October Baseball On Our Minds…
Everyone is talking like the New York Yankees are already in the World Series but I do not view (potentially) two games in Houston against the Astros to be a cakewalk. Tonight, the Yankees send their best (Luis Severino) against crafty veteran Justin Verlander who is very clearly a big game pitcher. If the Astros win tonight, they have to be viewed as the favorite for Game 7 in Minute Maid Park. We’re not in the Bronx anymore. But the Yankees have already defeated the best team in the American League in a best-of-five series and they are a single game away from reaching the Fall Classic. This Yankees team has incredible heart and a ‘no-quit’ drive like none other.
Regardless of what happens, I am very proud of the 2017 Yankees. Going into the season, it seemed like the experts were forecasting a .500 season at best. It was unclear if Aaron Judge or Aaron Hicks would win the right field job. Questions were abound about whether Brett Gardner and CC Sabathia had seen their better days. Or if Starlin Castro and Didi Gregorius could continue their development in the middle infield. I was one of many uncertain if Luis Severino’s stronger future was in the starting rotation or the bullpen. The Yankees answered those questions (and more) and now stand one game away from the World Series. There is nothing that the Houston Astros can do to take away from the huge accomplishments achieved by the Yankees. This is a young team that is only going to get better. As the saying goes, ‘the future is so bright, I’ve got to wear shades!’
If the Yankees do make it to the World Series, they’ll be heading to Los Angeles next week. The Los Angeles Dodgers dethroned the Chicago Cubs last night to win the NLCS, 4 games to 1. The Dodgers throttled the Cubs, 11-1, behind the power of their utility outfielder. Enrique “Kiké” Hernandez put his name into the history books with three home runs and seven RBI’s as the Dodgers coasted to the victory behind the three-hit, one-run pitching of the great Clayton Kershaw over seven innings and three innings of scoreless relief from the bullpen. Kenley Jansen, the closer, is a stud, but where did Brandon Morrow come from? The one-time former closer of the Seattle Mariners and ex-Blue Jay has been ‘lights out’ for the Dodgers. He was 6-0 with a 2.06 ERA in 45 games this year, and in 4 games against the Cubs in the NLCS, he allowed only one hit, a walk, and no runs over 4 2/3 innings while striking out seven. There won’t be too many late inning rallies against the Dodgers.
For the Dodgers, their ten consecutive appearances in the post-season without a championship is the longest streak in MLB history. During that time, the Dodgers have been defeated in the NLCS four times, including last year on the very field they spilled champagne last night. This makes their eleventh appearance in post-season play since they defeated the Oakland A’s in the 1988 World Series.
The Managerial Musical Chairs…
Growing up watching the Yankees-Dodgers World Series (three times over five years from 1977 to 1981), it is very exciting and intriguing to think the Yankees might finally have the chance to avenge their loss in the 1981 World Series. Ironically, the 1981 Dodgers also had to get past the Houston Astros (in the NLDS) to reach the World Series. They defeated the Montreal Expos in the NLCS that year. The 1981 World Series was also the time when Owner George Steinbrenner allegedly got into an altercation with two Dodgers fans in the elevator of a Los Angeles hotel. Steinbrenner told reporters, “I clocked them. There are two guys in this town looking for their teeth and two guys who will probably sue me”. Steinbrenner was not sued and the two guys were never identified. Who knows if Steinbrenner really faced anyone in that elevator but the Yankees finally have the chance for redemption in the City of Angels if they can win one more game against the Astros (just one, let’s do it!). I am sure that the Boss would be very pleased.
The MLB Post-Season has certainly not stopped other teams from taking action, or at the very least, talking action.
The Detroit Tigers are expected to announce former Twins manager and current Arizona Diamondbacks bench coach Ron Gardenhire as their manager later today (replacing the fired Brad Ausmus).
Ausmus remains a candidate for the job to replace John Farrell in Boston as the Red Sox manager, however, all reports indicate that current Astros bench coach Alex Cora is the likely choice. Cora is certainly getting a firsthand view of what he may be facing next year.
I personally think that it is a shame for current Chicago Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez hasn’t gotten stronger consideration for managerial openings.No word on the open jobs with the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets, but former Yankees and current Mets hitting coach Kevin Long has emerged as a favorite for the post in Queens.
It remains to be seen if Yankees manager Joe Girardi returns next year. While one would think that it is a foregone conclusion that Girardi will be back with a new agreement in hand, it is also possible that family considerations could cause Girardi to walk away. I think the latter is a greater possibility if the Yankees lose the ALCS to the Astros. I continue to hope that Girardi and the Steinbrenner family come together on a new deal. I honestly do not see a better alternative currently available.
Have a great Friday! Like last night, let’s hope the road team is pouring champagne in the visitor’s clubhouse after the game. Go Yankees!