Monday, July 6, 2015

Holiday Weekend Fireworks... and then Yankees Blew Up on Sunday


It's an old adage (are there any new adages?), quoted by everyone from Peanuts' Charlie Brown to M*A*S*H's Colonel Potter, that the team in 1st place on the 4th of July wins the Pennant.

This, of course, is a holdover from the days of single-division leagues. It's also baloney, as plenty of teams have famously blown leads later than the 4th of July. In the case most relevant to the Yankees, the 1978 Boston Red Sox. In the case most recently relevant to he Yankees, the 2011 Red Sox.

On Friday, the Yankees began a 3-game home series with the Tampa Bay Rays. And Masahiro Tanaka was mortal again, giving up 2 runs in the 1st inning and another in the 5th. And the way the Yankees had been hitting lately, Tanaka not pitching like the Tanaka of 2014 was a bad sign.

It was still 3-0 Rays as the Yankees came to bat in the bottom of the 8th. And when Brett Gardner led off by striking out, it looked bleak.

Then came back-to-back singles by Chase Headley and Alex Rodriguez. Up came Mark Teixeira, and BOOM! Teix Message! His 20th home run of the season, and we hadn't even hit July 4 yet. Tie ballgame.

Then Brian McCann and Garrett Jones drew back-to-back walks. Potential winning run on 2nd, insurance run on 1st, only 1 out. Things were looking good. But Chris Young grounded into a double play.

Did Gregorious led off the bottom of the 9th with a walk. Jose Pirela bunted him over. Winning run on 2nd, only 1 out. Then Gardner was walked intentionally to set up the double play, and Headley promptly grounded into it.

A-Rod led off the 10th with a walk. He got stranded. The Yankees got nothing in the 11th. And when the Rays touched them up for 2 runs in the top of the 12th, it looked bad.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: If you're going to lose, do it in the regulation 9 innings, instead of making us sit through missed opportunities. Winning baseball > "free baseball."

But Gardner led off the bottom of the 12th with a walk. Headley struck out, But A-Rod singled him over to 3rd. Runner on 3rd, tying run on 1st, winning run at the plate, less than 2 out? The Yankees aren't going to blow this, are they?

Teix came through again, singling home Gardner. Next up was McCann. BOOM! First walkoff home run of the year for the Yankees! His 13th homer of the season.

Yankees 7, Rays 5. WP: Chasen Shreve (6-1), even though he was actually worse in relief of Adam Warren in the 12th than Warren was. No save. LP: Steve Geltz (1-4), not to be confused with early 1990s good-field-no-hit Phillies shortstop Steve Jeltz.

*

So the Yankees were in 1st place in the American League Eastern Division on the 4th of July, a sunny Saturday in New York. And were at home. As God intended it.

Well, not totally as God intended it. It wasn't the old Yankee Stadium, and only 35,508 people showed up, leaving about 14,000 empty seats.

Michael Pineda took the mound. Took the hill. Toed the rubber. I love baseball jargon.

"Big Mike" -- not to be confused with yours truly, I'd like to think I'm important but I'm hardly big -- pitched 7 innings, allowing 2 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks, with 10 strikeouts. That should have been enough to allow the Yankee batters to win the game.

And it looked like it was. This time, it was the Yankees who struck for 2 runs in the 1st inning. The 1st 4 batters of the game: Gardner singled, Headley singled, A-Rod singled home Gardner, Teix hit a sacrifice fly to score Headley.

But Joe Girardi's musical-chairs approach to bullpen management canceled out Pineda's brilliance. He brought in Justin Wilson to pitch the 8th, and Wilson struck out the 1st 2 batters he faced. Presuming that relieving Pineda in the first place was the right idea (I'm not so sure it was, but you can't argue with Wilson's results), the next right idea would have been to leave Wilson in.

Girardi didn't: He immediately brought in Dellin Betances for a 4-out save. At first, it worked: Betances got the last out in the 8th. But the 9th began with a James Loney single and a Steven Souza home run, and it was 2-2. Betances got the next 3 outs, including raising the Yankees' strikeout total on the day to 14. As Phil Rizzuto would have said, "But the damange is done. I tell ya, Murcer, it's unbelievable. Holy cow."

The specter of another extra-inning loss hung over the Yankees. But they refused to accept this. Teix doubled to lead off the bottom of the 9th. Young worked a walk to push the winning run to 2nd with nobody out.

The batter was rookie left field Ramon Flores. He tried to bunt the runners over, and hit a ground ball back to Rays reliever Brad Boxberger. Easy play, right? Wrong: Boxberger threw it away! Teix scored easily!

Yankees 3, Rays 2! WP: Betances (5-1) -- again, a winning pitcher who didn't really deserve it. No save. LP: Boxberger (4-4).

Back-to-back walkoffs over the Rays. Holiday fireworks on back-to-back days. I'm guessing Joe Maddon is glad to be managing the Chicago Cubs now, instead of the Rays, as he did from 2006 to 2014. (He might be the first man preferring to manage the Cubs over someone else.)

*

So after 81 games, half the season, the Yankees were 44-37. That averages out to 88 wins. Historically, 93 wins has been enough to win the AL East. As I've said before, I've looked it up, and from the formation of the Division in 1969 to today, despite the exact lineup of teams having changed (the Yankees, Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays have been the only constants), the team that finishes 2nd averages 92 wins. Therefore, to win the AL East, you need at least 93 wins. This isn't always the case -- the Yankees won the Division, Pennant and World Series in 2000 despite winning 87 games -- but it usually is.

Yesterday's game was essentially over before it began. Ivan Nova allowed 3 runs in the 1st 2 innings, and the Yankees just didn't hit. Throw in an 8th-inning implosion by reliever Brian Mitchell, and the final score made it look much worse than it was, but it didn't matter, because the Yankees just didn't hit:

* 1st inning: Bases loaded with 2 out, nothing.

* 2nd: 1st & 2nd with 2 out, nothing.

* 4th: Man on 1st with 1 out, double play.

* 6th: Home run by A-Rod, his 16th of the season, and nothing else.

* 7th: 1st & 2nd with 1 out, double play.

* 8th: Leadoff walk, nothing.

Rays 8, Yankees 1. WP: Erasmo Ramirez (8-3). No save. LP: Nova (1-2).

*

So, more than halfway through the season, 14 weeks out of 26 done, the AL East looks like this:

The Yankees are 44-38, and lead the Orioles by 1 game. The Rays and Jays are 2 back. The Red Sox, having an awful season, are 6 back -- 7 in the loss column, as the Yankees have 2 games in hand on them.

The Yankees have today off. Tomorrow night, they begin a 3-game home series against the Oakland Athletics. Here are the projected starting pitchers:

Tuesday, 7:05 PM: Nathan Eovaldi vs. Sonny Gray.

Wednesday, 7:05 PM: CC Sabathia vs. Scott Kazmir. Yes, the Scott Kazmir the Mets led go in one of their many, many boneheaded trades.

Thursday, 1:05 PM: Tanaka vs. Jesse Chavez.

*

In addition, the starters for the All-Star Game were announced. No Yankees made it for the AL. No Red Sox, either. This is the first time both have been blanked in a dog's age. Surely, more than the minimum one player per team will be named as reserves for each.

The Mets? They'll be lucky if Steve Matz is named.

As a designated hitter.

