Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Billy Hamilton's season was predictable

Billy Hamilton began the season with a lot of pressure to fill some pretty big shoes worn by his Reds' center field predecessor. Hamilton gave the Reds everything they could have asked for with his glove and his legs in the field. He ranked first among all center fielders in defense according to Fangraphs.com. Unfortunately, his offense did not live up to the fielding. The sad thing was that the offensive season for Hamilton was predictable.
wrote a piece before the season began that for the experiment of letting Choo go via free agency so that Billy Hamilton could lead off was fraught with problems. I wrote at the time that Hamilton would need to bat at least .280 to give his team some sort of offensive boost. He did not. Hamilton did not even come close.
Let's put his offensive season in perspective. There were 75 batters in Major League Baseball in 2014 that came to the plate more than 600 times. Billy Hamilton was 73rd among those 75 in times on base (walks + hits + HBP). For further perspective, Jeter, in his swan song season was belittled all season for batting second while hitting so poorly. Jeter got on base fourteen more times than Billy Hamilton.
Choo, who had a vastly disappointing season with the Rangers, only played in 123 games compared to Hamilton's 152 games and Choo got on base four more times than Billy Hamilton did. Among all center fielders in baseball, only B.J. Upton put up a worse offensive runs rating.
Billy Hamilton got on base 176 times in 152 games. But that's not the worst of it. While Hamilton did steal 56 bases, he was thrown out an MLB leading 23 times. While that is a 71% success rate, those 23 times caught meant that Hamilton was only available to score not 176 times, but only 153 times.
When Hamilton was available on base, then he had a good rate of scoring as he scored 72 times or 47% of the times he was available on base. If say, he could have been available on base 200 times, he would have scored 94 times.
If the season would have ended at the All Star Break, then Hamilton would have exceeded my "goal" for him before the season started. At the All Star Break, Hamilton had a triple-slash line of: .285/.319/.423. His 109 OPS+ at the time would have made him (when combined with his fielding) just as valuable as Choo was the year before.
Unfortunately, Hamilton fell off the tracks after the break and went: .200/.254/.257 the rest of the way. Coincidentally (or not), his drop off coincided with the Reds' collapse as the team was 51-44 at the break and 25-42 after it.
You would expect that someone with Billy Hamilton's speed would have a better BABIP than the .304 he compiled in 2014. But it is easier to understand when 37% of his batted balls were fly balls and a third of those were popups to the infield. His ground ball rate is somewhat inflated since he had 52 bunt attempts (with a .326 success rate) and led to a 1.11 ground ball to fly ball rate. Hamilton's speed would seem to benefit from hitting more ground balls.
Of course, Hamilton's strikeout rate of over 19% means that almost twenty percent of his at bats cannot get him on base at all. His plate discipline improved to a 28.8% O-swing rate and you should expect him to get better with that rate as he continues on in his career.
Fangraphs.com and Baseball-reference.com vary greatly in the value assigned to Billy Hamilton's season. B-R gave Hamilton a 2.5 rWAR and Fangraphs.com came in a full win higher at 3.5. That one win means a great deal when a win is worth about $6 million on the open market. Baseball Prospectus splits the difference with a 3.1 WARP.
There is no doubt that Billy Hamilton helped the Cincinnati Reds greatly in the field and made him a valuable player despite his total lack of offensive contribution. The Reds left Hamilton in the lead off spot despite his putting up numbers that made him unsuitable for that position. The trouble is that the only good on-base guys for the Reds are their three best hitters, Votto, Frazier and Mesoraco. You want those guys in the middle of the lineup. The Reds were 14th of 15 NL teams in team on-base percentage.
Billy Hamilton's final offensive season was not dramatically different than his Triple-A numbers in 2013. Perhaps this is who he is. The Reds will need to think about that and make some decisions. Hamiton's fielding make him worth having out in center field every day. But with his offensive production, he should be batting eighth in the lineup. Those decisions and the outcomes make 2015 an interesting season in the career path of Billy Hamilton.

