Category Archives: MLB

What a Great Yankees Season We Just Watched

What a season. From being told it was a “rebuilding” year in which we might not even go .500, to being one win away from the world series was one hell of a ride. We saw guys who were just prospects at the start of the season become legitimate stars. There were some absolutely crazy games, from the great comeback against the Orioles

to Gardner’s clutch homer against the Cubs a few days later

and then an 18-inning thriller two nights later

you could tell right away this team was not “rebuilding” and that they were going to contend. Aaron Judge was having one of the most productive first halves in MLB history, Luis Severino shed his 2016 struggles to become a bona fide ace, Gary Sanchez was building off of his masterful rookie campaign, and Didi Gregorious was having a career year. On top of that, guys like Aaron Hicks, Matt Holliday, and Starlin Castro also were playing extremely well. The Yankees had 5 All-Stars this year (Judge, Sanchez, Severino, Castro, and Dellin Betances), with Didi and Hicks also having legitimate cases to make the team.

After Judge put on a show in the Home Run Derby, however, things started to go south for the Yankees. The second half was wildly inconsistent. Judge went through an awful slump in which he set a record for most consecutive games with a strikeout. Masahiro Tanaka was inconsistent from basically May until August. No one could hold down the first base job until Greg Bird finally returned in late August. And Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betances went through stretches where they just flat out could not pitch for the life of them. But behind Judge, Bird, and Tanaka, the Yanks played well in September, finishing two games behind the Red Sox for the division but securing the first wild card spot.

The wild card game did not start as planned, as Luis Severino was able to get just one out. As us Yankee fans saw the entire season flashing before our eyes, Didi Gregorious came up in a big way.

The Yankees of course went on to win that game and advance to the ALDS to play the Indians. After getting shut out by Trevor Bauer in Game 1 and blowing a 5-run lead in Game 2 (what non-challenge?), they returned to the Bronx with their backs against the wall once again. They would not go down without a fight, however, thanks to Tanaka, Judge, and Bird.

I’ve never heard the Stadium louder than after Bird’s home run. Severino and a revitalized offense helped the Yanks to a Game 4 win the next night, sending it back to Cleveland for a winner-take-all Game 5. This time, it was Didi and CC Sabathia doing the honors.

The Yankees had done it; they came back from a 2-0 deficit to knock off the best team in the American League and advance.

The ALCS started poorly, just as the ALDS had. The Yanks scored just two runs, basically getting beat by Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel, Carlos Correa, and Jose Altuve. Game 3 in the Bronx went differently, as the offense heated up again and the Yanks cruised to an 8-1 win. Game 4, however, was not as easy.

One of the greatest Yankee playoff games in recent memory. After a Game 5 win behind Tanaka, the Yankees were just one win away from the World Series. But their struggles in Houston continued, and they were eliminated last night.

This was by far my favorite team and season since 2009. They were a perfect mix of a young core and productive veterans. This team has all the pieces to be good for a really long time. People are already comparing them to the ’95 team that lost in the ALDS to the Mariners before winning 4 of the next 5 World Series. But wasting an opportunity like this sucks because there’s no guarantee they come back the same way next year. People thought the 2015 Mets would be a force for years to come too. I know that’s not exactly the same because they’re the Mets and they will forever be a perennial disappointment (sorry Mr. Walker), but the “we’ll be back next year” mindset only helps numb the pain so much when you know you had a legitimate chance to win it all this year.

Overall, this season and playoff run was more fun than I ever could have imagined for this team. Watch out in the upcoming days for my 2017 Yankees report card where I’ll give every player a grade on how their season went, I bet you can guess what I’m gonna give Tyler Clippard and Chris Carter. (Remember those guys? Amazing how far we’ve come.)

Whether the rest of baseball likes it or not (they don’t), the Yankees are back. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for this team. The countdown to 2018 starts now (158 days.) It’s been real, it’s been fun, it’s been real fun. Until next time, let’s go Yanks.

Why I Hate the Yankees/How to Root Against Them in Appropriate Fashion

I hate the Yankees.  I have always hated the Yankees.  I’m a 35-year-old man who hates a team of nice guys whom I have never met.  I hated the Yankees when they had Derek Jeter and Tino Martinez.  I hated them when they had Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher.  I hate them now when they have Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius.  I don’t hate any of these people individually; in fact, they all seem like nice guys and class acts.  In actuality, the only Yankee of the past 20 years who I really despise individually is Roger Clemens.

