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News of the Day – 10/21/09

Today’s news is powered by “Chicago Transit Authority”, circa 1970:

A video clip spreading all over the Web on Tuesday shows Mariano Rivera holding the ball in his hand in the 10th inning of Game 3 on Monday, and — gasp — spitting downward. . . .

As first reported by Joel Sherman, Major League Baseball acted quickly on this one, investigating the incident and exonerating Rivera. They found photos that showed the spit passing his hand well past the ball.

“From the available video and still photography we have, there is no evidence that Rivera spit on the ball,” said Patrick Courtney, M.L.B.’s vice president for public relations.

  • I asked Will Carroll about the video of Mo and the supposed spitball, and he passed it onto Mat Kovach, a Pitchf/X and pitcher analyst with an interest in spitballs.  Mat wrote back to Will and I:

Looked at a frame by frame, he spits off to the side.  They start the fade a bit soon, so it is hard to see, but you can make out the spit behind the ball and going towards the ground.

Based on how Mo throws his cutter, He really relies on a good spin on
the ball to get late horizontal movement away or towards the batter.

If he is throwing the traditional ‘split finger’ like spitter, the late break would be vertical (i.e.: the lack of spin would cause the ball to drop towards the plate more.)  Mo doesn’t really pitch that way, he wants to ball handcuffing some one.

In either case, I don’t see Mo doing anything different then he normally does.  Plus, nobody is going to SPIT on the ball.  They’ll want moisture on the ball in a specific spot and rub it in.  Then they’ll need some moisture on their fingers, for the traditional spitter.

This is just an optical illusion.

“Not that I’ve been thinking about this, but players who can get on the field every day and score 100 runs, how many guys do that?” Boras said. “Johnny just plays, and he’s got the body type that allows him to do that.

“If stem-cell research were around, you’d want to tap into that gene pool,” Boras added. “He’s (35), but has a 30-year-old’s body. He plays much younger.”

  • Rate the Yanks as fielders.
  • John Flaherty turns 42 today.  Flaherty finished his career with three seasons as the Yanks back-up catcher (’03-’05).
  • Happy 81st birthday to the Chairman of the Board, Whitey Ford.
  • On this date in 1998, the Yankees closed out their historic season with 3 – 0 victory against the San Diego Padres, sweeping San Diego in four games to win their record 24th World Series championship. Andy Pettitte gets the victory, and Scott Brosius is named Series MVP. The Game Four victory gave the Yankees 125 wins against 50 losses for a .714 winning percentage, the best in the majors since their Murderers’ Row club of 1927.
  • On this date in 2000, the Yankees defeat the Mets 4 – 3, in 12 innings, in Game One of the World Series. The longest game in World Series history (4 hours, 51 minutes) is ended on Jose Vizcaino’ single which drives home Tino Martinez. It is Vizcaino’s fourth hit of the night. The Mets lead, 3-2, going into the ninth, but reliever Armando Benitez surrenders the tying run on a sacrifice fly by Chuck Knoblauch. The victory is the Yankees 13th in a row in Series play for a new record.

Categories:  Diane Firstman  News of the Day

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1 Paul   ~  Oct 21, 2009 10:20 am

I'd love to have both Johnny and Matsui back. But neither should be playing the field. And you can't have two DHs. Sign whoever is first to take the one year deal. It's brutally corporate, but there isn't room for both. Damon at least gives the option of occasionally playing the field.

One guy I'm really intrigued by? Jeremy Hermida. He's destroyed by his home park, but he's plus .800 OPS on the road. He's 25. And he's a lefty. He could do very well at YS 2.0. And he's pricey enough for the Marlins (> $3 million next year) that he could be had for some mix of McAllister/Phelps and other lower level prospects.

2 Paul   ~  Oct 21, 2009 10:27 am

With letting Matsui and Damon go, the lineup would have only one lefty hitter worth anything (Cano). Bay and Hollliday don't help. Neither do Montero or Jackson.

Dunn would be good too.

3 Sliced Bread   ~  Oct 21, 2009 10:44 am

And in Game 3, Mo spit upon the sacred ground of his detractors, causing a great angry noise among the multitude.

Mo said unto those who would persecute him, "Please take no offense. I am merely making this land fertile. I share with all of you the bounty of my gifts."

