A Truly Historic Occasion

I was wrong.

About the Patriots. They did just fine today, in nearly every category of play.

Being wrong is a completely unknown and new sensation for me, however. I’ll need some time to absorb and process it.

But Go Pats, in the meantime…

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As The Wheels Come Off

The Patriots have looked pretty horrible the past couple of weeks, after squeaking by a weak Houston team in week 1.

Between injuries (Burkhead, Flowers, Chung), stupid management decisions (Goodbye to Cooks, Amendola, Lewis, Solder) and Edelman’s 4 game suspension, they got nuthin’ for Brady to work with out there.

And while previous Patriot seasons would begin 2-2 or the like and wind up with Super Bowl appearances as the team made adjustments and people you never heard of would step up, this year feels different.

It’s a gut feeling on my part watching these first few games, and I hope I’m wrong, but I think this time, the Brady run they’ve been on since pretty much he stepped in as starting QB is over.

Brady looks like he’s lost a little edge out there – overthrowing an amazingly weak receiver core. He’s worked with motley assortments of receivers all his years, but now…. he’s got nuthin’.  It can’t all be on Gronk. And Brady’s 41. I don’t care about his training regimen or if he’s juicing with Underdog’s super energy pill – one serious injury and he’s done.

By the time I was 41, I needed an ambulance just to take me to the bathroom down the hall.

And they got nuthin’ to replace him.

I think even a returned Edelman and a sobered up Josh Gordon won’t be enough.

That’s right… I’m a total pessimist.

And their defense, at whose spikes can be laid the blame for losing a winnable Super Bowl last February still sucks. No pass rush. No pass defense to speak of. Linebackers who can’t tackle.

Miami is coming to Gillette this Sunday and are 7 point underdogs.

Take ’em and the points. Easy money. I think Miami will win the game outright, and there’ll be a lot of articles written that sound a lot like this blog post. Get ready next Monday for a lot of “The Patriots Are Over” hot-takes.

BUT I’M FIRST!!!!

I hope I’m wrong, but I think it’s over. It was great fun while it lasted, but I’m getting a very strong “2010 Yankees” vibe from these guys… when the Jeter/Rivera era had waned, they had a last hurrah in ’09, and the glory years of a decade earlier were a distant memory. It took some years to rebuild. The Pats are in the same place, alas.

I got the Thursday night game on. While writing this, I just watched Brandon Cooks catch a 47 yard TD pass from Jared Goff. Yeah, the Pats certainly got their draft pick’s worth out of THAT trade.

Although at least Cooks will probably win a Superbowl now.

Just remember…. you heard it first from MISTER KILL JOY, RIGHT HERE.

But I hope I’m wrong.

Baseball Card Of The Day: 1972 Topps “Boyhood Photos of the Stars” Jim Fregosi

You’d think they’d be more consistent in using kid photos of baseball players actually playing baseball, from their little league days or whatever.

Most of the cards in this section of the monster 1972 Topps set featured just that – the Tom Seaver or Willie Stargell show ’em both in their caps and uniforms back in their childhood days.

But Jim Fregosi, notable as a star on the Angels for a number of years who the Mets, being the Mets, traded Nolan Ryan for, only gets to play the accordion.

Maybe that’s why the Mets wanted him.

“Let’s unload a guy on the way to being one of the all time greatest pitchers ever, who’ll pitch a staggering 7 no hitters, pitch deep into his late 40s and set the all strikeout record….FOR AN ACCORDION!!!!!”

Actually, Fregosi broke his thumb with the Mets, lasted a year with them, went to other teams as a backup and eventually became a manager back with Angels, the team he’d had his best hitting years with, along with some Gold Glove fielding.  And in his mangerial stint with the Angels, he’d have Nolan Ryan on his pitching staff.

Not sure about the accordion.

Joe Torre’s boyhood photo is a nice one, too. It reminds me of when kid Henry Hill comes home to his mom wearing a new suit and mom scowls “You look like a gangster!”

The car is a nice touch. Just out of shot, Tom Hagen is telling Tessio “Can’t do it Sallie!” and Torre’s about to help him into the back seat.

You’d think it would have been Clemenza, but Tessio was always smarter.

But Joe won 4 World Series managing the Yankees.

Play THAT on your accordion.