The game will be played a week from tomorrow night, at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. That's a National League park, which means there won't be a DH. Which means, if A-Rod makes it -- and why not, the guy is hitting -- it'll be as a pinch-hitter only. Somehow, I don't think Ned Yost, manager of the AL team since he's the manager of the defending Pennant winners, the Kansas City Royals, is going to put A-Rod in the field in the month that he turns 40.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Yankees Salvage Finale In Anaheim


You're going to win some series if you only allow 7 runs in 3 games. But you're not going to win many series when you score just 5 runs in 3 games.

After splitting a 4-game series away to the Houston Astros, the Yankees flew to Southern California, to play the Whatever They're Calling Themselves This Season Angels of Anaheim.

CC Sabathia started on Monday night, and pitched as well as he has all season, but the Yankees didn't back him up. He pitched 7 1/3 innings, allowing 4 runs on 6 hits and 1 walk -- but no more than 1 run in any inning.

Brett Gardner went 3-for-5, but with no RBIs. Carlos Beltran (who was placed on the Disabled List this afternoon) went 2-for-4, but with no RBIs. The only other Yankee hit was an RBI single by Alex Rodriguez in the 3rd inning.

Angels 4, Yankees 1. WP: C.J. Wilson (6-6). SV: Huston Street (22). LP: Sabathia (3-8, and half of those losses have hardly been his fault -- but the other half have).

*

Ivan Nova made his 2nd post-injury start on Tuesday night. Joe Girardi only allowed him to pitch into the 6th inning, allowing 2 runs on 8 hits and 2 walks. Again, the Yankees didn't back their pitcher up with runs.

Mark Teixeira led off the top of the 2nd with a home run, his 19th of the season. Gardner singled to center in the 3rd. Chase Headley drew a walk in the 5th. Gardner reached 1st on a dropped 3rd strike in the 6th. Teixeira led off the 7th with a walk. Didi Gregorius reached on an error in the 8th.

And that was it. Just 6 baserunners in he entire game -- only 2 of them hits. The last 3 runners were all erased on double plays.

Nova "lost" the game in the bottom of the 6th, giving up back-to-back home runs by Albert Pujols and Erick Aybar. It wasn't fair. Angels 2, Yankees 1. WP: Andrew Heaney (1-0). SV: Street (23). LP: Nova (1-1).

*

The Yankees absolutely had to get some runs on Wednesday. They had finished June just 4 games over .500, 41-37. Fortunately, the American League Eastern Division was still as tight as the Wilpons' wallets.

Naturally, I figured, if the Yankees did score a lot of runs this time, they wouldn't get the pitching. Or the defense.

Thankfully, I was wrong. Nathan Eovaldi was scorching as July began, pitching into the 6th, and reaching 100 miles per hour on the radar gun. Aside from a Mike Trout homer off Justin Wilson in the 8th, the Yankee pitching of Eovaldi, Chasen Shreve, Wilson and Dellin Betances was very good: 9 innings, 1 run, only 6 hits, 5 walks. And the Yankee defense played errorless baseball.

Now, about those runs: Gregorius led off the 3rd with a single. Stephen Drew sacrificed him over to 2nd. Gardner's grounder to 1st allowed him to reach 3rd. Headley singled him home. 1-0 Yankees.

With 2 outs in the top of the 6th, Garrett Jones hit a home run. 2-0 Yankees.

With 1 out in the top of the 8th, Brian McCann singled. Jones drew a walk. Chris Young singled to load the bases. Gregorius singled to score McCann. But no other runs could come home, and when Trout took that run back in the bottom of the 8th, the uh-ohs came to us.

But Betances finished it off. Yankees 3, Angels 1. WP: Eovaldi (8-2). SV: Betances (7). LP: Matt Shoemaker (4-7).

*

Coming into tonight's action, the Yankees are tied for 1st in the AL East with the Baltimore Orioles. The Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays, for all their respective troubles, are just 1 game behind the Yanks and O's, although they're 2 back in the loss column, as the Yanks and O's have 2 games in hand on them. The Boston Red Sox are 6 games back, 7 in the loss column. (Serves the bastards right.) Only the Oakland Athletics have a worse record in the AL.

Tonight, the Yankees are home again, to begin a 3-game series against the Rays. Here are the projected starting pitchers:

Tonight, 7:05: Masahiro Tanaka vs. Chris Archer.

Tomorrow, 1:05: Michael Pineda vs. Nathan Karns.

Sunday, 1:05: The Yankees have not yet announced a starter, but it would most likely be Sabathia, vs. Erasmo Ramirez.

Come on you Pinstripes!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Cities' Last World Championships


Again, this includes MLB, the NFL, the NBA, the WNBA, the NHL, and MLS (or NASL, as the case may be, although I don't think any city's last title was in that long-gone league). Again, Canadian cities can't include Grey Cups. And, again, no matter what we know or suspect, no asterisks.

1. Chicago: Blackhawks, June 2015.

2. San Francisco: Warriors, June 2015.

3. Boston: Patriots, February 2015.

4. Los Angeles: Galaxy, December 2014.

5. Phoenix: Mercury, October 2014.

6. San Antonio: Spurs, June 2014.

7. Seattle: Seahawks, February 2014.

8. Kansas City: Sporting KC, December 2013.

9. Minneapolis: Lynx, October 2013.

10. Miami: Heat, June 2013.

11. Baltimore: Ravens, February 2013.

12. Indianapolis: Fever, October 2012.

13. New York: Giants, February 2012.

14. St. Louis: Cardinals, October 2011.

15. Dallas: Mavericks, June 2011.

16. Milwaukee/Green Bay: Packers, February 2011.

17. Denver: Rapids, December 2010.

18. New Orleans: Saints, February 2010.

19. Salt Lake City: Real Salt Lake, December 2009.

20. Pittsburgh: Steelers, February 2009.

21. Columbus: Crew, December 2008.

22. Philadelphia: Phillies, October 2008.

23. Detroit: Red Wings, June 2008.

24. Houston: Dynamo, December 2007.

25. Carolina: Hurricanes, June 2006.

26. Sacramento: Monarchs, 2005.

27. Washington: D.C. United, December 2004.

28. Tampa Bay: Lightning, June 2004.

29. Atlanta: Braves, October 1995.

30. Toronto: Blue Jays, October 1993.

31. Montreal: Canadiens, June 1993.

32. Cincinnati: Reds, October 1990.

33. Edmonton: Oilers, May 1990.

34. Calgary: Flames, May 1989.

35. Oklahoma: Roughnecks, October 1983.

36. Portland: Trail Blazers, June 1977.

37. Buffalo/Western New York: Rochester Lancers, October 1970.

38. Cleveland: Browns, December 1964.

39. Ottawa: Old Senators, April 1927.

40. Victoria: Cougars, April 1925.

41. Vancouver: Millionaires, March 1915.

42. Quebec City: Bulldogs, March 1913.

43. Winnipeg: Victorias, March 1902.

44. Orlando: None. Last Finals: Magic, June 2009.

45. Tennessee: None. Last Final: Titans, January 2000.

46. San Diego: None. Last Final: Chargers, January 1995.

47. Jacksonville: None. Last Finals: None. Last Conference Final: Jaguars, January 2000.

*

If you don't count soccer or the WNBA, the rankings are a little different: 

