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Kiss My List

I an effort to help bridge the gap between the abbreviated Division Series and the LCS, I’ve had a trio of list-style pieces up on SI.com this week.

The first is a look at the heroes and goats of the four Division Series.

The second is a look at the players on advancing teams who struggled in the LDS and will need to step up their game in the second round.

The last is a photo gallery of the 15 most significant blunders in postseason history (not including blown calls or questionable managerial decisions), ranked and captioned by yours truly (start at 15 and click “back” to count down to number-one).

There’s plenty of Yankees (and Angels) material in each one, including this rather disturbing scene from the last playoff game between the two teams, which the Yankees will work to erase from their fans minds starting tomorrow night.

Adam Kennedy's "triple," Game Five, 2005 ALDS

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1 Alex Belth   ~  Oct 15, 2009 10:49 am

God, Bubba and Sheff. What a memory. Think I'll give myself a paper cut and pour lemon juice and salt over it.

2 RagingTartabull   ~  Oct 15, 2009 10:51 am

Bubba we hardly knew ye

3 Paul   ~  Oct 15, 2009 10:55 am

Ooof. Torre's Greatest Hits - 2002-2007 edition.

4 Paul   ~  Oct 15, 2009 11:02 am

Wait, no midges?

5 Sliced Bread   ~  Oct 15, 2009 11:03 am

good stuff, Cliff, especially the "step it up" piece. The bottom of the order, and Damon will definitley have to step it up because the Angels aren't going to let ARod and Tex beat them. They made the most of the hittable pitches they saw against the Twins, but they'll see far fewer of them if Damon and Cano and the others keep struggling.

6 Shaun P.   ~  Oct 15, 2009 11:12 am

Ugh. NOT good times.

7 RagingTartabull   ~  Oct 15, 2009 11:22 am

I feel like that picture right there will come to symbolize the years in the wilderness from 2002 to whenever the next championship is.

High priced veteran who never really delivered a whole lot when it mattered most (seriously Sheff was just as bad as A-Rod in all those series and never caught half the flak Alex did) colliding head-on, literally, with an ill-fitting spare part who was only on the field because the team was too proud (or stupid) to acknowledge and address its own weaknesses.

Good times!

8 RagingTartabull   ~  Oct 15, 2009 11:26 am

I should say it, to me, symbolizes the 2002-2008 Yankees. Since I really believe that, regardless of how these playoffs turn out, the Yankees have turned some kind of corner as far as era's are concerned.

9 OldYanksFan   ~  Oct 15, 2009 11:29 am

I'm not sure what qualifies as a goat, and this is very SSS, but Cano, Melky, Swisher and JD all had OBPs of .167 and under and OPSs of .333 and under. Swisher did get one very big hit... so maybe he's excused, but them there numbers is pretty goatlike.

10 The Hawk   ~  Oct 15, 2009 11:38 am

[9] Well, the team has to lose, for starters.

11 bp1   ~  Oct 15, 2009 12:21 pm

[1] You made me LOL for real. "Pour lemon on it". That's too funny.

I remember Jeter standing on base, screaming into the dugout "C'mon!!!" - absolutely begging the guys to do something.

My memory of that series is the Angels giving A-Rod absolutely NOTHING to hit. They pitched him junk the whole time. People remember he was 1-for-whatever that series, but his OBP was .400-something. Not super studly - but geez. He never had a pitch to hit, and got CRUCIFIED for it in the press.

Anyway. This ain't 2005. I got good mojo working this year - a good combo of lucky charms that worked well in the ALDS. (knock on wood)

12 a.O   ~  Oct 15, 2009 12:24 pm

I don't say this lightly: I hate Gary Sheffield. He was a disgrace to the Yankees. But let's not focus on the past! The new Yanks will come out swinging tomorrow and CC will be in top form.

13 Raf   ~  Oct 15, 2009 12:26 pm

I'm just as annoyed about that Cano "runner's interference" call @ 1b. I wouldn't have minded taking my chances with Bernie @ bat with the bases loaded.

14 Raf   ~  Oct 15, 2009 12:28 pm

He was a disgrace to the Yankees.

I wouldn't say all that. He played hard, he played hurt, he offered to move to 3b when Boone blew out his knee, he played 1b when he came back in 06.

15 williamnyy23   ~  Oct 15, 2009 12:32 pm

[13] Tell me about it...Country Joe West absolutely blew that call and then smuggly dismissed Cano's protest. That was a huge event in that series.

[14] Agree here as well. Sheff had his faults, but he was a tough SOB. The image I remember most was of him wagging is finger after being hit by Pedro, almost saying that may have worked before but not now that I am around.

16 randym77   ~  Oct 15, 2009 12:35 pm

Man, I hate the Halos. That game was freakin' cursed. Poor Bubba. He actually played pretty well that night (2 for 3) with some nice defense. But all anyone remembers is the collision. Which was more Sheff's fault, IMO. Why didn't he let Bubba get it, like he did before?

Remember, Colon had a secret injury? There were all kinds of rumors, and they were proved true. But it wasn't good news for the Yanks.

