Pitching is such a vital part of the game, as far as winning is concerned.

On most teams the set up man has become more valuable, on others not so valuable.

Something to keep in mind — it’s raining lightly. The infield could be very wet on ground balls.

What is a drop and drive pitcher? He is a guy who drops and drives. Very simple.

So by guessing right you might have guessed wrong.

Giambi walks too much. He’s always clogging up the bases with all that walking.

As a new day begins in New York, the sun sets in Hawaii.

If football is a game of inches then baseball is a game of inch.

If that ball had more elevation, it would have been a home run.

If the double play is a pitcher’s best friend, what is a fielder’s choice? An acquaintance?

It’s better to have a fast runner on base than a slow one.

One thing about ground balls. They don’t go out of the ball park.

The reason we call that pitch up and in is because the arms are attached to the shoulder.

He wears his hat like a left hander!

Any ball that goes down is much heavier than any ball that stays on the same plane.

The blood on his sock looks exactly like Oklahoma!

You don't want to use too many statistics. The ones that apply to a July or August game won't be relevant on Saturday.

American McCarver

October 2011 Archives

Lex Luthor retires as Cardinals manager

LuthorMETROPOLIS—Lex Luthor retired as manager of the Metropolis Cardinals on Monday, three days after winning a dramatic, seven-game World Series against the Gotham Rangers.

“I think this just feels like it’s time to end it,” the 67-year-old Luthor said at a news conference at Lexcorp Stadium.

The World Series win over Gotham was the third of Luthor’s 33-year career. The manager guided the Cardinals to the championship despite being 10½ games behind Atlanta on Aug. 25 for the final playoff spot in the National League.

Luthor retires third on the all-time wins list, 35 behind second-place Flash Gordon. In addition to this season, he won championships in Oakland in 1989 and Metropolis in 2006.

“Other than some of the personal attachments, I feel good,” Luthor said. “I feel good that this is the right decision.”

Luthor said there wasn’t a single factor that led to his decision, but he began having doubts about returning for 2012 midway through the season. In late August he told general manager Mr. Mxyzptlk and other team officials.

Luthor said the timing of those discussions — about the time the Cardinals appeared to be out of wild card contention, and just as Superman had left Earth on a quest to find the remnants of his dead homeworld, Krypton — was pure coincidence. He said he simply felt it was time to go, a feeling that didn’t change even as the Cardinals squeaked into the playoffs on the final day of the season.

He spoke with little emotion at the news conference with one exception, when he paused to compose himself as he thanked his henchmen for putting up without him over much of the past 33 years.

“Some grown men cried,” Luthor said, then he joked, “I kind of liked that because it reminded me of all the times my schemes have made the people of Metropolis cry.”

Mxyzptlk said work is under way to find a new manager for the first time since Luthor was hired prior to the 1996 season. A search committee will be formed. Mxyzptlk did not speculate on how long the process might take.

Luthor answered flatly, “No,” when asked if he’ll ever manage again. He also said he had no plans to be a general manager, but said he may threaten to blow up a baseball stadium in the future if his nefarious criminal plans require it.

“Maybe open a book store,” he said. “Which will, of course, be a front for an attack on Superman.”

Chris Carpenter, who won four times in the postseason, including the decisive Game 7, said Luthor gathered the team together in the weight room moments after Sunday’s celebration at the stadium.

He spoke about how proud he was of the team’s championship run, “and then he said that he was going back to being a criminal mastermind,” Carpenter said. “Everybody was surprised, shocked.”

Carpenter said the behind-the-scenes Luthor is different than the public persona — including a great sense of humor. But he lauded Luthor for always having his team play at its highest possible level.

“I’m not sure there are a lot of people that can match the preparation, the dedication and the ability to tactically use death rays to motivate relief pitchers,” he said.

Mxyzptlk said the team will have a “long list” of candidates for a job that will likely be considered among the best in baseball given the strong returning team — whether or not Albert Pujols is freed from his servitude in the bottle city of Kandor — and based on the strong fan support in Metropolis.

