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World Series 2010: 1-Game Playoff Could Improve Interest, Revenue

No team plays with the goal of being called second or third best.

They play to be called Champions.

But, that does not exclude the non-champions from being ranked. Nor does it stop some governing body or League Office/Association from crowning a second or third place team.

With the 2010 MLB World Series now in full swing, there will soon be a new World Champion and a disappointed second place team. Those ranks are understood, but to speak for those who are curious, which team would take that imaginary third step on the MLB podium?

Should a team be officially deemed as third overall in the League in the same sense that the loser of the World Series is deemed second?

Is this a wild, taboo idea that should not be considered because it would mean a change to a sport that traditionally does not accept change with open arms?

The FIFA World Cup plays a match to decide a third-place overall team.

The Olympic Committee does the same for their Games that involve a bracket of competing teams.

Typically, such a matchup takes place between the two teams that were most recently eliminated in the round prior to the Final Championship Game.

In the case of Major League Baseball, those teams qualifying and competing for third place would be the teams eliminated from the American and National League Championship Series.

The question I pose here regarding my proposition of a third-place game isn’t whether this can be done, because of course it can be done. It wouldn’t be any more difficult to organize and broadcast than a one-game playoff similar to a Game 163; a situation that nearly came to fruition this year and one that was necessary the previous two years.

So a one-game playoff for overall third place in the League between the ALCS and NLCS runners-up is feasible.

The question I pose now is should it be done?

The game of professional baseball is slowly changing to the dismay of some and the joy of others. So, will a game that leans on its history and tradition be open minded to such a change during a period when everyone is complaining that it should change?

In the eyes of many, there is nothing terribly groundbreaking or innovative about this concept. But in the eyes of baseball traditionalists, it is revolutionary bordering on blasphemy.

I am not a traditionalist, nor am I looking to change the game for the sake of change.

However, I am open to change that increases intensity and viewership of the game, in this case, the playoff atmosphere and additional bragging rights for teams to take into the following season.

A one-game playoff, in this case for third place, is essentially a Game 7.

Numbers do not lie and numbers state elimination games, especially those involving popular, sizable markets, will generate revenue.

For those who question or doubt the value or magnitude of a third place or bronze playoff game, consider if such a game took place this year.

Who wouldn’t be interested in a one-game playoff between the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees. Two of baseball’s biggest markets putting everything on the line for a chance at third.

Of course, neither market would ever settle for third, but if there is something to be won, both teams and both fan-bases would want to win it.

There is no doubt that such a match-up would draw significant interest and revenue.

Think a match-up of this magnitude would be a one-time fluke occurrence?

In 2009, such a game would have taken place between the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

In 2008, the Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox would have faced off for third place.

All of these teams have expansive fan bases and more than capable markets to support them, including two of the most storied franchises in the MLB in the Red Sox and the Dodgers.

The fact is, more often than not, the teams that make it to the League Championship Series have fan-bases and markets equipped and willing to accommodate a third place one-game playoff.

If this idea were to come to fruition, or even be considered, I believe such a game would prove useful to be played hours prior to the Game 1 of the World Series.

Such an intense playoff may catch viewers and keep them all the way through Game 1 of the World Series.

In a world increasingly driven by ratings, revenues, and rivalries, the concept of a one-game playoff game between the teams eliminated in the American and National League Championship Series will help Major League Baseball earn higher ratings, increase revenue as a result of those ratings, and compete with the other professional sports leagues of North America for consumer interest.

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ALCS 2010: A.J. Burnett Can Play Pivotal Role Toward Yankees’ World Series Title

A.J. Burnett will be the first to admit his season was nothing short of disastrous.

In his second year with the Yankees he posted a 10-15 record with an ERA north of five over 180 innings of work.

The first Yankee pitcher to do so.

This following an impressive run during the second half of last year including an impressive postseason stint.

After his performance this year, it is easy to forget that it was Burnett who kept the Yankees’ World Series hopes alive when he won Game 2 of the World Series against the Phillies after lefty ace Sabathia took the loss in Game 1 at Yankee Stadium.

Throughout his career, Burnett has shown he can be as dominant as he can be terrible.

