is with it with the Mets and these one-voter outliers?!
ace Jacob deGrom made history Wednesday night, becoming the first Met pitcher
to win back-to-back Cy Young awards, just the seventh in NL history to go
back-to-back and the 12th overall to accomplish that remarkable
it wasn’t unanimous.
got the first-place vote on 29 of 30 ballots. Dodgers left Hyun-Jin Ryu got the
lone remaining first-place vote and finished second.
can’t express it,’’ deGrom said on MLB Network. “I said it was a dream to win
one, but to win back-to-back, honestly, I’m kind of speechless right now.’’
might go for a lot of Mets fans.
had a better ERA (2.32) than deGrom (2.43) who went 11-8. But deGrom had more
strikeouts (255) than Rye (163) and Mets ace was virtually untouchable in the
second half of the season.
giving up seven runs on nine hits in five innings of a loss to the lowly
Marlins, deGrom’s numbers were 3-5 with a 3.98 ERA. This a far cry from his
2018 numbers of 10-9 with a ridiculous 1.70 ERA.
feel like I was trying to better what I did in 2018,” deGrom told
reporters. “I think that was something I struggled with to start this
year, was kind of dwelling on what happened last year. Kind of not focusing on
the task ahead as much as I probably should have.”
regained his focus and posted a 1.89 ERA the rest of the season. Yet it was the
same case last season, when deGrom beat out Max Scherzer. De Grom was not a unanimous winner. He got the
first place vote on 29-of-30 ballots.
this sounds familiar it should. Earlier
this week Mets slugger Pete Alonso won the NL Rookie of the Year, getting the
first-place nod of 29-of-30 voters. Alonso, who wore black 100-% baseball cap
signaling his belief that he should be the unanimous winner.
Verlander won Cy Young in the American League. He and deGrom join Mets legend
as the only three pitchers to have won Rookie of the Year and multiple Cy Young
“This year, having that little rough patch, this game will
humble you quick,’’ deGrom said. “Last year, I didn’t really seem to have any
. It was kind of smooth sailing all year. But this year, to
recover from that little rough patch and figure out a way to get it done and go
out there and fix some mechanical things, was good.”
Now that Pete Alonso has accomplished almost everything a rookie
can hope for, here’s our hope.
Peter Morgan Alonso, please don’t change.
Don’t make it habit but if you happen to get your jersey torn
off after a post-game heroic, do the interview shirtless.
Continue to honor the victims, heroes and families of 9/11.
Keep crushing home runs.
And for as long as humanly possible, play baseball like a
12-year-old at Williamsburg, full of joy and passion.
Of course, for the next couple of weeks, take the National League
Rookie of the Year Plaque on a Stanley Cup-like run. You can’t plant flowers in
it or drink beer out of it but you can hoist a lot of cold ones in Tampa or New
York or any else place there’s a Mets
We’ll set over/under at 53, the record number of home runs
Alonso slugged this year. That didn’t break just any record, it broke the record
for home runs by a rookie previously held by a Yankee – Aaron Judge.
Trust us. This is huge for Mets fans that spends almost eternal
second fiddle to the Yankees.
In addition to crushing those 53 home runs, Alonso drove in 120
runs while hitting. 260. The Polar Bear, all 6-3, 245 pounds even stole a base.
What was stolen from Alonso was winning the award in unanimous fashion,
which clearly was on his mind Monday night at the award’s announcement. He wore
a black hat inscribed with “100 %.”
Alonso received 29 of 30
first-place votes. One voter opted for Atlanta rookie pitcher Mike Soroka
received the one other first place vote.
If Alonso needs motivation next season, he could look there. Just
as he could have used the fact that he barely made the big club coming out of
spring training. Surely he was thrilled to make the team and maybe there was
some extra mojo.
But this is what makes Alonso such a New York treasure. He doesn’t
need a chip on his shoulder because he has laughter in his heart. He loves the
game. He knows how few make this dream come true.
Hopefully, Alonso will never forget that. He’ll continue to embrace
the big, warm, cuddly Polar Bear persona, player version of Mr. Met. He’ll get
just as big a thrill out of a walk-off walk, that led to the bare-chested
celebration, as he gets from a walk off homer.
