Saturday, November 28, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving! WDC&S # 303: “A Phalanx of Feathers”

As we hit the midway point in Thanksgiving Weekend 2009, care to imagine HOW MANY FEATHERS are in this scene of Donald, Huey, Dewey, Louie, the Turkey, and their garb?

Not even cover artist Carl Barks knows for sure…

From WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES # 303 (December, 1965)

Enjoy the holiday!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving! Huckleberry Hound in “Grim Pilgrim” (1959).

For a Thanksgiving treat, here’s yet another Huckleberry Hound cartoon that’s not been released on DVD.

Okay, now this wasn’t exactly Huck’s best cartoon – but I absolutely love the Indian’s ultra-long, seemingly-everlasting, war-whooping battle charge!

Let’s hope that, someday, we can all be thankful for the complete Huckleberry Hound series on DVD! Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

DVD Review: Batman the Brave and the Bold Volume Two

Batman the Brave and the Bold: Volume Two

(Released November 10, 2009 by Warner Home Video)

Another Looong DVD Review by Joe Torcivia
Sometimes, these reviews just write themselves!

It’s especially true when you’ve written a detailed review for “Volume One” of a series, and little or nothing changes in subsequent volumes. So it is for Batman the Brave and the Bold: Volume Two. Perhaps fittingly, I’ll go on the “same auto-pilot” to write this review that Warner Bros. did in creating this DVD set.

Both my readers and the DVD consumers deserve more – but here goes:

You can read most of the background and the specifics of Volume One HERE.

Once upon a time, in the long-ago and far-away “Silver Age of Comic Books” (roughly defined by the 1960s), there was a notable series from DC Comics called The Brave and the Bold. It ran from 1955 thru 1983, and introduced us to the Justice League of America, the Suicide Squad, and the Silver Age version of Hawkman among others. Starting with its 59th issue in 1965, it became the “Batman Team-Up” book, pairing Bats with Green Lantern – followed by virtually every known “guest star” in the DC Comics Universe.

And so follows this superb animated series, which teams Batman with both heroes and villains from every known corner of the DCU.

The tone is lighter than the contemporary comic books, its predecessor Batman the Animated Series (1992-1999), and the current crop of Batman feature films. In both style and content, it owes much to the imaginative comic books of the Silver Age.

Diedrich Bader is quite good as Batman, for someone not named “Kevin Conroy”, and guest hero voices like Will Friedle (already a DC Animated veteran as “Terry McGuinness” on Batman Beyond) as Blue Beetle, Tom Kenny as Plastic Man, James Arnold Taylor as Green Arrow, and particularly John DiMaggio’s reinvented version of Aquaman make this a winner all the way!

As is our custom in these reviews, we’ll break it into CONS and PROS.

Oh, and if you’ve seen these EXACT CONS and PROS before, in the review of Volume One, just know that virtually nothing has changed, save the episodes.


The Set Itself: Just about every “CON” about Batman the Brave and the Bold: Volume Two can be filed under this category. Let me count the ways…

The Number of Episodes: In a word… FOUR! JUST FOUR! REALLY? ONLY FOUR? YES, ONLY FOUR! Have I said “FOUR” enough to make the point?

About the only good thing is that these volumes appear to be on a quarterly release schedule (Hey, just like some Silver Age comic books! Talk about “authenticity”! Imagine, a comic-book-based DVD series that IS RELEASED like a comic book!).

The FIRST VOLUME of (again) FOUR EPISODES was released in August – and a THIRD VOLUME is scheduled for February – and this upcoming THIRD VOLUME will have… will have… will have… FIVE EPISODES!!!!! YES! YES! YES! YES!! (One more for effect… YES!) Okay, sarcasm off.

Yes, it will take THREE VOLUMES to reach the standard number of 13 episodes that would comprise something resembling a typical single season for an animated program! Them’s the “Bat-Breaks”, boys!

The Price: For this set of FOUR episodes, that you can knock-off in little more than 90 minutes of sitting time, Warner’s suggested list price is… (GASP!) 14.98! That’s 3.75 per episode, folks! Fortunately, this MSRP mockery is only “suggested”, and diligent searchers can find it for less.

The Extra Features: There are NO extra features! No commentaries. No DC and WB folks discussing the show and the comic book that inspired it. NOTHING!

Robo-Promos: This is a new item for my “CONS” list, but one that is making me increasingly annoyed. Pop in a DVD and you are assaulted by what I call “Robo-Promos”… those that play automatically before you even reach the initial menu.