He was responsible for a blowout loss to the Boston Red Sox last year in which the final score was 14-1. The same Burnett that shut out the Red Sox for seven-plus innings that ended 2-0 after Alex Rodriguez hit a two-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the 15th.

After sitting out the American League Division Series, Burnett is not rested, not relaxed, but anxious to start in the American League Championship Series against the Texas Rangers beginning Friday, October 15th on TBS.

(Note: The National League Championship Series, San Francisco Giants vs. Philadelphia Phillies begins Saturday, October 16th on FOX)

Burnett is expected to start Game 4 at Yankee Stadium on October 19th.

Aside from workouts and simulated games, this will be Burnett’s first start since October 2nd. While there is a chance this could cause him to be rusty, there is a greater probability he will hit the rubber in the first inning at Yankee Stadium and feel he is home.

Fans of the Yankees expect him to step up and prove himself worthy. Burnett also knows he has to regain the trust and respect of the New York crowd.

It is important not only that he gets a start in the ALCS, but that it comes at home. As brutally honest the Yankee faithful can be with their players, they want another championship and will sooner push Burnett forward than they will harass him while he is on the mound.

He has had more than his fair share of boos from his home crowd, but October is the time to erase everything from the regular season, be it failure or success.

In 2009, Alex Rodriguez was the Yankee under the microscope. All eyes were on him to perform and contribute in order for New York to claim their 27th title.

A.J. Burnett is in the spotlight this year for the Bombers.

Whether he gets a win or loss, whether or not he factors into the decision is somewhat irrelevant.

His mission first and foremost is to get the win, yes, but to also keep the Yankee bats and fans in the game. His start is also pivotal to give the New York rotation the rest needed to minimize the need to pitch on short rest.

The Yankees have already overcome the doubt concerning their pitching in the ALDS. They are now faced with the uncertainty of Burnett who should be capable of performing admirably considering he will be focusing all of his abilities over the span of no more than two or three starts depending on if the Yankees advance to the World Series.

New York will not win another series this year without Burnett eating up innings and keeping his club relevant.

Keeping him out of the rotation in favor of a spot starter will not do. Using a spot starter such as Dustin Mosely or Ivan Nova essentially means a game pitched entirely by the bullpen as Girardi will be compelled to pull them from the game at the slightest hint of trouble that usually arises in the fourth or fifth inning when the lineup sees a starter the second time.

Do not discount the prize that comes with Burnett starting: catcher Francisco Cervelli behind the plate. It is no secret that Burnett and veteran Jorge Posada struggle to agree on strategy and pitch selection, so it is nearly a certainty that Cervelli will be receiving Burnett.

Cervelli may not have the power of Posada with the bat, but he has a greater ability to neutralize the Texas running game with right-hander Burnett toeing the rubber. Cervelli has also shown earlier in the year that he can hit the fastball and hit in the clutch. During late May and early June he carried an average around .300 with RISP.

Cervelli also adds another spot in the lineup the opposing Texas pitchers need to supervise as he his not shy of distracting the pitcher and attempting a steal when on base.

While Cervelli’s bat may have cooled down of late, and he has yet to enter a 2010 postseason game, his service allows Posada a day of rest as well as serving as a powerful, energetic spark plug to keep morale high in difficult situations.

Cervelli’s enthusiasm of pounding the mitt for location and pumping his fist at inning’s end may be the atmosphere and mindset Burnett needs to defeat the Rangers rather than himself.

Burnett may get into trouble, but he has the foundation and ability to power through it. And he knows that the Pinstripe offense has a good chance to make up for a few mistakes when playing at Yankee Stadium.

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Philadelphia Phillies Down Reds, Expose Truth Behind Cincinnati’s 2010 Year

The Reds did not belong in the postseason this year.

Cincinnati fell into the National League Central Division title by doing what any team is expected to do: win games against teams with worse records and teams with losing records.

However, Cincinnati proved more than once that they could not do what is expected of winning ball clubs, and that is to overcome clubs equal than or better that yourself.

The Reds failed to post winning records against their would-be rivals and struggled to even present much competition against the elite of the National League, making it difficult to view them as true contenders.

