"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice
Category: Cliff Corcoran

That’s the Fact, Jack

Over at SI.com, our man Cliff gives us 99 cool facts about the Babe.

Where Have You Gone, Horace Clarke?

Over man Cliff with a good piece over at SB Nation–The Conscience of a Lapsed Yankee Fan:

My favorite baseball books are about losers, oddballs, and failures, and what draws me back to every new baseball season isn’t whether or not the Yankees are going to win 95 or 100 games (they’ve won fewer than 94 just twice in the last 16 seasons), it’s seeing how the teams on the fringes perform. Is that rebuild working? Will this be the year that talented young team coalesces into a contender? Will that big trade acquisition or free agent signing take his new team to the next level? Can his previous team compensate for his loss? Can that talented but star-crossed team can stay healthy enough to contend? Did that perennial playoff loser miss its window for a championship? With that managerial change have any impact? How will that new stadium play? How ugly will those new uniforms really be? How will the new playoff or scheduling format impact the pennant races?

As for the Yankees, I don’t worry about them, and that’s what worries me. I want my daughter to love baseball, in part because I’ve dedicated part of my life to it and don’t want her to feel shut out of that. Baseball is a novel that unfolds over years, individual teams are puzzles that take years to solve. The Yankees, however, are more of a long-running television procedural. They hit all the same beats and catch phrases, the credits roll, and then they do it all over again. I spent my childhood hoping I’d see the Yankees win the World Series during my lifetime (yes, really). I suspect I’m now going to spend my daughter’s childhood hoping she’ll see them have a losing season.

 

End of the Line

Chipper Jones said that this year will be his last. Over at SI.com, our man Cliff Corcoran appreciates the future Hall of Famer.

[Photo Credit: Pouya Dianat / AP]

Won’t Be the Same Without You

That’s what I thought when I read this farewell to Yankee blogging post by our old pal Cliff Corcoran. Of course, you can read Cliff all season long over at SI.com but it looks like his days as a Yankee blogger are over. It’s good news for him–he’s got wonderful reasons for calling it quits–and sad news for us, if we’re going to be selfish about it. Cliff’s series previews have been a part of the fabric of each Yankee season here at the Banter for years. They will be missed.

It’s been a terrific run. Congrats, Cliff. And again, we’ll be reading you over at SI.com.

You’re the man.

 

And the Winner Is…

Over at SI.com, our man Cliff looks at baseball’s award season:

NL Cy Young

To Be Announced: Thursday, Nov. 17

Expected Winner: Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Dodgers (21-5, 248 Ks, 2.28 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 9.6 K/9, 4.59 K/BB, 5 CG, 2 SHO)

Deserving Winner: Kershaw

The pitching triple crown (league leads in wins, strikeouts, and ERA) has been won just 11 times since the creation of the Cy Young award in 1956, and every single time, the pitcher who won the it also won the Cy Young award. Justin Verlander will make it 12-for-12 when he picks up the AL hardware on Tuesday and it makes Kershaw the prohibitive favorite to be lucky 13 on Thursday.

There is an argument, however, that last year’s winner, Roy Halladay (19-6, 220 K, 2.35 ERA), was the best pitcher in the National League again this year. Halladay’s case rests on park factors and batting average on balls in play, neither of which is enough to distract from all of those bolded numbers in Kershaw’s stat line. Still, both pitchers threw essentially the same number of innings (Halladay led by the smallest amount possible, 233 2/3 to 233 1/3), and it was Halladay that led the league in ERA+ (again by a sliver, 164 to Kershaw’s 163). Halladay also had a league-best eight complete games, walked a league-low 1.3 men per nine innings, led the majors with a 6.29 K/BB ratio, and had less help from his defense and lucky bounces, with a .305 BABIP to Kershaw’s .274, doing all of that while pitching his home games in hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park as opposed to pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium.

It’s a compelling argument, but not an overwhelming one, which is why you’re unlikely to hear much complaint, even from Phillies fans, when Kershaw wins the award on Thursday.

