Friday, October 31, 2008

The Ludicrous Trade Proposal Contest Entries

Please vote, in a comment or via email @ , as to which entry you think would make for the craziest, wackiest, the omg-what-was-he-smoking-and-where-can-I-get-some trade this off-season!

1) "The entire Mets bullpen (Wagner included) just for the rights for Omar to haggle with the "all-magnificent" K-Rod on what will be his 2009 salary price."

2) "Yanks "package" Darrell Rasner, Chris Britton, Wilson Betemit and Justin Christian, wrap it in a pretty box and ship to San Francisco for Tim Lincicum and Aaron Rowand.

The Giants would get FOUR (!) GUYS, how could they turn that down? If they insisted, Yanks add Shelley Duncan or Chase Wright..."

3) "Madonna for Anna Benson?"

4) "Kei Igawa, Hideki Irabu, Randy Johnson, Carl Pavano


My precious time back that i spent watching them start games for the Yankees :("

Voting will remain open until...oh why not...12.01 AM November 5th!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Philly Phantastic

Congratulations to the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies, Champions of Baseball.

Funny to think that last year all this fuss was made about them being the first franchise to lose 10.000 games.

Nice to see them win.

It was easily one of the odder World Series deciding games, with the whole suspension thing, but you know what it means?

It means that every Philadelphia schoolchild got to stay up late to see their team win the World Series. And, as Yankee fans, we all know what those first memories of a World Championship celebration can do.

The Countdown to the day CC Sabathia files for Free Agency has begun.

The entries for the Ludicrous Trade Proposal Contest will be posted tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Selig Doctrine

For those interested in the history and historiography of baseball, the Washington Post has called last night's decision the Selig Doctrine: No World Series will end with a game played less than nine innings.

While last night's game should never have been started, baseball did right to suspend it when it did, as opposed to calling the game short while the Phillies had a 2-1 lead, and thus cheating the Rays out of their possible final three innings of baseball.

It shouldn't strike any of us as a new concept; I don't think you could find a baseball fan that would not have been aghast at the idea of a rain-shortened World Series game, but now that it's official, hey maybe Bud will have something to add to his legacy other than the steroids scandal!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Some More Notes on the World Series

I have got to update this thing more often, my apologies.

Anyway, due to various personal reason I haven't been able to watch the World Series as well or as closely as I'd like, but from what I have seen:

  • It's obvious that at the end of Game Three, Evan Longoria wasn't trying to throw it to Home Plate, he was simply trying to throw it to the fifth infielder
  • Where did the power go from the Tampa bats? Maybe I've just been missing it because I haven't been watching so closely, but it felt like Tampa slugged their way to the World Series, and now they're dying a whimpery death.
  • After Ryan Howard was busy making Alex Rodriguez look clutch, he's now exploded, proving that good things come to those who are not named Alex Rodriguez.
  • The umpiring has not exactly been great.

So now Philadelphia needs just one more win to bring their city their first major sports title since...well, their first major title in my lifetime.

However, given that it's been a really sort of strange baseball year, don't count the Series over just yet...although the sooner it is, the sooner we can fire up the Hot Stove...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Contest Reminder

Just a reminder to get your entries in to the LUDICROUS TRADE PROPOSAL CONTEST, which will close after the last out of the World Series.

We've got some great entries so far, so keep them coming!


Sarah Palin is apparently a curse--she dropped the puck at a Flyers game and it took last night for the Flyers to garner their first win (stupid Devils, you disappoint me!) and then last night, she dropped a puck at the St. Louis Blues game, where goalie Manny Legace promptly tripped over the carpet and injured her hip.

Are we sure we really want her touching those nuclear codes?

I kid, I kid.

Just make sure you vote. It's only 10 days from now.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Phighting Their Way to a Game One Win

It was a close thing.

In a game that was without a doubt the epitome of a pitcher's duel, the Phillies used a solid starting performance from Cole Hamels as well as a key caught stealing to pull out a 3-2 Game One win over the Tampa Bay Rays.

In doing so, they've stolen the home field advantage for themselves and now can rest a little easier going into Game Two.

