"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Oh Andy, Well You Came And You Gave Without Taking…

With one 4-2 win this afternoon, the Yankees clinched their division, wrapped up home field advantage, swept the Red Sox at home, and did their part for the struggling champagne industry. Good thing it stopped raining.

Andy Pettitte was on on the mound today and had one of those now-familiar starts wherein he doesn’t seem to have particularly good stuff or control, but still pitches resourcefully enough to keep things in hand. With the Sox putting together a double, two walks and a single in the first (including a comebacker off Pettitte’s leg), and loading the bases with no one out in the third, it’s impressive that Boston only scored one run in each of those innings. Pettitte righted himself and bore down after that, throwing very well in his last few innings, and leaving after six innings with the Yankees trailing the Sox 2-1.

Meanwhile, I don’t know how Paul Byrd does it – repeatedly over the last few years he’s completely baffled the Yankees’ hitters, despite the undeniable fact that he’s Paul Byrd. On a typical day Paul Byrd couldn’t baffle my labrador retriever. But he did it again this afternoon, shutting out the Yanks for five and two thirds, except for one Melky Cabrera laser shot into the right field stands. But in the sixth, Teixeira and A-Rod managed two-out singles off him, and when Terry Francona brought in Takashi Saito, the Yankees broke through: Hideki Matsui knocked in both runners with a little dunker into right field to make it 3-2. Later in the game, Teixeira’s homer provided a little bit more insurance.

In other encouraging news, Brian Bruney looked great today, locking down five outs in the seventh and eighth. This really hasn’t been Bruney’s year, and I can’t say I have much confidence when he trots out to the mound, to put it diplomatically – but when he’s right, Bruney can be very very good, and if he somehow does get things figured out in time for the playoffs, well, that’d be a hell of a bullpen.

Mariano pitched the ninth, and things did not go entirely smoothly, but eventually he fielded a little grounder to the mound and threw to Teixeira for the much-anticipated last out. Everyone started high-fiving, and hugging — and I can report that in addition to his other good qualities Andy Pettitte seems to be a really excellent hugger, warm and confident and full-bodied, not one of those stiff back-patter types — and breaking out the Division Champion hats and shirts, and then spraying booze all over each other.

I’m always a sucker for a champagne celebration, and this one was fun to watch, but not quite all-out – because the Yankees want to keep the focus on their playoff goals, and maybe also because winning the division has been nearly a foregone conclusion for weeks now. I think every single player interviewed followed the script: this is great, BUT… we’ve got a great team, BUT… well, we’re really happy we met the first of our goals.

And that makes sense – for the Yankees, it’s not really an honor just to be nominated. Everyone expects more from them, so why go nuts? But personally, particularly after last year reminded me just how much it sucks when neither the Yankees or Mets get to the postseason, I’m happy just to have October baseball in New York – yes, even if that only means watching the Yankees get swept by the Tigers in the ALDS. I was entertained all the way through the season this year, and maybe that’s not all I ask, but it’s all I need.

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Show/Hide Comments 1-100
1 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Sep 27, 2009 10:50 pm

[0] It's that Three-Finger Brown windup by Byrd that baffles people...

I am super happy too, more than I thought. 100 wins is a great achievement. The series against the Tigers/Twins doesn't worry me, but LA or Boston...

2 Diane Firstman   ~  Sep 27, 2009 10:55 pm

This must have been a rotten Weekend in New England. Come Daybreak, I wonder what the Boston papers will say about their Sox. Oh well, Looks Like We Made It.

3 Emma Span   ~  Sep 27, 2009 11:02 pm

[1] Except that his ERA going into the game was 6.04, with 37 hits and 11 walks in 25 innings!

Of course he's coming out of retirement, so maybe he just finally shook off the rust. Even the last few seasons, though, he's been pretty mediocre overall.

4 Emma Span   ~  Sep 27, 2009 11:09 pm

[2] Heh, thanks, Diane - I Can't Smile Without You.

5 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Sep 27, 2009 11:18 pm

[2][4] Hey guys, this ain't the Copacabana at the Banter but you both sure got that New York City Rhythm...

6 thelarmis   ~  Sep 27, 2009 11:34 pm

[5] i'm errand boy for rhythm...send me!!! : )

WAHOO, am i a happy guy!!! YAN-KEES!!!!!!!

i love the Yankees soooo much, i think it might not be normal.

100 wins, swept the shit sox, tied the season series, division champs, home field advantage, avoiding those motherfucking scumbags celebrating on our field and in our clubhouse, bruney throwing 5 strong outs, cokey striking out Fat Liar, Andy gutting it out (again), captain leading off w/ another hit, matsui coming thru, robbie's 200th hit, A-Rod w/ a great at-bat and on and on and on.

man, i love this team!!!

Todd Drew is smiling today. i hope he smiles quite a lot more in the near future! : )

7 Eddie Lee Whitson KO   ~  Sep 27, 2009 11:45 pm

I don't know what I like more about the banter. The brilliant writing (thanks Emma, you never disappoint) or the bonhomie amongst the posters. In that respect a perfect tribute to this version of the yankees ~ 1 cab/25 guys and they can play the game. Ah, music and passion are always in fashion.....

8 thelarmis   ~  Sep 27, 2009 11:50 pm

[7] i think this where i take the "bonhomie" and turn into "bonham" and go on Led Zep rant! ; )

9 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Sep 27, 2009 11:57 pm

[8] thelarmis, just read about the Japanese jazz piano trio who ONLY play Zep covers..can't wait to see them..btw, Bonham or Keith Moon? I gotta go with Moon..(to be played by Nick Swisher in the "Which Yankees are like famous musicians game?")

10 Eddie Lee Whitson KO   ~  Sep 27, 2009 11:58 pm

[8] Well, then, I've got a whale of a tune for you


11 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Sep 28, 2009 12:03 am

[10] At the risk of angering my good pal thelarmis..i don't really like "drum solos"..(Elvin Jones excpeted)..I prefer hearing it in the flow of the music..

12 Diane Firstman   ~  Sep 28, 2009 12:05 am

When this team is Ten Years Gone, I suspect we'll still have a good feeling about them.

