Showing posts from October, 2022

The Real World Series Battle

You know about Harper versus Alvarez; Bregman v Schwarber; Wheeler v Verlander; and Altuve v Bohm.  Those pale compared to the real rivalry over the next seven games.  The one that centers on those truly outsized personalities: the Phanatic versus Orbit.  

Yankee History: On This Date in 1996

Bernie Williams singles in Derek Jeter to cap a three run 3rd inning rally -- with what proves to be the deciding run, as the Yankees take the World Series in six games. The Yankees 23rd championship is the first of four in five seasons in MLB's most recent dynasty. Closer John Wetteland bends but doesn't break; giving up an RBI single to Marquis Grissom in the top of the 9th. Then, with two and two out, he gets Mark Lemke on a foul pop up that Charlie Hayes grabs to secure the win.

Yankee History: On This Date in 2009

  The Yankees punch their ticket to the World Series for the first time in six years.  Johnny Damon singles in Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher as the Yankees take the lead for keeps in the 4th inning and roll to a 5-2 win over the Angels.  Andy Pettite, Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera keep the L.A. bats in check as the Yanks clinch their 40th American League pennant in the first season of the new Yankee Stadium.

Bryce Harper Owned the Moment

Baseball's Cinderella story of 2022 has been written in Philadelphia with Bryce Harper authoring its signature moment.  Not by holding a pen or even a sharpie, his "John Hancock" was etched with a Victus Sports bat.   You know the cliche about "the spotlight will find you." Well, it certainly found Harper... with the time running short and the Phillies desperate to avoid returning to the west coast for a game six.  And he embraced it. Bottom of the 8th, Phillies down 3-2 to the Astros with J.T. Realmuto on 1st base, Harper faced San Diego reliever Robert Suarez.  With a 2-2 count, he launched a laser that landed in the left field seats at Citizens Bank Park to give the Phillies the lead with three outs to go.   The blast, in the most crucial moment of the clinching game, earned Harper NLCS MVP honors. It fulfilled the huge expectations placed on Harper when he made the cover of Sports Illustrated   as a 16 year old high schooler.   It fulfilled the dream Bryce

If Your Birthday is October 21st...

Image share it with a couple of New York natives who made their mark in the Bronx. John Flaherty   lived his boyhood dream: growing up in suburban Rockland County, he capped a 14 year major league career as the Yankees backup catcher in 2003, '04 and '05. He moved smoothly into the broadcast booth and is now in his 16th season as an analyst on YES Network telecasts. "Flash" shares his birthday with the greatest starting pitcher in Yankees history.  Whitey Ford authored 236 victories, worked 156 complete games and  once held the record for most consecutive shutout innings in World Series competition. The 1961 Cy Young Award winner starred alongside Mickey, Yogi, Roger Maris and Elston Howard, earning the nickname "The Chairman of the Board," for his knack of coming up big in the biggest games.  A future Hall of Famer gets his cake and candles on Saturday : Ichiro Suzuki  was Japan's most feared hitter before coming the U.S. in 2001 -- and put together a

Next Stop: Houston

Here they are: the three Yankees difference-makers from Tuesday night's ALDS clincher.  Of course, I'll start with Nestor Cortes .  The best 36th round draft pick in Yankees history was nasty, nifty and triumphant on the mound.  His five dominating innings -- marred only by that Bermuda Triangle mashup in short left field -- built the foundation.   Time-tested since the days of Miller Huggins, the Yankee formula has been pitching and power.  Cortes (seen here in 2019, before the arrival of his signature mustache) again exceeded expectations.  Aaron Boone admitted he'd have been happy had he held down the Cleveland lineup one time through the order.  Or maybe until power-hitter Josh Naylor's second time up.  The bottom line: Nestor stifled the Guardians through Steven Kwan's third time up. Of course, he had a little help from his friends: Giancarlo Stanton again came up big on the biggest stage.  His legs healthy enough and his swing finally back in sync, his three-

Posted Without Comment

 However, you are more than welcome to leave one below.

If Your Birthday is October 14th...

