Random Thoughts: Why NY baseball fans are spoiled

It’s snowy here in NYC and that’s a nice thing especially around this wonderful time of year right before Christmas and Chanukah or whatever you celebrate. If Kwanza, Happy Happy!

But here I am with this one thought floating around my brain. It centers on New York baseball and its fans. Let’s face it! There’s no more spoiled fanbase than our city’s two teams which the majority support.

What other city’s baseball fans demand and expect to land the biggest free agent superstars every Winter? Not even the Red Sox who have won two more World Series than both the Yankees and Mets combined the past eight years get every star by overpaying like our teams do.

Sure. Francisco Rodriguez fell into Omar Minaya’s lap and the three years at the price of 36 million ain’t bad for the former Halo who established a new regular single season record with 62 saves. But that also had to do with the market and other options like Brian Fuentes who remains unsigned along with seasoned vet and all-time save leader Trevor Hoffman. Heck. The Astros still could put up Jose Valverde one year after acquiring him. How did that Brad Lidge deal workout again?

Getting back to the point, K-Rod is an elite closer in the upper echelon with Mariano Rivera, Jonathan Papelpon, Lidge and the much overlooked Joe Nathan. By acquiring him on their terms, the Mets addressed their biggest flaw which prevented them from October play a second straight season.

But by also going out and dealing for former Mariners closer J.J. Putz to hand the ball off to Rodriguez, Minaya instantly bolstered his pen with arguably the best 1-2 punch in the Senior Circuit. How it works out remains to be seen.

Thing is what other team’s fans would have expected this? No other city is like New York when it comes to its baseball teams. We always believe we’re getting the big star. Whether it’s a top flight ace like Johan Santana last year or the best free agent starter in C.C. Sabathia this month landing in the Bronx for a ridiculous seven years worth 161 million matching the old street they played at, baseball fans here hold their teams to a different level.

We want them to buy the best players and improve our teams even if it doesn’t always guarantee a world championship. I bet Met fans at this point would settle for just a division crown guaranteeing October after how the last two years have gone. And Pinstripe supporters are just hoping Ca$h Cow and A.J. Burnett (5 yrs, 82.5 million) are enough to get them back to the postseason when they’re competing with the Rays and Sahhhxxx.

In other words, there are no guarantees despite what our teams have done thus far. Sadly, it’s not over with the Yanks still chasing Manny Ramirez and possibly Mark Teixeira although I believe it was just to jack up the price which seems to have worked with the Red Sox bidding adieu to landing the switch hitting first base slugger who also can flash the leather.

The Yankee brass won’t be satisfied until they’ve acquired every All-Star as if that change in philo$ophy has paid dividends since they threw the gauntlet at Jason Giambi when George Steinbrenner got his own network. Alex Rodriguez still resides at third and the team has won exactly one playoff series in the four years the future home run King’s been here. You can bring in whoever you so desire but it doesn’t exactly mean anything.

It still doesn’t account for team chemistry. You don’t need to spend a fortune to win. But you can’t exactly field a team like the Omaha Royals do or Pirates. Toss in the Padres since they’re trying to sell off former NL Cy winner Jake Peavy because the owner is going through a messy divorce. This is the sad state of baseball.

Where not every fanbase has as much to get excited for when it comes to pitchers and catchers. If you live here, all you hear are baseball fans calling up WFAN in NY as if we’re already in April. It grows about as tiresome as all the NFL talk. Granted. At least it’s more warranted with a lot riding on the line for the Jets and Giants this weekend.

Sometimes, I still ponder what exactly basketball or hockey did so wrong. The Knicks get air time only cause they’re watchable again due to Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo unselfish brand of basketball. At least for now until something else develops with the Stephon Marbury fiasco.

Compared to baseball and football, the hoops discussion is still limited because the hardcore fan knows that this Knick team might not even be good enough to make the playoffs as an eighth seed. It’s really all about 2010 with a free agent class of LeBron, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and future Knick Amare Stoudemire.

