Tied and untied in the AL

Tonight was two very different versions of the ALDS Game 4, and much like every other day in the week of the 2013 postseason, it was full of twists, turns, and drama. Because what would October baseball be without a saga or epic storyline for every game.

Detroit triumphed over Oakland to force a Game 5 (though my initial report via a phone app had Oakland taking tonight’s game and the series). But no, the Tigers aren’t letting those green and yellow-clad guys get away so easy. The Athletics started with a 1-run lead in the 1st that became 3 runs by the 5th, to which the Tigers responded to tie up the game 3-3 in the bottom half of that inning. The 7th added one more to Oakland and two more to Detroit. But then Detroit added another 3 runs in the 8th to push their lead further ahead, and essentially turn Oakland’s 9th inning rally into a whimper, keeping the Tigers alive for Game 5 with this 8-6 win. Oh, and just to keep things even more interesting, there may or may not have been fan interference on a home run/fly ball attempt, depending on how you look at the call. I think it could have been an out, but the umpiring staff deemed it a home run. It could have been the call to change the game for the Tigers, and perhaps, it was really a homer in disguise.

Fan Rule #1: DO NOT INTERFERE WITH A PLAY… EVER! Once the ball crosses the fence, it’s fair game; but until then, it’s still in play and none of your business until you get paid to wear a uniform and sponsored by Rawlings for your glove and Nike for your cleats.

And down in Florida, the Rays made every effort to push for their own Game 5. Maddon (the Rays’ manager) put up 7 different pitchers, most only going an inning or two. For this reason, the Red Sox were scoreless for a full 6 innings, something I didn’t think could happen right now with their offensive “lava grenade” (the only thing I could think of that’s hotter than a “hot streak”). But the biggest problem is that the Rays also weren’t scoring any runs. The Red Sox started with their recent acquisition this year from the “other Sox”, who is clearly still one of the better pitchers of the league, allowing a single run from the Rays on an RBI single.

Now, up until the 7th inning, this were looking up for the Rays, and that’s when they got sloppy. A wild pitch easily scored a run to tie the game and an RBI single pushed the Red Sox over the Rays 2-1. And then the Rays closer did what he always seems to do this year, not his job. With just one out, he walks 2 batters and hits another with a pitch. The man cannot find the strike zone for anything, so they opt for the 8th pitcher of the game, who gives up a sacrifice fly. So bring on pitcher #9, who finally gets that elusive 3rd out for the Rays. And the Rays went down in order for their last 3 outs, giving up the game and the series to the Red Sox, who walked away with a 3-1 win in both the game and the series.

The Red Sox go on to the ALCS, and the Rays get started on their vacation plans this Fall. I should note here that the Rays have an excellent starting rotation and really great potential in their younger players, but they lack that click when it comes to teamwork which shows in their really weak defense and fielding (they don’t trust each other). They also don’t have the power-hitting to match a team like Boston. And that can be okay if you can get around the bases to score via small ball, but again, the lack of teamwork (and probably veteran experience in the long run) shows by not being able to move runners around. It looks like the Rays GM has his work cut out for him this offseason.

So we have two Game 5’s, one in each league for the two tightest races. And after that, I can update my postseason predictions. So far, I’m still swinging for average. But it’s still pretty early in October.

And in Yankees news, Robinson Cano has been nominated as the Yankee representative for the Hank Aaron Award, an award to honor the player in each league with the most outstanding offensive contribution. Cano was the logical choice, especially because he was one of the few consistent every-day players the Yankees had from Opening Day to Game 162. Voting is underway just until Thursday, October 10th. Past winners from the Yankees include Alex Rodriguez (2007) and Derek Jeter (2006, 2009); Kevin Youkilis won the award with Boston in 2008, and Rodriguez also won the award with Texas in 2001, 2002,  and 2003.

Go Yankees!

12+ hours of baseball and plenty of drama to go around

Today was anything but ordinary in the world of baseball. But let’s be honest, there’s nothing ordinary about the postseason. All 4 games pitted sheer rivalry against one another, and all 4 games defied the status quo to shake up the playoffs.

First game: Cardinals eked out a 2-1 win over the Pirates to tie up the series 2-2 and force a game 5. Honestly, it was a pitchers’ duel here from start to finish. The Cardinals only got 3 hits over the course of 9 innings and a 2-run home run for their only score, and the sole run the Pirates scored was a solo home run and the only hit on their side of the roster. At this point, let me just say this, whoever wins Game 5 will have fought very hard for this series and clearly deserves it. Both teams are pretty evenly matched at this point, and this has been one of my favorite Division Series to watch this year because of that.

