Home / General / Brief, Related Notes On A So-Far Excellent ALCS

Brief, Related Notes On A So-Far Excellent ALCS


Obviously, it’s excellent that the Tigers were able to take the first two games at beautiful new 1% Assholes Who Leave After the Fifth Inning Stadium.  Since as his press conference the Yankee manager was looking to blame people other than his players, a few points:

  • Obviously, the call on Infante’s Willie Mays Hays slide was ludicrously bad, and was the second important bad call to go against the Yankees in two games.
  • But as I said about the Twins after the Yankees benefited from the equally amateurish stylings of Phil Cuzzi in the 2009 ALDS, Girardi needs to do more thinkin’ and less whinin’.  I don’t really want to hear a lot about the umpires  when your team has scored zero runs in the 20 1/3 innings where they haven’t been hitting against the worst pitcher on the Tigers roster.
  • I’ll also note that as with a lot of  “unearned” runs you can’t place the responsibility for the two runs that followed the blown call entirely on the umpire.  If Logan and the greatest pitcher athlete in Yankee known human history can get outs the 2nd and 3rd runs don’t cross the plate.
  • If Girardi’s rant adds the impetus for more replay, then it’s a contribution to the public interest anyway.  I agree that the pacing of the game complaints aren’t really serious, particularly given that Selig has been notably uninterested in much more serious pacing issues.   Telling the umpires not to grant time to hitters except in extreme circumstances — which should absolutely be done anyway — would more for makeup for any delays caused by occasional reviews.
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  • scott

    I get why you’re interested in replay, but doesn’t that mean that a game DiMaggio played in 2 hours will stretch out to 4 or even 5? At a certain point, no one loves baseball that much, and it just becomes a day or night job.

    • Anon21

      No, it really does not mean that at all. Replay opponents insist that MLB must implement in the worst, most time-consuming way. The really quick and easy way to implement it: one booth umpire, crew chief has earpiece that connects to booth umpire, booth umpire reviews any contested or close play quickly, anything too close to call after watching from 3 angles is automatically upheld. Add some kind of challenge flag system if you want. Large increase in accuracy/credibility, small increase in gametime.

      • MikeJake

        Please, please, please, not that. The last thing I want to see is the umps running under the hood every inning. Not unless they address the basic timewasters first, like mound conferences in the middle of at bats. I hate that that’s allowed. Its the baseball equivalent of golfers staring at their ten foot putt for two minutes.

        • Anon21

          Did you even read my post? No running under any hood. The on-field umpires never leave the field. The review/booth umpire is automatically reviewing plays and communicates with the crew chief when there’s a close or contested call.

          • JRoth

            Just to clarify: Are you saying that the booth ump either overrules before the next pitch or the call stands? Or that he has a few seconds to determine that there’s reason to review, then flags the crew chief, then looks at the angles another couple times to be sure? The former seems all too likely to lead to blown reversal calls, the latter to lead to delays. I agree they need not be egregious, but they’ll exist.

            Anyway, the biggest delays will come not from the actual reviews, but from the arguments over what to do with the players after the call is corrected. Most obvious example: Outfielder traps a catch, but the initial call is out, and baserunners retreat. If the umps do more than advance each runner by one base, the defending manager will flip; if a runner on second is unable to score (the ball was in a gap, so the OF is not in position to jump up and throw the ball in), the batting manager will flip. Based on how the umpires use their discretion on ground rule doubles, I’m not optimistic that this will play out well.

            • Anon21

              The review ump should at least be able to let the crew chief know that there’s a need for the review ump to view additional angles prior to the next pitch, yes. Keeping in mind that most reviewable calls (so, not balls and strikes) end the at-bat, this really should not be an issue; in modern baseball, there’s already a delay of between 30 seconds and a minute between the end of one at-bat and the beginning of another. The major instances of extra delay would be foul/fair calls that don’t end the at-bat, and calls on stolen bases, neither of which is so common as to add significant time to games.

              The exercises of discretion take a long time right now because overturning calls is so rare. Once umpires get used to call reversal, they’ll develop heuristics to call what “would” have happened; e.g., trapped fly ball of such and such depth, runners advance only one base, such and such depth runners advance two bases. (I don’t think you should ever assume a three base advance.)

              Finally, this is a bit pedantic, but umpires don’t have any discretion on how far to advance runners on a ground rule double; each runner advances two bases, regardless of his position when the ball leaves play. You may be thinking of fan interference as a case in which umpires have to reconstruct the play as they believe it would have unfolded.

              • Leeeee

                I think having a challenge system combined with automatic reviews for disputed home runs and fair/foul would work without slowing down the game that much

              • JRoth

                Huh. I’ve always thought (like, since I was a kid) that umps have the discretion to move runners up more than 2 bases – obviously that only applies to runners at 1B, but when you have a fast runner on first with 2 outs, it would make sense to award them home (and where it’s really stark is when the guy is around 3rd when the ball bounces over the wall). But I guess I was misinformed.

      • This is how the NHL does it, essentially.

        It doesn’t work all that well. For this play, it probably would have, but even the NHL limits the chances to use it.

  • bph

    The third bullet point says “empire” instead of “umpire”. Since you are discussing the Yankees, this is an understandable mistake.

