November 2009

Austin Jackson’s Nickname: I Know How He Feels

Nicknames. A lot of “cool” people have them and it’s usually a lot of fun to call people by their nicknames rather than their given names.


My name is Anthony Joseph, therefore my friends and those close to me call me A.J.


When the Yankees acquired A.J. Burnett last off-season, I was so happy because we share the same initials. The Yankees also have a rookie prospect named Austin Jackson, whose initials are also A.J.


Well allow me to let everyone in on a secret: having the initials A.J. may sound cool, but it can be bad. In fact, growing up people left an impact on me that scarred me for life.


I’ve been called every name in the book from Apple Juice to Apple Jacks; from Ask Jeeves to Ant Jemima (that one really hurt, especially because it made sense–my name is Anthony and instead of using “aunt” they took the first three letters of my name and used “Ant”)



I was called Apple Juice growing up... 

But none made me shake my head more than being called Ajax, which happens to be Austin Jackson’s new nickname. For my initials to be reduced to being called a brand of toilet cleaner…yea, it was rough.



Scarred me for life. 

Needless to say I know how Jackson feels.


What impressed me (and sort of shocked me) about him was in 2009 Spring Training; against the Red Sox, Jackson belted a grand slam home run. After the game he was sent packing and told he would remain in the minor leagues.


But he stuck it out and played hard on the farm this past year. And we may see him up in the big leagues this upcoming year.  


Jackson may possibly get called up to the Yankees’ main roster in 2010, being that he put up such solid numbers in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this past year. The 22 year-old phenom batted .300 with four homers and 65 RBIs while stealing 24 bases in 132 games.


Not bad numbers, I have to say. The question now is, can he do this at the Major League level? That remains to be seen.


Austin Jackson's nickname bothers me 


But let’s say Jackson does make it in New York and becomes a fan-favorite within the next two or three years. I cannot fathom going to a Yankee game and listening to the capacity crowd at Yankee Stadium yell at the top of their lungs, “Ajax!!!”


That would bring back horrible memories for me. I mean, people called me that to make fun of me! It would make me sad. Although the nickname sounds clever for Jackson because of his last name…well, I will never be comfortable hearing that name.


The name “Ajax” will always remind me of the troubled part of my childhood.


Maybe I can spend some time coming up with a better nickname for him; hopefully one that can catch on quick enough. Maybe the A-Train? Or Action Jackson? Heck, his middle name starts with a “J” too, why not just A.J. Jackson?  


Whatever happens, I just hope we Yankee fans are not cheering Ajax at him. As a diehard fan myself, it would be too painful for me; I wouldn’t be able to bear it.


I can only hope Jackson doesn’t mind being called Ajax and I really hope he didn’t go through what I went through growing up in terms of nicknames. The same goes for Burnett. We “A.J.s” are special guys and we have to stick together!


So call us what you want. But we’ll always be A.J.


A.J. is who we are!  

Bob Sheppard Retires


The legendary Bob Sheppard has called it a career


“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to Yankee Stadium.”

These are words we have heard from the legendary Bob Sheppard for the better part of 56 years. After a long career behind the microphone as the public address announcer at Yankee Stadium, the 99 year-old Sheppard has officially retired as of yesterday.


Sheppard had missed time during the 2007 and 2008 seasons battling sickness, and has now given up his spot behind the microphone in the Bronx. It is a sad day, but I am so thankful that we had Bob for so long. 


His first day on the job was April 17, 1951, a Yankees/Red Sox game. How fitting! Among the future Hall of Fame players in the Red Sox lineup that day were Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, and Lou Boudreau.


The future Yankee Hall of Famers in the starting lineup included Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Phil Rizzuto, and Johnny Mize.


Happy Birthday, Bob Sheppard!!! 


Sheppard knows so much about how proper language should be spoken. In fact, he was a speech teacher at John Adams High School and at the college he graduated from, St. John’s University.


He felt his teaching career was more important than his job as an announcer.


Sports have always been in Sheppard’s blood. At St. John’s he earned seven varsity letters as the baseball squad’s starting first baseman and the football team’s starting quarterback.


Talk about being an outstanding athlete!


As an announcer, Sheppard pronounced everything the way it was supposed to be pronounced. He once said in a documentary, “My job as an address announcer is to inform the people that the next hitter is De-rek Je-ter–clear, concise, correct, there’s nothing wrong with it.




I have to agree with him; nobody wants to hear the announcer scream the names of the players so that we cannot understand what they are saying. We always knew what Sheppard was saying.


Bob Sheppard is the man 


He also owned a unique way of announcing the players; for instance, he would say, “Now batting, third baseman, number 13, Alex Rodriguez. Number 13.” He would give you the player’s position, uniform number, name, and then uniform number again.


He had his own style. That is the trademark of someone who his great at what they do.


In the same documentary, Sheppard noted that Mantle was his favorite player to announce. The Mick once told him, “Every time Bob Sheppard announces my name, I got shivers up and down my spine.”


Sheppard responded, “So do I.”


To announce the winningest franchise in all of sports had to wonderful for Sheppard, yet to be a part of that winning for so long was probably even better for him.


Sheppard's monument in the park 


When the Yankees won, so did he. Sheppard has been awarded with the World Series Championship rings for his role as the Yankees’ announcer. He was also given a well-deserved monument in the park at Yankee Stadium, dedicated by the Yanks on May 7, 2000.


His microphone has also been encased in Cooperstown at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.


Yet baseball was not the only sport Sheppard was involved in.


Bob Sheppard announced for the NY Giants from 1956-2005 


He also served as the announcer for the New York Football Giants from 1956 through the end of the 2005 campaign. Just like he received World Series rings from the Yankees, Sheppard was honored with Super Bowl rings when the G-Men won Super Bowl XXI in 1987 and Super Bowl XXV in 1991.