MLB Game Picks - Tuesday, September 30, 2014

So it begins. The post season begins today with the wild card game. The big question is whether you can call it a playoff game or an extra day of the season to see who has a right to get to the playoffs. That is one of the points of weirdness created by the one game, do-or-die format. And since there is only one game today and one tomorrow, it begins the post season in sort of a slow, measured way when splash would be better.
We work with what we have, however, and today the Kansas City Royals host the Oakland Athletics. The Royals are this year's Pirates, the Cinderella team many would like to see move on and deeper into the playoffs. The A's are the smart organization that almost thought themselves out of the playoff picture completely this season. So who will win the game?
The pick:
The Athletics over the RoyalsJon Lester and James Shields will not shy away from this responsibility and both have been through this before. There won't be any butterflies they cannot handle. It comes down to which one will actually perform and hold down the other club. The offense for the A's took a deep hit in August and September with the loss of Cespedes and some key injuries. But in the last week of the season, seemed to regain a bit of its pop. Jon Lester has had great success in his career against the Royals with a 9-3 record and a sub-two ERA over the years. But he fares slightly worse in Kansas City itself. James Shields has been a much better pitcher on the road during his time with the Royals. He is pitching at home here. The Royals' offense is susceptible to being shut down because of their free-swinging ways. And Lester can use that. I hate to be there harbinger of bad news, but I think the A's win.
Season: 1365-1089

Monday, September 29, 2014

MLB Game Picks - End of regular season report

I took a little trip through the posts of time to see how my game picking skills compared this year to the prior years. With a 9-6 finish yesterday,  the regular season is over. I will continue picking the post season games starting tomorrow with the wild card games. But for now, I am reflecting on the regular season and what blows me away is that I don't seem to get better at this through the years.
Yesterday completed six years of making these picks every day. I'm not sure why I do it, to be honest with you. It takes a commitment to spend 800 to 1,000 words a day to make it happen when I could be writing about other things. Often times, the picks post is the only thing I have time for in the morning before I go to work.
But I have been doing it so long that I don't know how to stop. At least it gives me a means to write every day about baseball and keeps me strong on how well each season progresses, what players do well and who the new players are. In terms of baseball knowledge, it keeps me sharp.
Anyway, like I was saying, I don't seem to get any better as the years go by. Last year featured slightly better overall numbers than this year. But this year was slightly better than two years ago. But the numbers are remarkably consistent from year to year. They will never be as accurate as those computer spit-outs that give the odds every day.
If I wanted to be a computer, I could have a 70% success rate. But where is the fun in that? Here are my numbers:
  • September: 235-155 = .603
  • Games of the Day: 103-68 = .602
  • Season: 1365-1089 = .556
They are what they are. What I do appreciate is those of you who stop by every day to see me fumble through this. Your faithfulness in coming is much appreciated. I will miss the daily grind of it with only a couple of playoff games to think about for the next few weeks.
And I will miss rooting for my Game Picks favorites like Sonny GrayCorey KluberClayton KershawHenderson Alvarez and a few others. Maybe I'll get a little more sleep or a second cup of coffee in each morning. Or maybe yet, I can write some actual meaningful baseball stuff instead of this stuff every day. Either way, thanks for your patronage and stay tuned during each day of the post season as we wrap this baby up.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