13 thelarmis   ~  Sep 28, 2009 12:06 am

[9] bonham. hands down.

and i totally dig keith moon and the who. still...bonham. it's a no-brainer.

there's a jazz singer in town here and she put out an entire album of singing Zep classics as jazz standards.

[10] nice! Joe Jackson mention's Earls Court in one of his songs from 1989.

14 thelarmis   ~  Sep 28, 2009 12:07 am

[12] there's going to be a Rush movie/documentary coming out next year or the year after! supposedly, it's going amazingly well, thus far... : )

15 Diane Firstman   ~  Sep 28, 2009 12:10 am


Maybe we'll see "Joe-Tor(re) and the O Dog" in the series?

16 thelarmis   ~  Sep 28, 2009 12:16 am

[15] nice!

good god, kim jones looked hot as hell in the clubhouse. the dousing of champagne was a good look for her!!! ; )

i'll never grow tired of hearing Mo speak. after all, it's the voice of god. (NO disrespect to bob sheppard!)

17 Diane Firstman   ~  Sep 28, 2009 12:21 am


Teixeira in his goggles was cute ...

18 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Sep 28, 2009 12:22 am

I wonder if the Boss still has enough awareness to acknowledge the division title..I guess some days he's here and others he's not..

19 thelarmis   ~  Sep 28, 2009 12:25 am

[17] ick.

[18] irony: i got a call tonight from one of my old students. he's got an audition on tuesday and needs to take a lesson tomorrow to prepare some tunes. he said there are some "bonham triplet like" fills i need to teach him! should be fun!!!

20 cult of basebaal   ~  Sep 28, 2009 12:50 am
21 Rich   ~  Sep 28, 2009 12:57 am

[17] Teixeira in his goggles was cute …

He sort of looked too hip for the room.

22 thelarmis   ~  Sep 28, 2009 1:15 am

[20] TooL actually covered No Quarter. yeah man, Bonzo rules!!! i teach all my students Bonham grooves.

1973 was a terrific year! ; )

23 Paul   ~  Sep 28, 2009 7:37 am

Where are the Girardi haters now? Hard to believe that not five days ago the sky was falling and the Yanks were going to be lucky to get the wild card. But I'm sure they're waiting for a hypercritical post-season in which every move is under their insane microscope.

24 rbj   ~  Sep 28, 2009 8:23 am

"On a typical day Paul Byrd couldn’t baffle my labrador retriever."

Even though it is easy to baffle labrador retrievers. At least the ones I've met.

Ah, a week of spring training baseball during Oktoberfest.

And in honor of the late William Safire, next year in Jerusalem.

25 Yankee Fan in Boston   ~  Sep 28, 2009 9:05 am

I've enjoyed this season more than any other I can remember.

A great bunch of guys, playing their hearts out every night.

Let's hope they can maintain the intensity over the next week and enter October with a little momentum.

26 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Sep 28, 2009 9:06 am

[24] I'm actually kind of sad we will miss out on Zach the Great, no other reason to watch the Royals...

Ah, William Safire. Always such a joyous occasion when Richard Nixon has another buddy join him downstairs! :)

27 51cq24   ~  Sep 28, 2009 9:07 am

[23] i've been wearied by the girardi negativism all year, but surely you'd agree that october is the proper time to put him under the microscope. i'm looking forward to finally seeing him manage in a postseason series. and if he does anything wrong, i will join the "haters."

28 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Sep 28, 2009 9:21 am

[27] Yeah, I can't get too worked up about the "haters" on a baseball blog..I mean, let people rant, it's funny. Also, I agree with those who think a manager rarely wins games but can often lose them..I hope Girardi loses his bunt fetish and doesn't screw up the bullpen in the playoffs..if he's ok there then #27 is on the way!

Slumber time..not so exciting to wake up to the Royals..maybe Edwar and Shelly will get in the game at least..

29 Sliced Bread   ~  Sep 28, 2009 9:25 am

The Yanks finish the maraton with a muscular sprint! Legs and arms pumping they take 2 of 3 aganst the Angels. Still gaining speed... 3 of 3 against the Red Sox. Usain Bolt is in the house as the Yanks cross the finish line finishing the 100 victory dash! I love it!

I would now be inclined to give Joba a Division Series start, but that would still depend on him not regressing this week.

I would now be inclined to give Bruney some work in a close game, but that too would still depend on him not regressing this week.

I would now be inclined to start AJ in Game 2, but that too would still depend on him not regressing this week. Andy's reliability is not something I take lightly or for granted. He probably deserves the Game 2 start, but I'm inclined to split up the lefties, and go with the 1-2, left-right power punch to start a series. Plus, AJ's been the #2 all season. Why mess with his head?

The games are meaningless this week but there are important things to watch for.

30 FreddySez   ~  Sep 28, 2009 9:26 am

Amid the joy, can't shake this thought:

Somewhere, a village populated exclusively by idiots is missing its Joe Morgan.

Resume joy... now.

31 Shaun P.   ~  Sep 28, 2009 9:55 am

"It's an ill wind as blows nobody no good, as I always say. And All's well as ends Better!"

I'd raise a pint to that, if it wasn't 9:55 in the morning.

32 rbj   ~  Sep 28, 2009 10:03 am

[26] I like Safire. He did repudiate Nixon (whom I never liked) and growing up, the last thing I would read Sunday nights was Russel Baker's column and then Safire's On Language column in the NYTime's Sunday magazine.

Soooo, AAA lineup tonight?

33 RagingTartabull   ~  Sep 28, 2009 10:11 am

[26, 32] I appreciate Safire strictly from a politcal dork standpoint. It's like when Novak died, ideologically I couldn't stand him but that doesn't mean he didn't have his fun moments.

Irving Kristol on the other hand I have serious issues with only because I think the philosophy he spent the last 30+ years publicly espousing resulted in a whole lot of people needlessly getting killed.

34 Rich   ~  Sep 28, 2009 10:37 am

I'm wearied by the weariness of the Girardi negativism. The $60+ million payroll disparity is an incredible regular season advantage. I truly think that almost any manager could win 100+ games with this team. If he wins the WS this season, I would be willing to rethink. If not, nope.

Safire was a rational conservative, something that is in short supply now.

