Clueless Joe costs the Yankees a playoff win

girardiYankees manager Joe Girardi, who has a habit of over-managing, suddenly decided to under-manage at the most critical point of the season. It cost the Yanks a playoff game.

Everything was going so well for the Yankees in Game 2 of the ALDS against Cleveland. They had knocked out Indians’ starter Corey Kluber, the likely AL Cy Young Award winner, en route to an 8-3 lead in the sixth inning.

With two outs and two men on base, New York’s Chad Green hit Cleveland’s Lonnie Chisenhall with an 0-2 pitch. Or did he? Catcher Gary Sanchez, who caught the ball, yelled “Foul!” and looked over at the Yankee dugout.

Chisenhall never reacted to the pitch, something a player would normally do if hit in the hand by a 95-mph fastball. Instead he sheepishly trotted down to first base.

Replays clearly showed the ball did not hit Chishenhall’s hand, but rather the knob of the bat. “There was nothing that told us that he was not hit by the pitch,” Girardi said after the Yankees lost 9-8 in 13 inning to fall behind two games in the best-of-five series. “By the time we got the super slow-mo, we are beyond a minute. It was too late. They tell us we have 30 seconds.”

Seriously. Why not challenge? If you win, it’s a strikeout and the inning is over. It’s an extremely low-risk, high-reward proposition. It’s already the sixth inning, and the Yankees had two challenges remaining. If the ruling on the field is overturned, the inning is over. If not, at least it was reviewed.

Instead play continued, and Francisco Lindor promptly hit a grand slam to get the Indians right back in the game.

Excuses, excuses

Compounding the issue, Girardi later claimed he didn’t want to stop play and upset Green’s rhythm.

“I think about the rhythm and never want to take a pitcher out of rhythm and have them stand over there to tell me he wasn’t hit,” Girardi said.

Fess up Girardi, you messed up. Admit it and move on. That excuse might fly in some cities, but not in New York.

Ten years ago, almost to the day, the Yankees suffered a similar heartbreaking ALDS loss to the Indians in Cleveland. That night another Joe – Joe Torre – failed to ask for a stoppage of play when a swarm of midges appeared on the field as reliever Joba Chamberlain was trying to pitch.

Torre later admitted that he should have called time. That indecision eventually cost Torre his job. He was replaced by – you guessed it – Joe Girardi.

It doesn’t appear that Girardi will lose his job as a result of his non-challenge. But this promises to go down as one of the more boneheaded managerial decisions in Yankee postseason history.

Social media lit up after the game. Giradi’s legacy, along with the Yankees playoff aspirations, certainly took a hit last night.

You below it Clueless Joe, you blew it.

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Playoff pressure weighs on Indians, Dodgers

As the wild card showdowns are decided and the MLB playoffs get started, the pressure is squarely on two teams – the Cleveland Indians and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

When the Chicago Cubs knocked off the Indians in a thrilling seven-game World Series last fall, they also passed along the stigma of baseball’s longest championship drought. The Tribe has come indiansagonizingly close several times – most notably last year and in 1997, when they lost to the Florida Marlins in seven games. Cleveland also won the AL pennant but lost the World Series in 1954 and 1995.

You’ve got to go back the Truman administration in 1948 to find the last Indians championship squad. That year Cleveland beat the Boston Braves in six games. Do the math, that’s 69 years ago.

The Dodgers managed to win just one World Series in Brooklyn, beating the Yankees in seven games in 1955, before moving to Los Angeles in 1958. LA won five championships in its first 30 years on the West Coast, but none since. In fact, the Dodgers last made the World Series in 1988, when they knocked off the heavily-favored Oakland A’s in five games.

Many feel the Dodgers are due, having won five straight NL West titles and being crowned the best team ever by Sports Illustrated in August. Following that cover piece, the Dodgers reached a high water mark of 91-36, then proceeded to lose 16 out of 17 games, including 11 straight.