MLB Game Picks - Sunday: September 28, 2014

The last day of the regular season. Or is it? There is a possibility of three ties today if the Cards, Tigers and Oakland lose and the Mariners, Royals and Pirates win. You cannot get much more exciting than that!
I went 9-6 yesterday which isn't bad considering how crazy this all is and how a lot of teams are just playing out the string. The one big takeaway from the season was the party Chicago threw for Paul Konerko. Well done, White Sox. He deserved such a grand exit.
It should be an interesting day!  The picks:
  • The Rays over the Indians: This will be a low scoring game I think. T.J. House has been pitching well and the Rays don't hit lefties particularly well. I have to go with Alex Cobb who has been terrific this season.
  • The Blue Jays over the OriolesR.A. Dickey is another pitcher that has baffled me when picking his games. I am never correct with him. I think the Orioles will hit him. But I think the Blue Jays will hit Miguel Gonzalez too. Two great offenses.
  • The Tigers over the TwinsDavid Price hasn't exactly been shut-down for the Tigers on most occasions. And Kyle Gibson can make you hit into a lot of outs. But I can't see the Twins winning this one and the Tigers always tease us and then take the division anyway.
  • The Astros over the Mets: There is a lot going on in this game. Nick Tropeano is from the New York area and will want to do well. He has looked good in his handful of starts. Bartolo Colon is always a mystery. His 14-13 record tells you that. He's ether decent or he's very generous. Who knows.
  • The Pirates over the RedsJohnny Cueto goes for his 20th win. That would be cool. It's not going to happen. Gerrit Cole will pitch even better and the Pirates will force the Cardinals to win and waste Wainwright...well, not waste him, but have to use him.
  • The Phillies over the Braves: Two teams going home after today. I got this pick wrong yesterday. Cole Hamels is not A.J. Burnett and James Russell is a loogy who has relieved 65 times this year...and he is the starter!?
  • The Nationals over the Marlins: Sure, Henderson Alvarez has had a terrific season. His team faces Jordan Zimmermann who will match him for zeroes, and then what happens? It won't be good for the Marlins.
  • The Yankees over the Red Sox: The last time Micheal Pineda pitched against the Red Sox, the infamous pine tar incident played out. Jeter's last game, Pineda's revenge and one more Clay Buchholz meltdown and the season will be over for both teams.
  • The Royals over the White SoxChris Bassitt messed up the Tigers in his last outing with a great performance. Can he do it again against the Royals? Maybe, but he will be more than matched with Yordano Ventura who will come through today where Duffy did not yesterday.
  • The Athletics over the Rangers: I have to admit that I am rooting for a tie between the A's and the Mariners. But I don't think it will happen. The A's will beat the Rangers behind Sonny Gray simply because Nick Martinez will not be able to hold back the A's.
  • The Giants over the PadresChris Heston had very good numbers in the Pacific Coast League, which is impressive since that league eats up pitchers for breakfast. I think he'll have a big day in his first MLB start. Robbie Erlin can be decent.
  • The Dodgers over the Rockies: I'm not sure why the Dodgers are starting Zack Greinke. Is that necessary for them to do so? But that's what the pitching line says. The Dodgers win then against Christian Bergman.
  • The Mariners over the Angels: The Mariners have only one chance to win the wild card, which means they have to win. That also means Felix Hernandez has to get it done. The M's season is on the line. Hernandez's CYA is on the line. It should be interesting because the Angels are not going to play dead. Cory Rasmus pitches for the Angels.
  • The Cardinals over the Diamondbacks: This game has two scenarios: First, getting the late game, the Cards will know whether the Pirates won or not. If the Pirates won, then Adam Wainwright will have to start to win the division. So that would be one pick. If the Pirates lose, the Cards win the division without even playing, put a scrub pitcher in there and Josh Collmenter wins. Tough call for a game picker.
And the Game of the Day:
  • The Brewers over the CubsMike Fiers makes the ultimate impression and seals his spot in the rotation for next year. I still can't understand why it took the Brewers half the year to get him in there in the first place. Jacob Turner will keep improving with the Cubs. But he will get beat today.
Yesterday: 9-6, Sept.: 226-149, Games of the Day: 103-67 (-2), Season: 1356-1083

