Monthly Archives: November 2009


                                                                         Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas

What’s all the fuss about the fact that there are two 10-0 teams in the NFL? What is the relevancy of a team going 16-0 in the regular season? Why does anyone (other than the old-time Dolphins) really care?


It was an interesting season two years ago when the Patriots went 16-0 during the regular season and then 18-0 before the Super Bowl. And you had a feeling that, once Tom Brady drove them down the field to take the lead over the Giants late in the fourth quarter, this was going to be something unbelievable – 19-0.

But a funny thing happened on the way to immortality. Eli Manning drove the Giants down the field, David Tyree caught a pass with his helmet, the ill-fated Plaxico Burress got wide open in the end zone and the Patriots dream of perfection was shattered (Giant fans can only hope that the Super Bowl win wasn’t the only one of Eli’s career – but after Plaxico shot himself and ruined last year and the Giants debacle against Denver this past Thursday make them outsiders to make the playoffs, let alone the Super Bowl, you have to face the reality that this might be it for this group of Giants).


Well, both teams had the Patriots as their big stumbling block on their way to perfection. The Colts have had a number of almost defeats and the Patriots thrashed them for three-and-a-half quarters. But the Colts came back like they have in the past and beat the Patriots very late in the game. While the Colts, with the Patriots behind them, have a good chance to go 16-0, it really doesn’t mean anything unless they go 19-0 (just ask the Patriots).

It says here that the Colts, even if they go undefeated in the regular season, won’t go undefeated in the playoffs. And if it’s Patriots-Colts again sometime in the playoffs in Indy (which it will be if they do play again), you have to like the Patriots chances to finish what they couldn’t the first time around.

The Saints have their Patriots obstacle in front of them on Monday night. As with the Colts, it’s a very tough match-up for the Saints (as it is for the Patriots). However, at 7-3 and with a commanding two-game lead in the AFC East (after ending the Jets season last week), this isn’t a must win for the Patriots.

But the Patriots do what the Patriots do and, with a little improvement on defense, they can not only beat the Saints but they can win the Super Bowl. Remember, whatever you think of fourth and two against the Colts, that wasn’t a playoff game. Will Belichick make the same call with the season on the line in the playoffs? Well, he dodged that question twice when asked. Maybe he will be forced to answer it in the playoffs – on the field.

Can the Saints go 16-0 if they beat the Patriots? Absolutely, as the toughest hurdle for both teams was (is) the Patriots

But, once again, so what?


Well, this question is usually discussed in college basketball when a team is around 20-0 and some feel it’s better to lose one during the pre-NCAA tournament schedule. It’s hard to believe that an NFL team of the quality of these two teams ever wants to lose one. Tedy Bruschi recently said on ESPN that, as a professional, he and his Patriot teammates wanted to win every game. They just couldn’t beat the Giants to attain sure-fire immortality.

So, it says here that the Colts and Saints don’t want to lose any game. But it also says here that neither will go undefeated during the regular season AND win the Super Bowl.

We’ll see what happens.

© Copyright 2009 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved.


                                                                                    Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas

Much has been made about Bill Belichick’s ill-fated decision to go for it on fourth and two, late in the game, up six from his own 28 against the Colts. You know what happened – reliable Kevin Faulk bobbles the pass, catches it, gets knocked backwards immediately, gets a questionable spot and comes up short of the first down. Peyton Manning goes 29 yards like it’s nothing – game over.


Well, of course it wasn’t, but after the play failed, the national hysteria took hold and it took a few days for the argument to get back to where it should have been. When Belichick makes a call like that, you have to pay attention, you have to think it through, before you condemn one of the greatest coaches ever.

The best take was probably from former players Ron Jaworski and Mike Ditka (also, obviously, a Super Bowl-winning coach). Jaworski said he thought it was a bad call, “but I understand the thinking behind it.” Mike Ditka said “it was a gutsy call. I couldn’t have done it.”

That’s about the best summation of what happened.