Some points:

  • Ryan Howard has got to get his act together. It's one thing not to hit and quite another for the other team to walk Chase Utley to get to him. In the AL park the slump can be obscured by the DH, but the moment they get to Philadelphia, the Rays will have a phield field day with the Phillies if there are two automatic outs in the line up...
  • While I'm all for mixing and matching pitchers when the situation warrants, I didn't quite get Maddon's almost Spring Training-like approach to the ninth inning. Granted, in the World Series, everyone is available...but I don't know...I think more than anything Maddon illustrated the lack of a solid back end of the bullpen for the Rays
  • That caught stealing looms huge now, but Hamels was really, really close to a balk. The city of Philadelphia should be thanking the umpires for that ones.
  • Since the strike in 1994, a National League team has won the World Series in 1995, 1997, 2001, 2003 and 2006--five times in thirteen tries. Of those five wins, only once (the Cardinals in 2006) did the National League team win it in fewer then six games. Conversley, of the eight years an American League team won, only twice did the AL team need more than five games to win the series (the Yankees in 1996 and the Angels in 2002). This might mean nothing, but I found the quirk interesting.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

2008 World Series Preview

Think back to April 1, and all the baseball predictions you read.

Could you honestly tell me that you found somewhere that predicted the 2008 World Series would be the Tampa Bay Rays and the Philadelphia Phillies?


Don't worry, me either.

Still, this is what the end of October holds for us baseball fans, and despite the historical legacies of both teams, this series looks like it'll be a good one.

Both teams are scrappy, feisty--getting the hits and the pitches when they need to, but making you bite your nails the rest of the time. Both teams have an unquestionable hunger--Philadelphia hasn't won a major sports championship since the early 1980s (and the times they've come close, outside of baseball, defeat seems to come at the hands of Tampa, who knew?), and Tampa, to some, still has to prove that the Rays are for real.

So, what to look for? Who will win?

Let's start with pitching.

Philadelphia has an unquestionable ace in Cole Hamels, but outside of that, in Myers, Blanton and Moyer, you're looking at pitchers that can be very...well...hittable. There's no question the pitching staff can get it done, or else they wouldn't be here, but they'll make you sweat for it. In terms of the bullpen, Brad Lidge has a ridiculous saves streak going, but like the rest of the pitching staff, he'll make you sweat before getting the final out.

Tampa's "ace", Scott Kazmir, has not emerged as the number one starter for the Rays in the postseason. Instead, James Shields has emerged as their "big game" starter, and it was Matt Garza that pitched a gem in Game Seven of the ALCS. As for the Rays' bullpen...well, you remember Game Five well enough, right? Tampa has David Price. They shouldn't be shy about using him.

As for hitting...

Philadelphia's hitters have, on the whole, been around longer than Tampa's and are thus more veteran, although this doesn't necesarily imply better. Chase Utley, Pat Burrell and Ryan Howard can all hit the ball a mile, but none of them are averse to striking out--especially not Howard. In the NLCS, Shane Victorino emerged as a somewhat unlikely hero, it will be interesting to see if the "Flyin' Hawaiian" can keep the juices flowing in the World Series.

Tampa's gotten to the point it his on the back and long fly balls of BJ Upton and Evan Longoria. Okay, so the others have helped as well, but the amount of home runs that have come off the bat of those two this month is insane, and, I believe, record-setting. Against Philadelphia pitching, with the exception of Cole Hamels, you have to imagine that this could be a powder (power?) keg type of situation.

So, while I will be rooting for the Phillies--I've got at least three friends who are admitted Phillies fans--my prediction, like everyone else's so far, will be the Rays in six.

In which case, we'd better start preparing for the apocalypse.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Tampa Bay Rays: 2008 American League Champions (no, it's not 1 April)

(With apologies to Joel Sherman)

Joe Maddon almost made the same mistake Buck Showalter made in 1995.

Just in the nick of time, as though defusing a bomb right before the counter reached 00:01, Maddon remembered the lesson that he was supposed to have learned last week, and now the Tampa Bay Rays are headed to the World Series.

In 1995, Showalter, you will remember, hadn't realized the talent he had in Mariano Rivera, so when the ALDS was on the line in Game Five, he didn't use Rivera.

In 2008, Maddon almost made the same mistake with David Price.