The Giants played their home games at Yankee Stadium beginning in 1956, and the ever-loyal Sheppard stayed with them through their move into Giants Stadium in 1976.


Sheppard also announced football games for St. John’s before he made his debut as the Yankees’ public address announcer.


Sheppard is a man who has seen it all; American League Pennants, World Series Championships, Super Bowls, some of the greatest games ever played. And now his announcing career is at an end.


But no matter where he goes and how he goes, he will never, and I repeat NEVER be forgotten by his fans. He will always be a part of the Yankees’ family and…well, he is immortal. His legacy will always be one of dignity, class, and grace.


Reggie Jackson once called him “The Voice of God.” And he really is. Sheppard’s booming, jovial voice will always be a part of the Yankees.


On behalf of every Yankee fan in the World, THANK YOU, BOB SHEPPARD! YOU ARE TRULY A LEGEND!  


“Thank you all. Please drive home safely.”  

Yankee Stadium: A Piece of Cake

This week has been pretty rough for me (please don’t ask, I’m just glad it’s basically over!) so I haven’t been sleeping well these past few nights.


Anyway I was up around 1:30 this morning and I just happened to turn on the Food Network. The show Ace of Cakes was on, a reality show that centers on the work at Chef Duff Goldman’s custom cake shop. I don’t know much about the show because I don’t watch it on a regular basis, but they were making something so amazing.


A cake made to look like the new Yankee Stadium. I had to watch this.



A Yankee Stadium Cake! 

It was amazing how Goldman and his partners, Geof Manthorn and Mary Smith, were able to build this thing; they did such an awesome job of crafting the cake to look like Yankee Stadium.


It was just so fascinating how they molded the dough to make it look like the grandstands and how they iced the cake to give it the likeness of the field. They even made a mini Monument Park behind the centerfield wall, capturing basically every facet of the new ballpark in the Bronx.


I thought to myself, “These cake-makers are extremely good at what they do, great in fact. It is such an admirable talent that they have and it’s incredible that they are able to do this.”


I then thought, “If I were able to make cakes like this, I could impress so many people!” They certainly impressed me, that’s for sure.


Then my admiration for their cake turned to sheer, unadulterated jealousy when I saw that Goldman, Manthorn, and Smith were privileged enough to go to the Stadium and show off their cake to the Yankee faithful on May 1.


They were originally going to bring the cake out onto the field before the game began, but rain prevented that. We did have too many problems with the weather this past year, which is unfortunate. Instead they put the cake down in the press conference room and video taped it to show on the diamond vision screen before first pitch.



A work of art 

Now here’s where I got extremely jealous.


Yogi Berra came into the press conference room to see the cake. As he marveled over the work of art, Goldman, Manthorn, and Smith got to talk to Berra and take pictures with him. Then CC Sabathia and Johnny Damon each walked in to see the cake, and they were also left in amazement at its brilliance.


Then the captain himself, Derek Jeter, came in to see the cake. Like Berra, Sabathia, and Damon, he too was impressed with the cake and told them what a wonderful job they did in making it.


Jeter signed a ball for Smith; she was so overjoyed at meeting Jeter she said, “I can die happy now.” I would give my life to just have a five minute conversation with Jeter, let alone leave him in awe of something I helped work on. She is a very lucky lady.


The three cake-makers then got to go out onto the field while their cake was shown on the diamond vision screen. They were given a rousing ovation from the capacity crowd, and it was well-deserved. For making a cake that good, they earned a standing O.


The Yankees went on to win that game against the Angels 10-9 on a walk-off single by Jorge Posada. So not only did they get to make this beautiful cake, they got to go to the Stadium, meet three Yankees, a Hall of Fame catcher, get their autographs, take pictures with them, step out onto the field before the game…and the Yankees won the game.



They got to go onto the field. So jealous... 

Talk about making off like a few bandits, wouldn’t you agree?


I have to say it was just one of the more fascinating things I have seen in awhile. For a small group of people to make such an amazing work of art, it was inspiring. They make it look so easy, even though I’m sure it’s probably not.


But they did a fantastic job with it. To them, I’m sure it’s just a piece of cake.

Zack Greinke Wins the Cy Young


Cy Young


Zack Greinke of the Kansas City Royals won the American League Cy Young Award today, as voted by the Baseball Writer’s Association. He finished with 25 first-place votes.


Good for you, Zack. You had a great year on a terrible team.


I have to hand it to Greinke, though. He has had some abysmal years and with the Royals almost guaranteed to finish in the basement of the American League Central Division every year, it’s good to see that they can at least have something to cheer for and be proud of.



Zack Greinke is the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner. 

I’d also like to point out that Greinke overcame a social anxiety disorder which kept him away from baseball for two months in 2006. Having been routed back to the minor leagues, he worked his way back to the majors after returning from his ailment.


And I have to say, I know what it feels like; as a person myself who has suffered from anxiety disorder, I know what Greinke has been through. It is not fun; it really hurts when you are diagnosed with it, I know I was. I definitely sympathize with him on overcoming his disorder. You get the jitters, your nerves are going out of whack, and you cannot concentrate.


Anxiety disorders are horrible, I’m just glad Greinke overcame his (and if you’re wondering, I overcame mine, as well; I attribute it to my parents’ divorce, but still, it was uncomfortable)


In 2007 Greinke was basically hurting in the bullpen. He didn’t have a great year, only posting a 7-7 record with a 3.69 ERA in 52 appearances.


Coming back to the rotation in 2008, Greinke went 13-10 with a 3.47 ERA. Not bad, at least he posted a winning record.


I actually saw him pitch in ’08 at old Yankee Stadium; it was June 8, the day after Johnny Damon basically single-handedly beat the Royals. It was also one of the last times I visited the old ballpark in the Bronx and it was Joba Chamberlain’s second career start.


