5 baseball questions with singer/songwriter Ari Hest

New York City based singer/songwriter Ari Hest has a very passionate fan base, one that helped choose the songs for his 2009 release, Twelve Mondays. Hest is back with a brand new album of new material, Sunset Over Hope Street, and as always, this prolific songwriter has delivered another set of stellar songs that can maybe best be described as alternative pop.

And speaking of passionate, Hest is a huge fan of the New York Yankees, and we had the chance to catch up with him while he’s on tour in support of Sunset Over Hope Street, to ask him some questions about the 2010 baseball season complete with predictions:

The Scores Report: So how do you feel about the Yankees’ chances this year as a whole–and where you do expect them to end up in the standings and why?

Ari Hest: I think the Yanks will finish first in the division, but I have doubts about them beating Texas in the playoffs. The pitching isn’t quite what it used to be.

TSR: What do you think about the starting rotation and do you think the Yankees can get by with Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia as the 4 and 5 starters, or will that offense just bludgeon opponents anyway?

AH: Actually I think they will win around 90 games and still take the division, so neither their pitching nor offense will be anything special — only enough to win the division.

TSR: How many years do you think Mariano Rivera can effectively pitch?

AH: I think somewhere around 2046 he’ll retire. He’s only 43 now.

TSR: What are your long-range predictions for who will meet in the World Series and why?

AH: World Series this year: Phillies beat Rangers in 7 games, since both teams are stacked. Nobody can beat that Philly pitching in a short series.

TSR: What are your predictions for AL and NL MVP?

AH: AL – Josh Hamilton and NL – Ryan Howard

Bonus question, TSR: Do you think the NFL labor situation will be settled before September?

AH: I really hope so. It’s so lame. And the fans get hurt the most.

For more information on Ari Hest music and tour dates, please visit www.arihest.com. And maybe we’ll check back with Ari at the end of the season to see how things shook out.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Mikey’s MLB power rankings

The regular season is almost over, and we have an almost anti-climatic AL East race going on, with just playoff positioning to determine. In the NL, the Phillies and Reds are in but the Giants, Padres and Braves are battling for the final two spots. The Rockies sure flamed out fast, didn’t they? I guess this will be our final power rankings for the year, and it’s time to focus on our NFL MVP, Coach of Year and Rookie of Year power rankings. Thanks for reading, folks and enjoy the playoffs!

1. Philadelphia Phillies (96-64)—As a Mets fan, it pains me to say this, but I can’t see anyone beating these guys at this point. They had their rough patch the first half of the season when the Braves and Mets battled for first place and they sat back and watched, but here they are.

2. Tampa Bay Rays (94-66)—It’s going to be a photo finish in the AL East.

3. New York Yankees (94-65)—I feel like NY will wind up with the wild card, and they may want it that way so they can face Minnesota instead of Texas, if only to avoid Cliff Lee.

4. Minnesota Twins (93-67)—One win this past week, but it doesn’t even matter having clinched a while ago.

5. San Francisco Giants (91-69)—No champagne yet, guys. But this team is looking mighty strong heading into the postseason. However, like I said, no champagne…

6. Atlanta Braves (90-70)—Tough luck drawing the Phillies this weekend, and their lead in the wild card is just one game over San Diego. At least we have some tight races to look forward to in the NL.

7. San Diego Padres (89-71)—A good thing they didn’t trade Adrian Gonzalez. Wow, what a shame it would be for these guys to miss the postseason at this point, but it might happen. Then again, see Giants above….and don’t count the Braves out from collapsing either.

8. Cincinnati Reds (89-71)—They could be dangerous this month because of three words. Joey Freaking Votto.

9. Texas Rangers (89-71)—Cliff Lee and that Murderer’s Row lineup could make noise too, but I’m not banking on it.

10. Boston Red Sox (87-72)—Tough division, but it’s likely the Sox will finish with a worse record than any of the 8 playoff teams.

Mikey’s MLB power rankings

It’s August 8, and we’re past 2/3 of the way through the MLB season right now. That means teams have roughly 50 games to get their act together and either make a run or hold on to their place in the playoff picture. Ironically as I say that, the rankings have barely changed at all this week. What you don’t see is that the Phillies are creeping up on the Braves, the Dodgers and Mets are falling way behind, and the Tigers have fallen out of their race about as fast as any team can in August. With that, here are the rankings for this week…..

1. New York Yankees (68-41)—The only reason the Yankees are still first here is because you’re first until someone knocks you off. But believe me, the Rays are going to knock them off any day now, no matter how many Berkmans the Yankees add.

