Tagged: Minneapolis

If Hot Stove League has opened, when do the Yankees play?…

 

With the Boss, we OWNED November…

Life under Hal Steinbrenner is certainly different than it was under the Boss.  In the old days, the Yankees would already be dominating the news in November.  At the very least, their name would be attached as a strong possibility for every elite free agent.  These days, the Miami Marlins, Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers and even the Houston Astros have garnered more press time.

As for the obvious options, I do think the Yankees would be foolish to join the chase for free agent pitcher C.J. Wilson.  I like Wilson as a starter, but he’s not worth the cost.  I still prefer Mark Buehrle because it wouldn’t take as much money and even if he’s not flashy, Buehrle gives you innings and is very consistent.  After life on the A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes Roller Coasters, I’d gladly accept some consistency in the middle of the rotation.  As for trade targets, I’d love to get Matt Cain but I don’t think the San Francisco Giants will trade him.

Now that Eric Chavez has indicated he wants to play in 2012, I hope the Yankees can find a way to bring him back for a second year in pinstripes.  It’s interesting that the team has acknowledged they may have been better off playing Chavez at third in the play-offs instead of the less-than-100% Alex Rodriguez.  A healthy A-Rod is critical for next season and someone like Chavez, assuming he can also stay healthy, is the perfect backup because he can be a very effective starter in spots.  At some point, A-Rod will probably see more time at DH than third, but that’s not going to happen next year.  Chavez is a good bridge to the point the Yanks need  a new full-time third baseman.

Sleep deprived Houstonians…

I think the announced move of the Houston Astros to the American League in 2013 makes sense.  I understand the negatives….they’ll lose the Central Time Zone rivalries with the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs and will play more games on the West Coast…but I think they’ll develop good rivalries with the AL CST teams.  As for the time zone differences, they still have it better than the three hour time zone differences the AL East teams face on their West Coast trips.  I realize that those are not in-division games, but all things considered, having balanced leagues for scheduling purposes is important.  Plus, it didn’t seem fair that the AL West had only four teams while the other divisions had five.  I never fully understood why Milwaukee was moved from the AL to NL and I did think they probably should have been the team to move back to the AL, but clearly the MLB team owners used the sale of the Astros as leverage to force the move.

New meaning to ‘one and done’…

Of the other changes, I am not sure what I think about the addition of a second wild card team, and moving to a one game wild card play-off.  I didn’t like the current system that did not differentiate between winning the division or getting into the play-offs as the Wild Card (except for home field advantage).  But a one game play-off?  That doesn’t really seem fair either.  I know that the argument is to win the division and not put yourself in the wild card, but it doesn’t seem fair that one wild card team could finish 5 or 6 games ahead of the second team, but then lose out by virtue of a single off night.  I know, ‘don’t put yourself in that position’ but still…  Nevertheless, I am sure that this change will motivate teams to continue striving for the division championship and not mail it in once the wild card is secured.

I thought they put their pants on just like I do…

I think the right choices were made for the AL and NL Cy Young Awards…Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw, respectively.  How scary is it that Kershaw’s only 23?  Donnie Baseball has to be very happy with the top of his rotation.  I am looking forward to the announcement of the MVP Awards, and I am in the category of those who believe that pitchers should not be considered for the award.  Obviously, I am pulling for Curtis Granderson in the AL, but even if a Yankee wasn’t up for consideration, I’d feel the same way about no pitchers for the award.  The Cy Young is a pitcher’s MVP award.

Trading Beer for Wind…

I was surprised to see Dale Sveum get the managing job with the Chicago Cubs.  It’s not that I don’t think he’ll make a good manager, but rather I thought he’d be a good fit for the Boston Red Sox.  I had been hoping that Terry Francona would get the Cubs job, and when he withdrew his name, I thought that Mike Maddux would be the next call.  I know that name withdrawals are usually prompted by behind-the-scenes conversations (Francona probably realizing that he wouldn’t get the job), but I think it’s a travesty that Tito won’t be managing in the big leagues in 2012…unless that was truly his choice.  If I owned a major league team, Tito would be at the top of my short list for managers.  He may have been the manager of my team’s most bitter rival but I have a great deal of respect for him.  It would have been great to see him manage the Cubs to a World Series Championship after ending Boston’s drought.

