Results tagged ‘ Yankees ’

Pedro on deck as the drama builds

Now, we have ourselves a full-fledged World Series. This, thanks to Chase Utley and Cliff Lee, who have, in tandem, kept the Phillies in this series.

Pedro Martinez will pitch Game 6 again in enemy territory at Yankee Stadium with a chance to make this Fall Classic truly classic and force a Game 7. The Yankees will counter with Andy Pettitte, and you wonder how he will fare on three days rest at this stage of his career.

Obviously not having a fourth starter is a glaring hole for the Yankees. The next couple of days will tell us if it is a fatal hole.

I’m thinking Game 6 gets the best ratings in the New England market for any non-Red Sox World Series game ever. Still a whole lot of Pedro fans in the Nation.

Phillies will fight to make it a Series

I remember when I was growing up, the Super Bowl went through a bad rut where it seemed like almost every year, it was a blowout. The two games that stick in my mind during my youth that were great games were the 49ers-Bengals in 1988, and the Giants-Bills in 1990. Other than that, blah.

Is the same thing going on with the World Series? If the Yankees win tonight, that would make it six years in a row the Fall Classic has been five games or less.

It would be nice to see the Phillies push this thing back to New York for Game 6, and, who knows, maybe even a Game 7?

That double steal by Damon last night was one of the most surreal things I’ve ever seen. It just goes to show you can see something completely new every time you watch a baseball game. I still can’t believe nobody on the Phillies made an attempt to cover third.

Let’s see what happens tonight. The Phillies should have plenty of fire in their eyes with Cliff Lee taking the mound on full rest.

Five years ago today …

For those Red Sox fans — and there are a lot of you — bummed that you are not watching your team play in the ALCS, keep this in mind:

Today is the five-year anniversary of Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS. I think that was the second most significant win in Red Sox history, right after Game 4 of that 2004 World Series.

Think about it, the Red Sox were down 3-0, which used to be a death sentence in a postseason series. The Red Sox are still the only team in either baseball or basketball to overcome a 3-0 series in any postseason series.

And how it became possible? They came back against Mariano Rivera in the ninth inning of Game 4. Millar walked, Roberts stole, and Big Papi sent everyone home in the 12th.

That set the stage for an even wilder Game 5. Papi again started the trek back with a Monster Mash against Tom Gordon. Millar again drew a walk. Roberts again pinch-ran. Trot Nixon — who had made two game-saving plays defensively earlier in the game — came through with a hit-and-run singe to right, making it corners and nobody out, Sox still down by a run in the 8th. The Yankees went to Mo again. Varitek came through with a sacrifice fly to tie it.

Three white-knuckle innings out of the bullpen by Tim Wakefield — with Varitek catching him — and finally Papi sent everyone home again, this time a “little flair” as Jerry Trupiano called it. Then Joe Buck proclaimed, “Damon is running to the plate, he can keep on running to New York … Game 6 tomorrow night.”

And yes, Game 6. The bloody sock. The A-Rod slap. The Bellhorn homer off the chest of a fan that was originally ruled a double. And pure guts by Keith Foulke, who finished his three-day, 100-pitch stand by blowing a fastball by Tony Clark to set up Game 7.

Game 7, the Red Sox sent Derek Lowe to the mound on two days rest. And he was brilliant. So was Johnny Damon, clocking two homers.

By the time it ended, the Red Sox were spraying each other with champagne in the very same clubhouse they were crying in one year earlier after the Grady/Aaron Boone fiasco.

Remember five years ago. It is probably one of your greatest sports memories ever.

Live from The Bronx

The Red Sox might be done, but I’m not. Here I am in New York, ready to be your humble servant — as the late, great Will McDonough used to say — for this American League Championship Series.

Today at Yankee Stadium was dreary with a capital D. Just disgusting out there. Players seem fairly confident Friday night’s Game 1 will go on as scheduled, but we’ll see.

Everyone seems to like the Yankees in this series. The one reason I like them is because their bullpen is better than the Angels. That’s the one thing the Red Sox really messed up in their Division Series. By their utter inability to hit, they could never exploit that Angels’ weakness — the bullpen.

This is going to be a great series though. I fully expect it to go seven.

Sox have swagger back as rivalry resumes

Hey all. I’m back from a nice respite and ready to dig back into the box for a little Red Sox-Yankees. Erika Gilbert did a fine job filling in the last three days.

How much better do the Red Sox feel about this matchup with the Yankees then they did on Aug. 6, when they had just been swept in Tampa Bay and seemed to be falling apart at the seams?

Now, the Sox are feeling like the Sox again. This is because they are hitting again. Jason Bay has his groove back. So does Big Papi. Victor Martinez has had his ever since his arrival. And J.D. Drew seemed to find a spot in the batting order — eighth — where he just might torment opposing pitchers.

We all remember the debaccle in New York two weekends ago, when your hometown heroes lost four in a row. While some feared it was 2006 all over again, this team has a lot more going for it then that ’06 team.

Quick refresher: This team has Beckett-Lester, which might be the best 1-2 punch in the game in the moment. That team didn’t have anything like that. This team also has a loaded bullpen, something the Red Sox didn’t have in ’06.

Division or Wild Card, I’m not sure it matters. What matters is that the Red Sox are feeling good about themselves again, and just in time.

Penny vs. Pettitte on Friday, that’s a pretty even matchup. Tazawa vs. Burnett is an obvious advantage for the Yankees. Then, Sunday Night Baseball features one of the best pitching matchups of 2009. It is Josh Beckett vs. CC Sabathia.

Buckle up. These next three days should be wild.

And a very warm welcome back to the broadcast booth to Jerry Remy. The Rem Dawg maks his return on Friday night, adding even more electricity to what should already be a great atmosphere.