Second game: Athletics kind of kept the bats alive and trumped the Tigers’ pitching staff with their 6-3 win, now leading their series 2-1. Three of the A’s runs were scored on solo home runs alone; the rest found themselves as results of small ball play. And while neither team is known for their passivity or lack of passion when it comes to baseball, it became all that much more apparent when there was a bit of a brawl on the field after what appears to be a miscommunication between an A’s pitcher and a Tigers’ batter in the 9th inning. Fortunately, it didn’t take much to quell the situations and continue with the game. But it certainly reminded me why these two teams don’t play each other very often, and why I’m very glad they don’t.

Third game: In what looked like the Red Sox were going to sweep, the Rays came back to tie up the game before walking off the heroes in their home stadium 5-4 and trailing the Sox 2-1 in the series. No, seriously, in a game I don’t think the Rays thought they could win after two rather awful defeats by the Red Sox, they go on to win it in spectacular fashion — two outs, bottom of the 9th inning, and their batter smacks a solid home run into the rays’ “touch tank” past the centerfield wall. (The Rays have an actual tank set up for fans to come and pet actual sting rays and manta rays and similar fish before the game. I’ve done it, and it’s pretty cool.) No worries, the ball floats and won’t ever really hit an animal. The rarity always freaks out some animal activists who don’t understand these kinds of animals, who are used to noise and human interaction and swim about a foot under water at all times. A baseball, because of its design, will hit the water and stay at the surface, right as the rays continue their circuit in their tank home.

Final game: We have a winner, albeit not the one I wanted, but still the Dodgers beat the Braves 4-3 tonight to take their series and await whoever will grab the series (Pirates or Cardinals) for the ALCS next weekend. It’s especially disappointing for three reasons: first, the Braves tied up the game after the Dodgers got an early lead and then tacked on their lead run and kept that tight score until a 2-run homer in the bottom of the 8th really sealed the game (and thus the series for the Dodgers); second, the Braves are actually a much better well-rounded team (which is why I picked them for my choice here), so it’s hard to see them fail where they should really be succeeding; and third, the Dodgers as a whole act like a bunch of diva frat boys, something I don’t think we should celebrate as professional athletic behavior. And thanks to the Dodgers, I’m 0-for-4 (so far) on my DS picks this postseason.

No word on Yankee legal matters yet. Girardi and Cano are still contemplating their contract offers, and Rodriguez is back in New York to continue arbitration after a weekend with his family at home in Florida. And that’s about everything in Yankee Universe that’s public knowledge. Here’s why: because immediately after the season, everyone retreats back to their family life and becomes regular people again, enjoying the luxury of not playing elite-level sports every single day and catching up on whatever trendy cable show they’ve missed from being on the road and busy working; they take vacations, visit relatives, and just take time to be guys instead of “Somebody”. And if they stay out of the news, off the back page of local newspapers, they can just enjoy the break before having to dive back into training for 2014.

Actually, baseball season is really set up rather good if you have a family because you basically return home just after the kids start school, nothing baseball-related over the major family holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas, and by the time the kids are winding down school activities, you’re back on the field so they can watch you be one of the “Boys of Summer”. And while there are definitely disadvantages for families of baseball players, I think this has to be a perk — quality family time during the biggest family season of the year.

Go Yankees!

Remembering isn’t always a good thing

Pittsburgh is just commanding the stage this series, but very much in their own way. They struck early with 2 runs in the 1st inning. The Cardinals answered back in the 5th to tie up the game. Then the Pirates added one more in the 6th, which the Cardinals matched in the 8th inning. So going into the bottom of the 8th, the game was tied, both teams well into their bullpens. And then the Pirates got their lead back and a cushion and just streamlined to the finish line. Game over at 5-3 Pirates, and the Pirates are 2-1 in the NLDS over the Cardinals. One more win tomorrow could hand them the series to face the winner of the other NLDS series.

What was fun about this game was basically how the Pirates patched together their win with 2-run singles, a sacrifice fly, and small ball kind of scoring. Sure, home runs are fun, but the hard work of beating out the tag and running as hard as you can to score is just really reflective of the nature of the sport in general — the rising tension of the play and the relief and exhilaration when it all works out (or even the disappointment when it doesn’t).