He’ll be that kid that dreamed of one day winning NL Rookie of
the Year. And then he did it.
The worst place to go
for an NFL game is MetLife Stadium.
The two teams that
call this steel and concrete monstrosity home have a combined record of 4-15.
Amazingly, they played a somewhat entertaining game Sunday with the Jets
beating the Giants 34-27.
The Jets share the
bottom of the AFC East with a 2-7 mark. The 2-8 Giants have a one-half game
lead over the truly pathetic Washington Redskins for last place in the NFC
Apparently, the Jets offense is quite
competent, as long as its playing against the Giants defense. Gang Green
averaged 223.5 yards (dead last in football) and 11 points (tied for last) going
into the game. They racked up 294 yards and 34 points against the Giants.
And the Giants offense is competent when playing against the
Jets defense. Big Blue averaged 326.8 yards and 19.6 points going into the
game. They racked up 287 yards and 27 points against the Jets.
Yep, it was that bad.
questioning is this: If you were to draft a team of Jets and Giants, would it
be good enough to make the playoffs. Remember, the NFL rewards mediocrity, so
we’re not counting on 10-6, 8-8 gets you in, 7-9 might.
So, we put together our All-NY NFL team. Perhaps you should
QB: Sam Darnold or Daniel Jones – They each get a half. Cop
out, I know: Still evaluating. Might be the case for the next five years. Ouch.
RB – Saquon Barkley, Giants – despite yesterday’s
performance, second best all-around back in football (Christian McCaffrey).
RB – Le’Veon Bell, Jets – despite this season, once one of
the best all-around backs in football.
TE – Evan Engram – Legit. Would start on most teams.
OT – Kelvin Beachum, Jets – consummate pro.
OG – Brian Winters, Jets – had the temerity to get in Darnold’s
face after last week’s botched snap count.
C – Jon Halapio, Giants – did not have to be lured out of
retirement, like Jets center.
OG – Will Hernandez, Giants – emerged as a nasty, borderline
dirty player last week. We like it.
OT – Mike Remmers, Giants – see Beachum.
WR – Sterling Shepherd, Giants – Should not play again this
season, if ever. No joke.
WR – Jamison Crowder, Jets – Solid slot receiver.
PK – Aldrick Rosas – He started the season on the roster, unlike
the Jets, who didn’t have an NFL-caliber kicker on its roster.
DT – Kyle Phillips, Jets – Each team gets one player with
DL – Quinnen Williams, Jets – Slow start, coming on.
DT – Dalvin Tomlinson, Giants – Each team gets one player
DL – Dexter Lawrence, Giants – Looking like a terrific pick
at No. 17.
OLB – Markus Golden, Giants – A delightful surprise.
ILB – Alec Ogletree, Giants – A little on reputation.
ILB – CJ Mosley, Jets – Amazing one-game season.
OLB – Jordan Jenkins, Jets – Out of options here.
CB – Janoris Jenkins, Giants – Depends of which Jackrabbit
CB – Darryl Roberts, Jets/DeAndre Baker, Giants – Each gets
one half to avoid third-degree burns.
SS – Jamal Adams, Jets – He’s the best, just ask him.
FS – Marcus Maye, Jets – He’s very good, but not as good as Adams. Just ask Adams.
P – Uh, who cares?
Coach – To Be Determined, Jets, Adam Gase/Giants, Pat Shurmur – If they’re both back for 2021 season, season ticket holders deserve refunds. Wait, did I say 2021? Meant 2020. Sorry for the panic attack.
Does this team make the playoffs? Feel free to write.
If Hollywood ever decides to create a remake of the
Oscar-winning epic, Gladiator, Mike Anderson should be the one standing in the
middle of the colosseum bellowing, “Are You Not Entertained?!”
Anderson made his St. John’s coaching debut Wednesday and the
Johnnies pressed, ran, passed and defended Mercer in a 109-79 blowout that
wasn’t that close. The Johnnies forced 24 turnovers which led to 30 points.
