Red Sox

Yankees elimination is one to relish

919419.jpg

Yankees elimination is one to relish

People will tell you they are a classy organization. Media talking heads will say that all they do is win. Their fans will tell you that youre just jealous of all the championships. All those things may in fact be true, but watching the Yankees crash and burn in spectacular fashion is still oh so glorious.

Last nights season ending pinstripe defeat was sweeter than most. After they were granted a rainy stay of execution, the 2012 version of the Evil Empire was swiftly and emphatically swept from the playoffs by a surging Detroit Tigers team. After dealing the Bombers an 8-1 drubbing in the clinching game, the Tigers were showered with champagne and the Detroit ground crew kept the tarp ready in case of any Waldman related precipitation.

Ok before I go any further, lets get the obvious out of the way. Yes, the Red Sox season ended sometime right after the press conference that named Bobby Valentine as manager. Yes, the 2012 Red Sox were the baseball equivalent of that 50 foot dead whale floating around Boston Harbor. Long dead and bloated, they floated aimlessly though the season slowly decomposing. Yes, next year will probably end up being the bridge year that fans didnt want to stomach in 2010. And yes, as Comcast SportsNet's Mike Giardis report from an anonymous Red Sox illustrates, even after the in season removal of a quarter billion of bad attitudes, there is still some clubhouse cleaning that needs to be done. To put it simply, the 2012 Red Sox were historically bad.

This years Yankees, on the other hand, soldiered though a successful if unspectacular run to the American League East title while surviving a late season push by the resurgent Orioles as well as numerous injuries, not the least of which was a season-ender to all-time great closer Mariano Rivera.

Unfortunately for the Yankees and their fans, thats pretty much where the highlights end. Yes the Yankees did win a thrilling five game divisional series with Baltimore, but if the Os had someone to close games other than Byung-Hyun Johnson, New York would have been done in 4 games and the plans for Raul Ibanez to be canonized as the patron saint of pinch hitting would never have made it to the Vatican.

The Pope wont have to worry about commissioning any stain glass windows commemorating the Yankees performance in the ALCS. Last rights are now overdue as the Detroit Tigers demolished a Yankee team in offensive shambles. Batting ineptitude that harkened back to the late 80s versions of the Bombers was the story of this series, which suited Curtis Granderson fine as hes been perfecting his Steve Balboni impression all season. Even the Williamsport-like confines of New Yankee Stadium proved insufficient to artificially animate this slumping Yankee lineup. But they did prove intimate enough to allow Alex Rodrigez to grab some digits as he alternated between riding pine and lowering the Yankees carbon footprint as a right-handed wind farm.

It got even worse for the pinstripes as the almost immortal Yankee captain, Derek Jeter, was felled by a freak ankle fracture. Till this point in his career Jeter has been the baseball version of Dorian Grey, seemingly ageless. But a routine grounder combined with an already weakened ankle, and Jeter having less range than Michael Cera painted the portrait of the Captain's mortality. (And before I get added to Dan Shaughnessys anonymous axis of internet evil, like Rivera, I hope Jeter recovers fully and returns. I have nothing but respect for both players and hope they end their careers on their own terms, which will include a standing ovation in their last appearance at Fenway.)

Its only fitting that after the heart and soul of the Yankees was carried off the field that the rest of the team collapsed like a house of cards, but not before adding delicious insult to unfortunate injury.

As a result of trailing a series three games to none, the Yankees and their fans were forced, once again, to revisit the darkest moment in franchise history. Every time a team trails a seven game series three games to none, in any sport, the footage of the 2004 Red Sox come from behind series victory gets rolled out. Its the gift that keeps on giving for Sox fans. Now Yankee fans were not only subjected to reliving the worst choke in sports history, but forced to read from Yankees scribe Jeff Bradley of the New Jersy Star-Ledger about how the Yankees themselves should watch Four Days in October and embrace the mantra of Kevin Millar Dont Let us win tonight.

The Yankees must have just fast forwarded to the end of that documentary because their game four performance was a carbon copy of game seven of the 2004 ALCS. The ace Hessian of the Yankees staff falters under pressure and the Bombers are ushered out of the post season in blowout fueled by a barrage of home runs.

This is truly a Yankee defeat to relish, not only for its magnitude, but because the outlook for New York next season is uncharacteristically grim. CSNNEs Sean McAdams Yankee post mortem might as well have been written on the walls of a Mayan temple. If half of the quatrains in McAdam's piece hold true, the Yankees wont have to worry about embarrassing playoff attendance for some time.