Warner, more than any other studio, seems to make this a standard practice. Yes, I know you can “zip” through them, but they’re annoying all the same – all the more so when you consider that you’ve PAID Warner for the privilege of owning a digital copy of the program. There are FOUR (That number again!) of these Robo-Promos, totaling about 05:25.

…And, in the ultimate gall, MORE such promos are also offered as an option on the Main Menu! At least these are completely optional, and are usually for related DVD product that could be of interest to those purchasing the set.


Content Notes: In previous reviews, I’ve complained about the total lack of CONTENT LISTINGS included as part of the packaging of a number of Warner Animation sets this year. Among those in my collection alone are Tom and Jerry: The Chuck Jones Collection, Max Fleischer’s Superman, Saturday Morning Cartoons 1960s Volume 1 AND Volume 2, and Ruby-Spears Superman. Notice how that list GROWS each time we visit this topic!

But, as with Volume One, I’m pleased to report that Batman the Brave and the Bold: Volume Two lists its episode content on the outside back of the package. Of course, with only FOUR EPISODES, how much package space could it actually take! I shouldn’t have to cite the inclusion of four episode titles incorporated into the set’s packaging as a “PRO”… but let’s give WHV its due, and see it they can continue with Volume Three, when episode count climbs to a stratospheric and unwieldy FIVE. …Oops, Sarcasm seems to have slipped back on!

Characters and Settings: If there’s one thing you can count on from Batman the Brave and the Bold, it is new animated interpretations of “Characters-And-Settings-of DC Comics Lore”. Needless to say, we are not disappointed…

In this (Ahem!) FOUR-episode set alone, there are so many characters to consider, that we’ll break it into “Featured Characters” and “Cameos”:

Featured Characters: Batman, Guy Gardner (Green Lantern), Kilowog, Green Arrow (Silver Age, no beard), Jason Blood and Etrigan the Demon, Kamandi “The Last Boy on Earth”, Dr. Canus, Wildcat, Black Lightning, Metamorpho, Katana, Black Manta, B’wana Beast, Deadman, Gentleman Ghost, Speedy, Blue Beetle III (Jaime Reyes), Blue Beetle II (Ted Kord), Blue Beetle I (Dan Garrett), Doctor Polaris.

Cameos: Green Lanterns: Tomar-Re, C’hp, Saalak, Arisia, Katma Tui, Boodika, the “Diamond Green Lantern”, the “Robot Green Lantern” Xax (the insect GL), and many other familiar faces and shapes from years of Green Lantern comics. Villains: Clock King, Kite-Man, Felix Faust, Mr. Zero, Punch and Jewlee, Mad-Hatter, Bookworm, Shame, King Tut, The Archer, Ma Barker, and Black Widow.

…Just imagine what a full-season set would have had!

It’s Not TV: For the first time, viewers can enjoy the (Ahem!) FOUR episodes that make up Batman the Brave and the Bold: Volume Two with no “Network Identifying Bugs” in the corner of the screen, no pop up ads for other shows, and credits that you can “freeze-frame” and read. And viewers can hear the “extended version” of the show’s ending theme, which has probably NEVER played on TV because promos are always running over it!

Indeed, one of the best reasons for collecting ANY contemporary TV show on DVD is that is has probably never been seen in this particular way ever before!

And, the ultimate “PRO” for Batman the Brave and the Bold: Volume Two…

The Episodes:

“Day of the Dark Knight!”: Story by DC Comics writer J.M. De Matteis.

Teaser: Guy Gardner taunts an alien prisoner and gets his! I was hoping for an animated recreation of one of the most famous comic-book moments of the ‘80s – “Batman takes Guy Gardner down with ONE PUNCH”! Didn’t happen, but all those Green Lantern cameos make up for it.

Main Story: Batman and Green Arrow thwart a mass prison escape (hence the villain cameos), and are transported to 5th Century England by Merlin the Magician, who was posing as a prisoner and triggered the escape to attract the attention of Bats and GA. Our two heroes are thrust into the story of the “Sword in the Stone” vs. Morgaine LeFay, and with Jack Kirby’s Etrigan the Demon thrown in for good measure. One-time Man from U.N.C.L.E., David McCallum, is um… “magic”, as the voice of Merlin.

