|LeBronx Bomber: James takes heat at home in Cleveland for allegiance to Yanks|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 04 October 2007 15:40|
Call him the LeBronx Bomber.
While in New York last week to host ``Saturday Night Live,'' the Cavaliers' star forward caused a stir back home when he said he would root for the Yankees in the AL playoffs against the Indians.
He showed up at Jacobs Field for Game 1 on Thursday night sporting a Yankees cap - and fans sitting near him chanted for him to take it off.
``I've always been a Yankee fan. I'm a big Derek Jeter fan,'' James said during an in-game TV interview after Cleveland took the lead. ``I'm here to represent the Yankees, but right now it's not looking too good.''
A TBS reporter then handed James a ``crying'' towel that he said Indians ace C.C. Sabathia wanted to pass along. James said the two are good friends.
``It's not like I said, `OK, I'm picking the Yankees now that they're playing the Indians,''' James said earlier this week. ``Everybody knows that I've been a Yankees fan my whole life. If the Indians were playing anybody else I would root for the Indians.''
Sabathia said he didn't have a problem with James' allegiance.
``That's cool,'' the pitcher said. ``He's sticking with his team. I'd do the same thing if the Raiders were playing the Browns.''
Sabathia, who grew up in Vallejao, Calif., is a die-hard Oakland Raiders fan.
KEEPING THE FAITH: Not everyone in Chicago was bemoaning the Cubs' loss to Arizona in their NL playoff opener.
Former baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth said Thursday he's still confident the Cubs can make a series out of it.
``As the ex-commissioner, I think the Cubs do better starting as an underdog,'' said Ueberroth, the commissioner from 1984-89 and now chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee.
``I will tell you, just don't count the Cubs out at all.''
No team in baseball is more of an underdog than the Cubs. The team hasn't won a World Series since 1908, and hasn't even been in one since 1945. Playoff appearances are scarce as well, with the Cubs making the postseason this year for the first time since 2003.
The Cubs lost their opener in Arizona 3-1 on Wednesday night. Manager Lou Piniella pulled ace Carlos Zambrano after six innings with the game tied 1-all, only to watch reliever Carlos Marmol give up a homer to Mark Reynolds, the first batter he faced.
FEELS LIKE THE FIRST TIME: The Los Angeles Angels have never faced Boston Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka, and manager Mike Scioscia said videotape and scouting reports can only reveal so much before the rookie pitches Game 2 of their AL playoff series.
Scioscia compared it to preparing for a golf tournament by practicing on a driving range.
``Until you get out on the golf course, you never know how it's going to play,'' he said.
``There probably will be a slight edge until we see some pitches with a new pitcher,'' Scioscia added. ``We have to make a quick study.''
But Angels slugger Vladimir Guerrero said his team's unfamiliarity with Matsuzaka doesn't mean much.
``I don't see any advantage because you face so many guys throughout the year you haven't faced before,'' Guerrero said. ``I'm going to see how he pitches to me, and then I'll make an adjustment.''
BACK TO BRANDON?: Arizona manager Bob Melvin might consider starting ace Brandon Webb on three days' rest in Game 4 against the Chicago Cubs.
Rookie Micah Owings, who has pitched well despite being dropped from the rotation in late September, is scheduled to start Sunday at Wrigley Field.
``Anything can change over the course of whatever happens,'' Melvin said Thursday before Game 2 of the NL division series. ``I'm just not prepared to even go there yet. We're on today's game.''
Webb threw 89 pitches Wednesday in a 3-1 victory over the Cubs in the opener. But Melvin said he wasn't thinking about Webb's pitch count when he pinch-hit for him in the seventh inning. The Diamondbacks led 2-1 and had runners at second and third with one out.
``Any time you take Brandon Webb out of a game where his pitch count is low and he's ahead, it's a difficult decision to have to make,'' Melvin said.
Webb has not pitched on short rest this season. He has thrown a career-high 243 1-3 innings, including the playoff opener.
``That's a lot of innings,'' Melvin said.
Owings has not allowed a run in his last two starts, a span of 15 1-3 innings.
SOME BIRTHDAY: Kyle Lohse blew out birthday candles and blew the game for the Phillies.
Philadelphia's scheduled Game 4 starter was used in relief of Kyle Kendrick in the fourth inning Thursday with the bases loaded and two outs. Lohse, who made only two relief appearances all year, gave up a grand slam to Colorado's Kaz Matsui, and the Phillies never recovered.
``Wrong guy, wrong spot,'' Lohse said.
Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel defended the move.
``He can give us powerful innings and that's one reason why I had him in there,'' Manuel said. ``I felt like he was the right guy at the right time.''
Lohse might have preferred a tie or a spiffy shirt instead of this jam on his 29th birthday. But he was one of the first Phillies at his locker after the game and fielded questions for nearly 20 minutes.
``That's why I'm down there, to come in in tough situations,'' he said. ``I tried to stop a big inning before it happened.''
TUNING IN: With later start times and the presence of several big-market teams, baseball drew higher television ratings than last year on the opening day of the playoffs.
The three games Wednesday on cable station TBS averaged 4.54 million viewers, up from the 4.48 million for two contests on cable and one on over-the-air TV in 2006.
Wednesday's first game, between Colorado and Philadelphia, started at 3 p.m. EDT on TBS, compared with a 1 p.m. start for Minnesota-Oakland on ESPN last year. The Rockies-Phillies game drew 3.17 million viewers, up 78 percent from 2006.
The Boston-Los Angeles Angels matchup at 6:30 p.m. attracted 5.46 million viewers, more than double the audience for the 4 p.m. game between San Diego and St. Louis on ESPN last season.
The 10 p.m. nightcap between the Chicago Cubs and Arizona drew 5.13 million viewers. Last year's 8 p.m. Detroit-New York Yankees game attracted 8.4 million.