Knock ‘Em Out the Box

Yanks down in Tampa for three to end the season. The Rays are fighting to make the playoffs and they need some help from the Orioles. The Yanks are looking to rest some guys and keep everyone healthy for the ALDS.

Cliff with the preview.

Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Alex Rodriguez DH
Jorge Posada 1B
Eric Chavez 3B
Russell Martin C
Eduardo Nunez RF
Brett Gardner LF

Never mind the nap:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

[Photo Credit: Krstnn Hrmnsn]

The Last Dance: All Warshed Out

Yanks have a chance to make life miserable for the Sox this weekend.

Cliff’s got the preview.

Supposed to rain for the next three days.

Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Andruw Jones LF
Jesus Montero DH
Russell Martin C

Never mind the galoshes:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

[Photo Credit: Retrogasm]

Please Rain, Go Away

Man, it’s dark and wet out there. It’s not going to be a pretty weekend of baseball in the Bronx, that’s for sure.

Over at SI., Cliff says that the much-hyped starting rotation in Philadelphia has been better than expected:

It’s safe to say the Phillies lived up to the hype this year. When Cliff Lee signed with the Phillies in December, joining a rotation that already boasted Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt, the buzz surrounding what many thought could be the greatest starting rotation in major league history was deafening. Anytime hype reaches such a fever pitch a backlash is inevitable, but seeing what the Phillies have accomplished this year, it’s clear that it was more than just hype. Not only have the Phillies put together the best record in baseball (by 4 ½ games over the Yankees), and run away with their division, (currently leading the Braves by 10 ½ games in the NL East, already having clinched not only the division but home-field advantage throughout the playoffs), but Halladay, Lee and Hamels are very likely to be three of the top four finishers in the NL Cy Young voting.

The closest that has ever come to happening was in 1998, when the Braves’ Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz each finished in the top four places, but among five pitchers, with Maddux and Smoltz tied for fourth behind Glavine and Padres’ Trevor Hoffman and Kevin Brown. The 2005 Astros had three of the top five, with Roger Clemens finishing third, Roy Oswalt fourth and Andy Pettitte tied for fifth.

[Picture by Miqulski]

Home Stretch

 

Yanks and Rays start a four-game serious at the Stadium tonight.

Cliff’s got the preview.

1. Jeter SS
2. Granderson CF
3. Teixeira 1B
4. Rodriguez DH
5. Cano 2B
6. Swisher RF
7. Chavez 3B
8. Martin C
9. Gardner LF

Never mind the scoreboard:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Get it in Gear

I won’t belabor the pernt but this is a game the Yankees should–and must–win. They are playing a hapless Twins team. So no excuses from Burnett. He needs to shut them down. Score Truck should take care of the rest.

Cliff has the preview.

1. Jeter SS
2. Granderson CF
3. Teixeira 1B
4. Rodriguez 3B
5. Cano 2B
6. Swisher RF
7. Jones LF
8. Montero DH
9. Martin C

No excuses. Just win, baby:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

[Photo Credit: someonethatunderstands]

Steady

Yanks in Toronto and Cliff’s got the preview.  Score truck anyone?

Alex Rodriguez won’t play tonight though he may play tomorrow or Sunday.

Meanwhile, C.C. goes for win number 20.

Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Eric Chavez 3B
Jorge Posada DH
Russell Martin C
Brett Gardner LF

Never mind the scoreboard-watching:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

[Photo Credit: The Harsh Truth of the Camera Eye]

On the Prowl

The Tigers are playing some great ball these days and are more than Justin Verlander. Over at SI.com, our man Cliff breaks it down:

The Detroit Tigers won their 11th straight game Tuesday night behind yet another gem from likely American League Cy Young award winner Justin Verlander, who pushed his record to 23-5 with seven scoreless innings against the White Sox. What that winning streak proves, however, is that the Tigers are more than a one-man show. In fact, their success has had more to do with scoring runs than preventing them, a fact that has been overshadowed by Verlander’s award-worthy season.

