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Several items from the Yankees 27th Championship are on display now at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.  Although mlb.com reports more memorabilia may be arriving in Cooperstown in a few weeks, there are quite a few things on display currently:

1.) Hideki Matsui’s Game 6 Bat – This bat was used to drive in a record-tying 6 runs to clinch the Yankees’ Championship and earn Matsui the MVP honors.

2.) Mariano Rivera’s Postseason Cap – Rivera was, in my opinion, the MVP of the Yankees postseason.  Rivera had a 0.56 ERA and was 5 for 5 in save opportunities.  He ended up preserving 5 of the Yankees 11 wins.

3.) Johnny Damon’s Cleats from Game 4 – The game turned in favor of the Yankees when Damon got on base and stole second and third on the same play.  The Game 4 win gave the Bombers a 3-1 advantage in the series.

Plus, the HoF received several other notable items, including the catching masks of Jorge Posada and Jose Molina, Andy Pettitte’s World Series Cap, and the first ball to come out of play at Yankee Stadium, which was the first ball ever used in a World Series Game at the new stadium.

The Hall also received the scorecard used by WCBS announcer Suzyn Waldman – who became the first woman to broadcast a World Series game along with longtime Yankees play-by-play man John Sterling, and one of the bats used by Chase Utley, who tied Reggie Jackson with 5 home runs in one World Series.

I’m going to wait a few weeks for more stuff to arrive, but I am going to have to figure out a way to drag Chris up from Maryland and get up to the Hall.  I’d love to see the new memorabilia and it’s been a long time since I’ve been to the Hall anyways…

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In the 14 seasons Andy Pettitte has been a major league pitcher, he has gone through his fair share of important postseason games.  Just this postseason, Pettitte became the pitcher who has won the most postseason games ever.

That got me thinking – this must not be Andy Pettitte’s first time in a world series clinching game.  It turns out, he is quite the veteran at these games – unfortunately he is not the winningest pitcher ever in these games.  Dating back to his second World Series in 1998, Pettitte has appeared in clinching games 3 times, compiling a 1-1 record.

In 1998, the Yankees were facing off against the San Diego Padres.  After sweeping the first two games in the Bronx, the Yankees had a comeback victory in Game 3 in San Diego and Pettitte pitched a shutout to lead the Bombers to victory in Game 4 and a World Series sweep.

In 2000, Pettitte was again trusted with the opportunity to win the series in a Game 5 start against the crosstown Mets in a World Series-Subway Series.  Despite pitching well and holding the Mets to only 2 earned runs, Pettitte got the no decision as the Yankees rallied in the top of the ninth against Mets ace Al Leiter to score 2 runs and win 4-2.

Fast-forward a year later to Game 6 of the 2001 World Series in Arizona.  Less than 2 months removed from the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Yankees were the favored team to win and give some pride and cheer back to an injured New York City.  This is the last series to have gone 7 games.  The home team won every game in this series.  Arizona took the first two in Phoenix, the Yankees the next 3 in the Bronx, leading to a clinching game for the Yankees back in Arizona.

Pettitte took the mound for the second time in the series in Game 6, having lost Game 2 by allowing 4 runs compared to a Randy Johnson shutout.  In Game 6, the Diamondback hitters were all over the Yankee pitching and tore up Pettitte for 6 earned runs in the first two innings.  They went onto win 15-2 and clinch the series with a Game 7 win after an inconceivable blown save by Mariano Rivera.

That’s his history and I think it is a positive one.  I have always felt that statistics are only a compilation of what someone has done in the past – they are not necessarily a road map to what is going to happen now or in the future.  So I don’t care how well or horribly someone may have pitched 8 years ago.

Instead, I would look at these stats as proof that Andy Pettitte is familiar with the pressure of game-winning situations.  That experience, coupled with his domination this postseason gives the Yankees a great chance of winning tonight.

UPDATE: It would be wrong of me not to pop back on and update with the news that Andy Pettitte is 5-2 in postseason series clinching games.

