World Series 5: BOS vs. LAD — Freshly minted #WorldSeries Champions

And just like that, the 2018 season is over. With a swinging strikeout from a potential free agent trying a bit too hard against a starter masquerading as a closer.

To be fair, tonight’s game was the kind of game you’d expect at a World Series. Both starters were ace pitchers, pretty evenly matched, going deep into the game. Kershaw of the Dodgers throwing 7 strong innings, and the Red Sox’s starter Price throwing into the 8th but dominating tonight’s game.

Now, Price used to have troubles in the postseason with other teams but has seemed to find his momentum with this team and this season, giving up just 3 hits and the Dodgers’ only run in his outing tonight. That run was a 1st pitch lead-off solo home run in the bottom of the 1st, so between Price and his two stellar relievers and the defense, the Dodgers weren’t doing much of anything tonight.

Kershaw had more trouble keeping the Red Sox from advancing and maintained a decent hold on the game that in another situation might have been enough for them to bounce back. But the visiting team got thing started early in the 1st when a 1-out single scored as part of a big 2-run home run to put the Sox in an early lead they’d not surrender.

Later in the game, they added a few exclamation points to their score in the form of solo home runs, one in each of the 6th, 7th, and 8th. In fact, the home run was how both teams scored all their runs tonight, and the Red Sox player that kicked things off in the 1st was the same guy who closed it for them in the 8th, the first age 35+ player since 1959 to have a multi-home run game in the World Series (joining Yankees legend Babe Ruth and Reds/White Sox infielder Ted Kluszewski).

Final score: 5-1 Red Sox, Red Sox win series 4-1

Despite some conversation that the MVP could be Price, they chose the other player who clearly impacted this series and this game in particular. That player, Steve Pearce, blasted those two big home runs tonight and ended up being crowned the Willie Mays World Series MVP, complete with a new bright red Chevy truck and a cool trophy for his mantle. Pearce has played for the Yankees among many other teams in his career before being traded to the Red Sox mid-season this year from the Blue Jays.

And because they’re not above trolling their opponents, the Red Sox blasted both “New York, New York” and “California Love” during their champagne celebrations in the visitors’ clubhouse of Dodgers Stadium. The latter song is one of the Dodgers’ relievers walk-up songs and a classic rap song. While I certainly thought it was good they didn’t linger too long on their host team’s field, this level of trolling is a bit low. Even for the Red Sox.

But that’s why we’re Yankee fans…

Go Yankees!

World Series 4: BOS vs. LAD — Late inning heroics

Well, the Dodgers now have quite the uphill battle if they want their first championship since 1988 (30 years). But the Red Sox are just a game away from their 4th victory this century (2004, 2007, and 2013). After an 18-inning marathon, the Red Sox found their old momentum again from this postseason to right their ship and rock the Dodgers’.

Actually, both teams held each other to limited offense for most of the game. In fact, the game was scoreless though 5 full innings. It wasn’t until the bottom of the 6th that the Dodgers got through first. They loaded up the bases with 1 out. The next batter hit into a weird play. A fielder’s choice and fielding error got one runner out at home but allowed the next runner to score and leave runners on the corners. Then a big 3-run home run pushed the Dodgers into a comfortable lead.

But it wasn’t comfortable enough for the visiting Red Sox as they started chipping away at that lead. The Dodgers gave up a couple of walks before a 2-out, 3-run home run put the Red Sox within a run. But then in the 8th, a 1-out solo home run tied up the game. But the Red Sox kept charging forward. With 1 out in the 9th, a double scored on a pinch-hit single before loading the bases again. A bases-clearing double ensured a nice cushion for the Red Sox before a single later scored that runner to cap off the Red Sox late comeback rally.

So the Dodgers put in their best effort for their own comeback rally in the bottom of the 9th with a lead-off walk followed promptly by a 2-run home run. But despite a 1-out single, the home team just ran out of outs to come back.

Final score: 9-6 Red Sox, Red Sox lead series 3-1

But for those Dodgers fans (read: my good friend) who are feeling a little despondent after tonight’s game, a great trivia nerd put together an inspiring list of teams who were down 3-1 in past postseasons and still came back to win their series, including the 2016 Cubs (World Series over Indians) and (the headache of all Yankee fans) the 2004 Red Sox (ALCS over Yankees). In other words, it’s possible and it’s dramatic, both something we’ve seen a lot of this postseason.

Go Yankees!

