Joe Girardi and the Worst Managed Game I Have Ever Seen

I have been watching Yankee baseball for over fifty years. The Yankee loss to Cleveland on Friday night was the most incredible managerial debacle I have ever witnessed.

CC Sabathia was the Yankee starter and after a little early trouble, found his stride. Meanwhile, Corey Kluber, clearly the best pitcher in the league this year, struggled and ultimately got knocked out after allowing eight runs and leaving his team with an 8-3 deficit. Comes the sixth inning, Sabathia allows a baserunner and despite having thrown only 77 pitches and really looking smooth, Girardi pulls him. Apparently. the “metrics” which guide the “brilliant” Girardi indicate that CC starts faltering in the sixth inning so despite looking great and maybe letting him go a batter at a time Girardi brings in Chad Green.

Ordinarily, this move would have made sense as Green has been fabulous this year, but not on this night. He had already pitched multiple innings after Severino choked up a lung in the Tuesday Wildcard game, lasting all of 1/3 of an inning. The first pitch he threw you could tell Green did not have his usual juice, the batters were making solid contact, fouling off ball after ball, he wasn’t his usual self regardless of what the radar guns showed. However, it appeared he would escape unscathed despite allowing a couple of runners on base until the umpire missed a call and called a hit batsman when replay clearly indicated a foul tipped strikeout, inning over. Gary Sanchez, the Yankee catcher called “foul, foul”, indicating to the dugout to contest the call, but Girardi, after the video didn’t get seen in time sat on his fat ass and let it slide. He had absolutely NOTHING to lose by protesting the call and should have trusted his catcher and come running out. Instead bases loaded and the s__t hit the fan. Right there, Green, who clearly didn’t have it, should have been pulled. Instead Girardi leaves him in against the very tough Francisco Lindor who proceeds to hit a grand slam 8-7. He then pulls Green, clearly too little, too late and brings in Robertson, who on Tuesday had thrown 52 pitches, and he gets the third out.

The seventh inning goes by without incident and as the Indians get ready to hit in the eighth, who appears on the mound, Robertson, to continue on despite having the longest outing of his career two days before. Where the hell was Betances, who looked like his old self the night before and has been, for most of the season, the eight inning guy. Where the hell was Chapman, a pitcher incredibly tough on lefties who was certainly positioned to go for a two inning save. Indian lefty slugger Jay Bruce gets up and he just sits there watching three curveballs out of the zone knowing that so much of Robertson’s success is based on batters swinging at pitches that are not strikes. What happens, a juicy 92 mph flat fastball (did I mention he had thrown 52 pitches two days before) that Bruce smacks out of the park 8-8. I knew right then and there that the Yanks were done.

But the agony lingered on as the game moved into the top of the eleventh inning when Todd Frazier, the Yanks third baseman, hit a ground ball to third that got airmailed into the stands behind first and he ends up on second base with no outs. I’m beginning to think that maybe the Yanks pull the game out after all. Girardi pulls Frazier, who is no speed demon but not a slow poke either and replaces him with pinch runner Ronald Torreyes, maybe a bit faster than Frazier but no Usain Bolt. What happens, he gets picked off at second base, you could see Frazier’s disgust in the dugout as he threw his water cup. He’s as competitive a player as I have ever seen, the last place he wanted to be was in the dugout, he wanted to be on second base getting ready to bring the winning run home. Now I’m positive the Yanks are done. Sure enough Betances, who should have been pitching the eighth, ends up pitching the eleventh, twelfth and into the thirteenth inning, he NEVER goes three and ultimately gives up a a walk and a hit and the Yanks lose. To have the knife dug in a bit deeper, the winning run came on a ground ball down the third baseline, which maybe the taller, longer armed, better fielding Frazier could have at least knocked down and prevented the run from scoring but the diminutive Torreyes couldn’t reach.

Bottom line, this was a butcher job by Girardi that unless the Yanks miraculously pull off a three game sweep will never be forgotten or forgiven. His contract expires at the end of this season – he manages too much by the book, his nickname is the “Binder”, more importantly has repeatedly pissed off very important players such as CC, Betances and Chapman, he needs to go. In ten years he will have won one World Series, big deal. The Yankees have won twenty seven, it didn’t take two hundred and seventy years. The Yanks need a younger manager, one more adept at dealing with the players and the crazy NY media atmosphere. See ya Joe!!