The Reds, in the midst of proving themselves worthy to be called contenders throughout the year, took a four-game series to Philadelphia where they were promptly swept by the Phillies, including blowing a 7-1 lead in the 9th inning and seeing the Phillies walk off with the win.

That four-game sweep most certainly followed both clubs into the postseason.

Of course that mid-season matchup against the Phillies was not a divisional game. Their tussle with the St. Louis Cardinals was.

The Reds were unable to muster any more offense against the Cardinals than they brought against the Phillies. The difference with this series in question, however, was that the Reds hosted the Cardinals.

It would appear that what separates the good teams from the great teams is the indifference between home field and enemy territory. Great teams can steal series from their rivals on the road rather than rely on home-field advantage.

The Cardinals went into Cincinnati and took the series in the form of a three-game sweep, in addition to taking Cincinnati’s dignity as Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina and Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips shared a confrontation at home plate prior to the at-bat.

The confrontation devolved into a bench-clearing brawl that exposed the emotion of the Reds as if they were standing up against the schoolyard bully.

All season, Cincinnati fans insisted that their ball club was “for real” this year. That this was the year they would win it all, laying all of their hopes on team MVP Joey Votto to slug them to the title. However, they were met with much criticism from nearly every intelligent, insightful baseball fan, reporter, sportscasters and analyst.

Fan support and loyalty from Cincinnati is admirable and absolutely understandable, but that does not excuse fans and the Cincinnati media from refusing to listen to reason.

Simply put, the Cincinnati Reds failed to prove that they could wrestle with the big boys.

Their year was the culmination of good players getting the job done against inferior teams in the inferior National League Central. Couple that with the down year of the St. Louis Cardinals, and the result is their first postseason appearance in 15 years.

The Reds compiled a 91-71 record in the inferior NL Central. The only other division winner with a lower win-loss record was the Texas Rangers that finished 90-72.

Texas finished the year without their All-Star outfielder Josh Hamilton who was out for most of September and finished with an average just south of .360.

Cincinnati finished hitting on all cylinders behind Joey Votto who finished the regular season with a very respectable .324 average. They were not without their own injuries, but what those Reds players bring to the club does not match what Josh Hamilton brings to the Rangers.

Texas overcame division rival Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to win the American League West with a nine-game cushion while holding their own against American League powerhouses such as the Minnesota Twins and the collective AL East including the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays.

Cincinnati took the division away from St. Louis but failed to make the same firm, dominating statement in head-to-head matchups against them that the Rangers made against the Angels. Furthermore, Cincinnati could not dominate Philadelphia during the regular season, posting a 2-7 record against them.

That being said, there are few teams in the National League that can be called year-long powerhouses to give Cincinnati trouble.

The New York Mets surged early in the year but faded as the year progressed and at an incredible rate. Other teams such as the Marlins, Brewers and Rockies were strong only during certain periods of the regular season and failed to stay consistent throughout the year.

But the National League does not have the same number of powerhouse contenders that the American League has, and furthermore, they do not have the same caliber of strength as the American League.

In an attempt to list the perennial contenders National League in the last decade, it is difficult to go beyond Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, St. Louis and Atlanta. And in the most recent years, the Mets and Dodgers have failed to be the same year-long contender they have been known to be. Competitive, yes, but not what they are fully capable of.

Even the Boston Red Sox, that play in the most competitive, difficult, cutthroat division in MLB finished a single game behind the Reds at 89 and 73. A team that sustained injury to nearly all of their regular players, many of them out for five of the six months of the season.

The Red Sox could not put their A-List line-up on the field beyond April, played most of the year rotating out AAA players to face the American League and more specifically, the AL East.

A team that prides itself on pitching and yet did not get the best from their rotation after landing the best starting pitcher on the free agent market last year.

They finished a single game behind the Reds.

All Reds fans should be grateful they reached the postseason, but to all the Cincinnati fans who insisted throughout the year that they were worthy of a World Series this year, understand the truth behind this year’s success.

A truth that was exposed by the Phillies in the regular season, by the Cardinals, by the Braves, by the Phillies again in the postseason.