World Series 3: BOS vs. LAD — Extra innings marathon milestones

The one advantage of tonight’s game is that it was played on the West Coast, or 3 hours behind the fans in Boston (or those of us on the East Coast in general). So an 8pm start time is just 5pm in Los Angeles. Thus a 7 hour and 20 minute game means a bit after midnight, or a fairly normal time for most Californians. Unfortunately, for most of the country and half of the fans of tonight’s game, it meant the game wrapped up at 3:40 am.

Actually, the Dodgers held a slim lead for much of the game thanks to a 2-out solo home run in the 3rd. But the Red Sox kept things close, both teams putting on a great defensive and pitching show to keep the game tight. When the Red Sox tied up the game with their own 2-out solo home in the 8th, the game going into extra innings was basically inevitable. I just don’t think they thought it would be so many innings.

Both teams were given a few opportunities for the “go-ahead run” but didn’t capitalize on base runners until the 13th inning. The Red Sox worked a lead-off walk that promptly stole 2nd and then scored on a single and throwing error. Finally, the Sox had broken the tie and put themselves in the lead for the first time tonight. With a new pitcher for the Dodgers on the mound, he jammed himself up by giving up a 2-out double and intentionally walking a batter before getting out of it with a ground out.

But the home team wasn’t out of the game. In the bottom of the 13th, a lead-off walk moved to 2nd on a pop-up and then scored on a 2-out single and throwing error. There was a brief challenge on a boundary call to see if the ball was thrown into the “stands” (or rather camera area) which is an automatic trip to 2nd for the runner. But the call was upheld and the runner went back to 1st where he ended up stranded there.

And the game played on. A 14th inning stretch ensued. Dodgers’ fans still stayed to watch the final out. Or rather they prayed for a walk-off. And they got it. In the bottom of the 18th, Dodgers’ infielder Muncy stepped into the batter’s box, worked himself up to a full count and then pummeled the fast ball just over the left field fence. And the stadium erupted in joy.

Final score: 3-2 Dodgers in 18 innings, Red Sox lead series 2-1

Being as there was 7 hours and 20 minutes of conversation during the game, there was a lot of things to talk about, compare tonight’s game to, and come up with fun trivia bits. It is both the longest (general) postseason game and longest (specifically) World Series game in MLB history. The previous record holders: the 2014 NLDS Game 2 when the Giants bested the Nationals 2-1 in 18 innings in 6 hours and 23 minutes; and the 2005 World Series Game 3 when the White Sox beat the Astros 7-5 in 14 innings, 5 hours and 41 minutes.

Tonight’s game also utilized 46 total players, including a Dodgers’ pitcher as a pinch-hitter, and both teams sent 9 pitchers each to the mound over the 18 innings. The latter stat tied previous World Series records set by the 2017 Dodgers in that Game 2 and the 2005 White Sox in that Game 3 (the aforementioned long game).

And in Yankee Universe news: The finalists for the Gold Glove awards were announced yesterday. And the Yankees have 3 names on that list. Masahiro Tanaka is nominated for his defensive skills as a pitcher, as is outfielders Brett Gardner (left field) and Aaron Judge (right field). The winners of each position in both leagues will be announced on November 4 as part of a string of postseason awards. Of those three, Gardner is the only one who’s won a Gold Glove before (in 2016), though he certainly deserves some major recognition as one of the most underrated outfielders in the MLB.

Go Yankees!

World Series 2: LAD vs. BOS — Dodgers’ 3-hit chilly stumble

The World Series is headed to the West Coast (where it’s 30+ degrees warmer, by the way) with the Red Sox in a strong lead over the Dodgers. After a chilly night in Fenway, the bats weren’t as loud as previous nights in the park, but it didn’t stop either team from trying their hardest to shift the game their way.

For 9 postseasons in his career, the Red Sox’s starter (formerly with the Rays and Tigers) hasn’t done really well. But this postseason has been quite successful for him, shutting down the Yankees and Astros to get to the point to limiting the Dodgers to just 3 hits in tonight’s game. Meanwhile, the Dodgers’ starter certainly limited the damage, but the Red Sox offense were just stronger tonight. In the 2nd, the Red Sox got a 1-out double that scored on a 2-out single to kick off their limited night.

The Dodgers finally found their opportunity in the 4th loading up the bases with 2 singles and a walk. A sacrifice fly scored a run, and a 2-out single scored one more to put the Dodgers in their first lead this series. It didn’t last long, as the Red Sox loaded up the bases themselves in the bottom of the 5th. A walk scored the run that tied up that game and a single scored 2 extra runs to ensure the Red Sox’s eventual victory.

Once both starter were out of the game, their respective bullpens kept the score as is and sent this Series to Los Angeles with the Red Sox firmly in the lead.

