June 2010

The Strange Story of Joe Torre vs. The Yankees

 

 

This weekend was Rocky V-esque.

 

Think back to the movie “Rocky V” for a second. I know it’s hard to, since it’s the worst sequel in the “Rocky” movie series. Boxing promoter George Washington Duke wants Rocky to fight his protégé Tommy “The Machine” Gunn. In the end Rocky takes him on in a street fight and mercilessly beats him.

 

“Rocky V” came out in 1990. Now fast forward to Saturday–it was almost the same principle.

 

Teacher vs. Student 

 

The Los Angeles Dodgers, headed by former New York Yankee manager Joe Torre, decisively beat Joe Girardi’s Yanks 9-4. The Bronx Bombers had won on Friday by a count of 2-1, setting up the rubber game yesterday night.

 

Girardi served as a player and a coach under Torre, so in the words of Duke, it would be “Old lion vs. young lion; teacher vs. pupil” for the series win.

 

old lion vs. young lion 

 

And what a rubber game it was.

 

The Dodgers seemingly had an easy series victory heading into the ninth inning, leading 6-2 with one out and the flame-throwing Jonathan Broxton on the mound. Who would have guessed the Yankees would play the role of comeback kids?

 

The Bombers scored four runs in the ninth frame to knot the game at six. A double by Robinson Cano to score Alex Rodriguez, a single by Chad Huffman to score Cano and Jorge Posada, and a fielder’s choice by Colin Curtis to score Curtis Granderson.

 

 


Granderson scored the tying run in the ninth inning 

An improbable, but not impossible comeback–how many times have we seen this from the Yankees? (Whether they were managed by Torre or Girardi)

 

Cano later played the role of hero, belting a long two-run homer to left-center field in the top of the tenth, his 15th round-tripper of the season, to put the Yankees up 8-6.

 

From there they never looked back, taking the series from the Dodgers 2-1 and leaving So-Cal with a record of 47-28, still in first place in the AL East.

 

Cano the hero!!!! 

 

The pupil prevailed over the teacher this weekend, and it really came down to the pitching.

 

Broxton had thrown 19 pitches on Saturday and tossed an overwhelming amount of pitches during last night’s game. In fact, the Dodgers’ closer threw 48 pitches over the one inning he worked.

 

Don’t you think that’s enough? Closers are not supposed to be throwing 67 pitches over two days. They are not really built for that kind of work. Granted, the Yankees were extremely patient with Broxton; Posada and Curtis both worked 10-pitch at-bats, while Granderson worked an eight-pitch at-bat.

 

Among all three of those hitters, Broxton tossed 28 pitches.

 

But Torre refused to take him out. It even took him awhile to get another pitcher up and warming in the bullpen before Broxton went on to blow the lead. When he could have taken Broxton out for another pitcher, he left him in the game, only to lose it.

 

And this, my friends, is (why I think) the Yankees had to let Torre go.

 

Do not misunderstand me; I have nothing but respect for him. Every year he was Yankee manager he led his team to the playoffs. Four times out of those 12 (which would translate to 1/3 of his years as Yankee manager) he took them all the way to the World Series Title. Six out of those 12 seasons (or 1/2 of his years as Yankee manager) the Yankees were in the World Series.

 

Torre is a winner. 

 

From where the Yankees were (which in a lot of ways they were in a state of mediocrity from the early 1980s into the late ’90s) Torre brought them back. He turned the team around and the Yankees, under Torre, once again became THE YANKEES.

 

Torre’s resume and what he did at the helm of the Yankees speaks for itself. Four World Titles, six pennants…that’s just amazing. Most managers can only dream about what Torre did when he was the head man for the Bronx Bombers.

 

However some of his decisions regarding the bullpen were often criticized, especially towards the end of his run in 2006 and 2007. As far as that criticism goes, it was well-deserved. He over-used many of his bullpen pitchers and slowly they faded away; they lost their luster and were never the same pitchers again.

 

Consider former Yankee relief pitcher Scott Proctor. From 2004-05 with the Yankees (and under Torre) he only made 56 appearances out of the bullpen–which is respectable over a two-year span. But in 2006, Torre used him out of the ‘pen 83 times and he tossed a mind-numbing 102 1/3 innings.

 

Scott Proctor...did Torre ruin his arm? 

 

For a reliever, that’s just absurd; it’s not even fair! And it was the same story in 2007.

 

Before the Yankees traded him to the Dodgers for Wilson Betemit in the middle of the ’07 season, Proctor was used 52 times with 54 1/3 innings already under his belt. He once again finished the season with 83 appearances and 86 1/3 innings pitched.

 

Again, it just wasn’t right for Torre to use him that many times.

 

Buster Olney, baseball insider and author of “The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty” mentioned in his book that one of Torre’s former pitchers (who chose to go unnamed) said, “I think Joe Torre is a great manager. He nearly ruined my arm, but he is a great manager.”

 

I have no doubt in my mind that Proctor was the pitcher who said this.  

 

On the night of Oct. 8, 2007, Yankee Stadium burst into a loud chant of “Joe Torr-e (clap, clap, clap-clap-clap!)” It was his final game as Yankee manager and this was the fans’ way of saying goodbye, as they knew this would probably be his last round as Yankee skipper.

 

I was watching the game at home and something was happening to me; I felt strange and sad. I also knew Torre’s days as head of the Yankees were numbered and as soon as the Yankees exited the first round of the playoffs he would probably be gone.

 

Last game as Yankee skipper... 

 

It was sad to me, because he was really the only Yankee manager I knew; when Buck Showalter was the manger before Torre, I was young and not nearly as big of a Yankee fan as I am now.

 

I remember texting my dad after the game was over, and I expressed my sadness about Torre. My dad’s response: “It doesn’t matter what the Yankees do. He is still the BEST manager in baseball!”

 

That text message almost made me cry–because at the time I believed it was true.  

 

The Yankees offered Torre a small salary at the conclusion of ’07–$6 million for a year, plus an additional $million for every round of the playoffs he could make it through. If he could reach and win the World Series, he could potentially make $9 million.

 

The offer, to me, was insulting and disrespectful.

 

How could the Yankees, in their right minds, basically (in not so many words) say, “Well Mr. Torre, you haven’t won the title in a long time; seven years, in fact. Maybe the money will give you extra incentive to want to win it all again.”

 

In his first year as Yankee manager, Torre brought them a title. It had been 18 years since the Yankees had won a Championship. The New York newspapers even went out of their way to call him “Clueless Joe” when he was named skipper, thinking he had no idea what he was doing.

 

Clueless? I don't think so! 

 

He certainly proved that he did know what he was doing when it came to management–at least up until the end of his tenure.

 

Apparently the Yankee organization looked past all that when they came up with the poor excuse for a deal. I still cannot believe they offered him that deal, but I also think the Yankees knew what they were doing; I think they wanted to make him that deal because they knew he wouldn’t accept it.

 

Basically, they were trying to move him out and they succeeded.

 

It seems now that the Yankees (in a way) have turned on Torre. There has been speculation about a “rift” between Torre and Brian Cashman, the Yankees’ General Manager. After all, Cashman is responsible for coming up with the deals and is really the main person in charge of negotiations, so the idea for Torre’s insulting deal could have been his brainchild.

 

I don’t think Torre’s book “The Yankee Years” helped at all, either.

 

Yankee Years didn't help Torre's rep 

 

In the book, Torre mentioned something about Rodriguez and how he and others called him “A-Fraud.” I never really heard Torre deny the claim or refute it in any way, so maybe he did say some unfavorable things about his superstar player.

 

A-Fraud? 