The truth is that the Reds can not compete for a World Series title in their current state.

The truth is that it is easy to get behind a below-average team and see them have a chance to win when they play in the NL Central.

The truth is the Reds have been heralded by Cincinnati fans as being great just for beating up on the numerous bottom dwellers of the National League, something that is expected of every team to begin with: Defeat clubs worse than yourself.

Furthermore, those same fans of the Reds ignore the fact that Cincinnati could not defeat a true elite, winning team in dominant fashion in 2010.

Getting swept in a three-game NLDS is one thing. Getting out-hit 21-11, out-scored 13-4, and posting seven Cincinnati errors against three Philadelphia errors is by far another.

That is without taking into consideration that the Reds were no-hit in their first playoff game in 15 years.

If Cincinnati can keep Votto and add a few more All-Star capable fielders in addition to one or two more front-rotation starters, they can reach the postseason in the next two or three years.

Do not expect Cincinnati to reach October again soon if they fail to add more talent to support Joey Votto and fail to acquire starting pitchers who give up less than three runs. St. Louis will not have a year like 2010 for a while.

Cincinnati was an interesting story for 2010, but no intelligent baseball analyst outside of Ohio believed they would get beyond the first round.

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Catwalk Catastrophe Costs Tampa Bay Rays, Roofs Revive Baseball Debate

Of the 30 MLB teams, a handful play at home where they do, in fact, have a roof over their heads. While each team’s home is unique and wonderful in its own way, these domed ballparks come with very unique and terrible ground rules.

Thursday afternoon, in the midst of a division title chase, the Tampa Bay Rays drew the losing hand from their own House. The wild card: The rafters and catwalks that support the roof over their heads.

The Rays were playing the Minnesota Twins in the confined Tropicana Field and lost the game in the ninth inning when Twin Jason Kubel popped a fly ball that struck the A-Ring designated catwalk and landed beyond the reach of the Rays second baseman a few feet beyond the pitcher’s mound.

That two-out, not-so-routine pop fly allowed the winning run to score, breaking the 6-6 tie in the top of the ninth inning. The Twins would go on to win by a final of 8-6 following a groundout by Carl Crawford.

Though it is difficult to predict who would have won had the catwalk not interfered, it is easy and interesting to consider how this result could be potentially devestating to a club that is competing in the A.L. East with two other juggernaut teams.

In recent history, the A.L. East has not been the tightest division. that honor falls to the A.L. Central. However, the A.L. Wild Card traditionally comes out of the A.L. East and one loss in this division could be the difference.

Rays manager Joe Maddon said as much in a postgame interview concerning the controversial issue of having any roof structure in play in baseball.

“I know it works both ways, but to lose a game in a pennant situation like that, because of a roof, truly indicates why there’s a crying need for a new ballpark in this area, regardless of where they put it.”

Maddon continued, “It just needs to be a real baseball field where, if you lose the pennant by one game and look back at a game like that, because the roof got in the way, we’d be very upset.”

While Tampa may not have the only dome in baseball, Tropicana Field is the poster child against enclosed baseball facilities.

Yes, each indoor ballpark carries certain advantages and specific reasons for why it is enclosed. They all offer the feature of being multipurpose facilities, such as disaster shelters.

Chase Field, home to the Arizona Diamondbacks, experiences treacherous temperatures year-round.

Tropicana Field also protects fans from hurtful temperatures as well as the rain and thunderstorms that can arise in the blink of an eye.

The Milwaukee Brewers, Houston Astros, and Toronto Blue Jays also have enclosed facilities, so is it unrealistic for Major League Baseball to phase out enclosed ballparks?

The Minnesota Twins, who benefited from the Tropicana catwalks Thursday afternoon, also played indoors in the multipurpose Metrodome up until this year.

Minnesota is currently celebrating the inaugural year of Target Field, an open-air ballpark that represents the way baseball was meant to be played.

I believe that Major League Baseball should eventually be played completely in open-air environments, regardless of weather concerns.

There are certain problems all indoor ballparks share: lighting, AstroTurf, inconsistent ground rules, and inconsistent atmospheric conditions, along with several others.