The competitive nature between these heroes takes shape here, with Batman acknowledging the immaturity of it all, though he fully indulges nonetheless. The BACKGROUNDS in this show are fantastic – well in excess of WB animated standard!

“Enter the Outsiders!”:

Teaser: B’wana Beast, a Silver Age character so bad even DC was ashamed of it, assists Batman in capturing Aquaman’s foe Black Manta – who’s escaping to the sea, carrying off an armored car by operating a large multi-legged robot. (Um, what’s “BM” gonna use that money for under the sea… and can I even CALL him “BM” in a “family review”?) Suitably, Batman describes the outcome of this misadventure as “Gross!”.

Main Story: Batman and Wildcat turn the “teen-age Outsiders” (!) away from a life of crime and urban terrorism. A rare stumble results in this being my least favorite of the series – at least of those seen so far. Wildcat is superbly characterized, as a hero of a bygone era (Comics’ Golden Age: 1940s-early 1950s), but it’s not enough to balance of the grossly mischaracterized Outsiders!

Black Lightning, Katana, and Metamorpho (who was properly characterized as the adult Rex Mason in JUSTICE LEAGUE) are misfit teens, who commit bad deeds in the service of The Slug – a grotesque mutant reading in Gotham’s sewers.

This is just WRONG! I get the same crawly feeling as when seeing characters like Raven and Starfire depicted as “little girls” on the best-forgotten TEEN TITANS series of 2003.

Just imagine what a “lighter show” like Batman the Brave and the Bold could have done with an “anything-goes” character like Metamorpho, depicted as he would have been in the Silver Age. There is no Geo-Force, Halo, Looker, etc. And, if we had to have “troubled teens” for Bats and Wildcat to rehabilitate, they could choose from the aforementioned Halo (an original Outsider), Terra, Raven, Jericho, maybe even Damage and others I no longer recall. Whether you like your DC characters “light or dark”, one thing this series has always done well is characterization. Here, they sadly misstep.

“Dawn of the Dead Man!”:

Teaser: In Jack Kirby’s post-apocalyptic world of tomorrow, Kamandi helps Batman recover a “future-vaccine” to halt a present-day plague. This short bit has enough potential to have been a half-hour episode on its own.

Main Story: Begins with an eerie, semi-transparent Batman rising from his grave! “You’re probably wondering who finally got me. The thing is, I’m NOT DEAD… not YET, at least!”

How do you not love a story that starts like THAT?!

An “astral projection” of Batman (who will soon suffocate, trapped in a buried coffin) teams up with Deadman, Green Arrow, and Speedy to foil Gentleman Ghost, who is raising an Army of the Dead to take his revenge on the city of London! This is perfect Silver/Bronze Age Batman, as he would have appeared in The Brave and the Bold comic book of the time! It’s also my personal favorite episode of the set!

“Fall of the Blue Beetle!”:

Teaser: Batman and Silver Age Blue Beetle Ted Kord break into a heavily fortified, top-secret installation – eluding guards and automated defenses – talking “shop” and comparing their respective gadgets and equipment all the way. Nicely sets up the main story.

Main Story: Novice hero Blue Beetle (Jaime Reyes) learns of the past history of the Blue Beetle line – and the fate of former Beetle Ted Kord, which involved Batman. Another excellent entry!

Overall: Batman the Brave and the Bold: Volume Two succeeds in ways both expected and delightfully unexpected. It’s not simply reflective of the lighter (but extremely imaginative) Silver Age DC comic books – but takes that tone and squarely hits every point in time of the DC Comics Universe.

Despite the severe and obvious flaws in it’s “Three-P’s” – Packaging, Presentation, and Pricing – Batman the Brave and the Bold: Volume Two is highly recommended to fans and enthusiasts of Batman, DC Comics and the Warner Animated Series based upon them, the Silver and Bronze Ages of Comics Books in general, and anyone who just wants to kick back and have a good time!

Told ya, this review could write itself! Now, bring on Bat-Mite and the Music Meister.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Zorro’s Comics and Stories!

As long as we’re touring that wonderfully unusual era of “split covers” for WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES, let’s do one more – Issue 275 (August, 1963), or what I call “When Zorro Came to Town”!

As you can see, the heroic photo image of Zorro dominates (casts a noble shadow?) over the title’s usual inhabitants: Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, and Li’l Bad Wolf.

In fact, Mickey is hardly seen at all, and uncharacteristically suffers the indignity of getting a “painted eye”!

