responsibility. While I often wonder what he is doing some games, he does know how to win. Girardi is in a tough position now because the Yankees are not in the best shape. They have old players with big contracts (none worse than ARod, who will be haunting the Yanks until 2018 or so), and a pitching staff that is like patchwork. The good news is, if Girardi can somehow make it through this season, and perhaps next, the Yanks have some young players poised to make a big impact. Guys like Manny Banuelos, Delin Betances, and Jesus Montero could all be starters next year, and eventually good to great players. For now Joe must try to make this patch work rotation and team blend and make the playoffs again.

10. Mike Mussina

Probably one the most under-appreciated players of the era, Mussina’s legacy falls due to the fact he fit squarely between Championships. Maybe he was cursed, or maybe the Yanks just weren’t that good in the meantime. Either way Mike was a true player of the game, and a great guy who helped the Yanks win so many games. The best part of his tale was how it ended. Mike had a borderline Hall of Fame career, but had never won 20 games (winning 19 many times). That was until his final year when he pitched awesome and eventually won his 20th game of the season, in the final start of his career. At the time I was happy to see Mike go out on top, and the only thing that would have made it better, was getting him a ring.

9. David Cone

Don’t you forget about Coney. This guy was a gamer, and while he didn’t play for the Yanks long, he made a huge impact. Putting together a string of 4 great seasons, he helped the Yanks win championships above anything else. We all will probably remember his legacy most for some big performances in the playoffs, as well as his perfect game. At age 37, the guy put it together and had some of the nastiest stuff I’d ever seen. Like Mike Mussina he was a pitcher, not some guy who threw the ball hard at the strike zone. He strategized and threw anything and everything he could come up with. I love pitchers like that and that’s one of the reasons why he is so beloved by Yankee fans.

8. Scott Brosius

Maybe I’ll get some flack for this one, but Scotty Brosius was an impact guy just like Cone. In a short time Brosius helped the Yankees to the World Series in each of his four seasons, winning three of them. He was clutch and a terrific fielder. While his career stats are anything but spectacular, he was the kind of player you did to win. He was a gel guy and an awesome teammate. Without him on the team from 98-01, the Yanks would probably not achieved nearly what they did because of his presence.

7. Tino Martinez

Like Brosius, Martinez was a guy no one knew well and came in without the love he would garner. Today Tino has become one of the most beloved Yankees of the era, and its not only because of his tremendous achievements on the field, but because he was a great guy. The most important part about him might have been his glove, which saved many errant throws and stabbed most balls in his vicinity. The biggest crime is his lack of a gold glove, which was never more evident when Rafael “Juiced-Up” Palmeiro beat him out when only playing about 30 games at first all year. Tino was great and had two epic home runs in the World Series, in 98 and 01. Any we must not forget the oviation he got when he returned with the Cardinals and eventually returned to the Yanks in a platoon role.

6. Paul O’Neill

Boy it feels weird putting Pauly this low on the list, but lets be honest its hard to argue against any of these remaining guys. Paul O’Neill, the Warrior. Paul played the game with a passion no one else did. He cared about every little thing he did and the team did. No one will forget his fights with the Gatorade Coolers, but that was a fond memory that reminded us of how much he cared. Tino Martinez said in a recent Yankeeography that Paul was never happy as a player. If he went 0-4 he thought he’d never get a hit again, and if he went 4-4 he’d still think it because who does it again. Today Paul is a part time announcer on the YES Network and my favorite. He tells awesome stories, eats great food in the booth, and of course makes fun of Michael Kay all the time. Lets not forget his shinning moments as a player though, and of course the 9th inning of game 5 in the 2001 World Series, when the Yankee fans chanted his name the entire inning in one of the most emotional and loving displays of fandom I’ve ever seen.

5. Jorge Posada

Its hard for me to drop Jorge this low as well considering he is longer tenured than the next two players. While Jorge struggles now late in his career, there were so many moment when he shinned. He played under the radar as a solid catcher most of his career, but most importantly as one of the best hitting catchers of his time. We’ve counted on Jorge to give the Yanks 25-30 HR’s, and around 100 RBI’s more most of his career and he’s delivered time and time again. While not hitting for a high average most of his career, he found a way to get on base just as much as anyone via the walk. If there is one moment that sticks out to me in his career, its probably his hit in the 8th inning of the 2003 ALCS Game 7 off Pedro. It was probably one of the few moments in my life where I was in the state of shock, and it was because of Jorge. I’ll never forget the emotion of him pumping his fists on second base. With his retirement growing near, we should appreciate everything he has done, and the Yankee fans showed that just a few days ago when he received a standing ovation when he pinch hit and walked after the conflict last weekend.

4. Bernie Williams

I’ve raved about great personalities in players on this list already but there are a few that compete with Bernie Williams. He was everything that is right with the game and gave the Yankees an unbelievable career. While not a Hall of Famer, Bernie was everything you could ask for up to that. He played a great Centerfield, winning four gold gloves, and swung the bat like a champ. He was never a huge power hitter, but routinely would put up 20-30 homers. His best characteristic was his ability to hit for a high average, winning a batting title along the way. Bernie was a Yankee through and through and played for them his entire career before ending it slightly slighted. I didn’t approve of the way the Yanks handled him at the end of his career, he still got what I wanted most, a heroes goodbye. After not returning to Yankee Stadium for a couple of years, Bernie came back for the closing of the Park in 2008 and was part of a moment I’ll never forget.