“I hope our fans enjoyed it,” Anderson told reporters after
the game. “It’s an entertaining style of basketball, but it’s winning
That remains to be seen in the Big East, where some of the
greatest guards that ever played the game took their city handle and carved up
opposing defenses. Safe to say Villanova, Seton Hall, Marquette, et al will be
better prepared and certainly more skilled to handle the Anderson’s style.
The flip side is that no team in the Big East plays this
style. It’s similar to playing Army in football. That option is impossible to
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here, almost as quickly as
St. John’s got ahead of Mercer and really never let up. The Johnnies led 15-6
by the first media timeout and the Bears should have begun warming up the bus
right there and then.
Anderson’s hire was a bit of a head-scratcher. He has used
this swarm-of-wasps style to succeed at Tulsa, Missouri and Arkansas, but he
couldn’t tell you where to get a good slice in the city no less the top games
in the Grady and Lincoln history.
The Johnnies had one of their own – the best player in school
history – on the bench these last four seasons. Chris Mullin left after the
death of his brother and a feeling that the administration wasn’t sufficiently backing
him and the program.
If there are spirits in Carnesecca Arena than Mullin and St.
John’s will both find success.
Certainly, there was spirit in the bandbox on the corner of
Union and Utopia. Anderson’s style is right out of the West 4th
Street cage and every other proving ground in the city. The Johnnies got right up in Mercer’s chest.
Secondary defenders were eager to help. Mustapha Heron (25 points), LJ Figueroa
(18) and Nick Rutherford (14) combined for 12 assists.
Defensive is a lot easier to sell when it turns into offense.
The Johnnies score 40 fastbreak points.
For one night, Anderson sold his vision better than Popeye’s
is selling its chicken sandwich. The 109 points were the most for a St. John’s
coach making his debut.
“For two hours every game, we are going to provide sheer entertainment,”
Anderson told reporters earlier this week. You won’t even want to take a
By now you have learned certain things in
life are meaningless.
The fortune inside the cookie. Meaningless.
The LCD boards in every subway station.
ToyotaThon…You get it.
Such is the case with preseason college
basketball rankings. Pathetically, utterly meaningless.
Michigan State, one of the nation’s premier
programs, came into the season with its first-ever preseason No.1 ranking under
coach Tom Izzo. That lasted all of one game.
The Spartans were upended by No.2 Kentucky,
69-62, Tuesday night in the Champions Classic in The Garden. No. 4 Duke
technically upset No.3 Kansas, 68-66, in the other game.
a chance we could be ranked No. 1 for the first time in the history of our
school to start out the season, which means — unfortunately — nothing,”
Izzo said at the team’s media day.
sport continues this tradition isn’t a mystery. The angst of the rankings makes
for a lot of headlines and handwringing. A lot of diehard college hoop fans
don’t start paying attention until January so this is good for the sport –
of the team picked No.1 usually reacts in one of two ways:
indignation: “Obviously no one has seen us practice. If they did, we might not
be in the Top 25.”
outright dismissal: “Doesn’t mean a thing. If we’re No.1 at the end of the
season, then I’ll be excited.”
rankings are more meaningless than ever, fortunately, because they don’t matter
when it comes time to select the 68 teams that make the NCAA Tournament.
masters of making the simple complicated, introduced the NCAA Evaluation Tool
(NET) last season. Although it relies too much on analytics for my taste, it is
as objective as an IRS accountant.
The NET is comprised of five valuations – team value index, net
efficiency, winning percentage, adjusted win percentage and scoring margin.
The team value index rewards teams that beat good teams. It
takes into account the opponent, location and outcome.
Net efficiency is a team’s offensive efficiency minus its
defensive efficiency. Waaay to nerdy for me.
Winning percentage is just that.
Adjusted win percentage factors in location of games and result. A road win is worth 1.4. A home loss is -1.4.
A neutral site loss, such as the Champions Classic, is +1 or -1
Scoring margin is a team’s total
points minus its opponent’s points. The winning margin was capped at 10 points
per game so it doesn’t matter if the Spartans beat Binghamton by 12 or 50 in
its next game. (Disclaimer: author is a Stony Brook grad).