Greinke was not impressive at all that day, tossing only five innings and giving up four earned runs on six hits. He walked four and struck out six.


I vividly remember that scorching, Sunday afternoon; Bobby Abreu murdered a long homer off Greinke in the first inning, a shot that landed in the upper deck in right field (did I mention I still love Abreu?)


Jason Giambi also took Greinke deep that day, blasting a home run in the sixth. The Yankees obviously won the game 6-3, and it was Greinke’s fourth loss in ’08.  


So the one time I did see Greinke…yeah, the Yankees smacked him up.


When I saw him, Greinke was not impressive 


But this year he was excellent. Greinke posted a record of 16-8 and led the American League in ERA with 2.16. And if he had gotten some help, he could have reached 20 wins, no doubt about it. If he was on a team like the Yankees or Red Sox or Angels and had received a little more run support–20 wins, hands-down.


He was 6-1 with a 1.75 ERA in his last 11 starts of ’09 and he threw one-hitters in back-to-back outings in August. He only allowed five stolen bases all year.


Now that is outstanding. It’s plain to see Greinke was in control this past year.


The Zack-man was awesome this year. The real question now is, can he do it again in 2010? We’ll have to wait and see, but I’m not sure I’m convinced he’ll be as good next year as he was this year; I mean I like Greinke, but was he just a flash in the pan?


Will Greinke be the same in 2010...? 


There is no denying he earned the award this year; clearly the best man won. But I’m not so sure Greinke will have the same type of year next year. His numbers don’t lie; he has had some awful, forgettable seasons in past years.


This year could have just been an isolated incident.


The runners-up were Felix Hernandez (2nd) Justin Verlander (3rd) and CC Sabathia (4th) and they have all posted stellar numbers year after year. There has been a pattern with the other guys–they have put up the same types of numbers for a few years now.


With Greinke, it was one year. The rest of his career has been horrid. But we’ll see. We won’t know until 2010. But what we do know is that he had an exceptional, Cy Young-worthy 2009 and he deserved to win it.


Greinke is truly a feel-good story. And I am happy for him.   

Rookie of the Year: It’s Not a Joke!

Today MLB announced the American League and National League Rookie of the Year Award winners.


Rookie of the Year 


Andrew Bailey, the Oakland Athletics’ 25 year-old right-handed reliever out of Wagner College, received AL honors while Chris Coghlan, a 24 year-old left fielder for the Marlins from Palm Harbor, Florida won the  NL award.  


The Rookie of the Year Award is very important, if you ask me. But I was watching ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption show this evening and they didn’t even make mention of the winners until the very end of the program.


In fact, it was almost as if they announced the winners in passing and the hosts of the show had never even heard of Bailey and Coghlan; they didn’t even know which teams each winner plays for!



These two knuckleheads had no clue who the ROY winners were 

I’m sorry, but that is ridiculous. Tony Kornheiser guessed that Coghlan was on the Padres while Michael Wilbon suggested Bailey was on the Royals.


I just find that sad; if I were one of these two young men, I would be very upset. Every young player loves watching themselves on ESPN and to think if either Bailey or Coghlan turned on Pardon the Interruption tonight….neither host even knew who they were.


Coghlan had a respectable season, making his MLB debut on May 8. He set a new franchise record for consecutive, multiple-hit games; Coghlan hit more than once in a game eight straight times this year.



Florida's Chris Coghlan won NL Rookie of the Year 

At the conclusion of the season, Coghlan finished with a .321 average (which led all rookies) nine home runs and 47 RBIs.


That’s impressive, wouldn’t you say? I’d say that is enough to be called Rookie of the Year.


Bailey also posted stellar numbers this season, nailing down 26 saves for the Athletics this year. He went 6-3 with a 1.84 ERA coupled with 91 strikeouts in 81 1/3 innings pitched. He also was selected to the All-Star Game this year and got to participate with the game’s best players in St. Louis this past summer.



Oakland's Andrew Bailey won AL Rookie of the Year 

Like Coghlan, Bailey was impressive. He earned it.


But I just find it unfortunate that there are people who had no idea who these kids are and almost made the whole thing into a joke; I mean Kornheiser and Wilbon guessing which teams these players are on?


Give me a break.


Jackie Robinson was the first ever Rookie of the Year in 1947, as the honor was the brainchild of the Chicago chapter of the Baseball Writer’s Association. For the first two years of its existence, the award was given to one player but in 1949 one player from each league was given the title.


Along with Robinson, a number of other influential and famous players have been the given Rookie of the Year Award. I’m talking Cal Ripken, Jr., Eddie Murray, Carlton Fisk, Rod Carew, Luis Aparcio…


And even our very own Derek Jeter. (Incidentally Jeter is the last Yankee player to win the award)


Jeter was so humble when he won the award in 1996; I remember him saying something like, “I think I had some help with the voting.” The Yankee Captain had won the award unanimously, hitting 10 homers and averaging .314 with 78 runs and 183 hits.


Derek Jeter won ROY in 1996 


He beat out James Baldwin of the Chicago White Sox, 104 points to 64.


But what if Jeter had won the award and nobody knew who he was or even what team he was on? Or TV hosts basically joked about the fact that they had no idea where he came from?


I just found that to be in bad taste. I normally think the banter and humor on Pardon the Interruption is funny, but tonight I was not really laughing. I was actually quite upset.


But it’s alright–Andrew and Chris are taking home the hardware, not ESPN. So even though they may have been slighted a little bit, they still get the last laugh.


Congrats to both Bailey and Coghlan. You guys have earned it. Tomorrow MLB will announce the Cy Young Award winners.