 

As for Rodriguez: he didn’t care. When A-Rod was going through the “steroid saga” prior to the 2009 season, Torre’s comments in the book came up in questioning. Rodriguez simply stated, “I’m a good receiver, not a good ragger. When people rag on me, I take it. But I don’t like to rag on other people.”

 

Torre and Rodriguez hadn’t spoken until Sunday, when A-Rod approached his former manager during batting practice and talked with him. If you ask me, it was one of those, “Everyone has noticed we haven’t said anything to each other, so let’s just say something to each other to get them off our backs.”

 

It’s nothing Bill Belichick hasn’t done a million times in his life.

 

If the media hadn’t pointed it out, would Rodriguez have said anything to Torre at all? I’m not sure. I don’t really think it matters now, anyway. They acknowledged one another and now the press can stop talking about it.

 

All I can say now is that I have the utmost respect for Torre. I don’t think he makes the right decisions in terms of his bullpen, and last night was just another example of that. To leave Broxton in for that long was simply a bad move; it backfired on him, as it has several times when he was Yankee manager.

 

Yet I haven’t forgotten him; in my mind, he will always be a Yankee legend. No matter how bad his rift is with the organization, no matter what he said in his book, and no matter how far away he is, he will always be my favorite Yankee skipper.

 

But…I am sure glad we beat him this weekend. I love Torre, but I LOVE the Yankees.  

Hudson Valley Renegades: Fun Team is Fun

 

 

 

I am interning with the Renegades this summer

 

It’s about 1:00 a.m. on Saturday morning. I got home from work about an hour and a half ago–well, my internship anyway. This summer I am a part of the Hudson Valley Renegades’ “Fun Team.” I have just completed my first week, and I can say that it is a well-rounded internship with a lot of work involved.

 

 

For starters, the Renegades are a Single-A, short season farm team affiliated with the Tampa Bay Rays in the New York Penn League. A number of current and former Major League Baseball players have come from the Renegades, including Evan Longoria, Scott Podsednik, Wade Davis, and Josh Hamilton, among others.

 

So yes, we have produced some big-name big leaguers.

 

As for my internship: I really do like it, but there are some things that could be better. As a member of the “Fun Team” I feel as though I am an important person in making things happen. One of our main jobs is to entertain the fans in between innings with silly, ridiculous games which take place on the field. You may think it is easy just watching from the stands, but it’s actually pretty difficult.

 

Every game has to end within 90 seconds–that’s pretty much all the time we have before the half-inning begins. It’s hard to get everything on and off the field so quickly. Difficult yes, but I can’t say it’s not fun. It’s pretty cool to be on the field as the players are warming up!

 

Along with being on the field, I have had to help out with the tickets and even walk the mascots around, almost as their bodyguard. When it rained on Tuesday night when the Staten Island Yankees were in town (yes they’re a Yankee farm team!) I had to help pull the tarp over the infield with the grounds crew.

 

 


I helped pull that tarp! 

I can tell you (now from experience) that yes it is fun, but it’s pretty hard! There’s a reason so many people are needed to pull the tarp, because that job requires a lot of strength. It’s pretty much “all hands on deck” when it comes to rain delays at our ballpark.    

 

I also love hearing about the different backgrounds of the players. For example, the Renegades have a young infielder by the name of Burt Reynolds (no, he is not the actor, but his name is spelled the same!) As it turns out, Reynolds is Robinson Cano’s second cousin, and they have worked out together in the off-season.

 

In fact, Reynolds wears the number 24, just like Cano.

 

 


Burt Reynolds is Robinson Cano's cousin!!!! He also wears 24! 

I’d like to ask Reynolds if he wears 24 because of his cousin; in fact, I’d like to do a whole interview with him! But I don’t think I’m allowed to. The Renegades’ manager, Jared Sandberg (a member of the Devil Rays from 2001-03) does not want his players “fraternizing with any staff members.” So in other words, I can’t talk to the players.

 

Well, I at least can’t hold long conversations with them.

 

Today Geno Glynn, one of their backup infielders, said hi to me and one of the other interns while we were on the field before the National Anthem. I politely said hi back, nodded my head, and smiled. I wanted to say more and maybe start a little conversation with him about baseball, but I obviously didn’t want to get him or myself in trouble, so I didn’t.

 

Sandberg actually told his players that if they talk to the staff they will get fined. I think that’s kind of pushing it and honestly a little ridiculous. I don’t see the harm in talking to staff members, so the rule (to me) is stupid. Yet I don’t want them to get in trouble, so unless they speak to me, I won’t speak to them.

 

The last thing I want to do is to cause them any problems with their manager.

 

It’s been pretty exciting to this point and a number of neat things have happened. Consider Wednesday night when the Brooklyn Cyclones (a farm team affiliated with the New York Mets) were in town. My fellow Mercy College alumnus Mookie Wilson was at our game–signing autographs. He isn’t part of the Cyclones team, so I could have talked to him.

 

 
Mookie Wilson came to our game Wednesday 

 

I wanted to talk to him, but unfortunately I was so busy with work that I wasn’t able to. It would have been nice to ask him how he liked Mercy; if he enjoyed the school as much as I did. He also got his degree from Mercy 10 years after he won the World Series with the Mets in 1986, so I would have asked him why he went back to school.

 

Again, it could have made a great interview.

 

Speaking of the Cyclones, they have a player named Corey Vaughn. He is the son of Greg Vaughn (who played for the San Diego Padres) and the nephew of Mo Vaughn (who played for the Mets, Angels, and Red Sox as a journeyman). It’s pretty interesting that some of these youngsters have such a good baseball lineage. Again, it all goes back to the background of each player.

 


Greg Vaugh's son is on the Cyclones  

 

Tonight the Renegades beat the Cyclones 4-3, capping a three-run, ninth-inning comeback. The Stadium went wild for the walk-off victory. According to my boss and everyone else within the organization, not only was tonight the largest crowd in the team’s history, but it was their first walk-off win in three years.

 

Talk about a good night for the ‘Gades on and off the field.

 

 


Renegades win! 

It has been a week into this job. I have gotten to know a lot of new people and I have made some new friends. I am having a good time with the internship and I think it fits me perfectly, because I am such a “baseball buff,” if you will.

 

I can only hope the best is yet to come with this internship. I’d like to have more adventures over the summer and who knows…maybe when it’s all over they will offer me a full-time position. Many of the other interns are still in college. I just graduated from college, so I might have a good shot to stay on board after the season ends in the beginning of September.

 

Again, I can only hope. Until then, I’ll just be working as hard as I can.

 

Go Renegades! (If you’re wondering they are 4-3 this year, good for second place in their division–we haven’t lost a game at home yet, either. Maybe I’m their good luck charm…?)

 

A Day at the Stadium and A Subway Series Win

 

 

I went to the game today! Final game of the '10 Subway Series

Wow. It was yet another great day at a Yankee game and another great win for the Bronx Bombers in the new house today. This afternoon the Yankees beat their cross-town rivals, the New York Mets, by a score of 4-0.

 

I had a blast today at Yankee Stadium, going to my second game in five days. My seats were actually in the same exact section I was in Tuesday night vs. the Phillies, just a couple of rows back. And today I went to the game with my older sister, not my dad.

 

It probably would have made sense to go to the game with my dad today, it being Father’s Day and all, but…it’s kind of hard to explain. My dad got the tickets for me on Tuesday while my sister got the tickets for today. So I went to the game with my dad on my birthday and my sister today.

 

Yeah. I think that about sums it up.

 

When we arrived at the Stadium this afternoon, TV cameras were all over the field. Tyler Pennington was filming his show “Extreme Makeover Home Edition.” He used the new house for a scene for his show. A whole bunch of his crew members came onto the field and I guess they are going to help someone, as they always do.