Well, if you watch the Patriots as much as this writer has had to watch them (my son is a die-hard Patriots fan and we’ve watched virtually every Patriots game since the year before the Patriots won their first Super Bowl), you know that Belichick often goes for it on fourth down. He has been influenced greatly by a paper that sets out statistically why it is better to go on fourth and short than to punt. While this was an extreme example of following this analysis, a lot more goes into the decision than just stats.

But Belichick, when he thinks he might go for it on fourth and short, virtually always runs it on third down if it’s third and short.

And therein lies the problem on the fourth and two pass play. If the Patriots had run it on third and two and fourth and short (if they didn’t make it on third down) against a team (the Colts) who can’t stop the run, it’s hard to believe that they wouldn’t have gotten the first down, clinching the win.

So it would seem that Bill Belichick wasn’t really thinking about going for it on fourth down BEFORE third down. It says here that, if he had, he would have run it on both downs. So he had to call his final time-out before fourth down and then decided to go for it. Of course, calling that time out negated any chance to challenge the shaky spot.


Well, it was questionable, to say the least. While the official correctly stated that the ball was bobbled, it was kind of like those two plays at first in the Angels-Red Sox playoff series this year when the ump made two terrible safe calls because the first baseman (Kevin Youkilis) was pulled off the bag (even though he clearly got the runners out) (see KallasRemarks, 10/21/09). So, too, on this play, the bobble and then catch still looked like Faulk, a consummate pro, had enough for the first down. But the official spotted it short of the 30.

Forget what this writer thinks, Phil Simms, the best football broadcaster on the planet, saw the play and he thinks that it was a terrible spot and should have been a first down even with the bobble. He was really the only one to specifically address the spot. Everyone else seemed to assume that it was correct.


Unlikely. While the Patriots offense isn’t what it was in 2007 (comparisons to now and then are stupid because there probably aren’t three offenses in the history of football that can be compared to the 2007 Patriots), Belichick decided to try to win the game with his Hall of Fame quarterback and a stunning offense.

While former players Tedy Bruschi and Rodney Harrison criticized their former coach from a defensive player’s perspective, maybe they don’t understand that the 2009 Patriots defense doesn’t have either of them or Richard Seymour or Mike Vrabel or Willie McGinest or Ty Law or … hopefully, you get the point.

And, if you really follow the Patriots, you know what the loss of Ty Warren on that front three did to Vince Wilfork in this game – he’s guaranteed to be double-teamed on virtually every play.

As Phil Simms also said, if the Patriots defense is upset, they will just have to play better to make Belichick comfortable in punting the ball. If they are not better, Belichick , who coaches “by fear” according to Simms (as did Bill Parcells, according to Simms), will just find other players.


Well, what about the stats? You can’t be a prisoner to them, but certainly they at least support the notion that it was a good call. While this writer agrees with Jaworski that it was a bad call but an understandable thought process, in defense of Belichick, you have to consider what QB he would have been punting the ball to – one of the best ever. If Mark Sanchez is the QB getting the ball or virtually any other QB other than the two in this game, Belichick probably punts it.

While many have pointed to the fact that the Colts had punted seven times and that Manning had been intercepted twice, you must remember that the Colts had already easily gone down the field in the fourth quarter twice – five plays, 79 yards in 2:04 for their first TD of the quarter and six plays, 79 yards in 1:49 for their second TD of the quarter (according to

You can, at least, certainly understand why Belichick was worried about punting the ball back to Manning.

And, remember, for those who say that the Patriots were in some kind of prevent defense earlier in the quarter, the 40 extra yards that Manning would have to go after a punt would be, generally, easier to get than the final 29 that he did have to get. Even on a final drive 70 yards from the goal, many teams give up yardage between the 30s. The last 30 are virtually always the toughest to get.


Most “experts” can’t see the forest for the trees. The Patriots walked into Indy, totally outplayed the Colts for over three-and-a-half quarters and lost the game with (maybe?) a bad decision by the head coach. When asked the next day whether he would do the same thing again, Bill Belichick avoided the question by saying “it was a one-time deal.” We won’t know the answer to that question unless the identical situation happens again against the Colts.