Zorro would swashbuckle his way through issues 275 thru 278 before vanishing like the night wind to fight for justice another day – presumably, in some other comic title.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Zorro and Friends!

While still in the throes of “Zorro-mania”, I’ll share an unusual comic book cover.


Donald Duck and Daisy by Carl Barks.

Mickey Mouse, Goofy and Black Pete by Jack Bradbury.

And Guy Williams as Zorro!

Check out the floating, disembodied heads of both Zorro and Pete. Their “tilts” sort of complement each other… in a symmetrical design sense sort of way!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

DVD Review: Walt Disney Treasures: Zorro The Complete First and Second Seasons

Walt Disney Treasures: Zorro The Complete First and Second Seasons.

(Released November 03, 2009) A typically long DVD Review by Joe Torcivia.

Out of the niiiight, when the full moon is briiiight,
Comes the horseman known as Zorro

And, out of the latest wave of Walt Disney Treasures DVDs come two amazing sets – ZORRO: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON 1957-1958 and ZORRO: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON 1958-1959!

As is usual with the Walt Disney Treasures sets, there are introductions and much background information courtesy of film historian Leonard Maltin and loads of extras and special features. There is even a “postcard-size lithograph” and collector pin – a different pair packaged in each of the two season sets.

But, the true “Treasures” here are the shows themselves and the actors’ performances therein – particularly that of series star Guy Williams!

Relegated mostly to The Disney Channel in recent decades, ZORRO was neither a large part of my childhood, nor did it ever enter into my adulthood. The last time I can actually remember seeing it was in early evening local syndication in 1965. The same year that Guy Williams would move on to the role I will forever associate him with – Professor John Robinson, of LOST IN SPACE (1965-1968)

In LIS, he was the ultimate father figure… the one I wish I had. He was everything famous TV dads Ward Cleaver and Jim Anderson were, but with a laser rifle and spaceship. He’d “teach you life’s lessons” while “saving your life” at the same time. …And he was always there for dinner conversation and needed moments of consolation.

As Zorro, I’m learning that he was even more amazing! (I guess he’s STILL teaching me things!) His warmth and charm, that only peeked out from time to time (…as he was continually upstaged by kids, robots, “special guest stars”, pyrotechnics, aliens, and monsters on LOST IN SPACE), is on complete display in ZORRO.

And, was any television star of the time better at sweeping (dare I employ the term “swashbuckling”?) action than Guy Williams? I’d say not! He ran, jumped, rode, and fenced his way into our hearts, our collective consciousness, and television history.

But Williams was far more than a mere action hero. As Zorro’s alter-ego Don Diego De La Vega, he adopts the personality and mannerisms of a foppish dandy and a man of letters to throw off any suspicion that he is secretly Zorro. He smiles cheerfully at everything, makes pleasant but innocuous small talk (though, often with a deliberate and purposeful undertone) and moves about in a somewhat lithely – but, nonetheless, manly – fashion! Yes, it IS possible to do this, if you are as skilled as Guy Williams.

Diego’s busying himself with scholarly books, poetry, and song, while eschewing any inclination towards “the active life”, fools both his concerned father and scoundrels alike. In one superb moment, he DEMANDS that he be allowed to try on a “black mask and cape”, that the local tyrant is forcing upon a line-up of men in order to identify one of them as Zorro.

De La Vega’s request to don the outfit is dismissed, as the tyrant cannot fathom it possible that one such as he might be Zorro. That’s an indication of the depth of duality that Williams brings to the role of Deigo and Zorro. So effective is this deception, that no one considers that both Deigo and Zorro sport the same moustache!

Great as Guy Williams was, the supporting cast was just as large a part of the show’s success.

Gene Sheldon, as Diego’s mute manservant Bernardo, offers repeated moments of inspired pantomime. Bernardo CAN hear (and quite well) but, as Diego poses as an idler, so Bernardo feigns DEAFNESS, and acts as Zorro’s eyes AND ears.

Henry Calvin is a cartoon-come-to-life as Sgt. Garcia. He is the living embodiment of every large, bulky, dull-witted sidekick ever seen in animation. He’s one of those characters you feel for, because he’d like to “do right”, but must remain loyal to his commandant. His comedic talents and hangdog delivery, combined with a surprising ability (for one so large – think Oliver Hardy as a mustachioed Spaniard) to pull off unexpected amounts of slapstick humor, never fail to generate laughs.