He then rubbed a baseball in his hands, and broke the orb into five loaves of bread, and 2 fish.
It was enough to feed them all, and Mo was pleased.

Praise be to Mo.

4 RIYank   ~  Oct 21, 2009 10:50 am

... The Yankees feasted on the loaves and fish, and on the fourth day they feasted also on the fat of the pitching of the Fallen Angels. And on that day, Mo rested, and he called it good.

Thanks be to Mo.

5 Yankee Mama   ~  Oct 21, 2009 10:51 am

[3] Praise be to Mo. Amen.

Ya think Boras gets a little stirring in his loins every time one of his guys produces? I'm thinking Damon's homerun was a ka' ching moment for him.

6 bags   ~  Oct 21, 2009 11:04 am

Random thought that's nagging at me...

If the Yanks make the series and Arod keeps hitting like a monster, his career playoff stats (currently 288/378/535/913) may end up looking an awful lot like his career regular season stats (305/390/576/965).

So the question is, is he a former choker who found redemption through peace of mind, a better attitude, a new girlfriend, whatever?

Or is he Arod. One of the best players in the game, who's played okay in the playoffs, played badly in the playoffs, and played insanely well in the playoffs over the course of a long career?

I'll admit he's had more ups and downs than most. And that Arod himself has talked about a new attitude. But I feel like the MSM prefers to attach morality and meaning to performance when, maybe, it is just performance. Sometimes good. Sometimes not.

7 williamnyy23   ~  Oct 21, 2009 11:08 am

[6] He is Arod...the great hitter who had great post seasons before having two poor ALDS in 2005 and 2006 (it should be pointed out that Arod has never struggled for an entire post season, just over a few very short series). Even in the 2005 series, Arod had a great OBP, so it's hard to read anything into this situation than the typical inane reactions of fans and media alike...the same kind of drivel that claimed Peyton Manning wasn't a winner for so many years.

8 Paul   ~  Oct 21, 2009 11:10 am

He's A-Rod. Over enough samples he'll find himself. That's why his answer to the questions about his troubles being behind him was so good.

I think the reality is that playing in October is no different. But you have to learn to put the emotions aside. Ever get into a serious fist fight? The adrenalin rush is so powerful you start shaking. Until you learn to calm yourself. We've already seen some guys this post-season (Nathan) who simply couldn't. But given enough exposures, how could it not start to feel like any other game?

9 Diane Firstman   ~  Oct 21, 2009 11:20 am

I want to vote Kate half a playoff share ...

10 ms october   ~  Oct 21, 2009 11:22 am

[6] yeah i agree - he is arod and with enough abs will end up with career average type numbers.
while the whole choker label was ridiculous i don't think it was off to say he was trying too hard in some of the short series from 2005-2007 when he was too often swinging at poor pitches and swinging like he was trying to hit a hr too much.

11 RIYank   ~  Oct 21, 2009 11:45 am

Yep, I'm voting with the majority here. There's just an illusion from small sample sizes.

12 rbj   ~  Oct 21, 2009 11:54 am

And don't forget, in the playoffs you are facing good pitching and good defense, you aren't facing KC Royals (excepting Greinke). So you are going to have series where you struggle.

Man, it's only 11 years ago that MLB was closing out a WS (albeit a 4 game series) and now we still aren't finished with the LCS?

13 monkeypants   ~  Oct 21, 2009 12:11 pm

[12] Yep...and they played the extra (wild-card/divisional) series back then, too. Somehow MLB has found a way to drag out the playoffs in excruciating, NHL-like fashion. Which makes sense, actually, since the WS will now be played in hockey weather.

14 Shaun P.   ~  Oct 21, 2009 12:15 pm

[12] The WBC, ladies and gentlemen! That Bud Selig, he's a real genius!

I really shouldn't complain too much. As a kid, I always wanted the World Series to have a game on my birthday, with the Yankees in it of course. The second part wasn't a possibility until I wasn't a kid anymore, but every time the Serious came close to playing on my birthday, it was because of disaster (the '89 quake, the '95 lockout, 9/11 (my birthday was a travel day)). It was only last year, finally, when a Serious game took place on my birthday - and then it was because Game 5 got rained on! But this year, at last, a Serious game will start on my birthday, and it may finally fulfill my long-ago wish of featuring the Yankees too.