3 (Tied). Andy Pettitte

If you could sum up Andy Pettitte’s career in one word, it’d be clutch. Pettitte is not a Hall of Famer as well, but for every day start he had and for every mediocre season he had, he made up for it in the postseason. Andy pitched into and out of trouble more than any other pitcher I’ve ever seen. Like David Cone and Mike Mussina, Pettitte relied on deception and accuracy to win games. He battled night in and night out. There are so many games where he came up huge when the Yankees needed him the most. For years he threw game two of every series in the playoffs, and after a game one loss, he’d always come back and win game two. Best of all was his late career performance in the 2009 playoffs when he won the deciding game of every postseason series, the ALDS, ALCS, and then the World Series. Andy left New York for a few years in the middle but was always a Yankee. He returned to New York over the last few years and gave the Yankees everything they could ask for again. Like Mussina, Pettitte went out with a great last season of his career, but we’re still waiting for his triumphant return so he can be honored like so many in the past have.

3. (Tied) Joe Torre

I almost forgot, I’m sure you almost forgot, but lets be honest Joe deserves to be right here. A man of great class and leadership, Torre came to New York with most people doubting him. It only took one season for everyone to love Torre, but his legacy lives on. More so than any other person, I want and need Joe Torre back in Yankee Stadium to be honored. One day, hopefully in the near future it will happen. While Joe kind of came back and made amends last September to honor George Steinbrenner, it wasn’t about him and he didn’t really get a moment to shine. Reports are he will return for Old Timer’s Day this year, and that should be awesome. What really needs to happen though, is him getting his number retired out in Centerfield.

2. Derek Jeter

Oh boy, did I really put Derek Jeter 2nd? Yes folks, its true he is second, but that doesn’t mean he was overrated like so many idiots like to say. Like Pettitte, Jeter’s career has been defined by coming through in the clutch. Even better has been his ability to hit for so many years. His career average is 3teens and has had so many big years. His ability to field has always been a widely debated topic, but I don’t understand why. He’s always been great in the field, making few errors and earning gold gloves along the way. He might have less range than before, but I’d still rather have him at short than so many other guys who boot routine groundballs, or throw it over the first baseman’s head. Derek Jeter is not done yet and he will have his Indian Summer before its all set and done. Best of all he is head to received the regard he deserves in the retirement of his number as well as, a place in the Hall of Fame. Soon he will get to 3000 hits and it should be a really exciting moment.

1. Mariano Rivera

Maybe the whole point of this article was to tell you why Mariano Rivera is the most important player of the era. The fact is, he is, and that’s not even debatable in my mind. Mariano Rivera is a once in a generation, maybe lifetime, kind of player. He gets no where near enough credit and deserves so much more than anyone else Obviously he is the greatest closer of all time, but he’s also the best pitcher of this era of baseball, and deserves to in same class as the all time greats.

People who don’t get to watch Rivera on a day to day basis usually don’t appreciate how good he is. He is the most accurate pitcher I’ve ever seen. He throws the ball to the catchers glove over and over and over again. Next, he is the only guy who throws one pitch. Yes, one pitch. The Mariano Rivera Cutter is so good, that after seeing it for the last 16 years, no one has yet to figure out how to hit it. If you took the best pitch of any other pitcher in baseball and told him to throw it every time, he’d get shelled. Yet, Mariano doesn’t. Soon he will become the all-time saves leader, and has had so many years with sub 2.00 ERA’s, its hard to remember. While he certainly isn’t the pitcher he was ten years ago, and only throw the ball in the low 90’s now, he still gets guys out, and of course has a sub 2.00 ERA this year.

Perhaps his best trait is his ability to pitch when it counts the most. In the postseason, in 140 innings (equivalent to 2 seasons) he has a 0.71 ERA. That’s just absurd. Sure he’s blown a few saves in his career, but if you watch the majority of them they are not because he gave up these huge hits, but because the player hit the ball so badly it fell in as a blop over the infielders heads, with of course a broken bat. I guarantee you all of the hits he’s given up in his career, 902 to be exact, much more than half of them were incredibly cheap hits like a bloop or a broken bat infield hit. Its just craziness.

Most of all, the Yankees could never ever ever have done what they have without him, and he will be missed above all other guys. There will never be a closer as good as Rivera again, and maybe there has never been a pitcher as good as him, ever.

RETIRED NUMBERS???

Finally I’d like to address one more debatable topic. Who should have there number retired?

Duh?- Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Joe Torre

Maybe?- Bernie Williams, Paul O’Neill, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte

This is where it gets tough, I’d definitely put the three on top in, but the next group gets complicated. Its hard to put one in and not another. Also where do you draw the line for retired numbers. The Yanks have a lot, but also they have had a lot of great players over the years. What do you think?

All I know is it won’t be long before no Yankee wears a single digit number ever again!