 

 


Extreme Makeover was at the game today 

In another pre-game ceremony, the reigning Super Bowl M.V.P. Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints was behind home plate. He brought his son with him and Mark Teixeira eventually came out and shook his hand. Brees threw out the honorary first pitch and not long after that the game began.

 

 


Mark Teixeira and Drew Brees! 

David Wright led off the first with a single off Yankees’ starter CC Sabathia. I wasn’t surrounded by Mets fans, but their presence sure was felt. There were quite a few of them scattered throughout our section. I was worried that Sabathia wasn’t going to be on his game today, or nearly as sharp as he was when I saw him Tuesday night.

 

But Sabathia came back and got out of the frame with no harm done.

 

Johan Santana, the starter for the Mets, was just as brilliant out of the gate. Santana sat down the Yankees in order in the first, not allowing a hit. “This could be a legitimate pitcher’s duel,” I said to my sister. “CC and Johan were both set on cruise control in the first!”

 

Santana was equally as effective in the second as he was in the first, but ran into a brick wall in the third. He loaded the bases with Teixeira coming to the plate and nobody out. Dan Warthen, the Mets’ pitching coach, came out to talk to Santana. It was then I knew something was going to happen.

 

“Tex is going to do something here,” I said. “I know it…” I had a funny feeling; it’s hard to explain. The bases were loaded and for some reason I knew he was going to come up big in this spot.

 

And that he did.

 

 


I got to see Tex hit a Grand Slam! 

Teixeira, batting from the right side of the plate, pulled a long fly ball to left field. Jason Bay ran, ran, and ran some more. Like the rest of us, he looked up and watched the ball fly out of Yankee Stadium for a grand slam home run, his 12th homer of the year.

 

“OHHHHH!!! GRAND SLAM! A GRAND SLAM!!! MARK TEIXEIRA!” I boisterously cheered. I couldn’t contain my excitement. It was the first time I had seen a Yankee hit a grand slam in-person since Enrique Wilson did it back on Aug. 7, 2003. Obviously it was a special moment, so I had the right to go a little crazy. I high-fived my sister and all of the other Yankee fans in our section.

 

 


Running in after scoring with a slam!!! 

As us Yankee fans celebrated the granny, the Mets fans suddenly went silent.

 

In the fourth inning, something amazing almost happened–almost. Derek Jeter was batting and he fouled off a pitch to his right. The ball popped up foul and it was heading directly for me and I mean DIRECTLY FOR ME.

 

I swear to God, I thought the ball was going to hit me in the face!

 

I stood up, got ready to catch it, and at the last second it hooked to my right. It landed about three seats over to my right and rolled underneath our row of seats and into the row in front of us. A man sitting right in front of my sister retrieved the foul ball. It was probably the closest I have ever gotten to a foul ball in a Major League Baseball game.

 

This guy with the foul ball that got away.... 

 

It would have been nice to get it, but…I fell just short of it. Maybe next time.

 

Sabathia continued to mow down the Mets into the seventh inning. He got through the seventh with relative ease and went on to complete the eighth. Right as the Mets were coming off the field after the top of the frame, the rains came. My sister actually ran to the concession stand to get me ice cream (in the little Yankee helmet!) and I wound up meeting her in the upper concourse.

 

I was getting drenched! Yankee Stadium, out of nowhere, became a site of torrential rain.

 

A lot of fans fled the Stadium but my sister and I wanted to stay. We weren’t going to let the rain ruin the rest of our day, so we stuck through the 22-minute rain delay and moved down to the main level concourse. During the delay they played highlights from 2009 season and postseason.

 

So while we were in the delay, we were at least entertained by the clips from the 2009 World Series Championship season. It was fun to watch that video with a bunch of Mets fans standing around. It makes me appreciate it so much more; I mean, I wasn’t even born the last time they won the World Series!

 

The ninth inning eventually came and the Yanks brought in Mariano Rivera to slam the door. Rivera got Reyes, Wright, and Ike Davis out to end the game–a 4-0 win over the Mets on the strength of a genius outing by Sabathia and visit to granny by Teixeira. And not just a 4-0 win, but a Subway Series victory over the Mets as well.

 

 


Yanks taking congrats. Never gets old. 

 Another visit to the new house for me and another win.

 

Doing a lot of thinking on the way home, I came up with some statistics in terms of me attending games these last few years. I have noticed that the Yankees have won a lot of the games I have been to in recent times.

 

Maybe I should go to the games more often!

 

 

  • Dating back to 2007, the Yankees have won 12 of the last 12 games I have attended.

 

  • In games I have been to at the new Yankee Stadium, the Yankees are 7-0. Three of those seven wins featured pie at the end of the game.

 

  • In Subway Series games I have been to in my life, the Yankees are now 2-2.

 

  • The last time the Yankees lost a game I attended: July 7, 2007; it was Old Timer’s Day and they lost 2-1 to the LA Angels in 13 innings.

 

Please do not ask me for L/R or Day/Night splits. :p

 

And on one last note: Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. Hope you guys had a wonderful and relaxing day!

 

Happy Father's Day!!!!!

My 23rd Birthday and a Win Over the Phillies

“Nobody likes you when you’re 23.”–The great words of Blink-182 in their song “What’s My Age, Again?”

 

Yesterday was my 23rd birthday and I could not have picked a better way to spend it: with my dad at the Yankees-Phillies game. It’s almost as if I received two presents in one; I was privileged to go to the first game of the 2009 World Series rematch and the Yankees won 8-3.

 

 


World Series rematch on my birthday! 

It doesn’t get any better than that.

 

A few weeks before my College Graduation, I told my dad that the Yankees were playing the Phillies on my birthday. I expressed interest in going to the game, but because the game was such a hot ticket (it being a World Series rematch and all) I wasn’t sure if my dad could get the tickets.

 

In the end he was able to get them and I couldn’t have been happier.

 

Our seats were in the Terrace section on the first base side–in the front row. At first this frightened me, because I am deathly afraid of heights. The Terrace section, although not the highest part of Yankee Stadium, is pretty steep. When we walked into the Great Hall, I’ll admit I was a little apprehensive of going all the way up.

 

But once my dad and I reached our seats and the starting lineups were announced, I felt a little better. All of a sudden my feelings seemed content and the heights did not bother me at all. It was time for me to have some fun and be liberated of my acrophobia; after all, it was my birthday!

 

 


View from our seats 

Not long after first pitch, a few people came in to sit in our row. As fate would have it, a young man (about my age) wearing a Phillies hat sat next to me. Thinking out loud, I said “Oh no! I’m sitting next to a Phillies fan?”

 

Everyone in our section heard me and laughed.

 

The kid looked at me, smiled and said, “Don’t worry! I’m not one of those obnoxious fans!” I could tell he was a good guy so I laughed, shook his hand, and said, “OK.”

 

I wound up talking a lot of baseball with him for the rest of the night. My birthday actually came up in one of our conversations and he even wished me a happy birthday.

 

To start the game, Roy Halladay shut down the Yanks 1-2-3. “Was he going to toss another perfect game tonight?” I wondered. Not on my watch!

 

In the bottom of the second, Brett Gardner tripled to score Nick Swisher and Jorge Posada, giving the Yankees a quick 2-0 lead. Not long after that I received a text message from my friend Dave that read, “Why is it that Brett Gardner triples every time you go to a game?”

 

Of course he was joking. But I was at the game last May when he tripled and hit the inside-the-park home run–that’s why he kidded with me about it.

 

 


Triple for Gardner! 

In the third inning, Curtis Granderson stepped up to the plate. A lot of fans in our section were hoping for something to happen. I jokingly shouted, “Come on Curtis! Halladay is not a lefty, you can hit him!”