The potentially long layoffs between series could suck, though.

[11] et al - ditto. Many people are surprised that, given enough of a sample, the vast majority of players hit exactly the same in the postseason that they do in the regular season over their careers.

And I hope your son is feeling better, RIYank, and that Mr. OK Jazz Tokyo is too!

15 williamnyy23   ~  Oct 21, 2009 12:24 pm

[14] I am definitely not complaining. I love the WBC and love extending the baseball season as long as possible. The more baseball the better.

Jeter's post season OPS of .860 is also in line with his regular season OPS of .847. Of course, performing as well in the playoffs could be seen as "clutch" when you account for the allegedly better pitching.

16 monkeypants   ~  Oct 21, 2009 12:31 pm

[15] I love baseball too. But I don't like seeing the most important games--games that really count--like the playoffs and world series played in snow storms and freezing rain.

Also, extra off-days may extend the season, but it does not really yield "more baseball." Rather it makes for more down time and tedium and potential for lost fan interest.

If anything, move the fabricated World Baseball "Classic" to AFTER the end of the season, and play the WS earlier that year.

17 williamnyy23   ~  Oct 21, 2009 12:39 pm

[16] The weather in October is so unpredictable that I don't think an extra 10 days throws things off. Think about it...if things were pushed up, the weather in Colorado for the ALDS could have been in the NLCS and the weather in the Bronx over the weekend could have been in the World Series. Meanwhile, it is supposed to be in the 70s this week, and the extended forecast has 60s all the way through the end of October.

I also love the off days...it gives me more time to decompress and, if the Yankees win, savor the victory.

As for the WBC, I think it is a welcomed alternative to Spring Training baseball. After the World Series, however, it would be anti-climatic.

So, no complaints here, 2009 has been my ideal baseball season (well, hopefully it will be).

18 monkeypants   ~  Oct 21, 2009 12:43 pm

[10] The extra ten days is huge. It is much more likely to be colder, and since the weather is unpredictable and you are likely to have rain outs, starting in November only pushes the makeup games even later.

The WBC can be played in neutral sites (including domes), so it can be scheduled anytime and anyplace.

Scheduling the most important games such that the "boys of summer" have to wear muffs is absurd.

19 monkeypants   ~  Oct 21, 2009 12:45 pm

[19] As for the off days, if bothers me that it distorts even further the way the game is played. For 162 games teams use five man rotations and play just about every day. But the playoffs now feature so many off days that it allows teams to construct rosters and employ strategies that little resemble the regular season. Some may like it, but it bugs me that a deep team that wins 100 games can be done in by a wild card team with one or two stellar starters, because of the goofy off days. I'm just glad that this year the Yankees get to manipulate the silliness.

20 Paul   ~  Oct 21, 2009 12:46 pm

How long before no team gives any MLB starter to the WBC? It might be as soon as the next version.

21 williamnyy23   ~  Oct 21, 2009 12:56 pm

[18] I disagree about the 10 days being significant. In NY, for example, the average October 25 temp. is 61/45, while November 4 is 58/43. The monthly precip. for October and November is also similar.

22 williamnyy23   ~  Oct 21, 2009 12:58 pm

[19] It's really only one extra off day, which still has required that the Yankees use one starter on 3 days rest. Still, I see your point. My solution would be to seriously handicap the wild card. I don't think one extra off days does much to impact the balance.

23 Paul   ~  Oct 21, 2009 1:11 pm

[19] I agree.

24 monkeypants   ~  Oct 21, 2009 1:17 pm

[21] I would think that an *average* difference of two or three degrees is bigger than it looks. In any case, I would have the WS ending by October 15 at the latest, not Oct. 25 or Nov. 4.

25 monkeypants   ~  Oct 21, 2009 1:19 pm

[20] If I owned a team, I would have that written into every one of my players contracts, that they are barred from playing in the WBC.

26 williamnyy23   ~  Oct 21, 2009 1:22 pm

[24] Why would it be bigger than it looks? I believe the sample size goes back over 100 years, so it's not like an outlier (and they can go both ways) would skew the data. The October 15 averages are 65/50, so only 4 degress warmer than the normal late October date. Also, the coldest days this month were/are predicted to be October 14-16. So, I don't think the weather is significant enough to override other concerns.