As for the Nets who are a better act and are broadcast on FAN with Devin Harris torching Jason Kidd for 43 and 13 assists last night, nobody really cares. They rarely get mentioned except for loyal Net fan midday co-host Evan Roberts. Pretty sad for a station which airs their games.

As for hockey, what is it? Mike Francesa blatantly ignores it as if it were the plague. Chris Carlin’s Morning Warmup show is all hot air over the baseball and football teams. Anything but hockey seems to be the breakfast recipe.

It gets a little acknowledgment from Boomer and Carton along with Ranger fan Joe Benigno and Roberts due to interest in the Rangers. Esiason also is a huge Blueshirt supporter sometimes showing up at games. Steve Somers is probably the best hockey guy due to his passion for the Rangers and funny Islanders (Icelanders) skits. He was upset about Mats Sundin choosing the Canucks due to Glen Sather’s inability to make necessary cap space because of scrubs like Dmitri Kalinin (2.1 M) wasting away on the roster.

Mark Melusis to be fair also talks puck and tries to cover all sides including the Devils, who are broadcast on the station but may as well be playing their games in Siberia.

How is it that this station can air the NJ basketball and hockey team but rarely ever give them any love? Hypocrite$.

And what does it got to do with? Beloved baseball and football. The only sports which MATTER to them because of one word. One which I now deem evil. Rating$.

That’s all they care about. I got a question for the baseball fans out there. Is it really so hard to go a day without obsessing over which big star we’re going to wind up with next?

Wake me up when it’s May.

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Random Thoughts: New York ballclubs clean up in Vegas

Not surprisingly, the two New York baseball teams came out the biggest winners at the Baseball Winter Meetings in Las Vegas with the Mets landing free agent closer and single season 62 save record holder K-Rod and wisely dealing for former Seattle closer J.J. Putz while the Yankees chased, chased and chased bending over backwards to land the biggest fish Cash Cow Sabathia severely overpaying by 60 million until the former 2007 AL Cy Young winner finally was convinced thanks to an out clause after the third year if he doesn’t like it here.

Would you go to all that trouble to land one of the game’s top starters when it was clear as day he didn’t want any part of New York hoping against hope that one of his hometown California NL teams the Dodgers or Giants would come calling keeping him in a Senior Circuit he flat out dominated tossing seven complete games in carrying the Brewers to their first October baseball in 26 years?

I’d have gone for Option B and looked into acquiring San Diego ace Jake Peavy, who might be better than Johan Santana even though Daily News columnist narcissist Mike Lupica and other Mets propaganda would have you believe otherwise. As if the Venezuelan was the second coming of Christ because he took the ball once on short rest and dominated giving the Amazin’s a chance on the final Sunday before the roof caved in causing Omar Minaya to wake up from the doldrums and realize his pigpen wasn’t championship caliber. I wonder what could’ve tipped him off? Was it the Phillies’ 1-2 punch of Ryan Madson to the perfect Brad Lidge resulting in the city of Philadelphia’s first world championship in 25 years?

Funny but as down as I am on the Yankees flexing their mu$cles for Sabathia, I could’ve sworn he finished five more games in three months than Santana did in his first NL season. In fact, the 27 year-old new Yankee ace’s 10 CGs are one better than the 29 year-old Mets ace for his entire MLB career.

This doesn’t mean Sabathia’s better. In fact, Santana has the more proven track record if you go year by year comparing their careers with Sabathia’s meteoric rise coming the past two seasons in which he won a combined 36 games with the Indians and Brewers taking home his first Cy and finishing in the top six despite half a season in the Senior Circuit. Santana finished third behind deserving NL recipient Tim Lincecum and Arizona’s Brandon Webb.

Speaking of Lincecum, it kind of makes you wonder why they didn’t extend an offer to Sabathia, who grew up pretty closeby and could’ve made a great 1-2 combo for the Giants, a team which has fielded some of the most pathetic squads recently having bought failed lefty Barry “Baked” Zito.