Baseball Card Of The Day, All Star Break Edition: 1993 Craig Lefferts

Time for a break from baseball.

So why not pour yourself a cold one?

Craig Lefferts pitched for six teams in twelve seasons, starting and relieving as an all purpose work horse. He appeared in 696 games and holds the distinction of being the last pitcher to hit a walk-off home run, all the way back in 1986.

Don’t know about you, but I hope that’s bourbon and not Gatorade in that cup. That’d make this a true “action” card.

L’chaim Craig!

Regular baseball resumes Friday. And how ‘BOUT them Yankees?

How BOUT Them Yankees!

Oh, they are fun to watch. Especially when they come back from a 5-0 deficit against what looks like a playoff bound Seattle Mariners team and win with a walkoff homer by Giancarlo Stanton in the bottom of the 9th, like they did tonight.

After a game tying homer by the hopefully formerly struggling Gary Sanchez. He’s only hitting .191, but has 41 RBIs anyway.

They managed to get ahead of the Red Sox in the AL East despite Sanchez, Stanton and Bird underperforming at the plate…. but perhaps Sanchez and Stanton are getting hot?

Who knows?

Will rookie pitchers like German and Loaisiga develop the way Severino has?

Dunno. Hope so!

All I know is that these guys remind me more and more of the Yanks circa mid 1990s, when Jeter was the hotshot rookie, when they first brought Pettite, Rivera and Posada up to join Bernie Williams and a few established vets like Jimmy Key and David Cone… and they went on an amazing tear for years, peaking in 98-99 looking unbeatable. Now they got Judge, Sanchez, Torres, Adujar, Severino, German, Frazier and Bird coming up from the minors to join the vets Stanton, Sabathia, Tanaka, Chapman and Gardener… it feels a lot like a long run is beginning for this group.

I’d love to see another run like that from another home-grown group of Yankee stars, and not just to make me feel 20 years younger.

More than that, really, since the magic of watching baseball makes me feel like a starry eyed nine year old again watching heroes supposedly bigger than life. Probably why I’ll never stop watching, although it’d be nice if the baseball cards weren’t so damn expensive as opposed to when I actually WAS 9 and you got 10 cards in a pack for a dime.

And yes, get off my lawn.

And tonight, Stanton was the big hero – it seems like it’s a different guy every night, one of those magical intangibles that always wind up being the hallmark of a championship team.

It’s still early. The Red Sox look really solid and the division will be tough. The Astros, Mariners, Angels and Indians are all pennant-capable teams in the AL, which looks a lot tougher than the NL about now. So we’ll see what happens in the end, especially with the extremely lame one-and-out wild card playoff.

The Yanks could win 100+ games, but if they finish second the the Sox, they could wind up in a 1 game playoff against the likes of Justin Verlander, fresh off rejuvenating sex with Kate Upton.

Although, at least there IS a playoff. The 1954 Yankees won 103 games and finished 2nd to the Indians. They got to stay home and watch the Giants win the Series.

Is this the year? I hope so, but who knows? I’m optimistic that “THIS IS THE YEAR!!!!” will be a reasonable sentiment for many years to come with the core of young stars the Yankees have and are developing.

Belmont Stakes Predictions 2018

The last moments of this year’s Preakness made me think that Justified would not win the Belmont and Triple Crown this year. He ran beautifully for the first mile and into the stretch, but a couple of closers gained on him steadily in the last moments, and had that race been another quarter mile, would have passed him easily.

So when I combine that performance, plus the amount of work for any horse to run in both of the first two legs of the Triple Crown, AND add the lousy draw Justify got for the Belmont at the rail position of 1, I gotta think he’s totally beatable.

I could see him getting off to a good start and keeping pace, but how easily will be get boxed in at the rail? And how could he spend the energy to get out and still have the stamina for that killer mile and a half length when there are fresher horses in this race, many of ’em great closers?

So while Justify is currently a big 4-5 favorite, and while I might include him in trifectas and supers at the 3-4 position, I don’t think I’ll be betting him to win.

Hey, it’d be cool if he did – Triple Crowns being as rare as they are –  but they’re rare for a reason.

So who do I think has what it takes to knock this one out?