Early speculation suggests that Colorado Rockies manager Dick Tracy and crimefighting hero Batman are being seriously considered by the Cardinals front office.

“There’s going to be a lot of names that we’ll consider,” Mxyzptlk said. “We want to do our due diligence. We want to be smart.”

Principal owner Bill DeWitt Jr. said replacing Luthor will be a tall task.

“We’re not going to find a Lex Luthor out there, given his career and what he’s accomplished, what he’s meant to the Cardinals,” DeWitt said. “We’re in a pretty good situation for the future. But it’ll be different, no question about it.”

Luthor was a .199 hitter in a brief major league career. He began as a manager with the Coast City Padres in 1979. He guided the Oakland A’s to three straight American League pennants in 1988-1990 and the 1989 World Series title over the Giants.

Even Colorado’s Tracy said Luthor picked the right time to leave.

“Despite his tendency toward evil, I tip my hat to him. He’s had a great career. What a way to go out,” said Tracy. “I support law and order over the forces of darkness, but if you’re going to retire, that’s the way to go out.”

[Source: ESPN/AP/Daily Planet]

Baseball

The Impossible Dream [Link]

Perfect column by Jayson Stark, on the improbability of the Cardinals’ championship:

One strike away.

In the history of baseball, only one other team has ever done what these Cardinals have just done. Only one other team — the ’86 Mets — ever tumbled into that one-strike-away abyss in a World Series and survived to pop the champagne bottles.

So think about that. In the first 106 World Series ever played, only those ’86 Mets ever got down to their last strike and then won it all. Then this team found itself in that mess twice in two innings Thursday.

And consider this: with the way they got into the postseason — with not one win to spare — that means the Cardinals didn’t play a single game all year that didn’t count.

My congratulations to the second-most-successful franchise in baseball.

Baseball

Like Father, Like Son

“We will see you… tomorrow night.” (Via The Big Lead.)

Baseball

Dodgers Blame the Victim

As if the Los Angeles Dodgers didn’t have enough negative press on their plate already, here’s something to add to the ever increasing hatred piling on the flailing team.

They are saying we’re 100 percent liable. But does that mean Norwood and Sanchez, who beat this guy up, have no liability? And, does it mean Mr. Stow himself has no liability?

That’s owner Frank McCourt’s lawyer Jerome Jackson, speaking about Bryan Stow, who was beaten nearly to death by a couple of thugs in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium on opening day.

“You’re saying to the jury, ‘They (the Stow family) are saying we’re 100 percent liable. But does that mean (Marvin) Norwood and (Louis) Sanchez, who beat this guy up, have no liability? And, does it mean Mr. Stow himself has no liability?’

The Stow family believes reduces security and negligence, among other factors, contributed to the fact that Stow was beaten on the team’s property. The brought a lawsuit against the Dodgers and McCourt decided to countersue, claiming the Dodger are in no way responsible for the attack, that the attackers themselves are (we’ll give him that) and that Stow should be assigned some responsibility for his own horrible beating, and the Dodgers should be absolved of blame.

Does it mean Mr. Stow himself has no responsibility?

Frank McCourt is a bad, bad man.

Baseball

Now Is The Time, Because It’s a Commercial — Be Right Back

Los Angeles is a city of ten million souls, each of them living and working and playing and every once in a while just desperately wanting to kick off their shoes and unbuckled their belts and plant themselves in front of the TV and watch local professional athletes play with their balls.

But, in a twin failure of civic responsibility and market exploitation, they can’t. There are no local professional athletes playing right now. With baseball over and basketball in danger of having its entire season cancelled and football long gone, there’s nothing to…

OK, yeah, I guess there’s hockey. But, come on. It’s hockey. You might was well say, “There’s soccer.”

(Little known fact: Hockey was invented when confused Canadian’s tried to play soccer.)

