Author: Craig Calcaterra

Masahiro Tanaka

The Yankees were booed last night. Did they deserve it?


The boos came raining down from the Yankee Stadium faithful last night. They started when Brett Gardner grounded out in the eighth inning. More came later. A lot of it was, no doubt, based on Gardner’s disappointing performance late in the season. A lot of it was because, around that time, it seemed like the Yankees had zero shot whatsoever to mount a comeback. Which, in fact, they didn’t. A lot of it was pent-up frustration, I assume, from a late season skid which saw the Yankees lose their lead in the AL East and wind up in the Wild Card Game in the first place.

Anyone who buys a ticket has a right to boo. Especially when they buy a ticket as expensive as Yankees tickets are. It’s obviously understandable to be disappointed when your team loses. Especially when your team is eliminated like the Yankees were. And last night’s game was particularly deflating, with that 3-0 Astros lead feeling more like 10-0 given how things were going.

But isn’t booing something more than a mere manifestation of disappointment? Isn’t a step beyond? Booing isn’t saying “I’m sad.” It’s saying “you suck!” It’s not saying “I’m disappointed,” it’s saying “you should be ashamed of yourselves!” And with all respect to Yankees fans, the 2015 Yankees have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.

This was a club expected to miss the playoffs, full stop. Maybe some people allowed for an if-everything-breaks-right flight of fancy, but hardly anyone expected them to play meaningful games late in the year, let alone a playoff game. They were too old. Too injured. There weren’t enough young reinforcements to fill the gaps. Some even went so far as to claim that they were about to spend years in the wilderness.

But then A-Rod broke out of the gate strong. And Michael Pineda had a really nice first couple of months. And Mark Teixeira put up numbers that wouldn’t have been out of place for him several years ago. The bullpen did what it was supposed to do and more, Masahiro Tanaka held together somehow and, eventually, a couple of young players like Greg Bird and Luis Severino came in to reinforce things. The not-going-anywhere Yankees were contenders. And they led the division for a good while. Of course they stumbled late. And of course they lost last night, but by just about any reasonable measure, this was a good team — better than expected — and, unlike a lot of Yankees teams in the past, was pretty darn enjoyable to watch.

Then the boos. I just can’t see how this Yankees team deserved that.

I realize a lot of people in the media have duped a lot of people into thinking that a team with a high payroll is supposed to be dominant. And I realize George Steinbrenner duped a whole lot of people into thinking that anything less than a World Series championship for the New York Yankees is failure. But that’s rhetoric and branding, not reason. In the real world where baseball players play baseball games World Series titles are rare, even for the Yankees. At the end of the season all but one of 30 teams are either at home for the playoffs or went home after suffering a gut-wrenching playoff loss. The Yankees are the most dominant franchise in the history of American professional sports yet they still have finished their year without a title over 75% of the time.

With that as a given, fans are left to judge their team’s performance based on its talent, its health, its heart, its entertainment value and the strength of the opposition which ultimately vanquished it. The Yankees weren’t nearly as talented as many, yet made the playoffs anyway. They were a walking hospital ward, let limped on. They never quit and never got pulled down into the sort of muck a lot of New York teams find themselves in when things start to go sideways. And, ultimately, they were simply beat by a better team. By any reasonable measure the 2015 Yankees were a good story, a successful enterprise, a resilient bunch and no small amount of fun.

It’s OK to be sad that it ended as it did. But that doesn’t deserve to be booed. Not by a long shot.

Someone stole Bronson Arroyo’s yacht and sold it

Bronson Arroyo

Yacht theft: it can happen to anyone.

Wait, that’s not true. But it did happen to Bronson Arroyo, who entrusted a childhood friend to be his yacht caretaker. Said caretaker was fired because he was not reliable and was basically cast out of Arroyo’s circle. Somehow, however, the caretaker got hold of the yacht anyway, stole it, forged Arroyo’s signature on a bill of sale and pocketed $22,000 for it.

The yacht was actually worth $167,000, but when you’re selling stolen property you take what you can get I suppose. Also, give the thief some points for style, as he claimed that the yacht had actually sunk.

In other news, if you haven’t seen the YouTube series “Yacht Rock,” you probably should. I feel like Bronson Arroyo — a laid back dude who likes to play guitar — would fit in with all of that nicely:


Playoff Reset: The NL Wild Card Game

PNC Park

One one-and-done game down, one to go. Tonight the National League takes center stage and, once again, we’re in Pittsburgh for the proceedings. Let’s break it all down:

The Game: Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, National League Wild Card Game
The Time: 8:08 PM Eastern.
The Place: PNC Park, Pittsburgh
The Channel: TBS
The Starters: Jake Arrieta vs. Gerrit Cole

The Upshot:

  • If you forget for a moment that they’re really just a fun gimmick, Wild Card games are supposed to be the penalty imposed on good-but-less-than-great teams for not winning their division. It’s a pretty tough penalty here, however, given that the Pirates and the Cubs won 98 and 97 games, respectively. We’ve had wild card teams with as many or more wins than that in the past — the 2001 A’s (102 wins); 2002 Angels (99); 2004 Red Sox (98); and 1999 Mets (97) — but we’ve never had it in the four years of the expanded, two-wild-card-team era. These are some strong clubs, either of which would seem to deserve a longer playoff series, but them’s the breaks.
  • The focus here, of course, is the pitching matchup. Jake Arrieta is a decent bet to win the NL Cy Young Award after a 22-6, 1.77 ERA 236 K, 229 IP season. Gerrit Cole is an ace too, of course, and he just had a year that would be Cy Young-worthy in a lot of seasons (19-8, 2.60 ERA, 202 Ks in 208 IP). Arrieta’s second half has been astoundingly good and he’s been fantastic against the Pirates this year, going 3-1 with a 0.75 ERA in 36 innings over five starts vs. the Buccos. Cole has four starts against Chicago this season, going 2-1 with a 2.13 ERA in 25 and a third. If you’re anxious for that Mets-Dodgers series to get going because of all the pitching porn you’re going to see there, this is a nice appetizer.
  • As for lineups, Joe Maddon’s big guns are great, particularly the potent duo of Anthiny Rizzo and Kris Bryant, but the Cubs have all kinds of options up and down the lineup and, particularly in the second half, have been using any number of combinations given their strong bench. The Pirates have all-everything Andrew McCutchen leading the way, but the bottom half of the order has been scuffling in the past month or so and losing Jung Ho Kang for the season depleted the team’s depth. Overall the Pirates had a better offense than the Cubs this year but it’s hard to say, at this moment, the Cubs don’t have the better bats.
  • The Cubs in general and Arrieta in particular have been a good road team this year. Late-date trolling the Cubs over not calling up Kris Bryant earlier and thereby dooming the Cubs to playing this game at PNC Park may be fun, but it’s sorta beside the point here.
  • The start time, adjusted for CDT and military time is 19:08. Or 1908. Are you freaking out right now? Because you should TOTALLY be freaking out right now. [scary music plays].

The Astros and Yankees were interesting enough I suppose, but they were two teams sort of struggling their way into the playoffs. This, in contrast, is gonna be a hell of a lot of fun. Two of the best pitchers in baseball and two of the best teams in baseball facing off in front of a crowd that is likely to be insanely pumped.

I’ll make a wild guess and say the Cubs have the edge, but that’s really me flipping a coin and thinking about storylines and crap like that more than anything else. There is no obvious favorite here.