The other game may need a little more time to sort out, but you might not know that by tonight’s score. The Dodgers kind of trudged all over the Braves tonight. The Braves struck first (much like the other game tonight) and were up quickly by 2 runs in the 1st inning. The Dodgers returned fire in the 2nd inning with 4 runs of their own (unlike the other game tonight). Both teams each got 2 runs more in the 3rd, but then the Dodgers grabbed another 4 runs in the 4th. But they weren’t done yet. In the 8th inning, they tacked on another 3 runs. And while the Braves made a decent effort at a 9th inning rally, a 9-run deficit isn’t easy to chip away at, even a little at a time, like a 2-run homer. When the Dodgers get into an offensive groove, they are hard to stop, and tonight, the Braves just weren’t pitching at their capacity. So they lost 13-6, and the Dodgers lead their series 2-1.

Honestly, I think in my mind I still picture the Braves from the 90’s spearheaded on their rotation with guys like Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz. The Braves were a huge threat in the power-hitting days of the 90’s, not because of their power-hitters (which they had a few in their days), but because of the really stellar pitching. They were virtually unhittable at times, with all 3 of the guys I mentioned winning Cy Young awards at some point during the 90’s.

Look, I grew up in Braves territory (though never a fan) because we didn’t get a Florida team until the Marlins in 1993 (and no one rooted for them) and the Rays in 1998 (and only a handful of people who didn’t have any team loyalty already rooted for them and still do). So I think it’s kind of hard for those of us who have followed baseball for so long to re-think of a team a certain way. Much like it’s hard for the people who knew the Yankee-diva generation of the 70’s and 80’s to understand why the Yankees are actually a team of class, excellence, and integrity. And while the Braves have definitely been rebuilding, adding a huge amount of power to their roster, that polish and extra push that they had a few decades ago just isn’t there. At least, it was there tonight.

Maybe that’s the lesson in this whole thing. It’s so easy to continue to base your judgments on who you think someone was year ago, but in reality, life has moved on, circumstances are different, and people really do change, even if just a smidgen here and there. Maybe we need to take the time to see who they are today and draw our conclusions based on today. I know I like to believe I’ve learned from the past, so maybe I should expect others to do the same. Something happens when we hold people to higher expectations (warning: not unreasonable or vengefully skyscraper ones) — they have a tendency not only to meet them, but exceed them. Holding people to low expectations only invites them to meet those down there.

I think that’s why I expect the best in the Yankees. I expect them to meet higher standards because I know they can. And I know sometimes it doesn’t work, but they (as a group) have yet to fail my expectations as people. They still give and serve their community as a group and as individuals; they create a team dynamic just by showing up for each other’s events and being friends on and off the field; and they continually plan and strive for personal development — athletically, emotionally, and spiritually. And when all is said and done, I’d rather have a team of really great guys who struggle for every win than a team of total divas that can play some good ball from time to time.

Of course, they wouldn’t really be the Yankees if they didn’t win at all and they didn’t win a lot…

Go Yankees!

Not even close & a little too close

All the NLDS are on travel days, all 4 hoping to break the tie and take the series in these next two games. In the mean time, the ALDS had some flashy moments during tonight’s games.

The Red Sox are now 2-0 after tonight’s win against the Rays. Not that the Rays were too easy to beat today. The Red Sox starter gave up all 4 of the Rays’ runs and only went 5.1 innings but the Boston fans love their team and still gave him a standing ovation. Stay classy, Boston. Not that the Rays’ pitcher had it any easier. He went 7 innings (and 1 batter in the 8th) and gave up 7 runs to the Red Sox. Again, it was the Rays defense that was the problem again (2 of the runs were solo homers). Sure, they have their moments of glory, but not enough against the Red Sox. They just grab their opportunities and never let go. The Bearded Wonders are looking to wrap up this series on Monday (or Tuesday at the latest) down in Florida. The Rays, however, are already looking forward to seeing Boston once again on Thursday. One of these teams will be right. And sorry to virtually everyone who reads my blog, but I’m guessing the Rays are going to have a longer off-season this year.

On the other coast, the Tigers and Athletics remained locked in a near-epic pitching duel. The A’s starter went 8 innings without giving up a run, and the Tigers’ starter went 7 innings. Both teams had plenty of runners on base, but neither took the opportunity to get a runner home. The last two innings I spent pretty much yelling about my computer screen for someone to score a run. It’s amazing how many times a viewers less-than-gentle prodding does absolutely nothing to help the game. With bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th, score tied at 0-0 and no outs, a single quickly becomes a walk-off single for the Athletics and win 1-0, and their series is now tied at one game a piece. This is going to be another close series.

