Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Yanks' Grit it Out Against Mariners (postgame notes 30 June 2009)

Given that Mariano Rivera threw out tonight's ceremonial first pitch and that Joba Chamberlain was starting, it is perhaps not surprising that in the end it came down to the bullpen.

Joba Chamberlain started, and while he wasn't horrible in any sense of the word, he also wasn't very good, or even mildly good.

He struggled with command, and once again seemed to nibble too much, being afraid to attack the zone after going 0-2 on hitters. To be sure, the hits the Mariners had off of Joba were more of the bloop than the blast variety, but he threw too many pitches and much too many out of the strike zone.

For much of the game, the Yankee offense muddled about in a state of semi-consciousness.

The first three runs came on an error, a sac fly and a groundout--and they were 0-9 with RISP at one point.

However, as soon as the Mariners tied the game (which they did twice), the Yankees' offense would come right back, doing, once again, just enough to make sure the team wins. The offense did look best in the bottom of the 8th inning.

The story line about this game, however, will center around the 8th inning.

In the seventh, Joe Girardi had gone to Phil Hughes to pitch, and Hughes set the Mariners' down, in order, on nine pitches.

As many have opined, there was no real reason to take Hughes out of a game, especially since he needs his innings.

Still, Girardi played, once again, by the book and brought in his presumed 8th inning guy, Brian Bruney.

As has been the case since Bruney came off of the disabled list, he struggled and, in this case blew the 5-3 lead.

The question of what should have been done will, no doubt, fill the non-Mets-related talk on WFAN tomorrow; and opinions will probably be very varied.

Me? I would have stuck with Hughes, not because of a lack of faith in Bruney, but because Hughes has been so dominant and because Hughes could use the work. You might entirely disagree.

Ultimately, the Yankees got the win on a night Boston lost (check out those highlights if you can. Seriously.), and all is well.

Monday, June 29, 2009

At the Deadline, 2009 Looks Like 2008....Sorta...

With the All Star Break fast approaching, teams are beginning to have to make that most-crucial of decisions: buyers or sellers at the trade deadline?

With the Yankees, there isn't much of a question--with the third best record in MLB and first place in the Wild Card race (though no one's looking at this quite yet), it's clear that the Yankees are buyers.

So now the question becomes threefold:

1) What do the Yankees need?

2) Can they solve this problem from within?

3) What price are they willing to pay to solve the problem from the outside?

Strangely, although in many ways this season has felt much different than 2008, the needs in 2009 are strikingly similar at the same point in the season.

This might be attributed to the fact that Xavier Nady and Dámaso Marte have been non-entities this season (although credit should be given to Nady for trying to come back ahead of schedule and avoid a second TJ surgery, though that no longer looks possible).

Thus, the Yankees need, right now, the same sort of thing that they needed last year: an additional bat that can spell some of the outfielders if need be, due to age or slump, and a reliever.

The good news is that the Yankees do not necessarily need a left-handed reliever (although they wouldn't say no, I don't think, if the right one is available); but I'm thinking that the idea here is to have another decent (ie, not Veras/Ramirez/Albaladejo) reliever so that the Yankees have the option of bringing Hughes back to the rotation and not substantially weakening the bullpen.

Or, you know, giving the Yankees the option to not have to pitch Brett Tomko, or Proctor Phil Coke or Alfredo Aceves.

The bat is simple here: you want someone better than Cody Ransom available to come off of the bench if need be. As Ramiro Peña can field well, run well and is not an automatic out, I can't see the Yankees sending him down to AAA, even if that would ultimately benefit him the most, unless they can land a bat that can do these things, also. The cost for that, however, would likely be prohibitively high, and while I can't see the Yankees mortgaging the farm for anyone, they would like something better than what they have.

Could the Yankees solve this issue from within?

For a while it looked like the Yankees would be able to solve the relief pitcher issue from within, with Mark Melancon, but after a short stint in the majors where nerves seem to have gotten to him, he's struggled again in AAA. Some other relievers have performed well, but nothing that is that inspiring--except, perhaps, for the ambidextrous Pat Venditte, and he is only just promoted to High A. Certainly not Major League ready.

As for the suggestion that Austin Jackson should be promoted to the Major League level, the answer is a resolute: No. He is progressing nicely at AAA. He is not blasting through the system a la Chamberlain, but everything seems to be coming in time. He is performing well for his level of competition, but he is not, in no way, shape or form, overmatching it. The worst thing the Yankees could do right now is mess with his development.

John Rodriguez is another name that's been thrown around, but he's recently been placed on the DL with a hamstring injury, and as fun as Shelley Duncan is to root for, he's not really as versatile defensively as the Yankees would probably like--not to mention he strikes out way too often.

It's still pretty early, in terms of the trade deadline, and we're not entirely sure which players are available for the right price.

For the Yankees the price is always going to be high--since every other team out there knows the Yankees can pay it.

Let the speculation begin.

Even in Boston, they knew Mo was something special

This quote comes via Kevin Kennedy's talk show on Sirius XM radio (With thanks to Andrew Fitzpatrick):

“I’ll never forget this as long as I live, it’s a true story: we’re in New York, the old Yankee Stadium, Rivera comes in and he just blows it by Mo Vaughn, [Jose] Canseco, Reggie Jefferson, whoever. He went through us in the seventh and eighth inning like he was facing little leaguers. And you’re talking about the [1995 AL] MVP [in Vaughn]. I’ll never forget after the eighth inning, I think he struck out Mo, and I saw Derek [Jeter] cover his glove over his mouth and Rivera happened to get the ball and look at him, and Derek just kind of shook his head and laughed. Now, he covered his mouth out of respect because he wasn’t laughing at the Red Sox. He was laughing like, ‘I can’t believe how good this guy is, how dominant this guy is. I’m glad I’m not facing him.’ It was a respectful thing. I knew what Derek was doing. It wasn’t about, ‘Oh, we’ve got you guys.’ It wasn’t about that. I’ll never forget that, watching that from the visiting dugout, and I’m thinking the same thing on the bench. Now, all these years later, did I know Rivera would have 500 saves and be able to do this for, you know, 15 years in a row? No, but I did know there was something special we were watching that year in ’96.” "

Kennedy and Jeff Joyce hold their show, Inside Pitch weekdays, 1-4 PM on the MLB Home Plate Channel--XM channel 175, Sirius 210.

The best writing I've ever seen on Rivera is in the first chapter of Birth of a Dynasty in which Joel Sherman muses simply that the Yankees, in 1995, simply didn't know what they had in Mo...and only, if they had known...

As a fan, the best thing about Mo has been how easy he is to root for, how easy he is to like. It's not just how consistent he's been on the field, but how professional he's been off of it. Always understated, but never deprecating, there's only one other Yankee, in my mind, that has ever come across with the type of understated class that Mo has.

Lou Gehrig.

Looking at the Yankees on an Off Day

The past two weeks have been not so much a Tale of Two Teams as it has a Tale of Two Offenses.

Both weeks the Yankees pitched decently--certainly well enough that they could have won nearly every game they played--but in the first week of interleague, the team was undone by their offense. Fortunately, the offense seem to have gotten back on track, and the Yankees have, accordingly, won accordingly--now five straight. Remember, a win is a win, even if it's against the not-as-good-as-they-should-be Braves or the hapless Mets.

The Starting Pitching

CC Sabathia: Biceps tendinitis be damned. To be serious, the Yankees made the right move in removing him in the game against the Marlins--he is too important of an investment to take any chance, but his pitching performance against the Mets, no doubt aided by the Mets' AAA line up (the degree to which it was aided is left to your opinion) removed any doubt as to whether or not Sabathia would have any lasting effects.

AJ Burnett: Pitched just good enough to lose in Florida (Josh Johnson is that good) and then pitched a gem against the Mets. The funny thing is, despite the seven one-hit innings, there were a fair bit of three-ball counts, and one has to imagine against a different line up the results may not have been quite so mesmerizing. Still, he trusted his stuff, and has pitched exactly as you would wish a #2 to pitch since his Boston start. In two starts against the Mets this year, the Mets couldn't score a single run.

Joba Chamberlain: He should have won the start against the Nationals--three runs over six innings gives your team a chance to win--but got absolutley nothing from the Yankee offense except wasted scoring opportunities. In a case of "what a difference offensive support makes", he gave up the same number of runs in only a third more innings pitched in Atlanta, but after Francisco Cervelli hit his first major league home run, the Yankee offense was sparked, and the Yanks' won the game easily, 8-4. So over his last two starts, Joba has not quite been an ace, but he's not exactly been bad or just okay. In other words--he doesn't belong in the bullpen. Not when he's the third-best starter in the rotation.

Andy Pettitte: Probably a two-week period he'd like to forget--he did win two of the three games he started (losing to the Mets), but only one of those wins, a 5-1 score against the Marlins where he had an RBI double (the Yankees pitchers did themselves well in interleague), was a decent start. Against the Braves he was staked to an 8-1 lead, but a couple defensive misplays later the score was 8-6 and he didn't get out of the fourth inning. The optimism for the Yankees and their fans is that Pettitte is historically a second-half pitcher; if he's healthy the better pitching appearances should be coming. At any rate, wins are wins, and Pettitte did have two of them.

Chien Ming Wang: Well, first of all, congratulations to him on the birth of his son, Justin Jesse (JJ). He hasn't necessarily pitched well, but he did get his first win last night, having been just that little extra better than he was against Washington and in Atlanta. The problem here is that it will be too easy to be convinced that Wang is returning close to form--he hasn't, yet. The first win of the season came against what is arguably one of the worst line ups in the league. Wang's next scheduled start, against Toronto (and hopefully not against Halladay) will be a lot more telling.

The Offense

The past two weeks have been a tale of two teams: in the first no such offense existed, and in the second it acted as though it hasn't missed a beat all season.

