Thursday, October 29, 2009

TPC's Game One Thoughts

Two words describe what happened to the Yankees in Game 1. Cliff Lee. Lee threw a brilliant and as dominant a performance as we have ever seen pitched in a World Series game. It was the first time EVER that a pitcher had a complete game with 10 Strikeouts, O walks and 0 Earned Runs in a World Series. Just dominant stuff that Lee threw at the Yankees last night. However, going into the Series we knew the only reliable starter the Phillies had was Lee, so nothing really has changed except the affirmation of what we all knew. The Phillies had to have that Game and Lee delivered.

CC pitched a very good game, albeit without his best stuff. he gave up 2 ER in 7 innings a usual formula for Victory behind the great Yankee offense. He made two mistakes to Utley which was all Lee needed. Sabathia should be good to go for Game 4, as it looks like he will be needed.
Lee will obviously not pitch game 4 as Manuel left him in the game in the 9th with a 6 run lead and Lee finished with 120+ pitches thrown. Manuel isn't a big favorite of pitchers on short rest, so he let Lee finish what he started.

Utley had a monster game, his real coming out party for his postseason career, which date hasn't been anything to write home about. Last night will end that. He blasted two shots off Sabathia, making both mistake pitches dearly paid for. Keep in mind those were the first two HR's given up by Sabathia to a lefty at the Stadium this year. Good stuff by Utley.

Girardi has a huge issue now in the 8th inning as Hughes has now proven he cant be trusted. We were told his "mechanical" problems were fixed after the Minnesota Series and we were told the same after the ALCS. We were lied to. He has huge issues as his control and stuff are not nearly what they were in the regular season. We have to hope he's not hiding some type of injury. Hughes is having a postseason meltdown along the lines of Byung-Hyun Kim and Armando Benitez. Girardi has to go elsewhere- either Joba or Robertson at this point as Hughes can not be trusted.

Derek Jeter continues to Amaze. On a night when Lee was as dominant as anyone we have seen, Jeter rolled out a 3-4 and continues to show why October Baseball was made for him. It's uncanny his ability to step up in the game games.

Arod and Tex went a combined 0-8 with 5 strikeouts. If the Yankees have any thoughts on #27, this obviously needs to change tonight.

Marte has been a pleasant surprise in the postseason. He will be needed with all those lefties in the Philly lineup. Girardi's confidence in him has to be growing with each performance.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

World Series 2009- TPC's Take

Elvis impersonators, Casinos and bachelor parties belong in Vegas. Surfers, freaks and Movie Stars belong in Hollywood, the World Series has come back to where it belongs, the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium in 'da Bronx, NY.
Yankee Stadium will host Game 1 tomorrow night featuring the AL's best, Bronx Bombers and the NL's best (for two years running) the Philadelphia Phillies in a very intriguing matchup with numerous subplots, which The People's Champ will breakdown right here-right now!

Who will be A Team for the Ages

The 2009 version of the Yankees have drawn comparisons to the Great 1998 Yankee squad, which many consider the greatest Yankee Team of all Time. This years version features what may be the greatest offensive infield ever to play the game at one time, with the AL's HR and RBI leader, Mark Texiera playing 1B, Robinson Cano and his .320+ average, 25HR's and 204 hits at 2B, Derek Jeter in one of his finest seasons hitting .334 and 214 Hits (Jeter and Cano became the first middle infield combo in MLB history to both amass 200+ hits in a season) and the Great Offensive force in Baseball, Alex Rodriguez at 3b (30HR and 100RBI in only 124 games after his preseason hip surgery). They have a borderline Hall of Fame Catcher in Posada, a productive OF in Swisher, Damon and Melky. Their starting pitching, although lacking in depth, features CC Sabathia, who will finish at worst, top 3 in this years CY Young Voting and was the ALCS MVP, AJ Burnett and the winning pitcher in postseason history, Andy Pettite. Despite his struggles to date in the postseason, Phil Hughes was as dominant a force as any out the bullpen this year and the Greatest of them All, Mariano Rivera is as dominant as ever (statistically speaking, Mo's best two seasons were his last which is incredible considering most closers lack of longevity).
The Yankees led the league with 103 wins. They led the league in HR's, Runs, On Base Percentage and were second on Batting Average. They were tied for third in the AL in ERA despite playing in the friendliest hitters park in the league and led the league in Strikeouts. They dispatched a good Twins team in 3, and beat an Angel team that has been a nemesis for them for years in 6. A win in this World Series would justify their offseason $400M shopping spree on Tex, Sabathia and Burnett (not to mention the already inflated payroll). It would also cement their place as one of the great Yankee squads of all time.

