The Week That Was in Baseball: October 12-18, 2009
How A-Rod Got His Groove Back The Most Overrated Players in Baseball
Divorce McCourt: Frank v. Jamie
Rating the Gate: MLB attendance in 2009

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The Monkey Has Left the Building
A postseason slump can eat away at the soul of even the best of baseball players; remember Barry Bonds’ constant inability to rise to the occasion in October before breaking out in titanic fashion during the 2002 postseason. Alex Rodriguez can relate; over his last 44 postseason at-bats coming into this season, he had knocked out seven hits with just one RBI (on a meaningless solo homer). The Yankees, during this time, were 4-9 and failed to win a single series. This postseason, A-Rod’s bat has come back to life, and with clutch magic; in the first five games of the playoffs, Rodriguez is 7-for-19 with three home runs—each of them critical blasts that either tied or won the game—and eight RBIs, helping to roll the Yankees towards their first World Series appearance since 2003.

The Dodger Divorce Docket
Last year, San Diego owner
John Moores was involved in a bitter divorce that led to his selling of the Padres—but not before he had to lop off a big chunk of payroll that buried the team in the bottom rungs of baseball. But that may be nothing compared to what’s likely ahead for Dodger fans, who learned this past week that owner Frank McCourt is divorcing his wife, Jamie McCourt. What makes the McCourt’s case more compelling is that both husband and wife are highly involved in the organization; Frank is owner and chairman, while Jamie is the chief executive officer. Which brings up the question: Which McCourt gets the team? Frank’s lawyers claim they have written documentation to prove he officially owns 100% of the ballclub, which is disputed by Jamie’s lawyers.

Fortunately for the Dodgers, the core of their roster will remain intact for 2010 with few if any possible free agent defections, but general manager Ned Colletti’s status will be in limbo, and there will be a hole or two for the team to fill via free agency (especially in the rotation). The question becomes: Will a messy offseason divorce by the McCourts handcuff the team’s ability to operate? Stay tuned.

Mis-Touched by an Angel
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim lost Game One of the ALCS to New York, 4-1, thanks to errors by three players—
Torii Hunter, Juan Rivera and John Lackey—who committed a combined total of five errors for the entire regular season.

The Wild Child
Clayton Kershaw’s three wild pitches in the midst of a fifth inning meltdown in Game One of the NLCS was widely reported to be a LCS record; so far as we can tell, the 21-year old Dodger southpaw also tied a postseason mark with the most wild tosses in a game, as we had no LDS record book at the ready and the Internet searches turned up no smoking guns. (We have the World Series records covered.) Either way, it was an ugly end to an otherwise stellar night for Kershaw, who pitched four scoreless innings to start before his unraveling cost the Dodgers five runs (on three hits, three walks and the three wild pitches) and, ultimately, the game.

Dead End Street
Colorado closer Huston Street lost three games for 2009, two of them coming in the final two games of the NLDS. All three losses came against Philadelphia.

LDS Fun Fact 1
For the first time since the establishment of the eight-team, first-round League Divisional Series, all four teams with home field advantage advanced to the second round.

LDS Fun Fact 2
For the fourth straight year, no first-round playoff series went the five-game distance.

Off and Gunning
The pro baseball debut of sky-high pitching prospect Stephen Strasburg was a success, as the $15 million number one draftee of the Washington Nationals pitched 3.1 scoreless innings for the Phoenix Desert Dogs in an Arizona Fall League contest. He allowed two hits and a walk, struck out two, but failed to reach the 100-MPH barrier on the speed gun, twice topping out at 99.

Jonny the Robot
Is it just us, or has anyone else noticed how ESPN play-by-play man Jon Miller pronounces the word “error” like a robot—saying it as, “air-ore” in contrast to “air-err” as most of us tend to say?

Take the TGG All-Time Hit Quiz
How well do you know your knowledge when it comes to baseball’s all-time hit leaders? Here’s 22 questions that will test your trivia know-how.

Now Playing at TGG
Check out Ed Attanasio's interview with former Baltimore slugger Jim Gentile in the latest TGG installment of They Were There.

Also Now Playing at TGG
TGG's year-end review of the regular season is now live, breaking down the best, worst, most surprising and most disappointing performances from each major league team.

The Comebacker’s Greatest Hits
Click here to look at the TGG Comebacker archive going back to the start of the 2007 season.