And there’s no news in Yankee-land. Legal proceedings are off because it’s the weekend, which means reporters have time on their hands to dissect all that’s going on in the arbitration and lawsuit drama and create new suppositions about Girardi and Cano’s contract situations. They can have their fun; I’m sticking to positive facts. The fact is that there’s about 4 months until the team needs to look like a team before Spring Training invitations are issued, and in that time, Cashman and the big guys in the Yankee offices will work their magic to settle as many contract negotiations and options as possible with guys on the current roster, add to the team via trades and offers to what will become new Yankees, and figure out which of the minor league players to focus some attention on during the Spring to see if they’re ready for their big shot come 2014. And then, of course, there’s all those lovely last-minute deals towards the end of Spring to get the team ready for Opening Day in April.

But like I said, we still have some time. And in between now and then, I know there’s some guys hoping and praying they’ll get an offer from the Yankees, or at least an invite to Spring to show what they’ve been doing and how far they’ve come. Every Spring there’s always that one or two guys that just stick out and find their debut into the majors — that moment when everything just clicks for them. And somewhere right now, some minor leaguer is just wondering what that moment might be like for him and if this will be his year (okay, he’s probably sleeping as it’s pretty late on the East Coast where a lot of the players live). But still, he’s out there, and this next year, his life is going to change because he’ll get to don the pinstripes like so many heroes and legends before him. There’s something that’s magical about wearing those pinstripes, and it’s going to happen to someone in March. So who is it going to be?

Go Yankees!

All tied up and nowhere to go

Everything’s all tied up in the NLDS races, and the ALDS ones are just getting started. With two tight exception, every other game has been practically a blow-out.

The Red Sox blasted away the Rays tonight 12-2. And here’s the kicker: the only home runs were 2 solo homers by the Rays, while the Red Sox just pounced on the Rays’ just increasingly bad defense. It’s clear that the Rays are either really young and inexperienced or not used to working a team, and honestly, this has been their downfall since their Wild Card playoff game against the Indians. The only thing keeping the Rays in the postseason is their starting rotation. And their pitcher tonight was part of that picture, but it was the lousy defense that earned him the loss and gave the Red Sox a really big win today. The “Bearded Wonders” just keep rolling along at their pace they established earlier this season. They have that almost MAC truck drive, backed with the assumption that they will win. Passion is a very powerful factor in competitive sports. And if those beards are any indication, that passion isn’t going anywhere fast.

The Tigers and Athletics began their series tonight. The Tigers hit first, scoring its 3 runs all in the first inning. They beat up on the Athletics’ starter with their 10 hits, while the Tigers’ starter (one of the better pitchers of the AL) struck out 11 batters and allowed just 3 hits — 1 being a 2-run homer that scored the only runs the A’s earned tonight. Really, even though the score looked like a real nail-biter, the game was far from tense. The Tigers were clearly in control from the beginning and just never really let go. Certainly their offense could have been a little more “Boston-like”, but the reason the A’s are in the postseason has two factors — pretty good defense (especially in the clutch) and a rookie outfielder who can hit like a seasoned veteran. I just think the Tigers have the more rounded roster, but the A’s could be a huge hitch in their giddy-up. (Am I even using that Western colloquialism right? I’m an East Coaster.)

Over in the National League in the other tight game, the Braves eked out a victory over the Dodgers 4-3. Like I said yesterday, this is probably the closest series as far as being the most evenly matched. And I’m guessing this is going to be a pretty tight series. And I will say this: Atlanta showed off its really stunning defense quite a bit today. They packed that team with some really great fielders and proved it to their fans. The Dodgers are the flashy guys, perhaps a comparison could be made to the Braves of the early-to-mid-90s. They have what a lot of people dub “swagger” — they’re good and they know it. But consistency is a problem for the boys in blue. The Braves may have a slight advantage overall, but the Dodgers are virtually unstoppable once their offensive ball gets rolling. This is one of the more interesting races to follow right now.

And taking a page from the Cardinals’ playbook, the Pirates just jumped all over the Cardinals early and often to earn their win 7-1. The only run from the Cardinals’ came via a solo home run. The Pirates grabbed 2 homers (a 2-run and a solo) and spackled the rest of their runs from doubles, singles, and sac-flies like every other game. But it was their pitching that just absolutely stymied the Cardinals, who managed just 4 hits off the Pirates’ bullpen (and only 2 were off their starter). Clearly, the Pirates do better when led by great pitching. They are still a relatively young team, who is still working on their fluidity as a unit, but there is potential. The Cardinals do their advancing on offensive strength alone, with minimal strength from their rotation.