The Phillies? Well, all it will do for them is become the first NL team to win back to back World Series since the Big Red Machine in the mid 70's. While the Yankees were slugging their way through the AL, the Phillies were doing likewise to the NL, leading the circuit in HR's and Runs. A lineup featuring the games biggest slugger in Ryan Howard, all World 2B Chase Utley, former NL MVP and the only legitimate comparable to Jeter, in Jimmy Rollins at SS. They are clearly the most stacked team in the league and their postseason bludgeons of the Dodgers have not veered anyone off that opinion. While their pitching has been an issue (we'll get into that soon) and their bullpen is their biggest weak spot (despite the apparent re-emergence of Lidge being a dependable closer), the Phillies are as tough as Rocky Balboa (Philedelphia's best known athlete). They get hit, they get bruised but they keep coming back. A win here will cement their place in history and with a core in their primes, they could be the next great Baseball Dynasty.

Arod and Howard
Coming into this postseason, Arod was the most maligned star this side of Lindsey Lohan. We all knew about his failures to perform in the clutch. He was Mr. April thru September to Reggie and Derek's Mr. October (s). He was the guy managers would intentionally load the bases to face in big spots. He was the guy with all glitter and with no glory. But a funny thing happened on the way to 2009. He got divorced in a public mess. He was named as the only one of 104 MLB players that were supposedly anonymously tested for steroids (after of course proclaiming many times he never touched the stuff- most famously on 60 Minutes). He then went public in an interview supposedly in a tell all interview that many felt was staged and didnt tell all. He then missed the first month of the season and Spring Training with hip surgery. He then realized that maybe all this stuff has gotten the "I always need to be perfect" monkey off his back. It got him to relax. To enjoy the moment and to trust his teammates. He no longer cared that this was Jeter's town and he should be happy to be along for the ride. He started getting big hits. Big Home Runs. He played a flawless 3b all season. But all tjis would mean nothing if he couldn't carry it into October. Well, all Arod did in October was produce the most clutch and dominant offensive performance we have ever seen. He has 5 HR's so far, 3 of which tied games in the 7th, 8th and 11th innings of games. He has been walked 6 times in the last 3 games, including twice late in the game with 2 out and no one on, a situation so against the book but with Arod, it's the right move now- rewriting a new book. He looks possessed. You see his eyes and you know he's going to do damage. He has become Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Mark Messier and Tiger Woods all rolled up into one. It says here he will have a World Series for the ages- if Manuel decides to even pitch to him.

Howard had fared a little better than Arod through his run last year and has been as dominant as Arod this season, albeit without the huge clutch hit. Howard had a dominant NLCS with 2 HR and 8 RBI's in 5 games. He is already the games most feared HR hitter and a great World Series will fuse his place forever in baseball lore.
This years winner between the two titans will play along way as to who wears the ring.

When the Yankees let Buck Showalter go and brought in Joe Torre, the famous headline of "Clueless Joe" was printed on the front cover of the New York Daily News. Well, seems like the Daily News was about 14 years early. In what has been the running of theme of these playoffs, Girardi's managing- or rather mismanaging has finally cost them a game and has also gotten the Angels right back into this thing.