They already gave too many years to Edgar Renteria to fill a hole at short left by Omar Vizquel. You’re telling me they couldn’t go for a top tier pitcher who could’ve turned them into a division contender. It doesn’t take much to win the NL West. Just ask the Dodgers and Manny Ramirez.

Maybe it’s true that the Giant offense isn’t scaring anyone. But in a pitcher’s park, had they stacked up Sabathia with Lincecum, overlooked Matt Cain and young arm Jonathan Sanchez, suddenly they’d have a staff in place to compete no matter what Zito gave them.

Here’s a novel idea. Just bring back Will Clark, Robby Thompson, Matt Williams and Kevin Mitchell to give the offense a boost. If only it were that simple.

One other thing on Santana. While Lupica’s right that he’s more reliable than Sabathia, just remember all the Yanks did was waste more of their own money to get the former Brewer. Both will be paid the same yearly salary making a cool 23 million to win 18-20 games.

Only one team traded away prospects. And until the Mets see October or add another championship, you can’t say much. Telling a blowhard like Lupica that before he bashes the team in the Bronx for doing what they do best.

Better yet. What’s a tougher league? The loaded AL featuring DH driven lineups or the watered down NL that includes garbage teams like the Nats, Padres, Pirates and Giants?

Hard to believe the Nats are offering the kitchen sink to Mark Teixeira with a standing offer also from Baltimore with Boston in serious pursuit of the first base switch hitting slugger who also packs some leather. You don’t think he’d sign with such a bottomfeeder? Will the Angels bring him back? It’d probably be in their best interest considering Vlad Guerrero ain’t getting any younger.

With the Yanks and Mets loading up and getting more state grants to fund their state of the art new stadiums, what bad economy?

Apparently, they haven’t gotten the message.

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More HB: World Series Game One Thoughts

-The World Series got going last night with the Phillies behind Cole Hamels, Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge edging the Rays 3-2 to take Game One over Scott Kazmir and Co. in St. Pete. All-Star second baseman Chase Utley’s first inning two-run homer to short right was the only real mistake the former Mets’ farmhand made in six solid frames of three-run, six hit ball while walking and fanning four apiece.

The 24 year-old southpaw was just good enough to lose despite battling through stranding runners while tossing 110 pitches (73 strikes) before the Tampa Bay bullpen shutdown the Phils the rest of the way including big outs by lefty J.P. Howell and Grant Balfour to keep them down a run.

Problem was Hamels, who took home NLCS MVP versus the Dodgers was his stingy self working seven strong allowing two earned on five hits walking a pair while striking out five. Given a three-run lead to protect following backstop Carlos Ruiz’ fourth inning RBI ground out, the 24 year-old former Phillies’ 2002 first round pick bent but didn’t break permitting a Carl Crawford solo shot and a Akinori Iwamura run scoring double in two consecutive innings both with two outs.

However, he did get the dangerous B.J. Upton to harmlessly pop out in foul territory to first baseman Ryan Howard, who made a nice defensive gem getting his glove extended into the stands coming away with the ball for the final out of the fifth.

If Hamels did the job handing the ball off to a pen which has dominated the late innings this Fall, then what Madson and Lidge did wasn’t all that startling with the Philadelphia 1-2 punch retiring all six Rays they faced including the latter getting the first two in only Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria swinging at nasty sliders before popping up Crawford into foul ground where third baseman Pedro Feliz squeezed the final out.

It was Lidge’s sixth straight successive save this postseason making the Phillie closer 47-for-47 including the regular season continuing to erase any doubts from his previous October experience with the Astros where Albert Pujols hit a tying homer which still hasn’t landed.

The Phils won despite another quiet night from top slugger Howard, who took the collar in four plate appearances whiffing three times. They also prevailed in spite of stranding a preposterous 22 on base. That’s what good pitching does. Tampa’s kept them afloat but the Phillies’ best was enough to pickup the win and take the home field away.

One potential turning point last night was when an E3 on Howard allowed Pena to reach leading off the sixth. He then took off on Hamels’ first move towards home but was picked off 1-3-6 despite Joe Maddon’s protests that it should’ve been a balk which Fox tandem Joe Buck and Tim McCarver accurately contended with replays confirming it.