Despite the Yankee loss Monday night in Philly and the atrocious 2 innings pitched by AJ Burnett, I feel Yankees manager Joe Girardi is making the right decisions.  Burnett had been 3-0 with a wonderful ERA under 2.00 in his previous starts on three days rest and had been steady this entire postseason.

Burnett struggled for the same reason he has struggled this entire season – control issues.  For some reason the strikeout pitcher has thrown a ridiculous amount of wild pitches in 2009, but that did not cost the Yankees the game.

Neither did Burnett’s inability to get almost anyone on the Phillies roster out.

No, the Yankees lost because of Chase Utley.  Take away Utley’s 2 home runs and subsequent 4 RBI – and the Yankees win the game 6-4, not lose 8-6.

I write this because I am shocked by the amount of “hate” being thrown at Girardi for his pitching choices.  The Yankees took the same risk for Game 5 that they took for Game 2 – because one never knows which AJ Burnett is going to show up on the mound – the one who pitches a 3-hit gem, or the one who allows 5 earned runs in 3 innings.

Again, this was the right call.  Girardi said in September that he planned to use a three-man rotation in the post-season.  He spent the last two weeks of the season making sure the starters had enough rest to get them through some potential 3-day rests instead of the usual 4-day rests.

Fortunately, this worked out well.  The Yankees were able to start CC Sabathia twice in the ALCS – leading to a 4-2 win over the Angels in the best of 7 series.  It also set up the prime pitching matchups for the World Series.  Sabathia in games 1 and 4, Burnett in games 2 and 5, and Andy Pettitte in games 3 and 6.  This puts the very dominating and consistent Sabathia in for Game 7 – who is exactly the guy you want in there if the series goes that far.

I say question Girardi if the Yankees were losing the series.  Not if they are up 3-2 with the series shifting back to the Bronx.

When you’ve got the major league record of wins in a postseason, you don’t question a man’s character. And last night, after a early 3-0 lead, Pettitte never gave up.

He was not at his best, but when it came to key points of the night — Shane Victorino, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard, he got them to go 0-9 with 6 strikeouts. Howard now has 9 strikeouts in three games, and he is on pace to obliterate the World Series record of 12 strikeouts.

Instead of writing a game recap, I’m going to defer to Greg Cohen at Sliding into Home. He always provides a good recap.

Here’s what Greg said about last night’s game

It was a gutty and gritty performance by the Yankees tonight as they fought their way back from a 3-0 deficit to win and take a 2-1 lead in the series. But the way things started out this one looked like it was going to be a total disaster.

Ed Valentine on Pinstripe Alley brought up several good points

  • Lack of reporting from FOX on the home run that was reversed — the first one ever in the World Series.
  • Praise for Pettitte from Mike Lupica of the Daily News.
  • Cole Hamels’ curveball to Pettitte that he hit for a RBI and eventually scored on.
  • Swisher’s performance last night — a hit and a home run.
  • Phil Hughes. More on that later.

I watched the first five innings of the game from Greene Turtle restaurant in my area except for the 6th inning (missed Swisher’s bomb). Then at home I watched the last 3.5 frames. I felt confident with Hughes last night in the 9th and felt he could get it done, even after giving up a home run to Ruiz. My attitude is like, ok, move on. He could have gotten the last two outs, I feel.

So, Girardi’s decision to go to Rivera was a little premature in my opinion. I can see that Girardi won’t take any chances at all, but we cannot gas out Rivera when there are at maximum four games left. IF Hughes had allowed one more run, then I’d go for Rivera, but not when there’s still 3 runs left to tie the game.

Two more links for you to read this morning — Jayson Stark’s column on ESPN.com.

Five outs into his memorable Saturday evening, he was three runs down. He’d already huffed and puffed his way through 50 — yep, that number was 50 — pitches. And he looked like a bigger threat to be heading for the nearest shower stall any second than for the winning pitcher’s spot on the interview-room podium three hours later.

But when a man has spent his whole career pitching on the October stage, his heart doesn’t pump at 4,000 beats a minute at times like that.

When a man has started more World Series games than anyone in history not named Whitey Ford, he doesn’t feel the ballpark shaking, doesn’t hear those 46,000 people shrieking.