The Indians set an AL record with a 22-game winning streak in September, marking the Tribe as the team to beat in the AL.

The Dodgers wound up with the best record in baseball, 104-58, while the Indians finished second best at 102-60. Pressure’s on.


10 games the Yankees will regret

yankeeslose_400x400As the Yankees continue their thus far futile chase to catch the Red Sox, win the American League East and avoid the dreaded one-game, wild card playoff, they are looking back at 10 games they should have won.

1. April 7 – Orioles 6, Yankees 5: The Yankees begin a trend that will hurt them all season, taking an early lead only to fritter it away and lose. In this case the Yanks, leading 5-1 in the fifth, lose 6-5.

2. June 13 – Angels 3, Yankees 2, (11): Tyler Clippard surrenders the tying run on an Eric Young home run in the eighth; New York loses 3-2 in 11.

3. June 15 – A’s 8, Yankees 7 (10): Kicking off a disastrous weekend in Oakland, the Yanks tie the game in the ninth and take a 7-6 lead in the 10th. With two outs, Khris Davis bloops a single just off Starlin Castro’s glove to score the tying and winning runs. The A’s sweep the four-game series.

4. June 27 – White Sox 4, Yankees 3: Jose Abreu singles in the tying and winning runs with two outs in the ninth off Dellin Betances as Chicago counters a Yankee rally for a 4-3 win.

5. July 1 – Astros 7, Yankees 6: A grand slam by DiDi Gregorius in the sixth helps stake the Yanks to a 6-3 lead. However Houston rallies against Betances and Aroldis Chapman in the eighth to win.

6. July 14 – Red Sox 5, Yankees 4: At Fenway Park, the Red Sox score the tying and winning runs against Chapman in the ninth without hitting the ball out of the infield. Boston ties the score on a Castro error, then wins on a walk-off walk to Andrew Benintendi.

7. August 13 – Red Sox 3, Yankees 2 (10): Rafael Devers shocks the Yankee Stadium crowd with a home run against Chapman in the ninth before Benintendi singles in the winning run in the 10th.

8. August 18 – Red Sox 9, Yankees 6: Trailing 3-0 the Bombers take a 6-3 lead in the seventh. But Boston rallies with four runs in the bottom of the seventh against Chad Green and Tommy Kahnle and add two more in the eighth to win 9-6.

9. September 5 – Orioles 7, Yankees 6: The Yankees score six runs in the third for a 6-1 lead, and take a 6-5 lead into the ninth. However with outs and nobody on base, Betances walks Tim Beckham and then yields a walk-off homer to Manny Machado.

10. September 8 – Rangers 11, Yankees 5: The Yankees give Masahiro Tanaka a 5-1 lead, but he gives it all up and more as Texas goes on to win 11-5.


Indians look to surpass Giants 26-game streak

McGraw John 3569.63_FL_CSUThe red hot Cleveland Indians still have some work to do to surpass baseball’s longest winning streak.

More than 100 years ago, way back in 1916, the New York Giants set the record for consecutive games won without a loss.

In the midst of a 31-game September homestand at the legendary Polo Grounds, manager John McGraw’s Giants won 12 straight before a 1-1 tie with the Pittsburgh Pirates. New York beat Pittsburgh in a doubleheader the next day and went on to win 14 more games before losing the second game of a doubleheader to the Boston Braves on September 30. The 26-game winning streak included seven doubleheader sweeps.

It was a very strange year for the Giants. They started out 2-13 before embarking on a 17-game win streak, all on the road. Despite the two winning streaks, the Giants finished in fourth place, seven games behind the Brooklyn Dodgers, with an 86-66 record.

Exactly half of the Giants wins that year came occurred during the two streaks. Take away the streaks and the Giants were 43-66, nearly 25 games below .500.