1. Chicago: Blackhawks, June 2015.

2. San Francisco: Warriors, June 2015.

3. Boston: Patriots, February 2015.

4. San Antonio: Spurs, June 2014.

5. Los Angeles: Kings, June 2014.

6. Seattle: Seahawks, February 2014.

7. Miami: Heat, June 2013.

8. Baltimore: Ravens, February 2013.

9. New York: Giants, February 2012.

10. St. Louis: Cardinals, October 2011.

11. Dallas: Mavericks, June 2011.

12. Milwaukee/Green Bay: Packers, February 2011.

13. New Orleans: Saints, February 2010.

14. Pittsburgh: Steelers, February 2009.

15. Philadelphia: Phillies, October 2008.

16. Detroit: Red Wings, June 2008.

17. Indianapolis: Colts, February 2007.

18. Carolina: Hurricanes, June 2006.

19. Tampa Bay: Lightning, June 2004.

20. Phoenix: Diamondbacks, November 2001.

21. Denver: Avalanche, June 2001.

22. Washington: Capitals, June 1998.

23. Atlanta: Braves, October 1995.

24. Houston: Rockets, June 1995.

25. Toronto: Blue Jays, October 1993.

26. Montreal: Canadiens, June 1993.

27. Minneapolis: Twins, October 1991.

28. Cincinnati: Reds, October 1990.

29. Edmonton: Oilers, May 1990.

30. Calgary: Flames, May 1989.

31. Kansas City: Royals, October 1985.

32. Portland: Trail Blazers, June 1977.

33. Buffalo/Western New York: Rochester Lancers, October 1970.

34. Cleveland: Browns, December 1964.

35. Ottawa: Old Senators, April 1927.

36. Victoria: Cougars, April 1925.

37. Vancouver: Millionaires, March 1915.

38. Quebec City: Bulldogs, March 1913.

39. Winnipeg: Victorias, March 1902.

40. Oklahoma: None. Last Final: Thunder, June 2012.

41. Orlando: None. Last Final: Magic, June 2009.

42. Tennessee: None. Last Final: Titans, January 2000.

43. Salt Lake City: None. Last Final: Jazz, June 1998.

44. San Diego: None. Last Final: Chargers, January 1995.

45. Sacramento: None. Closest Call: Kings, NBA Western Conference Finals, most recently May 2002.

46. Jacksonville: None. Closest Call: Jaguars, AFC Championship Game, most recently January 2000.

47. Columbus: None. Closest Call Blue Jackets, NHL Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, most recently April 2015.

Cities' World Championships

I should have done this after the recent NBA and Stanley Cup Finals.

This includes the big four: Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Football League (NFL, counting a Super Bowl won in January toward the previous calendar year, so the 1969 Jets are 1968 World Champions), the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Hockey League (NHL).

It also includes the pre-NBA National Basketball League from 1936 to 1946, the American Basketball League from 1926 to 1946, Stanley Cups won in the pre-NHL era from 1893 to 1917, the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA), the old North American Soccer League (NASL, 1968 to 1984), and Major League Soccer (MLS Cup). It does not, however, include the Canadian Football League (CFL)'s Grey Cup.

Ties will be broken by the most recent title. 

Also, despite what we now know to be true, and what we suspect to be true, none of these titles will be given an asterisk. Giving Boston a higher ranking than they deserve.

1. New York (includes North Jersey & Long Island), 72: New York Giants (baseball), 1888, 1889, 1905, 1921, 1922, 1933 and 1954; Brooklyn Dodgers, 1899, 1900 and 1955; New York Yankees, 1923, 1927, 1928, 1932, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1941, 1943, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1956, 1958, 1961, 1962, 1977, 1978, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2009; New York Mets, 1969 and 1986; New York Giants (football), 1927, 1934, 1938, 1956, 1986, 1990, 2007 and 2011; New York Jets, 1968; Original Celtics, 1927 and 1928; Brooklyn Visitations, 1931 and 1935; Jersey Reds, 1938; New York Jewels, 1939; New York Knicks, 1970 and 1973; New York Rangers, 1928, 1933, 1940 and 1994; New York Islanders, 1980, 1981, 1982 and 1983; New Jersey Devils, 1995, 2000 and 2003; New York Cosmos, 1972, 1977, 1978, 1980 and 1982. The team now known as the Brooklyn Nets lost NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003; the New York Liberty have lost 4 NBA Finals, most recently in 2002; while the New York Red Bulls lost the MLS Cup Final in 2008.

2. Boston (includes Foxboro, Providence, Hartford & Mohegan Sun), 51: 
Boston Braves, 1872, 1873, 1874, 1875, 1877, 1878, 1879, 1883, 1884, 1891, 1892, 1893, 1897, 1898 and 1914; Boston Red Sox, 1903, 1904, 1912, 1915, 1916, 1918, 2004, 2007 and 2013; New England Patriots, 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2014; Boston Celtics, 1957, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1974, 1976, 1981, 1984, 1986, 2009; Boston Bruins, 1929, 1939, 1941, 1970, 1972 and 2011. The Connecticut Sun lost the WNBA Finals in 2004 and 2005. The New England Revolution have lost 5 MLS Cup Finals, most recently in 2014.

3. Montreal, 41: Montreal AAA, 1893, 1894, 1902 and 1903; Montreal Victorias, 1895, 1896, 1897, 1898 and 1901; Montreal Shamrocks, 1899 and 1900; Montreal Wanderers, 1906, 1907, 1908 and 1910; Montreal Canadiens, 1916, 1924, 1930, 1931, 1944, 1946, 1953, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1973, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1986, 1993; Montreal Maroons, 1926 and 1935. 
The Montreal Expos never reached the World Series. The Montreal Impact reached the Final of this year's CONCACAF Champions League, but lost.

4. Chicago, 36: Chicago Cubs, 1876, 1880, 1881, 1882, 1907 and 1908; Chicago White Sox, 1906, 1917 and 2005; Chicago Bears, 1921, 1932, 1933, 1940, 1941, 1943, 1946, 1963 and 1985; Chicago Cardinals, 1925 and 1947; Chicago American Gears, 1947; Chicago Bulls, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997 and 1998; Chicago Blackhawks, 1934, 1938, 1961, 2010, 2013 and 2015; Chicago Sting, 1981 and 1984; Chicago Fire, 1998. The Chicago Sky reached the 2014 WNBA Finals, but lost.

5. Los Angeles (includes Anaheim & Inglewood), 33: Los Angeles Dodgers, 1959, 1963, 1965, 1981, 1988; Los Angeles Angels, 2002; Los Angeles Rams, 1951; Los Angeles Raiders, 1983; Los Angeles Lakers, 1972, 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009 and 2010; Los Angeles Sparks, 2001, 2002 and 2003; Anaheim Ducks, 2007; Los Angeles Kings, 2012 and 2014; Los Angeles Aztecs, 1974; L.A. Galaxy, 2002, 2005, 2011, 2012 and 2014, plus the CONCACAF Champions League in 2000. The Los Angeles Clippers have never reached the NBA Finals.