While losing their slim chance to gain home field advantage throughout the playoffs (look at the Colts’ schedule even if the Patriots had won), the Patriots take a lot of positives away from this game: they can score, almost at will, against the Colts (don’t forget that Maroney fumbled into the Colts end zone for a touchback and Brady got intercepted in the end zone). They also are two up in their own division after the collapse of the Jets and the Ronnie Brown-less, up-and-down Dolphins, moved to 5-5.

So the Patriots will make the playoffs and maybe get a bye (could be tough the way the Bengals are playing). If they have to go into Indy in January, don’t you like their chances? This writer does.


The New York football season has gone south in the last few weeks with both teams in serious trouble. The Jets have gone from euphoria after the first three weeks to now having a slim (at best) shot to make the playoffs. After a brutal home loss to the Jaguars, the Jets have to go up to New England to face the angry Patriots.


The Jets beat the Patriots in week 2, a fabulous win for the Jets. But, my, how things have changed since week 2. The Patriots offense, with Brady back for only one game when they lost to the Jets after missing a year, is now clicking on all cylinders. With no Wes Welker in week 2, even though excellent rookie Julian Edelman did a fine job filling in, the Patriots weren’t yet the PATRIOTS.

Offensively, they are now.

And the Jets don’t have Kris Jenkins or Leon Washington. That’s a big problem.

And when your coach is crying in a press conference, well, that’s not going to instill confidence in your team.

This could get ugly.

As for the Giants, their falloff is puzzling, to say the least. Brandon Jacobs still looks like he has happy feet getting to the holes. Eli Manning, on the verge of entering the top echelon of QBs in the NFL earlier this season, hasn’t been very good at all since hurting his foot. The great pass rush of years past has virtually disappeared.

And they have a pretty tough schedule the rest of the way (although recent injuries have really hurt some of their opponents).


Bill Belichick took a national beating this past week, with some experts describing his fourth-and-two call as “the worst call in the history of football.” While that is debatable, what’s not debatable is this: if you’re a Jets fan or a Giants fan, who would you like to be the HC of the NYJ or the HC of the NYG: the guys who are here (no knock on them, especially Tom Coughlin, a Super Bowl-winning coach in his own right) or Bill Belichick?

You get the point.

© Copyright 2009 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved.

Steve on Rick Wolff’s The Sports Edge 11/15/09

BREAKING NEWS: In a reversal of policy, Little League Baseball to institute four full days of rest for pitchers.


                                                                          Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas

According to a source involved with Little League International, the Board of Directors of Little League International has voted to change the pitch-count rules for both the Little League regular season and the Williamsport tournament.

Since this column has always mainly been involved with focusing on the rules for 11-12 (and, now, with the age change, 13)-year-olds, the main group that plays in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, we will continue to focus on this age group. Apparently, according to the source and the text of the rule changes to be made public next week, pitchers under the age of 14 who pitch 66 or more pitches in a day (that would be 66-85 for Little League Majors pitchers) will now need four days of rest during the regular season AND during the tournament.

This is a massive change from the last two years.

In the past, Little League Majors pitchers (again, 11, 12 and 13-year-old pitchers) who threw between 61-85 pitches per day needed only three days of rest (less than pitchers like Cliff Lee and C.C. Sabathia, just to name two) between starts. Even worse, during the Little League Williamsport tournament, the days of rest were reduced to only two, which gave rise to 11 and 12-year olds potentially throwing up to 170 pitches in four days (more than Cliff or CC) and up to 255 in only seven days (more than all but the sturdiest pitchers in the major leagues).

All of these Little League pitch-count numbers should be viewed in the context of the recommendations made by Dr. James Andrews to U.S.A. Baseball and Little League a few years ago. Those recommendations were for 11 and 12-year-olds to pitch up to 75 pitches a day and 100 pitches per week.


Well, you have to think that Dr. James Andrews was involved in this change. Dr. Andrews (the top expert on the planet about youth pitching injuries), when interviewed a little over two years ago on the rising pitch counts for young kids in Little League, stated that the possibility of a young pitcher throwing 255 pitches in seven days solely in Little League games was “worrisome” to him. He said at the time that it would be monitored. Steve Keener, President of Little League International, also stated when interviewed a little over two years ago that, if Dr. Andrews called him and said that there was a problem with the days of rest, Little League would take a look at the problem.