The game of baseball was meant to be subjected to the elements. Yes, rain and heat can certainly be inconveniences, but they are a part of the game. Baseball is, after all, a sport, and sports are subjected to weather.

AstroTurf can make some players more susceptible to injury. Pop-flies seem to be easily lost in artificial lighting and always have the chance of striking a ceiling superstructure. Enclosed ballparks aren’t subjected to the same wind element open-air parks are that can either carry a ball beyond the fence, or keep it in the outfield.

Joe Maddon made an excellent point. No one wants the fate of there season to be in any way affected by a roof. There are certain elements to the game that cannot, and should not, be controlled, such as the impact of weather. But having catwalk or speaker interference or losing a pop-fly ball to artificial lighting should never factor in.

Yes, open-air ballparks are lit at night and balls can be lost there, but those lights are mounted for the fans and are mounted out of play where they can never affect the trajectory of a ball, whereas the lights mounted on some in-play catwalks can.

If the Rays lose a postseason berth by only one game, all eyes will turn to this game first. Regardless of any other games they should have won but didn’t, this game was affected in a way the others weren’t. This game was affected in a way no baseball game should be affected.

Simply put: there was a factor that should not have been there.

Roofs do not belong in baseball and there should be a movement to eventually have all MLB games be payed in open-air ballparks.

I am not saying we should immediately replace all indoor ballparks, but when those inevitable times come when a facility’s condition is being evaluated for replacement, it should be replaced by an open-air ballpark.

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600 Gone, Yanks Primed To Win Division During Pivotal A.L. East Weekend

Almost two weeks and 46 at-bats following home run 599, Alex Rodriguez belted his 600th career home run and officially became the youngest to do so at age 35, displacing Babe Ruth who did so at age 36. The Yankees have been reeling as of late, in part due to Rodriguez.

Following his 599th homer on July 22 and up through today’s victory on August 4, the Yanks have gone 6-7 dropping two straight series to division rivals Rays and Blue Jays. The Yankees did go on to win the game that A-Rod hit his 600th in, possible evidence that this ball club’s success was slumping with this 600 drama, indeed.

It was apparent that the pressure, the media, and the attention were affecting both Rodriguez and the ball club overall. It seemed that with A-Rod not doing what he was expected to, the Yanks followed suit.

The Yankees took early 2-0 leads in three out of the six combined games played against Tampa and Toronto. They went on to lose those three including getting shutout in the rubber game in Tampa. As a result, the Yankees, currently, are .5 games behind the Rays for first place in the American League East and are 5 games ahead of the Red Sox.

This weekend marks a pivotal moment in New York quest for a Division Title this season.

The Red Sox visit Yankee Stadium on Friday to begin a 4-game series while the Rays visit Toronto for a 3-game set. Though the Rays, Red Sox, and Yanks will all meet again before season’s end, this weekend’s divisional series could result one clear-cut A.L. East leader (Tampa), and/or one team being virtually eliminated from contention (Boston).

Tampa seems to have hit their high mark. Though they beat a struggling Yankee club, they currently have all the pieces they need to make a winning run at the Division Title, and for the moment, those pieces are all functioning. Only a few in their lineup can hit the ball out, but all of them can drive in runs to compliment a very good starting rotation.

Their weakness possibly lies in their depth on the bench. Their roster already is mostly composed of rookies and transient veterans who have compiled good numbers over a few years, but beyond that, they don’t have what the Yankees have now, and what the Red Sox had perennially in the past up to this year, is a bench that can hurt you in one pinch-hit situation.

The lack of a quality bench also means the Rays are not as capable to rest their starters in-game or properly fill in for an injury in the same manner as the Yankees or Red Sox can.

New York has the road laid out ahead of them. 600 is gone and now the club is no longer subject to the extra attention they received in addition to all the attention they already garner being in the A.L. East, being a top contender, and, of course, being the historic powerhouse Yankees. New York has the pieces they need to secure their division. The only thing left is execution. They bolstered their bullpen with Kerry Wood. If they get Alfredo Aceves back, their ‘pen will be nearly untouchable.

