Did Yankee fans cost their club Cliff Lee?

Texas Rangers' Cliff Lee (R) celebrates with fans after defeating the New York Yankees in Major League Baseball's ALCS playoff series in Arlington, Texas, October 22, 2010. REUTERS/Hans Deryk (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

When Rangers’ ace Cliff Lee becomes a free agent this winter, several teams will be bidding on his services.

One of those teams will be the New York Yankees, although if Lee’s wife Kristen has anything to say on the matter, her husband won’t be heading to the Bronx in 2011.

From the USA Today:

Perhaps the Rangers’ greatest sales pitch simply was having Kristen sit in the visiting family section at Yankee Stadium during the playoffs. She says there were ugly taunts. Obscenities. Cups of beer thrown. Even fans spitting from the section above.

“The fans did not do good things in my heart,” Kristen says.

“When people are staring at you, and saying horrible things, it’s hard not to take it personal.”

It won’t be long before someone in the comments section mentions money when it comes to Lee’s decision about the Yankees. “We’ll see if his wife cares about the cups of beer and obscenities when there’s $200 million on the table,” they’ll say. But these types of things stay with people and money isn’t everything to everyone. (It’s not as if the Lee’s don’t have money either.)

As I’ve written before on this site, there are idiot fans everywhere. There are idiots in New York, idiots in Boston, idiots in Chicago and idiots in Philadelphia. Some people toss dignity, respect and humility out the window as soon as they enter a ballpark, which is rather sad.

With that in mind, it would be rather humorous if Lee decided to stay with the Rangers or spurn the Yankees’ advances because of the way his wife was treated in New York. One would have thought that the fans in the Bronx would have rolled out the red carpet for Lee and his family, but an idiot is an idiot. People don’t think how their actions will affect their lives at a future date. (Maybe those fans didn’t know it was Lee’s wife, although to that I say: Why not act like a human being regardless?)

First things first though – Lee and his Rangers have to worry about the task at hand, which is the San Francisco Giants. Free agency can wait – it’s certainly not going anywhere. People’s minds change, too.

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Giants’ band of misfits and miscasts beat Phillies to advance to World Series

San Francisco Giants players, including Pablo Sandoval, Cody Ross, Brian Wilson, Andres Torres and Aubrey Huff (L-R) celebrate their victory against the Philadelphia Phillies to win the National League pennant in Game 6 of their Major League Baseball NLCS playoff series in Philadelphia, October 23, 2010. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

After failing to land Adam LaRoche in the offseason, the San Francisco Giants “settled” on Aubrey Huff, who nobody showed much interest in.

After a successful stint with the Giants in 2009, Juan Uribe didn’t garner much interest from other teams this offseason on the open market, so he re-signed with San Fran for one year on the cheap.

In fear that the Padres would pick him up, the Giants claimed Cody Ross off waivers from the Marlins, who wanted to save a measly $1 million so they basically gave him away for free.

It was Huff’s single in the third inning that put the Giants on the board after the Phillies had taken a 2-0 lead in Game 6 of the NCLS Saturday night. It was Uribe’s home run in the eighth that broke a 2-2 tie, and it was Ross’s MVP play throughout the entire series that helped the G-Men knock off the defending National League champions to earn a date with the Rangers in the 2010 World Series.

Of course, there were others that helped San Fran get to this point. After he was dumped midseason by the Rays and couldn’t find work, the Giants took a flier on Pat Burrell, who essentially took a hometown discount because nobody else showed any interest in the veteran. The club’s best hitter is rookie catcher Buster Posey, who started the year in Triple-A because the Giants were concerned that he couldn’t handle their outstanding pitching staff. Andres Torres is a 32-year-old lifelong journeyman who came out of nowhere to seize the leadoff spot in their lineup when Aaron Rowand was hurt and ineffective earlier in the year.

Manager Bruce Bochy calls this team the “Dirty Dozen” because it’s essentially a bunch of miscasts and misfits that came together to do something pretty amazing. The Giants’ pitching staff rivals that of anyone in the league (just ask the Phillies and Braves), but none of this would have been possible if guys like Huff, Burrell, Torres, Posey and Ross didn’t gel. Did the Giants catch some breaks along the way? Absolutely, but that doesn’t mean that they’re any less deserving. The resiliency that this team has shown throughout the year is impressive and just when you think they’re done, they find a way in the end.

They’ve tortured their fans throughout the year with too many one-run games to count. But alas, torture has never felt so good.

Colby Lewis, MVP Josh Hamilton lift Rangers to first ever World Series

Texas Rangers players celebrate after defeating the New York Yankees to win their Major League Baseball's ALCS playoff series in Arlington, Texas October 22, 2010.  REUTERS/Hans Deryk (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

With a dominating effort over the Yankees in the ACLS, the Texas Rangers have punched their first ticket to the World Series in club history.

Colby Lewis allowed just one run over eight innings in the Rangers’ 6-1 win in Game 6 Friday night. The only run he allowed shouldn’t even have counted, as A-Rod scored on what was deemed a wild pitch, but replays showed that the ball actually hit Nick Swisher’s leg.