In a city of legendary (if not always legendarily successful) sports teams, hockey has always played a weak fourth-string to the Dodgers and the Lakers and whichever football team has happened to stop in for a few years. (Even without a football team in town, hockey is still fourth-string; they leave the third spot empty in case the Chargers show up.) The Kings haven’t grabbed any sort of attention since Wayne Gretzky was in town. The last notable thing the Kings did was unveil the Gretzky staute in front of Staples Center.

But they clearly sense that with the big boys bankrupt or locked out or just plan gone, it’s hockey’s time. In fact, the team’s slogan for the season — popping up on billboards all over the city — is “The Time Is Now.” They tactfully omit the “Because What Else Are You Going to Watch? Soccer?”

The billboards also emphasize individual players, apparently on the theory that some drive time glances are the only thing that separate shaggy-haired white guys on skates from Kobe-level recognition. And it’s a dandy plan, if you don’t actually look at the names on the Kings roster.

Dotted around Los Angeles, high on wall-sized billboards, the team proudly declares:

In my house, saying “It’s Brown Time” means something totally different.

Hockey

Let It Go, Guys

Did you know that some people are still playing baseball? Isn’t that crazy? The season ended over a month ago, and yet a bunch of nutty guys — from clearly imaginary places named “Saint Lois” and “Texas” — are still running around pretending that what they do matters.

I mean, I like baseball, but let it go, guys. Let it go.

Baseball

This Is Why Animated GIFs Were Invented

Tony La Russa holds onto his hat.

Here’s Tony La Russa enjoying Mike Napoli’s two-run game-winning double in the 8th inning of game 5, busting open a 2-2 tie game and giving the Rangers a 3-2 series lead. I could watch this all day.

(Via Ryan Pitts, who pairs this with a nice GIF of Ron “Crazy Legs” Washington.)

Baseball

Saving the World, Once Again

Oh, the World Series is going on?

(Via Newseum.)
Baseball

When in Spain

I had the good fortune to attend a football match at Barcelona’s Camp Nou this evening. Barcelona beat Viktoria Plzen in a Champions League game, but that’s not the important thing here. At least not now.

I’m a casual soccer fan (I’m calling it soccer, get over it). I watch the World Cup, pay attention to Premiere League and CONCACAF games, I own a vuvuzela and I wore a Messi jersey tonight. But I’m am American and I’m an American sports fan so I spent the night comparing the experience of a game at Camp Nou to my experiences at sporting events on my own turf.

First, let me say that Camp Nou is gargantuan. With a seating capacity of nearly 100,000 it’s the largest stadium/arena I’ve ever been in. The stadium was filled to capacity and looking out at the crowd was almost intimidating. Not as intimidating as the fact that for whatever reason, the bathrooms have the toilet paper dispensers outside of the bathroom stalls. A bad time to discover that fact is when you are already seated in the bathroom and are in need of toilet paper. Let’s just say it’s a good thing Europeans are pretty blasé when it comes to women running around with their pants down.

One more thing before I discuss the actual game experience: hot dogs don’t really belong in baguettes. I realize that almost everything in Spain comes in or on a baguette (and I’ve had the phrase “Marie, the baguettes!” in my head the whole time I’ve been here) but can’t a girl get a hot dog bun? And a coffee that isn’t espresso? And some toilet paper in the stall?

Anway, the game. Maybe it’s me. Maybe I don’t understand the nuances of being a soccer fan. But it seems to me like the fans are too polite toward the players. They clap for everything. I mean, everything. The clapped for plays that in America would get boos. Applause here is a reward for a nice try. In America, “nice try” gets you “What the hell is wrong with you? How many times do you have to pass before you take a shot? I AM PAYING YOUR FUCKING SALARY, YOU SLACKER.” Here, it gets you a round of applause and a chant or two.

