Results tagged ‘ Hudson Valley Renegades ’

Back to the Minors

When the summer commenced and the high school sports season ended, my editor contacted me and asked if I wanted to cover some Hudson Valley Renegades games. Having interned for the Renegades over the summer of 2010, and needing to keep busy with work while school was out, I leaped at the opportunity, and spent many summer nights in the Dutchess Stadium press box.

Little did I know how far Hudson Valley was going to go, in terms of its season.

This past Thursday night, the Renegades captured the New York-Penn League title, beating the Tri-City Valley Cats 8-3. It marked the first time since 1999 Hudson Valley won a title and it was only the Renegades’ second championship in the team’s history.

Manager Jared Sandberg was nearly speechless after his team won it all, and was happy his squad was victorious for such a loyal fan base. His team pied him in the face while I was interviewing him, but he wiped it off and said,

“Hudson Valley has always meant a lot to me and my family, and to win a championship for these fans is amazing. The team had fun, but it was a focused fun; they came to play every single day and they came to work every single day. You really have to tip the cap to these players.”

What struck me about the Renegades from the first game I covered up until their champagne celebration after Thursday’s win was their resiliency. If they trailed late in the game, you could be almost certain they would find a way to come back and win it.

In fact, that resiliency was never more evident than in the playoffs. The New York-Penn League postseason is almost set up the way the MLB playoff system used to work. Four teams make it; three division winners and a Wild Card team. Elimination is best two-out-of-three – and twice the Renegades were down 1-0 after Game One, facing elimination in Game Two.

In the first round, Hudson Valley lost the first game to the Wild Card team, the Brooklyn Cyclones. With their backs to the ropes, the Renegades rebounded for two straight wins to advance to the League Championship Series.

Once it got there, Hudson Valley lost the first game to the Valley Cats. On the ropes again, and one win away from becoming a team who almost won, the Renegades came from behind and survived to win Game Two last Wednesday before reaching baseball nirvana on Thursday.

A big first inning highlighted the deciding game, as Hudson Valley wasted no time scoring runs.  First baseman Ryan Dunn rocketed a two-run single to center field to give the Renegades a quick 2-0 lead. Shortstop Leonardo Reginatto and catcher Jake DePew then followed with back-to-back RBI singles to give Hudson Valley a commanding 4-0 edge in the early going.

The Valley Cats chopped the lead in half by the sixth, but the Renegades fought back for more runs. Left fielder Marty Gantt drove in a run with a sacrifice fly, and later in the frame, Dunn came to the plate on an error.

Tri-City tacked on one in the seventh, but in the eighth Hudson Valley put it away, adding two more runs to its 6-3 lead. Gantt drove in a run with an RBI single to the right-center field gap, and eventually scored on a wild pitch to cap the night on offense.

Just as the Renegades’ bats were clicking, Hudson Valley’s pitching also held up. The Renegades used seven pitchers to piece together the clincher and were carried by a two-inning, four-strikeout performance from Brandon Henderson, who recorded the win.

Henderson also notched the win in the Renegades’ 2-0 victory over Brooklyn last Monday, setting down 13 consecutive Cyclone batters through 4.1 innings. He maintained the relaxed mentality throughout the playoffs.

“I just took it one pitch at a time, that was the mindset,” Henderson said. “I tried to dial in each pitch, and we got the job done. It was great energy, and all year we played really loose.”

Tampa Bay Rays’ first round draft pick this year, third baseman Richie Shaffer, finished the playoffs with five RBIs, three runs scored, and a triple.

Shaffer knocked in one of the Renegades’ two runs in the final game of the Brooklyn series, not to mention he crushed a go-ahead, three-run home run in the eighth inning of Game Two of the LCS to force a Game Three. The Renegades’ win overwhelmed Shaffer, and marked the first time he captured a team title.

“It’s incredible and this is why you play the game,” he said. “I could tell we had something special here and the chemistry among this team was unparalleled. This is one of the first times I ever won a championship in my career in baseball, since I was eight years old, and it’s just an awesome feeling.”

 Like the players, after it was all over, Sandberg felt a huge sense of satisfaction.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “Both series we were down 1-0 and that’s how we played this entire season. We never gave up. It was a special season – they turned it into a special season.”

I’d like to thank the Renegades right now for allowing me to be a part of the team this season, albeit a small part. It was extremely fun to cover this group of players and I’m also happy manager Sandberg enjoyed my articles – he even went out of his way to compliment them several times.

I can only hope covering the Renegades this season served as just a prelude of what is to come for me in my career as a journalist. Perhaps a few years down the road, I’ll make the big press box at Yankee Stadium.

Let’s hope so.

A Minor Sample

Coming off a night when Hiroki Kuroda spun an absolute gem for the Yankees, beating the Texas Rangers 3-0 with a complete game, two-hit shutout, the baseball world has learned former Bronx Bomber Melky Cabrera has been suspended 50 games for testing positive for testosterone.

Apparently it was never the “Melky Way.” It was the “Juicy Juice way.”

Cabrera had been leading the majors in the hits and runs offensive categories; he even captured the MVP Award of this year’s All-Star Game in Kansas City.

To my knowledge, this is the first time anything of this sort has occurred: a player wins the ASG MVP and later in the season gets suspended for violating the drug policy. It came as a little bit of a surprise to me, but I get the feeling the topic of whether or not PEDs affect a player’s performance will come up as a result of this recent finding.

Anyhow, for this specific blog topic, I figured I would try something different ; something a little more original, as opposed to ranting about the Yankees’ last two victories over Texas. As I’ve written about these past few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity this summer to cover a Minor League Baseball team, the Hudson Valley Renegades, several times.

Instead of writing a typical opinionated piece, I figured I would share my latest Renegades article, which just so happened to be a win last Thursday over the Vermont Lake Monsters, a MiLB team affiliated with the Oakland Athletics.

Enjoy the story and be sure to comment on how you like the article!

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Renegades Slug Lake Monsters in Extras

By: A.J. Martelli

The Hudson Valley Renegades celebrated Irish night on Thursday at Dutchess Stadium. Therefore it was only fitting designated hitter Justin O’Conner came up with the game-winning hit in the 10th inning, a bases-loaded infield single bringing home Charlie Epperson, to give the Renegades a thrilling 5-4 win over the Vermont Lake Monsters, completing Hudson Valley’s second consecutive sweep.

O’Conner embraced the challenge, remaining calm in the pressure-laden situation.

“I just wanted to do a job,” he said of the big at-bat that sank the Lake Monsters. “I got down in the count 1-2 and just wanted to put the ball in play. I’ve just been trying to relax in every at-bat and I did the job.”

Renegades Manager Jared Sandberg was left almost in disbelief following the extra inning victory.

“Wow,” he said. “It’s a lot fun, the way we’re winning. It seems somebody different is stepping up every single time, whether it’s a pitcher, a base-running play, a defensive play, or an offensive play. Every night it’s somebody different and it’s fun.”

The Renegades had to fight for the win, as they trailed 4-3 in the bottom of eighth. But after O’Conner crushed a booming, one out double into the right field corner, he took third on a passed ball and came home on a wild pitch, capitalizing on a few Lake Monster mistakes to tie it up.

Vermont had taken the lead in the seventh, knocking around Hudson Valley reliever Kris Carlson to take the lead. The Lake Monsters were down 3-1 heading into the frame, but sent eight batters to the plate and put up three runs.