Chalk it up to a break which went the Phils’ way and one which went against the Rays, who now really need tonight’s Game Two sending ace James Shields to the mound against Brett Myers. Especially with the next three shifting to the City of Brotherly Love.

In order for Tampa to have any shot, they obviously need to win tonight’s game and the recipe should be to score often on Myers, who has looked shaky this postseason after a strong finish to the regular season. He’s prone to walking batters and can be taken yard. Something the Rays have done during this run to their first World Series.

The Rays don’t want to let Myers off the hook and allow Charlie Manuel’s pen to dictate things cause they’ve been automatic late. It’s imperative for Tampa to swing the bats early and often getting out to a lead and taking some pressure off Shields.

Before the series began, we liked the more experienced Phillies in six competitive games. For as wrong as I’ve been on the NFL the past couple of weeks, I’m not changing my pick here. I just feel the Phils’ lineup is a little better and their pen gives them an edge despite the Rays throwing better starters outside of Hamels.

-Kudos to the Rays for overcoming a gritty determined defending champ in Boston coming back to beat the Red Sox 3-1 in the deciding Game Seven. It was truly storybook with mainstay Rocco Baldelli netting the series clinching RBI bouncing back from an exhaustion illness which has plagued him the past couple of seasons causing him to miss significant time.

That Longoria got the tying two out RBI opposite field double and steady fill-in utility man Willy Aybar added some insurance with a dinger seemed fitting considering how much of a team they’ve been all season.

We’ll see if they can pull this off becoming the first team to go from worst record the prior year to world champs. It should be a good series!

-One other thought on Game One. Enough already with these bands playing our national anthem. Last night, The Backstreet Boys made a mockery of it. I much prefer our anthem being sang/performed the way it should sound. No time to turn into a choir or hit song. You’d think they’d know better.

-Anyone really feel that the Red Sox would’ve scored only a run leaving all those runners on in the late goings if Manny Ramirez is still there batting behind David Ortiz? Try telling that to Mike Lupica.

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More HB: NLCS Thoughts

-Thus far, we’ve seen one team dominate the first two games with the Phillies sweeping the first pair from the Dodgers at Citizen’s Bank Park by scores of 3-2 and 8-5 by outslugging Joe Torre’s ballclub improving to 5-0 this postseason with the balance of the series hanging later tonight when it shifts to Hollywood for the next three. It’s pretty much imperative for the Dodgers to win Game 3 to have any realistic chance of coming back.

Memo to Manny Ramirez’ teammates: It’s time for you to step up. The ex-Red Sock left fielder slugger can’t do it alone though he’s tried going 3-for-8 with a homer and four of his team’s seven runs knocked in. They must better support their emotional leader when crafty 45 year-old veteran lefty Jamie Moyer takes the mound tonight versus Hiroki Kuroda tonight.

If they get a win, then maybe they can carry momentum forward for tomorrow’s Game 4.

-The Phillies have to feel pretty good about themselves as they’ve gotten plenty of contributions from role players like Shane Victorino (4 RBI’s in Game Two), Carlos Ruiz (3-for-7, 2 runs, RBI) and Greg Dobbs (2 hits, 2 runs in Game Two start). It’s hard to remember that they were shutdown by Derek Lowe through five innings trailing by two in the series opener before a Rafael Furcal throwing error opened the door for Chase Utley’s tying two-run blast and Pat Burrell’s game-winner.

They completely took apart Los Angeles 16-game winner Chad Billingsley roasting him for seven of their eight runs in two and a third with starter Brett Myers the unsung hero going a perfect three-for-three with three RBI’s and two runs scored while going five (5 ER, 6 H, 4 BB, 6 K’s) to pickup the victory.

-One other Phillie note: They’ve won the first two games without a hit from NL MVP candidate Ryan Howard along with hardly any production from leadoff shortstop Jimmy Rollins (1-for-9, 4 K’s) and right fielder Jayson Werth (1-for-8, 2 K’s).