  • mch

    Maybe I’m showing my age, but. Hating the Yankees as some marker of radical politics is so, I dunno, I’ll be polite: boring and unimaginative. First, it kind of forgets the fact that the Yankees are the Bronx — da BRONX, a mix of blacks and browns and reds (I’m thinking Irish here with the reds) (till gentrification makes it all look like Scott imagines it). And the Yankees are lots of other things, too, like the House that Ruth Built (which meant that my grandfather in Montana could hear their games on the radio in the 1920’s and so become a fan — hey, Larry Doby respected my filial love of the Yankees, so I figure that beats any Yankees hating that Scott dishes out — yes, I had the supreme honor of meeting and talking with Larry Doby!).

    That said. Yeah, bad calls don’t’ matter. Everybody gets bad calls (and the Yankees have had plenty that have gone their way). My Yankees simply are not hitting. It’s not the pitching (excellent as that has been). It’s the hitting that’s a mystery, and my Yankees aren’t doing it. Everything else, from pitching to fielding, is neither here not there till the guys start hitting. If they can’t do it (for whatever reason — my heart breaks for Cano), they don’t deserve to win. We shall see.

    • Anon21

      It’s not really a marker of radical politics. But I promise you, not many working folks from “da BRONX” can afford postseason tickets to Yankees games. Probably cheaper to fly to Detroit and watch the games there.

      Yankees fans are like people who go to a casino and root for the house. Feel free to do it, but you’re not going to convince the rest of us that your team is other than loathsome.

      • mch

        It gets so tedious — all these rich Red Sox fans here in MA where I live now, feigning their working class bona fides by being Sox fans who declare that “Yankees Suck.” (The Harvard Yard Mantra, I think of it.) More complicated in NYC area, where Mets fans are a mix of ex-Giants fans and upper West Side wannabe working-class joes. Brooklyn is more complicated — can get very Mets merely out of gentrified liberal guilt. Anyway, from a NYC/Northeast perspective, this knee-jerk vilification of the Yankees can get very boring. Has no idea of the area’s internal dynamics.

        • Anon21

          You’re making this more complicated than it is. The class identity of the fans is a sideshow; the reason that people across America (not just in the Northeast) hate the Yankees is because they spend more money than any other team.

          • Not quite. It’s because the use an unearned advantage, the NYC market, to buy or drive up the price of nearly every premium free agent, then act like they are smarter, better, or more virtuous because of it. They are the 1% of baseball, handed everything, demanding more.

            • greylocks


            • Stag Party Palin


            • Ted


            • Uncle Ebeneezer

              I love you.

          • Leeeee

            I see, and the Tigers players are all homegrown like Cabrera, Fielder, Young…

            • BobS

              Fielder is an over-priced free agent. The other two you mentioned were acquired through trades.

            • rea

              Only one of those guys was a free agent (the one who took over his father’s old position on the Tigers).

              When you trade players in your farm system for talent, its functionally the same as home-growing the talent yourself.

              (And Cabrera was, of course, signed as a Venezuelan teen by the people presently running the Tigers)

              • As with all silly “our large payroll doesn’t count because HEY LOOK OVER THERE!” arguments, this doesn’t hold any water at all as a meaningful distinction.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Hating the Yankees as some marker of radical politics


      • Walt

        I think he combined the fact that you a) hate the Yankees, and b) hate the new stadium that only sells tickets to rich people. He missed the fact that clearly b would be hate-able in any city, even your own.

      • greylocks

        In Republican upstate NY, where I grew up, hating the Yankees is a marker of regional politics.

      • If there’s one thing you never see, it’s radicals from New York rooting for the Yankees…..

        • Lefties here tend to be Mets fans, yea.

          We’re used to being underdogs, you see.

        • Marek

          Are you serious? I can’t tell. To be clear, plenty of leftists are Yankee fans.

          • Sherm

            Its somewhat true, but not as much as it once was.

    • Boudleaux

      Yeah. When they build a giant new stadium, where the baseball, but also all of the dining, drinking, and souvenir buying will be done inside the stadium to the exclusion of all of the Bronx neighborhood businesses that used to depend on that traffic, the FYs are really entitling themselves to that mantle that they are down with the Bx.

    • Rooting for the Yankees is like rooting for Bain Capital to close another factory

      Indeed, the sets of those fans overlap, mostly.

      • Boudleaux

        As one wag referred to it, it’s like going to a casino and cheering for the house.

        • Ted

          My formulation was “It’s like cheering for Goliath to kick David’s ass.”

  • BobS

    My memory of the Jeffrey Maier incident is that he became somewhat of a hero in New York.
    Fuck the whining Yankees and their whiny fucking fans- you win some and you lose some.

    • mch

      I thought I sort of said that: you win some and you lose some. And I don’t think I was whining. Sort of tiresome not whine but, by definition, to whine if you’re a Yankees’ fan.
      I’m outta here.

      • Anonymous

        Yeah, YOU sort of did. That’s why I didn’t reply to YOUR comment nor do I think that the opinion expressed by you represent that of most Yankee fans (or their manager). What does seem typical of Yankee fans, however, seems to be the feeling that you and your team represent the center of the universe, including the playing field and comment threads- you’re the 3 year olds of the sports world.
        Fuck the whiny Yankees and their whiny fucking fans.

        • Leeeee

          Who’s whiny now? Christ.

          • BobS

            Yankee fans.

  • rea

    You know what I hate about the Yankees?

    It’s always all about them. The headline is never, “Tigers beat Yankees, ” it’s always, “Yankees lose to Tigers”.

    Like I said last night, every other team is just a bunch of extras in the Yankees’ movie.

    We’re even doing it here. Nobody has said anything in this thread about the Tigers.

    • Joseph Slater

      As a long-time Tigers fan (who will admit that was a big blown call at second and who does feel badly for Jeter), I say, GO DETROIT!!!