The Lake Monsters plated their first run in the top of the sixth, but Hudson Valley had an answer in the bottom half of the inning, taking the lead with three runs. An RBI single off the bat of first baseman Michael Williams and a two-run single from shortstop Leonardo Reginatto accounted for the Renegades’ offensive strike in the sixth.

Sandberg knew his resilient team wasn’t going to lose without putting up a battle.

“There’s no real panic,” he said. “There’s no give-up, and there’s a ton of fight in this team.”

Jeff Ames, one of six Renegades who have been selected to the New York-Penn League All-Star team, toed the rubber and gave a solid performance. Ames tossed 4.2 innings and allowed no runs on three hits. He walked one and struck out four, lowering his season earned run average to 1.68.

“Jeff Ames came out and gave us five zeros on the board,” Sandberg said of his starting pitcher. “He did a nice job battling through his outing.”

Reliever Ryan Garton, who pitched a scoreless 10th inning, notched the win, improving to 3-0 on the year. Rob Finneran also contributed with 2.1 scoreless innings, relieving Carlson and preventing further damage in the seventh. Lefty Jose Molina came on in relief of Ames, and threw in 1.1 innings and allowed Vermont’s first run in the sixth. 

With yet another tenacious win under his team’s collective belt, Sandberg is becoming more and more impressed with his squad every time they take the field.

“What can you say about the Renegades?” he said. “It’s a special group, they really feed off each other, and I hope everyone who comes out to the Dutch to see us is having as much fun as we’re having on the field.”

Following the sweep of Vermont, the Renegades (35-19) dropped three straight to the Lowell Spinners, entering the All-Star break in first place – one game ahead of the second place Brooklyn Cyclones in the NY-Penn League McNamara division.

Makin’ Moves

Despite going 2-5 on their recent road trip which included a sweep at the hands of the suddenly “Moneyball” Oakland Athletics team, the Yankees still possess the best record in baseball at 59-39 and continue to sit atop the AL East, looking eight games down at the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays, and 10 1/2 games down at the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox.

A number of things have happened in Yankees Universe and the baseball world in general these past couple of days. Therefore in the spirit of old-fashioned blogging, I figured I would give some thoughts, opine on some topics, and even throw in a story or two – just for old time’s sake.

Ichiro Joins the Yankees

Before Monday’s series opener vs. the Mariners huge news broke via the Twitter wire: the Yankees had acquired Ichiro Suzuki from the Mariners in exchange for minor league pitchers D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar.  

Just like that, Ichiro is a Yankee.

The news came as a shock to most Yankee fans, as well as me, seeing as how Ichiro spent his entire MLB career with the Mariners. Not only that, but the move was on no one’s radar; nobody saw it coming. It was obviously a trade General Manager Brian Cashman kept under wraps until it became official.

The first notion that entered everyone’s mind was the jersey number. Throughout his career Ichiro has always worn number 51, a number that has meant a lot to the Yankees – being that Bernie Williams wore it for 16 years in pinstripes.

To everyone’s relief, Ichiro chose to take 31, respecting Williams and the jersey number. Unfortunately Dave Winfield didn’t seem to take too kindly to Ichiro taking 31.

Right on, Dave.

In his first three games as a Yankee, Ichiro has collected three hits and has stolen a base. He hit eighth in the batting order in his first two games, and led off yesterday, showing his versatility in the lineup. Plug him in anywhere and he can still hit.

This was a good move for the Yankees. With Brett Gardner’s season over and Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones signed to be designated hitters and fourth outfielders, the trade makes sense. The Mariners organization is becoming tailor-made for young players and the veteran Ichiro, 38, didn’t feel he fit in with them – hence why he requested the trade.

Hats off to the Mariners not only granting his wish, but commenting on how he deserves to a chance to win a title before his career ends. It’s obvious Seattle isn’t going anywhere this season while the Yankees, now with Ichiro’s help, could potentially go very far.

After the final out was made in yesterday’s 5-2 win over the M’s, Ichiro waved goodbye from right field to the Mariners faithful. The fans seemed heartbroken at the thought of their golden boy for so many years leaving town.

The sight of it all made me sad. I couldn’t help but remember the way I felt when Joe Torre managed his last game in October, 2007. When someone has meant so much to a franchise, I know first-hand that it’s extremely difficult to see them leave.

Alex Rodriguez out 6-8 Weeks

On Tuesday night in Seattle, Alex Rodriguez was beaned on the left hand during an at-bat in the eighth inning – the third HBP in the game (Ichiro and Derek Jeter had previously been plunked). Rodriguez fell to the dirt in agonizing pain and left the game.

Afterward it became known that A-Rod has a broken hand and will miss 6-8 weeks; the Yanks are hoping to have him back by the middle of September.

Losing A-Rod is a blow, but perhaps it’s better the Yankees lost him now as opposed to a time when they really needed him. For example, if this injury occurred in 2005 or 2007 when Rodriguez put the team on his back and carried it, the Yanks would be in serious trouble.

Thank God we live in the year 2012.

Because now there are several players who are capable of coming up in big spots to bring the runs home, like Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, and Robinson Cano, among others. Not to mention in ’05 and ’07 the Yanks were constantly battling for first place, locked in a dogfight with the Red Sox for the division.

Obviously that’s not the case this year.

Although taking Rodriguez’s bat out of the lineup basically takes an offensive threat and a presence out of the Yankees’ arsenal, there’s more than enough power to compensate for it.  As far as defense is concerned, Ramiro Pena was called up to fill A-Rod’s roster spot and will obviously see time at third base along with Eric Chavez and yesterday’s hero, Jayson Nix.

There’s also speculation the Yankees might go after Chase Headley, the Padres’ third baseman, before the trade deadline on Tuesday. Headley, 28, is hitting .267 this year with 12 homers and 51 RBIs.

A-Rod looked devastated after the game; he was clearly not just in physical pain from the HBP and the fracture, but emotional pain as well. It was apparent the news of him missing more time due to another injury impacted his psyche and left him in disbelief, as evidenced by his words when he met with the press.

“It’s difficult; tough break,” he said, masked in a shell-shocked expression. “I never thought ‘fracture’ but it was. Tough blow. Tough blow.”

Rivalry Renewed

The Boston Red Sox will visit Yankee Stadium for the first time this season tomorrow night, as the Bombers and BoSox get set for a three-game weekend series. The last time these teams met, the Yankees took three of four from the Sox in Beantown.

The Red Sox are coming off a losing series to the Texas Rangers while the Yanks (as it’s known) just took two of three from the Mariners.  Aaron Cook (2-3, 3.50) will start for Boston tomorrow night while the Yanks will counter with Phil Hughes (9-8, 4.09 ERA). 

Saturday afternoon in a match-up of aces, CC Sabathia (10-3, 3.30 ERA) will toe the rubber, facing off with Jon Lester (5-8, 5.46 ERA). Finally on Sunday night, 10-game winner Hiroki Kuroda will gun for win number 11 – while Boston has not yet listed a starter for the finale.

MLB posed an excellent question a couple days ago:

Has the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry lost its luster?

Right now, I think it’s almost dormant. With Bobby Valentine shooting off his big mouth about Derek Jeter over the off-season, I thought for sure the rivalry would be ignited and something would happen this year; perhaps the boiling of some bad blood.

