The Big E Comes with 4 Games Remaining

Andy Pettitte honored pre-game Wednesday September 25th.  Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter present him with a plaque at home plate.

Andy Pettitte honored pre-game Wednesday September 25th. Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter present him with a plaque at home plate.

Well, the 2013 Yankees gave it a run, but in the end, there were just too many teams to jump.

An 8-3 loss to Tampa was enough, but Cleveland beat Chicago, making it official.  The Yankees will miss the postseason for just the 2nd time in 19 years.

Their latest loss featured what will most likely be Phil Hughes’ last appearance in pinstripes.  Drafted in 2004 out of high school, Hughes has been a disappointment this season.  He had one good year as a starter, and was a key player in the bullpen in the 2009 World Series run.  But as he enters free agency, look for the 27-year-old to move on.

Joe Girardi had a quick hook with Hughes again, taking him out with no outs in the 3rd inning.  Hughes didn’t get help from his defense in the inning, but it meant a 14th loss none the less.  David Huff came in in relief and down just 3-2 in the 6th, let Tampa put up a 4 spot to put the game away.

Eduardo Nunez had a good game for the bombers, going 2-4 with his 3rd homer of the year.  He’s also played a much better 3rd base of late, after playing much of the year at short in the absence of Derek Jeter.

No Mariano Rivera, much to the chagrin of fans at the stadium.  It now means Thursday will be the closer’s final game at the stadium, followed by the final series of the year in Houston.

The final home-stand has been all about Rivera, but pregame the bombers took some time to honor Andy Pettitte, who will be hanging it up (again) when the season ends Sunday.

The race for the wild card now stands between the top seeded Rays, Indians and Rangers who trail Cleveland by just 1 game. The Orioles and Royals were also eliminated Wednesday.

So as I said earlier, this is just the 2nd time in 19 years the Yankees will not make an appearance in October, both under Girardi.  The last time it happened was his first season as manager, in 2008.  The following year of course the bombers won the world series.  But don’t expect that to happen again.  This team has a lot of holes to fill.  The lack of a postseason berth isn’t surprising given the large amount of injuries and inconsistent starting pitching that occurred.  More on that and other Yankees news in my season recap coming after the finale in Houston.

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NFL: Week 3 Thoughts

Another crazy week in the NFL. Wouldn’t have it any other way. 3 down. 14 to go.

This week I will start with the winless squads:

  • Giants:  The fact that this team is 0-3 might be the most surprising record through 3 weeks.  After two weeks of turnovers, Eli Manning had absolutely no time to throw Sunday against Carolina.  The o-line was ineffective, as was the run game and pass rush.  A 38-0 blowout was the worst for the team in 4 decades.
  • Redskins: Another close game goes against the skins. RGIII just doesn’t look 100% and that’s a concern for Washington. The NFC east is just 3-12 through week 3.
  • Jaguars: The only positive for this team?  Managing to put up 17 on a vaunted Seahawks defense.
  • Steelers: They finally got the offense going, but ran into a better Bengals team.
  • Vikings: They lost to the browns and their inexperienced QB. Even Adrian Peterson can’t save them.  It’s going to be a long season in Minnesota.
  • Buccaneers: After losing two games late, they had no answer for a Patriots team that finally got going on offense.

Next up the 1-2 teams:

  • Packers: After going down 14-0 quick, Aaron Rodgers led them to 30 straight points.  But despite forcing 6 turnovers, the Bengals fought their way back on Green Bay turnovers.
  • 49ers: After a win in week 1, the niners have now dropped 2 straight.  Their usually stout defense hasn’t looked good through 3 games.
  • Falcons: Atlanta ran into an upstart Dolphins team and couldn’t pick up a road win.  They haven’t looked bad through 3, but need to pick it up quick with an much improved Saints team in the South.
  • Panthers: It was against a disjointed Giants squad, but a big win none the less.  The run game got going, as well as the pass attack.  A shutout for their defense should help with confidence and help them try to make noise in the South.
  • Bills: EJ Manuel continues to look good, but he couldn’t complete a comeback win against fellow rookie Geno Smith and the Jets.  But things are looking up in Buffalo despite the 1-2 record.
  • Eagles:  After 2 big offensive performances, Michael Vick couldn’t lead his team past the now 3-0 Chiefs. 4 turnovers and 6 sacks of Vick didn’t help Philly in the 10-point loss.
  • Rams: The Cowboys walked all over them, plain and simple.
  • Chargers: Another last second loss for San Diego.  Good teams win close games, and so far San Diego just isn’t.
  • Browns: After trading RB Trent Richardson, many thought Cleveland was already waving the white flag on 2013.  But they showed toughness and won a shootout with Minnesota behind a good day from QB Brian Hoyer, making just his 2nd career start after backing up Tom Brady in New England.
  • Raiders: After a decent showing through 2 games, they were no match for Denver on Monday Night Football.
  • Cardinals: New Orleans was too much for Arizona.  4 sacks and 2 picks of Carson Palmer meant trouble.

