McAdam: Welcome to rock bottom, Yankees

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McAdam: Welcome to rock bottom, Yankees

DETROIT -- Losing the American League Championship Series to a team which won seven fewer games than you is bad.
Being swept by that same team in the ALCS is worse. And never holding a lead, for even a fleeting moment in the entire series, is the absolute worst.
Welcome, New York Yankees, to rock bottom.
In the last two post-seasons, the Yankees have yet to win a single game past the Division Series. They were knocked off in five games by the Tigers in 2011, then got by the Baltimore Orioles in this year's ALDS only to be outclassed by Tigers Thursday, 8-1, who completed their four-game sweep.
While eliminated by the Tigers for the second straight October, the Yankees set records for offensive futility. In the four game series, they scored a grand total of six runs. They hit a collective .157 for the ALCS.
"There's a lot of a good hitters in that (visitor's clubhouse) and to be able to shut them all down is surprising,'' said Joe Girardi.
"Collectively, we didn't get it done...We didn't just struggle. A lot of guys struggled mightily.''
For the first three games, the Yankees got strong starting pitching and it didn't save them. They went into Game 4 with a 2.25 ERA in the ALCS -- and hadn't won in a game.
Then, when CC Sabathia sputtered Thursday in Game 4, it was too late to matter. By the ninth, the Yankee lineup looked like something Joe Girardi might bring to Fort Myers for a game next March.
In truth, the Yankees' offensive struggles weren't a total shock. Scouts who watched them over the course of the season warned that the Yanks were too dependent on home runs, which, by definition, are harder to hit against quality pitching staffs in the post-season.
Sure enough, the Yankees hit five homers in nine post-season games -- three of them by Raul Ibanez. And three of the five homers they hit came with the bases empty.
"Just bad timing,'' shrugged Mark Teixeira. "Really bad timing for four games like this.''
"We didn't hit the way we were supposed to,'' said Robinson Cano in a bit of understatement. "We had our chances and didn't take advantage. We didn't do our job with men on base and they beat us.''
The Yankees problems go far beyond the temporary embarrassment of the playoff sweep. Any team, after all, can have a bad week, and it's dangerous to read too much into such a small sample size.
"We lost,'' concluded Nick Swisher. "That's it. We went out and gave it everything we had. It just wasn't good enough.''
That said, the Yankees are in trouble. Their aging roster is becoming problematic.
Take a look around their roster of position players, and while you're at it, their ledger sheets.
At first, Teixeira has seen his OPS decline in each of the last three seasons and is only halfway through his eight-year, 180 million.Derek Jeter will undergo surgery Saturday and it's unclear whether he'll be ready for Opening Day. He'll turn 38 next year, an age when few continue to play shortstop everyday.
Curtis Granderson is wildly inconsistent, capable of power (43 homers), but too often, failing to make contact (.232 batting average, 195 strikeouts). Swisher is a free agent and won't be back.
Behind the plate, Russell Martin is also a free agent, and because the Yankees traded one catching prospect (Jesus Montero) and have had another (Austin Romine) slowed by injuries, probably will return.
The Yankees hold a 15 million option on Cano and will exercise that. Next year, the Yankees might have a tough call on whether to extend him beyond 2012. Cano will be 30, relatively young, but his .699 career OPS in the post-season may give the Yanks some pause.
Finally, of course, there's Alex Rodriguez, who was benched for three of the nine post-season games and pinch-hit for in three others. Rodriguez looks for all the world like the most overpriced platoon player, with five years and 114 million in salary obligations remaining.
It's here where the Yankees might secretly envy the Red Sox. In unloading Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett in their megadeal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Red Sox unloaded 259 million in payroll obligations and got the chance to start over.
For now, the Red Sox have 45.6 million in payroll committed for next season -- a figure that admittedly doesn't include several arbitration cases, nor free agents David Ortiz and Cody Ross. By contrast, the Yankees are on the hook for 119.1 million in 2013.
The disparity is best exemplified thusly: while the Red Sox are committed to just 34.4 million in 2014, two years from now, the Yankees have (italics please) twice (end italics) as much committed in 2016, (italics please) four (end italics) years from now.
And remember, the Yankees have vowed to be under the Competitive Balance Tax (CBT) threshold of 186 million by 2014.
Ordinarily, a team with virtually unlimited resources and coming off a season in which they had the best record in the league is a team to be envied.
So how come it doesn't feel that way for the New York Yankees?