So what did we learn about the
nation’s top four ranked teams. Oops,
Izzo has decided to challenge
the best player on what might be his best team. After guard Cassius Winston
scored a game-high 21 points (1-of-7 on 3’s) and had just four assists, Izzo
had this to say to ESPN.
“Cassius was a little tired tonight,” he said. “I was
surprised because he’s in really good shape.”
Calipari said he didn’t start freshman Tyrese
Maxey because he wanted his five-star recruit to come off the bench firing.
Maxey had a game-high 26 points on 7-of-12 shooting. More impressive is that the
freshman got to the line 10 times in his first college game, making nine.
with a minute left proved to be the game winner. Don’t expect Maxey to be
coming off the bench for long.
I saw today is what I saw in high school,” Calipari said. “I [had]
not seen it to this point. I’m in practice, where’s the sniper that I
recruited? … But the two days prior to this, all I talked about was you be
that sniper — play. We need you to get baskets for us.”
has been a perennial power under Coach K because of one word – defense. Yes,
teams usually look bad on offense this early in the season but that doesn’t
excuse the 28 turnovers Kansas committed.
If the Dukies, who shot 35.9 percent from the
field (Kansas shot 46-percent0 weren’t this relentless on defense, they don’t
eke out the two-point win. Which means Duke’s offense has a loooong way to go.
Freshman Cassius Stanley was the only Duke player to shoot 50-percent or better
from the field.
‘Overall, we were able to stay fairly fresh
defensively,’’ said Krzyzewski. “And that’s gonna have to be a key for our
Bill Self certainly wasn’t laughing on the
inside after those 28 turnovers. When asked if it was a positive sign that his
Jayhawks only lost by two, he quipped, “I guess if you are Tony
Robbins you could look at it that way.”
Kansas has NBA-type height in the 7-foot Uduke
Azubike, 6-10 David McCormack, 6-9
Soussa, 6-8 Tristain Enaruna and 6-5 Marcus
Garrett. The Jayhawks outrebounded Duke,
But if the Jayhawks
don’t get better point guard play, that height gets negated. Devon Dotson (six
turnovers, one assist) was outplayed by Duke’s Tre Jones (seven assists, three
tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely – John Dalberg-Acton.
By Lenn Robbins
The Mets have hired a
manager that has never managed before.
Carlos Beltran isn’t the first to make this jump. Aaron
Boone has been pretty darn impressive since taking over the Yankees. Yes, Boone
inherited a team replete with talent, resources and culture, but there is a
long list of coaches/managers that have failed in similar scenarios.
Beltran’s Mets should have a solid corps of talent but we
don’t know what resources the Wilpons are willing to invest in this team. And
the culture of the Mets has been one of dysfunction.
Enter Brodie Van
Wagenen who the Mets hired last season as GM despite the fact that he had no
front office experience. The results have been mixed.
Van Wagenen made several aggressive moves (some think too
aggressive) acquiring Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz and Marcus Stroman. The Mets
were in the playoff race until the final two weeks of the season and it was
Van Wagenen seems to
have been granted tremendous power by the Wilpons. The question is, is it
unchecked power? Is it the limitless power the Mets will be paying for if Van
Wagenen’s ‘Forward Charge!” approach doesn’t work?
Some of the most notorious military leaders in history have led
their troops to disaster. George Custer, who graduated at the bottom of his
class from West Point, led the 7th Calvary to disaster in the Battle
of Little Bighorn. James Brudenell, the earl of Cardigan,
lost everything but his sweater when he ordered the charge of the light
The GM with no previous management
experience has hired a manager with no managing experience.
Beltran only wanted to coach the Mets,
and, according to published reports, did not interview for any other openings.
As is the case with Boone, Beltran, who
retired in 2017, should relate to the players.
There were eight managerial openings
after last season. Six have been filled. Beltran is the only minority. MLB
needs to look at that because fair or unfair (read, unfair) Beltran might face extra
scrutiny and certainly more attention. If he succeeds it bolsters the case for more
minorities to be hired.
