For Yankees and Astros it was a tale of two cities

For Yankees and Astros it was a tale of two cities

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” describes one of the most quoted literary lines ever written. Such was the case in the 2019 ALCS.

Fans of Major League Baseball had the matchup they anticipated. Both the Yankees and Astros dominated the American League from the first pitch this season. MLB executives dreamed of another exciting seven-game classic as they had witnessed in 2017.

Both teams did not display the offensive talent that saw each of them finish in the top three in runs and OPS during the regular season. Houston hit just .179 for the series, while the Yankees had four regulars bat under .150. After combining to average 11.5 runs a game during the regular season, they scored 7.1 in the ALCS.

However, despite all the offensive futility in the series, both teams treated fans to a ninth-inning they will never forget.

YANKEES POSTSEASON FAILURES, HOUSTON SUCCESSES

In one corner stood the Yankees, who fought off Justin Verlander in keeping their season alive in Game 5. Getting back to the Fall Classic is a rite of passage for the Bronx Bombers. At least it was. New York risked failing to appear at least once in a decade if they could not rally to win the series. The last time the Yankees went a full decade without reaching the World Series was 100 years ago during the decade that saw the United States fight in World War I (1910-1919).

New York Yankees, World Series Appearances By Decade

2010-19 0 2000-09 4 1990-99 3 1980-89 1 1970-79 3 1960-69 5 1950-59 8 1940-49 5 1930-39 5 1920-29 6 1910-19 0

Aside from that incredible streak of excellence being at risk, the intimidating influence the Yankees once had on the postseason seems to have expired. Entering Game 6, the Yankees experienced walking off the field losers nine previous times this millennium. Luis Gonzalez floats a ball over Derek Jeter’s head in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series started a trend that no one saw coming.

Mixed in those memories was the biggest postseason collapse in MLB history. Needing just three outs to get to the 2004 World Series and complete a sweep of the hated Red Sox, the unimaginable occurred. Boston tied the game off Mariano Rivera then extended their season with a walk-off HR by David Ortiz. Three days later, they watched Boston celebrate on their home field, becoming the only team in MLB history to blow a 3-0 series lead.

Most Postseason Walk-off Losses, MLB History

Yankees 18 >> Dodgers 12 Red Sox 12 Braves 11 >> Four have ended series (most in MLB history)

In the other corner stood the Astros. The same Astros who previously delivered walk-off postseason wins twice against them (Game 2 of 2019 and 2017 ALCS).

However, facing a two-run deficit entering the ninth-inning, DJ LeMahieu saved their season with an inspiring AB that resulted in a game-tying HR. Undoubtedly, the swagger was back as they took the field for the bottom of the ninth. Surely, momentum was on their side.

The Astros suffered a previous meltdown in the 2005 NLCS (yes, they were in the National League then). One-out away from reaching their first World Series, Brad Lidge surrendered a 3-run HR to Albert Pujols to push the series back to St. Louis. However, the Astros finished the Cardinals off in Game 6 to pick up their closer.

Jose Altuve experienced scoring a walk-off run in the 2017 ALCS. As he approached the plate, he knew he could pick up his closer. He stared out at Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman. In his previous 31 postseason appearances, Chapman only allowed one HR. Despite allowing one of the most significant HR in World Series history, allowing Cleveland to tie Game 7, he had allowed just one run in his 13 postseason appearances since.

Altuve delivered the Astros 10th walk-off win in postseason history. No other MLB team except the Yankees 23 has reached double-digits. On the flip side, it was the Yankees 18th postseason walk-off loss.

For Altuve and the Astros, it was the best of times, while for Chapman and the Yankees, it was the worst of times.

Yankees Look To Continue Domination of Twins

Yankees Look To Continue Domination of Twins

As the MLB Wild Card games take place this week, it gives us a chance to look back at a historic regular season.

For the first time in MLB history, four teams finished the regular season with 100 or more victories. Two of those teams will face each other in the American League Division Series as the Twins travel to Yankee Stadium on Friday.

The Twins and Yankees mark the second time in MLB postseason history that a pair of 100-win teams faced each other in the LDS. Last season, the 1 Yankees (100 wins) lost to the Red Sox (108 wins).

YANKEES OWN MINNESOTA

After losing Game 1 of the 2003 ALDS, the Yankees have won 13 of their last 14 postseason games against the Twins. Overall, their 13-2 record against the Twins is the second-best postseason winning percentage for one team over another. Only the Cardinals, who are 9-1 against the Padres in the postseason, have a higher win percentage against another team.

