ALDS Game # 3: Cleve (2-0) vs Yankees (0-2)

 

Can the 0-fer guys step it up? Can T-Fraz still field? Can Tanaka get past the 1st inning? What is shorter, Torreyes or Girardi's leash? Who will be the Yankees' hero tonight?

Cleve

Lindor, SS
Kipnis, CF
Ramirez, 2B
Bruce, RF
Santana, 1B
Jackson, CF
Brantley, DH
Perez, C
Urshela, 3B
Carrasco, P

Yankees

Gardner, LF
Judge, RF
Sanchez, C
Gregorius, SS
Castro, 2B
Bird, 1B
T. Frazier, 3B
Ellsbury, DH
Hicks, CF
Tanaka, P

Game on FS1

 

REPLAY...

For someone who has lived and died with the Yankees since 1977 (am I really that old?), I am actually thrilled that I didn't get to see the second half of yesterday's Yankees game as I was invited to attend a number of important events last night.

My Yankees game ended with Aaron Hicks' home run and the Yankees leading 6-3. 

I wish it ended that way for the Yankees.

I was at a social gathering with some great people when I saw the Indians' game winning hit on a television across the room.  I had just arrived at the event.  I knew nothing about the grand slam, lifting Sabathia while he was rolling, Jay Bruce's homer, or any of the other events that transpired along the way to the heartbreaking loss.  90-minutes later, I was home and on-line reading the recaps of the game, seeing the highlights (low lights?) on Twitter, listening to the post game interviews and analysis...

And, today I woke up to more of the same.

Yes, it seems very clear that Joe Girardi, for whatever reason, played a huge role in the Yankees loss by not challenging a hit-by-pitch call in the bottom of the 6th inning.  That was the game changing moment.  Girardi's indecision seems inexplicable.  But, I'm not writing today to analyze that indecision or offer criticism.  Instead, I want to get at the root of something deeper that's bothered me for a long time - instant replay.

"Instant Replay in Baseball"

When the idea of using instant replay in baseball was proposed, most of the articles or discussion in support of this new practice noted that in a sport such as baseball it was critical to get the calls right.  Fans were told that the purpose of this new procedure was to make sure that the close calls were made accurately.  It was said, "It would be a shame for a team to lose a game because of a bad call by an umpire."  And, "The play on the field should determine the outcome, not the umpire," we were told. 

"In a sport as big as baseball, it is important to get the calls right."  

On and on.  Those were the arguments.  That's what we were told.

None of it was true.  Or, at least, much of that isn't true. Not 100%.  

Baseball didn't want to get the calls correct as often as they could - baseball wanted a gimmick. 

Well, they've got it - and last night's game, with Joe Girardi's indecision got baseball what it wanted - controversy, discussion, second-guessing, Twitter feeds, arguments, and an endless supply of talking on MLB TV, SportsCenter, and radio - not about the game, necessarily, but about the umpire and the manager.

Weren't we told that the purpose of instant replay was the let the players decide the outcome of the game?

All of this serves a purpose for the sport.  It creates interest.  It draws people in.  There is angst and frustration.  Fans become smarter than their team's manager.  Writers and commentators have stories and narratives to write about for days...

I have already seen a host of articles and posts that state that this indecision is now Joe Girardi's legacy.  This is how he'll be remembered.  

But none of this was the purpose of Instant Replay when it was proposed.  The purpose was supposed to be to get the calls right.  I, personally, don't believe it and didn't at the time.  I think the purpose was to create a gimmick so that we'd have days like today to critique, review, criticize, and over analyze a manager's indecision.  The purpose was never to get the calls right.  At least not entirely.  

When baseball implemented the instant replay system, they had already seen how it worked in the NFL for a few years.  Baseball had already seen the controversy over coaches not throwing the challenge flag.  Baseball had already seen egregious calls not overturned - not because the official made the wrong call - but because the coach didn't challenge the call or because the play was not "reviewable."  Instant replay became the story - and it became a new twist on post-game analysis.  Baseball wanted some of that.