6. Philadelphia (includes South Jersey & Delaware), 28: Philadelphia Athletics (National Association version), 1871; Philadelphia Athletics (American League version), 1910, 1911, 1913, 1929 and 1930; Philadelphia Phillies, 1980 and 2008; Frankford Yellow Jackets, 1926; Philadelphia Eagles, 1948, 1949 and 1960; Philadelphia Warriors (formerly the ABL's SPHAs), 1934, 1936, 1937, 1940, 1941, 1943, 1945, 1947 and 1956; Wilmington Bombers, 1942 and 1944; Philadelphia 76ers, 1967 and 1983 Philadelphia Flyers, 1974 and 1975; Philadelphia Atoms, 1973. The Philadelphia Union have yet to reach an MLS Cup Final.

7. Detroit (includes Pontiac & Auburn Hills), 26: Detroit Wolverines, 1887; Detroit Tigers, 1935, 1945, 1968 and 1984; Detroit Lions, 1935, 1952, 1953 and 1957; Detroit Pistons, 1989, 1990 and 2004; Detroit Shock, 2003, 2006 and 2008; Detroit Red Wings, 1936, 1937, 1943, 1950, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2008.

8. San Francisco (includes Oakland & San Jose), 18: Oakland Athletics, 1972, 1973, 1974 and 1989; San Francisco Giants, 2010, 2012 and 2014; Oakland Raiders, 1976 and 1980 (1983 doesn't count, they were then representing Los Angeles); San Francisco 49ers, 1981, 1984, 1988, 1989 and 1994; Golden State Warriors, 1975 and 2015; San Jose Earthquakes, 2001 and 2003. The San Jose Sharks have not yet reached the Stanley Cup Finals. Nor did the Oakland Seals, a.k.a. the California Golden Seals.

9. Milwaukee (includes Green Bay, Oshkosh & Sheboygan), 18: Milwaukee Braves, 1957; Green Bay Packers, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1936, 1939, 1944, 1961, 1962, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1996, and 2011; Oshkosh All-Stars, 1941 and 1942; Sheboygan Redskins, 1943; Milwaukee Bucks, 1971. The Milwaukee Brewers have won just 1 Pennant, and lost the World Series.
10. Toronto, 17: Toronto Blueshirts, 1914; Toronto Maple Leafs, 1918, 1922, 1932, 1942, 1945, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1951, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1967; Toronto Metros, 1976; Toronto Blue Jays, 1992 and 1993. The Toronto Raptors have never reached the NBA Finals.
11. Cleveland (includes Akron & Richfield), 16: Cleveland Indians, 1920 and 1948; Akron Pros, 1920; Canton Bulldogs, 1922, 1923 and 1924; Cleveland Browns, 1950, 1954, 1955 and 1964; Cleveland Rosenblums, 1926, 1929 and 1930; Akron Wingfoots, 1938; Akron Non-Skids, 1939 and 1940. The Cleveland Cavaliers reached the NBA Finals in 2007 and 2015, but lost both.
12. St. Louis, 15: St. Louis Cardinals, 1885, 1886, 1926, 1931, 1934, 1942, 1944, 1946, 1964, 1967, 1982, 2006, 2001; St. Louis Rams, 1999; St. Louis Hawks, 1958. The St. Louis Blues are 0-3 in Stanley Cup Finals.
13. Pittsburgh, 14: Pittsburgh Pirates, 1909, 1925, 1960, 1971 and 1979; Pittsburgh Steelers, 1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, 2005 and 2008; Pittsburgh Penguins, 1991, 1992 and 2009.
14. Baltimore, 12: Baltimore Orioles (National League version), 1894, 1895 and 1896; Baltimore Orioles (American League version), 1966, 1970 and 1983; Baltimore Colts, 1958, 1959 and 1970; Baltimore Ravens, 2000 and 2012; Baltimore Bullets, 1948.
15. Washington (includes Landover), 12: Washington Senators, 1924; Washington Redskins, 1937, 1942, 1982, 1987 and 1991; Washington Wizards, 1978 (then the Washington Bullets); D.C. United, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2004, plus CONCACAF Champions League in 1998. The Washington Nationals have not yet reached a World Series. The Washington Capitals have reached only 1 Stanley Cup Finals, in 1998, and got swept.
16. Ottawa (includes Kanata), 11: Old Ottawa Senators, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1920, 1921, 1923, 1927. The new Senators reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 2007, but lost.
17. Minneapolis (includes St. Paul & Bloomington), 9: Minnesota Twins, 1987 and 1991; Minneapolis Lakers, 1949, 1950, 1952, 1953 and 1954; Minnesota Lynx, 2011 and 2013. The Minnesota Vikings are 0-4 in Super Bowls. The Minnesota Timberwolves have never reached the NBA Finals. The Minnesota Wild have not yet reached the Stanley Cup Finals, while the Minnesota North Stars lost them in 1981 and 1991.
18. Dallas (includes Arlington & Irving), 8: Dallas Cowboys, 1971, 1977, 1992, 1993 and 1995; Dallas Mavericks, 2011; Dallas Stars, 1999; Dallas Tornado, 1971. The Texas Rangers have lost their only 2 World Series, in 2010 and 2011. FC Dallas reached the MLS Cup Final in 2010, but lost.
19. Houston, 8: Houston Rockets, 1994 and 1995; Houston Comets, 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000; Houston Dynamo, 2006 and 2007. The Houston Astros have never won a World Series, getting swept in their only attempt in 2005. The Houston Texans have not yet reached a Super Bowl. Nor did the Houston Oilers, although they did win the 1st 2 AFL Championships in 1960 and 1961.
20. Miami (includes Fort Lauderdale), 7: Miami Marlins, 1997 and 2003; Miami Dolphins, 1972 and 1973; Miami Heat, 2006, 2012 and 2013. The Florida Panthers got swept in their only Stanley Cup Finals, in 1996.
21. San Antonio, 5: San Antonio Spurs, 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2014.
22. Seattle, 5: Seattle Seahawks, 2013; Seattle SuperSonics, 1979; Seattle Storm, 2004 and 2010; Seattle Metropolitans, 1917. The Seattle Mariners have reached 3 American League Championship Series, but have never won a Pennant. The Seattle Sounders reached 2 NASL Finals, and the new version has won 3 U.S. Open Cups, but they have not yet won an MLS Cup.
23. Kansas City (includes K.C., Missouri & K.C., Kansas), 5: Kansas City Royals, 1985; Kansas City Chiefs, 1969; Kansas City Spurs, 1969; Sporting Kansas City, 2000 and 2013. The Kansas City Kings, now (for the moment) the Sacramento Kings, never got anywhere near the NBA Finals (not since they were the Rochester Royals, anyway).
24. Denver, 5: Denver Broncos, 1997 and 1998; Colorado Avalanche, 1996 and 2001; Colorado Rapids, 2010. The Colorado Rockies have never won a World Series, getting swept in their only attempt in 2007. The hockey team of the same name only reached 1 Playoff series in its 6 seasons. The Denver Nuggets reached the ABA Finals in 1976, but have never reached an NBA Finals.
25. Cincinnati, 5: Cincinnati Reds, 1919, 1940, 1975, 1976 and 1990. The Cincinnati Bengals won the AFC Championship in 1981 and 1988, but lost both Super Bowls to the 49ers. The Cincinnati Royals never reached the NBA Finals.
26. Edmonton, 5: Edmonton Oilers, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988 and 1990.
27. Phoenix (includes Glendale), 4: Arizona Diamondbacks, 2001; Phoenix Mercury, 2007, 2009 and 2014. The Arizona Cardinals won the 2008 NFC Championship, but lost the Super Bowl. The Phoenix Suns are 0-2 in NBA Finals. The Arizona Coyotes have never reached the Stanley Cup Finals, and now it looks like they're going to move before they do.
28. Indianapolis (includes Fort Wayne & Anderson), 4: Indianapolis Colts, 2006; Fort Wayne Pistons, 1944 and 1945; Indiana Fever, 2012. The Indiana Pacers won 3 ABA titles, but lost their only NBA Finals appearance in 2000.
29. Buffalo (includes Orchard Park, Rochester & Syracuse), 4: Rochester Royals, 1946 and 1951; Syracuse Nationals, 1955; Rochester Lancers, 1970. That's it. No Buffalo team has played in MLB since 1915 (and if you don't count the Federal League, not since 1885). The Buffalo Bills' 1964 and 1965 AFL titles don't count, and they're 0-4 in Super Bowls. The Buffalo Braves never reached an NBA Finals. The Buffalo Sabres are 0-2 in Stanley Cup Finals.
30. Tampa Bay (includes Tampa & St. Petersburg), 3: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2002; Tampa Bay Lightning, 2004; Tampa Bay Rowdies, 1975. The Tampa Bay Rays lost their only World Series appearance, in 2008.
31. Winnipeg, 3: Winnipeg Victorias, 1896, 1901 and 1902. The old Winnipeg Jets won the Avco Trophy, the World Hockey Association title, in 1976, 1978 and 1979; but neither the old Jets (who became the Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes and may be about to move again) nor the new ones (the former Atlanta Thrashers) have ever been to the Stanley Cup Finals.
32. Atlanta, 2: Atlanta Braves, 1995; Atlanta Chiefs, 1968. The Atlanta Falcons won the 1998 NFC title, but lost the Super Bowl. The Atlanta Hawks have never reached the NBA Finals (not since they were in St. Louis, anyway). The Atlanta Dream are 0-3 in WNBA Finals. Neither the Atlanta Flames (before they moved to Calgary) nor the Atlanta Thrashers (now the new Winnipeg Jets) got anywhere near the Stanley Cup Finals.
33. Vancouver, 2: Vancouver Millionaires, 1915; Vancouver Whitecaps, 1979. The Vancouver Canucks are 0-3 in Stanley Cup Finals. The reborn Whitecaps haven't yet reached an MLS Cup Final.
34. Quebec City, 2: Quebec Bulldogs, 1912 and 1913. The Quebec Nordiques won the Avco Trophy in 1977, but never made the Stanley Cup Finals.
35. New Orleans, 1: New Orleans Saints, 2009. The city's NBA teams (the Jazz, 1974 to 1979; and the Hornets/Pelicans, since 2002) have never reached the NBA Finals. The Buccaneers won the 1st ABA title in 1968, but that doesn't count here.
36. Salt Lake City, 1: Real Salt Lake, 2009. The Utah Jazz are 0-2 in NBA Finals, although the Utah Stars won the 1971 ABA title.
37. Columbus (not close enough to counted with Cincinnati), 1: Columbus Crew, 2008. The Columbus Blue Jackets have never won a Playoff series.
38. Carolina (includes Charlotte & Raleigh), 1: 2006 Carolina Hurricanes. The Carolina Panthers won the 2003 NFC title, but lost the Super Bowl.
39. Sacramento, 1: Sacramento Monarchs, 2005. The Kings have never reached the NBA Finals, though some think their 2001 denial was asterisk-worthy.
40. Calgary, 1: Calgary Flames, 1989.
41. Oklahoma (includes Oklahoma City & Tulsa), 1: Tulsa Roughnecks, 1983. The Oklahoma City Thunder reached the NBA Finals in 2012, but lost. The Tulsa Shock haven't reached the WNBA Finals, although they won 3 titles while playing in Detroit.
42. Portland, 1: Portland Trail Blazers, 1977. The Portland Timbers, revived in MLS, have had their closest call in the 1975 NASL Final, which they lost.
43. Victoria (British Columbia, not close enough to be counted with Vancouver), 1: Victoria Cougars, 1925.
44. Orlando, none: The Orlando Magic have been to the NBA Finals in 1995 and 2009, but lost both.
45. Tennessee (includes Memphis & Nashville), none: The Tennessee Titans won the AFC title in 1999, but lost the Super Bowl. Neither the Memphis Grizzlies nor the Nashville Predators have yet reached their sports' finals.
46. San Diego, none: The closest they've come is the San Diego Chargers winning the 1963 AFL Championship. The Chargers won the AFC title in 1994, but lost the Super Bowl. The San Diego Padres are 0-2 in the World Series. The San Diego Clippers got nowhere near the NBA Finals before moving to Los Angeles.
47. Jacksonville is the only metropolitan area currently with a team in either MLB, the NFL, the NBA, the NHL or MLS that has never had a team in the final of any of those sports. The closest call is the 2 AFC Championship Games reached by the Jacksonville Jaguars, in the 1996 and 1999 seasons.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Yankees Split 4 In Houston


