Without Fanfare, New York Giants Lead Division
by Eddie Mayrose

Somewhere around the time that Rex Ryan and his New York Jets started their miraculous run through last year’s playoffs, the Giants became a forgotten team. As Gang Green began to dominate the back pages of the local tabloids; for reasons both good and bad, Big Blue quietly went about the business of repairing a defense that disappeared during last December’s collapse. There were no sexy trades, no television shows and, certainly, no Super Bowl predictions. There was simply a change at defensive coordinator and a commitment to the work necessary to regain the top spot in the NFC East.  Funny how effective that formula’s been.

Since Big Rexy showed up in town and started shooting his mouth off, the Giants have almost become the forgotten team in New York and that’s just the way they like it. Free to go about their business with a minimum of distractions and media scrutiny, they’ve seen their defense return to a dominating level while Eli Manning continues to shine.  The Giants seem very content to leave the bluster to the boys in green.  Just as well, as they can better use the time to polish those Lombardi trophies Rex keeps promising. Continue reading »

By Eddie Mayrose

New York Baseball Fans Never Learn

It happens every spring.  One of our two, local nines gets off to a slow start and the “First Time-Long Time” experts light up the phone lines on the talk shows.  Last season, after the Yankees had blown their first eight contests with the Red Sox, the signings of Mark Teixeira and C.C. Sabathia were questioned; as was the competence of manager Joe Girardi.  Just curious; how’d 2009 work out for the Bombers in the end?  Yet, even in the middle of a strong start to 2010, Yankee fans are again showing off their short memory; this time looking to hang struggling starter, Javier Vasquez. Despite the fact that Vasquez was an All Star in his first go-round in the Bronx, won a World Series in Chicago, is coming off the best season of his dominant career and was acquired for next to nothing, the so-called experts cite the grand slam he surrendered to Johnny Damon in the 2004 ALCS as the reason he’ll never be able to succeed in New York.  Remember that down the stretch as they’re chanting his name in the ninth inning of a two hit shutout. Continue reading »

Championship Series Preview

Well, much to the chagrin of longtime Sawx booster and Brooklyn Eagle columnist, Tom Kane, we called the fieldwithballmoonAngels-Red Sox series perfectly.  We had the Yanks in 4 and the Phils in 5, one game off on each.  We couldn’t have been more wrong about the Cardinals-Dodgers, though, as we were reminded by Moonlight reader, Ken Jankowsky.  That the Dodgers were not only able to overcome the Cards’ starting rotation was impressive enough but to do it in three straight was something not many saw coming.  It bodes well for Joe Torre’s boys going forward, especially with a potential Game & scheduled for Chavez Ravine.  Let’s take a look at the two matchups that’ll give us our 2009 World Series, disregarding for a minute the drooling Fox executives offering up their souls for a Yankees-Dodgers Fall Classic.

Angels vs. Yankees-  Have to love the Yankees deciding to ride their big horse, C. C. Sabathia, in three games if the series goes seven.  Unfortunately for the Bombers, Mother Nature doesn’t look like she’s planning to cooperate.  Sabathia likely won’t get the chance for that third start, however, as the Angels should wrap things up beforehand.  While Alex Rodriguez finally busted out of a career long postseason slump, he did it against a pitching staff far inferior to that of the Angels.  Mike Scioscia’s boys play the game as fundamentally sound as anyone and won’t make the same silly mistakes that did in the Twins.  Expect Derek Jeter to continue to shine while ARod and Teixeira will struggle.  Vlad Guerrero walks off with the MVP award as Los Angeles takes the title in five games.

Phillies vs. Dodgers
Tough break for the Phillies as Cliff Lee won’t go until Game 3.  Philly manager Charlie Manuel keeps his fingers crossed that Cole Hamels can dig himself out of his season long funk and give his club a decent start in the opener.  Can’t see it happening.  As for the Dodgers, their starter, Clayton Kershaw, had the lowest BA against in the NL.  Their bats have awakened at just the right time and Manny Ramirez is always lurking.  Get to know these young Dodgers; Ethier, Kemp and Loney, as they will be the elite of the National league for a long time.  The Phils should enjoy a little success in their home park but not enough to win.  The pick here is the Dodgers in 6.

By Moonlight Graham

It’s been a disappointing Major League season for those fans that enjoy September pennant races fieldwithballmoonas each division seems to be locked up and only the NL Wild Card spot is still being contested.  We might see one more divisional race if the Twins can sweep the Tigers this weekend but, with their pitching, it’s not likely.  For baseball purists, the final month has been a letdown.

The absence of close races will have a bearing on Fantasy Baseball owners also, as they’ll be forced to keep an eye on star players that are vital to their Fantasy Baseball teams being rested as their MLB team preps for the post season.  So, if you’re looking to pick up an important point or two in the W or ERA categories, be aware that C.C. Sabathia or Chris Carpenter might be passed over in order to get a little more rest before the playoffs.  Likewise, dependable veterans on teams out of the mix; guys like Paul Konerko and Miguel Tejada, to name two, may find a seat on the bench as their teams audition younger players.  The bottom line is, if you’re lucky enough to still be in the running for your league title, it is more important to keep an eye on the box scores now than at any other point in the season.