Baseball didn't seek to implement a system where the close plays were all made accurately through the use of technology.  Baseball already saw how acoach's indecision could drive new discussion about the sport.  It wasn't about always getting the calls correct, it was about creating a narrative and driving interest.  

If the purpose of instant replay in baseball was (or is) to get the calls correct, then there is no reason to give a manager a challenge, or, in fact, any amount of challenges.  

If the purpose of instant replay in baseball is to get the calls correct, then baseball should implement a system to, in fact, just get the calls correct.  And it's not difficult.  The technology is there.  And it wouldn't add any more time to the game than they system we have now where we watch a bunch of umpires stand around a box wearing headsets while the fans watching in the stadium and at home already know the correct call...

The solution, if baseball truly cared about getting the calls right, and truly letting the players, and not the umpires or managers influence the game because of close calls, is to review all of the close plays.

All of the close plays.

All of the close plays - not the ones that are challenged.  

They use this technology in professional tennis.  It adds little or no time to the matches.  All it takes is a quick camera look.  On most close plays, most of the time, the fan watching at home knows if the correct call was made almost instantly.  They certainly know before the pitcher throws the next pitch.  The technology is already there.  We see it with our own eyes game after game after game.

All it would take is for baseball to have a fifth umpire, one in a booth, who quickly sees the close plays and informs the home plate umpire that he is reviewing the play and to hold off the pitcher until the review is completed.  On the vast majority of close plays, this would take seconds, not minutes.  Most often this wouldn't add any time to the games.  Again, in real time, at home, we see the replays, and know the correct call, before the next pitch comes anyway.  We see the replay instantly.  It's that quick - and that simple.

But baseball doesn't want that.

They don't want to get all of the calls correct.  

Instead they want the controversy that comes when a manager doesn't challenge a play or a close call.  They want the arguments from sportscasters and fans.  They want the narrative.  It sells.  

Yesterday's Yankees game, by and large, was determined by an incorrect call by the home plate umpire.  It happens.  That's sports.  The story isn't the umpire though.  It's the manager and his inability, for whatever reason, to challenge that call. 

The call could have easily been reviewed (and reversed) if the purpose of instant replay was to get the calls right.   But that's not the sole purpose of instant replay and it never has been.

The Yankees lost a game they should have won.  The ALDS is forever changed because of it.  The players didn't lose this game, the umpire and the manager did.  This is exactly what baseball wanted when they instituted instant replay with a challenge system.  

Baseball wanted a gimmick.  Baseball wanted controversy.  Baseball wanted talking points and a new narrative.  Well, they have it. 

It wasn't and isn't about getting the call right.  If it was, they'd just make sure they reviewed the close plays... to get them right.

ALDS Game # 2: Yanks (0-1) vs Cleveland (1-0)

 

Yanks in search of their first ALDS win! Ells replaces Headley -- Ells is only Yank with a good record vs Kluber. Ells is playing his best defensive position.

Will CC face the Cleveland line up more than twice? Should he? Will Judge & Sanchez try to go with the breaking pitches rather than pull them? Can anyone hit Kluber -- please? Will the Yanks score even one run? Can a Yankee SP complete 4 innings?

Yanks

Gardner, LF
Judge, RF
Sanchez, C
Gregorius, C
Castro, 2B
Bird, 1B
Hicks, CF
Ellsbury, DH
T. Frazier, 3B
Sabathis, P

Cleveland

Lindor, SS
Kipnis, CF
Ramirez, 2B
Encarnacion, DH
Santana, 1B
Bruce, RF
Jackson, CF
Gomes, C
Urshela, 3B
Kluber, P

Game on MLBN.

 

Quick Post: The Yankee Bullpen Can Nearly Eliminate Cleveland's Edge in Game 2

Corey Kluber will probably win, and deserve, the AL Cy Young award. His 2.25 ERA is pretty awesome. CC Sabathia is a great pitcher, but his 3.69 ERA doesn't really compare. The Yankees appear to be huge underdogs in Game 2. 