Will CC Sabathia be Cy Cy Sabathia?  Or Will Zack Greinke take it home to Kansas City? Tune in tomorrow. Same (baseball) bat time, same channel.


Yu Darvish a Yankee? Yu Betcha!

This was a boring weekend, I’m not going to lie. This was really the first weekend without baseball that really sank in; I mean we had the parade last week, but this weekend there was really nothing, especially with my scuffling New York Football Giants on their bye week.


So I have basically been looking around at free agents and top prospects for the last 48 hours, as you might have seen from my last blog about Aroldis Chapman


Another name caught my eye and like Chapman, may or may not be a good fit in pinstripes. I guess it all depends on what he wants to do and the decisions he makes.


This prospective major leaguer’s name is Yu Darvish.


Yu Darvish a Yankee? I hope so! 


Darvish is a 23 year-old right hander from Osaka, Japan and has played his entire career in the Far East. And so far he has been very impressive, posting a lifetime record of 61-22 with a 2.14 ERA in the Nippon Professional Baseball league in Japan.


Pretty good record and ERA if I do say so myself, especially considering Darvish has only been a pro since 2005.


Not only that, but he has been scouted since junior high school; different schools wanted Darvish before he even reached the high school level and he opted to go to Tohoku High School, the same school that produced major leaguers Kazuhiro Sasaki (formerly of the Seattle Mariners) and Takashi Saito (currently of the Red Sox)


After high school (where he shined by the way, posting a career ERA of 1.10 with 375 strikeouts in 332 1/3 innings) he was drafted by the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.


And with the Fighters he has been so good, he has earned two All-Star selections, the 2007 Pacific League Most Valuable Player award, and proving he can field his position, he has won two Golden Glove Awards (the equivalent of our Gold Glove award)


Obviously he has got game.


In terms of pitch selection, Darvish features a fastball that has maxed out at 98 mph, a hard slider with table-dropping break, a curve ball, a fork ball, a cutter, and a changeup. Darvish’s go-to pitch is his sinker and he has also tried out a knuckleball, but does not utilize it on a consistent basis.



Yu Darvish has pitched in Japan his whole life 

Talk about having a vast arsenal of weapons. I guess most Japanese pitchers do, though; before Daisuke Matsuzaka came to this country none of us knew what a gyro ball was!  


It depends on what Darvish wants to do; he has been scouted by MLB teams before, even when he was in high school. The Angels, Mets, Dodgers, and Braves have all tried to get him. He just felt his allegiance should stay in Japan, so he opted to stay there.


But I’ve been hearing some rumors about him coming over to the U.S. and if and when he does, should the Yankees take a look at him or try and get him?


It looks worth it. I mean with Chapman it’s different; he is good, but no one really knows a lot about him except that he has defected from Cuba, wants to pitch for MLB, and throws hard. With Darvish they have a variety of (really good) numbers to look at along with a five-year career in Japan.


Like I said, it’s only a matter of his choice–does he want to pitch here or stay in Japan?


Kei Igawa was not what the Yankees hoped for. 


He is much different than the other pitchers the Yankees have gotten from Japan in the past; I think he would be a lot better than Hideki Irabu and Kei Igawa. I think he already is, actually; neither Irabu nor Igawa were as big as Darvish currently is in their home country. Darvish is a spokesperson for coffee over there!


And…well…at least I’m certain Darvish wouldn’t get called a “fat toad” by the Yankees’ owner, as Irabu did, or be in the minor leagues as Igawa is right now.


Hideki Irabu was called a fat toad by George Steinbrenner 


Not to mention he has at least had some experience pitching against hitters from the United States. In the World Baseball Classic this year, Darvish tossed a scoreless inning in the semi-final game vs. the U.S., allowing no runs on a single and striking out two batters en route to Japan’s 9-4 win over the U.S.


It may not be much experience against U.S. batters, but it’s something.  


Darvish just has all the history and accolades already in place; great numbers throughout his career and multiple honors, unlike many other Japan-born hurlers. I know Japanese pitchers have not been very kind to the Yanks in the past, but this time would be different, if it even happens.


Would I accept Darvish as a Yankee? Yu betcha!     


A Possible Free Agent Signing

So today I was checking out some articles on the web and came across a whole bunch of possible moves the Yankees could and should make during the off-season.


I saw the laundry list of players the Yanks should acquire: John Lackey, Roy Halladay, Matt Holliday, etc. But one name I saw struck my attention. I remember seeing this kid on an ESPN piece not long ago and his story really captivated me.


I am of course speaking about Aroldis Chapman.


Aroldis Chapman is a highly-touted free agent 


This 21 year-old left-hander and native of Cuba has been called one of the “best pitchers in the world right now who is not in the major leagues.”


That’s a pretty bold statement if you ask me.


Chapman has been through a lot in his young life. In the spring of 2008, he attempted to defect from Cuba to the United States, but was caught before he could flee. Chapman was then sent to Havana to meet with President Raul Castro, who suspended him from the National Series season and told him he could not play on the Cuban Olympic baseball team in Beijing.


He was however allowed to participate in the World Baseball Classic this past March, pitching for the Cuban team in the international tournament. He was not all that impressive however, going 0-1 with a bloated 5.68 ERA in two appearances.


Chapman walked four batters over the 6 2/3 innings he pitched, but also struck out eight.


This past summer, Chapman finally broke free from the Cuban chains and defected. While the Cuban National team was playing in the World Port Tournament in the Netherlands on July 1, Chapman walked out the front door of the hotel and like a man who had just committed a crime he got into a getaway car driven by an accomplice.


That has “mafia movie” written all over it.



Chapman defected this past summer 

Chapman escaped and now lives somewhere in Andorra, a small country located in southwestern Europe. Although he hasn’t made it to the United States yet, he has contacted Major League Baseball and petitioned for free agency.