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Aaron Judge Strikes Again

As a long time Yankee fan, I have seen all the great stars. Mickey Mantle was my hero as a young child, he possessed a rare mixture of ability and humility which was unbelievably appealing. I was a little young for Roger Maris’ 61 homer year but enjoyed his all around skills. Elston Howard, the Yanks first African American player was a joy to watch, he could hit, field and had the perfect temperament for the pioneer that he was.

After the late sixties and early seventies went by with very weak Yankee teams, the team awakened in the late 70’s with Guidry, Nettles, the great Thurman Munson and the “straw that stirred the drink”, Reggie Jackson. All of a sudden it was hip to be a Yankee fan as the great teams of those years captured the city, taking it back from the Mets who had those big years in 69 and 73. The late seventies were all about the Yanks, but alas, they fell back into a long dreadful slump, until reawakened by the great young stars, Jeter, Bernie and Pettitte in the mid nineties and back to the mountaintop they strode. Unfortunately, since 2001 they have only won one World Series in fifteen years.

This brings me to the subject of this piece. Aaron Judge, Chandler bat ready at the plate, his Rawlings glove a sure thing in right field, his Under Armour cleats propelling a huge man with speed and grace and all of a sudden our hopes for Yankee dominance are renewed. He won this year’s Home Run Derby taking easy, comfortable swings, he wows the fans all over the country with his batting practice performances and already has hit over thirty homers, well on his way to hitting fifty. No matter how badly you need to use the bathroom, you can’t leave your seat the inning he bats because you can’t chance missing another Judge highlight. Greater than his talent is his humility and dead on ability to always say the right thing at the right time.

Last night against the Mariners, he hit one of the most impressive homers I have ever seen, nearly out of spacious Safeco field. It was hit so high that the announcers speculated that had the dome been closed, the ball might have hit the roof, certainly something I’ve never seen happen. Does he dance and prance and ceremoniously heave his bat, no he calmly drops it and modestly runs around the bases as did my hero, The Mick. He is also setting a wonderful example for his teammates. Clint Frazier, the newest Yankee hotshot, a guy who is obviously full of piss and vinegar, was interviewed after his walk off homerun and a la Judge modestly accepted his accolades and credited the whole team for the win.

Judge isn’t the only great player on this team, he is joined by Severino, Betances, Chapman and a number of others, but he is already, in his quiet unassuming way, becoming the leader. Bottom line for all you Yankee haters, we are on the precipice of another Yankee dynasty, with Aaron Judge leading the way. You all will be holding it in as he approaches the plate for many Octobers to come.

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Father’s Day and Sports

Father’s Day and sports are inextricably linked. As the day approaches and we look forward to seeing the family, we pray for great weather and plan out the activities.

I have very fond memories of this Day. As a child, assuming our favorite team, the Yankees, were playing at home, we’d pack up a great lunch and go to the stadium. At this point in time, I don’t remember the games or the results, but I do remember enjoying every moment with my brother and dad as we watched the games. I do recall that if the score wasn’t close, we’d leave early and beat the traffic and get home in time for a Father’s Day feast, hot dogs, burgers and steaks on the grill, delicious salads and other side dishes, and, of course, wonderful desserts.

If the Yanks were on the road, it would be a full day of sports. Basketball in the driveway, throwing around the baseball with Dad in the yard, as I grew older and became a runner we’d share a run on the local streets or in bad weather a lift at the local Y. Again a wonderful feast would ensue, although sometimes we’d bring it indoors if the weather was uncooperative. Of course, back before i-phones and netflix and streaming and all the modern day gadgets, we’d have the US Open on tv, a black and white tv early on, and watch Jack and Arnie, maybe Player or Trevino, battle it out.

I’ve been a father for many years and have tried to replicate the Day. Not as easy in our modern day world, the participation in sports has transitioned from the yard or the streets to organized events in all sports. Still do my best to sneak in a run or a catch with my now grown up kids, and always enjoy a wonderful meal. I’m extremely lucky to have my dad alive and viable, so we still top off the Day watching a ballgame or golf. All in all, it’s a wonderful, important day that I will always cherish. Happy Father’s Day to all the great dads out there!

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The Problem With the NBA

I have been a basketball fan since I was a young child in the mid 1960’s. This past 2016/17 season was the first time in all the years that I basically did not watch one full game.