The Yankees began a Western roadtrip with 4 games in Houston against the resurgent Astros. The Astros haven't made the Playoffs since their 2005 Pennant. Their last winning season was in 2008 -- 7 years ago. Their last 4 seasons, they've lost 106, 107, 111 and 92 games.

It's rare for a team to lose 106 or more games, especially if it's not an expansion team. The Astros did it 3 years in a row. They're not an expansion team. Nor did they suffer a catastrophe that cost them the services of several key players. (Thankfully, that has never happened in North American major league sports. There's never been an analogue to the Munich Air Disaster of 1958, which killed 8 Manchester United soccer players, and injured 2 others to the point where they could never play again.) Nor do they have problems maintaining an old, dysfunctional stadium: Minute Maid Park is in its 16th season, and no one is suggesting it be replaced or even upgraded.

Nor is the club having Mets-type financial issues: They've kept payroll low, but that was a choice. After the aging of the generation that got them to 6 Playoff berths in 9 seasons from 1997 to 2005, including Hall-of-Famer Craig Biggio and should-be-Hall-of-Famer Jeff Bagwell, Astro management figured it would be better to rebuild than to reload.

It took a few years, but they're doing it. They gained 19 games from 2013 to 2014. The switch from the National League Central to the American League West didn't help in '13, but maybe it did for '14. At the conclusion of this series with the Yankees, they are 44-34, 4 games ahead of the Whatever They're Calling Themselves This Season Angels of Anaheim, and in all of Major League Baseball, only the Missouri teams, the Kansas City Royals and the St. Louis Cardinals, have a better record.

*

On Thursday night, they didn't pound Yankee starter Adam Warren. More like sliced him, and then reliever Chris Capuano, who actually pitched one of his better games since coming to the Yankees. They scored single runs in the 2nd, 4th, 6th and 8th innings, none with the use of a home run (although 3 of the 4 came as a result of doubles -- either the run scorer had doubled, or a double drove him in).

Dallas Keuchel -- a pitcher for Houston named Dallas? Is somebody trying to "mess with Texas"? -- pitched a complete game, throwing 116 pitches, which probably bothered Joe Girardi more than the defeat, seeing as how he sees the pitch count as more important than the score. He allowed just 6 hits and 1 walk, and it wasn't until the 9th inning that the Yankees even got a runner to 2nd base.