And so, on the final night of October 2009, on the most important night of his season, Pettitte found a way to do what he had to do:

Survive.

Jim Capel talks about A-Rod.  Yes, the man some people despise, and the man some people have reconnected with after such a memorable postseason.

After all, 2009 has been A-Rod’s personal reality show, better known as “Alex & Kate Plus 28 (Counting Coaches).” The home run simply added to Rodriguez’s 2009 saga that already included Joe Torre’s book, the steroids revelations, the hip surgery, the Kate Hudson relationship, his superb second half, his extraordinary postseason … and then came the latest episode of Days of Our A-Rod in which Rodriguez homered to spark a Yankees rally, made a throwing error, was hit by not one but two pitches and helped make World Series history.

Gene Woj thinks Girardi is out of his mind with going on a three-man rotation. Pettitte needed 106 pitches to make it through 6 innings and doing Burnett and Pettitte on short rest may come back to haunt Girardi… Read an excerpt.

…Girardi is giving every indication that he’ll push all-in with his three big chips: CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte. He’s doing this because his team has a $208 million payroll, but it doesn’t have a fourth starter he trusts. This is like buying a tank but not having the Parts Department attach the gun turret.

Today will be a fun-filled sports day. My Giants vs the Eagles at 1pm. Favre’s return to Green Bay at 4:15 and the game #4 at 8:20. I hope I can watch all three and get everything else done that I need to.

 

A lot of questions stand unanswered regarding the Yankees and the World Series, such as: who is pitching games 4 and 5; who is starting in right field in games 3-4-5 and what to do with Hideki Matsui in games 3,4 and 5.

Matsui is the Yankees full-time DH.  A former outfielder, Matsui has not played in the field since injuring his knee in 2008.  He has been either the DH or on the bench.  It seems as if Matsui will remain on the bench while the series is in Philly, despite his good bat.  Even though going with Brett Gardner, Nick Swisher, Jerry Hairston, Jr, or Eric Hinske means a worse bat at the plate, it does mean a better defensive player in the field.

Which leads me to who starts in right.  Nick Swisher was the everyday starter in the regular season, but has struggled greatly at the plate this postseason.  He is hitting .114 (4-35) with 3 walks and 1 RBI.  He has struck out an amazing 12 times in 10 games before being pulled after Game 1 of the World Series.

I would want to choose Brett Gardner, but it seems as if skipper Joe Girardi wants Gardner’s speed off the bench.  I am torn.  I can appreciate how much his speed can make the difference as a pinch-runner, but couldn’t he impact the game more with his speed in center field (move Melky Cabrera to right) and his speed as a batter with 4+ chances to get on base?  Gardner is also 2-4 in his 4 AB this postseason

Hinske and Hairston provide some veteran experience in the field and at the plate AND both were acquired in trades from National League teams mid-season – so they both have experience against Philly and national league teams in general.  I want to resist Hinske as a starter because he was a beast as a pinch-hitter this season and with no DH in games 3-4-5, I would want him available to pinch-hit for the pitcher when needed.

Finally, what to do about the starting pitching.  With no day off between games 4 and 5 like there was in the ALCS, the Yankees can start CC Sabathia in Game 4 on 3 days rest and then Burnett and Pettitte in games 5 and 6, also on 3 days rest (which I am sure both can handle) and then CC again for game 7 (if needed) on 3 days rest.  This is probably the least likely scenario.  If a Game 7 is needed, you don’t want to have tired out CC as much.

The most likely scenarios are Game 4-Sabathia, Game 5- Chad Gaudin, Game 6 Burnett, Game 7 Pettitte with Sabathia in relief or Game 4 – Gaudin, Game 5- Sabathia, Game 6 – Burnett, and Game 7 Pettitte with no Sabathia available.

My predictions?  Hideki Matsui stays on the bench.  Gardner should start in CF, Cabrera in RF, with Hinske, Hairston and Swisher off the bench and the first pitching scenario (Sabathia, Gaudin, Burnett, Pettitte/Sabathia.)

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