Beltran is walking into a unique
scenario. For the first time since 2016, the Mets will enter a season with legit
expectations to make the playoffs.
Van Wagenen has shown his desire to floor
the accelerator, which means Beltran first ride will be in the fast lane.
This makes the Mets, with slugger Pete
Alonzo and a terrific rotation, a must-watch.
Start your engines Mets fans. The Mets
might be the most intriguing story in baseball next season.
If the NBA season ended today, the Brooklyn Nets would not make
the playoffs as would the Golden State Warriors and the Portland Trail Blazers.
Folly, of course. The Nets have another 79 games so the above
statement probably will turn out to be ridiculous.
Here’s what is not ridiculous: If the Nets don’t learn from
their 134-133 OT loss to the Memphis Grizzlies then they are staring at a
season of struggle.
The Grizzlies are in full rebuild, just as the Nets once were.
Few teams have written a better rebuild story than Brooklyn. Through the smart
workings of GM Sean Marks and positive energy of coach Kenny Atkinson, the Nets
have risen from doormat to one of the most intriguing teams in the league.
And when Kevin Durant returns from his surgically repaired
Achilles tendon, there’s a real chance this franchise can win its first-ever
NBA title. But not if they don’t a few things.
The Nets dug a 14-point hole in Memphis but rallied to take the
lead. They couldn’t hold a late eight-point lead. They allowed the Grizzlies to
shoot 48.5-percent from the field and 42.4-percent on 3’s.
“We could never get stops,”
Atkinson told reporters after the loss. “I don’t know how many straight
possessions they scored, but I never felt like we could get the requisite stops
to win this game.
“It started in the first quarter when we gave them 14 free
throws, a lot of silly mistakes, putting them on the line. Got in a hole again,
down 14. We could look at the end and say this and that, but really we didn’t
deserve to win the game.”
That’s as honest and accurate an assessment as you’ll ever read.
Atkinson’s words, “Really we didn’t deserve to win the game,”
might find a place in the Nets training facility. This team won 42 games and
made the playoffs last season because, more often than not, they deserved to
win. They outworked, outhustled, out-defended and out-willed the opposition on
It’s not easy to do. But it’s a little easier when teams view
you as the new kid on the block. Before last season’s resurgence the Nets won
69 games over the previous three seasons.
A lot of eyes turned toward the Nets last year. And then, of
course, came the Lotto free agency trifecta of Durant, Kyrie Irving and DeAndre
Jordan. Even knowing that Durant will likely miss the season, the addition of
Irving along with the development of young players make the Nets a must-watch
No longer will opposing teams see ‘Brooklyn’ on the schedule and
crack a smile. Nope, you better come ready to play, unless, of course the Nets
do not, as was the case in Memphis.
Every team that builds toward a championship run has to learn
this lesson, learn what it’s like to have to come be at your best every night
because that ‘target on the back’ cliché’ holds a lot of merit.
“We digressed a little
bit where just individual pride, keeping your man in front of you, simple sort
of backside rotations whatever it might be, just sort of a little bit off at
this point,” Joe Harris told reporters. “It starts with taking individual
ownership and being able to guard your man.”
Starting with Wednesday night’s home game against the Indiana
Pacers, the Nets need to get back to doing that. They need to fully grasp that
with greater expectations come greater challenge every night.
If the Nets do that, they will be one of the better NBA stories.
If not, what seemed ridiculous in October may be of real concern in April.
This might not be fair to
Daniel Jones. It surely isn’t fair to Sam Darnold.
But this is one of many burdens
that come with playing in a media market that hoists the Empire State Building
on one shoulder and the Chrysler Building on the other.
Jones, the sixth player taken
in the 2019 NFL Draft, has started a mere six games in this, his rookie season.
Some already are wondering if he has a better chance of developing into a
franchise quarterback than Darnold.
Darnold, the third player
picked in last year’s draft, made the 17th start of his career in
Sunday’s 29-15 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. He’s 22 years old, which means
there’s a lot of progressing still to come, hopefully positive.