If all these people are good people, why does it make sense that I hate the collective that is the New York Yankees?  Many people wonder that about me.  To answer that, let’s put all the cards on the table.  How come it DOES make sense that I have always loved the collective that is the New York Mets, even if I don’t love all of THEM individually?  I mean, by all accounts, Matt Harvey does not really seem that likeable to me.  Why do I root all season long for a bunch of people I have never met, even if I don’t love all the people on the team?  That is no less logical than rooting really hard against the Yankees.

Bill Hader said it best in Trainwreck, when he said that “sports bring people together”.  Being a Mets fan means reveling with other Mets fans in the joy of the team’s success – like the 2015 World Series run – and suffering together through the rough seasons like this year.  Ted Kaczynski and JD Salinger aside, humans like to be involved with groups of other people.  We like to bond.  We like to have common things that bring us joy and common things that bring us despair.  In my case, I like to bond with other Mets fans.

Well, guess what?  As a Mets fan, rooting against the Yankees is part of the deal.  Do we have an inferiority complex because the Yankees have won 13.5 times more championships than the Mets have?  Absolutely.  Do 35-year-old Mets fans have an inferiority complex because the Yankees won 4 championships and were 2 outs from a 5th between the start of 9th grade and the end of sophomore year of college?  For sure.  Are all Mets fans bitter because this was supposed to be the year the Mets win a championship and because the Mets were supposed to own New York from 2015 through at least 2020?  You bet.  We thought the Yankees’ “time” had gone from 1995 to 2012, and we thought 2017 was to be part of the early stages of a Mets dynasty.  That was not to be.

Anyway, it’s Yankees-playoff time.  It is what it is.  Nobody wants to hear Mets fans going on their own version of a “What Happened?” book tour, blaming injuries, the Wilpons, scheduling, having a team in Vegas, or Julian Edelman stealing Matt Harvey’s girlfriend.  Likewise, nobody wants to hear Mets fans loudly ranting against the Yankees.  Instead, Mets fans need to maintain dignity and not act like a-holes.  Otherwise, we have no right to complain when Yankees fans root against the Mets in the 2018 World Series.  Therefore, I urge fellow Mets fans to abide by these three simple rules when rooting against the Yankees during these playoffs.

  • Unless you are by yourself or outside of the NYC metro area, keep your rooting to yourself. Deep down, we Mets fans are all rooting for Sabathia to get lit up during each start, for Chapman to blow a few saves, for Sanchez to let up a passed ball every inning, and for Judge to strike out four times every game.  (Oh wait, that last one has actually happened.)  However, we shouldn’t vocalize it.  If we do that in a crowd of Yankees fans, we are just a-holes.  Plain and simple.  We are wet blankets, Negative Nancies, and d-bags.  While that might feel good in the moment, that “a-hole” tag doesn’t leave us.  We don’t want that “a-hole” tag following us every time we are with our friends in non-Yankees settings.

 

  • When engaging in conversations with Yankees fans, be realistic. Mets fans hate when Yankees fans respond to any argument with “Mets suck”.  The same goes the other way.  You shouldn’t walk around saying, “Yankees suck” because a) That’s actually false, because they are in the ALCS (and, for relativity’s sake, the Mets did lose 92 games.)  and b) It makes you an a-hole again.  Also, don’t implicitly say, “Yankees suck”.  By that, I mean, don’t go around saying, “Yankees have no chance against Houston” or “The Astros are going to destroy the Yankees”.  Instead, make valid arguments.  We have legs to stand on here.  We can say that CC won’t be able to fool another MLB lineup in another playoff series.  We can say that the bullpen’s workload is going to catch up with them.  We can say that the team can’t keep carrying Judge and his strikeouts.  Those are baseball arguments and legitimate ones.   Stick with them.  Sound intelligent.  Don’t shout inane things about the Yankees sucking.

 

 

  • Root against the Yankees. This should be the most obvious thing on a list of three aspects of “rooting against the Yankees”, but it needs to be said. Mets fans who also pull for the Yankees are like people who like pulp in orange juice or like unsalted pretzels.  It’s weird, and I don’t know where these people come from.  I am not saying you have to root hard against the Yankees for 162 games.  That’s a lot of commitment toward hate, and it’s already a big commitment to root FOR the Mets for 162 games.  I just feel that Mets fans should at least root against the Yankees in the playoffs.