I do love the chants and the singing. Such a nice change of pace from things like “Potvin sucks!” or “Daaarrryylll” (granted, my chant knowledge is dated as it’s been a while since I’ve been to a meaningful sporting event so I don’t know what you guys are chanting these days except maybe “Go back to jail, Plaxico!”). It makes for a really fun atmosphere and the crowd can turn a dull game into a fun experience, but it also made me sort of miss the “KILL HIM!” part of hockey games and the “YOU SUCK, A-ROD!” part of baseball games. Maybe I just picked a really benign game to attend. Or maybe the fans were just in a good mood tonight. Or maybe I’m just an ugly American who likes a little blood lust with my sporting events. Oh hell, what do I know? Maybe they were saying awful things and my clumsy knowledge of Spanish made me think they were saying “Way to almost get a goal, Messi! We want to give you a hug just for the attempt!”

Overall, I had a great time and I’m certainly glad I was able have this experience. It’s easy to get swept up in the joy of the fans, from the party atmosphere outside Camp Nou hours before the game to the camaraderie in the stands. And of course, the game itself is beautiful if you really pay attention to it. Hopefully I’ll get to do this again some day and spend a little less time comparing and a little more time enjoying.

And I’ll know to get the toilet paper before I go into the stall.

Soccer

Hi-Ho Silver

I don’t like team owner George W. Bush. I don’t like (and never liked) team president Nolan Ryan. I don’t like Ron Washington. I don’t like Josh Hamilton.

I don’t like the Texas Rangers, period.

But even I have to admit: they’re the best team in baseball.

What’s the difference between a good postseason team and lucky postseason team? A good postseason team is one that can do it again. Last year’s Giants? Great pitching, lucky hitting. Their lucky hitting ran out this year. The Rangers are back. They’re the real deal. They didn’t need to depend on another team’s collapse to get into the postseason.

I think the Cardinals are playing above their pay grade. They earned their wins over the Phillies and Brewers, but their luck’s going to run out eventually. I don’t even know who to root for in this Series because I despise both teams, but I do know which team I expect to win, and that’s the goddamn Texas Rangers.

I need a drink.

Baseball

Team Unity, Red Sox Style [Link]

Bob Hohler, reporting for The Boston Globe:

With their team in peril and their manager losing his authority, three Red Sox pitchers last month were uniquely positioned to prevent the greatest September collapse in major league history. All the Sox needed was Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, and John Lackey to apply the skills and commitment that previously made them World Series champions.

Instead, Boston’s three elite starters went soft, their pitching as anemic as their work ethic. The indifference of Beckett, Lester, and Lackey in a time of crisis can be seen in what team sources say became their habit of drinking beer, eating fast-food fried chicken, and playing video games in the clubhouse during games while their teammates tried to salvage a once-promising season.

And:

Team sources also expressed concern that Francona’s performance may have been affected by his use of pain medication, which he also vehemently denied. Francona said he has taken pain medicine for many years, particularly after multiple knee surgeries. […] Francona acknowledged that he consulted the team’s internist, Dr. Larry Ronan, during spring training after one of his children expressed concern about a pill bottle in his hotel room. Francona said the doctor told him he did not have a drug abuse problem. Ronan could not be reached.

Not sure I can recall a hit-piece this ugly, petty, or salacious about a baseball team, from its own hometown paper. A wee bit of solace for this still-sore Yankee fan.

Anyway, rooting for the Brewers and the Tigers, like all good Americans are.

Baseball

NBA cancels first two weeks of season

Put your NBA fantasy league on the back burner and your tweets about how much you hate LeBron James on hold (that may just apply to me) because David Stern announced the league has canceled the first two weeks of the season.

What a shame. Really. The sinking ship of the National Basketball Association - the league with at least four teams in financial trouble — is about to capsize and we’re left wondering, whose side do we take? Is this a lesser of two evils thing? You’ve got owners who have a recent history of handing out ludicrous contracts, creating a league economy where players expect extravagant deals, and players who are crying that a five million dollar per average player isn’t enough. They want seven.

Let me cry for you, as my current work union is negotiating a new contract that will give us 0% pay raise the next two years and 1% the year after. That’s with furloughs.

So while I’m not a big fan of sports league owners who dangle enormous amounts of money, bonuses and perks in front of their players, nor am I a fan of people who play sports for a living crying that they are underpaid by two million dollars a year.