The Yankees did load the bases in the 9th, and did get the tying run to the plate. With 2 outs, Alex Rodriguez singled, Mark Teixeira walked, and Carlos Beltran singled, but A-Rod couldn't get home. That left it up to rookie Jose Pirela. If he'd hit one out, and Minute Maid Park is a hitter's park, it would have tied the game. Alas, he grounded into a force play. He will have his moments for the Yankees, but this past Thursday night was not destined to be one of them.

Sometimes, you lose a game because you've blown it. Sometimes, you just get shut down by a pitcher who's on, and there's little you can do about it.

Astros 4, Yankees 0. WP: Keuchel (9-3). No save. LP: Warren (5-5).

*

On Friday night, the Yankees fell behind 2-0 after 6 innings. Vincent Velasquez had the Yankees handcuffed, every bit as much as Keuchel had the night before.

Except, this time, the Yankees found a Harry Houdini escape from those handcuffs. With 1 out in the top of the 7th, Beltran, the Astros' postseason hero of 2004, singled. Garrett Jones followed with another single. Will Harris came in to relieve, and Chris Young said, "Abracadabra!" Had he merely sawed the Astros' lead in half, with a single to make it 2-1, I would have been fine with it. But no, he made the lead disappear, with a home run over the short left-field wall with the CITGO sign, the Astros' poor attempt at copying Fenway Park's Green Monster.

Yes, I know, in New York baseball, the word "magic" is more often associated with the Mets. As is "miracle." With the Yankees, we more often use words like "pride," "tradition," "destiny."

At any rate, Nathan Eovaldi had pitched well enough to win, but until the 7th, he hadn't gotten the run support he needed. Beltran, Jones and Young (sounds like a law firm) got him off the hook, and Girardi brought in Chasen Shreve, who struck out the side.

Naturally, Girardi refused to leave in a cruising pitcher (I will never understand his bullpen maneuvers), and brought in Justin Wilson. He only got the 1st 2 outs in the 8th, and Dellin Betances had to nail down a 4-out save.

Yankees 3, Astros 2. WP: Eovaldi (7-2). SV: Betances (5). LP: Harris (4-1).

*

The Yankees played the Saturday game as if they'd had enough of not scoring in the Astros' rinky-dink modern retractable-roof stadium. (The Astrodome, mostly vacant since the Astros left after the 1999 season, and with no firm plan for what to do with it, was a pitcher's park, which was rare for the old-style domes.)

Brian McCann hit a grand slam in the top of the 1st inning to give the Yankees a 4-0 lead before the Astros even came to bat. They got 2 of those runs back in the bottom of the 1st, but the Yankees took them right back in the top of the 2nd, thanks to another Young homer. (McCann's 12th homer of the season, Young's 10th. Remember, we haven't yet left June, much less reached the All-Star Break.)

But Masahiro Tanaka fell apart, and in the 5th, allowed the Astros to tie it at 6-6. Girardi brought in Bryan Mitchell to pitch the 6th inning, and he got through it and into the 7th. Shreve finished that inning off.

Brett Gardner led off the top of the 8th with a walk, Young reached on an error, A-Rod flew out, and Teix doubled home Gardner and Young. Chase Headley added an insurance run in the 9th, with his 8th homer of the year.

Yankees 9, Astros 6. WP: Shreve (5-1). SV: Betances (6). LP: Pat Neshek (3-1).

*

Things started out well for the Yankees in the Sunday game, too. With 1 out in the top of the 3rd, Stephen Drew, well, drew a walk. A wild pitch advanced him to 2nd, and Gardner singled him home.

But that was the last good news of the day, as Gardner giveth, and Gardner taketh away. In the bottom of the 4th, Carlos Correa hit a drive to center field that Gardner misplayed, allowing him to get all the way around the bases and score the tying run. In the 7th, Correa struck again, leading off with a double, and coming home on Evan Gattis' triple. The Astros added an insurance run in the 8th.

Michael Pineda pitched decently, but, again, the Yankees didn't generate enough runs, as Collin McHugh shut them down. Astros 3, Yankees 1. WP: McHugh (9-3). SV; Luke Gregerson (18) LP: Pineda (8-5).

The Yankees move further west, to begin a series against the Angels in Anaheim.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Super Nova Returns, Yanks Give Him Enough Runs


In their 3-game home Interleague series against the Philadelphia Phillies, the Yankees scored 8, 6 and 10 runs. That should have been enough for them to win every game. Instead, they only won 1.

Phillies legend turned broadcaster Richie Ashburn used to turn to broadcast partner Harry Kalas and say, "The game's easy, Harry, if you get good pitching, you get good fielding, and you score a few." And if you don't...

On Tuesday night, CC Sabathia did not give the Yankees good pitching. He had to leave in the top of the 5th inning, trailing 6-3. There is now talk (on social media, if not from the Yankee brass) about putting him in the bullpen.

But the Yankees bailed him out, as far as the loss was concerned. Having already had Garrett Jones' 4th home run of the season, and Brett Gardner's 9th, the Bronx Bombers got back-to-back homers leading off the bottom of the 5th, from Chase Headley (his 7th) and Alex Rodriguez (his 15th). In the same inning, doubles by Carlos Beltran and Chris Young tied the game at 6-6.

Closer Andrew Miller is on the Disabled List, but, with the game still tied going into the 9th, Joe Girardi may have brought in Dellin Betances anyway. Normally up to the task -- until mid-June, ol' Number 68 hadn't allowed an earned run all season -- this time, as C.J. Cregg (Allison Janney on The West Wing) would say, he compwetewy impwoded. This is what he allowed: Double, hit by pitch, RBI double, groundout, hit by pitch.

Girardi removed him for Nick Rumbleow, who walked the bases full, and allowed a bases-loaded triple.

Phillies 11, Yankees 6. WP: Ken Giles (3-1). No save. LP: Betances (4-1).

*

For yesterday afternoon's series finale, the Yankees badly needed a good start. And they were depending on Ivan Nova, who, due to injury, hadn't pitched in the major leagues since April 2014.

The man once known as Super Nova pitched into the 7th inning, allowed no runs, earned or otherwise, just 3 hits and 2 walks. While a no-hitter would have been better in a technical sense, realistically, considering where he was coming from (over a year on the DL), the Yankees couldn't have realistically hoped for a better start.

Ah, but for all the talk about how "pitching is 75 percent of baseball" and "pitching and defense wins championships," the cold, hard truth is that you can't win if you don't score. It would have been just like the 2013 and 2014 Yankees if the 2015 Yankees followed 2 games where they scored a few and lost with 1 where they held the opposition to few and scored fewer.

And the Phils' pitcher was Cole Hamels, one of the few remaining players from their 2008 and 2009 Pennant winners. He's gotten better lately, leading some people to think that he's making himself look good for teams to trade for him. Even the Yankees are rumored to be interested.

Bottom of the 2nd: Young led off with a single. John Ryan Murphy drew a walk. Didi Gregorius bunted them over, and beat it out to load the bases with nobody out.

If you're a Met fan, you're thinking, "Aw shit, now the pitcher's spot in the order is coming up. Why, oh why, did I have to become a fan of a team in a league that doesn't have the DH?"

Fortunately, you're a Yankee Fan, and this is a real league, and the pitcher's spot was not up. Jose Pirela was, and he grounded to 3rd, and instead of starting a double play, Andres Blanco made a bad throw, and 2 runs came home.