So far, however, nothing. But I suppose it’s not necessary when the Red Sox are AL East cellar dwellers and not pushing for first place at all. If Boston was in the pennant race, there might be more of a competitive element thrown into the mix.

Yet, it is clear that the days of A-Rod and Jason Varitek duking it out are long gone; Curt Schilling wanting to “make 55,000 people from New York shut up” is surely passé. It could take awhile – maybe even a number of years – before the Yankees and Red Sox go back to where they were in 2003, 2004, and even 2005.

Then again, you never know. It only takes one bean ball to start a fire.

Some Encouragement from Sandberg

As promised, I’ll throw in a little story to close this one.

The last time I blogged, I wrote about my experience covering the Hudson Valley Renegades, as most readers probably know by now, the same team I interned for.  I wound up covering them again last Friday after I saw “The Dark Knight Rises” (go see that movie if you haven’t yet done so).

Escaping damage in the ninth inning and with some eighth inning heroics, the Renegades beat the Aberdeen Ironbirds 3-2 – the Ironbirds being a farm team of the Baltimore Orioles, for the record.

After the game I went from the press box to the clubhouse and interviewed Jared Sandberg, the Renegades’ skipper, former Tampa Bay Devil Ray, and nephew of Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg.

Tampa Bay Rays’ 2011 first round draft pick Taylor Guerrieri once again started, and Sandberg actually noticed that I had been there for Guerrieri’s previous start.     

“You were here the last time Taylor pitched (against Mahoning Valley) weren’t you?” he asked me after the interview.

“Yes,” I answered.

Jokingly he looked at me and asked, “Oh, so you only cover the games Taylor pitches?”

I let out a chuckle and said, “Well, we’re a newsweekly with so many coverage areas, so there are a lot of games and only so many we can get to every week.”

Sandberg answered, “Oh, I understand. I was just kidding. Which paper are you with again?”

The Examiner,” I replied.

“Oh, I saw that article from last week!” he exclaimed. Frightened, I had no idea what he was going to say next.

 “That was really well-written and very nicely done; nice spread – and the pictures came out great, too.”

I thanked him and told my editor about it. He was happy Sandberg saw it and basically said, “Now the pressure’s on us. He might expect great articles from now on.”

Honestly though, I am having a great time covering this team. They are performing extremely well, and are in first place in their division in the New York-Penn League, ahead of the likes of the Brooklyn Cyclones and Staten Island Yankees.

I’m looking forward to covering more of their games and I’m anxious to see how they are going to finish. When I interned for them in 2010, they ended at 39-36, missing the playoffs. At 24-13 right now, it looks as if they will indeed eclipse their 2010 record and go who knows where.

Hopefully to a League title.

A Minor Assignment

Yesterday afternoon was almost awesome for the Yankees, in their series finale vs. the Los Angeles Angels. But what’s that old saying? “Almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.”

With the tying run on second base, the potential winning run on first base, and two outs in the ninth, Alex Rodriguez had a chance to channel his inner 2007 and walk off the Yankee Stadium field a hero. Instead he came up short, popping the ball up behind first base; the cowhide falling into waiting glove of Albert Pujols for a 10-8 loss.

Nonetheless, the Yankees still own the best record in baseball at 54-34, and remain in first place in the AL East, a cool eight games ahead of the second place Baltimore Orioles.

While the Yankees were taking two games out of three from the Angels this weekend, I had the opportunity to cover the same minor league team I interned for in 2010, the Hudson Valley Renegades, who are connected to the Tampa Bay Rays.

Since the high school sports scene is obviously voided for summer vacation, my editor thought it might be fun for me to cover some Renegades games, just to give me some work and a chance to cover some professional baseball.

Saturday evening I made my way to up Dutchess Stadium, much like I did every game day two years ago, to cover the Renegades’ game vs. the Mahoning Valley Scrappers – a minor league team affiliated with the Cleveland Indians.

It was a different feeling on the way to the ballpark, however, knowing I’d be sitting up in the press box rather than setting up for the game and handling all the oftentimes unpleasant tasks interns have to do. Like this…

When I walked into the Stadium, it felt surreal. Not having been there in two years and having so many memories – and all those memories coming back to me in that moment – was a little overwhelming. All of the players (including Robinson Cano’s cousin Burt Reynolds) and interns who were there in 2010 have moved on; it was so strange looking around and not seeing all the familiar faces.

Wearing my press pass, I made my way up to the breezeway, past the luxury boxes and into the press box, where a number of MiLB personnel and beat writers were.

A group of them were conversing about the recent draft, and speculating about which players were going to make an impact in the future. They also shared with each other some stories about traveling, going from city to city following their respective teams. It was a little intimidating for me, knowing these reporters are the real deal; not that I’m not the real deal, but they are writers that get to experience professional baseball on a daily basis.

I guess it was only natural to feel intimidated; me being just a fresh, relatively new high school sports reporter who was given an assignment – they being writers with years of experience in the business. I’ll admit I was nervous – nervous, but not scared. Believe it or not, a Tweet from one of my former co-workers at the Renegades put my mind at ease.

Thanks, Dan.

The other writers eventually left though, and took seats down the left field line in a designated area for press members. I elected to remain in the press box with another reporter, the official scorer, and the girl who runs the Renegades’ Twitter page. The group of us shared a lot of laughs and banter throughout the game.

Before the game started, I kind of soaked it in; took in the view.

The Renegades led off the bottom of the first with a home run from their center fielder Joey Rickard. They then took a 2-0 lead after two innings when their left fielder, DeShun Dixon, led off the bottom of the second with a home run.

Dixon would knock in a run on an RBI single in the third after an RBI single off the bat of Renegades’ shortstop Ryan Dunn (Yes, Ryan Dunn. I’m aware he shares the same name as Bam Margera’s late friend).

Leading 4-0 heading into the fourth, the Scrappers put up two runs on back-to-back RBI doubles off reliever Brandon Henderson. Renegades’ starter, 19-year-old Taylor Guerrieri – who was Tampa Bay’s top pick out of Columbia, S.C. a year ago – left the game after three innings, using up a lot of his pitches.  

Following the back-to-back RBI doubles, the ‘Gades bent but didn’t break. They held the score until the seventh when second baseman Tommy Coyle blasted a two-run homer, the Renegades’ third round-tripper of the night.

Trailing 6-2, the Scrappers threatened in the ninth. Mahoning Valley loaded the bases with nobody out, but again, the Renegades refused to fold. Reliever Ryan Garton induced a 6-4-3 double play, which allowed a run to come home, before notching the last out.

Final score: Renegades 6, Scrappers 3

It marked the Renegades’ eighth win at home this year, and they are only a game out of first place in their division behind the Brooklyn Cyclones, the Mets’ farm team.

I left the press box and went to the clubhouse where I caught up with Jared Sandberg, the Renegades’ manager, ex-Devil Ray, and nephew of famed Chicago Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg. I had to ask him what makes his team so good when they’re playing at home.

“We get the last at-bats, we make it exciting, and we get the chance to put on a show for the home crowd,” he said.

“The crowd comes out and supports us every night, with 4,000-plus, and it’s fun to play in front of a big crowd. They get behind us and it’s good energy.”