I know what you’re thinking. It’s the principle of the thing. It’s the mini-economics within the league that have nothing to do with the economics of reality. It’s about standards that have been set and keeping up with them. I get all that. Doesn’t mean I have to like it.

See, what I think about when I see the NBA has canceled its first two weeks and it looks like the entire season is in jeopardy is this: What about everyone else who works for the NBA, the individual teams and the arenas? What about the guy who sells beer to section 250 in Madison Square Garden? What about the lady who takes tickets at Time Warner Arena? What about the restaurant workers at local establishments that depend on NBA games for business? Security personnel? Oh god, what about the Knick City Dancers? There will be layoffs. There will be that many more people standing in America’s already overcrowded unemployment line.

Point is, there are a lot of people besides Bentley driving basketball players and mansion dwelling owners who stand to lose something. Both the players and owners will bitch and moan about the money they are losing and they’ll talk to the press in sound bites about hard salary caps and luxury taxes, but none of them are going to be wondering how to pay the heating bill this winter.

There are no sympathetic characters in this story of sports, money and collective bargaining. You don’t sit here and root for one side or the other to be victorious in their battle. You just wait and hope - as a fan - for the season to eventually get underway.

Then again, if you’re a Sacramento Kings fan like myself, maybe a cancellation of the season is a thing to be thankful for.

Basketball

In Which I Do Not Wish Tim McCarver Ill

McCarver and Buck

This site’s namesake, Tim McCarver, had a minor heart procedure Thursday and has missed the first two games of the ALCS on Fox.

I wish Mr. McCarver a speedy recovery and a healthy, long life. I also wish him a lengthy and joyous retirement.

By which I mean, Tim, this broadcasting game. It’s too stressful. You have just had a “minor” heart procedure—but how minor can anything regarding your heart be?

And that Joe Buck! He’s got to be like a shot of caffeine right into the heart muscle. I don’t think your cardiologist would approve.

Plus, Tim, there’s that recording career to think of.

So Tim. We’re your pals. Quit this broadcasting racket. You’ve broadcast the past 21 postseasons. You’ve left your sta—er, mark—on the game. Get out while you’re young. Get out when there’s another “Tim McCarver Sings Selections from the American Songbook” still in you.

Don’t just do it for the American viewing public. Do it for yourself.

(I hear Jeannie Zelasko has a line on some good timeshares. You should look into that.)

Thank you, sir. And I hope you feel better.

[Speaking of which, best wishes to TBS broadcaster Ernie Johnson Jr., who is missing the postseason for family reasons.]

Baseball

Hockey Fight!

What you people see in this brutal sport, I’ll never know.

Image courtesy of Fipi Lele.
Hockey

My kind of baseball

Exactly. And that’s what I love about baseball.

162 games do a great job of ensuring that the best teams compile the best records and the late July horse trading usually enables the best teams to get even better. Any team can have moments of greatness (cf. the Orioles’ April) but everything levels out in the end. The regular season is where we find out who is best and the Phillies and Yankees should be congratulated on winning the regular season. The performance they maintained over six months is to be commended and celebrated.

But that’s not what the playoffs are about. They playoffs are about momentum, about the right batters getting hot at the right time, about the dominance of a great pitcher, the weirdness of October weather and a whole host of other unknowns. It’s not just Billy Beane’s shit that doesn’t work in the playoffs, it’s everyone’s shit.

If the playoffs weren’t about the unexpected happening, we might as well skip the division series and pennant race and just let the top two teams in each league fight it out. God would that be boring.

[Sports Illustrated’s Joe Posnanski weighs in on this very topic today as well. -j.s.]

Baseball

Al Davis, 1929-2011

Our kind of prick.

[Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, in his story about Davis today:]

Once, columnist Dave Anderson of the New York Times described Davis, raised in Brooklyn, as “cunning.” When Davis saw Anderson he said, “Come on Dave — don’t call me ‘cunning’ in the New York Times.”