Well, putting aside my bias as a Pats fan, I gotta like #6 Gronkowski (12-1) as a possibility, winner of some mile races overseas against admittedly weaker fields, but the overall time and class ratings on this one, plus some nice works on the Belmont track recently make him a very nice play at those high odds.

My other best bet would be the #10 Blended Citizen (15-1). I always like horses that skip both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness who drop into the Belmont fresh, and this one is that but not TOO fresh, winning the Peter Pan back on May 12. While he runs WAY better on artificial than on dirt, his ability to grind out the distance might be key here, and I think he’ll be in the money at the end, somewhere.

Both #7 Tenfold and #3 Bravazo chased Justify down at the end of the Preakness, and as I said before, in a longer race, Bravazo would have passed him – but if they’re chasing Justify down at 3rd or 4th position, I don’t see it as intense, and yet ANOTHER late closing horse who has the added rest of skipping the Preakness, #4 Hofburg (9-2) would be my pick for passing them.

So what might those exotics look like? Well, I’d have the 4-6-10 for getting in the money, with maybe adding the 1, 3 and 7 into third/fourth in a super. Dunno yet, I’ll sleep on it a couple of nights and see. But if I’m right about the 4-6-10 up front, the exotics should pay nicely, as they often do in this, my favorite of the Triple Crowns to bet.

Why I Love Baseball, Part Infinity

On the right, for my Yankees, is Aaron Judge, at six feet eight inches.

Standing next to him on the left is Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros, at five feet six inches.

The tall guy on the right won Rookie of the Year last year, and came in second for Most Valuable Player.

The little guy on the left won Most Valuable Player.

Altuve’s amazing, and I cringe every time he comes to the plate against my team and kicks ass.  But guys like him make the game great.  It’s all about skills. It’s why a little annoying shit like me could play baseball, back before I got old and feeble and my liver fell out when I got up this morning.

Tonight, the Yankees struck out a whopping 17 times, made a pathetic 2018-leading FIVE errors in the same game, and yet still managed to mount a 9th and 10th inning comeback against the reigning World Champ Astros and win 6-5. Two rookies got two big hits in the bottom of the 10th with 2 out. The set up double came from 23 year old Miguel Andujar. The winning RBI came from 21 year old Gleyber Torres.

HOW ‘BOUT THEM BABY BOMBERS!!!!

THIS IS THE YEAR!

Gotta go put my liver back. It’s time for a drink.

Baseball Card Of The Day, Cranky Old Man Edition – 1968 Bob Gibson

Gibson had arguably the greatest single season performance of any pitcher in the modern era in 1968 – a record of 22-9, with 268 Ks in 304 innings…. along with a phenomenal 28 complete games and a seemingly impossible ERA of 1.12.

But look at these amazing stats that log every game of his in ’68 and zero in on June and July – he pitched FIVE complete game shutouts in a row during a stretch where he won ELEVEN straight complete games, EIGHT of them  shutouts.

His shortest start all year was his first – where he went 7 innings.

And now consider baseball in 2018 – the era of pitch counts, 7th inning left handed batter ground ball specialists, having five different guys come out of the bullpen to pitch the last three innings and other such SABERMETRIC BULLSHIT, and then hark back to the days when REAL MEN LIKE BOB GIBSON went out on a regular basis and dominated the living shit out of hitters who included Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Pete Rose and the rest.

Gibson’s iron manliness was the rule and not the exception, either. Those 28 complete games were NOT the league lead – Juan Marichal pitched 30 of ’em for the Giants. Gibson’s World Series opponent Denny McLain would also have 28 complete games for his amazing 31-6 record. Gibson would beat him twice in that series, but would get bested by Mickey Lolich in the end after a bad 7th inning.

Last year, Corey Kluber led the majors with 5 complete games, total.

Gibson did that in a row, in a month, all shutouts.

Kluber is no slouch, either, I’ve watched him beat my Yankees enough times. Cy Young winner, the whole bit. But Gibson intimidated the living crap out of batters. He was notorious for brushback pitches, yet did not hit many batters. He just made you think he did. His scowl and aura from the mound made it look like he didn’t just want to get you out, he wanted to KILL you and have your entire family watching in the stands die of heart attacks. You’d be thankful after all he did was strike you out.

We live in times of too much overthinking and finesse. And you kids better stay off my lawn.

And stay off Bob Gibson’s lawn too, he looks like he wants to kill you.

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