Teams feeling good at 2-1:

  • Titans: Rookie WR Justin Hunter’s 34 yard touchdown grab with 15 seconds to go on Sunday made Titans fans real happy.  It was a big win for a team that is looking to get back on track after a down year last year.
  • Lions: They almost blew it against Washington, but Joique Bell continues to impress.  Not many had the Lions being ahead of Green Bay at all this season, let alone through 3 weeks.  Of course it’s early, but Detroit should feel pretty good.
  • Jets: The best team in New York?  At 2-1 they sure look like it.  Again it’s early, but Geno Smith has shown he can make the throws to win his team a game.  And the defense has been on point early.
  • Ravens: I didn’t see a win, let alone a double-digit one of Houston for the defending champ, but that’s just what happened.  Even without Ray Rice, the run game showed up, and Baltimore played their most complete game of the season.
  • Texans: They couldn’t get anything going on offense, mustering just 3 Justin Tucker Field Goals.  One of their worst games in a while.
  • Colts:  Andrew Luck didn’t need one of his famous 4th quarter comebacks this week.  After a 7-7 first quarter, 20 unanswered by the Colts helped sink a Superbowl participant from a year ago in the Niners.
  • Bengals: The run game continues to get better, and the defense has been great early.  This team looks like it’s rounding into shape.
  • Cowboys: The NFC Easts only winning team handled an improved rams team easily at home. DeMarco Murray finally got going on the ground, a good sign for Dallas.

And finally those riding high perfect through 3:

  • Broncos: If you can make predictions before a snap is played, I can say Denver is by far the best team in the league so far.  Peyton Manning is automatic.  12 Touchdowns (a league record in the first 3 games to start a season), with no interceptions is juts mind-boggling.  The run game finally showed up on Monday Night and the defense continues to show up despite missing several key pieces.  Watch out AFC.
  • Dolphins: Surprise, surprise.  Miami is getting great play from their defense, and Ryan Tannehill is showing growth in year 2.  This is a team that will stay with New England all year in the East.
  • Patriots: Two wins by a combined 6 points in weeks 1 and 2 made you think maybe the Pats were vulnerable.  They may very well be, but their offense looked much better in week 3, and the defense shut down the bucs to stay perfect in 2013.
  • Chiefs: My most improved team of the year is showing why many people feel the same way.  Alex Smith is doing what Andy Reid wants, manage the game and be smart.  But their run game led by Jamaal Charles and a great defense has this team rolling.
  • Seahawks: They let the Jags score 17, but in a game they scored 45 maybe you chalk it up to that.  But this team continues to show why they are a Superbowl favorite.  Russell Wilson is the real deal.
  • Bears: Their defense deserves most of the credit.  Chicago has been a take away machine, and Jay Cutler is taking full advantage.  Along with a strong run game early, the bears, and not Green Bay sit atop the NFC North.
  • Saints: Sean Payton is making a huge difference to this team.  Drew Brees finally has a lot of weapons in the backfield, opening things up for him in the pass game.  And the addition of Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator is paying immediate dividends for a defense that was bad to say the least a year ago.

So it was another fun week in the NFL.  We reach the 1st quarter pole of the year, starting with a match-up of two 1-2 NFC West teams as the 49ers visit the Rams on Thursday Night Football.

Enjoy you football fanatics.

4-Run 8th Saves Yankees… For Now

It’s been awhile since Vernon Wells delivered a big hit for the bombers. Well that all changed in their 4-3 win over Toronto on Wednesday.

Robinson Cano got the bombers on the board for the first time in the series with an RBI single. Alfonso Soriano followed that up with an RBI double to cut the deficit to 1. Then Wells put New York ahead with a 2-run double.

Phil Hughes got the start for the Yanks, surrendering 2 runs in 3.1 innings. David Huff came in in relief, going 3.2, allowing the other jays run.

Mariano Rivera shut the door, recording a 4-out save, to keep the yankees relevant in the wild card discussion. (Save #44)

The Indians lost again to the Royals, while the Orioles topped the Red Sox in 12. The Rays evened up their aeries with fellow card holder Texas. What does it all mean? That the yankees are 2.5 back of Texas, 1 back of the Indians and behind the Orioles. There’s still hope with 3 remaining with the Rays. And they own the season series with Cleveland, texas and baltimore, which helps in the event of a tie. Now they just have to continue to win and get help. Of course, what awaits them if they win a wild card spot and find away to win the wild card game, the dreaded Red Sox. The Yanks are just 6-13 against them this year. But October is the land of strange occurrences, so you never know. You’ve gotta get there first.

10 games to go and there’s still so much to be decided, not just in the AL, but the NL wild card is set to be just that, wild til the end.