Unless, of course he’s not
broken before he can reach his potential, which is the bigger concern than
which quarterback is playing better now.
Darnold posted a three-interception
game for the second straight week. This time there was no talk of supernatural
sightings as was the case in last week’s 33-0 loss to the Patriots.
Darnold, who missed time with
mono, has thrown eight picks in four games, equal to the number of picks Tom
Brady, Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson have combined to throw
in 31 games.
Darnold’s numbers for the
season are about as bad as bad can be. His rating is 33.7. Mitch Trubisky, who
just barely avoided a benching, is 35.8.
Darnold hasn’t been good. But he’s been
accountable and unflappable. He also seems to be flying this Jets team solo.
Ted Stryker had a better co-pilot.
The passing attack has been pathetic
because, really, who does Darnold have as targets? The offense, overall, is
impotent because defenses are sitting on Le’Veon Bell. And the coaching has
been, at best baffling and at worst, incompetent.
The Jets go for two when they
should take the point after. Clock management is as baffling as Daylight
Savings time before smartphones did the change automatically for us.
Jones threw four touchdown passes and no interceptions
in the Giants’ 31-26 loss to the Lions. His QB rating is 55.2 and he’s thrown
more touchdowns (10) than interceptions (7). But it’s not that black and white.
Jones has an elite running back and an upper
tier tight end and the Giants might have plan. On Monday, they acquired defensive
tackle Leonard Williams from the Jets for a 3rd round pick in 2020
and a 5th round pick in 2021 that could become a fourth rounder if
the former No. 6 overall pick in 2015 signs an extension with Big Blue.
That’s another top Jets pick
that didn’t pan out but what’s to be expected with the turnover in management
and coaches that occurs so frequently and illogically. They always seem to be
going one-step forward, three steps back.
The Giants haven’t been much
better. The Nate Solder hasn’t been nearly the player he was in New England.
The defense is toothless. Williams already is penciled in as a starter before
going through a practice.
Jets coach Adam Gase told
reporters on Monday that in one 13-pass sequence on Sunday, Darnold was sacked,
hit or touched on nine attempts.
Jones faces a similar
challenge. He’s been sacked 21 times in seven games. Darnold’s been sacked 15
times in four games.
The question isn’t who will
become the better quarterback. The question is will both quarterbacks be broken
down wrecks abandoned on the side of a county road by the time their teams have
a winning roster.
NEST EGG: Lamar Jackson
is averaging 6.9 yards per carry. No running back with at least 100 carries is
averaging more than 5.5 (Nick Chubb). The Baltimore quarterback has rushed 83
times. The closest comparison is San Fran’s Matt Breida who is averaging 5.3
yards on 84 carries.
What a sad time it is for professional sports in New York. So
The Jets put a rotten cherry on a spoiled sundae Monday
night with an utterly inept performance against the New England Patriots. Sam
Darnold, hailed a week ago when he returned from mono, needed noise canceling
headphones to dull the stereo boos that rained down on him in the fourth quarter
of what turned out to be a 33-0 embarrassing loss at MetLife Stadium.
That non-effort followed Daniel Jones getting sacked eight
times in a 27-21 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, which followed the Yankees
getting eliminated from the ALCS in the most gut-retching fashion, which
followed the Red Bulls quick exit from the MLS playoffs.
The NHL season is young but the Rangers are in last place in
the Metropolitan Division, trailing the Devils by two points at the start of
the night. The vagabond Islanders have won four straight to erase a 1-3 start.
The NBA season is about to start, much to the chagrin of
Knicks’ fans. The Brooklyn Nets can be a playoff team but can’t make a deep run
without Kevin Durant.
What’s next? The New York Marathon gets snowed out? The ball
doesn’t drop on New Year’s Eve. Hey, it’s a ball.
Darnold had his best day as a pro last week, throwing for
338 yards on 23-of-31 passing with two touchdowns, one interception and a 113.8
QB rating in a sunning 24-22 upset of the Cowboys.