Joe Mauer, come back!…

I am still missing the lights of Target Field from my condo.  I can see the lighted field name sign, but there is just something about those stadium lights that give a magical feeling to the skyline of downtown Minneapolis.  I am looking forward to April when Jamey Carroll and the Minnesota Twins turn on the lights.  As for how the Twins do, they can lose 99 games again…

–Scott

 

 

The Improbable Championship…

 

The 2nd winningest team in baseball history…

Congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals for their World Series championship over the Texas Rangers.  It was a thrilling World Series, especially the three home run game by Albert Pujols and the edge-of-your-seat Game 6 that saw the Cards eliminate two 2 run deficits with two outs and two strikes in the 9th and 10th innings.  The Cardinals now have 11 World Series Championships, only 16 more needed to catch the Yankees…

2005 Astros and 2010 Yankees were nice, but…

A year after experiencing play-off failure with the Yankees, Lance Berkman achieved his first championship and played a significant role for the team.  I wish the Yankees could have seen the Berkman that played in 2011, rather than the 2010 version, but it wasn’t meant to be.  Berkman made the right choice in selecting the Cardinals over the Rangers in the off-season.

Remember me?…

I kept wondering how Arthur Rhodes felt after spending the majority of the 2011 season with the Rangers before being released in August, only to sign with the Cardinals and help them to the championship over his former team.  Sweet vindication…

I liked the Cowboys, Mavericks and Stars…

I lived in Dallas for 14 years, however, I could never embrace the Rangers.  I am not quite sure why.  I don’t care for the Arizona Diamondbacks after living in Phoenix, but I can attribute that to how rudely fans treated me during the 2001 World Series.  I am not a rude, “in your face”, obnoxious type of fan, but that’s how I was treated simply for wearing a Yankees cap.  Still, I am not sure why the Rangers bother me, but I just am not a fan.  I would prefer to see any of the AL West teams succeed over the Rangers.  So, I did take some satisfaction that the Rangers were SO CLOSE, but ultimately SO FAR AWAY in their quest for the organization’s first championship.  Of course, they’ll be a contender again next year so I recognize that their time may still come.

A signing that makes sense…

It was good to hear that the Yankees and GM Brian Cashman have apparently agreed on a new three year deal that will be announced on Monday.  Wrapping up Cashman before the expiration of his contract was essential for the Yankees to have a successful off-season.  Next up is re-signing CC Sabathia before he exercises his opt-out by midnight on Monday.  I really do not want to see CC hit the open market because it will take away the Yankees focus in finding other pieces to the puzzle.

Plus another signing that would make great sense…

As for free agents, I do hope the Yankees pursue C.J. Wilson.  I recognize that he lost Game 7 of the World Series, however, he is a talented pitcher and I think that he’d excel under pitching coach Larry Rothschild.  A top three rotation of Sabathia-Wilson-Nova would be very competitive.  It’s too bad that Phil Hughes took such a step back this year, and that A.J. Burnett continues to under-achieve.  But I really do not want to go another year relying on the aging arms of Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon.  The Yankees have to improve the rotation, and I do not believe that Dellin Betances or Manny Banuelos are quite ready for the challenge yet.

Admittedly, a sense of relief…

Congratulations to Jerry DiPoto for being named the new GM of the Los Angeles Angels, but I still think it’s an injustice that Kim Ng doesn’t get stronger consideration.  She is as well qualified (if not more) than her male counterparts, and she’ll make a terrific GM one day.  If I owned a team, she’d certainly be on my short list of people to hire.  As for DiPoto, it had seemed like he was destined for the Baltimore Orioles just a few weeks ago.  I don’t think they’re top candidates, but I’d hate to lose either Billy Eppler or Damon Oppenheimer to an AL East rival.  So, hopefully, the O’s will either go with an internal candidate or select someone without ties to the Yankees.  I do hope that Eppler and Oppenheimer get recognized for their great contributions, but I’d prefer to see it happen outside of the division (well, except for the Rangers).

Have we seen the end of the term ‘Lovable Losers’ in Chicago?…

I have to admit that I am anxious to see how Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer put their stamp on the Chicago Cubs.  I hope it doesn’t involve signing free agent slugger Albert Pujols, whom I really hope finishes his career in St. Louis.  But someone like Prince Fielder might make great sense for the Cubs.  I am sure that they’d love to find a way to get out from under Alfonso Soriano’s contract.  While I can’t say that I am thrilled about Alex Rodriguez and view the weight of his contract as an albatross, the Yankees made the right decision in parting with the free swinging Soriano and of course it eventually opened a spot for the Yankees true MVP, Robinson Cano.  I expect Epstein to be aggressive and it will be interesting to watch the 2012 Cubs take shape.  I just don’t see how manager Mike Quade survives, but I could be wrong.  I believe that Ryne Sandberg would be the best field general for the Epstein regime.

