Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What happens if the hostage dies?

It seems all but inevitable that the Rangers are going to win the 2010 ALCS. The Yankees aren't dead yet, but beating the Rangers twice, in Arlington, with one of those games being pitched by Cliff Lee, is a very tall order. So I'm not holding out hope. But it's not as though the Yankees would be the only losers here.

Take FOX. The Yankees are the marquee jewel of the post-season. The Rangers are a nice story, but they're not the Yankees. If the Giants should hold on in the National League, FOX will be left with the two teams they didn't want to be playing.

But it gets worse: FOX is currently embroiled in a skirmish with Cablevision. In an effort to hike their subscriber fees, FOX pulled the plug on their affiliates seen in 3.1 million Cablevision homes. Why now? Because thousands of Yankee fans would be faced with the prospect of missing the World Series unless Cablevision forked over the dough. Now that the Yankees may miss the Series, the pool of FOX hostages drains away. Are you really that upset over missing "House" this week?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pettitte vs. Lee

Were it not for the 8th-inning miracle in Game 1 of the ALCS, the Yankees would find themselves in a sizable hole. Even though the Yankees left Arlington tied at one game each, they played like a team that should be down 2-0. Of course, now the series shifts to Yankee Stadium and tonight's pivotal Game 3, featuring the classic matchup of Andy Pettitte and Cliff Lee.

Lee has been dominant this post-season, as he was last year. The only losses the Yankees suffered in the 2009 World Series were games started by Lee. This season, Lee is 2-1 against the Yanks: a complete-game win in June and an 8-inning gem in September. One positive for the Yanks was a win in August where they managed to knock Lee out in the 7th. (He did notch 11 K's in only 6-1/3 innings, though.)

As for individual matchups, Joe Girardi will likely tweak the Yankees lineup. For his career Marcus Thames is a .194 batter against Lee, striking out 15 times in 36 at-bats. Conversely, Lance Berkman has three hits, two of them doubles, in eight career AB's against Lee. The simple call would be to start Berkman at DH. Oddly enough, the only other Yankee who has truly struggled against Lee is Robinson Cano. For his career, Robby is only hitting .214 (6-for-28) against the All-Star lefty.

On the other side, Pettitte pitched a great game against the Rangers in April, going 8 innings for the win. But April seems like a very long time ago, to the Yankees and Pettitte, who sat out two months this summer with a groin injury. For his career, Pettitte has given up a lot of hits to the Rangers' lineup, though he's had success against Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz.

With the series tied, home field advantage now swings to the Yankees. For 2010, that has yielded the Yankees a substantial advantage. The Yanks won all three game played in New York back in April, and knocked around the Rangers for a 6.14 ERA at the Stadium. (Granted, Cliff Lee was still wearing a Mariners uniform at the time.) The Rangers struggled on offense though, too, managing only six runs in those three games, batting just .181 (15-83) with one home run.

Joe Torre used to call Game 3 the most important game in a series. There's no question that the fortunes of both teams will turn on the outcome tonight.