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September 16, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with Wally Matthews

Wallace Matthews
  (11:59 AM)

Happy Thursday, everyone. Yankee season got a lot more, er, interesting over the past week. Let's discuss the implications of what happened in Texas and Tampa, the return of Andy Pettitte, who else you;d like to see in the rotation and the question of the day, is there any real difference betwene winning the division or settling for the wild card? I have an opinion on that which I will share if asked. We'll get started in a moment so line em up

Sean (New York)

What's Girardi thinking? He pinch hit for Lance Berkman (326 Career HR) but not Collin Curtis (1 career HR) in the same inning? He didn't even get the right match-up as Thames had to face a RHP. Over managing or undermanaging - there's no consistancy!

Wallace Matthews
  (12:06 PM)

Hello,, Sean. It's often tough to understand some of Girardi's in-game decisions for the exact reason you hint at. Inconsistency and indecision, which we saw as far back as April when he hesitated on making a pitching change, left Damaso Marte in to face Kendry Morales who hit a game-winning home run. Obviously, he's limited right now because of njuries to swisher and Gardner, but he did have three right-handed bats on the bench, Nunez, Golson and Russo, who could have hit in that spot

Martin Guerrero (Lake Elsinore,CA)

Hey Wallace do you believe by next week when the Rays meet the Yankees in the Bronx for a four-game series could the Yankees win the series or do you just think it could be a split between them?

Wallace Matthews
  (12:07 PM)

Hey, Martin. I think these teams are so closely matched anything is possible, but a clue to what might happen is the expected pitching rotation vs. Rays next week: Nova, Hughes, Burnett, Sabathia, in that order. Yikes

Justin (Atlanta)

On ESPN Tim Kurkjian and Mark Schlereth praised Jeter for his "smart" baseball and "do anything it takes" to get on base. Wouldn't the bigger and better message be that one of the biggest names in baseball did the right thing and told the umpire that it didn't hit him? Especially in the wake of the Steroid Era in baseball?

Wallace Matthews
  (12:12 PM)

Hey, Justin, great question, and I;ll use this as an opportunity to express my opinion on this, becasueas you can expect there are a ton of questions about it today. I agree with you 100 percent. Ex-jocks and their apologists like to use "smart baseball" and gamesmanship, etc., as code words for what is really bad sportsmanship and the kind of behavior that would not be tolerated in any other line of work. It is the kind of thinking that led to the steroid Era in baseball --anything to get an edge is OK -- and if you worked with someone who tried to get over by pretending to be entitled to something he or she did not deserve or faked his or her work in any, they wouldn;t be long for that job. But somehow, in sports, fakery, lying, even cheating is acceptable to some as long as the end justifies the means. I don;t hold with that and yeah, it would have been great, and perhaps even expected, for Jeter to have admitted he wasn;t hit wiht the ball, which BTW he did after the game. Unfortunaletly, he too is part of the win at all costs culture that in fact cheapens victory in my mind

Matt (Kingston, NY)

Any word on how soon we will be seeing Nick Swisher?

Wallace Matthews
  (12:13 PM)

Hey, Matt: Ominously, no timetable yet on Swisher. Best case scenario is that the cortisone shot takes effect today or tomorrow -- it takes 48-72 hours for the drug to reach the inflammation, depending upon how deep it is --and he will be ready to pinch-hit this weekend, maybe return by TB series

John (Philadelphia)

So was The Umpire right about the decision about Derek Jeter ?

Wallace Matthews
  (12:14 PM)

Hey, John. The replay tells us obviously not, Jeter himself admitted the ball hit the bat, and the sound through my home-theater rig clearly was that of ball hitting wood. So in a word, no.

Fredo (Brooklyn)

Be honest and tell us the firestorm of criticism that the media would have heaped upon ARod if he would have tried to pull what Jeter did last night.

Wallace Matthews
  (12:16 PM)

Hey, Fredo. Do you really need me to do that? Obviously, Jeter has built up an incredible store of equity and good will since he has conducted himself in an exemplary manner for 15 seasons now. A-Rod, on the other hand, has exhibited behavior on numerous occasions that even his fellow players have called clownish. Whether it is fair or not, all of our track records factor into how we are perceived when something like this happens

Doug (NYC)

So, is there any real difference betwene winning the division or settling for the wild card?

Wallace Matthews
  (12:21 PM)

Glad you asked me that, Doug. I think there is an incredible difference and anyone who thinks otherwise is either fooling themselves or hasn;lt thought it out. The Yankees are far more vulnerable in a 5-game series, not only because of the random nature of a short series like that, but because it pretty much requires that Sabathia win both his games. If not, who's going to win the other two? Because of the schedule, Sabathia will pitch twice, three others will pitch once. That means you need good performances by Pettitte (a likelihood), Hughes (possible but not guaranteed) and Burnett (forget about it). And CC, again, is not allowed to have a bad day. Granted, the first-round opponent, Minnesota, is mucvh less dangerous than Texas --the Twins always find a way to choke away October, it seems -- but playoff ball almost always comes down to pitching and the 5-game series exposes the Yankees problems in that area

Andrew (Montgomery, AL)

Personally I think it is a bigger deal for the Rays to have to go to Minnesota than the Yankees. The Rays are so built on speed that the cold weather in Minnesota is bound to have an effect on them.

