The World According to Keitho

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Posts Tagged ‘Mariano Rivera’

The second guessers

Posted by keithosaunders on November 2, 2015

I killed Matt Harvey back in September over the maxed-out innings controversy. I said he was gutless and that he was a pussy. Well I was wrong. He pitched his ass off in the post season leaving nothing on the table. Last night he was as dominating as a pitcher can be and showed no signs of weakening in the 8th inning.

Terry Collins showed guts in allowing Harvey to come out for the 9th. I don’t want to hear this BS about automatically going to the closer. Who are they going to? Mariano Rivera? Familia had a great season but by the time the Series came around he was used up meat and the Royals can hit him.

I can remember a delicate-genius manager, Tony La Russa, who went to his closer in the 9th inning.  This was a pitcher who would end his career with 390 saves and he probably would have had the most ever had he not been a starter the first 10 years. I bet Kirk Gibson remembers him.  If Dennis Eckersley can fail (and even the great Mariano couldn’t get it done in 2001) then it’s certainly not written in stone that Familia gets three easy 9th inning outs.

This is not a cookie cutter game.  Just because you have a closer doesn’t mean he will succeed every single time out, as evidenced by game one of this Series.  If you want to kill Collins how about this? He had two starters in his bullpen, both pitching effectively — Jon Niese & Bartolo Colon. How about sticking with them for more than an inning at a time?

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Crankee in Oakland

Posted by keithosaunders on June 3, 2011

During my many years living in New York City I went to dozens of Yankees games.  I was a Mets fan, so I ended up going to Shea Stadium more often than Yankee Stadium.  Around about 2000, when the Yankees, or as a fellow Mets fan friend of mine refers to them — the Crankees —  current dynasty was in full swing and it became an event to attend a game, I pretty much stopped going.   Every once in a while I would go with my best friend Jeff, who is a lifelong, and a true blue Yankee fan, but for the most part I couldn’t take the touristy atmosphere, and I hated the forced patriotism of being subjected to God Bless America during the 7th inning stretch.

I almost never saw the Yankees lose.  Even when they were bad, in the late ’80s through the early ’90s, they almost always won when I was in attendance.  I wish I had kept track of the games — I would bet I have a lifetime .800 Yankee winning percentage.

If that stat is true, then my percentage currently stands at .802.  On Wednesday I made my 2011 debut at the Oakland Alameda Coliseum, taking in an Athletics – Crankees game with a drummer friend if mine.  We sat in the upper deck behind home plate, right next to the big green tarp which covers up the seats that they cannot sell.  I’m enclosing a photo of it so that you can experience the joy that is the A’s tarp.

Somehow we were sold seats right in the middle of a kids section.  We were sitting amongst hundreds of high school students who were enjoying a field trip.  They were nice enough, but as you can imagine, they spent most of the game shuttling back and forth between their seats and the snack bar.  And here’s something:  None of them are baseball fans.  They paid little or no attention to the game.  Often times, after a key out, or good defensive play, my friend and I would be the only people in the entire section clapping.  This does not bode well for the future of the game, at least fan-wise.

I was so looking forward to finally getting to be in the majority of the Yankee haters, but being in the kids section more or less negated that factor.  I was thrilled when the A’s, on the strength of a Josh Willingham home run, took a 2-1 lead in the 2nd inning.  It was not to hold up, however.  And who should ruin my afternoon but Nick f**ing Swisher, an ex-A, who hit a three run dinger off of A’s starter, Gio Gonzalez. 

At some point I looked down into the lower level to see hundreds, who knows, maybe thousands of Yankee fans.  What the hell are they doing here, 3,000 miles from the Bronx?  People really do like to root for a winner, don’t they?  Witness the legion of newly minted Heat fans. 

As for the game, that was all she wrote.  The A’s offense, punchless as it is, could only muster a two out Coco Crisp triple.  Then I was subjected to that fat blowhard, Joba Chamberlin in the 8th, and the artistry of Mariano Rivera in the 9th.  Blinc, blank, blunk.  

Ballgame.    

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The reign of the evil empire, part 2: The fall of Keitho

Posted by keithosaunders on October 12, 2010

Long Island City, NY. October 23rd, 1996.

I was in my living room watching what appeared to be a routine Braves victory in game four of the World Series — a win that would have given them a 3-1 stranglehold over the New York Yankees with John Smoltz set to pitch game 5. The Braves were leading 6-0 going into the 6th inning and up until this point had they had little trouble containing the Yankees attack. Derek Jeter led off and hit a routine foul pop up which three Braves converged on. Somehow the umpire managed to get between the fielders, inadvertently obstructing the play. Jeter, with new life, singled, sparking a three run rally which brought the Yankees to within three. In the 8th I was still feeling good about the Braves chances when Yankee catcher Jim Leyritz tied the game with a 3 run home run to left. The game was won by the Yankees in the 10th and the Series, not to mention my life, had turned.

Andy Pettitte threw a 1-0 gem in game 5, and after a taut 3-2 win in game 6 the Yankees had their first championship in 18 years. I remember watching the clincher and thinking that I was happy for their fans who had recently suffered through some particularly lean years. It was good for New York, and anyway the Braves fans were obnoxious with that idiotic tomahawk chop.