More Credit Than They Deserve?
In June 2008, Sports Illustrated asked 495 major league players to name their pick for the most overrated player in baseball. The top choice: Derek Jeter, which makes us wonder if the players were confusing “overrated” with “jealous.” After all, it’s hard to call someone overrated when he’ll likely finish his career ranked in the all-time top ten for hits and runs scored, makes exceptional plays on defense and has that Hall-of-Fame knack for delivering when the spotlight shines brightest. As Jeter made recent headlines for becoming the all-time Yankee hit leader and as his team makes a charge toward the World Series, the subject of whether he’s overrated has cropped up again, likely sparked in part by a large anti-Jeter lobby full of Boston Red Sox fans and anyone else who hates the Yankees and sees Jeter as a symbol of their venom.

The whole Jeter controversy led us to wonder: Who are the most overrated players in the majors today? Absolving those whose careers have been derailed by recent injuries (and are thus unfairly tagged with the overrated stigma), following are ten players, listed alphabetically, who are far more deserving of the honor than Jeter, who, whether you love him or not, will—and should—be a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer.

A.J. Burnett. The Yankees paid All-Star money for a guy who might not even be the number two starter in the rotation on some major league clubs. Burnett is a career .500 pitcher, and even when he broke out and won 18 games in 2008, he did so with an unimpressive 4.07 ERA.

Pat Burrell. Never mind the awful numbers he put up this year at Tampa Bay; Burrell was always a frustrating one to root for in his better years at Philadelphia, struggling to hit .250 and not playing the greatest of defense.

Joe Crede. People keep expecting this guy to “return” to 2006 form, when he hit .283 with 30 homers and 94 RBIs for the Chicago White Sox; the fact is, that year was the exception to the rule of his career in general, which has been saddled with subpar averages (further dragged down by a lack of walks) and okay power. Crede is what he is, and he’s not that exceptional.

Adam Dunn. Despite the constant and prodigious production of home runs and walks, Dunn is not a franchise player. He’s Dave Kingman cloned; poor averages, many strikeouts and lousy defense.

Matt Holliday. Some players have all the luck in the world. What any major leaguer would kill for to have a chance to either hit a mile high in Denver or bat behind Albert Pujols. Holliday’s done both. But his short stint in Oakland proves that, when naked in the lineup, he’s a solid player—but not great.

Nick Johnson. Here’s a guy who wishes he could be a player like Burrell or Dunn above. Many still have the perception that he is. Johnson adds up walks like there’s no tomorrow, but his power potential is frustratingly still trying to kick into gear.

Daisuke Matsuzaka. Even when he put up good-looking numbers in 2008—an 18-3 record and 2.90 ERA—he still averaged less than six innings per start thanks to a preponderance of walks and high pitch counts, and that doesn’t win you many friends in the bullpen. Beyond that, he hasn’t shown OMG stuff and continues to struggle with control. The ace that would be, to this point, has not.

Freddy Sanchez. Sure, the defensively sound second baseman hits for a high average (and won a batting title in 2006), but much the way Bill Madlock used to; with little power, few walks and without the triple-digit threat of either runs or RBIs.

Vernon Wells. We’re not tying Wells’ inclusion on this list to the generous contract Toronto gave him; he keeps underachieving while relative nobodies like Adam Lind and Aaron Hill punch out big-time numbers alongside him.

Kerry Wood. The Cleveland closer will always have his 20 strikeouts on May 6, 1998. The game that put him on the national map may actually be his curse in life; he has never lived up to the greatness expected of him, even as many around baseball continue to believe he can.

Down With the Count
With America hard hit by recession, the big question for baseball this past regular season was how attendance would hold up. The numbers are in; MLB suffered a 6% decline at the gate this year, which while not great news was not the catastrophic drop some had feared.

Commissioner Bud Selig’s kneejerk response in public to the decline was to point out that the two New York teams opened play this season in new ballparks with much smaller capacities than their previous locations, which is true—but less supply did not translate to higher demand, as the Yankees and Mets had trouble selling out their new ballparks on a daily basis (the Yankees filled up their pricey new joint just seven times during the season; unbelievably, 3,000 tickets for Game One of the ALCS went unsold).

Of MLB’s 30 teams, only nine saw increased attendance, and most of those increases were marginal; the 10% rise at the gate in Arlington for the Texas Rangers was the highest to be found anywhere. Of the 21 other teams that say decreased numbers, those with the most precipitous drops included the Mets (as expected with the smaller new ballpark), Detroit (even with a surprising performance on the field), San Diego, Toronto and Washington. Finally, this note: In 2009, 11 teams failed to sell two million tickets—up from seven in 2008.