And now everybody wants him.


If the Yankees were to sign him, he would not be the first Cuban-defected pitcher to don the pinstripes. “El Duque,” also known as Orlando Hernandez, defected from Cuba in 1998 and joined up with the Yanks in mid-season.



Orlando Hernandez, like Chapman, defected from Cuba 

Hernandez certainly helped the pitching staff in ’98, tossing some huge games for the Yankees down the stretch and in the postseason. His teammates sometimes got agitated with him because he went through violent mood swings, but I guess they looked past it since he pitched well.


Chapman is not a big kid–he’s only 6’4, 180 pounds. He is a fast kid–he supposedly throws 102 miles per hour. He looks like he has the potential and makeup of a future ace. But looks can be deceiving; he hasn’t really been tested yet, so I can’t say if I want him or I don’t want him on the Yankees.


I mean, Kei Igawa pitched well in another country, how did that work out?


But I think Chapman is a lot different than Igawa; if the scouts are calling him “one of the best pitchers in the world not currently in the majors,” then there must be something special about him.


I also think he is brave. The kid can probably never go back to his home country. If he goes back to Cuba, there’s a good chance he will be killed by his government; they get angry at these pitchers who defect, being that baseball is huge there. And everyone he loves is there–his mom, his dad, his two sisters, his girlfriend, and oh, yeah, his child.


Chapman, the 21 year-old baby, has a baby of his own.


I don’t think I could ever make that sacrifice. Well first of all, it makes me sad that he is a year younger than me and already has a child. I can’t even get a date at this point, let alone have a baby (but that’s another story for another day!)


But having to leave behind everything that you love for the sake of baseball–that is dedication and pure love of the game. I love baseball, but I’m not sure I would love it enough to leave everyone I know and love behind.


In any event, Chapman will be pursued by many teams this off-season. So far from what I have read today, the Yankees, Mets, and Red Sox are interested in him. Which team he chooses obviously remains to be seen, as this winter is very young.


Good luck with your decision, Aroldis. Choose wisely. But just remember what team will be defending champions in 2010…


Two members of the core four, Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, hold the World Series Trophy 




World Series Game 6 and the 27th Title!



World Series!!!


We did it…I…I really don’t even know what to say. I am truly speechless.


The Yankees defeated the Phillies 7-3 in Game Six of the World Series to capture their 27th World Championship. A wonderful, strong, winning season capped off with a World Title in the first year in our new ballpark.


What a wonderful, wonderful feeling. A feeling we all haven’t had since 2000.


I had been saying from the beginning of the fall classic that the Yankees were probably going to win in six games. Now, I don’t usually like to make predictions, as I have said before, but that was my best guess: Yankees in six.


But let me tell you all a true, almost scary story before Game Six.


I am a senior in College at this point in my life, obviously studying journalism. I attended my sports reporting class last night, mostly discussing the World Series with my fellow students and my professor. Well, after an interesting discussion, class ended.


I got in my car and made my way home to watch the World Series. As I’m driving on the highway, I notice a school bus in front of me. As most of you may or may not remember, all school buses are numbered, all numbers on the back of the bus.




Of all the numbers that there could’ve been, what number was the bus? 27. I am not lying and I am dead serious. 27, right in front of me for quite a few miles up the Taconic State Parkway in New York.


Coincidence? I didn’t think so. This eerie feeling came over me as I was driving; chills went up and down my spine. One thought popped into my mind: “The Yankees are going to do it. I know it. There’s a reason that bus was in front of me.”


When I got home, I just smiled and laughed. The game hadn’t even started yet, but I knew what was going to happen; maybe not the score, maybe not every specific detail, but I swear to God I KNEW the Yankees were NOT losing this game!!!


So eventually the game began and…well…I guess the only way to describe it was the “Hideki Matsui Hitting Show.”



Hideki Matsui hits a home run in the second inning of game six 

Godzilla knocked in six RBIs in game six, two of which came on a two-run homer in the bottom of the second off the Yankees’ favorite son Pedro Martinez. It was Matsui’s third home run in the World Series and second that came off Martinez.


But Matsui was just getting warmed up.


In the next inning, Godzilla singled to knock in Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon and in the fifth he doubled to score Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira. No one could get Matsui out, it seemed.


And for his efforts in this entire World Series, Matsui was named Most Valuable Player. He deserved it. Three Homers, a .747 batting average, and six RBIs in the clinching game. Yes, I’d say that’s MVP worthy. Domo Arigato, Mr. Matsui!



Hideki Matsui won 2009 World Series MVP 

Congrats Godzilla! (Remember, he also won another prestigious award–the Yankee Yapping Comeback Player of the Year Award!)


Teixeira was responsible for the only other RBI not registered by Matsui, as he singled in the fifth to score Jeter.


And who else was on the mound to close it out but Andy Pettitte, the winningest pitcher in postseason history. Everyone was concerned because Pettitte was pitching on three days rest for this first time since 2006, but those concerns were not well-founded. To be honest, I couldn’t even tell the difference.


The veteran lefty pitched 5 2/3 innings and gave up three earned runs on four hits. He walked five and struck out three. His line may not have indicated an overly impressive start, but I think he did great and gave the Bronx Bombers a good chance to win.


And they did, like they usually always do when he pitches. I mean, Pettitte was the winning pitcher when they’ve clinched the ALDS and ALCS this year…what’s one more?


The Phillies scored two of their three runs on an opposite-field homer run by Ryan Howard in the top of the sixth, his first home run in the World Series.


Sorry to say, but too little, too late, Howard.


Jimmy Rollins, who erroneously predicted the Phillies to win the fall classic in five games (and is probably eating his words right now) knocked in the Phillies’ first run with a sacrifice fly in the top of the third.