I then questioned him about the home runs, seeing as how a power surge led to the win. He admitted the long ball raised his eyebrows.

 “We haven’t hit many homers this year, so it was a little bit of a surprise,” he said.

“It was also good to see because guys aren’t trying to hit home runs and they’re hitting home runs. Any time Joey Rickard can lead off the game with a homer and give us that boost, that’s nice, and then DeShun Dixon hits a two-run homer with a flick of the bat. Then obviously Tommy Coyle’s late home run gave us some breathing room.”

With the top pick on the mound, and a decent job from the relief corps, I inquired about how well the Renegades’ pitching has been anchoring the team.

“The pitching is keeping our season going in the right direction,” Sandberg said.

“We can lean on the pitchers right now because they’re throwing strikes and competing extremely well. The team is playing relaxed but we’re going out there competing every night and that’s what a manager wants.”

Overall I was extremely satisfied with how it went. My editor thought I did a great job with the story, and I hope this is just serving as a warm-up; the start of what I pray is a long career covering pro baseball.

Perhaps I’ll be one of those beat writers in the press box, talking about the new draft picks and sharing stories about life on the road, covering pro baseball teams.

Maybe someday. Until then, I have this story: getting the chance to cover a pro baseball game for the first time.

Bottom line: I loved it.

Down on the Yankee Farm

 


Bartolo. Ugh.Desperate times call for desperate measures. And right now, it’s really no secret the Yankees are turning to desperate measures. As reported yesterday, the Yankees signed Bartolo Colon to a deal worth $900,000 plus incentives. According to Buster Olney, Colon pitched for Tony Pena’s team this winter, which may have played into the Yankees’ decision to sign him.

This signing caused a little bit of an uproar from Yankee fans and analysts. One source said, “Bartolo? Maybe he can be Alex Rodriguez’s personal batting practice pitcher. 22-for-51 lifetime with eight home runs.”

Colon is 14-21 with a 5.18 ERA since 2005. His signing puts him in line with Mark Prior, another starting pitcher the Yanks acquired with a history of injuries. The Yanks inked Prior to a minor league deal this off-season and to my best estimate would be a bullpen pitcher, if he is healthy and makes the team.

On the edition of Yankees Hot Stove I watched tonight, the starting rotation and lineup for 2011 were both projected. As far as the rotation goes, the YES Network has CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova, and Sergio Mitre penciled in as the five starters.

Ivan Nova: Yay or Nay?

Nova in 2010 was 1-2 with a 4.70 ERA. He allowed 21 earned runs in 42 innings, which doesn’t seem bad. He also hasn’t really had the opportunity to showcase his stuff, but for some reason he doesn’t excite me. Nova will get the chance next year to show what he’s got.

I just hope that he doesn’t become another Ian Kennedy or Darrell Rasner.

Mitre was 0-3 in 2010 with an ERA of 3.33 in 27 appearances. Since becoming a Yankee, Mitre has only three wins under his belt and hasn’t been very effective, to say the least. The only start of note Mitre made was in August of 2009 against the White Sox when he took a no-hitter into the fifth inning. Eventually he ended the outing with 6 1/3 scoreless innings recorded with one hit allowed.

Aside from that outing, Mitre hasn’t done much to benefit the team.

The Yankees have now made several moves in terms of signing free agents. But judging by tonight’s Yankee hot stove report, they will be turning to the Minor Leagues this year. It seems as though they have a few youngsters who will be looking to make the team and from their own words, the Bronx is where they want to be come March 31 when the Yanks open up at home against Detroit.

Since we already know the so-called “Baby Bombers” might get a taste of the show this year, I have singled out five top Yankee prospects that we could see in the Bronx this season–and others we will surely see in the near future. Some of them may have to wait a few more years; others may get the call to the show in ’11.

Nonetheless, we’ll undoubtedly see each of them in Spring Training at the end of next month.

5) Cito Culver

Cito to succeed Jeter? 

He is a player I do not expect to see in the Bronx in 2011. However, we could be looking at the heir apparent to Derek Jeter’s shortstop throne.

I saw Cito Culver play this summer. The Hudson Valley Renegades, the Minor League affiliate of the Rays (and a team I interned for this past summer), played the Staten Island Yankees a few times, as both teams are in the McNamara Division of the New York Penn League. With that I was able to watch him play, but the only game he played in: 0-for-2 with a walk.

Not much to look at there.

Culver, who will be 19 this August, has played in 56 games since getting drafted in June of last season–51 with the Gulf Coast Yankees and 15 with the Staten Island Yankees. So far in his young career he has a .251 batting average and has only hit two home runs with 18 RBIs. He has shown ability to hit the ball in the gap, as he has legged out eight doubles and a triple over that span.

He is very young and is a work in progress. But by the time Jeter’s contract expires in 2014, Culver might be developed enough to succeed him. Culver will still be in his early 20s while Jeter will be in his early 40s.

If I were the Yankees I would start getting him ready now. If they play Culver wisely, he produces, and he doesn’t he injured, he can potentially be the next long-term Yankee shortstop. From the scouting reports I have read, he has great bat speed for a kid his age and can play above average on defense.

 

4) Manuel Banuelos

Manny in '11?

The majors in 2011? Maybe. Maybe not. Right now, I am thinking not.

Left-handed pitcher Manuel Banuelos is going to be 20 years old on March 13 and has risen through the ranks of the Yankees’ Minor League system. He has been down on the Yankees’ farm since 2008 and had his best season in 2009.

For the Tampa Yankees and Charleston River Dogs in ’09, Banuelos compiled a 9-5 record with a 2.64 ERA, making 19 starts and 26 appearances. In three Minor League seasons, he is 13-10 with an ERA of 2.59 which includes 37 starts and 215 2/3 innings.

An upside about Banuelos: he seems to be a strikeout machine while not allowing as many free passes. In the 215 2/3 innings he has logged in the minors, he has sat down 228 batters on strikes–only issuing 66 career walks.

228:66 strikeout-to-walk ratio: not bad.

Banuelos has only been up to the Double-A level, pitching three games in Trenton last year. He will have to prove himself worthy again with a tough 2010 (0-4 overall with a 2.51 ERA coming off his solid ’09 campaign) but expect good things from him in the future.

If he has a great bounce back year, he may be a September call-up. A scouting report said he features a smooth, easy delivery and he demonstrates the ability to repeat it. They say he throws a devastating 12-6 curve ball. His fastball has been clocked at 94 on the speed gun and shows tailing action on right-handed batters.

The same report compared him to Johan Santana.

 

3) Dellin Betances

Dellin in '11?

The Show in ’11? Yes. I can see him there.

I think what benefits the 6’8, 245-lb. right-handed starting pitcher is his age. Dellin Betances will be 23 by the time the 2011 season begins, unlike most of his comrades who are still in their late teens. Betances has been in the Yanks’ system since 2006 and has put together a career Minor League record of 20-14.

He has registered 349 strikeouts over that span, but has walked 135 batters. He has given up less than a run per inning, as he has thrown 299 2/3 innings for his career and has given up 134 runs.

One of his downsides is the fact that he has had reconstructive surgery, which was apparently a ligament reinforcement procedure. His surgery may have been what has stopped him from making it all the way to the majors this early in his career.