And in Yankees Universe, things are heating up in the Alex Rodriguez drama continually unfolding in New York. His arbitration hearings are currently underway to appeal his 211-game suspension for violating MLB’s anti-drug policy regarding PEDs. Meanwhile in other courts, his lawyers have filed one suit against MLB and specifically MLB commissioner Bud Selig for what Rodriguez’s camp deems a “witch hunt” in how they “discovered” and “verified” details of their case against him and came to their sentence terms for his suspension. And they filed another suit against the Yankees’ team doctor Dr. Ahmad and the hospital where the Yankees are treated (and Dr. Ahmad has hospital privileges) New York-Presbyterian for failing to report and treat his hip injury, later surgically repaired, and aggravating it by sending him back to play for the end of the 2012 regular season and into the postseason. While the arbitration is considered an “in-house” issue with MLB, the lawsuits were filed in a Manhattan court. Supposedly, neither lawsuit will have any bearing on the outcome of the appeal. But I’m guessing the court of public opinion (read: Twitter) will have its own say and enjoy their own formation of opinions on Rodriguez, Selig, MLB, and anyone else they see as being involved in this matter (whether they are or not is irrelevant when dealing with social media opinions).

In somewhat better, lighter news, the Yankees have made their official offer to Joe Girardi to continue as their manager. Terms and details have yet to be made public, but they did confirm a pay raise offer and extended contract. After a proper consultation with the only opinions that really matter to him (his wife and kids), he will return with his response which has yet to be determined. Either way he answers should be an interesting twist in the never-ending saga that is the 2013 season of the Yankees.

Go Yankees!

Postseason really begins & I’m already counting the days ’til Spring

The postseason is in full swing as of tonight, with two fairly blow-out games by the guys who “weren’t supposed to win” tonight. Well, I suppose that depends on who you talk to, but by the buzz everywhere, it seems that both teams a majority of analysts and “people who should know” lost and lost big.

The Pirates got crushed by the Cardinals because of some really poor pitching early on in the game. Like so often happens, it isn’t that the Cardinals are just that much better, but they know how to take advantage of their opponents’ weaknesses when they happen to make an appearance. They just found former Yankee AJ Burnett on a bad day, getting 7 runs alone off him. Complicate that with some really lousy defense, something that isn’t at all like the 2013 Pirates, and you have a 9-1 Cardinal win tonight. So Game 1 of that series goes to St. Louis without much of a fight.

Then switching gears to the Braves-Dodgers game found a very similar situations. Yankee alumni at this game was represented in large form by Dodger manager Don Mattingly, and this time, the Yankee alumni were on the winning side of things. The Dodgers found themselves beating the favorite Braves 6-1. And unlike the other game, the Dodgers scored primarily not at the advantage of defensive or pitching weaknesses, but rather on decent, well-earned, well-timed hits. The Dodgers put up their ace to keep the Braves from taking too much advantage of what I really thing is a good match-up.

I’m not off to a good start for my NLDS selections, but as it is a best-of-5 game series, there is time for my selections to right themselves in the other games. The ALDS starts tomorrow. And honestly, it feels a little weird not having to follow the Yankee action. Not having proper pinstripe representation somewhere in the postseason is just weird. I guess we’ve been spoiled a bit these last 20-ish years. The Yankees almost always punch their ticket for the postseason coming out of Spring Training, but this year, they knew if they wanted that ticket that they would have to work for it unlike some previous years. And they got so close this year. But so close just isn’t good enough.

Not much in the way of Yankee news today. Contract negotiations and legal arbitration hearing are confidential for a reason — no one can speak with definite clarity about the proceedings and how they “might be leaning” so as to affect the outcome (perhaps for the same reasons a high-profile jury is sequestered, I imagine). The everyday person isn’t going to really understand the legalese that comes along with such proceedings, and all the rumors, assumptions, and legal drama is just going to stir the pot and negatively affect those we’re supposed to root for as fans. It’s really just better to wait for the result of all the haggling or final decisions — no random questions on process or confusion or assumptions. Just the basic facts so we can all move forward with the next step in the Yankee Universe — getting ready for Spring Training.