There was the micro managing of the bullpen in round one. The pulling of Pettite early in Game 3 and some other not-so-worthy moments that we glanced over because of Arod and Jeter's heroics, we didn't seem to care.
Game 2 in the ALCS saw Girardi pinch run for Nick Swisher in the 7TH Inning of a tie game, using Coke and Chamberlain for too short a period in a tie game that eventually could have burnt Girardi and then using another pinch runner in the 9th, to now having Guzman and Gardner protect Arod in the late stage of a tie game of an ALCS (which makes Arod's HR off Fuentes the other night that much more amazing. Plus, how does Fuentes throw a down the middle fastball there with those guys in the wait?).

Well, last night the Yankees Magic couldn't bail out Girardi's Knumbskullness (new word?).
I don't really have a problem with leaving Pettite in there for the 7th. He was pitching well and had not thrown too many pitches. You can't kill Girardi there. He brought in Joba and Marte when we was supposed to. Marte did the job, getting Figgins out with one pitch and a runner in scoring position to end the inning.
Here's where Girardi's micro managing, mismanaging, drunken stupor, whatever you want to call it started. It's a tie game. Late innings. Just coming off a 13 inning game two nights before. So of course, Joe removes Marte after ONE PITCH, to bring in ANOTHER LEFTY ( Coke) to pitch to ONE BATTER, and now, he is left without a single lefty in the pen in a tie game- late. Ummmm, why? What possible reason could there be to make that change?
Ok, so in the top of that inning Matsui leads off with a walk. He brings in Gardner to pinch run. No problem there. Stay out of the Double Play, score on a ball into the gap, first to third on a single, it's the right move. Posada is up, first pitch strike. 0-1. Pitcher throws over to first base a few times. And then Gardner tries to steal second on the IDEAL PITCHOUT count. So of course, Scocia, a real Manager, pitches out, nails Gardner easily and there goes the threat. Now keep in mind, John Sterling- probably the most clueless baseball announcer in history was saying this prior to the pitchout so how doesn't a Major League Manager know this? Inexcusable. Of course, Posada then goes deep and ties the game which potentially could have been a go ahead HR.
Now the inexplicable of inexplicabilities happens (another TPC addition to the Miriam Webster Dictionary). Bottom of the 11th, postseason star Dave Robertson (who also mind you led the majors in Strikouts per Nine Innings this season) was in the game cruising along, easily getting out the first two batters. Now remember, tie game, again, 11th inning. Yankees have only Gaudin and Aceves left in the pen. So, for no reason whatsoever, Girardi pulls Robertson (after a whopping 11 pitches) for Aceves, who has been very shaky in the postseason (he gave up the run in the 11th the other night when Arod bailed him out). First batter singles, next batter doubles, game over. Angels go crazy on the field, get a major pump of life back into their chests in their homefield and now it's a series again.
I have seen many bad managerial moves and second guesses. Torre had tons of questionable moves. But they were "questionable". These moves had no rhyme, reason or defense. Coaches can win Football games and basketball games. They can only lose Baseball games and Girardi just cost the Yankees big yesterday.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