Final score: 4-2 Red Sox, Red Sox lead series 2-0

In an interesting note, Jackie Robinson died on this day 46 year ago. He is most remembered as being the first player of color to play MLB professionally. It’s noteworthy that both managers in this World Series are former professional MLB players of color. The Red Sox’s Alex Cora is from Puerto Rico (and later South Florida), and Dave Roberts was born to his African-American dad and his Japanese mother in Japan.

It only took 71 years from when Robinson “broke the color barrier” to having both World Series managers be people of color with careers they can credit to Robinson’s own stellar career. Both managers, by the way, were born in the mid-1970s, thus their entire baseball lives from Little League to pro-ball was an open door for people of all races. And if you just take a passing glance at both rosters, you can see they are diverse in a way most people could only dream of back in 1947.

With one major exception… they’re still all men. Don’t at me. Don’t tell me that women can’t compete with men one day. A League of Their Own and the recent short-lived Fox drama Pitch touched on this issue, as well as the rise of Mo’ne Davis and these five women. A few years ago, the Dodgers had a female athletic trainer and other women are spread around baseball as the next crop of General Managers to scouts, trainers, coaches, and other predominantly male-only jobs at the Park.

Lament about the “good old days” if you want. But I think baseball became a better game when it integrated. I think it can only get better if it continues to evolve to allow the best players to play regardless of race, sex, or any other social division. Only when the world is represented can we truly enjoy the concept of a “World Series”.

Go Yankees!

World Series 1: LAD vs. BOS — Fall ball begins with rain and the Fenway Faithful

I think oddest moment of tonight’s game was in the introductions, when the manager of the visiting Dodgers, Dave Roberts, got a huge ovation from the Fenway Faithful. For those who aren’t familiar with the why, it’s pretty simple — Roberts was a key part of the 2004 “Break the Curse” championship Red Sox team and Boston fans never forget their heroes, even when they don other team uniforms.

But tonight’s game was actually pretty threatened by earlier thunderstorms over Boston for most of the day, followed by a few rain bands that continued to sprinkle chilly rain on Fenway. But it cleared just in time for first pitch, a crisp 53°. Note: tomorrow will also be wet all day in Boston, with first pitch temperature coming in about 46°. Talk about “fall ball”.

This wasn’t exactly the cleanest game. Both teams dismissing their ace starters early in the game, neither completing the 5th inning, and depending on their bullpens for most of the night. In the 1st, the Red Sox got on the board first. A lead-off single stole 2nd and then scored on an RBI single. That batter ended up at 2nd on the throw to try to get either runner out. In fact, the Dodgers challenged the call at 2nd but there wasn’t enough to overturn it and thus it was upheld as safe. A 1-out single then scored that runner to give the Sox an early lead.

But the Dodger came back right away with a 1-out solo home run in the 2nd. And a 1-out single in the 3rd moved to 2nd on a single and then scored on another single to tie up the game. That didn’t last long when the Sox broke the tie in the bottom of that inning. With 1 out, a batter singled. The next batter hit into a double play that was challenged by the Red Sox and overturned in favor of a fielder’s choice out at 2nd only. Then a double scored the lead run.

Finally, in the 4th inning, neither ace pitcher gave up a run. In the 5th, the Dodgers tied up the game again when a lead-off walk moved to 2nd on a single, advanced to 3rd on a wild pitch, and then scored on a ground out. The Red Sox bounced back in the bottom of the 5th. They loaded up the bases with a walk, a single, a wild pitch, and a walk. After a strikeout, a fielder’s choice allowed the Sox to score the tie-breaking run and then a single scored an insurance run.

After sailing through the 6th, the Dodgers found their next opening in the 7th. They loaded up the bases with 1 out before scoring a run on a sacrifice fly to put them within 1 run of the Red Sox’s lead. But then in the bottom of the 7th, the Sox surged ahead. A lead-off ground-rule double and an intentional walk scored as part of a 2-out pinch-hit 3-run Green Monster home run.

Neither team gave the other another opportunity to advance their cause.

Final score: 8-4 Red Sox, Red Sox leads series 1-0

And here’s some Yankee news: the Arizona Fall League is in full swing for prospects from each team to fine-tune their skills and become better players. Yankee AFL alumni include Gardner, Betances, Bird, and Judge. This year, the Yankees join the Indians, White Sox, Dodgers, Orioles to form the Glendale Desert Dogs and are represented by pitchers Jordan Foley, Hobie Harris, Matt Wivinis, and Kyle Zurak; infielders Thairo Estrada and Steven Sensley; and outfielder Estevan Florial. Highly touted prospect Florial is coming off surgery earlier this year, but it’s the Yankees prospect pitchers who are making the biggest impact in the AFL.