Derek Jeter: To sideline him it's gotta be bad; as such that flu he had had to be pretty horrible. Still, with a lead off double last night, one has to think he's made a nice recovery. He still continues to play some of his best defense of his recent career. Happy Belated 35th Birthday.

Johnny Damon: Another flu victim, he was well enough to participate in a double switch last night. He's playing on a bad calf and could probably benefit from the recent days off he's gotten, especially when the Yanks have to play on turf in Toronto.

Mark Teixeira: Also admitted to not feeling so well. He has cooled off of late, but he did have a 2-RBI double last night, and the strikeout against K-Rod in the ninth wasn't so much a strikeout as it was the umpire deciding he wanted to go home (and that late on a Sunday night, who can blame him). As A-Rod gets hot (yet again), Teixeira will get more pitches to hit, and there he will excel. Despite the cooling off, Teixeira continues to play gold glove defense at first and hustle around the bases. Of all the Yankees' problems right now, he's the least of them.

Alex Rodriguez: Finally, finally, finally seems to be hitting as much for average as for power. The two days off seem to have done him much good, which should be a warning sign to the Yankees training staff. He NEEDS regular time off on a bum hit, even if he won't admit he needs it. Still, an A-Rod that's hitting well gives the Yankee lineup a whole 'nother dimension. The past three games, it should be noted, Rodriguez has played some of his best defense of his Yankee career.

Robinson Canó: Don't be fooled by his team-leading average. He also leads the team in DPs and with his low .OBP, there is a legitimate question as to what he's doing batting fifth. Of course, now that the Yankees return to the AL, they can hit Posada fifth and Matsui sixth if they'd so choose, and Canó has shown that he hits better lower down in the line up. Still, he's frustrating to watch--he can hit the hell out of the ball and he is working better counts this year than he was last, but you just get the feeling that a player of his talent should be better than he's been.

Jorge Posada Went into Saturday's game hitting .219 in June...and then promptly hit a three run home run. Still, the more important thing here may be that he and CC and he and Burnett seem to have figured something out, and that makes the Yanks' pitchers that much more dangerous. You would like to see Posada pick up the pace with his bat, but then again, without his bloop single last night, Rivera never gets a chance to bat!

Nick Swisher: An absolutely torrid June. As always, he can make a fan crack up--on Saturday's postgame report Kim Jones asked him about the home run he hit, but Swisher thought she was asking about the ball he hit that would have likely been a home run in any other park. He's continued to work 3-2 counts, which, yes, includes striking out, and he takes awful roots to baseballs--which leads him to make some spectacular catches.

Melky Cabrera: Hasn't really been right since banging his shoulder, and word has it he was also struck by the flu. Still, given the patterns of 2008, with the hot start and awful rest of the year, one needs to keep an eye on Cabrera. He, and Gardner, too, are best when the everyday starting position is not assured. One commenter on River Ave Blues made the comment that the most interesting battle this season is Good Melky vs. Bad Melky.

Brett Gardner: Had more hits in one game (5) than the Mets had in the first two games of the series as a team. Hasn't had a hit since, as the revenge of the law of averages takes hold. Still, Gardner has been playing his best baseball of his Yankee career, approaching a reincarnation of Homer Bush eleven years later.

Hideki Matsui: Think he misses the AL?

Francisco Cervelli: His home run in Atlanta seemed to be the thing the Yankees needed to turn the team around. Still has that same glint in his eye, but he must be getting a bit depressed--as Jose Molina nears recovery, Cervelli's days in the majors are likely numbered (for now).

Ramiro Peña: If three doubles in two days doesn't say "dude, I want to play more often," I'm not sure what does.

Cody Ransom: Biggest contribution to the team thus far may be giving Mariano Rivera his batting gear so Rivera could earn his first career RBI. He did have an RBI double in Atlanta, however.

Angel Berroa: So long, farewell, we barely knew yah!

The Bullpen

The bullpen, for the most part, seems to have happened on something of a roll. They still give up an occasional home run, but it's no longer been the utter liability that it was in the earlier part of the season. Is Phil Hughes the reason for this?

Only the baseball g-ds shall know.

Brett Tomko: Had a horrible appearance against the Mets and wasn't very good against the Marlins, either. He was much better against the Mets, but Citifield is very good at holding bombs in the park. He's kind of like Kyle Farnsworth, except you'd take Farnsworth in a fight.

David Robertson: Same old, same old. Strikes out a ton but walks too many to be trusted in a really tight spot. Still, when the other options at one point were Albaladejo, Ramirez and Veras, it's easy to understand why the Yanks would be so high on Robertson.

Phil Coke: Is back to an 'on-again' period. Still, I think the best part about watching him pitch is watching the postgame interviews that invariably follow.

Phil Hughes: Has been untouchable out of the bullpen. Honestly, if the Yankees were to keep one of Hughes/Chamberlain in the bullpen (and I don't think they should...yet...), Hughes to me has been utterly filthy, and unlike Joba's bullpen appearances, he hasn't struggled in multi-inning stints. It has completely changed the complexion of the bullpen, and in turn has addressed one of the Yanks' most glaring weaknesses.

Alfredo Aceves Despite my high praise of Hughes, Aceves still gets my vote for team MVP. He continues to come in during nearly every possible situation and not only finds a way to get the job done, but finds a way to earn the win as well. Finding him may be the best thing the Yankees have done in the past two years. Or, if it's not the best, it certainly has to rank highly, especially when one considers the price.

Brian Bruney Has not looked sharp since coming back from his second DL stint, again struggling with control. Velocity will come as he pitches more, but he got the 8th inning job because he was throwing strikes. He needs to return to that form, or else the Yanks will have no end in site to the 8th-inning question.

Mariano Rivera So good that he gets his first career RBI and his 500th career save on the same night, and then addresses the entire thing with the understated class that has been the hallmark of his career. We can only wish him more success.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Couple of Firsts and a 500th (Postgame Notes 28 June 2009)


Chien Ming Wang notched his first win of the 2009 season, facing a depleted Mets line up at Citifield.

The win should not be confused with a good pitching performance--Wang only surrendered two runs, true, but he had very poor command and against pretty much any other legitimate line up, would have likely got roughed around.

Still, for the first time all season he did not just make it into the sixth inning, but made it into the sixth inning with a 3-2 lead. Had he been able to get two more outs it would have officially been a 'quality start', but with just a one run lead, Girardi, perhaps rightly, wasn't going to take any chances.

Phil Coke got the one out he needed and Phil Hughes was again excellent.

Hughes' dominance in the bullpen is captivating and eye-opening. To be quite honest, between Joba and Hughes, if you're going to have one of them in the bullpen, I think Hughes has shown better bullpen stuff.

Brian Bruney, however, struggled and could not get through the 8th inning. It's a risk you run with Bruney, who can struggle with his command; with more than a one-run lead it might not matter so much, but the one-run, high leverage situations are when set-up men need to be at their very best.

Still, the focus here should be Wang, who, for the third time in a row was not great or necessarily even good, but still not bad enough to forgo his next scheduled start (in this case, TOR). It's his first win of the season--the others should be easier.


Mariano Rivera had his first career RBI, walking with the bases loaded while facing a very wild Francisco Rodriguez tonight.

(Don't believe me? Look here

The entire situation was as amusing as it was nerve-wracking as the Yankees only had a one run lead at the time, but from Girardi trying to play mind games with the Mets and get them to pitch to Jeter (they did, until they got to a two-ball count), to the reaction from the Yankee bench--who looked as though someone had just hit a World Series game-winning grand slam.

The most surprising thing, perhaps, here is how important the run actually was.

Despite walking eleven times, the Yankees only managed four hits--and only two after the first inning.

Part of this is due to hitting balls at Mets' fielders, but some attention has to be paid to the four DP balls that Robinson Canó hit--only two were actually double plays because the first was dropped by Daniel Murphy and the fourth was hit with two already out.

Five Hundredth:

Tonight, Mariano Rivera notched his 500th career save, becoming only the second pitcher in all of Major League history to accomplish this after Trevor Hoffman, and it was a four-out save to boot.

Yankees fans know how valuable Mo has been to their team, and tonight gave them a reason to celebrate it.

In his career, Mo has converted 500 of 581 save opportunities and if conversion percentages are how you measure a closer, Mo clearly exists on a different plane altogether.

Here's to Mo!

[oh, and a minor note, I know the Braves can be inept and the Mets are hapless, but games are games and the Yankees have won five straight. And Boston and Toronto both lost today, too.]

Bills of Rights

@JesseSanchezMLB asked via Twitter: what are the bills of rights for fans and players?

I've decided to take a stab at it--let me know if I've missed some or included some you haven't included in yours.

The MLB Fan's Bill of Rights

1) Freedom of Fanhood: Fans have a right to choose which team they support, the right to withdraw or change their allegiance at any time for any reasons that they so choose, and the right to attend any baseball game, home or away, regardless of affiliation so long as they acquire their ticket by legal means.

2) Freedom of Speech: Fans have a right to criticize any aspect of their team--any player, coach, support personnel or front office management--as they see fit provided it does not threaten the physical security of any of the aforementioned individuals.

3) Right to Enjoyable Game Watching: Fans who pay any legal price for Stadium admission have the right to an enjoyable game experience. This includes the right to ask stadium security/customer service to confront another fan who is disrupting his/her experience, provided such right is exercised judiciously and is not abused. (A fan should only need to exercise this right once or twice a season and NEVER in a road park).

4) Right to Enjoyable Game Watching (home version): Fans have a right to choose whichever available feed of the current game to watch or listen to, via tv, mlb.tv or radio. They have the right to criticize any broadcasters for ineptness or "blindness" --I am here pointing to John Sterling's "IT IS HIGH! IT IS FAR! IT IS....caught!" calls that have most of NYC seeing cardiologists prematurely.

5) Right to Protest: Fans have the right to assemble and demand in any peaceable way they choose (via petition, online petition, actually gathering, letter-writing campaign, etch) to campaign for a measure that they want, such as a trade or a free-agent signing.