It took a bases loaded situation in the eighth inning for Maddon to finally realize that Dan Wheeler, JP Howell and Chad Bradford could not get it done, but, as the Rays fans are probably thinking, at least he came to his senses.

Now, the Tampa Bay Rays are headed to their franchise's first World Series.

The ALCS, of course, should have never gotten to a game seven. Had Maddon used Price at perhaps any time in the eighth or ninth inning of game five, the Rays would have likely clinched in Boston.

However, the Rays were lucky--game five was not an elimination game and afforded them a very important lesson: 27 outs in a baseball game and you have to play all of them. There's no clock to run out.

Now, going into the World Series, the Rays know what it's like to choke, and to face elimination, and more importantly, how important to get over it and put it in the past.

Congratulations to them, though Boston shouldn't lose heart--they gritted through it and gave baseball a game five that will enter the pantheon of all-time greats.

There will be a Rays-Phillies Series Preview up sometime before Game One.

Remember, get your entries in for the Monumental Trade Proposal Contest!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Memorabilia Auction falls Short of Expectations

For all of you that think that the Yankees won't be affected by the economy, take a gander at this article from ESPN about a failed Stadium memorabilia auction, including the last home run ball.

Among the main points of the article

  • More than 400 items had been up for option
  • A collection of 15 World Series and American League championship rings belonging to a former Yankees' owner fell over a quarter of a million dollars short of expectations
  • A Mickey Mantle car expected to fetch at least $50,ooo sold for only $34,000.
So while I imagine anyone reading this blog probably doesn't have a spare $350,000 to spend on a ring collection, it's not the point.

Does the auction immediately impact the Yankees? No, it doesn't...but it does illustrate that the problem with the economy isn't just in the big banks on Wall Street.

The Grand Trade Proposal Contest

It's that time of year now, where all the ridiculous trade proposals come flying out the wazoo. Melky Cabrera for Albert Pujols. Julio Lugo for Tim Lincecum. So on and so forth.

YOUR TASK, should you choose to accept, and you should because the off season can get boring otherwise, is to come up with the most ludicrous trade proposal you can imagine...but, since that in itself is fairly easy, I'll throw in a few of the following parameters:

1) Players involved must be current, active players
2) Players must have seen at least AA action in 2008
3) Any deals that include prospects MUST include at least one play who saw Major League service time in 2008
4) Teams can't trade within their own division, or with cross-town rivals (no Yankees/Mets, no Sox/Cubs, no Dodgers/Angels, no Giants/Athletics)
5) Players must not have full NTC clauses. If a player has a partial NTC clause, he may only be traded to a team that is listed as exempt from his NTC clause.
6) Propose as many trades as you like, but each player can only be traded once.


Entries will be judged via a supersecret methodology, in the form of some sort of poll open to the general voting public, because we all need to practice our voting skills!


The winner shall recieve some form of inexpensive Yankee memorabilia. Should the number of entries exceed five, the second place person will recieve a prize, and should there be more than ten entries, third place will recieve a prize as well.


The Deadline for Submissions shall be the Last Out of the World Series, so get your entries in now because we don't know for sure how many games the World Series is going to go!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Can You Believe What We Just Saw?

All right, before I write this post proper, I need to stress that I'm writing this as a baseball fan, not as a Yankee fan. Don't worry, I hate the Red Sox as much as ever.


Part of the reason baseball has the magic it does is because on any given day,anything can happen.

Unlike the other major sports, in baseball, there's no clock to run out.

In football or basketball, you can build an insurmountable lead and then play easy the rest of the way--if you're up, in basketball, by 30 points with two minutes to spare, you're pretty much set.

In baseball, it doesn't quite work that way.

The young Tampa Rays learned it the hard way tonight, building a sizable lead and then treating it as though it was a guaranteed win.

As for the game itself, however, regardless of what happens in the rest of the series, this will easily go down as a classic LCS game.

Last year's postseason was generally void of excitement; this year's has had some incredible games, and now, it looks like, one incredible series.

It's been a while since we've had a classic Postseason game, a game that reminds you why October is so important, but tonight we had one.