    • apm

      What’s there to say? Even after spotting them a reliever and a half, Tigers have out-pitched the Yankees. The balanced lineup has provided timely hitting and base running. They have taken advantage of opponents’ defensive miscues and flashed some leather of their own. It’s all just well-known conventional wisdom.

    • Leeeee

      I guess it’s a disadvantage to only get media attention when you succeed and not when you fail. Because that’s how it is for every small market team and many big market teams too

    • greylocks

      Nobody has said anything in this thread about the Tigers.


    • Anonymous

      In Detroit, the headlines read the same way. It is what the hometown papers do.

      • Tor

        I didn’t know that ESPN was a NY newspaper.

    • The Tigers got in with the seventh best record and got an absurdly friendly schedule from Uncle Bud to boot. Plus, Miguel Cabrera.

      Tigers’ fans are to be seen and not heard for the duration of the fall.

      • Sherm

        Tigers’ fans are to be seen and not heard for the duration of the fall.

        Whereas Yankee fans this weekend were neither.

        • If only StubHub would stop forcing the Yankees to over price their tickets, I guess.

          • Sherm

            Does Levine really believe that nonsense, or is he just desperately looking for someone else to blame? I have to assume the latter.

            • The Yankees have been waging a war on StubHub for a while now. I don’t really think they believe that, they’re just going for a price-gouging revenue maximization policy and trying to get rid of the secondary market altogether.

      • NorthLeft12

        Yes, life is so unfair for the poor Yankees. I will enjoy watching Verlander continue to mow down the hapless Yankees while the media continues to wonder why the Yanks have not dominated the seventh best team in the AL.

        • I was talking about the Rays and Angels, who missed the playoffs despite having a better record than the Overrateds, and the A’s, who beat them in the ALDS games in which Justin Verlander didn’t pitch/didn’t start at 9:00 A.M. California time. But yes, that the number one seed in the league didn’t get an off day to align their rotation between the ALDS and ALCS is also quite ridiculous, albeit less so than the costs those other three teams endured.

          And seriously, where the fuck does this victim complex with the media and Tigers’ fans come from? I mean, you;ve got a Fox Sports reporter who doesn’t even hide that he’s a Tigers homer, you’ve got Verlander winning the MVP last year (and his greatness being routinely overstated in relative terms), and you’ll probably have Cabrera get an undeserved MVP this year as well. That is not being hated by the media, kiddos.

  • Bucky Duckin Fent

    Your baseball writing makes Camille Paglia read like Flannery O’Connor
    Expos in 2013! Oh wait, I’ll just eat another plate of poutine
    And chowdaheads: Sorry Bobby V couldn’t get the Sox back into their rightful place: 3rd place in the East.

    • rea

      Ms. Paglia would point out the enormous significancs of the Tigers-Yankees series to the development of pro-sex feminism. Madonnna, the Tiger fan who broke up Alex Rodriguez’s marriage, clearly is playing a decisive role . . .

  • JRoth

    If Logan and the greatest pitcher athlete in Yankee known human history can get outs the 2nd and 3rd runs don’t cross the plate.

    I’ve never really bought this argument. The critical insight of advanced statistical analysis is that outs are the most precious resource in baseball. A hundred years of baseball strategy is (rightly) overturned to avoid giving away outs. But when, suddenly, the umpire grants the batting team an extra 33% outs, it’s all on the defending team to just shut that whole thing down. With, mind you, a runner in scoring position, so with essentially no room for error.

    Do you not think that, if baseball went to 4-out innings, we’d see a pretty marked increase in scoring? Or should pitchers just suck it up and use their force of will to prevent runs?

    • Scott Lemieux

      all on

      There’s where you’re fundamentally distorting my argument.

      • JRoth

        Fair enough. I was reading you to be making a stronger argument, but I see you weren’t.

        • howard

          actually, it was a plenty strong argument: actually, once the tigers brought on the righty to face logan, girardi should have pulled him and brought in joba and not let logan pitch to the right-hander (who, after all, got a hit off him on saturday as well).

          sure it’s a drag that the ump blew the call, but as scott rightly noted, the yanks have never at the end of a game where an ump call benefitted them said “well, that’s right, i should give this win back,” and they should stfu about umps costing them now.

          but yes, that situation was still salvagable.

    • NorthLeft12

      I was one out. Not one extra out an inning. The umps did not force the Yankees to meltdown and give up consecutive hits to mini-Miggy and Miggy.
      I thought the Tigers were the ones with the terrible bullpen?

  • c u n d gulag

    Oh, did the Yankees play yesterday?

    I was too busy watching the NY/NJ Giants school the 49ers in their home.

    When Jeter went down, I stopped watching my team.

    He was the one non-pitcher on the team who appears to give a sh*t.

    As a Yankee fan, I’m tired of watching guys who make more than the GDP of most nations, not give a sh*t, and wave at curveballs like they’ve never seen them. Either it’s that, or they just want to go home.

    Next season, I’d keep the pitchers, stick Jeter in left, Gardner in CF, and Ichiro in right, let Martin catch, and trade everyone else, or release them outright.
    Hell, it ain’t MY money.

    We haven’t had a youth movement since King George was suspended over 20 years ago.

    I’m ready.
    I’d rather watch a bunch of kids trying, than watch millionaires lolly-gag on pop-ups and ground outs, and that’s if even they hit the feckin’ ball, I mean – and wave at ground balls they’re too lazy to try to get to, or “stylin'” – I’M LOOKIN’ AT YOU, CANO!!!