No matter. Lewis yielded just three hits and struck out seven while frustrating Yankee hitters with his outstanding command of the strike zone. He won both of his ALCS starts, posting a 1.98 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP with 13 Ks over 13 2/3 innings.

Josh Hamilton was named series MVP, as he reached base in all four plate appearances on Friday and batted .350 with four long balls in six games. Considering his long personal battle with drugs, alcohol and immense ups and downs, it’s amazing how far he’s come. He’s an easy guy to root for if you know his background and he’s a true comeback tale.

As for the Yankees, they can only blame themselves. They hit just .201 to the Rangers’ .304, while driving in 19 runs to Texas’ 38 RBI. They were also bested in home runs (9 to 6) and ERA (6.58 to 3.06).

This is yet another example of how baseball is won on the field – not in the offseason. The Bombers could have spent triple what they did this year to field a team and they still would have had to execute on the field. But they didn’t and now they’ll be at home come November.

Comment Starter: The Rangers now await the winner of the NCLS between the Phillies and Giants, as San Fran currently holds a 3-2 lead. What matchup would you most like to see? The two underdogs or a powerhouse Phillies-Rangers matchup?

Phillies capitalize on Giants’ mistakes, push a Game 6 in NLCS

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Roy Halladay in the 2nd inning during the National League Championship Series at AT&T Park in San Francisco, on October 21, 2010. UPI/ Bob Larson Photo via Newscom

For much of this year’s NLCS, it’s been the Phillies that have made costly fielding errors, timely mistakes, and have not created their own breaks. And it’s been the Giants who have capitalized on those errors and those mistakes to build a lead in the best-of-seven series.

But on Thursday night, it was the Phillies who capitalized on Giants’ miscues in the third inning in order to take Game 5 by a score of 4-2 and stave off elimination.

The game was hardly the pitching match for the ages that most people expected it would be. Roy Halladay (who pitched through a mild groin pull) and Tim Lincecum weren’t their dominant selves and instead of coming down to pitching, the game was won by the team that made the fewest mistakes.

In that pivotal third inning, Raul Ibanez reached base on a weak single off Lincecum, who then hit Carlos Ruiz after building a 0-2 count. Roy Halladay then bunted a ball that was clearly foul, but home plate umpire Jeff Nelson must have forgotten his contacts because he ruled it fair. Buster Posey’s throw to Pablo Sandoval at third was a little off the mark and Sandoval, who isn’t the fleetest of foot at defensive tackle-like size, missed the bag as Ibanez slid in safely. Ruiz went to second on the play and Halladay, who knew the ball was foul and didn’t even run, was thrown out at first.

Shane Victorino then hit a hard ground ball to first baseman Aubrey Huff, who had it ricochet off him into centerfield as if his entire body and glove were made of rubber, and both runners scored. Placido Polanco then singled to center to score Victorino and all of a sudden the Giants’ 1-0 lead (a lead they earned in the first inning) evaporated into a 3-1 deficit.

The Phillies never trailed after that. Cody Ross (the greatest postseason player alive, apparently) hit a double to right to score Pat Burrell in the fourth, but that was all the fight the Giants had in them. Jayson Werth homered to right in the top of the ninth to give the Phillies breathing room and then San Fran quietly went down in order in the bottom half of the inning as Brad Lidge earned the save.

Now the series shifts back to Philadelphia for Game 6 on Saturday and probably a Game 7 on Sunday. I say “probably” because if anyone thinks the Phillies are done then you haven’t been paying attention the past couple of years. Their Game 5 victory has given them new life and while they still trail 3-2 in the series, they’re traveling back home to that Little League Park they call a stadium where a routine fly ball can travel over the wall. They’ll also have Roy Oswalt (Game 2’s winner) and Cole Hamels set to start.

The Giants missed a huge opportunity to let a sleeping dog lie. Now they have to earn a victory in hostile environment against a veteran squad that’s used to winning in October. Strap it up – I can feel a Game 7 coming on.

Charlie Manuel’s handling of the pitching staff in Game 4 backfires

Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel watches his team play the Cincinnati Reds in Game 3 of the MLB National League Division Series baseball playoffs in Cincinnati, Ohio, October 10, 2010. REUTERS/John Sommers II (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

There were a plenty of Philly faith that wanted to see Roy Halladay take the mound in Game 4 of the NLCS, despite the fact that he would have been pitching on short rest. Instead, manager Charlie Manuel decided to hand the ball to Joe Blanton, who hadn’t started a game in over a month.

But even though the Giants beat the Phillies 6-5 in Game 4, the decision to start Blanton wasn’t Manuel’s costliest mistake on Wednesday night.

He’s no Halladay, Oswalt or Hamels, but Blanton is a fine starting pitcher who happens to have postseason experience. He’s not going to throw a perfect game, a no-hitter or even a shutout. But he’s more than serviceable and if you take a step back, you can understand Manuel’s thought process.

If Blanton limits the Giants to only a couple of runs..the offense eventually gets to rookie Madison Bumgarner…Phillies steal a win and then have Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels pitch on regular rest…everyone Wang Chung tonight.

And that’s exactly what happened. Sort of.

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