My favorite NL team continues to be the Los Angeles Dodgers, primarily because of manager Don Mattingly, but I’ll definitely be pulling for the Cubs as well.  I would like to see them win a championship in my lifetime, well, so long as the opposing team is not the Yankees.

Bright Lights, Great City…

When the Minnesota Twins played their final home game at the end of the regular season, I knew that I was going to miss the magical lights of Target Field from my downtown Minneapolis home.  I don’t know why, but the lights were on at the stadium a few days ago and it is amazing how much they enhance the already beautiful Minneapolis skyline.  I am looking so forward to the lights next April.  However, I recognize that there is still about 50 to 80 inches of snow that stand between me and those lights.  Let the Hot Stove League begin…

 

–Scott

 

 

 

Season Ticket Holder for the Hot Stove League…

 

Waiting for the Hot Stove League to start…

I think the longest point in the off-season for a Yankees fan is from the day the team exits the play-offs until the conclusion of the World Series.  The shorter that gap, the better.  Unfortunately, it was not to be this year with the team’s departure after the opening series loss to the Detroit Tigers.

The saddest part of 2011 is that the Yankees could have beaten the Tigers, and I think they would have been very competitive with the new AL League champion Texas Rangers.  Texas pulled the perfect play-off card in getting the unexpected wild card Tampa Bay Rays who had been left for dead by everybody except themselves.  In the ALCS, they avoided the Yankees, or the top clubs that didn’t make the play-offs, the Red Sox and the Los Angeles Angels.  I have long been in favor of expanding the divisional series from 5 to 7 games, and this year is just another reason why.  The Yankees, with the best league record, were unable to start against the weakest team in the play-offs, the Rays, because they are from the same division.  So, that pitted the Yankees against the stronger Tigers in a shortened series.  I am not saying that the Yankees would have won it had the series been in the 7-game format, but at least it would yield a more truthful result.

I am a former Dallas resident but not a Rangers fan…

I am not a fan of the Texas Rangers so it’s hard to feel any satisfaction in their team reaching the World Series for the second year in a row.  However, my son is a Rangers fan and he’s certainly excited about the team’s success.  We lived in the Dallas-Fort Worth area when my son was small, and after a Rangers game, we had gone to a nearby restaurant for dinner.  There weren’t too many people in the restaurant at the time, and my son must have been about 2 or 3.  On the other side of the restaurant, then Rangers pitcher Nolan Ryan was having dinner with his family.  We told our son who was at the table, and a friend walked him over to the table to introduce my son to Nolan.  My son was wearing a Rangers cap, so Nolan took it off and signed the bill of the cap.  My son is now almost 22 years old, and he still has that signed cap with him.  He remains a Rangers fan to this day, despite his dad’s loyalty to the Yankees.

The team with the second greatest World Series success…

While I think the World Series will be competitive this year, I still think the National League will emerge victorious again.  I don’t really see the Milwaukee Brewers getting past the St. Louis Cardinals, so it should be the Cardinals in the World Series against the Rangers.  It’s too bad the Cardinals don’t have Adam Wainwright in their rotation, but the team is certainly on a mission.  I think the Cardinals will end the NLCS with a Game 6 win tonight in Milwaukee.

Strike quickly with full force and focus…

I am anxious for the World Series to conclude so that we can move on to the Hot Stove League.  I really hope the Yankees can re-sign GM Brian Cashman to a new deal before the end of the month and before the start of the free agency period.  This off-season is about timing and the Yankees need to move very quickly to secure Cashman and hopefully re-negotiate with CC Sabathia so that they can turn to free agency and the trade market with full and heavy focus.  My wish list for the off-season is an improved starting rotation, strength on the bench, and perhaps a heavy hitter to offset the declining production from Alex Rodriguez in the batting order.