The Tigers’ hot streak also stretches back much further than the last 11 games. Detroit has gone 29-11 (.725) over its last 40 games dating back to the beginning of August, the best record of any team in baseball over that time. Research has shown that coming into the playoffs hot is no guarantee of post-season success, but the Tiger’s aren’t just hot, they’re very good. Detroit possesses a potent offense, an emerging No. 2 starter to complement Verlander and a a bullpen that is anchored by closer Jose Valverde, who has yet to blow this season.

Who knows? Maybe the Tigers go to the Whirled Serious. One thing is for sure, though, Valverde will blow at least one game along the way.

Line ‘Em Up and Knock ‘Em Down

The Yanks will have nobody to blame but themselves if they don’t win the American League East. Yeah, they are facing Felix Hernandez tonight but you gotta figure they should win this series against the Mariners.

Cliff has the preview.

Up all night, we cheer:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Aces High

Yanks are in California for three games. Must-win time for the Angels who are chasing the Rangers for first place in the AL West. Tonight gives Jered Weaver.

Cliff’s got the preview.

Never mind the beautiful setting:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

[Photo Credit: The Epiphanist]

Home Sweet Homeski

Yanks back home to face the Jays.

Cliff’s got the preview.

Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Robinson Cano DH
Nick Swisher 1B
Eric Chavez 3B
Andruw Jones RF
Russell Martin C
Eduardo Nunez 2B

We root:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Blue Blood

Over at SI.com, Cliff takes a look at the CY Young races. Check out who he’s got leading the NL race:

1. Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Dodgers (3)
Season Stats: 16-5, 2.51 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 9.8 K/9 (207 K), 4.31 K/BB, 4 CG, 2 SHO
Last Four Starts: 3-1, 1.59 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 9.5 K/9, 5.00 K/BB

Six weeks ago, Kershaw reappeared on this list at number five. Three weeks ago he was at number three. Now he’s on top for the first time all season. Here’s why: In his last 13 starts, dating back to mid June, Kershaw has gone 10-2 with a 1.65 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, and 105 strikeouts in 98 innings against just 19 walks. He has averaged more than 7 1/3 innings per start over that stretch, not allowed an earned run in six of those 13 starts, struck out nine or more men in six of them, and finished three of them, including a shutout of the AL Central-leading Tigers back in late June.

Those 13 starts account for nearly half of his season (27 starts total), and the other half was hardly lacking. Kershaw was 6-3 with a 2.62 ERA at the end of May with nine quality starts in 12 turns including four in which he did not allow a run and four in which he struck out nine or more. Two duds in hitters’ parks (Cincinnati and Colorado) separated those 12 starts from his last 13, a reminder that he has had more success in his friendly home stadium. That’s true of the majority of the pitchers on these lists, though, including Beckett and the three Phillies below, all of whom pitch in parks that typically favor hitters.

It’s been a drag of a season for the Dodgers but they’ve got a horse in the CY Young race and a bona fide MVP candidate in Matt Kemp. Love it that Kemp went 1-1 with an RBI, a run scored and four walks last night.

[Photo Credit: A Window Would be Awesome and  Zimbio]

Mind Games

Yanks and Sox start a three-game series in Boston tonight (yes, yes, again).

Cliff’s got the preview.

C.C.”I Got My Pride” Sabathia goes against Big John Lackey.

Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Eric Chavez 3B
Jorge Posada DH
Francisco Cervelli C

Never mind the angst:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

[Photo Credit: Whereisthecool via Je Suis Perdu]

Extra, Extra: Stormy Davis Weather Ahead

The Yanks start a series in Baltimore tonight. They are scheduled to play five games in the next four days. I say they get a couple in, maybe three.

Cliff’s go the preview.

Here’s the line-up:

Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Jorge Posada DH
Russell Martin C
Brett Gardner LF

We’ll be around this weekend. Who knows what this weather will bring. The subways will stop running tomorrow afternoon as the city prepares for the worst. If you don’t see any updates it’s because we’ve lost power temporarily. Hopefully, it won’t come to that, although the wife did buy an ark today at Costco just in case.