Then there was Torre calling for a hit and run, and Cano being hung out to dry when Bernie missed the sign. The A-Rod GIDP. That game was a nightmare.

17 Bama Yankee   ~  Oct 15, 2009 12:36 pm

(pro-bunting comment alert) ;-)
I noticed that 3 of the 15 blunders listed occured when a team was trying to give away an out on a bunt... When the pressure is on, it is not always a given that the defense will make the play.

18 Raf   ~  Oct 15, 2009 12:39 pm

[17] Mind you that's 3 of 15 blunders over 105 years of postseason play. Guess it's safe to say that more often than not, the defense will make the play on a bunt. ;-)

19 williamnyy23   ~  Oct 15, 2009 12:43 pm

Also, you could probably add a few bunts to the list, like last year's failed squeeze attempt by Erik Aybar, or anyone successful bunt that advanced a runner, but let the air out of an inning.

20 RagingTartabull   ~  Oct 15, 2009 12:46 pm

[13. 15] I totally forgot about that Cano call...oooph that was bad.

I actually more or less liked Sheff while he was here, I thought his offering to move to 3B after Boone's injury was a pretty selfless team-first move. But as with anyplace with Sheff, when it ended it ended ugly. Can't really complain with what he brought to the table in '04 and '05 though.

When he got hit by Pedro (in the first inning of the Jeter/Flaherty game) he looked at Pedro and his only words were "Not me"...and that was terrifying.

21 williamnyy23   ~  Oct 15, 2009 12:47 pm

Guzman on the roster...Hinske off.

I can't explain that one. Hinkse was the only viable HR bat off the bench. Meanwhile, Marte lives to imperil another game.

22 ms october   ~  Oct 15, 2009 12:57 pm

i like sheff - warts and all.

[21] i actually kind of get it. not necessarily what i would do, but i can see the logic.
there is only one spot in the lineup you need a pinch hitter for - melky/gardner. you would not pinch hit for anyone else, and if molina catches aj again you simply ph with po. there are however several people you pr for - for sure - matsui, po; and several more you might if the need is more about a sb - tex, swisher

marte's numbers are good against leftys and it is beneficial to turn some of them around - especially figgins

23 Rich   ~  Oct 15, 2009 1:00 pm

Sheff wasn't a disgrace, he's just another multi-millionaire with a persecution complex.

24 Raf   ~  Oct 15, 2009 1:01 pm

[22] Then why not use Hairston as the other PR?

25 Rich   ~  Oct 15, 2009 1:01 pm

[22] What if Damon continues to suck? Hinske was a viable offensive replacement, at least for a game.

26 Paul   ~  Oct 15, 2009 1:01 pm

[21] Where and when would Hinske PH? He'll be back for the Series (touch wood).

Marte or Bruney? Meh.

27 Paul   ~  Oct 15, 2009 1:02 pm

Hinske was a viable offensive replacement, at least for a game.

Except he's no better against LHP.

28 Rich   ~  Oct 15, 2009 1:06 pm

This season Hinske has no real advantage in his splits:

v. L: 244 .347 .439 .786
v. R:: .242 .349 .430 .779

Damon obviously is better, but if his slump continues, his stats don't mean much.

29 Bama Yankee   ~  Oct 15, 2009 1:08 pm

[18] Sure, I admit that they make the play more often than not. By definition, giving up an out should *always* result in an out. My point is that it doesn not always end up in an out. When the pressure is on and the good pitching is beating the good hitting, then the bunt can be an effective play (especially when runs are at a premium in the playoffs).

30 ms october   ~  Oct 15, 2009 1:09 pm

[25] if damon continues to suck i think it is more likely you see gardner in cf and melky in lf. in which case guzman is the main pr.

[24] because i think because hairston is the only back-up infielder girradi would be scared to pr with him in a game in which he might be needed for injurt still exists (not that i agree with this - but that is manager think). also hairston is fine if you need to score from second, but he isn't really a base stealing threat the way guzman is.

[26] and yeah hinske will definitely be back if the yanks make it to the ws

but please note, i didn't say this is the decision i would make - just that i think can trace the yanks thought process

31 ms october   ~  Oct 15, 2009 1:11 pm

sorry [30] was written so poorly

32 Rich   ~  Oct 15, 2009 1:13 pm

[30] Well yeah, Hinske isn't on the roster. ;)

I'm merely suggesting what I see as a more potent alternative.

Guzman, Melky, and Gardner are three weak hitters.

33 ms october   ~  Oct 15, 2009 1:18 pm

[32] i don't think hinske would be used even if he were on the roster - obviously pure speculation - but when damon was being spelled down the stretch it was usually melky in lf and gardner in cf

hinske is just so awful defensively and his offense is limited that i don't think griradi would opt for him

34 Rich   ~  Oct 15, 2009 1:20 pm

[33] hinske is just so awful defensively and his offense is limited that i don’t think griradi would opt for him

You're right, because he didn't even opt to put him on the roster. I just think it leaves a lot of offensive vulnerability.

