Yankees vs. Red Sox

Coming into the 2007 season, I was rooting for the Red Sox in the battle of the two Eastern empires. And now, I’m definitely rooting for the Yankees.

Let’s examine what happened this season. The Yankees started poorly; the Red Sox started outstanding. The Yankees, after being swept in Yankee Stadium by the Sox, looked like they were gone. The Red Sox kept on rolling. The Yankees made a huge charge in the second half, which the Red Sox barely managed to hold off, but nonetheless both made the playoffs. The Indians defeated the Yankees (pretty handily too), but lost in seven games to the Sox.

Last night the Sox won the World Series, and I’ve decided that’s about the worst thing that can possibly happen. Because as obnoxious as Red Sox Nation was before this, imagine how they’ll be in 2008 and beyond. And for good reason: many of their players are talented and locked in the Red Sox organization for years to come.

Here’s the thing about the Yankees. Even before this year, there were players on that team that I definitely pulled for. Derek Jeter seems like he’s one of the classiest people in baseball and he always seems to come up huge. Mariano Rivera is quietly the best closer ever to play the game, but doesn’t show it. Joe Torre is the same way: quietly one of the best managers ever in baseball.

Let’s look at this championship team. Anyone else find David Ortiz insufferable with his celebrations of every minute positive thing? What about Manny Ramirez, the record-holder of the longest single in MLB history? JD Drew, the most overpaid right fielder in baseball? What about Dustin Pedroia, an overhyped rookie who’s 5’9″ but has a mouth of someone twice his size? And let’s not forget about Jonathan Papelbon, who looks like he’s having an anyeurism everytime he records an out.

The only class act I’ve seen on the Red Sox is Mike Lowell, who I would not be surprised to see gone next year if A-Rod goes to Boston.

Another thing I’ve noticed: success in the postseason revolves around your closer. Papelbon, idiot though he is, didn’t allow a run this post season (although he did allow some loud outs, particularly to the Indians). During the Yankee dynasty, Mariano Rivera was the greatest closer in the game. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Joe Borowski fan, but it seems that championships follow dominant closers.

So next season, when it comes time for the Yankees to play the Red Sox, I’ll be rooting for the Yankees. Because even with a 200 million dollar payroll, the Yankees have become the lovable underdogs, while the Red Sox have become the machine that the Yankees used to be.

On that note, who didn’t see a sweep coming? It’s clear (at least to me) that the American League is far superior than the National League, and any of the four AL playoff teams would have beaten any of the four NL playoff teams in a short series. The ALCS provided the most drama of all of the playoff series.

Anyway, this entry has gotten far off topic. The point is, I am no longer a closet member of Red Sox Nation. Next season, if it has to be the Yankees or the Red Sox, I choose the Yankees.

The Eagle Has Landed

So an eagle has made a nest somewhere around the campus of Case (Western Reserve (University)). I’ve probably seen it four or five times before today, but it seems like today something cooler is happening.

Today on two seperate occasions I’ve seen people crowding around a tree watching this thing. The first time it wasn’t really doing much, it was just sitting in a tree. But the second time, a squirrel was on the same branch as the eagle and kept trying to get close. It was rather humorous until I realized that under one of the eagle’s massive claws was a squirrel tail.

I wonder if the squirrels were related.

Aaron Laffey

If the Indians win this series, it may be because of Aaron Laffey’s performance last night. He came in for his first work in the postseason and dominated for 4 2/3 innings. To be fair, he didn’t have much to lose, but Laffey pitched like the Indians were only down by one.

As for Paul Byrd, I’m not sure what to think. I really like the guy, and so I’m inclined to trust that he was using it for medical reasons. And also, he hasn’t used since 2005. We’ll see I suppose.

Game 4 Notes

Game 4 notes, by Jimmy Sawczuk.

7:57 PM 10/16/2007
Tonight it’s Paul Byrd for the Tribe against Tim Wakefield for the Red Sox.

8:01 PM 10/16/2007
Oh good, its the pregame show. These people at FOX are so knowledgeable about baseball, I’m so glad that they share their knowledge before every game.

8:11 PM 10/16/2007
Why’s the guy that plays Todd Packer promoing his new movie before the game starts?

8:20 PM 10/16/2007
Kevin Youkilis, great choice to do the lineups…not.

8:22 PM 10/16/2007
What is Dustin Pedroia thinking swinging at the first pitch? Nice play by Blake though.

8:24 PM 10/16/2007
Just occurred to me that Kelly Shoppach is catching tonight which means Martinez is at first. I wonder if that’ll change how this game ends up in the later innings at all. And Big Papi just struck out swinging. Great start by Paul Byrd.

8:29 PM 10/16/2007
Sizemore’s first at-bat was a nice one, drawing a seven pitch walk. And Tim McCarver actually just made a smart comment, noticing that Cabrera is batting right-handed against Wakefield!

8:40 PM 10/16/2007
Paul Byrd’s biggest problem throughout the year was that he threw too many strikes. Now that he’s got Ramirez down 1-2. WASTE A PITCH (or two!).

