Brief LDS previews--I'll do LCS previews at the appropriate times.
Angels over Red Sox
To me it comes down to pitching--the Angels have the better rotation and the better bullpen. I can see this series going five games, because October is funny like that, but the Angels are a better constructed team, and unlike last year, they're not nearly as banged up.
Rays over White Sox.
While Bobby Jenks is the best pitcher in either bullpen, I think Tampa as a whole has a better team. The Sox barely scraped into the playoffs; they have momentum on their side, but let's see how that momentum carries away from the South Side.
Phillies over Brewers
I like the Brewers well enough, and Ryan Braun is amazing, but outside of CC, what starters do they have? As much as the Brew Crew might want to, they can't pitch CC every day. The Phillies do have to worry, though, about putting Brad Lidge out there in a close game in the ninth--Albert Pujols still has a resonance.
Cubs over Dodgers
The Cubs are easily the best team in the National League. Whether or not this translates to postseason glory is yet to be seen, but if the Cubs can figure out how to pitch to Manny, they'll walk all over the Dodgers
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Brief LDS previews--I'll do LCS previews at the appropriate times.
I do eventually want to be a teacher, so, uh, I guess I better get my practice in? I know this is more or less completely arbitrary, so feel free to offer your own suggestions in a comment.
List is in alphabetical order by position.
Alfredo Aceves--Only question is why he wasn't called in to replace Rasner or Ponson sooner. Did everything the Yankees could have asked from him and more, being the only pitcher to beat the Angels in Anaheim since Andy Pettitte in 2007. A
Chris Britton--Cursed to ride the Scranton shuttle all season, he perhaps took his frustration out with lousy pitching when he did, in fact, pitch. C-
Brian Bruney--After an awful year last year, came into this year with a new look and a new attitude and was cruising until a foot injury made him miss most of the season. Worked hard to come back, and in his relief appearances since his return, was dominating. B+
Joba Chamberlain--Would have been that much more effective if his position as a starter or reliever had been firmly decided from the beginning. Still, he's the only one of the "big three" to immediately live up to excpectations. Month missed with a shoulder injury killed the Yankees postseason hopes and his injury history, which let the Yankees take him in the draft, could become a concern. B+
Phil Coke--After nearly getting cut in Spring Training, roared back to become this year's version of Joba. All he did was allow one run in 14.2 innings, and all this after nearly being traded to Pittsburgh. Guess the Yankees are glad that the Pirates chose the other option. A
Dan Giese--Was at his greatest value while Joba was transitioning from reliever to starter, piggy-backing on Joba's starts, pitching effectively, and sometimes even picking up the win. Pitched well in two of his three starts, but a lack of offense in one and a bad bullpen in the other doomed him. B.
Phil Hughes--Lost most of the season, again, to injury. Looked awful in the beginning of the season, but better after the injury return. Problem is, Yankees are counting on him to be effective all year, and not just a September surprise. Has had only one healthy year in 2006, and despite his age, his injuries have to be cause for concern. B-
Damaso Marte--Came over in the Nady deal from Pittsburgh and many thought he would be the jewel of the heist. Pitched poorly when used for entire innings and battled an arm injury without most people knowing, but became more effective when used just for match ups. B-
Mike Mussina--Whatever the Yankees expected out of him in April, a 20-9 record at the end of the season and position as the team's ace probably wasn't it. Struggled in April, made adjustments and took off. The Yankees don't finish above .500 without his efforts. A+
Carl Pavano--Things would have to have gone really bad for Pavano to pitch, and, alas, they did. Pavano, however, was not awful when he did pitch. Still, it's impossible to grade a guy objectively when his attendance record is so poor. Inc.
Andy Pettitte--Did what most of the fans wanted and came back, but struggled. Likely tried to pitch through an arm injury and ended up with a 1-7 mark through August and had to battle just to finish 14-14. He did, however, make every start, and if he can do a Mussina and figure out how to pitch when his cutter isn't working, the Yankees would do well to sign him next year--especially if Mussina retires. C+
Sidney Ponson--His last go around in pinstripes did not go so well, so, understandably, there was an audible gasp of "Oh good lord" when the Yankees re-signed him after Wang's injury. However, the Yankees did end up 9-6 in his starts, and one of those losses occurred after he pitched the Yankees to a 0-0 tie with the Angels in the ninth. He was lucky more than good, but the 2008 Yankees will take that. C+
Edwar Ramirez--Settled into a role for a while as a sixth inning man and was effective as such, but struggled in the eighth inning, especially when coming on while runners were on base. Wicked change up, but when the hitters guess right, some fan will get a free souvenir. B-
Darrell Rasner--Alas, he of the AAAA doom! Unhittable in AAA ball, he earned a call up back in May and pitched effectively for his first few starts. Got burned by a bad offense in a couple other starts, but by and large the other MLB teams simply figured him out, and while one can't knock him for trying, if he remains with the Yankees he's likely better suited for long relief than a starting position. Would be a good candidate to include in a package deal to an NL team, where he could likely continue to start at the ML level. C
Mariano Rivera--Bone spurs? What Bone Spurs? The 38-year-old closer had arguably his best season ever, putting up gaudy stats that would have him, and not Francisco Rodriguez, in Cy Young contention if not for one Indian (see: Lee, Cliff). Certainly got his due pitching the ninth inning of the All Star game and the Final Game, but you can tell he's crushed by not pitching in October. Struggled in tie games. Something about closers and non-save situations. It's his only blemish--otherwise he saved 38 of 39 save opportunities and, in his first year of his new contract, more than lived up to the billing--which is more than can be said for certain other re-signed 2007 free agents. A
David Robertson--For a while, came up and threw nothing but strikes. However, seemed to come undone after a couple of bad appearances. Could be an effective reliever next year if he figures how to get back to the 'throw strikes only' approach. B-
Humberto Sanchez--Not enough appearances to judge. In danger of being supplanted by Mark Melancon--but the increased competition should encourage all the relievers to be better. Inc
Jose Veras--Effective for most of the year but seemed to tire at the end of it. Occasionally prone to the long ball--not quite Farnsworth-esque, but prone enough that he's better suited to be the 7th inning guy than, say, the 8th inning in a tie game. Very violent delivery could potentially be an injury concern. B-
Chad Moeller--Third string back up at the beginning of the year, he proved to be an effective back up for Jose Molina, working especially well with Darrell Rasner. A decent arm behind the plate and not an automatic out while at bat, the Yankees would do well to re-sign him as long as Jorge Posada's shoulder is not 100% B
Jose Molina--There was no way to replicate Posada's bat as a hitter or what he brings to the clubhouse in terms of being a vocal leader, so it's unfair to judge Molina on this basis alone. Molina is one of the best defensive backstops in the game, and proved it, while also working exceptionally well with Mike Mussina and the rest of the pitching staff. Hands down the best trade the Yankees made in 2007. B
Jorge Posada--Missed nearly the entire season with a shoulder injury and wasn't right when he wasn't playing. He can't be blamed for getting hurt, it happens, but his delay in surgery, while trying to rehab the shoulder, meant that the Yankees wavered on trying to acquire a catcher to spell Molina and were ultimately left with an ineffective Pudge Rodriguez. C