35 ms october   ~  Oct 15, 2009 1:21 pm

[32] but let me make clear, i agree that hinske would be a more potent hitter, especially against rhp
i don't think guzman will even get to pack any bats

36 OldYanksFan   ~  Oct 15, 2009 1:42 pm

[14] Sheffs mouth was ahead of his brain, but he played as hard as any Yankee.

[21] Tis a head scratcher. The 'Dave Roberts Effect'?

[29] True, especially when the pitcher fields the ball. Bad throws to both 2nd and 1st are not that uncommon for pitchers.

37 williamnyy23   ~  Oct 15, 2009 1:56 pm

I would have taken Guzman over Marte. If you are going to use all these pinch runners, you may very well need Hinske's bat, especially in an extra inning game. Here's a perfect example: you run for Posada with Guzman late and score the tying run as a result. Molina enters as a replacement and his spot comes around. You could then use Hinske as a PH and have Cervelli go behind the plate.

I also assumes this means that Gardner will get a start or two.

38 Shaun P.   ~  Oct 15, 2009 2:02 pm

Re Guzman, I wonder if its a tactical consideration in terms of what the Angels will do. Napoli is their primary catcher (758 innings at catcher), but pretty poor in terms of throwing out baserunners (22%). Mathis is the backup (657 innings at catcher) but better at throwing out baserunners (26%), if not in reality than at least in Scioscia's mind - I seem to recall reading that Scioscia often sat Napoli in favor of Mathis this year solely due to fears about Napoli not being able to control the running game.

If the Angels are in trouble, Scioscia might be more inclined to start Mathis (.211/.288/.308) or bring him into a game late, thus taking Napoli's very potent bat (.272/.350/.492) out of the lineup. That could be very useful for the Yanks.

39 Diane Firstman   ~  Oct 15, 2009 2:10 pm

All this worry about the Angels running on the Yanks .... well, if they try to play through the rain, the "track" will definitely be "muddy", cutting into the Halos' advantage on the bases.

40 Raf   ~  Oct 15, 2009 2:24 pm

because i think because hairston is the only back-up infielder girradi would be scared to pr with him in a game in which he might be needed for injurt still exists (not that i agree with this – but that is manager think)

But even if Girardi would believe that, the thought process is flawed
1B: Teix, Swisher, Posada, Damon, Hinske, Hairston
2B: Cano, Hairston
3B: Rodriguez, Teix, Hinske, Hairston, Molina (HAHAHAHAHA)
SS: Jeter, Rodriguez, Hairston

So basically, Hairston is there in case Cano goes down.

41 Raf   ~  Oct 15, 2009 2:33 pm

By definition, giving up an out should *always* result in an out. My point is that it doesn not always end up in an out.

So then the hitter should swing away, no? While 3 of those plays listed happened on muffed bunts, it should also be noted that 4 of those plays happened on routine fly balls (Sheffield/Crosby, Holliday, Flood, Merkle), and 4 happened on routine ground balls (Gonzalez, Fernandez, Buckner, Durham)

42 randym77   ~  Oct 15, 2009 2:36 pm

I really wonder if Joe West had it in for the Yanks, or at least Torre. West was suspended and fined for shoving Torre back when Torre was with the Braves.

Then again, maybe Joe West is just a jerk. I seem to recall Al Leiter saying that West was the kind of umpire who would change the size of the strike zone in retaliation if he felt a player was insufficiently respectful.

43 The Hawk   ~  Oct 15, 2009 2:57 pm

Wow Eric Karros talking with Francesa, you'd would be amazed by the intangibles being thrown around. And I'm an intangibles guy, but this was too much. He says better to pitch to Manny than Ethier because Ethier "believes he can do it" ... And Manny doesn't???

44 Rich   ~  Oct 15, 2009 3:37 pm

[42] Oh to see that video.

45 Bama Yankee   ~  Oct 15, 2009 3:49 pm

[41] LOL. You're good, Raf. Yes, I think swinging away can be a good play in bunting situations too. It can certainly work and lead to a big inning. But, the reason I like the bunt in certain situations (marginal hitter vs. good pitcher in a pressure game) is that even the best hitters make twice as many outs as they do hits. If I have a marginal hitter going up against a tough pitcher, the odds of him making an out are very high so I would like to control the out and use it to my advantage. If the hitter has speed and can put the pressure on the defense, then I like the play even better because I'm not necessarily giving up an out.

Now, I've admitted that swinging away can be a good play...will you admit that the bunt can be a good play in some situations? ;-)

46 Raf   ~  Oct 15, 2009 4:13 pm

Now, I’ve admitted that swinging away can be a good play…will you admit that the bunt can be a good play in some situations? ;-)

I have no problem admitting that, always believed that if a lousy hitter was up @ bat, I'd rather bunt than have him swing away.

However, having Swisher bunt with a wild closer will elicit a facepalm reaction from me. :-D

47 Bama Yankee   ~  Oct 15, 2009 4:46 pm

[46] Fair enough (maybe we're not that far apart on our views then). Could this common ground be leading toward some kind of bunting detente? A bunting-beer summit? Or possibly Nick Swisher winning a Noble Prize? ;-)

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