-One of the big differences thus far is that the Dodgers haven’t made a dent with Philly’s bullpen. In fact, they have only two hits in six innings while whiffing eight times. The trio of Ryan Madson, J.C. Romero and closer Brad Lidge have been instrumental in the first two games. Not that the Dodger pen has been bad having not allowed a run yet. The problem has been taking a lead into the late innings. They really need to get the jump in Game 3 and take some pressure off. A blowout would do the trick. But so would a three or four-run lead in the seventh or eighth. Especially with Torre able to mix and match with Jonathan Broxton waiting to finish it off.

We’ll find out what they’re made of later tonight.

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Phillies go deep in comeback to draw first blood

For five innings, it didn’t look like the Phillies would solve Derek Lowe but trailing by a pair in the home sixth, fortunes turned their way when a Rafael Furcal throwing error allowed Shane Victorino to reach leading off. Chase Utley then followed by taking Lowe yard on the next pitch suddenly tying Game One of the NLCS.

Just like that, Joe Torre’s Dodger two-run lead was gone and so was Lowe’s rhythm as a couple of batters later, he fell behind 3-1 on Pat Burrell, who then deposited the next offering into the left field seats much to the sellout crowd’s (45,839) delight.

The three-run two-homer inning were enough to give them first blood in the NLCS as Phillie ace Cole Hamels settled in nicely to go the first seven allowing two earned on six hits while walking a couple and fanning eight to pickup the victory.

It didn’t start well for the southpaw who three batters in fell behind when sizzling left field slugger Manny Ramirez laced the second pitch he saw to the deepest part of the ballpark with only the high wall keeping a rocket from being a two-run home run. Instead, the former Red Sock World Series MVP wound up on second with an RBI double driving in Andre Ethier.

Following a two out James Loney walk and wild pitch, Hamels toughened up getting dangerous center fielder Matt Kemp to fly out harmlessly to right limiting the damage. That was huge for the Phillies psychologically who didn’t fall behind by too much.

With Lowe looking strong, rookie second baseman Blake Dewitt’s fourth inning sacrifice fly gave him a two-run lead to work with. The sinkerball righty responded by retiring the Phils in order K-ing his only two batters of the night. At one point, he retired nine straight keeping the ball down in the zone.

However, momentum’s a funny thing in baseball and it all changed when his shortstop Furcal threw too high to get Victorino in the Phils’ sixth starting the deciding rally. Before you knew it, Lowe had served up two long balls and was out of the game replaced by Chan Ho Park.

With their ace now throwing better, Hamels retired the Dodgers in order getting a couple swinging in his final inning before giving way to the bullpen. Including a pivotal 4-6-3 double play, he retired nine of the last 11 before setup man Ryan Madson replaced him for the eighth.

The setup man got the first two including Ramirez, who had a couple of hits but lined out to third. He then worked around a Russell Martin single by getting Loney to bounce out routinely to second ending the inning.

Following a quiet Phillie eighth versus Hong-Chih Kuo, out came closer Brad Lidge, who didn’t show any anxiety getting the side in order on a couple of fly balls and then made DeWitt chase a pitch in the dirt with catcher Carlos Ruiz tossing perfectly to Ryan Howard for the 2-3 putout. The former Houston closer is now a perfect three-of-three in save opportunities this postseason making him 44-for-44.

Not bad for a guy who seemed to have lost his way following that towering Albert Pujols drive which extended the 2005 NLCS seven before the Astros prevailed.

Most importantly, the solid finish allowed Hamels and the Phillies to take a 1-0 series lead in the best-of-seven NLCS with Game Two this afternoon where Brett Myers will oppose Dodger 16-game winner Chad Billingsley. First pitch is 4:35 at Citizen’s Bank Park on Fox as part of a Friday night doubleheader with the defending champion Red Sox and Rays getting underway later tonight.

A couple of quick thoughts on last night’s game:

-Very well pitched game which went quickly taking only two hours and thirty six minutes to play meaning it actually ended before 11 PM here on the East coast. Fan friendly. Imagine that!