Streaking

Arizona’s Juan Gutierrez is making a case to be the D’Backs’ 2010 closer with 4 S and 1 W in September… Tommy Hanson has a 0.45 ERA over three September starts for Atlanta… Kansas City’s Robinson Tejeda is 2-0 over three starts with 18 K.  When did you ever think he’d be a piece of your puzzle?… Seattle’s Ryan Rowland-Smith has gone 7 IP in each of his last four starts while posting a 2.61 ERA…

Stalling

Houston’s Miguel Tejada will see his playing time decrease as the Astros audition Tommy Manzelli at SS… Chad Billingsley’s most recent turn in the rotation was skipped as he has struggled over the last month… Despite extended rest, Milwaukee’s Yovani Gallardo was ripped in his last start and could be shut down for the rest of the year… Even though his last outing was a strong one, Chris Tillman may be shut down by the Orioles as they try to limit his IP… Cleveland’s Fausto Carmona is 1-5, 5.48 in his last nine starts… Jorge Posada will miss the weekend after being suspended for his ridiculous display during the Yankees- Blue Jays game on Wednesday… A.J. Burnett continues to struggle, going 1-4, 6.75 over his last six starts.  It’s been awhile since any of his teammates hit him with a pie… Take the 5-0 record given you by Pedro Martinez and run.  In his last start, the fragile Martinez threw 130 pitches, the most he’s thrown since 2002.  That followed a 119 pitch game in his previous outing.  You can’t expect him to hold up under the strain…

Sick Bay

Washington C Jesus Flores is done for the year after shoulder surgery… Justin Morneau will be out for the year with a stress fracture in his back… Kevin Youkilis has missed three straight with back spasms and could be out through the weekend… Detroit’s Jarrod Washburn is out with a bad knee… Yankees’ starter Andy Pettitte will miss a turn due to shoulder fatigue… Texas OF Josh Hamilton may miss the rest of the year with back issues…

by Moonlight Graham

The HK Fantasy Baseball League

Did he really do that?

Last Sunday morning, having received an absolute gem from Johan Santana the day before, Skippy Shakes owner Bob Carr looked at the HK Fantasy standings and found himself one point ahead of the Mean Street Posse and a point and a half ahead of Ricciardi Brothers Inc. Having waged a two month assault on the top spot from as far back as twenty seven points, Carr had finally grabbed the lead with just one day to go. Unfortunately, he couldn’t leave well enough alone and almost managed himself out of a title.

One of the deals that catapulted his Shakes squad in the last two months was the acquisition of C.C. Sabathia. As the Brewers’ ace carried his squad toward the playoffs, he also carried Carr; allowing the Shakes to make huge gains in the pitching categories. So, with C.C. on the bump for Milwaukee’s finale, Carr was sitting pretty. Santana had given him the slightest of leads in ERA and WHIP. Leads that were crucial to holding on to the top spot. So, what did Carr do? He reserved Sabathia rather than risk a bad outing. The plan was to stay right where he was and allow the others to fall back. Sadly, he paid no mind to the results of his last grand plan to protect his ERA; the ill fated benching of Hideo Nomo on the day he threw a no-no at Coor’s Field. Lightning couldn’t strike twice in the same place, could it?

As Sabathia was holding the Cubbies to just four hits and one run during his complete game, Carr watched in horror as Jerry Manuel summoned Luis Ayala from the bullpen for the Mets. True to form, Ayala grooved one for Dan Uggla, pushing Carr’s ERA just below Ricciardi Bros. and creating a three way tie. That Tim Lincecum and Ubaldo Jimenez had strong outings for RBI only served to drop the Shakes further down in the category. Carr was distraught.

Resigning himself to being the perpetrator of the biggest bonehead move in league history, he flipped through the channels to see if there were any games still going on. That’s when he stumbled across the ninth inning of the Mariners- A’s game and found the now beautiful J.J.Putz standing on the mound protecting a one run lead. Forgetting for the moment that he had cursed Putz’s incompetence for two months, he now begged his fellow redhead for just three outs. You see, Carr was also tied in the saves category and could gain a critical half point if Putz could only close out the A’s. He did and Carr had his league title by the slimmest of margins. He still pulled the biggest gaffe in fantasy league history but at least it didn’t cost him a Yoo-Hoo shower.

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Next week, we’ll start to look back at the 2008 season with Fantasy Awards and readers’ tales of their successes and failures, booms and busts and plans going forward. Enjoy the playoffs as we turn our focus back to the world where the only numbers that count are the ones on the scoreboard. Incidentally, I like a Rays- Cubs World Series so, you might want to put a little money down on any of the other six teams.

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