To begin with, what was the point of watching, anyone who knows anything about the NBA knew that the two teams in the NBA finals would be Cleveland and Golden State. Cleveland with their hometown star, Lebron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, along with some of Lebron’s (the defacto coach and gm of the team) hand picked buddies including Tristan Thompson, was the clear pick in the East. By the way, Thompson, who was signed to an $82 million contract at the insistence of Lebron, can’t throw the ball into the ocean from more than five feet away.

The Golden State deal is even more ridiculous. Kevin Durant choked up a lung in the 2015/16 playoffs, during which his team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, had a 3-1 lead against Golden State but they blew the series in large part due to Durant’s pathetic performance. So what does he do? He joins a team that already set an all time NBA record by winning 73 games, so he could finally win an NBA title, which subsequently he did. After working a long day during the season, I would turn on the late NBA game and lo and behold Golden State would be up by 30 points at halftime with Steph Curry shooting 35 footers, playing with his dangling mouthpiece like a ten year old, shimmying down the court after swishing another bomb. Click, I’d check to see if there was a good old movie on, maybe A Few Good Men or Good Will Hunting, certainly more enjoyable watching them for the 20th time than another Golden State runaway.

The quality of the basketball itself is hideous. Set a pick at the top of the key, let your point guard, be it 5’7″ Isaiah Thomas or 6’9″ Lebron, penetrate and either shoot or pass to someone 30 feet away from the basket who chucks up another 3 pointer. The brilliant Ivy League sabermatricians realized a team is better off shooting 35% from behind the three point line as opposed to shooting 48% from two so bombs away. The mid range jumper has virtually disappeared, the big man post game is a thing of the past, and with the elimination of hand checking, defense itself has disappeared.

This style of basketball is being played at all levels, college, high school and even grade school. Back in the day it was emulating Earl the Pearl spinning to the hoop, or watching the Big O, Oscar Robertson or Walt Clyde Frazier backing down their opponents for another classic 15 foot jumper. Today when I watch grade school kids on the playground, all they do is shoot the ball from as far out as they can manage.

So what can a longtime basketball fan do? Firstly, he can hope that as sports styles are cyclical, at some point basketball will bring back some of the classic skills and strategies that made the sport great. A first move in this regard would be to move the 3 point line back 5 feet so maybe the shooting percentages fall to a point where the two pointer comes back into play. Secondly, he can watch football through January, as there seems to be a game on virtually every night, and then pray for pitchers and catchers to hit the baseball fields in Florida and Arizona. The second option seems like the better choice.

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Choosing the Best Youth Football Shoulder Pads

types of youth football shoulder padsIf you’re concerned about your child’s well-being every time he takes his position on the football field, you are not alone. As many as 87% of parents are worried about injuries in youth sports. A total of 36 million kids play sports each year, and 60% play for teams outside of school. How do you know your child is fully protected?

Like all types of youth football gear, the right shoulder pads are essential to a child’s safety. Here are a few things to think about when looking at types of youth football shoulder pads.

What to Consider When Selecting Football Shoulder Pads

  • Weight: Football is an extremely aerobic sport. The heavier the shoulder pads, the sooner they will tire the player out. You want the pads to be strong, but too much weight will hinder the player’s stamina.
  • Rigidity: Certain parts of the shoulder pads need to be rigid for maximum protection. Football involves a lot of heavy physical contact and protective gear needs to be able to hold up against impact. However, there needs to be enough flexibility in the shoulder pads to allow the player to move with ease.
  • Contact Dispersion: Shoulder pads are designed to absorb the shock of impact during a tackle and they must be able to disperse the energy without hindering the movement of the player.
  • Range of motion: This is particularly important in terms of moving the arms. Without sacrificing protection, shoulder pads must allow the player to be able to throw, catch, and tackle.

How to Get Fitted for Youth Shoulder Pads
Different types of youth football shoulder pads fit differently, but some just fit incorrectly. Follow the tips below for selecting the best fit:

  • The pads should cover the player’s collarbone.
  • The neck opening to allow sufficient room
  • The deltoid padding must extend to the outside edge of the shoulder
  • The scapula must be covered
  • Anterior deltoids need to be completely covered
  • Pads must not slip when the straps are tightened
  • >

  • The player’s should joints need to be fully covered
  • When the player raises his hands, there must be adequate clearance on both sides of the neck roll

Nothing is more important in youth sports than the safety of the players. If you have any questions regarding youth football equipment, please feel free to comment below.

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