6) Right to Information: Fans have the right to be able to access any and all statistical information about any player they choose, and the right to analyze this information in any way they see fit, even if it makes them look like a complete idiot.

7) Right to Shelter: Paying fans have the right to a baseball park that is clean (as clean as a park can be), secure and fan-friendly. I would further go on to say that fans have a right to a park that can provide shelter in the event of a severe weather event, such as a tornadic storm, when otherwise escaping to a car would be more dangerous than safe. I would further argue that teams should consider a hand-stamping policy wherein one gate is a designated re-entry gate, provided patrons get their hands stamped...this would allow for smoking breaks (you shouldn't smoke, and all that) or perhaps a chance to make a cell-phone call if need be without having to compete with the noise of a ballpark. Before you get all up in arms, I used to go to Nets basketball and Devils' hockey games where Gate B was a designated smoking area; you got your hand stamped, did your thing and came back in. Never seemed to be much of an issue.

8) Right to Players at the Park: At the ballpark, fans have the right to seek autographs from players, as stadium and team policies allow for. This generally means being able to watch BP. Any ticket-holding fan, regardless of where seated, is afforded this right.

9) Right to Be an Idiot: Fans have a right to be idiots, whether by dancing awfully on the DiamondVision, making ridiculous trade suggestions or wearing ridiculous get up to a game. This right ends only when one of the other discussed rights are violated.

10) Right to the Integrity of the Game: Fans have a right to watch a game wherein both teams have the goal of winning the baseball game (ie, NOT doing as the Black Sox and Pete Rose did).

The MLB Player's Bill of Rights

1) Right to security: First and foremost, MLB players have the right to security at the ballpark so their person is not physically threatened. MLB players also have the right, should they choose so, to employ a bodyguard or guards outside the stadium, in which ever manner they see fit. Players, of course, also have the right to use self-defense if they are in clear and imminent danger of physical harm. Which goes for everyone, actually.

1a) Right to family privacy and safety: Players have the right to refuse any and all interaction in which they feel the privacy and/or security of family members may be threatened.

2) Right to eat in peace: Players have the right to eat out, visit museums/galleries/shows/movies/etc and otherwise partake in normal public life without having to be interrupted by a fan. Players have the right to refuse dealing with fans in these situations, provided the physical security of the fan is never threatened (unless there's the clear and imminent danger thing). Players should be at least reasonably civil (I'm not even saying polite or courteous here), but they, as anyone else living in the US, are protected by the real first amendment and may say whatever they so choose.

3) Right to get dressed before postgame interviews. This includes the right to dress horribly 'Nuff said. Yes, I'm looking at you, Nick Swisher.

4) Right to exercise a normal degree of emotion in a 'big moment' during a course of the game. Yes, Joba can pump his fist and K-Rod can go into convulsions and Papelbon can do an Irish jib, provided these things happen at the end of an inning when the said pitcher/player has victoriously emerged from his troubles. Emotion is a part of the game. It makes the game FUN and teams fun to root for. Get over it.

5) Right to say what they want to coaches, managers and management, provided again that physical security is not threatened. Players should be warned that while they have the right to say "Hey you're a purple monkey" to their manager or "trade me" to their GM, they may not enjoy the consequences of these actions.

6) Right to interact with fans via social networking such as Twitter. Right now, I have to say, @Dougiebaseball is totally the best at this.

7) Right to rookie hazing. Tradition is tradition. Players have the right to engage in any legitimate baseball tradition they so choose. If they want to chew tobacco, they have that right. Even if they shouldn't.

8) Right to integrity of the game: Like fans, players have a right to a game played with integrity on the part of both teams. If a player knows of his team conspiring to throw a game or otherwise undermine the ultimate goal, the player not only has the right but has the obligation to come forward with this information.

9) Right to Music: Players have the right to choose their at-bat music, no matter how awful said music may be. The first player to demarcate a song for his at bat has the theoretical right to call out another player for 'copying' him.

10) Right to well-practiced, efficient and otherwise excellent team medical staff. For members of the Mets, Rays, and others, this right is sacred, above all others.

These are what my addled neurons came up with late at night--so please, if there's one I missed, let me know!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Burnett, Yanks One-Hit Mets (Postgame Notes 27 June 2009)

I'm not sure if it was AJ Burnett dominating or the New York Mets trotting out a line up that would have a hard time beating some AAA teams; maybe a combination of both, but the Yankees one-hit the Mets tonight.

It always comes back to pitching, and tonight AJ Burnett was en pointe.

Maybe it's something to do with the Mets--he pitched shut out ball against them back on the 14th--but tonight, he dominated, striking out ten in seven and allowing just one hit. He did walk three, but giving the rest of his performance one can hardly complain.

As Bryan Hoch (@bryanhoch) pointed out on Twitter via another, right now, Brett Gardner has more hits (5) in this series than the Mets (4), and I'd like to add that Gardner had an 0-fer today.

To be fair, the Mets lineup has been utterly decimated by injuries, as it has all season, but one should consider that that team did take three of four from the St. Louis Cardinals, who are not, if a spectacular team, certainly not a bad one.

For the Yankee, the offense was not the same sort of spectacular it was on the 14th, but they scored one run on Nick Swisher's home run, and then added more later in the game, with four runs in the top of the sixth inning--and who knows, perhaps the long inning disrupted Burnett's tempo and his quest for a second career no-hitter, but then again, only giving up one hit is no room for complaint.

It was especially gratifying to see Jorge Posada hit a home run--he had a .219 average in June going into the game, and more importantly, to see him so in synch with Burnett.

Perhaps now the "who's better, Posada or Cervelli" debate can stop.

I love Cervelli, I do, but, I mean...really now.

Anyway, the Yankees are back to 10 games over .500 as they've won four straight, and with a win tomorrow (and with the Mets trotting out Livan Hernandez, anything is possible) they could revisit the high-water mark of the season.

Hughes in Pen a Bullish Problem (Score One for Bad Puns!)

Let me make something clear, before I get into the meat of this post:

Long term, Phil Hughes is a starter. That's why the Yankees drafted him, and that's where he will end up long term. As it should be.

In fact, right now, as Joe P. of River Ave Blues told me, Hughes is the Yanks' fourth-best starter.

The thing is, Phil Hughes' pitching well in the bullpen, and Chien Ming Wang not pitching poorly enough to show that he should be removed from the rotation means that right now, there's probably not a very big push from Yankees' brass to get Hughes back in the rotation.

If Wang keeps pitching at a not-quite-catastrophic level, there's less time (this season) for Hughes to stretch out as a starter. Keeping him as a long reliever was a good idea, but Hughes is also being used in short relief stints, and he is not starting every five days, as would be more beneficial to his development.

The issue here is that the Yankees are hamstrung by Wang's situation, and, as has been previously discussed, they can't just simply take him out of the rotation without there being consequences, that include risking losing a former 19-game-winner to another team.

It would be easier to say that the Yankees should drop Wang if his last starts had been catastrophic like his first ones, but, while they haven't been spectacular (or necessarily that good), they haven't been horrendous. Giving up three runs each in two starts is not horrendous, and had the Yankees' offense not decided to take that week in June off, the Yankees could have won those games. (It's also worth noting that the Washington start included one horrendous call, that if it had gone Wang's way, would have likely gotten him out of the inning without the runs scoring. Or at least gotten him closer to it. Fallacy of the predetermined outcome, and all. Michael Kay would be proud).

The one possibility that keeps getting mentioned is that when Joba reaches his innings limit, he and Hughes will simply switch places.

This is deceptively simple, as it would mean Hughes would have to stretch out again, and if Joba doesn't hit his cap until, say, the end of August, there simply may not be enough time for this to have any realistic success.

It's quite a pickle the Yankees have gotten themselves into.

At least, to be optimistic, the Yankees have the luxury of having too many starters. Most teams would kill for that.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Yanks Meet the Mess (Postgame Notes 26 June 2009)

Quietly, or perhaps not-so-quietly, it looks like the Yankees have begun to emerge from their June swoon.

In the past three games, the Yankees have scored at least eight runs...and, while these games weren't necessarily laughers, given the timing of the scoring, the wins still count.

Tonight, the Yankees did the type of things that a competitive team needs to do: pitch well, take advantage of the other team's miscues, and add a couple of tack on runs just for form's sake.

Let's break it down:

1) Pitch well...

CC Sabathia, apparently recovered from his biceps tendinitis, had a very good outing, allowing just three hits in seven innings. Had the Yankees not blown it open in the 8th, he would have come back out again.

Although he was no doubt the beneficiary of a very pitcher-friendly appeal umpire at first, Sabathia's performance was what the Yankees needed after Pettitte's struggles and thus the stretching of the bullpen last night.

While Sabathia may not have received the attention that the FA success stories of K-Rod and Raul Ibañez have, he is pitching up to the standards expected of an ace. His record doesn't reflect it as the Yankees haven't always scored on his behalf, but he is clearly giving the Yankees what they need.

2) Take advantage of the other team's miscues...

The New York Mets had three infielders commit an error in the 2nd inning, though, strangely, Luis Castillo didn't have any of them. Ok, bad joke aside, the Yankees turned the three errors into four runs, all with the names like Gardner (who had the game of his career, thus far, with five hits), Peña, Sabathia...(Sabathia is no automatic out).

With the early lead, the Yankees didn't falter. It's a good thing they got the lead, too, because after that inning the Yankees had only one baserunner until the seventh inning.

3) Score some tack on runs...

I don't know if the Yankees want to play mean and keep Mariano Rivera from getting his 500th save, but you can't really complain about the tack on runs.

Three runs can be erased with one swing. Seven can't. And with eight runs to work with, you have more than enough time to change pitchers if yours starts to struggle (thankfully, Tomko was excellent).

And, you know what, the tack on runs weren't useless.

They meant that CC didn't have to pitch the 8th, got the Yankees a comfortable lead, and let them rest Teixeira and A-Rod, if only for a half inning. Still, with a flu bug going around, any rest would likely be welcome.

AJ Burnett takes the mound tomorrow, but the real interesting pitching match up comes Sunday when Wang takes on Livan Hernandez.

Oh boy.

Waxing Philosophical

Today is Derek Jeter's 35th birthday.

It's kind of strange to think about when he broke in, really, in 1996--thirteen years ago.

When Jeter was busy being a rookie, I was busy hiding from my evil fourth grade teacher in the spring, and in the fall learning about the American Revolution in Ms. Servon's fifth grade classroom. Everyone loved fifth grade, because for the first time we were actually the oldest, and the most senior kids in the school. The highlight of the year was a trip into NYC to see Beauty and the Beast and a backstage tour of Radio City Music Hall.

The things you remember...

Thirteen years might not seem like much, but to think, if we knew then what we know now, about what would happen, both in the world of baseball and the world without...

Who would have imagined in 1996 that not one, but three players would break the Babe's home run record, and that all of them would leave the game with tarnished legacies?

Who would have imagined that despite the PEDs scandal baseball attendance would grow to record numbers, threatened now only by economic collapse.

Who would have imagined that Boston would break the curse or that the Yankees would tear down Yankee Stadium?

Never mind imagining how cell phones would become ubiquitous and small enough to fit in a pocket, or how you could stream movies and live television over the internet, or that computers could come with terabytes of memory, or that VHS would be obsolete, or that the biggest investment banks have nearly all gone kaput within the space of a single calendar year...

Never mind the things that don't need to be said.

Does this mean that Jeter has been around forever?

Julio Franco and Jamie Moyer might disagree.

But it does shed a light on how long Jeter has been with the Yankees, and, despite the Captain GIDP moments, how much he is part of our identity as Yankee fans. It's not just that Jeter plays, almost without fail, but that he is such a great player. He doesn't hit for tons of power, sure, but he has a way of making his hits count, of sparking the offense, and of leading the team not by voice but by example. Which is exactly what you want your captain to do.

Just as there will never be another Babe or another Yogi or another Mantle, there will never be another Jeter.

Enjoy it while you can.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Does Mark Teixeira Know What He's Saying?

Lifted from LoHud:

“He was a little fired up,” Mark Teixeira said. “There was no yelling, Cash isn’t that kind of guy. But he was here; he wanted to make himself known. … Sometimes the principal needs to show up in the classroom if the teacher’s having trouble with the students.”

You know, Teixeira's only been a Yank for half a year, but already he has a way of saying a lot, even without really saying so much...


After the game, Mariano Rivera told reporters that he had been told not to swing in his at bat. He swung anyway. "It's unacceptable," he said...

...with a grin so big you would have thought he had won the World Series.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

So They're Tearing Down Yankee Stadium

Right now, they're tearing down Yankee Stadium.

As we watch the Yankees play in Atlanta, where so many memories from that October in 1996 still reverberate, forming part of our conscience as turn-of-the-millennium Yankees fans, up here, amidst the rain and the unseasonable chill, they are tearing down Yankee Stadium.

When you walk past it, on your way to the new park, do you acknowledge it? Do you notice it? Do you remember it?

Or does it just stand there, like that relative you only think about when you go to the funeral?

It's still standing, sure, but it's a wounded animal. Eviscerated. Crying out to be saved, but with no one who seems to notice.

We marvel at the new because in an era of iPods, iPhones, Blackberries and WiFi, we are taught that only the new is good. Only the new is worth saving, only new is worth fighting for.

We forget the past.

In the age of Obama and hybird cars, could you, young fan, show your elders the site of the Polo Grounds? Ebbets Field?

These places exist only in our memories. Is it enough? Go ask a Dodgers fan that remembers the team's Brooklyn days. Go to Brooklyn, to the Ebbets Field/Jackie Robinson Apartments. Tell me you think it's the same. Tell me you feel like you're on the field in 1947 when Jackie Robinson integrates baseball. Tell me you feel like you're on the field in 1955, that one, magical next year for Brooklynites.

I know, I know, we're Yankee fans, with our own tradition, and our own history and not Dodger fans, but think about it.

If the Dodgers lost all this when Ebbets Field went down, what will we lose?

We don't have one magical season.

We have twenty-six of them.

We have the Babe and Lou (and Sweet Lou) and Joltin' Joe and Yogi and the Mick and Reggie and Donnie Baseball and Jeet, and so much more.

We have the called shot, the pope(s), the New York Football Giants, Bob Sheppard, and the healing of a broken city in 2001.

We celebrated the Stadium last year. We celebrated the memories and we said our good-byes, joyously celebrating the All Star Game in July and the Final Game in September, even if the sadness of a lost October was somewhere in the air.

The celebration has ended now, and the old Stadium has shifted into the shadows.

It will be gone before we blink, and only then will we shake our heads and say "what a shame."

This is our reality.

This is the price we are chosing to pay so that our team can be newer and better, like all of the other gadgets we own, so very 21st-century.

We'll get so wrapped up in the now, in the present, in the future that we'll forget the past. We'll forget the legacy that is our one responsibility to save. We'll forget to mourn while we still can, and only, when our grandkids ask us, "what was it like, the original Yankee Stadium?" will we answer: "It was home."

"A home," we'll continue, "that we should have saved."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Figure Something Out

A month ago, everything was going so well. The Yankees weren't losing, and if they did, they rallied after that with another two or three wins in a row. They played eighteen straight games in a row and in a period of twenty or so games, the starting pitching had only lost two or three of those games.

Then the team ran into a Boston Red Sox team that it still can't beat, and everything fell apart.

The team isn't playing good defense, and, more importantly, it's not hitting. Not even a little. Certainly, not when it matters, or the players that the Yankees need to produce.

Instead, as we saw last year, double plays and first-pitch swinging is again rampant, as I sit here and watch the Yankees lose their third game in a row.

What is going on?

Out of nowhere, it seems, the entire team has gone into a slump.

I know teams slump, players slump, etc., but this is beyond ridiculous. Earlier in the season, when the Yankees lost it wasn't so bad because the team fought, game after game after game. Where has that fight gone? It certainly hasn't come to south Florida or Atlanta.

I know Tommy Hanson is supposed to be the next big thing for the Braves--and therein is the Yanks' critical problem: An inability to hit (good) young pitchers whom they've never seen.

I don't know why that is, but I do know that any team that aspires to the World Series can't shrug their shoulders and give up when a young pitcher takes the mound. Is it an issue with scouting? With the Yankees' batters? With someone else?

It's become such a big deal now because it's only gotten more pronounced over time.

These guys can't face Livan Hernandez every night.

They have to figure something out.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Yankees Need An Alarm

I don't know who told the Yankees that it was okay to snooze through series with the Nationals and the Marlins.

Because they have, they're now four out of first and once again in third place.

It's as though something happened when they got swept in Boston. Everything had been going swimmingly well, and then, boom, not any more.

The weather hasn't helped, but they are losing now on the road as well as at home. It can't be the excuse for everything.

The hitters right now aren't hitting, and look suspiciously like those of the 2008 team. It's not just that Alex Rodriguez is mired in an awful, awful slump, or that Canó's fallen off to the point that Paul O'Neill's noticed, or that Jorge Posada hasn't been doing much with the bat, either...it's that all of these things are happening at the same time.

The starting pitching has been the best it's been in a while, which would be even better if the offense could do something. Losing CC Sabathia today is especially worrisome given his tough-as-nails reputation.

There's no question that the blame for this game lies on the bullpen's shoulders, but it should have never gotten to that point, if the offense could have done its job properly.

Now, it's only June, but of the past six games, going 3-3 would have seemend a disappointment. 2-4 borders on an unmitigated disaster.

Next the Yankees go to Atlanta, and Atlanta has some great young starters--the kryptonite for this Yankees' team.

It might be a long road yet.

101 Essential Baseball Experiences For Fathers and their Progeny

For Father's Day:

101 Baseball-related things to do with your son (and daughter) before you die (with some help from @inuryexpert (Will Carroll), @Yankeeosh, @Leokitty, @Schwartzlaw via Twitter. Follow me: @rebecca_glass)

101: Slide the slide at Miller Park.
100: Sit in one of the kayaks in McCovey Cove, waiting for a home run ball.
99: Wait out a multi-hour rain delay, till there are so few in the park that your voice can get picked up by the TV broadcast.
98: Do something really, really stupid on the Diamondvision.
97: Watch your favorite team on the road, while they're visiting the most hated rival's hometown.
96. Take a multi-city road trip to watch baseball. Some examples: Boston->NY (x2) ->Philadelphia ->Baltimore ->DC; NY (x2) -> Philadelphia -> Pittsburgh -> Cincinnati --> Chicago (x2)-> Cleveland ; Arizona -> San Diego -> LA -> Anaheim -> San Francisco -> Oakland
95. Sample the regional ballpark flavor...
94. ...Or go with hot dogs, peanuts and cracker jacks.
93. Make a mix of your favorite players' AB music to play in the car on the way to the stadium/park/field.
92. Catch a foul ball with your bare hands.
91. Catch a foul ball with your beer.
90. Catch a foul ball and give it to the kid sitting next to you who is attending his/her first Major League game.
89. Go to a Major League game in a different country (okay, Toronto).
88. Go to any professional game in a different country.
87. Try explaining the rules of baseball to a cricket fan and see how far you get.
86. Come early enough not just to see BP but to be the very first fans let into the stadium/park/field.
85. Go to a minor league game in the cold and rain. Go sit out by the bullpen and just watch. Trust me.
84. Buy a program and try to keep score during a very much non-pitchers' duel.
83. Wear your teams' colors in enemy territory, on game day, in October, when both of you are playing.
82. Stay up, on the East Coast, for the entirety of a game on the West Coast.
81. Sneak down from the upper deck to seats oh-so-closer to the field (you'll have better luck in Pittsburgh than New York).
80. Spend a major summer holiday at a ballgame.
79. Be the last fans to leave the park.
78. Make the journey to see the Cape Cod League.
77. Go to Fanfest--it's cheaper (and maybe even more fun) than the All Star Game and the Home Run Derby.
76. Visit a ballpark in its last year before demolition...
75. ...And a new one in its first year.
74. Say hello to a beat writer (this one may take some advance planning).
73. Say hello to a blogger (this one will likely take a little less planning, and may not be considered an essential experience by most)
72. Score tickets to a luxury box, and while everyone else is dressed to the nine's, walk in wearing old jeans and an oversized team t-shirt.
71. Where possible, take public transportation to and from the game. Especially Boston and NY.
70. Go to a game on a whim, with no advance planning. Buy tickets on Stubhub or some other source that day and ust hightail it to the park.
69. Listen to a game at home, on the radio, while having a catch with your kid/father/brother/sister/other family member.
68. Take a drive past where Ebbets Field/The Polo Grounds/Tiger Stadium/The Vet/The Kingdome, etc, used to be and see how much you can remember, or pretend to remember.
67. Help restore a Little League field...
66. ...Or otherwise sponsor/coach/help out a Little League team.
65. Take an umpiring class, or two. For the hell of it.
64. Fill out an all star ballot with your father/son/daughter/mother, together, and then another seperatley and compare.
63. Skip going to a game in favor of playing one, instead.
62. Eat Ice Cream together in the upper deck. In August. In Texas/Atlanta/Baltimore/DC...even NY.
61. Make the long drive up to Cooperstown in the dead of winter and visit the Hall and especially the Museum.
60. Visit Monument Park at Yankee Stadium (but maybe after they move it)
59. Watch the Mets and Yankees, or Cubs and White Sox, or Giants and A's in the same day.
58. Take a Stadium Tour (Most stadiums have this option)
57. If the schedule allows it, go to a football game on a Sunday in September and a baseball night game (or the other way around).
56. Try to get through Field of Dreams without crying.
55. Watch A League of Their Own with your daughter (ok, and son, too).
54. Teach your kid how to properly break in a mitt/glove, how to work a scuff and how to properly chew sunflower seeds.
53. Take a cross country drive, listening to all of the local games on the radio, minor or major league.
52. Write a letter to your favorite player.
51. Write a letter to a rookie or another underrated player. Don't ask for an autograph. See if he responds.
50. Start a baseball card collection.
49. Spend way too much money on a Jeter/Pujols/Ichiro/Whomever rookie card.
48. Walk around a memorabilia store for the pure and utter heck of it.
47. Create an album, online or real, of pictures, ticket stubs, and scorecards of games you've been to.
46. Try, just try, to get tickets to a Cubs game in October. If you succeed, try (just try), to cheer them on to the Fall Classic.
45. Read The Natural.
44. Buy the highlight video from the last season your team won the World Series (sorry Cubs fans...)
43. Buy an overpriced soemthing at the team store. Preferably a jersey.
42. Teach your kid about Jackie Robinson. And Larry Doby. And Roberto Clemente. And everything that meant.
41. While we're on the topic, visit the Negro League Museum in Kansas City.
40. Get into a heated argument about the merits of the DH.
39. Buy the Baseball America Prospect Guide, pick one, and follow his development throughout the season.
38. Buy tickets from a sketchy scalper in the parking garage before the game.
37. Watch the Cyclones take on the Staten Island Yankees.
36. Visit Babe Ruth's house/museum in Baltimore and then watch the Orioles at Camden Yards.
35. Send a "Get Well Soon" card to a player with a season-ending injury.
34. Donate a body part so you can sit behind home plate.
33. Or go to a minor league game for a team not well attended and pay all of $10 for seats behind the plate.
32. Watch the Batting Stances guy on Youtube. Try to outdo him.
31. Get your eye socket broken by an errant throw (@crotch_jenkins to thank for this one...)
30. Visit Williamsport, PA.
29. Visit Omaha in June.
28. Play snow baseball.
27. Put your kid's name up on Daimondvision for his/her birthday.
26. Watch the Little League World Series with your kid. Especially if your kid's lucky enough to play in it.
25. Keep a blog, even if just for yourself, about your team for one season.
24. Tweet with baseball players (like @dougiebaseball) (Again this one might not be essential, but it's awesome).
23. Build a baseball library in your home.
22. Go and support your high school/college team just for kicks.
21. Get tickets to both games of a double header. Stay for the whole thing.
20. Try the fastpitch machine at the ballpark. I throw about 30 MPH. What about you?
19. Play the Show on PS3/XboX/whatever. And then play Griffey on N64. Because that game was just that awesome.
18. Be in the stands for a no hitter.
17. Stay for a game that goes to the fifteenth inning.
16. Get a baseball card signed by that player.
15. Check out the pool in Arizona (is it still there?)
14. And pet the Rays in Tampa.
13. Get a hotel room in Toronto with a view of the field.
12. Search for Jane Austen's reference to "base ball" in Northanger Abbey.
11. Debate on what the best name in baseball is--Buddy Bell? Skip Schumacker (sp)?
10. Take Spanish and Japanese lessons so you can understand (some) of what the players are saying.
9. Watch a game in a different language, just because you can.
8. Teach kids that baseball players are human--they can err and redeem themselves just the same.
7. Buy tickets to Game 7 of the World Series, wherever it is. You never know.
6. Glory in the knowledge that it ain't over til it's over.
5. Sit in the Monster seats at Fenway.
4....And in the right field bleachers at Yankee Stadium
3....And in the rooftop seats overlooking Wrigley
2. Skip school (and work) to go to Opening Day.
1. Play catch when it's too dark to safely do so.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

This Yankees Fan Goes to Citifield. Stuff Ensues.

Sometimes it's really easy to tell what a day will be like.

For example, when you have a twenty page paper due the next day and you haven't started writing it, it's a fair bet your day isn't going to be a whole lot of fun.

Other times, however, the future is less clear, when everything sort of teeters on a horizon you can't see.

My friend Robin is a Mets fan. She has her reasons (and perfectly legitimate ones) for being so, and we've happened upon a tradition of going to one Mets game a year. I forget who they played the first year we did this--Arizona I think, but not sure--they played the Dodgers last year, and this year, it would be an interleague match up with the Rays, and with Johan Santana on the mound, no less.

The trouble was, however, when we woke up that we didn't know if the game would be played at all.

In the Bronx, it was dark and sullen, as has been pretty much every day this month. In New Jersey, where Robin was, it was raining.

I can't help but think all of this rain is punishment for something--for Bloomberg running for a third term, for some scandal up in Albany, for failing to get the Giants or the Jets a stadium within the actual boundaries of New York City--who knows? What I do know is that the rain is constant, and even when it doesn't rain, there is nothing but this bleakness that somehow has to pass for summer.

I've spent four years in Syracuse, NY and four months in London, and still I can't remember it ever being so...bleak.

Anyway, I'm going to stop waxing philosophical now.

So we, Robin and I, both woke up to pretty awful weather and weren't sure if we would bother heading to Citifield, which is out of the way for both of us, and we decide in the end that we'll go. After all, neither of us have been to the ballpark and so, even if it pours, we'll still have things to keep us busy.

My first hint that today will be unpredictable comes on my subway ride to Penn Station, where I'm meeting Robin, when a mariachi band starts playing. I'll give them this much: they certainly woke me up.

Anyway. After meeting up at Penn Station we took the LIRR to Citifield, two stops on the line to Port Washington. I must say, why does the LIRR have nicer trains than NJ transit? It's not fair!


So, amidst the bleak and gray of a rainy day, this was the view from outside the park

Even from the outside, this park's got character. It's a different type of character than Yankee Stadium, however. Yankee Stadium is kind of all HONOR GLORY PRIDE in terms of its invoking the past; Citifield is much more "ooh, the past is a friendly muppet". Which, as a student of history, I feel qualified to explain, is not necessarily true.

Outside, people bought bricks to lay out as such. It would be impossible to do it at Yankee Stadium because the space isn't there, but here it gives the Mets much more of a family sort of feel. Again, HONOR GLORY PRIDE vs "ooh, friendly muppet!"

Inside the Jackie Robinson Rotunda from the main entrance. Compare that and the Yanks' Great Hall, and again it's the same sort of feeling evocation...Jackie Robinson = warm and fuzzy (again, what Robinson had to experience, not so much). Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Berra, Mantle, etc... HONOR GLORY PRIDE!

Anyway. Today was cap day. I gave my cap to Robin because she'll know people that will wear it. In my case it would just sit on the window sill. I do have to say, I felt really weird not wearing a Yankee hat today...

At 3.30 PM, no one was in the seats, but given the rain this wasn't all that surprising. Interesting trivia factoid: the Mets do the anthem and then the line ups; for the Yankees it's the other way around.

One of the many concession options. Since I can't eat (most) ballpark food, I can't honestly say anything about the quality of the food offered here as compared to Yankee Stadium, but in addition to also having sushi (although, unlike YS, I'm not sure you can watch them make it), they also have a Subway, so I have multiple choices as to culinary options here. They also have this thing called Shake Shack. Maybe you've heard of it.

No garlic fries, that I could find, though.

The view of home plate. I can't actually spot the luxury boxes. Citifield doesn't intimidate. Well, I mean, unless you're David Wright and trying to hit a HR. I kinda like that.

View from our seats.

I didn't actually notice when they took the tarp off of the field. One moment it was there, and the next it wasn't. It was like magic. And hey, it meant an on-time start!

The scoreboard in center field. It's really tall. I'd mention something about tall and NYers preoccupation with size, but I'd hate to have to bring Freud into it. Guy always bugged me.

Hey! People in the stands and like a game thingie and stuff.

Do I have a great zoom on my camera or what?

Some dude named Johan Santana had a no-no through four and a third. I guess he's kinda good.

It's nigh on the first day of summer and the lights are on at 5 PM. This was the type of day it was--kept waiting for the rain to show. It did, eventually. And the heavens so totally opened when it did.


You know what's interesting? The first time I went to the new Yankee Stadium, it was raining, too. The difference was, however, since it was at night, you didn't really notice it.

I keep trying not to compare the two parks, but I kind of have to, and what it comes down to is this:

Both parks are awesome, but for different reasons.

Yankee Stadium is about the Yankees, first and forever. It's about what the team has done on the field, for over 100 years, and it's meant to intimidate you if you are not already awed at the all-magnificence of the 26-time World Series Champions.

Citifield is about baseball. The Mets, yes, but, minus the HR apple in center field, you get the feeling that if need be, another team could come and play a game here and feel just as at home. This isn't a bad thing.

So many times, so many, including the Yankees, forget that nothing, in the end, is bigger than the game. No rule, no policy, no player and no team is bigger than the game.

Yankee Stadium is an homage to the greatness of the Yankees' past.

Citifield reminds us why we are baseball fans in the first place.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Yanks Get Early Lead, Hold Ground versus Fish (Postgame Notes 19 June 2009)

By the end of the third inning, the game felt like a blow out, even though it was only a four-run lead.

Still, that is what early hits--nine in the first three innings--can do for a team, especially one coming off of a performance where, let's face it, they were simply going through the motions against the league's worst team.

Once Angel Berroa and Andy Pettitte had back-to-back doubles in the second (yes, you read that right), however, the game was firmly in the Yankees' hands, and the only question would remain how Pettitte pitched.

Pettitte allowed three hits (including a solo HR) over seven innings, struck out seven and walked no one. It was one of his best starts this season, and came at a time when the Yankees needed an effective start.

Brian Bruney pitched an excellent eighth inning, which the Yankees really, really need, and Brett Tomko had a nice rebound outing in the ninth.

The one real blemish here was that the Yankees left 11 men on base, though some of this has to do with being in an NL park and losing both the DH and A-Rod's bat (as A-Rod will be taking the first two games off since he's slumping something awful), but I think the key here is that when the Yankees had to get the runs, in the beginning of the game, they did. Had the Marlins played a better game on their end, I'm not sure the Yankees' bats appear to get so lacksidasical at the end.

Derek Jeter is still limping a bit--I guess tomorrow we'll see if there are any lingering effects.


I'm headed to Citifield tomorrow with my friend Robin, who is a Mets fan. I'll get to see Johan (probably not that) up close and personal. I will actually be rooting for the Mets--because they're playing the Rays.

It's Always About A-Rod (Yankees at Marlins, 19 June 2009)

6.12 PM: Well, the best way to summarize what's going on: Alex Rodriguez has been slumping something awful. Last night he asked to be taken out of the line up today, but was in the original line up. After a conversation that involved Brian Cashman, he's out of today's line up and tomorrow's as well.


Anyway, the line up:

Pettitte (NL parks for nine straight days, oh joy!)

You should all check out this post from RAB about the offense's struggles in June.

7.15 PM: Lead off doubles are cool. Now, score.

7.20 PM: Teixeira and Posada hit back to back singles, Jeter scores and the Yanks have a run. Jeter's limp is a little concerning, though.

7.30 PM: Pettitte retires the side in order and Jeter seems to be all right in the field. Life is good.

7.35 PM: Maybe Girardi isn't as stupid as so many think. So who was complaining about Berroa in the line up again?

7.37 PM: I didn't remember that Pettitte could do stuff with a bat. But apparently, he can. 3-0 Yankees.

7.40 PM: Someone got to the Yankees after yesterday's game...4-0 Yankees in the second, all on 8 hits.

7.52 PM: Girardi and Donahue raced out as though there was something wrong with Andy. Pettitte waved them off, but his last couple pitches have been awkward.

7.55 PM: And then Pettitte gets the K anyway.

7.59 PM: To hit a HR here you have to absolutely crush it. Melky Cabrera did just that. 5-0 Yankees.

8.21 PM: Nothing doing that inning, but that happens when your pitcher leads off...

8.31 PM: This game has fallen into a rhythm and I'm only semi-conscious of what's going on. In that case, that's a good thing as the Yanks nurse a four run lead.

8.48 PM: Yanks get 2nd and 3rd, no out, and then the Marlins stick in a reliever who's got legit nasty stuff to face the bottom of the Yanks order. No, the Yanks didn't score there, but it's not as bad as it looks, considering.

9.46 PM: Wow, has it really been an hour? Yanks have left 11 on, but still lead 5-1. Now it's up to Bruney, and, if there's any trouble, Mo.

A Few Thoughts

  • My friend, Brent, and I went to Wednesday's game. We sat in the terrace level, seats with a pretty good view, despite my bad eyes. As the game started, one man wearing a Yankee jersey started shouting obnoxious and annoying phrases, actively rooting against the Yankees. When he started to bother other fans in the section, Brent texted Yankees' customer service, asking them to keep an eye on the man. Not two minutes later, there was, in fact, a security official standing on the concourse, right behind the man in question. He was later joined by other ushers and even a cop. Althought the man only stopped while he was being watched, the fast response for a matter that was at the terrace level and not really all that serious, is commendable.
  • The starting pitching seems to have taken a nose-dive since Chien Ming Wang returned to the team. I don't so much blame Wang for causing Burnett and Pettitte and Joba to have bad starts, as I do the interruption in the flow of the rotation, no doubt also hindered by the rain out. Rule number one of managing almost anything is, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it", and the Yankees tried to fix a rotation that had been performing admirably.
  • It seems that the Yankees have lost nearly every game in which there's been a sizable rain delay (a half hour or longer), and they haven't played well when the weather's been nasty, either--and with the way this summer's gone in NY, that's not good. Someone suggested it might have to do with age; I think it would have to be more than ust age at work. Perhaps the team outght to find a different way to spend the rain delays?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Papelbon Would Consider Pinstripes (Not that we'd want him, of course)

This from an interview today at the MLB Home Plate Sirius XM channel:

Host, Jody McDonald: “If you couldn’t work out a contract with the Red Sox before free agency comes up and you eventually become a free agent, is the Bronx ever a possibility?”

Jonathan Papelbon: “Oh, of course. I mean, I think if we can’t come to an agreement on terms here in a Red Sox uniform, I mean, I think that’s pretty much the writing on the wall. If they can’t come to terms with you they’re letting you know that, ‘Hey you know what? We can go somewhere else.’ And I think it’s the same way on the other side, ‘Hey if ya’ll can’t come to an agreement with me then I can go somewhere else.’ Not only in the Bronx, but anywhere. I think anywhere is a possibility. You always have to keep that in the back of your mind because you can’t just be one-sided and think that, ‘Oh I’m going to be in a Red Sox uniform my entire career.’ Because nowadays that is very, very rare and hopefully we can because there’s no question I would love to stay in a Boston Red Sox uniform but I have to do what’s best for me and play in an atmosphere where I’m wanted and play on a team where I’m wanted and that’s all I can really say about that, you know?”

Make of that what you will. Given the prevailing rumors about the departures of Nomar Garciaparra, Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez (among others), this may not be the most heartwarming thing Papelbon could have said about his relationship to his team.

That said, I'm not entirely sure Papelbon and pinstripes would work out. It's not so much that I have a hard time imagining a Sox player on the Yanks (hello Johnny Damon!), as it is that I have a hard time imagining Papelbon following Mo. I'm sure, as a Yankee fan, you can understand why.

Tonight, I am Embarrassed to be a Yankee Fan

There's really no other way to put it.

I'm embarrassed. Losing two of three to the Nationals? Getting shut out at home?

What is this, 2008?

Seriously, though, I'm embarrassed. This is inexcusable.

This offense?

I try, really, to be as optimistic as possible, but how the hell can you be optimistic about a team that loses two of three to a team on pace to lose more games than the 1962 Mets?

On a more important note, thoughts are with Gardner for a speedy recovery--head injuries are no laughing matter

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Something about Sosa and Steroids

Yesterday, the news broke that former Chicago Cubs star Sammy Sosa had tested positive for steroids or some other sort of PED in 2003.

Like many, I shrugged and moved on.

There was (and possibly still is) a time when such news would be shattering, with the potential to devastate the sport, but there were a few things working against Sosa here:

1) Sosa has been out of the game for a few years now,

2) Few, if any, fans assumed he was clean,

3) After both the Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez revelations, the story loses it's panache.

This is certainly not the conclusion of the steroid era--as long as that list with 104 names remains (largely) unknown, it will not be over--but it does shed an interesting light, perhaps, on our own views of the issue.

When the issue of steroids and PEDs first came up, even then people argued that cheating has always been part of the game and thus people are making too much of a big deal. The difference here, however, was that PEDs present a very real risk to health, and young children trying to emulate their heroes could put their lives in jeopardy.

Still, the idea that baseball players would take something to try to get through a 162-game season has ceased to surprise all but the most sanctimonious.

Now, the attitude, when someone is revealed to have used PEDs, is not so much outrage as it is disappointment, mild or bitter, depending on the player in question.

There are, of course, the rumors that if the 104 names were ever revealed, it would destroy the sport, but for something that weathered the Black Sox of 1919 and the strike of 1994, I don't see that as being the case. At the least, those who used PEDs, however wrong they may have been, tried to help themselves and thus their teams--while the Black Sox, who threw a World Series, struck at the very heart of the integrity of the game.

Sosa likely won't make it to the Hall of Fame--you can use whatever reasons you want, but for me it's easier just to look at how the Hall has treated with Mark McGwire, but by the time Alex Rodriguez retires, attittudes may have shifted so much that he gets in on first ballot. Time heals all wounds, they say, and already, there is less outrage, less hurt, and perhaps less damage than there would have been even just five years ago.

It's kind of funny, how fast things can change.

In 1998 I rooted for Sosa to beat McGwire simply because my brother chose McGwire. Then, as the rumors started, there was denial, disbelief, outrage...and then acceptance.

It hasn't changed my love for the game. I know that when I cheer for Rodriguez or when I cheered for Giambi, I actively cheer or cheered for known users. I don't agree with what they did, but, in these cases, (and one can throw in Pettitte and a few others), they admitted what they did, endured (and still) embarrassment and perhaps asterisks forever next to their statistics. Were they sincere in admission and apology? I have no idea, only they know that.

What I do know, however, is what many of the baseball fans I know and myself are thinking: it's time to move on.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Yankees Do Just Enough to Beat Lowly Nats (Postgame Notes 16 June 2009)

Someone must have sent the Yankees a memo: beating the Nationals (or, as some prefer, Natinals) is a simple affair.

Hang in against the starter, get a few off the bullpen and pitch competently on your own side.

Was it the best game the Yankees have played all year?

No, probably not. The pitching was decent sure, but the offense could have been much better. Still, when one plays a team on pace for as many losses as the Yankees had wins in 1998, one's flaws are more easily hidden.

The offense was able to do just enough--take the lead, and add one more as insurance--to win without making one sweat too much, though, it could be argued, against a starter with an ERA over 5, they should have probably done more.

CC Sabathia pitched two outs into the 8th inning; Brian Bruney faced one batter and retired him, and Mariano Rivera, with some help from the Yankee defense (which, when one keeps the Nats in mind, isn't to be underestimated) retired the side in order in the ninth. Rivera, for the record, is fast approaching his 500th save.

The only real concern of the evening--don't mind the offense, they don't like hitting guys they've never seen--is that Derek Jeter left the game with left ankle stiffness. No word yet on the severity, but losing Jeter's bat for any length of time wouldn't be a good thing, to say the least.

Also, the Yankees might want to consider giving Alex Rodriguez a day off--while they probably don't want to play Angel Berroa and Ramiro Peña in the same game if Jeter is out for any length of time, Rodriguez needs the day off. Really, really, really.

Tomorrow, Chien Ming Wang, the proud new papa, will get what might be his last chance to stay in the rotation. Expect a quick hook if he can't get it going--the games against the Nationals are must wins because, really, do you expect Boston to drop any against the Nats?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Looking at the Yankees on an Off Day

Once again, the semi-regular look athow the Yankees have performed thus far this season on an off day...

Starting Pitching

The starting pitching, which had gone through most of the month of May on an absolute roll, has struggled something of late. Part of the problem, it seems, has been placing Wang back into the rotation even though he is clearly not ready for it. I'm not sure if there's something contagious there, but it seems to go back to that old saying, if it ain't broke don't fix it, and CC-Phil-Joba-AJ-Andy was, if not perfect, certainly not the broken that CC-Joba-Andy-AJ-Wang has been.

CC Sabathia--Continues to be the one starter worth the $$ we signed him for; it's true he did not win his last two starts, but he should have won the start in Boston, going into the eighth inning having only given up one run, certainly a quality start. He, like some other Yankees, seems to be performing better on the road, but given how few teams have winning records on the road, the Yankees will take it.

Joba Chamberlain--The lack of command in his last two starts is more concerning than anything else. For some reason, in his last start, he could get to strike two but found it nearly impossible to get to strike three. Whether this is psychological or has a deeper root, we don't know yet, and that's disconcerting. He should get a start against the Nats if I'm remembering correctly; if that doesn't help him then the Yankees will have a serious issue with which to contend.

Andy Pettitte--Of late, he has not looked all that good. True, or the most part he's giving the Yankees a chance to win every game, but at times it seems like a miracle. I'm not sure anyone really thinks he's 100% healthy, but it's a credit to him to try to tough it out--he always has. He has, throughout his career, been a second-half pitcher, so we will see what happens here.

AJ Burnett--Night and day between Fenway and the Mets. It was nice to see him rebound as he did, especially when he got out of the bases-loaded, no-out jam without giving up a run. This could be a real turning point for him in this season, and if he can give the Yankees what they signed him for, even if only starting now, it will be well worth it indeed.

Chien Ming Wang--No one wants to give up on him, but the Yankees can't wait around too much longer. Simply put, he hasn't been effective enough to remain in the rotation when other options are readily available--and the Yankees' #1 option to replace Wang won't cost a thing.


Usually, I'd include the bullpen after the offense, but I think that right now the bullpen and starting pitching are so inextricably linked that it would be foolish not to include one right after the other.

The bullpen, of late, has taken a beating because the starting pitching hasn't allowed them a rest. Burnett's performance yesterday, along with the off day today, could not have come at a better time. Also, rumor has it that Brian Bruney will be activated on Tuesday--and, again, that could not have come at a better time.

Phil Hughes He's excelled in the bullpen, which is a slight problem because if we've seen what the Joba-to-the-pen debate has done, who knows what the Phil-to-the-pen debate could do. Anyway, he's been critical for the 'pen of late, but unlike David Cone, I'm of the belief that he will continue to do more good for the Yankees--not to mention for his own development--if he remains in the rotation.

Phil Coke Still has his moments. Sometimes, he's so automatic to make you wonder why he's not the 8th inning guy, but then, at a rate a little less than Farnsworth but still too much for total comfort, he'll loose it. He's one of the 'pen's better relievers, but he's still got a ways to go. Still, if you ever get a chance, llisten to his postgame interviews. He is a natural.

Alfredo Aceves Continues to be Ace, for the most part. Didn't get the job done in the Boston game that Sabathia started, but in his defense, without his services the Yankees might not be a .500 team right now. Okay, so it's probably not that drastic, but in terms of team MVPs...don't just look at the Yankees' record since A-Rod came back; look at the team record since Aceves was brought up from AAA.

David Robertson The same as he's been for about a season and a half: unhittable when he throws strikes. Unwatchable when he does not.

Brett Tomko Sometimes, he's thrown a couple critical scoreless innings for the team. Sometimes, like on Friday, he takes a bad situation and makes it worse. Still, right now most Yankee fans would trust him a heck of a lot more than...

Jose Veras, who has seemingly been relegated to mop up duty. My friend Brent brings up a very interesting point: part of Veras' lack of control may stem from the fact that when he pitches and when he finishes his delivery, his head is not looking at the target. Isn't that the type of thing you learn about before you make the Majors?

Mariano Rivera Like we learned last year, there's something about tie games that makes Mo not Mo. An ERA under 2 in save situations and near in non-save situations--it'd be funny if it didn't mean so much to the team. Even Mo is baffled.

The Offense

Just when you think the offense has lost it, they come out popping for fifteen runs, and not on fifteen solo home runs, either. It seems like some guys are hitting and others are slumping always, but what's making this work is that the slumping and hitting guys keep switchin--teammates picking each other up when need be.

Derek Jeter Has been slumping a bit at the plate, but was 4-4 yesterday, so he may be coming out of it. More crucial, however, is Jeter's better play in the field. One source (I can't remember which) suggested that it was him playing deeper, so though his range may not have improved much, he is giving himself more time to get to balls. It's working.

Johnny Damon
With the exception of yesterday when, well, no one was struggling, he's been slumping and there may be a physical reason for it, as he was worried about feeling some after effects of a concussion. The Yankees seem to be playing it down, but I'm curious to see if anything develops.

Mark Teixeira After his April, did anyone think he'd be leading the AL in home runs? You did? Really? Prove it. At this rate, he seems almost golden for at least one HR every series. Imagine if it becomes one HR every game.

Alex Rodriguez He should have been the last out on Friday, and instead is an inadvertent hero (okay, Luis Castillo was the real hero there). Yesterday he narrowly, and I mean narrowly, avoids hitting into a triple play. His one HR came against the Mets in the game the Yankees lost. Everyone's still waiting for him to take off, because if he doesn't, Teixeira may stop getting so many pitches to hit. To his credit though, Rodriguez hasn't forgotten how to work the walk.

Robinson Canó The problem with Canó hitting fifth is that while he can hit the heck out of the ball, his OBP is driven almost entirely by batting average, and not walks. It's true, he's been taking more pitches, but there are still too many pitches he hits as weak grounders, and not enough line drives, to really provide much protection for A-Rod.

Jorge Posada Has turned into something of a controversial player with his reported relationships with certain pitchers, but he's still hitting the ball pretty well since coming off of the disabled list. Truth be told, Posada's not had a career this long because of his defense....

Hideki Matsui It appears that all the Yankees have to do is tell Matsui that it's his birthday, and boom, Godzilla is unstoppable.

Nick Swisher Appears to be doing the every other month thing: a torrid April, tepid May, and heating up in June to the point that we're all just waiting for his next relief pitching appearance. Yesterday, while making a catch that helped (okay, maybe just a little) to distract from his disastrous defensive and baserunning miscues in Boston, Swisher knocked the Mets sign off of the scoreboard out in right, and in typical Swisher fashion, attempted to fix it. A little.

Melky Cabrera Has cooled down considerably of late, but he is still working counts much better than at any time last year, which suggests that the present slump probably won't last too long. If you haven't yet, check out Melky's splits, including his average in 'close and late' situations this season.

Francisco Cervelli Whatever the Yankees thought they were going to get out of their third string catcher, I don't think it was this. For example, without two of his three hits yesterday, one that was a bloop off the end of the bat, and the other relied on his hustle to get down to first base before Santana, the Yankees might not have won that game. He continues to do all the little things right, the pitchers rave about him, he's always beaming in the post-game interviews...he might not be Albert Pujols with the bat, but he's earning his pinstripes in the best way.

Brett Gardner The tendency with Gardner is that he tends to have his best games when inserted as a sub or otherwise not starting regularly. With Melky Cabrera playing as well as he is, the Yankees can afford to do that. The only issue here is Gardner not stealing when it's clear that if the Yankees put him in as a pinch runner, they do so for one reason: so he can steal a base.

Ramiro Peña His bat could still benefit from everyday play in the minors, but keeping him up here has been invaluable for pinch running and late inning infield defense.

Angel Berroa *insert age joke here* Likely to lose his spot upon the return of Xavier Nady, but since no date has been set for that, he's got himself some more time to spend most of the game sitting on the bench.

Xavier Nady, Jose Molina and Dámaso Marte have not appeared in a Major League game since the last off day

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Amazin' Yanks Blow Out Santana, Mets (Postgame Notes 14 June 2009)

If you had asked any Yankee fan before today's match up with AJ Burnett and Johan Santana, they would have probably told you that they were worried.

Johan Santana is Johan Santana, and AJ Burnett has not been what the Yankees had paid him $88 million to be.

Still, any real baseball fan will tell you that you still have to play the game. It happened yesterday, when Fernando Nieve shut down the Yankees despite having only made a few previous starts in his Major League career; it happened again today.

Far from his normal shutdown self, Johan Santana surrendered nine earned runs; four in the second and then five in the fourth to knock him out of the game, and the Yankees wouldn't let the Mets' bullpen off the hook either, scoring six runs off of Mets' relievers.

There is much to be impressed about; the most key moment came in the top of the third, when AJ Burnett loaded the bases with no one out...and then proceeded to get out of the inning without giving up a run. For any starter, being able to do so is important; for Burnett, it may have changed his season, though it's too soon to say for sure.

At any rate, it allowed Burnett to go seven, and thus save most of a much belabored Yankees' bullpen--the off day tomorrow could not have come at a better time.

Also worth mentioning is Francisco Cervelli's excellent day at the plate; he has blossomed in the majors, and you get the feeling the Yankees are telling jose Molina to "take your time, no, really".

If the Phillies hold on to beat the Red Sox, the Yankees will go into tomorrow's off day only two back of Boston and with the likes of the Nationals on the horizon.

Travelling Back to the Year 2000

As a history student, I have a thing for nostalgia. So I'm busy looking at my official MLB guide to the 2000 season.

It's got nuggets such as:

Millennium Men (p 28): Who will be the stars of the new millennium? Their predictions:

C: Michael Barrett, Expos (uh, who?)
1b: Paul Konerko, White Sox (he always ends up on at least one fantasy team of mine. Always.)
2B: Carlos Febles, Royals (again, who?)
SS: Alex Gonzalez, Marlins
3B: Adrain Beltre (you'll find his picture next to "contract year")
RF: Richard Hidalgo, Astros (Wasn't Hidalgo a horse?)
CF: Carlos Beltran, Royals (okay, this one's legit)
LF: JD Drew, Cardinals (no comment)
P: Freddy Garcia (no, I'm not making this up)

Long at Short:

"Young superstars Nomar Garciaparra, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez have led a three-headed revolution of the shortstop position during the past few seasons...there are, however, other upstarts who could soon challenge that talented trinity..."

Miguel Tejada 23 (sure), Athletics (Young? Tejada? I feel an Angel Berroa joke coming on...)
Alex Gonzalez, Marlins (what ever happened to him?)
Tony Batista, Blue Jays (see above)
Neifi Perez, Rockies (Not to be confused with the Rangers' young pitching prospect)
Edgar Renteria, Cardinals (he got old fast, didn't he?)
Alfonso Soriano, Yankees (well, he didn't stick at short, but dude can hit)
Rafael Furcal, Braves (I used to confuse him and Albert Pujols. Not so much any more.)

Players that were candidates for 2000 Rookie of the Year (selection copied here to save you space) (31):


1B: Nick Johnson, Yankees
2B: D'Angelo Jimenez, Yankees (was in a nasty car wreck not long after)
3B: Mike Lamb, Rangers
Carlos Guillen, Mariners
SS: Alfonso Soriano, Yankees
OF: Vernon Wells, Blue Jays (he's really been around that long?!)
Michael Coleman, Red Sox
P: Kip Wells, White Sox
Danys Baez, Indians
Kazuhiro Sasaki, Mariners
J.C. Romero, Twins
Ed Yarnell, Yankees (I don't think that really worked)
Dan Wheeler, Devil Rays (Dude, isn't he the Yanks' favorite whippin' boy?)
Mike Mulder, Athletics
Dan Reichart, Royals


1B: Adam Kennedy, Cardinals
SS: Adam Everett, Astros
Rafael Furcal, Braves
OF: Pat Burrell, Phillies
Corey Patterson, Cubs
Lance Berkman, Astros
P: Rick Ankiel, Cardinals (yes, that Rick Ankiel)
A.J. Burnett, Marlins
Eric Gagné, Dodgers (remember him?)
Tony Armas Jr., Expos
Brad Penny, Marlins (Can you imagine if Beckett, Burnett, Penny and Pavano were still in the same rotation? The Marlins would have been the team of the early 2000s. Maybe.)
Ted Lilly, Expos

New ballparks (41-42):

Safeco Field, Seattle:

"Fans can get "caught up" in a giant bronzed baseball mitt that sits just outside the left-field entrance...Safeco Field has an 11,000-ton retractable roof that can move as fast as six inches per second"

Enron Field, Houston:

"Another 'throw back', Enron Field will be the only ballpark in the Major Leagues with a flagpole sitting in the field of play"

Pacific Bell Park, San Francisco:

"The park's short right-field wall will mean that home runs will make even more of a splash--a well-hit dinger could actually drop into San Francisco Bay"

Comerica Park, Detroit:

"A 200-300 seat theater will give fans a chance to catch a flick at the ballpark. The theater will show films documenting Tigers history...boasts the largest scoreboard in baseball"

2010: A Base Odyssey (105-122; my edition seems to be missing the last few pages)

"Take a journey through the next decade of milestones that could be reached by today's biggest stars"

September 2000: Boston's Pedro Martinez becomes the first pitcher to win 30 games in one season since 1968 (no).

October 2000: Randy Johnson fans his 384th batter, the most strikeouts recorded since the 1800s (I don't think so, but maybe I'm wrong).

September 2001: Slugger Mark McGwire blasts a ball completely out of Shea Stadium for home run 71 (Uh, no.)

May 2002: Barry Bonds becomes the first player to reach 500 in both home runs and stolen bases (Bonds stole bases? Where was I?)

October 2002: Sweet-swinging Larry Walker strokes his way to baseball's first Triple Crown since 1967 (pretty sure this didn't happen, but Walker was a fun player to root for).

June 2003: Ivan Rodriguez nails nine baserunners in a game to break a 105-year-old record (don't remember this ever happening but my memory is shot)

October 2004: Switch hitter Chipper Jones goes deep twice from each side of the plate during an NLCS game (fairly certain the Braves didn't make the 2004 NLCS)

October 2005: Derek Jeter becomes the first player to win a batting title, MVP, Gold Glove and World Series in one year (if only...)

September 2007: Sammy Sosa becomes the first basher to launch 50 or more homers in 10 straight seasons (BAHAHAHAHAHAH)

And lastly, the 2000 season NY Yankees roster as of 1/6/00:


59 Bradley, Ryan
41 Buddie, Mike
22 Clemens, Roger
36 Cone, David
64 DeLosSantos, Luis
Dingman, Craig
67 Einerston, Darrell
58 Erdos, Todd
Ford, Ben
38 Grimsley, Jason
26 Hernandez, Orlando
57 Juden, Jeff
55 Mendoza, Ramiro
43 Nelson, Jeff
Noel, Todd
46 Pettitte, Andy
42 Rivera, Mariano
29 Stanton, Mike
62 Tessner, Jay
27 Watson, Alan
Westbrook, Jake
52 Yarnell, Ed


20 Posada, Jorge


35 Bellinger, Clay
18 Brosius, Scott
2 Jeter, Derke
59 Jimenez, D'Angelo
Johnson, Nick
11 Knoblauch, Chuck
13 Leyritz, Jim
24 Martinez, Tino
58 Soriano, Alfonso


17 Ledee, Ricky
84 McDonald, Donzell
21 O'Neill, Paul
Pena, Wily
47 Spencer, Shane
39 Strawberry, Darrell
51 Williams, Bernie

(Of that roster, only Posada, Jeter and Rivera are still in pinstripes. Soriano, Johnson and Westbrook are active with different teams; I'm not sure about any of the other guys; if Wily Peña is the same as Wily Mo Peña then there's another...)

Credit to: Major League Baseball 2000: The Official Guide to the 2000 Season, published by Corporate Sports Marketing Group, (c) 2000

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Weirdest Walkoff You've Ever Seen (Postgame Notes 12 June 2009

Michael Kay, for all of his faults, said it best: How many times can you fail, and still win?

Because that is, more or less, what happened tonight.

The Yankees failed in many, many ways.

They didn't get good starting pitching, with Joba walking pretty much everyone he saw and throwing 43 pitches in one inning.

They didn't get great bullpen pitching--Tomko was awful, Robertson was good, all right, Coke couldn't hold the lead and Rivera still can't pitch in tie games, even in the eighth.

They got some offense (I mean, dude, they scored nine runs), but they could never build more than a one run lead.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, they had the tying run on second base and the winning run on first, with two out and Alex Rodriguez at the plate. And A-Rod, as we have so often seen, popped up.

Except, this time, Luis Castillo dropped it.

Luis Castillo dropped it, and Mark Teixeira had the grit and the good sense to run hard on a routine pop up, and he and Derek Jeter BOTH scored.

How often do we see a pop up and automatically draw the conclusion? How often do we forget they actually have to see it into the glove? K-Rod forgot; he did a fist pump as A-Rod popped it.

This wasn't so much a game the Yankees won as it was a game the Mets lost; though, to be completley onest here, I think any question about ghosts moving across the street has been resolutely answered.

Anyway, what it means is that instead of the Yankees having lost four in a row, they've opened this portion of interleague play with a win and keep from falling any further behind in the standings.

Yankees fans can sleep just a tiny bit easier tonight.

Luis Castillo may want to watch his back. The Mets fans are apparently not very happy.