 

And hit him he did.

 

Granderson proceeded to belt a long home run to right field, a solo blast to give the Yankees a 3-0 lead. It was Granderson’s fifth home run of the year.

 

Granderson smacked a homer off Halladay! 

 

After Granderson’s solo job, it got better.

 

Later in the frame, Nick Swisher stepped up to the plate and smacked a two-run home run, his 11th round-tripper of the year. The Yankees were now leading 5-0 and the Phillies fan I was sitting next to suddenly became very silent. I think he had a feeling at this point that his team was not winning the game.

 

 


Twon run shot Swisher! 

He may have piped down for awhile but in the fourth inning got loud again. The Phillies rattled Yankees’ starter CC Sabathia for three runs. Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez both cracked RBI singles, and Ben Francisco grounded into a fielder’s choice (thanks to a “mental lapse” by Sabathia) to score Ryan Howard.

 

Sabathia did not cover the bag at first on what should have been a double play. The man behind me had been drinking and yelled, “Hey CC! Pretend there’s a cheeseburger at first base and cover the bag!”

 

Cheeseburger....? 

 

It was said out of inebriation, but it was still funny. The drunken fan provided me with more entertainment than the actual game…I think.

 

The next inning Mark Teixeira stepped up to the plate against Halladay. He pulled a fly ball that seemed to keep on tailing toward the right field foul pole. At first I thought it was a foul ball. But the crowd erupted and I looked over to my left and saw Teixeira rounding the bases; that’s when I knew it was a goner.

 

A solo home run to give the Yanks a 6-3 lead. The ball literally just cleared the 314 sign in right field–not the most glorious home run, yet I was happy he left the park. It was Teixeira’s 10th home run of the season.

 

 


Teixeira homered off Halladay!!! 

The game moved on to the seventh inning and the Yankees tacked on two more runs. Francisco Cervelli singled to score Teixeira and Jorge Posada, giving the Yanks an 8-3 edge. A few sections to my right I noticed a girl (again, probably my age) holding a sign that read, “Francisco Cer-SEXY.”

 

I immediately thought of Virginia over on Live, Eat, and Breath Yankees. She always posts about Cervelli and how she likes him. I suppose there are many young ladies out there who think the Yankee backstop is a heartthrob!

 

 


The girls love him 

The Yanks scored those two runs off reliever Antonio Bastardo. I don’t want to get into too many details about what the drunken man behind me had to say, but I’ll just say he had a lot to say about Bastardo’s last name.

 

Again, the fans probably entertained me just as much as the game.

 

 


Bastardo 

Right after the eighth inning, the Phillies fan who I chatted with for the better part of the night was heading out. He once again shook my hand and wished me a happy birthday. He knew the game was just about over and the Yankees were going to win.

 

No hard feelings, though.

 

Chan Ho Park finished off the game against his former team and shut them down in the ninth. Park tossed a perfect ninth inning to end the ballgame and notch the win. The Yankees took down the almighty Halladay and beat the Phillies in the first game of their regular season World Series rematch.

 

 


Taking congrats 

It was a fantastic way to end my 23rd birthday yesterday.

 

As my dad and I were leaving Yankee Stadium for the train back to Westchester, I noticed an enormous amount of Phillies fans shuffling out; it looked like a sea of red hats with the letter “P” mixed in with white and navy blue pinstripes. A few Phillies fans were hearing it from the Yankee fans; in fact, a pair of Phillies fans were heckled by a couple of Yankee Stadium vendors.

 

“The Phillies got smoked tonight!” the vendor exclaimed.

 

“Yeah, well the Phils will be back tomorrow,” one of them responded.

 

“That’s right they’ll be back tomorrow–to lose to the Yankees again!”

 

Realizing they weren’t winning the argument, the two Phillies fans walked away.

 

W: CC L: Halladay 

 

When I got on the train, I sat across from a couple who was coming in from Manhattan; he and his girlfriend had gone to see Hair on Broadway. The gentleman was asking me how the game went and I gave him the full game report. He was pretty happy the Yankees won and I had a nice conversation with him about sports for the majority of the ride home.

 

When I got home plopped down on my bed and smiled. “I’m glad they won for me today,” I said to myself in exhaustion. “This was a great birthday.” 

 

Dating back to last year, the Yankees are 6-0 in games I have attended at the new Stadium. Hope they keep up the trend, because on Sunday I am going again. My sister got me tickets to see the final game of the Subway Series.

 

I can only hope they keep up the winning while I am in attendance!  

He Ran for Her: An Interview with Alyssa Esposito, The “Gardner Girl”

On May 15, 2009 Brett Gardner made history. In a game he wasn’t even originally part of (thank Johnny Damon for getting himself ejected) he raced 360 feet around the Yankee Stadium bases in a dashing 14 seconds for an inside-the-park home run against the Minnesota Twins.

 

Yes, 14 seconds. The Flash and Sonic the Hedgehog can eat their hearts out.

 

 


Brett Gardner: faster than the Flash and Sonic 

Many people are familiar about the real story behind the home run. A young lady by the name of Alyssa Esposito had given Gardner a bracelet earlier in the day, claiming that if he held onto the bracelet he would hit a home run.

 

Her premonition came true.

 

Gardner became the first Yankee since Ricky Ledee to hit an inside the park home run. Ledee accomplished the feat on Aug. 29, 1999 vs. the Seattle Mariners. The speedy Gardner finished the night 3-for-3 with the in-the-parker, and even led off the ninth inning with a triple that sparked the Yankees’ come-from-behind rally.

 

The Yanks went on to win the game 5-4 on a Melky Cabrera walk-off single.

 

Gardner left the Stadium that day, not only with an inside-the-park homer, but with a lifelong friend–Esposito. The 18 year-old (now 19) was waiting for four months for a heart transplant and received it the night of Gardner’s amazing show of speed.

 

Alyssa and Brett and friends for life 

 

The courageous young lady recently spoke to Yankee Yapping about her experience, what she is up to now after her successful surgery, and how she made it to the back of Gardner’s baseball card.

 

Yankee Yapping: Were you always a Yankee fan, or did your experience with Brett Gardner make you one?

 

Alyssa Esposito: I was never a Yankee fan, but I also was never a baseball fan in general either. I guess I was raised a Mets “fan” until I met Brett Gardner at the hospital. Now I watch every game on TV, and root for the Yankees. I never realized how cool and exciting baseball was until after Brett hit the inside the park homerun.

 

 

 

YY: What was Brett’s initial reaction when you gave him the bracelet?

 

AE: Overall Brett is a really sweet and humble guy. He really connected with each patient after he read a book at the hospital event, provided by Project Sunshine. When I gave him the bracelet he gave me a really big smile that just made my day. I could tell that he was hesitant about the fact that I said it would help him hit a homerun, but like I said, that’s the humble guy inside.

 

 

YY: After your heart surgery you found out Gardner hit the inside-the-park home run. What were your thoughts after it happened?

 

AE: It’s actually a pretty funny story. Supposedly my family told me Brett hit the inside-the-park home run right before I went into surgery, but the heavy duty drugs the doctors give me to put me to sleep must have gotten to my memory which made me not remember.

 

But I was reminded as soon as I woke up from my surgery.

 

My family also showed me the replay after my transplant but apparently I had to watch it several times and I was told I had said “He’s running for me”, which brought tears to my Mom’s eyes. At that time the medicine from surgery and also the pain medicine was still wearing off.

 

 


Inside-the-park!!! 

 

YY: A number of publications and media outlets called you Gardner’s good luck charm that night. Can you explain how that feels?

 

AE: I smile whenever I hear or read that I am Brett’s good luck charm but honestly I really think God just set it all up. He took two unlikely circumstances and made them into two miracles. As of this day whenever I think about what has happened, I get the chills.