Outfielder Dave Robertson was the only Giants regular to hit better than .300. He finished at .307 with a team-leading 12 home runs. The Giants hit only 42 homers as a team, but led the NL with 206 stolen bases. Pitchers Jeff Tesreau and Pol Perritt won 18 games apiece.

The Indians have already won 21 games in a row, equaling the 21-game streaks compiled by the Chicago Cubs in 1935 and the Chicago White Stockings in 1880. And Cleveland bettered the previous American League best 20-game winning streak reeled off by the Oakland A’s in 2002.

Other major streakers throughout baseball history included the Chicago White Sox (19 games in 1906), the New York Yankees (19 games in 1947 and 18 games in 1953) and the Giants (18 games in 1904).

Only the 1906 White Sox and the 1947 and 1953 Yankees went on to win the World Series.

The Providence Grays won 20 games in a row 1884, before baseball’s modern era began at the dawn of the 20th Century. Amazingly, Hall of Famer Charles “Old Hoss” Radbourn won 18 of those 20 games for Providence.


Happy Birthday, Dad

first_football_televised

The first college football game ever televised, Waynesburg vs. Fordham in 1939.

On a steamy August Saturday afternoon in the summer of 1938, New York right-hander Monte Pearson, shown below right, pitched the first no-hitter in Yankee Stadium history. The Yanks beat the Cleveland Indians, 13-0, that afternoon to complete a doubleheader sweep.

Pearson, who was 16-7 that year and won exactly 100 games lifetime,  faced the minimum 27 batters, striking out seven. Tommy Henrich and Joe Gordon each homered twice.

In the opener that day, Joe DiMaggio’s third straight triple of the game plated two runs in the bottom of the ninth to cap a three-run rally and give the Yankees an 8-7 victory. A crowd of 40.959 was on hand Pearson_Monteas the Yankees increased their American League lead  to 12 games en route to their third straight championship.

One year later come September, Fordham University defeated Waynesburg College of Pennsylvania, 34-7, at Randalls Island in New York. But that wasn’t the story. NBC filmed the first college football game ever televised, as Bill Stern brought the play by play to viewers.

Waynesburg’s Bobby Brooks made history with a 63-yard touchdown run, the first televised TD. Reportedly, there was no victory dance in the end zone.

The W2XBS broadcast signal had about a 50-mile radius, and there were about a thousand TV sets in the New York metropolitan area at the time. The signal didn’t even reach Waynesburg, about 50 miles south of Pittsburgh. So who saw the game? Who knows?

Columbia Shocks Army
In October of 1947, Army was a huge favorite as the Cadets brought a 32-game winning streak into New York to face Columbia’s Lions. Army had not lost since 1943; Columbia was coming off losses to Yale and Penn.

Army led, 20-7, at the half, but the Columbia combination of quarterback Gene Rossides and received Bill Swiacki brought the Lions back for a stunning 21-20 victory.

maris60And in September of 1961, Roger Maris of the Yankees, pictured left, hit a long home run into the upper deck at the old Yankee Stadium against Baltimore’s Jack Fisher. The round-tripper was Roger’s 60th of the season, equaling the mark Babe Ruth set in 1927.  Maris hit number 61 on the final day of the season, setting a record that many feel still stands.

These events, interesting in of themselves, have something else in common. My father was right there for each and every one. He was just 13-years-old at the Pearson no-hitter, a game he attended with other family members. The decision was made to leave once the Indians got their first hit. That never happened.

My Dad went to the Waynesburg-Fordham game with his cousin, who was at that time the manager of a powerful Fordham team.  By the time Maris tied the Babe in 1961, my Dad was a father of four, two boys and two girls, including me, the oldest. Of course, my Mom had something to do that.

My Dad took me to my first Yankee game nearly 60 years ago. He also brought me to my first Giants game, also at Yankee Stadium, and to my first Knicks and Rangers games at the old Madison Square Garden.

He’s always been there for me, whether it be cash, advice or a good meal. There’s still nothing I’d rather do than talk sports with my old man. I treasure the times I spend with him always.

