WHY THE YANKEES – NOT BOSTON – IS THE TEAJM TO BEAT IN THE AL EAST
The Boston Red Sox won the 2018 World Series and are a popular pick to win the American League East this season and repeat as world champions.
Not so fast.
I believe the New York Yankees are a better overall team than Boston and have an excellent chance to win their first world championship since 2009 and their 28th overall.
Let’s compare the two powerhouse teams entering this season:
Offense – Even. The Red Sox figure to hit for a higher team batting average and have more team speed. The Yankees have significantly more power and don’t need to steal bases because they have impressive home-run trots.
The Red Sox might have baseball’s best overall outfield in Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr., but the Yankees aren’t far behind with Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Hicks, with Brett Gardner in reserve.
Boston has soft spots in the lineup at catcher and second base, unless Dustin Pedroia makes a big comeback from major knee issues. The Yankees have a rock-solid top-to-bottom batting order.
Starting pitching – Boston’s probable five-man starting rotation is very good with Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, Eduardo Rodriguez and Nathan Eovaldi. But the Yankees are every bit as good with Luis Severino (assuming his sore shoulder is a temporary condition), Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, J.A. Happ and CC Sabathia, Sabathia is the weak link but the Yankees won’t hesitate to replace him if necessary.
Bullpen – This is the huge advantage for the Yankees and I wonder why so many baseball experts are overlooking or minimizing it. The Yankees could have the deepest and most overpowering relief crew in baseball history: Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, Chad Green, Zack Britton, Tommy Kahnle, Adam Ottavino and Jonathan Holder. Boston for some reason thought it could afford to let free-agent closer Craig Kimbrel get away. Red Sox management obviously has far more confidence in Ryan Brasier, Matt Barnes, Tyler Thornbug, Brandon Workman, Heath Hembree and ???
Boston was 13-10 versus the Yankees last season with a +28 run differential. I believe the tables will turn in 2019.
Two gripes about this season’s Red Sox versus Yankees schedule: This is by far baseball’s best rivalry. I don’t like two games in London June 29-30. This used to be the American Pastime. What did London do to deserve even a small dose of the Yankees/Red Sox in real games? And I wish the Yankees versus the Red Sox were backloaded. The final two series will be at Yankee Stadium August 2-3-4 and at Fenway Park September 6-7-8-9.
A SEASON TO FORGET FOR LeBRION JAMES
The Los Angeles Lakers aren’t going to make the playoffs. That’s obvious. They beat the host Golden State Warriors 127-101 on Christmas Day to boost their record to 20-14. LeBron James suffered a groin injury in that game. He missed 17 games and the Lakers were 6-11 over that span.
The Lakers are 1-5 in their last six games, including a 113-105 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers Monday night. They’re 10-20 since the Christmas Day win over Golden State.
LeBron clearly misses the comfort zone of the Eastern Conference. It was relatively easy to reach the NBA Finals in Miami and Cleveland out of the then clearly inferior East. James decided to jump to the Lakers because he figured he’d polish his “best-ever” resume’ by leading the young Lakers deep into the playoffs his season and beyond. His master plan was derailed by his groin injury and a roster he clearly overrated.
The demise of the Lakers this season means LeBron will not be selected league MVP for the fifth time and probably will not add to his impressive of 12 All-NBA First Team selections.He might not make All-NBA Second team.
It will be interesting to see which superstar or two will join James on the Lakers for next season. The reinforcements probably will take the team deep into the playoffs but would you be shocked f the 34-year-old King James has won his last NBA championship crown?
RANDOM THOUGHTS AFTER MY STINT ON THE DISABLED LIST
I’m not a big-time supporter of Buffalo Sabres coach Phil Housley, but I believe the fans and media who are calling for him to be fired are overrating the team’s current roster. The Sabres are on the upgrade but still at least two or three quality players short of being a Stanley Cup contender. Would Amerks coach Chris Taylor be an improvement over Housley? Who knows. But I don’t think the current Sabres would have a significantly better record than they have now.
I saw a note that since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, Doug Flutie is the only quarterback listed a 5-foot-10 or shorter to win an NFL game as “starting: QB. He had a 38-28 record as an NFL starter and I wish he had spent more seasons with the Buffalo Bills instead of in the Canadian Football League.
Have you heard of 13-yrar-old soccer super prospect Olivia Moultrie? She accepted a scholarship to North Carolina at age 11 but will pass on college to turn pro. He has signed an endorsement deal with Nike.
If Mississippi’s D.K. Metcalf becomes the No. 9 pick in the 20-19 NFL draft, Buffalo’s Josh Allen and Metcalf would be in the running for the NFL’s most physically imposing QB-WR duo.
Former Rochester Knighthawks superstar goalkeeper Matt Vinc made a great move as a free agent when he decided to leave the K-hawks after last season and joined the Buffalo Bandits. He didn’t want to play in Halifax next season and he wanted the three-year deal the Bandits gave him. The K-hawks are likely to miss the National Lacrosse League playoffs without him and Buffalo has been the league’s best team this season. He has a 9-0 record and a league-best .799 save percentage. He could be NL Goalkeeper of the Year again.
Gonzaga is No. 1 in the AP college basketball rankings, but my hunch is that the Zags wouldn’t have close to their current 29-2 record if they played in the Atlantic Coast Conference instead of the West Coast Conference.
The Minnesota Twins traded outfielder Zack Granite to the Texas Rangers last week.I’ll remember him most for the spectacular month of June 2017 he had for the Rochester Red Wings: .470 batting average; 55 hits; 16 extra-base hits; 23 runs; 78 total bases; .529 on-base percentage, 1.193 OPS. He made the season-ending International League All-Star Team despite playing in only 71 games. His 2018 season was marred by injuries and at age 26 he drifted out of Minnesota’s plans.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO...
Cookie Rojas 80...Dick Fosbury 72...Sleepy Floyd 59...Jamal Anderson 47...Shaquille O’Neal 47...Michael Finley 46...Erik Bedard 40.
Janet Guthrie 81...Franco Harris 69...Lynn Swann 67...Tom Lehman 60...Ivan Lendl 59...Joe Carter 59...Steve Beuerlein 54...Jeff Kent 51...Sam Gash 50.
ON THIS DATE IN SPORTS...
97 years ago (1922), Babe Ruth signed a three-year contract wih the New York Yankees for $32,000 per year...65 years ago (1954), North Carolina State beat Wake Forest 82-80 in OT in the first ACC Tournament...55 years ago (1964), Cassius Clay joined the Nation of Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Ali...47 years ago (1972), Jack Nicklaus passed Arnold Palmer as golf’s all-time leading money winner (INFLATION NOTE: Nicklaus currently ranks 291st in the PGA Tour’s career money list)...34 years ago (1985), Mike Tyson in his first pro fight KOd Hector Mercedes in the first round.
162 years ago (1857), baseball decided that 9 innings and not 9 runs constitute an official game...31 years ago (1988), Wayne Gretzky broke his own NHL single-season record with his 136th assist...20 years ago (1998), UConn beat Syracuse 69-64 in the 19th Big East basketball tournament...3 years ago (2016), Peyton Manning announced his retirement from the Denver Broncos and the NFL.