Their offense has always been there, it was just a matter of getting it to function altogether. Picking up Lance Berkman was ingenious. Another switch-hitting home run hitter to DH and play First Base. The most importnant note is that Berkman plays First Base. This gives the Yankees a ligitimate, A-List First Baseman to give Teixeira an occasional break. This duo at First Base will work better than their original tandem of Teixeira and Thames/Miranda.

Their rotation is above average and is one starter away from going on a streak in the form of Andy Pettitte who should return in the next two or three weeks. The question is if that is two or three weeks too late.

Boston is set to get outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury back from the DL for the first time since May. To add more drama to this soap opera of a division, Ellsbury is to return just in time to play in the Boston/New York series set to begin this Friday because, of course, no player wants to be left out of this rivalry. Boston has the chance of turning a possible 5.5 game deficit from first into a firm second place standing or even a Division lead depending on their series with the Yankees and how Tampa fairs North of the Border.

Boston still has key players who are not where they usually are at this point of the season such as Kevin Youkilis, Jason Varitek, Mike Cameron, and their laser show in the form of Dustin Pedroia.

However, with this great opportunity comes the potential for great distress. It also means they risk falling to 9 games back of first place if they are swept by the Yankees. The depth Red Sox bench and farm system is the reason the Sox are still in the conversation for a postseason spot.

Yes, this upcoming weekend can be confusing, numbers wise, but it can also be a season changer, a season clincher, and a season destroyer.

Remembering that these three clubs will all meet again before season’s end, one cannot help but to consider how terribly this weekend can play out for all three clubs, and the results of the weekend.

Weekends like this can begin season ending losing streaks just as easily as they can begin division clinching winning streaks.

Even the Blue Jays who currently sit 12 games out of first have a chance to make a legitimate run at the A.L. Wild Card if the right events take shape this weekend. That being said, there is only a half game difference between the A.L. East Title and the Wild Card for the top four teams in the A.L. East.




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George Steinbrenner, Bob Sheppard Honored By Ceremony, Walk-Off Friday

Yankee Stadium, both the Old and the New, has seen its fair share of dramatics.

On Friday night, Yankee lore honored the passing of two great men that meant much more to the Yankee franchise and the game of baseball than can ever be expressed in words.

Thursday afternoon, designs for the commemorative patches to honor Yankee Principal Owner George Steinbrenner and long-time Public Address Announcer Bob Sheppard were released. Friday evening, they made their debut.

Bob Sheppard manned the PA booth at Yankee Stadium for 57 years, announcing over 4,500 games during his tenure. The Yanks adorned his circular patch, a microphone placed in the center of a baseball diamond with his name, on the left sleeves of their uniforms.

But “The Voice of Yankee Stadium” would not be alone.

On an elliptical patch sat the initials “GMS” in the middle with “George M. Steinbrenner III” arched over the top and “The Boss” lining the bottom of the patch. Fittingly, the GMS patch was placed above the interlocking NY—just above the heart.

Steinbrenner bought the Yankees from CBS in 1973 for $8.8 million. Today, the Yankees’ estimated value hovers around $1.8 billion.

Both patches will, of course, remain on the team uniforms for the duration of the season.

But the honoring and commemoration did not stop there.

Prior to tonight’s game at Yankee Stadium, the first home game since the passing of Sheppard and Steinbrenner, a tribute was made by the Yankees, the opposing Rays, and the fans.

In addition to the video remembrance, Yankee closer Mariano Rivera laid two roses across home plate. The captain, Derek Jeter, was invited to say a few words regarding both The Boss and The Voice.

George Steinbrenner’s close relationship to the Army’s West Point Academy earned both himself and Bob Sheppard a house call from Army officers to present the colors and play taps prior to a moment of silence. It was a silence that was described by YES Network telecasters as so silent, the train beyond the right field fence could be heard rushing by as well as the half-mast flags whipping in the breeze.

But all these tributes still weren’t enough. This is, of course, New York, and these are the Yankees.

To honor Public Address Announcer Bob Sheppard, the PA booth remained empty for the duration of the game. No player names were announced coming to the plate, nor were any other sounds coming from the PA booth. Any noise made in the stadium came from the teams, and the spectators.