    FSM, I’m sick of Cano’s sh*t.
    He’s got all the talent in the world, but only occasionally gives a sh*t.
    How does a guy play next to another guy who never ever doesn’t hustle from the moment he puts on the uniform until he drives his limo home, like Jeter, and NOT learn from him?
    Feck Cano!
    Trade him.

    You young-un’s out there don’t remember Mike Ivie.
    He was a 5-tool player who was supposed to waltz into the HOF.
    Yeah, he had ALL of the tools.
    But he didn’t give a sh*t, or wasn’t smart enough to utilize his immense talent. He had one decent season.
    Back in the early-mid 70’s, he was called, “The $100 Million Dollar Airport, With The $1.98 Control Tower.”
    Well, now a good airport costs billions – and Robbie, YOU sure ain’t worth it.
    Take your $19.99 Control Tower, late night infomercial with the free Ginsu knives, @$$, and go where the fans don’t give a sh*t what you do.
    We Yankee fans don’t care how much you make, as long as you hustle – or at least fool us into thinking you are. But you plainly don’t give a sh*t about us – so why should we give a sh*t about you?

    And if the Yanks never win another WS in my lifetime, I’m ok with that.

    As long as the team is a team of kids trying to make it!
    I’ve had my seasons and moments of glory.

    I loved the hapless late 60’s Yanks, ’cause they were mostly teams of kids trying to make it. And they eventually did – or some of them, anyway – like Roy White and Thurman Munson. Poor Bobby Murcer got traded for Strike-out Bobby Bonds, and came back just in time to watch Munson die in a plane crash, and the rest of the team get old and decline.

    I hated the Yankee teams of the 80’s and early 90’s (except for Donnie Baseball, of course, because he also hustled all of the time) – they were teams of rich old guys who didn’t give a sh*t about anything except that their massive checks were cashable.

    Give me some kids to watch, and as long as they hustle, I’ll deal with it.
    Win or lose.

    If my Mets fan friends can deal with no WS wins for over 25 years, and only 2 in 50 years, and still love their teams, so can I love my Yankees, even if they suck – as long as they’re fun to watch.
    This team of geriatrics, waving at pitches like the ball was made of “Flubber,” is no fun to watch.

    And yes, I know that the Steinbrenner’s giving rookies a chance, and not spending money as long as they own the Yankees, is not likely.

    Instead, they’ll sign the next nearly washed-up Free Agent that’s available, because they think we fans are idiots.
    Build a good farm system, and let us watch the kids.

    This is the end of my long-ass word-turd Yankee rant.

    • BobS

      Don’t count on a 40 year old with hardware in his left ankle playing left field for your team- in fact, I wouldn’t be making bets on his career
      continuing at this point.

    • DivGuy

      I am so fucking sick of Yankee fans who “hate this team.”

      They won 95 games. They were 4th in the league in runs scored and second in fewest runs allowed. They came back in dramatic fashion to win Game 3 of the ALDS, then they won the series on the back of a heroic performance by CC Sabathia.

      The incredible depths of fan privilege you have to be hunkered under to hate a ballclub winning games at this rate is just ridiculous. If you can’t cheer for a 95-win division champion in the ALCS, you should just give up baseball entirely.

      • djw

        Yes. You want to get a bunch of promising prospects together and let’em play, veterans be damned? Take a look at the 2012 Seattle Mariners. You think that would go over well in New York?

        • Hey, we Mets fans would take that in a heartbeat. It’s what we had when Wright and Reyes came up.

      • Leeeee

        I’m a Yankees fan and I agree with you entirely.

      • Joshua

        Pretty much. I hate the Yankees but even I shake my head at the idea that a 95-win team in the Championship Series should be worthy of loathing and not worthy of watching. I mean, that’s the clearest sign of Yankee fan entitlement, right?

        I would cheer on a 95-win Mets team in the NLCS if Osama bin Laden was playing first base. No sports fan should take this for granted.

    • djw

      Robinson Cano is currently in the middle of an HOF caliber peak. To get there, he overcame some significant shortcomings to his game as a prospect. In summary, you’re nuts, and you’re nuts in a way only a Yankees fan can afford to be.

      • DivGuy

        Also, this.

        With the division and a berth past the play-in game on the line, Robby Cano hit over .600 in the last nine games of the season, with at least two hits in every game. He was worth about an extra win all by himself in under two weeks. But yeah, that guy sucks and doesn’t care. This team deserves better fans.

      • Sherm

        Robinson Cano is currently in the middle of an HOF caliber peak.

        This is something that has irked me for quite some time. It is an accepted fact here in NY that Cano is a “superstah” and a future HOF’er, while David Wright is a “nice player.” Yet, Wright has an .887 OPS, 135 OPS+, 204 homers, 818 RBI, 790 Runs, 166 stolen bases and a 39.1 WAR (baseball reference) while the HOF’er Cano has an .854 OPS, 123 OPS+, 177 homers, 715 RBI, 718 runs, 31, stolen based and a 34.8 WAR.

        And did I mention that Wright, who is two months younger than Cano, has played his entire career in pitchers’ parks and has had no protection in the lineup the past couple of seasons while Cano plays in a Fisher Price My First BallPark and bats in the middle of a loaded lineup?

        • djw

          Cano has over 25 WAR for his year 26-30 seasons. Wright didn’t keep up, but he had much more value in his 22-25 seasons, so I’d say he’s probably ahead on HOF chances (rational version) going forward, assuming 2012 is closer to who he is the next several years than 2011.

          I don’t see how the observation some people underrate David Wright diminishes the value of Cano’s peak performance.

