And the ALCS MVP is …

A-Rod-10-21-250.jpgA few of us in the press box broached this subject as Game 4 slowly drew to a conclusion: Assuming the Yankees find a way to win one more game, who’s the MVP of the ALCS?

It’s Alex or CC. Or CC or Alex.

My gut reaction is Alex, who has singlehandedly changed both the ALDS and ALCS. Just ask Joe Nathan and Brian Fuentes. His remarkable numbers represent personal redemption that is almost incomprehensible in its completeness.

Will anyone ever label him “un-clutch” again?

I don’t love numbers but his in postseason are these: .407, 11-for-27, five home runs, 11 RBIs, four walks, four strikeouts. That’s the tangible part. The intangible part is that there isn’t a pitcher with a heartbeat who wants to see him at the plate right now. In any situation.

Meanwhile CC has been almost unhittable. Neither the Twins nor the Angels have had a chance when he’s been on the mound. And his best outing of the bunch arguably was last night’s, on three days rest. (He’s also saved Girardi from some of those shaky bullpen moves.)

His playoff stats, in winning all three of his starts: 22.2 innings, 1.19 ERA, 17 hits, three earned runs, 20 strikeouts, three walks. He’s thrown 327 pitches, meaning he is allowing an opponent to get a hit every 19 or 20 pitches. And he allows a baserunner every 16 or 17 pitches.

When you watch CC, he never, ever appears to lose control, of his stuff or his senses, even when he runs into a bit of trouble. He doesn’t ever seem even slightly out of sorts. It’s amazing.

So, who’s your ALCS MVP?

The (possible) World Series: Those CC vs. Cliff Lee starts could be incredible, no? And in Ryan Howard, the Phils have their version of Alex. Should be fun.

The best closer of all-time: So, on the team bus to Angel Stadium yesterday, Mariano asked me if I’d heard a story about him spitting on the ball. Yes, I said. Then he laughed.

We chatted about it briefly; he said a friend had just told him in a phone conversation about the “controversy.” Clearly, Mariano found the whole thing preposterous. (As did MLB and Mike Scioscia.)

I asked Mariano if I could repeat this story. He said yes. (Ordinarily, I consider happenings on the bus and charter to be off limits.) And I asked if I could report that he laughed.

“You can say whatever you want to,” he said, smiling. And then he laughed some more.

Mariano has the ability to dismiss the absurd, or a poor outing, as well as any athlete I’ve ever seen. His temperament is as important as his cutter in making him the closer, and competitor, he is. Maybe more so.

Seems like a lifetime ago when people were doubting him back in April and early May, doesn’t it?

The three hole: Before you lash out, here is a disclaimer: Mark Teixeira’s defense has absolutely, positively saved the Yankees’ bacon at important times this postseason. No doubt about it.

But it’s amazing how little production the Yankees and the Angels have gotten from the third spot in the order.

Teixeira is hitting .133 in the playoffs, Torii Hunter .222.

Neither Teixeira nor Hunter has an RBI in the ALCS. If Hunter could have managed a big hit in Game 2, this series might be tied.

The Angels won’t lie down; they’ve overcome too much for that. Scioscia says it’s a “one step at a time” deal at this point; of course he’s right. And it’ll start with free-agent-to-be John Lackey in Game 5. But at some point the Angels’ bats have to help out.

The umpires: Where to start? Their incompetence, even on the easiest of calls, is the story of the postseason. It’s been that bad, that obvious, that inexplicable.

And people are finally starting to pay attention.

Yankees fans aren’t obsessed with this, and understandably so, because their team has benefited from most of the calls.

But maybe the sheer volume of blatantly bad calls has exposed the umpires’ collective arrogance and will lead to changes. For example, most of them simply refuse to move physically – even a step or two – to get into better position to see a call properly. And it’s mind-boggling that they so rarely confer with each other when there is doubt. What in the world would be the harm in talking it out, to try to be sure?

At least in the NFL they attempt to get the calls right and, in a sport where the number of simultaneously moving parts is unparalleled, almost always succeed.

As you know, Tim McClelland – the crew chief in this series – blew two calls last night, one immediately after second base ump Dale Scott inexplicably went Phil Cuzzi on us by signaling Nick Swisher safe.

McClelland explained his makeup call by saying, “In my heart I thought (Swisher) left too soon” from third base.

In the next inning, McClelland had a “Three Stooges” moment. Afterward he had no choice but to admit the replay “showed that Cano was off the bag when he was tagged. I did not see that for whatever reason.”

(How the famously even-keeled Scioscia didn’t get thrown out there, I’ll never know. And Scioscia simply refuses to make the umpires part of the story in this series, which says a lot about him.)

Anyway, here’s the most troubling part to me. When an umpire, no less a crew chief, admits to making a bad, bad call because it was in his heart, that sounds like dangerous territory. Imagine arbitrators at any level relying on heartstrings over rule of law to make decisions. Yikes.