The Yankees’ dominance against the Twins doesn’t just apply to the postseason. Going back to the 2002 season, the Twins are 37-100 (.270 win percentage) against the Yankees (postseason included) That is the lowest win percentage for one team against any opponent in the same league over that span.

The Yankees defeated the Twins in the ALDS in 2003, 2004, 2009 and 2010, sweeping the Twins in 2009 and 2010. In each of their first three postseason meetings, the Yankees owned the home-field advantage in defeating the Twins. In 2010, the Twins finished with the best record in the American League before the Yankees swept them out of the postseason.

The Twins record at Yankees Stadium is bad enough (lost 15 of last 17 including 2017 Wild Card), but even going back to Minnesota isn’t much of a consolation (Twins have lost 10 straight postseason games at home and are 0-7 against the Yankees).

TWINS COULD SET POSTSEASON FUTILITY RECORD

Minnesota has not won a postseason game since Game 2 of the 2004 ALDS, a span of 13 games. The Twins losing spell matches the Boston Red Sox for the longest in postseason history. Boston’s streak stretched from Game 6 of the 1986 World Series to Game 1 of the 1998 ALDS.

YANKEES POSTSEASON REGULARS IN WILD CARD ERA

The Yankees’ achievements in the Wild Card era are incredible. They will be making their 21st postseason appearance in the 25 years since MLB introduced the Wild Card. Their five World Championships are the most in this era.

Most Postseason Appearances; Wild Card Era

TeamsApp.World Series
Titles
*Yankees 21 5
*Braves16 1
*Cardinals14 2
*2019 Postseason teams

In their previous 20 postseason appearances, the Yankees combined to win 23 series. That is seven more than the next closest team, the Cardinals, who have won 16. The Red Sox (15) and the Giants (11) are the only other teams to win more than 10.

Jets vs. Patriots

While the third Sunday of the season in the NFL is not significant to many opponents, it is for the Patriots and Jets. For New England, it forever changed their history, nevermind reshaping the entire sport’s image of Boston. While for the Jets, it leaves the question “what if?”

The United States was still in mourning when the Jets traveled to Foxboro Stadium on September 23, 2001. Trailing 10-3 with 5:11 left in the 4th quarter, the Patriots faced a third down and ten from their 19-yard line.

After losing in Week 1, Drew Bledsoe knew to start 0-2 with losses to the downtrodden Bengals and Jets, might start the clock ticking towards changes. The same worries faced second-year Head Coach Bill Belichick, who was now about to fall to 5-13 since resigning on a napkin as HC of the NYJ. As Bledsoe took off from the pocket and tried to run for the first down, little did he know he was about to change team history forever.

THE BRADY ERA

What began for the New England Patriots that day (internal injuries to Bledsoe were more severe than initially thought) is still going strong.

The New York Jets and Mo Lewis had no idea that the player that took over the Patriots franchise quarterback was the true franchise quarterback.

Since that day, the world of professional football has witnessed the greatest player ever to take the field. The Patriots have won just under 80 percent of all their regular-season games since Brady took over for Bledsoe on September 23, 2001.

New England currently has streaks of eight consecutive AFC Championship Game appearances, ten AFC East division titles, and 16 seasons with ten or more wins. The Jets division title in 2002 was the only blemish in Brady’s resume, as the Patriots have won the AFC East in 16 of his 17 full seasons. Brady missed all but the first half of the season opener in 2008, and despite winning 11 games, the Patriots did not qualify for the postseason.

NUMBERS vs. BRADY

Since the numbers with Brady at the helm are so dominant, it is not fair for me to compare the Jets over the same period. To show just how dominant Brady has been, I gave the Jets a fair shot by going back to the start of the 1988 season. In essence, I am comparing the last 31 New York Jets regular seasons to Tom Brady’s career, which spans 17 seasons. I did include postseason numbers for both parties.

Since making his first NFL start on September 30, 2001, Brady has started 309 games, postseason included. During that time, he has won 239 games and thrown for 595 total touchdowns.

Since the start of the 1988 season, the NY Jets have played in 513 games (postseason included). Over that time, they have won 225 games and thrown 601 touchdown passes.