Presumably, that’s one thing that happened to cause the change.


Little League has long said (correctly) that they should be applauded as the only baseball group to institute pitch counts for young pitchers. And they are totally right. The problem with Little League arose when, after trying a pilot pitch-count program in 2005 and 2006 that required four days of rest between starts, the Little League made the pitch count mandatory in 2007 and changed the days of rest from four days to three in the regular season and to two in the Williamsport tournament.

This “new” change that will be announced nest week is really a return to the Little League pilot program in terms of days of rest.

But where does that leave you, the parent, with a star pitcher who pitches in multiple leagues and is under enormous pressure to win that next “big’ game (you’re told that they are virtually all big games, right)? Well, in that instance (and, frankly, in all instances of pitching), it’s up to you the parent to take charge of when and how much your child pitches. Again, you should speak to your pediatrician, your orthopedist and consider the Dr. Andrews recommendations of 75 pitches per day and 100 pitches per week and decide what is best for your child. Because the child who is forced to pitch beyond his capabilities has a fool for a parent if that parent lets him pitch too much. And, yes, you have often seen this in the Williamsport tournament and many non-Little League tournaments (just win, baby, right?).

With the new rules, at least in the Little League, this shouldn’t happen anymore. Hopefully, other leagues will follow suit (but don’t bet on it).


Well, under the new rules, young pitchers will now be throwing up to 85 pitches in a day and 170 pitches in six days. While the 85 (as compared to the doctor-recommended 75) has been called a “fudge up” by Dr. Andrews himself, at least it is in the neighborhood of the recommendation. The 170 in six days (by comparison to the doctor-recommended 100) is still obviously 70% higher than what the doctors recommend.

Presumably, Dr. Andrews, who is a national hero in this writer’s opinion for getting the pitch count instituted in the first place, will continue to monitor this number as well. But for Little Leage Baseball to do what it will announce this week is a huge victory for the arms of young pitchers all across America. Little League is to be commended for its actions.

We’ll see what the national reaction to this will be in the coming weeks. And we will see how the implementation of this program goes next season.

Stay tuned.

© Copyright 2009 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved.


                                                                                Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas

We knew as early as last year (see Kallas Remarks, 11/4/08) that this was going to take awhile. Most of us (i.e., Knick fans) didn’t think it would be this terrible (1-8 as of Friday afternoon) but, hey, the Knicks are waiting for the end of the season to enter the Lebron sweepstakes. Or the D-Wade sweepstakes. Or the you-fill-in-the-blank(s) sweepstakes.


The Chris Duhon (a Donnie Walsh acquisition) experiment has been pretty bad. While a Knick fan can talk about all the blown leads and the “chances” to win, etc., in the first nine games, one play at the end of the half against Atlanta on Wednesday sums up part of the bigger problem. The Knicks have a nine-point lead after Atlanta scores with 25.4 seconds left in the half. Duhon brings the ball across half-court (obviously the Knicks are going to hold for one), dribbling out the clock just past the half-court line. Duhon starts to make his move with 10 seconds left (presumably to go to the basket and dish out for a jumper by a shooter at or near the buzzer).

But then, inexplicably, Chris Duhon, one of the last guys you would want to take a three off-the-dribble with time winding down, takes a three off-the-dribble with time winding down. With SEVEN seconds left (too early). So Chris Duhon, that heady point guard trained in winning at Duke, made two mistakes – taking the three and, worse, taking the three so that the Hawks could come back and get the last shot.

So, you know what happens next. Duhon misses, the Hawks come back the other way, and score with .01 left in the half. A nine-point lead, that could have been 11 or 12 with a timely dish to a shooter, becomes a seven-point half-time lead. If you’re a Knick fan, you got a bad feeling in your stomach.

And it only got worse from there as the sleeping Hawks woke up, shot 64% in the second half and won easily, 114-101.


Did you see the interview with Eddy Curry? Tremendously slimmed-down, Curry was shown making jump shots at a practice session and then interviewed on MSG. When asked when he would be back, Curry said that he’s “not too far away.” When asked specifically when, Curry said, “I still haven’t had a chance to practice yet, go up against the guys yet.”