Also, if you’re interested in some of the conversations about what might happen for the Yankees in the off-season, there’s an interesting article breaking down the latest free agents (like Sabathia, Happ, and Walker), what they could do while waiting for Gregorius’ return from surgery (like Hechavarria or Torreyes or help from the outside), which players could be traded (like Gray), and more. It’s all still conjecture until there’s anything to announce.

Go Yankees!

Off Season Update: Holiday Wrap-up

Well, the Astros are the reigning World Champions, much to the city of Houston’s glee. The parade through the streets of Houston, which had been nearly devastated just a few months earlier was a big encouragement to those who are still trying to rebuild their homes and lives after Hurricane Harvey slammed into the Texas coast in late August.

Winter Meetings begin on Monday, and between the Astros winning Game 7 over the Dodgers and the Winter Meetings on Monday, it’s not exactly been a quiet off-season. Especially for the Yankees.

Awards Season: Almost immediately following the World Series, MLB Universe wraps up its season by handing out all sorts of awards. Mostly, it was Aaron Judge that was up for many of the awards like MVP and Rookie of the Year, but it was a tough year for nearly every category as there was some really outstanding players and plays made this season. You can catch up on all the awards (with extensive coverage and video clips) here. But I’m just going to do a brief Yankee Universe summary.

As expected, the MVPs and Hank Aaron Awards of both the AL and NL went to the Astros’ Jose Altuve and Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton, though Judge’s name was tossed about quite a bit for the AL versions of both awards. Judge did snag Rookie of the Year, voted so unanimously, the first Yankee to do so since Jeter in 1996. (Side note: also in the mix for ROTY — breakout starter Jordan Montgomery.) Judge was also awarded the Silver Slugger for right field, something he shared this year with teammate Gary Sanchez, who won it for his catching position. And Judge was also voted on by his fellow players for the Players’ Choice Award of Outstanding AL Rookie.

Now, Esurance sponsors its own array of awards for the season and quite a few Yankees graced the finalists lists. Best Major Leaguer was awarded to Altuve over 9 other finalists including MLB legends like Stanton and Trout as well as (of course) Judge. Severino was nominated for Best Pitcher, but lost to the Indians’ Corey Kluber (who had an outstanding postseason in his own right). Of the 6 finalists for Best Rookie, who else but Aaron Judge became the natural choice. The Astros’ manager AJ Hinch edged out 9 other finalists for Best Manager, including Joe Girardi, and Brian Cashman got the same treatment in the Best Executive category as the Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow snagged that one. Other awards include Best Postseason Moment, Best TV/Radio Call, Best Play, Personality of the Year, and Best Fan Catch, none of which unfortunately include any Yankees

Hello, old friend: At the end of October, before the World Series was even complete, the Yankees announced they were parting ways with their long-term manager Joe Girardi, and began the search for their new skipper. With former bench coach Rob Thomson singing on to be the Phillies’ new bench coach and 3rd base coach Joe Espada the Astros’ bench coach, the Yankees ended up narrowing the manager candidates down and included two former Yankee players — Carlos Beltran and Aaron Boone. Just a few days ago, the Yankees announced that they were going with Aaron Boone, known to most Yankee fans as the hero of the 2003 World Series and more recently as a ESPN broadcaster. Boone, who will wear #17, will be thrust back into Yankee Universe in a crucial role, one that could either expose his inexperience as a manager or one that could see him flourish thanks to his extensive baseball knowledge, legacy, and intelligence. Only time will tell.

Big splash denied, big splash made: All 30 MLB clubs were hoping to sign an international sensation, 23-year-old Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani, who is known both as a stellar pitcher and as a big power-hitter. The international market has some complex rules about signings, and many assumed that Ohtani would sign with a big name NL team so that he could use both of his famed tools. Almost immediately, most East Coast teams were eliminated, including big market teams like the Yankees and Red Sox. With most of the chatter leaning towards the Mariners (despite being an AL team), the big surprise was when the Angels (also an AL team) announced their newest acquisition just a few days ago.

But without that possibility, the Yankees started searching for their big splash. Within about 24 hours of word leaking that the Marlins were shopping their superstar Giancarlo Stanton, it was confirmed just today. Former HR Derby champion Stanton would join current HR Derby champion Judge in the Yankees outfield and in Yankee pinstripes for the 2018 season. Details are forthcoming, but it looks like the Yankees will send prospect pitcher Jorge Guzman (the #9 Yankee prospect), prospect shortstop Jose Devers, and Starlin Castro to the Marlins in exchange for Stanton and about $30 million. Castro has 2 years and about $23.7 million left on his current contract.