Tampa still has a three games to two series lead over Boston, but if Yankees' fans learned anything from 2004, it's that one game can change the feeling of an entire series. If tonight wasn't that type of game, I'm not sure what is...

On the bright side, it looks like Joe Maddon did well switching Kazmir and Shields, and now has his ace on the mound for Game Six.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

On Andy Pettitte

Yesterday, while watching ESPN whilst I was still without internet, I caught the ticker on the bottom:

Buster Olney Reports that Andy Pettitte wants to pitch for the Yankees in 2009.

This in itself was not a surprising revelation; Pettitte has more or less been dropping hints since the beginning of the season.

The big question, of course, is whether or not the Yankees should let Andy do it, and there are arguments to be made for each side of the issue.

The most glaring issue is that 2008 was not a good season for Pettitte.

He finished 14-14, and only got the last win because Joe Girardi took him out after the fifth inning. At one point in August and September, he had gone 1-7 in his last eight--a far cry from the second-half dominance normally ascribed to him.

His 4.54 ERA was the second highest of his career (1999 4.70), though his other numbers, such as strikeouts and walks were in line with his career averages.

The question at the crux is why 2008 was a poor year.

There are many different explanations on offer; the one that I find easiest to believe is that he was pitching hurt through most of August, when the Yankees didn't really have another option to fill his starts.

If this is the case then, there is an optimistic and pessimistic view--the optimistic view being that a healthy Andy will be back to his 2007 form and a sound investment; the pessimistic view would be that at 36, 37 years old, his body probably won't heal as quickly and that he's battled elbow problems in the past.

The other, separate issue to consider is what Mike Mussina will do--and signs seem to point to him retiring (though we've certainly been wrong about things like that before).

If Mussina retires, the case for re-signing Pettitte is that much stronger: a veteran pitcher who will make most, if not every start, and at the very least give you innings and probably win at least ten starts as well.

Resigning Pettitte is a very tough call, especially when it's uncertain if the Yankees will sign CC Sabathia or another high level free agent starter. If it was up to me, I'd wait to see which, if any, FA pitcher the Yankees sign before committing, but I realize that a) Pettitte probably doesn't want to wait that long, and b) it really wouldn't be right to make him wait that long, anyway.

Either way, it's an issue the Yankees have to ponder, and sooner rather than later.

My gut tells me Andy will be back for one last go-around, but whether or not that will be a good decision remains to be seen.

Pheelin' Phillie Phantastic

Congratulations are due to the Philadelphia Phillies for winning the National League title.

While you can argue all you want on the merits of Joe Torre, the reason the Phillies won is simple enough:

Better starting pitching and the ability to clutch--yes, I still believe clutch exists.

The ALCS has yet to conclude, but one more win from Tampa and we'll be looking at something no one predicted in April--A Rays/ Phillies World Series.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Bobby Meacham Fired

Bobby Meacham has been fired.

This move was not unexpected, though what is perhaps most interesting is to see how Girardi deals with the loss of one of his hand-picked coaches, the other being bullpen coach Mike Harkey.

Much of the in-house criticism leveled against Joe Girardi had to do with his over reliance on Meacham and Harkey to the exclusion of his other coaches; perhaps part of the thinking is that removing Meacham from the fray will force Girardi to better utilize his other coaches.

That, or Meacham simply was that bad as a third base coach.

No replacement has been announced of yet.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Musings with a Broken Keyboard

So I have a confession to make.

Earlier today, during halftime of the Jets/Bengals game, I caught the ninth inning of game five of the 2001 World Series on TV.

For various reasons, it was the first time I'd actually seen the top of the ninth inning--and the chanting of Paul O'Neill's name.

The moment gives me chills, of course, but this was the first time I'd heard it without any embellishments, any retrospective announcing or music, and I realized that while there's a lot of the 2001 World Series that I remember, there's a lot that, at the time, I simply didn't understand.

I'd only started following the Yankees in 1996--when I was 10--and thus the significance of the dynasty teams was largely lost on me. The Yankees were good, I knew, and I'd thought it wasa right that we were in the World Series nearly every year.

I kind of took it all for granted. I know better now, of course, but that's not the point.

The point is, when Brosius hit his home run in the ninth inning of Game Five, I knew it was incredible, but I didn't realize how incredible.