Scouting reports indicate Betances exhibits a fastball, a curve ball, and a changeup. His fastball has been gunned at 96-97 and he has the ability to pound the strike zone with it. From what they say, he starts most hitters off with his fastball and eventually finishes them off with it, using it as an out pitch.

His curve ball is said to stay down in the zone and he does not overuse it. The changeup is about 82-85 mph and if he can obtain better command of it, it will become faster over time.

Betances has the ability to be an ace. Look out for him. With the lack of starting pitching this year, he may finally get his chance to show Yankee Universe what he has got. I think it will all depend on how he performs this spring.

 

2) Austin Romine

Austin in '11?

Not only will he probably make a big league appearance this year, he has the possibility to make the team out of Spring Training.

Austin Romine, 22, was the Yankees’ second-best prospect in 2010 according to Baseball America. Drafted in 2007, Romine has been a solid catcher down on the Bomber farm. In 2007 he played one game for the Gulf Coast Yankees and had one hit, a walk, and two runs scored in that game.

From there on out, he has had at least 10 home runs in every season he has played and through four Minor League seasons, he has batted in 191 runs. He has played as high as Double-A Trenton and his overall batting average is .281. He also won the 2009 Florida State League Player of the Year Award and participated in the 2010 Futures Game.

Scouting reports say he is a well-rounded catcher, but his defense is a hair above his offense. They say his arm strength is very good and it will probably get better as he develops. What’s more, he is a gap hitter with 84 career doubles and four career triples.

“Expect those extra base hits to turn into home runs as he fills in his 6’1, 195-lb. frame,” one report suggested.

Romine said he hopes it comes down to the wire in Spring Training in terms of making the team. He would like to do battle for the final roster spot with…

 

1) Jesus Montero

Montero is the top-ranked Yankee farm hand.

The Yankees’ number one top prospect and the fifth best prospect in all of baseball.

 The cream of the crop. The sure thing? Perhaps.

Catcher Jesus Montero, 21, has already been declared ready for the majors by Yankee Hitting Coach Kevin Long. However, his defense is what has kept him down. His height (6’4) is what apparently makes him not a viable catcher. Some have even suggested that he switch positions, moving to first base or a corner outfield position.

While that remains to be seen, he has demonstrated stellar offensive numbers. In 380 career Minor League games he has recorded 449 hits with 58 homers and 251 RBIs. Last season in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, he averaged .289 with 21 home runs (a career-high) and 75 RBIs.

Montero obviously has it right on offense. A source called him the Yanks’ best hitting prospect since Jeter–that’s something that cannot be taken too lightly.

One scouting report said he is expected to eventually average .300 with 30 homers a year.

The Yankees have signed Russell Martin this off-season, which gives them the chance to continue to mold Montero on defense. I suppose they can try him out at different positions during the spring if his defense at the catcher spot is a major concern and will keep him down.

Either way, expect big things from him. And soon.

My Summer was Baseball

My summer....

If I could sum up my summer in one word it would be baseball. Then again, if I could sum up my existence in one word, it would probably be baseball.

Now that the summer is over and school is back in session (for most of us, but not all of us–I graduated college!) I thought I would reflect on everything that was special about this summer. Never in my life have I ever spent a summer that involved the sport of baseball so much. Here are a few reasons baseball has dominated my life for the past three months.

Yankee Games

 

Yankee games = FUN summer!What would a summer be without a few visits to Yankee Stadium to see the Yanks play? Well, it would be a very dull and sad summer. Thankfully that was not the case, as I was able to attend three Yankee games over the vacation.

 

Yanks/Phils on my birthdayThe first game I went to was on June 15, my 23rd birthday; a World Series rematch with the Philadelphia Phillies, in which the Yankees won 8-3. When I walked into the Stadium that night I remember thinking to myself, “The last time the Yanks and Phillies met at this ballpark, the Yanks hoisted the 2009 World Series trophy over their heads.” I felt very lucky to be at that game.

 

Yanks/Mets five days laterFive days later I made another trip to the big ballpark in the Bronx for the rubber game of the Subway Series. Yankees vs. Mets; CC Sabathia vs. Johan Santana; it doesn’t get any better than that. Mark Teixeira made it a special day by clubbing a grand slam home run, the only offense on the afternoon. The Bombers went on to beat their cross-town rivals 4-0.

 

First time in the new Monument Park

I once again experienced the thrill of Yankee Stadium on Aug. 18 when the Yankees played the Tigers. For the first time I got into Monument Park in the new house and it was nice to see Johnny Damon make his return to the Bronx–as a Tiger. The Yanks won, 9-5. Plus, before the game we got very close to the field. We could practically reach out and touch Joba Chamberlain!

Joba was so close to us! 

All of these games of course were over the summer. I also attended Opening Day, which was a great way to kick off my baseball summer.

The Yankees were 4-0 at games I went to this year and they are 8-0 at games I have been to in the new Yankee Stadium. My only hope is that they keep winning whenever I go to see them.

 

Trip to Cooperstown

 

Cooperstown was awesome

 

I don’t want to say this experience changed me at all, but in a way it did. On July 3, my friends and I took a day trip up to Cooperstown, N.Y. to visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

I have already written about everything that happened that day, so I won’t re-hash every little detail of the trip. Yet, I will say that the trip increased not only my appreciation for the sport of baseball, but my love for the sport as well.

It was almost as if I was whisked back to the past; Cooperstown provides such a rich history and gives you an old-time feel.


Memories. 

What’s more, as a huge Yankee fan, it relieved me to see that about 80% of the museum was filled with Yankee memorabilia and historic artifacts. Everything from World Series rings and trophies to Babe Ruth’s jersey was on display for all to see.

Every baseball fan needs (and I stress the word NEEDS) to go to Cooperstown at least once in their life. If you do not go, you are truly missing out and history and quite possibly a life-changing experience.

 

Hudson Valley Renegades

 


A great experience; a step in the right direction.Working for a minor league baseball team all summer certainly played a huge part in how much I was involved with the sport of baseball this summer.
I have shared several stories about things I have done, players I have spoken to, and how much fun it was to get to know my coworkers.

The ‘Gades’ season ended on Sunday and it was a great way to go out: a win over the Lowell Spinners, who are a farm team affiliated with the Boston Red Sox. The Renegades finished with a winning record of 39-36 and it was pretty cool that I got to be a part of their family for the summer.

As it turns out, Rick Zolzer, one of the main bosses from the organization, took notice of “Yankee Yapping” and now wants me to take over the Renegades blogging. He also knows some writers at MLB.com and he said he would mention me to them, which makes me really happy; I would be ecstatic to get my foot in MLB.com’s door. After all, writing and working for them is my ultimate goal.

Working for the Renegades will undoubtedly pay dividends for me.

 

Interview with Brian Sweeney

 

Brian Sweeney and I graduated from the same college!

One of the best things about this summer was actually talking to an active player on an MLB team. Brian Sweeney of the Seattle Mariners talked to me about his life, his background, and his family; he shared some great stories with me and I feel truly blessed that I was able to conduct an interview with him.

I’ll always remember what Sweeney said when I called him to conduct the interview: “Sure we can do the interview now…as long as it doesn’t go longer than about an hour because I have to head over to SafeCo for the game.”   

In awe, I had three words in response: “Wow, that’s awesome.”

The way he said it just left me amazed. He just said it so “matter-of-factly,” if you will.