Well, thanks to some solid bullpen help from Joba Chamberlain and Damaso Marte, the Yankees bridged the gap to Mariano Rivera, who came in to get five outs.


Did he get all five of them? Of course he did! And the Yankees are Champs again!!!




The team dog pile on the infield, a victory lap around the field proudly waving the 2009 Championship flag, and hoisting the Championship Trophy. Doesn’t get any better than that, does it?


I laughed. I cried. I jumped up and down. My heart overjoyed, my fists pumping in the air. I got that feeling; the feeling that comes over a man when he gets exactly what he desires. My phone was blowing up; calls, texts, people clicking the like button on my Facebook status, which read:


 A.J. Martelli is in tears of joy :’) THE YANKEES ARE KINGS OF BASEBALL!!!! 27!!!!! “WEEEEEE AREE THE CHAMPIONS, MY FRIEND! WE’LL KEEP ON FIGHTIN’ TILL THE END! NO TIME FOR LOSERS, ‘CAUSE WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS…OF THE WORLD!!!” 2009 was the Year of the Pinstripes. In a perfect world we’d ALL be Yankees! I am so proud of my team. SO proud. It was destiNYY.


Stephen, an old friend of mine from grade school, posted as his status:


“Time for every person in New York to jump on the Yankee bandwagon and say ‘my boys did it.’ I think the only person who has any right to say anything about it is A.J. Martelli. He posts about every game because he lives in blue and white. I hope he gets to see this.”


Oh, I did see it. And it made me feel great, because it is true. Then I turned to my 26 Time World Series jacket, which is now obselete. “Guess I’ll need a new one,” I said with a laugh.



What a way to end this year!


Another thing I’d like to point out was the date. It was on Nov. 4, 2001 that the Yankees’ World Series magic vanished in the Arizona desert. The last night of the Yankee Dynasty of the late ’90s. Since that night, the Yanks had not won a World Title.


Nov. 4, 2001 was the last night of the Yankee Dynasty 


That is of course until Nov. 4, 2009. Perhaps the first night of the new Yankee Dynasty.





Two members of the core four, Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, hold the World Series Trophy


There was something strange about this night. Seeing that bus with 27 on it, watching Matsui practically single-handedly crush the Phillies’ dreams of repeating as Champions, and winning the title back on the same exact date we lost it nine years ago.


And even the fact that 2009 was the new Yankee Stadium’s first year, and when the original Stadium opened back in 1923, the Yankees won the World Series for the first time.


Not to mention, I checked the Yankee Yapping Facebook fan page to update the status…and at the time the Yankees won the Championship, there were precisely 400…and 27 fans.


Forces were at work, I believe that. This night happened for a reason. There ARE baseball gods and they were working tonight.


It has been a remarkable year; the year of the Yankees. 103 wins during the regular season, 114 overall…this was the only way to end it.


I would like to thank everyone who read my blog, there will be plenty more entries over the off-season, I promise you that. For right now, I would like everyone to ENJOY this!!! A World Series victory was the goal and our team reached it.


I’d also like to thank the 2009 Yankees for the season of a lifetime. I’m sure there will be many people (myself included) who will write about the ’09 Yankees. They are certainly a group of special players, and at one time (in June) I even described them as a “group of warriors that never quit.”


They are warriors and they never did quit. They took it all the way.


It’s been one hell of a ride, my friends. Thanks to all!


GO YANKEES!!! We made it to 27 and victory is ours!!!


The Yankees have won their 27th title 

World Series Game 5


World Series!!!


That was almost awesome. Almost.

Showing signs of life and fighting back in the ninth inning, the Yankees lost 8-6 in what came to be a close game five of the World Series.


You would think when the Yankees jumped out to a quick, 1-0 lead in the top of the first that would give A.J. Burnett some courage and motivation to pitch well.


No such luck, whatsoever.


Burnett lasted only two-plus innings and was charged with six earned runs on four hits. He walked four and struck out two.



A.J. Burnett did not make it out of the third inning in game five 

It is amazing how hot/cold Burnett can be; in game two he went out and absolutely puzzled the Phillies, giving up only one run on four hits over seven outstanding innings of work. In game five he got absolutely shellacked.


Well, maybe he can regroup and come back a little stronger in 2010, because that will be the next time we see him pitch, unless he comes on in relief in gave six or (if necessary) game seven of the World Series. I don’t see that happening, however.


Chase Utley, the peskiest thorn in the Yankees’ side right now, took Burnett deep in the bottom of the first for a three-run homer, putting the Phils up 3-1 after the Yankees took a 1-0 lead on an RBI double by Alex Rodriguez in the top half of the inning.




Just like that our lead was gone. And it’s not like Utley was happy with one homer.


Later in the seventh, Utley went yard again, this time a solo shot off Phil Coke, pushing the Phillies even further ahead. It was Utley’s fifth home run of the World Series and he tied Reggie Jackson for most home runs in World Series play.


Raul Ibanez joined Utley with a solo shot of his own in the seventh, his first home run of the World Series. Those two solo homers in the inning proved to be the difference in the game, so I really wish Coke hadn’t served them up.


The Phillies scored three runs in the third inning, receiving RBIs from Jayson Werth, Ibanez, and Carlos Ruiz, who just plastered Burnett and the Yankee bullpen in the frame. The third inning was seemingly the nail in the Yankees’ coffin, but they did battle back.


With the tying run at the plate in the top of the ninth, Ryan Madson struck Mark Teixeira out swinging to end the game. A really, really tough loss because had the Yankees somehow rallied back and won the game (like they have done countless time in 2009) they’d be World Champs at this moment.