But I thought beer and hot dogs were part of baseball…

I am not quite sure what to make of the situation in Boston.  I think former manager Terry Francona has taken too much blame, and I was a little surprised to see GM Theo Epstein leave his hometown and his favorite team to take over as GM of the Chicago Cubs.  Granted, he’ll have greater authority in Chicago, and it would be tremendous to be the GM responsible for the first World Series victory for the Cubs after their historic drought.  But it leaves Boston without a manager or a general manager.  Obviously, when the Red Sox move Ben Cherington to GM, they’ll maintain the continuity and Ben will do a fine job.  However, the Sox will definitely have a new look in 2012.  It will be interesting to see what moves they make with the roster in the off-season if they intend to place greater priority in character.  Jon Lester has been one of my favorite pitchers, so I am hopeful that he is surrounded by better influences going forward.

Missing the view…

Living in downtown Minneapolis, I have to admit that I miss seeing the lights of Target Field at night.  It created a great view from my place, and there’s definitely a void now that the ballpark lights have  been shut off until next spring.  So, as a newcomer to Minnesota, the obvious question to me as how many inches of snow will I have to deal with before those lights come on again?  😉

–Scott

 

 

 

Enter the Sandman, Exit the Legend…

 

There’s great and then there’s Mo…

Seriously, he didn’t need to record 602 saves to prove that he was baseball’s all-time best closer.  Today, Yankees legend (go ahead and attach the tag) Mariano Rivera became the all-time saves leader, eclipsing former San Diego Padres great Trevor Hoffman by one.  I don’t want to take anything away from Hoffman who clearly was one of baseball’s greats, but he clearly limped to 601 saves in those final years with the Milwaukee Brewers.  Rivera, in contrast, retains his position as one of the best in the game despite his age.  Hoffman’s final year, despite his record 9 years with 40 plus saves, did not include at least that threshold.  Rivera, on the other hand, captured the record with his 43rd save of the season.

Many Yankees fans worship Derek Jeter.  While I admire Jeter, and I am glad that he has spent his career with the Yankees, my favorite current Yankee has been Mariano Rivera.  Going into 1995, my favorite player had been Don Mattingly for a number of years.  Despite his back ailments toward the end of his career, I always appreciated the character and the quality of the individual.  When you think of guys you’d like to emulate, Donnie Baseball was certainly one of those guys.  He was always genuine and sincere, and the one opportunity I had to meet him in person only reaffirmed that he is a quality individual.  When Mattingly retired, I obviously continued to follow the team but I can’t say one player stood out among all others to me.  That is, until Mariano Rivera emerged from the shadow of closer John Wetteland, who departed via free agency after the 1996 season.  At first, I was skeptical to see the break-up of the awesome duo of Rivera-Wetteland.  I loved the way Mo would come into the 8th inning throwing nothing but pure heat with his cutter, and then Wetteland would come on in the 9th like a psycho and retire the side, albeit with a few nervous moments.  After Wetteland moved on to Texas, I wondered if Rivera would be able to make the conversion to closer.  Rich Gossage had been my all-time favorite closer for years, and I didn’t think the team would have another who could match the Goose, let alone exceed him.

Rivera, from the moment I first saw him appear in the Yankee pinstripes through today, has been nothing short of the consummate professional.  He is clearly the type of guy you want to be like.  He accepts and forgets setbacks, and he never gloats in victory.  I have never seen or heard him criticize others, and he has always accepted responsibility (which is huge for me).  I will be sad when Mo takes the mound for the final time, but the way he has continued to pitch, that day isn’t coming any time soon.  It has always been hard for closers to make the Hall of Fame, but I have no doubt that Mo will be a first ballot selection.  Some guys are good, some guys are great, but none of the guys are Mo.

Pleasantly surprised…

Frankly, I am quite surprised the Yankees find themselves in first place with a fairly comfortable lead in the AL East over the Boston Red Sox.  If the Yankees had been able to play at least .500 ball against the Sox this year, they’d have the division clinched by now.  On paper, I really believed that the Sox had the best team.  But of course, you have to play the games, and the Sox have had health challenges that have caused them to fall behind the Yankees.  When the Sox picked up former Seattle pitcher Erik Bedard at the closing deadline, I mistakenly thought it was building excess capacity.  In retrospect, the Red Sox needed more help in the starting rotation, and even over-paying for health risk Rich Harden would have been worth it.  I know that the Red Sox could still rally to capture the AL East flag, particularly considering the Yankees sluggish play of late, combined with the fact that they still have to play the hard charging Tampa Bay Rays seven more times.  But with just a couple of weeks left in the regular season, I’d rather be up 5 games than down by as many.