          • Sherm

            I didn’t intend to diminish Cano, just to point how Yankee-centric the media has become.

            What percentage of baseball fans would guess that Wright has better numbers across the board than Cano?

            • djw

              That actually surprised me somewhat, so good point. I’d forgotten how good Wright was at such a young age. If you’d asked me who was younger, I’d have said Cano without much doubt in my mind.

            • In fairness to Cano (and Wright), Wright put up his numbers this season in the first half, where Cano (as others have pointed out) put up some amazing numbers down the stretch in a tight race. That’s not a single season phenomenon. Take the year he was in the All Star HR Derby (2006). He had 20 HR going in, and finished with 26. And it’s hard to say he was unprotected, since that was the last season they went to the playoffs (Endy Chavez’ catch) and he had Beltran (41 HRs) and Delgado (38) around him.

              • djw

                I still don’t get why distribution of performance matters. Those wins early in the year count exactly as much.

                Also, protection is still a myth.

                • Sherm

                  Is it also a myth that wright saw a lower percentage of strikes than Cano?

    • Leeeee

      I see, so they should trade everybody who hasn’t done well in the past seven games and keep only the old guys. Hurray knee jerk!

      • c u n d gulag

        Maybe I’m just sick and tired of having to defend a feckin’ team that consistenly has the highest payroll in the sport, and for all of the billions of dollars wasted spent, has 1, uno, one, ONE, O-N-E, World Series championship in the current Century.
        One WS win in 12 years, ain’t exactly a great ROI.

        2009 was the aberration, not the norm. This isn’t of scrappers – bunting, hit-and-running, sacrificing, bloop-hit to RF, Texas-league choppers, hitting the occasional dramatic HR to win the game, late 90’s team.
        This is a team that almost everyone on the team thinks they’re Babe feckin’ Ruth, or Henry feckin’ Aaron – I’M LOOKING AT YOU, SWISHER!!!

        These Yankees are the Pentagon of Baseball.

        All sorts of billions spent on pretty toys and goodies, but when push comes to shove, and it comes to actually winning a championship, they’d lose to feckin’ Grenada if it had a decent starting staff.

        Jeter’s gone, and the team, instead of rallying ’round their Captain and the WS Banners, decided to mail it in last night.

        Do they not know that pitchers who aren’t the 5th starter on a bottom of the division team, can throw something besides a batting-practice fastball down the middle of the plate?
        You’d think not one of the motherfecker’s had ever seen a feckin’ curveball.

        I’m tired of defending the Yankees.

        And please allow me the luxury of wallowing in my richly entitled Yankee-fan misery.

        • SP

          “bunting, hit-and-running, sacrificing”
          Those are all terrible things to do if you want to actually win baseball games instead of just feel good about “giving 110%”

          • rea

            “bunting, hit-and-running, sacrificing”
            Those are all terrible things to do if you want to actually win baseball games

            Now, wait just one minute, there.

            There is a legtimate argument that conventional baseball wisdom overvalues the sacrifice bunt.

            There are times, nevertheless, where a sacrifice bunt may be in order (close game, late innings).

            I don’t think, though, that I’ve ever seen a sabermetric argument against hitting-and-running.

            And complaining generally about sacrifices seems . . . odd. What, with a man on third and one out, don’t hit a fly ball to the OF?

            • Paul Clarke

              I don’t think, though, that I’ve ever seen a sabermetric argument against hitting-and-running.

              The only study I remember seeing is this one by Mike Fast. The whole thing (including comments) is worth reading, but the conclusion is:

              The hit-and-run is far from the worst play in baseball. For a small-ball tactic, it has been quite successful over the past nine seasons, increasing scoring by .06 runs per attempt on average. The value of the hole in the infield defense is real, adding about 27 points to the batting average of the hitter. The double plays avoided by executing the hit-and-run offset the runners caught stealing on the play, and the extra bases gained by the runner when the ball is put in play are enough to move the play into the plus column overall.

          • howard

            for the record, bunting for a hit is a great thing to do if you know how to bunt.

        • djw

          What bothers you about baseball is one thing I quite like about it: you can’t buy a world series. Eight teams make the playoffs. In a short series between good teams, the best team doesn’t win much more than half the time. That’s built into the sport; they’re simply no way to overcome it.

          “Baseball is a sport not designed to guarantee the team with the most resources huge advantages in the post-season” is just a fundamental truth about the game. You want to make this about the “character” of the current Yankees personnel, but it’s about the character of the game.

          • c u n d gulag

            Like I said, I’m just tired of having to defend that Yankees payroll.

            When they win, it’s easier to defend them. But that’s happened once in, what, 12 years?

            And I LOVE the game, Yankees winning or losing.

            It’s still the greatest game ever created by humans.

        • DivGuy

          This isn’t of scrappers – bunting, hit-and-running, sacrificing, bloop-hit to RF, Texas-league choppers, hitting the occasional dramatic HR to win the game, late 90′s team.

          The 1998 Yankees had the 4th fewest sacrifices in the American League, despite having the most baserunners by a wide margin. They were, by contrast, fourth in the American League in home runs.

          The dynastic Yankees won games by scoring runs, which means getting on base, hitting for power, and not making outs. They did not win by making outs on purpose.

          • c u n d gulag

            Thanks, I didn’t know that about the ’98 team.

            But they were hardly indicative of those late 90’s teams, were they?
            They’re one of the handful of greatest teams of all time, that year.

            From what I remember, Torre wasn’t the greatest believer in “small-ball” by any stretch of the imagination – but when he DID use it, it worked.