“But you are, Al,” Anderson said.

“I know,” Davis said. “But my mother reads the New York Times.”

Football

Another first!

A-Rod is the first player ever to strikeout as the final out of his team’s postseason in consecutive seasons.

Also, according to Business Insider, where I get all my baseball news, he’s just a bad investment.

Baseball

Welcome to Hockey Season

It’s opening night in the National Hockey League but I’ll be honest, all I can focus on right now sports wise is tonight’s Yankees/Tigers game.

However, as one of only two hockey fans here at American McCarver, I feel it is my duty to welcome the 2011-2012 hockey season.

While a lot of people are predicting it’s going to be the year of the Penguins and Sharks, I’m going to go against the grain and call it right now: The New York Islanders will win the Stanley Cup.

Hah. Just kidding. Or wishful thinking. Or reminiscing.

Capitals/Canucks final. That’s the only prediction I’ll make at the moment except to say that my Islanders will be a better team than they were last year. And that’s why I have dubbed this season A New Hope. You know, a long time ago in a galaxy far away there lived a team that won four Stanley Cups in a row. This is the year they start restoring freedom to the galaxy. Or winning games.

That’s the beauty of a brand new season. There’s fresh hope, a feeling of starting over, leaving behind the tears, nightmares and empty seats of the season before. Sure, the Islanders are the lame duck president of hockey teams, just biding time until the inevitable moment where the powers that be in Nassau County make a stupid decision and send the Islanders packing to Quebec or Kansas City or Brooklyn. That doesn’t mean we stop hoping or stop cheering. This is a young, exciting team and even though each game I attend will come with the heartache of knowing that the dingy, dark Nassau Coliseum may never be rebuilt, I’m not going to let that stop me from enjoying the moments we have left with the team.

For those of you who don’t follow hockey, I urge you to give it a try this season. It’s a beautiful game of grace, speed and power. Here’s a quick primer for you. Go ahead. Read it. Turn on a game. Enjoy the action. If anything, it may fill that hole in your heart where the NBA season used to be.

Happy Hockey Season, everyone.

And go Yankees.

Image from nhl.com.
Hockey

Worst thing ever.

I have found the worst thing ever.

A Yankees cap in Mets colors.

Who would buy such a thing? Who would wear it? I am willing to bet my signed Dan Pasqua bat that there is not a person on this earth who declares an allegiance to both teams. And if there is, that person is a jerk because that’s not how rivalries work. That’s not how life works. Do you think you would ever see a Crip wearing red? A Waffle House employee wearing an IHOP t-shirt?

I want the name, address and phone number of every person who spent $35.00 on this cap so I can personally berate them.

Found via flipflopflying.
Baseball

@yankeeslose

As long as we’re trotting out the passive-aggressive anti-Yankees software today, I should also mention @yankeeslose, a Twitter account that only posts when the world is filled with hope and joy.

Baseball

Damned Fireball

During the play-offs, well-known degenerate and Philadelphia resident John Gruber changes the header on his Web site, Daring Fireball, to the Yankees logo. Which is his right.

At least until I’m finally put in charge and can deal with the situation in the appropriate manner. By which I mean, with hammers.

Until then, I can provide Firefox and Safari extensions to change the graphic to something more appropriate:

It’s not the Yankees collapsing and losing their division championship in four, but it’ll have to do.

Baseball

Now with comments

A note from the guys in the boiler room…

A few weeks ago we realized that one of the best parts of doing this site was the snark on the mailing list. Which, unfortunately, you guys couldn’t see. So we moved off Tumblr in order to add comments to the site. The best part, we’re the only ones who can leave comments. We’re such dicks.

Anyway, check out Hope Solo on the cover of this week’s ESPN magazine.

Soccer

The Official Philadelphia Sports Power Hour

John James Gallagher has put together an amazing collection of Philadelphia’s Greatest sports moments. The above is just a trailer. The real thing is an hour long.

And involves drinking. Of course.

Really great stuff.

Baseball

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