Sweeney became the first active MLB player I have ever interviewed. I interviewed and wrote a story on John Flaherty last year, but he is retired and now a broadcaster on the YES Network. It was a bit different, considering Sweeney is still playing and he pitched at Yankee Stadium this summer.

What also made it special was that Sweeney and I graduated from the same college. It was nice to discuss what our experiences were like at Mercy, and we were able to relate to one another through that common achievement.  

Hopefully Sweeney is not the last MLB player I interview. I’m hoping for a lot more where that came from.

Now that the summer is over, there is still more baseball to look forward to. The Yankees are playing for their postseason lives and need to pick things up. 1-5 in their last six games is not a good sign, but they can pick up the slack and regain their livelihood.

Tonight CC Sabathia toes the rubber against the Tampa Bay Rays in hopes of playing the role of “stopper.”

The Yankee ace is also looking for his 20th win of 2010.

Fun Team 2010 Forever

Editor’s note: For all of the regular readers of this blog, I wrote this specifically for my summer co-workers at the Hudson Valley Renegades. It is filled with inside jokes and memories that I will hold onto for a long time.

 

 

 


It's been a great summer, Fun Team.It’s been a long summer for us, Fun Team. Countless games of whack-an-intern, store your stuff, and put it in the can basically defined my summer. But I’m really glad I got to meet and get to know each and every one of you this summer and I figured I’d write something about everyone to remember this eventful experience.

Here I go…

Jay: You are a good boss. I’m sorry I almost took your head off with that line drive during batting practice before one of the Home Run Derbies. I still laugh when I think about you trying to go around multiple times on the lazy river at Splash Down. That girl should have just let us stay on the ride for as long as we wanted!

Ellissa: I don’t know of anyone who could have manned the Pitch For Kids corner like you. Every single game you were in there, rolling dice and handing out prizes. Honestly, I would have gotten bored with it on the second night, but you have a lot of patience, which is admirable.

Jeff Helion: Like Jay, you are a good boss. Tough, but very fair. Thank you for sharing your words of wisdom at Lily Logan’s that night and I’ll certainly use you as a reference for future jobs. “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

E.D.: I’m glad I did this internship because I got to know you. When we were both at OLL, I really didn’t know you very well and now I do. You did an excellent job getting the contestants into the pits. “Follow those lads there.”

Crash: Thank you for driving me around a few times this summer, especially the night of the party. You did a lot for me these past two months and I’m really glad I met you. I’ll never forget the softball game with “The Mad Hatter!!!!” I’m sure I’ll be seeing you around Yorktown a lot more now.

Dice: I know I’ve said this a million times, but I’M SORRY I missed the first Fun Team Frenzy party–words cannot express how disappointed I was that I missed it. I guess I made up for it with the second party, though. Whenever you have your next gathering, just let me know. It doesn’t matter what I have going on at the time, I’ll be there. I promise.

Kevin: Without any sarcasm, you threw the absolute BEST party I have ever been to in my life. I know I was a little out of it that night, but thank you for not killing me with the arm bar.

Yetti: The water fight we started with Derek Dietrich on your last night (Rain Delay Night) was a lot of fun. You’re a funny kid with a great sense of humor. I also laugh every time I look at the picture of you and that random guy who looks like you…Dice: “Yetti, is that your dad???”

 


Yetti's dad...?Sizzle:  
Thank you for (at least trying) to get me sober at the party. I enjoyed it when you squirted Jared Sandberg’s lineup card with the water gun and Yetti got blamed for it. It’s all good, because he later told me he was just messing with us.

Dog:  You are a good guy with a lot of hustle (according to Sandberg). The other night when the little kid was asking us for a ball and Sandberg told him to guess your nickname–that was awesome. Especially when he started whistling to give the kid a hint. “Is his name Kyle?” I have no idea where the kid came up with that name. It was so random.

Dan Vincenzi: I had a lot of fun quoting movies and the Andrew Dice Clay/CNN video with you all the time.  “You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?”…”You’re supposed to be a news guy. Running a gym???” You also came prepared to the party with the flask of Jameson. That…was epic. You also saved me the first night of training. I couldn’t find the Gold’s Gym, I crossed paths with you at the Mobil station, and you got me there. What can I say? You ran me to the gym…

Emma: I am truly disappointed that I never got the opportunity to witness (first hand) your amazing pie-eating contest super powers. However, the game that you were Rascal and I was handling you all night was one of my favorite nights of work. I was very happy you didn’t fall out of the car during Honda Ball Toss and the two of us got everything right that game.

 


We did good, Emma.Marissa:
No matter what you say, Dan and I dethroned you and Emma as flip cup champs at the party. In all seriousness though, you are a great person and getting to know you was just awesome. I really enjoyed all of our conversations about our future goals. Just always remember…journalism is better than public relations.

Hort: It’s too bad I didn’t get a chance to get to know you or talk to you as much as some of the other Fun Teamers. But the night we all had to be mascots was great. I’m sure the crowd laughed when they saw Thomas the Tank Engine (you) dancing with Captain America (me). Driving home that night, I thought to myself, “I’m sure that was a sight to behold for the fans–a train dancing with a super hero.”

 


Great night.Ben:
You were one of the hardest working members on the entire Fun Team. Giving out those build-a-bears the other night was a pain in the neck, but thankfully we got out of it after awhile. You were a master at selling those tennis balls and you really know how to connect with people.

Louis: I’m really happy that, like Dan Vincenzi, I was able to get you hooked on the “Running a Gym?” quote. I cannot express how much I loved talking about Family Guy and the Chuck Norris jokes every day. I really wish I could have been there when you got pied in the face (for about four straight innings) on Groundhog Day night (I was in Playland). And just so I understand this completely…at no point were you running a gym?

Conor: The first night of training at Gold’s Gym, it was really cool to hear that you caught Jorge Posada’s grand slam ball. I also think it was cool that you got to drive the player from the Jamestown Jammers to the airport, even though he didn’t talk much. You are a really great kid and I’m really happy I met you.

Nick at Nite: Here’s to the fastest runner on the Fun Team! I enjoyed both of our races, even though my left knee received extreme physical trauma as a result of our first race. You beat me fair and square in the second race, though. I said last night that you are a good kid and I meant it.

Alex Kamen: I really don’t have much to say to you except…we do things the “Alex Kamen way of doing things: guaranteed to work every time.” According to Crash, you want us to come to your school to party and visit. Sounds good to me!

Honest Abe: I am not very happy that you left the Fun Team and then showed up to more games after you quit. I really don’t think that made a lot of sense and many of the other Fun Teamers were annoyed with the decision you made. But thank you for taking the photo of me in the Captain America costume. It’s one of my favorite pictures.

 


Solid.Slim Jim:
You made an excellent Rookie on the night of the mascot wedding vow renewal. You are a nice guy and good luck with everything at Penn State.

Stevie Wonder: You are truly talented, my friend. You were the centerpiece of the Thriller dance and the Under the Sea dance. You also have a lot of courage; after all, it takes guts to grab your crotch like Michael Jackson in front of a packed stadium. I enjoyed working with you this summer and your outgoing personality is admirable.

Tyler: It’s unfortunate that you could not stay with us for the whole summer. But I am very happy you found another internship with the New York Jets. I really hope that went well for you and good luck up in Cortland.