Okay, what that means and leaves wide open for the Yankees to answer questions this off-season. First, removing Castro from 2nd leaves a wide open space for perhaps Ronald Torreyes to play more frequently, especially as he was clearly one of the more reliable and consistent defenders and hitters (basically the ideal bench/utility player) for the last 2 seasons. However, there are several prospects that could earn the everyday position in Spring Training including the much talked about Gleyber Torres.

The Yankees now have 6 potential outfielders — Gardner, Ellsbury, Judge, Stanton, Hicks, and C. Frazier. Frazier will likely spend time in AAA once again, which leaves either Gardner or Ellsbury (mostly due to age, unfortunately) as the prime potential for a trade. However, Ellsbury has a no-trade clause in his contract, one that he could easily waive if asked or volunteer to be traded on his own if he so desires. A lot of that usually depends on who’s asking. That prevents players from being traded into a clubhouse or organization they don’t like. If I was a player, there are definitely certain clubs I would avoid like the plague, or take a pay cut to play with a better team.

Also, the Yankees are dealing with 8 arbitration-eligible players and 10 with less than 3 years on their contracts, most notably Headley, Robertson, and Gardner, who are all on their final year of their deals. Arbitration-eligible means that the Yankees will extend an offer (a proposed salary) to keep them on their roster, and the player either accepts it or counter offers and it goes to arbitration for the mediator to pick the correct number. Basically, it’s a negotiation tool, and this off-season, the Yankees will have to negotiate with Betances, Gray, Gregorius, Hicks, Kahnle, Romine, Shreve, and Warren. Unless they trade them, of course.

Again, the Winter Meetings start on Monday in Lake Buena Vista, Florida (a.k.a. Disney World’s Swan & Dolphin Resorts, for anyone not familiar with Central Florida geography). Winter Meetings are when representatives from all the MLB clubs and their minor league teams, as well as MLB executives, meet up for about four days and do business face-to-face. So, there’s going to be trades, discussions, executive meetings to discuss baseball operations and potential alterations to rule of play. Often scouts, owners, general managers, international visitors, job-seekers, and trade show exhibitors will also be milling around the meetings. In other words, we can expect more news to come out of this next week’s meetings. And I was going to wait until after that to post, just in case the Yankees make another big splash, which they could as they still need to shore up the starting rotation. But today’s news was too big to pass up.

But barring a big splash, I hope everyone has a good holiday season as we close out this 2017 and hope for a really wonderful 2018. I mean, it really looks like 2018 could be the year we finally celebrate #28.

Go Yankees!

World Series 7: HOU vs. LAD — #HoustonStrong

Well, one drought is over. The Astros organization have finally won a World Series. The Houston team was created in 1962 as the Houston Colt .45s, being renamed for the 1965 season for the local space program that would help send men to the moon. They were in the NL for most of their history, switching to the AL in 2013 to balance out the league that now included more interleague games. The last time the Astros were in the World Series was in 2005 when they lost to the Chicago White Sox. But now, they’re the World Champions.

Neither starter in tonight’s Game 7 was really that good. And when you’re dealing with a Game 7, you’ve got everyone available. No “he needs more than 3 days rest”. No “he’s the backup player”. You play who you’ve got to play because it’s really an all-or-nothing. The Astros really got lucky tonight because they certainly allowed enough base runners without allowing any runs. Including 4 base runners thanks to their starter McCullers hitting 4 Dodgers’ batters.

And before you jump there, no, the Dodgers are a classy organization and didn’t serve up the “traditional revenge” and hit 4 of their batters. This follows the pattern they also showed when an Astros player made a racial slur and gesture towards Game 3 and tonight’s Dodgers’ starter Darvish. Darvish and the Dodgers didn’t respond in any way other than showed their class and desire to move beyond what they deemed a disappointing and ignorant move. Gurriel (the Astros player) received a 5-game suspension to be served at the beginning of the 2018 season without pay, a move that received mixed reception.

Anyway, the Dodgers did get quite a few runners on base, but they never did anything to convert those into runs for most of the game. The Astros went through 4 pitchers in the first 5 innings before they called in another starter Morton to close out the final half of the game for 4 innings. Morton held strong and still managed to give up the Dodgers only run in the 6th. A lead-off single and walk got runners on base once again before a 1-out pinch-hit single scored the lead run to get them on the board. But that was all Morton allowed for the Dodgers’ offense.

The biggest problem for the Dodgers tonight was their starter Darvish. Darvish just struggled his way through his 2 innings, and that would be the problem they could just not overcome. A lead-off double, by Astros’ player Springer, scored on a throwing error. After a stolen base, a ground out scored another run to give the Astros an early 2-0 lead. And in the 2nd, former Yankee catcher McCann led-off for the Astros with a walk, ended up at 3rd (sort of limping actually) on a double, and then somehow scored and slid home on a ground out. Then Springer smacked a big 2-out, 2-run home run to push the Astros even further ahead.