All for now.

Ian.

Another day, another duel

So nothing could live up to Beckett-Burnett? Well, not so fast. Sabathia and Buchholz is pretty good theater so far today. CC has a no-no through five. Buchholz might be coming of age in front of our very eyes.

Still no word on a starter for Tuesday, but I’m guessing Tazawa.

That was one of the best games I’ve seen in a long time last night. If it was a playoff game, that game would be rehashed for years.

Where do you rank that catch by J.D.? Just a fantastic game. It was fun to be there for it.

In the context of the rivalry from 2003-09 — call it the Epstein-Cashman era — it was second only to July 1, 2004 in terms of regular season games. July 24, 2004 definitely had drama, and a brawl and a walkoff, but it wasn’t a GREAT game. It was more of a slugfest.

Poor Youk in left today. He’s getting exposed.

Five years ago today …

There are moments that are frozen in a season, and others that are frozen for an entire era.

Think back to five years ago today. The date was July 24, 2004. The Red Sox had just come off an excruciating loss to the Yankees the night before, despite three home runs from Kevin Millar. Despite all the  hype going into the season, they were entered the day 9 and a half games behind the Yankees in the American League East. And it was a rainy day. For a while, it looked like there would be no baseball game.

One or two Yankees had reportedly started showering, because apparently, the showers were going to wash away the game. But Jason Varitek,  Millar and some other members of the team told ownership, in a manner of speaking, “Get that field ready to play. We want to play baseball today.”

The Red Sox had some fight in them. Bronson Arroyo hit Alex Rodriguez with a breaking pitch in the third inning and the rest, you see in history. A-Rod barked at Arroyo, hollering and taunting expletives. Varitek wasn’t in the mood. He told A-Rod to get the “choice word here” to first base. Next thing you know, the superstar of the Yankees and the captain of the Red Sox were jaw to jaw. Arms flailing toward each other. Varitek literally lifted A-Rod off the ground with his glove, and then, a melee ensued.

Still though, the Yankes took a 9-4 lead on the Sox as the middle innings wore on. But the Red Sox kept chipping away. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, bam. Bill Mueller hit a walkoff homer off Mariano Rivera. The Red Sox had planted a seed in the minds of the Yankees, their bullies for all those years.

By the end of October, they had turned the tables on the Yankees from 3-0 down in the ALCS and went on to win their first World Series in 86 years.

Varitek’s mitt in A-Rod’s face was simply a sign that the Red Sox weren’t going to take it anymore. It is one of those moments that won’t be forgotten. And now it is five years later, and the Yankees — though they now lead the AL East — are still trying to even the score.

Rivalry back to 2003-2004 intensity

That’s right. The Red Sox-Yankees rivalry got a little tepid by its lofty standards from 2006-2008. Not anymore. We are back to peak intensity after the Yankees got Mark Teixeira yesterday for a cool $180 million over eight years. You know what? That’s fine.

All along, I couldn’t get into the whole Teixeira move mainly because I thought it was a terrible thing to do to Mike Lowell, one of the classiest and most professional Red Sox players I’ve ever come across.

So fine, the Red Sox made Teixeira a very fair offer — eight years at $168 million — and then walked away when the player said it wasn’t enough.

If Teixeira didn’t want to play for the Red Sox at fair market value, the Red Sox were right not to keep jacking up their offer until it was good enough.

Remember how done everyone felt when the Yankees swopped in and got A-Rod on Valentine’s Day in 2004? If memory serves me correctly, the Red Sox and not the Yankees won the World Series that year. Remember how worried everyone was when Brian Cashman stealthly swooped in and got Johnny Damon just like he got Teixeira on Tuesday? If memory serves me correctly, the Yankees haven’t won a playoff series in their three years with Johnny in the leadoff spot. Meanwhile, the Sox won it all in 2007 and came within a three-run homer of getting back to the World Series in ’08.

The Boston Red Sox have worked long and hard to put together a machine of an organization. Much like the Atlanta Braves of the 1990s, the Red Sox are stacked and don’t need to go out and make lavish offseason spendings to compete for championships.

So you have a nucleus that a lot of teams would love — Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Kevin Youkilis, Lowell, Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Dice-K, Jonathan Papelbon and others. You have Lars Anderson ticketed for 2012, once Lowell’s contract is up, and other young pitchers on the way, such as Clay Buchholz and Michael Bowden.

Last year didn’t feel as fun with the big competition coming from Tampa Bay instead of the Yankees. Now the Yankees truly are the evil empire again and it’s going to make the Red Sox that much more determined.

Why is everyone so surprised that the Yankees swooped in here? Since Theo has been GM, he’s the first to admit that the Yankees have won every bidding war. Yes, they won Contreras; Yes, they won A-Rod; Yes, they won Damon; And now they’ve won Teixeira. The Red Sox won Dice-K, but only because it was a highly unique situation in which they were able to win blind date rights and then beat Boras when he had no leverage.

Yet throughout all these bidding losses, the Red Sox have been the better team than the Yankees over the complete body of work since 2003.

Theo Epstein recently said from his hotel suite at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas that the goal is not to “win the offseason”. The goal is to win April-September, and then hopefully October.

It can still happen. The fun will be watching it unfold. The only way the rivalry could have been any more fierce in ’09 is if the Yankees had gotten Manny. But his will more than suffice. I can’t wait to see that first Teixeira at-bat at Fenway. It will be the loudest jeers you’ve heard since Johnny Damon stepped up to the box at Fenway on May 1, 2006. Then, Mr. Teixeira will truly be welcomed to East Coast Baseball.

Happy Holidays to all readers.

Ian.

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