Cubs fans remember Kerry Wood’s goatee just as much as they do his once blazing fastball. Wood’s tufted chin beard was a staple throughout his 14-year career not long after the peach fuzz wore off from his rookie season in 1998.
However, when the Indians traded Wood to the Yankees in July of 2010 the goatee became a casualty of New York’s clean shaven policy. Wood had to go slick, and it wasn’t a site to behold.
The same can be said of Kevin Youkilis, who signed a 1-year, $12 million deal with the Yankees on Tuesday. So much for the manly, bushy goatee Youkilis displayed during his career in Boston and on the South Side of Chicago.
As if watching Woody, Johnny Damon (among other formerly bearded ballplayers) play in Yankee pinstripes wasn’t bad enough. Seeing them void of their predominant whiskers was even worse. And now the ‘Youker.’
Only in Gotham city would they pillage the game’s best players and strip the league of its most recognizable chin chillers, too.
What’s a major league cookie duster to do?
I don’t blame Joe Girardi for sticking with Raul Ibanez against Phil Coke in the top of the ninth in Game 3 of the ALCS.
The numbers game suggest Girardi should’ve opted for a right-hander batter, say A-Rod, given righties torched Coke to the tune of .396/.446/.604 during the regular season.
Ibanez, however, has been the best clutch hitter on the Yankees this postseason, and arguably the only hitter on the Yankees in October. Seriously, who else would New York want at the plate with the game-tying run on second base?
If it’s Aroldis Chapman on the mound, it’s a different story. But Coke is far from a ‘lights-out’ closer or unhittable ‘loogy.’
After all, Teixeira and Cano (another left-handed hitter) both singled in front of Ibanez leaving no reason to believe the hot-hitting 40-year-old couldn’t drive in the tying run.
Girardi’s decision to stay with the lefty-lefty matchup is no worse than him choosing to leave Rodriguez, hitting an ice-cold 2-for-23, on the bench.
Ibanez, of course, struck out to end the game. But it was ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ for the Yankees’ skipper.
Let’s not forget, either, how right Joe was turning the table earlier this postseason when he pinch-hit Ibanez for A-Rod. A hero when it worked, the goat when it doesn’t.
Yet, regardless of whether you believe Girardi made the right move or the wrong one, it’s no fault of Girardi’s his team is hitting a ghastly .182 in October.
What’s a manager to do–pinch-hit the entire lineup?
The baseball playoffs couldn’t be any better. Dramatic finishes, unlikely heroes and for the first time in Division Series play each series has gone 5-games.
Thank goodness the Nationals and Orioles won on Thursday. It can only get better if both teams win again today eliminating the Cardinals and Yankees.
Meanwhile, what a terrific and improbable comeback for the Giants. They win three-straight to become the first team in the National League to advance in the Division Series after trailing 0-2…and they sweep the Reds at Great American Ballpark to do it, no less.
Moneyball officially filed for bankruptcy, losing a decisive Game 5 to Detroit. It does little to diminish what became a surprising and thrilling season for the Athletics, who were hardly picked to have a winning season, let alone win the AL West.
Unfortunately, I was pulling for the A’s to make a deep run and even had them pegged to face the Reds in the World Series–a prediction that seemed very likely just days ago.
If all holds steady, however, we’re in for another wild round of nail-biting games this evening. I can hardly wait!
We knew the MLB Postseason would have a hard time surpassing, let alone matching, the high drama of last Wednesday’s playoff push.
However, for just the second time since 1995 three of the four Division Series are headed to a decisive Game 5, the first of which begins tonight at Yankee Stadium.
The last time this happened was 2001. Aside from Atlanta sweeping Houston 3-0, Arizona defeated St. Louis in five games, Seattle bested Cleveland 3-2, and New York rallied from an 0-2 hole to take the series against Oakland.
But the excitement was short lived with both league championship series ending in five games: Arizona defeating Atlanta 4-1, and New York doing the same against Seattle.
Conversely, under the shadow of 9/11, the postseason closed with one of the more memorable World Series in recent memory: the Diamondbacks winning a seven-games series against the Yankees.
Obviously, there are no guarantees this Fall Classic will follow suite with 2001. But so far, baseball’s playoffs are living up to the hype!
A lack of plate patience has been yet another on-going problem for the Cubs this season.
Chicago’s free swinging and overly aggressive approach does a lot to explain why the Cubs stink at hitting with runners on base.
When you don’t have a lineup that’s collectively working the count, you don’t work the opposing pitcher. When you don’t work the opposing pitcher, you lesson his chances for making a mistake. And hitting the mistake pitch is often the difference maker in winning and losing games.
Sunday evening was the ideal atmosphere at Wrigley. Great weather, packed house, and the chance for Chicago to win a big series.
Through six innings it was an ideal game too. Game tied 4-4, the Cubs hanging around against CC Sabathia…victory still within reach.
Then the Cubs’ biggest weakness showed up…a middle relief corps no where near the talent level of the Yankees…or the rest of the league for that matter.
For the first time this season the Cubs exceeded my expectations.
Winning two games on the recent 10-game road trip was enough to keep Chicago out of the NL Central basement, where last week I predicted they would be as of today.
However, only one win and a mere .027 winning-percentage points separate the Cubs from last place Houston.
But after facing two first place clubs and four 20-game winners on the road trip, a second challenge awaits the Cubs–a seven-game homestand against the division leading Brewers and the New York Yankees.
With the prospect of a winning season long gone, all we have left to enjoy are the smallest of victories. A series win here, a series win there…not letting Albert Pujols win another game in extras…and maybe, a three-game winning streak, which has yet to happen either.
A series win against the Yankees, however, would be a lasting highlight to a dreadful season which has left Cubs fans long in despair.
So, yes, I’m asking the Cubs a favor before its roster is blown to smithereens over the next few weeks…do us right, if for for only three games, but don’t embarrass us against New York this weekend.
Do what it takes to win this series, and do it for the fans.
MLB and ESPN have together ruined Sunday Night Baseball.
I’ve totally gone numb after years of being force fed Red Sox vs. Yankees, most of which came with a side order of Joe Morgan.
I’ve seen Boston and New York battle so much in prime time that I know their clubs as well as the Cubs, even without caring to do so.
I have an idea what Sunday Night Baseball could be–what it should be–and it’s not Red Sox vs. Yankees at every given chance.
Instead, it’s a broadcast that should be reserved for games like Sunday’s match-up between Chicago and Boston. Games with great story lines, great history, and great fan appeal nation wide.
But that excitement was lost Sunday evening. It didn’t translate because, well, because it’s just another ho-hum broadcast of Red Sox baseball from Fenway Park. We saw that last week, remember?