When you consider that the entire thing happened only about six weeks removed from 9/11, it takes on an altogether added importance.

More than winning, New York needed the Yankees to play those few games in October and November. Play the game well, and you'd prove to the world that you cannot bring New York down.

The Yankees, in true Yankee fashion, just happened to make sure that those games were unforgettable.

Friday, October 10, 2008


I tripped over my computer's battery wire.

Computer went splat.


(Updates may be spotty until the problem is solved...)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Things You Learn on the Way to Temple

Driving to Temple tonight, my father and I drive through a neighborhood where he spent much of his childhood.

He points out the homes of cousins and aunts, and tells me about how he'd go to the corner candy store as a kid to buy candy and magazines. He remembers all of the landmarks as though his childhood was yesterday, and he makes the neighborhood of the 1950s and 1960s come alive for me.

We pass by a field.

It's called Larry Doby field, and Dad asks me if I know who Larry Doby was. I tell him that of course I know, that he broke the color barrier in the American League, played for Cleveland and only recently passed away.

Dad says that his father met Larry Doby. Talked to him.

I tell him that I am impressed.

Yeah, Dad says, in the early 1950s...perhaps 1951...his father wanted to sell his house in Paterson, NJ, and one day Larry Doby came to look.

Dad doesn't know if he came close to buying the house, but before breaking in with the Indians, Doby did play Negro League ball for Newark and made his home in Paterson, NJ--where both of my parents were born and where my father's family made their home before moving to Fair Lawn.

You learn something new every day, don't you?

Joba see, Joba do

Joba pitch!

New York Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain, right, takes a swing in the batting cage during the POWERade Sports Fantasy Camp in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Monday, Oct. 6, 2008. Chamberlain was one of several former and current professional athletes participating in the camp with winners of a nationwide POWERade sweepstakes.

Joba hit!

New York Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain, throws batting practice to participants during the POWERade Sports Fantasy Camp in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Monday, Oct. 6, 2008.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

ALCS and NLCS Snapshot Previews

2008 ALCS


Pros: They've been here before, in 2004 and more recently, last year. John Lester looks like a true ace, and any one of their bats is capable of a clutch hit. And then there's that whole Fenway Park think.

Cons: Outside of Lester, their rotation is not unbeatable and their bullpen is not unhittable. The lack of a substantial bridge to Papelbon could be their downfall. And then there's that whole they-don't-have-home-field thing.


Pros: Young, but proving that the playoffs are no obstacle. They have home field--and they've been great at Tropicana Field. Evan Longoria and BJ Upton are playing like this is their tenth time in the postseason.

Cons: Inexperienced. Trouble winning on the road. Starting pitching is good, but not unbeatable.

Prediction Rays in Six

2008 NLCS


Pros: Scrappy, gritty team that never counts itself out. Lots of mashers. Have Jaime Moyer and know how to use him. Same with Cole Hamels.

Cons: Brad Lidge in a tight game that matters. Brett Myers. Not many guys that know how to pitch to Manny.


Pros: Manny Ramirez, Joe Torre. Oh, and that starting pitching staff--Billingsley, Lowe, etc.

Cons: When's the last time they had to play in cold weather? And Joe Torre is managing their Bullpen. And, if you believe in these things, there's the Curse of Don Mattingly.

Prediction: Dodgers in Five

Monday, October 6, 2008

2009 Draft (or, Procrastination is Fun!)

Baseball America has published a projected 2009 draft order:

Protected First-Round Picks
1. Nationals (59-102)
2. Mariners (61-101)
3. Padres (63-99)
4. Pirates (67-95)
5. Orioles (68-93)
6. Giants (72-90)
7. Braves (72-90)
8. Reds (74-88)
9. Tigers (74-88)
10. Nationals (compensation for failure to sign 2008 first-rounder Aaron Crow)
11. Rockies (74-88)
12. Royals (75-87)
13. Athletics (75-86)
14. Rangers (79-83)
15. Indians (81-81)
16. Diamondbacks (82-80)
Unprotected First-Round Picks
17. Dodgers (84-78)
18. Marlins (84-77)
19. Cardinals (86-76)
20. Blue Jays (86-76)
21. Astros (86-75)
22. Mariners (compensaton for failure to sign 2008 first-rounder Joshua Fields)
23. Twins (88-75)
24. White Sox (89-74)
25. Mets (89-73)
26. Yankees (89-73)
27. Brewers (90-72)
28. Phillies (92-70)
29. Red Sox (95-67)
30. Rays (97-65)
31. Yankees (compensation for failure to sign 2008 first-rounder Gerrit Cole)
32. Cubs (97-64)
33. Angels (100-62)

