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ALCS 2010 Game 1: New York Yankees at the Texas Rangers Live Blog

Tonight is the start of the American League Championship Series between the New York Yankees and the Texas Rangers.  This game is being played at the Ballpark in Arlington and first pitch is scheduled for 8:07 PM EST.

The pitching match-up for tonight’s game is between C.C. Sabathia and C.J. Wilson, both of whom had good regular season numbers.  Texas needs to take at least one of Sabathia starts to have a chance. Tonight will be their first opportunity to do so.

My name is Chris Matcovich and I am a featured columnist at Bleacher Report. I will be doing the live blogging during the game.  So please take part in the discussion by either posting on this article or contacting me via twitter @cmatcovich. 

I hope for some lively discussion, since this should be a very good game.


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Five Players Not Named Mauer That the Twins Need To Win the World Series

The Minnesota Twins clinched the American League Central earlier this week.  Every year, the Twins seem to make the playoffs even if they don’t have the best talent.

Joe Mauer is the best player and linchpin of this Twins team, but there are many other players you don’t know that are crucial to the success of this team.

Here are five players who need to have a big postseason for the Twins to have a shot at winning the World Series.

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Roy Halladay and Four Other NL Cy Young Candidates in Race for Award

As the 2010 Major League Baseball regular season begins to wind down, it is time to start to think about candidates for the annual awards.

After years of hitters dominating the league, this season has been all about the resurgence of the pitcher.  That is why this year’s NL Cy Young race is filled with a lot of pitchers who have had great individual seasons.

Here are the top five candidates for the 2010 NL Cy Young award.

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New York Mets: Top Five Reasons to Believe in 2011

Another baseball season is nearing its conclusion and for the fourth consecutive October, the New York Mets are absent.  With the front office sending out signs that the team will not make a big free agent splash this offseason, many fans are depressed.

Many have given up on the Mets’ 2011 season already, but there are certain things that the team has in place that should keep fans optimistic.

Here are the top five reasons to believe that it will be different for the Mets in 2011.

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The Washington Nationals Nyjer Morgan Heckled Me Too

I was at the Mets game on Monday and sat for the first time in the left field reserved seats.  It was the bottom of the eighth and the Mets were down 3-1;  there had to be only about 4,000 people left in the entire stadium at this point because of the unbearable cold. 

As the Nationals were warming up in the field, me and about 20 other people began heckling centerfielder Nyjer Morgan.  First off I want to clear up for everyone who has a negative connotation of “heckling”, that most of the time  it is harmless.  Some “You Suck Morgan” and a few A-hole chants, but that’s it.  In my years of heckling opposing players, 99 percent of them pay no attention to the fans in the crowd, but this night was special.

As the pitcher was finishing up his warm-ups people began to scream at Nyjer Morgan to throw the ball in the stands.  He responded by hiding the ball and pretending to throw an imaginary one into the crowd.  Bad choice Nyjer.  He was then greeted with the customary and aforementioned “You Suck Morgan” screams.  Then, if it wasn’t enough that it was 35 below, Nats Manager Jim Wriggleman decided that he would try and see how many pitching changes he could make in one half inning. 

As bad as this seemed at the moment it allowed us fans and Nyjer to continue to bond.   A fan screamed out during one of the pitching changes, “Hey Morgan, show us your slap shot.”  He proceeded to pretend to skate and shoot slap shots in the vast Citi Field outfield.   

More amusing then that was him blowing kisses at the 20 of us still in the left field bleachers.  Thing was, we were all dudes.  The jeering began to get worse, but thankfully for him the inning had ended.

I was tempted to leave after the Mets were unable to score in the eighth but why should Nyjer Morgan get off that easy. 

So I braved the cold and stayed for the ninth. We continued to scream at him as he warmed up, “Throw us the ball Morgan”.  Well in response to our pleas, Morgan thought it would be funny to show us the ball in his glove and then grab the family jewels.  People who thought that heckling was inappropriate before, a Major League centerfielder just grabbed his avocados, enough said. 

The last straw was when Morgan finally threw the ball into the stands, but over everyone’s head into the 20 empty rows behind.    He continued to tip his cap towards us as the jeering got worse, but in the end Nyjer got the final word as the Nats held of the Mets 3-2.  As much as I dislike most opposing players, after this encounter I will always have a special space in my heart for Nyjer Morgan.

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New York Mets: Santana Trade Shows Minaya’s Record is Not All Bad

All I hear is people bashing Omar Minaya for signing Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo to contracts they probably didn’t deserve. But where is all the praise for the positive additions that he has made happen?

I bring this up because yesterday Philip Humber of the Kansas City Royals won his first MLB game.

Humber, Carlos Gomez, Kevin Mulvey, and Deolis Guerra were the four minor league prospects that were traded to the Twins for Mets ace Johan Santana. Looking back at this trade three years later, it’s obvious that Minaya committed an act of highway robbery.

Out of the four players Carlos Gomez has had the most MLB playing time. He is a pretty solid fielder and has a lot of speed, but he can’t hit a lick. He has never had an OBP over .300, lacks any power, and has a career .242 BA in almost 1,300 ABs.

Philip Humber, on the other hand, hasn’t had an extended chance at the Major League level to prove himself. Maybe that is because he has a 4.48 career ERA in the minors. At 27, this former third overall pick has little chance of amounting to anything at the Major League level.

Like Humber, Kevin Mulvey hasn’t got much of a chance at the Major League level. In 27+ innings pitched, he has recorded a 7.90 ERA with the Twins and Diamondbacks. He was the weakest of the four players of the trade, and at 25 his future isn’t promising.