            But I’m getting older, and my memory ain’t what it once was, so maybe I remember what I want to remember.

            You’ve peaked my curiosity, so I’ll spend awhile looking at the stats from those years.

        • djw

          decided to mail it in last night.

          Alternatively, perhaps they tried their best and for one night, at least, it didn’t work out for them. This happens to the very best baseball teams 35-40% of the time, after all. There are other, less pathological, reasons a team might lose a game. And forgive me if I’m skeptical of your ability to discern accurate and precise conclusions about the level of effort put forth through the TV screen.

          • c u n d gulag

            I’ve watched this team the whole year. And like last year’s team, if they don’t score a ton of runs at their FIRST scoring opportunity, and get 1 run or none, turn off the game, or leave the ballpark, ’cause they’re done.

            And they’re not exactly “The Comeack Kids,” or ‘Crawl-back Geezers.”

            I think they won exactly 1 game all year, when they were trailing in the 9th.
            Pretty much, as of mid-September, if they were behind after 6 innings, they lost 80% of those games.

            Here’s where I got that:

            THAT’S what’s frustrating about this team – every guy, with the exception of Jeter and Suzuki, is swinging from his heels, looking to hit a 5-run HR.

            • djw

              The blog post you link to is highly misleading, because it doesn’t compare the Yankees likelihood of a comeback to the league average. Following the link and running the same report for the AL:

              WP when behind at the start of:
              4th Yankees .311, league .235
              5th Yankees .263, league .195
              6th Yankees .254, league .165
              7th Yankees .194, league .127
              8th Yankees .134, league .082
              9th Yankees .017, league .054

              So: while they struggled in the 9th, they were in general about 50% more likely than the rest of the league to come from behind to win the game. Call me crazy, but that doesn’t seem that bad.

              (That feature of B-R is awesome, by the way; had no idea it existed!)

              • howard

                i was occupied this morning and don’t want to just jump into the middle too much, but baseball reference has so many fantastic nuggets of information….

              • “The blog post you link to is highly misleading,”

                That’s the nicest thing anyone has said about Lombardi in years!

          • Uncle Ebeneezer

            Yeah, does anyone here watch sports regularly? Lapses happen. From the greatest players and the greatest teams (where sometimes it only takes a single player to lapse for a brief spell) and often times the cost is a championship. In the longer view, the Yankees win about as many championships as is possible given the built-in constraints of the game (luck, aging, injury, hot/cold trends that come out of nowhere.)

        • mch

          I’m with you.

    • rea

      Could it be that the Yankees ran into a couple of very good pitchers who are red hot right now?

      No, the Yankee stars must be dogging it!

      • c u n d gulag

        I shouldn’t say they’re dogging it, and I can see where someone can say that I did.

        They’re just old.

        And if you watch Cano day-in and day-out like I do, you’d know there’s some dog in that great player.
        We Yankee fans have our own Manny – “Oh, that’s just Robbie being Robbie,” we say, when he doesn’t hustle to 1st on a grounder the SS bobbled, or decided not to bend over and waves his glove at a ball he should have had in his back pocket.

        This team feasts on bad starters and mediocre relievers. Occasionally, they beat someone’s best.
        But this ain’t the late 90’s team, which hustled every day on the field – even Bernie, when he wasn’t daydreaming, and remembered he was playing ball, and not his guitar at home.

        They’re old.
        Give me some young blood.
        My inner Dick Cheney craves me some young blood.

      • Um, I guess I should point out that over the course of the season, the Yankees had no trouble beating hot pitchers.

        I don’t know about dogging it, but I did sense the wind had gone out of the team’s sails on Saturday night.

        You’re professionals in a championship series, one most of you have played in before. That’s not supposed to happen.

      • Joe

        A couple? Other than one game (and the “closer”), the Yanks in game after game scored 0-3 runs. I don’t think they are “dogging” it. They just aren’t hitting.

        Giraldi was not wrong to be upset though yeah these things balance out some. Everyone down to the runner admitted it was a blown call. W/o it, it would have been 1-0. I doubt the Yanks would have won anyway, but giving the stakes, it was not a trivial thing.

        • howard

          i waited until the bottom of this thread to join in on a couple of salient points.

          c u n d gulag: don’t ever apologize or feel defensive about the bucks the yanks spend. the alternative is for the steinbrenners to pocket the money, and given those two choices, i’m all for them paying it out to the players.

          as djw rightly notes, there are no guarantees in baseball, and as rea rightly notes, the tigers pitchers are killing it right now.

          but as for giving away outs, i’m going to return to a point i’ve made earlier in this post-season.

          i did a quick comparison (i won’t go into all the numbers) of the ’77 yanks and the ’12 yanks, since i think of the ’77 yanks as exceptionally good at situational hitting and the ’12 yanks as bad at it.

          let me say quickly the run-scoring environment was pretty comparable between the 2 years, and i looked specifically at the yanks in order to try and normalize.

          and here’s the key difference: the ’77 yanks scored 35% of their baserunners; the ’12 yanks scored 30% of their baserunners. had the ’12 yanks scored baserunners at the same rate as the ’77 yanks, they would have scored 55 runs more.

          but the ’12 yanks hits 59 home runs more, and the two teams scored essentially the same number of runs.

          which leads me to believe that ops (oh yes, the ’77 yanks had an ops+ of 115, the ’12 yanks an ops+ of 112) will produce runs however you slice it, but i think the ’12 yanks style is less suitable for the post-season when the pitching is better.

          i noted last night to rea and i’ll repeat here: if you look how often the tigers are hitting the low away corner to put the yanks in an 0-1 hole, and then you look up the yanks results after 0-1 compared to their results after 1-0 and discover a 230-point ops gap, you’ve seen what you need to see.

          so i, for one, am not asking the yanks to give away hits: it would be nice if there were some more opposite field hitters on the team, and guys willing to shorten up at 2 strikes to make contact (because, who knows, maybe peralta will fumble the ball like cano did last night), but they don’t exist on this roster and that’s the one thing that would help.

          otherwise, either the slump ends or the tiger pitching stays in control: i’m betting on the latter.