Multiple sources have stated that the 2009 draft class is a thin draft class, so this, combined with the late first round selections, seems to make it that much more imperative that the Yankees go hard after one of CC Sabathia/AJ Burnett/Mark Teixiera/your big free agent signing here.

Many are considering the 2008 draft a failure as the Yankees' first round pick Gerrit Cole failed to sign, but it's important to remember that Cole wasn't the only guy the Yankees drafted, and sometimes it's the unheralded picks that end up becoming the most effective.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Random Baseball Trivia I Don't Expect to Find

How amazing is this game?

I was in Vermont over the weekend to attend a cousin's wedding--hence the lack of updates.

I had never before been to Vermont, and for a city kid, the fall colors are striking. Everywhere you look it seems like a suitable place for a photograph. There are yellows and oranges and reds in New York this time of year, sure, but it doesn't compare. The colors in Vermont are brighter, fuller, more though someone has used a paint brush to accent each and every tree leaf.

I had never before been somewhere where the local news on the radio advises citizens that the year's firewood is too green for use, and that if there is anyone with spare firewood, to please donate it.

So I was there with the family, downstairs in the hotel/motel bar, drinking and catching up with people I see at weddings and bar mitzvahs but not really anywhere else, and eventually we start talking about baseball.

I'm not sure how the conversation arises, but it does, and someone--maybe me, I don't remember--mentions something about the Rays and the White Sox playing, so the hotel clerk/bartender, who sports a Rollie Fingers-like mustache, turns the TV on and mentions that he prefers the Red Sox.

So, of course, I start talking, and he starts talking. The rest of the gathered family moves upstairs, but I remain there for just that extra minute because I can't refuse a baseball conversation--even if it involves the Red Sox.

The man, whose name I don't know, imparts a nugget of knowledge--an answer to a trivia question, perhaps--something inconsequential to probably everyone else in the motel except for him and me. Him, because it involves his family, and me, because, well, I live for such things.

He says that his grandfather, the first name I can't remember, but the surname being Pope, played for the Yankees.

He was a pitcher in the days before relief pitching--a utility pitcher, they were called.

You won't find him in any of the books, and baseball-reference has nothing on him, because back then, in the days between the end of World War I and the beginning of Yankee Stadium (the Original), they didn't keep stats for relievers.

It's not surprising that baseball can reach rural Vermont--in fact, I'd expect it. This is, after all, not unlike the town of Cooperstown.

Still, baseball is timeless here.

The man's grandfather retired and set up a butcher's shop, or so I am told, and if not for the memories, he is lost to the world.

I'm not sure if I'm struck more by the power of the game or the power of the memory, but it's a moment I won't forget.

I can't.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Addicted to Coke

Something I found interesting:

Joba Chamberlain, September/October 2007

12.2 Innings Pitched
7 hits
2 runs
1 earned run
17 Strike outs
2 Walks
0.71 ERA

Phil Coke, September 2008

14.7 Innings Pitched
8 hits
1 run
1 earned run
14 strike outs
2 walks
0.61 ERA

(statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference)

There are a few reasons that it's hard to compare Phil Coke to Joba...right?

I was going to say that first there's an age difference, but Coke is only two years older than Joba. I understand that a 25 year old player should be at a different stage developmentally than a 23 year old. Joba's the Yankees #1 prospect of 2008 according to the Baseball America handbook while Coke isn't even in the index--and he's not in Baseball Prospectus 2008 either.

Two years, however, is just two years. Phil Coke isn't a 33 year old journeyman; he's a young pitcher. Perhaps a late bloomer, maybe, but if he continues to pitch as well as he did in September, he has more of his career ahead of him, rather than less.