Ivan Rodriguez--You can't blame the Yankees for trying. Catching a full season for Jose Molina was likely an injury waiting to happen. However, the trade failed in a number of ways. Pudge was almost as ineffective at the plate as Jose Molina (in fact, Molina's walk rate was probably higher), and ended up not being a starter, but more of a platoon partner with Molina. The cost of the trade was superficially only Kyle Farnsworth, but the bullpen seemed to collapse after Farnsworth was gone and it took another month--which the Yankees could ill afford--to figure out how to restructure it. Pudge is going to Cooperstown, but it won't be because of his pinstripe tenure. D
Wilson Betemit--Was an effective pinch hitter from the left side, and happened to prevent a Seattle starter, Morrow, from pitching a no hitter in his first major league start, but other than that, prone to strike out and not very good defensively. The occasional pop from his bat was a luxury the depleted Yankees could not afford. C
Robinson Canò--Probably the biggest disappointment of the year. Expected to contend for a batting title, he got off to a horrendous start, and with the exception of the week right after the All Star break, didn't recover from it until his benching in September. The question "what if he'd be benched back in May" will taunt the Yankees all the way until 2009...and possibly beyond. C-
Jason Giambi--No one expected him to play the entire year at first base without getting hurt, but except for a couple games in April, that's exactly what he did. Has the bizarre position of having most of his home runs either tying the game or giving the Yankees the lead, while, at the same time, having a horrible BA with runners in scoring position. The mustache carried him for a couple months, but the Yankees couldn't afford to bat him fifth all year--though they did, anyway. C+
Derek Jeter--Picked it up at the end, but for most of the year was having his worst offensive season of his career. How much of this was because of playing through an injury is unknown to all except him, but next year will be telling--if his numbers improve, no worries, but if they're similar, it might be time to recognize that more of Derek's playing time is in the past than is in the future. The speech he gave after the Final Game will go down in Yankees lore--certainly not Gehrig's, but in a year he eclipsed Gehrig's hit total at the Stadium, the Iron Horse would have been proud.B-
Cody Ransom--Not a young prospect, but certainly played like one, doing his best Shane Spencer impression at first. Settled down to a more regular stat line, one commiserate with being a bench player, but had a two home-run game at Boston at the end. Adequate defensively--at the very least, better than Betemit. Should get a long look in Spring Training. B
Alex Rodriguez--Coming off of what would be a career year for anyone else (but, because this is A-Rod, 2007 was likely just a really good year for him), there was almost no way for him to live up to expectations this year. An injury to his quad in April and his first DL stint likely reminded some why signing players to 10-year contracts is generally a bad idea (though I would guess there are a few number of Americans that currently envy his job security), and, once again, problems to come through in the clutch along with back page headlines re: Madonna, made this a season he probably wants to forget. B-
Bobby Abreu--As in 2007, got off to a slow start, but still recovered enough to hit .300 and drive in 100 runs. The problem was, in 2008, the Yankees needed him to be productive in the early goings. Though he doesn't make a lot of errors in the field, he has trouble getting to the ball and a case of wall-o-phobia, making him more of a liability than an asset in the field. The Yankees would not do horribly to bring him back for one year as a DH and perhaps a back up outfielder, but Abreu likely wants a multi-year deal, which a team that wants to get younger can't afford. B-
Melky Cabrera--If G-d is kind, 2008 will be Melky's rock bottom. He looked like he was going to have a breakout season in April, but regressed so totally that he ended up getting sent to the minors. Also had an embarrassing moment at one game I was at, where he tried to acknowledge the "Roll Call" and ended up misplaying the ball. Am rooting for him to recover in 2009, but now that the Yankees have gotten an extended look at Brett Gardner, he may find himself relegated to trade bait. D
Johnny Damon--One of the few that walks the walk. Not the most talented player on the Yankees, but he plays his heart out, and while he's not got much of an arm, he can still hit. His 6-6 game against the Royals will likely be considered one of the best Yankee wins of 2008. His greatest value, however, is as a clubhouse leader, and his work with the Wounded Warrior Project is something that needs more attention. B+
Brett Gardner--When he came up the first time, he was an adequate fielder with a weak bat that found a way to get to Jonathan Papelbon. The second time around, he looked as good in the field as Melky Cabrera on a good day and was much better at the plate, using his speed to stretch singles into doubles. Has no power of yet, but if he walks more and strikes out less, will make a great lead off hitter once Damon leaves. Would do well to teach the rest of the Yankees how to hit Roy Halladay. B
Xavier Nady--Came over in the big blockbuster deal of the year. Struggled at the plate in the beginning, but given an 11-day-old son at the moment of the trade and adjusting to a new league, it's no wonder he took off once he got his bearings. Came back to earth towards the end, but he will likely make a more than adequate right field replacement if Abreu leaves. By some accounts, he strikes out too much, but on the whole, in 2008, he gave the Yankees just what they needed--a solid, right-handed bat. B+
Hideki Matsui--Tried to come back from knee surgery only to find he needed surgery on his other knee. The Yankees could ill-afford the loss of his bat on top of that of Jorge Posada, and if the right deal is proposed, might find himself traded to the West Coast in the offseason. C
Sunday, September 28, 2008
That's it, then.
The end of Yankees baseball 2008.
Right now seems a far cry from when the season started, from those days in February and March when we were all psyched for what looked like the start of an unforgettable season.
The Yankees were supposed to be an offensive powerhouse supplemented by a core of young pitchers, with some veteran guidance and a firm resolve not to get off to the same, slow start as nearly derailed the team in 2007.
Alas, the thing about sports--nothing ever plays according to the script.
Players get hurt. Sometimes they miss a couple games, sometimes the entire season. Sometime they're borderline major leaguers, sometimes they're the stars of your team.
Players under perform. Sometimes coaches can discover the reasons why; sometimes they can't.
Other teams improve. Sometimes they're in the other league; sometimes they're in your own division.
Some teams recover, some don't, but if there's one thing baseball tells us, it's that time can be measured in eternity, or in thousandths of a second.
The memories of Yankee Stadium will last forever. The fleeting moment where one mistake pitch is the difference between a win and a loss is never gotten back.
No matter what we might think, going forward, we won't forget 2008.
Whether it's because it's the first time since 1994 we won't see baseball in October or because it's the year we paid tribute to Yankee Stadium, that's up to you. I, being my delusional, optimistic self will choose the latter--but I don't blame you if you choose the former.
Of course, the end of 2008 also means looking forward to 2009, and so we shall.
We will look forward to what will likely be one of the most eventful, if not entertaining, off-seasons in recent Yankees history. Among the issues that need addressing:
a) Will Brian Cashman come back?
a1) If not, who replaces him?
a2) If so, for how long? With any conditions?
b) Do we go after CC Sabathia?
b1) What are we willing to spend to get him--not just in terms of cash, but in terms of time?
b2) If CC is uninterested, do we look at AJ Burnett? Ben Sheets?
C) Who plays first base?
c1) What do we offer Teixiera?
c2) Do we re-sign Giambi or Abreu as a DH?
c3) What if Posada doesn't heal well and can't catch?
The list goes on. The fact is, the Yankees in 2009 might look very different than 2008.
With a new Stadium, a new team might seem fitting, but no Yankee team can forget the past.