Despite playing 204 fewer games, Brady has won 14 more games and thrown just five fewer TD passes than the entire Jets franchise since 1988.

The Jets will be entering New England a wounded animal, having lost the first two games of 2019 and without starting QB Sam Darnold. Meanwhile, the Patriots look to keep rolling with 42-year old Brady at the helm. The Patriots have outscored their first two opponents, the Steelers, and Dolphins, by a combined score of 76-3. The Patriots +73 point differential in the first two games of the season third-best in NFL history. Only the 1970 Detroit Lions (+75) and 1975 Washington Redskins (+74), have outscored their opponents by a wider margin in the seasons first two games.

Sunday will be Brady’s 36th career start against the Jets (postseason included). He is 28-7 (.800) overall, including a 15-3 record at Gillette Stadium. Overall Brady has thrown for 58 career TD against the Jets (30 at home) compared to just 15 interceptions (5 at home). Brady has averaged 245 yards per game passing overall (244 at home) and completed just under 62 percent of his passes.

The Jets have lost eight straight games, including 11 consecutive in the regular season against New England at home. Brady and the Pats have been exceptionally cruel to their divisional rivals in their last three matchups, outscoring them 105-12.

The last time the Jets left victorious at Gillette Stadium was the 2010 AFC Divisional Playoffs, when they stunned Brady and Belichick, 28-21. The last time Gang Green won at New England during the regular season was in 2006.

The excellent news for Gang Green is that a bye week lay in waiting during Week 4. The gives the Jets a chance to lick their wounds before they head to Philadelphia – a franchise they are 0-10 against – when they return.

Don’t Judge the Jets by Difficult Early Season Schedule

Don’t Judge the Jets by Difficult Early Season Schedule

by Mark Kelly

While New York Jets fans are preparing for their much anticipated season opener on Sunday, what is a fair expectation for their demanding early-season schedule?

While Week 1 against the Bills should be a victory to most fans and analysts, the next five games can make or break the first half of the season.

Week 2 finds the Jets hosting the suddenly very formidable Cleveland Browns in primetime. The fact that Browns hadn’t won in 19 straight games and just once in their previous 37 games didn’t stop them from defeating the Jets last season. Cleveland also fell behind 14-0 and a QB that never took a professional snap before rallied them to victory. If the Jets can lose under those circumstances, then I need to see a win before I predict one.

The Jets travel to New England to play their first road game of 2019. I don’t think you will find too many pundits that would assume a Jets win.

Just how awful are the Jets numbers against the reigning Super Bowl Champions?

Since Tom Brady took over for Drew Bledsoe on September 23, 2001 (thank you Mo Lewis), the Jets have lost 29 of 37 games against New England (includes postseason). Patriots own a six-game win streak overall and have won eight straight and 15 of last 19 games at home.

Here are some more numbers

Average score last 37 games vs NE: Patriots 26.1 Jets 16.2

Average score last 19 games at NE: Patriots 26.4 Jets 15.5

TOM BRADY vs. JETS

I researched how much better Tom Brady has been than the Jets since taking over on September 23, 2001. Since it’s unfair to judge the Jets and Brady under the same terms, I reached further back.

I compared the Jets as a team starting with the 1988 season and Brady overall in his career. Both include games in the postseason. Since 1988 the Jets have played 204 more games, won 12 fewer games and thrown just ten more touchdowns more as an organization than Brady has in his entire career.

New York Jets Franchise Since 1988 vs. Tom Brady’s Career (includes postseason)
  New York Jets Tom Brady
Games 511 307
Wins 225 237
Touchdowns Thrown 600 590

I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to think the Jets will lose this game.

After a bye in Week 4, the Jets travel to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles in Week 5. Despite the Jets pathetic numbers against New England since Brady’s arrival, the Jets are even worse against the Eagles.

The Jets have never defeated Philadelphia in their ten all-time meetings. They are the only current franchise winless against an opponent they have faced ten or more times. Until Gang Green defeats the Eagles, I can’t give them a win.

The Cowboys travel to Met Life Stadium in Week 6. Historically Gang Green has won two straight against Dallas after losing seven of their first nine matchups. Based on numbers alone, this would appear to be the Jets best chance to win since Week 2. However, Dallas is a hard team to forecast. They have won 32 of 48 games and two NFC East division titles since Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot joined the team in 2016.

