November Chumpservations, Part One: The World Series, arm strength and barbecue for breakfast

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Think back to spring training and all the A-Rod steroid controversy. He lied, then came clean, then came clean again (we think) about his drug use. But the Yankees united around him and the result was a champagne-filled clubhouse in their brand new stadium. While it was A-Rod’s, Mark Teixeira’s, AJ Burnett’s and CC Sabathia’s first title, it was Derek Jeter’s, Andy Pettitte’s, Mariano Rivera’s and Jorge Posada’s fifth. The heat is finally off Brian Cashman, the Yankees GM and person in charge of player personnel, at least for a season.

Even to the partial observer, watching the tears well up in Rodriguez’s eyes as he celebrated his first championship reminded us why we all played the game in the first place.

[image-1]Baseball’s arms race

What’s all this talk about arm strength, pitch count and short rest? Andy Pettitte has been a masterful in the post-season for New York but when Joe Girardi sent him out on three days rest, we canonized his efforts as if he were rescuing a baby from a burning building. In the opposing dugout, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel chose NOT to throw his ace, Cliff Lee, in Game Four on short rest.

Excuse me, but isn’t this the World Series? Sure, Lee was Philly’s workhorse when they picked him up in late July. He finished fifth in the league in innings pitched (231.2). But what’s one more outing with the season on the line?

As we all know, pitching in baseball has become specialized. We have middle relief, set-up men and closers. Complete games are a thing of the past. Managers are happy if their starters give them six strong innings. The last starting pitcher to throw 300 innings in single season was Steve Carlton in 1980. For the twenty years prior, whoever led the majors in innings pitched totaled at least that many. I guess the unemployment rate for middle relief pitchers is at an all-time low.

When discussing baseball’s most untouchable records, people are quick to mention Ripken’s consecutive games played (2632) and Joe Dimaggio’s hitting streak (56). But in this day and age, one record that will NEVER be broken is Cy Young’s 7354 career innings pitched. To put things in perspective, Randy Johnson is the league’s active leader in career innings pitched with 4135 IP. He’s 46 years old and has pitched for 22 seasons.

Cy Young also has 511 career wins, another record that will never be touched. No wonder they named an award after him.

[image-2]Pulled Pork: Not for breakfast anymore

I generally adhere to a strict “No Mexican food for breakfast” policy. Any time you start the day off with a sloppy burrito, it’s just not going to be a good day. Of course, this rule is void in Mexico where you don’t have a choice.

Well, I’ve recently added another cuisine to that creed. I had barbecue for breakfast the other morning, pulled pork. That’s never a good way to start a sentence… or a day.

I do my best to maintain a reasonably well-rounded diet. Well, I woke up late the other morning and was invited to dine with my folks. Although we were meeting for lunch, it was still my first meal of the day. They chose… barbecue. I hadn’t slept much the night before and I needed my caffeine fix. I would have preferred eggs and bacon, some toast and hash browns, but they were treating so I didn’t want to impose. Let’s just say that pulled pork and coffee is not part of a nutritious breakfast. I’ll spare you the details of the rest of my day.

Of course there is one exception to the ‘barbecue for breakfast’ rule, which is waking up late on a college football tailgating weekend. In that event, starting off your day with barbecue is perfectly acceptable.

I would suggest skipping the coffee, however, and going straight for the brewskis. It’s a much better mix.

A-Rod redeemed: How to win a World Series in ten days

Okay… deep breath. Congratulations to the New York Yankees for knocking off the Phillies en route to their 27th World Series title. There… I said it. Now Red Sox hat placed firmly back on my head.

A particular congratulations to Alex Rodriguez who proved us all wrong by showing he could become part of a championship team. He hit .365 this post-season with 6 home runs and 18 RBI. Nice numbers if you can get ‘em.

The media’s been hard on A-Rod over the years but the golden boy is now having the last laugh. His 2009 Yankees were confident, relaxed and businesslike, even more so as the season progressed. They proved without a doubt they were the best team in the majors by out-hitting, out-pitching and out-fielding the Philadelphia Phillies.

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