35 Shaun P.   ~  Sep 28, 2009 10:37 am

[32] Yes, except I'm not sure they have enough people to take everyone's place, even if Hairston wasn't hurt. If I had to guess, Jeter and Cano will start, so that Pena plays 3B, with Hinske in LF and Shelley in RF, either Melky or Gardner in CF, Miranda at 1B, and Cervelli behind the plate. No clue who DHs - maybe Damon?

36 Rich   ~  Sep 28, 2009 11:03 am

Why not put Hinske at 3B, Pena at SS, and Guzman in LF?

37 Shaun P.   ~  Sep 28, 2009 11:20 am

[36] I figured that there's no way the Captain sits this game out - he'll rest tomorrow, is my guess - and so Pena plays 3B, which puts Hinske in LF.

I also thought that Hairston wasn't available, but PeteAbe's post on who might play today suggests that he is. So Hairston could play 3B with Pena at 2B.

38 Emma Span   ~  Sep 28, 2009 11:26 am

[24] Yes, god knows I love my dog - and she is the sweetest creature on the planet - but over the years I have seen her baffled by infants, squirrels, squeaky toys, and socks.

39 Paul   ~  Sep 28, 2009 11:37 am

[27] Does anything wrong? When actions are only judged after the fact based on the results? Specify for me here and now what it would mean, based on everything you've seen from him in over 300 games, what he could possibly do "wrong".

He doesn't go crazy with bunts. But then I think first and second with no one out is a fine time for it. Perhaps the only time. Better that than the double play.

Two years running the guy has built a bullpen from spare parts. If they succeed in October it will be because of that foundation. Look at the names they're relying on. Doesn't he get significant credit for Hughes, Robertson, Coke, Aceves, and even Bruney. Hell, it wasn't last week that folks were bemoaning the use of Bruney. And now he's contributing valuable innings again.

First and foremost the players have to execute. The offense hasn't been hitting that well. Whose fault is that if it carries over the post-season? Or if Burnett implodes? Those to me are the biggest question marks, not the manager.

I'm one who thinks the manager has a very small role to play. But based on Girardi's record in winning close games and in outperforming their Pythag, he's more than capable of helping the team in October. What's he going to do to really hurt their chances? Bat A-Rod eighth?

[34] Wait, so 2008 was his fault. But 2009 isn't? Both years had $200 million payrolls. Seems like you're trying to dance away from the weariness you help to propagate (and with little supporting evidence in the first place).

Seriously, someone give me an aggregate stat for managers. Cause in a sport where great players fail 70% of the time, I truly want to know how often great managers fail. Without that, all I hear is alot of hot air....except, curiously, for the last five days.

I mean, seriously, where are the folks who thought the sky was falling last Wednesday?

Of course, if you believe October is a crapshoot, then it doesn't matter what the manager does.

40 RagingTartabull   ~  Sep 28, 2009 11:43 am

[39] +1

41 monkeypants   ~  Sep 28, 2009 11:53 am

[39] He doesn’t go crazy with bunts. But then I think first and second with no one out is a fine time for it. Perhaps the only time. Better that than the double play.

It depends on the inning. According to Tangotiger's run expectancy data (admittedly for 1999-2002), the run expectancy for 1st and 2nd and none out is 1.57, with 2nd and 3rd and one out it's 1.47. Therefore, bunting in that situation actually lowers your run expectancy (because it cuts down on the odds of a big inning), though it may (I don't have the data) increase the chances of scoring a single run.

So, bunting early in the in the game is probably a bad strategy, unless you have someone up like Molina. Bunting late in a tie game, when the one run is more crucial, might make more sense.

42 Paul   ~  Sep 28, 2009 11:54 am

[40] Thanks. Speaking of which...

Alex, Cliff, Diane, Emma, Will, Bruce et al. -

Have you guys seen the sites where you can vote up comments? I know of two plugins - IntenseDebate and Disqus. Seems like it could be much more interesting to track relevant threads. The only downside is the comments are no longer linear. Obviously that wouldn't work for game threads. But I wonder if it could be made to work on all other posts. Arguing with minority opinions is often a waste of time. But simply voting them down is a helpful way to frame debates toward more productive directions.

43 Paul   ~  Sep 28, 2009 11:57 am

So, bunting early in the in the game is probably a bad strategy

Wait, you end with your preferred conclusion but without looking up all the relevant data? You really think that's kosher?

Scoring a single run off a guy like Verlander or Beckett, especially in the early innings and with a Sabathia on the mound, should exactly be the strategy, even with Jeter at bat (with how many double plays he grounds into).

44 monkeypants   ~  Sep 28, 2009 12:02 pm

[39] Hell, it wasn’t last week that folks were bemoaning the use of Bruney. And now he’s contributing valuable innings again.

well, let's not get too excited. His last five appearances, going back to Sept. 13:

Sept. 13: 2 outs in a 13-3 win
Sept. 16: 0 outs, 2 hits and run in a close win (5-4 win over Toronto)
Sept. 19: 3 outs, 2 hits, 0 runs in a 10-1 win
Sept. 21: 3 outs, 2 hits, 1 run in a close loss (2-5 vs LAA)
Sept. 27: 5 outs and all zeros in a close win over the Sox, after the division race was essentially decided.

I'm not sure that one good outing in a non-blowout, with an average of an appearance once every three days, warrants the iterative use of the verb ("is contributing"), nor am I convinced that the innings can be described as "valuable."

Still, it will be a boon if they have righted Bruney in time for the playoffs.

45 monkeypants   ~  Sep 28, 2009 12:06 pm

[43] Why not. You confidently stated your conclusion without citing ANY data whatsoever. And for the record, I am not convinced at all that going a single run in the early innings against Verlander is the right strategy at all. You could argue that, given his excellence, such opportunities to put up a crooked number are rare and it is better to go for it than sacrifice an out. In fact, I would suspect that the Verlanders of the world tend to get out of 2nd and 3rd, one out more often than most pitchers.

So no, I would not bunt early in the game with a player who has a .400 OBP, even if it's Jeter and he hits into a goodly number of DPs. I don't take the bat out the hands of one of my best hitters.

46 monkeypants   ~  Sep 28, 2009 12:07 pm

[42] You seem really angry.

47 vockins   ~  Sep 28, 2009 12:10 pm

[13] I wrote on another forum a while ago that Keith Moon was an amusing bombastic clown on the drums. It's like listening to a wind up monkey drummer that never runs down. There's value in that. The guy was a very good drummer - no doubt. A couple of steps below Mitch Mitchell. That's still real, real good.