Saturday, September 27, 2014

MLB Game Picks - Saturday: September 27, 2014

And then there were two days left. The end of the season is always wistful for me. I love the daily grind of the game. I love that there are games every day. The post season is fun, but it's erratic. Sometimes there are games and sometimes not. I love the seasonal compilation of statistics and seeing the surprises and the new faces that excel for the first time. I love when new teams surge to the limelight. I'm going to miss it after tomorrow. The post season is great, don't get me wrong. But there is nothing to me like the regular season.
September has been really good to me. My correct percentage is over 60% for the month and that almost never happens. And yesterday's 12-4 certainly helped. Even though one of those four incorrect picks (the Mets because Jon Niese had to leave early) was the Game of the Day, that still cannot dampen so much that was positive.
The only other three games that were incorrect were the Twins kicking some Tiger booty. Rick Porcello has really lost it late in the season. The Red Sox game against the Yankees featured a lineup that was unrecognizable. It was like a Spring Training game. So that wrong pick is no surprise. And for some stupid reason, I picked the Rangers to win. Anyway, it was a great day.
Saturday's picks:
  • The Red Sox over the Yankees: There will be more of the regular lineups on the field for this game I think. Derek Jeter will be at DH to say goodbye. The pitching line is a good one of Masahiro Tanaka against Joe Kelly, two pitchers these teams will be counting on next season. Tanaka will not go deep into the game, giving the Red Sox the edge.
  • The Pirates over the Reds: I can see Francisco Liriano having a bit of a harder time today. The Reds best remaining players are right-handed batters. But the Pirates' only chance is to win, so they must. Alfredo Simon will try to prevent it.
  • The Nationals over the Marlins: I called these two teams' double-header perfectly yesterday. I am not sure why Stephen Strasburg is starting today. I figured he would frontline the playoff series. But maybe he will only go a couple of innings as a tuneup. Nathan Eovaldi goes for the Marlins.
  • The Giants over the PadresEric Stults was put on this earth to teach me humility. I am sure of that. I haven't picked more than a handful of his starts correctly. I think he will be beaten today by Jake Peavy. But that means the Padres will probably win.
  • The Blue Jays over the Orioles: The playoff seeding has been established. So the Orioles will probably rest people. Wei-Yin Chen won't go deep in the game. The Blue Jays just want to go up there and bash the baseball. J.A. Happ is the happy beneficiary.
  • The Indians over the Rays: Did you know that Colome was the real name of Columbus? Anyway, Alex Colome will probably not beat Carlos Carrasco or the Indians at home today.
  • The Phillies over the Braves: Pretend September was a sinkhole. Pretend the Braves were a corvette being swallowed by a sinkhole. A lovely pitching line of A.J. Burnett against Aaron Harang in this one just livens things up all the more.
  • The Brewers over the CubsTsuyoshi Wada is not a bad pitcher for the Cubs. He knows what he is doing. But I think this game belongs to Wily Peralta at home. Peralta has had one of the most overlooked seasons of the year.
  • The Mets over the AstrosRafael Montero has been bouncing back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen. But every time he starts he does well. Sam Deduno is a Twins castoff, so what does that tell you?
  • The Royals over the White Sox: The Royals will probably be eliminated from the division today because the Tigers are going to win. But the Royals will win today anyway behind Danny DuffyJohn Danks gets the start for the White Sox. I do hope that Paul Konerko has some nice moments though. He deserves them.
  • The Rangers over the Athletics: I know I chided myself for this pick yesterday, but Derek Holland has been spectacular since he returned. I think he will out-perform Jeff Samardzija.
  • The Cardinals over the Diamondbacks: There is no let up for the Cardinals as the Pirates are keeping them honest. Lance Lynn has had a terrific season and should win the game over Wade Miley.
  • The Dodgers over the RockiesEddie Butler allows the batters to put the ball in play and when that happens, things can happen. The Dodgers should have a good day despite whatever Dan Haren does.
  • The Mariners over the Angels: The Mariners' only chance is to win. But I don't think it will make much difference. They will fall short. James Paxton over C.J. Wilson who should not go deep in this one.
And the Game of the Day:
  • The Tigers over the TwinsRicky Nolasco has been about as bad for the Twins as any move made by a team this season. He has easily been the worst starter in baseball. It's brutal. Kyle Lobstein should win.
Yesterday: 12-4, Sept.: 217-143, Games of the Day: 103-66 (-1), Season: 1347-1077