The expectations on Joba are, of course, much different than those on Coke. Joba's expected to anchor a rotation in the future. Coke is...well, not.

If you get past that, for a second, think about the different situations in which the two broke in at the major league level.

When Joba broke in, it was after blazing through four levels of the minors in one season, and in the middle of a pennant race in which the Yankees still had realistic hope of not just winning the Wild Card but also winning the division.

When Phil Coke broke in, the Yankees had been realistically eliminated from the division and more or less eliminated from the Wild Card as well. the pressure, and indeed, the expectations on him were completley different

Coke has, of course, opened many eyes--and if the Yankees have noticed, so has everyone else.

You're not supposed to judge players based on September performances, but, alas, for Coke, that's all we have to go on.

This is what you like to see, as a baseball fan--the unheralded player, one that might even be a prospect, opening eyes and drawing much interest. Now there are questions as to whether Coke should be a starter, and depending on whether or not the Yankees land a big Free Agent starter, Coke might find himself talked about in February and March as being a part of the rotation.

Is Coke better than Joba?

Over the long run, probably not--Joba has better 'pure stuff', but every time you try to think of a reason that Joba and Coke don't compare, you find either that they do, or that there's a plausible excuse as to why not.

Joba has pitched in pressure situations.

Coke's never seen October, but he pitched quite effectively in the Final Game, which more or less had the same amount of must-win pressure (even if the season at that point had been lost, that one game was, of course, a must-win).

Joba's strike out numbers are much higher, but then, so are his innings, and when you take a look at comparative innings, the numbers are similar.

Joba can throw it 100. Coke finished the season at 96.

Joba's family life makes for a great story. Coke...well, nearly getting cut from the team in Spring Training is a story in its own right.

Joba has a cool name. You can make drug puns with Coke's.

It's very possible that next season Coke comes back to earth and ends up as a solid, if not spectacular left-handed pitcher out of the bullpen--and thus a very valuable commodity.

Yet there still remains the possibility--funny, ironic, whatever--that Coke ends up finding himself of more value to the 2009 Yankees than Ian Kennedy or Phil Hughes.

How many of us still remember he was almost dealt in the Nady/Marte deal? Were the Yankees, perhaps, on to something when they decided not to trade him? Did Pittsburgh miss something in preferring Karstens and McCutcheon? Time will tell.

We will be watching him with great interest.

October Happens

So this is what it feel likes: October in New York with no baseball.

It's not as though there aren't other sports in this town.

The Giants are undefeated; the Bretts Jets are competitive and Opening Night for the hockey season is almost here.

There's plenty to talk about that's not baseball.

So what do we talk about?


It doesn't hit me, how much baseball means to this city, until we don't have it.

It's a different feeling than an unsavory first round exit. At least, in that case, you can soften the blows with the knowledge that at least your team was good enough to make it to October. Anything--even midges--can happen in a five game series.

Miss the playoffs, and it's another story. There is a feeling of inadequacy--even with 89 wins, which would be good enough for a playoff berth in two other divisions and one win shy of a wild card spot in the National League, leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.

How does this City survive without baseball?

It obviously does; it's done so many times before and, unfortunately, will do so again, but it still baffles the mind.

This is, after all, a place that lives for baseball.

What other city can boast of having, at one time, three different teams? Even more, three different, quality teams all with pennant hopes?

What other city can have Johan Santana making the tabloid back pages in the week before the City's most popular football team plays in the Super Bowl, a David to an undefeated New England Goliath?

It still doesn't feel like the off-season for me.

I guess, technically, it isn't, because it's the postseason, but I don't think I'm alone among Yankee fans in saying that any time without Yankee baseball is the off-season.

It's still warm enough outside for me to wear a t-shirt and sandals, and too warm to imagine the trees bare or a few inches of snow on the ground.

It's October, but it feels more like the All Star break--a couple of days off before we pick it up again, a couple of days before we can right the wrongs and disappointments of the first half.

The idea that it's still four months until Spring Training and six until Opening Day is anathema. It's also the reality.

We can get by with the MLB postseason and Fall Ball and Winter Ball, but it will only soften the blow, not eliminate the sting.

October happens, but without New York baseball, it doesn't feel real.