John Bonham was a genius. A superior, groundbreaking genius.

48 RagingTartabull   ~  Sep 28, 2009 12:14 pm

Just going back to our Safire comments for a moment, Gawker put this up and it is fascinating/eerie/completely bizzare to read.


49 Rich   ~  Sep 28, 2009 12:17 pm

[46] He was angry as Bum's Rush as well.

50 monkeypants   ~  Sep 28, 2009 12:31 pm

[49] Indeed, yes. I remember.

51 Paul   ~  Sep 28, 2009 12:35 pm

[45] Wait, you said "probably a bad strategy" based on the difference of .1 runs. And somehow I'm biased?

I know what the data shows. Rahter than you presenting only one bit and overinterpreting it to support your pre-determined conclusion, why not present all of the data?

The other problem with your argument is you need a double to score two runs with 1st and 2nd occupied, and even then the second run is iffy. 2nd and 3rd though and two runs usually score on a single.

Also with 1st and 2nd, you need a base hit to score a run. With 2nd and 3rd, an out often produces a run.

[46] I'm not angry. I just hate how emotional mentality rules the internet especially since the technology exists to limit it's damage, especially the type that goes on for post after post and comment after comment. Nothing takes the winds out of a troll like no upvotes in their favor.

[49] Who's Bum Rush? Is that supposed to be a put-down? Why not instead of ad hominem you own up to the nonsense you've been espousing instead of tap dancing away from it?

52 Paul   ~  Sep 28, 2009 12:39 pm

[50] Exactly what I'm talking about. You two ganging up on me, for simply disagreeing, adds nothing to this site or thread.

I'm sorry if I've hurt your fragile egos. But I suppose when your favorite soapbox has been rendered mute and moot, you need something else to say or someone else to attack?

53 Will Weiss   ~  Sep 28, 2009 12:58 pm

[13] Bonham, easily. Though I agree with you re: Moon, and [47] TREMENDOUS call on Mitch Mitchell. Supremely underrated drummer. The Bonham / Moon connection is even more interesting when you consider that when Page was forming Led Zeppelin, his original choice for drummer was Moon.

[42] I can't speak for the rest of my colleagues here, but voting down certain threads would seem to me to defeat the purpose of Banter. Hell, I enjoy presenting minority opinions in my columns just to see what kind of reaction occurs in the thread. Voting down individual posts, though, I think can be an interesting idea.

54 Will Weiss   ~  Sep 28, 2009 12:59 pm

No comments on Bruney changing his number to 99? That has to be relevant to something ;-)

55 thelarmis   ~  Sep 28, 2009 1:01 pm

[11] ha, no offense taken, buddy! i don't know why i missed your drum solo comment last night. i wasn't a huge fan of drums solos growing up, so i hear ya. since i became professional, i studied them a lot, thought about them a ton and worked incredibly hard on them. drum solos can be incredibly musical and efficacious. open solos have there time and place, but i do mostly enjoy soloing over a vamp, so there is a musical ostinato to follow.

[47] good stuff on Moon. i agree wholeheartedly on Bonham. don't kill me, but i'm not a Mitch Mitchell fan, nor do i think he's anything special. now i'm NOT saying he sucks - he doesn't; didn't. had a good feel, etc. - i'm just not a big fan, is all...

56 Paul   ~  Sep 28, 2009 1:04 pm

[53] Sorry, I wasn't clear with my terminology. A thread is a strand of comments in forums with one comment at the lead. Threaded comments then coalesce around one topic. The software allows you to vote down any individual comment. So for instance you could have the lead comment voted up or down and then the contrary response also voted up or down. It's a nice way to manage debate and see which opinions are winning. The main post though is left without votes.

The best part is the plug-ins are free!

57 Paul   ~  Sep 28, 2009 1:09 pm

Intense Debate


I'm not super knowledgeable about installing them, but if I can help let me know.

I do know that the developers are small teams and they could help if you run into problems. I think the big question for you is whether you could maintain the status quo for game threads. But the good news is even if you can't, the comments can still be sorted by time posted and without the votes affecting the order.

58 thelarmis   ~  Sep 28, 2009 1:11 pm

[53] good call on the no voting thing. i'm not a big fan of those kinds of polls on blogs like this.

GREAT info on Page wanting Moon first. that's cool to know. was that when they were called the New Yardbirds, or even before?

i completely disagree about Mitchell, however. i think he is supremely overrated. immensely so, actually. and again, i am NOT dismissing him in any way; there is just nothing special about his playing that warrants eternal praise...(imho!)

59 thelarmis   ~  Sep 28, 2009 1:12 pm



then again, we were gunning for the Tiggers a coupla years back and that did is no good. but still...

60 monkeypants   ~  Sep 28, 2009 1:14 pm

[51] Wait, you said “probably a bad strategy” based on the difference of .1 runs. And somehow I’m biased?

Who said you were biased. Slow down, daddy-o. I presented evidence that indicates bunting was probably a bad strategy early in the game. You presented no evidence, but rather a series of (technically) hypothetical and deductive arguments. I don't know if you are biased are not. But I do think that you are wrong in this case. I would not mind seeing *your* counter-evidence. And by the way, dismissing the .1 runs out of hand constitutes neither evidence nor argument.

Rahter than you presenting only one bit and overinterpreting it to support your pre-determined conclusion, why not present all of the data?

Who made you the thought police, who can determine when interpretation is appropriate, and when it is "overinterpretation"?

And what pre-determined conclusion? That I think bunting in most circumstances is a poor strategy? That was not a predetermined conclusion--it was arrived at by looking at the very data I cited. In fact, years ago, I probably would have stood and applauded a first inning bunt. Now, not so much.

Please tell me, what is the predetermined conclusion that you seem to know that I have in mind.

As for presenting all of the data, I simply do not have at hand the historical data for the number of times a team scores one or more runs (v. 0 runs) in a a 1st/2nd/no out v. 2nd/3rd/one out situations. But I do have the historical evidence for run expectancy. You meanwhile cite no evidence at all.

The other problem with your argument is you need a double to score two runs with 1st and 2nd occupied, and even then the second run is iffy. 2nd and 3rd though and two runs usually score on a single.