Padre: I heard stories about your experience from the first Fun Team party and (going back to what I said to Dice) I’m sorry I couldn’t be there. I laugh every time I think about you dressed up in the Cookie Monster costume the night of the mascot wedding and you’re a good guy. I hope everything works out for you in terms of football.

Bob Hand: You are one of a kind. I’ll always remember you for your rally belly and affinity for beer. When the majority of the Fun Team went back to college, you helped us out in a major way. I am sad that the Renegades didn’t walk off with any wins toward the end of the season, meaning I didn’t get the chance to pie any of the players in the face. I’ll get one of them someday, though…

Curious George:  I remember (ever so vividly) when you were given your nickname the first night of training at the Dutch. You climbed that gate and Jay called you Curious George. You wanted to be called A.D.D. Adam, but trust me; you went with the better nickname.

J.D.:  Your parents are really cool. They went out of their way to feed us sandwiches and cookies that one night, which was very thoughtful. And you are a lot like your parents J.D., because you are really cool. But we are never putting you in the ticket office again. “So that’s what that button does…”

Little Lurch: I will say that you are a little strange (dressing up in all those crazy costumes) but you have a lot of spirit. I would have never gotten on the dugout to pump up the crowd the way you did; your actions showed a lot of heart. We also made a great team bagging and numbering tennis balls.

Jeff Allison: The best memory I have with you is probably the party. Like Sizzle, you were valiantly trying to sober me up and I really enjoyed working with you.

Lucas: Technically, you weren’t on the Fun Team but you helped me out a lot when you weren’t in the Rascal costume. I loved handling the mascots because you never complicated anything; it was a simple job and it never became difficult. Plus, the mascot dance parties were always great. I’m glad I met you this summer and good luck with running track at Lourdes (my alma mater, as I always pointed out when you mentioned school). I loved when me and you (Rascal) played frisbee on the field before baseball buddies and the reliever intercepted your throw. Good times. 

And last, but never the least…

Bri-man: We had a great team, and a great team is nothing without a great captain. After every game you gave us motivation to keep moving forward with your speeches, which meant a lot to every Fun Teamer. We would have been nothing without you this season and it was so nice getting to know you, Bri-man. I have learned that you have a great heart and a sensitive soul, but you also possess a deep passion for success.

We had a great run this summer and I will never forget this experience. There’s not much left to say except…

Fun Team 2010 Forever.


Watching the season fade away...  

A Nice Baby BoSox Player

The world might be ending. I never thought I would say nice things about a potential Boston player.

I am just about finished with my summer internship with the Hudson Valley Renegades these past two nights have been eventful, in terms of speaking with more players. I wrote the other night about the Staten Island Yankee who interestingly enough hates the big Yankees and how he wanted to go home.

The Renegades host the Lowell Spinners this weekend

To close out the season the Renegades are playing the Lowell Spinners, a farm team of the Boston Red Sox, in a three game series. In game one on Friday night, the Spinners beat the ‘Gades 11-3.

At one point in the game, the Renegades pitcher came set to deliver to one of the Spinners. Right before he was about to throw the pitch, the batter called time and stepped out of the box. Our man on the mound said, “Are you going to get in the box and hit or stand there and watch it all night?”

That didn’t go over very well.

After that exchange there was a little bit of a standoff between both sides. The Renegades stayed in their dugout (albeit their defensive players were on the field, obviously) but the Spinners looked ready to pounce. They all came out of their dugout and stared down the Renegades before order was restored.

However, one player toward the end of the dugout looked at me. I was working in the third base pit, standing less than five feet away from him. He smiled at me and some of the other interns who were working. One of my friends smiled back and jokingly said, “You guys need backup?”

He couldn’t help but laugh.

I wound up talking with him for the better part of the night. His name is Garrett Rau, an up-and-coming reliever. Honestly, he was a nice guy. He was asking me where the best local bars were, because he was contemplating a night out after the game. I told him about a bar down the street from the Stadium and gave him the drink prices.

“$3.50 for a bottle of Bud Lite,” I told him.

He nodded, as if to say, “Not bad.”

I saw Rau again tonight, as I was back in the third base pit for tonight’s game. The Renegades won 6-2.

“Did you go out last night?” I asked.

“No, I was just too tired to go out, so I nixed the idea,” he replied.

“I hear you,” I said, sympathizing with the exhausted feeling after last night’s game.

Garrett Rau: A Baby Bosock. A nice guy.

We chatted for a little while longer about the silly games that take place on the field in between innings. The Renegades have a different theme every night and tonight was (no joke) “Child Please Night.” We honored the end of summer and the start of the NFL season with different football style games on the field.

One contest was the touchdown celebration game. We picked contestants out of the crowd and gave them a football. They had to do their best touchdown celebration and the winner was decided by loudest ovation from the crowd.

None of the celebrations were all that original.

Rau looked at me said, “That was lame.”

I agreed.

“They should have come up with something cool, like Terrell Owens falling asleep on the ball,” I said.

Rau agreed. He then said that we at least change up the games every night. According to him, the interns at the Spinners’ ballpark in Massachusetts conduct the same contests every night and the players get tired of them.

It’s good to know we are at least providing everyone with new material on a nightly basis.

The ‘Gades and Spinners will play the rubber game tomorrow night to finish off their 2010 New York Penn League seasons. Rau was a little annoyed about the start time of tomorrow’s game. Before the game ended tonight, he asked me what time tomorrow’s game started.

“Seven, I think,” I answered.

“Great,” he sarcastically remarked. “It’s our last game of the season and we’re going to be starting later than usual.”

Normally Sunday games begin at 5:00 but since it’s the last game of the year, it starts later.

Perhaps I’ll see him again tomorrow, but driving home I got to thinking: is it bad that I was conversing and almost cultivating a friendship with a baby Red Sox player? After all, I am one of the most die-hard Yankee fans there is, so is it wrong for me to be talking to this guy?

I guess it doesn’t matter. It’s not his fault he was drafted by Boston. It’s just like the Staten Island Yankee who hates the Yankees–he is not playing for the team by choice, he is only playing for them because they drafted him.

Maybe one day Rau will make the majors. If he does happen to go all the way and he becomes a member of the Red Sox, I will not like him so much.

But for now, I’ll say that he’s not a bad guy.

A Baby Yankee Hates the Big Yankees

This isn’t going to be a long entry, to begin. This particular exchange happened tonight, I found it amusing, and I figured I would write a small blog about it–just to let everyone know what happened.

Tonight I was working at Dutchess Stadium, home of the Hudson Valley Renegades. I blogged earlier in the summer about the internship opportunity they afforded me.

The ‘Gades were hosting the Staten Island Yankees , the short season Single-A affiliate of the New York Yankees, in a doubleheader.

At one point in the night I went with my buddy Dan Burckhard (A.K.A. “Crash”… it’s his nickname. Long story) to open up a gate behind the opposing bullpen for an on-the-field activity in between innings.

We wound up getting a chance to speak with some of the relief pitchers on the Staten Island Yankees. One of them looked right at me and then asked me a strange question.

Number 50 hates the Yankees.

“Do you have a gun? I’d like to shoot myself now.”

“No,” I responded. “I’m guessing you want to go home?”

He laughed and said, “Yes. We’ve been here for way too long.”

No argument from me. I wanted to leave, too.

He continued, “Can you get me a beer?”