8:46 PM 10/16/2007
A leadoff single by Ramirez (who, to Paul Byrd’s credit, hit a good pitch) does no damage. After one and a half, still scoreless.

8:50 PM 10/16/2007
Kinda’ surprised that Lofton didn’t try to drop one down there. A knuckler’s a slow pitch so its easy to bunt, and Lofton’s a good bunter when the Indians are looking to make something happen.

9:05 PM 10/16/2007
Byrdie got into a 2-on, 2-out jam but got David Ortiz to hit into the shift. Good pitching again, he’s doing exactly what he needs to do thus far.

9:09 PM 10/16/2007
Good job by Gutierrez to not swing at the balls. Wakefield definitely got a call on the 3-0 pitch, it was worse than the 3-1 pitch which was called a ball.

9:40 PM 10/16/2007
Byrd continues to throw well, now we need some offense. Middle of 5, still scoreless in Cleveland.

9:43 PM 10/16/2007
Casey Blake, the man Cara loves to hate, just homered! Indians lead, 1-0.

9:45 PM 10/16/2007
Gutierrez just followed the leadoff homerun with a single to left, good piece of hitting.

9:47 PM 10/16/2007
Shoppach was just grazed by a pitch. It’s crucial to get some more runs this inning and open up the lead a little bit.

9:51 PM 10/16/2007
Runners at the corners now, why do pitchers even try that “dupe a throw to third, look to first” trick? That never works anymore.

9:53 PM 10/16/2007
Cabrera with an infield hit off of Wakefield’s glove, Indians lead 2-0.

9:57 PM 10/16/2007
Wakefield has made Hafner look bad tonight, he’s now 0-10 lifetime with 4 K’s.

9:58 PM 10/16/2007
Victor Martinez just singled through the left side, Indians lead 3-0. Wakefield is out, he went 4 2/3, at least 3 ER.

10:03 PM 10/16/2007
Jhonny Peralta! I’m not sure what he’s doing, but he has been outstanding this postseason. He just hit a 3 run homer to put the Indians ahead by 6. Close the book on Wakefield, 5 ER over 4 2/3.

10:18 PM 10/16/2007
And finally, the inning is over. 5 in the books, Indians up seven.

10:21 PM 10/16/2007
There goes the shutout. Youkilis did something good for a change, hitting a leadoff solo homerun.

10:23 PM 10/16/2007
Back to back, Ortiz goes deep and it’s 7-2.

10:25 PM 10/16/2007
Wedgie just pulled Byrd, he goes 5 innings, 2 ER. Jensen Lewis in to pitch to Ramirez.

10:32 PM 10/16/2007
Home run Manny Ramirez, back to back to back. 7-3. At least they’re solo shots.

10:34 PM 10/16/2007
Exhale. Lowell grounds out to third.

10:35 PM 10/16/2007
What a jackass Ramirez is. He stood at the plate forever as if he hit a World Series-winning homerun that also put him atop the all-time homeruns list as well as went 700 feet. The reality was that according to Protrade Live, the Indians chances of winning were reduced from 96% to 92% as a result of that homer. Idiot.

10:37 PM 10/16/2007
Middle of 6, Indians 7, Red Sox 3.

10:57 PM 10/16/2007
Nice leaping catch by Cabrera to end the top of the 7th!

11:01 PM 10/16/2007
It’s the bottom of the 7th now, I wonder what will happen for the top of the eighth. Youkilis will lead things off for the Sox, followed by Ortiz and Ramirez. I’d leave Lewis in there to pitch to Youkilis, put in Perez to pitch to Ortiz, and Betancourt to pitch to Ramirez. If Betancourt is ready now though, my guess is that Wedge sends him in to pitch the whole inning.

11:10 PM 10/16/2007
Oh, I’m good. Betancourt in to pitch the 8th.

11:12 PM 10/16/2007
A Betancourt-Youkilis battle that lasted only two pitches? Wow. I’m speechless.

11:26 PM 10/16/2007
We go to the 9th. My guess is that it’s Betancourt again.

11:29 PM 10/16/2007
It is Betancourt. Mike Lowell made his job extremely easy, swinging at the first pitch. One pitch, one out. Actually it looks like the Red Sox as a whole are trying to adopt a completely different approach to Betancourt, swinging earlier in the count. Might be a good idea, Betancourt is a strike-throwing machine. 0-2 on J.D. Drew.

11:33 PM 10/16/2007
Drew flies out to Lofton in left. Two outs.

11:33 PM 10/16/2007
“5 fly ball outs by Betancourt…it’s almost as if hitters are getting under everything.” Ya think? And Coco Crisp just lined out to first, Indians are ahead 3-1, they’ve won 7-3.

11:35 PM 10/16/2007
Casey Blake, the player of the game? It has to be Paul Byrd.

The Boston Bias

Now that the Indians have won two games, ESPN is trying to analyze it with the tagline, “How can the Indians be ahead against a team that looked to be invincible?”