Mark Teixeira ended game five with a strikeout 

Down by six runs going into the top of the eighth, the Yankees scored three in the frame to make the game interesting. Rodriguez hit a two-run double and Robinson Cano knocked in a run on a sacrifice fly to make it 8-5, proving that even when they’re down a bunch, the Yankees can fight back and put pressure on the opposing team.


Think about it: the Yankees were down 6-2 at one point in this game. In the top of the fifth, Eric Hinske scored on a groundout by Johnny Damon and at this point, with the Yanks down by four and Cliff Lee still in the game, I thought we had no chance.


But they at least showed life and battled back instead of just giving up.


Jorge Posada scored in the ninth as Derek Jeter grounded into a double play that basically ended the Yankee rally and the game ended not long after that. How often does Jeter do that? Not often. So we can’t put a lot of blame on the captain for that.


We can however put a ton of blame on Burnett for this one. He gave the Yankees no chance to win with the way he pitched and even working with an early lead could not get the job done. He showed a lot of inconsistency, there’s no question.


There are excuses he could make up, like pitching on three days rest threw him off, but he didn’t make those types excuses after the game. And even if he did, no one would believe him. I have to say, Burnett was an enigma this year; almost like the 2007 version of Mike Mussina–you never knew if you were getting a good or bad start from him.


It’s too bad that Burnett’s last start had to be so horrible. Not the best way to end his season, that’s for sure. If I had to give Burnett an overall grade for this year, it would be a C+. He struggled early on, but then hit a hot streak, then a cold streak, then a lukewarm streak.


Two of his five playoff starts were acceptable, one was mediocre, one was pure genius, and I think he wishes his final start last night never even happened. Hot and cold, just like I said.


When a pitcher goes out and tosses a quality start (which is defined as pitching at least six innings and giving up three runs or less) I generally tend not to put a lot of blame on the pitcher. A quality start means that the pitcher gave the team a chance to win the game, and even if the team loses, the pitcher still gave the team an opportunity to win and demonstrated good stuff.


For the most part, Burnett has given the Yankees quality this year, even though he did not win a lot of games, or at least as many games as CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte. There were a few games Burnett could’ve won, but his offense did not give him run support or the bullpen did not hold it for him to register the win.



A.J. Burnett gets a C+ grade for his overall performance in '09 

As far as last night goes, I think it was the second biggest start of Burnett’s career. The biggest had to be game two, because it was a must-win and the Yankees needed that game; if they had not won game two of the World Series and Burnett had not been as good as he was, they would have been in grave danger of losing it.


Going into Philly down 0-2…not a pretty picture.


The reason last night was the second biggest start of Burnett’s career…well, it’s obvious: the Yankees would be World Champs right now if he had executed the right way and pitched a good game. He didn’t and they lost, that’s the bottom line.


But for all the fans today who are saying things like, “Burnett is horrible,” or “he has no business on this team,” you all need to get a grip on reality. It is better that he had his bad start in game five rather than game two when they needed to win.


You have to look at the big picture and what Burnett did to help the team win all year; were his critics saying he stunk when he stood toe-to-toe with Josh Beckett and one-hit the Red Sox on Aug. 7? (The game the Yankees won in the 15th inning on a walk-off homer by A-Rod)


Did they say Burnett had no business on the team when he embarrassed the Mets by one-hitting them on June 27? Or what about just this past Thursday when he won game two of the World Series? Did he suck then?


No, he was brilliant. It’s funny how all Burnett’s critics have nothing to say when he performs well and lambaste him when he doesn’t do well. I am saying he did not do well in game five of the World Series and gave the Yankees no chance of winning.


But that doesn’t make him a bad pitcher. Burnett is still capable of winning games and out-dueling some of the best pitchers out there. So we can all layoff A.J. until 2010.


Also, I’d like to add to my defense of Burnett to his critics…how much better would you do? You think you could go out and pitch in front of over 50,000 people and millions watching at home in the World Series? Let’s see how you do. I’m sure you could do so much better (boatloads of sarcasm in that statement)


Hopefully he comes back next year a little stronger, and he got his first year in New York out of the way, which is sometimes what newcomers to the Yankees need; I mean before Chien-Ming Wang won 19 games two seasons in a row, he went 8-5 in his first year. So we’ll see how Burnett responds. I still believe in him and I think he will be fine.


At any rate, we lost a game and we go back home to the Bronx to play game six tomorrow night, no biggie. Being up three games allows a little more margin for error. And I guess you can say when in doubt, turn to the winningest pitcher in postseason history, Andy Pettitte.



Andy Pettitte will look to clinch the World Series tomorrow night. 

He will take the mound against the Yankees’ favorite son and game two loser, Pedro Martinez.


Pettitte was on the mound when the Yankees won the pennant on Oct. 25 and has been in this spot before. He has won more series-clinching games than any other pitcher in Yankees’ history, so this is perfect for him. It seems like just yesterday I remember him taking the hill in game four of the 1998 World Series, a game he and the Yankees won to capture the World Title.     


The only concern I have is that he will be throwing on three days rest. Hopefully it won’t make much of a difference. I know Pettitte is old school and works best on regular rest, but I think he can go out in front of Yankee Universe and do it the right way at the new house.


Plus, I just think it would make so much sense winning the whole thing vs. Pedro….



Hey Pedro! 

I know it was a rough loss last night, but remember Yankees fans, we are up 3-2 and the Phillies are still facing elimination. It’s not the other way around. The pressure is still on them and thank goodness we are not in their ballpark anymore. Not playing at home was beginning to annoy me.


Well, tomorrow night could very well be it. I’ll be back after game six with more highlights and analysis.


Until then, Go Yankees!!!


The Yankees are so close to their 27th Title!!!

World Series Game 4


World Series!!!


I am beginning to think the Yankees just cannot be beaten in a close, late-game situation.