Britt Lomand completes the cast of the first arc (…more on that to follow) as the evil Captain Monastario. He sneers, preens, snarls, and schemes just like all the “Spanish Oppressor” parody villains that animation writer Michael Maltese would create to throw at “El Kabong” – a Zorro-type send-up “masked avenger identity” created for TV’s Quick Draw McGraw.

Episode Three (“Zorro Rides to the Mission”) begins with a hilarious exchange between Garcia and Monastario, in which the former is soundly berated by the latter for his (what will become repeated) failure to capture Zorro. These two actors settle quickly and superbly into their roles of good-natured bumbler and frustrated superior and, when together, they generate much of the show's humor.

Oh, yes“Arcs”. One very unique thing about ZORRO is that it apparently unfolds in ARCS, not unlike many modern TV series. Highly unusual for the late 1950s!

While each episode has a nominal “ending”, Zorro does not “wrap up a case or mission” and begin an entirely new one next week. Instead, there is an overall story that carries over a number of episodes.

The first of these concerns Don Diego De La Vega returning from his studies in Spain to find Captain Monastario ruling Los Angeles of Spanish California with an iron (and unjust) hand. To keep his father safe, as the neighboring rancher has been branded treasonous by Monastario in a play to seize his land and wealth, Diego adopts both his foppish pose and the identity of “The Fox” – El Zorro – to vanquish the tyrant. This arc is said to run 13 episodes, before moving on to a new story.

Sampling Volume Two, we also see the beginning of the tale of Zorro’s adventures in Monterey. Though we reach an initially satisfying conclusion in that “first episode”, here too, things are not fully resolved – leading into the next show and likely several more.

Setting up the anticipation for each episode to come is Dick Tufeld, narrating the (miraculously included) “Next Week Scene Previews” with gusto. Tufeld would later work with Guy Williams on LOST IN SPACE as the voice of the Robot – and in the series’ third season would also narrate “Next Week” promos in the same fashion as he does here for ZORRO!

Music scores are by William Lava – later of F-TROOP and 1960s LOONEY TUNES fame.

Guest stars to come include Ricardo Montalban, Caesar Romero, Ross Martin (The Wild Wild West), and future LOST IN SPACE co-star Jonathan Harris!

Special features include a look at the life of Guy Williams, with Leonard Maltin and Guy Williams Jr. and, in a separate feature, the pair host a tour of ZORRO costumes and memorabilia (including a run of DELL COMIC BOOKS!) at the Walt Disney archives.

There’s a segment of Walt Disney introducing Zorro to the Mousekteers. In it, Guy Williams makes a appearance in costume and wonderfully handles the subject of whether Zorro is “real” or “legend”! Another feature, “The Life and Legend of Zorro”, traces the character from his 1919 serialized magazine debut thru the TV series.

There are also several longer ZORRO programs that aired on the Walt Disney television show, after the ZORRO series was canceled.

Every Walt Disney Treasures set has many things to recommend, but this one is particularly special as it offers the expected quality and features but also presents a series – in its ENTIRETY – that deserves to be preserved and enjoyed. And, I’m looking forward to continued enjoyment of Guy Williams as Zorro!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

World Series Game Six: Yank-Zilla, Andy, and Mo, Deliver Championship 27! Yanks 7- Phils 3!

I've never been happier to say: "I'm Sorry!"

I’m sorry, Hideki Matsui, I was wrong to denigrate your efforts in previous posts! Six RBIs in Game Six (Tying a WS Record for a single game!), with a Single, Double, and Home Run, on his way to becoming World Series MVP!

I’m sorry, Andy Pettitte, for doubting your ability to pitch on short rest – though I’m far from alone on that one.

And, I’m sorry, Joe Girardi, for calling you “D’oh Girardi” and questioning your pitching strategies – despite being in the seeming majority there as well.

And, I’m even (ever-so-slightly) sorry that Pedro Martinez may have ended his career in defeat to “His Daddy”! All right… Maybe not so much!

Mariano Rivera, once again, showed us why he is the greatest closer of all time!

Where I WAS correct was in my feeling that this World Series (in either Game Six or Game Seven) would come down to who had the better bull pen! And, the Yankees did – with Joba Chamberlain, Damaso Marte, and the great Rivera holding the Phillies scoreless, after Pettitte’s 5 and 2/3 innings of three-run ball.

And where I was prescient was in the selection of Hideki ("Godzilla") Matsui as the World Series MVP.