Yet there was a feeling deep in the pit of my stomach which gnawed at me. The Yankees had won a Series in clutch fashion after being dominated at home during the first two games. Their key position players and pitchers were young or in their prime. What if? Could it happen? No, this was a fluke. Wasn’t it?

It was no fluke. The next year they were beaten by Cleveland in the first round thanks to a blown save by Mariano Rivera, but from that point on, until 2005, Mariano’s post-season ERA would be 0.00. From 2006 until the present his era is…0.00. In this span the Yankees have missed the playoffs once. They have won five Series and seven A.L. Pennants.

The years took on a Groundhogs Day sameness, each one ending with the parade down the canyon of heroes. My misery culminated in 2000, the year of the Subway Series. Up until that time I had rooted against the Yankees as an erstwhile fan of their opposing team. That year I was treated to a first-hand bitch-slapping as my Mets proved to be woefully inadequate. I hoped against hope for a miracle, but after Paul O’Neill’s 14 pitch at-bat off of Armando Benitez and the ensuing comeback, the knife was in — all that remained was the twisting. The next night a bat was hurled at Mike Piazza by a steroidally-enfused mercenary named Roger Clemens. (Thank you sir, may I have another?) The Mets were done and so was I.

Next year was even worse, even though the Yankees failed to four-peat against the expansion Arizona Diamondbacks. In the wake of September 11th, “We’re all Yankee fans now,” became America’s mantra. In the past I had been able to take a small measure of consolation in the fact that I was not alone in rooting against the Yankees. Now I was on an island with John McCain. Every game became an elegy to the bravery of New Yorkers — the Yankees were going to make us all forget about the recent tragedy. There was Giuliani with his shit-eating grin, the Yankee cap, and the fat son. Throw in the fighter planes, the opera singer, the God Bless America, and I was puking through my tears.

I look back at my smug, condescending 1996 self and I laugh. You poor, confused, naive dullard. But then I think that perhaps it was a good thing that there was one Yankee Series in which I did not scream obscenities at the TV, or feel the pre-ulcerous knot of tension in the pit of my stomach.

Since the middle of the 1990’s the Yankees have been a well-oiled, expertly handled organization. This does nothing to temper my hatred. You can call me a pathological, self-pitying, resentful bastard. It’s a moot point, though. Like Popeye, I yam what I yam — my hatred isn’t going anywhere. I have to live with it and accept that most Octobers will be gut wrenching experiences.

I’ll say this. Teams should be allowed to sign whomever they think will help them win, but here’s the thing: The Yankees have a payroll that is 40 million higher than the Redsox and 109 million higher than the team they just beat, the Twins. On top of this they are the favorite to sign ace pitcher Cliff Lee. They play by the rules and they’re a great organization, but don’t rub my face in it and ask me to like it. It’s a little hard to take. 

OK, that’s it. I’m exhausted already. I now invite you all to let me have it. Come on, you know you want to. Just remember the first rule of Fight Club: You do not talk about Fight Club.

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The dawn of the evil empire

Posted by keithosaunders on October 8, 2010

My Yankee hatred is palpable.  It is a living, breathing organism which shows no signs of receding with age.  I spend the entire season rooting for them to lose every game they play.   I have tracked their magic number for playoff elimination as early as June 1st, and for the past 15 years and I have been disappointed each year, save one.  Once the playoffs begin I calculate how many outs they are from elimination.  Presently they are 81 outs away — unfortunately for me, the effete Minnesota Twins have only 27 remaining. 

I can trace the seeds of my bile back to my late teens when I still lived in Los Angeles.  I saw the Dodgers blow a 2-0 lead in the 1978 World Series, losing the final 4 games in embarrassing fashion.  This on the heels of the ’77 Series when Reggie Jackson famously hit three home runs against three different Dodger pitchers in the final game.

The Brooklyn lore had been passed down from my father, who spent his youth in Flatbush enduring year after year of Yankee domination.  Those “boys of summer” lost to the Yankees in 1941, ’47, ’49, ’52, ‘and ’53, before emerging victorious, thanks to a game saving catch down the left field line by Sandy Amoros in game 7 of the 1955 Series.  

When I moved to New York there was no doubt I would fall on the Mets side of the equation.  The Yankees were a free agent laden team comprised of disparate parts.  Their owner, George Steinbrenner, would change managers yearly, sometimes more than once.  He routinely lambasted his players in the press, sometimes exiling them to the minors for mere fielding errors.  Those mid 1980s teams, although competitive, never had the pitching to get to the post season and by the end of the decade they were mired near the bottom of the 7 team (yet to be realigned) AL East.

 How quaint it seems now to look back on the Stump Merrill era of the early 90s — an era in which I actually experienced a sentiment akin to pity for the hapless Yankee fan.  If I had only known what fate awaited me I might have savored the years when the AL East was dominated by, of all teams, the Toronto Bluejays.  I should have relished my ability to watch the American League playoffs without an iota of stress.  Little did I know that while George Steinbrenner was serving a two-year suspension, GM Gene Michael was using his new-found autonomy to build up the Yankee farm system and to nurture their talented prospects.  Storm clouds in the shape of Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, and Mariano Rivera were ahead, and with them would come the end of my stress-free Octobers and the dawn of the evil empire. 

To be continued…      

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