Bottom of the 4th: Gregorius led off with a double. Pirela walked. Gardner singled home Gregorius. Headley doubled home Pirela. A-Rod grounded out, but Mark Teixeira singled home Gardner. 5-0 Yankees.

Young added an RBI single in the 6th, and the Yankees put it away in the 7th after Nova left: An RBI double by Pirela (yeah, he's ready for the major leagues) and RBI singles by A-Rod and Teix (did somebody say they were old and washed-up?).

Bryan Mitchell got the last out for Nova in the 7th, and pitched a scoreless 8th. Girardi brought in Diego Moreno to pitch the 9th, and he was a bit shaky, allowing a couple of runs, but put an end to it.

Yankees 10, Phillies 2. WP: Nova (1-0). No save. LP: Hamels (5-6).

*

The homestand over, the Yankees have flown to Houston, where the Astros, now in the American League, have followed 4 straight horrible seasons with a run that has them in Playoff contention. Here are the projected starting pitchers for the series:

Tonight, 8:10 PM (7:10 Central Time): Adam Warren vs. Dallas Kuechel. Why is a guy named Dallas pitching for Houston?

Tomorrow night, 8:10: Nathan Eovaldi vs. Vincent Velasquez.

Saturday afternoon, 4:10: Masahiro Tanaka vs. Brett Oberholtzer.

Sunday afternoon, 2:10: Michael Pineda vs. Collin McHugh.

"Seinfeld" Episodes That Wouldn't Work Today

This is not about sports, although there will be a couple of references.

Is Seinfeld the greatest TV show of all time? Hardly. At its best, it was phenomenally funny, and made you think. At its worst, the four main characters -- Jerry Seinfeld playing a fictional version of his standup comedian self, Jason Alexander as job-hopping George Costanza, Julia Louis-Dreyfus as publishing executive Elaine Benes, and Michael Richards as hipster doofus Cosmo Kramer -- were horrible human beings, and it was played for laughs that, even then, should have made some people squirm.

New York magazine just published an article ranking all 168 episodes. I disagreed with it a bit, as there were too many episodes from the last two seasons that were ranked highly.

It made me think about how well some of those episodes, most now 20 or more years old, would play if they were shown for the first time today. Some of them wouldn't work, either due to changing mores or changing technology.

A lot of these episodes have cultural references from the main characters' youth: The 1960s and '70s. Remaking this show now, with the characters being in their 30s, would put their formative years in the 1990s and 2000s, meaning such pop-culture references as the Kennedys, "Mrs. Robinson" and Mannix -- to say nothing of 1960s Yankees like Mickey Mantle and Joe Pepitone -- wouldn't have the same resonance. So I'm not going to count an episode just for something like that.

These will be listed in chronological order, not in order of egregiousness. And I remind you: This isn't about how good or bad the episodes were -- sometimes, an episode can be funny in spite of being tasteless -- only about whether there's a plot device that wouldn't work on a new show today.

1. "The Pen," Season 3, October 2, 1991. Elaine on drugs was funny then -- even if this was done better with John Ritter on Three's Company a few years earlier. But just as drunkenness isn't nearly as funny as it used to be, neither is being drug-addled.

The Friends episode "The One Where Nana Dies," where Ross throws his back out at his grandmother's funeral, and takes too many painkillers for it, did slightly advance the plot: Under the influence, he tells Rachel he loves her, and Rachel thinks it's the drug talking, causing a confused Ross to pass out. But in this Seinfeld episode? The muscle relaxant for her own back pain just makes Elaine look like an addled idiot.

2. "The Parking Garage," Season 3, October 30, 1991. Unlike most of these, this one wouldn't fail today due to changing attitudes toward victims of discrimination. This one would fail today because whatever they were buying at that mall could have been ordered online. Or, they still could have gone to the mall, but one of them could have typed the number of the parking space into their phone's notepad. Either way, they then would have had to fill 21 minutes with snappy dialogue.

Come to think of it, why didn't Jerry, George and Elaine just strand Kramer and take a New Jersey Transit bus back to Manhattan? After all, knowing how screwed up NJT buses were then, as well as now, that could have been an episode all by itself! (Elaine's fish still might not have made it, but they would have had a better chance than waiting for Kramer.) Hell, Jerry even did a joke on the show, a few years later, about how a bus is just a big ass, isn't it?

3. "The Cafe," Season 3, November 6, 1991. No, I'm not referring to the racial implications. Or the religious ones: Pakistanis are, by definition, Muslims. I'm talking about Jerry's line about being frustrated at watching Babu stand in his restaurant's doorway, with no one walking in. (Then why watch at all? "I don't know. I'm obsessed with it.") Jerry said, "You know, from here, I could probably shoot him. I'd be doing both of us a favor."

After Columbine High School, the Beltway Sniper, the Aurora theater, Sandy Hook Elementary School and the Charleston church, among many, many other shooting sprees -- all of which happened after Seinfeld's 1998 finale -- if this was funny then, it sure as hell isn't funny now.

4. "The Contest," Season 4, November 18, 1992. No, I'm not talking about the main plot line. Although George calling himself "King of the County" makes no sense: Counties don't have kings! In England, they have dukes. But, in America, counties have sheriffs and/or county executives. That's well below a king.

In this case, I'm going to make an exception to my time-period rule. If John F. Kennedy Jr. were still alive, there would be considerably less bittersweetness. But considering how, unlike Seinfeld's last episode, his life's last episode actually did include a plane that crashed off the coast of Massachusetts, the references to him are no longer funny.

And if they did try to remake this one today, who could they use? Ron Reagan Jr. is way too old now, so are George H.W. Bush's children, and, between them, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama only have daughters, not sons. Maybe they could borrow Prince Harry: After all, he likes coming to America, although, in his case, what happened in Las Vegas didn't stay in Vegas.

5. "The Shoes," Season 4, February 4, 1993. "Get a good look, Costanza?" Okay, we knew George was a lech (Jerry, too). This is not news. And if NBC executive Russell Dalrymple's daughter were 20 and visiting from college, it still wouldn't make George look too good, but at least she'd be an adult.

But, George, she's 15 years old. Fifteen. And her father is an executive at NBC -- the network of To Catch a Predator. Anyone watching this now has to think of Chris Hansen's line to the predators they catch: "Have a seat over there."

6. "The Outing," Season 4, February 11, 1993. Whether Modern Family would have been successful without this episode is debatable, but we're getting closer and closer to the day when a major celebrity (which, within the context of the show, Jerry was not) outs himself is not major news. The scene of the Marine telling Jerry he's coming out, thus ending his military career, also dates this episode.

7. "The Dinner Party," Season 5, February 3, 1994. Seeing a guy having double-parked and boxed in himself and Kramer, George says, "You know, this is how dictators get started!" As in, if they can get away with this, they'll see what else they can get away with, and they'll think bigger and bigger, until they can get away with taking over an entire country -- maybe more than one.

George cites Benito Mussolini as someone who wouldn't "circle the block six times, looking for a space." Kramer cites Idi Amin. Think how many cars he could've boxed in with those long limos he liked. The double-parker? An Englishman whose beret, full face, mustache and long, military-style coat make him look like Saddam Hussein. (The guy in the spa probably wasn't the real Salman Rushdie, either.)