 

Why should we root against the Yankees in the playoffs, you ask?  We watch the Mets for 6 months and hear generally about the Yankees.  However, we don’t watch that many of their games.  Therefore, we don’t want them getting the big stage in October.  We want the Mets getting the big stage at that time.   When the Yankees get the stage, we root against them.  Also, the Yankees are the Mets’ rival, and it’s weird to root for a rival.  It makes no sense to me.  I do also realize that most Yankees fans are OK with rooting for the Mets, but that is because the Red Sox, not the Mets, are the Yankees’ rivals.  I get it.  As a Giants fan, I don’t hate the Jets, but plenty of Jets fans hate the Giants.  In both cases, the fans with the inferiority complex root against the superior team.  In baseball and football, I cover both sides.

 

Therefore, Mets fans should be rooting hard against the Yankees, but I think that we do it respectfully.

The Yankees Erased a 2-0 Series Deficit to Advance to the ALCS

I’m just gonna come right out and say it: I’m sorry Joe Girardi. He’s off the hook for his non-challenge in Game 2. Do I think he’s a good manager? No, I still don’t really. But clearly this team is behind him more than I thought, as shown in Todd Frazier’s interview last night.

This team picked up their manager in a big way, and honestly I think they used the way they lost Game 2 and the fans’/media’s blaming Girardi to rally together and win this series. Hand up, I admit I was wrong for thinking the 0-2 hole on top of the way they lost Game 2 was too much to overcome, but I think pretty much every Yankee fan was thinking the same way I was.

As far as last night’s game, you really couldn’t have asked for much more. Didi Gregorious continues to be our MVP, homering twice off of likely AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber.

And yes, my plans for my first born child’s name are still in place.

If Didi was hero number 1 last night, Carsten Charles Sabathia was 1A. This man was LOCKED in last night, dominating like it was 2009 all over again. It stinks he ran into trouble in the 5th and couldn’t stay in long enough to pick up the win, but he pitched great and gave us just what we needed last night. (The smile on Sanchez’s face after CC made that huge divot in the ground on his sliding catch was priceless, by the way.)

The bullpen came up big also, with David Robertson inducing a huge double play ball from Francisco Lindor to get out of the jam in the 5th. He pitched a scoreless 6th and 7th before Aroldis Chapman shut the door in the final two innings.

Brett Gardner also came through in the clutch, singling off of Indians’ closer Cody Allen in a 12-pitch at bat that provided the Yankees with two insurance runs in the 9th.

This team is amazing to watch. Games 3-5 saw everything teams need to win in the playoffs: great pitching, sound fielding, and timely hitting. The Astros are a better hitting team than the Indians, however. It’ll be a tougher task for our pitching staff, and the offense is going to have to put up a good amount of runs to give us a chance. But we just beat a team three straight times that previously hadn’t lost three straight since July. That’s over two months. I plan on doing a series preview for the ALCS tomorrow, but for now let’s just enjoy what was easily the most memorable Yankees playoff series since 2009. And what better way to do that than with some Twitter memes.

What a game, what a series, what a team. See you in Houston (figuratively, not literally, I don’t get paid to do this or anything). Let’s go Yanks baby!

Don’t Tell Me I Can’t Hate On Aaron Judge Just Because He’s a Good Guy and a Young Star in the MLB

Note: Granted this blog was started by three Yankee fans, but we need some more Yankee hate on this blog. Everyone knows you can’t have a great sports blog without hating on/making fun of teams like the Yankees, Cowboys (unfortunately), Patriots, Warriors, etc.

All Rise, and let me paint a hypothetical for you to start this out. Say you are a standard Yankees fan who lives in the tri-state area. If you are my age, you grew up watching the Red Sox send out David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Pedro Martinez, and other players who were on their championship teams in 2004 and/or 2007. Naturally, you hated these guys and those teams, for the most part simply because they were all Boston Red Sox and you hated that team. Flash forward to the last couple of seasons, the Red Sox have brought in young talent such as Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Andrew Benintendi, just to name a few. All of these guys have been good guys on and off the field, and of course are loved by Red Sox fans. If you are a Yankee fan, you may not hate these guys as much as you hated the 2000s Red Sox (yet), but you naturally root against these guys and hate on them because as good as they may be, they play for the Boston Red Sox.