Joba Chamberlain will be there in 2009, and so will Derek Jeter.
Phil Hughes will (likely) be there in 2009, and so will Mariano Rivera.
I will be there, and, I hope, so will you.
The Quest for 27 in 2009 starts now.
Back in April, the majority of us said that Mike Mussina and Ian Kennedy would do battle for the fifth spot in the Yankees rotation.
Oh, how wrong we were!
In 2008, nothing went according to plan, so, it's perhaps fitting that it's in a year after he pitched himself off of the rotation that Mike Mussina pitches himself to 20 wins and almost certainly Comeback Player of the Year contention.
Like someone who's college application lacks only a decent SAT score, Mike Mussina's Hall of Fame resumè lacked only a season with 20 wins. He'd had 19 and 18 and 17, and it seemed, at this time, with three wins to go and only three starts left, that Mussina would fail short yet again.
Fate, however, while not on the general side of the Yankees this season, was on Mussina's side these past two weeks.
Mussina was great against the White Sox in what might be his last start at Yankee Stadium, and last week in Toronto battled getting hit in the elbow to stay in long enough to qualify for the win.
Today, Mussina's great enemy was not the Red Sox, but instead the weather, which had canceled yesterday's game and threatened to derail today's first. After a rain delay of about an hour, however, the game went forward, and Mussina was stellar, needing just 73 pitches to get through six innings.
Though the Yankees bullpen made it a little hairy, it's important to remember that the Yankees actually have a bullpen, unlike these dudes and they were able to keep the lead intact.
Now, the greatest thing for Moose is that if he decides to retire, he gets to do it, on a personal level, on the heels of one of his best career years, and quite possibly the year that punches his ticket to Cooperstown.
In other news, congratulations to the following teams on their postseason berths:
Boston Red Sox
Tampa Bay Rays
Los Angeles Dodgers
And congratulations to one of the Twins/White Sox, who just don't want summer to end.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
2008 MLB SATs
Instructions: Please mark the answer that best fits the question. No points will be lost for wrong answers or missed answers, so if you are not sure, make an educated guess.
You have twenty minutes for each section.
RULES AND REGULATIONS
1. An MLB regulation, non-extra inning game consists of:
A: Nine innings
B: Nine innings, except in the case of inclement weather, in which a game may be called over any time after four and a half innings if the home team is ahead or five innings if the home team trails
C: However many innings it takes for the Mets bullpen to implode
D: However many innings can be played before Carl Pavano leaves with an injury
2. The strike zone is:
A: An imaginary box that stretches from the knees to the chest of the batter and is as wide as home plate.
B: A designated area in front of each stadium where MLB players protested in 1994.
C: Whatever Angel Hernandez says it is.
D: Ryan Howard's happy place.
3. What happens if a batter is hit by a pitch?
A: The batter is awarded first base
B: Both benches clear and meet on the field.
C: If the batter is Kevin Youkilis and the pitcher is Joba Chamberlain, a formal complaint with the MLB is filed and a six game suspension issued to Chamberlain.
D: A batter of equal caliber on the other team is hit in his next at bat.
4. A _____ happens when two outs are made on one play
A: Two-out play
B: Double play
C: Stupid Baserunner
D: Derek Jeter was batting, wasn't he?
5. Which of the following is explicitly banned by baseball and may cause a lifetime ban from the sport?
B: Pine Tar
C: Scott Kazmir's choice of music in the Mets clubhouse
TRIVIA AND SUPERSTITION
1. Jeffery Maier : Baltimore Orioles :: ______ : Chicago Cubs
A: Billy goats
B: Black cats
C: Steve Bartman
D: Mark Prior
2. What is the general rule of thumb if your starting pitcher is pitching a no hitter?
A: You don't talk to or otherwise associate with said pitcher.
B: You don't mention the words "no hitter"
C: You try to make sure your starter doesn't have to sit too long while your team is batting
D: You put Michael Kay on mute.
3. Why did the Tampa Rays win the 2008 AL East?
A: Because of an infusion of young talent in Crawford, Upton, Longoria and Garza.
B: Because the Red Sox and Yankees could not overcome injuries to their important players.
C: Because they won the games that they had to win.
D: Because they got rid of the "devil" in their name.
4. What was "the Curse of the Bambino?"
A: After Babe Ruth was traded to the Yankees, he cursed Boston and they didn't win a World Series for eighty five years.
B: Some baby in the North End gave the evil eye to Fenway Park.
C: Bill Buckner's scapegoat.
D: A myth: Boston just plain sucked for 85 years.
5. Rookie hazing is:
A: A tradition, usually occurring on a team's last road trip, in which the rookies are made to dress in ridiculous costumes so everyone can point and laugh.
B: Something that's as much a part of baseball as peanuts and cracker jacks.
C: A reason for even fans of the most inept teams to smile.
D: Something likely to get you suspended or expelled if done at the high school level.
1: What is the main difference between Mariano Rivera and Francisco Rodriguez?
A: One is going to the postseason while the other is not
B: One broke Bobby Thigpen's save record while the other did not
C: One was the focus of many a Sportscenter segment and the other was not.
D: One has four World Series rings, a World Series MVP, an ALCS MVP, saved 38 of 39 opportunities to a tune of a 1.43 ERA and 0.67 WHIP and got to pitch the ninth inning of the All Star game and final inning of the Final Game, and the other did not.
2: Which of the following events have some people fuming:
A: The Cubs and Astros played a make up game in Milwaukee after Hurricane Ike made Houston inaccessible, and Carlos Zambrano pitched a no-hitter in a game that was technically a Houston home game even though the stands were filled with Cubs fans.
B: Willie Randolph was fired in the middle of the night in Anaheim, California, after winning the game.
C: Josh Hamilton didn't officially win the Home Run Derby.
D: The Dodgers making the postseason with 83 wins while at least one team with 88 wins will be left out.
E: The Mets bullpen is allowed to exist, at all.
3: Which of the following has not happened (yet) in 2008?
A: The Mariners became the first team with a $100 million payroll to lose 100 games
B: The record for strikeouts in a season broken at 201 (Mark Reynolds)
C: A member of the Boston Red Sox pitches a no hitter
D: Despite being in contention for both the Wild Card and the NL East, the Mets miss the playoffs.
4: How many innings did the All Star game last?
D: I don't know, I went to sleep
Pick one of the following and answer. Points are awarded based on the coherence of your argument and not the style of your writing.
1. Please explain, in detail, the significance of Yankee Stadium. Make sure to refer to Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson, Don Mattingly and Derek Jeter. Why is it the most important sports venue in the US? What is the significance of its closing?
2. Should a team such as the Texas Rangers or Washington Nationals, in need of pitching, be allowed to sign Carl Pavano? Why or why not?
3. Please define and elaborate on the definition of 'excess celebration' and 'fist pump'. When should it be allowed and when should it be banned? Should who is performing the action be an issue?
END OF TEST
Please submit your answer sheets to the Commissioner's Office for scoring.
Friday, September 26, 2008
From LoHud Yankees:
But Mariano Rivera is getting a second opinion on his shoulder today and every indication is that he will need surgery to repair bone spurs. It’s minor surgery, a scope. But no surgery is minor when you’re talking about a 38-year-old pitcher and shoulder issues are almost always more complicated than elbow injuries.