          • howard

            er, give away “outs,” not “hits.”

          • c u n d gulag

            You’re right.

            I’d much rather players who actually have talent, and had to learn how to harness it, and maximize it, in order to make it to the Majors, make the money, than two brother who are winners of the lucky sperm meets lucky egg club.

            And interesting analysis on 77 v. 12.

            • howard

              i lived in boston back then, c u n d gulag, and i always remember bob ryan in ’77 or ’78 how the yankees “first and third you to death.”

              partly because the ’12 yanks don’t have any speed (once gardner got hurt), they don’t go from first to third all that often, but then again, no one’s slapping the ball to right the way the ’77 yanks would (hey, thurman munson, lou piniella, and roy white in particular, i’m looking at you!).

              there’s another fascinating baseball-reference stat about “extra bases taken,” and i don’t have the time to look it back up, but the ’77 yanks did much better at that than the ’12 yanks have done.

          • ” but i think the ’12 yanks style is less suitable for the post-season when the pitching is better.”

            You could have just put that at the top, rather than going through the rest of it first.

            • howard

              i thought about that, brien jackson, but then i figured some wisenheimer would say “oh yeah? prove it!”

              now, truth is, my “proof” is a first-order analysis, and some true sabermetician might be able to tear it apart, but at least it was data that fit my expectations….

              • Sherm

                some wisenheimer

                I now believe you when you stated that you liked watching Maris play.

                Now, I’m going to learn all the latest expressions: Bo-bo-de-oh-do, 23 skidoo, I’ll kiss and meet you later, I’m eatin’ a patater!

                • howard

                  sherm, i have a vague recollection of the 1959 world series, modest recollections of the 1960 season, and absolute recollection of the 1960 world series, when i was all of 7….

                  see ya later, alligator….

                • Sherm

                  That was a Honeymooners reference, in case you missed it.

                • howard

                  ha! sadly enough, i did miss that it was honeymooners: i thought it was just general fun-making of an old geezer like me (for which, after all, i could hardly blame you!).

              • To the extent it can be studied (with sample size issues and all of that), it has been, and there’s just no correlation whatsoever between home run rates and winning the World Series.

                I would also note that “you have to string multiple hits together to beat good pitchers” doesn’t actually make much conceptual sense either.

                • howard

                  which is true enough, brien, but the yankee offense this year was especially home run driven; as i noted last night, in this post season, compared to seasonal norms per at bats, the yanks have 12 “extra” strikeouts and are “short” 5.5 home runs, which is certainly making an enormous difference.

                • No it wasn’t. They scored a lot of runs via the home run, sure, but that was because they hit a lot of home runs! More than any other season in franchise history! When you’re emptying the bases that many times, there’s going to be fewer chances to score runners by other means. But they also led the A.L. in OBP, wRC+, were near the top in BB%, and had relaitvely few strikeouts for a team who hits for so much power. They simply weren’t an all or nothing team like, say, the 2010 Blue Jays, occasional bouts of RISPfail notwithstanding.

                • howard

                  brien, to be exact, the yanks were first or second in the league in:

                  pitches-per-plate-appearance, walks-per-plate-appearance, extra-base-hits-per-plate-appearance, extra-base-hits-as-a-percentage-of-base hits, at-bats-per-homer, and ops+.

                  in short, they drove up the count and looked to drive the ball, which worked fine in the regular season.

                  but the point about the percentage of baserunners scored is that it’s a percentage: the yanks hit a lot of bases-empty home runs, and they count too, no doubt about it! (to be exact, the yanks had 141 bases empty home runs in 3457 plate appearances, 3154 at bats, and 104 home runs in 2774 plate appearances, 2370 at bats).

                  but those 104 home runs are part of their outcomes with runners on base, and they still only scored 30% of those runners, and now that they are hitting home runs at half the rate they were hitting them in the regular season, that gap in getting baserunners home is a bigger problem….

                  p.s. in the regular season, the yanks swung at 10% of first pitches, which intuitively feels right for what i’ve seen in the post-season, and i’m willing to bet that there was a much higher percentage of strike ones so far in this post-season than during the regular season.

    • rea

      You young-un’s out there don’t remember Mike Ivie.
      He was a 5-tool player who was supposed to waltz into the HOF.
      Yeah, he had ALL of the tools.
      But he didn’t give a sh*t, or wasn’t smart enough to utilize his immense talent. He had one decent season.

      I remeber Mike Ivie well. His problem was never that he didn’t give a shit, or wasn’t smart enough.

      He had serious problems with depression. His teammates and managers were less than undertanding.

      • c u n d gulag

        WOW! I’m sorry, I never knew that.

        Thanks, rea, I learned something new – not unusual on this blog. Or from you. :-)

    • Jeter’s not coming back. Period.

      If he could, and he can’t, he’d be at first base. A broken ankle will not heal in three months and my suspicion is, at the very least, he has a osteochondroma or worse, a malignancy. Dave Dravecky stuff.

      And putting him at first is Bill Buckner writ large.

      • djw

        Are you Bill Frist?