The Yankees defeated the Phillies 7-4 in the ninth inning of game four of the World Series Sunday night with a miraculous, two-out rally.


The word of the 2009 postseason was once again used by me: “WOW.”


With the game knotted at four and two outs in the top half of the ninth, Johnny Damon worked a nine-pitch at-bat against Phillies’ closer Brad Lidge, ending in a two-out single by the Yankees’ left fielder. Damon promptly stole second base and with all his wits about him, took third.



After a two-out single, Johnny Damon stole two bases in one play 

With Mark Teixeira batting and the Phillies playing the infield over-shift, nobody was covering third base. After swiping second, Damon just got up and took third while he was at it.


Then Teixeira was hit with a pitch, bringing up the new “Mr. October,” Alex Rodriguez.


Now I have to admit, my heart was racing at this point. When I was watching, I thought I would need resuscitation after watching what was about to happen. A-Rod in another clutch situation…what was going to happen?


Rodriguez delivered, that’s what happened. The Yankee third baseman came up with a double to score Damon, giving the Yankees a 5-4 lead.



Alex Rodriguez was hit by yet another pitch, but he got revenge in the 9th inning 

Jorge Posada came up next with Teixeira on third and A-Rod on second, hitting a two-run single to give the Bronx Bombers their seven runs and pad the Yankee lead. Posada also had an RBI on a sacrifice fly in the top of the first, which gave him a total of three RBIs in the game.


I have to give Damon all the credit in the world; to work the count and come up with a hit in that pressurized situation with the crowd rocking the way it was, and on top of that steal two bases at once and then score–that was such brilliance. He certainly took charge of the situation and showcased the mental facet of his game.


Not to mention he went 3-for-5 on the night with a double in the first and an RBI single in the top of the fifth. Damon came up and knocked in Melky Cabrera, which gave the Yanks a 4-2 lead.


Derek Jeter also knocked in a run with an RBI single in the fifth that broke the 2-2 tie coming into the frame.


CC Sabathia took the mound for the Yankees tonight, pitching on three days rest for the second time this postseason. The big man pitched 6 2/3 innings and gave up three earned runs on seven hits. He walked three and struck out six.


I have to give Sabathia credit; he tossed a quality start. But he has clearly seemed a bit shaken in the World Series. His body language and his demeanor (to me) indicate that he might have been a little shaken these past two starts on the stage of the World Series. His numbers are still good, but he looks a little off. It’s not physical (again, to me) it could be mental.


Maybe it’s just Chase Utley, who took Sabathia deep for a solo home run in the bottom of the seventh. That was Utley’s third World Series homer, and he has smacked all three of his homers off Sabathia.


Chase Utley has three home run in the fall classic. All three have come off CC Sabathia 


Utley also doubled in the bottom of the first, a hit that scored Shane Victorino to put the Phillies on the board for the first time in the game.


It seems Utley has Sabathia’s number. That’s pretty much a fact at this point.


Pedro Feliz provided the rest of the offense for the Phils in game four. Not only did Feliz tie the game in the bottom of the fourth with an RBI single to score Ryan Howard, he homered off Joba Chamberlain to tie the game in the bottom of the eighth.


Well, I probably shouldn’t say Feliz knocked Howard in to tie the game in the fourth. Replay showed that Howard never even touched home plate, yet the umpire called him safe. I guess we’re just looking the other way on that one…


Utley and Feliz saw some meatballs and took advantage. But I guess it didn’t matter; the Yankees were more clutch and got the job done. Mariano Rivera came in and saved the day yet again, Yankees win.


It was another nail-biter, another ninth inning win. But I’ll take it; Yankees up, 3-1.


I also want to point out how ridiculous the Phillies have been pitching to A-Rod. In the first inning, Rodriguez was hit with a pitch, the third time in the last two games he’s been beaned. The benches were warned after the HBP, but nothing came of it.


They may have hit A-Rod in the first…but he hit back in the ninth.


Rodriguez now has 15 RBIs this postseason, which ties the Yankees’ single postseason record. A-Rod is knotted with Scott Brosius in 1998 and Bernie Williams in 1996. Remember that Rodriguez is also tied with Williams for most home runs in a single postseason with six.


Facing elimination, Cliff Lee will hope the keep the Phillies alive tonight. He was dominant in game one at Yankee Stadium, tossing all nine innings without allowing an earned run.



Cliff Lee pitched great in game one 

Lee will face A.J. Burnett, who was just as dominant in game two. Burnett tossed seven innings and gave up only one earned run on four hits with two walks and nine strikeouts.


Burnett will be throwing on three days rest for the fifth time in his career. On three days rest, Burnett’s numbers are stellar. He is 4-0 with a 2.33 ERA on short rest, so we’ll see how he responds following that amazing outing in game two.



A.J. Burnett beat the Phillies in game two 

Honestly, if Burnett can go out there and do anything close to what he did in game two and if he can capture the win in the clinching game…I hate to even make picks or even predict things (because I am usually wrong) but he would make a strong case for the World Series Most Valuable Player Award.


I have to say, at this moment it would be Rivera; if the Series ended tonight, I think Mo would be the MVP. But if Burnett can mimic what he did in game two, he certainly has a chance at the award. He won a pivotal game two–a game the Yankees said they needed to win after losing game one the way they did.


And if Burnett wins the final game…well, the work and evidence of an MVP is right there.


But like I said, I’m not calling it; I don’t make predictions. I can’t even predict the weather, much less which player may or may not win the MVP of the World Series!


Well guys, the Yankees are 27 outs away from their 27th World Series Title. It’s almost sad to see this season end, but we’re not done yet. ONE MORE WIN and we are World Champions!!!


I’ll be back after game five with some highlights, thoughts, and analysis.


Until then, Go Yankees!!!


The Yankees are so close to their 27th Title!!!