And maybe it’s because the Yankees’ season is over, but I’m really looking forward to Spring Training. I know I’ve said this before. Don’t tell anyone else, but Spring Training may actually be my favorite part of the season. Well, maybe postseason is up there too. Okay, and those great moments, like the “Mo-ments” we had this year. And then there’s the milestones and legacy-building. Okay, maybe I like a lot of things about the season. But there’s something so special and different about seeing the potential in the farm system and the future of the Yankees.

Being there for Spring Training this past March was especially good because I had seen all the guys there they ended up calling up during the season because of all the injuries. Romine, Murphy, Almonte, Adams, Kelley, and Claiborne gave their previews in the Spring before getting called up to replace or fill a roster spot at some point during the year, and I have to say that every single one of them proved absolutely invaluable to the team this season. There’s something about the Spring that just showcases some really amazing potential.

So, I guess, even though it’s barely Fall, I’m holding out a lot of hope for this Spring. You never know who might show up in pinstripes, and who’s going to make an impact in the season. After all, we’re all still holding out for #28.

Go Yankees!

Hope never dies for the true fan

Well, I guess I’m batting for average in the postseason predictions now. The Rays took the Wild Card spot from the Indians in tonight’s game, shutting them out 4-0. Honestly, I’ve watched both teams all season and neither were really playing at the level they need to be playing to compete with the guys at the top of the league. No offense to any Rays or Indians fans (and a good portion of my friends and family are such fans) but short of a miracle or sudden hot streak, I just don’t see how either of them will/could make it very far. Especially in light of the fact that the Rays will now have to face the red-hot Red Sox.

As much as I’d love to see any team beat the Red Sox (after all, it’s part of the contract I sign when I became a loyal Yankees fan), there’s something in the bearded wonders that just seem a bit unstoppable. I’m guessing the popularity of Duck Dynasty has something to do with this odd phenomenon. There’s simply no other explanation — at least not for a Yankee fan.

And I have to give credit where credit is due. The Rays’ starting pitcher, the same guy who took a line drive to the head earlier this season, really gave a great outing for the Rays. The Indians certainly hit off him and the bullpen, but they couldn’t seem to find a way to patch together any runs. If that sounds familiar, it’s something the Yankees battled most of the second half of this season.

And as a firm believer of the “once a Yankee, always a Yankee”, it was a little hard to see former Yankees like Swisher and Giambi not be able to push past this one-off game to really dive into the play-offs. I doubt this is the last we’ve seen of the Indians. We could be looking at the same rash of strong Indians seasons, like the late 90s. And if you’re following along, as history tends to repeat itself, that means the Yankees are ready to follow suit and go further picking up a ton of titles themselves. (Hey, hope never dies for the true fan — just ask Cubs fans!)

My new updated predictions (not that much has changed): (*I was right // ^I was wrong)

  • NL Wild Card — Pirates over Reds (Pirates win over Reds 6-2 to advance as Wild Card)*
  • AL Wild Card — Indians over Rays (Rays win over the Indians 4-0 to advance as Wild Card)^
  • NLDS 1 — Pirates over Cardinals in 5
  • NLDS 2 — Braves over Dodgers in 3
  • ALDS 1 — Red Sox over Rays in 3
  • ALDS 2 — Tigers over Athletics in 4
  • NLCS — Braves over Pirates in 5
  • ALCS — Tigers over Red Sox in 6
  • World Series — Braves over Tigers in 5

The only news in Yankee-land today was regarding Alex Rodriguez’s arbitration hearing, currently in progress at MLB headquarters in New York. There’s a lot of rumors circulating about the closed hearings. But the most interesting and public thing is the band of Rodriguez supporters that have gathered outside the MLB offices to protest what they deem is unfair treatment of Rodriguez. It seemed to touch him to see that some people still supported him in his efforts to combat what appears to be a bloated suspension sentence. Resolutions are expected by the end of the month, which will include if Rodriguez is suspended and if so, for how long. It will be an interesting footnote to this season to see how it all resolves right around the same time as other teams yet to be determined will be battling for the World Series title.

Anyway, the official playoff games start tomorrow night. Last year, the playoffs were seriously affected by those who were constantly playing versus those who swept and had multiple days off in a row between series. For example, the Tigers swept the Yankees and had to wait four days before facing the Giants who played all 7 games for their NLCS title, had one day off, and went on to sweep the Tigers. To me, there was a clear correlation to the amount of “rest” between series. If that’s the case, the Pirates and the Rays are getting ready to be on a roll, which means my predictions are going to be off again.

But then again, I could be very, very wrong. Because in baseball (as so often we discover in real life), anything really is possible.

Go Yankees!