That was it for Darvish right there in the 2nd inning. And his reliever Morrow came on and threw 3 pitches to get out of the inning with a strikeout. So it was back to the bullpen to rely on their amazing pitching staff, starting with Kershaw, who was going on just 3 days rest from his stellar start back in Game 5. Kershaw gave up 2 hits and 2 walks in his 4 innings, but like the rest of the Dodgers’ bullpen tonight, never allowed another run to score. Closer Jansen had his own scoreless inning in the 7th, passing the ball to another starter Wood who closed out the game through 2 scoreless innings.

Final score: 5-1 Astros, Astros win series 4-3

So the Astros win the 113th World Series, and George Springer was honored with the Series’ MVP award, dubbed for the first year as the Willie Mays Award. In addition to the trophy and honor, he was presented with a special edition Chevy Silverado pick-up truck. Springer was named the MVP because of the power-hitting show he displayed this last week. He ties Reggie Jackson (with the 1977 Yankees) and Chase Utley (with the 2009 Phillies, now with the Dodgers, by the way) as the only 3 players to hit 4 home runs in the World Series, though Springer is the only one to hit them in 4 consecutive games. A well-deserved honor.

In another victory moment on the field, Astros shortstop Carlos Correa got down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend Daniella. She said “yes”. Correa later said there was two options for him — win and propose, or lose and cry. (And probably propose later this off-season. I mean, Christmas and New Year’s is coming up after all…) Either way, congratulations to Carlos & Daniella!

And in former Yankee news, two former Yankees and veteran ball players were part of the Astros championship team and thus get their first World Series rings — Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran.

I couldn’t agree more. Congratulations to them on their well-deserved rings! And best of luck in whatever you decide is your next chapter, Beltran!

Now, folks, we head into the off-season with lots of question marks in Yankee Universe about the manager, coaching staff, certain players’ contracts and opt-out clauses, and what kind of mix of veterans and young players will compose the 2018 team. So, don’t spend your off-season like Rogers Hornsby and just look out the window waiting for Spring. There’s another new season, another championship to be won, another great team to cheer on and pray we get our Game 7 next year. Spring seems long because winter is dark and dreary, but it will come faster than you think. And it’s earlier than you think this year, with all the Spring Training games starting in February, something they have to do because the season is starting at the end of March this year.

Maybe they got tired of November baseball? I don’t know. I think true baseball fans like baseball in all seasons… oh, and hey, some of our guys are playing in the Arizona Fall League right now and doing really well, even making the Fall All-Stars roster!

Go Yankees!

World Series 6: HOU vs. LAD — Onto Game 7 & November baseball

Move over, Derek Jeter, there’s going to be another “Mr. November” in town because the Dodgers outperformed the Astros tonight to force a Game 7. The first Game 7 ever in Dodger Stadium.

Well, the Dodgers knew this was the game to win if they wanted the title, especially as they were going up against one of the best pitchers on the Astros’ rotation Verlander. Yankee Universe certainly know how dangerous of a pitcher Verlander has been this postseason, so the Dodgers were going to have to pull out all the stops if they wanted to stop the Astros from grabbing the title tonight.

But Verlander did have a pretty good outing, throwing a strong 6 innings, giving up just 3 hits and getting 9 strikeouts. But he also gave up a couple of runs in his final inning. He gave up a lead-off single and hit the next batter. A double scored the lead runner, and a sacrifice fly scored the other runner to put the Dodgers on top.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers sent in Hill to start the game, and he too had a pretty decent outing. He threw just 58 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 4 hits, a walk, and a run, and struck out 5 Astros’ batters. That lone allowed run was a 2-out solo shot in the 3rd to get the Astros on the board early. They, however, could not defend that lone run. Mainly because they do not have the bullpen the Dodgers clearly do. Once the Dodgers opened their bullpen to close out the 5th and the rest of the game, they were in command and dominant. The game was clearly theirs for the taking, mostly due to the 6-out save from their closer, who sailed through the final 2 innings in just 19 pitches.

But like I said, the Astros’ bullpen had a much harder time keeping control of the Dodgers’ offense. But they did their best. In the 7th, the only other allowed hit was a 1-out solo home run. But the Dodgers got a lot of opportunities they just didn’t capitalize on. Fortunately, the really didn’t need it.