Invincible to who? This is a team that nearly collapsed at the end of the season, letting the Yankees reduce a 14 game deficit to a 1 game deficit. The bullpen, which was outstanding in the beginning of the year, was much more vulnerable in the second half. We also saw how impotent the lineup was without Manny Ramirez.

So they go into the division series, they sweep the Angels. The Angels were a completely different team than they should have been, but even so, Ortiz and Ramirez pretty much led that offense through that series. The Angels had a terrible gameplan against Josh Beckett which made him look outstanding. Actually, the same can be said for the whole series: it seemed like the Angels tried to change who they were instead of making the Sox play their game.

The Red Sox get through to the Indians, and to their credit, made Sabathia work. I thought Sabathia was getting squeezed, but he should have been challenging Red Sox hitters more than he did anyway. Game 1 went to the Sox. Game 2 was much the same, but the Indians managed to hold off the assaults of the offense and won it, in the first game where Manny and Ortiz FINALLY looked human. And finally, in Game 3, Westbrook was able to shut them down and cool off the red-hot Ramirez.

So in the end, the Red Sox were NEVER as invulnerable as ESPN would have you believe.

Game 3 Notes

Keeping some notes as I watch Game 3 of the ALCS.

7:36 PM 10/16/2007
Coco Crisp just grounded into an inning-ending double play, the Red Sox had loaded up the bases with nobody out. Huge pitch by Westbrook, nice job by Peralta to turn it himself.

7:45 PM 10/16/2007
Kenny Lofton just homered! That’s his first homerun since being back in an Indians uniform, and it really couldn’t have come at a better time. It looked like Dice-K was starting to get into a groove. There’s the curtain call, the crowd is going absolutely insane.

7:48 PM 10/16/2007
Interesting that they started Nixon tonight. I wonder if Wedge is looking for the lefty-righty matchup against Dice-K or maybe just playing the hot bat. He just got robbed of a single up the middle, he’s hitting the ball hard. End of 2: Indians 2, Red Sox 0.

7:56 PM 10/16/2007
A good sign for Westbrook: he only needed six pitches to retire the Red Sox in the third. Middle of the third: Indians 2, Red Sox 0.

8:13 PM 10/16/2007
FOX’s technical aspects of its broadcasts are usually good, but not tonight. There’s a lot of audio feedback and now the video is starting to glitch. GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER.

8:17 PM 10/16/2007
HAHA! A batted ball just hit David Ortiz. A bad baserunning mistake by the Sox, as now a double play ends the inning.

8:22 PM 10/16/2007
Another good inning by Westbrook, he’s giving the Indians exactly what they need thus far.

8:37 PM 10/16/2007
Yet another good inning by Westbrook, he’s getting it DONE tonight. 5 IP, 63 pitches, no runs, only three hits. Middle of 5: Indians 2, Red Sox 0.

8:50 PM 10/16/2007
Dice-K is on the ropes here, with Asdrubal Cabrera at the plate. Kind of important that the Indians get him out of the game now, I think.

8:53 PM 10/16/2007
Asdrubal just singled up the middle. Good at bat, nice job staying with it and not trying to do too much. Dice-K might be done, especially with Hafner coming up.

8:55 PM 10/16/2007
Good hustle by Hafner, he hit a double play ball to second but he beat it out, which drove in Sizemore. 4-0 Indians.

9:02 PM 10/16/2007
Victor Martinez has singled, and here comes the bullpen. Matsuzaka goes 4 2/3. Not what the Red Sox paid all that money for. Garko is now at the plate with runners at first and second and two out.

9:19 PM 10/16/2007
Huge double play ball! Ramirez grounds to Peralta, and Westbrook gets out of it. Worst case, he gets the Indians through six innings of baseball.

9:35 PM 10/16/2007
Well there goes the shutout. Jason Varitek just hit a two run homer to make it 4-2 Indians.

9:42 PM 10/16/2007
Westbrook is out. He went 6 2/3, allowed 2 ER and cannot lose the game. An outstanding job by Westbrook tonight, now on to Jensen Lewis.

9:49 PM 10/16/2007
Jensen Lewis struck out the batter he faced, stretch time at the Jake!

10:06 PM 10/16/2007
Betancourt’s on to pitch the eighth against Youkilis, Ortiz and Ramirez. Obviously a crucial inning for the bullpen.

10:13 PM 10/16/2007
Betancourt sets them down 1-2-3. What a season for Betancourt, what a job here in the eighth. Three outs to go.

10:27 PM 10/16/2007
Indians go 1-2-3 in the eighth. It’s Borowski time.

10:31 PM 10/16/2007
Mike Lowell pops up to first. One out in the ninth.

10:32 PM 10/16/2007
JD Drew flies out to center. Two down. Jason Varitek to the plate.

10:37 PM 10/16/2007
Ballgame! Indians win, 4-2.

Trot Nixon

And Trot Nixon puts the Indians ahead in the 11th!

I’m surprised he didn’t start tonight. Say what you will about him, but he knows the right field of Fenway Park better than anyone and Gutierrez didn’t look good last night (or tonight, for that matter). But it seems kind of poetic, and I’m okay with it.