Isaiah Thomas continues to claim Celtics' franchise records

Isaiah Thomas continues to claim Celtics' franchise records

BOSTON – This continues to be a historic season for Isaiah Thomas as more records fell in Wednesday’s 103-100 loss to Milwaukee, and the company he’s keeping becomes even more exclusive. 

Thomas had a game-high 32 points on Wednesday which included five made 3’s on nine attempts. That gave him 223 for the season which is a new franchise single-season record for made 3-pointers. The previous record was 222 set by Antoine Walker during the 2001-2002 season.

And his 32 points scored gives him 2,012 this season. 

Only six players in franchise history (Paul Pierce was the last to do it during the 2005-2006 season) have scored 2,000 or more points in a single season. 

Oh, there’s more. 

With Wednesday being the 66th time this season he has had 20 or more points, Thomas has now tied Pierce (2005-2006) and Larry Bird (1985-1986; 1987-1988) for sixth on the Celtics’ single-season franchise list. 

“I didn’t even know that,” a visibly disappointed Thomas said following Wednesday’s loss. “It doesn’t feel that good right now. But when I look back on it, probably in the offseason, I’ll appreciate it a little more. But I’m just staying in the moment and try and play as best I can to lead this team to as many wins as possible.”

Other season milestones Thomas is in the mix for include the following:

  • The 5-foot-9 guard is one of three players this season to have 50 or more games of 25-plus points, joined by Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook (57) and Houston’s James Harden (54).
  • Thomas has made at least one 3-pointer in a franchise-record 50 straight games (Dec. 3 – March 29). That’s also the longest current streak in the NBA. 
  • With 66 games of 20 or more points this season, Thomas is second in the NBA to Westbrook (67).

Marcus Smart at center of yet another controversial call

Marcus Smart at center of yet another controversial call

BOSTON – One of the more bizarre plays in Boston’s 103-100 loss to Milwaukee came in the second quarter, requiring some explanation from the officials afterwards. 

With 3:55 to play in the second quarter, the officials had originally called a foul on Marcus Smart which he verbally protested that eventually led to him being whistled for a technical foul. 

After the officials reviewed the play, they changed the call to a personal foul against Khris Middleton but no change to the called technical foul against Smart who objected to a call that, upon review, they agreed was the wrong call to make. 

Official Sean Corbin, through pool reporter Ken Powtak of the Associated Press, acknowledged that the original call was a loose ball foul against Smart. 

“The (officiating) crew got together, we met prior to video and we decided that we needed to look at video because both players were on the floor bleeding so we went to the video for a hostile act,” Corbin told Powtak. “In the review we noticed that Khris Middleton initially made contact to Marcus Smart’s face. That’s how the original contact to the play occurred.”

Fortunately for the Celtics, Middleton missed his technical free throw while Smart split a pair of free throws which cut Milwaukee’s lead to 49-40.

Still, that’s no consolation for Smart who was whistled for a technical foul on a play that the official acknowledged was the wrong call to make. 

In the fourth quarter, Smart was at the center of yet another controversial call that was also reviewed by the officials. The verdict wasn't nearly as good for Smart who was whistled for a flagrant foul after getting his feet tangled up with Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo who was called for a non-shooting foul in the play with 4:46 to play. 

Antetokounmpo made one of two free throws and on the Bucks' ensuing possession, he was called for traveling.

Smart was unavailable to talk after the game in part because the aforementioned incident left an abrasion to his mouth and, because of the technical foul, a little lighter in the wallet as well.