There are only four teams still playing baseball, but this time of season is just as busy as any other. Here are a few thoughts on some of the stories playing out over the past few days…
***The broken ankle suffered early this morning in the waning innings of the Yankees Game 1 ALCS loss to the Tigers puts New York in a major hole for the remainder of the playoffs and potentially 2013. I wouldn't bet against Jeter making a full recovery, but the team looked old and a step slow before the injury. Next year the Yankees could be trotting out the oldest team in baseball, with Ichiro, A-Rod, Teixeira, Jeter and Rivera all coming off major injuries or significant decline. Even Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, and C.C. Sabathia will be past their 30th birthdays. Having such an elderly roster is generally a recipe for disaster, so it will be interesting to see how New York decides to proceed.
*** The Red Sox are in the process of interviewing managerial candidates like Tim Wallach and Brad Ausmus; both former players who lack any major league managing experience. I find it hard to believe that unless blown away by one of those candidates, that the Sox will hire someone without experience and/or a pedigree. At the same time I don’t put much stock in the rumors that Joe Torre is open to returning to managing, and possibly with the Sox. Boston doesn’t currently have the roster or the likelihood of building a roster in the near future that would make splurging on a skipper like Torre worth the price tag.
*** There has been enormous grumbling since Stephen Strasburg was shut down for the season, particularly now that the Nationals were knocked out of the playoffs in such shocking fashion this week. People need to lighten up. Only the Nats had access to Strasburg’s medical records, and it is unlikely they benched their best player without very good reason. If GM Mike Rizzo had ignored medical advice, thrown caution to the wind, and continued pitching Strasburg, he may have gotten lucky. However, such a move could have also ruined Strasburg for good, which would really have fans up in arms.
*** Everyone talks about the fantastic playoff stats so many Yankees players, especially because of the frequency they have been in the postseason. A player whose playoff stats deserve even more attention is Cardinals’ outfielder, Carlos Beltran. He may have “only” played in 28 total October games, but has hit .375 with 13 home runs, 9 stolen bases, and a ridiculous 1.306 OPS (which is nearly 100 points better than Babe Ruth’s career playoff mark of 1.211).
***The fact that the Yankees didn’t sell out all 50,291 seats in Yankee Stadium for Game 1 of the ALCS (announced attendance was 47,122) is an indictment of how out of control pricing has gotten. When the biggest city in the country, combined with the most storied baseball team of all time and a great 2012 postseason, can’t sell out a playoff game, something is wrong. Between the high licensing costs the Yankees slapped on many seats, and the exorbitant prices charged by ticket brokers, Yankees baseball is rapidly moving out of reach for the average fan.
Fans should be in for more great baseball, as ALCS Game 2 and NLCS Game 1 are played later today. Look for the Yankees to win big against Anibal Sanchez, and temporarily silence the attention they have been getting about their weak hitting and misfortune. Madison Bumgarner and Lance Lynn look to be a terrific pitching matchup in San Francisco, but I expect the Giants to win in a close game. Playoff baseball; you’ve got to love it!
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