-Veteran righty Greg Maddux came out of the Dodger pen tossing a scoreless seventh. Weird to see the former Cy Young future Hall of Famer in that role.

-The Dodgers left nine on base while the Phillies stranded seven.

-Ethier and Ramirez each led Los Angeles with a pair of hits while Philadelphia got multi-hit nights from the trio of Utley, Burrell and Ruiz.

-With his homer, that made it three in his last two games for Burrell who began the postseason 0-for-8 with a balky back before smashing a pair and knocking in four in the Phils’ elimination of Milwaukee. He’s 5-for-7 with three dingers, five RBI’s and three runs since.

-Games 3, 4 and 5 are at Chavez Ravine beginning Sunday night with an extra day off between Games 4 and 5.

-Red Sox will send out 18-game winner Dice-K Matsuzaka to the mound against 14-game Tampa winner James Shields tonight with Josh Beckett opposing Scott Kazmir in Game 2.

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More HB

-Thanks to Milwaukee’s continued slide dropping a fifth straight falling 5-4 to the Cubs at Wrigley, the slumping Mets are still in playoff position half a game in front of the Brew Crew for the NL wild card. At this point, frantic Amazin fans will take it as long as it means October baseball. After giving a run back, Cubs closer Kerry Wood pitched out of a first and third jam by getting Brewer first base slugger Prince Fielder looking to move the Cubs within a couple of wrapping up the NL Central.

For Milwaukee who tried to get a ‘W’ for new interim skipper Dale Sveum, it was a blown opportunity as ace C.C. Sabathia was handed his first defeat and they wasted a two homer game from Fielder. A couple of weeks ago, it looked like they were a playoff lock and might even push the Cubbies for the division. Now, they’re fighting for their playoff lives against the NL East runner-up, the slumping Astros, fading Cardinals and possibly even the Marlins if they suddenly keep on winning as they did last night for a sixth straight win.

-Meanwhile, the Mets trail by half a game cause NL MVP candidate Ryan Howard slugged his major league leading 45th- a two-run shot on a full count with two outs in the eighth lifting the Phillies to a come from behind 8-7 road win over Atlanta. The Phillies’ first base slugger has caught fire this month doing everything he can to get his team another division title by hitting .396 with eight dingers and 22 RBI’s. In fact, the past four seasons, he leads the majors with 38 long balls in September. Still, the 2006 NL MVP has no clue as to why he heats up at the right time of the month:

“Maybe it’s just the pennant races are heating up. I’m just trying to go out there and do what I can to help my team.”

Whatever the reason, his teammates have to be very pleased because he’s coming up money. Last year’s MVP Jimmy Rollins has also come around at this key time batting .368 with a couple of homers, nine RBI’s, four steals and 11 runs scored. So, while Chase Utley and Pat Burrell remain MIA, Charlie Manuel can at least take solace knowing a couple of his best stars along with underrated gritty players Jayson Werth (3-for-4, HR, 2 RBI’s, 3 R) Shane Victorino (3 hits, RBI) and even Carlos Ruiz (solo HR) are raking, he has to feel good about his team’s chances. Even if closer Brad Lidge made it interesting loading the bases on three walks before striking out pinch hitter Gregor Blanco to go for 37-for-37 in save opportunities in his first season with his new club.

-What can be said about the Mets when they couldn’t come up with one run against Odalis Perez in seven-plus innings? Not much. Apparently, they left their bats at Shea or are stuck in a time warp thinking it’s 2007 all over again. Thing is there’s still plenty of time to turn it around. But the best they can do is a split against baseball’s worst team after having scored one run in 18 innings. Not only did they not score last night despite a quality effort from Mike Pelfrey in which he went seven permitting one run which was enough to take a hard luck loss. But they also lost the services of surprise left fielder Fernando Tatis, whose diving attempt at a two out Perez double resulted in a separated right shoulder ending his season. Sadly, that missed catch led to a Nats’ two out rally as Willie Harris walked and then Met killer Christian Guzman’s ground rule double scored the only run of the game.