Also with 1st and 2nd, you need a base hit to score a run. With 2nd and 3rd, an out often produces a run.

Well, no. You can score two runs with a HR, or with a series of hits, etc. And yes, while you can score the single run from third without a base hit, you have sacrificed the most valuable commodity in the game to get that situation: an out. The historical data is pretty clear--even if in this case it's only .1 runs---that you are better off in the long run not giving away an out, but taking three cracks at a base hit. And, you still have the chance of advancing the runner if the batter fails (a fly ball, a grounder to the right side), so you could achieve the same end as by bunting while not eliminating the chance of getting a hit and opening up a big inning. Is there risk? Of course.

Nothing takes the winds out of a troll like no upvotes in their favor.

All I know is that the Banter community is pretty fun, with a lots of divergent---and indeed strong---opinions. I don't know how long you have been reading the threads here, but my possibly faulty memory recalls you appearing only lately, and posting dozens of sarcastic "fire Girardi" one liners during a game thread or two. By my understanding of the word, that makes you closer to a troll than, say, Williamnyy (the strongest fire Girardi voice of the group).

And for the record, I do not think that you are a troll. Nor do I agree with William with regard to Girardi.

61 Paul   ~  Sep 28, 2009 1:15 pm

[58] Let me be perfectly clear. It's not voting on the main post. It's voting on individual comments. As a community, wouldn't it be helpful to see which topics are most on everyone's mind? Rather than having one or two posters dominating discussion with their particular soapboxes?

62 monkeypants   ~  Sep 28, 2009 1:16 pm

[52] I’m sorry if I’ve hurt your fragile egos. But I suppose when your favorite soapbox has been rendered mute and moot, you need something else to say or someone else to attack?

You flatter yourself.

63 51cq24   ~  Sep 28, 2009 1:17 pm

[42] it's easy enough for you to completely ignore all of girardi's faults. why so hard to skip some comments?

[39] i did not know that i must now list all possible stupid moves before i comment on them. i'm not even a girardi "hater." my only point is that i'm more interested in how he manages in the postseason than in the regular season, because i actually agree with [34] that just about any manager could have gotten us to this point. i think that managing in a short series, when you no longer have to worry about resting your players etc and just have to win, is more important and easier to critique than managing in the regular season.

64 Paul   ~  Sep 28, 2009 1:24 pm

And by the way, dismissing the .1 runs out of hand constitutes neither evidence nor argument.

Where's the evidence that says that difference is statistically significant? You assume it is.

the most valuable commodity in the game

Actually, the most valuable commodity is runs seeing as that determines, you know, who wins the game.

That's a pretty bad mistake and in favor of your predetermined bias - don't "give up" an out.

And for the record, I do not think that you are a troll.

Weren't you just calling me names? And ganging up on me in the process? I'm going to let you have your say from this point forward. For the future, attacking me then trying to discuss rationally isn't a good way to engage people.

65 thelarmis   ~  Sep 28, 2009 1:26 pm

[61] for me, personally, i think it invites division and ganging up, etc.

66 thelarmis   ~  Sep 28, 2009 1:27 pm

[64] [65] haha - i guess that happens without having a voting section! ; )

67 Paul   ~  Sep 28, 2009 1:29 pm

[63] What are his faults? You tell me. Cause bunting and bullpen aren't among them. Bunting is rare and the bullpen is one of his strengths.

The same manager with the same payroll didn't get them this far last year. Managers are vastly overrated. But the evidence, last year and this year, says Girardi is a net positive. They win close games and they beat their Pythag.

I just want to know what the counter evidence is. Cause cherry picking individual decisions is like cherry picking individual at-bats or even games.

68 Paul   ~  Sep 28, 2009 1:31 pm

[66] Check out those sites. It's not sections. Each and every comment can be voted on.

69 51cq24   ~  Sep 28, 2009 1:35 pm

[67] you're arguing with the wrong person. i mostly like girardi. but there are clearly decisions he makes that are just odd. i'm not going to list them right now. you may think it's cherry picking, but individual decisions are still decisions, not physical plays over which you might get annoyed with players. since the impact of managers is vastly overrated, small things make a big difference.

i for one don't think that paul is bum rush. bum rush was belligerent. paul is just somewhat combative.

70 thelarmis   ~  Sep 28, 2009 1:39 pm

[68] i just don't think we need each and every comment here to be voted on.

hell, i'd fill up the "useless, pointless, utterly stoopid, completely irrelevant, waaaay off-topic" box in no time! then, where the hell would i go?! ; )

71 Paul   ~  Sep 28, 2009 1:40 pm

[69] Don't you see that listing individual decisions is like listing individual at-bats? We wouldn't think of it then, so why evaluate managers based on something that could be easily fudged in any direction we desire?

We need an aggregate stat for managers. Just one. Until we do, I'll think alot of the criticism is mostly hot air from emotional fans.

Now I've offered one that attempts to get at the problem. I eagerly await a better alternative. Until then I'm forced to conclude that we're lucky to have Girardi.

72 monkeypants   ~  Sep 28, 2009 1:46 pm

[64] Actually, the most valuable commodity is runs seeing as that determines, you know, who wins the game.

I'm not going to play a semantics game with you. The most valuable commodity in baseball is outs--it is the only limiting factor in the game. That is why OBP is more valuable than, say, BA...because it is an expression of how many PAs a player does not make an out. Not making outs leads to runs, which leads to wins. On this, I will stand by Bill James and Earl Weaver.

Where’s the evidence that says that difference is statistically significant? You assume it is.

And you assume that it isn't. Yet so far I am the only one to present actual, empirical evidence. If you want to dismiss it as insignificant, show me the math, don;t just waive it away. If you say (as you did above) that scoring from third with less than two outs "often" happens, then show me the evidence.

Weren’t you just calling me names? And ganging up on me in the process?

Who was calling anyone names? Who was ganging up? Grow up. Your posts were reminiscent of a former poster, and some have made the not unreasonable conclusion that you are that poster under a different handle. That's not name calling.

But for the record, I'll assume that you are not that other poster. It changes my arguments not one bit.

attacking me then trying to discuss rationally isn’t a good way to engage people.

ha-ha. I present you with evidence in a civil discussion about the efficacy of bunting, you dismiss my evidence out of hand, then make some crack about my fragile ego. And then you claim both the moral high ground and a monopoly on rationality.