Friend of this Blog, Bruce Kanin and I were e-mailing back and forth during the game… that’s the old fashioned, kerosene powered version of TEXTING, for the young people reading this. Here’s part of that exchange.

JOE: “
Yanks up 4-1, as I write this. I'm sorry for all the things I said about Matsui!”

JOE (Again, Later): “I take back everything I ever said about Hideki Matsui! 6 RBIs! With his earlier home runs, could *HE* be the Series MVP?”

BRUCE: “Maybe, and ironically, too, if this is his "swan" song with them.”

JOE: “Would that be an origami swan?”

BRUCE: “lol

So, congrats to Matsui and the New York Yankees on their 27th Championship!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

World Series Break # 2: No Game Tonight!

No game again Tuesday night, so here are some more baseball themed comic book covers!

And just think… If the Yankees had won the World Series on Monday night by not pitching A.J. Burnett on short rest, you would have missed out on THIS! So, let’s thank Joe (“D’oh!”) Girardi for the opportunity to visit with Donald Duck and his nephews, as they engage in The Great American Pastime!

It’s 1954 and Huey, Dewey, and Louie are also taking a break – from their music lessons, and into an impromptu game of Baseball.

Say! WHO’S PITCHING? That mysterious “Fourth Nephew” that shows up in the occasional artists’ mistake? And is he pitching on short rest? Oh-Oh!

(Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories # 163 – Art by Carl Barks)

And, is that a call of "Two Balls and Three Strikes" on Huey? Shouldn't he be out?!

Flash forward to 1981, and the game is still going on (Talk about EXTRA INNINGS!), having moved outdoors and with Donald as the umpire! Funny, they look as if they haven’t aged a day!

(Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories # 488)

Be back for Game Six Coverage on Wednesday… or Thursday, or whenever “Post Season Baseball TV Sleep-Deprivation” allows!

Monday, November 2, 2009

World Series Game Five: “D’oh! Girardi”! Phils 8 – Yanks 6!

Starting A.J. Burnett on short rest vs. Cliff Lee? Good idea? Nope!

Despite a valiant late inning comeback attempt by the Yankees, I was right! See previous post for all the reasons why.

I wasn’t alone. ESPN’s Mike Greenberg (Of Mike and Mike in the Morning) and Yankees broadcasters Michael Kay and John Flaherty had similarly grave reservations.

(I wish I could have used the “grave reservations” line on Halloween!)

Several co-workers agreed, as well.

I was in good company. Esther did not agree, but she’s “good company” in spite of that!

Back to New York. (You’re always in “good company” in New York!)

Yankees can still win it – just nowhere near as easily as it should have been!

And now the possibility of a Series loss is much greater.

Especially, if Cliff Lee can make another appearance.

Can anyone stop Chase (“Muttley”) Utley? Or will he “snicker” his way to more victories?


Now, what does Andy Pettitte do on short rest?

And how did “Genius Joe Girardi” of Thursday become “D’oh! Girardi”of Monday?

I fear, if the Yankees lose, this decision will be something that will be talked about ALL WINTER!

Another comics cover interlude coming on Tuesday.

See you back on Wednesday!

World Series Game Five: Pre-Game Prediction. “Waiting for Gaudin!”

I wanted to get this in BEFORE the Monday night game, so no one will think me a “Tuesday Morning Manager”.

I think Yankees manager Joe ("D'oh!") Girardi has just made his first big World Series mistake.

He’s elected to start A.J. Burnett on short rest in Game Five at Philadelphia vs. Cliff Lee.

The Yankees are up 3-1 in games, and this is a game I expect them to LOSE, based on (A) Lee’s previous superlative performance, (B) There is no Designated Hitter in the National League’s home park – and the Yankee pitchers will have to bat, and (C) Jose Molina will be catching Burnett – leaving Jorge Posada’s bat out of the lineup.

The Yankees need to win just ONE MORE GAME out of the next three – the final two of which are home at New Yankee Stadium. Why waste Burnett – on short rest, no less – in a game they are likely to LOSE, when they can pitch him on full rest at home, with the “DH”, and all other home advantages?!

My feeling is that Girardi should “sacrifice” this game by starting Chad Gaudin. If they lose, no big deal. They can still win one of two games at home. In the unlikely event that they win the championship tonight, Chad Gaudin goes down in “The Yankee History of Unlikely Heroes”, alongside Bucky Dent and Aaron Boone!