As with Carl Pavano as a Yankee, waiting for Eddy Curry is like waiting for Godot. He may never show up and when (if?) he does, it’s hard to expect much from him. Is he a cog in a Lebron-in-New-York championship team? Hard to believe.


Well, it’s going to have to be the lure of New York plus the Knicks obtaining another superstar (other than Lebron, I mean, the Knicks don’t even have a star now) before Lebron will even consider New York. Yes, he’s a Yankee fan, and yes, his buddy C.C. Sabathia will tell him how great it is to win in New York. But Lebron has to look at the Knicks and say to himself, “Can I really win with this group?” That’s a tough question to answer yes to at this juncture.

Can the Knicks get D-Wade to come here and hook up with Lebron? It seems unlikely since D-Wade seems close to staying in Miami (plus, Wade might try to get Lebron to go to Miami). But maybe the Knicks can get an early commitment from Chris Bosh or Carlos Boozer or the most underrated star in the NBA, Joe Johnson. Will one of those guys be enough to bring Lebron to NYC and the Mecca? Who knows?

Is Lebron “inspired” by NYC and the Garden? Absolutely. He owns the place when he comes here but he’s certainly not playing against an even average NBA team. Does he want to “branch out” into other things and is this still the place to be for that? Absolutely, but it doesn’t seem that these things are more important than winning an NBA title to Lebron.

Frankly, it might be easier for Lebron to stay home, get the most max money he can get (which is only from the Cavs) and attract HIS superstar of choice to Cleveland. He’s got a coach there who leaves him alone to do what he wants, he’s comfortable playing near where he grew up and he could be a key recruiter for any star to come to Cleveland. Plus, he’s got Shaq to be the complimentary big man for another year or two after this one of he wants him there (Shaq has already made it known that he’d be happy to stay there).

If Lebron really wants to win a title, it would be very hard to get one in New York without Wade. He could do it with one of the other names mentioned above, but it would be much harder AND he would need help from five or six other Knicks. And, no, I don’t know who those guys are. Maybe David Lee, maybe Toney Douglas (he can defend), maybe Danilo Gallinari (he can’t defend), maybe Al Harrington off the bench (if he can be controlled). Maybe Wilson Chandler, maybe Lebron’s friend Larry Hughes. But there is a gap there and no serviceable big man (I don’t think it will be Eddy Curry. Do you?).

So, it seems the best thing, on the court, for Lebron to win a championship, would be to stay in Cleveland and attract the best superstar of HIS choice. Remember, whatever you think of the great Michael Jordan, he never won anything without Scottie Pippen. And while nobody with a brain puts Pippen anywhere near Jordan, there’s no way Jordan would have won six titles without Pippen.

And if that happens (Lebron stays in Cleveland and brings in a superstar), it will be even longer for the Knicks to get to the top than an intelligent Knick fan would have hoped (dreamed?) for. If the Knicks don’t get Lebron, exactly who is coming here?

You get the point.

© Copyright 2009 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved.

Steve on Rick Wolff’s The Sports Edge 11/08/09

Steve on WFAN to discuss the recent jury verdict in favor of the family of Brandon Patch, an 18-year-old pitcher who was killed by a ball hit off an aluminum bat in 2003.   Joining host Rick Wolff and Steve is Joe White, Jr., the attorney for the Patch family.


                                  Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas

If you knew what you were watching, you knew that Hideki Matsui was the World Series MVP when he hit a two-run homer off Pedro Martinez to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead they would never relinquish early in Game 6. Most people didn’t know that, but it dawned on some of them when Matsui hit a two-run single off Pedro Martinez in his second at-bat to give the Yankees a 4-1 lead that they would never relinquish.

Between Matsui’s second and third at-bats, Ken Rosenthal of Fox, maybe not understanding that he was watching the World Series MVP, reported that, essentially, it was unlikely that Matsui would be back next year. Good grief!

Having no idea what to do with Matsui, Charlie Manuel would take Pedro out of the game before he had to face Matsui again. Going by the “book,” he brought in tough lefty J.A. Happ.  As any Yankee fan can tell you, Matsui is tougher against lefties than he is against righties and hit more homers off lefties than any lefty hitter in the majors. Matsui promptly hit a two-run double off the fence in right-center, giving the Yankees a 6-1 lead they would never relinquish.