That's sweet.

OK, I promise not to hurt your feelings.

Show me some evidence.

73 51cq24   ~  Sep 28, 2009 1:47 pm

[71] i just said why i think it's different. decisions are not physical. maybe there are some similarities, but whereas none of us are hitting along with the hitters or pitching along with the pitchers, we're all thinking along with the manager. we don't have all the information (especially during the regular season when it isn't always all-out win or go home), but we have a pretty good idea.

it's not quite fair to say "we need an aggregate stat for managers" and then say "if no one else comes up with a better idea i'm forced to conclude that i'm right." i don't see how you can make a stat out of mental decisions, especially if you dismiss the kind of numbers monkeypants is giving you.

74 monkeypants   ~  Sep 28, 2009 1:48 pm

[71] We need an aggregate stat for managers. Just one.

This would be ideal, just like having one aggregate stat for players (things like WARP attempt that). But until we do, we are left groping at individual metrics. I guess evaluating managers is like trying to quantify defense.

75 RIYank   ~  Sep 28, 2009 1:54 pm

Not to get heavily involved here, but there is no doubt that the 0.1 runs difference is statistically significant. I guarantee you that it is. We're talking about the *entire* set of historical data.

That the expected runs for the pre-bunt situation is higher than the post-successful-bunt situation tells us that often it's not a good move. I think the right way to look at it is this: if you find a situation where there's some significant extra advantage to bunting with nobody out and men on first and second, then you probably get it up to even (that is, it's just a tossup whether to bunt). If you find several big advantages (great bunter, late inning, tie game, great bullpen), it's probably worth doing.

76 Will Weiss   ~  Sep 28, 2009 1:56 pm

[58] No worries on Mitchell. He was a great fit for Hendrix, and I have an affinity for rock/blues/funk drummers who play(ed) traditional grip. ... The Moon connection occurred during the New Yardbirds time period. He also inadvertently named the band. I forgot the name -- maybe it was The New Yardbirds -- he pitched to Moon, and Moon, pulling a Biff Tannen, said, "That'll go over like a lead zeppelin."

[68] Pandora's box. I'd rather have people tell me why they either agree or disagree with a comment or a full column, even if it gets testy, as much of the discussion above has, right or wrong.

77 thelarmis   ~  Sep 28, 2009 2:05 pm

[75] ah, what do you know about math, anyhow?!?!?! HA!!! ; )

[76] oh, i think i heard about that naming story before! definitely didn't know - or have even the slightest remembrance - that it was keith moon. that's funny!

just curious - what is it about the traditional grip that you like? is it that it looks cool?! (it does.)

when i was touring over in England, i thumbed thru a really cool Bonham biography. i'm not a big book reader, so i didn't buy it, but it seemed definitive and amazing. i think it was written by a well-known music historian/writer (i recognized his name, but can't think of it, at the moment) and Bonzo's brother.

78 RIYank   ~  Sep 28, 2009 2:20 pm

I said I wasn't going to get heavily in involved but then I got curious.

Tango Tiger's Win Expectancy Charts tell us something about successfully bunting guys from 1&2 to 2&3 when nobody is out, close and late.

If you're down by a run in the bottom of the seventh, you gain a tenth of a percent (.001) of win expectancy by the successful bunt. In a tie game, you gain .006. And if you're up one run, you gain .003. These are slim margins!
They stay slim until you look at the bottom of the ninth. Then you can pump up your win expectancy by a couple of percentage points, either in a tie game or down a run, by a successful bunt.

TT doesn't give the charts for earlier innings. I'd be very surprised if the advantage doesn't swing away from bunting if you look at the first three innings. But one important thing to keep in mind is that the change in winning chances is very small, so it's really not something to beat up a manager over.

Oh, the charts are here:


79 Will Weiss   ~  Sep 28, 2009 2:27 pm

[77] I play primarily traditional grip, and since so few modern drummers play that way as their default style, it's cool to see. I watch films of those guys to get a sense of their technique. I know that Neil Peart has become an even better drummer since reinventing his style to play traditional. He did that about 12 years ago after the Test For Echo tour.

What's the title of that Bonham bio?

80 thelarmis   ~  Sep 28, 2009 2:42 pm

[79] very cool you play traditional! i play that way for brushes only, but overall, i'm not a huge fan of the grip. the are pros/cons to everything, but as more of a complete percussionist that plays many instruments (i don't mean that in a snotty, nose held high kinda way, just that i play mallet percussion, timpani, etc.), the traditional grip is not pragmatic and can't work across the board for the other instruments.

do you know the history behind the traditional grip? it's evolution is pretty cool.

i would not say Neil Peart has become a better drummer because of the traditional grip. he became better after he started studying with Freddie Gruber. i was fortunate enough to hang around w/ Gruber, here and there, for a coupla years, as i was finishing college/graduating/becoming a pro. he's a native New Yorker and HUGE Yankees fan!!! he was also Buddy Rich's best friend...

Neil does NOT primarily play traditional grip; he's still very much a matched player. he's configured his kit to try and accommodate both, but to me, still looks awkward playing traditional. as great as he is - and i'm a massive fan - he doesn't have nearly the technique of say a Steve Smith, JoJo Mayer or Dave Weckl - all Gruber students, as well.

i need to check the dates, but Neil was preparing this 'evolution' before the Test For Echo tour and was probably just ready to pull it out then in '96-'97.

man, i wish i could remember the Bonham bio, but i can't. i wanna say "mick ronser" was the author, but i know that's not right. maybe a similar name? that ringing any bells?

btw, i forgot to mention this last night:

before my jazz trio performed, there was a group before us, called "Whole Lotta Dixie". they played Dixieland versions of old classic tunes and started their set w/ Zep's "Whole Lotta Love", mixed with a little of the Guess Who's "American Woman". it was pretty hilarious and awesome! unfortunately, by a coupla songs in, the polish had worn off and it got old fast. i actually used to play in a Dixieland band w/ the banjo player/singer/band leader, several years ago. he's great!