This is, of course, disheartening, even after the disappointment of this season.
Mariano Rivera is arguably the only Yankee that lived up to his contract signing of last off-season, not only equaling his career marks, but in some situations, exceeding them.
In some sense it's good this happened now, as opposed to in the middle of the season or in a year the Yankees needed him for October, but it doesn't change that well, because it's Mo, there's no spin you can put on it to make it seem routine, even if it is a fairly 'routine' procedure.
So here's hoping that if it does come to surgery that it goes well and he'll be ready come February/March 2009.
As to Joe Girardi vs. the Media, I have two thoughts:
1) Girardi should be more forthcoming to the media, even if it is just to say 'please don't come to me regarding injuries" and
2) After listening to the press conference the media did kind of exaggerate just how much Girardi blew up--can't imagine if it was Ozzie Guillen or Lou Pinella in the clubhouse...
Thursday, September 25, 2008
On the advice of one SJ44, famed poster from The Yankees LoHud Blog, I have handwritten the following letter to Hal Steinbrenner.
I realize the letter is likely to go unread or otherwise be ignored and acknowledge the baseball-is-a-business mantra and all it refers to, and that they are unlikely to care about the ramblings of a 22 year old graduate student, but, hey, I got to procrastinate.
For those that are not paleological experts:
To Hal Steinbrenner:
I was born in 1986, about two months before Phil Hughes. I am too young to remember the Yankees before Derek Jeter—in fact, the very first game I watched on tv was the Jeffrey Maier game during the 1996 ALCS. So for me, this October is unfamiliar territory. I’m not used to not having playoff baseball!
I have, however, made peace with that—after all, the cool thing about baseball is that you can play it again in the spring. That’s not my concern.
What does concern me, however, is what I—and not just me, but those of my age—are supposed to do about going to games at the New Yankee Stadium.
See, most of us are in or just out of college. Some, like me, are masochists slaving away in graduate school, but most are still just trying to find a job. It’s a tough situation—the economy is bad—when I talked to my father about it, he says that it’s never been this bad in his lifetime, and he was born in 1950. My father wouldn’t exaggerate—he graduated from Wharton and predicted what would happen back in March. My older brother works for a major investment bank and for a while we have bee paying a lot of attention to the situation. So my friends and I are aware that it’s a no-win situation.
Many of us would like to be able to attend Yankee games, as perhaps one way in which we can enjoy an evening after a rough, fruitless ay of job searching or to reconnect with some of our best childhood memories.
The problem is, on the whole, with the current prices for the new Stadium, we can’t afford anything more than bleacher or tier seats. As for season tickets, the only way for us to do that would be splitting a partial plan in the bleachers.
It might not, right now, seem like a big deal that a bunch of college kids can’t afford baseball tickets, but the fact is, in a few years, we will be the ones that you will target to buy season tickets to renew for decades to come. If we can’t afford tickets now, how are we supposed to be convinced that we’ll be able to afford decent seats in a few years—when more of us will have not just ourselves but our families to support?
I understand the need for corporate sponsorship and thus corporate boxes. That alone is not the problem—the problem is that it comes at the expense of possibly alienating the fan base that already has a hard time still trying to recover from the wounds of 2004 and now the wounds of 2008.
We want to support the Yankees. We’ve been paying so much attention to Scranton and Trenton that almost any Yankee fan my age can tell you about Austin Jackson, Jesus Montero and Mark Melancon. We want to be there in late 2009, 2010 and 2011 when they (hopefully) make it to the MLB level club. We want to be able to tell our children that we were there to witness the founding of the next Yankee dynasty, tht we got to see it close up, where we could see Jorge Posada wave to his kids in between innings, where we could see Joba Chamberlain wipe the sweat from his brow before striking out Dustin Pedroia, where we could see the marks in the grass from where Robinson Canò made a diving stop to keep a Carl Crawford line drive from going into right field an allowing Tampa to tie the game, where we could see Derek Jeter’s 3000th hit and Mariano Rivera become the all time saves leader.
We want to be able to return home to our blogs, where we can post photos from the game we went to and share the experience with those of us who, in California or Texas, can’t be there as well.
We don’t want it to cost the same as a vacation to Disneyland.
In the short term, I’m sure there won’t be any issue selling tickets to the new Stadium and I realize that baseball is first and foremost a business, so I realize the likelihood that many of us will still be paying a small fortune for decent seats for a long time to come.
However, baseball is a sport built on the possibility of hope, and so, I will hope.
Thanks for not trading Hughes,
25 September 2008
[I actually tried sending this email to the email address listed on the state senator's firstname.lastname@example.org, as the folks at River Ave Blues have encouraged, but I got this message in response:
I'm sorry to have to inform you that the message returned
below could not be delivered to one or more destinations.
Maybe I'll try sending it again in a few weeks. After the election.]
How's Wyoming? I've never been. My brothers both have, though, and they agree--it's a beautiful place and a haven for outdoor sports. That's not something you often get in New Jersey or in the Bronx so I guess I'll have to make my way out there some time. I've been killing to go kayaking, real kayaking, for ages.
I hope you liked your trip to New York. It's a great city, isn't it?
You should have been here for the Super Bowl last year, the entire city, even Jets fans, banding together to support the Giants, who were beyond lucky to win that game. It's the City's first professional sports championship since 9/11--the Devils won the Stanley Cup in 2003, yes, but they belong to New Jersey.
I'm sure as a sports fan you can get an idea of what Yankee Stadium means to the City. It's not just a place where they play baseball, it's part of the psyche, the consciousness, the being of the City. It identifies us, unites us, and is a place we can go to to live out some of our happiest memories.
Living in the Bronx has been a major culture shock to a girl from suburban New Jersey, but it is a vibrant community and now that I'm here, I absolutely love it. Like your state, it's a place that works its own magic. I'd love to take you to an Arthur Ave restaurant or let you sit in on my medieval history classes at Fordham University.
I can't put into words how much the Yankees mean to a place that for so long has been synonymous with urban decay.
So, while I congratulate you on catching the Jose Molina home run ball, I have to ask, nicely, if you would consider returning it.
You caught the ball, I'm sure you've taken pictures of yourself with the ball, you've seen it, you've touched it...most Yankee fans, myself included, have never caught so much as a foul ball and you caught something historic.
I can't speak for the Yankees, but I'm sure they'd be more than willing to send you all sorts of autographed memorabilia for that baseball or maybe get you tickets to a game at the new place, or pretty much, whatever you want.
But that ball deserves a place to rest not in a safe deposit box but in the New Yankee Stadium, reminding the fans that may have momentarily forgotten of their team's heritage, tradition, pride and importance both in the local community and in the larger context of the American sports world.
You will already be known as the guy to catch the last home run at Yankee Stadium and for that reason might find your name in the history and record books. You shouldn't need a baseball to prove it.
I hope the autumns in Wyoming are as pleasant as they are here, where we are approaching peak foliage--it's not Vermont, but it's ours. As is Yankee Stadium.
A Yankee Fan
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
For one day, Yankee fans could dream the impossible dream and a sweet dream it was.