Very few understood at the time, but the biggest hit, the most important for the Yankees, was Matsui’s Game 2 homer that gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead, a lead that they would never relinquish in their 3-1, Game 2 victory to tie the World Series at one game apiece.

Why was this Game 2 homer the most important? Well, that’s easy. After losing Game 1 at home, the Yankees would have been in brutal trouble if they had lost Game 2 at home. To beat the Phillies four out of the next five (had they lost Game 2) would have been virtually impossible, especially since the Phillies had Cliff Lee for what everybody thought would be a Phillies win in game 5 (it was). So, it was subtle at the time (see Kallas Remarks, 9/29/09), but was clearly the homer that saved the Yankees.


It’s been a theme by this writer that the Yankees, long before the MVP became the MVP, should bring Hideki Matsui back next year (see Kallas Remarks, 9/29/09). He gives a manager so many offensive options, so many offensive advantages, that the Yankees have to make room for the .615 World Series hitter. When you (or the Yankees) try and say the Yankees should only keep one out of Johnny Damon and Matsui, you (or the Yankees) have to now see how valuable BOTH of these guys are to the team. They, as much as anyone (A-Rod, Jeter, Rivera et al.), were responsible for the 27th World Series Championship.


Well, that’s relatively easy. Let Matsui DH for 90 games. That will give Joe Girardi 72 games to give A-Rod his day off, or Damon his day off, or Posada his day off (presumably when A.J. Burnett is pitching and Jose Molina is catching). In the remaining 72 games that Matsui does not DH, he would probably pinch hit in about 45-50 of them (don’t forget, his three pinch at-bats in Philadelphia were home run, out and huge single).

That’s about 420 or so at-bats right there. Then, after a winter of rehabbing those surgically-repaired knees, maybe he can play once a week in the outfield in the right ballpark (not Yankee Stadium). That additional 20 games will give him another 80 at-bats or so.

If you can get Matsui 420-500 at-bats, you’ve hit the jackpot. Remember how Joe Girardi said that Matsui became great after the nine-game interleague road swing when he couldn’t DH and didn’t play the field? Girardi said that rested Matsui in the middle of the season and set him up for his stirring finish and playoff run.


Of course he does. Not being a modern day, greedy player (or agent-friendly, you know, look at me) immediately after the game, when asked about whether he’d like to come back or not, Matsui was blunt and truthful, saying, through a translator, that he loves the Yankees, he loves the fans and of course he wants to come back. A sleazier free agent would have said we’ll see what happens, I’m sure there will be great interest from other teams, and then he would hold up his MVP trophy.


Well, hopefully they’ve seen the light by now. Considered a done deal by all the “experts” that he wasn’t coming back (if true), the Yankees will need to reevaluate. They’ll have to pay him more now, but it’s hard to believe that something for two years can’t be worked out.

Hideki Matsui has always been a great teammate and a professional hitter. He rose to the top of the heap on the biggest stage in the biggest game (six runs batted in for the first-time ever in a deciding World Series game). Anything the Yankees pay him will already have been paid back in advance by Hideki Matsui. He was the key to winning the World Series. The potential pitching problems never became the actual pitching problems because Matsui tacked on another two runs in each of his first three at-bats.


Now that Matsui has won his World Series as a Yankee, you can call him a quintessential Yankee, even if he barely speaks English. To let this guy go now would be a disgrace to the Yankee organization. If George Steinbrenner still has a say, it’s hard to believe that he would let this happen.

We’ll see how it goes.

© Copyright 2009 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved.


                                                                                    Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas

For those (including this writer) who wanted Chad Gaudin to start Game 5 of the World Series for the Yankees, it really wasn’t about starting Chad Gaudin. It was about NOT starting A.J. Burnett on short rest. That was because, if Burnett started Game 5 on short rest, that would then make Andy Pettitte start on short rest in Game 6 and, if the Yankees lost both games, that would have CC Sabathia start Game 7 on short rest (although he’s probably the most capable of doing it and that was the plan all along).