Image share it with  Joe Girardi ,  who succeeded Joe Torre and spent a decade managing the Yankees -- highlighted by winning the 2009 World Series. Over 10 seasons, his teams compiled a 910-710 record, the sixth most wins in franchise history.  That run ended after his youthful 2017 club lost the ALCS to the Astros -- amidst rumblings of communications problems with some of his young players, such as Gary Sanchez. Following two years with MLB Network, the former Yankees, Cardinals and Rockies catcher took over the Phillies in 2020, but was fired in early June after a 22-29 start.  Pat Kelly  appeared to be a fixture at 2nd base for the Yankees up until the 1994 player strike.  Once the action resumed, he fell victim to injuries, though he did enjoy one big moment in 1995 -- a 9th inning homer that helped beat Toronto in the next-to-last game of the season as the Yanks claimed the first American League Wild Card. Married to an Australian, Kelly moved "down under" after his

Baseball History: October 12th, 1967

For the second time in three years, Bob Gibson pitches the Cardinals to a World Series title.  The St. Louis ace allows just three hits and strikes out 10 in a dominating 7-2 win over the Red Sox.  But. There's. More.  Gibson -- one of the best hitting pitchers of the post-World War II era -- also belted a 5th inning home run to extend the Cardinals lead.  And he accomplished all that on the road: this game was played at Fenway Park. Ranking with Koufax, Drysdale, Seaver and Marichal as the greatest pitchers of his era, Bob Gibson stands alone as the fiercest competitor.  Seemingly capable of willing his team to victory, he was the most imposing presence on a baseball mound in the 1960s.  Countless stories in baseball lore cite his "owning" home plate, unafraid to brush back opposing hitters -- even those who had once been friends or teammates.  He is credited (or maybe, blamed) for MLB's decision to lower the mound and tweak the strike zone after 1968's offensi

The Biggest Wild Card Surprise

Great pitching stops great hitting.  You heard that again and again.  This past weekend, that was the Phillies recipe for sweeping the NL Central champion Cardinals in their Wild Card series, thanks to their co-aces.  Zack Wheeler (above) fired 6-2/3 scoreless innings Fridayt.  Then Aaron Nola (below) sealed the deal with seven shutout frames, and just a hit and a walk Saturday night. Let's not forget Saturday night's historic 9th inning rally where the Phils erased a 2-0 St. Louis lead, stunning and silencing the Busch Stadium crowd. One thing more, by taking the series, the Phillies in a sense reversed the painful end of their previous five-year playoff run.  They had lost to the Cardinals in a winner-take-all game five in the 2011 NLDS and hadn't been back to the dance since.  Now, against big odds, they beat the same foe and advance to face the defending World Champion Braves. The sixth-seed knocks off the three -- with all three wins on the road.  A heck of a way fo

If Your Birthday is October 7th...

. .. you share it with   Mookie Betts , the best outfielder developed by the Red Sox since Jim Rice, but was deemed too expensive for Fenway's future.  Instead, after a trade and contract extension, he now stars for the Dodgers.  After a terrific 60-game first season in L.A., he's made the last two NL all star teams, and finished 2022 with a career high 35 home runs for the runaway NL West champs. Bud Daley  pitched well for some lousy Kansas City A's teams in the '50s, but battled injuries after being traded to the Yankees.  He did have one shining New York moment -- working the last 6-2/3 innings, and earning the win in the fifth and final game of the 1961 World Series. Jose Cardenal  spent 18 years in the majors, most notably for the 1970s Cubs.  The Cuban expat (and cousin of A's star Bert Campaneris), also coached for Joe Torre with the Cardinals and Yankees -- where he earned rings as 1st base coach for the 1996, '98 and '99 champs. Evan Longoria , the

Yankee History: Oct. 5th, 1996

Cecil Fielder delivered the go-ahead single as the Yankees rallied from four runs down to defeat the Rangers in Arlington 6-4 -- sending New York to the AL Championship series for the first time since 1981.  In their first year under Joe Torre, the Yanks came from behind in all three of their Division Series victories, with Fielder hitting an impressive .364. The Yankees would then take the ALCS over the Orioles in five games and claim their first World Series title since 1978 as they outlasted the Braves in six.

Unrealistic Expectations

Francisco Alvarez 's meteoric rise through the Mets farm system, from Single-A Brooklyn a year ago to the starting lineup Friday night against the Braves, is impressive and commendable.  But was the last step premature? Hoping that the power-hitting prospect, who'd crushed 27 homers between Binghamton and Syracuse, could be the weekend difference-maker was a bit of a reach.  Alvarez went 0 for 8, with three strikeouts as the Mets were swept by the Braves, who nearly locked down their fifth straight division title. Don't blame the still 20-year old.  His stats, on field presence and engaging personality speak for themselves.  I saw plenty of Alvarez this year as Mirabito Stadium and NBT Bank Park became my "home fields."  There are plenty of other culprits as the Mets fell flat in their biggest series of the season. A temporary setback for the Mets and Alvarez, whose address in 2023 will very likely be 41 Seaver Way in Flushing. ( My images are from last Wednesday&