NFL 1st Quarter Report

Here we are prior to Week 6, and The People's Champ- FINALLY- has something to say on the NFL. With respect to the millions of TPC's fans, without further pomp and circumstance, here we go......
Is there anything more surprising this year than Steve Smith- no, that Steve Smith- leading the NFL in receiving yards through Week5? Look at the other names on the list, in order- Wayne, Clark, Ward, Andre Johnson, Vince Jackson, and Randy Moss. How the heck is The Other Steve Smith doing it............
Eli Manning. He has slowly (and as TPC has been saying this for years) developed into a Top 5 NFL Quarterback- at worst, to this point. Going into this season, every single major NFL expert and Fantasy Football Guru, were saying how Manning would suffer greatly without Plaxico, and the Giants would only be able to win if Jacobs and Bradshaw went nuts. You know what, Eli is doing exactly what the Great Ones do. He is making players around him better. Smith, Manningham, Dixon, et al. The Giants have had a dominating passing attack and that falls squarely on the shoulders of Eli. His 2nd ranking NFL QB rating (Peyton is first) 0f 111.7 with 10 TD's and only 2 INT's is not a fluke. And he isn't doing it with Reggie Wayne or Randy Moss.
The second biggest surprise so far has been the job Josh McDaniels has done in Denver. It was only a short while ago that Denver fans (and all NFL fans for that matter) were calling for McDaniels head for dealing Cutler- a 25 year old franchise type QB- for a sub worthy Kyle Orton and a first round pick. For crying out loud, the Giants gave up a ton more than that for Eli- prior to him ever throwing an NFL pass. Well, Orton has proven to be a very good NFL QB in the right situation, McDaniels has built a surprisingly very solid defense in Denver (fewest points allowed and second to the Giants in yards allowed) and even Brandon Marshall is happy in the Mile High City. Looks like Denver made a great deal. Chicago is happy too. Cutler has performed admirably and the Bears are off to a very good 3-1 start. Looks like a deal which benefits both squads.
I love what Rex Ryan has done in NY. For anyone living in NY, living and breathing the J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS, Ryan has given the J-E-T-S a personality and an edge that they haven't seen since Parcells was the coach. I love his brashness. I love his attacking defensive style and I love that he isn't afraid to let his Franchise Rookie QB make plays. On that note, Sanchez has proven to be the QB the J-E-T-S and their fans hoped he would be and the NY football scene has a very good QB situation, seemingly for a long time to come (although it wasn't that long ago that a young Chad Pennington was talk of the town and being compared to Montana and Brady, so let's just relax a little on Sanchez for now. These are the J-E-T-S, remember).
For all the annoyance that has become of Brett Farve, he has given the Vikings a legitimate shot at a Super Bowl title. His miracle play against the 'Niners was one for the ages, a play only Farve can make (interesting side note. While watching the game with my 7 year old son, prior to the last drive I told my son the game was over. he said "Daddy, but the Vikings have Brett Farve" and I explained he is no longer THAT Brett Farve. Well, a few plays later, I told my son "you know what, your right. he is Brett Farve"). While Farve might cost them at times, he can single handedly win games like that and gives the team a huge confidence factor in that huddle. Don't forget, the Jets were 8-3 last year and had people talking Super Bowl after the win against Tennessee, prior to his injury. He has the leagues best running back, a good defense and a game changer in Percy Harvin. I think they are the second best team in the NFC behind the Giants.
As long as Peyton Manning is playing at these levels, the Colts are always a force. Yes, their defense has holes. Yes, the running game is so-so. But Peyton is the great equalizer. Watching him play is truly a privilege. The guy gets better every year and to this point, the only better QB's I have ever seen play are Montana and Brady and even that is very arguable at this point.<
I don't remember a season where such a vast amount of horrible teams existed at one point. The Oakland Raiders might be the worst sports team I have ever seen and JaMarcus Russel is clearly the worst NFL QB I have ever seen. Their coach is facing possible criminal charges- for attacking his assistant coach!- and their prized Franchise RB (McFadden) cant stay on the field.
The Rams (although now with Bulger back they should go from Putrid to just very bad), the Chiefs, the Lions (both these teams at least seem to be heading in the right direction with young talent), the Bucs, Redskins, Browns (only win against the Bills), and the Bills (lost to a team that's starting QB went 2 for 17). It's really the first time I remember such horrid teams in the National Football League, where any given Sunday and Team can win. Well, not anymore. These teams cant beat good teams. They cant even beat average teams.
I like what the Saints and Bengals have done with their defense this year, but markedly improved from prior seasons, but I'm not 100% sold on either. I like Brees a lot, but I'm not putting him anywhere near Brady-Manning status because he has gaudy numbers in a great system. Let's see some long term success before you compare him to two of the Greatest Ever.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Goodbye Captain Lou

Captain Lou Albano, one of The People's Champs all time favorite wrestling personalities died today at the age of 76. Albano managed some of the most famous Tag Teams of All Time including, Teh Wild Samoans, The Moon Dogs and Mr. Fuji and Mr. Saito. He also managed such revered personalities as Don Muraco, George "The Animal" Steele and "The Superfly" Jimmy Snuka.
Captain Lou will be missed.

The People's Champ would like to also say, he is back and will posting NFL and MLB news very soon. Stay tuned.......