That schedule hit me like of wind chill of 40 below…

I am closing out my first baseball season as a resident of Minneapolis, and I was able to see the Yankees when they were at Target Field in late August.  Nevertheless, I was a bit dismayed when I saw the 2012 Yankees, and realized that the Yankees wouldn’t make the trip to Minneapolis until late September.  On one hand, you want your team to clinch early, but I hope the team is still playing meaningful baseball when they make the trip to the Twin Cities.

My first season as a “local” Vikings fan is not going so well…

Speaking of Minnesota, life as a Minnesota Vikings fan has definitely not been fun this year.  The Vikings have been a great first half team against both the San Diego Chargers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but they failed to make the necessary adjustments at halftime.  In both games, a miserable second half led to a close defeat.  As the Vikings stand at 0-2, it’s clear that they could have easily been 2-0.  I am not a fan of Donovan McNabb, but I recognize that having rookie Christian Ponder at QB would not have meant automatic victories.  Teams can rebound from 0-2 starts, but they really need to win this coming weekend.  That’s no small task given the opponent is Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions.  No NFC North games are easy, but Lions definitely have the players for an offensive juggernaut.  The Vikings need to reach deep within themselves, and play like they are capable of.  They can beat the Lions, and hopefully they’ll prove that ‘on any given Sunday…’.

Have a great week, everyone!

–Scott

 

First Place, but hardly reason to gloat…

 

I am an Iowa Hawkeyes fan, I am used to build up then disappointment…

It’s ironic that the Yankees currently hold the lead in the American League East since it has seemed as though the Boston Red Sox and their fans have had more reason to gloat this year.  Every time I get excited about the Yankees, they do something to temper the excitement.  Headed in September, the team was playing at an incredibly high level, with solid pitching from the entire rotation including A.J. Burnett (well, one start).  During the first two games of a four game set with the Baltimore Orioles and the manager I love to hate, Buck Showalter, the Yankees looked like they could hang with the Philadelphia Phillies in a 7-game play-off series.

But alas, all good things must end, and the Yankees promptly lost two consecutive extra-inning affairs with the O’s.  Fortunately, the Red Sox were struggling with the Toronto Blue Jays, losing 2 of 3, so the Yanks didn’t lose any ground (they currently lead the Sox by 2 ½ games).

For the record, I don’t take any joy in the health issues surrounding Josh Beckett and Kevin Youkilis.  I’d rather beat a Red Sox team at full strength than one depleted by critical injuries.

Many Yankees fans are probably already counting on the AL East Flag, but like last year, I know how easy it can slip away and of course a 2 ½ game lead is nothing on September 9th.  The Sox have plenty of time to make up the difference and they are certainly a team capable of getting on a roll.  That’s why I consider those two O’s losses as lost opportunities.  It doesn’t get any easier for the Yanks as they are now in Anaheim to face the Los Angeles Angels.  Tonight, they are pitted against Jered Weaver who is arguably the best pitcher in the American League not named Justin Verlander.  Plus, the Yankees generally do not fare well on those West Coast swings.  So, the Red Sox certainly have a golden opportunity to re-take the AL East.

Hip-hip, Jorge!…

While I am one that feels this should be the last year in the Bronx for Jorge Posada (almost a virtual certainty given how well Jesus Montero has performed), I do hope that he gets his moment in Yankee Stadium like Paul O’Neill did when the fans started chanting his name.  Posada can leave knowing that his name will rank up there with Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey, Elston Howard, and Thurman Munson.  It will be odd seeing Posada in a different uniform if he chooses to play next year, and I definitely hope that he is not one of those who travel north to Boston.  I’d rather see him play for the Tampa Bay Rays.  Best case scenario would be the National League, but I doubt he’d switch leagues at this late juncture in his career.  Of course, his catching days are behind him so a team with a DH is where he is best suited.  I am sure that he’ll be more prepared for DH next season.

Random thoughts…

I am ready for the Scott Proctor reunion to end…

So, how can we convince some team to offer Rafael Soriano a ridiculous amount of money to walk away from his contract with the Yankees after the season?  Sadly, I think he’ll be a Yankee for all three years…

Tell me again why we kept Phil Hughes and traded 19-game winner Ian Kennedy?  Okay, I can’t fault the Yankees on this one as I was ready for Kennedy to leave and he probably would not have achieved the same level of success in the pressure cooker known as New York…

Funny how Derek Jeter drop-kicked Minka Kelly on the eve of her becoming a national sex symbol with the new Charlie’s Angels TV series.  When you are DJ and you can have any girl in the world, why settle for one?  I am sure that he has no shortage of friends, and he can certainly buy a few if he needs them…