2. Tampa Bay Rays (67-43)—Out to prove that 2008 was no fluke, and doing it with a vengeance. Do you think Fox is terrified of a Tampa Bay/San Diego World Series?

3. Texas Rangers (64-46)—Sale complete, but mission not complete. Tim McCarver said on Dan Patrick this past week that he thinks this is the best team in the American League. And who can really argue with that?

4. San Diego Padres (63-46)—Oh hey, speaking of the Padres, these guys just keep winning. Sure, their lead is now just one game over the Giants, but we didn’t expect them to be there in June, much less August or beyond.

5. Atlanta Braves (63-47)—It’s not smoke and mirrors anymore, and this team has a great mix of crafty vets and hungry youngsters. Just look out for the Phillies, because here they come, just two games back.

6. Boston Red Sox (63-48)—Don’t count them out yet. All those injuries and just 6 games back in that division? That’s all I’m gonna say.

7. San Francisco Giants (63-48)—This team has its eye on the NL West crown and they have the pitching to get there. Do they have enough offense (i.e., power) though?

8. Chicago White Sox (63-47)—Sorry Mr. President, I just don’t see this lasting much longer. The other shoe is going to drop, and the Twins are going to pounce.

9. Cincinnati Reds (63-48)—Two words—Joey and Votto. Dude might win the triple crown and his team might reach the promised land for the first time in 20 years.

10. Minnesota Twins (62-49)—Too much talent to be kept down in the AL Central. Do you ever wonder if Johan Santana regrets leaving Minnesota?

Yankees win 2009 World Series

What a difference a year makes.

This time last year, the New York Yankees were at home on their couches watching as their 2009 World Series counterparts, the Philadelphia Phillies, defeated the Tampa Bay Rays to become world champions.

One of the big reasons the Bronx Bombers were at home during the Fall Classic and not participating in it was because their pitching wasn’t good enough. That’s why GM Brian Cashman opened George Steinbrenner’s fat checkbook to sign starting pitchers CC Sabathia (7-years, $161 million) and A.J. Burnett (five-year, $82.5 million). And just to make sure he had enough offense, Cashman also inked the top bat on the free agent market, Mark Teixeira, to an eight-year, $180 million deal.

The end result is that the Yankees got what they paid for.

With their 7-3 victory over the Phillies in Game 6 of the World Series, the Bombers won their 27th championship in club history. Hideki Matsui (who was later named Series MVP) went 3-for-4 with six RBI and a run scored, while Derek Jeter finished 3-for-5 with two runs scored. Long-time veteran Andy Pettitte earned the victory, yielding three runs on four hits over 5.2 innings of work.

The Yankees are clearly at an advantage because they’re willing to spend. But at least they spend their money the right way unlike clubs like the Mets, who spend widely only to miss the postseason every year. The Yankees want to win and they knew last year that they’re pitching wasn’t good enough to match their offensive firepower. So yes, they spent and spent big. But they spent to win and they accomplished their one and only goal: To win a World Series.

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Yankees take 2-1 series lead with Game 3 win

Apparently all Nick Swisher needed was a fire lit under his ass.

Swisher, benched in Game 2, homered and doubled in the Yankees’ 8-5 win over the Phillies in Game 3 of the World Series on Saturday night. With the victory, New York takes a 2-1 lead in the best of seven series.

Alex Rodriguez and Hideki Matsui also went deep for the Bronx Bombers. A-Rod’s shot was memorable because it was the first call overturned by replay in the history of the World Series. He finished 1 for 2 on the night with two RBI and a walk, while Swisher went 2-for-4 with two runs and a RBI.

The Phillies got two home runs from Jayson Werth and one from Carlos Ruiz to take a 3-0 lead in the second inning. But the Yankees answered with two runs in the fourth, three in the fifth and one in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings on their way to victory. Philadelphia starter Cole Hamels was touched up for five runs on five hits in just 4.1 innings of work. He struck out three and walked two.

With this win, the Yankees have the Phillies right where they want them because CC Sabathia opposes Joe Blanton tomorrow night. But a win is vital for the Bombers because if they lose, not only will Philly even the series but it’ll also have the momentum with Cliff Lee (who beat the Yankees in Game 1) starting Game 5.

Tomorrow is critical for Joe Girardi, who decided to start Sabathia on only three days rest. If the Yankees can’t take a 3-1 series lead, then Girardi’s gamble could wind up costing his club.

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