        • NYC has arguably three of the finest orthopedic hospitals in the world and five of the finest orthopedic surgeons, including at least one foot and ankle specialist.

          But they felt the need to send him to Duke?

          Plus, that injury: he’s made that same stumble a hundred times in his career, and he’s had problems in that same ankle all season.

          This is simply a summation of the facts and shows that this is a far deeper problem than they’ve let on.

          Further, as to how long it takes an ankle to heal and to what extent it will heal, yea, I have a little knowledge on fractures in this area.

          • Sherm

            Jeter will probably never be able to pretend to play shortstop again, but your conclusion that he is done is highly speculative and unsupported by any evidence.

            David Wright went to California for an opinion regarding his back injury last year, although the spine specialists at The Hospital for Special Surgery are as good as anyone.

            • howard

              i claim no special expertise in this, but what they said on the air is that the immediate diagnosis was that this was a football-type ankle injury (no, i don’t know what that means either) and they are sending him to see the nfl’s leading consultant on ankle injuries to review the best course of action in terms of recovery.

              as for playing shortstop again, i have no idea one way or the other, but after all: jeter has had limited range for years. his offense has outweighed what the yanks surrender as a result.

              now maybe his range gets even smaller and maybe his offense suffers, but until and unless that happens, there’s no reason that he won’t be playing a lot of shortstop next year.

              • Sherm

                My thinking is that he can’t afford to lose another step out there, and that its hard to imagine that he won’t lose another step in his age 39 season coming off an ankle fracture and a probable ankle surgery.

        • Greg

          Two words–Magglio Ordonez.

    • wengler

      You want a team full of mostly struggling kids. I present you the 2012 Minnesota Twins. Take them. Seriously, take them! Except for Mauer, Willingham and Span.

  • Jesse Levine

    Bonus for all Yankee haters (not me). The shots from behind the pitcher show Joel Klein sitting right behind the plate,

    • mark f

      A few months back I was watching a Yankees-Sox game on a Sunday night. ESPN showed Paul Simon (‘Kodachrome,’ not bow-tie) sitting in some good seats. The commentators didn’t give any indication that they recognized or thought worth mentioning Simon’s companion, with whom he seemed to be in deep conversation, but the guy had a moustache that seemed like it understood the deepest yearnings of cab drivers from Beirut to Jerusalem.

  • Enforce the 20 second pitch rule, as well.

    As you point out, Scott, the call was a non-factor in the outcome, despite what many would say (even Smoltz last night, as soon as the next batter knocked a pitch into right field, tried that bit.) When you score zero runs, you will win zero games.

    If anything, a bad call like that should be a call to cowboy up and be more focused on winning the game. Instead, the vaunted Yankees…the “most storied franchise in sports history” (GOD! I’M SICK OF HEARING THAT SHIT!)…rolled over like a three year old trying to wrest his dolly from the dog.

    • JRoth

      Well, for the record, the Infante’s run halved the Yankees’ chances, from slim to none (specifically, from 26.4% to 13.7%). And if the call had been made correctly, I’m pretty sure the Yanks’ odds would have been 1 in 3 or better. I agree their bats looked broken, but the Tigers’ did as well – right up until they got a bunch of hits in a row (one of the Tigers’ radio announcers described either Infante’s or Jackson’s hit as the second sharply-hit ball of the day for Detroit).

  • David M. Nieporent

    Obviously, the call on Infante’s Willie Mays Hays slide was ludicrously bad, and was the second important bad call to go against the Yankees in two games.

    Nate McLouth says hello.

    • mark f

      Meh. I’m a Red Sox fan and was rooting for Baltimore in that series for that and other reasons, but nothing I saw indicated that that call was incorrect.

  • mark f

    Brief, unrelated note on the NLCS:

    A Yahoo article from April about Hickory, NC, a.k.a. “Bumtown” due to all the Bumgarners there, is a pretty good Two Americas story.

    Because Madison Bumgarner’s ascent makes Bumtown even more remarkable. Plenty of baseball players come from “nowhere,” but not many come from a place quite like this.

    Madison’s dad, Kevin, will be our guide. He jumps into his truck and pulls out of his driveway. He drives past some horses and a sign in Giants orange that reads “A Madison Bumgarner fan lives here.” (The signs were Madison’s grandmother’s idea.) Kevin says there used to be a Bumtown school – which he attended – and a Bumtown grocery, which now has another name. He points it out with a grin.

    Then he turns a corner, clears his throat, and mutters: “Looks like an H-bomb went off.”

    For many years, this part of the Blue Ridge foothills was covered in furniture stores. “Furniture capital of the world,” Kevin says. “Twenty-eight miles of furniture.”

    But now it’s just 28 miles.

  • mch

    Hard for some to grasp, but for many Yankees fans (all real Yankees fans, I’d say), their team is just their team, like other people have their teams. All the pseudo-political analysis is so much crap, if sort of fun sometimes. (Btw, one of the things I liked about c u n d gulag’s comment above: so New York. Would have made a Brooklyn Dodgers fan proud — the rock-bottom Bronx-Brooklyn cultural connection is sort of interesting, to me at least. Just skip over Manhattan.)
    As a side note, the only game I went to this summer was Mets-Cardinals in June. Saw Dickey lose. Expensive, there, too (at that godawful name for a stadium I won’t repeat). But it was a ball game. Hot (but blessedly, not too), beer and hot dogs, friends (including some Cards fans — St. Louis friends can be why you end up at one stadium rather than another), slow, frankly boring sometimes, but mostly good slow. I miss those summer days in the hype of October.

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