Friday, September 26, 2014

MLB Game Picks - Friday: September 26, 2014

What a baseball day! The Giants clinched a wild card berth with the Brewers total collapse official. The Royals had a thrilling comeback win to ensure a tension-packed weekend to either determine the AL Central or the pecking order of the wild card game. And biggest of all, Derek Jeter had the walk-off hit in his last ever appearance in pinstripes.
As for the picks, they started out zero for four. The Brewers had a game that typified their season. They got out to an early lead and Yovani Gallardo was pitching effortlessly. Then he lost it and the game got away. Say goodnight, Brewers. Then I got both ends of the Nationals - Mets double-header wrong. And the Mariners finally beat the Blue Jays. Zero for four. Uh oh.
But I did not get another pick incorrectly for the rest of the day and ended Thursday at 8-4. Nice comeback, kid.
Three days to go. Today's picks:
  • The Nationals over the Marlins: Holy cow! The Nationals played two yesterday and will play two again today. It's a good thing they have expanded rosters. I think they will split like yesterday, but I got the order wrong yesterday. Doug Fister should shine in his final tuneup before the post season. He will only go five or six innings, but it should be enough over Jarred Cosart.
  • The Marlins over the Nationals: Who knows what will happen this game. Andrew Heaney gets the start for the Marlins. He has the most hype of any prospect in the Marlins' system, but hasn't had much fun in the Majors thus far. He faces Taylor Hill making his first MLB start. Since Hill is a BABIP kind of pitcher, I'm going with Heaney.
  • The Phillies over the Braves: What will this off-season hold for the Braves? We already know part of the answer as Wren was fired as the GM. Will we see a complete house cleaning in management and coaching? It will be interesting to watch. In the meantime, the Braves have to play three more games and I imagine they are a dispirited bunch. Jerome Williams has been good for the Phillies and Ervin Santana hasn't won a game in a while.
  • The Indians over the Rays: There is a lot going on in this game. If Corey Kluber pitches well, he is my CYA pick. If he doesn't, then I will have to look at it much more closely. But I think he will against the offensively-challenged Rays. Chris Archer gets the Rays' call. What the heck happened to him in the second half?
  • The Blue Jays over the Orioles: I can't imagine Chris Tillman pitching very long into this game since Showalter has already said he is the Game One pitcher for him against the Tigers in the ALDS. Drew Hutchison is unpredictable, but when he is good, wow.
  • The Tigers over the Twins: The Tigers have to win one more game, perhaps two. Rick Porcello has struggled down the stretch. Anthony Swarzak, however, won't hinder their offense at all.
  • The Red Sox over the YankeesChris Capuano has been dreadful and a start should go to someone else. Plus, the Yankees should be emotionally drained after yesterday. The only caveat is how well Steven Wright will pitch. He is highly regarded for the Red Sox' system.
  • The Pirates over the Reds: Finally! I can pick a visiting team! The Pirates are still alive for the division title and need to win two to have home field in the wild car. All that said, they will be motivated. Vance Worley over Mike Leake.
  • The Rangers over the Athletics: It is amazing that the A's found themselves in this position. They are highly fortunate that the Mariners could not sieze the moment. I just feel like the Rangers are rolling and would like nothing better than to knock the A's around to end the season. Nick Tepesch over Scott Kazmir.
  • The Cubs over the BrewersJimmy Nelson has just been so-so for the Brewers this season. The Cubs have a chance with him. The Cubs will give Eric Jokisch his first MLB start. The young pitcher has excellent control and that is half the battle.
  • The Royals over the White Sox: The Royals' only chance for the division is to win out and hope the Tigers fall, which won't happen. But they have to give it a go. It's too bad they have to pitch Jeremy Guthrie to start it off. But if they score on Hector Noesi, they can make it happen.
  • The Cardinals over the DiamondbacksTrevor Cahill should not be much of an obstacle for the Cardinals. Michael Wacha most likely will not figure into the Cards' post season plans, so it would be nice for him to finish the season on a high note.
  • The Dodgers over the Rockies: The Dodgers don't have much to play for, but have the depth to win anyway, especially at home against the Rockies. Roberto Hernandez over Jordan Lyles.
  • The Mariners over the Angels: The M's are totally at the mercy of what Oakland does this weekend. They have to win all three and hope. I don't think Hisashi Iwakuma is healthy. There is something wrong there. But if I am wrong, he will pitch well at home and Jered Weaver is not going to go very deep in this game.
  • The Padres over the Giants: The Giants have clinched the wild card and can ease up a bit. I just don't think Ryan Vogelsong has much left to offer the Giants' rotation. Ian Kennedy has had a nice second half to his season.
And the Game of the Day:
  • The Mets over the AstrosJon Niese is very overlooked as a quality MLB starter. He should win his last start of the year working against the Astros. Brad Peacock goes for the Astros.
Yesterday: 8-4, Sept.: 205-139, Games of the Day: 103-65 (+3), Season: 1335-1073