The Yankees did, however, play tribute videos on their centerfield monitor in-between innings.

Even before C.C. Sabathia hurled the first pitch to the plate, everyone knew the Yankees were playing with heavy hearts, and that was evident on the scoreboard.

For the first six innings, the Yankees struggled to get any kind of offense going, taking a 3-1 deficit into the sixth inning while only earning two hits.

Perhaps it was the somber crowd affecting the team, or maybe it was the other way around.

With two outs and the bases empty in the bottom of the sixth, Robinson Cano lined a laser shot out to centerfield that just made it over the fence. He delivered it into the Yankee bullpen—directly next to the partition of Monument Park.

The spotlight soon shifted when Jorge Posada hit a towering homer on a 3-0 fastball to the second deck in right field to tie the score at three.

It wouldn’t be until the eighth inning when Nick Swisher, who was robbed of a home run earlier in the game by Rays’ rightfielder Gabe Kapler, would send a shot that no one could take back to the upper deck in right field. This came after the Rays had previously retaken the lead in the seventh.

Swisher was responsible for the Yanks’ first run in the third when he laced an RBI single down the rightfield line.

With Curtis Granderson sitting on second base in the bottom of the ninth inning, it was, again, Swisher who came through, dropping a walk-off base hit into right field to score Granderson.

It would have been fitting if Jeter had gotten the game-winning hit. But when asked about it after the game, Yankees skipper Joe Girardi said, in a broken voice and with evident emotion, that The Boss cared about the win—and that is what was delivered to him tonight in dramatic walk-off fashion.

George M. Steinbrenner                                                                                

July 4, 1930-July 13, 2010


Bob Sheppard                                                                                        

October 20, 1910-July 11, 2010


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Is Stephen Strasburg a 2010 All-Star?

On June 8, the baseball world turned its collective attention to the debut of heralded pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg. No one can underestimate the quality of his talent, nor dismiss it.

His ability was apparent at every stage: from college ball through his short stint in the minor leagues following his draft selection in June of 2009. He features and commands four pitches. Many experienced Major League aces have, on average, only three.

Strasburg has demonstrated that he knows what to do in any given situation, be it changing speed, location, or use different pitches. More than that, he can execute what he wants to do. To that end, he is 2-1 in four starts with a 1.78 ERA.

Is Strasburg an All-Star?

The 2010 All-Star Game is July 13th and Baseball’s best will be in attendance. The topic of debate is if Strasburg can make a legitimate case for himself to earn an All-Star nod. He has the numbers to suggest he can, but then he hasn’t been around as long as all the other candidates have.

In my opinion, regardless of whatever numbers he posts in the handful of remaining starts that lead up to the All-Star Game, he should not be there. I don’t care what numbers you post, one month of major league activity for any player cannot be enough to make you an All-Star.

People always talk about a certain player having “an All-Star year.” That is not in reference to the numbers posted during that season. Yes, those numbers are important and they are typically the basis for voting, but what is overlooked in voting is Major League tenure. It is about the progress you have made over your extended career in the big leagues.

It is about a player’s progression from one year to the next. If every player’s All-Star nod were dependent on a time-frame of one month, then every player would be sending their best month’s resume. A career .210 hitter would speak of the month when he hit .340 to make a case for an All-Star bid.

I am not disputing the numbers Strasburg is posting. But for him to even be in the conversation after a month of Major League work is ridiculous. Keep in mind that the Nationals scheduled him to debut against sub-.500 teams. In fact, ESPN projected his starts and revealed that his first four opposing teams were either hovering at, or below .500.

I believe that Strasburg will one day be an All-Star if he keeps up his dominance and talent. But you wouldn’t put him on an All-Decade team if he had only played for two years. It’s the same concept.

I understand the kind of following this kid brings. He has boosted attendance and overall interest in the game of baseball from casual fans. From a fiscal standpoint it makes sense for him to be there. From a winning standpoint, it might give the National League a better chance to win home-field advantage in the World Series.

From a much larger standpoint, considering all the other All-Star nominees and contenders that have put in much more time to up to this point, it makes sense that a players should have more of a resume before making an All-Star appearance.

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