My point? As a Mets fan, don’t tell me I can’t root hard against Aaron Judge and the rest of the Baby Bombers just because they’re great players.

Continue reading Don’t Tell Me I Can’t Hate On Aaron Judge Just Because He’s a Good Guy and a Young Star in the MLB

How Do My Professors Expect Me to Do Well in School While Playoff Baseball Is On?

It’s blasphemy, flabbergasting, preposterous, and any other large word that implies crazy thinking or behavior. I mean, look, I wanna do well in school as much as the next guy…but at what cost? Missing Kyle Hendricks throw a 7 inning-gem against the favored Nats? Not being able to see your home-town Yankees win two in a row with their backs against the wall? Lacking the ability to soak in the happiness of the Red Sox being embarrassingly eliminated at home? Mr. Professor…that’s priceless.

And now, as the halfway point of the semester approaches and midterms need to be studied for, October baseball is heating up, and Jim Rome Is Burning.

Image result for jim rome is burning

I literally have a midterm assignment due tomorrow and a midterm exam on Friday, but I am planning my day around watching the Yankees in Game 5 tonight instead, not studying for the test and completing my work. How do these professors expect me to do both? I can multitask, but I’m no dual-threat student that can study efficiently AND give the proper attention to Game 5 it requires.

Look, I’m not saying colleges and universities need to schedule midterms and other homework around playoff baseball, but I kind of am. Us baseball fans wait through SIX months and 162 games of sometimes irrelevant baseball to get to this part of our lives. It’s important that we dedicate ourselves fully to it.

All I ask for is that during that month, I have no responsibility.  No school, no work, no extra-curricular activities, nothing. I do not care about the affects technology has on Foreign Direct Investment in Europe, but I do care about the affects Stephen Strasburg’s changeup has on right-handed hitters.

So to all my professors, a little respect for my desires would be greatly appreciated. Take my final grade into account, and take your job into account. If I’m not going to try for a whole month out of the semester, it probably won’t reflect too positively on your class grade. Not a threat, just something to chew on next week when I’m taking a midterm entirely clueless because Game 3 of the ALDS was on.  Go Yanks.

This Day in Sports History: Yankees/Indians – 10 Years Ago and 20 Years Ago

I know that you loyal BTB readers are disappointed that I have written only two “This Day in Sports” articles so far.  Therefore, I’m ready to give you two for the price of one!  Today, October 5, is the 20-year anniversary of a great moment in Yankees/Indians history, and – can you believe it? – it is also the 10-year anniversary of another great moment in that rivalry!  By “great”, I should warn you that I don’t like the Yankees.

Let’s dive right in.

In 1996, the 92-70 Yankees won the World Series.  That year, the Indians were the heavy favorites entering the postseason.  The 1995 AL Champs had won 99 games in 1996, more than anybody else that season.  With a loaded lineup including Albert Belle, Manny Ramirez, Roberto Alomar, and Jim Thome in their primes (In my mind, those are four HOFers, again in their primes!), I was one of many who expected the Indians to finish the job and win the World Series.  Well, this was not to be.  The Wild Card Orioles upset the Indians in the ALDS, and, of course, the Yankees went on to win the World Series.

Fast forward to 1997.  That regular season (in the AL) belonged to the Orioles (98 wins) and Yankees (96 wins).  The Yankees seemed even stronger than the championship unit of the previous season.  Tino Martinez started the year on fire and finished the campaign with a .296 average, 44 homers, and 141 RBI.  That was one hell of a season.  Bernie Williams and Paul O’Neill hit .328 and .324, respectively, and both clubbed 21 homers.  Jeter hit .291 with 116 runs in his sophomore season and proved that his rookie season was no fluke.  Plus, this was the season when rumors swirled that he was dating an in-her-prime Mariah Carey.  While many of the college-age readers of BTB think of Mariah as the train wreck who shows up with too much cleavage at Rockefeller Center every holiday season or as the train wreck in Times Square on New Year’s Eve, Mariah 1997 was amazing.  Therefore, this was the season when Derek Jeter truly became “Derek Jeter”.