Derek Jeter and hyperbole

I purposely stayed off Twitter tonight and just watched the last game Derek Jeter will play at Yankee Stadium. And I was not going to write about it either. What more could I possibly say that has not been said on both sides of the Derek Jeter narrative? Plus, I cannot passively talk about the evening because Derek Jeter has long been my favorite player, so that should excuse me for having too personal a view of what I saw tonight. But as most writers will tell you, the only way we can work out how we feel is to write it all out.
Being a Derek Jeter fan and a baseball writer has been like a thin piece of land that is the only divide between two oceans. One ocean sweeps toward you with over-ventilated god-making such as what Bob Costas and Jim Kaat did tonight on the broadcast. As I have written several times before, nobody is that saintly or should be exalted that highly over other mortals. Derek Jeter's post season heroics can be explained because he had more opportunities than anyone who ever played the game. He was bound to succeed on some of those occasions.
The other body of water is made up of critics--those who write either in negative reaction to all the hyperbole (which I respect) and those who want to add to their street cred or make a name for themselves by not only tearing down this god-making narrative by statistics but also by coming up with hyperbole of their own as to why Jeter was not that great in the first place.
The latter body of critics are harder to respect and are often just as guilty on the polar opposite extreme as the god-makers. Even the much-respected Buster Olney fell prey to the temptation of blaming the entire Yankee season on Jeter in this past week. Seriously!? Did you watch this team play?
Standing on that thin piece of land, I have written thousands of words basically stating that nobody is as good as Derek Jeter has been exalted as being and at the same time, he has been much greater than the critics would want us to believe.
I pretty much know what I am talking about because I have watched him every time I could in the past twenty years. Since MLB.tv came along, that has been nearly every single game.
There have been plenty of players who were greater than Derek Jeter. He often was the third or fourth best player on his own teams through the years. His greatness and his Hall of Fame career really come from his metronome-like onslaught of playing day after day for most of his nineteen full seasons (I don't count the cup of coffee season and I really shouldn't count 2013) and being productive day after day, week after week and year after year.
Through the hyperbole, Kaat and Costas did come close to the essence of Jeter's career by talking about how Jeter used the same model glove for twenty years and the same model bat. Nearly everything he did was dependable. Two-hundred hits? Sure. A .380 on-base percentage? Sure. A post season matching his in-season stats? Sure. He was always very good year after year after year.
Watching Jeter as much as I have, I understand that Jeter was limited in range at shortstop. It never took a genius to see that. The defensive numbers make sense. If his defensive metrics were baseline at least, he would have been closer to being the best shortstop ever.
But I will swear to this until I am out of breath or these fingers cannot type anymore: During the post season in the glory years and during a no-hitter or something like that, I wanted the opposing batter to hit the ball to Jeter. He would get the out. Yes, that is a fan talking, but there is something to being a fan who wants a ball in a big spot to be hit to that awful-fielding shortstop. He wasn't that awful. Derek Jeter was not going to cough it up in a big spot. That meant something.