 

 

YY: After the May 15 win over the Twins, the Yankees went on a stretch where they went 17-9. Did you at all feel you really were their good luck charm?

 

 


Yankees win! 

AE: I like to think that I am their good luck charm in a way that they just got a boost from the inside-the-park home run Gardner hit. Maybe they felt that anything is possible and that just made them want to try even harder.

 

 

 

YY: It’s every little boy’s dream to have his face printed on a baseball card. You are on the back of Brett Gardner’s card. How did that happen?

 

AE: I didn’t know about the story being on the back of Gardner’s baseball card until a mother of a girl I graduated high school with asked me on Facebook if I knew about it.

 

Her son has a collection of baseball cards and his mother was looking through them one day and came across Brett’s. She had said her son wanted me to have it, which I thought was the absolute sweetest thing. She mailed it to me and when I went to a Yankee game, Brett signed it for me.

 

 

YY: After your transplant you reunited with the Yanks and Gardner. How special was it to see Brett again and was it an emotional experience?

 

AE:The first time I saw Brett after my heart transplant was at a press conference at the hospital. It was very emotional seeing all of my doctors there to support the hospital.

 

Brett and I spoke for a few minutes to just catch up and talk personally. It was just an overwhelming feeling being there with the healthy new heart inside of me and reuniting with Brett. I thought it was a special day because I got to meet him when I was actually healthy and full of energy.

 

 


He did it for her 

 

YY: The other Yankees gave you some pretty cool gifts when you went to your first game after the operation, huh?

 

AE: The first Yankee game my family and I went to after my heart transplant was the most fun I have had in a long time. The stadium is amazing and it was my first time going there. Each one of the Yankees I met are extremely nice and they were all concerned about how I was feeling after my surgery.

 

Nick Swisher was full of excitement and energy and I loved his huge smile on his face. He referred to me as “The Gardner Girl” when he came up to me, and I absolutely love that nickname!

 

Alex Rodriguez had signed both of his gloves he had just used for batting practice and gave them to me. He was very sincere about it and did not want to make a big deal at all in front of the cameras.

 

I got a baseball signed by a few players as well and have it in my room along with the batting gloves inside a case. I also have a signed jersey by some of the players that I wore on the field the day I went to the game. I plan on making a scrapbook with the hundreds of pictures my family and I took that day as a beautiful memory.

 

 

YY: The Yankees capped off the 2009 season with a World Series title. When the last out was made– the Shane Victorino groundout to Robinson Cano–like most Yankee fans you were probably very excited. Was it especially a sweet win for you, considering what you went through earlier in the year?

 

 


Celebrate!!!! 

AE: It was for sure a sweet win for me and it was so great to see the excitement. Every bit of hard work they put in playing, was worth it.

 

I look back all the time and realize how much I have gone through and I truly believe the Yankees deserved every bit of that title with their hard work. Just like every bit of strength and fighting power I gave in to survive, was worth the gift of life I received. I continue to thank God for my precious donor who gave me a priceless gift.

 

 

YY: Now that you have had the successful heart surgey, what are you doing in terms of your future?

 

AE: I am in college right now. I took one semester of courses all online and I plan on continuing to do that until I feel it is time to attend the actual classrooms. I have to be careful because my immune system is suppressed. I love the online classes because it is convenient and if I have a visit to the hospital it won’t interfere with them.

Slam Dunk: Yankees Having a Grand Ol’ Season

The New York Yankees enjoyed another win today, beating the Houston Astros 9-3. The Bronx Bombers are now 39-23, a season-high 16 games above .500.

 

Derek Jeter smacked a lead-off homer, belting a solo dinger over the left field wall and into the visiting bullpen. That round-tripper marked Jeter’s 24th career lead-off homer, which ties him with Ricky Henderson for most lead-off homers in team history.

 

 


Derek Jeter hit two homers today 

One more and Jeter will have the Yankee lead-off home run record.

 

Including the postseason, that home run also marked Jeter’s 3,000th career hit. Yeah, I know it was not his real 3,000th career hit, but it still says a lot about how much the Yankee Captain has done over the years.

 

Later in the game, Jeter was at it again. In the in bottom of the sixth he crushed a three-run homer, this time to right-center field. He now has nine career multi-homer games, eight homers on the season, and he finished the day with four RBIs.

 

Although Jeter did not hit a grand slam, he might as well be credited with one. This brings me to my point: grand slams. It seems this season the Yanks have been frequently leaving the yard when the bases are loaded.

 

June 12: Jorge Posada

 

 


Jorge Posada visited granny today! 

The Yankee catcher was struggling mightily heading into today. But with the bases loaded in the bottom of the third, Jorge Posada took an 0-1 curveball over the right-center field wall. It was his seventh home run of the year and eighth career grand slam.

 

Posada’s visit to granny today also marked his 250th career home run. He is now one of five catchers to have hit 250 homers, had 1,500 hits, and 350 doubles in a career. The others are Carlton Fisk, Ivan Rodriguez, Gary Carter, and Johnny Bench.

 

That stat could perhaps be Hall of Fame worthy for the Yankee backstop.

 

Before Posada took Astros’ starter Wandy Rodriguez deep, the game was tied 2-2. With one swing of the bat Posada gave the Yankees a four run lead which they never looked back from. He later singled to right field in the fifth and was hit by a pitch in the seventh.

 

Perhaps Posada has turned the corner and has broken out of his slump. Entering today, he only had two hits in his last 29 at-bats. In other good news for Posada, it was confirmed after today’s win that he will be catching behind the plate in tomorrow’s series finale vs. Houston.

 

After coming back from the disabled list on June 2, Posada had not caught a game and had been confined to the designated hitter spot. With the majority of the team banged up, it’ll be interesting to see who Joe Girardi puts in the DH hole tomorrow.

 

As for Posada, nicely done. He needs to keep on swinging the bat the way he did today.

 

 

June 8: Curtis Granderson

 


Curtis Granderson slammed on June 8  

 

On Tuesday, the 29 year-old centerfielder broke out the mustard and rye for a grand salami against the Baltimore Orioles. Curtis Granderson took O’s starter Kevin Millwood deep to right field in the top of the third inning.

 

For Granderson, it was his second career grand slam and his fourth homer of 2010.

 

The big blast made it 6-0 Yankees and the Bombers went on to take the game 12-7 from the Orioles. One of the better parts of Granderson’s granny was the fact that it came off a left-handed pitcher.

 

After he was acquired by the Yankees this past off-season, many people said Granderson has trouble hitting lefties. While he is currently only hitting .217 vs. lefties, Granderson has a .248 overall batting average, which is something he can work on as the season progresses.

 

Also keep in mind his numbers might have been a little better if he had not injured himself and been sidelined on May 1. Granderson missed practically the entire month of May, but since his return has not been struggling nearly as badly as he was before he went down.

 

When he went on the disabled list, Granderson was hitting a weak .225.

 

But he has since raised his average, has played some prodigious defense in centerfield, and has been a better offensive player. The grand slam on Tuesday was just another example of how much of an asset he can be to a team.

 

Down the stretch we will probably see more great things from him.

 

 

May 14 & 31: Alex Rodriguez

 


Alex Rodriguez has hit two grand slams this year 

 

Twice (so far) this season, the Yankee slugger has cleared the bases with one swing.

 

On May 14, Alex Rodriguez took Minnesota Twins’ reliever Matt Guerrier deep into the left field seats for a grand slam in the bottom of the seventh, a go-ahead moon shot that gave the Yanks a 7-4 lead. The Bronx Bombers went on to win 8-4.  