When I saw the photo of Cameron Diaz “pregnant” (costuming for a movie), my first thought, thinking it was real, was definitely about Alex Rodriguez and additional future child support payments.  But fortunately, A-Rod has been able to afford “protection” and he doesn’t have to worry about any unexpected A-Rod, Jr’s in the world…

Are you ready for some football?…

Getting a little off-topic, it was disappointing to see that Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning had to undergo a second surgery on his neck that will keep him out of action for 2-3 months, if not all season.  Some are saying that he should just retire rather than risk further injury, and I’d certainly agree that he doesn’t have any more to prove.  He’ll definitely go down in history as one of the great ones.  Kerry Collins has a good knack for being in the right place at the right time…

Two years ago, as a Vikings fan, I had to learn to root for a former hated quarterback (Brett Favre).  Now, as a former resident of the Philly area who witnessed the fan apathy toward Donovan McNabb, I have to pull for him as the QB of my team.  I am a fan of Christian Ponder, and I suspect that he’ll get his opportunity to take a few snaps at some point in the season.  Actually, I hope McNabb proves me wrong and leads the Vikings to the promised land.  But I see this as just another attempt to capture glory from a faded star…

I keep hearing how great it is that LB Erin Henderson has landed a starting role with the Vikings (alongside his brother, E.J.) as an undrafted free agent.  But in the year of his draft, I was somewhat surprised that he did go undrafted.  It was evident that he was a quality player at Maryland, and I would have thought some team would have taken a shot in the later rounds.  Just as I liked Erin that year, I like RB Caleb King this year.  He didn’t make the final cut when the team pared its roster to 53 players, but he was retained on the practice squad.  Hopefully, a position on the roster will materialize before some other team realizes the diamond in the rough…

If I am Mike Shanahan, and my choices for starting QB are Rex Grossman and John Beck, I am retiring to see what NBC Sports has to offer…

As a resident of Minnesota and the city of Minneapolis, I am really hopeful that the city will find a way to step forward to retain the Vikings.  Presently, the proposal is for a new stadium in Arden Hills, and I know the ownership group is highly in favor of the area.  I’d really like to see the Vikings stay in Minneapolis with the Twins and the Timberwolves.  The options are either the existing Metrodome/Mall of America Field area or the Farmer’s Market.  I’d prefer the latter.  But all things considered, I would accept Arden Hills over Los Angeles.   Whatever it takes, I hope Minnesota does the right thing to retain the Vikings.  It would be horrific for the Land of 10,000 Lakes to lose a second professional team to the city of Los Angeles…

I saw that Buddy Ryan was delaying surgery (he has been diagnosed with cancer…again) so that he could witness the Week 1 match-up between Rex Ryan and the New York Jets and Rob Ryan and the Dallas Cowboys.  I am hopeful that he’ll see a Jets victory, but then again, the Cowboys have always been my second favorite team so I won’t be disappointed if Tony Romo and company pull out the victory.  Buddy apparently has a history of beating cancer so hopefully this is just another one of those dominating Ryan situations…

I know that I kept jumping back to the Vikings (hey, I am a Vikings fan!), but I have to say that I really like what I’ve seen from new head coach Leslie Frazier.  I have not always been a big fan of the team’s coach.  When you grow up with Bud Grant as the man, it’s hard to see others in the role.  The worst, of course, was Les Steckel, but there have been varying degrees over the years.  I did like Mike Tice but recognize that he was limited from a coaching perspective.  Leslie Frazier is the first coach since Grant that I’ve been able to fully embrace.  I hated to see the Vikings lose former defensive coach Mike Tomlin when he was named coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and I felt the Vikings were facing the same situation with Frazier (just like they had with Tomlin and Tony Dungy in previous years).  Fortunately, the Vikings canned Brad Childress (sorry Brad!) and promoted Frazier to the top job.  I was slow to accept Joe Girardi as the Yankees manager (I was a Don Mattingly supporter), but today, there’s not really anyone that I’d rather see as manager of the Yankees.  I feel the same way about Leslie Frazier.