Thank you: Speaking of the inexplicable – given the lack of blog posts by me over the past month – this blog remains popular. Really popular. I’m shocked and deeply grateful. Here are the rankings. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And we’ll do another chat soon. I promise.

This Week in Football: After a 2-1 week, guess who’s out of the cellar? Me! Take that, Ross, Howard, Gary and Gordon! It helped that the Favres, my pick, beat the Ravens, Tucker’s pick, head-to-head. Here are my picks for this week, only slightly later than TWIF producer Jared Boshnack would like them: Giants will rebound against Cards, but the pass defense has to improve. Lots. Jets over Oakland, which isn’t an easy choice. They have to simplify for Sanchez, no? And Saints over Dolphins because Sean Payton is a creative genius.


  1. terrigirl

    great blog…good commentary about the umps…these are close calls they are getting wrong and its a serious situation, I think MLB need to step in on these.

    CC or A-Rod…tough call…this is the 2nd time in 3 days that the Angels saw CC and still could not hit him….amazing…but so is Alex
    Let’s see how the rest on the series rolls out…hopefully it is only one more game

    inexplicable??? naa, you are the best…by far

    Would love to see you on more

  2. mrsswisher10

    great entry as always! i gotta say though, the whole ump situation is garbage. i’m a Yankees fan and i think they should’ve called Swish out at 2nd right from the start. you don’t try to justify yourselves with 2 wrongs! -.- i say bring back the instant replay. hope you’re enjoying the playoffs!


  3. deuces47

    Terrible officiating. In game 5 I expect the Angels to pitch around A-Rod. What are your thoughts of moving him up in the batting order, Put A-Rod third behind Damon followed by Tex?


    Kim, the MVP vote as become quite the conundrum in my household. My wife thinks A-Rod should get the MVP and I’m on the C.C. side of the street. The only resolution I can think of is a Co-MVP. It’s happened before and I think it’s warranted in this situation. As far as the officiating, ( Parents please do not allow your children to read this) I think they’ve been making they’re calls like dinky-doo…. I think umpires should be no older than 55, in good shape and have a rating system that managers and G.M’s could use post game to keep MLB updated on their work.


    Hi Kim
    CC for MVP, its pitching that wins. No A-Rod for MVP, every-
    day player with those numbers. HowaboutCoMVP? In my
    heart should NOT be how you call a game!!! MLB should get
    a different crew to call the rest of the games, be it 1 or 3
    more games. The Giants, Pitt. and Fins.

  6. chriscsg

    Great blog again Kim.

    As far as MVP goes, my take is that if the series goes 7 games and CC has a 3rd outing like the first 2, then he gets it. Otherwise the award is A-Rod’s

    I think Tex hasn’t been seeing the ball well. Game 4 looked like he was getting better swings. The day off might hurt him, but I hope he’ll get back on track soon. He should be getting better pitches to hit looking at how dominant A-Rod’s been.

    Looking at the officiating situation makes me wish Billy Martin was still managing. Wouldn’t THAT be entertaining!

  7. rabruzzese

    I have a hard time picking Sabathia over A-Rod or visa versa, but this series is not over. If Alex continues his big postseason and wins another game, or at least contributes in a big way, how can you not give it to him. But if Sabathia has to pitch a game 7 and gets the Yanks in the the World Series, how can it not be him.

    I’ll hold my judgment till the end.


    Isn’t it a little early to be talking about the ALCS MVP? IF A-Rod goes 0-8 over the next two games, if we play two, he’s not anyone’s MVP except maybe the Angels. Tough loss for the Yankees last night. Here?s hoping they can get things done in Game 6 with ol? reliable, Pettite on the mound against Saunders at home. I?ve got a good feeling. Definitely don?t want to go to game 7, even with CC on the hill. Anyone worried about him wearing down???

    Also, let?s hope Girardi doesn?t keep hurting us like I think he has so far!!! Thoughts?

    Also, check out some great New York Yankees stuff, it?s great to see from any Yankees Blog. The stuff is from Steiner Sports, my client. Thanks!

    Thanks again, LET?S GO YANKS. Let?s put up #27!!! Keep up the good work Kim!


    Yes CC if he wins game 7, but they will win game 6 so it’s ARod.
    On the Swisher tag-up, was the next batter in the box and did the pitcher come to set and then make the appeal to 3rd? I was watching on TV and the cameras never showed those 2 things happen. The last time I checked thats is what you have to do, not appeal while the play is still happening. Like I said TV didnt show it so I could be wrong.

  10. boss115

    Tex had a big hit in game five but not enough for the MVP, A Rod is right thier but if there is a game seven CC has a great game again it should go to him. But CC could have a good game and A Rod could to so it will be hard. But we should do it tonight and everybody sleeps good and have nice Yankee dreams. LETS GO YANKS

  11. hatsallfolks


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