Wallace Matthews
  (12:21 PM)

Itr's possible3, and whoever thought it was a good idea to build an outdoor ballpark in Minneapolis with no retractable dome obv. wasn't planning on much October baseball

Larry (Chicago)

Every game, the catcher for BOTH teams will try to quickly move the ball from off the plate to over the plate. This is the same thing in my opinion...part of the game. What do you think?

Wallace Matthews
  (12:23 PM)

Theoretically, but it's a lot less effective than writhing around in pain like you hade just been shot by a sniper in the bleachers. Besides, umpires are trained to watch the baseball crossing the plate, now where the catcher's mitt winds up

Louie Pfrangle (Worland WY)

Just like the people New Yorkers send to Washington. Anything to win or bring home the pork.

Wallace Matthews
  (12:23 PM)

Louis, I think the situation you describe is endemic across the country these days

Fredo (Brooklyn)

Wally, point taken. I just think it would have been a circus today on ESPN and other networks with people crucifying ARod, because he's an easy target. By the way, not to date both of us, but I still remember and commend the way you hammered the IOC and boxing officials in Seoul on NBC after Roy Jones got ripped off.

Wallace Matthews
  (12:24 PM)

Thanks, Fredo. And I don;t disagree with you re: Jeter/Arod comparison, just explaining why it would have happened and that it is not entirely undeserved

Doug (NYC)

C'mon Wallace, you really would have expected to Jeter to tell the umps, "sorry, it didn't hit me"....seriously?

Wallace Matthews
  (12:25 PM)

No, I don;t. But we can all still hold out hope that some guys will do the right thing

Sean (New York)

Do you think Kevin Long gets too much credit? A-Rod, Jeter, Teix are all 20-30 pts below career average. Swisher's improvements can be attributed to weight loss. Graderson hasn't improved over last season, etc

Wallace Matthews
  (12:26 PM)

Hey, Sean. I think all coaches and managers get way too much credit, although KLong did seem to help Granderson at least temporarily. But, as often happens, guys that have been doing something a certain way for a long time have a tendency to slip back into those habits, and I think we've been seeing that with Grandy lately

timmy (NC)

Hey Wallace do u think the over coverage of this is more at jab at the umpires then at Jeter and the Yanks...?

Wallace Matthews
  (12:28 PM)

Timmy, I think it's a little of all three. Clearly, the ump blew the call, with the help of Jeter's histrionics. Hard to imagine how the sound of the ball hitting the bat could have escaped him. Certainly, thet is a part of it. But I also think a lot of people who admire Jeter --and they are legion across the country, regardless of what team they root for -- were disappointed that he would resort to such blatant fakery

Sean (New York)

Yankees wildcard history: '95 Lost in first round. '97 Lost in first round. '07 Lost in first round. Enough said... win the division.

Wallace Matthews
  (12:28 PM)

Thank you

Matt (Kingston, NY)

What was Girardi thinking when he sent Mitre out in the 10th in game one against Tampa Bay?

Wallace Matthews
  (12:29 PM)

I suppose he was thinking, Joba and D-Rob still need rest. He was trying to get over and it bit him on the butt

Mike (New York)

In a situation where an outfielder goes to make a diving catch, clearly traps the ball, and he knows he trapped the ball. The player will still put his glove up in the air like he caught the ball, in order to make the umpire think he caught it. Is doing the right thing in this situation not acting like you caught the ball, because you didn't? If the ump calls it a catch, should the OF run in and tell the ump he didn't catch it? I think the situations are similar, in both instances you are "acting" to influence the umpire's decision.

Wallace Matthews
  (12:31 PM)

I hate that very situation you;re talking about, just like I hate the WR who throws a tantrum trying to convince the ref he caught a pass that he clearly didn;t catch. I think it's dishonest. If the ump or ref credits the player with the catch, fine. But don;t go into some demonstration that you caught it when it is obvious you didn't. And you know you didn;t. We have a word for that in normal society. Lying

Kyle (Long Island, NY)

Do you think Robinson Cano still deserves consideration for the AL MVP? His numbers don't come close to Hamilton or Cabrera but he's been the only hitter on the best (or now second best) team in the majors. We saw last week the Yankees can't win without him hitting. Meanwhile, they could win without ARod, the Rangers just swept the Yankees without Hamilton, and the Tigers can't win period.

Wallace Matthews
  (12:33 PM)

Kyke, I believe he does because of the concept you just mentioned, which is his VALUE to his team. It's not supposed to be strictly a numbers award. If a guy hits 50 HRs for a last-place team, what is his value? On the other hand, as you rightly point out, the Yankees are not the Yankees without Cano. There are other excellent candidates out there, but he certainly belongs in the conversation

Wallace Matthews
  (12:35 PM)

Guys, we're out of time but thanks for all the terrific questions and the spirited discussion on the Jeter issue. we'll do it again next week right after the TB series and right before the Red Sox come to town. Should be real interesting by then