We are now in the midst of perhaps one of the best sports months of the year.  It is the pennant race in baseball, and the opening of the NFL Season.  Granted, my focus is on baseball, but it will still be fun to watch some football this Sunday.  Down, set, 247, 247, hutt, hutt…

–Scott

 

 

I actually won a Yankees-Red Sox bet for a change…

 

I am glad that I quit holding my breath…

Finally, the Yankees emerged from a series with the Boston Red Sox as the victor.  It was the first time it has happened this season.  In past years, it seemed the Yankees and Red Sox always split the season series, give or take.  But this year, the Sox have the decided advantage.  For whatever reason (well, Josh Beckett and his 4-0 mark is one), the Red Sox have owned the Yankees.  However, I am hopeful that the latest series will give the Yankees the confidence they need heading into the final season series later this month and again in the play-offs should the teams meet again.

I’d be foolish to think that the Yankees will overpower the Red Sox to win the division.  On paper, the Sox still have the better team, but in the play-offs, it is all about who gets hot.  So, even as the Wild Card, I think the Yankees have as good a shot as anyone.

It is concerning that the Red Sox have figured out Mariano Rivera.  Last night, they were able to load the bases and probably could have/should have scored a run or two in the 9th inning but Mo was the beneficiary of a questionable call that gave the Yankees the win.  It is important to get back to decisive wins and saves, and not hope that an umpire’s call is the deciding factor.  Mo has been and continues to be my favorite Yankee.  I don’t think he has lost it yet, and I agree with those who say that Mo will walk away from the game when his skills deteriorate.  Lou Gehrig is my all-time favorite Yankee and baseball player, but Mo is certainly a legend in his own right and I am proud to have lived during his era.  I think Mo will be able to solve the Red Sox dilemma.  The Yankees may not win the World Series, but it won’t be because of Mo.

Does one game a season prove?  I am hopeful that the adjustments Larry Rothschild made with A.J. Burnett will prove successful for the remainder of the season.  He was extremely solid against Boston on Thursday night and it was more the Blue Jays version of Burnett against the Sox than the horrific Yankees version.  I really believe that the Yankees chances to go deep in the play-offs are solely dependent upon Burnett.

What, was your phone broken?…

I really wish that GM Brian Cashman would have made a move to pick up a bat for the bench.  I still think that Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui would have been ideal as someone to plug into the DH spot and for spot pinch-hitting roles.  Boston was active, even if to a minor degree, at both the July and August deadlines, while the Yankees did nothing.  Hopefully, Cashman’s call was the correct one (he knows better than I).  But it will be disappointing if the season is lost on a single bad at-bat from the DH.

The blog, Scott Proctor’s Arm, has to be pleased…

It’s kind of weird to think that Scott Proctor is back in the Yankees bullpen after his September 1st call-up from the minor leagues.  Joe Torre is always blamed for ruining Proctor, but it would be nice to see him enjoy some success again.  I’d really like to see what Brandon Laird can do.  I hate to put so much emphasis on Eric Chavez given how fragile he is in light of Alex Rodriguez’s health.   I’d rather use Chavez in spot roles.

I know, go ahead and laugh about the winters…

I’ve been in Minneapolis for a month now, and I really like this town.  It’s clean and the people are friendly.  I know that the winters get a bad rep, and perhaps I’ll be crying wolf when April rolls around.  But this is a good city and the baseball fans are knowledgeable and passionate.  I’ll never be a Twins fan, but I can appreciate the organization and the pride that the fans have.  As a Vikings fan, I am loving the focused attention on MY team.  I’ve never lived in Minnesota so this is a completely foreign concept.  I am a fan of Christian Ponder so it’s exciting that I am here for Season #1 even if he has to wait for his turn behind the guy the Philly fans used to love to hate, Donovan McNabb.  I think if McNabb shows any signs that his horrible season in Washington last year wasn’t a fluke, we’ll see Ponder sooner rather than later.  Oops, how did I go from the Twins to the Vikings?  Back to downtown Minneapolis, it is a great city and I’ve definitely enjoyed my short time here.  I am looking forward to the future as a “Minn-a-soat’n”.

A Yankee Fan Succeeds…

This is not baseball related, but I have to congratulate Fang Wong on being named as the National Commander for The American Legion.  The American Legion is a huge organization for American veterans (I am one), and they make a difference each and every day.  What kid growing up playing baseball hasn’t been a part of American Legion baseball?  They are committed for a better America for all of us.  I mention Fang because 1) I know him personally and he is one of the best and most honorable guys that I’ve ever met, and 2) he is a Yankees fan.  Fang has been a longstanding member of the New York American Legion, and he is, in my mind, the commander the organization needs to move forward to greater heights.  If I could be half the man Fang is, I’d be proud…

http://www.legion.org/commander

Is it really September already?…

Have a safe and enjoyable Labor Day Weekend!