Tonight, it became official through a Boston win over Cleveland--the Yankees will not make the postseason for the first time since 1995.
The reasons are many and varied and will be gotten to in due course.
Yeah, it hurts. I won't lie about that.
However, for now, there are still reasons to watch. There are still reasons to take pride in being a Yankee fan.
First, there's the fact that Mike Mussina now has 19 wins, which means that he officially has a chance at 20 wins. He's got to win his next start, in Boston, and this is hoping his arm hasn't swelled too much after getting hit by a pitch in the arm tonight.
Mussina looked excellent in the early innings, and was able to tough it out through five--all he needed to qualify for the win.
It's completely ironic that Mussina is the one and only pitcher on the Yankees that might get to twenty wins when you consider where he was in September last year--having pitched himself out of the rotation, and it is also wonderful.
Mussina has pitched too long and too well to not get a chance for 20 on Sunday.
Secondly, the Yankees are doing a great job of finishing strong. They were eliminated not because they lost, but because Boston won.
Think about the other teams that were supposed to contend this year and fell short--the Tigers, the Indians, the Mariners, all in contention as of 1 September 2007. The Yankees were the only ones to make it this far, and that's with the injuries to Wang, Posada, Matsui, Joba et al, and Hughes and Kennedy combining for 0 wins. Never mind the regression of Canò and Cabrera and the un-clutchness of Alex Rodriguez.
The Yankees have won six straight and right now actually look like a good baseball team. It's too late, of course, but it's easier to go into the winter on a positive.
More coming later, in the form of video.
Monday, September 22, 2008
The Yankees will have another few hours in contention as the Cleveland Indians hung on to beat the Boston Red Sox 4-3.
It would take a miracle on a legendary scale or a collapse worse than the 07 Mets or 64 Phillies on the part of Boston, but it is some comfort to know that the Yankees weren't eliminated on a night they weren't playing.
Meanwhile, the Mets are doing their best to repeat 2007, and the Jets don't seem to understand the concept of what to do with a football once they have it.
From the moment I woke up this morning, my only thought has been, "it's gone".
Last night was a celebration and a tribute. Bittersweet, for sure, but it was about everything good that the Stadium was.
Today, however, there's an emptiness.
Reggie Jackson said it well--it feels like losing a friend.
I shouldn't care so much about a building...and yet...this was the stage of my childhood dreams.
I still have to go to class and, for the moment, feign an interest in the economic expansion of England in the 12th and 13th centuries, but today, my thoughts are elsewhere.
The Yankees won't stop playing. Next year they'll open a park that looks like (and is priced like) a palace, and I'll be write there, blogging and rooting for them all the way.
It won't be the same, however.
It will never be the same.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
The day many of us thought would never get here is actually here. Today is, barring direct intervention from the baseball G-ds, the final game at Yankee Stadium.
I've decided to do a LiveBlog, which I will update throughout the day. Please feel free to comment with your Stadium memories or anything else you feel appropriate.
11.15 AM: Overslept again. I guess that's expected when you go to sleep at 3 AM. I'm really glad the Jets aren't playing today--it means I can devote the entire day to the Yankees. I didn't do football picks this week, because I can't think about football right now.
YES plans on airing Game 4 of the 2001 World Series as a "Yankees Classic" at one. I plan on watching that over ESPN, because I don't want the nostalgia shoved down my throat. Even though I end up watching ESPN anyway...
11.39 AM: Something else that has come to mind--
For so many fans, baseball was important simply because it was a way to bond with a parent--a father, especially.
There's some truth in that for me, but not in the sense that it is for most people.
See, Dad (and Mom) are not big sports fans. It's not that they have any intense hatred of spots, it's just something that doesn't interest them, like say Desperate Housewives doesn't interest me.
Still, before my brother, Dan, and I were old enough to take the train to New York by ourselves, Dad would get us tickets and go with us. Not because he wanted to, but because he knew that we wanted to go. Sometimes our older brother or our cousin would come too, but often, Dan and I were allowed to invite a friend. There would be four tickets, so with one spare, Dan and I would alternate who got to ask a friend to go, and we'd cross sports--basketball, hockey and baseball.
And every time I'm a little upset at Dad, I think of that.
I think of how he never complained, only rarely made us leave early (if it was a night game and we had school the next day), was willing to sit through two hours of traffic each way, how he even took us to Monument Park even though Dan, my brother, was still a little too young to understand what it meant.
And while I may never bond with my father over WHIP, park-adjusted ERA and OBP, I realize that what he did for myself and my brothers means so much more than any of the other stuff ever could.
1.13 PM: Just found this on ebay.
If I was still an undergrad, I would totally skip class to do this, and pay that much for the privilege, but the PhD students in my program have been kind enough to warn me not to skip my class tomorrow under any circumstances except imminent certain death.
I hope whoever does go is able to appreciate it.
1.31 PM Someone was kind enough to point out that Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS is currently playing on ESPN classic.
That may be the single greatest game that I've ever watched on TV. Well...top five, at least.
2.21 PM This is the best tribute video I have seen yet:
3.37 PM Just found out you can purchase classic baseball games on iTunes. The one I really really want, however, Game five of the 2001 World Series isn't available. However, I did get Well's perfect game, the Aaron Boone game and game six of the 1996 World Series.
3.58 PM I'm watching the replay of Game Four of the 2001 World Series. John Sterling makes a comment after Tino's home run that "If the Yankees win the World Series, the home run will go down as one of the most dramatic..."
Well, Mr. Sterling, the Yankees didn't win the World Series, but ask nearly any Yankee fan old enough to remember that game, and they will tell you it's one of the most dramatic moments of Yankee history. Especially when taken in consideration with what happened the next game. Not that you would have known that at the time.
5.00 PM Watching ESPN pan through the crowd, you can see people in tears. It's strangely comforting to know that I'm not the only one that is feeling emotion...even if I still have to wonder if it's appropriate. I mean, it's just a building.
And yet, it's so much more than that.
5.42 PM Apparently, according to ESPN, Reggie Jackson is going to watch the game from the right field bleachers. That is just plain awesome.
6.03 PM The Marquee outside the Stadium says "Thanks for the Memories". Indeed.
I don't have too many, but I wouldn't trade the ones I have for anything.
6.28 PM One of my friends, currently in New Hampshire and an acknowledged Red Sox fan, texted me to ask me if I was at the game tonight. I told her that I wasn't and asked why she wanted to know. She said that on the news there, they said that they were letting people walk on the field and she thought I would have thought that was cool (which I do).
In the heart of Red Sox nation today, they are paying tribute to the Yankees.
6.42 PM Mariano Rivera has said that he believes the biggest ovation will be for Bernie Williams. So glad he is back tonight--and yes, he probably will get the biggest ovation.
7.10 PM I'm flipping between YES and ESPN. Two comments--1) The hand prints on the wall are an amazing touch by the fans. 2) Bernie Williams in uniform. Chills.
7.12 PM Bob Sheppard, forever.
7.16 PM The original pennant and the retro uniforms...for a history student like me, this is gold.
7.21 PM Right now, there are cathedral bells going off down the street from me. It's chilling and apropos.
7.24 PM And the Jeter chants being. Methinks it's not the last time we will here such. He's a cult figure inside this ballpark.