Except, I'm not sure that's true. As great as Corey Kluber is, he's still not really the equal of an elite major league bullpen. Let's assume that CC Sabathia pitches 4 innings, Chad Green pitches two, and Kahnle, Robertson and Chapman each pitch one inning. On the Cleveland side, let's assume that Kluber pitches 7 innings and Allen pitches two (I'm assuming Miller is unavailable). What is the expected ERA of each team?

For the Yankees: (3.69 * 4 + 1.83 * 2 + 2.59 + 1.84 + 2.21) / 9 = 2.78 ERA

For the Indians: (2.25 * 7 + 2.94 *2) / 9 = 2.40

(I'm assuming Aroldis Chapman is at his career 2.21 ERA, not his season ERA)

The Indians have an edge, but a small one. The Yankees can push it a little further by stretching one more inning out of the bullpen instead of Sabathia. They can pick up a little more if Kluber is pushed out after six innings, and someone like Bryan Shaw or Nick Goody has to pitch an inning.

The Yankees are at a disadvantage tonight, but a smaller one than people are expressing. 

 

ALDS Game # 1: Yanks (0-0) vs Cleveland (0-0)

Yanks Magic Number: 11 wins

Hicks in CF. Headley at DH. Ells is PH/PR. Holliday Out. The Yanks best OF is in place. Yanks at full-Aaron strength.

Can Gray give the Yanks a sunny performance? Will we see D-Bets? Can the top four do it again? Who decided on Hicks and Headley -- Girardi or The Binder?

YANKS
LF Brett Gardner
RF Aaron Judge
C Gary Sanchez
SS Didi Gregorius
2B Starlin Castro
1B Greg Bird
3B Todd Frazier
DH Chase Headley
CF Aaron Hicks

P Sonny Gray

CLEVELAND
SS Francisco Lindor
CF Jason Kipnis
2B Jose Ramirez
DH Edwin Encarnacion
RF Jay Bruce
1B Carlos Santana
LF Lonnie Chisenhall
C Roberto Perez
3B Giovanny Urshela

P Trevor Bauer

Game on FS1

ALDS Perspectives

                                            Yankees Perspectives - One Writers' Take

                                            Yankees Perspectives - One Writers' Take

It's early on a Thursday morning.  I wanted to sleep late, but I couldn't.  There's a game tonight.  A big game.  It's Game One of the American League Division Series.  

Here are my pre-game and pre-series perspectives.

* I think the Yankees will see the "real" Sonny Gray tonight.  I expect a great start out of him.  A great start.  Gray has a reputation as a bulldog and a fighter.  I think that will be readily apparent tonight.

* I do not understand the Indians decision to not start their ace, Corey Kluber, in Game 1.  In my book, you throw your best pitcher as early in the series as possible.  Never hold back your best player in a short series.  It seems the Indians want to save Kluber for a potential Game 5 so he can pitch on regular rest.  I disagree with that approach.  Tonight's pitcher, Trevor Bauer, is a good pitcher, but Kluber is great.  I expect the Yankees to score early and often on Bauer.  Sonny Gray then just needs to battle and pitch like himself and the Yankees will jump out to a quick one game lead in the series.

* Before the season, I was down on Chase Headley, but his solid bat, all year long, has made me a believer.  In my perfect line-up, Headley plays tonight, not Jacoby Ellsbury.  I'd play Headley at first base and DH Greg Bird.  Along with this, I have a strong feeling that good things are also going to be coming from Todd Frazier.  

* An outfield of Gardner, Hicks, and Judge is terrific.  I like that Judge and Hicks have strong arms.  In a short series, one extra base in a game can make all the difference between a win and a loss.  I'd rather not have Ellsbury's weak arm in center field.  I don't think the Yankees lose much defensively with my alignment over an outfield with Ellsbury out there.  Ellsbury, for me, is a pinch-hitter/pinch-runner at this point. 

* Having Ellsbury as the speed off the bench would allow the Yankees to drop Tyler Wade from the playoff roster and add another pitcher.  With the combination of Chad Green and David Robertson not available for Game 1, the Yankees will need to carry an extra arm.  For me that would be Jordan Montgomery.  