 

Guerrier had come into the game to face Rodriguez after an intentional walk of Mark Teixeira, much to the confusion of almost everyone in the ballpark. Heading into the at-bat, Rodriguez was 4-for-6 lifetime vs. Guerrier, four of those hits being home runs.

 

Twins’ skipper Ron Gardenhire gambled and it didn’t pay off. He said after the game, “In that situation it’s kind of like you have to pick your poison.”

 

That marked Rodriguez’s 19th career grand slam and his 587th career homer, which put him ahead of Eddie Murray on the all-time home runs list–seventh place.

 

17 days later, the third baseman did it again, this time vs. the Cleveland Indians.

 

 


A-Rod's second granny came on May 31 

On May 31, Rodriguez came up (again) in the bottom of the seventh with the bases chucked. The Yankees were only leading 2-1 at that point and once again Teixeira was intentionally walked before the opposing hurler threw to Rodriguez.  

 

With a full count, Rodriguez absolutely murdered the offering and deposited it into Monument Park for a glorious-looking grand slam. It was his 20th career bases-loaded homer and 590th career round-tripper.

 

The Yankees went on to cruise into an 11-2 win over the Tribe.

 

Now with 20 career grannies, Rodriguez sits in third place on the all-time career grand slams list behind Manny Ramirez (21) and Lou Gehrig (23).  

 

At press time Rodriguez has eight homers on the year with a .290 batting average and 43 RBIs. He is having an “A-Rod” type season, and he will probably hit well enough to finish with at least 30 home runs and over 100 RBIs.

 

As long as Rodriguez stays healthy, he will be in good shape. He had to sit out these last three games because of an injury to his hip. He was diagnosed with tendinitis in his right his flexor, coupled with groin stiffness. Girardi said that will continue to evaluate Rodriguez every day, indicating that he probably doesn’t know when he will return to the lineup.

 

Hope he gets back soon; Rodriguez is one of the biggest threats on the team. Playing a scuffling Astros team, the Yanks were able to win these last two games without him. But can they win their upcoming games against the defending National League Champion Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets without A-Rod?

 

Well, we might not have to worry about it. With any luck, our cleanup man will be back before either one of those series begins.

 

May 28: Robinson Cano

 


Cano hit a grand slam on May 28 

 

Three days before Rodriguez’s second grand slam this year, the Yankees’ hot-hitting second baseman smacked a grand slam of his own. Against the Indians on May 28, Robinson Cano blasted a seventh inning slam off Tribe reliever Tony Sipp.

 

With the bases-loaded blast, Cano now has three career slams.

 

That night was special for Cano, not only because he hit a grand slam, but because it was the first time in his career he batted from the number four spot in the lineup. Before the game, Girardi actually asked Cano if he was comfortable being the number four hitter.

 

Cano reassured him he was fine with it and obviously he was; it worked out nicely. Cano didn’t feel the pressure and came through with a big time blast. In fact, Cano said after the game that it was a good feeling to be the cleanup hitter and that it was “exciting.”

 

The Yankees carried on and beat the Indians 8-2.

 

Because of Rodriguez’s hip flexor injury, Cano has batted from the cleanup spot these last two games. Over the last two days, Cano has collected a pair of hits and scored two runs along with maintaining the best batting average in the American League with .371.

 

By the end of the season Cano will probably have to make more room in his trophy case. There could be a batting title in his future. If he keeps up the outstanding numbers an MVP Award could be there and of course the big one–another championship ring if everything goes according to plan.

 

Right now Cano is a hitting machine that mainly produces RBIs. And it doesn’t look like he is slowing down, either. That only means good things for the Yanks and scary things for opposing pitchers.

 

 

So there you have it. The Yankees are having a “grand” old season.  

 

Two things I have noticed about their grand slams this year: all of them have come in either the third or seventh inning…and every game they have hit a grand slam in, they have gone on to win.

 

Interesting.

 

As I said before, I wish we could credit Jeter with a grand slam today. Instead he got two homers and four RBIs. The Yankee Captain only has one career slam–in June of 2005 he hit his first career grand slam at Yankee Stadium vs. the Cubs.

 

I’m sure Jeter will take anything as long as the Yanks win, which they did. Tomorrow they will look to sweep the Astros behind Phil Hughes (8-1, 2.71 ERA).

 

The 23 year-old righty will be gunning for his ninth win of the season and will be opposed by Brian Moehler (0-2, 6.12 ERA).

The Times, They Are A-Changin’ Part I

Here we are on June 11, 60 games into the 2010 MLB season. The New York Yankees are currently sitting in second place in the American League Eastern Division standings. The only team standing between the Bronx Bombers and first place is the Tampa Bay Rays.

 

Through 60 games last season, the Yanks were 34-26 while this year they are 37-23. In terms of their record, the team is doing three games better this year than they were this far into last year’s campaign. But the record is just the record. The numbers are just the numbers.

 

Is this the same team we saw in 2009?

 

The answer is no.

 

As I have noticed the differences between ’09 and ’10, I will be writing a multiple-part blog over the next few days pointing out what is different in terms of the Yankees, whether it is good or bad. For the first part, I opted to write about…

 

The Core Four

 

 


The Core Four Yankees...how much longer...? 

The first thing I have noticed a difference in…well, in some ways.

 

Although Derek Jeter is still a god in New York, there’s no denying the fact that his age is (just about) catching up to him. He can still hit, as evidenced by his .296 batting average this season, but on defense he looks more off than I can ever remember seeing him.

 

Jeter can still make beautiful web gems–I haven’t forgotten about his amazing jump throw on May 26 against the Minnesota Twins. But his lateral range is just not what is used to be. According to many people I have talked to, he was never the greatest defender anyway.

 

Jeter's range has gone down, but he is still a beast 

 

I never believed that. Jeter’s Gold Gloves and patented mid-air spin speak for themselves. Unlike last year however, (so far) this year he has not looked like the Jeter of old. He only has three errors this year and last year he only committed eight, which isn’t a bad number.

 

Jeter is who he is. As Ozzie Guillen, manager of the Chicago White Sox, said earlier this season, “Jeter is god. Who wouldn’t want him on their team?” He is right; there really is not anything bad I can say about the Captain. It’s almost taboo as a Yankee fan to badmouth or try to negate Jeter’s credibility.  

 

While this is true, it is apparent Jeter is aging–which has nothing to do with how good he is, it’s just a fact of life and what unfortunately happens to all of us! The Yankee Captain will be 36 by the end of the month and I just wonder how many more years he has left in him.

 

Then there’s Jorge Posada.

 

The Yankee catcher was injured on May 16, taking a foul ball off his foot behind the plate and sustaining a fracture. He went to the 15-day disabled list and missed about two weeks before returning to the lineup on June 2–as a designated hitter.

 


Posada has not caught since coming back from the DL  
 

 

Since coming back from his injury, Posada has not caught a game and has been relegated to the DH spot–a spot he has not been very productive in. In the eight games he has played upon his return, the 38 year-old catcher (who will be 39 in August) has only collected three hits in 27 at-bats.

 

Meanwhile, Francisco Cervelli has been clipping together a decent season in Posada’s absence. The 24 year-old is currently hitting .280. Even though he does not hit for power and has no homers, he has 25 RBIs on the year.

 

Looking at it statistically, Cervelli is hitting four points higher than Posada for average and has 10 more runs batted in. Not only that, but it seems Cervelli is becoming the likely candidate to succeed Posada. There was a stretch where Cervelli caught nine games in a row before Joe Girardi had to plug the other backup catcher Chad Moeller behind the plate.

 

I remember once thinking to myself, “Who does Cervelli think he is? The starting catcher?!”