He looked as lost as a rookie a week later.His QB rating,
suggest you sit, was 3.7. He threw four interceptions and lost a fumble. He
completed just 11-of-32 passes for 96 yards. The Jets had 154 yards of total
The ultimate indignity for the Jets was the chant of “Brady!
Brady!” reverberating through MetLife in the fourth quarter, when the Jets fans had given over their house to New England
There were other humiliations. Former Pats receiver Demaryious
Thomas dropped everything he could get his hands off. Former Pats return man Braxton
Berrios muffed a punt late in the fourth.
Brady watched the final few minutes from the sideline after
completing 31-of-45 passes for 249 yards with one touchdown and one
interception. When’s the last time you read this:
If the Patriots
offense can catch up to its defense, this team will be unbeatable in the
Here’s the worst part of this latest Jets debacle. Adam Gase,
quarterback whisperer and hot young coach (41), didn’t have the Jets ready to
play a preseason game, no less the marquee Monday Night Football matchup.
How sad is that? How sad is the state of professional sports
in metropolitan area? So sad.
As you drown your sorrows in whatever libation you prefer at
Sunday brunch or during Sunday Night Football, no doubt there will be lively discussion
and debate as to how and why the Yankees lost this ALCS to the Astros, 4-2, especially
after winning Game 1 in Houston.
Was it in the top of the 11th inning of Game 2
when Gary Sanchez, owner of one of the most retched postseason performances in
Yankees history, struck out looking with runners on first and second?
Or was in Game 3 when the Yankees had runners in scoring
position in four of the first five innings and couldn’t get that one key hit
off a less-than-dominating Gerritt Cole?
Or perhaps it was Game 5 when the Yankees had bases loaded in
the fifth inning after knocking out starter Zack Greinke. But Houston’s Pressly
struck out Edwin Encarnacion.
One can even make a case that it was Saturday night’s, 6-4, season-ending
heartbreak of a loss in which Jose Altuve’s two-run walk-off homer in the
bottom of the ninth trumped DJ LeMahieu’s two-run, game tying homer in the top
of the frame.
The Yankees got what they wanted, or at least what their strength
should have been – a bullpen game – words that make the fingers cramp, but that’s
a discussion for another day.
Every game the Yankees lost in the series was winnable, a
testament to the depth and resilience of this 2019 team. Despite Sanchez’s batting
slump and suspect fielding, Adam Ottavino’s
October struggles, Giancarlo Stanton’s battered body and Aroldis Chapman’s
hanging slider, the Yankees could have beaten a healthier and more balanced
Houston Astros team.
As to why the Yankees didn’t win takes us back to July 31st
when the trade line came and went and the Yankees had done nothing to improve
their starting rotation. The belief that Luis Severino would return after a
season on the injured list and suddenly bolster the rotation in October was at
best ridiculously optimistic, at worst, folly.
Only GM Brian Cashman knows exactly what potential deals were
on the table. He decided that the asking price for any of the starters that were
available was too high. He’s earned that right. Anyone that signed LeMahieu as
a free agent and assembled this kind of quality depth has certainly earned that
But in a city that judges whether a season is a success or
failure in championships or bust, the season busted with Saturday night’s loss.
“No matter how many games we won in the regular season, this is
a failure,” Aaron Judge told reporters after the crushing end the season. “I
think about the season as a whole, guys getting injured, guys getting back, a
lot of ups and downs, I think about missed opportunities and some guys I might
not play with again …”
Cashman and Co. need to think about upgrading the starting
pitcher. Houston’s Cole, 29, who would have pitched today had there been a Game
7, leads the list of free agent pitchers but the cost will be stunningly high.
Steven Strasburg, 31, will be available if he opts out of a deal that will pay him $100 million over the
next four seasons. Zack Wheeler, 30, is on the market but the Mets should be ashamed
if they let him cross from Queens to the Bronx.
It’s easy to sit back and suggest how much money a team
should dole out but this is the Yankees after all. They have more automaker
sponsors than some teams have sponsors.
If the Yankees don’t want to feel the devastation they
experienced this October next October, the pitching has to be better. Just look
at the starting pitching of the two teams that will play for the world series –
Houston and Washington.