Personally, the thought of not being able to witness the Yankees squander hundreds of millions of dollars in cataclysmic post season fashion, is a bit depressing, but as we know, all good things must come to an end. Right Suzyn?

MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement

mlb_rob_manfred_081414.jpg

MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Major League Baseball will change rules to speed games next year with or without an agreement with the players' association.

Management proposed last offseason to institute a 20-second pitch clock, allow one trip to the mound by a catcher per pitcher each inning and raise the bottom of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap. The union didn't agree, and clubs have the right to impose those changes unilaterally for 2018.

Players and MLB have held initial bargaining since summer, and MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem said this week he would like an agreement by mid-January.

"My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can't get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other," baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday after a quarterly owners' meeting.

Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the regular season and 3:29 during the postseason.

Corey Kluber beats Chris Sale for American League Cy Young

cy_young_corey_kluber_chris_sale_111517.jpg

Corey Kluber beats Chris Sale for American League Cy Young

Max Scherzer heard his name and thrust his arms in the air, shouting and smiling big before turning to kiss his wife.

Corey Kluber, on the other hand, gulped once and blinked.

Two aces, two different styles - and now another Cy Young Award for each.

The animated Scherzer of the Washington Nationals coasted to his third Cy Young, winning Wednesday for the second straight year in the National League. He breezed past Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, drawing 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Kluber's win was even more of a runaway. The Cleveland Indians ace took 28 first-place votes, easily outpacing Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox for his second AL Cy Young.

Scherzer yelled "yes!" when his award was announced on MLB Network, a reaction in keeping with his expressive reputation. He showed that intensity often this year, whether he was cursing under his breath like a madman during his delivery or demanding - also with expletives - that manager Dusty Baker leave him in the game.

Just a little different than the pitcher they call "Klubot." Kluber was stoic as ever when announced as the AL winner. He swallowed hard but otherwise didn't react, only showing the hint of a smile moments later when answering questions.

Not that he wasn't thrilled.

"Winning a second one maybe, for me personally, kind of validates the first one," Kluber said.

Scherzer's win moves him into rare company. He's the 10th pitcher with at least three Cy Youngs, and among the other nine, only Kershaw and Roger Clemens aren't in the Hall of Fame.

"That's why I'm drinking a lot of champagne tonight," Scherzer said.

Scherzer earned the NL honor last year with Washington and the 2013 American League prize with Detroit.

"This one is special," he said. "When you start talking about winning three times, I can't even comprehend it at this point."

Scherzer was 16-6 with a career-best 2.51 ERA this year. The 33-year-old righty struck out a league-leading 268 for the NL East champion Nationals, and in an era noted for declining pitcher durability, he eclipsed 200 innings for the fifth straight season. He had to overcome a variety of ailments to get there, and Washington's training staff was high on his thank-you list.

"Everybody had a role in keeping me out on the field," he said. "I'm very thankful for all their hard work."

Kershaw has won three NL Cy Youngs and was the last pitcher to win back-to-back. He was 18-4 with a league-best 2.31 ERA and 202 strikeouts. This is his second runner-up finish. Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals finished third.

Kluber missed a month of the season with back pain and still easily won the AL award over Sale and third-place finisher Luis Severino of the New York Yankees. Kluber led the majors with a 2.25 ERA, and his 18 wins tied for the most in baseball. He added to the Cy Young he won with the Indians in 2014 and is the 19th pitcher to win multiple times.

The 31-year-old Kluber was especially dominant down the stretch, closing out the season by going 11-1 to help Cleveland win the AL Central. He and Minnesota's Ervin Santana tied for the major league lead with five complete games - nobody else had more than two. Kluber also led the majors with 8.0 wins above replacement, per baseball-reference.com.

Kluber and Scherzer both had rough outings in the playoffs. Kluber gave up nine runs over two starts in an AL Division Series against the Yankees, and Scherzer blew a save in the decisive Game 5 of an NL Division Series against the Cubs.

Scherzer said he couldn't even watch the League Championship Series, although he did tune in for the World Series.

"That will eat at me this whole offseason," he said.

Voting for the awards was completed before the postseason began.

The final BBWAA honors will come Thursday when the MVP awards are announced in the AL and NL.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE