Okay, let’s call a spade a spade here. I blew the call. I’ve been killing Aaron Boone much of the season, enthusiastically looking forward to the postseason’s arrival so the entire country could join me in seeing how overmatched the Yankees first-year skipper truly is.
Yesterday it was all lined up for me. Boone’s Yanks as a huge “overdog,” playing at home against the no-name, nothing to lose, A’s. A battle-tested opposing manager, Bob Melvin, ready to expose the inexperienced Boonie for the neophyte he is, while sending the favored Bombers home for an extended winter vacation.
Except it didn’t work it out that way. Boone pushed every right button, while Melvin was the guy who ended up having the tough day at the office. Let’s recap:
*Boone began his positive roll by picking Luis Severino, the high risk, high reward option, to start the elimination game in the Bronx. Severino stepped up to the challenge, and rewarded the decision with electric stuff and four+ shutout innings. If Severino is truly “back,” Boone will look smarter every time the erstwhile ace throws his glove on the mound.
*He replaced Severino with two men on and no outs in the 4th, opting to bring in Dellin Betances, who a year ago was so ill equipped to get an out in the postseason that he was relegated to mop up duty. So of course Betance’s stuff was even better than Severino’s, delivering the game’s most important outs, buying time for the Yankee bats to distance themselves from the increasingly overmatched A’s, and rewarding his manager’s confidence in him.
*Even Boone’s decision to start Gary Sanchez behind the plate worked out. I mean, c’mon! Not even a passed ball, or one obvious cross-up with the guy on the mound?
*So I sat back and waited for Miguel Andujar, or that Pillsbury Doughboy they got from the Cards who plays first base for the Yanks these days, to start kicking/throwing the ball around and gift a rally to the A’s. They both came close, but no dice there, either, and then Boone deftly did the defensive substitutions in the late-innings getting the two rooks out of harm’s way and slamming home the win.
And now it’s on to Boston, where Boonie will face the other rookie skipper in these AL playoffs, Alex Cora, in the ALDS matchup we were all waiting for (regardless of how hard certain SportsAttic contributors may have been rooting for Oakland yesterday). I suppose “that’s why they play the games,” but thanks to Aaron Boone, SportsAttic is way behind the eight ball with respect to postseason prognostications as the playoffs begin in earnest today.
Here’s a few more MLB thoughts as we get ready to rumble:
*At least we still have Dave Roberts! Boonie may have shown us more than expected in his one and done debut yesterday, but not to be outdone, reinforcing to us all that his poor tactical efforts that cost the Dodgers a World Series title a year ago were no fluke, Roberts shot his first blank yesterday when he announced that his ace, Clayton Kershaw, would be starting Game 2. Huh? Is there a single player in the Atlanta Braves clubhouse not breathing a sigh of relief today that they won’t have to begin this series seeing Kershaw on the Dodger Stadium mound? Not to mention that if this series does go the full five games, it’s unlikely Kershaw will be able to start Game 5 either? I just don’t get it. I’ve spent the morning trying to figure out the rationale here, and maybe there is one, but I believe this is actually just Roberts being Roberts.
*Who are these Colorado Rockies starting pitchers? I guess Bud Black really does know what he’s doing. Kyle Freeland? The guy was 17-7 with a 2.85 ERA — in Colorado? Then totally shuts down the Cubs in the season’s most important start. And today we get to see Black’s choice to start the tone-setting NLDS Game 1 against the Brewers. The one and only Antonio Senzatela. Senzatela is 2-3 in his last seven starts, with an ERA of 4.26 during that time. Yeah, and with Black’s hot hand, Senzatela will probably throw a gem. It feels a little like things are simply falling in the direction of the Rockies this postseason. Maybe I should have been paying more attention to these guys, but honestly, I never took Colorado seriously all year. And yet here they are, while the Cubbies and their resident genius in the dugout, Joe Maddon, are sitting home. Huh, again.
*Did anyone else get the feeling yesterday that the Yankees absolutely can’t wait to get to Boston and take down the 108-win Red Sox? I picked the Bombers in four, but I’m starting to feel sweep.
A couple of more random thoughts from the “other” sports (even though SportsDaughter1 doesn’t like it when I “sport-hop” in these posts):
*Did the Caps really raise the banner and honor their first Stanley Cup winner in their 44-year history the other night, and leave out the coach that led them to the title? I know Barry Trotz left over the summer due to contract issues, and ownership can do whatever it wants since it’s “their” team, but that seemed really kind of lame. Another 44 years before the next Cup in D.C.? Maybe longer?
*Could Le’Veon Bell be handling his holdout any worse? Team is 1-2-1, teammates are publicly questioning him, and he obviously misses the limelight, because he continues to do asinine things to draw attention to himself on what feels like a daily basis. Bell’s latest being his weak “Batman cliffhanger-esque” announcement that he is returning — in a few weeks. Let’s start the countdown. Yeesh.
*Why did only Carolina and Washington get last week off from the NFL schedule makers? Week 4 seems early for a bye week to begin with, but I don’t remember only two teams getting a bye week in seasons past. Is this an annual thing? Then I thought maybe they were playing each other in London this week, warranting the extra rest, but nope, in fact the Skins don’t resume play until Monday night. Yet the Jets got to start the season with three games in 12 days. Got it.
*Gotta like Knicks rookie Mitchell Robinson somehow baiting Wizards veteran Markieff Morris into an ejection the other night — in a preseason game. I’m feeling hope in the air around Madison Square Garden this year. Maybe not playoffs kind of hope, but at least we’ll have some athleticism to witness at long last, and the young talent could surprise some folks. Now if we can just get KP back and keep him healthy, then add KD next July, and then…and then…
*The NBA needs some newsworthy controversy, and soon. The two biggest stories of late were whether or not Kobe Bryant flinched on an inbounds pass (the guys’s been retired for years, right?), and analysis of Kawhi Leonard’s laugh during a press conference. C’mon, Melo — start complaining about not enough touches — we need ya!
And last but not least on the NBA, I had dinner at Clyde Frazier’s Wine and Dine the other night on 10th Avenue (and 37th) in New York City. How did I not know about this place? In addition to being the namesake of my all-time favorite Knick, the place boasts excellent food and friendly, impeccable service. Plus:
-A half-court basketball hoop section, where private parties can have free throw shooting contests, or a little friendly 3-on-3!
*Twenty-foot high cutouts of Clyde himself, resplendent in several of his signature suits.
*Speaking of Clyde’s suits, the bar’s ceiling is completely covered with the fashion icon’s suit patterns, with the stylish threads spanning from one end of the upscale bar to the other. And yeah, lots of big screens (40 I think?).
Great place for pregame or postgame meals if you are at the Garden for a game. If you are a Knicks fan (or simply a hoops fan), you need to check this place out.
Now, back to our regularly-scheduled MLB playoffs commentary — see you Saturday for Six Picks.