As much as Derek Jeter has been bashed--and believe me, it became a flood this year--why is it that his uniform jerseys outsell any others? Why is it that players from every team have been universal in their praise for him? Why is it that so many shortstops and other infielders want to wear Number 2 for their respective teams? It's for much the same reason that my generation wanted to wear Number 7 or Number 24.
You cannot trust the hyperbolic god-making of people like Costas and others. They go way, way over the line in their effusiveness. I get that. But there is something there. There are his teammates that wanted him to succeed so badly tonight. There are a clubhouse full of Boston Red Sox players that were super happy for Jeter according to Pete Abraham.
Trying to find the real Derek Jeter is like sifting through tons of sand to find the gold nuggets. Once you dig through the hyperbole from both sides--through the god-making and those who hang up numbers to puncture his myth--you get to the gold that Derek Jeter was vastly respected by his peers and teammates and that just about everything in his career was as storybook as you could imagine.
But I have to be honest in the end that I was not thinking of any of those things when I was watching his last Yankee Stadium game while cringing at Costas and Kaat. I was watching my favorite player play for the last time in pinstripes. I just wanted him to do okay.
And okay he did and everything was perfect going into the top of the ninth. Others who will probably never wear pinstripes again like Hiroki Kuroda and Ichiro Suzuki had successful games and Derek Jeter had a hand in three of the Yankees' five runs. It was perfect.
Unlike Dan Plesac (apparently), I was not hoping for a blown save so Jeter could get up again. I did not want to see him fail in his final Stadium at bat. Just a couple of nights ago, I watched him make the last out of a game that pretty much ended the season. I know Jeter isn't the hitter he once was. I did not want him to bat again in the game.
And that's why, when David Robertson coughed up the lead, while possibly playing his last game in pinstripes and ruining Kuroda's start and ruining the scenario "I" wanted, I was about as mad as I've ever been watching a baseball game. I was furious. "He ruined it! Oh no, he ruined it!"
I was glowering going into the bottom of the ninth. I had seen Jeter nearly break down at short the half inning before (before the blasts) and I just had no feeling he would do anything but strike out or ground out weakly in the ninth.
But no, the situation turned into the biggest hyperbole creating moment of Derek Jeter's career. Driving in the winning run was so hokey-movie-like that the entire MLB Network would explode in its myth-making histrionics. I instinctively knew that the critics would be blasting Buck Showalter for not walking him.
But in that moment, nothing mattered except that Derek Jeter knocked in the winning run...a walk off...in his last Yankee Stadium at bat. I sat in my chair and wept. The sobs were one part sadness and knowing I would never watch him again in pinstripes and also euphoric that he had ended it in that fashion.
And then my son called from Florida. He wanted to share the moment with me. Jeter has been his favorite player and unlike me, has rooted for him for almost two-thirds of his life. My son's voice was quivering and we shared that moment, father and son, in a way that only baseball can do and for both of us, we were emotional between sadness and elation. That call was probably the icing on the cake for me.
After my son hung up, I stared at the television and half listened to the continuing hyperbole, but I didn't care. All I could think about was that I had just watched something I will never forget and shared a moment with my son that will be a lasting memory for both of us. Take your narratives, all ye who disseminate them.  This was baseball and exhibit 4,543 why it is the greatest sport of them all.