7.29 For some reason, like Paul O'Neill, Scott Brosius always gives me chills. All because of October. Game Five of 2001 still overwhelms me.
7.39 PM Willie Randolph, a true Yankee. Indeed.
7.45 PM Yogi Berra was my childhood idol. Still is. That man IS America.
7.52 PM It's right now, as they're going through all of the Yankee greats, that I realize *just* how spoiled I've been, to be a Yankee fan. And while I didn't get to see anything before 1996, that that I have seen is just as magical and just as meaningful.
8.04 PM Welcome home, Bernie Williams. We have missed you.
8.07 PM Man, I wonder what Damon and Jeter and Abreu, etc feel, knowing that they're the line up on the very last day. I can't fathom it...but...wow.
8.14 PM I had thought Yogi was throwing out the first pitch, but, somehow, Julia Ruth Stevens doing it feels more appropriate.
8.22 PM Congratulations Derek!
8.30 PM I refuse to let Joe Morgan bother me. I refuse to let Joe Morgan bother me. I refuse to let Joe Morgan bother me. I refuse to let Joe Morgan bother me. I refuse to let Joe Morgan bother me. I refuse to let Joe Morgan bother me. I refuse to let Joe Morgan bother me.
8.36 PM ESPN paying tribute to the Bleacher Creature's Roll Call. Well done. Hope the Creatures make it worthwhile.
8.40 PM: Top of the first down, one hit, two flyouts and a grounder.
8.51 PM: That last strikeout was 2,000 for Andy Pettitte's career. It's not been his best year, but congratulations to hi on reaching that mark. Meanwhile Adam Jones missed a home run by centimeters.
9.05 PM: A base hit for the Yankees would be nice. They are, however, facing a pitcher they've never seen before, which tends to be kryptonite for them, and then there's the matter of the home plate umpire, but I'll shut up about that.
9.15 PM: Yogi and Whitey in the booth is a nice touch, and it's great to listen to them. Meanwhile, Andy continues to struggle on the mound.
9.24 PM: Hideki Matsui and Jose Molina with the Yankees' first two hits of the night. This has every feel of an October game.
9.27 PM: Johnny Damon with a three run home run. Jeter nearly made it back-to-back. I can't imagine what it's like to be that guy in the stands, who may have just caught the last home run ever to be hit at Yankee Stadium. The game, however, is still young, so who knows what will happen.
9.37 PM: The Yankees looked much better in the bottom of that inning. As with the Yankees of old, the spark started at the bottom of the line up.
9.47 PM: Oh, Andy. Bobby Abreu did well to make that throw close.
9.55 PM: Jose Molina has three home runs all year. He's not quite what you consider an offensive threat. And yet, as of right now, he's the last person to hit a home run in Yankee Stadium.
10.03 PM: Andy Pettitte has a 1-2-3 inning right when he needs it.
10.13 PM: The double play ens what had looked like a promising inning. No word on who's pulled the lever yet, or if it's been pulled.
10.15 PM Brent Nycz, from The Bronx Block just called me to tell me who pulled the lever:
Yeah. That's right.
They could have had Yogi, Larsen, Cone, Wells, O'Neill, Tino, Brosius, Moose, Bernie...
and it's Michael Kay.
No offense to Michael Kay, but that was a moment that should have gone to one of the Yankee greats.
10.18--Nice ovation and crowd chanting for Andy, but between the interviews with Cone and Wells, and the commercials courtesy of ESPN, you'd never know it.
For all of YES's faults, they would not have cut away from that.
10.33 PM Big moment for Phil Coke. Cannot possible imagine the butterflies going through his stomach. At least, if he ever makes it to October, he'll have a vague idea of what it's like.
10.34 PM Someone's gonna have to send me to rehab. I'm hooked on Coke.
10.47 PM Derek Jeter at the plate with the bases loaded. For the love of all that's Holy, get a hit!
10.48 PM Have I mentioned an intense dislike of Angel Hernandez?
10.53 PM ESPN keeps cutting away from the moments that are the most chilling. If they cut away from Mo's entrance, I may have to embark on a lifelong ESPN boycott.
10.58 PM It wouldn't be appropriate for anyone other than Ronan Tynan to be singing right now.
11.03 PM ESPN now has Michael Kay doing some of the play by play. Sometimes there are no words.
11.12 PM: There's one reason the Jason Giambi pop up dropped--well, you can argue all you want about it being miscommunication on the part of the Orioles--but really, is there any question the baseball g-ds are at work?
11.20 PM: A sacrifice that scores a run? From this team? Proof positive that this is not about the 2008 Yankees but about something so much more than that.
11.28 PM: Joba with five quick outs. Right now the Yankees are set up--Derek Jeter could have the final hit at Yankee Stadium.
We'll see what happens.
11.33 PM: Well, no hit, but Jeter could very well be the last Yankee at bat at the Stadium.
Meanwhile, ESPN didn't cut away from Mo's entrance. They at least got that right.
11.43 PM Mo with a Mo inning. The crowd chanting his name gave me chills. You would have thought it was the end of the World Series with the noise of everyone there. Classy move by Girardi to take Jeter out for the ovation.
Buy your Jose Molina memorabilia now...before everyone realizes that he was the last guy to hit a home run at Yankee Stadium.
11.47 PM They gave Jeter the mike. Excellent.
11.48 PM Jeter and the Yankees just paid tribute to the fans. Class if there ever was.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Things that need to happen at tomorrow's game:
1) Yogi throws out the first pitch (I believe this is actually happening--correct me if I'm mistaken)
2) Andy Pettitte pitches a scoreless first seven innings
2a) Andy picks off a runner at first
2b) Andy induces a 6-4-3 DP
2c) Jose Molina guns out a runner.
3) Joba Chamberlain strikes out the side in the eighth
4) Mo pitches a perfect ninth, end with the last batter--a strike-out of Kevin Millar--to the chants of Mar-i-a-no! Mar-i-a-no!
5) Derek Jeter hits a home run in the bottom of the eighth--the last Yankee hit at the Stadium, ever.
5a) It's caught by a 12 year-old boy leaning eversoslightly over the right-field wall.
6) George Steinbrenner, and George only, not Hank, not Hal, pulls the final lever.
7) Alex has a grand slam somewhere in there.
8) In the middle of the fifth or sixth inning, the fans start chanting Yank-ee Sta-di-um...
There are so many ways for tomorrow to be memorable.
There is only one thing that cannot happen, and I don't believe I need to tell you what that is.
After eighty five years...
After countless chilly April afternoons and frozen October nights...
After Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Berra, Mantle, Jackson, Mattingly and Jeter...
After record-setting home runs...
After football, popes and boxers...
After Don and the Davids...
After the drama of November baseball...
After the memories shared by our grandparents, parents and ourselves...
There is only one more game.
And it still matters.
Thanks to Alfredo Aceves, Mariano Rivera and Robinson Canò, tomorrow's game still counts.
The ghosts are out for one last time.
Here's hoping Jeter's injury isn't too serious to keep him from playing tomorrow. He has to play, it's as simple as that.
If you're going to the game tomorrow, please stay safe. It's bound to get a little crazy at the end.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
So I'm watching the Yankees tonight, watching Mike Mussina leave the mound and getting his ovation, possibly the last Yankee Stadium ovation he will ever receive, almost certainly the last at this Stadium, anyway.