Well, Joe Girardi said that he “didn’t want to put Gaudin in that spot,” that he hadn’t pitched in a long time and that he thought his pitchers could go on short rest.

Yankee fans are now praying that he’s right.

Chad Gaudin had last pitched against the Angels on October 20 (13 days before Game 5) and threw a 1-2-3 inning against the Angels at the end of that Game 4, 10-1 C.C. Sabathia win. Prior to that, Gaudin had pitched a scoreless inning-and-a-third in relief against Tampa Bay on October 3. His last start had been a win against Kansas City on September 28, where he gave up two earned runs and four hits in six-and-two-thirds innings to raise his starting record to 2-0 as a Yankee.

With Cliff Lee pitching on full rest, this was enough of a resume to give Gaudin a start. Again, not cause he “deserved” it, but because it would set up the Yankee rotation for the last two games if they lost Game 5.


Maybe this factored into the decision: If Gaudin starts Game 5, then A.J. Burnett starts Game 6 on full rest. But, then, assuming the Yankees lost both of those games, Joe Girardi would have another difficult decision to make: start all-time post-season wins leader Pettitte on full rest or stud, number one pitcher C.C. Sabathia on short rest. You have to wonder as to whether or not the Yankees would be reluctant to skip Pettitte to start Sabathia (which would be the logical choice) in the deciding Game 7.

Interesting question, no?


So Burnett gets hammered, lasts two innings and, despite a late Yankee comeback, the Phillies hold on for an 8-6 win and send the Series back to New York. Joe Girardi’s quote after the game? “If we could have pitched today, we probably could have one.” Well, that’s a stretch because Cliff Lee wasn’t the same pitcher with an 8-2 lead as when he was in a close game. We’ll never know what would have happened if anybody else had started but it was a longshot to believe the Yankees would win Game 5.

Did A.J. Burnett pitch poorly because he pitched on short rest? Again, we’ll never know. Sometimes you get the good A.J., sometimes you get the bad A.J. But know this: it didn’t help him.


You still have to like the Yankees chances to win this series. The Phillies have their own pitching problems. While Pedro was excellent against the Yankees in Game 2, he should have a tougher time in Game 6. The Yankees should be looking more for off-speed stuff and have a better chance to do some damage after seeing Pedro in Game 2. Plus, the Phillies late bullpen is now a mystery: Brad Lidge imploded in Game 4 and, at the end of Game 5, Lidge wasn’t called upon because Charlie Manuel “wanted to give Lidge a break tonight.” Even that quote was bizarre because, when reliever Ryan Madson came into the game in the ninth and got into trouble, Brad Lidge was out in the bullpen warming up. Frankly, the Philies don’t know what to do (fortunately for the Phillies, they didn’t listen to Fox commentator Ozzie Guillen who said that he would close with Lidge “because he’s pitched well all year.” Nobody told American League manager Guillen that Lidge led the majors with 11 blown saves in 2009. Good grief).

Also, who’s going to start Game 7 for the Phillies? Has Cole Hamels gone home mentally? Is there anyone in Philadelphia who can go deep into the game? Will Cliff Lee start on two days rest (where have you gone, Sandy Koufax)? Or will he just be available for late in the game (shades of Randy Johnson or, for you historians, Grover Cleveland Alexander)?

In addition, the Yankees line-up will be much stronger with the return of Hideki Matsui (a home run and a huge single in three pinch-hitting appearances in Philadelphia) and Jorge Posada for the whole game.

It says here that the Yankees will win it, probably in seven games. But don’t forget, C.C. Sabathia was eventually no good last year after pitching the Brewers to the playoffs with a number of starts on three days rest. If this goes seven games, Sabathia will be going on three days rest for the third time. Not as bad as last year, but you never know.

Much like Bob Brenley extended the 2001 World Series with some questionable decisions and gave the Yankees a good chance to win a Series they should have lost in six games, Joe Girardi may have given the Phillies an opportunity to win the 2009 World Series in seven games.

We’ll see what happens.

© Copyright 2009 by Steve Kallas. All rights reserved.