 

But hey, it has not been a bad thing. Cervelli has done a wonderful job and possesses great offensive numbers with two outs and runners in scoring position. I can only hope he generates a little bit more power and knocks some homers out of the park.

 

Francisco Cervelli has filled in well for Jorge 

 

As for Posada, I hope he can remain healthy. In recent years he has certainly had his share of injuries and it is perfectly understandable. After all, he is playing arguably the most difficult position on the field; catchers have to take the most abuse and punishment of all baseball players.

 

After 2011 Posada’s contract is up and he will be 40. Will he be a Yankee after next year? Will he be able to catch every day? Will he retire?

 

All of these questions remain to be seen. But any way it goes, things will be different. And as far as the Yankee catching situation goes at press time, in some ways they already are. Posada has not been an everyday catcher

 

Now onto Mariano Rivera.

 

A lot of people might say really the only thing that has changed about the Great Rivera is his age. From ’09-’10 Rivera turned from 39 to 40 years of age.

 

But if you remember back on April 30, Rivera made a relief appearance against the Chicago White Sox. He suffered an apparent rib injury in his left side and did not make another appearance for over a week after he got hurt.

 

 


Mo was out for over a week last month 

I don’t remember him ever getting injured like that last season or missing an extended period of time the way he did last month. At the beginning of the season he was asked whether or not he would keep playing beyond 2010, seeing as how his contract expires at the end of the year and of course considering his age.

 

He said he does not yet know what his plans are and that he will decide after the season is over. The Yankees do however need to start thinking about what to do when Rivera’s playing days are up or if he does not come back to the team next year–whatever the reason may be.

 

I have a bad feeling that if the Yankees do not make the right choices, Rivera will not be the closer next year. Worse off, they won’t find a suitable replacement for him and they could be reduced to a “closer-by-committee” situation. One day it could be Joba Chamberlain, the next it could be David Robertson, and so on and so forth.

 

Surely nobody wants that to happen. If Rivera decides to play again, I think the Yanks need to get him back, or at least show him respect by making him a generous offer.

 

Yet, it’s not like they really went full throttle after Hideki Matsui this past off-season. Matsui was a Yankee for seven years, was a fan-favorite, respected by the entire organization, and (oh, by the way) the reigning World Series Most Valuable Player.

 

He did so much for the Yankees during his tenure in pinstripes. Matsui was beloved, and helped the team regain the title. What worries me is that the Yanks did not go for him and he is close to four years younger than Rivera.  

 

Who knows what will happen at the end of the season. We will have to wait until it plays out, but if and when Rivera leaves, what happens next? This upcoming off-season we will get the answer.

 

Last but never the least, Andy Pettitte.

 

 


Andy Pettitte is 7-1 this season 

Despite his age of 37 (he will turn 38 on June 15 {which is also my birthday!}) Pettitte is putting together a remarkable year. If he wins tonight against his former team the Houston Astros, Pettitte will own a powerful record of 8-1 on the year.

 

He currently has a 2.47 ERA, which is good for third in the American League behind David Price of the Rays and Doug Fister of the Seattle Mariners.

 

Pettitte was however taken out of the game on May 5 vs. the Baltimore Orioles with inflammation in his left elbow. He tossed five innings and registered the win, but was forced to miss a following start because of the injury.

 

Another concern is the fact that Pettitte has been on the disabled list five times in his career, all as a result of problems in his pitching elbow. Since he skipped the start after leaving on May 5 there haven’t been any more problems or concerns with Pettitte.

 

Barring a catastrophe or any more pitching problems though, Pettitte looks like he will be an asset to the Yankees down the stretch run, which is no surprise. He has been doing it for years and years; pitching in big games and always coming up big when it matters most. But again the question comes up:

 

How much longer can he keep it up? He only signed on for one year at the outset of the season and like Rivera, his future is up in the air at the moment. He is unsure whether or not he is going to pitch or pack it in after 2010.

 

Pettitte’s age and his desire to spend more time with his family have long been a topic of discussion in terms of his career. Even before he returned to the Yankees in 2007 many analysts and baseball writers speculated as to whether or not he would call it quits and retire or keep going.

 

Obviously he opted to come back home to the Yankees where he started and he was welcomed with open arms. Since his comeback in ’07, Pettitte has been a rock in the Yankees’ rotation. This season things have not changed. But next year will they?

 

They say age is nothing but a number. It’s not about how old you are but about how old you feel. But considering the recent and apparent way things have been going for the “Core Four” Yankees, I have to disagree.

 

Age can and eventually will catch up, and we are beginning to see it amongst the most beloved Yankees of our era. This quartet of special Bombers can still get it done on the diamond, despite the obstacles they have had to hurdle this season.

 

But yet again I ask… how much longer can they do this….?

 


NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!  
 

Stadium Slugfest Provides Great Boxing

 

 

Last night was the Stadium Slugfest

“This kid has got guts! Guts and more heart than Hallmark on Valentine’s Day.”

 

This was all me and my friends could say after watching the boxing match between Super Welterweight Champion Yuri Foreman and challenger Miguel Cotto last night. 

 

Cotto defeated Foreman in the ninth round to capture the title, but both fighters won over the 20, 272 fans who jam-packed the new Yankee Stadium to see the match. The last time boxing was contested at Yankee Stadium was in September of 1976, when Muhammad Ali and Ken Norton fought across the street in the old house.

 

 


Cotto def. Foreman 

In the ninth Cotto beat Foreman up with a combination of jabs and hooks. The Puerto Rican challenger finally landed a nasty body shot to Foreman’s ribs, ending the match. Cotto was declared the winner and new Super Welterweight Champion.

 

With the victory, Cotto has now won four World Boxing Association titles in his career.

 

Foreman, coming into the match with an undefeated record of 28-0, slipped twice in the seventh round. Wearing a brace on his right knee, it turns out the Israeli-born Champion was injured at the age of 15 in a bicycle accident. He could never go to the doctor to rectify the injury because he had no health insurance.

 

However, he managed to regain his vertical base, get back on his feet, and continue the match. Although he was clearly hurting, Foreman kept on fighting and made it through the remainder of the round without being knocked down or out.

 

 


Foreman hurt his knee as a kid. The injury came back to haunt him last night. 

Talk about a never-say-die attitude. That’s what I like to see.

 

Hobbling around the ring at the beginning of the eighth round, Cotto punished Foreman with his signature left hook. Foreman is known for great footwork in the ring and with his knee in its weakened condition, he was unable to dodge Cotto’s power punches.

 

With his man taking a good amount of abuse, Foreman’s trainer Joe Grier threw in the white towel which caused referee Arthur Mercante, Jr. to stop the fight with 1:12 left in the round. Even Foreman’s wife Leyla screamed for the ref to stop the fight because he could not move around the ring and properly defend himself.

 

Foreman threw up his hands, as if he wanted the fight to keep going. Mercante recognized Foreman’s effort and allowed the fight to continue after the towel was thrown in. He lasted the rest of the round and the fight moved on to the ninth round before it concluded.

 

 


The ref let Foreman keep fighting after the towel was thrown in 

The crowd seemed to be behind Cotto for the most part, as they lifted the Puerto Rican flag high over their heads as he made his way to the ring (which was positioned in right-center field). Foreman received a mixed reaction from the capacity crowd, although a strong fan base of Israeli supporters were on hand.

 

I have to admit, it was a great fight. I wanted to see Foreman successfully defend his title, but it doesn’t matter that he didn’t win. His stock and reputation raised probably tenfold after last night’s match. Both fighters wanted it and if Foreman was at full strength, the match could have gone a little differently.

 

After it was over, I gained even more respect for Foreman. Max Kellerman questioned him on why he kept fighting, even after he slipped and the towel was thrown in. Foreman said that, even though he was badly injured, he had to continue because he is the Champ; he said he had to keep fighting because the belt was on the line.

