Thursday, October 11, 2012

Two Great Stories

Yesterday was one of those days. A great day for a baseball fan. Two of my favorite teams – the Reds and Tigers – squared off but lost. They are still in it. There were some sloppy plays and some great moments in the four divisional games. Out of all the events of yesterday, I think two stand out above the rest. Prince Fielder's HR, of 419 feet, was hopefully expected at some point. Tim Lincecum with a near perfect game from the bullpen, for the win, out of the bullpen. The two that rung it up for me were Chris Carpenter and Raul Ibanez.

Wow, what a day for them.

Chris Carpenter has been a work horse all his career and Larry can quote al the stats. His Cy Young year of 2005 and his great play-off appearances. He has only lost two games for a 10 and 2 recorded a 2.88 ERA overall. Pretty incredible.

Well, Carpenter’s season was not a happy one. He went out early and had thoracic outlet surgery. He had a rib removed as well as some tendons and muscle in his neck. Jeremy Bonderman, while with the Tigers, had the same surgery in 2009.  Bonderman was able to come back the next year and play 30 starts. However, he retired in 2010. Noah Lowry also had the same surgery and could not come back.

Along comes Carpenter, who was really not expected back this year, and he returns for only two games in September, were he was roughed up and took the losses for a 3.71 ERA. He wanted to come back and be in the playoffs. Yesterday was the day.

His start was not his usual self, but as he got into the feel of the game he managed 5.2 innings of shutout ball. Jayson Stark summed up the 37-year-old this way, “On Wednesday afternoon in Nationals Park, a man will take the mound who has no business being there.” The veteran rose to the challenge. Further, at the bat he went two for three for .666. Pretty impressive for a man who should not have even been on the field. Tenacity and smart pitching make Chris Carpenter exceptional.

Raul Ibanez has retired. Oh, sorry, not. He has just become the “hit” of NYC and Mister Yankee. He’ll never have to buy dinner the that city again. For a seventeen year veteran who has been shopped around a bit, this is amazing. At 40 years old he has just revived what has been a very good career with the Yanks.

Ibanez started in 1996, in basically the same class as his now Yankee teammates. His solid career looked like it was ending after last year in a Phillies uniform. His BA went down to .245 with an overall OPS+ of 91, way below his usual average of 112. It seemed that his time had come, that he would be calling it a day. The Yanks picked up him as a utility piece and not much was expected. He signed for 1.1 million, a far cry from the 2011 salary of 12.1 mil. A nice comfortable way to ease into retirement with a contender.

Yesterday started just like another for Ibanez, on the bench. He was called up by Joe Girardi in the ninth from the cages to pitch-hit for A-Rod – $29 mill. With one out in the ninth, Yanks behind one run, Ibanez leap on a Jim Johnson pitch and put it deep for a 403 foot homer. It saved the game. Extra innings were in the offing. So his next time at bat, the score hasn’t changed. It’s the bottom of the 12th inning and he yards an other 390 feet. Ibanez had only two previous HR in all his previous 38 postseason games

After the game, Derek Jeter made a comeback comment to a the usual stupid question from a reporter, “What did Girardi think would happen when he pinch hit A-Rod?” Jeter replied, “Joe thought Raul would hit a home run.”

Who knows about next year, but yesterday’s memory will live on in Yankee lore. Damn them.

1 comment:

Larry Toman said...

Great read John. Carp and Ibanez simply amazing.The playoffs have been incredible.Here's hoping for a Tigers/Cards WS. I'd love to see Carp and Verlander duel with each other.Cheers.