It was a half inning later that Harris would make the defensive play of the game robbing David Wright of a sure two-run go-ahead double ending the inning instead with a nice running over the basket catch. Now, I’m not a Met fan. But how come everytime I see highlights, Harris is always making some sorta defensive gem against them? You just gotta wonder.

-Congrats to Derek Jeter on breaking Lou Gehrig’s all-time home record with a single to left in the home first in the Yanks’ 6-2 loss to the White Sox. With this being the final homestand ever played at Yankee Stadium, Jeter will forever be the man who needed fewer games (more ABs) to beat out one of the all-time greats. With two hits last night, he’s up to 1,271 with still five games left with the finale closing out Sunday Night versus the Orioles. In as disappointing a season as his team’s had, at least Jeter continues to put forth the effort and give Yankee fans something to take with them as closing time approaches:

“It’s kind of hard to enjoy it because we lost the game. But this is something that is pretty special. I mean, I’d be lying to you if I said it wasn’t. Records are made to be broken, but this one at least will never be broken.”

At least for once the elegant Yankee captain admitted that it meant a little extra. It should. :-)

-I’ve heard a few Met fans call up WFAN and mock Jeter referring to most of those hits as singles and even a couple using “overrated.” Say what you will. But there has never been anything more ridiculous uttered about a shortstop who became the model of consistency and defines all the success the Yankees had when they weren’t a team full of superstars at every position. That’s what the Mike Lupicas of the world who’ll mention payroll till their death beds never seem to grasp. The old Yankee way saw them not always go for the top star and fill voids with underrated gritty performers such as Scott Brosius and Tino Martinez through trades when management actually let the real baseball people evaluate the farm and sell high.

Now, it’s become a circus where suddenly Melky Cabrera goes from starting center fielder to never to be seen again with only Brett Gardner getting every start down the stretch. This is really what you’re dealing with. I like Gardner and remember him here but why even have Cabrera back up if he’s not even going to get another chance? That btw opposes what Brian Cashman said at the time the struggling 24 year-old got sent down. I guess he’s already washed up.

-Kudos to the Rays for pushing across a run edging the Red Sox on Dioner Navarro’s walkoff to stay atop the AL East. That team has shown tremendous resiliency amidst all the injuries and pressure. What heart!

-You want a manager who should get axed. Look no further than what’s happened in Arizona where the D-Backs got out of the gate great but have fallen apart and now trail the Dodgers by four and a half on the verge of extinction. Bob Melvin had arguably the best pitcher in ace Brandon Webb and got Dan Haren along with a mostly healthy Randy Johnson. Plus they went out and got slugger Adam Dunn on the cheap to address the middle of the order. You would’ve thought it would be enough to stay afloat in such a poor division. Someone has to take the fall if they don’t put together a miraculous comeback.

-Is there any more dominant starter than the Giants’ Tim Lincecum? The former 2006 No.1 pick has been lights out on a subpar team with little offense posting a 17-3 record with a 2.43 ERA while pacing the bigs with 237 strikeouts. In his last outing, he went the distance three-hitting the Padres walking three and fanning 12 while throwing an unheard of 138 pitches. How did this happen? You mean a manager actually let their young pitcher stay in the game and finish it?!?!?!?!?! Well, it was his first ever complete game shutout. He had been going into the eighth a few times. Even more amazing is that on a team which has won 68 games, the 24 year-old has won five of his last six and six of his last eight decisions. In fact, his last defeat came on July 20 to Milwaukee giving up five earned including two dingers in five frames. He’s allowed only 10 long balls all year and just one since that outing.

Terrific Tim (Since 7/20)

10 GS, 6-0 Record, 72 IP, 44 H, 16 R, 14 ER, 1.75 ERA, 26 BB, 94 K’s+

+Struckout at least 10-or-more in five games

Note: Lincecum has eight games where he’s hit double digits this season.

Does it get any better than that? What happens when Chris “Mad Dog” Russo’s Giants figure out how to win? Just how special can this kid be? Keep your fingers crossed.

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