Never mind Mother Nature:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

[Photo Credit: Lewis W. Hine]

On Target

The Yanks are in Minnie for four games. Cliff’s got the preview:

A popular pre-season pick to repeat as AL Central champions, the Twins have had nothing short of a disastrous season. On June 1, the Tigers completed a sweep of the Twins at home, dropping Minnesota to 17-37 (.315) and 16.5 games back in last place. The Twins perked up a bit from there, going 33-22 (.600) in June and July and cutting their deficit in the division to five games on July 20, but they were playing over their heads during those two months as they allowed as many runs as they scored during that span and never got above fourth place. They have since returned to their early-season level, playing .286 ball in August and falling 10.5 games back in the Central, which seems closer to their actual level. According to third-order wins, only the Astros have been worse this season, and a quick look at the Twins roster shows little reason to expect them to pull out of their current slump.

To begin with, the Twins had Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau in the lineup at the same time in just eight of their first 117 games. They went 2-6 in those games, two of them coming against the Yankees in early April, both losses. With Morneau being activated from the disabled list on Friday, the Twins have now had Mauer and Morneau in the lineup in each of the last five games, but have won just two of them, scoring a total of four runs in the other three. It’s too early to know what to expect from Morneau, who hit .226/.281/.338 through early June before hitting the disabled list with a herniated disc in his neck that required surgery later that month. Mauer, who missed two months early in the season with bilateral weakness in his legs, a neurological condition effecting the strength of his leg muscles, has hit just .289/.356/.353 since his return in mid-June and has started behind the plate on four consecutive days just once since then and three consecutive days on just two other occasions.

Tonight, Ol’ Reliable, C.C. Sabathia aims to regain his form.

Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher DH
Andruw Jones RF
Eduardo Nunez 3B
Francisco Cervelli C
Brett Gardner LF

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Burnt Ends (Freakin’ Lickum)

 

Yup, it’s our boy A.J. on the hill tonight. You feelin’ it?

I’m feelin’ it.

First of three for the Yanks in Kansas City.

Cliff’s got the preview:

The Royals entered this season with by far the best farm system in baseball and have since stocked their major league roster with prospects, including first baseman Eric Hosmer, second baseman Johnny Giavotella, third baseman Mike Moustakas, lefty starter Danny Duffy (who will pitch on Tuesday), and relievers Aaron Crow, Tim Collins, Louis Coleman, Greg Holland, Everett Teaford, and Rule 5 pick Nathan Adcock. Those players haven’t accomplished much more than getting their feet wet, however.

Moustakas has been awful. Hosmer has hit just .254/.317/.384 since June 8. Giavotella has been solid but has only been up for ten games. Duffy has just six quality starts in 15 turns. Crow, a curious choice for the team’s lone All-Star selection, has a 4.08 ERA and three blown saves in his last 16 outings. Tiny Tim Collins has walked 6.7 men per nine innings. Teaford has just one more strikeout than walk. Coleman and Holland have been excellent, but neither was considered among the cream of the farm system, and Adcock, who is in this discussion only by virtue of being a rookie, has a 5.23 ERA.

That said, the Royals do have a roughly league-average offense thanks to the unexpected performances of their outfielders, two of whom were roundly mocked when the Royals acquired them this offseason. Alex Gordon, who is finally fulfilling his potential at age 27 is actually one of the most valuable players in the league according to Baseball Prospectus’s WARP (Wins Above Replacement Player). Melky Cabrera is, at 26, having by far the best season of his career, hitting for unprecedented average and power. Jeff Francoeur is having his best season since his rookie year of 2005, thanks in part to a career-high walk rate and his best power performance since 2006. Add in Billy Butler’s typical not-great-but-good showing at DH, and the Royals have half of a solid major league offense.

Of course, that has been undermined by Joakim Soria going rotten, posting the worst save percentage among the 24 men with 20 or more saves this season, most recently collaborating with Crow to blow a 7-3 lead against the Rays last Wednesday. Put it all together, and the Royals have the third-worst record in baseball, which is an unfortunately familiar place despite all those new faces, and are 2-8 over their last ten games coming into this series

Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Eric Chavez 3B
Jorge Posada DH
Russell Martin C

Grab yer napkins and let us dream of K.C. bbq as we cheer:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

[Photo Credit: Kevin'sbbqjoints.com]

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