–Scott

Right on Target…

 

The weather is Minnesota was beautiful…

Last Sunday, I attend a simply great baseball game.  Well, outside of a few harmless errors and miscues.  As a resident of Minneapolis, Minnesota, I went to Target Field and saw the Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins, 3-0.  It was a great afternoon for baseball (temperature in the upper 70’s, with lots of sun).

The game was a pitcher’s duel in the early going.  I was surprised when the Twins pulled starter Nick Blackburn in the second inning despite not giving up any runs, but later heard that he had been injured.  The Twins bullpen did a good job until the 7th inning when Curtis Granderson hit an inside-the-park home run.  I was watching him run between second and third, and his stride is so long that he almost looks like he is going slow motion.  There wasn’t much hesitation as he rounded third and headed home.  I always cringe when players go in for headfirst slides but Curtis slide his hand across home plate before the ball arrived and the Yanks were up 2-0.  In retrospect, the Twins outfielders blew the play when both the right and center fielders went to the wall on Granderson’s hit ball which bounced off the wall.  One of the outfielders should have backed up the other, but that’s the hazard of fielding a young, inexperienced outfield.

Mark Teixeira followed with one of those line drive shots that never drop as the ball was deposited in the left field stands.

The Twins definitely had their chances.  At one point, they had men on second and third with no outs and couldn’t score.  David Robertson worked out of a jam in the 8th when the bases were loaded despite no balls leaving the infield.  There were miscues, like when a ball dropped between Nick Swisher and Curtis Granderson (you get it, no, you get it…) or A-Rod’s bobble of what should have been a routine fielding play.  Fortunately, the Twins couldn’t do anything with the opportunities, so the Yankees emerged the victor.  I had a decent seat (lower level, left field) but for the 9th inning, I moved over to the standing area behind the home plate lower level seats.  I had a perfect line to watch Mariano Rivera throw his cutter to catcher Russell Martin, and it was great to catch that view.  It was also nice to see Mariano walk off the field with another save…

I am always amazed at how many Yankees fans are in attendance on road games.  Not that I’d feel threatened in Minnesota, but it’s nice having “support” nearby!

So close yet so far away…

Monday night’s game was a disappointment.  After the Yanks fell behind 6-0, I wrote the game off.  But then, in the final two innings, the Yanks brought it to within one at 6-5, with the bases loaded.  I started to get excited about the potential huge comeback, but Nick Swisher hit a fly ball that was caught near the fence to end the game.  That was harder to accept than if the Yanks had just lost 6-0.  Then, of course, every time I looked at the TV, the loss was scrolling across the ticker on ESPN.  While A.J. Burnett is my personal favorite to be yanked (no pun intended) from the rotation, I realize that there are financial reasons for why that move won’t be made.  Therefore, the next to go would be Bartolo Colon.  I’d definitely take Freddy Garcia over Colon, and there is no way that Phil Hughes or Ivan Nova will be coming out of the rotation anytime soon.

Of course, as I sit here typing this blog, Nick Swisher has just hit a home run to put the Yanks up 2-1 over the Oakland A’s in the 6th inning.  Dude, where was that shot last night?…

Wasn’t he a Yankee for about 5 minutes a few years ago…

I saw the blurb today that the Yankees had claimed Chicago Cubs first baseman Carlos Pena on waivers.  Listening to comments from GM Brian Cashman, it doesn’t sound like the Yanks will do anything, but it would be nice to acquire Pena as an option at DH and a backup to Mark Teixeira.  He is definitely familiar with the AL East having played with the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays.  I don’t like Pena’s batting average, but his other stats are respectable.  The Yanks clearly need a clutch bat on the bench and perhaps Pena could be the guy if the Yanks and Cubs can work out a trade.

Fat, dumb, and happy…

Entering play tonight, the Yankees held an 8 ½ game lead over the Los Angeles Angels and Tampa Bay Rays.  While that’s certainly not insurmountable, it’s nice to have such a large cushion as we enter the final days of August.  Granted, I’d prefer to win the AL East, but then again, with the current play-off structure, it doesn’t really matter.  If the Yanks can keep the lead in the WC standings, they should be able to rest some guys in September to allow the team to head into October at full strength.  At this point, my biggest concern is getting a healthy Alex Rodriguez on the field.

Have a good night!

–Scott