The Ghost Of Chuck Knoblauch

Ever so often, the spirit of an eternal Yankee not-so-great stirs from its dormancy. It puts on a Yankee T-shirt jersey and goes from stadium to stadium every postseason. It is the ghost of Chuck Knoblauch, and it invades the souls of the unlucky and the damned. Making them the goats of the MLB playoffs.  

The spirit travelled to Cincinnati, where it had plagued Scott Rolen. It was then summoned to Oakland, where it did some soul-swapping with Jose Valverde. It came with him to the Bronx, where it has since been splitting specter time between Valverde and the bat of Robinson Cano.

Many fools seem to think that the reason a few major leaguers fold and choke this time of year has a lot to do with the bright lights and the pressure of postseason baseball. This is absolutely false. It is positively the banshee of a washed-up 2nd baseman.

You want some slant? Here it comes...

You know what Chuck Knoblauch was? A Yankees 2nd Baseman. You know what Robinson Cano is? A Yankees 2nd Baseman.

But just hold on...

It gets richer.

How do you explain Cano’s .615 batting average over the last 9 games turning into a ghastly 2 for 32 in the postseason? 


Please. This thing goes much deeper than a Bill James "numbers game."

Is there an irrefutable hypothesis that can explain just how Jose Valverde goes from pitcher-perfect in 2011, to what looks like an idiot playing minesweeper in the 2012 playoffs?

Could a jealous former middle infielder and teammate have something to do with the fall of Jeter? Someone by the name of... Chuck Knoblauch?

The Reds won decisively on the road, 5-2 and 9-0. Then came back to Cincinnati to choke away three consecutive games to the Giants. 

How else do you possibly explain all of these things with just one answer?

Instead of doing comprehensive research, and using the boring method of deductive reasoning (a la Bill James), why not propose a sports theory that relies on an incredibly obscure reference? As long as there will be a postseason, there will be somebody to scapegoat. There will be someone that’ll choke, and may even be blamed for the result of an entire series. And it’s the fact that something like this almost always happens which allows us to say:

The Ghost of Chuck Knoblauch is very real.

And he’s less than 90 feet away.

The Atmosphere Of Baseball 

162 games of promotions, President’s races, sausage races, Stubhub deals, and  giveaways. Piecewise tours of America’s ballparks being put together over each and every game. This is what baseball looks like looking back from October.  

There’s no denying that football is built for today’s TV. The field is rectangular, the TV is rectangular, and they fit together so polygonally concentric. Nesting much better than a diamond viewed straight on from a camera behind the outfield. 

But then there’s the postseason. And the incongruence of television baseball becomes almost romantic. 

The crisp air in the stadium is somehow conveyed through the broadcast. The intensity too. Palpable from a seat in the bar or in your living room. The stage set for the incredible talent that takes it. 

It’s the prevailing performances of individuals to the benefit of their respective teams. It’s the body of work put in and the results that may or may not result. It’s 22 strikeouts from the arm of Justin Verlander that prevented the Oakland Athletics from adding a chapter to the best story in baseball.

It’s one swing that finishes a column about the Cincinnati Reds choking away a 2-0 series lead. 

It’s two swings that makes a GM wonder what he’ll do with the remainder of Alex Rodriguez’s contract.

It’s three swings and you’re Raul Ibañez, a 40 year old Yankee batting cleanup.  

Just about every minutiae becomes greater than trivial, and many fans scrutinize with a much louder voice. Some even taking to the tweets

This is October playoff baseball, being reflected upon as it unfolds. 

The Yankees Are Good For Baseball

If it weren’t for the Yankees and their exploding payroll and imperial approach to baseball, teams like the Tigers wouldn’t pursue stars like Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. Teams like the A’s wouldn’t continue to reinvent how talent is evaluated and adapt to stay ahead. Teams like the Cardinals wouldn’t make things interesting and make message boards light up by making shrewd economic decisions such as allowing Albert Pujols to optimize his market value and chase more money somewhere else. Oh yeah, and they're one of the few teams in baseball that actually move the ratings meter

Delmon Young

TWID has always been about the growth of mustache awareness, and the awareness of mustache growth, but Delmon Young really needs to do something about that dead caterpillar growing on his upper lip. He looks like an African-American Steve Buscemi with his current choice of snot filter.

Just What The Hell Happened In Cincinnati?

The Reds looked more than dominant in games 1 and 2. They blew the Giants out of the water of McCovey cove, 5-2, and 9-0. Really pushing the Vegas money line their way. But I guess that’s why they play the games.. just so the unthinkable can happen. Just to show how quickly things can change in a relatively slow-paced game.

The Yankee Guantlet

One weird development from the new divisional series rules? The Yankees played 5 consecutive home games on 5 consecutive days. This is like being a popular (but diabetic) kid in high school and having to hit up a weeks worth of graduation parties in one weekend. 

Here’s the stationary mileage they put into Yankee Stadium over those last 5 days 

Game 3 vs. Orioles:  12 Innings
Game 4 vs. Orioles:  13 Innings
Game 5 vs. Orioles:  9 Innings

Game 1 vs. Tigers:  12 Innings
Game 2 vs. Tigers: 9 Innings

That’s 55 innings in roughly 96 hours for those of you scoring at home.

Interestingly, but intuitively enough, the Yankees lost those last two games. They are now in an 0-2 ALCS hole.

So much for the built-in advantage of being a 1 seed.