27 jkirsch2   ~  Oct 21, 2009 1:23 pm

[19] I agree.....the new schedule caters to teams with only a few good starters. But MLB teams must recognize this and adjust to it. I'm sure a big element in signing Sabathia was the fact that he IS a playoff horse. It makes his value skyrocket.

By the way..check out the website http://www.lockerblogger.com. There is a pretty cool interview they did with Kevin Long on the home page taking you inside the mind of A-Rod.

28 Shaun P.   ~  Oct 21, 2009 1:26 pm

Did anyone else see this disturbing news about Steve Phillips being suspended from ESPN, for a week (and possibly more)?


I feel bad for his wife and kid, but is it wrong of me to hope we never have to see him or hear him or read him on ESPN ever again?

Or does this just mean he'll turn up on MLB Network in a few months?

29 williamnyy23   ~  Oct 21, 2009 1:28 pm

[28] Apparently, Mr. Phillips has a problem with fidelity. The fact that she was 22 and an ESPN employee could be his job in jeopardy. I don't dislike Phillips as much as many others, so it's a shame he can't respect his family more.

30 monkeypants   ~  Oct 21, 2009 1:31 pm

[26] We would have to know what the standard deviation is, right? Global warmer...er, climate change...is throwing everyone into a tizzy over a deviation in average temperature smaller than a few degrees fahrenheit (or at least the same order of magnitude).

I suspect that chances of very uncomfortable cold (for a baseball player) and snow are much higher, historically, on November 4 than on October 25.

As for the October 15 averages, only 4 degrees warmer than late October makes it about 7 degrees warmer than the early November date, according to your data. Now we are talking a significant difference in average temperature.

31 williamnyy23   ~  Oct 21, 2009 1:34 pm

[30] The November 4 end is still very rare. Also, according to Mr. Gore, we should be enjoying warming autumns, so I guess that means the chance for more baseball? Gas up those SUVs!

32 monkeypants   ~  Oct 21, 2009 1:38 pm

[31] Hm...I hadn't thought of that way. Baseball is the national pastime, and what is more American than baseball? So, to create an environment where more baseball can be played is an act of deep patriotism. Thus, driving our SUVs--preferably built by GM--is and of devotion, great for baseball and great for America (reminiscent of Babe Ruth's monument says). Brilliant!

You sir deserve a Nobel Prize!

33 monkeypants   ~  Oct 21, 2009 1:40 pm

[31] More seriously, the Nov. 4 date is only rare because of the WBC...but you earlier argued that "anything" which extended the baseball season is welcome. My concern is that once the November line has been crossed, Bud and Co will find other silly exhibitions and circus acts to extend the season this late every year (including more off days throughout the season, or a longer ASB with additional events, etc.).

34 williamnyy23   ~  Oct 21, 2009 1:43 pm

[33] That's fair...and I'd have no problem extending every season past November 1. Clearly, are different view of the WBC is part of why we disagree on the merits of extending the season.

35 monkeypants   ~  Oct 21, 2009 1:46 pm

[34] Yes, that's part of it. But surely the WBC could be scheduled better so as not to force the MLB season later? Or at least in years in which the WBC is played, leave it where it is and shorten spring training and eliminate some of the needless off days at the beginning of the season. It can't be that hard to claw back those ten days.

36 RIYank   ~  Oct 21, 2009 1:58 pm

[33] I think you're right that a smallish difference in the mean will amount to quite a big difference in how often you see extreme temperatures. Famous fact about bell curves.

37 OldYanksFan   ~  Oct 21, 2009 9:25 pm

[19] Concur 100%. I still don't understand why today is a day off. Teams often play 10 of more games in a row during the season, but now, we can't even have 3 games in a row?

But as I've said before, while Bud/MLB love and need Yankees generated money, he doesn't want them to dominate the PS. After all, the CS series used to be 5 games, like the DS series is now. And while every knows a 5 game series compromises the game, Bud still has it in place in the DS.

I am also upset the MLB does not somehow encourage/help northern teams to play in some kind of roofed stadiums. Even a partially roofed stadium would greatly improve the situation, at a 1/3 the cost. I'm VERY disappointed that neither NY team, who built expensive stadiums, did not have roofs as part of the plan.

It's a shame we have to look forward to going to the Wrong Coast in order to have decent baseball weather.

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