Happy Birthday. Love you, Dad.

(Note: My father turns 92 today. World War II veteran, engineer, lifelong Yankee fan, married for 67 years, father of our, grandfather of 13, great-grandfather of 10. He’s the smartest man I’ve ever known.)

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Jabbar part of the conversation of best ever

1758742ADB_DNA023133068Who’s the best basketball player in history?

The most popular answer is Michael Jordan. Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain are popular selections. Larry Bird and Magic Johnson are certainly in the conversation. LeBron James is a favorite of the current generation and still climbing.

A name that rarely…if ever…comes up is Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Surprising, considering the big man’s pedigree. Here are 10 supporting arguments for Kareem Abdul Jabbar as the best ever.

1. POINTS: He’s the leading scorer in NBA history with 37,387 points. Karl Malone is second.

2. MVP: Kareem won the NBA MVP award a record six times. Jordan won five and LeBron is a four-time winner.

3. RINGS: He’s won six NBA championships, one with the Bucks and five with the Lakers. Only Robert Horry and a bunch of Celtics have won more. Russell is the leader with 11.

4. DEFENSE: Kareem was selected to the NBA’s All-Defensive team 11 times.

5. REBOUNDS: He’s fourth all-time in rebounds with 17,440, trailing only Wilt, Russell and Malone.

6. ALL-STAR: Jabbar appeared in 19 NBA All-Star games, the most in history. Kobe Bryant is second with 18.

7. BLOCKS: Only Hakeem Olajuwon and Dikembe Mutumbo have more blocks than Kareem.

8. UCLA: Won three straight NCAA titles with UCLA in 1967,68 and 69, and made first team All-American each year.

9. GAMES: Only Robert Parrish played in more NBA games than Jabbar.

10. SCORING AVERAGE: Kareem averaged 24.6 points per game throughout his career.


Long before Aaron, baseball had a Judge

JoeJudgeNew York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge is having a breakthrough rookie season, belting prodigious home runs and exciting fans across the country as his #99 soars to the top of the MLB best-selling jersey list and he becomes the early leader in the American League MVP and Rookie of the Year races

However, more than four decades ago a guy named Judge was a shining baseball star. No, not Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who served as baseball’s first commissioner from 1920 to 1944 and is famous for handling the Black Sox scandal.

The other ballplaying Judge, Joe Judge, was a stellar first baseman who played nearly his entire 20-year career with the Washington Senators before retiring in 1934. This Judge compiled a .298 lifetime batting average and hit better than .290 for 11 straight seasons beginning in 1920.

Although Judge was not a home run hitter (he had just 71) he finished his career with 433 doubles, 159 triples, 2,352 hits, 1,034 RBIs and a slugging percentage of .420.

Joe Judge was known as one of the best fielding first baseman of his era, the Keith Hernandez of his day. Just 5’ 8 1/2” tall, Judge led AL first baseman in fielding six times and finished second in five other seasons. He retired with a .933 fielding percentage, a record that stood for 30 years. The lefty still ranks among the all time first base leaders in games (2,084), assists (1,301), putouts (19,264) and double plays (1,500).

JoeJudgeGoudeycardIn 1920, Judge made a great stop and flip to Walter Johnson on the final play of the game to give the great Senators Hall of Fame pitcher his only career no-hitter.

The Brooklyn native had one of his best years in 1924, hitting .324 and helping the Senators win their only World Series. Judge batted .385 in the seven-game Series victory over the New York Giants.

Despite several injuries he batted .314 in 1925 as the Senators won their second straight pennant but fell to the Pittsburgh Pirates in another seven-game World Series.

Judge played the final two years of his career with the Brooklyn Dodgers and Boston Red Sox, and later coached baseball at Georgetown University until 1958. He died at age 68 in 1963 after suffering a fatal heart attack while shoveling snow at his home in Washington, DC.