Final score: 3-1 Dodgers, series split 3-3

Game 7 of the World Series doesn’t come around that often, so having it 2 years in a row (and thus 2 years of November baseball) is something pretty special. It will be the 39th time in 113 years of World Series history that teams will play a Game 7, and only the 3rd time it will be played in November. The first Game 7 was played all the way back in 1909. Three times it has gone into extra innings (1991, 1997, 2016). And the Yankees have featured prominently in many Game 7’s over the years — the losses in 1955, 1957, 1960, 1964, and 2001; the victories in 1947, 1952, 1956, 1958, and 1962.

Of course, the most famous Game 7 in recent history has to be the 1986 where the Mets powered through an extra inning Game 6 to force a Game 7 (that was actually postponed a day due to rain). The Mets came so close to losing the Red Sox at every turn and somehow managed to power through the final game to reclaim the championship (last won in 1969 by the “Amazin’ Mets”) and help continue the “Red Sox Curse” for another year.

But like most final games of any series, literally anything can happen. It’s truly anyone’s game to win or lose. And it’s going to be a great on in LA tomorrow night.

Go Yankees!

World Series 5: LAD vs. HOU — Well, that was a rather messy was to play a game

Every day, I have to come up with a title for each blog post to kind of summarize the game that just happened. And when I was reviewing all my notes for this game and thinking back to what I witnessed on my television screen, I could not help but utter the words that became my title today. And there you go… an insight into the mind of a baseball blogger.

Anyway, it wasn’t what you’d call a “well-fought” game. Despite sending in their ace pitchers again, neither team really had an ace pitching staff show up to play this game. Instead, they both seemed to serve up run-scoring ball to the other team to put into play and just mess up the defense and scoreboard along the way. The Dodgers’ starter Kershaw only threw into the 5th inning and gave up 4 hits, 3 walks, and 6 runs, striking out 2 Astros’ batter. While the Astros’ starter Keuchel only made it into the 4th inning, giving up 5 hits, 2 walks, and 4 runs (3 earned), and striking out 4 batters. And then neither bullpen was all that great overall — both teams ultimately gave up 14 total hits each, a total of 25 runs (by both teams), and 11 walks. In other words, we could just consider this a bad example of pitching in the World Series.

The Dodgers started the run-scoring fun in the 1st inning by loading up the bases with a lead-off single and 2 1-out walks before a 2-out single scored 2 runs. A double stolen base and a throwing error allowed another run to score, despite a Houston challenge on the call that was ultimately upheld. They came back in the 4th to add one more in their corner. A 1-out double scored on a 2-out single. After yet another single, that’s when they pulled Keuchel from the game.

But as Kershaw was kind of going strong for the first third of the game and then he got himself into trouble with the Dodgers safely in the lead. But as we know, in the World Series, no lead is safe. In the bottom of the 4th, the Astros came surging back. With 1 out and a walk and single on base, a double scored 1 runner (despite a Dodgers’ challenge that upheld the original call) before a nicely placed strike became a 3-run home run to tie up the game right there.

And onto the 5th inning, the Dodgers worked consecutive walks to lead-off the inning and a 1-out 3-run home run pushed the visitors back in the lead. But the Astros answered back in the bottom of the inning. With 2 outs, Kershaw walked the next 2 batters and saw the end of his own night. The reliever promptly gave up a 3-run home run to the next batter to tie up the game again.

And into the 7th inning. The Dodgers led-off with a double that ended up being tagged out on a fielder’s choice grounder. But that runner who made it to 1st on the grounder ended up scoring on a long RBI triple. And the Astros responded again with more power in their half-inning with a lead-off solo home run to tie it up again. A single then scored on an RBI double, and a 2-run home run gave the Astros a nice lead for the first time the whole game.

The Dodgers made a bit of an effort to chip away that lead in the 8th. With 1 out, the Dodgers hit a double and then another batter reached on a hit-by-pitch. With yet another new reliever on the mound, a double scored 1 of those runners. But the Astros’ got a 1-out solo shot in the 8th to earn that run back in their favor. So the Astros just needed 3 outs to seal their win.

But the Dodgers changed the game again in the 9th inning. With a lead-off walk and an out, a 2-run home run chipped away at the Astros’ lead. A double moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on an RBI single to just tie up the game once again. And just suck the air out of Minute Maid Stadium.

So without a comeback from the Astros in the 9th, the game ended up going into the 10th inning. The Dodgers failed to get on the board in their half, and needed just 3 outs to come back in the next inning and try again. 3 outs… but it wasn’t that kind of game. So, there was 2 outs and an Astros’ batter was hit by a pitch and then next batter worked a walk. The Astros decided to pinch-run for the lead runner, who is known for being a bit slow in the running department. On a single, that pinch-runner at 2nd sped around 3rd and slid in for the walk-off run to win the game.