And it hits me.
It hits me that this is it.
That after Sunday, watching a Yankee game will never be the same.
This has not been the best season for the Yankees. It's not been the worst, not by a long shot, but it also hasn't been anything close to what many of us were hoping for after the way we finished last year.
The mediocrity, however, has been exaggerated because of what this season means in the history, the lore, the psyche that goes into being a Yankee or being a Yankee fan.
So it's perhaps a bit of a surprise that it's taken this long for it to sink in--it did a little at the All Star game--but not, at least for me, like it did tonight.
I have to believe the ghosts were there tonight.
It wasn't an exceptionally dramatic game, but there were moments that were...well, they gave me goosebumps.
Like when the oldest living ball-player, at 102, Emilio Navarro, threw the first pitch, and if that wasn't chilling enough, if you catch the video, just as he's doing it, there's a squirrel--perhaps Scooter, perhaps not--running across the mound.
Like when Mike Mussina came out of the ballgame to a huge ovation, tipping his cap and entering the dugout with a giant smile, wearing, if just briefly, his heart on his sleeve. Oh, and the quest for 20 is still alive.
Like when Humberto Sanchez and Francesco Cervelli made their major league debuts and I realized, that might be the last time anyone makes their major league, Yankee debuts, at the Stadium. Juan Miranda, too. The three of them might be the very last to get those chills--hey, kid, you're in the game--at Yankee Stadium. There are three games left, but I'm not sure there's anyone left that the Yankees have called up that haven't already debuted.
This game probably won't be one we remember three years from now, unless our name is Humberto Sanchez, Juan Miranda or Francesco Cervelli (and maybe Mike Mussina), but it may have gotten to me much more than the game on Sunday will.
Because it's not when nostalgia is shoved down your throat, but when it comes naturally and almost by accident, amidst the chatter of the crowd and the jokes from the announcing crew about the answer to the night's trivia question, that you realize how much it means.
Rumors have abounded as to what Derek Jeter wants to steal from the Stadium. The most prevalent one concerns the Joe DiMaggio quote sign, but word has reached me of another, more interesting memento...
I quote, from a friend who works in the press box:
In the original clubhouse underneath the bleachers there's a chair, where in 1939, after Lou Gehrig retired but stayed with the team as captain, he'd go and sit after every game and weep. Before games, Jeter goes and sits in the chair and meditates.
To give himself "strength"
Apparently, the team found out and sent the chair to Cooperstown before Jeter gets his hands on it.
Now, unlike a good journalist, I'm going to admit that as far as I know, it's just a rumor, but given Jeter's recent feat, which, coincidentally (or not so coincidentally) involves Gehrig, I have to wonder if Gehrig doesn't live on in the Captain...
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
...When you turn on the Yankee game and see empty seats behind home plate during the last homestand at Yankee Stadium, ever.
Whether this is a reflection of the Yankees' poor performance or the current financial crisis, I have no idea. It's probably a little bit of both, but it's still telling.
Congratulations are due to Derek Jeter for breaking Lou Gehrig's record for hits at Yankee Stadium. He needed just one more at bat to do it.
Congratulations are also due to the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees and the Trenton Thunder for winning the International League (AAA) and Eastern League (AA) playoffs, respectively.
There is a lot of young talent at both levels, and if you're reading this, chances are you're already familiar with some of the names--Melancon, Jackson, Curtis, et al.
This year might be bleak, but the future is not--as far as baseball is concerned, anyway.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
The Yankees won the game, but today belonged to Derek Jeter.
Jeter needed just three hits today to tie Lou Gehrig's record for career hits at Yankee Stadium, and...wow, the Jets need a kicker...I mean, Jeter did just that, going 3-4.
His Gehrig-tying hit came on a solo home run, perhaps not in true Jeterian up-the-middle fashion, but it did make you remember, if just for a moment, that watching Derek Jeter is watching greatness.
The other story of the game, and no, I don't mean Carl Pavano getting hurt (again), was the major league debut of David Price.
He came in early for an ineffective Edwin Jackson and motored through the Yankee lineup as though it was an AAA line up.
Okay, so given the offensive struggles, that might not be saying much, but even so...
Right. Going to moan about the lack of defense from the Jets. Pulling my hair out now...
Giants fans, enjoy your win.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
The Houston Astros are 2.5 games out of a Wild Card spot, and the way things are going for the Phillies and the Brewers, it's certainly not an undoable task...
The Yankees dropped the first game of their double-header today, 7-1, which might be a death knell to Mussina's quest for 20--he should get at least three more starts but he would have to win all three. It's not impossible, but it is a tall order.
The Yanks were much better in the second game, coming back from down 4-1 to win. Phil Coke was excellent in relief of Sidney Ponson.
Derek Jeter seems to have decided that he needs to break Lou Gehrig's Yankee Stadium hits record. He came into today needing nine hits, and he's whittled that down to three. If I remember correctly, they have all been singles.
Meanwhile, Syracuse football continues to be a national embarrassment.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Once again, my picks are based on gut feelings more than anything else and should not be used if you are seriously gambling on game results...
Packers over Lions. Congratulations to Aaron Rogers on a very nice NFL debut.
Chiefs over Raiders. The Chiefs actually hung in there with the Patriots and Oakland...well...umm...I hear the Bay is really pretty this time of year...
Giants over Rams. If we're lucky St. Louis will actually remember that there's a football game on Sunday this time around.
Vikings over Colts. Okay, I guess this makes my upset special (hey, last week, I TOTALLY called the Titans over the Jags!) but last week the Colts looked like a mess against the bears and I'm not sure one week will be enough to right the ship. Two, certainly, but one is pushing it.
Titans over Bengals. Even without Young, I still like this team.
Saints over Redskins. They looked great in the first game, and Washington, not so much.
Panthers over Bears. They earned this pick, but right now I am *so* glad I got Forte on my fantasy team.
Bills over Jags, thought it would be nice to see the Jags win and the Jets win and hello AFC East lead...
Seahawks over Niners. At least last week Seattle lost to a team that's expected to vie for a Wild Card spot...
Falcons over Bucs. Just because Matt Ryan is my fantasy quarterback.
Jets over Patriots. You know I had to.
Cardinals over Dolphins, but I think the line should be a lot closer than 4.5.
Ravens over Texans. Baltimore looked good week one.
Broncos over Chargers. Denver earned this pick after their performance last week.
Steelers over Browns. The Steelers being the one AFC hotshot team to live up to expectations last week.
Eagles over Cowboys. I'm still mad at Texas.
Seven years ago, the Yankees and the Diamondbacks (and the rest of Major League Baseball) showed the world it was not whether or not you won or lost, but what mattered, in the end, in was that they played.
Once again I realize my updates have been spotty at best. I apologize, and am trying to work out a way to balance my schedule.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
You may not believe it, but the Yankees won a game in Anaheim tonight.
Maybe it was because the pitcher on the mound for the Yankees, Alfredo Aceves, was making his first major league start and missed the memo that the Yankees were supposed to roll up and play dead while in Anaheim.