81 Yankster   ~  Sep 28, 2009 3:04 pm

Paul, I agree with your position here, but I don't think anyone is bullying you or calling you names. Bum Rush was a difficult though sometimes insightful poster that doesn't seem to come around much any more. Monkeypants has made some great clear points that I can't quite agree with (win expectancy describes average behavior, and averages tend not to be useful heuristics in the either of the 25% of cases on the ends of the curve (ie, 1/2 the time). Of course, it's hard to know where a given at bat is in the bell curve - if you knew you would add the variable. I'd love to add OBP + Slugging as factors in win expectancy. I'm pretty sure it would have a significant effect.

Monkeypants: I thought "outs" were the most significant variable in determining "runs," not more important than runs. I thought it was a question of outs vs. hits, where I agree, outs are more important. But how can a process variable be more important than the outcome?

Although I think Girardi makes some decisions that seem suboptimal to me during games - using Hughes for a single out a few weeks ago seemed to unanimously bewilder radio commentators, banterers, and newspaper writers, for example, on the other hand Girardi seems to manage for the season in a different way than I was used to with Torre. One explanation might be that, in some cases, Girardi is willing to put a game in jeopardy to provide extra rest or to rehabilitate a player. Where this true, I don't know if it's a good idea or not (I don't have the facts). But I am impressed by the general health of the bullpen and most of the players. I'm astonished that Matsui and Damon have made it this far, for example. I think Torre would have put Matsui in the field - "given him a chance." If Girardi's managing the season and we are expecting tactical rationality, we'll not see what we want to see.

82 FreddySez   ~  Sep 28, 2009 3:11 pm

Re bunting:

Just remember that those run expectancy tables present a broad average of every game situation, every level of talent and speed, etc. And no real-life situation exactly matches those averages.

Note also that the two situations we're analyzing using those tables -- "first and second no out" vs. "second and third one out" -- arise in lots of different ways, and not always one after the other as the result of a bunt play. Hence they don't directly represent the outcome of that play; they represent it only by implication and interpolation.

Trying to exploit real-life situations to skew the by-the-book probabilities a little bit in your favor is what the game's all about. It's not voodoo; it's the arbitrage a knowing manager uses to win games.

When you've got the right man at the plate and the right defensive setup, a bunt is one of the ways you might -- might -- accomplish that.

83 monkeypants   ~  Sep 28, 2009 3:14 pm

[81] I thought “outs” were the most significant variable in determining “runs,” not more important than runs. I thought it was a question of outs vs. hits, where I agree, outs are more important. But how can a process variable be more important than the outcome?

Yes, well spoken. But then we can take it to the extreme: runs scored are only one variable in wins, which truly is the most important stat of all.

My point is that not making outs is always the best way to promote the scoring of runs and thus wins. Advancing a runner at the cost of an out nearly always does NOT increase the chances of scoring (as [78] discusses). Outs are the one finite resource that a team has, and must be guarded preciously. It makes very little sense in almost any situation (but not all situations) to turn a . 350 or .400 OBP batter (that is, a makes out 60% or 65% of the time) into a nearly 100% out batter, for the sake of advancing the runners.

84 thelarmis   ~  Sep 28, 2009 3:14 pm

[81] Bum was banned from the site. immediately after, he came back under different screen names. some of Pauls' comments outta the blue caused some folks to think they might be one in the same. prolly not the same cat though...

85 RIYank   ~  Sep 28, 2009 3:25 pm

[82] I don't see why it matters how the 1&2 and 2&3 situations came about.
And I fully agree that sometimes there will be a special reason to prefer one of the situations to the other. For instance, if you had Jason Giambi on deck the 1&2 situation goes up in value, whereas if you had Brett Gardner you'd prefer the 2&3. I think you should use the Win Exp charts as a starting point, though. Otherwise you're starting from dubious baseball traditions, or pure speculation, or, well, nothing.

86 Bama Yankee   ~  Sep 28, 2009 3:34 pm

Does anyone have more recent run expectancy numbers than the Tangotiger data from 10 years ago? I've heard that chart used to argue against the bunt in the 1st and 2nd no outs situation for years but I've never seen the updated stats. Since the numbers are close (1.573 to 1.467), what happens if a more recent sample shows the numbers flipped? Would you guys come over to the bunting side of the fence? ;-)
Also, I've heard people say that when you bunt you take the bat out the next hitter's hands since they would probably walk him to keep the double play in order (especially when it is Teixeira). But Tangotiger's chart shows that base loaded with one out nets 1.65 runs...so that is not a bad play after all.
I agree with [82] most of all, I like to look at the current game situation to determine if the bunt is a good play. As much as I like the bunt (due to the fact that you can use it along with a sac fly to score a run while making outs, which are easier to accomplish than hits), I still don't think you should bunt in every situation where "the book" calls for it. Similarly, those who hate the bunt should admit there are times when it is useful. I see Girardi as a manager who falls somewhere in the middle and that is probably a good thing.

87 Raf   ~  Sep 28, 2009 3:42 pm

FWIW, if Paul was Bum Rush, he would've thrown together a string of profanities by now :)

They're two different people

88 Raf   ~  Sep 28, 2009 3:45 pm

I guess evaluating managers is like trying to quantify defense.

Could be. Personally, I think the biggest difference between this year and last is that Cano, Cabrera and Jeter are having nice bounce back years. And the Yanks have had a full season of Posada.

After all, they had the same $65M payroll advantage last year, and only won 89 games...

89 Rich   ~  Sep 28, 2009 3:46 pm

Who’s Bum Rush? Is that supposed to be a put-down? Why not instead of ad hominem you own up to the nonsense you’ve been espousing instead of tap dancing away from it?

You're not fooling me.

90 Rich   ~  Sep 28, 2009 3:47 pm

I actually had this right except for Guzman:

Gardner CF
Cabrera RF
Damon LF
Posada DH
Cano 2B
Hinske 3B
Miranda 1B
Cervelli C
Pena SS

91 Raf   ~  Sep 28, 2009 3:49 pm

[89] Nah, they're different people, they have to be. People don't change their writing styles overnight. Their demeanors are different as well; Bum Rush would hammer at a point, and his favorite target was williamny23. Given the circumstances behind his banning, I would be very surprised that the two were one and the same.

92 RIYank   ~  Sep 28, 2009 3:50 pm

[86] Sure, you can look at more recent Run Expectancy numbers here:


Right, I've never thought much of the "taking the bat out of X's hands" argument.