Final score: 13-12 Astros, in 10 innings, Astros lead series 3-2

The series now heads back to Los Angeles on Tuesday for Game 6. The Astros need just one more win to claim their title. But the Dodgers have every bit of chance to win Tuesday and go on to battle back for Game 7 on Wednesday night for their own title this year.

In Yankee Universe news: with Girardi now out, the rest of the coaching staff is technically up with their contracts. In other words, if other teams are interested in making a bid for the coaching staff, they can. A few have already been interviewed by other teams, and a few are being considered for Girardi’s former job. But they have a few months to consider all their options, including the very real possibility of a completely new coaching staff from manager on down.

Yankees’ reliever David Robertson got word that his close friend, former White Sox teammate, and fellow reliever Daniel Webb was killed in an ATV accident on October 14. Webb had been out this season due to Tommy John surgery and was able to celebrate the birth of his newborn child recently. He was enjoying time with his wife Melissa and friends in middle Tennessee when his ATV hit an object in the woods and overturned, injuring Melissa and killing Daniel. Robertson is using his non-profit relief foundation High Socks for Hope to help raise funds for Melissa and their newborn baby. 100% of all donations are tax-deductible and 100% will go directly to Melissa for all the medical, funeral, and living expenses that have since arisen as a result of the tragedy.

Our hearts and prayers go out to Melissa, their daughter, and all their family and friends (including David and Eric Robertson) with their loss.

Go Yankees!

World Series 4: LAD vs. HOU — 2 hit wonder falls short of Dodger dominance after a pitchers’ duel

Now that was a game. Having a pitchers’ duel in the World Series is quite the treat, and it certainly shows both teams at their best. The Astros’ starter Morton commanded a great game in his own right, throwing 76 pitches into the 7th inning, giving up just 3 hits and a run without allowing a walk and still striking out 7 LA batters. Meanwhile, the Dodgers’ starter Wood had a no-hitter running for most of his outing. Wood threw 84 pitches into the 6th inning, allowing 2 walks and striking out just 2 Houston batters. His lone allowed hit was a 2-out solo home run into the left field seats.

So the Dodgers turned to their bullpen, which closed out the 6th and had a strong outing in the 7th and 8th innings, setting themselves up for a strong and unexpected close of the game. Their closer, who was just recognized for his outstanding season (more below), kept the momentum going, until he too gave up a 2-out home run into the left field seats. That would be the 2nd hit of the night for the home team, the 2nd run allowed. But also the last hit and run.

Okay, so after the Astros got on the board in the 6th, the Dodgers were quick to answer back right in the top of the next inning. A 1-out double spelled the end for Morton’s outing, but the Dodgers kept things moving under the Astros’ weaker bullpen. A 2-out single fairly easily scored the runner to tie up the game right in the 7th inning.

The Dodgers came back in the top of the 9th with a new reliever and some easy opportunities to advance. The lead-off batter single, moved to 2nd on a walk, and then scored on and RBI double to give the Dodgers the lead for the first time all night. That left runners in scoring position. And no outs. After another new reliever came on and got a strikeout, he intentionally walked the next batter to load up the bases. A long sacrifice fly allowed a run to score and runners to end up on the corners. And a 3-run home run just solidified the Dodgers for their eventual win.

But the Astros aren’t easily bowled over. In the bottom of the 9th, facing the reliever who just received some extra hardware for his mantle, the Astros got another small ray of hope, that 2-out solo homer in the bottom of the 9th. But then it was over, and the series is split. That march to 4 wins just got one game further away for both teams.

Final score: 6-2 Dodgers, series tied 2-2

As I said before, before tonight’s game, MLB presented the Relievers of the Year awards to this year’s recipient, called the Trevor Hoffman for the NL winner, and the AL winner is awards the Mariano Rivera Award. Tonight, the Trevor Hoffman Award was given to the Dodgers’ closer Kenley Jansen. The Mariano Rivera Award will be sent to Craig Kimbrel for his outstanding work with the Red Sox this year, as he could not be on hand to accept the award in person. Jansen, however, was beyond thrilled to be part of the ceremony, especially as his childhood hero Rivera was going to be on-hand for the pre-game ceremony.

On a quick side note: I am aware that there are several other things happening around the league. But unless they directly affect the outcome of the World Series or the Yankees, it doesn’t make sense to discuss it here. Though I do admit to forming quite a few private (yet aloud) thoughts.

And a quick happy birthday to my friend and the biggest Dodger fan I know. I already texted him that the Dodgers clearly won because it was his birthday.

Go Yankees!