* I was originally shocked the CC Sabathia got the nod as the Game Two starter, but the idea is growing on me.  I think CC, rather than Masahiro Tanaka or Luis Severino, has a better "non-explosion" factor.  Tanaka and Severino have shown that the big moment might sometimes be too big.  CC might know better how to battle through a tough outing without his best stuff.  I think that Tanaka and Severino are better pitchers than CC, but I also think that sometimes a manager has to go with his gut and his heart.  Put me on the CC train.  I  understand the decision - and I like it.

* That being said, if Friday's game is a rainout, I'd have to think about starting Tanaka on Saturday to allow Severino to pitch on Sunday.  I think Severino will bounce back from Tuesday's disaster.  I'd like to get him back on the mound as quickly as possible.

* Greg Bird might be the best .190 hitter ever.  I smile when I see his batting line from the season projected on the TV screen.  That's a mirage.  I think we are finally seeing the real Greg Bird and I think he's going to be a monster all series.

* I am also expecting a good series out of Starlin Castro.  He looked bad on Tuesday, but I think this is his time to shine.

* Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius, and Brett Gardener are all going to have long and challenging at bats.  That's going to wear on the Indian's pitchers.  Cleveland has a good bullpen, but, absent of Game 1, the Yankees pen is deeper and better.  I expect the long at-bats to get the Yankees into the Cleveland bullpen quicker than they hope in each game (except Game 2) and that will play to the Yankees' advantage.  

* One of my favorite moments from Tuesday's game was Brett Gardner's home run.  I look forward to another in this series.  Gardy going yardy.  You have to love it.  This year, especially, Gardner has risen to be a true leader.  The team feeds off his fire.  That home run is one of my all-time favorite Yankees moments. 

* It is great and wonderful to have playoff baseball in the Bronx.  Oh how I missed this kind of excitement.  

* Call me crazy, but I see the Yankees winning this thing in four games.  Gray wins tonight.  If they play Friday, Kluber beats the Yankees to even the series at one game.  (If Friday's game is rained out, I think Tanaka pitches on Saturday and the Yankees sweep.)  The Yankees will win both games in New York regardless.  Hey Red Sox!  Here we come!

 

 

Wild Card Game: Twins vs Yanks

Girardi goes with the best OF. Holliday out. Headley sits -- early. Yanks at full Aaron strength.  Twins say No Sano!

Can Sanchez and Sevy stop the Twins from running? Can the outfield arms prevent the Twins from taking the extra base? Is Girardi's leash too short or too long or is it the Goldilocks' leash? Who will get the first PH attempt Holliday or Headley? Will Sevy be "on?"

Twins

Dozier, 2B
Mauer, 1B
Polanco, SS
Rosario, LF
Escobar, 3B
Kepler, RF
Buxton, CF
Castro, C
Grossman, DH
Santana, P

Yanks

Gardner, LF
Judge, RF
Sanchez, C
Gregorius, SS
Castro. 2B
Bird, 1B
Hicks, CF
Ellsbury, DH
T. Frazier, 3B
Severino, P
 

Game on ESPN.....ugh!

Game # 162: BJs (75-86) vs Yanks (91-70)

Season Series: Yanks 9, BJs 9

Magic Numbers:
     Division: 163 (for 2018)
     Home Advantage WC: Clinched
     Wild Card: Clinched

I was wrong, no Andujar at 3B. Some new guy named Holliday at DH. No Judge, Sanchez, or DD. Surprisingly, Monty on the mound.

BJs

Hernandez, CF
Urena, SS
Smiak, 1B
Bautista, DH
Montero, C
Refsnyder, RF
Carrera, LF
Barney, 3B
Goins, 2B
Anderson, P

Yanks

Hicks, CF
Torreyes, SS
Castro, 2B
Holliday, DH
Headley, 1B
T. Frazier, 3B
Romine, C
C. Frazier, LF
Austin, RF
Montgomery, P

Game on YES.