Obviously, everyone agrees that there are times when the bunt is useful (I just demonstrated that it is useful much of the time, with the win expectancy, right?). But if you don't start with some basic trends, basic data, then you've got very little chance of figuring out what the best move is.

Oh, and in case this wasn't clear: I'm really not concerned about Girardi calling for too many bunts. It won't happen, and even if he does call for one when he shouldn't, it's probably only a tiny loss in win expectancy.

93 Emma Span   ~  Sep 28, 2009 3:52 pm

Ha. I am once again reminded of my favorite cartoon which, if I had a cubicle, would totally be tacked onto my wall there:


94 Rich   ~  Sep 28, 2009 3:58 pm

[91] I respectfully disagree.

95 Bama Yankee   ~  Sep 28, 2009 4:08 pm

[92] Thanks for the link (I'll try to take a look at that later when I have more time).

I'm not so sure everyone around here agrees that there are times when the bunt is useful. IIRC, there are some who take the extreme view about never giving up outs...no matter what !!!11!!one one shift one... ;-)

It's that "never-bunt" crowd that I wonder about. They seem to be drinking the Bill James/sabermetric Kool-aid from one of those fancy helmets with the cup holders and staws. Bunting is part of baseball and just because you bunt doesn't always mean that you are automatically giving up an out (the defense still has to make the play...and if it is a pressure spot like the playoffs, it is certainly not always a given).

96 Bama Yankee   ~  Sep 28, 2009 4:12 pm

[93] Nice. I need to remember that one myself. One of my Facebook friends loves to bait people with his posts. I try not to fall for it, but sometimes I get sucked in. Maybe I'll cut that cartoon out and tape it to my laptop...

97 RIYank   ~  Sep 28, 2009 4:13 pm

[95] Yep, you're right, I remember that now. And I answered, "It's not giving up outs it's trading them for advancement of the runners..."

(Even though I have one of those hats and chug sabermetric coolade like it was Miller Lite.)

98 RIYank   ~  Sep 28, 2009 4:15 pm

I just love XKCD. Here's a good baseball one (sort of):


99 Raf   ~  Sep 28, 2009 4:25 pm

Bunting is part of baseball and just because you bunt doesn’t always mean that you are automatically giving up an out (the defense still has to make the play…and if it is a pressure spot like the playoffs, it is certainly not always a given).

I would say most of the time it's a given that the defense makes the play.

Having said that, there are some players you bunt with, there are many that you don't. With the Yankees as constructed, there shouldn't be anyone in the starting lineup that should bunt. Not surprising, given that the offense can explode for a bunch of runs at any given time.

100 Bama Yankee   ~  Sep 28, 2009 4:34 pm

[99] So, if Damon is up with 1st and 2nd and no outs late in the game facing a tough lefty who has owned him you wouldn't want him to lay one down to move the runners over (possibly getting an infield hit) while avoiding the K and staying out of the DP? Admittedly I stacked the deck with that scenario, but you said "there shouldn't be anyone in the starting lineup that should bunt." So I was just checking... ;-)

Show/Hide Comments 101-110
101 51cq24   ~  Sep 28, 2009 4:46 pm

i personally think that bunting can be useful a lot of the time. if you are in a situation where a strikeout or double play is more likely than usual, like when the batter or opposing pitcher has a high strikeout or very high ground ball rate, and when you only need one run, i would usually bunt a runner to 3rd, whether or not there's another runner on 1st. otherwise i usually don't like any bunting, except when the batter is especially fast. i almost never like bunting a single runner to 2nd.

102 Raf   ~  Sep 28, 2009 4:48 pm

[100] Nope. I'll take my chances with Damon swinging. He could K while bunting, he could DP while bunting.

A hitter will make an out more often than not, may as well take my chances with him swinging away :)

103 RIYank   ~  Sep 28, 2009 4:51 pm

[102] There's no way Damon could ever K while bunting. He would never bunt with two strikes!

104 Raf   ~  Sep 28, 2009 4:56 pm

[103] But it's a supertough lefty that Damon has no chance in hell of hitting! And if you're going to have him swing away, may as well let him do it when the count is in his favor.

Personally, I'd send the runners in that situation. Damon k's, he k's.

105 RIYank   ~  Sep 28, 2009 5:03 pm

[104] Oh, I forgot /irony. Oops. (He did lay down a sac a few days ago with two strikes, remember?)

For some reason this just occurred to me. Did anyone else smack your own forehead so hard it was painful when Jon Miller demonstrated that the basic rules of baseball are too complex for him? It was after the Swisher "appeal play" at second. They'd shown the replay and Joe Morgan was trying to save face (he had smugly announced that Swish left too early), and he was grasping at straws and said that the runner can leave as soon as the ball touches the fielder's glove (as if this helped Joe's case). And Miller agreed (this part is correct), and then claimed to have seen a game in which a runner scored from third on a foul pop that the fielder touched and then dropped. He said he saw this play.
My god.
I swear, Joe Morgan looked like a giant in the booth. He was Dustin Pedroia standing between two five year olds, towering over them like a giant. A huge, gritty, giant.

106 Yankster   ~  Sep 28, 2009 5:09 pm

[82] great post.

[83] You are right that wins > runs. And probably that it's easier to improve the management of outs than to improve the ability to get hits (because the concept of outs as an asset is relatively new to baseball while hitting is, at least conceptually, mature). The strategy of using outs as an asset is not necessarily the last "the optimal strategy." A team merely not giving up outs to the best of its ability could still lose to a team with a conscious goal of a high out strategy like having a relatively low OBP but with high slugging, for example.
[93] [98] fantastic

107 51cq24   ~  Sep 28, 2009 5:23 pm

[105] isn't that possible?

108 RIYank   ~  Sep 28, 2009 5:26 pm

[107] Yes.
He doesn't know the rules, and he made up a story that's impossible.

I have reposted the story in the game thread, by the way.

109 RIYank   ~  Sep 28, 2009 5:26 pm

Oh, I mis-read.
NO. It is not possible. If the foul pop is not caught, then of course the ball is dead and runners return to their bases.

110 51cq24   ~  Sep 28, 2009 5:38 pm

[109] unless by "touched and then dropped" he meant caught and then dropped

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver