Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Updated: February 13, 11:54 AM ET
Buster bombs Yanks in showdown
By Tim Kurkjian
Can it get any better than this?
A former beat writer of a team facing the team that he once covered, the team that he wrote a book about: Buster Olney against the New York Yankees.
Every beat guy wants to beat the competition, but this is the first time in the history of baseball writing that the competition is not another newspaper. No, this time it's the team itself.
Olney doesn't stand a chance. His payroll is just under $40 million, the Yankees' payroll is just over $200 million. Olney is hitting Shane Victorino fourth, the Yankees have A-Rod.
And in the first inning of Game 1 of the finals, Xavier Nady hit a three-run home run off Tim Lincecum, who weighs a good 140 pounds less than Yankees starter CC Sabathia.
But Team Olney scored two in the first and two more in the fifth, then turned it over to the bullpen of Craig Breslow, Carlos Marmol and Joakim Soria, who combined to retire the final nine Yankees in order for a 5-3 win.
The stunned Yankees lost again in Game 2; it was 5-3 again behind the irrepressible Cliff Lee. A-Rod, with one hit in two games, was booed.
The Yankees won Game 3 behind Chien-Ming Wang, who got a hit, ran the bases and didn't get hurt. Derek Jeter, who, before the game, thanked God for making him a Yankee, hit a three-run home run in the fifth inning to give the Yankees the lead for good.
Then it got a little weird. Joba Chamberlain, who pitched in relief in Game 1 for the Yankees, started against them in Game 4 (yes, he's on Team Olney, too). He won 5-1 for Olney, striking out 11 and allowing only three hits and one run in 7 2/3 innings.
Then Team Olney won it all by beating the Yankees, 1-0, in Game 5 on a home run in the fourth inning by Kevin Youkilis. Olney's club got six shutout innings from Lincecum, and another three brilliant innings by Breslow, Marmol and Soria. Sabathia took the loss.
Hank Steinbrenner took the defeat hard, but not as hard as A-Rod, who batted .056, going 1-for-18 with 12 strikeouts, which looks even worse next to Jeter's .389 average. (Note: The simulation was done before the revelation that Rodriguez tested positive for steroids. So, yes, he had a bad week).
And so it ended. A team selected by a baseball writer beat the real Yankees. This could really lead to something. Maybe Buster should be running the Yankees.
Tim Kurkjian is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. His book "Is This a Great Game, or What?" was published by St. Martin's Press and became available in paperback in May. Click here to order a copy.
About the simulation: The simulations were done by ImagineSports.com, using the Diamond Mind Baseball software, which was developed by renowned baseball statistics expert Tom Tippett. Diamond Mind is widely regarded as the most sophisticated and realistic baseball simulation software.
Diamond Mind is owned by Imagine Sports, a Silicon Valley-based Internet company that develops multiplayer online sports games, including Diamond Mind Online, a licensed online baseball management game in which participants draft and build teams of players from the present or the past and manage them through a 162-game season. ESPN users can try it by creating their own teams with the Diamond Mind Online Free Trial.