 

That is what you call discipline and respect–for the sport of boxing and for the title.

 

Over the last few weeks, I have come to appreciate boxing. Like Foreman, I have gained a lot respect for it. To thank for it I mostly have my friend and his dad, who have been boxing fans for years and years. They are what I like to call “old school boxing fans” since they know about everyone from Rocky Marciano to Mike Tyson; from Jack Dempsey to Manny Pacquiao.

 

But my appreciation for boxing did not just begin these last few weeks.

 

 


 
Great documentary. 

Last year I took a sports reporting class and we spent a week studying boxing. We watched the documentary When We Were Kings, which told the story of the famous Ali vs. George Foreman fight held in Zaire (which is now called the Democratic Republic of the Congo).

 

The match was dubbed “The Rumble in the Jungle.”

 

The documentary chronicles Ali’s wit, charisma, and amazing athletic ability. The people of Zaire were behind Ali so much that they chanted “Ali Bomaye!” which means “Kill him, Ali.” Understand that this particular chant did not mean, “Kill George Foreman in the match and win it, Ali.”

 

In reality it meant, “Kill him–end his life, Ali.”

 

The boxing fans took the sport so seriously. It just goes to show there are fans in other sports that are just as passionate as Yankee fans. Just as Derek Jeter is the face of the Yankees, Ali was the face of boxing; he was the fighter a lot of fans identified with and they backed him up all the way.

 

I appreciate boxing now. 

 

Boxing is a great sport. It saddens me that it is not a sport that is always on the back page of the newspapers; it doesn’t seem to get enough attention. I understand that football and baseball are the two sports in this country that are usually covered mostly in the mainstream athletic media.

 

I can only hope more people come to appreciate boxing and what it has to offer as I have. It’s nice to learn about the different backgrounds of each fighter and where they came from; what their lives have been like and how they became boxers. Usually every fighter has an interesting story.

 

From what I have gathered, many fans want to see Pacquiao take on Floyd Mayweather. Both boxers are revered as the best in the sport at the moment, but they have never faced each other. If they were to square off, a number of analysts and boxing writers feel the match would “bring boxing back” to the mainstream.

 

I’d love to see it happen. There’s nothing like watching the best face the best.


We all wanna see it.

Umpires Stink

“He did it! Oh wait…No, he didn’t!”

 

Everyone knows what happened tonight. And no, I am not speaking about the New York Yankees’ 9-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles. Sure, Phil Hughes once again gave a dominating pitching performance and captured his seventh victory of the year. Robinson Cano was 3-for-4 with a home run, and he extended his hitting streak to 16 games.

 

The Yankees continued their winning ways. But in Detroit, things were different.

 

 


Armando Galarrage was so close to a perfecto! He HAD it! 

Armando Galarraga was on his way to history. The 28 year-old Tigers’ righty was one out, I repeat ONE OUT, away from a perfect game against the Cleveland Indians. What’s the worst thing that can happen when you’re pitching a perfect game in the ninth with two outs? Giving up a hit, of course.

 

For Galarraga, the worst feeling is (probably) that he knows he had the perfect game and it was ruined by an umpire’s terrible, horrible, ridiculous, mind-numbingly bone-headed call.

 

There just aren’t enough adjectives to describe how bad the call really was.

 

 


He was OUT !!!!! 

With two outs in the ninth, Jason Donald of the Tribe grounded the ball out to Miguel Cabrera at first base. Galarraga covered the bag at first and with the ball on the upper webbing of his mitt, stepped on first base before Donald did.

 

Galarraga began to celebrate; his arm went in the air and an ear-to-ear smile graced his face…that is until the first base umpire called Donald safe when a blind mouse could have easily seen that he was out.

 

The culprit: Jim Joyce. How he missed the call is beyond me.

 

Idiot. 

 

Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland had a lot to say right after the play transpired. Even after the Tigers wrapped up the game, they all stood together in unison and argued vehemently with the umpires. The team had good reason to be upset and I do not blame them for getting annoyed with the umpiring crew.

 

Good for them! It’s about time a team stood up to the umps. It seems they have been missing many calls recently. Whether it is ball and strikes, plays at the plate, or instances like tonight, the umps have been inconsistent and unbearable with their calls. In fact, they have been so bad, it’s laughable.

 

Consider David Wright of the New York Mets back on May 9. He was thrown out of the game for arguing what was clearly ball four. Home plate umpire Paul Schrieber was inconsistent with his strike zone all afternoon; Wright tried to stand up for himself, and got tossed.

 

 


David Wright was ejected last month for being rung up on ball four. 

But that was just a meaningless regular season game with nothing at stake. The umps could never screw up games with playoff implications right? WRONG!

 

Case in point: Game Two of the American League Division Series last year: Yankees vs. Minnesota Twins. Joe Mauer led off the bottom of the 11th with what should have been a ground-rule double. Left Fielder Melky Cabrera chased the ball and actually touched it with the tip of his glove.

 

The ball appeared to bounce off Cabrera’s glove before bouncing inside the chalk and it was ruled a foul ball. It probably should have been a fair ball or a double, and after the game umpire Phil Cuzzi said he made a mistake.

 

bad call. 

 

Mauer eventually reached base with a single after the blown call, but the Yankees were able to get out of the inning with no runs allowed. If the call had gone a different way, the whole complexion of the inning and the game probably would have been much different.

 

Another example of bad umpiring in a critical situation: Colorado Rockies vs. San Diego Padres in a one-game tiebreaker on Oct. 1, 2007. The winner of this game was going to the playoffs, the loser was going home.

 

The Rockies won the game in the 13th inning…but did they really?

 

The game came down to a play at the plate in the last inning; Matt Holliday was called safe by umpire Tim McClelland, but with a second look, Holliday was out. Even after the game, Holliday’s teammate Todd Helton stated he was out but he “did not want to talk about it.”

 

Of course he didn’t want to talk about it. The call went his way. But think about how the Padres felt after that. Their whole season–what they worked for out of spring training–was ended thanks to a bad call by an umpire.

 

Another bad call. 

 

The umpires’ blown calls are beginning to get ridiculous. Perhaps instant replay should be instituted for more than just home run calls. It would have helped Galarraga in tonight’s case. Because there is no way to reverse the clearly bad decision, it cost him a perfect game.

 

I truly feel it was the worst call I have ever seen in a sporting event–and that’s quite an accomplishment!!! Tim Kurkjian, renowned baseball analyst, said he has been covering baseball for 30 years, and he has never seen a more horrible call.

 

Galarraga said he does not hold any bad feelings towards Joyce, as he apologized to him after the game. In Joyce’s words, “I cost the kid a perfect game. I thought he beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw until I saw the REPLAY. It was the biggest call of my career.”

 

Leyland, although visibly upset at what happened, stated that all umpires are human. The Tigers’ skipper also said that Joyce is a good umpire and a veteran, and that he just missed a call.

 

Unfortunately I don’t think “sorry” is good enough anymore. These umpires can apologize all they want, it does not change the fact that they ruin things for teams and players. If Galarraga had gone all the way tonight, he would have set a Major League record of three perfect games (along with Dallas Braden on May 9 and Roy Halladay on May 29) in a matter of 23 days.

 

It’s a shame. Just a shame.

 

 

 

 

 

Sorry, Armando.

 

To you, Mr. Galarraga: I apologize. In my mind, you tossed a perfecto. You were just on the receiving end of yet another botched up call by the sorry excuse for an umpire known as Jim Joyce.

 

You were given, as I would say, “A First-Class, Grade A, Vince McMahon Screw Job.”

 

I kind of know how you feel, though…(look under MLB ’06)

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