Deolis Guerra is the only player involved in the trade that is still with the Twins organization. At 21 years old he still has plenty of upside, just like when the Mets traded him three years ago. He has struggled at the higher minor league levels, posting a roughly 6.00 ERA in AA and AAA combined.

Looking at where these players are now, the Twins actually have nothing to show for one of the best pitchers in baseball.

They would have been better off letting him go in free agency and receiving the two compensatory picks, since he would have been a Class A free agent. That is the thing, when you trade a proven player like Santana for prospects—you never know what you are getting in return. It ends up being a total crap shoot.

In the end, Minaya was able to obtain a top 10 pitcher in baseball for what looks to be a bunch of minor league talent.

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Johan Santana and the Invisible New York Mets

The Mets lost 2-1 Sunday to the Pittsburgh Pirates with Johan pitching another eight strong innings, and having nothing to show for it. 

This season, it seems the Mets have been invisible anytime Santana takes the mound.  So, I crunched the numbers a bit to see how much of a tough-luck loser Santana has been this year.


Here are some facts about Santana and the Mets when he starts:

  • Santana is 10-8 with a 2.94 ERA this year in 27 starts
  • The Mets are 13-14 in games when Santana starts
  • Mets score 3.07 runs per game on average when Santana starts, compared to 4.04 runs in games he doesn’t start
  • The Mets leave 6.81 men on base on average in Santana starts
  • The Mets are 41-for-192 with RISP, a .214 BA in Santana starts, compared to .256 BA with RISP for the season
  • Santana’s average start: 6.9 IP, 6.2 hits allowed, 2.26 earned runs, and 5.07 strikeouts
  • Santana has nine no decisions this season. He has allowed, on average, 1.67 runs in those starts
  • Take out his first-inning stats, and Santana would have a 2.14 ERA
  • In three games this season, Santana has left with the lead, but the team lost.  Compare that to just one game in which Santana left trailing and the Mets were able to come back and win.
  • Felix Hernandez is the only other starter in MLB that has fewer wins with a lower ERA

    As you can see, Santana has not gotten any help this year when he has stepped on the mound.  It is almost like the Mets do not have as much urgency to score runs when Santana is pitching because they know he will pitch well. 

    Santana has been a top 10 pitcher in MLB this season, but the Mets have been the worst offense in baseball when Johan starts.

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    Roger Clemens Indictment: Should He Make the Hall of Fame?

    Roger Clemens was indicted on federal perjury charges yesterday.  Since, and even before his retirement, rumors swirled that one of the best right handed pitchers of all-time had been a user of performance enhancing drugs.  The numbers are there for induction to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, but should the rumors of steroid use axe his chance at baseball immortality?  Let’s look at the numbers.

    There three major statistical categories that are used when basing whether a player is potential candidate for the Hall of Fame.  The first category to look at is wins.  Clemens ranks ninth all-time in Major League history with 354 wins.  Next is earned run average.  He finished his career with 3.12 ERA, which ranks in the top 100 in Major League history.  The last category is strikeouts.  Clemens ended his career with 4,672 strikeouts, ranking third on the all-time list only behind Randy Johnson and Nolan Ryan.  Add to that he was an 11 time all-star, Rookie of the Year, seven time CY Young award winner, and AL MVP, that is a pretty impressive resume for Cooperstown.

    Many people feel that some of these stats were aided by performance enhancing drugs.  The overwhelming opinion is that Clemens began using when he joined the Toronto Blue Jays in 1997 at the age of 34.  So for arguments sake, lets take his numbers before this point and see if he was Hall worthy even with the questionable stats from 1997 on.

    In his 13 years before the 1997 season, Clemens recorded 192 wins, a 3.06 ERA, and 2,590 strikeouts.  He also added five all-star appearances, three CY Young awards, and an AL MVP award.  These statistics and achievements alone should have put him in the Hall of Fame if he decided to retire after the 1996 season at 33 years old. 

    Even though he wasn’t an elite pitcher like he was earlier in his career, he was still pretty good and would have added to these numbers with or without steroids.  Obviously, the numbers would be nowhere close to where they are now, but it wouldn’t be crazy to say he would have had 3,000+ strikeouts and 250+ wins.

    It will be a great debate over the next decade or so, on how to judge players that are thought to have done steroids.  The fact is that steroids were not illegal during this period of baseball, and certain players took advantage of the edge.  There are several other periods in baseball history when statistics were skewed, most notably, the dead ball era, and pre-integration. 

    If the voters want to punish these alleged cheaters, keep them out on the first ballot, but it is absurd not to recognize some of baseball greats because they may or may not have used steroids.  Roger Clemens might be a dirtbag, but in the end he was one of the greatest pitchers over the past 30 years and deserves a spot in Cooperstown.


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    Little League World Series 2010: Where are they Now?

    Every year a new group of youngsters get their chance to showcase their talents in Williamsport at the Little League World Series—kids that we watch in awe as they amaze us with their bats and arms. 

    Where do they go?

    When all is said and done, these kids usually fade into the background. Doesn’t anyone ever wonder what happened to these players who gave their all at a young age?

    Here is a list of five players that played in the Little League World Series and where they are now.

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    Five Most Memorable Home Runs in New York Baseball History

    With the passing of Bobby Thompson this week, it brings up memories of his infamous “Shot Heard Round The World” with the New York Giants.  New York is a baseball-rich city that has had its share of memorable home runs in crucial situations that have left an indelible mark on the fans,

    Here is a list of the top five most memorable home runs hit in New York baseball history.

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