Today, with even people who remember World War II being in their 80s, and genuine dictators being endlessly mocked and unable to truly hurt the U.S. -- even Vladimir Putin is seeing his economy ruined by the stronger man, Barack Obama -- it's not dictators we fear anymore. It's terrorists. Including home-grown bigots.

8. "The Marine Biologist," Season 5, February 10, 1994. It would have been very easy to check George's Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn page to discover that he was, in fact, not a marine biologist.

9. "The Switch," Season 6, January 5, 1995. The episode that introduces us to Kramer's mother (and has Kramer catch Newman screwing her), and reveals his first name (Cosmo), also makes jokes about bulimia. I'm not sure that would work today.

10. "The Jimmy," Season 6, March 16, 1995. George likes spicy chicken, and Mike doesn't have a problem with Jimmy referring to himself in the 3rd person. But the mockery of the disabled? That is over the line.

And by being a perverted dentist who possibly leads to Jerry being molested (we can't know for sure), Bryan Cranston may have been more twisted as Tim Watley than he ever was as Walter "Heisenberg" White.

11. "The Pool Guy," Season 7, November 16, 1995. A massively stupid episode that should have been a sign that it was time to wrap this sucker up. But that's why it didn't work then, not why it wouldn't work today. Moviefone? You can now check movie times on your smartphone. There's an app for that.

12. "The Invitations," Season 7, May 16, 1996. Susan dies, and George's cheapness (he didn't want to pay for good invitations) and laziness (he wasn't willing to lick his half) are indirectly responsible. And all four characters act like, "Well, that's over, let's go get some coffee."

This was coldness on an insane scale. Sure, Susan wasn't particularly likable, but have some respect for the dead. Say what you want about other NBC sitcom characters, but Sam Malone of Cheers, Dan Fielding of Night Court, Ross Geller of Friends, and others who occasionally did inexcusable things usually had a guilty conscience about it. In the wake of the conservative movement's "war on women," this ending would have been ripped to shreds on social media.

This wasn't killing Henry Blake on M*A*S*H, or Adriana La Cerva on The Sopranos, or anyone on Game of Thrones. Those shows, while having their funny moments, were dramas, and death was not only a common occurrence, it was arguably the main theme of all three shows. This was a comedy -- and it killed a key (if not main) character, throwing her away like a used tissue.

This should have been the series finale. Jerry, Larry David, and the writers could have wrapped it up by having the characters realize, "Hey, we're not good people. We just saw the most powerful evidence of this yet. We need to do something about it." They didn't even have to show us the four doing different things, to show that they had changed. Just show them making the commitment, and end the series that way.

Instead, the show plodded on for two more seasons, which were the weakest since the first two, when the show was still finding its bearings. But this episode set the pattern for those last two seasons, as all four main characters became parodies of themselves. If those last two seasons had been the first two, the show never would have made it.

13. "The Checks," Season 8, November 7, 1996. Beyond being impossibly stupid, and proving that they should have stopped with Season 7, I don't know how they got away with either the Japanese stereotypes or Jerry essentially allowing those tourists to die.

14. "The Little Jerry," Season 8, January 9, 1997. In the wake of the scandals of Pedro Martinez's cockfighting and Michael Vick's dogfighting, this one wouldn't work. Besides, it's racist to Hispanics.

15. "The Susie," Season 8, February 13, 1997. This was a ripoff of the first-season M*A*S*H episode "Tuttle," in which Hawkeye Pierce's made-up friend becomes a cause celebre. (This, itself, was a reworking of the story of a Russian soldier, Lieutenant Kizhe -- no, this is not a Chekov "It was inwented in Russia" idea from Star Trek, it really is a Russian story, one that was made into a 1934 film.)

Making fun of the Army is easy, but somebody at the 4077th MASH should have pointed out that there was no Tuttle. And I seriously doubt that anyone as stupid as J. Peterman appears to be could have risen so far in his business -- or that Elaine could have been so stupid as to believe that Peterman could be that stupid (even if he was).

16. "The Nap," Season 8, April 10, 1997. Phoning a bomb threat in to Yankee Stadium? This was before 9/11.

17. "The Butter Shave," Season 9, September 25, 1997. The start of the final season that never should have been. Perhaps the whole point of the show is that these four people are, to use John Candy's phrase from Planes, Trains and Automobiles, insensitive assholes. But pretending to be disabled, just to gain a job, and then to win sympathy at it?

Face it, George: If you'd told the truth, that you were in physical therapy, and you'd be ready to walk without the cane in a few weeks, you still would have gotten the job, and you wouldn't have needed a big ball of oil.

Throw in the Jerry/Bania rivalry, which was old by the end of the first episode with it, and the Kramer butter, cannibal Newman shtick, and you've got a horrible episode.

18. "The Merv Griffin Show," Season 9, November 6, 1997. Jerry drugging his girlfriend so he can play with her vintage toys (which she never allows when she's awake) is too close to date rape to get on the air in the 2010s.

19. "The Betrayal," Season 9, November 20, 1997. The idea of a "backward" episode could have worked. This didn't. The India stereotypes were offensive enough, but portraying Elaine as a pathetic drunk, and showing George essentially drugging her, was over the line. (Then again, he'd previously slipped an old boss of his a mickey.)

Less offensive, but still stupid: Does anybody really believe that nobody would notice George was wearing Timberlands? Also stupid: Does anybody really think that Elaine would be willing to be Sue Ellen Mischke's maid of honor? That would be like Newman getting married (some suspension of disbelief is required for that), and asking Jerry to be his best man... and Jerry accepts. No, just no.

20. "The Puerto Rican Day Parade," Season 9, May 7, 1998. It didn't work then: NBC actually had to apologize for the episode's bigotry. They did not, however, apologize for the episode being just plain bad, so bad that the article I mentioned at the beginning named it the worst episode in the nine-season history of the show.

As for the finale, one of the most heavily-ripped series finales in television history, there's nothing about that episode that couldn't be done today -- nothing that would be less socially acceptable today, no tech issues -- but it was just plain stupid.

True, the main characters deserved to face the consequences for their various dick moves throughout the 1990s. But the law they broke was unconstitutional. A judge with more sense than Art Vandelay (ironically, he showed as little sense as George did when using that name) would have thrown the case out. Furthermore, why prosecute the people who documented a mugging when you can use their evidence to nail the mugger? The cops should have thanked them instead of arresting them.

Jackie Chiles flopping his closing argument after sleeping with Sidra, a witness for the other side? Okay, she looks like Teri Hatcher (who's still spectacular at age 50), but that's a serious ethical violation. Jackie wasn't even a criminal defense attorney in the first place. And a good defense attorney would have made one key argument: None of the awful things these witnesses from New York are accusing the defendants of has anything to do with the crime at hand. It would have been like a prosecutor at Nuremberg charging Hermann Goering with littering.

Of course, if Julia Louis-Dreyfus -- most recently having played a frustrated Vice President who becomes President on Veep -- were to guest star as Elaine, still in prison, on Orange Is the New Black, that might "break the Internet" in a way that Kim Kardashian never could.

I wonder what Jerry and Larry David could have done with the Kardashians. Maybe have Kramer hook up with one of them? Nah, if "The Shoes" is any indication, they'd have had George try to hook up with Kendall. Or is Kylie the one that's still underage? It's hard to keep up with them.