I laughed and said, “If I could I definitely would. And I would have a drink with you, since technically you are a Yankee and I am a huge Yankee fan.”
Here’s when it happened.

“I F-(expletive) HATE the Yankees,” he said.

“But…you play for them,” I responded.

“Yeah, but not by choice,” he said.

Wow. I laughed pretty hard when he said that. A player on a team of baby Yankees hates the adult Yankees. I just found it rather ironic and it was quite interesting to me.
It made for good conversation, at least.

When I got home I looked him up. His name is Michael Recchia from Crestwood, Illinois. Maybe he’s a White Sox fan? Or maybe he likes losing. He could be a Cubs fan.

And if you were wondering, the Renegades beat the Yanks 2-1 in the first game and crushed them 15-1 in game two of the twin bill.

So Much to Say!

There has been so much going on lately!

 

Instead of writing a whole bunch of different blog entries, I decided to write a little different this time–just for this time, since there are so many topics I want to cover.

 

First things first…

 

 


Godspeed, Shepp. You will truly be missed!! 

  • We lost a legend today. Bob Sheppard, at the age of 99, passed away. I put this

loss up there with losing Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio in 1995 and 1999, respectively.

 

Sheppard was the voice of Yankee Stadium for over 50 years and life will just not be the same without him; it hasn’t been, ever since he stopped announcing games at Yankee Stadium in 2007. He officially retired back in November.

 

Mr. Sheppard, you will ALWAYS be remembered as a classy, dignified, and honorable man. They say true legends will live forever, and you will certainly live forever in the minds of the Yankee fans.

 

“I have one style of speaking. It’s the same, whether it be at Yankee Stadium, at home, in the classroom, or when I lector at Mass.“–Bob Sheppard.

 

 

 

  • I have been especially busy this week at my job with the Hudson Valley Renegades. After a walk-off win on Friday night, we were beaten on Saturday night at the hands of the Auburn Doubledays.

 

Although we lost, there was a little ceremony before the game that really made me think. At Dutchess Stadium, there is a Scout’s Hall of Fame; a place dedicated to honor important people who helped recruit players.

 

Scout Hall of Fame induction 

 

Last night the Renegades honored Bob Miske, a scout who worked for the Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers, among other organizations. He told a cool story about Tommy Lasorda for his induction speech, and how he became friends with him.

 

Yet before he spoke, an excellent point was brought up: why is there no Scout’s Wing to the National Baseball Hall of Fame? Of course all the legendary players and great writers are enshrined in Cooperstown, but where is the recognition for the people who pick out the young players who go on to become larger-than-life superstars?

 

It’s a great point. When you think about it, someone picked Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez out of a ton of other players. From there, they went on to become who they are today. Shouldn’t the person who discovered them get some credit?

 

I think they should.

 

The baseball scouts also dedicate their lives to the business. They travel around the country going to high school and college baseball games with nothing but a book, a pen, and a radar gun, looking for the next top player. Since they dedicate such a big part of their lives to the game, they should certainly be recognized for it.

 

Congratulations to Miske on being honored by the Renegades. We appreciate your effort.

 

Also on a side note, Renegades’ manager Jared Sandberg (who I recently found out is Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg’s nephew) was standing right next to me during the ceremony…I snapped a picture of him via my camera phone very discreetly before it ended.

 

Jared Sandberg was standing right next to me during the ceremony! haha. 

 

 

  • How nice has CC Sabathia been? His victory over the Seattle Mariners today marked his eighth win in as many opportunities.

 

The Yankee ace has a total of 12 wins this season and only three losses. He is traditionally known as a “second half player,” meaning he usually puts up his best work in the second half of the season after the All-Star break. It’s pretty scary to think how many wins he could potentially reach if he keeps winning the way he is.

 

 


CC Sabathia has been AWESOME this year 

I’m not necessarily saying he’ll win another 12 games over the second half of the year and reach a mind-numbing 24 wins, but 20-21 wins is certainly looking possible at press time. As far as the Cy Young Award goes, it could be him. David Price certainly has a little bit of an edge halfway through the season, but as I said if Sabathia keeps going the way he is, he’s a definite candidate.

 

It’s great to have an ace/horse like him on our side. If his good friend Cliff Lee had become a Yankee (as it looked like he was going to be on Friday) it would have been VERY scary; to have two number one pitchers like Lee and Sabathia on the same team is frightening. To have them on the same team that already has the best record in baseball, is just plain terrifying.

 

But of course the Lee deal fell through and he went to the Texas Rangers. But wait until next year. The Rangers are never going to be able to pay him after this year and it’s quite possible Lee will be in pinstripes in 2011.

 

As for Sabathia, it’s just business as usual. He is slated to pitch again on Friday vs. Tampa Bay at home. If he wins that game, it’s pretty much a given that he’ll at least reach 20 wins this season.

 

 

  • In the fifth inning of today’s game Marcus Thames crushed his third homer of the year, a long shot high off the foul pole in Seattle.

 

It was kind of a bittersweet home run for me.

 

Brian Sweeney and I graduated from the same college! 

 

Thames hit that home run off Brian Sweeney, a fellow alumnus of my alma mater Mercy College and a journeyman pitcher from Yonkers, N.Y. I recently had the chance to talk to Sweeney, and he agreed to do an interview with me for the blog. (He is such a nice guy, by the way!)

 

Sweeney also pitched on Thursday night; he got Jorge Posada to bounce into a double play and got through the eighth inning without giving up an earned run. I’ll admit I was rooting for him. I wanted him to get the Yankees out. After he surrendered the homer to Thames today, he got Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Nick Swisher, and Rodriguez out.

 

He gave up two runs in the fifth but went 1-2-3 in the sixth. I was proud.

 

To me, Sweeney serves as an inspiration. He has made me realize that graduates of my college CAN really go on to do great things. I sometimes have very little faith in myself, especially now considering I’m a recent college graduate struggling to find a real job (I like working for the Renegades, but it’s an internship; it’s going to be over by the end of the summer).

 

But I look at Sweeney, pitching for a Major League Baseball team. He came from the same place I did and has reached a great place in life. It gives me hope and encouragement and makes me believe that I can do something great with myself, if I work hard enough.

 

Mercy alumn can go on to do great things..hope I fall into that category. 

 

When I heard John Flaherty mention Mercy College on the YES Network this afternoon and on Thursday night, it made me smile; it made me very proud. It also made me wonder if Flaherty would mention when he visited Mercy last year; I interviewed him and wrote a feature article about him when he came, as I was the sports editor of the school paper.

 

It was, by far, my favorite story that I wrote in college.

 

I’m actually still trying to get in touch with Flaherty; I’d like to send him the story I wrote on him. Unfortunately, I can’t find a way to get in touch with him at the moment. I’ll keep trying though and eventually I’ll get a hold of him. I’d like for him to see all the nice things I wrote about him.

 

As for Sweeney: I am proud of him, and I’m sure the rest of the Mercy College community is, too. I’ll be talking to him soon and when I get my interview with him, it’ll be posted here right away!

 

 

Lastly, I’d like to thank my good friend Micheal Robinson for coming up with a new picture for the Yankee Yapping Facebook page. He is a wonderfully skilled person when it comes to graphic design and he is a genius with photo-shop.

 

Yankee Yapping new logo 

 

It looks great, buddy. I love it and thank you once again!

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