If Burnett pitches Game Six, Girardi has both CC Sabathia AND Andy Pettitte to secure Game Seven, should it become necessary! Now, he must run BOTH Pettitte and Sabathia out on short rest – if it goes to Game Seven. Sabathia can do it, but Pettitte probably cannot!

Hopefully, it will work out – and I will learn why I was never asked to become a Major League manager… though how much worse could I do with the Mets!

Stay tuned tonight…

World Series Game Four: Damon, A-Rod, and Posada Drive Lidge to the Ledge! Yanks 7 – Phils 4.

When Joe Blanton was named to oppose CC Sabathia in Game Four, I expected the Yankees to pound their way to a victory for CC!

But, no… Blanton displayed unexpected toughness, despite giving up 4 runs in 6 innings. And Sabathia, once again, pitched well enough to win (surrendering 3 runs in 6 2/3) but failed to do. Chase (“Muttley”) Utley crushed another solo home run off CC, who gave way to Joba Chamberlain and a game-tying homer to Pedro Feliz. 4-4 after eight innings!

Ah, but in the ninth, the Yankees got to one-time great closer Brad Lidge.

With two outs (and Lidge seemingly cruising) Johnny Damon singled and stole second… but he didn’t stop there. Alertly noting the infield shifted to the right side for batter Mark Teixeira – and that third baseman Feliz had caught the throw at second – Damon popped up like a jack-(Johnny?)-in-the-box and outran Feliz to third!

No one was covering third because Feliz was at second! His teammates were as stunned at the play as I was watching it on TV!

Teixeira was hit by a pitch, setting up Alex Rodriguez to come through with an RBI double, scoring Damon, to put the Yankees ahead 5-4. Jorge Posada followed with a single that plated Teixeira and A-Rod! So, should we call him “Brad On-The-Ledge”?

The great Mariano Rivera tossed an 8-pitch ninth inning to win Game Four for the Yankees!

Oh, and the reason we have “Rocky the Flying Squirrel” at the top of this post?

It’s because Ryan Howard scored the first Phillies run – but REALLY DIDN’T!

Just like Rocky, he FLEW OVER HOME PLATE, NEVER TOUCHING IT! Yet, the umpire called him safe!

If not for that play, CC would have most likely won the game by one run… however the ninth inning heroics by Damon, A-Rod, and Posada (not to mention Lidge’s meltdown) would have been less of a factor (if at all), so I’ll take the trade off in terms of drama alone!

Still, replay would clearly show Howard’s “flight path”, and invalidated his run! So, I say again, bring on a fully-expanded system of Video Review to Major League Baseball! … That way it can remain “Major” League!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

World Series Game Three: “Cold” Hamels knocked out by Pettitte, as A-Rod “smiles for the camera”! Yanks 8 – Phils 5.

By the third inning, if you asked me which pitcher was not going to survive the fifth, and be chased early, I would have said Andy Pettitte.

After all, his pitch count was at or over 40 at the end of the second – leaving him in the hole at 3-0, and Cole Hamels was dealing like Cliff Lee, A.J. Burnett, or CC Sabathia.

But Pettitte pulled it together, ultimately delivering six complete innings. Pettitte even drove in the tying run with a SINGLE! Conversely, Hamels failed to complete five and had given up five earned runs in the process – on route to his Game Three loss!

Perhaps his undoing was the “camera cruncher” of a home run by Alex Rodriguez that made it 3-2. Initially ruled a double, the umpires (Getting it RIGHT for a change!) did a replay review and ruled that A-Rod’s ball hit a protruding TV camera lens – and that’s what kept it from sailing over the wall. The TV views showed that this was clearly the case. Hamels would leave the game an inning later behind 5-3.

Nick Swisher and Hideki Matsui contributed additional home runs (Okay, I’ll get off Matsui for a while!) The bull pen held up, though Phil Hughes was once again some cause for concern.

The Yankees took back the advantage they surrendered by losing Game One at Home, by taking the first game in Philadelphia – with CC Sabathia coming around again tonight!

And, if this game teaches us ONE THING, it’s that REPLAY REVIEW should be instituted wide-scale across Major League Baseball. Presently, it is only used to validate or invalidate a home run call.

Too many calls, affecting the outcome of too many games, are made in error – and it’s time for this very logical – and now technologically feasible – change!

Wake up Commissioner Bud Selig! Should looking at a TV camera be such a... er, "Magilla"?