Meanwhile, in Cleveland, things had seemingly turned south after two dominant campaigns.  The Indians won only 86 games but did manage to win the mediocre AL Central in 1997.  They met the 96-win Yankees in the ALDS.  Even though the Yankees were the Wild Card, the Bombers were the clear favorites.  When the series got underway, the Yankees won Game 1 and lost Game 2 at The Stadium.  Then, the Yankees took Game 3 at the artist formerly known as Jacobs Field.  Games 4 and 5 were to be played in Cleveland as well, but the Yankees were sitting pretty with a 2-games-to-1 lead.  In Game 4 (on October 5, 1997), the Yankees’ Dwight Gooden (ugh, it never stops hurting to write those three words in a row) left in the 6th inning with a 2-1 lead.  Heading into the Bottom of the 8th, the Yankees maintained that lead.  With 1 out in the inning, Mariano Rivera entered the game.  Rivera had created a reputation as a great setup man for John Wetteland in the 1996 World Series Championship run.  However, this was his first playoff series as the closer.  Sure enough, Sandy Alomar Jr. hit a game-tying homerun off Rivera in the Bottom of the 8th, and Rivera had his first blown save of his career.  The Indians would win the game in the Bottom of the 9th against Ramiro Mendoza, and they would win Game 5 the next night.  After dealing with gloating Yankees fans for a year following the 1996 championship, I was quite happy.

The Yankees and Indians ended up flipping scripts from 1996 to 1997.  In 1996, the Indians had the better record; they lost in the Division Series; and the Yankees won the World Series.  Then, in 1997, the Yankees had the better record; they lost in the Division Series; and the Indians went to the World Series (losing to the Marlins in extra innings in Game 7).

Image result for yankees indians 1997

Fast forward 10 years to another Yankees/Indians ALDS.  Needless to say, Mariano had gotten over the 1997 blown save and had dominated over the next nine postseasons.  In 2007, the Yankees entered their 13th consecutive postseason, having reached 6 World Series and won 4 championships over the first 12 appearances.  That said, the Yankees hadn’t reached the World Series since 2003 and hadn’t won a championship since 2000.  Furthermore, the Yankees had lost in the 2005 and 2006 ALDS to the Angels and Tigers, respectively.  On the other side, the Indians were in the playoffs for the first time since 2001.  In 2007, all four AL playoff teams (including the Red Sox and Angels) had won between 94 and 96 games, so the Indians and Yankees were roughly equals.  However, with the Yankees being the Wild Card, the Indians had homefield advantage.  The Yankees were led by Alex Rodriguez and his otherworldly .314 BA/54 homers/156 RBI stat line.  However, he had underperformed in his previous two ALDS and the 2004 ALCS, so he faced a lot of pressure entering the 2007 ALDS.

What happened in Game 1?  The Indians lit up Chien-Mien Wang for a 12-3 win, with CC Sabathia being the Indians’ pitcher of record.  A-Rod went 0-2 with 2 walks, for what it’s worth.  The next night was the big one though.  That is why I am writing this article.  On October 5, 2007; the Indians won Game 2 2-1 in 11 innings.  This game is memorable for the reason of Joba Chamberlain and midges.  Joba had burst onto the scene in 2007 and had thrown 24 innings with a 0.38 ERA in the regular season.  “Joba Rules” were in effect, as the Yankees limited his innings so that they could protect his arm for a potentially long and prosperous career as a starter.  Of course, this “long and prosperous career” didn’t pan out at all, but Yankees fans felt great when Joba entered that game in Cleveland in the 7th inning with a 1-0 lead.  They continued to feel great after Joba pitched well in the 7th.  However, Yankees fans could not have expected what would await Joba in the 8th inning.  A huge swarm of midges came in off Lake Erie and threw Joba off his game.  Joba allowed the Indians to tie the game, and the Indians would win it in the 9th inning.  While the Yankees ultimately won Game 3 at Yankee Stadium, the Indians won Game 4 there to clinch the series.  The Yankees went home; Joba’s career went downhill; and the Indians went on to lose to the Red Sox in 7 in the ALCS.

Moral of the story: on October 5, _ _ _ 7: Big things always happen for the Indians against the Yankees.  Let’s see what happens tonight.

BTB Picks: MLB Playoffs

October baseball is back, which means it’s time to cancel what you’re doing at night for the next month and dive into the world of playoff baseball.  People have officially chosen their team to bandwagon, and will soon be spending $35 on a hat that says “2017 World Series Champs”.

Here at BTB, we make sure we call our shots before the playoffs get too deep, and below are some of our writer’s picks for how they think the playoffs will go down:

Continue reading BTB Picks: MLB Playoffs