Maybe it was because Alex Rodriguez realized he hasn't homered since Tampa and Johnny Damon was that determined to get out of that slump he had been in.
Or maybe, it was simply that for once this season, the Yankees did the right things at the right time.
Of course, while the Yankees are still technically in the playoff race, they are still 8.5 games out of the Wild Card with not nearly enough left to play, so while tonight's win was perhaps a small moral victory, the outlook on October hasn't changed much.
Derek Jeter passed Babe Ruth for 2nd place on the Yankees all-time hits list, but I don't need to tell you about how valuable Jeter is as a player, even if he is beginning to decline. He is still a first ballot Hall of Famer.
The New York Jets did enough to win on Sunday, and I can't remember the last time I'd seen a Jets quarterback throw down field like that, and I think as Favre becomes more familiar with the playbook, that he and the team will improve.
The AFC East is now wide open, but I won't favor the Jets just yet. I'd like to see what they do against the Patriots and the Bills first.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Wait for it...wait for it...
Sidney Ponson pitched well.
He made one bad pitch and got burned for it, but he pitched well and, at least against the Mariners, the Yankees were able to take advantage of the weaker team.
The offense wasn't great, especially in the early innings, but they took advantage of a bad Seattle bullpen and was able to put enough distance between them and the Mariners that even when Joba struggled, their lead was still fairly comfortable.
Now, with Mike Mussina on the mound tomorrow the Yankees have a legitimate shot at leaving Seattle with a 5-2 record on the road trip so far, which is already a lot better than 3-7 and would guarantee at least a .500 record on the trip.
While at this point it might be considered too late to do anything other than hope for the Yankees, there are still intriguing storylines: Mussina's quest for 20 wins is alive and well, Jeter is thisclose to being the Yankees' hits leader (at least at Yankee Stadium), and every home run Alex hits now seems historic.
In other news, I would pay Syracuse good money to get rid of Greg Robinson, and I am very much looking forward to the first Jets game of the season tomorrow.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Check out Pat Venditte pitching for Staten Island on Thursday, courtesy of Brent Nycz
Brendan Morrow should remember tonight for the rest of his life. In his first major league start he was four outs from a no-hitter.
Meanwhile, the Yankees inability to win on the West Coast are astounding.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
If you don't remember from last year, my predictions are based on nothing other than gut. Sometimes I go 1-14, sometimes I go 14-1. Here we go:
New York Giants over Washington Redskins. I am a Jets fan but I need to give Giants props for their Super Bowl win.
Detroit Lions over Atlanta Falcons. My brother is obsessed with Kevin Smith.
Seattle Seahawks over Buffalo Bills. The Seahawks are dangerous when healthy. Unlike the Sonics or the Mariners.
New York Jets over Miami Dolphins. This actually isn't a biased pick, but based on last year, I'll take anyone over the Dolphins...except Baltimore.
New England Patriots over Kansas City Chiefs. 18-1! Say it with me: 18-1!
New Orleans Saints over Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Maybe this is the year the Saints finally get somewhere.
Philadelphia Eagles over St. Louis Rams. My brother's best friend is an Eagles fan, this pick is for him.
Pittsburgh Steelers over Houston Texans. Just because.
Tennessee Titans over Jacksonville Jaguars. Thoughts and prayers with Jason Collier.
Cincinnati Bengals over Baltimore Ravens. Dude, Baltimore, you lost to the Dolphins. You don't get picked.
San Diego Chargers over Carolina Panthers. This doesn't change the fact that Shawn Merriman is an idiot.
Arizona Cardinals over San Francisco 49ers. For the Hell of it.
Dallas Cowboys over Cleveland Browns. Stupid Cowboys.
Indianapolis Colts over Chicago Bears. Can't pick against a Manning. They're kind of like Molina brothers. You can't pick against them.
Minnesota Vikings over Green Bay Packers. It's not that I don't believe in Aaron Rogers, it's that I believe in Adrian Peterson more.
Denver Broncos over Oakland Raiders. Broncos are legit.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Alex Rodriguez is always at the center of everything.
Therefore, it's not much of a surprise that Alex was involved in the very first use of instant replay.
Lucky for him, the call went his way and he passed Michael Schmidt for 12th on the all time home run list, and broke open a 6-3 ball game.
For the first time since then end of July, the Yankees have won a series against a team with a record better than .500, and in doing so against Tampa, they may very possibly set some interesting things in motion, and Boston is now just three games behind Tampa.
Carl Pavano was not great, but the Yankees won the game and there is not much more one can ask for at this point.
As for the bullpen, Edwar Ramirez got lucky, Phil Coke apparently should have been called up earlier, Brian Bruney was excellent and Jose Veras was shaky, but they got the job done.
Of late the Yankee offense seems to have finally woken up a little bit, having scored 8, 7, 13 and 6 in four of their last five, but they will have to keep this up pretty much the entire month if they are going to have a legitimate shot at the playoffs.
Today marks the one year anniversary of PBP. Thank you to everyone that's kept reading over the year--this has become so much more than I ever thought it would.
Last night, Brent Nycz of The Bronx Block and I decided to take it down a few notches and headed out to Staten Island to catch the Staten Island Yankees in action.
The Staten Island ferry offers some excellent views of the Statue of Liberty and the lower Manhattan skyline.
Richmond County Bank Stadium (or whatever it's called) is probably the smallest minor league venue I have ever been to--and that's saying something because Syracuse is pretty small as well.
We had great seats--an amazing view and right behind the scouts, so I could peak at the guns to see what the other pitchers were hitting.
The starter for the Hudson Valley Renegades, sat around 91-93, struck out nine over six, walked two and allowed one run on two hits.
Ah, there we go, Richmond County Bank.
Can you tell who's starting for the Staten Island Yankees? No? Well, believe it or not, it was Jonathan Albaladejo.
The view was amazing.
The tickets were a bit expensive for a minor league game, but it was certainly worth it. My only regret is that we did not get to see Pat Venditte--the switch-pitcher--in action.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
From River Ave Blues:
Now for a tangent. Many people believe that the Yankees woes are centered around the offense, in particular the lack of hitting with runners in scoring position. Will you venture a guess as to who has the worst team average in the AL in those situations? None other than the first place Tampa Bay Rays. They’re hitting .246 with RISP. Yet, they’re still atop the division. Sure, it doesn’t hurt that they’ve had their top five pitchers going every game from early May through now. But they’re finding ways to win even though their numbers with RISP are the worst in the AL. They Yankees, well, just aren’t.
Just some food for thought.
Monday, September 1, 2008
There's that old saying again--they don't have to be pretty, they just have to be wins.
Such was the case today.
Unfortunately, while the good ole' slugfest was fun to watch, for a while, it may be a case of too little, too late.
Losing two out of three to Boston was bad enough, but two out of three to Toronto as well was a dagger--and I had the honor of seeing the 7-6 loss on Saturday in person.
As far as today's game went, however, one has to wonder where this offense has been the entire season. Games like today were games the Yankees were supposed to have in spades this year, and they simply have not.
This game would have fit in nicely last year, with the Yankees winning in spite of their pitching staff, and not because of it (okay, Phil Coke had a very nice debut, but that was about it in terms of pitching).
The Yankees now head to Tampa for three before heading out to Seattle and Los Angeles.