The Jets finish this vicious stretch in their early-season schedule in Week 7 when Brady and the Pats come to Met Life Stadium. New England has won three straight and 14 of 18 in the Brady on the road against the Jets. Four of those Patriots wins have been by 20 or more points.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

While winning is the ultimate factor, how the Jets play against what most would say are superior opponents will be another huge factor to pay attention.

Sam Darnold will have all eyes on him when the season starts. If he continues the promise he showed last season, but the Jets aren’t able to win, that would be encouraging. If the defense can consistently force turnovers and put pressure on the opposing quarterbacks is another critical factor.

The Jets could lose as many as all five games after Week 1 and still be better than they were in 2018 when they were 3-3 after six games. The remainder of 2018 saw the Jets win just one more game. The Jets remaining ten games are all games the team could win.

In closing, don’t shut the door on this young team if they don’t see initial success in 2019. The lessons they learn facing such a challenging first six games could pay off in significant ways as the Jets wind down the schedule.

Mark Kelly is a staff writer for the World Wide Sports Radio Network

Jets Gase Era Looking To Produce Change and Results

Jets Gase Era Looking To Produce Change and Results

by Mark Kelly

The New York Jets made many exciting changes this offseason to reverse their historical trends of failure. Adam Gase, Joe Douglas, Le’Veon Bell, C.J. Mosley, and Quinnen Williams joined the organization in the offseason improving an already promising core that includes Jamal Adams and Sam Darnold. Expectations are high despite a difficult schedule to start the season. Will this new era lead to better results? Here is some of the history they are trying to reverse.

This Sunday marks the first NFL Sunday for the 2019 season. This season marks the 100th anniversary for the NFL.

The New York Jets start their 60th season playing football and their 50th as a member of the NFL. For Jets fans, playing 49 previous years in the NFL has not worked out well. They are one of four franchises (Lions, Browns – based on interpretation – and Chiefs) that have failed to reach the Super Bowl of the 26 franchises that made up the 1970 NFL season.

The Jets and Chiefs appeared in two of the four Super Bowls played before the rival leagues joined together for the 1970 season.  When both leagues agreed on the merger on June 8, 1966, they needed time to prepare for the merger. One of the agreements called for an AFL-NFL Championship Game that would pair the champions of each league against each other starting with that 1966 season. The AFL-NFL Championship game later became known as the “Super Bowl.”

WILL THE STREAK END THIS SEASON?

Despite the Jets vital role in giving the rival AFL league credibility by winning Super Bowl III, very little else has gone right since. Including their final season in the AFL in 1969 and its been 51 seasons between Super Bowl appearances.

While going that long without a Super Bowl appearance is enough to irritate their fanbase, it’s not the only long streak of futility. They are also one of three franchises since the merger, to never host a conference championship (Tennessee Titans – the original Houston Oilers – and the Detroit Lions are the other two of the 26 franchises).

NO DIVISION TITLES SINCE 2002

The last time the Jets won the AFC East was 2002. That marked just their second division title since the merger (1998 was the other). Every other franchise except for the Detroit Lions (3) has won at least four division titles.

PLAYOFFS?

The last time the Jets reached the postseason was eight seasons ago in 2010 (when they made their second consecutive AFC Championship appearance). Their current streak is the tied for the second-longest in franchise history without a postseason appearance (went 11 successive seasons from 1969-1980).

SEASON OPENER

The Jets take on the Buffalo Bills to start the 2019 season at Met Life Stadium. Sunday will be the 13th time that the Jets open the against Buffalo, the most for any opponent.  The Jets are 8-4 in those previous season openers.

Despite the many meetings with Buffalo to start the season, this will be just the third time they are starting the season against them at home.

The Jets won the previous two meetings in 2012 and 1960 (first game in franchise history).

STARTING SEASON STRONG?

In 2012, the Jets set a franchise record for most points in a season-opening game when they defeated Buffalo 48-28. Last season the Jets matched that total when they defeated the Lions in Detroit, 48-17.

Despite those strong starts to the season, the Jets finished under .500 in both seasons (6-10 in 2012 and 4-12 last season).

Looking at the Jets performances in season-opening games, starting the season strong hasn’t helped the Jets much. Since the merger in 1970, the Jets have won 11 or more game three times (1985, 11-5, 1998, 12-4 and 2010, 11-5). In each of those seasons, the Jets lost their season opener.

Mark Kelly is a staff writer for the World Wide Sports Radio Network